Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween through the years


Haunted House 2010

Halloween sure has changed now that Katie, Andrew and Nicholas have gotten older.  When they were little, sparkling princesses, pumpkins and cute clowns were the typical costumes.  In preschool, they always had big Halloween parades where the kids would march around in their costumes for all the parents and grandparents to "ooh" and "aah" over.  We only trick-or-treated a few homes of family and friends when it was barely dark.  It is a tradition of ours to go over to their Nini and Papa's home and trick-or-treat in their neighborhood (the one I grew up in). 

I remember one Halloween in particular.  The kids were 7, 5 and 3.  We had just set out for the evening.  It was already dark.  Unaware, Katie stood in a fire ant bed that was right at the front sidewalk of my parent's neighbors.  She got bitten all over both feet and started screaming and crying.  We hurried back to Nini and Papa's house for some TLC.  Poor thing couldn't wear shoes for days.  She still has scars on her feet.  That was probably the shortest Halloween we ever had, but we learned a valuable lesson; wear closed-in shoes...even if you are a princess.

Katie, Andrew and Nicholas have officially passed the cute costume stage, and have replaced it with scary masks, black capes, ninjas and Shadow Hunters.  Now that the kids are older, we are having fun all over the neighborhood, visiting haunted houses and spooking one another. 

Tonight we went to a neighborhood haunted house in my parent's neighborhood.  Pete and the kids went last year, but I was propped up in my parent's recliner icing my torn Achilles tendonS (notice the "s" there- I messed up both of them).  I was amazed at all the effort these people took to create a fantastic spooky experience for fun and for free. 

They also had a good message to share: don't use drugs or drink, or you'll end up dead like the skeletons and zombies, and stay in school or the wicked witch will come and find you. 

Pete got one of the monsters to poke my shoulder and scare me, that little rascal.  The kid's weren't too scared, but the others in the group were going crazy screaming at the top of their lungs.  As Nicholas put it, "They were almost scarier than the haunted house."

We had a great Halloween and I am so grateful for that.  I cherish this time because I know all too well there will come a time when the kids no longer want to trick-or-treat on Halloween. 

What did you do for Halloween this year?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Big Tent Poetry Prompt

The Front Windows
by Laurie Kolp

Thick wooden slabs cover the front windows
carefully bolted with splintered hands
rushing to prepare for the likes of Rita and Ike
hurricanes who stormed paths
and tumbled trees like dominoes
crushing roofs
ripping homes in two
breaking down fences
Returning from a forced vacation
or awkward reunion with forgotten relatives,
weathered hands unbolt the solid plywood-
restitution for the suffocating windows
now able to breathe freely.
Thin makeshift screens replace the board
during the aftermath’s lack of power
and harassed victims
become ants
moving mounds
back and forth to the curb
a task which calls for confinement
in the boring house
for Jake and Snowy-
until the homeless dogs show up
perusing through the yard
sniffing things out
wagging tails
begging for companionship
the temptation becomes too great
Jake and Snowy break free
ripping the screen
to join in the canine melee.

*Click here to view this week's Big Tent Poetry prompt and results.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Not again!

Yesterday I got a call, and all the memories from years ago came rushing forth. 

Pete had called earlier and said he would be home in fifteen minutes.  Twenty minutes later, he's not home and I get another call.

"I won't be home in fifteen minutes because there's been an accident," he said.

...And all the sudden I'm back to that day.  The day five years ago when I got a similar call.  Pete and the kids had come to visit me as I was decorating my room for Vacation Bible School.  Not shortly after they left, I get a call from my very harrowed husband.  There had been an accident.  A truck failed to stop and rammed into the back of his Saturn while he was waiting to turn left onto our street.  THE TEENAGE DRIVER HAD BEEN CHANGING HIS RADIO STATION. The kids were okay (thank you Jesus).

I dropped everything and rushed to the horrific scene.  The Saturn looked like an accordian and glass was everywhere.  Pete was holding a screaming Nicholas, who was just a baby.  Katie and Andrew were nowhere in sight.  I soon found out they had gone inside a friend's house to settle down.

"What happened?" I asked.

"The other guy tried to turn left onto a street from the right hand lane. Just a little damage to the driver's side of the Jeep. I'm waiting to fill out a police report," Pete answered.

The teenager had told the police what he was doing while the ambulance was taking Katie and Andrew to the hospital.  We wanted to be on the safe side.  Nicholas was in a baby harness car seat (the others in car seats for older kids) and appeared unscathed, so we didn't want to upset him more...he went with grandma.  Luckily, they got the okay from the doctor, but that night I sat pulling barely visible pieces of glass out of Nicholas' long curly hair. 

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"You know...the adrenaline is flowing and I'm mad as hell, but I'm okay."

Pete was not okay after the accident five years ago.  His neck was damaged; discs ruptured, to be precise. This was the beginning of a long torturous road for him: doctor's visits, steroid shots, physical therapy, painful tests, nerve damage and eventually neck surgery (not to mention Hurricane Rita wedging her way somewhere in the midst of all this).  To tell you the truth, Pete will never feel the way he did prior to that accident. 

All because the driver had been fussing over the radio.

I wonder if the guy yesterday was on his cell phone or texting.  What I do know is that negligent drivers have disrupted my family two too many times.  Please pay attention!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What I Love About Coffee
by Laurie Kolp

When its titillating aroma fills the air
I am jolted like a bolt on a door,
but when I swallow that bold strong taste
I am a child begging for more.

Morning or evening it matters not-
I am Pavlov’s conditioned dog
whenever coffee beseeches me,
I am lifted like morning fog.

November brings challenges

Some of my friends' published books
 As October draws to a close, most people are gearing up for the holidays.  How can you not?  Halloween items have been displayed in some stores since the end of August, and have been marked down already to make room for the Christmas items coming out since the beginning of October! 

All of the festivities and anticipation of the joyous season might have some of you excited and giddy, but not me.  You know why?  November is a very busy month for writers, and I am facing some big deadlines starting in a few days.

You see, November is National Poetry month and National Novel Writing month.  For several years I have participated in Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Challenge- to write a poem everyday in November (he does another challenge in April).  This challenge is not that great for me anymore, since I already write poems everyday with my Baker's Dozen group of poets from all over the world.  But this month, I am also taking the NaNoWriMo Challenge -to write a book in a month...and in November?  I know, I must be crazy, but I do like a good challenge. 

So as you are festing up for the holidays, please remember me.  I will be furiously pecking away at my computer while the kids are at school and after they go to bed.  Such is the life of a writer. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

by Laurie Kolp

A fountain of youth lies within
Overflowing with energy
Enough to help withstand the years
When you seek God’s will faithfully

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Morbid Acceleration

My mind accelerates faster than a Porsche 911; I can jump to the worse case scenario in record time.  Just give me a pothole and I'm in a ditch.  For example, one time when I couldn't reach Pete for hours, I was ready to think the worst.  I knew he had driven on hazardous roads to a job in a surrounding town, and that he had to climb up to the tip top and down to the very bottom of ships.  Pete usually called, but I had not heard from him most of the day.  His secretary hadn't heard from him either.  There had been a fatal traffic accident on the highway he had traveled.  I became frantic as I started obsessing over ways to break the bad news to the children about their dad.  Tears even welled up in my eyes from thoughts of losing my husband.  I called my neighbor who happens to work for Pete and he allayed my fear somewhat, reminding me that many times there is no cell service at the bottom of ships.  Yet I was light as a feather when Pete finally called and said he was okay.

Why, might you ask, am I telling you this? much as I hate to admit, I've done it again; but this time it is about my own mortality.  You see, yesterday I went to the dermatologist for a skin check.  I have spent too much time in the sun seeking "Greek goddess tan" status.  My maternal grandfather had melanoma, and my dad has had several skin cancers removed (he spends too much time on the golf course).  I felt it was time to begin annual checks.  Plus, I had one spot on my face that had been irritating me. 

Well, the doctor felt like it needed to come off, so I had a biopsy right then and there; she scraped it off with a knife.  There went my vanity- out the window like a bird.  Not wearing make up doesn't bother me, I went a whole month not long ago to see if I could do it.  But the fact that I'd have to wear a Band Aid on my face for ten days and probably would be left with a scar?  That bothered me a little, but not as much as the nightmare rolling around in my head; the one that screams MELANOMA! SKIN GRAFTS! DE--- ... no, I don't even want to go there.  See how my crazy mind works?

I need to focus on the doctor's last words- "It's probably nothing, but..." as I sit around and wait for ten days (but it could be basal cell carcinoma or worse). Stop it!

And how are you?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Babies make Halloween fun

Momma Chelsea having fun with baby nephew Jonathan
When I was growing up, Halloween was so much fun.  I used to wear my costumes to school (which most of the time were homemade), go to carnivals, haunted houses, hayrides and trick-or-treating with my friends; no adults allowed!  We would have most of the candy eaten by night's end.  Even when I started teaching, we were able to wear scary costumes on or around Halloween and decorate our rooms with whatever we wanted for October.

Of course things are much different now.  Children are not allowed to wear scary costumes to school.  If they are lucky, the school will have "dress up as your favorite character from a book" day, since drug awareness week is the last week in October.  Teachers are not allowed to decorate with any form of Halloween symbols (witches, ghosts, goblins, monsters) anymore. They can only use scarecrows, pumpkins or other autumn-related items to adorn those classroom walls. 

Children rarely go trick-or-treating; and if they do, grown-ups are with them.  The kids must let their parents inspect the candy before they can dig in.  The new fad is trunk-or-treating, where families gather in a church parking lot and fill their trunks with treats.  Kids parade around as the adults "ooh" and "ahh" over how cute the little ones look in their expensive costumes. 

I remember how fun it was to dress the kids up when they were babies.  Since ours were healthy babies, they looked so cute dressed up as pumpkins and Tigger.  Pete and I didn't think twice about spending money for costumes (now we're more inclined to help the kids create something, since the costumes seem to get pricier with age).  I miss those days.  But now that Jonathan, my nephew, has come along, I get to take a trip down memory lane as I watch Jonathan experience his first holiday season.  As you can see from the picture, my sister-in-law Chelsea is playing along with Jonathan during his first Halloween season.  Enjoy the early years- time really does fly when you're having fun; or is it because you just get so busy you feel like you are going through life at a fast forward speed?  What do you think?

Big Tent Poetry prompt

by Laurie Kolp

midnight looms on soiled ground
as fog descends from high
a blackbird swoops
through split pea soup
when full moon fills the sky
seeking revenge
from long ago
on those bigots
who drug him to his grave
before his time
to die

the blackbird
now a monster
storms forth
winding his way
through the headstones
edging closer to his prey
everything is dark again
tomato soup starts to thicken
the soiree now begins

Thursday, October 21, 2010

George the Cat
by Laurie Kolp

George was the exhaustive type of cat
that mischievously pushed his limits
and then pulled his way back into your heart
like the rope we used for tug-of-war.

George was an entertaining type of cat
who loved to purr and cuddle in your lap
after a fun round of pawing at catnip
or going crazy under ceiling fans.

George was the enterprising type of cat
that pooped and slept in my van one night
and scared me have to death the next day
when I opened the door to go somewhere.

George was an educating type of cat
who Daddy and baby Katie would talk to
every morning before going to work,
resulting in Katie’s first word, “kitty.”

George was the evil type of cat
that nearly starved himself to death
after the move to our new house
and was never the same again.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Letter to Heaven

Dear Ms. Angelle~

I can't believe it has been a year since you left us.  You always said you'd never make it to 95, and I guess you were right.  You LIVED TO THE FULLEST 94 wonderful years, though.  Did you know your end was near when you called me to your house and gave me your beautiful evening gowns?  Remember how much fun we had when I modeled them for you?  Then we went through your closet full of shoes so I could try them on and see if they fit.  It was like Christmas for you as we opened the boxes and discovered the beautiful shoes you wore way back when you were a working lady.  I was surprised that some of them had never been worn, but maybe it was because they were so expensive you didn't want to mess them up.  And those four-inch heeled black feather stilettoes from Fredrick's; did you think I might wear them with the trench coat you gave me?  The one you said I could put on over anything (or nothing) to pick the kids up from school?  You had us in stitches, remember?

These are some of my last memories of our time together, which I now miss so much.  I miss baking banana bread for you and talking over coffee.  I miss our trips to Golden Corral and Sam's.  But you died peacefully in your home; and Pete, the son you never had,  found you in your favorite chair- just like you wanted.  Now you are pain free and happy with your husband in Heaven, but we miss you, Ms. Angelle.

I hope you know how much I loved you, how much we all loved you.  If only I could turn back time to one year ago today, I would be right at your side expressing my love for you.  May you rest in peace until we meet again.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fun with Uncle Mark

Pete's older brother, Mark, came to visit this weekend sporting his new convertible.  We were so happy to see him; it had been nearly four years since his last visit.  He has been working hard all over the country, from the east coast to the west coast and even Canada.  Thankfully, Mark has come to his senses and made a permanent home in the Texas panhandle- eleven hours away, but at least in Texas! 

Everyone had the chance to "go for a spin" in the convertible, and it was a beautiful day for that; clear, crisp and deep blue sky.  I was dismayed, though, when it was my turn because as we sped onto the highway, someone in front of us threw a glass bottle out of their truck and we ran right over it.  Luckily we were going so fast it didn't hurt the tires, but these idiots did it again not long after (we didn't drive over that one, but it was very loud).  Littering is one thing, but throwing out glass beer bottles?  Come on!

Uncle Mark had the opportunity to watch Andrew test for his green belt (which he earned), too.  Pete and the kids went out for breakfast with him, and I was able to sleep in.  We had the chance to hang out and visit, and we even had a backyard barbeque.  Everyone enjoyed Uncle Mark's visit.  Thank you Mark!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Big Tent Poetry Prompt

Not Again
by Laurie Kolp

I watched you from the staircase late last night
as I hugged Tinky Winky, my purple Teletubby doll.
You plucked those muddy boots right off your feet
and stumbled across the floor like Captain Hook.
When Mommy rose from the chair and offered you a kiss,
you turned your head and handed her the gourd
and Vanilla extract you picked up at the store,
then started yelling about some relative Uncle Sam;
bitter nonsense you squawked at drooping hope.
Why are your eyes so glossy when you come home?
You’re not the same Daddy who left so long ago.
Please come back to me and wipe away my tears.

*Wordle: purple, kiss, drooping, gourd, hook, staircase, muddy, bitter, doll, extract, glossy, pluck

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Have fingers, words flow

I am sitting at my desk staring at the blank computer screen wondering what to write about.  Perhaps it's because I have been diligently working on several projects for submission, or maybe it's because Andrew has been sick with bronchitis this past week (he finally went back to school today).  Who knows the real reason?  What I do know is that if I just start typing, the words will flow.  This is the miraculous process of writing, and why it is deemed so therapeutic.

Sometimes I wonder where my words come from; they surely can't be mine.  I'm too quiet and serious.  But it's amazing how free I feel when I am able to express myself.  Writing just happens to be my thing.  Some people draw, play the piano, crochet, or whatever, to relieve their stress.   I write.  And when I write, I am happy. 

I truly believe that God is my inspiration to write.  At last I know what my gift is in life.  I should have known it all along.  The signs were visible as I was growing up; I spent hours writing, poeming and journaling.  I guess sometimes things are just too obvious, and we can't see the truth...or don't want to.  So if my work is rejected, I will know that there is somewhere else it needs to be.  But,  I will never give up...I'll keep you posted, too.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Big Tent Poetry Prompt

Big Tent Poetry's weekly prompt inspired this poem, which includes a line form Robert Browning's poem, Among the Rocks

No Worries
by Laurie Kolp

Oh, good gigantic smile o’ the brown old earth,
this autumn morning!

Must not you worry ‘bout a thing
Of this material world so greedy;
Rest thine eyes on nature’s beauty,
Its wonderment will make you sing.

Like the cardinal that shrills on high
Or the rhythmic wave of a cool breeze,
Warming timbers your senses please,
Red, orange, yellow against blue sky.

*Oh, good gigantic smile o’ the brown old earth,
this autumn morning!
~Robert Browning’s “Among the Rocks”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rocky roads

There comes a time in every parent's life when complete adoration turns into...well, the opposite; you figure it out.  And I am not talking about how the parent feels for their child (because it's always love), but how the child feels about his parent. I can say this with experience now, I'm sad to say.  You see, I'm usually the "nice" parent; the one that provides lots of hugs and kisses, Band Aids and sympathy.  Pete and I are a perfect balance; he being the ultimate authority (once a Marine, always a Marine);  and me...well, I'm the ~cough, cough~ pushover...OUCH!  The truth hurts sometimes.

But for the past six weeks (seems like six months), Pete has been away on business more than he has been at home, and that's been hard on all of us.  I sure do feel for single parents.  In fact, I don't know how they do it.  I'm worn out from driving the kids between two different schools, dance, TaeKwonDo, CCD, music lessons and scouts.  And frankly, since the kids know I am in charge, they have been trying their best to convince me they don't have to go. 

CCD is the worse.  The boys hate it, think it's BOR-ING!  Katie, on the other hand, gets all primped up and excited now that she's in the JrHi CYO (plus she LOVES dance).  But the boys wake up every Wednesday morning (Sundays, too) hacking and coughing, complaining of stomach-aches.  Come on!   I'm not THAT easy; I see right through their little charade, and they hate it.  I can look into their eyes and see those wheels a-spinnin', those words of hate floating around when I firmly say NO over and over again.   Although those words have not made it to their lips (thank you, Jesus), I know one day I'll hear them; and I'll be crushed.

Last night Andrew was throwing a fit, saying how bad he felt and coughing up a storm, but I didn't believe him.  I was the "mean momma" and made him go (to CCD).  Well, when I picked him up, it was obvious he had fever; his cheeks were red and burning hot.  He stormed straight into the house and to his bed, all the while berating me for making him go.  How can kids who play wolf expect parents to know when they're really sick?  Well, after last night, I think the lesson's learned...the hard way.

Hurry home, Pete!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tween at the Store
by Laurie Kolp

Why do I have to walk behind you
like I’m not even here?
Can’t you see me?
I’m your daughter.
You know, the one you
brought into this world.
I need you, Mom,
but you shoo me away.
I feel like nothing
standing here waiting for you
to check expiration dates on milk;
sandwiched between the cart and freezer.
I’m trapped and can’t escape, Mom.
You wouldn’t know that, though.
You have those ear buds plugged in
and me plugged out.
Is your music more important to you?
Oh, I hear your phone;
you’ll be quick to get that.
I’ll just follow you.
I’m here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Post-it Notes
by Laurie Kolp

Where did I put that Post-it note?
The one that had something
very important on it,
like what I was
supposed to do

Just a minute, I’ll be right back.

(Two hours later)

I cleaned the house, washed the van
folded laundry and even ran…

What was I looking for again?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thick-tongued, or tongue-tied?

Here's a little ditty for now, inspired by my youngest child.

A beautiful day
a cold treat
a frozen tongue
a funny tweet-
“Ma tun eth thozhen!”

I have been very busy creating lots of new poetry for submission. Keep your fingers crossed, and I'll keep you posted. Oh, and keep coming back!