Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Magpie Tales - Kids in a Car

Magpie Tales is a creative writing blog by Willow at Life at Willow Manor. Click on the link to see the other entries.

Love this picture. It reminds me of piling into an old car with laughing friends to drive across the causeway to Clearwater Beach. The radio was playing and there was a cooler with some beer in the trunk. I pretended to like the taste. The trip and the anticipation were part of the fun. We were on our own with no adults around and a long summer day ahead of us. The trip back seemed a lot longer - tired and hot, hungry and sunburned with sand in every crack and crevice. We would rush home to shower and get ready to go to the drive-in movies that night.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Archy and Mehitabel

Does anyone remember archy and mehitabel? As you can see from the back cover of my book, "Don Marquis first introduced archy the cockroach and mehitabel, a cat in her ninth life, in his newspaper column, The Sun Dial, in 1916." Archy is a poetic cockroach who hops around on his boss's typewriter at the newspaper office at night. He can't do the shift key so everything is in lower case. Mehitabel is an alley cat whose soul "once belonged to Cleopatra" in another life.

How do I know about archy and mehitabel? Well, it is kind of a long story. Back in the 70's I was living at my mom's apartment and was the single mother of a little boy. I had a series of jobs as a typesetter. Back then, before desktop publishing, being a typesetter meant typing on a keyboard with no screen and producing a computer tape. Point size, font, line length, etc were all inserted with key combinations such as "p24" for 24 point type. Line length was measured in picas. The computer tape was run through a reader on a photo typesetting machine. The photo paper was developed and then the pieces of type went to the "paste up" department to be included with art and photos in the finished ad or book. (I can't imagine how I did it now.)

My typesetting jobs were definately "blue collar" back then, not the glamourous graphic artist jobs of today. Often we labored in little rooms near the big, dirty, noisy presses, huge paper cutters and other printing equipment. We punched a time clock, sometimes even to go to the bathroom. You can imagine what a step up it was when I got the job at Florida Trend magazine working on the beautiful top floor of an old remodeled cigar factory with brick walls, expensive art, hardwood floors, outside glass elevator, boutique shops, and wonderful restaurants, but that is another story.

So I got a job at night in a very rundown building in an old part of downtown Tampa. It was near the Tampa Tribune building, the University of Tampa and the old Valencia Gardens restaurant, but it was a slum. In fact a homeless man was found dead under our building one time and someone jokingly suggested we should advertise a "room for rent". I worked in a long, windowless room with cement walls and floor. At night. It was scary and depressing, but I needed a job. And that job eventually led to the Florida Trend job so I guess it was worth it.

One of the night managers had a brilliant idea. He read to us while we worked. It was kind of fitting since the "lectors" used to read to the cigar makers in the old cigar factories in Tampa. The book he read was "archy and mehitabel". I loved it.

Archy, the poetic cockroach wrote free verse about his life in the newspaper office and his friends. He would beg for an apple core or scrap of bread now and then. I'm going to offer some excepts of one of my favorite columns about mehitable and her kittens. Mehitabel is a free spirit of a cat and not a very good mother, I'm afraid.

well boss
mehitabel the cat
has reappeared in her old
haunts with a
flock of kittens
three of them this time

archy she said to me
the life of a female
artist is continually
hampered what in hell
have i done to deserve
all these kittens
archy i am full of mother love
my kindness has always
been my curse
a tender heart is the cross i bear
self sacrifice always and forever
is my motto damn them
i will make a home
for the sweet innocent
little things
unless of course providence
in his wisdom should remove
them they are living
just now in an abandoned
garbage can in greenwich
village and if it rained
into the can before i could
get back and rescue them
i am afraid the little
dears might drown
it makes me shudder just
to think of it
of course if i were a family cat
they would probably
be drowned anyway
sometimes i think
the kinder thing would be
for me to carry the
sweet little things
over to the river
and drop them in myself

Don Marquis

Monday, August 8, 2011

Front Porch - Magpie Tales

Magpie Tales is a creative writing blog by Willow at Life at Willow Manor. Click on the link to see the other entries.

Breathless anticipation on a hot summer night. Wondering if he will come by. Coy conversation, teasing and taunting, acting as if she doesn't care. If only mama would turn off that damn porch light.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Doilies - Who Knew?

Found this picture at Today's Treasures from Ruffled Doilies American Thread, Star Book 59

Picture from Google Images - source: unknown

A post by GreyGreyDesigns sent me on a quest this morning. She did a post on doilies (of all things) and they were awesome. Check out the wonderful things this event and party planner does with the lowly doily. That got me thinking about a ruffled crochet doily that my mother used to have. The top picture is the closest I could find. My mother had a lamp in the middle of her doily and it sat on a little round table with a lion's mouth pull on the single drawer. I don't know what happened to it. It certainly did not match the decor of our new house full of Danish Modern furniture in the 60's. As I was looking I also came across this grape doily which brought back a very vivid memory. I don't know who made it or where I saw it, but we definately had a doily that looks much like the one above. The grapes were three dimensional. As a child, I loved it. The quest I went searching for today is a hand crochet piece that says McGee. It used to be in a picture frame which I dismantled. Now I regret it. I need to find that piece and return it to Jonah's dad. It belongs in their family.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Perfect Summer Drink

I think I have found the perfect drink for summer and all year round. I am from the south and I love my sweet tea, but I have been looking for a while for a natural drink that doesn't have SO much sugar as sweet tea. Fruit tea. A Mexican restaurant I used to love in Oklahoma served a mixture of tea and apple juice that was so soothing with the hot spicy food, but I could never get tea and apple juice to be quite sweet enough. I have been making unsweetened tea with Truvia but I did not like drinking so much of it and giving it to the kids. So, yesterday at Big Lots I found some V8 Splash on sale. The one I bought was Mango Pineapple mixed with green tea. It was good, but expensive and still very strong. So I thought, mix the V8 with brewed tea! It is great! I mix it about 1/3 V8 and 2/3 tea. I think if I had V8 without the green tea mixed in, I could use even less. Maybe Mia could even drink it on her new diet. She loves sweet tea, too. Wonder if anyone else has some ideas. P.S. I threw in a recent picture of Jaime on her way to the beach. Click on the picture to see the cool feather necklace she is wearing.