“What do you write about?”
That’s the most common question I get when I tell people I write a blog. So, the other day while visiting with Lynn at her Green Valley Lake cabin and her next-door neighbor, Katie, the question was asked.
“Nothing. I mean everything. I dunno, I’m all over the map. I just tell the stories about stuff that happens to me, or some ordinary event tickles my imagination and off I go on a tangent. Sometimes I write about adventures or trips, but mostly I just sit down and see what comes out of my fingers. I’m a pantser.”
“A what?” asked Katie, who was visiting with her cute little dog, Lola.
“A pantser. I write by the seat of my pants like I live life. You know, leap first, look later?”
I must have sparked something for Katie ’cause she started talking and had me belly-laughing so hard I could barely breathe. How we got on the subject of religion I’ll never know. Maybe it was something about me explaining Grandma’s mezuzah that I wear around my neck.
Then Lynn pipes up, “Wait a minute, you’re Jewish? What about that giant Christmas tree you always haul into your tiny apartment every year?”
“Well, yeah. I’m only Jewish on Jewish holidays to honor Grandma. I was raised Protestant in the Dutch Reformed Church, but only at Eastertime so I could perform in the skit and get a box of chocolates as a reward. And then, of course, I went to Holy Family Church in Canarsie with my Irish Catholic father’s family for the Christmas Eve candlelight service. I especially liked dipping my hand in the Holy Water and making the sign of the cross. And it was really fun to unroll those kneeling cushions — up, down, up, down. Kept me from falling asleep ’cause I didn’t understand Latin.”
Katie chimed in, “Oh yeah, the Catholic Church. I went to confession after years of absence. My knees were knocking as I entered the booth. I just stood there petrified. I guess he was waiting for me to say ‘Bless me Father for I have sinned.’ I didn’t do that. I just stood there frozen. After a while, he asked me what I came to confess.”
“I said I didn’t know where to start because I’m pretty sure I broke nine out of the ten commandments. No murder, but everything else…”
“Just speak from the heart,” said the priest gently.
Katie said she was in the action business and God is in the results business. Not sure what that means, but I enthusiastically nodded my head to keep her talking.
She went on, “My husband, Mario, left me after thirteen years and I knew there was something not right with me. I’m still trying to figure it out.”
“One day at a time, Katie, one day at a time. That’s all any of us can do. Maybe there’s something not right with Mario either. Probably something not quite right with all of us. Meanwhile, just keep talking and laughing. Maybe convert to Judaism — they don’t have confession. I can teach you how to make a mean matzoh ball.”
Switching subjects seemed like a good idea so I asked if I could send her an invitation to my blog.
She brightened up, “Oh, yes, please. I’ve got plenty of time and would love to read about your capers.”
“Great! I suggest you start from the beginning and read ‘Rats and Robbers,’ an eight-part series I wrote about living in Costa Rica.”
“Rats?! I thought I had rats. I saw droppings on a high shelf in my pantry. I hate rats. I was home one day and I saw a small dark blur running across my kitchen floor. I ran to the front door and hollered ‘Lola, go get him!’ She bolted out the door so fast but then I saw it was a squirrel — no rat. She kept on running and I thought, ‘Oh sweet Moses, how am I gonna catch ya now’?”
“Is Lola a rat terrier?”
“Rat terrier? I don’t know. I got her from the pound eight years ago. She’s my little buddy and I have no idea what breed she is. There must be some kind of hunter in her ’cause she took off after that critter big time.”
“So, it was a squirrel, not a rat.”
“Right. I thought I better clean up the turds on the shelf. I got the step ladder, got some rags and a bottle of spray cleaner. When I got to the top I saw coffee grounds that had spilled on the shelf. No rat.”
I nodded my head, poured us all another glass of wine, told more stories and laughed into the night.
I think I’ll take a hike and contemplate the big rocks on the trail of San Bernardino National Forest and look for critters. I doubt I’ll see a rat, but ya never know.