Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ghoulish Choices

                                                                                               Julie Kemp Pick

She thought it a strange meeting place,
To show up at a Halloween dance.
Dressed in costumes before they met face to face,
Though the mystery had an air of romance.

She piled her hair in an updo,
And sprinkled on powders and potions.
She put on a long dress with matching shoes,
In the hope she wasn't just going through the motions.

She was tall, shy and unobtrusive,
Yet somehow she seemed to scare men away.
She hoped her blind date wasn't verbally abusive,
Like the last guy's mother who made her temples gray.

It wasn't hard to spot his red carnation,
For once she didn't feel self conscious in her heels.
As she gazed up at him with nervous trepidation,
While his zipper neck only added to his appeal.

He knew all the latest dances,
As he gracefully swept her off her feet.
With a poke from his bolt, she still took her chances,
She had her good eye on the prize and victory was sweet.

They didn't want the night to end,
But when the DJ announced, "Time to remove your masks."
They watched the others become themselves again.
As she tugged on his peridot complexion, the crowd began to gasp!

After the crowd quickly fled;
Frank whisked his future bride,
Off to their lightning charged wedding bed.
Where they stormed the village side by side.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

When Lending A Hand Leads To A Slap On The Wrist

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick


Today was a cold, rainy, and blustery October day in our Windy City. As I was about to walk over to the high rise office building en route to my eye doctor's office, I saw an elderly man with a cane approaching.  You could hear the wind hollowing as the rain started misting, so I offered to help him up the curb.  He thanked me, but said that he was doing fine on his own. Then I told him that I was having trouble walking through this dangerous wind tunnel, and suggested that we walk together. Once again, the proud man politely turned me down.
Within seconds, he started to lose his balance, and I grabbed his left arm, while another man appeared on his right side. We both helped him until we reached the stairs. Then he thanked us, and grabbed on to the railing. The other man left, and I kept him company until he safely entered the building.

I told my eye doctor the story, and he told me about an incident that happened many years ago when he was working at a hospital in the city. He said that the wind gusts were so strong, that they blew a 30 year old doctor right into the building, and he died of a broken neck. 

After that horrific story, he gave me the good news that the pressure in my eyes was fine.  I can't stress enough how important it is to see an ophthalmologist regularly. If glaucoma is caught early it is usually very treatable with eye drops. Because symptoms don't occur at the onset,  if left undetected it could potentially lead to blindness. I just thought I'd throw in that quick PSA, as I normally ramble on about the absurd and amusing.

Next,  I paid my bill and asked for the key to the ladies room. As I was getting ready to leave, I noticed that I looked like I had just stepped out of a horror movie. The drops left yellow dye under my two black eyes. While I was frantically trying to wash my allegedly waterproof mascara off,  I heard someone banging on the door in the hallway. Since you had to unlock one door before you passed through the swinging door which led to the three stall doors, I was so safely tucked away from civilization that I thought someone was locked out of the men's room. When the pounding didn't stop, I went over to open the door. Then an agitated elderly woman greeted me with, "What took you so long? I've been waiting here forever and you have the only key!"  I was grateful that she didn't  push me out into the wind tunnel.

Speaking of lending a helping hand, I'd like to thank the people who have been especially helpful to me in passing along some fabulous awards:

Rosalind at Rosalind Adam Is Writing In The Rain was kind enough to bestow me with this special "no strings attached" award. Be sure to check out her entertaining blog that has tips on everything from dancing to favorite recipes. She even threw an amazing virtual coffee party to celebrate her mother's life and raise funds for a worthwhile cause.


Julie at What Else Is Possible? generously shared the Liebster Blog Award with me. I have already passed this award on, but I will gladly share it with anyone else who is interested. Julie also recently added another blog entitled  The Pet Parent Diaries.  She has worked tirelessly in helping animals, and is extremely supportive to fellow bloggers.


Christy at  Christy LaShea  is quite The Versatile Blogger  herself. She started writing a book in the 7th grade and continues to write her own insightful material, as well as engaging book reviews.
Susan at I Think; Therefore, I Yam ingratiated me with this award whose mission is to post links to 7 of your favorite previous blogs, in addition to forwarding it to 7 people. Am I thinking about digging up past stories when I can barely get enough people interested in my present ones? I will answer in 7 letters : I YAM  NOT. In addition to being a gifted writer, Susan has an incredible sense of humor that always shines through in her blog. 

Eve at Clueless Eve passed this award on to me. This is one of my favorite awards because it's simple but elegant. I only recently became acquainted with her work, but I've enjoyed her honest and refreshing approach to writing. I hope you will join me in getting to know all of these imaginative writers. Although I almost got physically blown away today, these bloggers will blow your minds.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Grooming Gone Too Far

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick

Megan Barnes  (WFOR/Monroe County Sheriff's Office )
Did you hear the one about the woman who caused a car accident, because she was shaving her privates while she was driving? This really happened in Florida last year when Megan Barnes was getting ready for a date with another man. Author Celia Rivenbark wrote, " There are so many "You might be a redneck if'" elements to the story, but my favorite is that, while performing this extremely personal grooming ritual, she asked her EX HUSBAND to steer the car so she could concentrate."
Her ex also moved into the driver's seat when the police arrived to try to take the blame, but he had burn marks from the impact of the passenger side airbag. The Highway Patrol noted that just one day earlier Ms. Barnes had been convicted of DUI and driving with a suspended license. Ms. Rivenbark added, "Oh, and her car had been seized and had no insurance or registration. Oh, and she was on probation. Oh, and SHE'S A FLIPPIN' LUNATIC! Albeit an impeccably groomed one."

Since this article was originally written in March of 2010, I tried to find out what happened to Megan Barnes, and her loyal to a fault ex husband. I wondered if  she ever made it to her very important date, and what became of the pickup truck that she plowed into from behind.

Unfortunately, the only lead I found was on a Facebook page entitled, "Megan Mariah Barnes should not have to spend a single day in jail and." The only message posted had absolutely nothing to do with the subject, and left me dangling along with the word "and."

None of the 2010 reports that I read mentioned that she was shaving under the influence, so I do feel that she had one leg up on the dashboard, I mean case. It never mentioned where her parents were during the incident, and if they ever advised the 37 year old  to remember skirt down, buckle up when operating a vehicle.

This is an important lesson for all of us. As parents it is our job to leave no stone unturned. With  electronic media virtually raising our children, each day there are more incidents illustrating how common sense is becomming obsolete. With everyone rushing to make a good impression, more accidents are bound to occur. Cars may soon have built-in metal detectors, so that ignitions will not start if a razor, scissors, or tweezers enter the vehicle. As manscaping is on the rise, sons are not immune to this impulse.

The next time you tuck your children in at night, hold them close and whisper quietly in their ear. That way they'll think they learned the hazards of shaving while driving in a dream, and you'll be able to make eye contact again.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Wise Revisions


Thanks to  Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting the second meeting of the minds. Alex began The Insecure Writer's Support Group as a forum for bloggers and authors to voice their concerns; while offering solutions, as well as lending support. Be sure to visit the vast array of talented members.

Wise Revisions 

Writing helps connect the dots,
That open worlds of wonder.
Reading in between the lines,
Turn clear skies into thunder.

Waiting for the inspiration,
Sequestered in a silent rage.
Staring at an empty screen,
Wishing words upon the page.

Suddenly the switch turns on,
While ideas churn like butter.
At last the curse is lifted,
As butterflies converge to flutter.

Plagued by second thoughts,
Weary of a cool reception.
Any hopes of turning heads,
Are fueled by misconceptions.

Regrets I have many,
Nervous twitches I have but few.
If only I had begun at twenty,
Should haves adhere to me like glue.

The phone rings, changing tones,
There's talk of staging a tour.
My hair, my shoes, what will I say?
Thank goodness, I'm not insecure. 

-Julie Kemp Pick

Monday, October 3, 2011

From The Western Mediterranean To My Mother-In-Law's

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick

Before our younger son was born, my in-laws moved to Israel to be close to my mother-in-law's family. My delightful father-in-law who always had a smile on his face despite having his whole world torn out from under him during the Holocaust, died less than a year later.  This was more than twenty years ago, and though my husband has taken my boys, I had never gone with them.

My first visit was a year after I graduated from college, as part of a tour group. I was the youngest person in the group, and my mother was the second youngest. One of the highlights was climbing Masada arm in arm with a rambunctious 80 year old fellow traveler.

After we drove our son to college, my husband asked me if I would go with him to see his mother. I told him that I would like to stop off somewhere along the way to break up the 14 hour flight from Chicago. He said to do some research, and added that he wanted to leave as soon as possible. When I told a friend that I was having trouble choosing between Italy, France, and Spain, she suggested that I book a cruise. Because the trip was only a few weeks away, I was able to find an exceptional deal on a cruise to Rome, Genoa, Cannes, Corsica and Barcelona. The ship returned to Rome and from there we were scheduled to fly to Tel Aviv. I was thrilled, my husband was thrilled, and my mother-in-law didn't complain, so all was well.

The ship departed from Rome, so we went off on a tour straight from the airport. We saw the Colosseum, The Spanish Steps, and St. Peter's in Vatican City. We dined on world famous gelato and threw coins into the Trevi Fountain where Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck once stood. We covered a lot of the Eternal City in a few hours, and then we were off to the ship.

The next day, we accidentally walked up to the house where  Columbus was born in Genoa on our own leisurely tour. The rooms were very tiny, and a model of the Santa Maria was encased on one of the shelves. Another highlight was seeing Napoleon's home in Corsica. The Corsicans that we encountered were not very receptive to our restroom requests, so I found myself sneaking into a restaurant. The hostess followed me in and shouted in a thick French accent, "You didn't ask permission!" Then I retorted with, "Emergency, emergency!" She got the message, and walked out. I always had a gift with languages.

We loved being able to relax in the comfort of the ship where the food was tasty and plentiful, everyone spoke English, and the entertainment even included an ice show. The last stop was in Barcelona. We went on a whirlwind tour of several churches, and The Picasso Museum. We even saw  Gaudi's unfinished church, La Sagrada Familia that has been overseen by several architects beginning in 1882 and nears completion in 2026. We concluded with our own walking tour that lasted until nightfall. Like Italy, I wish we had had more time in Spain, but I was grateful for the time spent, and now we had to get ready for Israel.

My husband's cousins were kind enough to meet us at the Tel Aviv Airport, and loan us their car complete with a navigation system so we wouldn't get lost driving to Jerusalem. The only problem was that it was set up in Hebrew. After we eventually found our hotel, we climbed up the 100 steps leading to his mother's apartment.

She lives in a religious neighborhood where we looked as out of place had we been in Amish Country. The men wore black hats and long black coats, and the women wore head coverings or wigs, and long skirts. Occasionally, we would catch a glimpse of a wrist or an ankle. On Shabbat, children played in the street, and adults walked freely with no cars in sight. I thought about all the kids in our neighborhood who would stay inside playing video games on beautiful days, while these children were finding creative ways to pass the hours until sundown.

At 87,  Mrs. Pick speaks Hebrew, Russian, Yiddish, and English. She has a wonderful caregiver who was also born in Russia, and doesn't speak English; yet after a few days we were able to communicate. His aunt lives down the hall, and has two children, and fifteen great grandchildren. We spent a lot of time eating between the two apartments, and went on short walks around the neighborhood, where his mother led the way.

Aside from a visit to the Western Wall, where I struggled to get us through the crowd, while her 70 year old caregiver plowed right in, we didn't spend much time sightseeing, as his mother got car sick. Instead, we had a few excursions to the walker store before taking it for a test drive.

On our last day, his cousins invited us to dinner in Tel Aviv. There we were reunited with family we hadn't seen in years, and introduced to some of their children for the first time. Everyone was warm and inviting. All of his aunt's 15 great grandchildren were there, and I couldn't believe how well behaved they were. Though many of the children don't speak English, our boys managed to communicate with them years ago, through sports and other games. I thought about the four of us  returning before they think they're too old to travel with us. Then I commented on how nice it is to have so many close relatives, and our cousin replied, "They're your family too."

There is so much history along with so many wondrous sights to see in Israel, but this trip was about family. We were both happy that his mother is doing so well thanks to her devoted caregiver and loving family. She was very appreciative that we came to visit, and any ill feelings that we had toward each other were wiped away. I don't know if my mother-in-law will ever think that I'm truly good enough for her son, or good enough for now.

1) Colosseum in Rome
2) Columbus Home in Genoa
3) Picasso Museum in Barcelona
4) Western Wall in Jerusalem (Mrs. Pick is in the middle)
5) With our cousins in Tel Aviv