Dear Santa. Grrr.

Prompt: Christmas card


Dear Wednesday,

It seems like only a year ago that I sat down and wrote Christmas letters to far-flung family and friends, regaling them with the perfection that was my previous year and wishing them even a fraction of the utopia that is the life of Fluffy.

This year I’ll treat them (and you) to a slightly different analysis of the year that was; i.e. the main occurrences in 2019 were these: 1. My dog died and 2. Men suck. 3. I got old. These do not seem to be the usual joyous events lovingly described in Christmas letters, but that’s the challenge. How to make convince people who don’t really care that my life is a exuberant dream that they should envy, when the news seems less than ebullient?

My dog was a very good dog, a black and fluffy dog. He got old before I did, and so we had to set him on his journey to the Rainbow Bridge. Sad? No, because a dog’s afterlife is a certainty: they go to a green meadow in a heaven where they can run and play with other animals, indulge in delicious treats, get belly rubs on demand, and in general  enjoy the kind of blissful existence they deserve.  People may go to heaven, hell, purgatory, or, more likely, nowhere to spend their eternity, because people are imperfect. Dogs are full of nothing but love and should (if they are not) be the centre of the Universe. If you disagree with me, you have never had a dog.

Men. I have a father, a husband, brothers, male friends, a beloved nephew… but holy shit, men suck. Think Donald Trump, incels, war-makers, sexual harassers and assaulters, arms dealers, rapists, Woody Allen, and the guy who really set me off, a piece of work by the name of Tommy Callaway, who felt entitled to slap and squeeze a reporter’s ass as he ran by her. What kind of person thinks it is ok to sexually assault a young woman or any woman, and who thinks his utterly cynical and smarmy “apology” is more meaningful than a poop bag? Tommy Callaway, that’s who. Tommy Callaway and, presumably, a huge population of men who seem to think the whole Harvey Weinstein thing, #metoo— and, one assumes, sexual assault in general, is nothing but an overrated joke. How else do you explain the man, his grope, his excuse? Men suck, that’s how. (Yet my father, husband, brothers, male friends, beloved nephew wouldn’t even dream of groping a woman— why are the good men like them never in the news? I know why, because being baseline decent is not newsworthy, so we have to hear about the Tommy Callaways grrr of the world.)

And I got old. I went to bed one night, a dewy, lithe, fluffy young woman and woke up as an ancient relic. To be honest, I am not so much a relic as fighting to wipe that thought out of my head. Every little twinge in my back, every bit of fatigue, every fleeting whiff of forgetfulness is now a reminder the size of a skyscraper that my dewy days are done. The real cherry on the top is the fact that my aging will be held against me, I will become invisible and easily dismissed while guess who will grow old with looks that become more distinguished and whose credibility increases? Men, that’s who.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my Christmas letter! I promise you that my contention that men suck in no way diminishes my great love for them. That’s what comes with extreme old age: you can hold two opposing thoughts in your ancient rattling head at the same time.

Obsessive-Compulsive Santa

cartoon dear santa

cartoon roll around santa


Peace and love,

~~FP

Ned helped out

Prompt: Celebrate


Well, Wednesday, summer was certainly in a hurry to rush off, and so here I sit in front of a charming gas fireplace while it drizzles and blows outside.

The theme today is “celebrate” and there is much to make merry about today (and perhaps every day, if we devoted a little thought to it). How are we merry? Let us count the ways:

  1. My goddaughter gave birth to her third son, and I suspect they will end up with seven children as they keep trying for a girl. In any case, they are a fine, funny family at any size, and the new arrival is greeted with joy by all except the 3-year old who is peeved because they didn’t give the baby the name he wanted: Macaroni and Cheese.
  2. Fall wardrobes of soft fleece and plush wools, and that feeling of smugness and invincibility you get when you wrap up to go out and face the elements. It may be brisk and windy but you are toasty warm in your jacket and fuzzy gloves.
  3. The quickie kitchen book I am writing is ticking along, albeit at a slower pace than anticipated. That’s because I had another creative project to finish first. Creative projects rule!
  4. I still live by the lake. It helps to be happy to look out your window—even if it is a view of the laundromat across the street, since laundromats are good and and give us clean, warm clothes.
  5. Trump may finally be impeached. It might be too early to celebrate, since the man has escaped consequences for countless earlier sorry misdeeds, but what the hell. Bring on the confetti.
  6. Scones. Scones should be celebrated year round. Think of hot buttered scones with tea on a chill autumn morning.
  7. I had a really, very, too much fun dream the other night, which I am so sorry I can’t relate because it is of an adult nature, but trust me, it was a good one.
  8. Tomatillos.

And now, as an anticlimax, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons related to the prompt, “celebrate”?

cartoon birthday party clown

cartoon leave party

cartoon ned helped


Peace and love,

~~FP

Just So You Know

Prompt: Imagine


Dear Wednesday,

Do you remember a time when John Lennon’s song Imagine was considered controversial?

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Christians have condemned those words as blasphemous. According to a 2015 article in The National Review “to believers of older religion its (“Imagine’s”) open recommendation of an atheist faith cannot but sound lamentable and threatening.”

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

These lines were attacked as unpatriotic. The National Review article concludes that “few songs are more divisive”.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

This verse was condemned for its “communist overtones.”

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Did I say was controversial? This Lennon/Ono penned song is still vilified by right wing Christians and other religious fundamentalists and political ideologues. …What would Jesus think?

Relating to today’s casual prompt “imagine” in the most tenuous way is the first of these three of my favourite cartoons:

cartoon new-yorker-march-13th-2017-lars-kenseth

cartoon knight flowers-too

cartoon david-sipress-whac-a-mole-island-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-9172422-8419449


Wishing you peace, love, blasphemy, unpatriotism, and communism,

~~FP

A Little Song, a Little Dance…

Prompt: Bury


Dear Wednesday,

Have you ever made a speech at a funeral? I haven’t. I’ve lost my fear of speaking in front of small groups but there is no way I could pull myself together (and I’m not proud of this) and speak about someone I loved who had just died, without getting choked up, weepy, and unable to pay them proper respect. I did write the occasional eulogy which my older brother would then read. Are you, as a writer, asked to compose eulogies or newspaper notices?

In any case, may I present, in lieu of a selection of my favourite cartoons, the classic excerpt from the Mary Tyler Moore show, The Funeral of Chuckles the Clown.


And, ok, just one of my favourite cartoons, very tangentially related to today’s word prompt:

cartoon surpise dog in heaven


Joy, long life, and surprises…

~~FP

 

Another Kind of Heaven

Prompt: Passenger

field,-meadow,-sky,-cloud,-rainbow-145340

When he opened his eyes, the first thing he noticed was the smell. He smelled clean grass, and the pungent bark of trees, and he smelled the river. Yes, the scent of smooth rocks bathed by flowing water, the wet soil and sand of the river bank, and the roots of trees and the floating leaves and fish and frogs.

He coughed, and wiped something black from his lips, and remembered what he now did not smell: smoke, ash, gunpowder, blood, shit, fear, and decay.

Across from him, Sam sat awkwardly leaning up against a tree trunk, staring at his hands. Turning his hands over and examining the palms, and then the backs again, his fingernails lined in black like kohl on a whore. He was filthy, bloody, and thin.

“What happened, Sam?” he asked, his voice hoarse. “Where are we?”

Sam looked up. “I don’t know, Peter,” he said.

Wherever they were, Peter suspected Sam had got him there. He had a good idea of where they might be. Where they came from was hell. What could this be, but heaven?

“Can you hear the birds?” asked Sam.

Peter shook his head. The last thing he remembered was the thudding sound of artillery as he crested the ridge, bayonet in hand. Perhaps a shell had hit its mark. Perhaps he was blown to bits.

“Are there birds?”

“Yes, finches, meadowlarks,” said Sam. “There was a fat robin.”

“I can’t hear them.”

“Can you hear the river?”

“No, is it nearby? I can smell it.”

They were in a small copse of birch and poplar and pine, in a wide meadow of tall grass flanked by a forest, beyond which were hills, then mountains, then mountains dusted with snow.

His left calf was wrapped in strips of bloodied cotton sheeting. He wondered why he felt no pain. He did, suddenly, feel hungry.

Sam said, “I’ll get some water, and find something to eat, in a moment.” Then his head slowly nodded and his chin fell to his chest, his mouth partly open, snoring quietly. Both of them were intimate with exhaustion, and falling asleep instantly the minute it was quiet and safe was a survival strategy.

Peter was exhausted, but he wasn’t sleepy. He turned his head and felt the rough bark against his cheek. He pulled a handful of grass and weeds and brought it to his nose, inhaling deeply. He coughed again. He stared at Sam. He looked up at a cloudless sky.

Sam had brought him to this place, this heaven. Sam was a good man. The gates of heaven would be open to Sam.

Peter was a murderer, a thief, and a liar. How is it he was allowed to sit in the cool shade, breathing, alive?

He tried to get up, but collapsed against the tree again. He watched Sam, for an hour, or maybe two, until his own eyelids fluttered shut, and he was in another kind of heaven, the heaven of dreamless sleep.