Monthly Archives: January 2014

Fire Good


My grandfather liked to burn things.  Many an afternoon or early evening you’d find him in the backyard, standing over a black barrel watching the smoke rise.  He found things– various objects around the neatly cluttered yard to put in his kettle of contentment.  There were branches that had fallen from the tall oaks in the wintertime.  Brown leaves which had lost their vivid color and moisture in the fall.  Rubber from an old tire.  Perhaps a worn shoe void of its mate.  These were the items that made the smoke black.  But Papa stood there anyway, inhaling the plumes and diligently placing things in his cauldron and stirring and poking them with a metal rod.

He spent hours out there.  When he came back inside for biscuits and gravy or to play solitaire on his cushioned coffee table he’d be all white-faced.  He was a retired Nashville firefighter.  He smoked Winston Reds.

I never really understood his fascination with fire.  My brother and I burned the faces off our Star Wars figurines with some August sunshine and a magnifying glass.  But that was just kids being scientifically experimental and stupid.  My first bonfire at Girl Scout camp when we roasted apples wrapped in biscuit dough gave me a bit of an inkling into the fascination.  A fire can turn raw dough into one of the best breakfasts I ever had?


Fast forward to high school when I joined my brother and his friends for camping trips at Cedars of Lebanon State Park.  There was a lot of smoking going on there, some of which was the bonfire.  We sat around it staring at the flames, telling stories and relishing in the quiet nature surrounding us.

A scattering of warm moments around bonfires happened since then.  And even though I adore living in Florida there are rarely occasions to enjoy a flaming fire.  But this past week or so it’s been unusually cold.  Now I have a new fire pit sitting on the lanai.  We’ve made great use of it– hotdog and marshmallow roasting with kids, a great New Year’s Eve house party, and delighting in it with a visiting friend from across the pond.  Each time mesmerized by the dancing blaze and comforted by its warmth.


One time I tried to build the fire on my own, but to no avail.  My son came over, poked and turned it with a stick, and got it going again.  Both hubby and our male Brit friend had no trouble either.  Apparently you must have balls to get a proper fire started.  I joked about this on Facebook and several female friends commented it was no problem for them.  They were my lesbian friends.

I guess the Girl Scouts didn’t quite teach me to build a fire.  But I can damn sure make a kick-ass breakfast!

Isn’t it amazing how a fire can be so deadly, yet so hypnotizing at the same time?  A contained fire brings people together, away from the television, from crap small talk, and into a primitive state where words are spoken that might have otherwise just hung on the tongue.  It warms your toes.  It makes food charred and toasty and yummy.  And if you have a wood-burning stove you can heat your entire house.  My brother has one.  I can see him now, chopping wood and placing it in the black metal heater, stoking it with the poker.



Filed under Observations

Sunshine on a Rainy Day


Wow, this is one of  two awards bestowed to me by another blogger.  Thank you, Samara.  It’s a rainy day over here in usual sunny Florida, so these golden rays of accolades are keeping me all warm and fuzzy (the good kind, not the kind where you need to shave).  Samara is the creator of A Buick in the Land of Lexus, one of my favorite blogs.  I get excited when I open my reader, whether it’s over coffee in the a.m. or snug under the covers in the p.m. and see that she has posted something.  There’s sure to be at least a half dozen laugh-out-loud moments as well as gritty insights into her world as a dedicated Mom with a wild ride of a past.  I am in awe of her way with words and her all-out ballsyness to put herself out there, virtually naked.

So in accepting this award, I must follow a few rules.  The first is to list 11 random factoids about myself.  Here goes…

1)  I like my cereal soggy and my oatmeal lumpy.

2)  One summer my brother and I watched The Goonies every single day.  One day we watched it twice.

3)  I’ve had a major crush on Keanu Reeves since 1988.

4)  It takes me an entire day to pack for a trip.

5)  I once sat next to the Italian prime minister’s family at a bonfire in the Australian outback.

6)  I saw Titanic twelve times when it came out at the theatre, each time accompanied by different people, and each time I bawled like a baby.

7)  I cannot curl my tongue but I can flare my nostrils to any tune.

8)  My favorite band of all time is Midnight Oil.  I got to meet the lead singer Peter Garrett and shake his hand.

9)  I hate math.

10)  I used to forge parent signatures in middle school.  And probably some in high school, too.

11)  I can’t win an arm-wrestling match but I gave birth to my 8 lb son in the water with no drugs.

Now another rule I must follow is to answer 11 questions Samara has asked me:

What is the first thing you do as soon as you wake up in the morning?  Turn off the white noise machine.

What is your greatest fear?  To be trapped in an insane mind for eternity.

Do you have a new years resolution for 2014?  Keep looking at the world in wonder instead of worry.  

What is your favorite song at the moment? It’s a toss-up between “Atmosphere” by Kaskade and “Reflektor” by Arcade Fire.

What is your favorite childhood memory? Oh wow, so many.  Probably snow sledding with my brother at night.  The street lights had this bluish hue while the fat snowflakes fell and we screamed in sheer joy as we skidded down the steep street across from our house.  We weren’t usually allowed to play outside after dark, so it was doubly intoxicating.  I don’t think I got cold as a kid.  Now I shiver if it gets below 70.

Facebook or Twitter?  I’ve never tweeted but I do FB.  I usually check it when I’m on the john.  TMI?

What did the last text message you received say?  “I decided to add some color to our lanai.  We were out in the rain all day running errands. Now comes actually doing the tasks.  Not so much fun.” (smiley face with tongue sticking out).  I love that my mom can text now. 

What bugs you the most?  Complaining.  And not the casual, light complaining that you wish it would stop raining.  The rude, I-have-seen/done-this-better complaining.  And especially the I-should-be-grateful-to-have-food-in-my-belly-but-I’m-gonna-bitch-about-how-this-ethnic-food-does-not-taste-like-its-country-of-origin complaining.  We are not in Mexico.  We are not in Italy.  Eat your freaking taco.

What do you consider to be the most important appliance in your house?  The air conditioner.  It’s Florida!  And I have night sweats.  

If you could have one song that would play whenever you entered a room, what would it be? “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds.

What’s your favorite movie quote?  Oh there are soooo many.  But this is the one I keep thinking about lately. Pretty in Pink “I just want them to know that they didn’t break me.”  Molly Ringwald as Andie talking to her dad in Pretty in Pink.  

Now I am to nominate 11 bloggers I would like to recognize for the Sunshine Award.  There are so many wonderful bloggers out there but these have definitely brought sunshine through their words and stories:  The Surfing Pizza, Phoenix Flights, Sophie’s Pug Pause, Crossroads, Vampire Maman, MONOCHROME JUNKIE, The Blogging Mama, Steve Says, who could know then, My Kaleidoscope, and No, You Go Outside.  They have to answer the same questions I did.

I have to say that WordPress has brought me more pleasure that I could have imagined.  I love this blogging world, what it has done for my sanity and creativity, and the fellow writers that are on this journey with me.  Cheers to a beautiful 2014.


Filed under Observations