Monday, December 22, 2014

The Christmas Bookmark Tassel

I ran my fingers over the chimes
"Good afternoon class."
I said to the twenty first graders sitting
in the three long rows of tables in my library.
"Good afternoon Mrs. Nixon." They replied.
"Mrs. Kramer, the office manager ordered these cute
blank bookmarks for you to decorate for fun.
I'm going to show you how to make a tassel now.
Pick up the loop of yarn and loop it over your
pointer finger like this.
Now pull the knot down and say,
"Knot down, knot down, knot down."'
I looked at the little fingers with their knots down
and said, "Now stare at my finger so hard,
it catches fire and I explode!"
I pushed the end of the loop through the little hole
on the bookmark and pulled it so the bookmark
dangled in the middle.
"Now you need to pinch the loop and push it through the hole."
"Well done!"
"Look up and stare at my yarn so hard it catches on fire."
"Take your knot end and push it through the loop then
GENTLY pull on the knot and down on the bookmark."
Shouts of joy rang through the library as seventeen kids
made a lovely little tassel on their bookmarks.
"Go ahead and start decorating and remember what we
talked about last week. I want to see INTRICATE DESIGNS."
"I'll start the Jan Brett video in case you want to
learn how to draw a gingerbread baby, but you don't have to."
Three kids shouted, "I need help! I need help"
and much to my dismay one little boy was crying.
"I'm coming now to help you."
I got to Simon and patiently showed him where to put his yarn
and he quit crying and I sat the tissue box next to him and moved on.
I got up to Spenser and said, "You've almost got it! You just have to hold
your knot up and GENTLY pull down on your bookmark."
He slowly held the knot in his tiny fingers and pulled down
on the little white bookmark and the loop cinched up
with the tiny tassel in his hand.
A look of astonishment and delight split his face in half
with a smile as priceless as the magic of his childhood.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas at the Pyle's in Bot hell 1982

JoAnn and I sat on the couch
drinking coffee and savoring
Nola's home made bread with butter.
"Keith! It's too tall!" Nola yelled
from the kitchen doorway at her husband.
The top was mashed along the ceiling and
bent over about three feet.
We just laughed as her parents argued
good-naturedly about how to fix the
Christmas tree.
"I have an idea!" Said Keith.
Ten minutes later we heard a roaring sound
coming from the front yard.
The front door burst open behind us
and Keith came into the living room
with his chainsaw blazing!
"I'll fix that puppy!" He shouted
over the engine.
"Keith! It's too short!" Nola yelled
from the kitchen doorway at her husband.
Now the tree was three feet tall.
JoAnn and I followed Keith to the garage
and we each rolled a tire around the front walk.
We rolled them through the living room
and stacked the three on top of each other.
"Keith! It's just right!" Nola yelled
from the kitchen doorway at her husband.
And it was.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Christmas in Beautyland

I could just make out the bottom of the blue jeans and boots
from deep inside the tree.
"Um, Carol, how many lights do you put on?"
It looked like she already had 20,000 stuffed in that
Christmas tree and she was only half way up!
"Oh, this one will only have three thousand,
the one in the living room will have more."
I had to stop and think.
How many lights did I toss on our tree at
home every year? I'm so lazy,
that when they invented the tree net in a
four by size foot size, I was thrilled.
Toss that on and you have 150 lights in
less than five minutes. I remember the box said
150 and I thought THAT was a lot.
My birthday was a week away so she was
getting this tree up November 4th or so...
"Do you need any help Carol?"
A voice deep inside the tree responded,
"Oh no Girly-Girl, I have a method.
When you come home next week,
all three trees will be done."
I stopped chewing my salad at that
and pondered if I knew ANYONE that put up
more than one tree. I have some pals
in Kookmore that are fairly Christmas crazy.
"That's nice Carol!" I yelled towards
the boots with the hope she could hear
me from deep inside the tree.

How many trees do you put up?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I Wished For Cake

A second grader asked me Wednesday if
I had a nice birthday Monday.
I asked her how she knew
and she said it was in the morning announcements.
I said, "Yes, I had a few hot fudge sundaes at restaurants
but I was craving a bite of cake."
I went to my teaching station and
as I was in the front of the room
teaching the lesson at the screen,
the cook, Angie, walked through the library
with a little red and white paper school dish thingy.
She waved it in the air and all I could think
was that it was odd she'd bring me French fries
since that is the only thing I've seen served in those.
I saw George, the custodian, making fresh coffee in my office
and when the kids left I made a beeline
for a cup of fresh, hot coffee and
looked over, and there was pumpkin cake.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Where Do I Live Again?!

I walked briskly to the corner of the the road,
looked around, and felt lost.
"Where do I live again?!" I thought to myself.
No blue trees, asteroid rock or Starbucks across the street.
When I had driven to Beautyland
that morning at seven AM to my crashpad,
it was pitch black out and I could barely find it.
When my new roommate let me in all I could think was,
"Martha Stewart DOES live here!"
I tried not to gape at the cathedral ceilings
and wall to wall antiques.
She was leaving for work and waved her hands around
in the air and said, "The kitchen's there
and dining room and I'll show you your room."
I kicked off my shoes and sank into the rug
and followed her up the quarter mile long staircase
thinking, "Oh yeah, I could get used to this..."
My room was on the front of the house
and she handed me a key and said,
"Make yourself at home girly-girl,
I'll see you at work."
So I did and couldn't help but compare
Beauty house to other crashpads I'd had.
The funky crashpad my buddybidder
Theresa and I had had in Greeley in 1989
or the pretty pantyhose jungle crashpad
I had in Diamond Head in 1988
with seven other flight attendants.
Carol left and I opened my wall-long closet
French doors and stared at the built in shelves
and thought, "What? No closet pole?"

Monday, October 13, 2014

First Grade Silly Sayings

I was checking out the first grader books
and looking at their pictures on
the screen from last year and I told Oban
he sure has grown up since kindergarten.
He leaned over the counter and looked
at me seriously and said,
"You know, Mrs. Nixon, you and I go back a looong way."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Really Big Pinata and Other Odd Things on Planes

I was standing just inside the airplane doorway
in Merida and tried not to let my jaw drop open.
"That's a really BIG pinata." I said with
what I hoped was a friendly smile since I was thinking,
"What was she thinking?!"
The young brunette held it higher and said,
"Can you put this in the closet?"
The main body was the size of a round laundry basket
and the bright yellow points on the miniature sun
stuck out all over making it roughly the size of
a washing machine.
Even the 747 didn't have closet big enough
for this bad boy and we were on a little 737.
I walked out into the jetway and reached for the loops
at the top and assured the young lady it would
be safe down in bin one.
I zipped down the stairs and enjoyed the look on
the rampys' faces as they admired what was
possibly the biggest pinata ever made.

"Yes sir, let me show you to your seats
and I'll get the seatbelt extension for your tiger."
The little white and black Siberian tiger cub case
was snugly belted in and I got to pet him after take off.

"The captain is expecting you, please follow me."
I said to the medical courier with a small
Igloo cooler full of body parts. Couldn't help
but wonder what was in there as I had coffee in the
cockpit after we finished the service.

"How on earth did you get through security with
that plant?" I said to the teenager in the Grateful Dead
tie-died tee shirt out of Missoula connecting to SFO.
"When my room mates dropped me off at the airport they
said it would be nice to give my aunt in Berkely
this little tomato plant for a hostess gift."
Some room mates, sending a kid with a
pot plant on a commercial flight!

Our 737 landed in Houston and I gave the greeting over the PA,
opened the door, and had the First Class flight attendant
say our good byes as I dashed down the stairs for the
world's biggest pinata. I was holding it up for
the nice lady as she came out the door and
she was so happy.
Nearly thirty years later I still wonder where
that little sun ended up and more importantly,
how much candy did it hold!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Bicycle Helmet Rack

I was raking raking raking
all the old debris from the
old carport. It was the original
carport for our house before the
garage was built thirty years ago.
It now sits in the corner of our
yard keeping the rain off the
bicycles, firewood and it
provides a nice dry shelter for
our copious rat population.
If you live on the edge of a swamp
with forty acres of blackberries,
rats happen.
So I'm raking raking raking
and notice a large square covered
with a tarp, holding about six
bike helmets on the top.
Odd, I don't remember seeing that
before. I lift up the tarp and
should not have been surprised
at what I saw.
Our old, broken washing machine.
My darling husband created a
nice, solid helmet rack.
Of course he did.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Odd Things in my Mail Jeep

I shoved the last letters into their
tiny one inch slots on my sorting case
and hustled over to my parcel bin.
A coconut!
I couldn't believe it and started laughing.
I did not know you were allowed to mail
mail that didn't look like mail.
After a few years of delivering mail
in Seattle out of Magnolia,
Bitter Lake and North City,
I was able to get hired at Bot hell
post office as a substitute.
After five years as a sub and one
long year as a T-6, I reached the
epitome of postalhood.
My own route!
Beautiful Holly Hills mobile estates
was mine, mine, mine.
The man I inherited the route from
told me, "There's old in them hills!"
The people were all retired and it was
fun to see them at their mailboxes every day.
Mr. Powell was building a mail order car.
Every week I'd deliver a new part.
The six foot mid-pipe that would connect
his engine to the muffler
hung out my jeep window on one side a foot.
When Auntie Agnes died in Alabama,
I delivered her ashes.
I was sure she was leaking out on me all day.
When Mr. Simpson fell from heat stroke,
I delivered him to Mrs. Simpson.
But I already wrote about that.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Eight-Legged Pudu Deer

I looked down at my drawing with dismay.
I had the art book next to where
I was teaching the kids
how to draw a deer step-by-step.
My images were being captured by a
document camera and being displayed
on a large white screen behind me.
I had been in a hurry and grabbed a
black Flair pen instead of a pencil
and now I was going to pay for it.
I'd shown the kids how to draw the pudu
laying down with its legs tucked around
it and went on for the four brave kids
that wanted deer-legs standing up.
That was when I realized I couldn't
erase the first four legs.
"Oops. I accidentally drew
an eight-legged pudu deer."
It looked like the thirty second graders
were going to fall off their chairs
they were laughing so hard.
I might have needed more than one
"How to teach art to kids"

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest: Special Delivery Driver

I carefully wedged my large white postal
two-ton truck into the load zone.
I was thrilled to be in the dark canyon
of tall buildings with such an
important mission:
Special Delivery Mail!
It was special too and my old trainer John
had a big hustle as he dropped out of the truck
and zipped around behind our truck to
unload trays of special deliver mail
needing to go inside to all the law firms.
I took a deep breath as we entered the
building and he rolled the handtruck
to the bank of elevators.
My long blond hair was tied back in a ponytail
and I had on my blue two piece femailman
uniform with my shiny oval Special Delivery pin
pinned proudly to my then-small chest.
"Okay, here's the important thing kid."
John said looking down at me, "Always smile."
"You would not believe the loot
these guys give out at Christmas
if you give them great service and a big smile."
"Special Delivery is expensive and you gotta hustle!"
I smiled and quickened my step and dashed
around the sky-scraper one floor at a time.
"Good job kid. Now hop in and look at the
next mail and figure out where to park next."
I reached down and picked up the bundle and read the address.
"Hmmm" I thought as I read it and concentrated on what John taught me.
Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest. Seattle streets running south to north.
Jefferson James
Cherry, Columbia
Marion, Madison
Spring, Seneca
University, Union
Pike and Pine
I looked over at John who was sucking deeply on his cigarette,
"Got it boss!" I exclaimed.
He looked at me and grinned, "Good job kid."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Conga Line in the Library

I looked at my principal
with an apologetic face,
"I'm so sorry Jim. I would
have never thought the kids would
stampede in a million years."
He looked at me and said,
"Look at it as a learning moment.
You did set a precedent at the party
that the library is a wild place
where there is sometimes
unacceptable behavior."
My heart sank.
I'm not well-known for making
the best decisions and the party
did get a little wild.
It was a shock to me as I led
twenty fourth and fifth grade girls
around our huge library in a conga line,
to look up and see kids up
on top of the bookshelf.
It had to be the EXACT minute
Jim walked in to check on the party.
I swear, the minute I saw them up there
I quit dancing and ran over
and told them to get down.
I was hopping mad.
It took me two weeks to plan the
party with the PTA!
The kids got Papa John's pizza
in pepperoni and cheese toppings,
Caesar salad, fruit, lemonade,
ice cream, Girl Scout cookies AND
green home made green Rice Crispy treats.
For Pete's sake. That's my favorite treat
and they were all gone when the kids
went back to class After the party
Our theme was "The Luck of the Irish."
For our Battle of the Books wrap party,
I made the mistake of inviting ALL the
original teams AND their boosters,
which swelled the kids up to seventy.
The stampede happened a week later
when they came for their yearbook picture
and they were good until I said,
"You are now dismissed for recess."
It was the first sunny day of spring
and they ran screaming out the library
and down the hall before I could stop them.
I did not predict that. UGH.
So, if I do get rehired for next year
it will be somewhat of a miracle.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Baked Baby Suit

"Oh miss" the young soldier said
as I reached over his head to
turn off his call button,
"I seem to have a problem with
my baby. She just threw up
all over herself."
I looked down at the cute,
chubby little girl and asked
how old she was. "She is only
six months old and I'm taking her
to see my parents for the first time."
Boston to LA is about five hours
and we had just finished our meal service.
I smiled warmly and said, "Don't worry
about a thing, I'll help you put
her in a clean outfit."
His dark eyebrows came together
and I followed his gaze down
to the tiny diaper bag.
"I didn't bring another outfit."
My brain spun wildly for a minute
before I could think of what to do.
Sure I was trained by an FBI specialist
for what to do in a hi-jacking,
but they seemed to have forgotten to
train us about baby puke.
"I have an idea. I can wash
and dry her outfit in an hour and in the
meantime you can roll her up in a blanket."
I took the soiled outfit to the restroom
and pumped as much soap as I could
and then filled the sink with hot water.
After a wash and rinse repeat cycle
I was good to go.
I did some serious wringing out
and popped into my galley and decided on
a hot start then a heat reduction,
like a blackberry cobbler.
The MD80 aft galley is a tiny hole
off to one side of the rear aisle
and I shut the curtain, lest the passengers
saw what I was up to.
After fifteen minutes at 425, I lowered
the heat to 325 and rotated the suit every
ten minutes. I was sliding out the narrow
rack when my buddy-bidder Theresa showed
up. She looked at the fuzzy terrycloth
and said, "Whatcha makin buddy?"
I smiled at my fresh, dry little outfit
and said, "Oh, just baked baby suit."

Whale Watching on San Juan Island June 2013

I shouted in my head.
I knew it was my ferry pulling out of the dock
as I came down the hill from Anacortes.
Ack, ferry phobia as my step-dad Jerry would say.
I pulled down and knew I'd missed the boat.
I bought my ticket and the man informed me cheerfully
that I ONLY had to wait three hours for loading.
Next to whale watching and the Department of Motor Vehicles,
ferry boat waiting has taught me everything I'll ever need to know about
So I roamed around, reread my schedule, roamed around,
looked at my trashy novel and roamed around some more.
Luckily there was a Pepto Bismal pink zip hoodie
in the tiny gift shop to save me.
The minute I got to my van with it,
I realized I was far too old to wear pink,
and that I had made a huge fashion mistake.
Oh well.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Lock Down Drill With Kindergartners

I looked at the twenty toothless innocent faces
peering at me from their low, green carpeted risers.
"When you hear the fire alarm, I want you to hold hands,
Like playing Follow the Leader only holding hands.
I read, "When Pluto Visted Earth" and a moon phase poem.
The alarm sounded and I said, "Be quiet and hold hands."
The children stood up and began our snake-like procession
to my office. I flipped off the light switch as we went.
I had pre-locked the doors earlier.
I have thirty-seven windows to close
or cover so I did that all week.
I seated them on the carpeted floor against the cupboards
and held up a tiny blue teddy bear. I said softly,
"It's time for you to all look at this bear
and think of a good name for him."
One little girls lip was quivering so
I walked over and handed her the bear
and asked her to hold it up high
so her classmates could get a good look at it.
Then the dreaded question came,
"Is this a fire drill Mrs. Nixon?
We have never done this before."
I certainly wasn't going to talk about
"We are practicing being quiet and safe
in case a bad guy tries to steal gas
from the gas station and the police need
to catch him. Or a bear might get on our
playground and we don't want him to see us."
Naming the bears took a whopping five minutes.
I passed out my twenty Dr. Seuss picture books
and told them it was time to look at books quietly.
That took a whopping five minutes.
It was then time to trade books with a friend.
That took a whopping five minutes.
Then the fidgeting began.
Finally the principal thanked us
and told us it was over and to e-mail him
feedback. I e-mailed him this feedback:
On the way out of my office and going out into the library,
little Hannah looks up at me and says,
"I think five hours was a little too long."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Larf the Sasquatch

I was reading the story of a
teen sasquatch being lonely
and wanting a friend.
Larf decided he wasn't ready to meet a girl
because he knew he smelled bad
because he hadn't had a bath (next page) EVER.
I held the book up to show the picture
and five year old Robert is sniffing his armpit.
I told him not to worry
because he wouldn't smell
until he was a teenager.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Shredding Cat Decides

I carried kitty downstairs and sat by
Terry on his futon couch and said,
"I'm sorry, but I told you I was
expecting a call and I didn't
want to interrupt you but you
could have used the other phone line."
"Now Cloudy decides who was right or wrong by
seeing which one she attacks the most."
(She's a bad kitty)
Terry reached over to scratch her behind the ears
and she gave him one bite.
"See, you were wrong." I said smugly.
I reached over to scratch her behind the ears
and she flipped over and gave me
the full body press,
shredding me with her teeth,
front and back claws.
Terry started laughing his head off and said,
"The cat is right!"

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Soldiers With Barrettes

I smiled at the cute little girl
as she carefully placed her books
like steps for me to zap with
my scanner.
"How was your vacation Susie?"
"Did you do anything interesting?" I asked.
Her eyes doubled in size and her eyebrows
shot up towards her scalp.
"Mrs. Nixon!" She exclaimed.
"We went to see the Nutcracker!"
"And guess what? It's a ballet
and my sister danced in it!"
I put on a serious face and said,
"Which part did she play?"
"She was a soldier and she had a costume
and everything! And she carried
a big giant barrette over her shoulder!"
I smiled and replied,
"That is so exciting Susie,
I wish I could have seen that."

Later I thought it over and decided
the world would be a much better place
if all the soldiers attacked each other
with hair care products
and the worst injury
was a bad hair cut.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Wrong Pants

My pants slipped down a few inches again.
I tugged at the waistband again.
I knew I hadn't lost weight because
I had been eating like a pig lately.
I wasn't completely awake
because it was only eight in the morning.
I start working in my library
every morning at seven
but I wake up at nine.
I can do several functions efficiently
sleep-working, like setting up student folders
and laying out name tags.
I finished using the restroom
and noticed that the waistband on
these black slacks seemed wider than
what I remembered.
I put on my glasses and looked at it.
There were two thin yellow strips of
some sort of non-skid cord running around it.
I'd seen that before.
When I was doing laundry.
Not MY laundry.
I was wearing Troy's Safeway slacks!
That explained everything.
I hope no one noticed the girly girl
Gloria Vanderbilt embroidery on
the back of what he must wearing at work!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

My Lucky Couch

"This is Jennifer with Lazy-Boy,
may I speak with Gretchen Nixon?"
The phone tingled in my fingertips
as I listened to the soft pleasant voice.
"This is she."
Jen said, "We can deliver your new couch this
Thursday, Friday or Saturday,
do you have a preference?
I told her Saturday would be perfect
since I'd be off work.
I started roaming
from calendar to calendar with my
favorite blue Flair pen.
"What is the date Saturday?"
I asked her.
"It's February first."
I froze.
"Do you know what Sunday is?"
I asked her.
She laughed and said she knew what Sunday was.
Just in case she was at a call center in India
I asked her where she was located and felt
relieved when she said she was in Kent.
Kent Washington not Kent England.
I said,"We'll have it for the you know what then."
"You sure will." Said Jen.

My Finest Moment

"Hi Gina, here are your books on outer space,
where do you want them?"
I unloaded the two dozen heavy books
on the front table she indicated.
As I turned to go Annette and Marian
rushed at me and hugged me.
They looked up at me with adoring eyes
and proclaimed,
"I want to be a librarian when I grow up!"
Franklin dashed over and chimed in
and we shared a tender moment
before they went out to join their
classmates for recess.
As I enjoyed our quick love-in,
I looked over the top of their
little third grade heads
over at Matt six feet away.
"Hey Mark! Don't you want to be
a librarian when you grow up?"
He looked at me seriously,
tilted up his tiny chin and proclaimed,
"Oh no Mrs. Nixon,
I want to be an author!"

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Seahawk Beast Mode

People from other places that
wonder why we are in the beastmode,
would have to live here to understand.
In a land of perpetual gloom,
the Seahawks are our sunshine.
I admit to being a fair-weather fan,
only caught up in the excitement
by being surrounded by rabid beasts
in town, at work and at home.
After a lost game,
my husband will pout for
I'd cook him his favorite meal
to cheer him up,
but I quit cooking years ago.
To substantiate my claim that the
Seahawks are our life-giving sunshine
I can quote a recent poll.
When our largest demographic group,
vampires, was asked the following
statement, five out of five
strongly agreed.
"I find I can live normally in
Washington state."

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Bonus of Chronic Sinusitis 1/11/14

The steam rising from the iron
made my face feel warm.
The gusting winds and rain
and dark clouds outside my window
made me feel happy to
delay the inevitable.
My day off bike ride to Bot-hell
and back.
Three miles up and three miles back.
I don't have to like it I just have to do it.
I've had a runny nose since I was a little girl
whenever the weather is cold or windy,
or in Seattle,
The bonus of having chronic sinusitis
is not smelling the three huge giants I live with
or the decaying rat carcases in my walls.
I looked down at the thirty-five new used
handkerchiefs from E-Bay and felt slightly disgruntled.
I don't wear pastels much now that I'm older
and wouldn't be caught dead in orange, purple or turquoise,
so naturally,
those were the predominate borders.
Cute designs on the flowers though.
They smelled like sizing when I opened them
and I knew I'd have to iron them.
pressing the sections into sixteen pie-piece shapes.
With determined imprecision, so that the
scallops of twelve sides would show,
I pressed and ironed.
I would only give Brenda her cut
of new handkerchiefs,
IF she promised not to unfold them in front of me.
She DOES NOT iron her handkerchiefs!