Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Appeal of Peaches vs Bananas


bananas (Photo credit: Fernando Stankuns)

Some years ago the local library held a writing contest.  I considered entering it.  Naturally, the requirements were specific as to word count and subject matter.  I scribbled down a couple of drafts, (this in the time when I started everything on a legal pad with a host of ball point pens).  However, as most writers, was not confident in the direction I was heading.

The word contest adds a head pounding pressure to the act of writing.  The specific requirements gave me the feeling of rigidity and it killed any creative abilities I might possess.  When I first learned of the “contest” there was only one week until the deadline.  “Deadline” another make me freak out word. Since this was a contest someone was going to judge my work.  It had to be my best.  Must be perfect.   After those first futile attempts I gave up and dismissed the idea of submitting any thing at all.

I hate giving up on something, so although I didn’t enter, I did keep track of when the winner would be announced and where the short story would be reprinted. 

Ok, after a few weeks there it was in the local paper, the winner of the Patchogue/Medford Library Writing Contest.  First Prize.  I was so envious that someone had the courage to enter, and I couldn’t wait to read it.

Peaches, it was a story about sliced, jarred peaches.  Peaches on the window sill in the sun.  It was nice.  Well written.  But on that first glance it was a story about jarred, sliced up peaches in juice.  Astonishing.  Then I read it again and again.

All these years later I understand why it was such a great story. Why it truly deserved to win.  The writer had the ability to relate her childhood memories, and the comfort felt while being at her Grandma’s house, through that sparkling jar of peaches.  Because of  her words you felt the warmth of the sun on your face. You experienced the love of the woman who had jarred those very peaches, and the slower pace of another time in our history.  That short short taught me much about creative writing.

Today I sat at my dining room table.  My fruit bowl is full and on the very top, resting across the apples, oranges and pears, is a bunch of bananas.  Just the right shade of yellow, firm but not hard.  No brown spots.  You can smell them.  I wonder if I could write an award-winning story about those bananas?

The personality of a banana is very different from a peach, but I am sure it can be done.  Afterall, look what Harry Belafonte did for Bananas.  Didn’t the Banana Boat song give us all the desire to visit the islands?  I think I am going to give it a try.  It may not be today or tomorrow, but sometime in my future there will be an epic story about bananas.

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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Robert, Ma Bell and Me III

cont.                       Robert, Ma Bell and Me               Part III


     It was two weeks until Robert called again.  Early afternoon and I was alone.

“I’ve missed you.”

When I heard his voice the anger I felt at his standing me up returned.  Of course, I only got angry after the danger of his calling while my husband was at home had passed.

“If you missed me, why didn’t you call the other night when you said you were going to?”  I made certain to keep my tone cool as though it didn’t really matter.  I was seething.  Who did he think he was?  I was the one being courted.

“Were you really waiting for me?”  He was dubious.

Snickering so he could hear me, “Sure I was.  All decked out in a sexy red nightgown.”  Let him stew.

“I wanted to call, but I ran into problems.  Can you talk?”  He fell into his seduction whisper. “Let’s make love, now.  I can make you feel real good.”

I didn’t doubt it, but it was the middle of the day.  We would be interrupted at any time by someone’s arrival.  If I was going to go through with this, it wasn’t going to be piece meal.

“Not now.  Can you call me tonight?”

“What time?”

“Eleven-thirty, Robert.”

“I will.  Are we making it a date?”

“Sure its a date.”  I actually giggled remembering what it felt like to be a girl thrilled about a date.

“Talk to you later.  I love you,”  he said.


      I could call it Spring fever except it wasn’t Spring time.  You have to be at least forty to have a mid-life crisis and even with my poor math skills I deduced that crisis was still about five years in the future.  When I stopped to think about it, my only excuse was madness, or I had genuinely been seduced.  Robert must be a master at the art of seduction, or else it doesn’t take much to lure a woman who is married for seventeen year or more.  At that point, I didn’t give a damn.  I had a date and I wasn’t cheating on my husband.

Didn’t someone once write a book, The Zipless something or another.  I can’t quite remember what was zipless, but it was a fantasy.  Robert was my living fantasy.  A fantasy that each of us was fulfilling for the other.

After my husband left for work, I shaved my legs, tweezed my eyebrows and luxuriated in a silky oil bath.  I powered, preened and perfumed.  Styled my hair, brushing it up and away from my face so that it was wildly casual.  Three quarters of an hour was spent applying make-up.  I hadn’t taken that much time with my face since my tenth year high school reunion.  Tonight was special.

Slipping into the black negligee I had recently purchased at a sex-a-wear party, I inspected myself in the full length mirror.  Who was this glamorous woman smiling back at me?  She was beautiful.


I slinked over to the bedroom phone.


Kicked off my high-heeled mules and stretched out on the bed.


Licked my lips with the tip of my tongue and lifted the receiver.

“Hello,”  I purred.

“I’ve missed you.”

“Yes, Robert.  Let’s become lovers.”

“I love you,”  he began.

The End or The Beginning.

                                                                                              All rights reserved


If you enjoyed this rare flight into fiction, please let me know.  I will try to bring you something every now and then.   MsSopia

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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Robert, Ma Bell, and Me — Part II

cont                             Robert, Ma Bell and Me

     Finally school was in session.  My husband was at work and it was raining.  It would have been a perfect day, but the phone kept ringing.  The Post and the News wanted me to read their papers.  Three different companies wanted to clean my carpets, and the Democrats wanted a donation.  The last time it rang it was him.

“Can you talk?”

I hesistated……”Yes.”

“I’ve missed you a lot.  You’re very beautiful, aren’t you?”

“Don’t you know what I look like?”  I asked.

“I can tell by your sexy voice that you’re a luscious woman.”

I had to be certain.  “You really don’t know me?”

“I swear.  I just want to make love to you over the phone.  Your voice turns me on.  I’m in love with you.”

I was entirely flattered and intrigued.  “What’s your name?  Tell me your first name.”

His voice broke from the husky whisper.  “Why?”  He had become suspicious.

I answered as honestly as I could.  “So you’re more real to me when I think about your calls.

He became excited.  “Robert, my real name is Robert.”

The front door slammed, breaking the spell.  My kids were home from school.

“I have to go now, Robert.”

“No, please don’t hang up.”

I put the receiver in the cradle, gently.

My spirits were up for days, except every time the phone rang I jumped four feet in the air and raced the kids for it.  Not a few times the little devils beat me to the taunting instrument, and some of those times they would slam the receiver down annoyed.  Some crank on the phone had hung up as soon as they said hello.  I knew who that crank was, and cursed myself for not being faster.  I needed to start wearing sneakers around the house for better traction.

     It was almost three weeks before Robert and I had another conversation.  Admittedly, as the days sped by my thoughts turned to him less and less, although my husband had commented on how much more amorous I was as of late.


I stuck the mop in the bucket before answering.  “Yes?”

“I miss you, love.  Do you want to talk?”

Parting my moistened lips in a classic pose of seduction, I uttered breathlessly. “I guess so.”

“What are you wearing today?”

Looking down at myself, I thought about lying.  I was a mess.  Then I decided to tell the truth.  He has to love me the way I am, my husband does.  I was suddenly indignant.

“Jeans and a sweatshirt.  Does it matter?”

“I bet you look great.  Can we make love now?”

Oh no, I wasn’t ready for this.  “How old are your, Robert?”


“I want to know.  I can’t get into it unless I can imagine what you’re like.”

“If I answer, no more questions today.”

“OK, I promise.”  Why was I making promises to a complete stranger?

“I’m twenty-eight.”

Not to sound Victorian, but for the first time in my life I almost swooned.

“Twenty-eight, that’s terrific.”  Visions of a flat stomached, broad-shouldered, young man danced like sugar plums in my head.  I really had to go on a diet.

“Why is that terrific?”  he asked.

“Because I wouldn’t want to make love to a boy.” I could really think on my feet while having flashes of excitement.

I heard some activity from his end. It sounded like young children. When he spoke again it was hurried.

“I have to go.  Can I call you tonight?”

“Yes, late.”

“Can I ask for you if someone else answers?  I wouldn’t want to cause you any hassle.”

I thought about it.  “No, just hang up.”

“I love you.”  He reminded me before the disconnect buzz hummed in my ear.

     Minutes dragged endlessly as my eyes strayed for the hundredth time to the kitchen clock.  I moved through the rest of the day as a mindless robot, all thoughts conscious and unconscious focused on Robert.  Hurrah, for mundane tasks that could be accomplished without exerting an ounce of mental effort.  Dinner was cooked, served and consumed by my very own body while the real me, la femme fatale, was already engaged in a torrid and lascivious affair.

Eventually it was time to tuck the little one in and convince my teenager she needed beauty sleep.  That completed, I pasted a smile on my face and flopped in the rocking chair to wait for my husband to leave for his night job.

With a slight feeling of guilt, I casually mentioned it was getting quite late when he still sat fixed before the TV set ten minutes after his usual take off time.

Surprise!  He happily informed me that he had the night off.  My heart dropped to my knees.  Guilt transformed itself into an overpowering sense of betrayal.  What was wrong with me?  The man I adored for some twenty years was staying home, and I was disappointed.  To ease my smarting conscience I pampered him all evening.  Fixing snacks, making coffee, and the dreaded back scratching, until I was bored to tears.  Enough is enough!

Thank God, the telephone never rang.

to be continued —–                                             all rights reserved


Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


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“Robert, Ma Bell and Me” a work of fiction or is it?

Some years ago, the telephone company was affectionately refered to as Ma Bell.  This in an era without caller ID, screening, or *69,  The following event would not have occurred had the tools of privacy been in effect.  I hope you enjoy the tale and I would love your comments on it.  I am sharing for your pleasure and for the memories it evokes of my early writings, and………………

Robert, Ma Bell and Me

     I just couldn’t let it keep ringing.  Damning the caller every inch of the way, I dripped from the patio, through the carpeted den, into the kitchen.  Even as I lifted the receiver a puddle began to form at my feet

“Hello.”  I said pleasantly, because I always liked to be pleasant when answering the phone.

“Talk to me.” 

The voice was a frantic whisper.  I could barely make out the words.  My heart did a funny little rat-a-tat and I threw a dish towel under my feet.

“What did you say?  I can hardly hear you.”  Instinctively, my own speech became throaty.

“Please ……………………… talk to me.”

Common sense dawned and I realized this must be a put on.  The racquet my husband and kids were making in the pool drifted through the kitchen window.

“Who is this?  Tony, is it you?”  I thought how to make my neighbor, Tony, laugh and give himself away at the same time.  “OK Tony, I want your fabulous body.”

No laugh from the caller in response to my joking offer.

“I love you,”  he said softly.

My heart stopped beating altogether and I became a little frightened.

“Look, since you’re not going to tell me who you are I’m hanging up.”

“No, don’t hang up.  Please don’t.”

I clicked the receiver down and stared at the phone for perhaps a full minute.  He didn’t call back.  Suddenly, I realized I was cold.  It had to be twenty degrees cooler in the house than out in the sun. Almost an hour later I had forgotten about the caller, having dismissed him as a chance weirdo.


    It was getting harder and harder to make ends meet.  If I held off the electric bill I could pay the telephone company, VISA, and send the twenty-third payment to the dentist.  In the midst of my deliberation the intrusion sounded.

“Will somebody get that?

The ring trembled two more times before I slid my chair backward.  The house was unusually quiet.  I peeked into the living room and caught my husband asleep on the couch.  The phone rang once again.  I answered.

“City morgue.  You stab ’em, we slab ’em.  Hello.”  It was my poor attempt to lighten someone’s day.

“I love you.”

I recognized his husky whisper at once and knew I should hang up, but I didn’t.

“Who is this?”  I finally said.

“Will you talk to me?  I’ve missed you.”

My pulse began to pick up speed.  The caller sounded young.  Not boyish, but definitely not a mature man.

“Why do you want me to talk to you?”  I figured this was noncommittal.  I wasn’t actually talking to the telephone freak, I was asking questions.  Wasn’t that totally different?”

“Will you talk to me?  Are you busy?  Tell me what you’re doing.”  He pleaded.

I  relaxed and a warm feeling came over me.  This was getting interesting.  The high point of a dull day.

“I am kind of busy writing out checks.  Bill day always depresses me.  What are you doing?”

“I’m wishing I was there with you, kissing your soft full lips.  Would you like that?”

His words took me aback.  I don’t mind kidding around some, but he had to be put in his place.

“That depends on whose doing the kissing.  Look, do you know me?”  My voice had now become no-nonsense, and snappish.

“No, I don’t know you and you don’t know me.  It’s perfectly safe.  We could become lovers.”

I hung up.  This guy was a nutty as a Watergate salad.  I’m thirty-six years old, and have been married forever.  In all that time I’ve had a few offers, but always ran like a duck at the pillow factory when it got down to the real thing.

Not that I haven’t been tempted.  When they were building the house next door, oh that tractor driver?  He was prime male.  Direct too.  Came right out and asked if I cheated.

Alas, I’ve been content with my fantasies.  Attaching them to this good-looking male, or that, depending on my mood, or how strong they’ve come on.  But the lovemaking had always been in my own head.  The caller was suggesting something else, and I was running again.

I thought about him almost constantly for two days.


——-To Be Continued—–                                           all rights reserved

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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Valentine’s Day

Scan of a Valentine greeting card dated 1909.

Image via Wikipedia

Now that Valentine’s Day is behind us I’ve had the opportunity to make quite a few    V-Day observations.  At one time I felt that Valentine’s Day was just for Sweethearts.  Surely that was when I was a romantic young thing, dreaming about the only boy for me.  It is that day, set apart, when Sweethearts were supposed to confess their love for one another.

Poets as far back as Chaucer declared it the day that lovers expressed their undying affection.  Since you weren’t able to think of the proper words yourself, he would pen them for you.  Somewhere between fourteen hundred and two thousand and twelve, Hallmark got into the mix.  Virtually millions of dollars are spent on these romantic, funny, musical, sincere, and sometimes tasteless declarations of our affection for those people we either call our own, or wish to call our own.

More than ever before, this year, I saw on television sitcoms, dramas and even the nightly news, reminders or threats to men of all ages that they had better not forget their sweetie on Valentine’s Day, or the consequences would be dire.  I wonder who gets the real credit for that Russell Stover Heart?

Don’t get me wrong, I would not be thrilled to be forgotten on Valentine’s Day by the man I have spent more than my entire adult life with, but I will confess, and this is totally between you and me, that we shouldn’t need a Valentine’s Day at all, and it shouldn’t be just for Sweethearts.  Many people already realize this.

Love is shown throughout the year by acts of kindness and consideration.  Bringing someone a container of soup when they are feeling ill, reminding your honey that their favorite show is on tv when you would be rather watching Steel Magnolias for the fifth time.  I needn’t go on mentioning all the ways people show love.

For a long time we have all included our children onto that list of who must receive a chocolate filled heart, after all,  if we didn’t express our love with candy how would they know we really loved them.  But seriously, lets keep in mind our moms and dads, particularly those who are widowed or divorced.  Sometimes we forget them in our busy lives.  It occurred to me, as an adult, that my mother had not received a Valentine’s surprise in many years.  She never mentioned it, but I stopped to think about it, it made me sad.  She was widowed at thirty-nine.  Flowers began appearing on her door step from that day forward, every Valentine’s Day, until she passed.  That doesn’t mean I am soooo good, it means I should have thought of it much sooner.

I think I need to include all the people we know who might not have a special someone right now.  A note to wish them a happy Valentine’s Day just might make them smile.

Let’s face it, we don’t need Valentine’s Day to let people know we love them, what we need is a reminder to do so.  I imagine that is really what Valentine’s Day is special for.  It’s a great reminder.

Happy Valentine’s Day, yesterday, today, and all of the tomorrows.

Following is the Legend of St. Valentine – copied from History.Com 

The Legend of St. Valentine

The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Origins of Valentine’s Day: A Pagan Festival in February

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Valentine’s Day: A Day of Romance

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

Typical Valentine’s Day Greetings

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.

Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Some Things Never Change – Much


Image via Wikipedia

As a child we so looked forward to seeing our cousins and friends. You didn’t think of it as such at the time, but this was your gang, your peers, and the people who loved doing the same things you loved to do, when you wanted to do it, or you bit them. If you were one of the tallest children in the gang they rarely bit you back.

The world of teenagers revolves around friends. They judge their own worth against the opinion of those young people they admire, often for the wrong reasons. Their nonconformist clothing morphs into a uniform which defines the decade its worn in. Never mind that hip huggers on some turn other girls into muffin tops. If it’s the dress code of the hour, you squeeze your butt into them. Piercings, face tattoos, and safety pins pushed through the eye lids look so right when you are sixteen through twenty-one. Then you look for a job. Friends during these fragile years lift up or devastate you with their words and actions. Criticisms are harsh and reflect their own insecurities on you. But these are your homies. I am so glad not to be a teenager today.

Child rearing years push many friends into the low priority status. So much of our time is devoted to those darlings we’ve brought into the world, and whom we owe our undivided attention. Outside friendships are relegated to those people who are in the same stage of life as yourself. They need to be able to relate to diapers, school projects, drug worries, dances, driver permits, the need to discuss birth control, or they will be bored to death by the things that are such an important part of your current life. Married and single individuals hang out infrequently and those outings are often, “remember when”.

Ah, forty-five, fifty and so forth. The wonder years. Your gang now spans many years of age from perhaps forty to infinity and beyond, the phrase my friend buzz light year coined. No we don’t always like the same music, but we do love hanging out together with no need to be anyone but who we really are. While we may admire someone’s style, there is no pressure in taking it for our own. Truly non conformity. We can disagree and still call on each other to meet for dinner. Parties run the gamut from polite conversation and exchange of ideas to singing, dancing, loud fun exhanges. Taking real pleasure in our friends successes to the mingling of tears when they have sorrow.

Friends made during middle age and going forward are those where competition is a thing of the past. You would never tell a friend that they look good in an outfit when they don’t. They raise your spirits, and if a misunderstanding occurs, it’s not the end of the friendship. They show up at your door to straighten it out. When the gang does come over to play, they don’t look in the corners for dust, and best of all, I rarely have to bite them.

Yes, somethings never change, much. What has changed throughout the years is for the better. Love you my friends. May the wind always be at your back.

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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


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