Saturday, October 5, 2013

"Saturday Morning"

            Stretching lazily, I glance at the clock, relishing in the pleasure of the late hour. No alarm jars me awake--just my own internal timer deciding to begin the new day. Shifting my feet, I feel the weight of the dog as she lingers in bed with me. She raises her head, her eyes follow me as I leave the room, but she’s too lazy to follow. I amble into the kitchen, hold the kettle under the faucet for fresh water, and set it on the stove to boil. Dipping my hand into the cookie jar, I pull out a chocolate chip cookie. Smile upon my face, I punch ten seconds onto the microwave because I know it’ll heat the chips to just the right temperature. The cat head bumps my ankle, drawing my attention to the empty water bowl. I run my hand down her sleek body, tip-to-tail, and I do her bidding. By then, the microwave beeps. Warm cookie in hand, I munch as I wait for the water to boil. The Earl Grey and honey line up on the counter once the tea kettle hisses. It only takes a minute to brew the tea deep gold.
            Cup in hand, I meander to the back door and slide it open. The dogs push against my legs as they bound ahead of me, Koi tumbling into Bridget in a fake fight that quickly morphs into a manic chase around the yard and through the bushes. I ignore them as they zip in circles around me for my eyes see only my swing in the tree. I set my mug on the side table as I situate my rump into the seat, shift my weight backwards, and hook my feet through the footrest. The morning coolness lingers under the Live Oak, enticing finches and doves into the tree’s branches. I sit and sip, floating on the moment. Eventually, David saunters out the door and nestles into his own hammock-swing. Our conversation rambles aimlessly from topic to topic. We have the entire day free to do anything—or nothing.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Friday, October 4, 2013

"A Family's Spin"

masks worn to hide empty souls   
embraces feigning loving devotion   
covers of shrill condemnation and lies   
disguises of endless discord   
prayers smugly offered for self-adulation   
actors preforming prescribed scripts   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

“Cut Your Losses”

        According to all of the DIY YouTube videos, my desire for nice, clean, and new grout for the kitchen and living room floors entailed buying a couple of inexpensive hand tools and scraping away the old grout.
Hours of work!
DIY equals a huge temporary mess
            Optimistically, my husband and I grabbed the little tools and proceeded to scrape and gouge for four hours without removing much more than a layer of dirt! My son’s suggestion that we needed to resort to Tim the Tool Man’s motto, “More power!” resulted in a quick run to The Home Depot to purchase a reciprocating saw with the special grout removing attachment. After two more hours of work, we’d managed to remove the grout from a single eighteen foot strip. Quickly counting up the remaining “strips” for both rooms resulted in predictions that the grout removal would end sometime in 2014.
            Not to be deterred, we decided another power tool would cut the work in half, and so my husband borrowed another saw, purchased an even heavier-duty blade, and joined me in determined unity as we again attacked the grout. Another couple of hours left us with two and a half strips finished, hands aching from the vibrating saws, and the beginning of backaches from hell.
          All of the videos we observed showed people how to replace small sections of grout. Patch and repair jobs. None depicted the hell of removing entire rooms. Ever wonder why these home make-over shows rip out perfectly good tiles? We now know. It’s easier to take a jackhammer and rip out entire floors than to remove grout, even grout that is over twenty years old.
            So. . . . We admitted our defeat. We critically evaluated the worst sections in the living room (mainly in the entry way) and the kitchen and decided that we could do patches and repairs in these areas if we could get the existing old grout clean enough to match the new patches.
            Back to The Home Depot to purchase goggles, rubber gloves, and a miracle cleanser that we saturated onto a bad patch of old grout to do a test spot. After fifteen minutes to marinade, and a little elbow  grease with a sturdy grout brush, the end result looked almost new. Good enough for me, at least.
 I know in another world (where things always go right), the grout would have flaked effortlessly out of the grove. I would have sucked up every speck of dust with the Shop Vac and spread a nice, bright, new grout into every little crevice. But I don’t live in that world.
And so we scrubbed and patched. We conceded to our reality. My parents didn’t raise a fool.  
Copyright 2013 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman


Floors cleaned, patched, buffed

Padme enjoying the "new" floors

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

“The Pro Bass Shops Experience”

            A few months ago, my husband decided to pick up archery. Crafty as usual, he designed and built his own bows. He purchased his arrows at our local Academy, and he used old delivery boxes for target practice. At least, he did until the last box, riddled with holes, succumbed to rain and fell apart. My son decided to buy a target for his father, and he suggested we venture across town to experience The Pro Bass Shops in San Antonio.
            The half-hour drive proved worth it. I entered the huge cabin/warehouse with mouth agape. Pausing in the entryway, my eyes drifted upward three stories. To the right, snuggling around a fireplace, sat plush leather couches. Ahead, I spied rock walls with waterfalls pooling into another seating area where several couples sat on wooden benches. To the left grouped clothing and further on a restaurant. To the right moored several different models of boats.
            We didn’t linger downstairs, but instead headed straight up to the archery gear. Well, after we meandered by millions of knives, billions of bullets, and trillions of toys to temp hunters of all shapes and sizes. Once my husband settled upon the perfect target, we wandered through camping gear, settled briefly on the camouflaged couch, planned Christmas gifts, and lusted after a canoe. I found long searched for flannel shirts in a wide variety of colors, and briefly flirted with the idea of buying one of Uncle Si’s Tupperware cups. 
From Uncle Si (thefakeunclesi) on Twitter

Copyright 2013 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, September 30, 2013

“Hot, With a Chance of Sweat”

            Hot flashes.
            Two words that can spark an animated conversation among women “of a certain age.” I witnessed an outpouring of sympathetic comments just the other day when a friend confided at the dinner table that lately she woke up drenched. Did I suffer from the same female fate? Another friend posted a status update with vivid descriptive details of her soaking her sheets the night before. About five other women shared their experiences, along with comments regarding menopause and hormone fluctuations.
            How many times in the past did my cheeks flame red while perspiration suddenly beaded along my upper lip or formed a rivulet at my hairline? How often did I frantically kick aside covers, desperate to get air on my legs, only to pull the blanket tightly around me a few minutes later?
            Should I admit to the days (weeks, months, and—yes, years) that my temper flared as hot as my cheeks? Should I reveal the twisted intensity of emotional upheaval that would temporarily disintegrated my ability to reason? Should I confess that waves of hormonal oscillation left me unpredictable, even to myself?
            Fortunately, my spiral into midlife happened relatively rapidly, although I’m certain my family would describe the change as gruelingly slow. On the other side now, I rarely feel my temper explode with unexpected fire. I don’t glance into the mirror to see cheeks slapped red by middle age. Although I occasionally frantically fight against the covers that entrap my legs and send my temperature soaring, I don’t flood my sheets and nightgown.
            Gratitude fills me that my suffering proved milder and shorter-lived than many women’s torment. Comfortable in my skin, now, I look forward to the next adventures of life and wonder what forecasts lay ahead.
Copyright 2013 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman