The Ants Go Marching

There has been an ongoing war in our peaceful home for a couple of weeks now. Early on in the siege I surpassed my husband’s college football game watching record for shouting expletives. I’m not proud of the name calling either, but at least there aren’t any young and impressionable ears living in our household. Luckily the battles have been localized, the war zone contained and civilian movement has not been severely restricted. But even that point is arguable, as we are temporarily down to one useable bathroom.

The conflict began with a few tiny ones crawling in and around the vanity sink. Pesky little creatures I sentenced to death by drowning in the Niagara Falls of an open faucet. Gone today, back tomorrow. So strange, I thought. What could be their motive for invading our one abode? They have a multitude of their own colonies after all. Are they after an asset of ours? Reconnaissance by yours truly ensued and possible targets were eliminated one by one. They didn’t seem to be coveting the grandchildrens’ Tom’s of Maine Strawberry toothpaste. Could it be the Sugarplum scented hand soap? A switch to Turquoise Waters proved not. Did the medicine cabinet hold some irresistible target? Scanning the shelves provided no new intel. Days passed and drowning after drowning hindered not the insect brigade’s forward movement. 

I felt the need to call for back up, so hubs did a Google search and found that weaponizing vinegar was recommended as an effective cease and desist order. Placing some in a small cap would supposedly be an attractive and deadly swimming pool. Nope. The wagon train skirted the intended cemetery and marched on. I decided that bait was needed to solve this war time issue. Two trips to the store, two different brands of “ant bait” that guaranteed results, and again the enemy combatants were able to render them useless and strutted on. The only “results” were more extreme frustration.

Back to tactical research, where experienced agents reported that coating the entire surface of the counter and sink with vinegar would apparently create a “Death Valley”, the likes of which no ant could survive. Success! A few hourly checks before bed confirmed no enemy presence. 

And the next morning, they were back. But on the wall, not the counter. !#%!*!%#?! Following the trail of interlopers led me back to the medicine cabinet. That previously identified safe house had since been compromised by every ant and his or her uncle and the literal swarm of them were feasting on their target – a half used package of Ludens Sore Throat Lozenges. I raced to the armory and secured a bottle of 409 kitchen spray and showered them with it. Mission accomplished. Enemy forces subdued and eliminated. Victory was mine! With the added benefit of having an entirely cleaned out medicine cabinet.

Until the next morning. More ants. More vinegar. More expletives. More recon identified the possible point of entry as the shower windowsill. One by one they trespassed through a minuscule space between window and wall. I drenched the sill with vinegar and massacred the band of brothers in arms with an almost maniacal joy. I then ran outside to seek and destroy any and all convoys approaching the window. Sure enough, one by one they marched, right up the side of the house. More vinegar. More deaths. Another hard fought victory under my belt. 

Until the next morning, which is this morning, when I wake early to a replay of “the ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah” in my head and stumble to the bathroom to see a vertical platoon of them haughtily traipsing up the wall and all around the 10 foot ceiling. Headed where, for !#%!’s sake? 

And exactly what life lesson am I obviously NOT LEARNING through all of this? What are those Little Fockers trying to teach me? I don’t want to bomb my bathroom with poison gas, but I can’t simply retreat and give up the territory. Meanwhile, my house smells like a pickle factory and of course it’s raining and…

 

     Just in case you’d like to hear the song, so you too could have it stuck in your head. It’s available through this link on You Tube.

Peace and Love (unless you’re an ant)

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Water Cannot Save You

Water cannot save you

the old crone whispered

from under the red algae and 

limpet covered dock.

Her face a stark blue 

as if the sky was reflected 

on her paper thin skin.

Her eyes, cobalt globes 

that seemed to bore into my bones.

Shivers, followed by a vestigial 

reflex to grasp an 

invisible umbilical cord,

to save myself from falling into 

her abyss of belief.

Water can save you, I countered.

It has rescued me a thousand times.

My ships have run aground and 

my body has betrayed me,

breathless I have nearly 

acquiesced to the deep darkness,

only moments before Mother 

Ocean’s arms have held me, 

fed me, watered me, 

and 

carried my 

sunburnt soul

to the well of hope.

Water cannot save you the 

old crone whispered.

Water can save you I 

argued again,

as I dove back into 

my turquoise womb

and dared her

to follow.

CRR

4-8-19

#THESEBLUEDEPTHS #nationalpoetrymonth #poetryprompts #thispedestrianlife #poem #poetry #poetryisnotdead #poetsofinstagram #poetrycommunity #poetrynetwork #writer #writing #water #ocean 

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I Have Never

I have never seen the cherry trees don their pink and white party attire in April in DC, but I have knelt bare kneed in the cool black earth of a garden and felt Spring seep slowly into my soul.

I have never danced in a vibrant orange sea of California poppies, but I have scooped up fresh tilled soil into both hands and holding it to my nose, inhaled the sensual perfume of Eden’s womb.

I have never lain in the fragrant arms of a lavender field in Orvieto, Italy, but I have tasted the sweetness of a strawberry kiss on the lips of my 3 year old daughter, as she picked and ate them directly off the vine.

I have never sung to a rainbow of Tulips in Holland, but I have heard a young child’s squeal of excitement as a Luna Moth emerged from its chrysalis and beat its downy wings for the first time.

I have never tired of Spring as a part-time lover, nor asked it to extend its stay,
but I have however swallowed it whole and smiled.

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A Desk Area Self Portrait or Dear Marie Kondo, I Can Justify (Almost) Every One 

Today marks the first day of National Poetry Month and I’m challenging myself to write a poem every day. After perusing a multitude of prompts that just didn’t speak to me, I decided to look around myself for inspiration. From my office love seat, with the sounds of crashing waves emanating from my noise machine, and with glass of rosé’ in hand, I decided to compose a personal show and tell poem, the likes of which I’ve never written before and from which you the reader will compose your own picture of me. 

Desk Area Self Portrait or Dear Marie Kondo, I Can Justify (Almost) Every One

Yellow plastic mermaid who once graced the rim of a thoroughly enjoyed tropical cocktail.

Found coquina hearts, sorted by size in clear glass jars. 

A single gray sock left behind by a grandson.

Bed Bath and Beyond coupon number 3054.

Wind chime gifted from a dear, long lost friend.

Amethyst and pink quartz stones.

Love notes from my babies.

A golden feather.

A filagree key.

A wine cork.

Brain coral.

Real Hawaiian leis.

A tower of journals.

A Buffalo-Indian Head nickel.

Plane tickets as bookmarks.

A flower that dances to light.

Lavender and sea glass from Italy.

A pen made of wood by my father.

Bottle of Becherovka bought in Prague.

Hundreds of sharks teeth in a Shamu jar.

Photos of my mother as a young woman.

A miniature San Francisco Trolley car sent by my son.

A purple ceramic lizard and a painted turtle made of stones.

The tiniest heart shaped box filled with confetti hearts and a young daughter’s note.


PS

A pile of receipts my husband wishes I would enter into Quicken.

CRR

4-1-19


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Once Upon A Bookmobile 


Besides being April Fools’ Day, tomorrow also marks the beginning of NPM- National Poetry Month. And while poetry may not be everyone’s preferred genre of literature, it is one of my favorites. Ever since I discovered Edna St. Vincent Millay and Emily Dickinson on the Orange County Library Summer Bookmobile, (which was as exciting as the ice cream truck to me), I’ve been drawn to reading and writing poetry, as well as the lives and letters of those who’ve chosen to make and share meaning via this evocative form. That said, I’m participating in the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) 2019 30 days -30 poems challenge, so be forewarned. Quantity is not synonymous with quality. I may not post every poem I’ve written, because some of them will very likely sink to the crap level. Wish me well and many visits from my muses.

In honor of the month, I’m sharing two of my favorites by the aforementioned poets.

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)

By Edna St.Vincent Millay 1892 – 1950

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, 

I have forgotten, and what arms have lain 

Under my head till morning; but the rain 

Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh 

Upon the glass and listen for reply, 

And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain 

For unremembered lads that not again 

Will turn to me at midnight with a cry. 

Thus in winter stands the lonely tree, 

Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, 

Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: 

I cannot say what loves have come and gone, 

I only know that summer sang in me 

A little while, that in me sings no more.

Hope” is the thing with feathers – 

By Emily Dickinson 1830-1886

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

Peace and Love

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I Hope You Have Goddesses In Your Life

goddesses

These women. These goddesses. I hope you know them, or humans like them, that you have them in your life. Not to worship as deities, but to walk you home.

Years ago, a beloved and now sadly deceased coworker, a very dignified, no nonsense, mountain of a man we weren’t initially sure would fit into our chorus line, bestowed upon us the honorary title of “goddesses”. It was both a term of endearment and appreciation for what each of us brought to the stage ( our classrooms). For the past 13 years, our 6th grade team has been a literal “Dream Team” of personalities, backgrounds, talents and gifts that have somehow coalesced into a beautiful and in-sync life force, support system and family.  (and also a team of state certified High Impact Educators!)

If you have any of these women (or men) in your life, you know the feeling –

of being patched and hoisted back up when the winds of the world have torn holes in your sails and your heart.

of being reassured that what you’re doing is truly making a difference, on those days when you feel as ineffective as a PE teacher whose class is named “Exercise in Futility”.

of being celebrated and congratulated, for professional and personal victories large and small, even when all you might have to celebrate is a “good hair day”.

of being an integral and valued part of a group fighting for something bigger than you, bigger than what lies in your field of vision, and a tiny part of everything.

of being carried across and through, up and over and carrying in return.

of holding hands and tackling molehills that become mountains, the floods and the quakes, the feeling of those hands that help and guide you, but are also there to slap some sense into you when you need it the most.

With my retirement from teaching on the horizon, (65 days out), I’m struck with a sense of awe and appreciation for these women who’ve been there for me and each other. Perfectly imperfect women who’ve never been petty, never unforgiving or ungiving, never haughty or predatory. Women I will treasure always. I hope you’re lucky enough to know them or humans like them.

 

Peace and Love

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You Don’t Always Find What You’re Looking For, But…


1-6-19
Sunday morning seaside. I seek and find my therapist, my religion, my community service opportunities and my gym there, all just sandy steps beyond the wind sculpted dunes. I went armed with a Sharpie marker this time, intending to write some poetry on the abandoned boat that’s been beached there for quite a while. It had become that, a place for art and messages of every sort, painted, scrawled and carved into its remaining bare bones. But it was gone. Finally removed through some great feat of dragging, heaving and hauling. All that was left was a small blue and jagged piece of the hull, etched with the letters OW. Symbolic of its death for sure, if not also of the pain of its last journey. 

A bit dissapointed, but at the same time thankful for the beach cleanup, I decided to venture further south. And I found this old juke joint I used to weekend work at. Peering through the permanently ocean fogged windows and strolling past the No Trespassing signs on the deck like the real estate investor I’m not (I had a story ready for law enforcement), I felt a sea breeze of sunny, salty memories of stories and souls. I spent the next few minutes smiling and thankful.

I didn’t leave any poetry behind there, nor the memories, for they were all good, the kind you’re glad you rediscovered and want to keep. 

Peace and Love

CRR

1-6-19

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Years

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Zora Neale Hurston

3 a.m. doesn’t have good manners. Before even greeting me properly, she starts in with the questions, slippery little reptilian ones that slither in through my ear holes and warm themselves in my gray matter. Some are grade-level, (I’ve been retained in 6th for more than a decade now), some surely originated in the MENSA screening test, and others range from “Did I leave the oven on?” to “Why does evil exist in the world and how can we solve world hunger?” Regardless, they all make it impossible to return to that hallowed place of blissful, empty-mind sleep. 

This morning, the first of the new calendar year, brought me face to face with the Zora Neale Hurston quote above. Amongst all the new year wishes, reflections and ruminations, her words stand out. If we take a moment to look back and compartmentalize our lifetimes, we will surely find this particular bit of wisdom to be true. There are years that ask the HUGE questions, some remaining unanswered, while others are later rephrased and answered correctly. Certain years seem to sprint by with hummingbird wing speed and answers we barely caught wind of, much less fully understood. And then there are the those that require careful, consistent, constant studying and 5 paragraph essays to reach the end of each particular test. I think if we’re observant, contemplative and lucky, each of our years will deliver us an individualized education, presented in Socratic style. Guided by questions that we alone know and we alone have the answers to, our years will reveal all that we’re willing to see. 

My personal resolution this year is not to lose weight, eat healthier, stop a certain vice or start some new life accentuating practice. My only two resolutions for 2019 are to be more present in each moment and to love more. Because I think those are the answers. To everything. For everybody. 

Peace and Love

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I Return


Saltwater.

When the words won’t come, due to tears, or frazzled nerves or a numbness of unknown origin, I return. When my head feels like a hundred tangled strings of strobing Christmas lights soaked in frustration and gasoline, I return. When bone deep exhaustion of mind, body and soul sets up camp in my marrow, I return. When sleep becomes a stranger and dreams and I part ways, I return. When this heart can no longer imprison the grief, or the joy, or the ache, I return. To the only mother* I have now, I return.

CRR

12-14-18

* Earlier this week I received a package from one of my aunts. It was a photo of my mother with all of her siblings, taken before disease had fully invaded her body and filled her cells with slow demise. As the packaging fell away and my eyes fell into hers, I burst into tears. She’s been gone 7 years now but it might as well have been yesterday. I’m a pro at staging myself, like a house for sale, and closeting all that grief. 

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Through A Different Lens

If you’re like me, reminders are necessary.

This Pedestrian Life

To see the world differently you have to look through a different lens.

We can buy new contacts that change the color of our eyes or frame them up in ways that match our outfits or mood du jour. Sure, we can correct our vision, but besides a transplant, can we truly see the world around us or just a certain situation with new eyes?

The physiology of how we know what we see begins with light entering the retina and ends in the inferotemporal cortex of our brain, which “tells” us what we see. Sounds simple, unless you truly want the details. It’s not just a bio mechanical process though. There’s history on those neural pathways, postcards from the past, in addition to sensory reactions and gut feelings that give collections of atoms and beams of light meaning.

Besides buying those clichéd rose colored glasses, how do we go…

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