Monday, August 22, 2011

Ambushed In The Underarm Deodorant Aisle

Original post appeared in my Finding Thin blog.Thursday, January 29, 2009...

I've made a new habit to steer clear of dangerous food items when I shop for groceries every week. I've trained myself fairly well to avoid those temptations that lurk around every corner. But what happened yesterday can only be described as an ambush. I was caught off guard- amazed at the gall of some manufacturers. I was visibly shaken that they have chosen to make even a trip down the personal hygiene aisle, a dieters nightmare.

Yeah, I was minding my own business. Pushing the cart. Humming some old Eagles tune. Checking my list to see that I needed body wash, deodorant, shampoo, and toothpaste. Should have been easy, right?


What business does Chocolate Pie body wash have amid the soap selections? Or Fruit and Yogurt, Cherry Jubilee, or Lemon Meringue? It's soap, for God's sake! I'm not eating it- I'm washing with it!
I drooled just a bit as I examined the entire array of choices in everything from soap to mouthwash.
Vanilla Sugar Scrub, Honey Almond Body Butter, Tantalizing Tapioca, and Macadamia Body Mousse. There was Pumpkin- scented- Coconut -encrusted- Strawberry- infused body delights that sounded too good to be wasted in the bath. (Unless, of course, your skin absorbed the goodness.)
I weakly wheeled my cart past personal deodorants with names like: Southern Peach, Vanilla Sparkle, Tropical Treat, and Island Cocoa.
Even toothpaste gets in on the ambush with cinnamon, bubblegum, and vanilla mint.

I quickly made my selections, pulling out of the strange hold those bath and body aisles had upon me.

So, last night I took a soaking bath with my Chocolate Cake Body Wash. I was tempted to eat the bubbles, but I wasn't sure of the calorie count. I really did smell good as I got dressed for bed.

"What's that smell?" my husband asked as we lay in the darkness.

"Silky Chocolate wafers?" I teased, "Velvety smooth cocoa mousse?

"No...not that.." he told me, as I realized he was searching for answers."I know what it is, but I can't quite put my finger on it."

"A thin mint? A chocolaty whipped kiss? I suggested, as I wrapped my arms tighter around him.

"! I've got it!! he exclaimed, practically jumping out of bed,"A Chunky!"

So, my advice to you all is -don't be ambushed. Even those foods or food fragrances you think are marvelous -are bound to disappoint in the long run. Purging, binging, or throwing caution to the wind are simply self-destructive. We must always be cautious- acutely aware that an ambush could be waiting at the next family dinner, night out, or birthday celebration.

Stay clean.

Don't be a Chunky.

Monday, August 15, 2011


 (Originally posted Aug. 4, 2008)
Some say there is a place called Limbo.
A vague, almost mystic spot in time that exists between Heaven and Hell. 
It's a state of transition, of temporary confinement- of quiet oblivion.

I have always thought that August was a sort of earthly limbo.
A calm, almost floating space of days that exists between summer and fall.

Some use the term, "August at its peak".
I can see that invisible peak now.

August is like a roller coaster that you board in the summer - ride its curves and bends- rise with its peak-
and emerge at the other end, deeply aware of autumn's coming.
Your soul is suddenly seeped in the unseen ghosts of a new season that has not yet arrived.

August has always been a month of reflection for me.
A time of looking back, but yet, looking forward.
Of remembering special summer moments, but at the same time, anticipating events that will shape themselves in the days to come.

From my front porch, I watch August as it unfolds...

Soon the school bus will roar down the dusty summer roads.
Each year I watch as its yellow face appears around the curve, dancing with bouncing children.

If I blur my eyes just right, I can almost see my children there, smiling and waving back at me from the windows.
Remembering how I sent them off to school, my heart full of love and concern- but with an emptiness only a mother can know.

The world is quiet today.
August pulls the life from the grass and trees, leaving curled clover beneath my bare feet as I walk to the garden.

The surface of the pond pops occasionally with a hungry fish- its murky surface showing a cloudless sky with ripples of mid-day heat.

There were fun days here.
Days when the kids squealed as night crawlers were baited on their hooks-
their little, sweaty heads glistening in the sunlight as they patiently waited for the big fish to arrive.

They used to walk with me here, all three of them in tow, scouting for blackberries and wildflowers and yellow-spotted garden spiders.
We always had a ritual of leaving a trail of milkweed silk floating on the air behind us - making secret wishes as we freed the seeds from their spiky, dried cocoons.

I stop for a moment.
If I tune my ears just right, I can almost hear them laughing and splashing again-
their sweet voices like an infectious happiness that can never be replaced.

I miss those times and I miss my children.
But I accept the fact that their lives were long ago pulled away by duties of the world- by their young wings fluttering away to an obscure freedom-
like the milkweed silk.

And today, I know for certain that I am in a rare type of limbo.
That I am in the intricate space between being a mother
and being an aging parent.

I go to the edge of the pond and look into the water.
If I blur my eyes just right, I can almost see the reflection of a young woman.
But then she quietly begins to weep-
knowing that August leads her up the hill...
and then further down the road.

Friday, August 12, 2011


(Originally posted Oct. 15, 2009)

there will be nothing left of me
except a stack of photographs
lying somewhere
in a musty drawer-
with old buttons
and pennies
and pens with no ink.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's About Time Someone Asked

Yesterday I was making some last minute
arrangements for my upcoming trip.
I relayed the necessary information
to the pleasant lady on the phone
and she confirmed my reservations.

"Do you have any special needs?" she asked,
catching me in a strange mood.

All I could see is this big
conversation bubble popping out
over my head,
my fingertip touching my chin,
my eyes glancing innocently
toward the heavens
as I pondered the question.

Then my video daydream started...

There I am.
Standing on a podium.
Making a speech.

"Yes! I have special needs!
You better believe it, Buster!"
And I know I speak for all the
women across this great nation
when I voice my list of needy things!"

1. We need a chocolate bar that
is both terrifyingly delicious, 
but also calorie free.

2. We need toilet paper
that replaces itself on the holder.

3. We need carpet that vacuums itself,
floors that never need mopped,
and a house that never gets dusty.

4.We need a vacation every three months
and a mini-nap every day.

5. We need bras that fit,
underwear that doesn't creep up,
and pajamas that are both super comfy 
and sophisticated-ly sexy.

6. We need heels that feel like sneakers,
sneakers that feel like slippers,
and slippers that feel like bare feet.

7. We need to be told we are pretty
even when we look ugly-
that we look thin, even when we are fat,
and that we are funny, even when 
we can't remember the punchline.

8. We need a good hairstyle.
One that won't take $15.73 worth
of product every week to keep it
full, soft, colorful, manageable and shiny.

9. We need to outlaw irons and ironing boards.
It is both an outdated and demeaning act
that has no place in modern society.
(Sorry, Tina!)

10. We need elegant perfume, jewelry
and clothing at discount prices.

11. We need a Big Lots right next door.

12. We need nail polish that dries in a second, 
eyebrows that stay plucked,
and tummy's that stay tucked.

13. We need cars that are fast, cool, economical, and fashionable-
but still large enough to hold every flea market bargain imaginable.

14. We need the secret to a perfect pie crust.

15. We need to be able to buy
Botox in a bag,
boobs in a bottle.
and youth in a pill.

...suddenly the video daydream fades...
The crowd grows small.
Night falls.
I step down from my soap box.
And return to the real world.

I ask you today, ladies-
Do you have special needs?

Let your voice be heard!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Labor Day At The Cabin

(Click photos to enlarge)

The leaves are starting to turn...

Mushrooms are popping out of the damp soil...

Persimmons are ripening in the sun...

I picked some flowers for the porch...

More mushrooms...They look like little umbrellas, don't they?

My pear tree looks like a "duck tree"...

Walking sticks lean against the tree, ready for a impromptu hike...

We could go here....

Or here...

Or even here...

Can you see the smiley faces in the wood pile?

The yard is freshly mowed...

Cool morning air drifts in the back door...

All tucked away and waiting for autumn....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

School Daze, School Daze

Sometimes I almost envy the kids
that are going back to school.

 Sometimes I go down the craft isle at Wal-Mart,
just to smell the Elmer's glue
and the Crayola Crayons
and the woody aroma of fresh pencils.

Sometimes I fantasize about owning
a giant 5-Star college-ruled notebook again-
a colorful array of file folders,
and black fine-tipped ball point pens
that glide across the page
as gracefully as an Olympic skater.

Sometimes I miss the feel of text books
in the crook of my arm-
the strict regimen of schedules
and dealines
and assignments.

Sometimes I think about school desks
and the stiff, upright chairs-
their graffiti measled surfaces
and their cheap Formica tops.

I sometimes dream about my locker-
the ca-chunk as it opened
and the smack as it slammed
and the smell of polished hallways
and disinfected restrooms
and potatoes and peas cooking
in the cafeteria.

I can still hear the squeak of swing sets
and the thump of basketballs
and the whir of a merry-go-round gone wild.

I sometimes miss the anticipation of Christmas break,
the fear of semester exams,
and the kindness of a good teacher.

I miss new school clothes
and new socks
and new shoes that gave me blisters.

I sometimes miss the hum
of the film projector,
slobbering on my desk during
an impromptu nap,
and raising my hand because
I was certain I knew the answer.

I miss doodling in the margins,
highlighting notes in dogeared books,
and listening to the band practice
outside near the football field.

I miss the giggles and the gossip,
the friends and the festivities,
the satisfaction of good grades
and a job well done.

I sometimes miss solar systems
and patchwork globes
and formaldehyde in Biology lab.

I miss art canvas
and potter's wheels
and tempera paints
with bundles of brushes.

I miss yearbook day
and pep assemblies
and field trips.

I miss being young-
full of hope for my future,
and never doubtful of my abilities.

Sometimes I miss school days.

But now I simply watch the yellow bus
kick up dust on the country road-
and pretend it is stopping
at my house next.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Interview With Tarzan

(originally posted Aug 4, 2009)


Tomorrow is National Underwear Day.

Everyone is pretty excited about it-
except Tarzan.

I did a little interview with him this morning,
just to get his take on this important holiday.


We are seated in a grass nest-
far above the jungle floor-
the monkey and bird sounds
are deafening,
but I manage to have a conversation
with Mr. Tarzan-
whom many consider "the King".

Q. It's National Underwear Day.
Do you feel that it may finally be time
to give up your loincloth?
In fact, many civilized people might consider
your style a bit unsanitary.

A." Listen, Sweetie- I'll have you know that
I changed my loincloth at least
three times today.
Once after my daily swim
the alligator infested river-

A second time for my dinner date,

and a few hours ago
that lion came up behind me

and scared the crap out of me!"

Q. Many historians have credited you
as the designer of the first pair of underwear.
Your thoughts?

A. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. If it hadn't been for the giant leeches, monstrous mosquitoes, and a particular man-eating plant- I might still be sitting here completely naked. Like they say- necessity is the mother of invention and jungle rot isn't something that antifungal cream will soothe.

Q. There are so many options out there
for today's man.
Would you ever consider boxers, briefs,
or thongs?

A. "Well, Missy- as a matter of fact, I have given all those a try. I found the boxers to be a bit constricting when I sprint across massive pools of quick sand. The briefs make me look like a chimpanzee, and once, when wearing a thong- I was mistaken for a baboon in heat."

Q. What does Jane think of your
fashion choices?
And by the way-
how is your family?

A. "Boy ran off and joined the Boy Scouts, and Cheetah fell in love with some gorilla thug.
And if you must know, Jane is no longer living with me here in the jungle. Once upon a time she depended on me for food, shelter and protection. But since I bought her that GPS, the Hummer, and that Visa Card for Christmas, she just doesn't need me anymore."

Q. Would you accept my invitation
to return with me to the states
and celebrate National Underwear Day
in New York City?

A." Sorry, Babe. The local cannibals have invited me to some big barbecue or something they're having later. Thought I'd check it out. Rain check?"

Q. Ugh...Not likely now, but thanks.
Any last words?

A. "Awwww-Eeeee-Awwwwww!!"

No matter how you decide
to celebrate National Underwear Day-
at least start with a fresh pair.

Even Tarzan knows that.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Places We Have Been

(Originally posted Aug. 13, 2009)

These are days worth saving.

Pieces of time,
like pockets-
ready to be filled,
with moments
and memories
and the magnificence
of life.

These are a charm bracelet of days
waiting to be worn-
adorned with
and trinkets
and tenderness-
Strung into a circle of sunshine
and smiles
and sparkling summer stars.

These are days worth saving.

Days that we must
and master.
Days that we must not let pass
until they are plump
with prayers
and promises...
and places we have been.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Dreams

(Originally posted May 28, 2009)

The fireflies twinkle out over the damp fields
and the smell of freshly mowed grass
permeates the air.

There is a perfume here
that smells of childhood.

Of humid nights playing shadow tag-
moonlit evenings of primitive camp outs-
of lonely whippoorwills and
distant trains...
and eyes that saw the world with
innocence and amazement.

Sometimes I like to pretend
that I'm a little girl again.
That I could really climb that tree
and wade that creek
and catch those lightning bugs
by the dozen.

I like to think the moon is watching me
like a giant angel in the sky-
that the sun follows me like
a magnificent umbrella-
and that the stars
contain wishes
that are yet to come true.

I like to think
that I'm not completely grown up.
That God still molds me to his will
and sees promise where
sometimes I cannot.
I like to think I am still
changing, improving, learning.

But I also like to think that
no matter how old I get-
I will always admire nature.
That little frogs
and wild flowers
and the smell of hay
will always fascinate me.
That a sunburned nose
and muddy feet
and wind tossed hair
will always be welcomed.

I like to think that these days
are truly lived-
that not a precious moment is wasted.
That not a single memory
is taken for granted.

That I will never forget
the little girl I once was.
Or the woman that
God has made of me.

I still delight in
butterflies and dandelions-
smooth river rocks
and giant oaks-
tiny fish
and shiny bugs
and timid yellow birds.
I still love
the smell of lilacs,
the feel of a rain storm,
the night dew on my toes.

I hope I never lose the gift
of pretending.

I hope I always remember to
breathe deeply-
love strongly...

And every once in awhile take the time-
to be a little girl again....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Place Called Home

(Originally posted Aug. 2009)

There is something about this time of year that makes me want to clean and decorate my home.
Maybe it's just a nesting instinct- that urge to fluff pillows and smooth bedsheets and clean windows till they sparkle.
Somehow there is a great satisfaction of changing the door wreath or the kitchen tablecloth or the garden flag.
It might just be that we all need a change.

Although I do dread winter, I anticipate autumn.
Summer has given us too many hot days, too many weeds in the garden and too much yard to mow.
Autumn comes and puts an end to outdoor slavery.
It's a time to relax- to plan and to reflect-
before the two biggest holidays unfold
and the snow shovels appear.

Decorating is part of the welcoming process-
a hint to friends and family to come on in-
have a mug of cocoa -
wrap yourself up in the warmth of
scented candles, baking cookies
and just relax.

We all develop a certain attachment to our homes.
Sometimes it may not seem that way,
but they become a special part of us-
the heart of our lives.

Several years ago my family and I moved from
our home in the country to a temporary place in town.
Looking back, it was a traumatic experience for me.

This is the journal entry that I made at the time:

"It is just after midnight and I write by the light of the Christmas tree. For the first time in eleven years we aren't at our house- the comfort of our home. How many beautiful trees did we have there? How many memories? And why, oh why, does everything that was ever said or done in that house seems magnified into huge glorious days and nights that break my heart? In all honesty, I am homesick. Nothing seems right, feels right, tastes right. I suddenly envy people in their little houses with their perfect little lives with concrete driveways and door wreaths and mailboxes and cute little flowers and mailboxes and bird baths and clotheslines and waving "hello" as I pass. Now I see evening lights glowing at dinner over dining room tables. I see their little trees all lit in the windows and they're all happy and singing songs and snuggled into warm, familiar beds, and they are HOME..."
I truly feel sorry for homeless people and
even those people who never seem to form
an emotional attachment to their homes.
People who are too busy working and traveling
to ever make a soft dent in the sofa cushions,
that never know the colors of the sunset from the kitchen window,
never grow familiar with the family of wrens in the rafters,
fail to enjoy the scent of the nearby lilac tree-
never memorize the hum of the refrigerator at 3 a.m.-
or neglect to know the pesky mouse that skitters about in
the garage on occasion.

I also feel sorry for those people who live in
perfect, plastic homes-
those strict people who have never had jelly on their drapes,
finger paints on their dining room table,
ants in their pantry
or a racoon in their garden.
The same people that would never take a chance
at painting their walls orange or eggplant
or find a yard sale treasure that
fits wonderfully in the living room.

I have a home
and I am proud that it's not perfect.
Some of my furniture is as old as I am.
There is a mouse hole in the laundry room.
I decorate with flea market finds and rummage sale castoffs-
and not because I have to- but because I want to.
Because in some strange way,
I am making a home for these homeless things
in my home.

Right before we found the house that we live in now,
I made this entry in my journal:

"I want a house with a yard. That's where I'd be right now. With the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, and spring- like a flower- blooming in my heart. God has plans for us. A real home. So I wait. And know with utter faith and belief that it is well worth waiting for..."

And it has been.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Quiet World

Sometimes I feel alone in this world.



While the crowds around me chatter and mumble, I keep to my path.

I simply smile and follow the road to peace and quiet-
open that huge, loud door and step into a cloud of silence.

I like it there.

My ears rest.

My voice relaxes.

My mind breathes in soft, slow rhythm.

In my quiet world, I can hear bird songs-their musical language like a hypnotizing chant- the flutter of gray wings and the gentle tapping of their beaks on scattered seeds…

In my quiet world, I know the difference between the wind rustling in the maples and it whistling through the pine boughs.

I listen to the beat of the water upon the pond bank, the iridescent ripples kissing the cattails with steady strokes.

I can hear the honeysuckled breeze tickle the wind chimes,
the black crow cawing over the freshly turned pasture,
a distant dog barking for an overdue treat.

In my quiet world,
I am in tune with the moonlight,
the sunlight,
the splatter of rain drops on thirsty clover.

I hear my own heart,
my hidden melody,
my beckoning dreams.

Sometimes my quiet world is so deafening
that I am overwhelmed by its miracles.

And that is when my soul writes…
-finds an unobtrusive voice
and shouts without sound.