Notes from a Council Meeting

Sue: We’d like to welcome everyone to tonight’s meeting. What a good turnout! A whole four people. I’m Sue Fernandez. With me are Deandre Jones and Kendrick Harris. To open…

Bob: I’m here to complain about parking.

Sue: Normally, we go over the previous meeting’s notes and enter them, so if you could just…

Bob: Yeah. Anyway. I’m Bob Smythe S-M-Y-T-H-E and I run the Friends of the Library. F-R-I-E…

Sue: I’m sure we can manage to spell “friends,” Bob.

Bob: If you say so. The people from the McDonald’s are parking in the library lot.

Kendrick: So? Public parking. Can we move on to…?

Bob: Are these open meetings or not? Anyway, people are taking up spaces. And our patrons can’t park.

Kendrick: Look, the library is taxpayer funded, right? So, the people parking there are taxpayers. Big whoop.

Bob: But the people who want to use the library can’t. I mean…

Kendrick: I am so sick of this. You think you’re better than a business? They pay taxes. You don’t. Shouldn’t even have leeches like libraries using up tax dollars *mutters*

Bob: I guess we could just have the non-patrons’ cars towed, but we don’t want to…

*Unintelligible yelling, followed by a break in the recording*

Deandre: I’m just saying that parking’s always been a problem here.

Sue: Let’s not talk about that for a little while. Now, about the previous notes…

Gilda: My poor trees are just dying.

Deandre: Excuse me?

Gilda: In the arboretum? All the trees and flowers that we’ve been planting are dying.

Kendrick: Damn trees. There are too many trees in that park.

Gilda: It’s an arboretum?

Kendrick: Whatever. Easier to mow if it’s just grass. It’s too expensive to go around all that crap.

Gilda: But then it wouldn’t be an arboretum. It would be a… an empty lot.

Kendrick: Sounds good. Seconded.

Gilda: No! I just want to know what happened to the boulders that kept the erosion down?

Kendrick: Had the maintenance men dump them in the ditch.

Gilda: Why would you do that? We bought those with donated money!

Kendrick: Tripping hazard. Little kids, you know. Could sue us.

Deandre: How, exactly, would a small child trip over a boulder?

Kendrick: You know kids. Anyway, it’s much easier to maintain. Next, I think we should get rid of all that plant crap.

Gilda: It’s an arboretum! It’s meant to have all that plant crap! I mean, all those plants.

Kendrick: Uh-huh. So does the motion to plow it carry?

Sue and Deandre: No!

Kendrick: Yeah, okay, we’ll table it for next time.

Deandre: That’s not how this works!

*Incomprehensible yelling and Gilda wailing*

Sue: Enough!

*Shocked quiet*

Sue: We are NOT getting rid of the arboretum. Next!

Bart: The volunteer fire department would like to know where their funding went…

Kendrick: Oh, God. Not this again.

Bart: Because this lawsuit you brought against the shaved ice stand is not only frivolous, but it’s depleted our fund. The one that people voted for and the taxpayers you were so concerned with earlier pay?

Deandre: What have you done now?

Kendrick: They promised to give the firefighters a shaved ice, any flavor, after a call, and they haven’t once.

Bart: So this genius hired a lawyer to sue the owner. With the fire department’s money.

Kendrick: They promised!

Sue: Exactly how much have you spent on a lawyer?

Kendrick: I don’t remember.

Bart: Almost all of our money for this year. And the pumper truck needs…

Kendrick: We’ll get it back when we win.

Bart: It’s a shaved ice stand. How much money do you think they have?!

Deandre: What if there’s a fire?

Kendrick: It’s fine. There’s water everywhere.

*Scuffling sounds*

Sue: Kendrick Harris has been removed from this meeting. Thank you, Bart. Motion to pursue criminal malfeasance charges?

Deandre: Seconded.

Sue: Carried with one vote absent. Now, can we get the previous minutes in? Because I can feel a headache coming on.





Places to See in a Small Town

I recently noted in a bookseller’s catalogue books with titles like 101 Things to Do in New York and 101 Things to Do in Chicago. And I realized that all of them were about big places. With this list of “Things to do in Midwestern Small Towns” I aim to show why that might be.

  1. The first thing you’ll want to do is get your bearings. One of our roads runs North and South. The other East and West. It is vital that you not get these confused, or you might end up in a Great Lake. There aren’t any other proper roads.
  2. After that, you’ll want to see one of our many, many churches and bars. So, so, many. We have about 2,000 people and ten churches and the same number of bars. Most people attend both, sometimes on different days. The wide variety of churches will astound you: We have Lutheran, Methodist, Nazarene, Episcopalian, Baptist, Catholic, and Bible. You may have thought that all Christian churches were Bible based, but apparently not. Those of you from other faiths are welcome to convert.
  3. Another thing you’ll want to experience is our thriving meth and heroin import trade. It’s practically our only industry! 
  4. Visit one of our five pizza shops. It’s amazing we have so many, since there are no Italians here, but if you’re looking for tough crust with vaguely tomato-y sauce topped with cheese-from-a-bag, look no farther.
  5. Make sure to visit one of our two parks. Perhaps the most interesting thing in each are our memorials to those who fought and died in war. There are three such remembrances, including one for our most recent conflicts. It’s a long list for such a small place.
  6. Marvel at School Street. The school was moved some time ago, but why change the name? That way lies madness.
  7. We have stores for hardware, car parts, feed and plants, but no bookstore. However, the plant place has a cat who is very friendly. Recommended.
  8.  Mind the Amish and their buggies. They’re as close as we get to diversity.
  9. As you stroll around town (don’t worry, it won’t take long), observe all the barking dogs! Some of them are entirely unrestrained and a few stay outside day and night in all weathers. Some towns might be embarrassed by this, but here it’s perfectly normal. Also, watch your step! Most people here do not clean up after their dogs, and are not at all ashamed. They won’t even pretend to do so if you watch. It’s charming!
  10. Enjoy our many feral and returned-to-the-wild cats. Spaying and neutering is expensive and house cats are basically outdoor animals, so why not let them all roam free? The population is kept in check though cars, predators and the occasional mass poisoning.
  11. In case you become ill, there is a doctors’ office. You will, however, need to make an appointment months in advance because they are the only doctors for miles. Unless you are willing to try the lovely Muslim doctor. Her schedule is wide open.
  12. If you are one of the 25% of Americans who suffer from mental health issues or one of the millions who suffer with addiction, you won’t have to worry about seeing a therapist here–because we don’t have any! In fact, there is no care for about thirty miles. Good luck!
  13. You won’t have to worry about waiting in line at Starbucks because we don’t have one.
  14. Wonder at the various rednecks, hillbillies, country people and white trash. Yes, they do sometimes go grocery shopping on a lawn mower, and yes, that might be because they lost their licence because they were intoxicated. Indeed, that IS a person riding an ALL-terrain vehicle up and down the paved road for an hour. Yes, someone does keep firing at exploding targets until midnight (and no, no official has bothered to stop them). Don’t stare too long at the various yards turned into junk plies though–most of those folks have guns (and yet more dogs!).

I do hope that this list has helped you understand life in a small town. And if you do decide to visit… For the love of everything, why would you?

Cat Translations

Meow… (Longer meows, almost sad, repeated): Are you asleep? Are you? How about now? Are you ever going to wake up enough to pet me?

Meow! (Sharp, disappointed meow): I am SO disappointed in you, lying in your bed like a slug!

Meoooooow (Operatic): This is the sooooong of my mousie! I have brought this mousie to you! I have hunted it all over the Savannah [the hallway] to bring it to you, at great personal cost! In my mouth, I have carried this mousie to yoooooou! Now will you awake?!?

Mew? (Quiet meow, very sad): I guess you’re dead. That’s the only explanation for why you won’t wake up enough to pet me. I am going away sad.

Meow…(Loud, whiny. Sitting by bed): Oh, you’re sitting up in bed? That’s too much awake. How am I supposed to get comfortable enough to be petted?

Me-ow (Exasperated): Great. Now you’re petting me with your filthy  human hands. I am going to have to bathe for hours.

Mrr? (Short trill, rising at end): Are we playing? Are you going to make the toy live?

Mrr. (Short noise, full of disappointment): Oh, you just toss the toy. And it just sits there, not moving. Great disappointment.

Me-ow! (short, repeated meows): Hello, other kitty! I love you with all my heart and my furry soul! Do you want to sniff noses and bathe each other’s faces and cuddle in a big kitty pile?

{Other cat– (Hiss! Growl!): You should die painfully and now!}

Mew? (Sweet noise): Okay, maybe later! Love you!

Mew! (Short, decisive): This is most definitely MY chair. I don’t know why you think it’s yours. I will defend it until you are dead by my sharp and pointy teeth.

Meeeeeeow (Long, drawn out, whiny): Share your food! I know that’s something I like!

MeOW (Bitter): I am going to starve because you selfishly won’t share your cheese. Starve!

MeOW? (High-pitched, back leg stretched out): Why aren’t you petting me? Now, now, pet me!

Brr (short trill, irritated): Enough with the petting. I am SO done.

Me-ow! (short, repeated meows): Oh, look, the other kitty! We are SUCH great friends and I am SO happy to see you again! How about we chase each other around the house?

{Other cat– (Hiss! Growl!): Die! So much! I LOATHE you!}

Mew? (Sweet noise): Okay, maybe later! Love you, too!

Meoooooow (Operatic): This is the sooooong of my mousie! I have brought this mousie from the place that it was to the place that I shall sleeeeeep! In my mouth, I carry this mousie!

Meeeoooow? (Sad): Where ARE you? Why have you ABANDONED me? It is DARK and LONELY where I am! Where ARE you? I am AFRAID!

Mewow! (Excited): THERE you are! In bed! At night! That is VERY weird. I was abandoned and neglected and I didn’t know where you were!

(All day, every day)



Can’t Write Today…

I’m really sorry that I can’t write a blog post today, but…

There’s no Internet. Nor is the electricity working. Additionally, my computer has decided not to work because of the political climate.

My hands are crippled with leprosy, which I caught from red squirrels in England which makes it difficult to type. I’ve also contracted plague from prairie dogs and anthrax from goats. Or maybe cows. The white tailed deer gave me TB and the cat’s passed along toxoplasmosis causing me to be fearless and promiscuous. As you can imagine, that takes up a lot of my time.

There’s also the problem of the entertainment industry. I have movies and TV to watch and rewatch. I don’t even like most of this stuff, but if I don’t pay attention, than who will? Thousands of books are published each day. Then people thoughtlessly review those books and I have to read that as well, in case I don’t agree with them. Also, people are constantly publishing blogs that I have to take in. They just carelessly strew their words and ideas everywhere. There are newspapers and magazines to peruse, more arriving everyday and I have to get a handle on them.

Companies also publish games–computer, console, tabletop–all the damn time. Some of them require a lot of concentration and skills. They also require a lot of devoted time, so I can’t possibly write this blog.

Moreover, there are millions of places on this planet to visit. Today alone, I have to see Alaska, Thailand, Madagascar, New Zealand, Turkey, Italy and Argentina. I’d visit more, but waiting in the security checkpoints takes up too much time. Tomorrow, I have to experience Newfoundland, the Philippines, South Africa, Israel,  Norway, and Mexico. It’s very tiring and I’m not going to be able to blog.

I’m afraid that my garage is infested with Sasquatches. My basement is full of wareducks, and my attic has a that smell that indicates that pixies have taken up residence again. My front yard is full of unicorns and the back has manticores. The side yards are full of djinns, so be careful where you step. The airspace above and around my house contains rocs. This racket makes it impossible to construct a blog.

So as much as I’d like to write something for you wonderful people, I simply can’t. I’ll try again tomorrow.




Uncontrollable Editing

I have a terrible condition. It’s chronic, but it also flares up at inconvenient moments, often in public. It’s embarrassing for me  and the people around me, especially when I can’t control the urge to shout.

It’s called Uncontrollable Editing Syndrome, UES for short. UES cause me to yelp out corrections to people on television, in the newspapers and in books. Signs are a particular problem, what with all the extraneous apostrophes. I have to bite my tongue to avoid correcting people who say “between you and I.” I have heated discussions with other sufferers about word choice– “Is crash appropriate in an accident involving one car and one pedestrian?” I correct tweets and Facebook posts. I have refused to vote for politicians because they thought that there is always singular.

I never really had a chance, though. My mother was an English teacher. I was raised in a poisonous environment of proper English and reading. I had a library card before most kids can even read, which twisted my poor brain beyond any hope.

It was made worse in college. More reading, yes, but also classes in linguistics, taught by recognized experts. Even a required grammar class in grad school. It was awful. By that time, of course, I was desperately hooked. Any lingering hope of recovery was dashed.

By grad school it was clear that I was going to have to find some way of dealing with UES, so I began teaching freshman composition. I know now that making that decision was unwise–it only added to my misery. Seeing new mistakes only energized my disease. Each semester made it worse. By the first year with my MA I was teaching five comp courses. Five.

I know now what my limits are, two classes a semester. Admittedly, since I dabble in developmental classes, it’s more like the hard stuff, but at least it’s manageable.

But there’s something that you can do to help! Get yourself a handbook–if you don’t have to worry about citation styles, purchase a second-hand one (they’ll be cheap, I promise). Read and practice a section at a time until you truly understand the basic rules of our language. Fill your mind with excellent, well-edited prose. Follow people on social media who can conjugate. Refuse to watch programs that have poor speaking habits. Demand that newspapers and nightly news programs hire copy editors. Take a grammar or linguistics class. Refuse to put apostrophes when you need a simple plural (“Pizza’s for $5” ?!?). Embrace proper punctuation and usage, mechanics and style. Only then can sufferers of UES like me put our poor minds at rest.

Please. We’re counting on you.

Things I’ve Learned about Aging From Commercials

The best news is that I can join Aarp! Apparently, this doesn’t have anything to do with being retired or getting creaky, or even being one of the biggest lobbying groups in the US, but instead stands for the Association of American Rockin’ People. Seriously, these folks are far more interesting than I.

Unfortunately, along with this comes low T and menopause (not in the same person, usually). From what I can tell, low T means that men can’t play basketball as well as they used to, which is, you know, a bummer. It may also lead to taking Viagra, which means that men have to play in an easy-listening garage band. Menopause, on the other hand, means that women look stressed and fan themselves. If so, I’ve been in it since junior high.

Women also have to deal with bladder issues (Men must as well, but they don’t have as many ads for them for some reason). This can be fixed in three ways. The first is a pill that makes one’s cute, external, sentient bladder stop being such a jerk. For some reason, it doesn’t make the bladder internal again, just makes it more agreeable–a plus, I suppose. The second is a little tampon thing, in case a woman didn’t get enough of that before menopause. The third solution is Depends, the main side effect of which is mandatory dance classes. I’m not sure why.

Women also get fragile bones. You’d think this would be a major problem, but nope! Not only will I become as beautiful and talented as Blythe Danner, but I will also become tall, thin and glamorous! Since I’ve never been any of these things, I’m quite excited.

Older folks also require canes or motorized scooters. I’m not going to be bummed about this, though, since both of these items appear to come with free trips to the Grand Canyon. I’ve never been, so I’m looking forward to that.

At some point during the aging process, I will start to fall a lot and/or have my heart stop without warning. Possibly both at the same time! This might seem like a major bummer, but as long as I’m wearing one of those alert button, I’m golden. I can even travel, which will be nice for my Grand Canyon trip.

After all that excitement, I’ll have to live in an old folks home, which seems like it would be sad, but I’m not going to despair. Retirement villas are great! They have walking trails with gorgeous gardens and forests to stroll through. There are also cooking and art classes, singing and dancing. It’s like university, but without all of those pesky student loans! It sounds delightful and I’d like to go now. So much more fun than my current life.

However, death visits us all. Commercials are curiously mum about what exactly is in store for me there. A cynical person would say that it’s because no one’s figured out how to make money from the transition from one state to the next (but I’m assuming that PODS is working on it as we speak). However, afterwards, my friends and family will gather to discuss what a deadbeat I was, leaving them in penury. Having them shipped to debtors’ prison just because I didn’t get life insurance, but what do I care? I’ll be dead.

All in all, aging looks terrific!

Things my Mother Yells at


The toaster


Newscasters (especially ones on in the morning)

Weather forecasters

Frozen dinners that are hard to open

The cats

Politicians (often)

Especially that one politician. You know the one.

People in mysteries she doesn’t trust

Especially if she doesn’t remember watching the mystery before


The newspaper

The ads in the newspapers

Especially full-page car ads


People on tv who are being interviewed and say “you know”

Or “like”

Anyone who makes a grammatical error on tv

Especially newscasters

Me, when I say grammatical error instead of usage error

Newscasters who don’t understand how science/studies work

The news when they repeat stories

Or teasers

Or do sports within the first five minutes

Or more than the last ten

People who speed down the road

Especially when they’re on ATVs or noisy motorcycles

Especially when she’s watching Murder, She Wrote or Midsommer Mysteries


When my mother doesn’t yell:

Around any one else, out of the home, ever. Sigh.