In honor of National Badger Day, meet Chaos, just one of the colorful characters from my new novel, The Queen of Hawthorn Holler.
Jezebel always flaunted a full bush. Her seventh single to go platinum had been titled, “You Make My Honey Badger Growl.” At concerts, the Barbarian Love Slaves often wore stuffed badgers pinned to the crotches of their pants in homage. Fans were always sending needlepoints, sculptures, photos, and other crafts depicting the animal. Chaos, himself, had been an overzealous gift.
“It looks like a bowl of rainbow sherbet. Wanna’ see it?” She started to slide the onesie off.
“No,” Judd screamed. “I’ve seen you naked enough over these past six years.” Just when he thought he was immune to Jezebel’s impropriety, she’d say or do something that would make him want to hide his head in quicksand.
“Wonder if I should dye Chaos to match?”
On cue, the badger lurked out of the bathroom and flashed his fangs. He clawed his way onto the ten-person, dining table that dominated one side of the suite. A mountainous bowl of fruit restocked by the staff each morning sat dead center. It went untouched by Jezebel, but Judd and Chaos put a daily dent in it.
“Hey Buddy.” Judd reached in his direction. “Come, see me.”
Chaos, who’d opted to mangle a mango, met his request by snarling and spitting a mouthful of sticky, orange fruit in Judd’s direction.
“Don’t be a dick, dude. I brought you some beef jerky.” Judd fished a bag of Jack Link’s Original Hickory Smokehouse out of his pocket, opened it, and laid it on the floor at his feet. “Come on, badass, you know you want this more than that prissy fruit.”
Chao jumped down, waddled over, and pissed on Judd’s checkerboard Vans, then snatched the dried beef and burrowed under the couch.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. When it comes to the topic of suicide, most people don't want to think about it, and then there are those who, from time to time, just can't help it. As that person, I know this. We must be open to listening, even if it makes us uncomfortable. We must avoid telling people how selfish it would make them--if they're considering suicide, their self-esteem is low enough. We must take the threat serious, always. Here is a morbid rhyme from a very dark time.
THE DAY I COMMITTED SUICIDE
A luxury bestowed on humankind.
The ultimate way to relax and unwind.
It's just a step through that peaceful portal,
To enjoy the bliss of being mortal.
I always knew I would...
When life became more pain than good,
More work than play...
Still...I wasn't certain on that day,
There was a chance that I would stay,
In this world for a year or two more,
If I could find something worth living for.
So...I watched out the window and waited.
For what…I know not.
Perhaps a Pied Piper, brawny and blonde,
Who'd carry me away to Walden Pond,
Or Avenue A in Alphabet City...
Really, any place pretty or gritty...would do.
As long as I could be,
Anyone but me...
Once I got there.
Come afternoon, I evaluate my life,
Great guest, good friend, decent wife,
Who wrote some books, some poems, some plays,
Filmed a bio-pic about me and my gays
For men or money, there was never a lack,
My drinking kept Maker's Mark in the black.
I threw a flawless party every holiday season...
But was any of this a good enough reason?
To justify that I remain,
On this mundane, mortal plane...
I closed one heavy eye and clearly heard the cry,
"Hokahey, hokahey...today is a good day to die!"
Then, let's do it...
First, I wrote my suicide note...
Making sure it was calm and witty, not beleaguered by neurosis
I went to the keyboard and typed, "Bet you thought it'd be cirrhosis."
Assuming an autopsy, I decide to do my part,
By amusing the coroners with a surreal work of art,
With stomach contents consumed to please:
Gummy worms, pop rocks, and camembert cheese,
A picture of Ben Franklin and a pink Barbie shoe,
And a Scrabble tile with the letter "Q"...
For Quincy, MD, everyone's favorite medical examiner.
Next, to the closet to choose my shroud,
Something sophisticated, not too loud.
It must be classic, not trendy or lewd,
For, I may have to wear it through infinitude.
"Just pick something, Donna, you must OD soon."
I opt for a vintage caftan by Georgie Keyloun.
I bathe, dress, and grab some festive pills.
After Googling and oogling at what best kills,
I've carefully chosen Seconal to set me free,
If it was good enough for Garland, then it's good enough for me.
I swallow thirteen, though ten would suffice
And wash it down with a bourbon on ice.
With book and bottle, I take to the bed,
To drink and read Dr. Seuss 'til I'm dead.
I almost bought Egyptian cotton on which to take my final breath,
But just couldn't bear to waste a thousand thread count on death.
Take a shot and read a rhyme...take a shot and read a rhyme.
I do this time after time after time after time,
Until the drowsies come upon me half way through The Lorax.
Outside, the rain begins to fall,
Ambian from heaven...
And that's the last thing I recall.
There is no happy ending to this verse.
No twist, no turn,
No lesson to learn...
The day I committed suicide
Was quite simply, the day I died.
I must admit, out of all God’s creatures, my least favorite has always been birds. Probably because my Granny Ison had a coop full of the meanest frickin’ chickens in history. My theory is that her hen house was some portal from hell and those fowl were its demon guardians. I swear their eyes glowed red. They led to a reoccurring nightmare about being mauled by giant chickens. Killer poultry also make an appearance in The Miracle of Myrtle: Saint Gone Wild.
My dislike subsided soon after we moved to Bohemian Bay where we have all the cool varieties including blue heron, cormorants, mallards, wood ducks, red-headed woodpeckers, loons, hawks, and hummingbirds. I know their names because, after tiring of me making up monikers like the “Too-Good-to-Talk-to-Me-Even Though-I-Know-It-Can” and “Long-Necked Hateful Duck,” a friend gave me the National Audubon Societies’ Field Guide to Birds.
This summer, I have become obsessed with hummingbirds. I have two feeders that I watch like they are Prince in concert or a Criminal Minds marathon.
Here are some of the facts I’ve learned about the Trochilidae.
Here is a simple recipe:
- Like me after a night of heavy drinking, the hummingbird needs to eat twice its body weight in food every day, and to do so they must visit hundreds of flowers.
- Hummingbirds are the smallest of all birds.
- They get their name from the humming sound their wings make when they flap them, which is normally about 80 times a minute. However, when a male is trying to impress a lady, he can up his game to 200 flaps a minute.
- The hummingbird could totally get to the middle of a Tootsie Pop in no time flat. They have a long tongue which they use to lick their food at a rate of up to 13 licks per second.
- They can fly right, left, up, down, backwards, and even upside down. They are also able to hover by flapping their wings in a figure-8 pattern.
- "Their feet ain't made for walking," sung in the style of Nancy Sinatra. The hummingbird’s feet are used for perching only.
- The popular southern dessert hummingbird cake does not actually contain hummingbirds.
- The hummingbird’s favorite colors are red, orange, yellow, or purple like because these are the colors of the flowers they prefer. So, to lure these fascinating little creatures to your home, first get a feeder in one of the hues.
- Hummingbirds subsist primarily on insects and nectar. Contrary to popular belief, your nectar should not be colored. Dyes are not necessary, and some can be harmful.
1 Cup Sugar
4 Cups Water
Bring to a boil, simmer until sugar melts, stirring constantly.
Cool down to room temperature.
Fill your feeder and hang it in a shady spot. Direct sunlight makes the nectar ferment faster. Then, just wait for the winged magic.
And here is the saddest fact of all…hummingbirds are migratory, so come fall we must say good-bye. When the temperature drops, you should take your feeder down, so the precious little things don’t get confused and stay around too long. Farewell, my little feather friends.
Now, I guess I better get to work on my Sasquatch feeder for the winter.
I was determined to make Frank’s forty-fifth birthday special…and I succeeded…if by special you mean completely sucktastic. It all started out lovely. I awoke him last Friday with a hot cup of coffee, flaming tower of Krispy Kreme donuts, and rousing of rendition of “Happy Birthday.” After breakfast, we loaded up the boat for our big adventure.
Mind you, all the man wanted for his birthday was to get a bucket of chicken, bottle of Patron tequila, take our new pontoon all the way to the end of the lake and back, and then return home for birthday sex.
That last request was where the problems started. Being in perimenopause, my period is as erratic as Donald Trump, but right before we set out on our journey, I started. Strike One.
Anyway, we headed off toward Gwynn Island on what was one of the most beautiful days that the creator ever made. Less than thirty minutes into our voyage, the motor clunked, sputtered, and died. We decided to take a look at it, although neither of us really knowing what we were looking for. So, we took off the engine cover and smoke came billowing out. It doesn’t take a mechanic to know that ain’t right.
Determined to make the most of it, while the motor cooled down, we turned up the stereo and started our own floating disco. Frank broke into his best robot and I busted out some old-school moves. Shortly, we worked up an appetite, so we grabbed the tequila and spread out a picnic of chicken, slaw, and potato salad. In the process, Frank got his hands dirty and needed to wash them before we ate.
Instead of packing the mondo bottle of Grey Goose for the fruity cocktails we'd planned for later in the day, I’d put the vodka in a clear plastic container, which he mistook for water. I looked over just in time to realize he was washing his hands in thirty dollars worth of good booze.
“Well, at least, they’re sterile,” I said, still holding on to hope.
After trying to start the engine to no avail, we realized we had to call Donnie, who is sort of like this lake superhero who comes to the aid of distressed boaters. He left his lunch to come and tow our sorry asses home…AGAIN…fourth time this summer.
Still we were determined to “go to White Castle.” This is what we call it when we summon our inner Harold and Kumar and go against all odds and through any obstacle to accomplish a goal. Our goal was a day on the lake, and by God, we were going to have it.
Luckily, we have a back-up pontoon. The Bohemian Barge was parked at the top of the hill. All we had to do was move three other trailers, change the hitch on the van, load her up, zip-tie her down, and drop her in.
Jason and Tammy were back. Those were the names painted on the rear of the Barge when we bought her. Instead of whitewashing over it, I decided those would become our redneck alter egos who can go around Herrington wreaking havoc with no repercussions to us, since people wouldn't know our real names. .
“Fetch me a beer, Tammy.”
“Kiss my ass, Jason, get your own damn drink. Can’t you see I’m giving myself a tattoo?”
So, we got the Barge in the water only to realize she was out of gas. I had no cash. And, Frank had lost his wallet. After an hour of tearing through his van and the boat, we found it under the seat hidden by a life jacket.
Finally, we arrived back at the dock just as dark was falling only to find that a blue heron had shit all over it. Frank and Donna were done. Jason and Tammy were through, too. Fuck “going to White Castle,” we were going to bed.
UPDATE: Last night, we managed to tow the Krazy Kraken to the Boat Doctor. During our birthday bedlam, we melted the gasket...whatever the hell that means. It's going to take a month to fix it...a whole frickin' month...so...
For the next thirty days, watch out Herrington Lake because Jason and Tammy are going to be raising some hell.
Last weekend was my college theatre reunion at Morehead State University. I promised to tell you beautiful readers all about it. It has taken me 48 hours to process all the crazy that occurred, but here it is in a nutshell.
I had the best cheese fries I have ever eaten. The key to their perfection? Instead of being on the side, the ranch dressing was nestled in the middle of perfectly crispy fries topped with cheese and bacon, so it oozed out with every bite. I would eat these every day forever...
which could be why…
One of my old professors, who is a master at passive-aggressive insults called me fat in the following way. Upon looking me up and down, up and down, she said, “I would never have known this was you. Really, you’re barely recognizable, except for your eyes.” Proving that once a snide, judgmental biddy, always a snide, judgmental biddy.
Over the course of two days, I took five baths and realized how very much I miss having a tub. I see a renovation in our future.
After preparing all week to perform "Prayer of an Aging Party Girl" at the Saturday night showcase, a series of mishaps caused me to miss the whole damn thing. To compensate, I am going to make a YouTube video of the piece. Coming soon to a screen near you.
I got to spend time with some spectacular old friends and made a brand new one who has fabulous fashion sense, a wicked sense of humor, and loves her cats even more than I do.
In daily life, I found I use the word “fuck” far more than the average person.
As a birthday gift, I received a gorgeous new hummingbird feeder (my new obsession)…yes, my birthday was two months ago. Better belated than never.
We had hotel sex, which is for some reason is always better than home sex.
"I am the most responsible house guest you'll ever have" is code for "The minute you leave I'm going to start channeling Keith Richards...1984 Keith Richards." No one is to blame. Somehow the lake just does this to people.
I caused my bestie to laugh so hard he cried…like doubled over, tears flowing, body heaving laugh-crying, which is my favorite thing in the world to watch.
Upon arriving home, I lost an earring out of the pricey turquoise pair that Frank bought me for Valentine’s Day, and then I cried. It fell in the lake. Now, the Herrington Mermaid has added it to her collection of our sunken belongings, which includes three cell phones, two fishing poles, more sunglasses than I can count, and a statue of Buddha.
Bohemian Bay saw its first skinny dipper…and it wasn’t me...or Frank. You get three guesses on who it was.
On this trip, I discovered that Frank is part raccoon. Throughout the weekend, I awoke to find random wrappers and food stuffs (Donut sticks, Grippo’s chips, Arizona sweet tea, Zingers, Funyons) scattered throughout our room. Apparently, when I went to sleep, Frank had gone out foraging. None of these items were available in the hotel vending machines, so he must have been stealing them from people’s rooms or scavenging from the trash.
I also discovered that when it comes to husbands, he is about as good as they come.
All in all, I’ll give the weekend a 7.5. And, the cheese fries and sex an 11.
A poem in Honor of National Mutt Day...
In His Eyes
In his eyes, I am a rock star.
A goddess rock star who can strum the strings of the universe,
With one wink.
For him it is not the sun,
That deems the day begun,
It is when I shine and rise,
That the world awakens in his eyes.
As far as I can tell,
He’d rather walk through hell…
Than through paradise with any other.
In his eyes,
There are only shadows and sighs,
Whenever I’m away.
My absence is a slow, cruel burn,
Only extinguished by my return,
Which is cause for utter elation and celebration.
I never fear he’ll be unfaithful,
It is not in his nature, nor his upbringing.
He was bred to stay with me until the day he dies,
There is only loyalty, in his eyes.
He begs for my affection without shame,
So I stroke his broad chest to tame,
The savage beast.
But one touch is never enough…
He longs for my hands on him always.
Sheer adoration lies,
In his deep, brown eyes.
Above all, one fact stands clear,
Disappointing me is his greatest fear.
He lives to please,
And would die to protect.
He won’t eat, or sleep, or piss without my permission.
For, in his eyes, I am a rock star.
A goddess rock star who can strum the strings of the universe,
With one wink.
Now, if I could just find a man that loves me as much as my dog does,
I’d be in business.
Alright, I must admit that this blog is completely mistitled. I was never really a princess. I have always been snarky, drank too much, been slightly promiscuous, dressed a little eccentric, yelled at strangers, and been prone to random acts of violence. Someone did once call me the “Queen of the Metro.” But then, everybody was a queen at the Metro. It was a gay alternative dance club that used to exist on Main Street. I was there, at least, four nights a week back in the early nineties in black spandex and combat boots. By day, I was doing Shakespeare in the Park or going to grad school. Then, for the next decade, I was the stiletto-wearing, perpetual party girl and fixture in the downtown bar scene. Then, I was a provocateur…a Sister Provocateur, to be exact. Next, though I fought being pigeon-holed, I was essentially skirt! Magazine. Now, who am I? I have no fucking clue and therein lies the problem. Photo Courtesy of Tash Suter.
Who am I? What am I? Why am I?
Why the sudden existential crisis? Because tonight I will be joining Frank at the Kentucky Theatre to see the documentary, “Slips Away,” that celebrates the punk scene in Lexington in the 80’s and 90’s, and then heading on to the After Party at The Green Lantern. Frank was part of this scene. I was on the fringe, but was always intimidated as hell. I wanted to get close enough to touch the tattoos but not get stabbed by the spiked collars. I was fascinated by those who could truly not give a damn about what others thought, society's standards, breaking rules, breaking norms, breaking furniture, getting injured, getting arrested…as long they had a good time and each other. I yearned to be them, but my overwhelming need to please and achieve kept me from embracing anarchy. I regret it.
Besides, punk just doesn’t stick on me. I’ve tried to emulate Siouxsie Sioux and Joan Jett, but I just end up looking like Snow White costumed as a vampire. Exhibit A is the picture at the top of the page. On top of that…I’ve gotten fat. Most of the chicks from his circle in that era have held up well…really well and have sexy, dangerous edges where I have curves. So, I’m feeling completely insecure. I don’t want to be the lame, frumpy wife, but I totally want to support my man and share this awesome experience with him.
So, what am I going to do? I mean, besides just bourbon through it, which is a given. I am going to rely on the fact that even though I may not look like it on the outside, I am radical as hell in my head. My mind has a Mohawk. I create utter havoc on the page and sometimes on the stage. I am an extreme athlete catching big air. I just use a laptop, instead of a BMX bike. I say what others won’t. I take risks. And, I don’t take “no” for an answer. I’m not afraid to stand up to bullies. I give great head. I live on a lake. And I can drink most any mother fucker under the table. I’m feeling better already. I can do this. I am the Bourbonista. I’m just going to accept that Frank is punky and I am funky. I am just going to be myself. And I’m going to show a shit ton of cleavage, cause that transcends all sociocultural groups.
Don't miss SLIPS AWAY.
A documentary covering the Lexington scene from the mid 80's to the mid 90's about Stevie Mahane's life in the Lexington underground scene in which he was integral.
Bands, parties, groups, The Maxwell House, girls, booze, cigarettes, shows, Thrash Can, the Kentucky Theater, tattoos...
Coming June 2015 Thursday the 25th!!!!
The Kentucky Theater
This isn't just about Stevie, but everyone that was there at the time. We're having a big ol' Lexington Reunion and want you to be a part of it. The night of the documentary there will be party, show and fundraiser!
It was homemade spaghetti sauce that opened my eyes to the dysfunction that was my childhood—Molly Woodward’s mother’s marinara to be exact.
Molly Woodward was in my Brownie troop. Her cocoa-colored uniform was always whistle clean and smelled of fabric softener. Mine was usually wrinkled and stained and smelled like whatever barnyard pet I’d last wallowed. Molly was a den leader’s dream—quiet, cooperative, sweet-natured and patient. Me—not so much.
Our mothers were opposite, too. Molly’s mom—let’s call her Anne, because that was her name—wore corduroys and monogrammed sweaters and deck shoes. The wholesome aroma of Dove soap and meadow wildflowers hung about her like a halo. My mother wore polyester pantsuits and high-heeled leather boots with big gold buckles in the shape of an A, for Etienne Aigner. She reeked of gaudy gardenia perfume, Aquanet, and cigarette smoke.
But the most enviable difference between our mothers was that Anne Woodward cooked--rreally cooked. Most of the time, my parent’s took me to Jerry’s Restaurant, through the drive-in window at KFC, or to Winfred's Steak House and Lounge. On the nights that we didn’t eat out, my mom prepared a rotation of three meals, each including red meat grilled medium well, a canned vegetable, and Thousand Island dressing.
Neither of my grandmothers could cook worth a fancy damn either. Both had their own perverse way of defiling a hot dog. Granny Ison would boil the poor wieners until the skin popped open and the flesh spilled out. When she was feeling frugal, she would boil the same batch for three consecutive days until the pan was filled with just an inch of stagnant water and pink particles of disintegrated dog. My Granny Howard, on the other hand, would boil them just until they were warm to the touch on the outside, which meant they were clammy cold on the inside. Then, she’d serve them with a pool of watery ketchup and stale saltine crackers.
Anne Woodward would never force feed her family a frigid frankfurter. She cooked—really cooked—using wooden spoons, and shiny silver strainers, and real vegetables that she washed under a steaming stream of water while she hummed. There’s just something more maternal about fresh produce.
The memory of the day that she made the life-altering spaghetti sauce will forever simmer in my soul. My eight-year-old eyes watched in rapt adoration as she covered the counter top with big, juicy tomatoes so eager to contribute that they were bursting at the seams. Alongside them, she lined up onions, and glossy green peppers, and odd little white bulbs that I later found out were garlic.
From a hook on the wall, she removed a massive wooden cutting board with rivulets of dark grain running through it, and then unsheathed a gleaming knife from an oak block. She slaughtered the rambunctious tomatoes with a series of swift blade strokes until they were reduced to big slobbery chunks, and then dropped them into the giant copper pot that was already sizzling with oil. When she added a sparkling gold broth, thick chicken-scented clouds rose from the pot and permeated my nostrils. Next, she diced the onions and peppers into perfectly uniform pieces. I jumped up and shook my butt to the steady rhythm of the knife hitting the board. Molly’s mom giggled. Her laugh sounded like a unicorn’s whinny—or, at least, how I imagined a unicorn’s whinny would sound. Finally, she focused on the mysterious garlic. After separating out the cloves, she took the edge of the blade and smashed them so the skin fell away. Then, she sliced them papyrus-thin so that they looked like fingernails without the fingers.
But, it was when she threw open the cabinet door that my admiration turned to genuine awe. Anne Woodward was a wizard. There was no other explanation for the rows of apothecary bottles with their gold-embossed labels spelling out magic words in scrolling script.
“What's that?” I asked, pointing at the wooden shelf with the butterfly carved into the top.
“It’s a spice rack.”
“Did you have it built?”
I wanted to add, “by elves,” but thought better of it.
“No, I bought it.”
I crept in until I was close enough to read the loopy letters. Ooo—rrreee—gaaa—no, paars-leey, maaa—jooo-raaam—I sounded out the words in my head.
“Do all these bottles come with the rack?”
“Yes. And the spices that are in them,” she said, removing several of the jars and placing them on the marble countertop. I peered at the contents. One contained tiny, intact leaves that look like they’d been plucked from a fairy bush. Another had an orange powder the color of Doritos dust. Several held glistening green flakes. I marveled as she took a pinch of this, and a scoop of that, and a smidgen of something else, and tossed them into her tomatoey potion. I knew I was witnessing some kind of sorcery.
“What month is it, please?” I asked.
October, November, December...I counted the months on my fingers. Three months until Christmas.
“Can you please take me home now? I need to write a letter to Santa.”
My letters to Santa were elaborate construction paper productions with glittery pictures, promises, and haikus.
Big Christmas Wishes
Of pretty, prancing ponies
Come true for good girls.
“Right, now? It’s not even Halloween,” Anne Woodward exclaimed.
“I know, but I want to make this letter really special. I’m going to ask Santa for a spice rack. We don’t have one at my house.”
Molly’s mom gave the sauce a stir, swiped up a drop of spilled broth with a red and white checked dish cloth, and then came to sit by me.
“Sweetie, don’t waste that wish on Santa Claus. I’m sure your mother has spices. Haven’t you ever seen her use them when she cooks?”
“Mom doesn’t allow me to watch her cook. She says it makes her nervous.”
“Oh, well that explains it. Trust me, every household has spices.”
The next day, back at my own tidy, hollow house, I was determined to find the treasure trove. I waited until my mother was twenty minutes into practicing piano—the only two times when either my father and I could get by with anything were when my mother was in the midst of her two-hour ritual of applying make-up or when she was lost in the black and white keys of her beloved Steinway. She was playing some song with lots of pedal and minor chords that reminded of me of the theme music from a Dracula film and underscored my daring mission perfectly.
I crept into our mausoleum of a kitchen, and looked around. Like the fridge, all horizontal surfaces were also bare. There was no whimsical jars in the shape of a bear guarding homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, no KitchenAid mixer, and no coffeepot with decaf still left in the carafe—just a gigantic role of Bounty paper towels and the overpowering smell of Clorox bleach. Only the sunflowers on the wallpaper offered any levity.
Filled with a mixture of hope and fear, I inched open the menacing mahogany door to the nearest cabinet and peeked inside—nothing but plates and bowls. Disappointed, but not discouraged, I forged ahead. I ventured into a second dark wood vault. This one housed a Lazy Susan stacked with neat rows of cans. When I reached the third cabinet, I felt tingling sensation in my fingertips. Magic was close by.
I swung open the door. Sure enough, hanging inside, just as it had been at Molly’s house, was a spice rack. But, in the place of the quaint glass bottles were plastic, cylindrical containers with serious-looking labels covered in black block lettering and numbers with periods in the middle and abbreviations at the end. And in the place of mystical plants and powders were a plethora of pills as varied as my mother’s wigs—small blue tablets, peachy ovals, and two-toned capsules. I read down the row of alphabetized bottles sounding out the words just as I had done with the spices: Diiil—lau—ded, Dex—aaa—drine, Klo—nooo—pin. There was also Librium, Percodan, Valium, and Vicadin, and others I couldn’t begin to pronounce.
No wonder my mother couldn’t cook.
Written for Scott and Denise Gerken's Hippitastic Vow Renewal
Real love, strong love, lasting love is like a traditional Bluegrass duo.
Two voices singing in perfect harmony,
Each making the other more pure, more sure.
Then, in turn, stepping out of the spotlight and playing background,
So the other can shine center stage.
At the end of the night, all applause belongs to both, equally.
Real love, strong love, lasting love is like a weekend at the lake.
A beautiful balance of motion and stillness,
Of blazing full-throttle toward destiny, hair whipping wild, leaving a wake.
Of floating with friends, happiness is meant to be shared, along with shots of bourbon whiskey.
Of quiet moments drifting into minutes melting into hours of sun-soaked silence,
No words needed, just each other’s smiles.
Real love, strong love, lasting love is like a well-built cabin.
Constructed with care on a firm foundation.
Sturdy enough to shelter those within from the storms that rage outside.
Yet, open enough to ensure its inhabitants have plenty of room to breathe…deep.
With wide windows where two can easily view the future.
Real love, strong love, lasting love is like your favorite tie-dye.
The colors of courtship, hues of the heart, and shades of two souls,
Swirling and whirling together to create a psychedelic pattern of…
You and me. Me and you. You and Me. Us.
Newlywed neon at first, then mellowing into the magical motif that is marriage.
And becoming more and more comfortable to wear with each passing year.
Real love, strong love, lasting love is like good moonshine.
First, the fire. Intense. Immense. Intoxicating.
Then the burn, the comfortable glow that starts out slow,
And seeps into the body, a wellspring of warmth and comfort.
Then, the grin…that comes from knowing your commitment is 160 proof.
Real love, strong love, lasting love…
What everybody is searching for,
All anybody needs,
And what you have.
March 31. 2015 will go down as the most challenging day of my entire adult life. I awoke at 5am completely disoriented. I was in the same bed with the same man looking out the same window, but had a completely different view. The day before we had unhitched our floating house from the marina where we’ve lived for three years and moved it to a cove adjacent to our own property. It was a dream come true, that quickly became a nightmare.
So, back to 5am Tuesday. I couldn’t sleep. Neither could Frank. So we got up and made a big country breakfast replete with biscuits, eggs, gravy, sliced tomato--the works. It was lovely…then one of our worst fears came true. We heard a crash. Rufus, our lab-hellhound mix collapsed onto the floor. He was digging his front claws into the wood and his entire rear, including back legs, seemed paralyzed. He couldn’t stand. He couldn’t even sit. My first thought—spinal injury. He’d been running up and down the treacherous the rocks on the shoreline the evening before. Frank had already lost his beloved dog Mabel to the same sort of injury. He could not lose another. We had to get Rufus to the vet.
There was only one problem…well, actually several problems. The steps are not finished on our property, and even if they were we couldn’t carry a 115 pound dog up the steep hillside. And even if we could, our cars were still at the marina miles away. We’d thought of this. That is why we bought a pontoon for emergencies. However, we hadn’t yet launched it. The only transportation we had was a small jon boat, which is essentially a glorified canoe with a motor. Frank set out in it to Royalty’s Fishing Camp to get help while I tried to keep Rufus calm. Along the way, he called a friend with a pontoon. He met him at the shore. They zoomed back and the three of us carried Rufus on board. We hauled ass to our cars and loaded Rufus into my Scion.
By the time we got to the animal hospital he was able to stand and stagger. After $440 worth of tests, it was determined that he had perhaps just over done it the day before or had a cramp. He walked out of the office was still far too weak and wobbly to make it down the hill. We needed our own pontoon in the water. So, we set out to find the most mellow launch. After settling on a place called Pandora, like the chick who released the box full of demons and with whom I was totally beginning to relate, we got our boat in Herrington. Once again, we carried Rufus across a swaying walkway and loaded him up. Frank would ferry him home. I would drive and meet them there.
I arrived at the property and realized that the only way for me to get to the house, where my much needed bourbon waited, was to descend Satan’s Stairway and then repel. So, in the caftan and cowboys boots that I’d thrown on in a panic earlier, I made my way down the mountain clinging to a rope and tree roots. Frank and Rufus returned shortly. By this time, the damn dog was trotting around like nothing had ever happened.
The day was far from over. We still had to pick up and move a 12 x 12 dock, two kayaks, and the jon boat we’d abandoned before our lease ran out at midnight. Two boats required two captains which meant I was going to have to learn to drive one. I took a crash course in piloting a pontoon and off we went. When we got to the marina, I got off to go gather the kayak’s while Frank went to pick up the dock. He didn’t return. I just thought he was off gabbing to some passing stranger as he is prone to do, then I heard the screaming echo off the water.
Mother fuckery, he’d just gotten the stitched out from his sawzall accident. I realized the screams were not of pain, but anger. The engine had died right when the wind kicked up. It pushed him to the far side of the shore where he was now stranded. He needed someone to pull him back, which meant I needed to man the jon boat and go retrieve him. Only one problem. I had no idea how to even start the damn motor. With a series of hand signals and yelling, Frank attempted to guide me through it. I climbed in and fired it up, but instead progressing in a straight line, it just started going in circles. The wind now made me her bitch and spun me like a top. I finally got back to the slip and fell out onto the concrete in a crying heap. A random fisherman seeing my distress offered to perform the rescue. I gladly allowed him to do so.
In the meantime, the Fairy Sisters, a pair of lesbian besties, poured me a stiff vodka cocktail, which I normally steer clear of because the white liquors make me as mean as a rabid badger. But, desperate times call for desperate drinking.
This time it was Dan the Dock Man to the rescue. He used his towboat to push me and the Bohemian Barge back to Bohemian Bay. Frank was following in the jon boat, but then an errant rope got wrapped around the prop and jacked up that motor. So, he tried the trolling motor, but the battery had died. I looked back just in time to see him take out an oar and begin to paddle. Almost immediately it snapped into two pieces once again leaving him adrift.
I couldn’t be bothered. I was too close to home and our stocked bar. I made it back and so did Frank…eventually with assistance from the same friend who'd helped us out with Rufus much earlier in what now felt like a sixty-five hour day.
At 8pm, I downed a bourbon on the rocks and collapsed into the bed. I would like to say I downed a bourbon on the rocks, had a hot shower, and collapsed into bed, BUT we still don’t have running water. As I lay there looking through a familiar window at a still unfamiliar view, I analyzed all that had happened. What had it all taught me? That, no matter what happens, as long as Frank and I have each other and the generosity of the tight knit community of Lake Folk, we’ll be just fine.