Shameless!

Disclaimer: No child or pet were harmed during the making of this photo. All are available on Amazon, well, not the kids or the dog. 🙂

One of “my” kids, who just turned three, had NO desire to be part of my shenanigans (smart fella). So “Cole,” my 13 year-old mini Aussie stepped in on the fly. He might be licking his chops but no, he didn’t eat Ten.

Through You

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of postings of encouragement to other writers on Instagram. I think one of the reasons is because part of me is really nervous about receiving my editor’s notes on my latest manuscript. I go from “Why isn’t she finished? Where is her email?!” to “Oh, good, I don’t have her comments yet and I don’t have to begin the tedious process of editing.”

I know that once I begin the process, I will be in another place in time. I will forget where I put things (more often), forget the wet towels in the dryer, not return phone calls, postpone going full-mask to the grocery store, etc.

But I will press on, do what needs to be done, then beg forgiveness to those I have ignored.

Facetiming a very old friend

#RoaringTwenties #Writing

What was it like in the 20s one-hundred years ago?

Was life more simple then

when it was finally acceptable to apply makeup in public,

to strap a flask of moonshine beneath your dress

and take a sip before voting for the first time?

Did you leave your kitchen (and your new electric icebox) behind,

climb into your new Model T

and rumble off to work outside your home for the first time?

Tell me. How was that new-found freedom?

Did it Roar with jazzy attitude

as you shimmied and twirled

and Charleston-ed your feet toward new opportunities?

I hope so.

You paved the way for me.

Reviving a crazy old bat

I have a character, and, like most, she just sort of showed up. But now she lies dormant and I ache for her to return. I think about her but can’t rouse the crazy old bat – even now when there’s plenty of time to spend on the computer.

I know Olvie lives alone. It’s the 1960’s and she takes up space in a small house just outside the old freedom town of Clarksville in Austin, Texas. She tries to fix her hair Marilyn Monroe-style but it comes out looking like Sally’s on the Dick Van Dyke show.

Olvie hates calling telephone numbers that contain a zero. Takes too damn long for the rotary dial to circle all the way back to its starting position. And the rabbit ears on her Magnavox don’t work to satisfaction until 10:00 a.m. when Let’s Make a Deal airs.

Until she chunked old Singer out the window, Olvie used to be a card carrying member of the Sewing Guild. She does, however, still have a license to check out books should she have the hankering to stare at words instead of the boob tube.

A real visitor might enter her house and think they have stepped into the Twilight Zone. Mannequin Gladys, wearing her flapper dress, stares out the window. Half-torsoed Fritz wears the top portion of a lederhosen and precariously balances on the television.

When she encounters the poor soul walking past her house, she poke, poke, pokes his chest, asks if she can spit on his shoes, then adds, “it won’t take long.”

Returning inside, she kicks off her duck slippers and does a quick “shuffle off to Buffalo” to impress Gladys and Fritz. They are catatonically dazzled by her performance.

Dear Olvie, please come back so I can plunk your words and actions down on a keyboard. Get in my face, spit on my shoes if you want. Just show up again.

Your friend, Carolyn

image credit

A Chipped Tooth of Honor

Gene is teaching me how to play checkers. He lets me be red and I learn about jumping and kinging. I think about Grady’s checkerboard and think that next time I might just ask him for a game. We could sit outside at his checker table and watch the rich people go in and come out the Ghoston Hotel.

“Cono, there’s a new kid in town. He’s got two pairs’a boxing gloves.”

“Who is he?”

“We call him Oklahoma ‘cause that’s where he’s moved from.”

“Can I box with him?”

“He’s a little bigger’n you are.”

“Don’t matter.  Everybody’s bigger than me, ‘cept you.”  Being small doesn’t seem to bother Gene one iota.  He knows how to stand real tall in his shoes.

Gene gets us together at the open lot. Of course, I put on Oklahoma’s old pair, the ones with the black cracked leather and torn laces. It doesn’t matter.  They feel good on my hands, strong and powerful, like I could reach down and pick up the whole town.

“Ready to box?” he asks.

“Ready,” I say.  I try to remember the punches Aunt Nolie has taught me, the ones my Dad used to clobber the Tombstone.

Oklahoma and me start out in the center of the lot, without any ring this time, but with boxing gloves on our third grade hands. He comes at me full force. I swing my arms like windmills trying to get a hold of something. He circles around me, trying to get my attention.  He’s already done it. He’d gotten my attention alright, right on my mouth. A piece of my tooth is missing. The fight lasts a whole minute. He beat the tar outta me.

“Ya okay, Cono?” asks Oklahoma.

“Sure,” I say even though I got dog tired after one minute. “Jes’t lost a piece’a my tooth’s all,” I bend down to try to find it.

Gene looks in my mouth to see my broken tooth and says, “Cono, ye ain’t gonna find that  tiny piece of tooth, not in this dirt’n weeds.  Why’re’ ye lookin’ fer it anyhow?”

“Ya gonna try to glue it back on or somethin’?” laughs Oklahoma.  I just shrug my shoulders and stop looking. I don’t want to tell them that I wanted to save it for my box of specials.

When Oklahoma has his back turned, I tear off a piece of the worn lace from my borrowed glove and stick it in my pocket. That’ll have to do.

I’m not a good boxer yet, that’s for sure. But at least now I can say that I’ve worn real boxing gloves, felt the goodness in them and have a broken tooth to prove it.  Getting a beating in checkers in one thing, but getting a real beating is different.

I get home and show Mother my tooth.

“Don’t worry none ‘bout it, Cono.  When ye grow, yer tooth’ll grow right along with ye and that little chip won’t even show.”

That’s what I’m afraid of.

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper, by C. Dennis-Willingham

The “real” Cono (in the two pictures below) grew up to be a boxer in the Army. And later, he became the man I would lovingly call, “Daddy.”

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by C. Dennis-Willingham

via Broken

When the Bull Gets the Last Laugh

texas-longhorn

Maybe it was a low point for Dad but for me, it was anything but.

We were living at the Dennis ranch, when Dad came home drunk and decided it was time to act like a real rodeo star. I was standing outside the corral, where we kept one of our two-year-old bulls. Dad saunters over to me and slurs, “ Cono, grab that bull o’r yonder. Hold’em still ‘til I get on. I’m gonna ride this son of a bitch”

“Sure I will, Dad.”

It was better than watching a picture show. While I was putting the rope around the bull’s neck Dad went over and fixed Ike’s spurs to his shoes! Not to his boots because he didn’t even own a pair of boots, but to his shoes! Then he slapped on Ike’s chaps. I helped him get on top of the bull and stood there holding his rope.

“Whenever you’re ready,” I said.

“I’z ready,” he slurred.

I let go.

Dad put one hand up in the air and said, “High, ho, silv……”

That bull didn’t even buck. He just turned around real slow, like he was trying to see what kind of idiot wanted to sit on his back. That slow turn-around was all it took. My Dad fell right off that lazy bull and straight into the dirt, Ike’s spurs dangling from Dad’s shoes.

I turned around and looked in the other direction, so Dad wouldn’t see the laugh in my face. If he was paying attention, he would have seen my shoulders quivering with the same laughter.

He got up and staggered back to the house, mumbling something about killing steak for dinner. Some things sure were funny back then, but other times? You couldn’t find “funny” anywhere you looked.

 

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper by C. Dennis-Willingham

image credit

via Laughter

The Worry Wrestler

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Ike Dennis

Ike, my grandfather, ain’t mean like his son. Unless he’s breaking a horse or doing something else with purpose, he’s got a smile perched on his leathered face.

He stays cool as a cucumber even when times are hard. I hardly ever see that worry bubble dancing over his head like a cloud of Texas dust that most of us stand under.

He got rid of his worry a long time ago at the age of two when Great Grandpa Jim put him on top of a horse. If  T-R-O-U-B-L-E comes knocking on his door, he just wrestles it off until all that’s left is the T.

 

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper by C. Dennis-Willingham

via Bubble