PUBLICATIONS!

This month I have two poems published in Next Page Ink. I am just thrilled, and so appreciate being published by this wonderful online literary magazine. My poems are “Good Dog,” and “Jackie Don’t You Go.” Sadly, they are both sad poems, so don’t you read them! The first one describes, quite accurately, what life can sometimes be like in the more rural areas of Sussex County for gentle things. I am not a farmer, and I do not live a farmer’s life, but from the outside looking in, rural life is not a place for gentle things. The second one recalls my friend’s suicide, and how I have wished and schemed, all these years, maybe 30 or so, for a way to stop it from happening. But, we can never stop the past, it goes on in perpetuity. And that is a good line. Perhaps I will stick that in another poem.

I would love it if you would take a moment to read my poems, and I would love to hear what you think as well. Drop me a comment below. Thanks!

 

 

 

LOVE AND PANTYHOSE

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I looked to the left of my desk last night, and that is what I saw, on a bookcase I inherited from Sophie that she painted Pepto Bismal pink with her dad and then later abandoned when she decided her favorite color was Elsa-blue.

Let’s discuss that pink for a hot minute.

One of the earlier jobs I had in my life was working for a place called Delta Hosiery.

Delta Hosiery occupied a space about the size of a shoebox in a strip mall in Springfield, PA (one of the most Springfieldy Springfields of all), and I was the sole employee. It sold discount pantyhose, a small selection of socks, a small selection of dance wear, and nothing else. My most recurrent customers were “professional” dancers (read as strippers), who had way better bods than me. And, the entire inside of the store, walls, and ceiling, cheap industrial carpet, was Pepto Bismal pink.

I spent many a long day and night there, making the minimum wage don’tcha-know people, alone with book after book to read, or watching Unsolved Mysteries on the tiny black and white portable TV Delta had supplied me with to help with the crushing boredom. This choice of TV shows would often make me afraid to leave the lonely store at night, in the dark. “It was right here where she left her job at the lonely hosiery outlet to walk to her car, and was never seen again. Maybe you can help solve a mystery!”

I was allowed to put up a “be back soon” sign on the door for 15 minutes to run and get food at one of the attached eateries in the strip mall, or to pee in the tiny toilet in the back in a room so small the sink was outside the room. And it never failed, the minute I headed over to Salad Alley, as I was walking up the hill toward it, I would hear the bell on the door rattling as some woman tried in vain to get in, shaking the door like mad to try to get it to open. As I’d already gotten half-way to the salad, I would keep going, and when I came back I’d have either lost a sale, or the woman would be waiting, visibly steaming, outraged that she had to wait to get her taupe thigh highs or her smoke control tops. And I always wondered at the popularity of those colors. In the most Springfieldy of Springfields there were no people of color to speak of, so my clients were universally white, and, aside from the strippers, women who topped the incredibly old age of 50, and they just loved their smoke and taupe and coffee hosiery. By that point in my life I was evolved enough as an adult to have declared pantyhose of any kind off the table for me forever. (I am too old (21) to be uncomfortable while going to church I don’t even believe in!) But, that being said, everyone knows that black pantyhose are the only choice a person of style should make. TAUPE? Before I worked at Delta Hosiery I had never even heard the word taupe (pronounced tope, like dope, I was told by the district manager), and my vocabulary was not small. Taupe, you elude me still; I cannot understand why someone would choose such a muddy, non-specific color to cover their white legs with. I also could not understand how anyone, even the strippers, could comfortably wear pantyhose without underwear, which was a thing that happened right about that time. Do not worry World! I am not likely to go commando anytime soon. I like underwear! TMI? Actually, I think Delta may have sold underwear too. In fact, I remember some women called them panties, but, trust me, they were definitely underwear. I know the difference.

One thing I can say in favor of pantyhose though: they are very silky and beguiling to the touch.I remember feeling that I could not resist touching them as I walked through the store each day after opening up. I totally get why perverts like them! Are there perverts anymore? Is that word a thing still? Wait, am I a pantyhose-fondling pervert myself? If I try to run for office now, someone will find this and say I once confessed to being a pervert.

My favorite story about working at Delta Hosiery? The Saturday I was restocking the metal prongs that stuck out from the wall and held the limited selection of socks. When an empty prong is sticking out from a wall it is so thin it is easy not to see it, which is what happened to me when I bent down, and hit myself in the brain (forehead) with a prong I didn’t see. The next thing I know, two women were standing over me and trying to wake me up. Had it not been a Saturday, who knows how long I would have been on the floor in the rarely visited store, unless my most reliable stripper would have come in for a refill on her bare-to-waist control-tops.

The last thing I remember about Delta Hosiery is how the pink would get to me. I’ve never been a fan of pink in general. I was never one of those blonds who went through a pastel/earthtones phase. Blech. And, sometimes, the vibrating Pepto Bismal pink, from the ceiling, from the walls, from the rug in the tiny rectangle of a store, was just too much to take, like a visual tinnitus. And so sometimes, when I left at night, I was unsteady on my feet, like I was coming off an amusement ride.

I looked, but I can find no record of Delta Hosiery’s existence on the internet. I guess they were pre-internet. However, doubting Thomas, here’s proof of their existence, found, like much of history, on eBay.

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Ahhh, Fern, what are you doing now?

Delta Hosiery was, like many of the jobs I have had, not hard, but not even remotely interesting. That store could even take the fire out of strippers I tells ya….

Now, for the love part. And in case you ever doubted my ability to go off on a tangent, you now know I can.

And so, as you may know, I have rearranged the office many times. And somehow, in my possession, are two framed photos that are the exact same photo: my Chad, my darling Chad.

How I miss his dear little face. My mother says he had a bark that would go through her skull, or some such thing. I don’t remember him making a sound. But I do remember how I loved him, and he loved me, and I loved him enough to put several photos of him in my office, and, apparently, two closest to my line of sight when I sit at my desk. Normally, when I look over at his photo, I don’t even notice there are two, and I certainly almost never notice the Pepto Bismal pink bookcase beneath them.

Love.

We see what we want to see.

And what we want to see our starving eyes can never get enough of.

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HOMEMADE YOGURT

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I really have a fondness for plain yogurt (didn’t I say, last month, that I was a dork?). I really dislike the sweetened kind with fruit in it. Blech! It always has an aftertaste IMHO. But the plain I quite like, and, of the plain, I prefer homemade, because the texture is better, and the “tang” is lighter, slightly less sharp.

This was made with one 1/2 gallon of lactose free whole milk, and two little containers (5 ounce) of Chobani plain (only plain Greek style I can get in my neck of the woods, and not my favorite… so, another reason to make it). My finished product came out both silkier and tastier than the Chobani. How did I make it? Cooked the milk in this pot on medium-low until it was just about ready to do that woosh-boil-over thing, and then turned it off. Let it sit on the stove until it dropped down to 115 degrees (yes, I own one of those thermometers you can stick in hot liquids), then stirred in the sacrificial Chobani “starter” and covered the top with foil. Put the pot into the oven (which was not hot) wrapped in a dishtowel, and put the oven light on. Left it in there from about 2pm to about 9 am the next day. Spooned it into jars and put it in the fridge. Delish!

I typically put plain yogurt on things that are too spicy for me on their own, like Indian food. But what I also want to do is just eat the yogurt, because it is sooo good for me, and I like the taste. But a big bowl of plain yogurt has the difficulty of not feeling like a meal.

This morning I stirred in fresh ground salt and pepper, and then some leftover rice that was in the rice cooker still hot. It worked. Delish!

How do you eat plain yogurt that does not involve fruit or sugar? Think savory, and give me some ideas please.

🙂

SUNFLOWER

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There is a little chain of stores that exists in southeastern PA, and Delaware (and maybe S. Jersey?) called Produce Junction (PJ). I have been shopping at PJ since the late 1980s I think. The way it works is that they have large, already packed, bags of produce, and they are very inexpensive. The produce is usually fresh and delicious. PJs have some oddities to them, like you have to pay for fruit separately from veggies, nuts are considered fruits, and eggs and fresh baked bread are considered veggies. It’s funny to be there, and they have a more international selection of veggies, and often you’ll see restaurant owners buying huge crates of produce.

Around every holiday they sell decorations… Xmas lights, plastic Easter eggs, and everything is cheap, and inexpensive. For me, that = fun, and funny.

The other thing they typically have is plants (indoor and outdoor) and flowers. This is where the real magic happens. Imagine getting a huge potted orchid for $4! And entire bouquets of flowers for $4 as well.

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One of the things I enjoy most in life is having cut flowers in a vase, and PJ makes that affordable. This sunflower came from a $4 bouquet of 6 giant flowers. The other 5 are in the kitchen. This flower lasted (from bought to no petals left) two weeks.

Through all the stages of this flower’s changes at no point did I find it to be anything but lovely to look at.

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The pandemic is very stressful and worrying, but flowers lighten my load for a little bit of money. I know a lot of people think buying cut flowers is throwing away money. For me, flowers are my version of a lottery ticket, and, unlike a lottery ticket, one bouquet lasts at least two weeks (no need to buy a new one every day) and they always pay off.

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ANNOUNCING GRAVELIGHT PRESS and JEFFREY KEETEN

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Dave an I are more than pleased to announce that Devil’s Party Press is (sort-of) officially OFF hiatus.

And the first thing we are doing as we return to publishing is announcing our first new imprint, Gravelight Press, all scary, all the time.

To launch the press with a bang, we’re putting out a super secret anthology we didn’t even tell our friends about, and, to herald this marvelous anthology, we have a special guest to introduce to you. So read on:

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Renowned Kansas Book Critic Jeffrey D. Keeten Provides Introduction to Delaware Horror Publisher’s New Release

 

We are thrilled to announce that Jeffrey D. Keeten will be providing the introduction to our first release, Exhumed: Thirteen Tales Too Terrifying to Stay Dead. A prolific critic of film and literature, Keeten is among the top five reviewers on Goodreads, the largest site for book reviews in the world. A graduate of the University of Arizona and current resident of Dodge City, Kansas, he has published more than 3,700 reviews for Goodreads and other sites.

 

As with DPP, at Gravelight we focus on our mission to provide older authors with publishing opportunities, and we are thrilled to have Jeffrey Keeten who, in addition to being a skilled critic, is also a terrific writer, along for Gravelight’s current book release.

 

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Mr. Keeten and Astra

“It’s exciting to be a part of this collection,” said Keeten. “There are some truly frightening works between its covers.”

 

Exhumed (ISBN: 978-1-7340918-1-6) retails for $9.99 and features original short fiction by thirteen authors from the US and Canada. It is scheduled to be released on Friday, August 14. For more information and to preorder, visit gravelightpress.com. For more information about Jeffrey D. Keeten, visit jeffreykeeten.com.

 

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Media Contact

David Yurkovich
david@gravelightpress.com

310.904.3660

THE THIRD AND FINAL GIFT WE GOT FROM THE JEFFERSON SCHOOL

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(Sophie and her bells & Mouse)

The third and final gift we got from The Jefferson School (TJS) is the music teacher from the charter school we did not get admitted to.

I am not gonna mention the teacher by name; I don’t want to get anyone into trouble, but I cannot ignore what a great gift this teacher has been to our lives.

During the school year the teacher started teaching Sophie the xylophone, also known as mallets or bells. When we went on quarantine, the teacher skipped right over into Zoom like a life-long Zoom user. It was seamless.

We still thought (remember the lied to part from post # 1 on this topic) that Sophie was getting into the charter school, so we asked the teacher, now on Zoom, to also give Sophie piano lessons, as our local piano teacher quit about a year ago. The answer was yes.

When I tearfully told the teacher that Sophie had not gotten into the charter school, the teacher was also tearful, and agreed to keep teaching her… forever.

She has two lessons a week with this sweet and talented teacher and she has flourished. Her playing is wonderful. We cannot thank this teacher enough!

And so,

when everyone is screaming that they want their kids back in school no matter what,

and when people make arbitrary decisions about who gets into which school and who doesn’t,

it is a failure to treat the students or their teachers as human beings, with feelings and attachments and needs of their own.

I hope that, if the charter school goes back to business live and in person, Sophie’s teacher will be safe. I hope this teacher means as much to that school as our teacher certainly does to us.

 

MOUSE

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This is Mouse.

As you can see quite easily he is debonair, civically-minded, and a sucker for cookies.

Mouse has been in our house about 11 years now, and his personality has evolved as he’s grown up. Once syrupy sweet (and a bit boring, if I’m honest, dear Mouse, with a voice to match) he has grown-up a bit and in the nicest way. His voice is still a high-pitched, for he is a very tiny fellow, but it has a certain mellowness to it that is so nice. And, being more grown-up, he doesn’t pull any punches with us anymore. If, say, we forget to include him in the cookie dispersal, or he is left behind on the sofa instead of snuggled into bed, he will often say to us, “You bastards! I’ll cut you!” I know it sounds a bit violent, but it’s just Mouse. We know he’s just kidding. And given his petite stature, we can understand that he may wish to make himself as difficult as possible to ignore. I mean, no one wants to miss out on peanut butter cookies, or snuggling under the covers. Mouse demands not to be ignored, and in a world were the little things are often bulldozed over, we are so glad that Mouse makes us pay attention.