NEEDLE FELTING

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I like to do crafty things….

and one of the crafty things I find I have a tiny bit of a talent for is needle felting.

Not the kind of felting where you make a small and tiny animal.

But the kind where you felt into something else.

And so…

I have needle-felted a birdy onto my jeans.

Now… once the jeans are washed, I will let you know if the felting stays put.

If it does….

I think there will be felting on everything!

🙂

$17.31

hustleI just got a raise… working in the writing center at one of my colleges, I now make $17.31 an hour.

When I was teaching in Los Angeles I used to make $99/hour teaching in El Camino Community College. No kidding. $99/hour.

It’s all relative.

I am thrilled at the raise, I have to say, and I kinda wish I had more hours there….

I kinda wish I had more hours to work on the Chamber of Commerce too.

And, I kinda wish I had more hours to write. I want to submit a poetry collection to the Dogfishhead Poetry Prize. Yep…. poetry and beer-that’s about right for me.

It’s lovely in my classroom just now. A few dedicated students are working… working… so quietly and diligently. I want to claim a little credit for their diligence. At least the few that are here. I feel all smiley from that damn raise. It was $0.70.

I remember that my first full time job I was hired, freshly degreed from college, smelling like promise and dryer sheet, for $10/hour, and, one year later, I received a $0.25/hour raise, and both of my parents were like, “Wow, that degree was totally worth it.”

I have not always liked my jobs, but I have always felt the need to have my jobs, and more rather than less. For ten years in Philly I worked 40 hours a week in the 9-5 thing in non-profits, and an extra 12 hours at night adjuncting. And it’s been a patchwork of adjuncting gigs ever since. I like that I’m mixing it up now with the publishing company, the writing center, and the Chamber, even though the Devil’s Party Press part is unpaid; it’s adding some much-needed variety to my weeks. I just wish I could get an eight-day week. And, at long last, I think this might be the year where the effort finally results in a financial result that will right the boat. We’ve always got a little water in the bottom, Dave and I, but this year, I think we might get dry…. Maybe… possibly….

Which brings me to an odd little encounter I had last week.

I was trying to stay awake in a Starbucks, uploading content to the new Chamber website I made, when a huge, loud, rapacious rainstorm hit. After the initial shock of the onslaught subsided, the storm was pleasing to me. Before the storm showed up pounding on the windows demanding double shots the Starbucks had emptied out a bit, and it was quiet, slightly dim, and the rain seemed to be creating a protective barrier around the building. It was pretty close to the feeling of being curled up watching an old Blondie & Dagwood on TV on a Sunday afternoon with the smell of a roast in the oven. Pretty close. Well, I’m exaggerating; no commercial space could hit that mark. But I was feeling something reminiscent of that snuggled cat sort of feeling of comfortable.

And then they came in. One after the other, with enough space between their entrances that I thought the first was alone.

The first was a man who looked like the guy from the cover of all my brother’s Jethro Tull albums who I always assumed was Jethro Tull. Was he? Is Jethro Tull a guy, or a band name? I never bothered to find out, and I am not about to do so now, but, the guy looked like the Aqua-lung guy, wild-haired, dirty, wet, of course wet, very very wet, and shirtless. And he had a lot of wet hairy shirtless paunch hanging over his pants.

Hmmm….

He sat a few tables away from me, this wild, grungiest, hoariest of men.

And, in my very usual thinky way, this is how my mind went:

I was not prepared for half-naked wet men.

I know men are allowed to take their shirts off in public, but how would HE feel if I stripped half naked?

Hmmm…. he’d probably like it, even with your old droopy boobs.

Well, maybe I’ll just take off the bottom half of my gear then.

Ha! Let him see your nether regions and your saggy pelvis? I don’t think he’d care that it sags. I think he’d egg you on.

Dammit. 

Well, I probably should wrap this up then.

Oh wait, he’s putting a shirt on.

I was about to relax back into my work when the door to the volatile storm was flung open again, and a man who could have only been Jethro Tull’s toady came in. He was thin and tiny, emaciated in every way the Tull was corpulent, and he was probably no more that five foot three, while Tull was six foot or more. Being that he was clearly Tull’s right-hand-man he sat to Tull’s right, shortening the distance between the two and me. I could smell him. He smelled not good, like sweat, and weed, and cigarettes, and low self-esteem. I could see the wet twinkling on his little close-cropped beard. He looked as if he was going to soon freeze in the Starbucks well-functioning air-conditioning, while his master looked as if he never ever felt the cold, and immediately began teasing the small one for not being smart enough to come in half naked.

I packed up to leave because, well, that was all I really wanted to know about the two fellows.

However, I bought this magnet for my fridge (me and my damn magnets) that says, “Kindness. It doesn’t cost a thing. Sprinkle that shit everywhere.”

True words. True words.

So, as I walked past the men, I turned to the little toady and said, “Hon, they have blowers in the bathrooms. You could probably get pretty dry if you want to try it.”

And the small toady said, “Oh, no thank you. I’m ok.”

And Jethro Tull boomed out, “It never bothers ME to be wet! I was born wet!”

This just may have been the C-C-C-CRAZIEST thing anyone has ever said to me.

But I paused, considered the biology, looked at him, and said, “Well, yes, I guess we all were.”

Happy Monday dear Weirdo who finds this blog interesting~

Kindness. It doesn’t cost a thing. Sprinkle that shit everywhere. Thank you for your kindness in reading. Leave me a comment!

 

 

THE DEVIL YOU SAY!

miltonPeople who meet me for the first time, and then hang out with me for a bit, whether student, co-worker, new friend, find me friendly, self-effacing, generous. And then they hear that my company is named Devil’s Party Press and many of them get nervous for me and wonder why, almost like the old 1970s thing of “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” why I would associate myself with THE DEVIL!?!

Well, honestly, The Devil in the name is 100% related to the fact that I live in a little town that I love that is named after the poet John Milton, and that Mr. Milton was said to write so very well that he must be a member of the Devil’s Party, much like I am a member of the Democratic Party. And that is the sole reason I chose that name. It was suggested by a writing group member, and I loved the idea because it connected the press to the town, and it was a BADASS name, like older writers are BADASS writers.

Still, people say, I mean, the devil….

Well, you know, I just don’t believe in him, or his lighter half either actually. It’s perfectly okay if you do. I just don’t.

And, hope you don’t mind me saying so, I am 54. I don’t want to be afraid of anything anymore.

I don’t want to be afraid of death, though I fully acknowledge I’m going to die someday.

I want to find things I like to do, and I want to get myself into a habit of doing them, so that, should I ever be left alone in life, I don’t have to be afraid of being alone with myself.

I want to do the things I always wanted to do but never had the balls to do, like getting my tattoo, dying my whole head of hair purple, wearing gigantic earrings, so that when I am on the verge of dying I won’t be sad that I never overcame my fear and let myself try the things I wanted to try.

A lot of the things I wanted to/want to try I always figured, to make it easier, I’d wait to do after my parents were dead, but my mother isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and I’m glad she’s not going anywhere, so I better just do them and deal with her comments and find an adult way to keep the relationship going so that I can have both, because I want both, and as a 54 year old adult, I can have both.

This week, I bought a car, on my own.

I chose the car; I negotiated the car, and I am responsible for deciding if it was a good car, and if we could afford it, and if we would all like it. And I have no idea if it is, if we can, and if we will, ultimately,  but, I did the best I could with the information I had, and I’m not going to worry about it past there because, dammit, I only need permission from myself to buy a car that I will be the main driver of, and I am giving myself permission, and I am not thinking about it past there. Done. Great car. I love it. I already put a Tina Belcher sticker on it.

I mean, who am I? Who am I really? Isn’t it time I know me? Isn’t it time you know you?

Life, life is full of heartache, disappointing people, injuries, expensive cosmetics that melt in the car, tasteless food, empty refrigerators, empty hours, empty nests, empty beds, mosquito bites, elastic that fails during a job interview, prettier more vibrant people than you or I could ever be and…

so the fuck what?

Life… life is full of chances to

stand on the beach tossing bread to the gulls

take a flight to anywhere because even in dumb old Rochester or Savannah or… you can have an adventure

meet a cool new person who also loves Weezer

try a new recipe

try a new restaurant

help someone

kiss someone… with your tongue!

get yourself a pet

learn to drive stick

get high

plant strawberries

sing in public

dye your hair a weird color….

Really… what is on your list?

You know what the Devil is? It’s not a he, or a who, it’s a what.

It’s the thing that keeps you afraid, that keeps you from being the badass person you are; that makes your world small, that tells you you can’t when you want to.

Remember that it’s the devil who belongs in hell, not you.

Be the badass you that you want to be.

xo

 

 

WHAT’S BEEN GOIN’ ON?

blue hairPhew….

It’s been more than a little busy.

NEW JOB: Back near the tail end of March I took another job as the Executive Director of the Milton Chamber of Commerce.

It sounds more glamorous than it is. It is part time, and I am the sole employee.

But, hopefully it will pay the bills. One bill in particular: I am jumping ship from public school; well, my daughter is; my family is; we are; we want to.

NEW SCHOOL: If you read this crazy blog you’ve probably realized that I am one of “those” liberals who supports public education over “Pwutt! charter schools! pwutt pwutt!” (that’s me spitting out the words).

But we have tried and tried with our public school, and my main determination has been that our daughter needs more one-on-one to do well in school, at the same time that her school has increased class size year, after year, after year.

And she also needs the social times at school to be more supervised-   because she is a freaking awesome little kid who is very off-beat and who is not good at fitting the school-girl mold or sticking up for herself around little girl meanies

So I am hoping that the new job goes well, and that I do a very good job at the job (I am a writer, and I have superlative word usements), and that the job stays financially viable, and that my family forgives the extra hours and and and….

WHAT DOES A CHAMBER DO: Well, I just made it  through the first Chamber festival (the Chamber does festivals) and I survived that…

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But I am really much more interested in the small business end of the Chamber’s mission, and would really like to feel that, in some teeny way, I am helping Milton small businesses grow. Chambers of Commerce are supposed to help small businesses survive and thrive, in my view of the world.

SWEET: We discovered a delicious old-fashioned treat, just in time for the Memorial Day BBQ (Ridley Park, PA Mayfair anyone? Circa 1971?)! I found a Philly place to order the porous sticks online!

 

ON THE JOB FROM 9-5: I am working for the summer for the Chamber, of course, teaching a class at Del Tech 2 days/week, and working at a Writing Center 3 days/week, in addition to running Devil’s Party Press. The Chamber, honestly, to be done well, really well, should be a full-time job, and I’d take it if it was, but the budget is not there for that. In fact, currently, not only am I the Chamber, my house is also the Chamber. And, working at home, well, it has its own particular challenges….

 

It’s so comfy and sleepy with kitties everywhere….

PRIDE: I’m excited that little Milton is celebrating Pride this weekend, which is also the anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

We are celebrating too!

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And… our house needs power-washing. But love doesn’t care! Love is love people. “You gotta let love rule!” Is it gay? Count us in!

VROOM VROOM: If we’re going to change schools we need to finally break down and acquire a second car, with all the money and mischief that entails, so, while saving for private school tuition, we’ll also be trying to get that hooked up.

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A MAJOR AWARD: Devil’s Party Press (Dave and I {and Sophie}) won a national award for our anthology Equinox, so we’re going to Louisiana to accept the award at the end of this month, and I have also been asked to serve as a delegate for Delaware, which is really a nice honor. I am so excited and proud. We almost never travel, so this will be a nice little getaway for the three of us. Looking forward to taking Sophie to eat beignets and see a voodoo shop! Gonna get some voodoo dolls for those mean girls at school. Look out!

GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: This time last year we were saying goodbye to our beloved exchange student, Lynn. We never hear from her, and I think it is all Trump’s fault. Lynn, if you’re out there, you’re still on our minds, and we still love and miss you.

Devil’s Party Press has three books coming out this summer:

Mosquitoes and Men

What Sort of Fuckery Is This?

and

Welcome to Breezewood.

However, we had only planned on two. More on that soon… .

BLUE: Oh, and yes, I’ve been stressed and left unattended, and when I am stressed and left unattended I do crazy things to my hair. Blue things.

I like it.

Happy Summer everyone~

 

 

 

A STRONG WOMAN

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Not necessarily only a wink.

Seriously, who is truly that badass?

I am going to say I give it a moan, and then a little kvetch, and then a little retail therapy, and then a phone conversation with my mom, and then I do it, and then I give myself a wink.

Truth.

I think I am a life-long striver. And I think I learned it from my mom.

And I think my mom and I both have had the misfortune to not really have resources, support, or a clue about which is the best way to strive, for us.

At this point in my life I think some people, mostly the men I know, and mostly in a derogatory way, would call me ambitious. A couple of my male friends, recently, when I thought we were cool, told me I am, basically, demanding, and I won’t back down once I get an idea in my head, like that is a bad thing. It truly hurt.

I have learned how to go-along-get-along over my years as a grown-up on this planet.

I am 54 currently. I have finally managed to eke out some professional situations (read as: job) where I am the decider (hello dear W; how we miss you, and how we never thought we would!), and, dammit, I have good ideas, and I know what I want, and why should I defer to someone else?

I am still an adjunct teacher, and it is still a lot of work for paltry pay and a situation where my years, decades, of experience mean I know better than a hellova lot of the people I work for, but I quietly defer to the powers that employ me. If you’re a woman, anywhere on this earth, who has reached her fifties without loss of sanity, you have learned to swallow a lot. And I have.

Still, if I gave up teaching tomorrow, I would really miss my students.

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And if I think about what it is about me that makes students connect with me so well, and they do connect with me very well, it is because I am a very humble person. Humility is not something that I’ve put on, like a coat, or learned; I feel it is truly a part of who I have been from birth. And it’s not that I have a “low” opinion of myself. It is, in fact, that I view others, by and large, as my equals. We’re all in the same boat, whether you are more or less educated than me, richer or poorer, shorter or taller, etc., we are in the same boat: life is not long enough, it is full of land mines and also beauty, and we all share the human condition. Just because I achieved an education before my students did, I am not better. I am still a lousy speller with a lot of mistakes in me. So many “professors” I have met over the years are better…. than everyone. How can a student possibly approach those teachers? No one has to crawl or scrape around me.

In the past year or so, I have become a MAC user with an iPhone, and conquering those two bits of technology has made me feel successful. I have become the leader of a very successful writing group. I have become the owner, founder, and grand poobah of my own publishing company, I have a marriage that works; I have a daughter who loves me like crazy who I love like crazy; I have 5 cats who jockey to sit next to me on the sofa, and a dog who is bonkers over me, and I just became the only employee of my local chamber of commerce where, pending the approval of my board, I am able to come up with ideas and try them out. People are seeing me, finally, as competent. I have always been competent, though I did not know how to get people to see me through that lens, but, finally they are.

Does that make me a demanding “won’t back down,” and let’s be honest, the implication was, “bitch?” No. It does not. It makes me a striver.

In addition to teaching at two schools, having a workshop at my house twice a month, running Devil’s Party Press, and becoming the director of the chamber of commerce here in my little town, I have also just taken a tutoring job for the summer, at 16 bucks an hour. Not exactly peanuts, but not a fair wage for someone with my degrees and experience. But, I applied for it; I interviewed, and I am happy to have it, because the teaching jobs go away in the summer, and my family needs me to earn income. I feel proud that I jumped on the opportunity, and that I will be earning money.

And if I sound not so humble about it, well, it’s because I am proud of being…

A striver.

Not an ambitious bitch.

Not a full-of-myself person who knows everything and won’t back down on her opinion.

I am a striver.

I work hard, all the time, all hours of the day and night, to try to do my best work no matter whether it is paid, or unpaid.

I do not look a challenge in the eye and wink, though I did quite like the moxie of that magnet, and I did buy it for myself.

I look a challenge in the eye and I give it a moan, or a little kvetch, or a little retail therapy, and then a phone conversation with my mom….

And then I strive.

And yeah, when I am able to be successful, I might be proud enough of myself to give myself a wink. And why the fuck not, eh ladies?

SPEAKING OF POTATOES

IMG_5298Did any of you other kids from the 1970s eat raw potatoes growing up? My dad used to sit on the sofa with a potato (Yukon Gold type as I recall it), a paring knife, and a salt shaker, and slice of a thin slice of potato and salt it, and hand to my brother or I to eat, and he would eat one himself.

‘Round and ’round he would go, me, my brother, him, until the potato was gone.

What weird food(s) did you eat as a kid?

LAST DAY BEFORE SPRING BREAK

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So, one of the colleges where I work is a bit financially disadvantaged compared to other colleges that have students living on campus. It is also an HBCU (Historically Black College/University). This, in my mind, seems appropriate, as, in the USA, I feel minorities get less resources in general, so of course the HBCU would be run-down.

Some students here can be food insecure, and Dave and I packed up a big bag of noodles and the like for a student a week or so ago. Some students have trouble adjusting to a world where all they are supposed to do is concentrate on their own success and growth. Many have been trying hard just to make it to adulthood, or helping other family members or friends with all their personal resources, including scholarship money. Everyone they know has a sad story about why they need some of the student’s scholarship money. Focus on school work is not always easy.

Add to that the real truth that many of the facilities are run-down and in disrepair.

In contrast, at University of Delaware, a PWI (predominately white institution) I taught in one building that had over 300 classrooms, and each classroom had over 50 brand-spanking-new chairs, and each of those chairs cost 600 dollars (per chair!).

THE CHAIR!!!

I know because I looked them up because they were sooooo cool I wanted to get one. Ha! Not in this lifetime….

Imagine the wealth there. Do the math. Think inequality has been fixed? Count the damn chairs.

So, in my own small way, I try to help uplift my students and the school.

This semester we adorned our tired room with handmade inspirational posters (and Sophie even added two one day when she didn’t have to go to school, but I still did!):

stickers from Dollar Tree (my daughter’s favorite place on earth people!):

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and two clocks!

I bought a clock originally that was a standard kitchen type of clock, and it fell off the wall and broke.

Today I installed this baby:

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I defy the powers that be to try to stop THAT clock!

But, as you can see, directly under it is a computer that cannot be used because the desk is broken. *sigh*

The last thing I did today, before leaving for spring break, was start an in-room library.

Wanna donate a book? It cannot be beat-up, and it must be something you, yourself, enjoyed reading. Don’t give me A Brief History of Time because you couldn’t get through it. Give me books that brought you joy, escape, entertainment!

Happy spring everyone! She is almost here, in all her color and warmth!

 

WHY IT’S GREAT TO HAVE A NOTHING TO-DO SUNDAY

 

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Boy, oh boy, I remember, in the 1970s, when I was young, almost every Sunday was busy, almost like an extra school day. There was church, Sunday school, and then off to visit Grandmom, or have Grandmom and (Great) Aunt Verna at our house. Cleaning and cooking, and then staying out of the grownups’ way as they played endless (truly, endless! I am certain the games continue now, in heaven!) games of double-deck pinochle.

I also remember the rare Sundays we didn’t do squat. There would be a patch of sunlight coming through the storm door glass to where I was, laying on the dark green carved living room rug reading the Sunday Funnies, doing the puzzles, and then switching over to a coloring book or a Nancy Drew. Mom and Dad would be sitting on the sofa reading their parts of the paper, or watching an Abbot and Costello or Blondie on TV. Dinner might have been fried eggs and potatoes, or oatmeal with piles of toast.

Although I always did well-enough at school, I don’t remember really enjoying it. And Sunday night was always stressful for me. I hated the thought of getting up early and being trapped in classes all day. (Probably why I thought it was a good idea to get so many degrees! WTF was I thinking?) Sagittarians (of which I am one) are supposed to love being outdoors. I think what I love is not so much whether I am in or out, but whether I am free or bound. So, on Sunday night after a “We didn’t do squat” day, I always felt slightly more relaxed anticipating Monday, as if the unstructured day had put enough air in my tank that I could hold my breath until Friday afternoon.

We don’t often get free-Sundays now either. I work a few jobs; Dave is in school, and we try to provide activities (hopefully with friends) for Sophie, and this Sunday (and every other one in general) we have writing group (damn you Milton Workshop!)

But, sometimes we get a lazy day….

And when we do, what do we do?

Dance with Mouse in a new dress sent by Aunt Lee

 

 

Nap on the floor or the sofa, as fat as we wanna be

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Imagine stories about potatoes

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Get visited by Rosie, our shy cat

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Re-imagine our furniture

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Try on all our favorite shoes

 

 

Make art inspired by Frida Kahlo

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Drink more coffee than is good for us

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And fill up our tank with air for the long week ahead.

LOOK INSIDE EQUiNOX

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It was absolutely lovely to find out, just a few days ago, that EQUINOX won first place in The Delaware Press Awards. The book will now compete at the national level!

EQUINOX is a beautiful collection of tales, and features a glorious cover created by my life-long friend, Kristen Bossert. If you need art or graphics of any kind, Kristen is your go-to source!

One thing I particularly liked about EQUINOX, in addition to the cover, was that we asked the authors to add a preface to each piece discussing how the piece came to be.

Here is a peek at my own piece, from the (now) award-winning EQUINOX. . .

EQUINOX is an anthology focused loosely on the idea of spring, and, for me, spring always makes me think of times gone by, shabby chic decor, formal women with floral names: the time of my grandmother. I tried to highlight my old timey feel about spring by juxtaposing that against a modern backdrop for my story of Heliotrope, a modern woman but named after a flower and possessing a vintage sensibility. Although the action takes place in a Chipotle restaurant, our heroine is an old-fashioned lady, and the story’s vocabulary features some old-fashioned language the reader may not be familiar with such as oscullable (kissable), widdendream (dreamy frenzy), malagrugrous (dismal), illecebrous (enticing), degust (taste and savor), brabble (argue about petty things), gorgonized (paralyzed), gyre (ring/circle), and sonance (sound).

I hope Heliotrope’s widdendream transports and delights you as it does her.

WIDDENDREAM

Despite the apricity of this particular midday Heliotrope was finding it difficult  to stay warm as she ate a highly unsatisfying late lunch inside a very malagrugrous and cold Chipotle. The food, the restaurant’s decor, the vibe, none of it suited her. While she could appreciate the whole “industrial” thing as a thing, it wasn’t her thing. The walls were clad in metal; oh well, maybe it was fake metal, but it certainly looked real. The counters, the tables and stools, all looked and felt, metal, cold when her skin met their industrial skin, and all were the color of the pinto beans in her bowl, but where the beans were soft and yielding, the restaurant was not. 

Of course she had to sit to eat. She wasn’t a person whose uncouth parents had raised her in a barn with the door left open. And she was not, also, a fan of climbing onto multistory stools to sit at tall tables and try to eat while her legs dangled beneath her like waiting clappers. Dead, spindly weight. It was hard to keep her clogs on, and, of course, Heliotrope always wore clogs, if for no other reason than that she had always worn clogs, at least since the 7th grade, and, in any case, they made a lovely horsey sort of clip clop when she walked down any hall lacking carpet, but a dignified clip clop, like a Tennessee Walking Horse, not a downtown carriage nag. Heliotrope had always been dignified.

However, as she bent over the bowl of pintos swimming in a vast sea of sour cream while seated at the high hat in the damn Chipotle, the clogs, dangling at the end of her pins, involuntarily swayed and whacked one another, and the noise they made was far too close to the “There’s no place like home” clicking of Judy Garland’s exquisite shoes. Sure, Heliotrope would take a day off from clogs to wear those fabulous shoes, but she hated the whole, “Wow, you had an astounding experience where you saved… everyone! Time to go home now and go back to being monochrome.” Clearly Frank L. Baum was no feminist. And Chipotle was no place for a lady to eat lunch. But Heliotrope was, most certainly, a feminist, and a lady, and a fairly illecebrous example of both.

Really, though, she was not here to cavil on to herself in a silent monologue about the establishment, and she worried that it was not good for her digestion to do so. She began to degust her meal, concentrating on the positives, like the gentle texture and subtle peppery taste of the aforementioned pinto beans. The problem with the positives were that they ignored the known fact that Heliotrope did not possess a constitution well-equipped to handle fast food of any kind, and this was her third time at this particular Chipotle this week.  And, as had happened on the other two visits, it seemed that wherever she sat, people constellated at the same high hat as she, which she found encroaching. 

On Tuesday a middle-aged couple had come into the establishment hand-in-hand, and had progressed through the cafeteria-style line in the same way, only to begin to brabble among themselves immediately upon perching at Heliotrope’s end of the communal seating. Heliotrope was somehow blind to how monsterful osculable she was, but the male portion of that couple was not. There was something of a young Penny Singleton about her which made many a man want to perform random feats of strength when in her presence. This one had been no different, lifting the heavy metal stools over his head and moving them into a different position, ostensibly to provide warmer seating for his good lady, but, though Heliotrope was blind to his ulterior motive, his good lady was not, brabbling ensued. Heliotrope hardly noticed beyond feeling that she wished the world was a bit emptier.

Today’s tablemates worked at the local Geek Squad, if their shirts were to be believed, and, with little reason to heft the heavy stools, as they were all male, and young, and equally able to heft the stools, they resulted to the lowest common denominator to try to win her attention, doing witless things with the plastic utensils, and kenching and cackling and slapping each other when they had success. Heliotrope’s eyes were fixed out the window on the dammed Coke truck that had been there as long as she had this particular day, and she bored into the red “O” with her vision, trying to encourage it to move, and trying to block out the kenching of the men with her concentration. She was starting to believe that this Coke truck had broken down, and would be there until the next day, and if it was, that would mean another bowl of beans for midday meal overmorrow, not something she contemplated with tranquility. The squad of geeks around her eventually gave up on this lovely but unreachable woman, and left to go to their next appointment, or to Jamba Juice, one being as much the same as the other in their world, but they did wonder at her fixation on the window as the left, looking over their shoulders at the lovely girl.

What brought Heliotrope to that Chipotle for three days that week was not the Coke truck, or the pinto beans, but was, in fact, the pediatrician’s office just across the parking lot. Heliotrope was a lady, but she did not enjoy the lady-like employment she had held for the past four years, keeping the records at the local town hall. She found that work bland, scentless, without piquancy, and stultifying. To be among the brambles, the milkweed, the morning glories, that was the deep desire of Heliotrope. And so, one day, she dared to take a half a day from her bank of personal time to visit all the locally-owned businesses, and to ask them, each one, if she could design their landscape for them, on spec. The pediatrician was the only one willing to give her a try, as all the businesses in town used the local firm made up of ancient family stock from their little county and saw no reason to change. To hire someone new, to look beyond hydrangeas and peaceful bamboo, would have been considered a radical, unnecessary, and disloyal choice in this community. But the pediatrician, in some ways viewing Heliotrope as an adolescent who needed encouragement, and in some ways tired of the unspoken county rules, decided to offer her this challenge, “Impress me by the time spring is here with something astounding in the front garden, and you’ve got the job.” 

Heliotrope accepted the challenge, and had secretly gone to the office grounds for many nights in the preceding October, shivering in the chill as she surreptitiously removed little plots of the doctor’s turf and gently planted bulbs. The effect, when spring came, was to have had the patch in front of the door to the doctor’s building bloom, just in time for the Easter Holiday. The surprise was to be a double one for no one knew that she had been there throughout the fall, and Heliotrope had planted her bulbs among the grass to give the impression of an Easter basket full of lush colored eggs.

So here she sat, on absolute tenterhooks, trying to peak at the plot from the vantage of the Chipotle, where she hoped to see but not be seen, and here spring was, just two days away on her calendar, and Easter only a week after. She didn’t think the flowers were going to bloom in time, as she had not seen even one minuscule crocus or windflower when last she looked two days ago. 

Does her garden bloom in time? Why don’t you buy a copy of this award-winning book and find out?