Hello dear reader, and welcome to Busted Flip Flops. Here we explore observations of life, musings about being mom (and sounding like your own), weird dreams, unpretentious recipes, ’80’s nostalgia, picking up strays (the furry and the non), and unfeigned poetry. Watch for weekly/monthly posts as these beach reads build and form like, well, a castle in the sand...


Filed under Observations

The Constant of Change

Change is inevitable. Until it’s not. At the moment, there’s a progression of time where things are at a nice constant. But I’m afraid to even think this, as I know change is around the bend, in the backyard, up the hill, at the corner coffee shop.

Right now my work dynamic is ideal. It has not always been this way in jobs prior. I get along beautifully with my coworkers; I’m greeted with genuine cheerfulness every day I walk into the learning center’s glass doors. “Writing Island”, as I came to name it, is a space where our seasoned writing mentor, my aged experience, and the fresh innocence of a student worker meshes oddly organically in our oval area in the middle of the center, against the backdrop of exposed blinds and student activity. We muse over 80’s films, books we want to write, and regular students we’ve embraced in our daily, weekly, yearly tutoring sessions.

But at some point this dynamic will change. The student worker will move on to another university or opportunity. The mentor may eventually land the faculty role he wants. I may be then thrust into his position, mentoring a new set of coworkers.

I mentioned a coffee shop. There was this corner coffee shop I’d go to twice a week. Initially I went there out of convenience (I could bike there and it was also on my way to work). There I discovered the best peanut butter banana smoothie I’d ever had. Sometimes I’d grab and go. Other times I’d sip and stay, either sitting outside on a bench in the sun, or inside where regulars and staff chatted about music and school and word puzzles and eventually became like a communal family. My teenage son would sometimes meet me there for lunch after his classes. Then the owner decided to sell the shop, unfortunately to some idiots. Now the shop sits empty. The tables and kitchen appliances are still there, but the people aren’t. I’ve visited other smoothie/coffee shops. There are some tasty peanut butter banana smoothies out there and some friendly baristas, but they cannot compare. It is not the communal feel of my beloved corner store.

In my backyard there are all kinds of plants I’ve cultivated over the years, including the sturdy Queen palm, fragrant Cape jasmine, and hearty Asparagus fern. Through the wet and dry seasons and changing position of the sun, I’ve managed to keep them all alive. The metal patio table under the loquat tree has harbored its share of various friends and family and guests. Some will come back soon. Others maybe a year from now. A few, forever a memory.

I’ve always said I don’t particularly like change. It’s scary and it can come out of nowhere, like a job lay-off or the death of a loved one. It can also creep in slowly, like the phases of your child’s life, or the bearing of loquat fruit. It is inevitable. And at some point acceptance is our savior. Fighting is futile. Sometimes change just sucks. It’s unfair. But if we let it guide us to other experiences, learned lessons, new discoveries, then the scariness looses at least some of its grip on the constant of change.


Filed under Observations

California Skies

I saw myself in the California skies

somewhere else

where I was not

Half-hidden darkness and half-hidden gems

in a southern middle class suburb

We walked to school

and envied the neighbor’s portable television

that occupied the car where our friends watched morning cartoons

as their mom directed street traffic in her blue uniform

No celebrities

except the ones we highlighted in our minds

the girl who played softball like a champ

I couldn’t even catch the ball in our own backyard

Dad tried to teach me but I could never get it

Piano too

I cried in frustration

My dark bangs and protruding belly

ugly in comparison

to my golden-locked neighbor

who had a stomach like an Olympic gymnast

She was the daughter of the mom

with the portable TV

But she wet the bed

and I always felt like a stranger

in her house.

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Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet

A Crow’s Call

Interesting are the crows

Their nasal squawks permeate Sunday’s silence

from the mouths of dormant chimneys

There is a purpose to their short, fevered flight patterns

a reason for their dominating calls

But I cannot entirely gather why

as surely it would mean hours upon days to do so

And here in my backyard moments

only a glimpse of their day

The Tufted Titmouse and Chickadee’s chime

barely audible against theirs

Two mourning doves ruffle feathers along the fence’s ridge

and brown squirrels await fallen seed

at the floor of the feeder I have put there

Our human ears distaste that loud caw from above

muffling pleasant birdsong

and perching proudly on our rooftops

But we are in their home.

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Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet

Men, A Pause

Picking up the pieces

strown items on the floor

from a basket hurled in solitary anger

where did this come from?

pent up frustration about this stage of life

everyone’s therapist

where’s mine?

he was a baby cooing

gazing into my eyes

a boy playing trains and Legos

look mom!

a teenager on the cusp of manhood

finding his way

now I am the baby

mewing for attention.

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Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet

Waffles to Donuts

The teenagers are here.

Our house was always the one the kids came to. How many breakfasts of waffles did I make? How many trips to the park did we take? How many Nerf wars battled in these rooms and outside the pale, wooden perimeter? Years and years later, I still find those blue, spongy bullets tucked in corners and hiding among domestic tumbleweeds.

The sleepovers and and get-togethers are less frequent in these late teenage years, but they do happen. Last night my son had friends over. They whooped over video games and a backyard fire pit. This morning they drove themselves to get donuts and we shared laughs in my small, crowded kitchen. I love being a part of their conversations, which normally include musical interests and the mundaneness of high school. I also know to slink away to give them space, as much as is possible in a modest, one-level condo.

But I love the closeness. I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are too many distractions for us to not enjoy the closeness. Everyday I go out on my lanai to watch birds. He doesn’t join me in this. It’s not his thing. But he invites me to walk dogs with him on occasion. We snicker about interesting neighbors. Sometimes we don’t say anything at all.

It’s not easy to catch time with him. If I have just five minutes I am grateful. But there’s never really enough time. I love his company so damn much.


Filed under Observations

Dusk, in Suburbia

On a hill just beyond the view of the Gulf

a seaside town with freshly repaired sidewalks

and paved, perpendicular streets

welcomes a walk at dusk.

The tops of the palms and oak gather darkness

as the backdrop of sunfall illuminates the cirrus clouds

and horizon of slated rooftops.

There is no hurry to run, but rather an urge for a strong-gaited walk

for energetic muscle and new shoes.

A whiff of cigarette smoke permeates from an open garage,

a front door is slowly opened,

potted plants, white gravel, and vine-encased trees

rest on manicured and unruly lawns.

Sprinklers of reclaimed water spray on some dewy earth;

other patches are dry as decayed bone.

The quiet of Sunday plays peacefully

with absence from blaring sirens and piercing landscape machines.

I bury my face in the descending sun as I wander the footpath at dusk,

in suburbia.


Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet

The Sail and the Anchor

On a beach walk I saw a sailboat in the distance on the gulf of Mexico. From the shore it loomed nearer, although not in a morose way. It was big and sturdy and coasted easily on the calm, December water. Its sail was brown like dry earth, with writing I could not make out. All alone out there, no other boats crowding it as they usually do on a sunny, Saturday afternoon.

The boat made me think about people in my life. How some are just a long view away. Some are gliding along the shore, some so far away you can barely feel their presence. Others are lapping at the shoreline, either in happy rest or wanton attention. Some do not cast their nets. Some are long gone, or shipwrecked at the bottom of the sea.

There are the boats I try to hail and bring to me, to sit and take comfort in. Those I do not want to sail away. But sometimes they do, or will. And this brings a terror in me I cannot cultivate. It will end the peaceful stature I’ve tried so hard to bring forth and maintain.

Living in the present moment and letting things be as they may is not always simple. The past tries to spin me into its tormenting monsoon. Sometimes I want to moor the hailed boat on my shore and anchor it there forever. But the more I try, the more the boat wants to cast away to sail other blue waters.

If I let it go, will it come back?

If so, will it be solo or bring along a fleet of its own?

. . . . .

A sailboat glided along the distant shoreline

its stately stature coasting on blue December waters

The sail the color of dry earth with writing I could not make out

It appeared as so many people have

Some as that sailboat, just a long view away

Others so far away, their presence barely felt

And more, lapping at the shore line

In happy rest

Or wanton attention

Some do not cast their nets

Others are long gone

or shipwrecked at the bottom of the sea

I hail those which envelope comfort

and pray they stay

But some boats sail away

as they are meant to do

And I try not to think of this as a torrent of

sadness and regret

or fight to anchor them forever

For the more I struggle, the farther they sail

along other blue waters.


Filed under Observations, Sunday Night Sonnet

One Death at a Time

One death at a time

For I can’t bare more

And they say you are at peace

And this may be so

But watching the breath leave your body was gut wrenching

You are surrounded by rainbows

And there are more songs I cannot listen to

Lingering too long on your exit is a death sentence for presence

Fuel for suffering

All the days of your life cherished

All the days in your absence regretted

Let us grieve not in solidarity

But space in between

Just one death at a time

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Filed under Cherry Pearl, Sunday Night Sonnet

The Intricacies of Mangroves

Splayed out like veins from wrist to hand

like neurons transmitting in the body

or spacetime in the cosmos

An elaborate (sinuous) network, arrangement

from dampened sodden earth

to root to trunk to canopy

The muted sky shines white

through the bored holes in the leaves

they dance ever so slightly

to the rythm of July

And the mangroves below intertwine

like so many fingers

in a connection

nature respite

so divine

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Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet

Autumn There

cool north wind

wisps gently around the brick corner

welcoming autumn’s first dance into the air

and on cotton-covered skin

the red swing beckons for gliding conversation

amid a back yard of years of soil tilled by hand

now a green landscape which to run and gather memories along the edge of blue grey horizon

this is how I remember the beginning of the season at their house

before their driveway goodbye waves floated solely into the chasms of my memories


Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet