C Is for Current Events Redux + Updates: #AtoZChallenge

The following article, first published here on November 26, 2017, focuses on one of the most Shocking Crimes in the annals of our nation, and on the three Heroic Felines who helped Investigators Crack the Case.

***

Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” Poff Cleared of All Wrongdoing, FBI Reports

Three cats suspected of helping owner Julia Poff mail explosive devices to former President Barak Obama and Texas Governor Greg Abbott were released from custody Thursday afternoon following questioning by federal law enforcement officers.

FBI crime lab investigators had found a cat hair under the address label on the package containing the explosives and traced it to the Poff cats. It is alleged that Ms. Poff sent the potentially deadly devices to former President Obama and Governor Greg Abbott because she was mad at them.

Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” Poff were taken from the Poff home in Brookshire, Texas, 34 miles west of Houston, Thursday around 9:00 a.m.

Muffy

 

FBI Agent Arnold Specie, chief of the Houston Bureau, announced in a press conference late Thursday that after intense grilling, officials were satisfied the cats had no connection to any nefarious activities.

“The only thing they’re guilty of is shedding on paper their owner later used to wrap the explosive devices. You can’t fault cats for shedding.”

He said there’s no doubt these are the right cats. “The fur of all three exhibits white hair. That’s true even of Puffy Poff, who is mostly orange but has a couple of white spots on her underside.” He assured the press that DNA testing will confirm the hair belongs to one of the Poff cats.

A reliable source, speaking on condition of anonymity, however, said he’s not so sure. “They know more than they’re telling,” he said. “It’s impossible to get anything out of suspects that keep falling asleep in the middle of questioning. And every time Muffy rolled over, Specie gave her a belly rub. Specie’s always been soft on cats.”

The early morning raid, which involved a number of federal agents as well as a Houston PD Swat team on stand-by, rocked this usually quiet community to its very core.

“I could tell something was going down,” said neighbor Esther Bolliver. “I was outside watering my rose bushes when I saw these men wearing dark suits and ties crouching behind Julia’s privet hedge. One of them was holding out what looked to be a can of sardines, and saying, ‘Kitty kitty kitty,’ in a high-pitched voice, you know, like you use whenever you call cats. I thought it was Animal Control.”

Mrs. Bolliver ran inside and told her husband. “I said, ‘Bert, come outside and look,'” she said.

“I knew they was G-Men first thing,” said Bert Bolliver. “It was the fedoras give ’em away. Animal Control don’t wear fedoras.”

Puffy

 

Ten-year-old Jason Bolliver, who had been kept home from school with a sore throat, added that the raid was exciting. “It’s the best thing that’s happened here since my teacher had her appendix out.”

Agent Garrison Fowle (pronounced Fole), who led the raid, said capturing the cats proved remarkably easy. “The sardines did the trick. Those cats ran right over and we grabbed them and wrapped them in big terry cloth bath sheets and stuffed them into carriers. It was a snap.”

Neighbors, however, contradict Agent Fowle’s account, pointing out that the Brookshire Fire Department had to be summoned to get Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” out of a  live oak near the corner of the Poff property. It is believed she bolted when she realized the sardines were bait instead of snacks.

Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud”

 

While at the Poff residence, BFD EMTs bandaged second-degree scratches on Agent Fowle’s face. They also administered Benadryl to Agent Morley Banks, who had broken out in hives.

Agent Delbert Smits was airlifted to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston. Information about his condition has not been released, but Mrs. Bolliver observed Ben Taub has a first-class psychiatric emergency room, and she thinks that’s why Smits was taken all the way into Houston.

“By the time they got Pud-Pud down from that tree, the poor man was staggering around like he had a serious case of the fantods.”

After their release, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” were relocated to an unspecified location.

Special Agent Fowle said the initial plan was to fly them to Washington, D. C., in the care of Agent Banks,  for further debriefing, but Agent Banks put the kibosh on that, saying there was no way in hell he was going to spend one more minute in the company of “those [expletive deleted] cats.” Fowle said Agent Banks has been granted sick leave until he stops itching.

When the commotion has died down a bit, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” will be honored for their part in the capture of their owner at a joint session of the Texas Legislature at the State Capitol in Austin and a reception hosted by Governor Greg Abbott at the Governor’s Mansion.

President Obama with Larry the Cat and PM David Cameron at 10 Downing Street. 

Former President Barak Obama announced that on their next swing through Texas, he and Michelle want to take the cats out for a catfish dinner.

“Let me be clear,” President Obama said. “Although totally and completely innocent of any crime, these cats surely had a positive influence on the perp. The activity Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” witnessed was fair and balanced, targeting both a Democrat and a Republican, and as such is the first bipartisan effort I’ve come across since my first inauguration.”

After law enforcement officers left, neighbors expressed concern about the cats’ future welfare. The Bolliver family, noting the three felines spent most of the day sleeping on the hood of their Buick anyway, wanted to take them, but their offer was rejected.

Instead, Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” will make their home in Houston with Special Agent Specie.

 

Updates:

Bo and Sunny

Former President Barak Obama and Mrs. Obama threw a festive catfish dinner for the Poff cats at Clear Springs Restaurant in New Braunfels, Texas, where the President pronounced the onion rings “terrific.” Michelle Obama presented the cats with an autographed photo of former hypoallergenic First Dogs Bo and Sunny

Festivities at the Texas Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion were axed after Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud” sent word they’d heard about Austin traffic and didn’t care to see it for themselves. 

 

Robert Mueller

Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent the Poff kitties a note of congratulations for a job well done.

The White House reluctantly announced that President Donald Trump would invite the Poff cats to a gala celebration at the White House, a huge one, huger than Obama’s fish dinner or Trump’s inauguration even. Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud,” however, said  thanks but no thanks on the grounds they would be busy that night grooming one another’s hair.

 

***

 

Sources:

New York Times. “Cat Hair Links Woman to Bombs Sent to Obama and Texas Governor, Officials Say.” Nov. 24, 2017.

Houston Chronicle. “Houston-area woman accused of mailing bombs to Abbott, Obama, benefits agency.” Nov. 23, 2017.

 

Images:

President Obama and Larry the Cat, public domain, via Wikipedia

Bo and Sunny, public domain, via Wikipedia

Muffy, Puffy, and Sybil-Margaret “Pud-Pud,” © M. K. Waller, all rights reserved

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Find more posts in the #AtoZChallenge here.

 

 

B Is for Behind: #atozchallenge

A story from my friend the high school business teacher:

A student in her bookkeeping class asked what arrears means.

Said the teacher, “It means you’re behind.”

And twenty-five shocked teenage faces stared in profound silence.

***

 

I’m behind. Nothing new. I don’t live a hurry-up-and-wait existence; mine is wait-and-hurry-up.

The condition won’t be cured by planners, lists, date books, Google calendars, anti-procrastination classes, or prayer and fasting. I’ve tried them all.

I’m a compulsive organizer. Back in the day, I owned a series of Franklin planners: big, little, zippered, non-zippered, black, colored (red and teal). If anything could have organized me, that teal planner would have done it.

In a sad development, the teal planner disappeared from my car in late August of 1998, the night before the first day of faculty in-service. I went out in the morning and found the driver’s side window open; the seat where I’d left two tote bags was empty.

I called 911. The local constable came out and said he knew who did it–they lived next door to the post office a few blocks away, and they were the ones who did everything around there–but the authorities wouldn’t be able to prove it. A deputy sheriff came out and dusted for fingerprints but found only the ones I’d left when I closed the door.

I was late to work, which wasn’t a problem because I missed only the meeting at which nothing happens except coffee and donuts. I learned more from the breaking-and-entering experience than I would have at the meeting.

To wit:

  1. Fingerprint powder is black and sticky. Very sticky.
  2. If you drive a dusted car without first draping seats, doors, and steering wheel, you’ll be sorry.
  3. Fingerprint dusters don’t clean up after themselves.
  4. People who steal from parked cars will take anything and everything. They got my favorite tote bag, the one displaying the Edward Gorey tuxedo cat lying across a stack of books, and the caption, “books. cats. life is sweet.” That bag meant a lot to me. So did the teal Franklin planner with zipper and page after page of contact information that I’d recently compiled and entered in my neatest handwriting. [As in, I organized it.] The can of asparagus wasn’t all that important to me, or probably to them, but they took it. What galls me–even today–is that I know the entire haul ended up in the river.
  5. If you leave a car in front of your house, as I did, instead of pulling it into the driveway, someone will break into it. If you pull the car into the driveway, the same people will break into it. Evidence: An electrician who spent that night with his mom, just around the corner, parked his van in her driveway. The next morning–a broken window and no equipment.
  6. If you’re going to park a car where it’s an easy target, make sure it’s a rental car. My car was in the shop overnight and I was driving a little Geo Metro the color of Pepto-Bismol. At the end of the day, I returned it to the agency, picked up my well-oiled car, and headed home. Somebody else dealt with the sticky black stuff.
  7. If you’ve lived all your life in a small town where people never bothered to lock their doors when they went on vacation, and you think you’re still living in that same small town, you’re wrong.

But I digress. And that’s one reason I’m behind.

Before turning in, I must post this for A to Z Blogging and then complete two more writing assignments, one for a critique group, another for an informal class in memoir. Tomorrow I have to put out my Sisters in Crime chapter’s newsletter–and put up my C post for A to Z Blogging–and then the next tomorrow there’s the D post–

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;

and when I get there, there’ll be one more thing to write.

Such pressure!

And the crazy part–my teenaged English-student-self would never have believed it–it’s all self-imposed. Nobody makes me do this. I blog for myself; I do blog challenges for myself; I take writing classes for myself; I write stories for myself; I go to critique group for myself.

Because I want to.

Crazy.

Now, before I fall further behind, I shall stop, post, and move on.

***

Find a list of all A to Z Blogging participants here.

***

 

Image of fingerprint by stux, via pixabay

 

A Is for Anne Tyler: #atozchallenge

Anne Tyler has done it again.

The last time I wrote about her, I was in a snit. She’d killed off my favorite character halfway through the novel I was reading, and I was not happy.

I’m writing this time because she’s made me laugh. The book is Vinegar Girl, a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and in it she kills no one at all. She must have had a wonderful time writing it.

“Petruchio and Kate” by Smatprt licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

For a quick recap: Shakespeare’s shrew is Katherina, daughter of Baptista and older sister of the gentle Bianca. Afraid Katherina, whose reputation precedes her, will never receive a proposal, Baptista tells two young men eager to marry Bianca that his older daughter must marry before the younger. The suitors recruit Petruchio to woo Katherina; Katherina resists, but finding him her intellectual equal, agrees to marry him. Then Petruchio sets about “taming” his bride. At the end, Petruchio presents her to the public as the model of a sweet-tempered, obedient wife

Tyler’s Katherina is Kate Battista. Ten years before the story begins, Kate was invited to leave college after telling her botany professor his explanation of photosynthesis was “half-assed.” Her medical research scientist father made no fuss about her expulsion because he agreed the explanation was half-assed.

Since then, Kate has worked as a teacher’s aide at the Charles Village Little People’s School, where she spends a lot of time in Mrs. Darling’s office, being counseled in the need to use tact, diplomacy, and restraint when speaking with parents. For example, when Jameesha’s father asked her to do something about Jameesha’s finger sucking–Jameesha has a “habit of sucking her two middle fingers, with her pinkie and her index finger sticking up on either side like the sign language for ‘I love you'”–Kate told him not to worry: “Chances are she’ll stop soon enough, once her fingers grow so long that she pokes both her eyes out.” Mrs. Darling says she must develop “some social skills. Some tact, some restraint, some diplomacy.” Difficulty navigating the school’s “mysterious” etiquette has Kate on what Mrs. Darling calls “thin ice.”

Kate also runs the household and takes care of her father and her fifteen-year-old sister Bunny. Taking care of her father includes delivering his oft-forgotten lunches to his lab and doing his taxes. Taking care of Bunny includes preventing her from getting too friendly with her “Spanish tutor,” next-door neighbor, Edward Mintz, whose mother says he has “that Japanese disease . . . the one where young people shut themselves in their bedrooms and refuse to go on with their lives.” Bunny, who was normal until about the time she turned twelve, also has the “irksome habit” of “turning declarative sentences into questions.” Bunny isn’t easy to deal with, and Kate has been dealing with her since their mother died, when Bunny was six years old.

Working at a preschool and being a family manager isn’t the life Kate expected to have, but when the story opens, she’s not expecting anything to change. Then her father introduces her to his research assistant, Pyotr Cherbakov.

When they meet, Kate says, “Hi,” but Pyotr says, “Vwwouwv!” That’s the kind of thing men often say when they first see Kate, “due to a bunch of dead cells: her hair, which was blue-black and billowy and extended below her waist.”

(She stopped getting her hair cut when she was thirteen because she couldn’t take any more of the “Chatty Cathy act”:

“In the beauty parlor. Talk, talk, talk; those places are crawling with talk. The women there start going before they even sit down–talk about boyfriends, husbands, mothers-in-laws. Roommates, jealous girlfriends. Feuds and misunderstandings and romances and divorces. How can they find so much to say? I could never think of anything, myself. I kept disappointing the beautician. Finally I went, ‘Shoot. I’ll just quit getting my hair cut.'”)

Then Dr. Battista brings Pyotr home to dinner. And snaps photos of her and Pyotr with his cell phone, which he never uses because he’s a little afraid of it. And tells her that in two months, Pyotr’s visa will expire and he’ll have to leave the country, and he’s the best assistant Dr. Battista has ever had, ever could have, and the whole scientific community knows about Pyotr Cherbakov, and he’s the only one Dr. Battista can possibly work with, and without Pyotr he might as well abandon his research, because it’s doomed . . . unless . . .

“Unless, perhaps, we could get him an . . . adjustment of status.

“Oh, good, get him an adjustment of status.”

She brushed past him and went out to the hall. “Bunny!” she shouted. “Supper’s on!”

“We could adjust his status to ‘married to an American.'”

“Pyotr’s married to an American?”

“Well, not quite yet,” her father said. He trailed her back to the dining room. “But he’s fairly nice-looking, don’t you agree? All those girls working in the building: they seem to find different reasons to talk to him.”

“So he could marry a girl in the building?” Kate asked. She sat down at her place and shook out her napkin.

“I don’t think so,” her father said. “He doesn’t . . . the conversations never seem to develop any further, unfortunately.”

“Then who?”

Her father sat down at the head of the table. He cleared his throat. “You, maybe?”

And so it begins. Such fun.

Or maybe not.

Shrews aren’t usually born shrewish. Shakespeare shows that Baptista favors Bianca; it’s no wonder Katherina is out of sorts.

Kate Battista, too, is the daughter of a widowed father who seems to take her for granted while focusing his attention on his younger child. When Pyotr observes Kate is pretty, Dr. Battista says, “You should see her sister.” That must hurt.

And then he makes a heartless request, urges her to marry a man she doesn’t know so he can keep his research assistant.

“I guess I just couldn’t believe my own father would conceive of such a thing.  . . . You would never ask Bunny to do this . . . Your precious treasure Bunny-poo.”

The Taming of the Shrew poses a problem for modern audiences: It is misogynistic? Maybe. Maybe not. Some scholars say Katherina isn’t tamed at all, but that she and Petruchio are putting on an elaborate show for the banquet guests and are enjoying every minute of it.

Vinegar Girl poses no such problem. Kate is no Katherina, rife for taming. But after ten years of routine, she suddenly has a lot more to think about than doing taxes and cooking meat mash and keeping Bunny in line. The idea of marrying Pyotr is unthinkable. But it’s so important to her father.

Will she please her father or herself? Can she do both? Will her sense of honor and self-respect survive the ordeal?

Does she have the tact, diplomacy, and restraint to carry her through? Or will her own mysterious etiquette be enough?

And, by the way, where does Pyotr fit into this puzzle?

Tyler’s Vinegar Girl is a delightful romp, part Shakespeare, part Jane Austen, all Anne Tyler. It would make a fine summer read. Or fall. Or winter.

Or now.

***

Anne Tyler. Vinegar Girl: William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew Retold. Hogarth Shakespeare, 2016.

Day Q: #AtoZChallenge

 

 

 

 

 

My Day Q post is recycled from last year,  a short-short story prompted by this photograph by Fatima Fakier Deria, on Friday Fictioneers. The event it’s based on occurred in 2002, but it will forever live in infamy.

 

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria – from Friday Fictioneers

 

Day 1

Beautiful . . . waves, sunset . . .

Deck chairs . . .

Can’t wait, two nights at sea,

then—Can Cun. We’ll shop till we drop.

Uh-uh. Swimming, sunbathing, siestas. Bar open yet?

#

Day 2

Soooooo relaxing. Waves rocked me to sleep.

Hurry, let’s claim our chairs.

Breakfast?

Chairs. There’s pizza near the pool.

#

I’m queasy.

Wearing your patch?

Don’t have one.

Sit here. Sea air helps. ‘Bye.

#

Find a doctor.

You’ll be fine.

Move, or I’ll ruin your sneakers.

#

I’m going home . . .

You’ve had a shot of phenergan—you’ll be fine.

. . . if I have to walk on water.

#

Day 3

Phenergan worked! Can Cun! Let’s shop till we drop.

. . . I’m queasy.

***

Author’s note: Day 3 is fiction. The speaker in green did not become queasy. Life is not fair.

***

For more Day Q blogs, click AtoZ.

Day N: Now #AtoZChallenge

 

 

 

 

 

NOW

Friday Fictioneers, May 9, 2017. PHOTO PROMPT. © Roger Bultot

 

“The convention center? Well, go about six blocks, to where the old movie house used to be–the one that burned in ’87–What’d you say, Fred?”

“Now it’s condos. The Oaks.”

“Oh, that’s right. Well, just before the condos, turn left. When you get to where the Masonic lodge used to be, there’s a–What’s that, Fred?”

“It’s the Hyatt now–”

“All right, the Hyatt. Turn left again, and almost to where Milton Badey’s furniture store used to be–”

“The Omni.”

“Omni. One day they’ll knock down this diner and this’ll be where we used to be.”

***

This story was written for Friday Fictioneers. It first appeared on Telling the Truth, Mainly, on May 9, 2017.

To read more Day N posts, click AtoZ.

Day K: Kerfuffle #AtoZChallenge

For more Day K posts click here.

K is obviously for Kathy, a name at the heart of a lifelong kerfuffle.

The plan was to name me Katherine for my great-grandmother and to call me Kathy. But at the last minute, when the nurse came in and asked for the baby’s name so they could type up a birth certificate, my mother added Mary for my grandmother. Later she told my father what she’d done and he said that was fine with him. He liked his mother-in-law. My grandmother liked the name.

Mother later told me she’d wanted to spell Katherine with a C, but she was afraid her grandmother would say I wasn’t really named for her (the family was funny that way).

Thus was I denied the privilege of assuming the mantle of romanticism connected with hearing Heathcliff call across the moor, Catherine! Catherine! (I don’t think he did that in the book or the movie, but I have a good imagination.)

The precaution turned out to be unnecessary, because every time my great-grandmother, whom we called Grannygirl (that’s another story) wrote my name, she spelled it Catherine.

(I was glad I’d been spared her first name, Minna. She didn’t like it either and changed it to Minnie but later wished she hadn’t.)

My grandmother, Mary Veazey Barrow, front row 3rd from left (big hat); my great-grandmother, Minna Katherine Stagner Veazey, front row 5th from left.

Otherwise, my name was fine with me, too, as long as we stayed put. But when we moved and I had to enroll in a new school in the middle of second grade, the teacher said they already had a Kathy so I had to be Mary. I didn’t mind–it was just one more of the slings and arrows of being uprooted from my hometown and moving halfway across the universe*–but when I discovered the other Kathy was always called Kathleen, I thought the teacher’s reasoning was a little off.

The next September, I sat with twenty-something other third-graders and their mothers while the teacher called names from a stack of book cards. She got to Mary K. Waller; my mother marched me up and said she’s here, and she’s called Kathy; the teacher said, No this is Mary K-A-Y. I sat back down. Mary Kay didn’t appear. The teacher went through the no-shows and once again, Mary Kay didn’t appear. My mom said she thought that must be a clerical error–one person read the names, another person wrote them down?–and so I settled in as Kathy.

The next year, mothers didn’t hang around for the settling in–I suppose fourth graders were deemed able to fend for themselves–and when the teacher called Mary Waller? I let it slide. Later when my mother asked why, I said something like, “Meh.” Vicki, my best friend from third grade, called me Kathy; others who’d known me before took their pick.

Fast forward to college: Roommates said Kathy, but otherwise, I was Mary. Once I was Mark. The first time the philosophy professor called for Mark Waller, I said nothing, but when Mark didn’t answer the second time, I raised my hand and said in a small voice–one doesn’t want to accuse a prof of illiteracy on the first day of class–Mary? he rechecked the list and laughed. Since then, two more people have made the same error. Perfectly understandable: when you’re skimming, Mary K. resembles Mark.

I was a bit miffed, however, last Christmas Eve, when the young man at Best Buy told me he didn’t have my order. I said the computer said he did have it. He said he didn’t. I said would he check again. He pointed at his monitor and said there was only one Waller on the list.

I said, “Mark?”

He said, “Yes.”

I said, “Mary K.?”

He said, “Oh,” and forked over the box. I was as sweet about the situation as I could manage, considering it was Christmas Eve and I knew he’d  been extra busy; but, considering it was late afternoon on December 24th, and I’d started shopping on December 23rd, my store of sweetness was at low ebb. My words might have carried an undertone that said, Knothead.

My adult life has comprised a series of minor tangles with officialdom. Minor, because I’ve defaulted to Mary. Sometimes I forget. Last week, the nurse assigned to handle my infusion looked up from her monitor and said, “Hi. I’m Holly.”

I said, “I’m Kathy.”

Her expression changed from welcoming to stricken. I got it, admitted I was Mary, and watched her begin to breathe normally again.

My mother once said she thought I didn’t like my name. I did, and I do. It has a pleasant sound, and my written initials have a pleasing symmetry.

 

It’s sharpened my mental acuity and flexibility by requiring me to (usually) remember who I am in (almost) any setting.

But there are drawbacks. The first hearkens back to the third-grade Mary Kay thing. I do not like being confused with a cosmetics company.

 

 

 

 

 

The second concerns two questions I’m asked more and more frequently by young people who don’t understand that Mary Katherine was a perfectly acceptable, mainstream, plain, ordinary, everyday name before it gave way to Lisa and Jennifer and Ashley and Madison:

Are you Catholic?

Are you a nun?

Neither.

I’m a member of a large Protestant family that recycles names.

 

 

 

#####

* About 250 miles to the southwest, to Del Rio, on the border with Mexico. It was a nice place, and after a few months, I loved being there. Sometimes I wish we’d stayed.

** Serendipity! [An English major thing] Attempting to find a reference to Heathcliff calling Catherine, I came across this article–Heathcliff and Cathy, out on the wild, windfarmed moors–by Lucy Mangan, published in The Guardian, April 12, 2012.

I hate to admit it, but I like Ms. Mangan’s starcrossed lovers much more than I like Emily Bronte’s.

 

 

Day G: Good News & Glitches #AtoZChallenge

 

 

 

 

 

Glitch.

The A to Z Blogging Challenge calendar looks like this:

 

But in my mind’s eye, until this evening, the calendar looked like this:

If I’d paid attention, I’d have noticed I was supposed to post yesterday, a Saturday, instead of taking the day off.

If I’d paid close attention, and counted, I’d have seen that my April calendar provides for only 22 letters, four fewer than the official calendar assigns spaces to, and also four fewer than are found in the alphabet. I was embarked on an A to V Challenge.

When I realized I’d gone wrong, I considered dropping out. After all, I’ve breached the rules, failed to post as required.

But it’s a glitch, not a transgression, and a blog challenge isn’t a life-and-death matter. So I proceed.

Good News.

Two weeks ago, my radiation oncologist used the word remission.

Nothing has changed. My most recent CT scans show the same results as those done in December 2016, three months after I completed radiation treatments. The bone scan, my first, was also clear.

The oncologist, although he’s now smiling as if he means it, continues to be conservative. Stable is the word he uses. “As long as you’re stable…”

The radiation oncologist has always been more upbeat, possibly because she isn’t in charge of my case, possibly because she has a cheerful nature. A year ago, she was calling my scans awesome. I liked that word.

Remission, though, has a certain ring to it–a medical ring.

5. Medicine/Medical.

  1. a temporary or permanent decrease or subsidence ofmanifestations of a disease.
  2. a period during which such a decrease or subsidence occurs:
    The patient’s leukemia was in remission.

For two years, I’ve been living from scan to scan, and that won’t change either. The challenge continues: to live with past, present, future all at once; to wrap my mind around the contradiction–I have cancer, I had cancer, I . . . what?

The next CT is scheduled for early June. Scan to scan.

*****

Read more posts dedicated to the letter G by clicking AtoZ.

Day E: Epistles #AtoZChallenge

The Way I read a Letter’s — this —
‘Tis first — I lock the Door —
And push it with my fingers — next —
For transport it be sure —

And then I go the furthest off
To counteract a knock —
Then draw my little Letter forth
And slowly pick the lock —

Then — glancing narrow, at the Wall —
And narrow at the floor
For firm Conviction of a Mouse
Not exorcised before —

I’ve been trying to remember the last time I opened a real letter. Not a bill, not an invoice, not a request for donation, but a real letter from someone who knows me well, that begins with Dear Kathy, ends with Love, and has a middle meant just for me.

Oh, all right, I admit it–I never opened my mail behind a locked door, as Emily Dickinson does hers–but still, there was something delicious about those pieces of paper now called, with condescension, snail mail.

Opening a snail mail envelope was like opening a gift.

Sometimes it held two page on onionskin from my English pen pal, telling me about a rock concert she’d attended.

Sometimes it held fifteen pages from my cousin in California, a detailed narrative of the plot of a movie she’d seen on the late show.

Once it enclosed a card from my Aunt Betty, picturing a sad little dog and the caption, “I’m feeling dejected ’cause you was neglected,” and a note saying she’d planned to call and wish me happy birthday but had fallen asleep on the couch, and when she woke it was past both our bedtimes.

Most letters weren’t memorable; they contained news of school plays and shopping and chickenpox and report cards and last night’s overdone roast and church and swimming and Christmas caroling, just everyday life.

But they were special nonetheless, and it was the snail that made them so–traveling slowly, making us wait, and then, when hope was dwindling–surprise!— an envelope addressed in a familiar hand would fall out of messy handful of bills and circulars and slide across the concrete floor of the post office foyer.

Sheer bliss.

Several years ago, I joined the Letter Writers Alliance, an organization “dedicated to preserving this art form; neither long lines, nor late deliveries, nor increasing postal rates will keep us from our mission.” I received a membership card and pledged to “carry on the glorious cultural tradition of letter writing.”

As a member, I’m supposed to take every opportunity to write letters. But I don’t. My penmanship isn’t what it used to be–too much time at the keyboard.

But I have good intentions. I buy pens and stationery to feed my habit. Who knows when I’ll loosen up and begin to correspond?

By the way, here’s what Emily does when she finally gets that envelope unlocked.

Peruse how infinite I am
To no one that You — know —
And sigh for lack of Heaven — but not
The Heaven God bestow —

It’s what we all do: We read how infinite we are to the writer–the person whose name is written beneath the word Love.

***

Emily Dickinson, “The Way I read a Letter’s — this –“

***

Blogging from A to Z Master List.

For Day E posts, click Day E.

 

Day D: Dilly-Dallying #AtoZChallenge

Yes, definitely running behind in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. No surprise, of course. If I were all caught up, I would worry.

Blogging with a theme would have helped. Instead of choosing topics, I’m wallowing around in a sea of them, waiting for one to come to my rescue.

April was a ready-made topic for Day A, because I planned to write about Texas bluebonnets anyway, and April is their peak time. But I could have published the same post on Day B, for bluebonnets.

Ben Hur, Day B’s official topic, appeared by chance–I checked the television schedule; I’ve always done my homework with half my brain trained on the TV–but about two paragraphs in, I remembered I had something to say about boo-boos, and say it I did. But instead of dropping Ben Hur, an any reasonable person would have done, I put Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd on hold and wrote an extra post about boo-boos for a different blog, and then went back and finished Ben Hur. That was a big time waster. 

Day C? Before choosing contrariwise, I considered contractionCompositae, color, campfires, cats (of course) . . . chaos . . .

“Zither” by Ludwig Gruber (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
As I was explaining on Day C before I strayed onto Alice and Lady the Horse, I considered making contrariwise my theme for the entire challenge. Instead of blogging from A to Z, I’d have blogged from Z to A. The topic of the Day A(Z) post would have been zither, specifically the one from James Thurber’s “The Night the Ghost Got In.

In case you’ve forgotten, Thurber says it began this way:

I had just stepped out of the bathtub and was busily rubbing myself with a towel when I heard the steps. They were the steps of a man walking rapidly around the dining-room table downstairs. The light from the bathroom shone down the back steps, which dropped directly into the dining-room; I could see the faint shine of plates on the plate-rail; I couldn’t see the table. The steps kept going round and round the table; at regular intervals a board creaked, when it was trod upon. I supposed at first that it was my father or my brother Roy, who had gone to Indianapolis but were expected home at any time. I suspected next that it was a burglar. It did not enter my mind until later that it was a ghost.

He woke his brother Herman and they went to the top of the stairs and listened. The footsteps had stopped, and Herman wanted to go back to bed, but Thurber insisted something was down there–and as soon as he said it, the invisible something ran up the steps toward them. Herman ran into his bedroom and slammed the door. Thurber slammed the door at the top of the stairs and held it closed, then cautiously opened it. No none was there. That should have been the end of the story, but in the Thurber household, nothing is ever the end.

The slamming doors woke Thurber’s mother. She decided there were burglars in the house. Because the phone was downstairs, she couldn’t call the police, so she “flung up a window of her bedroom which faced the bedroom windows of the house of a neighbor, picked up a shoe, and whammed it through a pane of glass across the narrow space that separated the two houses.”

“Guinea pig eating a piece of apple” by Jg4817 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
After Mrs. Thurber finally made the neighbor, Mr. Bodwell, understand the burglars were in her house, not his–which wasn’t easy, considering he’d been awakened by a shoe shattering his bedroom window, and Mrs. Bodwell was in the background saying, “We’ll sell the house and go back to Peoria”–he called the police.

The police came and broke the door down (Mrs. Thurber wouldn’t allow her son to go downstairs to let them in because he was still dressed in a bath towel and would have caught his death of cold). A search ensued:

Downstairs, we could hear the tromping of the other police. Police were all over the place; doors were yanked open, drawers were yanked open, windows were shot up and pulled down, furniture fell with dull thumps. A half-dozen policemen emerged out of the darkness of the front hallway upstairs. They began to ransack the floor: pulled
beds away from walls, tore clothes off hooks in the closets, pulled suitcases and boxes off shelves. One of them found an old zither that Roy had won in a pool tournament. “Looky here, Joe,” he said, strumming
it with a big paw. The cop named Joe took it and turned it over. “What is it?” he asked me. “It’s an old zither our guinea pig used to sleep on,” I said. It was true that a pet guinea pig we once had would never sleep anywhere except on the zither, but I should never have said so. Joe and the other cop looked at me a long time. They put the zither back on a shelf.

Had contrariwise been the theme, that’s what I would have written about on Day A. What I’d have posted on Days B(Y) and C(X), I don’t know.

Nor do I know what I’ll write about today, on Day D. But by Day E, I’ll have something worked out.

***

Here are some #AtoZChallenge blogs you might enjoy reading.

Iain Kelly  

Mainely Write 

Anne’s Family History

Poetry, Law and Something More

Lighter Side

For the Master List, click here.

For more Day D posts, click AtoZ.

April in Texas: Loveliest of Flowers #AtoZChallenge

 

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

~ A. E. Housman

***

I’ve signed on to participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month, and this is Day A: April.

Content was never in question: I post A. E. Housman’s “Loveliest of Trees” nearly every year at bluebonnet time as a reminder to seize the day, to get out and see beauty while it’s here–while we’re here.

Be sure to read–or at least scroll–to the bottom of the page. There’s an unexpected treat–not just a bunch of blue flowers.

Here’s a link to the A to Z Challenge Master List-links to the nearly 700 blogs taking part in the challenge.

A short analysis of  “Loveliest of Trees” appears at Interesting Literature.

Info about 2018 bluebonnet sightings can be found at the Texas Wildflower Report on Facebook.

Paintings by Julian Onderdonk.  http://texaspaintings.com/JulianOnderdonk.htm

… by Robert Wood. http://radstudies.tumblr.com/post/146477004552/robert-william-wood-american-1889-1979-texas

… by Porfirio Salinas. https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Porfirio+Salinas+Bluebonnet+Paintings&id=61B8119D2E9E1BC63C9D221D5774776F07B2D13B&FORM=IDBQDM

 

 

And…

*****

To see what other bloggers wrote about on Day A, click A2Z.