Tuesday, May 31, 2011

G is for Gardens


Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade.

Rudyard Kipling

This quotation was brought to you by Alphabe-Thursday's letter "G". To see other G links, just click here.




And, hey, speaking of gardens, one of our Alphabe-Thursday link friends at the Woodwife's Journal is having a giveaway. She's a very cool gardener and herbalist. Can you help her get over the 100 mark for followers and enter her giveway? That would be wonderul. To visit her, just click here! Thanks a bunch!


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Story-Time Tuesday - Living Fiction

Jenny Matlock
If you missed where this story started just click here to read it or simply click on the Story-Time Tuesday link at the top of my blog to take you to previous chapters.

Living Fiction - Chapter 38 (unedited)

Writing Fiction was always my working title, but a few weeks ago I realized I want to change it to 'Living Fiction'. It's still the continuation of the same story, but I will start using the new title from this point forward. I've made quite a few minor changes to earlier chapters to accomodate this shift in title. Thus the unedited version of this chapter...since I'm working from the beginning and moving the changes forward

Here's where Chapter 37 left you.

Jessie and Jay stared at me with the same look of confusion on their face. Spedgar just rolled around on his back by their feet. It took me a few seconds to remember my tall tale. It took me about 1.2 seconds after that to start praying for the floor to swallow me. It didn’t. I figured the way my life had been going lately there would be a knock at the door any second giving me time to figure out how to wriggle out of this mess. There wasn’t. Where in the heck was a good interruption or leg cramp when you needed it?

I took a deep breath, “Okay, calm down everybody. I can explain.”

In unison, just like they’d practice the sarcasm for months Jessie and Jay replied, “Yeah, I just bet you can.”

I opened my mouth to start talking but instead of words, wails came out instead.


AND NOW, CHAPTER 38 CONTINUES...

In addition to my loud crying, the little foyer in my house suddenly became filled with more loud confusion. Spedgar started barking loudly, upset at my outburst. Jay started sputtering and Jessie began repeating, “What the heck? What the heck?” over and over again. Even if I had started the whole mess, it was too much for me, so I quickly stepped into the living room and sank onto the couch. I buried my face in my hands and began to cry more quietly.

It took the three of them about 30 blessed seconds before they realized they were carrying on all by themselves. It took them only one additional second to find me in the living room. Spedgar jumped up on the couch and began trying to lick me. Jessie sat down on one side of me and began asking for an explanation. Jay sat down on the other side of me and began quizzing me on whether he could go ahead and leave.

Sniffling and snuffling for a few seconds more, I realized they weren’t going to stop until I responded.

“Jay… sniff, sniff…Please take Spedgar out to…ummm… do his thing…and then...sniff, sniff… you can go. Jessie, could you get me some Kleenex and some water. After Jay’s gone, we’ll talk.”


Jay’s ex-wife must have trained him well, because he hopped up right away and the worried little dog followed him obediently out the front door. Jessie, unfortunately, was not nearly as deferential.

“Mom, what the heck is going on here? Who’s this guy, Jay, anyway, and why does he have Spot and what happened to the little boy and…”

“Jessie,” I begged, “Please, can you just get me some water? I’ll explain everything, but I really need a second here.” Thank Heavens, the begging worked.

As soon as she left the room, I racked my brain trying to figure out what to say. I couldn’t. I really couldn’t. Not only could I not remember all the things I had made up, I couldn’t even remember who I had told all the fiction to.

My mother’s voice, God rest her soul, spoke clearly inside my head reminding me of the Junior High quote I had always hated, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” There was no mistaking her critical tone, “Pearl, you’ve been tangling and tangling and weaving and weaving, and now…”

“Oh shut up, Ma,” I said loudly, “I don’t need your nagging right now!”

Jessie looked up, startled, from the glass of water and the box of Kleenex she was balancing carefully, “Huh? Mom? Who are you talking to?”

I didn’t have to answer, though, because right after she handed me the water and the Kleenex, Jay returned. We went back to the kitchen, and I set both things on the counter and quickly started reviewing the typed list of instructions Jay had left on the table earlier. Jessie just leaned against the wall beside the kitchen door, listening to our exchange. When Jay inquired again if my husband would be okay with me watching the dog, I glossed over the question, distracted him with some sniffling and jabbering, and deftly began leading him toward the kitchen door. “Jay, seriously, just go. You need this time. I can totally manage Spedgar. Don’t worry about a thing. I mean it. I have everything under control. Let me do this for you. I insist you go right away. Get started on this time for yourself. Two weeks is just going to whiz by. I have everything under control here.” By the time I was done babbling, we had arrived at the door. I opened it and semi-shoved him out onto the little porch, all the while patting his arm in reassurance. I did NOT look at his confused face. I did NOT look at Jessie’s confused face. I just kept talking, and finally he admitted defeat, gave a short wave and turned to walk toward his SUV.

Since I’d been so successful with that diversionary tactic, I decided to continue it with Jessie. “Jessie, look, can you haul this big bag of dog food to the pantry and then…”

“Mom?”

“…see if you can find one of the vinyl placemats in the buffet in the dining room and then…”

“Mom?”

“…fill Edgar’s water bowl…I’m going to call him just Edgar while he’s here with me, don’tcha think? I only called him Spedgar because Jay calls him Spot and…”

“Mom!!! Stop talking. That isn’t going to work on me.”

I opened my eyes wide, feigning total innocence. “Work? What’s not going to work? What are you talking about?”

“Mom, seriously. Stop it. Really. You are really, really ticking me off here. What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you acting like a total psycho? Just stop talking. Stop!”

I debated acting offended for a moment. I debated pretending I was having a heart attack. I debated grabbing Edgar and my car keys and running out the door.

Unfortunately, Jessie was standing between me and my escape.

Unfortunately, I had run out of things to babble about.

Unfortunately, Jessie was crying.

I handed her a Kleenex.

I asked her if she’d like to take Edgar for a walk with me.

She started to protest, but I told her it would be easier for me if I talked while we walked. She grabbed a giant handful of Kleenex and stuffed them in her coat pocket. She handed me the coat I’d thrown over a kitchen chair. I stuffed a giant handful of Kleenex in my pocket. Edgar danced around our feet, excited to see his leash emerge from the box on the kitchen table.

As we stepped outside I was surprised to see it had become dusk. Where had this day gone? How could so many awful things make the time disappear so quickly? Wasn’t the saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun”? Yeah. Maybe not so much. Or maybe time just flies, period. Good times, bad times…that clock just keeps ticking away even when you want it to slow way down, so you can pay close attention to moments you want to treasure forever. It just keeps ticking away and the seconds turn into minutes, and the minutes turn into days, and all the sudden your husband is gone, you’re fighting with your daughter, your son is in prison, you have an almost total stranger’s dog staying at your house for a few weeks.

I realized I was still standing on the bottom step, frozen in thought while Jessie and Edgar had already walked up to the sidewalk.

“Mom? Are you ready? Did you forget something?”

“Nope, didn’t forget a thing, Jessie. I was just remembering sitting here watching you and your brother chase fireflies. I was just wondering how we ever got from glowing bugs in a jar to this?”

And before I could start crying again, I squared up my shoulders and stepped with false assurance toward my waiting daughter.

To be continued on Tuesday, June 7.

(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Jennifer R. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Jennifer R. Matlock. All rights reserved.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Taps



Day is done...
Gone the sun
From the lake...
From the hills...
From the sky.
All is well...
Safely rest
God is nigh.


Fading light....
Dims the sight
And a star....
Gems the sky....
Gleaming bright
From afar....
Drawing nigh
Falls the night.

by Major General Daniel Butterfield

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Saturday Centus - The Legacy of Heroes...

I watch the parade…unfurled flags, drums beating rhythm for the pound and prance of spit-shined, boot-clad feet.

My canvas tote of toiletries and socks weigh heavy against my heart as well as my shoulder.

Toward the back of the crowd, where the unwashed and unshaven gather, I approach a 60-something gray man sitting in a battered wheelchair. “Brother, can you use some socks? Some toiletries?”

Too late, I realize he is missing both legs from the knee down.

I raise my eyebrows and gently ask him, “Viet Nam?”

He shrugs and holds out a shaky hand for the legacy of heroes…in his case, toothpaste.


This post is linked to week 56 of Saturday Centus. The prompt is in bold. To read other offerings, just click here.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sundays with Steve - Public Relations Impossible

These Sunday's segments are written by my husband, Mr. Jenny. Here's what he has to say about his posts:

I’ve been writing these weekly stories about life in Northern Idaho, as a youngster and as growing into a young man, primarily for our family. And I'm delighted to share them with you. Just between us, I’m anticipating being cranky when some whipper-snapper who may not even be born yet harasses me in 30 years or so with 'Grandpa, tell me about when you were a boy.' That will probably be after the mad cow disease has set in and erased whatever memory is left. So these are the not-so-dramatic adventures of a Baby Boomer in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Public Relations Impossible

While managing my National Guard dump trucks on weekends in the 1970s, during the week I managed a camera and a typewriter for a large public corporation. It was an ideal job for a young man just out of college and after a year in the Army, although I didn’t recognize it as such at the time. It was also an impossible job, a task I recognized immediately, and I knew that it was job would never be successfully accomplished.

I was a young man bent on not joining the family business, at least for a while. I knew in my heart, deep in my gut, that once I joined the family business I would be there for the rest of my life, and at that age, I just wasn’t willing to do that.

My new job then, having come home after avoiding an Army assignment to Vietnam, was to convince a company’s employees, and indirectly the people living around the company, that the company was a pretty good neighbor, despite the public relations disaster that was going on about it, and despite the black hat most saw on my employer’s head and around it cold heart.

The company, Potlatch Forests, Inc., known through its history as PFI, was not only the single largest employer in our town, but the largest polluter, as well. The company had a long and good history with North Idaho, until it built a giant paper mill there in the 1950s.

The mill was up-wind from the town, and our town paid the price with horrid air pollution that was based in the sulfurs used to make paper. Our town was at the confluence of two rivers – the Snake and the Clearwater – located in a very deep valley that was susceptible to frequent air inversions that could trap that pollution for days. Even when the breezes were blowing, you could always smell the mill’s pollution. The mill also dumped millions of gallons of waste water every day into the former pristine Clearwater, fouling the huge fish migrations and the source of our drinking water.

The real problem for PFI was that its employees lived there in the sea of stinking pollution with the rest of us. The employees were as antagonistic to PFI as the rest of the population.


In the early 1970s the Army Corp of Engineers was finishing the last of the Snake River dams that would create a massive “lake” from our town, downriver to the Columbia River and on to the Pacific Ocean. The Army Corp would not have PFI pumping millions of gallons of untreated waste water into its new lakes.

PFI announced plans to spend $100-million on air and water clean-up, and hired me to communicate the project to its employees.

I spent the next five years writing a monthly newspaper that was mailed to each employee and the public in our region. I filled it with news stories not only of very serious nature such as the building of massive air and water pollution abatement programs in Lewiston, but also of the daily lives of its employees, and the daily comings and goings of its operations scattered at two dozen locations through-out the region.

From the outside looking in, large corporations often appear to be monolithic, with a single voice emanating from its public relations department, or its lawyers. In the case of PFI from the moment its new pulp and paper mill went into operation, that voice was defensive, aggressive, dismissive, and abrupt.

While a new corps of young, intelligent mangers took over the corporation in the early 1970s, acknowledging the company’s huge problems and putting forth resolutions that include a lot of public humility, my job was to put a human face on the company.

I spent two weeks out of each month for those years driving to each of the company’s facilities and writing news stories about its people. I meet thousands, and made friends with many. I took hundreds, maybe thousands of photos every month, and published the best. I found, as I have most times in my life, that when you dig beneath the surface of any cliché, you find real people living real lives, with their rewards and disappointments, doing the best job they can, and living the best lives they can. There were no corporate monsters trying enslave the proletariat for their own riches, but there were erstwhile people at every level, at every location, doing jobs that depended on producing products that the public would buy.

Some of those jobs were just a joy to dig into, and to understand, some were very surprising: the tug boat captain on Lake Coeur d’Alene pulling hug tows of logs 50 miles down-lake to a mill, the hundreds of truck drivers moving wood chips from remote sites to the paper mill, the loggers in the remote forests cutting trees, the thousands of mill workers throughout the State. These people were human, they were kind, they were intelligent, and they were hard working.

After five years I was bored, I was frustrated at no upward career movement, and I quit. I wonder in years since when looking back, if I had lost my mind about then, giving up what was really a dream job at that time.

Mrs. Steve and I returned to Lewiston a few years ago, the first visit in decades, and talked about perhaps retiring back to that place in the future. It is a very pleasant town, still smallish, but one that seems to have grown and matured. Except for one small thing: I opened the sliding door on the motel balcony one morning, over-looking the lake that use to be the Snake River, and took a deep breath. After hundreds of millions of dollars, that smell of the paper mill, that sulfur, is still there at least some of the time. I don’t think we’ll be retiring there.


* * *
Speaking of jobs that you wonder in later years why you ever left them, my next job after leaving PFI, was as the sports information director of the Big Sky Athletic Conference, at its office at Boise, ID. My job, in a nutshell, was to attend college football games each weekend through the fall, college basketball games through the winter, put on the conference basketball play-off tournament in March, and then do some low-key PR work the rest of the year. Why did I give that up after two years? Was I nuts? Maybe. Could I get it back today?

That’s when I joined the family business.

(c) 2010 Stephen J. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Stephen J. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Stephen J. Matlock. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Centus - The legacy of heroes...

Jenny Matlock
Welcome to week fifty-six of Saturday Centus.

Happy Memorial Day weekend! In honor of this day, the prompt this week is:

"The legacy of heroes..."


Please display link button or just a hyper-link back to Saturday Centus. Be careful to link your SC URL to the Linky and not just link to your main blog.

Please e-mail me directly with ???'s or ask your question in a comment and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.

Feel free to link up anytime between now and next Saturday!

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Knock, Knock...

Who's there, you say?

Tomato.


Tomato who?

Knock, Knock.

Who's there?

Tomato.


Tomato who?

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

Tomatoes?

Tomatoes who?



Knock, Knock.

WHO'S THERE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!!!????!!!!!

Tomato?

WTH? TOMATO AGAIN!?! STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



ummm...

knock, knock?

knock, knock?

You're supposed to say, "Who's there?" in a sweet, nice voice.

ummm...

yeah...it's tomato again...


Okay. Trust me. Trust me.

Knock, knock?

Helloooo???

C'mon, just one more, "Who's there?" okay?

It's artie.

Artie who, you say?


Artie going to choke, cuz I didn't say tomato again!!!!

Bwahahahahahahahaha!

That was soooo funny.

This post was brought to you by all the tomatoes and the single artichoke in my garden today.

Who the heck planted all those tomato plants anyway?

Seriously. Our Grands are gonna be selling their little hearts out door to door in a few weeks!

Knock, knock?

Who's there?

Wanna buy some tomatoes to send some little girls to camp?

Knock, knock?

Quit sighing...seriously, I'm almost done here.

Knock, knock...

I dunno. It's not me because I'm too embarrassed to answer the door after this silly post.

Sigh...

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

F is for Finish Each Day...


Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day, you shall begin it well and serenely.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This quotation was brought to you by Alphabe-Thursday's letter "F". To see other "F" links, just click here.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Alphabe-Thursday's Letter F


Good morning class. Welcome to round three of Alphabe-Thursday! Today we will be fantasizing (hmmm...) about the fabulous letter:


Please link directly to your Alphabe-Thursday URL (if you don't know how to do this let me know!) and please continue to visit the five links before and after your link and leave a comment. Minimum of 10 links visited please. You can visit more if you like, of course.

I also want to let you know that each week I visit every blog. If it appears I haven't visited your blog by the following Thursday morning, please let me know!

If you have any difficulties with your link, please make sure to include the number of the link when you e-mail me. It is really difficult for me to find you easily otherwise.

If you have any questions about Alphabe-Thursday or problems doing your link just post it in a comment or send me an e-mail. I'll do my best to help you as quickly as I can.

The McLinkey will be live from 1:00 pm MST time Wednesday afternoon in an effort to assist our lovely "friends across the pond" and continue through 10:00 am MST time Friday morning!

And remember.... link back to this post, you need to be registered as a follower of my blog, PG posts only, and you must visit at least 10 other posts...perhaps consider starting from the last posts and work backwards. The links will stay live after the final post deadline has passed so you can even wait and visit over the weekend or whenever you have more time.

Please link your fantastic F post now, class:

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Oh, the times, they are a changing...

...

At least at my house.

You remember my little tattoo dresser?

I sold it.

In less than 10 hours.

For a nice little pile of $20's.

And now Mr. Jenny has grandiose plans of retiring and living off the income I make from painting tattoo furniture...

...I know this for certain because...

He has graciously told me I can use as much of the garage as I want for my finds...

AND...

He even SUGGESTED we go to garage sales this past weekend...

Where we scored this totally cool industrial stool that is being re-done in charcoal gray and lime green as soon as I can get the last leg-raiser thing-y out of the leg pipe thing-y...


And today he dragged himself away from his desk and took me to some building supply re-cyclers where instead of finding plywood (for a modern art idea I want to try with 412 two by four ends)...

...we found this totally amazing sideboard for 40 bucks!


And so now when I go outside, instead of being worried about being attacked by hummingbirds, I now have to worry about being dive-bombed by these...


Because, honestly, I never thought I'd see the day when Mr. Jenny actually ENCOURAGED me to bring junk home!

So yeah...

The times, they are a changing...at the Matlock house.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Story-Time Tuesday - Living Fiction

Jenny Matlock
If you missed where this story started just click here to read it or simply click on the Story-Time Tuesday link at the top of my blog to take you to previous chapters.

Living Fiction - Chapter 37 (unedited)

Writing Fiction was always my working title, but a few weeks ago I realized I want to change it to 'Living Fiction'. It's still the continuation of the same story, but I will start using the new title from this point forward. I've made quite a few minor changes to earlier chapters to accomodate this shift in title. Thus the unedited version of this chapter...since I'm working from the beginning and moving the changes forward

Here's where Chapter 36 left you.

“Jessie,” I said wearily, “I don’t expect you to understand, but I was trying to protect you. I didn’t tell you those things to…”

“Mom? Really. This is just too much to process. I’m going home. Maybe we can talk in a few weeks. It’s hard to even look at you when everything that comes out of your mouth is a lie.” And with that harsh pronouncement she strode off...long legs taking her away from me too quickly. Shoulders set in a rigid line that warned me not to try calling after her.

As tears crept down my face I wondered how my good intentions to protect my daughter had gone so awry. My mother, God rest her soul, had always told me, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ Maybe she was right. Maybe I was in hell.

Standing in the lonely night air and watching my daughter’s car speed down the street a few moments later, I realized how badly I had messed things up. “Jessie,” I said to myself to quietly, “Oh Jessie. Not everything I’ve told you lately has been fiction. I really do love you…and that is the honest truth.”

My husband was dead.


AND NOW, CHAPTER 37 CONTINUES...

Slowly I made my way to the kitchen door and just as I got there I heard a car turn into the driveway. “Thank God, oh, thank you God for making her come back.” I turned around ready to do a full-on mea culpa, but instead of my daughter’s car, there was Jay’s silver SUV. With Jay in it. And beside him on the front seat was Edgar. I mean Spot. The second Jay opened the door, Edgar streaked to my side! Oh, he was a happy, happy dog! His bright, chocolate brown eyes were shining with joy! His little creamy gold feet barely touched the ground in his exuberant elation.

I forgot all about my headache as I scooped him into my arms. We were both shaking in excitement.

Jay had remained beside his open car door while Edgar and I had our own little love-fest. Jay did not look happy. There was nothing elated or joyous about him. He looked exhausted. And sad. And beaten down by life. And kind of ticked off. Probably at me. The love-fest was definitely over.

“How did you know where I live?” I wondered aloud. Jay pulled a crumpled piece of paper out of his coat pocket and held it up for me to see. I was surprised to recognize my own handwriting and then I remembered. “Oh yeah, that’s right. I gave that to you the time you called me a jerk and certifiable. You told me I was pompous and self-righteous. You called me a big, FAT…”

Jay held up a hand in surrender. “Pearl, okay, yeah, maybe I was a little bit of a jerk…”

“Little bit of a jerk! Are you crazy? You…”

“Pearl, stop. Listen. You were right. Okay, maybe you weren’t right about everything but you were right that I need to figure out how to get my life back together. Or maybe I should say …how to get a life, period. This one isn’t working. Nothing is working. Everything is all fu… I mean, messed up. I told my boss I was going to take a few weeks off but then I thought…I really need to take a few fu…ummm…weeks off from everything. And everything includes Spot. No, no. Don’t even start on me. I know he’s my responsibility, but you offered…and to be really honest here, Pearl, I don’t have anyone else to leave him with and...please? Please, just stop being angry and help me out here.”

Darn! Darn, darn, darn. I hate when anyone appeals to me for help. I cannot resist any plea like this. I’m the lady you see jump out of her car at the red light to give money to the people holding cardboard signs asking for help beside the road. I’m the woman who goes back into the grocery store to get cash from the ATM so I can donate to anybody collecting money outside the sliding glass doors.

How was I supposed to resist this? How was I supposed to keep angry at Jay when a) he needed my help and b) I was holding the cutest dog in the history of the world?

So I didn’t.

“Tell me what I need to do, Jay? I don’t want to interrupt Edgar’s…I mean Spot’s…routine.”

I could see Jay visibly relax before my eyes. He actually smiled briefly at me before heading around to open the trunk. He dragged a few boxes out of it and set them on the driveway. “Lead the way, Pearl!” he said in a voice that actually sounded nice!

I put Spedgar down and headed for the back door. Jay staggered up to the porch under the weight of the boxes while the dog danced around his feet barking in delight.

“Geez, Jay, did you bring the entire pet store over?” I joked as he walked by me.

“If this is too much, Pearl, just say so. Don’t beat around the bush…if you don’t want to watch the fuc…”

“Jay, calm down. I was teasing. As in kidding. As in…you know?...giving you a rough time for fun.”

I couldn’t believe how incredibly ackward this whole thing was becoming. I’d agreed to watch the dog! I’d told him I was excited about seeing the dog! I’d practically squished Spedgar in front of him in my excitement over seeing the dog! What part of that joy could Jay have misinterpreted? Seriously.

I gave Jay a moment to compose himself, and busied myself rubbing Spedgar’s wiry little ears.

I could hear Jay moving things around and when I finally turned toward him I was surprised to see what appeared to be the actual pet store I’d been teasing him about. Then he handed me a typed up list of instructions and inquired, “Is your husband going to be okay with this whole thing? Or wait? Are you divorced?”

Darn. I tried to recall what I’d actually told Jay.

“Ummm….” I stalled.

Jay raised his eyebrows.

“Ummm…well…” I hesitated again.

I swear there must be some kind of law in the universe about me having conversations with Jay, because just as I started to tell him what my situation really was, someone knocked at the front door.

Leg cramps! Misunderstandings! Interruptions! I swear that Jay and I were doomed to never have a complete conversation.

Since the knock had come from the front of the house, I figured it was just somebody wanting me to buy girl scout cookies or an entertainment book. Imagine my surprise, when I saw a red-eyed, mascara-raccooned Jessie framed in the glass of the door!

Puzzled, I opened the door and raised my eyebrows in query. “I am NOT coming to visit you, Mother. I am coming to straighten a few things out! Do you have time to have a discussion right now?”

Mother? Discussion? What was this snippy, formal bossy stuff? Before I could enquire in a Motherly way what she wished to discuss, Spedgar came bouncing into the room. He stopped short, looked up at Jessie, and then starting going berserk. He barked. He jumped. He rolled onto his back.
“Is this...?” Jessie raised her own eyebrows in an unfinished question.

My mother, God rest her soul, had always told me to mind my manners. So I did. “Jessie, meet Spedgar, previously known as Spot and then Edgar. Spedgar, meet Jessie.”

And then when Jay walked into the room to see why Spedgar was so excited, I introduced them as well. “Jay, meet my daughter, Jessie. Jessie, this is Jay…Spedgar’s ummm…owner.”

Jessie looked confused. “Mom? I thought you said a little boy lost Spot?”

I did? I said that?

I couldn’t remember. “Jessie, I don’t remember saying that.”

“Yes, Mom. You did. Say that. You said when you returned the dog there was a little boy who cried. And you went to dinner. And they gave you a reward. And the little boy had named the dog Spot because that was the only dog name he knew. Ding, ding, Mom. Is this ringing a bell at all with you?”

Jay looked puzzled. “Reward? Little boy? Pearl?”

Jessie and Jay stared at me with the same look of confusion on their face. Spedgar just rolled around on his back by their feet. It took me a few seconds to remember my tall tale. It took me about 1.2 seconds after that to start praying for the floor to swallow me. It didn’t. I figured the way my life had been going lately there would be a knock at the door any second giving me time to figure out how to wriggle out of this mess. There wasn’t. Where in the heck was a good interruption or leg cramp when you needed it?

I took a deep breath, “Okay, calm down everybody. I can explain.”

In unison, just like they’d practice the sarcasm for months Jessie and Jay replied, “Yeah, I just bet you can.”

I opened my mouth to start talking but instead of words, wails came out instead.

To be continued on Tuesday, May 31st.

(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Jennifer R. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Jennifer R. Matlock. All rights reserved.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

She sat beside me...

...as we watched the excited four and five year olds run through the sprinklers. The brightly colored stomp rockets flew high up into the perfect, almost-summer late morning sky.

We’d gotten to know each other a little bit as the year had progressed, the only commonality between us a child and a grand-child in the same pre-school class.

I’d overheard her talking to other young mothers about things I’d experienced a long time ago…potty training their younger children, who has the best prices for Pampers and wipes, new baby bottles on the market that really work well for colic-y babies. I’m sure I had a sentimental smile on my face as I listened to snippets of these conversations.

But now we were sitting quietly together on a red metal bench in the dappled shade of one of the school’s courtyard trees. Her son shouted with joy as a string of bubbles left his bright blue wand, my Grandlittle laughed as a red, white and blue beachball bounced on her shining blonde hair.


Out of the corner of my eye I saw the young mother put her head down. As I turned toward her I saw tears falling onto the smooth skin of her shorts-clad legs. She turned her head away, but after a few moments had passed, she glanced up at me...her tear-filled brown eyes radiating total and complete sorrow.

“Does this get better?” she asked in a quiet, shaky voice. “You’re a grandma. Does it get easier watching how quickly the time goes? How can this be his last day of preschool? How can he be going to kindergarten this fall?”

I didn’t answer her for a moment. I couldn’t. I was trying to swallow back my own tears. Mr. Jenny and I have both been struggling with the fact that our youngest Grand is going to school this fall. Empty nest the second time around feels even more poignant.

I put my hand on the weeping womans arm. I opened my mouth to offer comfort...offer hope that, yes indeed, time will slow down, but I'm a pretty rotten liar and I couldn’t get that false reassurance out.

She spoke again, “Tell me it gets easier. That it hurts less as time goes on.”

I searched my heart further for magic words. I had none. I searched my soul again for solace, but nothing came to me. I could not think of what to say.

Just then her son ran over to her. She dried her eyes and gave my hand a squeeze before she ran off to blow bubbles.

It felt surreal. Children and sprinklers and bubbles are timeless, aren't they? It could have been the blonde heads of my own children shining in the sunlight. It could have been their joyous shouts I hear so very clearly from my memories soundtrack.


My sweet Mo ran over after a bit and broke my musings. Isn’t the distraction of a small child a blessing? The rest of the last day of preschool was filled with popsicles and pretzels, gathering year-end papers, and driving home to the happy babbling of a cheerful child.

But now my house is quiet and I am left with my thoughts.

What advice would I have given that young mother? I still don’t know. I find myself thinking of the lyrics of a Joni Mitchell song that made me cry when my own children were young…

Yesterday a child came out to wonder,
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar,
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder,
And tearful at the falling of a star.
Then the child moved ten times round the seasons,
Skated over ten clear frozen streams,
Words like, when youre older, must appease him,
And promises of someday make his dreams.
And the seasons they go round and round,
And the painted ponies go up and down.
We’re captive on the carousel of time.
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came,
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.


Maybe I should have told her, “Make your memories while you can, hold him while you can, hug him while you can and listen, listen, listen with your heart every single moment of his childhood.”

Or maybe I should have just cried with her in the warm, dappled sunlight.

Woman to woman. Mother to mother. Sad heart to sad heart.


And then maybe I should have just told her to hold on tightly to the ride, because it's fast and it's crazy and it's over before you know it…

And the seasons they go round and round,
And the painted ponies go up and down.
We’re captive on the carousel of time.
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came,
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sundays with Steve - The US Army and Me

These Sunday's segments are written by my husband, Mr. Jenny. Here's what he has to say about his posts:

I’ve been writing these weekly stories about life in Northern Idaho, as a youngster and as growing into a young man, primarily for our family. And I'm delighted to share them with you. Just between us, I’m anticipating being cranky when some whipper-snapper who may not even be born yet harasses me in 30 years or so with 'Grandpa, tell me about when you were a boy.' That will probably be after the mad cow disease has set in and erased whatever memory is left. So these are the not-so-dramatic adventures of a Baby Boomer in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

The U.S. Army and Me

“Son,” said the Colonel, “You have a choice to make, but first let’s talk about your next assignment. I have your orders here for you to report to a communications battalion about 30 miles north of Saigon in two weeks. But don’t worry too much, the battalion has lots of protection around it, and the nightly shelling rarely kills anyone. And your assignment is only for twelve months.”

Some choice that was. It was late 1972. I had graduated from college the year before, and I had just spent twelve months in advanced officer training mostly at the U.S. Army’s Southeast Signal School in Augusta, Georgia, learning all the ins and outs of operating tropospheric scatter radios, a soon to be obsolete form of long range communications -- the pre-satellite paths for the Pentagon to communicate with its troops in Southeast Asia and around the world.

“The good news,” said the Colonel, “is that Mister Nixon doesn’t need all of you Second Lieutenants in Vietnam anymore.”

He was right, within about two years the U.S. had ingloriously left Vietnam, sparing thousands of young men like me the horrors of an Asian war.

“Or,” said the Colonel, “I have another set of orders here directing you to report for duty with the National Guard in your home state, where you will have to join for six years.”

Let me think about that for about one-tenth of a second: One year in the jungle getting shelled, mortared, and shot at every night. Or six years in the National Guard, whatever that was, playing Army one weekend a month.

“Yes sir,” I said as I smartly saluted and picked up the papers for option number two. “Thank you Colonel, it has been a pleasure getting to know you.” With that, I left Georgia, rarely to return in future years.


Six weeks later I had returned to my home town in North Idaho, where I and my brothers grew up, and where I had secured a job at the local wood and paper manufacturing company writing the corporation’s monthly employee newspaper and traveling the state, taking photographs, for the company’s achieves. It was dream job for a kid just out of college and the Army. I knew that I would join the family business at some point in my career, but I was determined to put that off for as long as I could.

“Come with me, Son,” said the National Guard Colonel. What is with these colonels all calling me son? Did I look like I was six years old so something?

I had reported in at the local National Guard armory with my orders, assigning me for duty there for the next six years.

I had just spent a year becoming a highly-trained tropospheric scatter station commander, although could not for the life of me figure out why a small Guard battalion in North Idaho required the advance capabilities of such long range communications. Mine, I told myself, is not to ask why, but to follow the Army’s orders to keep my butt out of Vietnam.

The Colonel, who I came to know well and like over the next several years, had been expecting me. My file was on his desk, with some writing that I could see in the margins of the typewritten Army forms. I didn’t quite know what to think about this. I was 23 years old, in my first job, and now, in my first Army job. I was nervous, and not very confident.

“Come with me, Son,” said the Colonel, leading me out the front door of the Armory, around the corner, and through the gates the blocked a large vehicle yard in the back. “There you go, Lt. Matlock, your first command,” said the Colonel, looking off to the far corner of the yard.

“Sir,” I said, “I don’t see my communication units, I don’t see the trucks and the antenna trailers we should have.”

The Colonel laughed, slapped me on the back, and said, “No Lieutenant, this is an Army Combat Engineer battalion. We build roads, we build bridges, we can build airfields, all under combat. You are the new commaner of Company C. Those twenty-six dump trucks over there are yours, congratulations, Son”

Dump trucks. Twenty -six dump trucks. Excuse me? Is there a mistake here? I, a highly trained tropospheric scatter station commander? Dump trucks.


And so it went. For the next several years I spent one weekend a month and two weeks each summer building forest service roads through-out North Idaho and Eastern Washington. We built playgrounds in a number of communities. We rebuilt the local fair grounds and rodeo grounds through-out our region. We fought spring-time flooding on Asotin Creek, and ran supplies to fire fighters in the Idaho forests each summer. One summer we took our trucks and men to a regional training facility, where they tried to teach us combat techniques, while building our roads. That wasn’t much fun. Mostly we did good works, building facilities for public use.

“Come with me, son,” said the Colonel, six years later. We sat in his office in Boise. He had been promoted to the state command staff, and I had taken a job in that city as well. We were together, once again, and had been for the last year. We sat in his office. “Your six years in the Guard are up, Captain,” said the Colonel, “if you re-sign, you only have to put in thirteen more years until you can retire.” Retire, me? A highly trained tropospheric scatter station commander, who has never been close to those radios again?

“Thank you Colonel,” I said, smartly saluting, “Good luck to you, and I hope to see you again.”

“And you too, Son,” said the Colonel.

* * *

I have a number of National Guard stories to share, some good, some not so good. In the future, perhaps we’ll dip into some of those.

(c) 2010 Stephen J. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Stephen J. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Stephen J. Matlock. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Centus - The reflection in the mirror

Jenny Matlock
Welcome to week fifty-five of Saturday Centus.

Today we gave a guest prompt! Miss Donna over at Dazee Dreamer sent a few over for me to pick from. She said I'm not supposed to torture you, so, this week it's just 100 words in whatever genre you like (not including the five words of the prompt). Thanks Miss Donna!

And the prompt this week is:

The reflection in the mirror...

Please display link button or just a hyper-link back to Saturday Centus. Be careful to link your SC URL to the Linky and not just link to your main blog.

Please e-mail me directly with ???'s or ask your question in a comment and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.

Feel free to link up anytime between now and next Saturday!

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Hush Little Baby...

Here is my contribution to Week 54 of Saturday Centus. I have no idea where this came from. It sounds right to me when I read it out loud but I don't know if the dialogue will feel correct to you. The prompt is in bold and you can read other contributions by just clicking here.

Either way...this is what came to me this week. Now that mine is posted, can't wait to see what you all thought of.




I’se jess hunkerin' down. Hunkerin' down over this young’un in my arms. My heart it pound…pound…pound so hard I know de massa gwonna hear it. I feel dis baby rootin…rootin to eat but I ain’t got none. I’se too old for milk but if she cry she’s gwonna get us both dead. My heart pound…pound…pound…

I nuzzle down to hers milk-sweet neck of ‘dis babe in my arms. It ain’t my babe. But dat don' matter none.

I hears him walk closer. I puts my forehead down to hers and hopes she can hear what I be thinkin’… Hush little baby, don't you cry now.

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The world is divided into two kinds of people...

...those who have tattoos, and those who are afraid of people with tattoos.


I don't want you to be afraid, though.

Because, I'm not a people who has tattoos. Anywhere.

I'm just a people who now has a tattooed style dresser.

And I have one for 6 bucks.

Yikes.

I went over my budget by a dollar...but in my defense...I know have over 1/2 of a bottle of high-gloss varnish...(Thanks Dad for the free knobs!)

...sooo...

I think I did pretty good.

Are you ready to see my finished FREE ugly white dresser with no knobs that Mr. Jenny and I got into an argument over?

Okay.

Close your eyes and count to three.

No peaking.

ONE...

TWO...

THREE!!!!!!!!






Yeah.

Mr. Jenny is pretty much eating his words now. I have a new project in mind to get started on next...unless I find some free furniture at a garage sale this weekend!

Thanks for letting me share my little tattoed beauty with you!

And, no, that first picture is NOT Mr. Jenny!

Sigh...

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

E is for Earth


Earth's the right place for love. I don't know where it's likely to go better.

Robert Frost

This quotation was brought to you by Alphabe-Thursday's letter "E". To see other "E" links, just click here.

PS. Speaking of love, thank you for all the kind words and e-mails. I can feel your prayers. I am grateful.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Alphabe-Thursday's letter E


Good morning class. Welcome to round three of Alphabe-Thursday! Gosh, D was a tough week with the blogger problems. I'm sorry everyone lost their comments. I did get around to visit you all, so I hope my comments showed up!

Today we will be elucidating the letter:


Please link directly to your Alphabe-Thursday URL (if you don't know how to do this let me know!) and please continue to visit the five links before and after your link and leave a comment. Minimum of 10 links visited please. You can visit more if you like, of course.

I also want to let you know that each week I visit every blog. If it appears I haven't visited your blog by the following Thursday morning, please let me know!

If you have any difficulties with your link, please make sure to include the number of the link when you e-mail me. It is really difficult for me to find you easily otherwise.

If you have any questions about Alphabe-Thursday or problems doing your link just post it in a comment or send me an e-mail. I'll do my best to help you as quickly as I can.

The McLinkey will be live from 1:00 pm MST time Wednesday afternoon in an effort to assist our lovely "friends across the pond" and continue through 10:00 am MST time Friday morning!

And remember.... link back to this post, you need to be registered as a follower of my blog, PG posts only, and you must visit at least 10 other posts...perhaps consider starting from the last posts and work backwards. The links will stay live after the final post deadline has passed so you can even wait and visit over the weekend or whenever you have more time.

You may elegantly post your E link now, class:

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Swallowed pride...and tattoo dresser progress...

Sometimes through grace and circumstance, we get exactly what we need when we need it...

...and it's such a wonderful thing that it makes us almost speechless.

Almost. Speechless.

Something that comes pretty hard to me, personally.

Oh sure, I can fill up a room with chatter, until it comes to something that is really hurting my heart. Then I grow quiet. And I find it very difficult to share my pain.

Yesterday was one of the worst days I've had in my life in a long, long time. No, you don't have to say, "Ohhh...I'm sorry," because I know we all have them. But I was having a hard time getting my fingernails dug in a little deeper to hang on.

I swallowed my pride.

Picked up the phone.


And spilled my guts to a friend. All of my guts. Not the 'acceptable for company' guts. Not the 'sanitized' version of what was going on in my life. Complete, total and unedited gut spilling.

Without guards.

Without filters.

I dumped my entire life at the moment on this wonderful person.

I cried, I hyper-ventilated. I cried some more. I sobbed.

And finally, finally, finally when my eyes were swollen shut and I could hardly breathe...

I stopped crying long enough to listen.

And she gave me great advice.

And she listened with her heart and her mind. And she blessed me with no judgement.

And I am grateful I was able to swallow my pride long enough, to let someone help me.

Sure, it's easy to help everyone else. It's easy to be the givER. But sometimes it's really hard to accept help gracefully...to be the givEE.

Sometimes I think it takes a stronger person to accept help than to give it.

And yesterday I had a very hard hitting reminder that I am only alone with my sorrows and fears if I am too proud to swallow my pride and reach out.

...

...

Wow.

Pretty deep, right?

And I can't find any natural way to segue into a dresser update so I'm not going to even try. Here's my ongoing progress.

I am about an hour away from being totally done...and the grand reveal will be on Friday.

I'm having a lot of fun with this project. Thanks for keeping me honest in getting finished!

Because I am working on a 5 dollar budget and I am out of glazing compound, I just mixed some acrylic paint with a lot of water and applied it with a brush. I quickly went over the damp brown paint and pulled most of it back off.

Then I used a high-gloss varnish over the tattoo area. Tomorrow I will put a second coat on and then coat all the pink areas with satin varnish. I want to see what playing with sheen will do on this piece.

And I spray painted my mis-matched drawer pulls black so they'll all match.






Thanks for stopping by today.

And if you have a spare prayer, maybe you can send it my way. I'd really appreciate that.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Story-Time Tuesday - Living Fiction

Jenny Matlock
If you missed where this story started just click here to read it or simply click on the Story-Time Tuesday link at the top of my blog to take you to previous chapters.

Living Fiction - Chapter 36 (unedited)

Writing Fiction was always my working title, but a few weeks ago I realized I want to change it to 'Living Fiction'. It's still the continuation of the same story, but I will start using the new title from this point forward. I've made quite a few minor changes to earlier chapters to accomodate this shift in title. Thus the unedited version of this chapter...since I'm working from the beginning and moving the changes forward

Here's where Chapter 35 left you.

And with that angry proclamation, she disappeared through the doorway of the treehouse and climbed down the ladder like it was nothing.

I realized it was futile to call after her to hold the ladder steady so I could climb down.

I realized I had never in my life seen her so angry at anyone, much less me.

I realized I had used the word ‘died’. Died. Died. As in dead. Dead.

Oh my God. Oh God.

My husband was dead.


AND NOW, CHAPTER 36 CONTINUES...

I sat in the doorway of the treehouse trying to absorb what had just happened. The air in the small space seemed to be almost explosive from the grenades of strong emotions my daughter and I had exchanged.

How could she accuse me of not loving her dad? How could she indict me with not caring? Since my husband had…had…

I couldn’t even make myself repeat the words I had said in my anger. I wanted to resort to the comfort of euphemisms, but none came to mind.

I had screwed up. Big time. Little snippets of my daughter’s remarks came back to me. Although I had been confused when she was yelling at me about the belly dancing and the grief group, I now recalled with shame all the lies I had told her. The only thing that had actually happened was the drinking with the neighbor thing. And that was only once. And it was Millie so, technically, it probably doesn’t really count.

Okay, and I HAD gone to a grief group and I HAD tried writing a blog, right?

“Pearl, stop it!” I admonished myself. “You’re turning into a total big, FAT, liar.”

Honestly, none of it had been completely factual.

Except the part about my husband being dea…ummm… ‘gone’.

Dangling my legs down into the empty air outside of the treehouse doorway, I continued to process what Jessie had said to me. The back of my nose started burning and I knew I was going to start crying. I pinched my thigh, hard, through the soft fabric of my sweat pants. “Toughen up, Pearl! You made this mess, now you have to sleep in it. Don’t fall off your bridges! Get back on the horse that bit you!” I gave myself a little pep talk of semi-mixed metaphors and realized I was just stalling. I had absolutely no idea what to say to my daughter. How could I? I didn’t even know what to say to myself.

It was the headache, I told myself. Yeah, the headache was keeping me from thinking clearly. And to get rid of the headache I needed to get some more aspirin. And to get some more aspirin I needed to go down this dreaded, wobbly ladder.

Realizing I’d have to lie on my stomach and blindly dangle my feet over the edge of the doorway until I found the top ladder rung, almost gave me a nervous breakdown. I scooted back from the edge of the abyss and tried to figure out how to accomplish the daunting task of going down, especially when I had thought going up had been difficult.

I took a deep breath and got down on my stomach. I wriggled around until my feet were pointing straight at the door and then I began inching backward. On my first inch, something jabbed me hard in my side. I shoved my hand inside my sweatpants pocket and pulled out my daughter’s car keys. Like mother like daughter! That was the good news. She couldn’t escape without talking to me! That was also the bad news! I had no idea what I could possibly say to her if I happened to survive the perilous descent.

Maybe that was the solution. I could see the headlines now in my imagination. “Local Widow Breaks Neck in Tragic Fall from Treehouse. Distraught Daughter Says, I Should Have Helped Her Get Down Instead of Storming Off so Unfairly.” I wondered for a moment if breaking your neck would actually hurt. Or maybe it would just hurt when you hit the ground. Either way, I thought it might be better to actually attempt the ladder.

When my husband had built the treehouse, he had worried about the kids getting hurt when they climbed down. To help keep them safe, he had installed a handle on each side of the doorway. I wondered if he was watching from his ‘celestial wood-working shop’ as I edged back to the doorway, dangled my feet out and grabbed the handles like they were the last raspberry-filled chocolate bars on a Godiva sale table.

I finally found the top rung with my right foot. My left foot played copycat, and soon my feet had gone down three rungs while my hands still clung to the safety handles in a death grip.

I realized to finish the last eleven steps I would have to let go of the handles. My white knuckled fists refused to cooperate with the idea.

Suddenly a voice floated up and reached my ears. A heavenly voice. The voice of a hero. And the voice was saying, “Hurry up and get down here Mom! I need some help finding my car keys.”

“Oh, sweetie,” I said in a quiet voice trying to shake the ladder as little as possible, “I knew you wouldn’t leave me up here.”

“Mooo-om. Seriously. Do you ever hear a single word I say? I can’t find my car keys. Hurry up. I’ll hold the ladder steady.”

See? See? My daughter does love me. Even though she had been acting all annoyed and hateful to me she still didn’t want me to fall to my death from the treehouse.

With her help, I safely finished climbing down to the ground. I really, really wanted to fall down on my knees and kiss the dirt, but I figured Jessie already thought I was semi-crazy, so I resisted. Instead I just patted the ground with my toe a few times in gratitude. Jessie still looked very annoyed at me. “Mom? Earth calling Mom? Car keys? My car keys?”

Gosh. For a girl that loves her mother that child can definitely spout the sarcasm. I was getting tired of all this drama. And my head hurt. And I needed to find a ladies room…pronto!

I opened my mouth to explain myself, and then quickly closed it. Instead, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the keys. I held them out to her. She took them.

“Mom? I just have to know. Are those things you told me after Daddy died a lie? Did you just lie about everything to me? Shit! Maybe you need to write a book. You are so full of fiction…or maybe you’re just full of something else.” Her eyes were so filled with pain I could hardly look at her.

“Jessie,” I said wearily, “I don’t expect you to understand, but I was trying to protect you. I didn’t tell you those things to…”

“Mom? Really. This is just too much to process. I’m going home. Maybe we can talk in a few weeks. It’s hard to even look at you when everything that comes out of your mouth is a lie.” And with that harsh pronouncement she strode off...long legs taking her away from me too quickly. Shoulders set in a rigid line that warned me not to try calling after her.

As tears crept down my face I wondered how my good intentions to protect my daughter had gone so awry. My mother, God rest her soul, had always told me, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ Maybe she was right. Maybe I was in hell.

Standing in the lonely night air and watching my daughter’s car speed down the street a few moments later, I realized how badly I had messed things up. “Jessie,” I said to myself to quietly, “Oh Jessie. Not everything I’ve told you lately has been fiction. I really do love you…and that is the honest truth.”

To be continued on Tuesday, May 24th.

(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Jennifer R. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Jennifer R. Matlock. All rights reserved.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Hope you had a berry happy weekend...(Tattoo dresser update, too!)

We did!

My blackberries are producing like crazy.

The two oldest Grands took them door to door in our cul-de-sac to raise money for camp!




Today, I picked a whole bowl full and then made the best blackberry/raspberry cobbler with them! It was a really unusual recipe and I was unsure if it was going to turn out...but...WOW! I'll post the recipe at the very, very end of my picture laden block post today for you to try!







AND...although, I didn't finish the dresser, I'm moving right along. I have one side to finish painting and then I am going to glaze over the painting areas and antique them a bit to knock the color down a little bit and give it dimension. But here's where I'm at now!




...and that's my Monday update! I have some funny little kid stories but this post is too long as it is, sooooo...

If you want to have a berry happy week, make this cobbler. For serious.

BLACKBERRY COBBLER

3 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted (one stick)
Ice cream

Stir together blackberries and sugar. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 375.

In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt and milk. Stir in melted butter JUST until blended. Do NOT overmix the batter. Just handle it gently and as little as possible.

Spread batter into an UNGREASED square 8 inch pan.

Spoon fruit mixture over top.

Make 45 - 55 minutes at 375 until dough rises and is golden brown. Serve warm.

WHAT I DID: I doubled everything and made a 13 x 9 pan but it was over-full and dripped all over my oven. I didn't have quite enough blackberries to double the recipe, so I used 4 cups of fresh blackberries and 2 small containers of red raspberries. I'm tellin' ya. This is the best berry cobbler I have ever made.

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