Member Monday: Online Class by Dale Angel

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to feature a piece by the always hilarious Dale Angel.

Online Class

by Dale Angel

I’m taking an online class. The subjects are varied and useful for everyday life. The teacher is well-known, educated and comes with credentials and a title. The instructor’s name is Judge Judy.
I personally learned how to dress for the work environment. You need a white lace collar. It made me realize I need the services of the physical landscaping skills of her surgeon. She looks sixteen and last class she showed up with blond hair, the necessary equipment for the job.
She shows us the value of personal worth by refusing to get involved in domestic affairs. What she calls, “playing house with benefits”.
She will not divide up the items fought over like the plaintiffs toothbrush holder and running shoes or the defendant’s rims off her car. She will not unmingle their toys.
She’s not using up her life or education over trivias, especially when both want a refund and compensation on their bad investment…we can all learn something from this.
She’s very astute in unraveling who threw the first punch…and she can identify the keys of rejected lovers…who used them to damage the cars belonging to the party of the first part.
Her work ethics are so creative when ones spouse sues, and the problem is from unemployment that brought it about, her advice is ”just gather cans and hire your own attorney”.  She’s fair.
She is a master at identifying manufactured disabilities that her bailiff pays his taxes to support so the disabled party has an income…while surfing.
The case of the women who sued for back injury and pain and suffering was enlightening. Judge Judy told her to try climbing down off those shoes, see if that helps…next!
Her practical questions are so skilled you see people tattling on themselves.
She is very good to youths who have coping problems, who she says, ”lie when their mouths are moving”. She is so kind, she never deprives them of consequences. It shows a great deal of experience in this area. I need to know more about things like this, at present, I’m under qualified.
Never do business without defensive receipts-you will need them for decades because someone may come out of the woodwork…save all receipts…good to know.
My new electric blanket has instructions. ” If it fails, mail back only in the original box plus the warranty.” I’m saving the required box and warranty for the next five years.
As an advocate of defenseless old people, she can spot a looter and plunderer with a couple of pertinent questions. We all need to know more pertinent questions. I’m not sure when to use them. I may need that information, this class will show me how.
She will not accept Dr.Phil’s failed cases, she says, “Some things can’t be fixed.” Isn’t that sensible? I need to know that, I’ll quit climbing ropes with fire at my feet trying to outrun problems I can’t fix.
Dogs and their problems are of current concern, if you have one, go out and buy insurance, if not for the dog, for their owners. Dogs are big business and Judge Judy loves them and sees through any who are into dogs for profit. She has no problem separating and restraining dogs, but untangling their owners are another matter. She says, ”The dogs are better mannered.”
She’s not above calling names and screaming when necessary and knows how to properly use these tools online.
I’m especially impressed with her ability to hold her tongue when she wants to swear and how and when this is done professionally with dignity while driving…without using ones finger.
This class contains a variety of beneficial subjects to help negotiate life’s gridlocks
A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

In Memoriam: Magical Shoes by Gayle Madden

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s with heavy hearts that we feature a piece by Gayle Madden.  She recently passed away and we offer our sincere condolences to her husband, Michael.  While we mourn Gayle’s passing, we celebrate her life, a life well-lived indeed.  This is the second of two pieces by Gayle we featured this month and we encourage you to read more of her body of work at her blog, aptly titled The Sweet Life: La Dolce Vita. -Writers Forum Board of Directors

Magical Shoes

by Gayle Madden

Walking a mile in my Magical Shoes

I finally know what it’s like to walk a mile in my shoes!

In January of 2011, my husband, Michael, bought me a new pair of pretty RED ones as a surprise.  The surprise turned out to be I wouldn’t wear them until recently, 14 months later.  But what a sweet walk it was!

The shoes are magical.

Just ask Debbie, our adventurous friend who joined us.  She has a pair of magical shoes, too.

Magical Shoes are made to keep a traveler afloat in a storm.  I wore out my last pair!

You might think I need a really big size to weather my current storm, but part of the magic is that one size fits all.  Another part of the magic is that we all have magic shoes.

What color are yours?

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

In Memoriam: Backpacking the Trinity Alps by Gayle Madden

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s with heavy hearts that we feature a piece by Gayle Madden.  She recently passed away and we offer our sincere condolences to her husband, Michael.  While we mourn Gayle’s passing, we celebrate her life, a life well-lived indeed.  We’ll be featuring another of Gayle’s pieces next week and we encourage you to read more of her body of work at her blog, aptly titled The Sweet Life: La Dolce Vita. -Writers Forum Board of Directors

Photo courtesy of Gayle Madden

In what poets refer to as the dead of night, poets who obviously have never slept beside an alpine lake in the high country during a warm summer night, I got up and stepped out of the tent.  I gazed skyward, looking into the purple-black heavens in absolute awe, breathing out slowly, imperceptibly.

Stars hung low, big, bright, too bright to even twinkle, more like a glow.  Silent stars tinkling their songs over the millenniums like sirens, luring, rendering one powerless yet powerful at the same time.  I called softly to awaken my husband, luring him out to see the starlit sky.

He stepped into the night and scanned the sky with the practiced eye of a pilot and the heart of a mystic.  “Look,” he whispered, then nodded.  “The Big Dipper.”

There it was.  Not only huge in the sky but closer than I have ever seen it, dipping perfectly into the outline of the black-inked mountaintops, cradled like a babe held tenderly in arms, resting before resuming its eternal journey in the sky.  It was in that moment that I saw what I had never seen before.

The smooth black water of the lake transformed into sky.  The Big Dipper, along with hundreds of other stars, glowed golden white in the watery sky.  A perfect mirror image of the lights rose from the bottom of the liquid blackness, mysteriously dancing.  I stood frozen in time, gazing into the bigness of nature that man has gazed into since the beginning of man, the Bigness that fills man with a sense of being a part of something greater than himself. There I stood, with ancient man, with every man, filling myself, feeling myself.  More than myself.  Alive.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: I Saw My Mom Today by Patsy Parker

Welcome back to Member Monday.  Today we welcome first time poster, Patsy Parker.  Grab a cup of something warm and a tissue and enjoy Patsy’s poignant essay.

I Saw My Mom Today

by Patsy Parker

 

I saw my mom today, even though she’s been dead for eight years, two months, and nine days.  She rose from her bed in the late morning.  The aroma of fresh coffee tickled her nose.  The sounds of creaking and crackling filled her ears as she walked down the hall.  They weren’t coming from the floor.

When she reached the kitchen, she pulled her favorite coffee mug down from the cabinet.  It was the only one she used; it read simply “Mom.”  Her daughter had given it to her one year for her birthday.

I saw my mom today.  On summer days such as this she stayed in her loose-fitting clothes all day since she didn’t have to drive kids to school for three months.  She liked to read in the mornings while she sipped her coffee. Then she did some chores here and there – laundry mostly since her teenage daughter did the dishes for her every day.  Her son took out the trash.

Occasionally, she sat in the backyard to listen to the morning birds.  Then she walked around the lawn looking for a few weeds to pull.  If her neighbor was out, she waved hello.  She used to have a favorite neighbor many years ago.  Slowly the neighborhood became filled with younger women who had jobs and children in school.  It changed too quickly she thought.

I saw my mom today.  She went back to her bedroom to read which she often did in the afternoons before it was time for dinner.   She read mostly novels, but sometimes non-fiction such as short stories.  She loved any story that had a happy ending, always the optimist.

In the evenings after dinner,  she sat in her room with her whiskey and soda and watched her favorite shows or a good movie.  She made the trip down the hall a few more times before she turned out the light to go to sleep; instead she lay awake for hours tossing and turning.

I saw my mom today.  Her white hair fixed nice with the smell of hairspray freshly spritzed.  She stood in front of the mirror putting her make-up on.  Flicking off the bathroom light, she walked down the hall as quickly as she could to get her purse and go grocery shopping.

When she arrived home, she came in the door tired and sighing heavily as she put bags on the dining room table.  She put the groceries away, made herself a glass of iced tea, and went to sit on the couch for a few minutes.

I saw my mom today when I looked in the mirror.  Same color hair, reading a novel, lounging in my loose-fitting clothes.  Drinking coffee in the early morning from my sea turtle mug,  minus the nightly drinking and insomnia.  Not quite the optimist mom was, seeing the worst case scenarios first.  I went grocery shopping today, but I treated myself to a movie and a trip to the library first.  In addition to reading tonight, I thought…I wrote…I remembered.

I saw my mom today when I looked in the mirror, but mostly I saw myself.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Best of Member Monday #2: A Mile in Their Shoes by Alicia McCauley

A Note from the Webmaster: It’s summertime, the glorious season of swimming, sunblock and sinking your teeth into a fat stack of books.  Alas, it’s also the sad season when Writers Forum goes dark for two months.  Never fear, dear reader, because for the next eight Mondays, Writers Forum will be featuring the Best of Member Monday.  The top eight Member Monday pieces were determined by the number of views each piece received on our website.  We’ll count them down beginning from #8 and ending with our #1 most viewed piece of the 2013-2014 Writers Forum year.  Congratulations to the top eight!  Taking the #2 slot is a piece by Writers Forum member Alicia McCauley, who has just returned from another exciting summer of teaching writing and other adventures in Uganda.  You can read more about her most recent trip on Alicia’s blog.

A Mile in Their Shoes

by Alicia McCauley

After church on Sunday, I stayed at the school for the afternoon and hung out with the kids.  Sunday is their only full day off from school and it was great to spend a little time getting to know them.

These kids are so funny.  Laughter is like breathing here, bubbling out of the easy smiles of the students.  It’s the white noise of the campus.

It never ceases to amaze me what kids will share if you just spend time with them sans agenda.  After church I sat in the shade of one of the outdoor classrooms shooting the breeze with the kids, talking about things like rap music and soccer.

Then the conversation took a turn and the kids started talking about their experiences as night travelers during the terror-filled years when Kony rampaged through the north.

Each night they’d travel the dark road from their houses and huts and into Gulu.  You can’t imagine the pitch darkness of this road.  No glow of electricity.  No flashlights.  Only stars pin pricking the sky and the white face of the moon to watch over them.

The boys walked for miles with their cousins and siblings, an ant trail of children hurrying along the edges of the roads in search of shelter and the hope of safety in town.  One particular boy was ten years old at the time.

I think about my nieces and nephews who are around that age and I imagine them walking that dark road together and I use the corner of my skirt to wipe the agony from my eyes.

The boys talked about family members who were taken; uncles whisked away, fathers snatched out of the potato garden in the early morning hours.  They talked about family members who are still missing and about others who were mercifully released.

They also told stories of children forced into servitude for the LRA, walking for days with heavy loads balanced on their heads.  A single utterance hinting at hunger or fatigue meant a sure and swift death.

The boys told horrific stories that I can’t even bring myself to type because the malevolent inhumanity of it burns in my stomach and causes hot vomit to sizzle in my throat.

It’s fitting to me that the school is built in what was once one of the most violent and unstable areas in Northern Uganda.  The heart of the school is their dedication to love and justice and I can’t think of a more fitting place to make such a declaration.

On my way back to town that Sunday, I walked part of the road used by the night traveling children.  Two of the boys escorted me and I couldn’t help but sneak peeks at their faces, imagining younger versions of them making this walk in the dead of night.  We walked about a mile before flagging down bodas that took us the remaining miles back into Gulu.

Sunday night my heart was heavy, weighing me down in my sleep as the boys’ stories came to life in my nightmares.

Every good teacher learns from his or her students.  Here in Uganda, I’m eager to learn how these children walked the darkest road and arrived at this destination, to a time and place where laughing is like breathing, where love and justice prevail over land once red with the blood of their loved ones.

Best of Member Monday #5: The Wonders of the Lost Coast by Jen Higley

A Note from the Webmaster: It’s summertime, the glorious season of swimming, sunblock and sinking your teeth into a fat stack of books.  Alas, it’s also the sad season when Writers Forum goes dark for two months.  Never fear, dear reader, because for the next eight Mondays, Writers Forum will be featuring the Best of Member Monday.  The top eight Member Monday pieces were determined by the number of views each piece received on our website.  We’ll count them down beginning from #8 and ending with our #1 most viewed piece of the 2013-2014 Writers Forum year.  Congratulations to the top eight!  Taking the #5 slot is a piece by Writers Forum Membership Director Jen Higley.

The Wonders of the Lost Coast

by Jen Higley

View from Kinsey Ridge TrailSummer in northern California marks the beginning of travel season for many, and few places are more refreshing than the coast.  Cool breezes, frequent moisture and lush green growth are just a few of the things that make the coast the opposite of the rest of California in summertime.  But for those craving adventure this summer, you needn’t look further than the Lost Coast in the King Range Wilderness.

The Lost Coast is a beach-loving camper’s paradise, with campsites for those in motor vehicles, on horse-back, or those adventure lovers who strap all their supplies on their backs and set out for those patches of coastline accessible only on foot.  Hike along the beach, watch seals play in the surf, set up your tent with a view of the ocean and listen to its tales all through the night.

Idyllic as it is, the importance of having a travel plan must not be understated.  There are a few things to keep in mind when on the trail to coastal camping bliss.

The Lost Coast Trail moves to and away from the beach at appropriate intervals, for the safety of hikers.  Enjoy the soothing sound of the powerful Pacific when hiking on the beach as you push through deep, silky soft sand with only everything you need to survive four days in the wilderness to weigh you down.  You’ll have plenty of time to absorb that marvelous maritime air when traversing miles of sand moving a foot and a half per step.  Plenty of time.

Moving inland, you get the beautiful ocean view from a shore bird’s perspective, as parts of the trail climb quite high with no obstacles such as railings, stout shrubs or anything else you could hold on to blocking your view.  And while you’re up there, with those magnificent shore breezes, take care to lean in to the hillside being traversed, as only the ocean and its accompanying sharp rocks and rip-tide would be there to stop a stumble.

There is no shortage of wildlife on the Lost Coast.  You will be living for a time in that mystical habitat where ocean life meets terrestrial, the sea lions and otters sharing the beach with bobcats, coyotes and bear alike.  While one must take care to watch out for potentially harmful wildlife when camping miles from the nearest town and well out of wireless range, most campers are spared unpleasant animal encounters by taking simple precautions, such as storing their food in bear-safe canisters and not stepping on the rattlesnakes.  The bother of insects is reduced by the exfoliating winds, but you’d be prudent to check your gear and body for ticks at the end of each day.  If you take along a faithful canine companion, check him also, as full-body fur can harbor a few dozen more ticks than you’d think.

Plant life along the Lost Coast is a sight to behold for botanists and common flora enthusiasts alike.  In early summer, you’ll pass wildflowers, century plants, and herbs such as mint, all equally obscured by the vast swatches of poison oak.  Trailhead signs encourage hikers to learn to recognize and avoid poison oak, but if you fail to dodge the fresh, oily growth that narrows the path to four inches wide in places, just rinse any exposed and most certainly contaminated skin at one of the many creeks and streams along the trail—and pray.

Weather on the Lost Coast can be breathtakingly perfect.  However, in a climate known to accumulate 200 or more inches of rain in a year, it is not uncommon for a hiker to experience some moisture.  Take care to pack your sleeping gear in water safe bags, as this will help you avoid a night of obligatory insomnia to stave off hypothermia.  Another reason to protect your gear from moisture is the grand ocean itself.  Some sections of this twenty-five mile trail are impassible at high tides, so one must carry a map and plan the day’s hiking accordingly.  At times, a hiker will neglect to consult a tide chart and be quite surprised when a pristine wave suddenly bashes her against the rocks, which is particularly distressing when there is no possible way to leave the beach for a mile or two in either direction.  Should you find yourself in such a predicament, you can hike to the safety of the nearest creek drainage, or perch on any high rocks in the area while waiting for the tide to recede, as it always does eventually.

As I’m sure I have conveyed, backpacking on the Lost Coast is a unique and amazing experience for the novice and seasoned backpacker alike, and can be enchanting fun for the whole family.  Knowing your route and packing conscientiously are the keys to a safe and grand adventure in this wilderness like no other.  On a personal note, I have never returned from the Lost Coast without longing to return.  It’s true.

Best of Member Monday #7: Cut the Cake by Deborah Gilson

A Note from the Webmaster: It’s summertime, the glorious season of swimming, sunblock and sinking your teeth into a fat stack of books.  Alas, it’s also the sad season when Writers Forum goes dark for two months.  Never fear, dear reader, because for the next eight Mondays, Writers Forum will be featuring the Best of Member Monday.  The top eight Member Monday pieces were determined by the number of views each piece received on our website.  We’ll count them down beginning from #8 and ending with our #1 most viewed piece of the 2013-2014 Writers Forum year.  Congratulations to the top eight!  Taking the #7 slot is a piece by Writers Forum member Deborah Gilson.

Cut the Cake

by Deborah Gilson

It was my fifth birthday. Mom headed to work in the city after dropping Ross, my four-year-old brother, and me off at nursery school. From the instant I awoke, I waited for the day to end. At nursery school I told Crystal, the most beautiful little girl ever, I had a cake coming that night after dinner.

The magic moment arrived for my mother to pick Ross and me up from nursery school. On the front passenger seat of our red Volvo station wagon, I saw my cake box. I asked Mom if she could drive home a little faster. Looking at me from her rear view mirror, she said she would try.

Ross pulled a funny trick on the way home and began making siren noises while we crouched on the floorboard of the back seat. Ross told her she was speeding and would probably get a ticket. Mom pulled the car over to the side of the road and waited. When no police car appeared, she heard our muffled giggles. Reaching her 12-foot-long arm into the back seat, Mom could not grab either of us. Exhausted from another day’s work as a single mother, she slowly put the pedal to the metal and continued the drive home.

Standing in our tiny kitchen, my mother asked me, the birthday girl, what I wanted for dinner. With tremendous excitement, I declared, “Dinner shot out of a cannon!” This meant breakfast-style food for dinner, the fastest meal in town.

After dinner, Ross and I cleared the dishes from the kitchen table; my grand event finally arrived. Out of the box came an elegant, small lemon cake with cream cheese frosting. The edges were lined in pink and yellow rosettes. My mother intentionally handed me a spatula, instead of a knife, and said I could cut the cake. My mother began washing the dishes; thankfully, her back was turned away from Ross and me.

With Ross standing as close as possible, I held up the spatula as a sword for his big blue eyes to see, translating my deafening non-verbal message, “Don’t you even think about coming near my cake!” Without saying a word, my mother sensed my selfish and greedy demeanor, so she interjected over her shoulder, “And Ross gets to choose the first piece.” With disbelief and even bigger blue eyes, I screamed, “WWWHHHAAATTT???!!!”

Grabbing my cake from the kitchen table, I gingerly placed it on the kitchen floor. So I would be eye-level with it, I laid down flat on the floor to get a bird’s eye view for the precise cut. Ross laid down next to me, resting his chin on his folded hands. I measured where to cut the cake into pieces so Ross would not have even one granule more. Finally, I felt secure knowing I cut the cake into equal portions. Using the spatula as a serving tool as well as a knife, I gently put a piece of cake onto my plate and walked to the kitchen table with my mouth watering. Again, my mother knew inappropriate behavior took place and told me to hand my piece of cake to Ross.  Tears began to well up by now; I was positive I would have no birthday cake.

Being me has never been easy, however, it is the memories of how I treated my younger brother while growing up, which are difficult to swallow. With Ross no longer living, I think about my birthday night and wish I had done things differently. I long to go back to the evening of April 2, 1965. If this were possible, I would hand the spatula to Ross and say, “It’s my birthday and I want you to cut the cake.”

Debbie & Ross, 1965 PDF Photo.pdf