Monthly Archives: August 2014

Get That Bug Out of Your Mouth! You Don’t Know Where That Bug’s Been

I’m near the middle of the novel I am presently working on. One of the participants is a small dome shaped creature with multiple legs. black widow spiderIt sounds similar to a spider even though I don’t use that term in the book.

It got me thinking…and we all know how dangerous that can be. I’ve written several blogs concerning pets that I’ve owned in my younger days that leaned more toward the exotic–an alligator, a boa constrictor, a ferret and an American chameleon (which was nothing more than a small green lizard) to name a few.

Now, I want to preface this next paragraph by saying that I’ve always been a little kooky but never into dark or dangerous activities. I feel I have to do this because of the next pet I’ll be describing…pet is probably an inaccurate word…let’s go with acquisition.

Just as today, there were two types of pets and/or acquisitions in those days–the kind you bought and the kind you caught. The acquisition in question was the latter, better known as the “latrodectus” or black widow spider.

What possessed me to cut a hole in a metal jar top, cover it with cloth, throw a little gravel in the bottom, place one upright stick into the jar and then capture a black widow is still a mystery to me.

Side note: ever notice when a kid catches something he’s going to stuff into a jar, that something always gets a rock and a stick. I guess it’s the first rule of animal ownership.

Anyway, that’s what I did. She immediately began to weave a web that utilized the complete interior of a twelve ounce mayonnaise jar.

Now if you just plop something (a spider) into a strange environment, (a jar complete with a rock and stick) cut off from the basics to sustain life, you must supply those basic items (plump juicy insets which might have otherwise enjoyed the new habitat had they not been on the menu.)

This was a big fat healthy spider so I decided to test her prowess of gathering food. I managed to capture a paper wasp. I tossed it into the jar expecting at least somewhat of a battle. The wasp jiggled around in the web until the spider nonchalantly sauntered over and bit the very tip of the wasp’s rear leg and backed off, waiting for its venom to take effect.

Some battle. Wasp hits web, spider bites wasp, spider wraps wasp in burial shroud and sucks meal at its leisure. Did I mention the obesity factor when I first acquired the arachnid? Well, it got fatter. One morning I awoke to a skinny spider and a huge egg case.

Cool, I thought, the circle of life taking place right before my very eyes. Elated, I rubbed my hands together. Now let’s see what you’ve really got.

Searching through a stack of bricks, I procured another black widow. Admittedly, she didn’t appear as healthy as my combatant, but what the hay.

I dropped the second spider into the web of death.

Expecting somewhat of a battle this time, the newcomer immediately adopted a subservient posture at the bottom of the jar. My champion yawned, bit the newcomer and voile’ another meal down the gullet.

After meal number three (a honey bee) she was once again fat and sleek, a champion in the spider world if there ever was one. I woke up the next morning to yet another neatly woven egg case.

I don’t know what I was thinking (obviously I wasn’t) allowing a jar full of death to set on my dresser, giving it no more thought than a picture set in a frame. Then one fateful morning I awoke to thousands of juvenile black widows pouring out of the egg case and spreading throughout the jar. Hmm, I thought to myself, maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.

A few short squirts of insect spray and I learned two very important lessons:

1.) I was very good at raising poisonous spiders.

2.) I was very, very good at arachnid genocide.

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Please Don’t Try This at Home

Have you ever written a short story, novel or even a grocery list? Odds are your answer would be yes.habenaro

Have you ever read a book, a bedtime story or the directions to put a bicycle together on Christmas Eve? Once again, the answer is most likely yes, although it is remotely possible that one of these may have required the use of a bail bondsman. As far as I know, most states frown upon repeatedly chucking a bicycle into on-coming traffic until there are more parts spread over the road than what you originally dumped from the box–and throwing up all over a police officer does not a good defense make.

The point I’m trying to make by using these analogies is that frequently it takes many small pieces to amass one large object which in turn is much more beneficial than the sum of its parts.

There is one possible exception, and that being the removal of vomit from a police officer’s buttons, badge and other intricate details of the soiled uniform. …Enough said about puke, less we digress.

Back to my point before we found ourselves sliding down Ralph’s road…oops, I said I wouldn’t go there again; please pardon.

When you’re writing a story, you’re bringing many bits of information, and let’s not forget characters, together to form a conclusion or bring about a startling revelation at the end of the book.

When you’re reading a story, even though you did not actually pen the words, you’re still pulling the points together to present an ending.

Now people, listen closely…I really need you to understand for if you don’t, who’s going to explain it to me?

For instance:

I’m at the grocery store picking up ingredients to make a basil pesto. Having plenty of basil in my garden at home, I continue to shop for the remaining necessities (lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts…I also like a touch of anchovy and a little Parmesan cheese).

As I carefully peruse my list, I notice much to my delight that all the ingredients required are already tucked safely away in my cupboards, pantry, and refrigerator at home. I toss the crumpled the list over my shoulder and skip home ready to concoct a culinary delight never before passing through the lips and across the taste buds of any human being.

I remove my food processor from the hardly ever used section of my kitchen cabinets, locate my shears, and walk out to the garden. Obviously, every herbivore on the planet has taken a nibble out of my basil leaving nothing but dead stems. Whatever shall I do? The plant beside the basil is full of pretty green leaves and loaded with a small round orange vegetable. This should do nicely. I uproot the entire plant and move back inside.

I snip off the roots and feed everything that remains into my food processor. As it grinds away, I retrieve the rest of the necessary ingredients. After a methodical search, it appears as though I may have been mistaken concerning a few items I claimed to already have in my possession. No bother, I’ll make substitutions just as I did for the basil. Instead of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts, I add to the light brown mixture still swirling in the processor, orange juice, shortening, horseradish and jelly beans, all perfectly acceptable substitutions.

Then in a stroke of genius, I replace the hint of anchovy and the smidge of Parmesan with a can of sardines (in olive oil, mind you) and a new product I found in the refrigerator, head cheese. I continue the blending process adding the additional ingredients. A strange word keeps popping into my head. Strange yes, but even more unusual this word seems menacingly close…like hot breath on the back of my neck.

Hob.…hobby. No, no that’s not it.….Hob-o-near….Hobanarow….I know!….Habanero…… Never heard of it. I wave my hand over my nose. Something burning…I can hardly breathe. Must be the motor in the food processor. I’ll pick up another one tomorrow.

I believe my heavenly pesto is ready. I scoop up a heaping tablespoon full.

Now do you see how simple ingredients (just as words and phrases) in the end, unite in perfect harmony.

I slide the spoon into my mouth, enjoying the silken texture. I swallow. My stomach begins to gurgle. Seconds later my head explodes. Fire shoots no less than 30 feet from my mouth. My stomach gurgles again this time signifying the ensuing geyser.

I know I promised not to say it again as I run down the hall toward the bathroom, but there’s no way around it, because here it comes.

Gravy and grits baby, gravy and grits!

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Don’t Climb That Tree, Mario’s Choking that Monkey Again

As I sit in my writer’s room incorporating the favorite genre of the day into my latest work (my favorites being fantasy, science fiction, dystopian and Christian fictionplaying in swamp) I stop and think how the worlds in my imagination correlate into the one in which I reside.

Think… Think… Think.

It doesn’t take long to realize that although there are similarities, for the most part, it’s like trying to drive a wooden nail through a concrete slab. So instead of taxing my depleted supply of brain cells, I switch my internal dial-up modem (to quote a cooking phrase) to a “low and slow” method of extracting information from myself. In no time, I feel better, less tense; it’s 1994 all over again. I make an executive decision if you will, to compare my childhood to my son’s childhood.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Kids of today lean more toward filling their free time with video games, smart phones, computers, and iPods and lean less toward physical activity. Everything they own has a battery. Simply plug the device in straight from the package and it’s ready to use in a few hours.

In my day, during the summer months, we would leave the house in the morning and not return until nearly dark (occasionally pillaging neighboring villages for lunch items). As far as batteries, all we had were flashlights. The batteries were not rechargeable and we liked it!

Oh, we’d receive Christmas gifts with words in bold type across the box, “batteries not included,” which meant we had the pleasure of removing our gifts from said box and watching them not work. It taught value, instilled in us the hope that we would someday own batteries and that you can make a toy last long enough to give to your kids with no appreciable wear. I can’t rightly say what else it taught, but I can tell you this–we liked it!

When my son was small (between a toddler and the age of 10) we lived in a log cabin that I built, surrounded by woods and no other houses close enough to see. We had a creek to explore, catching salamanders, frogs and the like. A playhouse, plenty of land, cleared and wooded with rolling hills and acres of flat land. My son also had a PlayStation and later on, a Sega Genesis.

Even though he had the best of both worlds, sadly he eventually chose the one that turned a normal everyday television into a cyber-world of wonder.

I, myself, spent my tween years, until I began to drive, in the swamp, fishing, hunting, swimming, catching snapping turtles, dodging snakes and frog gigging, just to name a few. Every once in a while we’d hook up with the bigger kids on a camping trip, and it was drink-til-you-puke palooza! Thank goodness those days didn’t last too long. Of course, then came the days of four wheels and chasing girls.

When I think back to my son sitting safely in our house pushing buttons in front of the television and then compare it to my jungle-Jim lifestyle as a kid, the video games they claim keep our kids from enjoying the great outdoors….Well….I guess all things in moderation.

And then again, some things are better left alone.

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I Thunked I Heard Her Say it, Come to Find Out, my Thunker was Busted

“Mama told me there’d be days like these.” How often have I uttered that phrase after a particularly rough day? Quite a few I’m sure.mama said mama said there would be days

How often have you complained to a friend or coworker using those exact words? “Mama told me there’d be days like these.”

How many times has someone, be they friend, foe, brother, sister, neighbor, aunt, uncle, mailman’s sister-in-law, wife or just the dog down the street, hammered you with those words? Each one mired in their pathetic excuse for a life, drug through the muck of an excruciatingly painful day, causing them to speak those words of wisdom. “Mama told me there’d be days like these.”

Something is amiss. I ponder, I worry, and then ponder and worry some more until it hits me–Mama never told me there’d be days like these. In fact, I know of no one who’s Mama ever said “there’d be days like this.” And, to take it one step further, I know no one, who knows anyone, who may have thought they knew of someone, who had an inkling, that they heard of someone, who may have said that somebody’s mama, said something like that.

Mama did tell me one thing:

“Always make sure you’re wearing clean underwear in case you’re ever in an accident.” And she also said…… Wait a minute, back up a few words. Mama always supplied me with clean underwear, but she never told me to wear it in case I was in an accident.

“Clean your plate.” With the appetite I had growing up, she may have said something like, “don’t eat your plate,” but never, “clean your plate.” If starving children in China were depending on food being left on my plate, they were in for a rude awakening.

You know, the more I write, the more I become disillusioned with what Mama said, because it turns out that she didn’t say much of anything.

She didn’t tell me to become a writer, but she did act all proud when I published my first novel. She said, “This is my son and I’m proud because he published a novel.”

The more I think about it, Mama was just trying to steal my thunder and that’s why throughout the years she never said anything.

I’ll be talking to Mama soon and maybe we can work this out, but until then I’ll sadly wonder what could have been, if Mama had just opened her mouth.

And on top of all that, Mama doesn’t have Internet, so I can’t get in trouble…… Of course they do say, “The walls have ears.”

It’s probably just one more thing attributed to something that Mama said and since we know that she didn’t say anything, we’re still in the clear.

I’ve got to go; I’ve managed to confuse myself.

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