3/31/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

My parents came by yesterday. I don’t talk about them much because they have the right to decide whether they want their information online.

Still, over they came. They walked forward and deposited my and my son’s birthday presents on our porch. They stepped back. I unwrapped them: a framed pencil illustration my mother drew of our son, and a beautiful Schwibbögen. My children crowded around me in the doorway and excitedly waved and yelled about schoolwork and the new computer game we’ve been playing as a family, Stardew Valley.

My parents put up a good face. I held my new baby in the doorway as they drove away, waving his little hand for them. I doubt they saw; they probably barely saw well enough to drive if they were crying as much as I was.

I think IT -as Mike calls the Coronavirus crisis- has finally hit most of us. One of my sons came in last night around 9. He sat on our bed. “I’m scared,” he said.

“Oh? Did you have a bad dream? What are you scared about?”

“I don’t know. Just scared.”

Trying to uncover the fear did nothing, so I quickly switched tactics to enumerating everything safe about his situation. We have family, a safe area, a warm house, brothers to take care of him. He calmed enough to sleep in his own bed.

As I was drifting off to sleep later*, I heard and felt the slight change in air pressure that meant our bedroom door had opened. One of my older sons stood in the doorway.

“Son? What’s wrong?”

Bearing his about-to-cry face, he came to my bedside. “I’m scared.”

I hugged him and held him. “It’s okay, Son. It’s okay.”

“Thank you, Mom.”

We walked back to his bed together. I gave him a Melatonin and tucked him in.

…Which might explain why several of us slept in this morning. I awoke to feed Baby at 8ish; finished and got ‘ready’ to pick up a prescription by 10 a.m. Everyone but we parents and my early-riser was still asleep. Costco’s automated phone message played its usual bit, then had a slightly louder recording tell how they have new hours for the warehouse, including a special time for seniors to shop. People picking up prescriptions do not have to wait in line at the door -just tell the guards associates at the exit doors that you’re picking up a prescription and they’ll let you in.

I haven’t written about Costco yet. Usually, it’s my home away from home. I like to go there when we travel, and Utah boasts the world’s largest Costco. Friends have even teased that I ought to travel to all of them and chronicle my adventures.

When I went there to stockpile toilet paper and water three weeks ago (okay -kidding), people were a tad tense. A few, like me, knew what was coming and were purchasing a few extras. A week later, the store had imposed limits on supplies. A few days after that, signs dotted the columns and tape lines dotted the cash registers and waiting areas so that we might stay 6 feet away from each other. Lines formed to get in, separated by cones and pallets; lines formed to check out, enforced by Costco employees.

Today, plexiglass barriers are screwed to the front of all the cash registers. Some workers wear face masks. The receipt-checkers at the exits have clipboards and gloves. No one touches your membership card. Everyone furiously wipes down counters and computer equipment. They spray shopping carts (trolleys) with a pink solution out in the parking lot.

I saw a pregnant woman of Indian features and dress wearing gloves and a dentist-style face mask. They’re probably not doing much for her, but I’d be doing the same in her shoes.

Next on my errands was the post office. They had tape on the floor as well, plus a sign outside about keeping 10 or fewer people in the waiting area. The woman at the desk wore a face mask and she also sat behind newly-installed plexiglass.

Perhaps we ought to start living in personal plexiglass houses.

The oddest part of my experiences is something Pete pointed out in his comments on my last update: people are avoiding any interaction. Told to be wary and stay six feet away, we are also avoiding nonverbal cues that indicate safety. We are not smiling, laughing, reassuring, or talking. I guess we need to learn to be friends …from a distance.

Which is why I find comfort in the snippets of sunshine. A woman asked another woman at Costco where she’d gotten her package of Charmin toilet paper** from; I heard them laughing at whatever the response was, and I smiled at their smiles. The secretary for my sons’ school asked how we were all doing when I called about a registration issue. My friend and I talked on the phone.

I felt like giving up that day we had the earthquake. I’ve mostly stopped obsessively checking the United States Geological Society’s latest earthquakes page since, and was handling each day too busy to dwell on the larger implications of what we were doing. Today, however, I’ve returned to some of that anxiety. The novelty’s worn off, I suppose. We’ve purchased all the extra food we can eat. We’ve got a rough schedule for schoolwork at home. We’ve even finally started a nap routine for the baby. Now, though, comes the most difficult part: facing the long dark of Moria.

But wishing IT away hasn’t worked for most of us. Assuming IT wouldn’t come didn’t work very well, either. My son’s speech and behavior aide last year told me they were working on his Sphere of Influence; what he could control. Me, I can’t control IT. I can’t control the world’s response. What I can control is me. I can still control much of what my family does and is exposed to as well.

So, you may find me writing from within a circle of salt. Still, at least I’m still alive. And writing.

©2020 Chelsea Owens, including photos of the Schwibbögen and Costco
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*Okay, I was really playing Candy Crush. They’re offering infinite lives all week, which is brilliant for keeping people in.
**Charmin Ultra Soft toilet tissue is worth more than gold right now…

WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Harry Potter and Game of Thrones have nothing on our terrible poetry skills, especially not on this week’s winner.

And that is…. Trent McDonald.

Untitled piece

by Trent McDonald

Oh muse!
Do not forget your poor creature, oh muse!
I am your tool
That you must use
So let my tongue
Sparkle like I was young.
What’s that?
Not my tongue?
Uhm, my pen?
Sing like a wren?
Ah! My computer
Sing your praises
In tones of pewter
Got it

This is the story of the Anger of Skywalker
The fleet-footed
Druid talker
Hear my tale!

Anakin had anger
Apollo, in the guise of Palpatine
Sent a plague on the Skywalker family
Killing his mother with an infestation of Sand People

Like Agamemnon and Bresies before
Kanobi took Padmé
Away
Ani didn’t like that
Said I’m going to get that boy

Oh yea fates!
When you tear away our mates!
And make us Dance on a Volcano
Wait, that was a song by Genesis
A prog rock band, not a Sith
Well, damned fates
When we fight on lava
Flowing from a crater
We might get burned
And become Darth Vader

But there are five more movies
With one more in the works
And I’m out of words
But then, Homer did write the Odyssey
So I will not
Abandon all hope

Congratulations, Trent! You are the most terrible poet of the week!

Several poems were funny, followed the topic, and made me cringe. Trent’s poem had them all, plus enough of an epic poem feel to hurt even more. My favorite aspect is his Star Wars events or character references subtly dropped into what seems a decent poem. Great work!

Not that the others weren’t nearly as terrible:

The Truth

by Deb Whittam

Fingertips coated in dust,
Scouring through magic, muck and mud
Knowing for sure
We are not alone
Venturing into that danger zone
Fox’s and Scully’s do not
Exaggerate
They trust in the truth
The truth that cannot wait
We may believe that it is all
Just a show
But they know it is real
Which just really blows
X-Files they were called
But wasn’t that really the truth
Flesh was kind of optional
Here’s your proof
Turned on, then it went off
But like all addictions
It returned, just like a real bad cough

—–

Bedtime reading

by Bruce Goodman

I must admit it’s rather fright’ning
when school libraries banish Enid Blyton.
And I feel there’s not a lotta
books go out by Beatrix Potter.
These days too it’s Dr Seuss
who’s racist and loves pet abuse.
So provided I cover up the cover
I read my kids “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”.

—–

The Board with the Dings

by Dorinda Duclos

I have traveled many a mountain
Gotten lost along my merry way
Came across a pip of a board with dings
Stuck it in my pocket, among other things

Made it difficult to continue my journey
But I trolled my way along, as best I could
Stuck my hand in my pocket a few times
Kept pulling out splinters of wood

Thought about hitting up my friend, Bill
But the weather didn’t look very nice
Oh, and did I mention, I didn’t know
That there’s a fire burning in the mountain

Stumbled upon a rather bizarre little man
Globulin, or Global, or something like that
Kept trying to trick me, to get my board
I wonder if his parents know he’s a brat

And then there’s those trees, ugly are they
Beady eyes that kept staring at me
Maybe it’s because I have a piece of them
In my pocket, clinging, I won’t set it free

So much for my trek up the mountain
So much for the board in my jeans
I decided to build me a fire, I did
Sit around tootin’, yep, too many beans

—–

That Frigging Ring

by Peregrine Arc

Let’s walk to Mordor, Gandalf said.
I’ll accompany you and use my flashy staff to stave off your untimely deaths.
Gandalf has access to giant eagles
but I feel the need for more blisters on my barking beagles.

Wouldn’t it be wiser to fly above the volcano and airdrop the blasted ring?
Come, come now. If we did that, Tolkien wouldn’t have wrote a thing.
Do you want to star in this movie or not?
Get behind that orc and give him a clout.

Why didn’t we bring more wizards on this trip?
What, there’s only four? I don’t believe it.
Wait I’ve got it, there’s the eye that sees all, right?
Cast a curse of blindness and water.
And there you have it: that Sauron’s a goner.

Now let the Hobbits get back to eating and dancing
The elves to whining and adverting disaster.
The dwarves to counting gold and mining too deep
So Peter Jackson can get some sleep.

—–

not my god…

by Violet Lentz

He turned his back on his daughter,
his ‘Chavala’
to him, she is dead.
he did so, because she married Feyedka,
a Russian, not a Jew.
he did so, because his traditions dictated it.
he did so, because he believed with all of his heart it was the right thing-
the only thing to do.
he did so despite the fact
that it tore him apart
that it was inconceivable
that it made no sense.
he did so, because he honestly believed
it was required by his god to do so.

Who can logically explain to me
what god of love
of compassion
of creation
of order
would put one mans religious affiliation
so highly above another,
that he can forsake his own child?
what god would inflict this wound
upon his most cherished creation?
that which he “created in his own image”?

not my god…

—–

Untitled piece

by Ruth Scribbles

As I drink my coffee

Still in sleep mode

I want to tell you

Potter didn’t smoke pot

But his wand was hot

Flew powder is the best

Just don’t sneeze

Pleeze

Now I’m off to Hogwarts

—–

Happy Wednesday

by Larry Trasciatti

Bald Uncle Fester has a light bulb in his mouth
Grandmama can stir you up bat stew.
Pugsley can translate Cousin Itt.
And Thing can even lend a hand for you.
And everything happens on Wednesday.

Gomez and his Morticia
They are such a sweet romance
Querida Mia and her Bubbele in love.
And Aristotle Octopus is Pugsley’s favorite pet
As Lurch learns all the latest dance steps.
And there is always something new on Wednesday.

So let us snap our fingers now
And let us visit them
And let us hearken to the baying wolves
As Lurch does play the harpsichord
With all its dulcet tones
And let us wait right here each week for Wednesday.

—–

Thank you for all the amazing entries! Check out next week’s contest, tomorrow at 10 a.m. MST.

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Trent: D. Wallace Peach created this graphic that you can use (if you want) for a badge of honor as the winner:

The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Welcome to the 27th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest!

I am your hostess, Chelsea Owens. If you are unsure of how to write terrible poetry, I outlined a bit of what I look for here. This is the sort of contest one enters in order to let loose, dangle participles, overly rhyme, and stick it to that pompous English professor we’ve all had.

Here are the specifics:

  1. Our Topic, class, is a poem about an epic book, television, or movie series. -You know; like that Throne of Gaming one, or Starring Wars, or Parry Hotter.
  2. Some of those series get reallllly long (lookin’ at you, Robert Jordan), but our audience’s attention span is shorter. Keep the Length below 200 words, s’il vous plaît.
  3. Rhyming‘s an easy way to curl our toes, when used improperly. Officially, however, it’s optional.
  4. The #1 Rule is make it terrible. George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, George Lucas, Robert Jordan, and J.K. Rowling must want to join together, mighty morphin’ style, to kick your poem’s …meter out of this universe.
  5. Some of these popular books and such can get a bit racy, so you can up the Rating to PG-13ish or cleaner.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (May 31) to submit a poem.

Use the attached form for anonymity (till Friday). I’ve been getting them without complaint, so I think WordPress is mostly sending them through.

For immediate fame and attention, include your poem or a link to it in the comments.

Share, and enjoy!

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Photo credit:
Image by simisi1 from Pixabay

A Tree Falls in a Forest; Does the Reader Hear It?

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Once there was a small stream winding through the forest. It wasn’t too small a stream, of course. It ran all year, even in the dry seasons. And, at some points, it did grow smaller -say, when crossing between the narrowing walls of tree roots or over rough patches of mud. Meanwhile, farther along, the small stream widened out to what some geographers would classify as a river. This widening was due to a relief of pressures and an allowed broadening of its capabilities.

No, I do not intend to write you the rest of the story of the stream. There is no literal stream. Obviously, there is also no mud, tree roots, or even geographers.

I brought up waterworks in order to discuss an important literary element: metaphor. We’re hardly selective here, so I’ll include metaphor’s semi-cousin simile and his friend hyperbole, too. In case you ask, however; allegory, parable, and analogy are not invited. Sorry, guys.

I love metaphor. And, I hates it. *Golem!* *Golem!*

That is: when someone is giving a lecture, lesson, or speech and starts metaphoring, my mind goes wonderful places with their relationships. In fact, my mind goes very far afield of where they usually intended and somehow I’ve taken the examples to more interesting locales.

Also, I am very good at giving people on-the-spot comparisons in order to make my point. I told someone I had never met before that her English Cream Golden Retriever was “like when you put brand-new towels into the dryer and pull out a big, fluffy, warm ball of lint and you just want to hug it.”

Yeah… I did. And I wonder why I have few friends.

And, yes, that was simile. Sort-of. I told you they were cousins.

Back to metaphor: this good can also be evil. Besides very obvious over-the-top tropes like characters always speaking in clichés and a poet telling us that each flower in the garden is a dragon, horse, unicorn, etc. to the point that we don’t even know that he was speaking of gardens in the first place–

Too much can be a bad thing.

I also think that metaphor, simile, and hyperbole have a better place in making a conversational point, or in writing poetry, than they do in longer works of fiction.

What say ye? Agreed? Disagreed? Still winding through mud and you’ll get back with me once you hit the valley?

—–

While you’re pondering (or meandering), here’s what went down in the past week:
Wednesday, January 2: “Not Your Average Blogger’s New Year’s Post,” in which we discussed obscure unique talents.
Thursday, January 3: “Skinwalkers, XLVII.” This may have been back-posted. 😉
Friday, January 4: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Yay, again, Ruth!
Saturday, January 5: Announced the eighth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. ENTER IT.
Sunday, January 6: “When the Stakes Are High,” a flash fiction piece for Carrot Ranch.
Monday, January 7: “Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Eight.”
Also, “Toddler Trouble” at my mothering blog.
Tuesday, January 8: Inspirational quote by Pablo Picasso. En español.
I may have had a difficult weekend, and thereafter wrote “Hello Depression, My Old Friend” at The Bipolar Writer Blog.
Wednesday, January 9: You made it to today!

Eric Muhr