Sunday, June 16, 2019

Carpe Diem Weekend Meditation #89: Extreme Haibun: Is It Too Much to Ask For Rain?

“Is it too much to ask for it to rain?” I ask as I spend another summer steeped in sweat.

Yet I remember the year when the flood came, another year when I often asked: “is it too much to ask for it to rain?”

I remember the wave slamming into the side of my car, the terror as I wondered if I would be swept away into a field which had become a choppy lake.

I did not ask for it to rain for a long time after that.

when something well-loved
becomes a thing of terror
everything changes


Image from the Longmont Times-Call

For those who are prone to questioning my veracity, the story related above is 100% true and I had PTSD following the incident. One of the ways in which this affected me is making me unable to write for a long time. People lost their lives during this flood, and I didn't know why I wasn't one of them. I've never done anything which I believe makes me worthy of continued survival, and yet, like toenail fungus, I persist in hanging around long past my sell-by date.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Ornery Old Lady's Poetry Tea Room

Image by Thought Catalog from Pixabay
Ornery oughta know better than to leave flowers sittin' 'round. Her cats will eat 'em and barf all over.

Howdy folks! Y'all might have noticed that sometimes Ornery posts poetry on this here website. Now, I don't know too much about poetry. I know I like that there rhyme about not bein' buried on the lone prairie and that song about Darlin' Clementine, and Cactus Clem tole me a rhyme about a feller from Nantucket, but I can't repeat the rest of that one or y'all might smack me.
Gettin' things up to snuff at the ole homestead is gonna cost a purty penny and it's gonna take a while. Ornery is workin' with the state historical society to try and get some grants to make the good ole hotel fit fer human occupation. The ole gal has ideas fer sellin' lots of stuff, and one of the things she's decided to sell is books of her poetry.
Ornery's poetry is sometimes...well, really ornery. But it's usually more fit fer those with tender sensibilities than them raunchy tales she's part and parcel to over at the Naughty Netherworld Press Peep Show. I know Cactus Clem would like them stories, but I ain't sure the sucker kin read.
Anyways, Ornery reckons she kin put out a poetry book a few times a year, and any money she makes from her poetry goes straight to fixin' up the ole hotel! With the repairs that needs to be made to bring things up to code, it's probably gonna be at least six months till Ornery and her son kin move in. 
Once Ornery's livin' here, she wants to have a monthly poetry readin' and tea in the kitchen. I hope she finds some folks who want to join her an' buy some of her and her son's work. I might even wanna join in, and I promise I won't recite that there rhyme about the feller from Nantucket and his formidable trouser trout.

Yer ole pal,
Ghost Town Grover

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Troiku Challenge 2019: Day 10: Moonlit Night

First Steam Train

the wild geese take flight
low along the railroad tracks
in the moonlit night

the wild geese take flight
under the serene moonlight
fly above it all

low along the railroad tracks
dipping down close to the ground
sense of adventure

in the moonlit night
they worry about nothing
flying in their peace

~Shiki & Cie~

The "sleigh" of this Troiku was created by Masaoka Shiki (1867 - 1902). The three "horses" were imagined by me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Troiku Challenge 2019: Day 8: Spiderweb

Spiderweb anchored
To a tree, a bush, the ground
Centered spiral shines

spiderweb anchored
strong and yet so delicate
what will it capture

to a tree, a bush, the ground
merely a decoration
a lovely accent

centered spiral shines
luring its unwitting prey
the danger revealed

~Calvin & Cie~

The "sleigh" of this Troiku was created by Calvin Olson. The Three Horses of the Apocalypse can be blamed on me.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Ornery Old Lady's Recipe Book: Poke Cake

Hey folks, its yer ole pal Ghost Town Grover here. The Ornery Old Lady and her son are comin' to meet that fancy Structural Engineer feller here at the hotel on Wednesday. Until they're livin' here, I've been makin' a habit of hitchin' a ride on one of them eighteen-wheeler horseless covered wagons to visit 'em down in Denver.
Ornery is kinda dense sometimes. See, you'd reckon since she's knowed her son fer 29 years, she'd know he likes his cake pretty straightforward. Still, she went and asked him if he'd rather have a plain ole raspberry poke cake without no frosting or berries, or if he wanted to wait till she could go to the store and buy some Cool Whip and berries. 
Well, Sonny looked at Ma like maybe she left her brain out in the sun and told her to make the plain poke cake without no Cool Whip or fruit or none of that fancy stuff.
I'm gonna turn the reins over to Ornery now so's she can tell you all about poke cakes.


Hello, dear visitors!
I'm the Ornery Old Lady. You can call me Cie or you can call me Ornery, but don't call me late for dinner--or dessert.
Poke Cakes are one of my favorite fall-back recipes. All you need is a cake mix and the necessary items to make it: eggs or egg substitute, water or milk (nut milk or coconut milk is fine), and oil, butter, or margarine. You will also need a four-serving box of flavored gelatin.
Make the cake following the recipe on the box. There's a little trick I like to use to make my cakes turn out moist. Use one more egg than called for on the box. Use melted butter or margarine instead of cooking oil. I just put the stick of butter or margarine in a big mug and melt it for 1 1/2 minutes at 50% power. Use milk (or nut milk) instead of water for extra richness and flavor. 
If you or someone in your family is allergic to eggs, Ener-G egg substitute works wonderfully. I keep a box on hand just in case I run out of eggs. I'm hoping to get a couple of hens once we're established in the Grover Hotel. Then we'll have at least a couple of fresh eggs a day!
Once the cake is baked, heat a cup of water to boiling. I find that two minutes in a 1000-watt microwave is adequate. Poke holes in the cake using the handle of a mixing spoon. I usually poke 24 holes (4 columns of 8) in a 13 x 9 cake.
When the water has boiled, pour it over the gelatin. Whisk for 1 to 2 minutes until fully dissolved. Pour over the top of the cake.
Let the cake cool for an hour. Frost and decorate if desired, or, if you're a plain cake kind of person like my son, just cut and eat.

I've always had to work in teeny-tiny apartment kitchens. I'm looking forward to working in this big, open kitchen. The stove is actually fairly new. We're planning to have a vent installed over it rather than having to open the kitchen window in -20-degree weather to let out the smoke when cooking hamburgers indoors.
Although my new kitchen is going to inspire me to try my hand at new and different recipes, I still intend to keep cake mixes and flavored gelatin on hand for those times when no-one feels like doing a whole lot of work but folks are craving dessert. 
Have fun trying different flavor combinations with your poke cakes! This easy favorite dessert is loved by everyone from kids to ornery old folks!
Check out Grover's General Store at the end of the post for cake mixes, flavored gelatin, and kitchen gadgets. I hope to get a set of nice glass cake pans in the not too distant future!


Monday, June 3, 2019

Troiku Challenge 2019: Day 2: My Native Town

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

my native town
far, far away--
burgeoning trees.

my native town
i never fit anywhere
and now i must go

far, far away--
i make a new life happen
i will still see you

burgeoning trees
buffeted by prairie wind
my new home is here

Santoka Taneda & Cie

The Sleigh portion of the Troiku was created by Santoka Taneda (3 December 1882 - 11 October 1940). The three "horses" were created by me.
I was born in Denver, Colorado on 15 February 1965. My parents were actually living in Laramie, Wyoming at the time. I was born in the middle of a blizzard at 6 A.M. and have caused nothing but trouble ever since.
After my brother was born on 17 March 1969, my parents moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico so my father could finish his doctorate. We lived in a rundown house in a bad part of town. There were fire ants, black widow spiders, and cockroaches the size of school buses. However, we had a half acre of land and were allowed to have chickens. We planted corn and beans. There were horned toads and skinks. The neighbor had pheasants and bees. He was an okay guy who pretty much kept to himself. His wife was a fire-and-brimstone Fundamentalist who called me a filthy slut for taking my shirt off on a hot day. I was four years old at the time.
A New Mexico accent is similar to a Texas accent, and when we moved back to Colorado when I was ten years old, all the other kids ridiculed the way I talked. I was already shy, and this led to me becoming even more withdrawn. I always hated school. I was never well-liked or anything even in the same zip code as popular. To this day, I still hate the sound of my own voice and I hate when people ask the innocent question of "where are you from?" My knee-jerk reaction is to answer "Mars," because I've never felt like I belonged on this planet.
Many, many years later, I live in the suburbs of Denver, but it costs too much to keep living there. Denver is one of those cities whose working classes can't afford to live there. A condo or small townhouse in Denver costs around $250,000, and then the owner still has to pay HOA fees which average $600 per month in the Denver area. The average salary for someone in the working classes in the Denver area is $12 per hour. See how that doesn't add up?
For someone who is disabled, things are even worse. There is a waiting list to even be considered for subsidized housing. The homeless population is growing by leaps and bounds. Even a modest apartment is out of reach for people in the working class.
Thus, people in the working class are moving out of cities like Denver to rural areas. If they continue working in Denver, they have a long commute. If they are unable to continue working, they end up on the dole. 
My son and I are moving to Grover, which is approximately 110 miles northeast of Denver. He has a modest amount of money being given to him by his father following the sale of farmland. This money allows for the purchase of a six-bedroom historic hotel and renovations on said structure. Property taxes in this area are low. The average person living in this area falls below the median income for the state and many fall below the poverty line. My son and I are among the people who fall below the poverty line. We are both disabled and neither of us can work conventional jobs.
Moving to this place is a risk but also an opportunity. 
It is also our last hope.
Here's to Grover, my last stop on the journey, and possibly the first place I'll truly feel I can call home.
Join us for updates and other curiosities at the Good Stuff From Grover site!

Troiku Challenge 2019: Day 1: Unexpected Guests

Image by Jody Davis from Pixabay

gathering flowers
unexpected guests
come to dinner

gathering flowers
to put on the graves
of the departed

unexpected guests
hungry ghosts here now
wanting their dinner

come to dinner
you cannot complain
you gave no warning

~Jane & Cie~

The "sleigh" part of the Troiku was created by Jane Reichhold (1937 - 2016). The three "horses" were created by me.
For some reason, the line about gathering flowers reminded me of the spooky short story "The Hills Beyond Furcy" by Robert G. Anderson, so what followed was a story of uninvited ghosts.
I'm dedicating this poem to my pal Ghost Town Grover, who resides at the Grover Hotel where my son and I will be moving once the venerable old structure is up to code. If you'd like to follow along with our misadventures and maybe lend a little support to our efforts to renovate this historic building, visit us at the Good Stuff from Grover blog!