Showing posts from 2013

Five Kids and a Flood

(How God Provides After the Storm)   The call for mandatory evacuation didn’t scare us; the city of Long Beach stretches between the Atlantic and the bay with less than a mile across. It often cried wolf before a storm.   “Guys, don’t go crazy packing—we’ll be home in a day or two. Just two outfits and a sweatshirt.” Andrew dropped his baseball gear on the wooden floor next to Stephen’s new guitar amp; Elijah and Aaron left their video games on the coffee table. Jordan threw a few Barbies back in her toybox. I finished a load of towels and left them in a laundry basket on the floor.     Gene shook his head as he stomped downstairs. “My mom refuses to leave, so I’m staying.”    I grumbled, but at least our dog could stay back too.   I drove our five kids to my parents’ home on Long Island’s north shore, away from the ocean. As the wind howled, trees cowered; one snapped and knocked down power lines. In the dark, I checked my glowing phone every two m

Goofy-footed on the Bunny Slope

       Me at age 12, performing a very dangerous skateboard trick. Don't try this at home without proper training.     Time to dream…   Careful what you wish for…it might not fit. At age twelve, I wished I could hang-glide and skateboard. Knowing Mom/Dad wouldn’t go for the hang-gliding, crashing-into-a-mountain idea, a new skateboard topped my Christmas list.   Dad’s portable radio was set on the twenty-four hours of uninterrupted Christmas music channel. Jingle bells danced in my head. But it wasn’t music keeping me awake—just the hopeful sound of wrapping paper crunching and possibly wheels turning on a new skateboard. My dream present.   As soon as the slightest sliver of orange lined the horizon, I darted to my sister’s bedside. “Wake up, Laur! It’s Christmas!” She popped out of bed like our old Jack in the box—fast with a bit of morning squeak to her voice.   “Let’s wake ‘em! I hope I get a baton.”    The scent of candy canes and steaming coff

Rise and Shine

Awake for cake, maybe?     Something is wrong about getting up before the sun, but I do. Waking to moonlight could explain my werewolf mood of the morning. Pure willpower and possibly too much defaf coffee before bed force me to dash upstairs to the bathroom. I don’t want to, but in our house of seven plus grandma, it’s the only way to have a peaceful shower. My soul is just not ready to start the day. Or ready to start their day…   At first, gentle words grace my lips, full of love for my sleeping children: “Rise and shine, my little chickadees. Time to get up and go to high school.” Just like Snow White singing to her bluebirds. Okay, minus the little chickadees, and minus the rise and shine part. “Get up,” said in a reasonable decibel.    Ten minutes pass.   “Get up, Elijah.”   “I am.” “You’re not.” “I’m going.” “You haven’t moved.”   “Get up, Aaron.” “I am.” “You’re not.” “I’m going.” “You haven’t moved.”   Twenty minutes.

One Time

          Our street after Hurricane Sandy (a year ago, October 29 2012)    Evacuate!   Some listened, some ignored Some left, some stayed As the storm crept up the coastline   One Time Mattered:   Her arrival   And when her time came, She lashed out pent up rage, Swirling and smashing, tearing and toppling In a tantrum, daring to destroy   Too late To evacuate   Ocean water invaded homes Killing memories Of other times, special times   When her stamina waned And she faded into a gentle breeze Time changed for those she abused   Thrust back to pioneer days— Time measured by the setting sun; Dusty lanterns found; Unused jars of scented candles Now lit Cloaked the darkness with vanilla and jasmine; Blankets replaced heaters, Canned food replaced meals, Tears replaced time   How long til time passes And tick-tocks back to normal? Days were cancelled Scribbled events on calendars Never

Funny Want-to-be

         Oh so serious me     My funny family and me in my ironman coat   I’ve always wanted to be funny…but we don’t always get what we want. Thanksgiving, age thirteen, was the first time I realized how humorless I was. Sitting at the kids’ table with my cousins, I listened and laughed as each one took turns telling jokes…but I had nothing to say. I didn’t know one joke to tell other than: “How did the chicken cross the road?” Wait, I even got that wrong. I also lacked confidence, so was afraid to try being funny for fear that I’d be the only one laughing like a big goober. And this is with relatives—imagine how quiet I was in school! I made up for my serious and sensitive soul by having funny friends and marrying a funny guy—hoping it would rub off or just opposites attract? Gene and I produced five funny kids. I’m sure funny is a dominant “gene.” Ha ha, get it? Or do I have to point out the pun? And I love writing—can edit forever until I almost sound fu

Three Blank Pages

I’d rather a room dripping with paint like a Jackson Pollock. This classroom felt sterile and prisonlike. The walls were bare, void of anything inspiring. The lingering smell of newly painted walls mingled with burnt steak from a restaurant nearby and fogged my head. Maybe I was in the wrong room. This had to be where juvenile delinquents earned a diploma, not where art was taught.    A woman glided in draped in what looked like large scarves for a skirt. A twisted one in a different paisley pattern wrapped around her head, securing her dreadlocks in place. Tassels swung as she moved, and her cheeks caved into two dimples when she smiled.   She passed out packets of four papers: the first one had the directions; the next three were blank.   The woman swooshed to the front of the room. “You will have two hours to finish three drawings. Be creative and demonstrate your drawing skill as well. There’s a lot of competition this year, but you’ve made it this far. The judges f

A Home Again after the Storm

  Long Beach Boardwalk destroyed in Hurricane Sandy 2012 I like Long Beach, and I’m thankful it’s home. Last summer, as I rode my bike along the red path overlooking the bay, I thought the same thing. Living in between the Atlantic Ocean and the bay is like living at a vacation spot. The beach is beautiful with soft sand and rushing waves. The boardwalk is great for running, biking, or walking with a picturesque view. I can bike anywhere and don’t need to depend on a car; everything seemed perfect in Long Beach. Then Hurricane Sandy flooded our town. The ocean met the bay and filled our homes. Water filled our basement and continued to rise two more feet on the first floor. Those who stayed, like my husband, lived through a scene from Titanic. Well, almost . Like many Long Beach residents who evacuated, we returned to a ruined home. Everything wet had to be tossed out to prevent fast growing mold; the streets became lined with ten-foot mountains of garbage. Brand new wa

Where's My Kitchen? 3rd place Winner of Faithwriter's Best of the Best 2013

Fragments of “Clair de Lune” mingle with the steam of boiling noodles. My quiet kitchen is transformed into a music classroom as Stephen, my oldest son, practices his keyboard and classical guitar in his favorite room of the house. The gentle notes transport me to the scene of a foreign movie. I sit on a wooden stool in a stone cottage and shell beans. Sunlight streams through the open window until a beep pierces the air . . . the fire alarm jolts me back to reality and I bang it off with a broom. His steak is done.   The reality is that this is not my kitchen anymore.   I used to like eggs. Ever since my nineteen year old aimed to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger I’ve had to endure the smell of eight eggs boiling every morning. Sulfur gases spiral through my nostrils as he peels the shells, leaves six yolks to roll around the plate and pops two in his mouth. Stephen devours eight egg whites, a bowl of oatmeal, and a bowl of bran flakes, and I wonder if he is really m