Hansel and Gretel and Cuthbert and Me

This is the story of Cuthbert, a five-year-old boy who visited
my school library
for twenty minutes every week.
My job was to teach him about the library.
I’m not sure what his job was.
But he was very good at it.


Once upon a time, I read “Hansel and Gretel” to a class of kindergarteners. The audience, sitting rapt at my feet, comprised sixteen exceptionally good listeners, a fact I later regretted.

Arthur Rackham, illustration to Hansel and Gretel
Arthur Rackham, illustration to Hansel and Gretel (Photo credit: Wikipedia). Public domain.

While I read, Cuthbert sat on the floor beside my chair and stroked my panty-hose-clad shin. Small children find panty-hose fascinating.

When I reached, “And they lived happily ever after,” Cuthbert stopped stroking and tugged on my skirt. I ceded him the floor.

“But it’s a good thing, what the witch did.”

Because he spoke kindergartener-ese and I sometimes didn’t, I thought I had misunderstood. Come again?

“It’s really a good thing, what the witch did.”

I should have slammed the book shut right then, or pulled out the emergency duct tape, or something, anything to change the subject. But I’m not very smart, so I asked Cuthbert to elaborate.

His elaboration went like this:

When the witch prepared the hot oven to cook and then eat Hansel, she was doing a good thing. Because then Hansel would die and go to Heaven to be with God and Jesus.

I smiled a no doubt horrified smile and said something like But But But. While Cuthbert explained even more fully, I analyzed my options.

a) If I said, No, the witch did a bad thing, because it is not nice to cook and eat little boys and girls, then sixteen children would go home and report, Miss Kathy said it’s bad to go to Heaven and be with God and Jesus.

b) If I said, Yes, the witch did a good thing, because cooking and eating little boys and girls ensures their immediate transport Heavenward, then sixteen children would go home and report, Miss Kathy approves of cold-blooded murder and cannibalism. Plus witchcraft. Plus reading a book about a witch, which in our Great State is sometimes considered more damaging than the murder/cannibalism package.

c) Anything I said might be in complete opposition to what Cuthbert’s mother had told him on this topic, and he would report that to her, and then I would get to attend a conference that wouldn’t be nearly so much fun as it sounds.

Note: The last sentence under b) is not to be taken literally. It is sarcasm, and richly deserved. The earlier reference to emergency duct tape is hyperbole. I’ve never duct taped a child.

Well, anyway, I wish I could say the sky opened and a big light bulb appeared above my head and gave me words to clean up this mess. But I don’t remember finding any words at all, at least sensible ones. I think I babbled and stammered until the teacher came to repossess her charges.

I do remember Cuthbert was talking when he left the room. There’s no telling what his classmates took away from that lesson.

If I’d been in my right mind, I might have said something to the effect that God and Jesus don’t like it when witches send people to Heaven before they’re expected.

But the prospect of talking theology with this independent thinker froze my neural pathways.

And anyway, it took all the energy I had to keep from laughing.


“Hansel and Gretel and Cuthbert and Me” appeared on this blog in 2011 and again in 2012. I repost because Halloween cries out for scary stories, and when it happened, this was pretty darned scary.

The discussion about  fairy tales and religion took place twenty years ago. I think about it often and feel lucky I’ve never had a nightmare about it. But I remember Cuthbert fondly for giving me both the worst and the best day of my career. He was a cute little boy.


Banner image by M. H. from Pixabay

Eye of Tot, and Toe of Tad…

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
                        ~ Wm. Shakespeare, Macbeth


Two witches stand over a boiling cauldron, one stirring, the other sampling the brew from a spoon.

And the stirrer says to the sampler, “I only use local children.”

If Shakespeare had been a locavore, he might have written the passage like this.

Or not.


Eye of tot, and toe of tad,
Lambkin’s hair, and lip of lad,
Nipper’s nose, and small fry’s ear,
Moppet’s tooth, and rug rat’s tear,
But for charms of most unrest,–
Teenyboppers serve up best.


The inspiration for the above flight of fancy was a cartoon I saw on Facebook in 2015. The cartoonist is Jeff Stahler.



Image of cauldron by Jalyn Bryce from Pixabay

The Maven: A Poe-ish Poem for Halloween

2018-10-20 ttm pixabay poe cc0 pd writer-17565_640

I would say this post is back by popular demand, but I’d be lying. No one has demanded it. I’m posting it because it’s almost Halloween, and because I had fun writing it way back when, and because I want to post it.

To learn why I wrote it, read on. If you don’t care why I wrote it, skip the next part, but the poem will be easier to understand if you just keep reading.


Why? Because–A friend called to confirm that David and I would meet her and her husband the next day for the Edgar Allan Poe exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center. She mentioned that her house was being leveled for the second time in three years*: “There are thirteen men under my house.”

I hooked up Edgar Allan Poe with the number thirteen and house with Usher and wrote the following verse.

Note: Tuck and Abby are my friends’ dogs.

Another note: Maven means expert. I looked it up to make sure.



To G. and M. in celebration
of their tenth trimester
of home improvement,
with  affection.
Forgive me for making
mirth of melancholy.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a rapping,

As of someone gently tapping, tapping at my chamber floor.

“‘Tis some armadillo,” said I, “tapping at my chamber floor,

Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the dry September,

And my house was sinking southward, lower than my bowling score,

Pier and beam and blocks of concrete, quiet as Deuteron’my’s cat feet,

Drooping like an unstarched bedsheet toward the planet’s molten core.

“That poor armadillo,” thought I, “choosing my house to explore.

He’ll squash like an accordion door.”

“Tuck,” I cried, “and Abby, come here! If my sanity you hold dear,

Go and get that armadillo, on him all your rancor pour.

While he’s bumping and a-thumping, give his rear a royal whumping,

Send him hence with head a-lumping, for this noise do I abhor.

Dasypus novemcinctus is not a beast I can ignore

Clumping ‘neath my chamber floor.”

While they stood there prancing, fretting, I imparted one last petting,

Loosed their leashes and cried “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war.

As they flew out, charged with venom, I pulled close my robe of denim.

“They will find him at a minimum,” I said, “and surely more,

Give him such a mighty whacking he’ll renounce forevermore

Lumbering ‘neath my chamber floor.”

But to my surprise and wonder, dogs came flying back like thunder.

“That’s no armadillo milling underneath your chamber floor.

Just a man with rule and level, seems engaged in mindless revel,

Crawling round. The wretched devil is someone we’ve seen before,

Measuring once and measuring twice and measuring thrice. We said, ‘Señor,

Get thee out or thee’s done for.'”

“Zounds!” I shouted, turning scarlet. “What is this, some vill’nous varlet

Who has come to torment me with mem’ries of my tilting floor?”

Fixing myself at my station by my floundering foundation,

Held I up the quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.

“Out, you cad!” I said, “or else prepare to sleep beneath my floor,

Nameless there forever more.”

Ere my words had ceased resounding, with their echo still surrounding,

Crawled he out, saluted, and spoke words that chilled my very core.

“I been down there with my level, and those piers got quite a bevel.

It’s a case of major evolution: totter, tilt galore.

Gotta fix it right away, ma’am, ‘less you want your chamber floor

At a slant forevermore.”

At his words there came a pounding and a dozen men came bounding

From his pickup, and they dropped and disappeared beneath my floor.

And they carried beam and hammer and observed no rules of grammar,

And the air was filled with clamor and a clanging I deplore.

“Take thy beam and take thy level and thy failing Apgar score

And begone forevermore.”

But they would not heed my prayer, and their braying filled the air,

And it filled me with despair, this brouhaha that I deplore.

“Fiend!” I said. “If you had breeding, you would listen to my pleading,

For I feel my mind seceding from its sane and sober core,

And my house shall fall like Usher.” Said the leader of the corps,

“Lady, you got no rapport.”

“How long,” shrieked I then in horror, “like an ominous elm borer,

Like a squirrely acorn storer will you lurk beneath my floor?

Prophesy!” I cried, undaunted by the chutzpah that he flaunted,

And the expertise he vaunted. “Tell me, tell me, how much more?”

But he strutted and he swaggered like a man who knows the score.

Quoth the maven, “Evermore.”

He went off to join his legion in my house’s nether region

While my dogs looked on in sorrow at that dubious guarantor.

Then withdrawing from this vassal with his temperament so facile

I went back into my castle and I locked my chamber door.

“On the morrow, they’ll not leave me, but will lodge beneath my floor

Winter, spring, forevermore.”

So the hammering and the clamoring and the yapping, yawping yammering

And the shrieking, squawking stammering still are sounding ‘neath my floor.

And I sit here sullen, slumping in my chair, and dream the thumping

And the armadillo’s bumping is a sound I could adore.

For those soles of boots from out the crawlspace ‘neath my chamber floor

Shall be lifted—Nevermore!


The reason the house was leveled twice in three years is a story in itself, not to be told here.

William, the Road Home

Heading home

Cocoon, Day 3: less artfully constructed than on Day 1
Blocked from getting in floor; plowing through to front seat; blocked again
Intrepid explorer; access to front seat still blocked
Cruising again
Tired, bored, or resigned to being blocked; snoozing on the interstate
Preparing for touchdown
The last leg of the journey


Some of Us Are Out of Breath


Home from my tri-weekly infusion, I walked from the car to the apartment, plopped down in my chair, and thought–

“For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”

Do not neglect your Poetry.

There is a line for every occasion.


“The Walrus and the Carpenter,” by Lewis Carroll

Plus Oysters.

One of the best poems ever, bar none.

The Walrus and the Carpenter  (“. . . marries restaurant to fishing pub”)

Oysters here, too.

In Seattle, so I haven’t visited. Yet.



Image: The Walrus and the Carpenter speaking to the Oysters, as portrayed by illustrator John Tenniel.  Wikipedia. Public domain.


The Magic Chair (and a Note on Steve the Cat)

I’m told that health is what old people talk about, but I’ll report on mine anyway. Having written one post about falling, I think a second on the topic is warranted. I don’t want people to think I spend all my time crashing to the floor or calling the fire department.

Last week, I stopped taking Valium for insomnia and I haven’t fallen since. I use the walker with confidence. David no long trails me around the house.

He requires me to ride in the wheel chair from the house to the car, and I comply without complaint. I know he has visions of another tumble and doesn’t want to have to deal with the aftermath. I don’t blame him. He had PT for sciatica several months ago and doesn’t want to do that again.

Three days ago, I received the magic chair and like it, although since I’m steadier, I haven’t had to use it. Except once, when lack of Valium kept me awake all night and the next day I felt a little shaky. It seemed a good time to employ the device. After all, that’s why I got it. (After David said I needed it.)

The technician who delivered it was a delightful man. He gave us lots of information, including the fact that dogs, cats, and grandchildren love to ride on it. We have no grandchildren and no dogs, and the cats have shown no interest in going anywhere near it. That’s a relief. I was afraid Ernest would try to eat it, as he ate part of my old exercycle and offered to eat my little foot/arm bike. 

I tried out the chair while the technician was here and decided it wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be. I guess I’d been expecting it to be like a horse, but no other vehicle is as much fun as a horse. And my knee surgeon won’t let me ride one anyway.

So I settled for admiring the chair from across the room. It really is most attractive.

I told David he could navigate and I would stand on the back.

He has become a skilled driver, although he says he has a way to go.

He hasn’t mastered turning around without clipping nearby objects. Fortunately, the only casualty has been a cardboard box containing 3-ring binders that was sitting near my recliner.

I’m not so competent. That shaky day, I drove from the bedroom to the living room and made it across the room to retrieve the hole punch from the bookcase, and back to my real chair, made a 180-degree turn, all without incident. No running into doors or the column in the dining room or anything.

Then I did what I knew I should not do. I drove it into the bathroom. It’s a large enough room to accommodate the machine; nevertheless, I managed to scrape the door and knock most of the paint off the walls. On the trip to the sink, I forgot my bare feet rested on the foot thingy, and I ran my toes under the cabinet doors. And yelled, “Ouch.”

I later told David that when I say, “Ouch,” that loudly, he’s supposed to break in and rescue me.

(I started to write loud in the previous sentence but changed to loudly for the sake of correctness. I taught English, and some of my students might read this. Loud, however, is the right word.)

Warning: The next paragraph contains possibly sickening detail.

To quote an aunt, I sat there in excruciating pain. One big toenail was split across, and the other toe split above the cuticle. They bled like a stuck hog.

I’ve never seen a stuck hog, but I take the word of those who have.

I drove out with less grace than I’d driven in. David got out Band-aids and the Neosporin and taped me up, and I put on socks, and David draped ice packs across my toes. I swore I’d never wear shoes again.

I also swore I would never use the chair again.

And I named it The Spawn of Satan.

Oddly enough, the toe pain quickly subsided. The next morning, preparing to go somewhere I wanted to go, I put on shoes. They didn’t hurt either. Neither did walking. 

When I removed the bandages, the toes looked fine. Nothing was split, and there were no scars. I rebandaged them. I may soak them in Epsom salt anyway. Just in case I missed something.

In fairness, I withdrew the label Spawn of Satan. The wreck was not its fault. I shouldn’t have taken it into a small room. I should have practiced. I should have worn shoes.

I’d thought about asking the technician if I should wear shoes but didn’t. I didn’t want to hear the answer.

I’ve never believed in wearing shoes.

The moral of my story: Stay off the Valium, use the walker slowly and carefully, let David follow if he wants, and continue to admire the magic chair from across the room. 


I heard about an 84-year-old woman who frequently falls. Her daughter figured out she’s falling because she likes having the firemen visit. The firemen said they don’t mind and that if it becomes a problem, they’ll say something.

I’ve always been a pretty good faller. My fourth-grade teacher said if you relax when you fall, you’re less likely to break a bone, and Mrs. Fricke had a habit of being right. So I relax. I’ve never collapsed. I go down full-length. Mrs. Fricke didn’t mention the possibility of hitting one’s head on a blunt object. So far I’ve been lucky.


My short stories have been published in the anthologies Murder on Wheels, Lone Star Lawless, and Day of the Dark, and online in Mysterical-E. I’ve also published a novella, Stabbed, co-written with Manning Wolfe. The books and the novella are available in both paperback and ebook.

My cozy mystery shows signs of being finished in the near future. A main character is named Steve the Cat. He is a cat.




Falling . . . Again, Never Wanted to, What Am I to Do? Can’t Help It.

[Disclaimer: That had better be the right video of Marlene Dietrich. Some things one cannot control.]


In the first place, if you’ve been reading, you’ve noticed that two posts about Geoffrey the squirrel disappeared. After a little research, I decided it would be politic to take them down.

We still have Geoffrey–in fact, we have at least four Geoffreys, who share the name because we can’t tell them apart. I think the Geoffrey that spends the most time on the patio looking in at Ernest and William is the initial Geoffrey. The one dove is still named Geraldine. She looks in, too.

A grackle has added himself to the mix. I haven’t chosen a name for him. I was thinking of Hairy Black (as in Harry Black of the Jungle, starring Stewart Granger, but Stewart Granger was a heck of a lot better looking than this bird, and I hate to besmirch the memory of one of my favorite men to gaze at.)


My book is beginning to look like a book. Or like a manuscript. I’ve been writing scenes I’ll have to insert here and there, and pieces of scenes have to be inserted here are there–I hope I don’t have to discard any, because they really are darling–In short, there’s a lot to be done. But it looks doable. That’s a good feeling.


When people ask how I’m doing, sometimes they’re making a polite opening sentence, but since I have a health issue, sometimes they want to know how I’m doing in that realm.

I usually say, “Fine.”

Depending on who’s asking, I tell them the real situation, which usually starts with, “Fine,” but I add some detail.

We’ll, here’s some detail. Some is funny. If you like that sort of thing.

What happened at the New Braunfels Civic Center after a book fair was pretty awful at the time, but told correctly, it can be hilarious. I shall not tell it, though. Maybe in four or five years.

Anyway, I’ve been doing fine, sort of. But I can’t walk without a rolling walker, and that probably won’t change, and sometimes David has to haul me around in a wheelchair. We have two wheelchairs–one for transport, which has no wheels for the rider to use, and one real one I should be able to roll around myself but haven’t learned how because we use it only for rough terrain. It has more oomph.

Or did. The rubber wheels fell apart and strewed pieces all over the carpet. It looked like a semi whose tires are disintegrating and leaving strips of rubber all over the highway.

So yesterday a new wheelchair arrived. Which makes it three wheelchairs. I have not ridden in it. I have no desire to ride in it.

The transport wheelchair is for roaming around on smoother surfaces. The rider can’t navigate it. It’s not as sturdy as the real wheelchair. I don’t want to ride in it either.

The reason I’m walker/wheelchair bound is one of the meds I’ve taken every three weeks for six years. It makes me wobbly. (I finally got smart and googled side effects.) It gives me other problems, too. The doctor said I could take a vacation from the drug, but studies show . . . I said, Heck no, I can live with the side effects. Keep up with the drug.

Anyway, lately, I’ve been falling. Two separate weeks, I fell three times. Last week I slid off the bed. We bought a mattress with coils to the edge, but I’ll bet it doesn’t have them, because when I sit on it–it’s a little high–I have to scoot way back to keep from sliding off. I’ve fallen for other reasons, too.

The falls can sound amusing. But getting up is not funny, because it’s difficult to get up, even with David helping. I’ve been too weak. David’s back is only fourteen months younger than mine–I married a Younger Man–and I see no reason for him to risk injury getting me off the floor. After the bed thing I told David to call an ambulance.

Four delightful firemen arrived. When they got here, I was sitting against the side of the bed with a pillow behind me. I told them if I had the energy, I’d feel embarrassed. They asked if lifting me would hurt my shoulders. I said Yes, the left one, but I didn’t care.

They also asked questions. Was I dizzy? Nope. Did I need to go to the hospital? Nope. How did I fall? I was reaching for the handles of the walker, which was too far from the bed, and moved too near the part that doesn’t have coils, and slid off. They took my blood pressure. It was 122/77, the best it’s been lately.

Anyway, since I couldn’t get around the house without a chaperone, David suggested we get a chair that moves around the house under its own steam–I won’t use the brand name–and I said, “No. No. No.” My rationale: I did not want to be dependent on such a chair because I would stop trying to walk and doing my PT exercises.

Then I realized I was thinking like my uncle’s mother-in-law. She could hobble around the house but couldn’t get out. Her daughter wanted to get a wheelchair. No, no, no.

  •  Mrs. C.: “They say once you get into a wheelchair, you never get out.”
  • Aunt: “But, Mother, you wouldn’t use it all the time. Just when we go out.”
  • Mrs. C.: “No. They say once you get into one of those, you never get out.”
  • Aunt: “But, Mother, if you had a wheelchair, you could go shopping. You could go to church. You could visit your friends.”
  • Mrs. C.: “NO.”

So I reversed my decision. This chair would let me move around the house without supervision.

And, although I hate to admit it, the thing could be fun.

I’ve always thought those scooters at the grocery store looked like fun. And the drivers seem to feel they can ignore the traffic laws of the state of Texas and the dictates of Emily Post. When they back up, they don’t consider a shopper might be behind them; they just back. When they go forward, they’ll clip you; they’ll mow you down.**

I don’t complain. It comes under the category of funny.

But back to the new chair, which is set to arrive next week. To combat insomnia caused by another drug (whoopee!), I’ve been taking a low dose of Valium at night. Then I remembered the big not-bad drug changes the way the brain reacts to soporifics.*** Which means the sleep aid sticks around in my system for days. And made me feel rather blah. And weak.

So I stopped taking Valium. I now get around quite well. I still use the walker but no longer need David to keep me off the floor. And I’m careful, careful, careful.

I assume I’ll still need the chair at times. I might need it all the time and permanently. My nurse practitioner told me not to become dependent on it and stop walking and doing my exercises. She sounded a bit like Mrs. C. I told her I’d thought of the possibility and would not fall into that trap. I didn’t add unless it was fun.


I’ve learned a lot about mobility and handicaps in the past few months. Automatic doors, ramps, handicap parking spaces, mirrors, and a number of other things. They make a difference.



*See Huckleberry Finn about preserving the unities. I believe the faux King says it. Aristotle said in his Poetics that a drama must have unity of action. “However it is not until 1570, in a book by Lodovico  Castelvetro, that the concept of three unities evolves:” time, place, and action. Mark Twain knew a great deal about classic literature not only from reading but because he’d worked as a printer’s devil, setting type one letter at a time–which is a slow process requiring reading and perfection.

**See Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. One of Charlie’s lines was, “I’ll clip ya, Bergen . . . I’ll mow you down.” That Charlie was a ventriloquist’s dummy who wore a top hat and a monocle made it extra funny. So did the fact that he was Candice Bergen’s brother. So to speak.

***Soporific causing or tending to cause sleep
I include the definition of soporific because I was in my thirties when I learned the definition. It appears in The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, by Beatrix Potter:

  • It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is “soporific.”
  • I have never felt sleepy after eating lettuces; but then I am not a rabbit.
  • They certainly had a very soporific effect upon the Flopsy Bunnies!

This is evidence that very young children can comprehend long and unfamiliar words. You read to them, go back over the context, ask, “Does anyone know what soporific means?” If no one volunteers, define the word, go back over the context. Lots of little people will have learned a new word.


Image of Marlene Dietrich via Wikipedia, Public domain

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Image of Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, and Mortimer Snerd via Wikipedia, Public domain

Image of The Flopsy Bunnies via Wikipedia, Public domain


I’ve published short stories in anthologies and online. and a novella, Stabbed, with Manning Wolfe. I’m working on a novel, a cozy mystery that’s intended to be funny. I hope it turns out that way.

Video, Hat, Hair, Chewed Up Manuscripts, and Humphrey Bogart

First, the BOTA Sealy film festival was a singular event. A little underwhelming for David’s video.

During the “offensive” block, two policemen stood, then sat, in the back of the room. I don’t know whether they were monitoring language or potential riots. Before long, they were looking at their cell phones. There were no riots. Language would have amused seventh-grade boys–although the seventh-graders I dealt with were polite when I was around.

It was explained to David that his film was mid-offensive to provide laughs between offensives. The audience was small. I don’t remember anyone laughing at anything. The poIlicemen would have laughed at David’s video if they hadn’t been looking at their phones.

I laughed. When I asked David how he got Ernest to come up and stick his nose in the lens, he said he knew if he put something different in the living room, the cats would do something.

That was a long time ago, when they were kittens. Now they run under the bed, mostly for the maintenance man. Ernest disappears when he hears leaf blowers. William is not impressed by lawn care.

The highlight of the weekend for William and Ernest was visits from the kitty tech, who fed them, gave them their insulin injections, and played with them. She brought them a peacock feather. William’s interest is minimal. Ernest tries to eat the feathers.

Ernest also pulled a couple of loose pages from my novel manuscript, which is in a binder on the floor beside my chair, and chewed the corner off one. Last night he slept on the other one. I haven’t had the energy to pick them up. Anything he eats can be reprinted, and paper biodegrades inside cats. I hope. As long as he doesn’t eat string or thread or anything else that could cut into his GI tract and require CT scans and possibly surgery. So far we’ve been lucky. Just scans and enemas.

The highlight of the weekend for me was the booths set up on Main Street. A vendor who displayed a hat that wasn’t for sale–it was hers–told us about Images Boutique, around the corner, where she bought her hat. Because mystery writers need hats, I went looking for a fedora.

The owner had to open both doors to get my wheelchair in–it was a wheelchair kind of weekend–and the store was so packed with merchandise that I couldn’t get more than six feet into the store. It’s an “upscale” resale shop. Because I almost couldn’t get in, I received 25% off on a hat (not a resale). And the owner and I had a long and delightful conversation about everything but hats.

When I got out, I realized it wasn’t the kind of hat I wanted–the top is fedora but the brim is wide and circular, not the kind that turns down in the front and up in the back. I wanted the kind my father and Humphrey Bogart wore.

But it’ll keep the sun off, and it will be excellent for bad hair days. I have a lot of those. I’m going to my hairdresser and tell him I want my 1972-2010 cut, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll tell everyone it’s not his fault.

In the 1980s, a woman in the row behind me at a performance of Die Fledermaus at Texas State University leaned over and said, “Who cuts your hair? The back is perfect.” In the 1990s, a woman sitting next to me at a library conference said, “You have the perfect haircut. And my husband was a barber, so I know a good cut.” In the mid-2000s, a woman waiting on the porch at East Side Cafe asked, “Who cuts your hair? They do a good job.”

Chemo and another drug have done a lot to my hair, even after it grew back in. But I want my old hair back, or as close as I can get to it.

That’s a nice hat, but I don’t want to have to wear it every day.

Well, we’ve gone from videos to cats to hats to hair.

One more thing about hats: I have a snapshot of my father holding me in the yard the day they brought me home from the hospital. He was wearing his fedora and looking at Ime as if he didn’t know what he’d gotten himself into. It didn’t take him long to find out.

I also have some snaps of myself wearing the hat. But I’ve been having bad face days.

And about videos: David is working on a screenplay. I can guarantee it will not be offensive.


Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay


I’m author of short stories in anthologies Murder on Wheels, Lone Star Lawless, and Day of the Dark. One of my stories appears online in Mysterical-E,

I’m working on a mystery novel that will soon be finished if the cat doesn’t eat it.

Invisible Men and Thirty Thighs

Be advised: If you drive down IH-10 to Sealy, you will not see the sign for your exit, because it isn’t there. The highway is under construction. Hwy 36 is now a big pile of dirt.

We turned off at a Goodyear place and set the GPS for the hotel. It told us to avoid the mess on the interstate–in almost that phrase–and go east on the street we’d turned off on. David said he was grateful for GPS because he’d have gone west.

Our route took us down little streets and roads lined by trees and old fence posts and sagging barbed wire and all kinds of greenery and rusty barns and silos and even cows. I hadn’t seen a cow in forever. I miss them so much.

Finally we reached downtown Sealy. It’s a pretty little town, what we could see of it, but instead of going down Main Street, we turned off and went back to the interstate and our hotel. I don’t know now many people are staying here, but we’re the only ones I’ve seen. The construction is affecting their business. They’re short staffed, too.

David has gone to pick up our VIP passes. I am lying on the bed writing, eating Lorna Doones and Gatorade, and not listening to Father Brown.

I don’t watch network TV any more so I haven’t seen Father Brown in years. I am sorry the show has gotten preachy and soft instead of following G. K. Chesterton’s lead. His stories–and the TV shows made with Kenneth Moore–were serious. Sin was sin and there was nothing funny about it.

But I do like Sorcha Cusak. I liked Cyril Cusak back when and wondered if Sorcha is his sister. Google informed me she’s his daughter. I’m sure she’s too old to be his daughter. But The Golden Bowl, in which he appeared when he was up in years, was made in 1972 and ran on Masterpiece Theater in Season 2, 1972-73. It doesn’t seem that long ago.

I’m lying on the bed because I had to wake up before noon to pack, always a mammoth task, and I’m tired. I was going to bring some of my new clothes–a dear friend took me shopping and performed my mother’s function, saying, “You look good in that. Buy it.” But most are synthetic, and it will be hot as you-know-where, and I don’t want to be hotter. Furthermore, many people I’ve seen at film festivals look like unmade beds, and I can do better than that in old clothes.

David is going to order fried chicken online when he gets back. He said he wants three thighs. I thought he said thirty thighs. Works for me.

I considered ordering fried catfish, but it always tastes so bland. Not like San Marcos River catfish. San Marcos catfish tastes like the river, algae and all. Put a bite in your mouth and you smell river. People not raised on that fish might object. But farmed fish, which most restaurants probably serve, is, from what I hear, raised in a no more pristine environment. And shrimp are bottom-feeders, too, and nobody complains about them.

David’s film, Invisible Men Invade Earth, will be screened tomorrow in a block of “offensive, scatological” videos. You have to be 18+ to get in. I’ve laughed and laughed since reading. How a film David made managed to be categorized as offensive, I do not know. Unless viewers don’t like cats.

The video was judges’ choice in a Dallas festival several years ago and they screened it the next year, too. They said they often quote a line from it. For ten years, it’s been going to festivals.

Viewers have called it “sweet” and “innocent,” and a video “made just because the film maker wanted to make it.” Which is true. He told one audience he wanted to make a video while he was sitting on the couch and spending no money. That’s true, too.

The only positive about the category is that it might draw a large audience if they think they’re going to see something offensive.

If you haven’t seen the video and would like to, here’s the Youtube version. If it won’t load, go to the bottom of the film screen and click Yourube..

Image by MonikaP from Pixabay

Image by Luiz Fernando Miguel from Pixabay

Sumer is icumen in, almost

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med
And springþ þe wde nu,
Sing cuccu!

~ Oldest written English song, about 1260


The air conditioner is broken again.

~ David Davis, April 25, 2022


Sumer has not cume in yet, although the thermometer sometimes suggests it has. Today, though, it’s raining, 62 degrees, still spring.

The air conditioner will be fixed well before sumer cumes in.



“This 800-year-old song comes from a miscellany that was probably written in Oxford around 1260 and it’s the first recorded use of six-part polyphony.

“The beautifully preserved manuscript contains poems, fables and medical texts – and is the only written record of ‘Sumer is icumen in’. The song is a ‘rota’ or round, a canon for several voices (in this case six). It describes the coming spring, a singing cuckoo and various excited farm animals. Click the image below for a closer look at the full manuscript in all its glory.” (Listen to one of the oldest songs ever written, ‘Sumer is icumen in’)

English translation

Summer has come in,
Loudly sing, cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew,
Sing, cuckoo!
The ewe bleats after the lamb
The cow lows after the calf.
The bullock stirs, the goat farts,
Merrily sing, Cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo, well you sing, cuckoo;
Don’t ever you stop now,
Ground (sung by two lowest voices)
Sing cuckoo now. Sing, Cuckoo.
Sing Cuckoo. Sing cuckoo now!


Image by Wynn Pointaux from Pixabay

The Case of the Missing Roomba

 I ordered from a business I won’t name but you know what it is–a roomba costing over $300. It was supposed to be delivered by ten o’clock last night.
They have posted a picture of our door–definitely ours–with package on mat. THE DELIVERY MAN DID NOT KNOCK, so I didn’t spend the evening opening the door.
Today, no package on mat. I will chat–or maybe request a phone call–and tell them what happened. I think they bear some responsibility, since THE DELIVERY MAN DID NOT KNOCK. I know he didn’t, because we were home all night and the cats didn’t go flying under the bed.
David said don’t order another one. He said he’d vacuum.
I like to vacuum but am not sure I can handle a vacuum cleaner now, or in the future.
My friend said when her package was stolen around Christmas, the company sent her another one. I hope they send me another.
If they do, I will be happy. If they do, David will be VERY happy,
I really want a roomba so I can see if the cats will ride on it.
There are more cat + roombas on Yotube.
Does anyone know why my post will not double-space, even though it triple-spaces on the edit screen?

I’ve Been Waterin’ the Yahd

Sometime back in the 1930s, my grandmother picked up the telephone receiver just in time to hear the Methodist minister’s wife, on the party line, drawl, “I am just wo-ahn out. I’ve been waterin’ the yahd.”

To the layman, the statement might not seem funny, but my family has its own criteria for funny.  And so those two sentences entered the vernacular.

They were used under a variety of circumstances: after stretching barbed wire, frying chicken, mowing the lawn, doing nothing in particular.

My father would fold the newspaper, set it on the table, and announce, “I am just wo-ahn out. I’ve been waterin’ the yahd.”

I am wo-ahn out now but not from waterin’ the yahd.

Last night David, the family’s official printer, printed the manuscript of what I’ve been calling my putative book. It runs to over two hundred pages, 51,000 words. It isn’t finished–far from it. There’s more to write, scenes to put in order, clues and red herrings to insert, darlings to kill. All that stuff. And more.

However, for the first time it feels like I can stop calling it putative. No longer supposed, alleged, or hypothetical. It’s looking more like a potential novel. Possible, Even probable,

Now, about being wo-ahn out.

Last night I started putting the manuscript, scene by scene, into a three-ring binder. That required using a three-hole punch.

I hate using three-hole punches. I hate fitting the holes in the paper onto the binder rings. They never fit properly. Getting them on the rings requires effort. It’s tiring.

When I went to bed, I was all the way up to page 37.

Then I woke at 5:30 this morning. Instead of turning over and going back to sleep, I got up. I just couldn’t wait to get back to organizing my manuscript.

But I didn’t organize. I managed to drop the whole thing and then couldn’t pick it up. I had to wait for David.

By the time the notebook and manuscript were back in my possession, I was sick and tired of the whole thing. I played Candy Crush.

If I’d had any sense at all, I’d have gone back to bed. I was sleepy. I felt awful. I needed to sleep.

But did I go back to bed? Noooooooooooooooooooooo. That would have been the act of a rational person.

I stayed up added to my sleep deprivation.

I could go to bed right now. I could conk out and tomorrow feel ever so much better.

But will I? No. Because I’m too tired to stand up, too tired to put on my pajamas, too tired to pull down the sheets.

I am just wo-ahn out. I’ve been waterin’ the yahd.


Look above the notebook in the picture and you will see the tail of William the Cat. I lay on the bed all afternoon doing trivial, unnecessary tasks. William lay on the bed all afternoon and slept. He should be writing the book.