20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers


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Moving On

Sorting, trashing, packing, and endless weeding.  After ten years in this place we are moving on: if the place sells.  I am sorting assorted drawers that have been a convenient dumping ground for who knows what or why.  Closets and cupboards are stuffed.  Bookcases are triple stacked.  Will this sorting, trashing, and packing ever be done?  So far, I have packed 26 boxes of stuff to keep, but will not be needed till after we actually move.  God only knows how many more boxes to do at present.  A final packing, at moving time, will be an absolute nightmare.  Maybe we’ll win the lottery or Publisher’s Clearing House and can have someone else to that packing.

And lest we forget the outdoors.  There are 13 flower beds to be weeded and barked.  Plus a stone and brick walkway that has weeds growing between the stones.  I got that done today … now I just need to pour vinegar between all those cracks.  Brother Bill solved the problem of two of the flower beds by ripping them out and planting grass.  He did the same with one of the raised vegetable beds; but turned around to re-creat another veggie bed that he had originally ripped out last year.  Where else could he dump all that dirt?  He loves me, I’m sure, but like is another matter when it comes to my landscaping habits.

Meanwhile he is putting books on Alibris as fast as possible.  So far he has described, inventoried, and packed about 20 boxes of books.  We sure hope some of them sell! They will be the last things we put in the storage locker we rented last week.  And let us not  forget, we need to finish packing away non-essentials by the end of this month when our sister, her hubbie, and two of their male grandchildren will be here to help store stuff, make trips to the dump, and clear as much furniture as possible from the living room for a grand carpeting event.  And we have the painter coming in June to repair and paint the house exterior.  Repairs are partly due to a woodpecker (a flicker) who is having a love affair with the siding surrounding our chimney: there are now five holes in it.  Just possibly, if we work ourselves to death, we’ll put the house on the market by the first of July, before school starts, and this can be the next owner’s summer vacation.

The realtor to be can tell lookers the house has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, huge family room wired for booming sound, new carpeting in living room and on stairway to master bedroom, 2 year old roof, newly painted exterior, three year old hot water heater, gas furnace and appliances, updated kitchen, 2 covered porches, hot tub, greenhouse, extensive deck of that stuff that lasts forever, raised beds, fruit trees, and gorgeously landscaped.  Is anyone out there interested?


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Time Does Fly

It seems these days that I am looking back more often than forward.  This afternoon, after the Mariner’s game was rained out, my thoughts turned to our mother.  She was born on the hard-scrabble plains of the Oklahoma pan-handle, in 1910.  She and her sisters walked a distance to a one-room schoolhouse.  When they went to town, they rode in a buckboard wagon behind a team of horses.  She was something of a show-off: she would climb the ladder of the windmill and swing from the platform while her older sister screamed for her to come down before she fell.  Her mother had a serious heart problem which took her life while Mother was quite young.  However, each night before bed, their home had to be spic-and-span: if her mother died during the night she did not want neighbors or relatives to see their home in anything but perfect condition.

The family was quite poor.  Mother’s father was a part-time and not too successful farmer.  He augmented the family income as a traveling salesman.  The mother of one of Mother’s classmates owned a clothing store.  The store had a beautiful winter coat: blue with a black velvet collar.  Mother anxiously waited for her father to return from his latest sales trip.  When he arrived, he brought her a new winter coat.  He was so proud that he’d found one he could afford: it was brown and very plain.  Mother loved him very much and nothing was ever said about the beautiful blue coat.

Through her own efforts she graduated from nursing school and became a registered nurse.  When she married, the one wedding gift they received was a tablecloth.  She lost two children.  Her oldest daughter died of cancer at the age of nineteen.  She lost a second male child through miscarriage.  She lived through the Great Depression, World Wars One and Two, the Korean conflict, and Vietnam.  She lived to see us land men on the moon.  She lived to witness the Columbine school massacre.  She died just short of the age of ninety; and one year short of 9/11/2001.


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Billy Graham’s Son Said . . .

Evangelist Billy Graham’s Evangelist son recently said Mormonism is not a Christian religion and President Obama is a Moslem.  I have often been advised that discussing politics and religion with friends and relatives does nothing but cause trouble. That is good advice, though I have often ignored it; sometimes with regret.  However, with Graham’s recent pearls of wisdom, I feel I must ignore said advice once again.

I was born in Kansas and raised in the Evangelical United Brethren church.  By my teens, having arrived at a state of pseudo-intellectualism, I rejected that church’s concepts and decided to find a religion more in tune with my anticipated future as a writer of great literature.  Thus, I began investigating the great religions of the world.  Though I felt this was not my first life here on earth, I rejected all Wheel of Life religions and, instead, settled on Judaism.  I was certain that if something was worth believing in, it was surely worth suffering for.  I kept this matter to myself and, after a time, I realized that due to nerdish tendencies I had probably been shunned enough and the only suffering in my future would be for my art.  I dumped all plans for Judaism.  Eventually I settled on Deism, the choice of Presidents Washington and Jefferson.  Deism advocates natural religion based on human reason rather than revelation, emphasizing morality, and in Washington’s time denied the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe. That seemed intelligent enough and should be easy to comply with since there was no mention of eternal salvation or damnation, no Heaven or Hell.

Which leads me back to Kansas . . . its old-time religion, conservatism, and dogmatic Republicanism.  I chose to be a Liberal and, in most cases, adopted the Democrats’ point of view.  I found politics fascinating and followed the country’s political ups and downs and reversals of fortune.  My favorite time was during presidential nominating conventions.  The States’ delegations parades and hoo-haw, their pitiful nominations of favorite sons.  The nomination of actual contenders.  The rumors of back-room wheeling and dealings.  And, finally, the third or fourth day, the party nominee would grace the stage.  His major acts were his glorious acceptance speech and the naming of his running mate: often his most vigorous critic, but now his soul brother to the end.  Then would come commercials, minimal debates, and election night . . . with exit-polling, judicious predictions by those who supposedly knew upcoming results, the waiting up till wee hours with the hope your man would win and the other side’s man would be dead meat.

Now the only occasion of similarity is the toned down election night.  We have suffered through a year of inane TV commercials ad nauseam, been punished with countless “gotcha” debates, primaries, caucuses, and, long before the convention, we will  know the candidate.  All the convention does is present a party platform of pledges, which is dead upon arrival and present a running mate, of whom most of us don’t give a rip.  Only on two occasions have I given a rip.  The first was General Curtis LeMay whose persona was defined by: “I’ve got more bombs than you and I wouldn’t mind using them.”  He scared the hell out of me.  The second occasion was most recent.  Yes, Sarah’s political diatribe made me want to vomit and the thought of her anywhere near the White House again scared the hell out of me.  There, I said it and have probably blown any rapport with some of you, or at least been a bit irritating.

So, we are not to discuss politics or religion both of which are guilty of much oppression.  Both of which have caused the needless deaths of millions.  The basis, or at least excuse, for all of recorded history’s wars.  I ask, “What are we allowed to discuss?”  The weather?  No, even that is no longer safe due to the small matter of global warming: a volatile issue of debate between realists and those who keep their heads up their you know what.


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The Little Black Dress & More

Every woman who leads a social life needs and usually owns a “little black dress”.  These days that need probably surfaces at about the age of ten.  A ridiculous turn of affairs in my opinion, but hardly relevant to my tale of woe.  I last owned “the dress” in the late sixties.  It was quite svelte; the fabric was clingy crepe.  I last wore it in San Francisco during a dinner date with the intended of a disliked and previous roommate.  In my earlier years I possessed few scruples when it came to attractive men and, with no conscious urging on my part, he was the one who proposed the rendevous.  I should mention now that I was a heavy cigarette smoker.  That night when I returned home I discovered, to my horror, that I had burned a huge, revealing hole in the side of my beautiful dress.  What could Ernie, or any other observer, have possibly thought?

Unfortunately, this was not my only attempt at self-immolation.  Some weeks later I made a disgusting display of myself at work.  In that case the fabric of my outfit was dacron.  It mattered little that, during either event, I felt nothing as my clothes cremated themselves.  I did learn one lesson.  I stopped resting a cigarette holding hand anywhere near my waist and probably should have stopped smoking long before I actually did so.


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Secrets

We all have secrets: things which we regret having said or done, things of which we are ashamed.  It becomes a wall behind which we hide.  On rare occasions, we drop some part of our armor; but, usually secrets remain secret.  One fact, of which my family was aware, was that I never intended to marry.  Thus, during my mid-twenties and early thirties, single men held no interest for me.  Instead I preferred infatuation with men who found me more attractive than their marriage vows.

Then I met a salesman.  He was bright, inventive, and never a bore.  The longer I knew him, the better I liked him, which was unusual in my former relationships.  We lived together for sixteen years and he was already ill when we finally married.  I was forty-eight and he was sixty-one.  I loved him dearly; yet, when he often said I was his whole world it made me unhappy.  I didn’t want to be anyone’s whole world.  I didn’t want the responsibility.  A year and a half later, I lost him.

During his long illness, we spent weeks . . . months in hospitals with occasional reprieves of freedom to go home.  During one such reprieve he wanted to visit his younger brother: a school principal and owner of a pawn shop.  When we arrived at the shop he checked out the jewelry counter which held several wedding bands.  When we married we had used a ring I already owned.  He called me over, pointed out the wedding bands, and said, “One of these days, I’m going to buy you one of those.”  I smiled and moved on to another area of the shop where I said, “That’s fine, but I’d rather have one of these typewriters.”

How could I have said anything so thoughtless about something which obviously meant much to him?  I immediately regretted my words; yet they were the truth.  Jewelry, including wedding rings, meant little to me . . . but I was a writer.

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