Thursday, February 26, 2009


In response to a writing prompt at Life With a Little One and More
Fun and Games with Jenners
in which entrants are challenged to submit
bad opening sentences to imaginary novels

My entry:
The day after the first attempt on her life failed, Sassafras
awoke with a heart as light as a bowling ball wouldn't be.


In response to a writing prompt on Mama’s Losin’ It blog:
What made your childhood bearable?

        My childhood was not normally unbearable. Of course there were moments that weren’t great and I especially hated taking piano lessons from my father who was a pianist and organist. My hating to practice caused a lot of friction in the family. Of course we had chores to do and my parents were rather strict, discipline-wise, but I had a lot of fun things to do to keep me busy: making crafts, riding my bike, playing softball. Growing up, the other neighborhood kids and I played in the woods by ourselves for hours and no one seemed to worry about our safety.
        Even with all those fun things to do, I may not have survived childhood if I had not been able to read, for reading took me to another time and place. It made me forget my own petty childhood  problems. 
        The local library was about a half mile from our house. I walked or rode my bike there. I read every juvenile mystery in the library before I was in fourth grade. I had to have a special note from my mother to sign out books from the adult collection. My mother, of course, looked through the books before I read them to make sure they were approprriate for me. At that time, the adult collection wasn’t “adult” in the sense we think of today. Most mystery books were rather “cozy” such as those by Agatha Christie or Mary Roberts Rinehart ---where there was little or no blood and all the violence happened “off screen” so to speak.
       My grandmother gave us her old Reader’s Digest condensed books and I read most of those. I read every book my parents had in the house. I poured over my parents National Geographic magazines and continued to read detective and mystery novels.
       At the library, I picked up a list of books one should read before college. I read as many of those classics as I could squeeze into my summers: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Little Women, Gone With the Wind, Portrait of a Lady, My Antonia, The Great Gatsby, Robinson Crusoe, The Red Badge of Courage, The Scarlet Letter, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Alice in Wonderland, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Lord of the Flies, Look Homeward Angel, Main Street, The Three Musketeers, Jane Eyre and many more.
        I had a book with me almost all the time. Sometimes my mother had to pull it from my fingers and hide it until my chores were done. I often placed a book on the steps to the upstairs with the door closed at the bottom of the steps. There it was out-of-sight but handy once I completed my chores, and also ready to be carried upstairs if I were going to my room. No matter how often I asked her not to do it, my sister, who was a neatnik, would see my book on the steps and take it to my room, so when I went to grab it from the stairs it would be gone. I remember being angry at her a lot, because even the three minutes it took to run upstairs for my book meant three minutes I wasn't reading.
        We had a porch on the east side of the house, so it was shady on hot afternoons. I loved sitting there reading, but I also had ----not a tree house ----a tree “seat” my father had nailed to the limbs of the apple tree in the backyard, so I could read there, high in the branches unable to be seen from the house.
        I have never lost my love for reading. My husband and I make a weekly trip to the library. Reading is still my favorite escape from personal challenges or when I want to forget the problems of the world.  I learn from every book I read, fiction or nonfiction. Books enlighten me. They lighten the load.

      Mystery and detective novels are still among my favorites, but I read more non-fiction than I did when I was younger. Mark Twain has become a passion. I will be attending another Twain conference this coming summer.
        Although I still have real books within arm's reach, I listen to many audio books while I drive, do laundry or work in the garden. Audio books are a book lover’s dream ---to be able to do something else and “read” at the same time. Ah! That is paradise.

(©2009,C.J. Peiffer)

Thursday, February 19, 2009


In response to a writing prompt at Mama’s Losin’ It:
Write about something mean you did to a sibling growing up.

        My sister Linda was a practical jokester. Being three years older than I was, she thought of clever things to do to make my life miserable. When I was very small, she pretended to eat sand from our sandbox, telling me how good it tasted. Of course, I believed her and went crying to my mother with a mouth full of the horrible grit. Once when Linda was supposed to pack my lunch for Brownie day camp, I found two pieces of paper with the words “SWISS CHEESE” and “HAM” written on them between two slices of bread in my lunch bag. She even cut round holes of varying sizes in the paper labeled “SWISS CHEESE.”
        Every day for about a week, I found my wet toothbrush lying on the sink instead of in the holder above the sink. I ignored it for a few days. But Linda was patient. She was waiting for me to say something, then told me my toothbrush had fallen into the toilet so she didn’t want to put it in the rack with the other brushes. Of course, it hadn’t fallen in the toilet. She just said that to annoy me.

        It took me a while, but I soon realized Linda was terrified of many things. All I had to do was scare her with them. She was afraid of bugs and worms--- I loved chasing her around the yard with a juicy worm dangling from my fingers. She would scream and cry if she had to get a shot or have antiseptic applied to a cut or scrape. When she was 12, an episode of “Captain Video” scared her so much that we were never allowed to watch it again.
        Click HERE to see how totally inane it would be to be afraid of this old TV show. Besides a low budget and terrible acting, to save money this futuristic outer space show was interspersed with clips of old cowboy movies which were supposed to depict Captain Video’s undercover agents on Earth.
        One week, my sister had been particularly mean to me. She claimed I was responsible for something she had done ---and of course, I was punished for it. She had also punched my arm resulting in a painful 4-inch bruise, but when I blamed her, she told my mother I had fallen and was lying to get her into trouble. I was racking my brain for a clever way to pay her back, when an idea fell right into my lap.

        We were watching an episode of “The Thin Man” with Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk. On the internet, I discovered that the episode “Robot Client” aired on Friday 2/28/58. I was 12 and my sister was 15. (Click on the name of the episode to watch the video of it ---about 25 minutes.)
        The plot revolved around a scientist who had invented Robby the Robot to handle radioactive materials. When military officials showed up for a demonstration, Robby entered the room carrying a dead body.
        At that point, my sister screamed and cried and wouldn’t watch the rest of the show. I was 12 and it didn’t scare me at all. “The Thin Man” was a mystery/drama, but it was also a comedy.

        But then, I knew how I was going to get back at my sister and luckily I had two things I needed to do it.
        My parents bedroom was on the first floor of our house. My sister and I had separate rooms upstairs. My bedroom had two walk-in closets. One held my clothes, but the other was used for storage ---and that is where my two props had been packed away. I found what I needed and hid them under the bed so I wouldn’t have to be digging through the closet when everyone else was sleeping.
        I waited and waited until I was sure my sister was asleep. Over my PJs, I pulled on a Halloween costume from 1956. In 1958 it didn’t fit so well, but it would do. It consisted of pants and a pullover shirt that were made from a metallic gray fabric with black outlines that were supposed to look like dials and knobs. There was also a gray hood to hide my hair. The shirt may have looked somewhat like the illustration to the left.

        It was a rather poor excuse for a robot costume, but the best part was the mask.
        The red and blue mask had a piece of plastic, like a one-way mirror, so I could see out but no one could see in. Above that were two red eyes with flashlight bulbs in them. A wire ran from the mask down my arm. In my hand I held a cardboard cylinder made of two sections, one inside of the other with a spring inside. By squeezing it, contact was made with a D battery which made the eyes light up. Releasing it turned the eyes off.
        From a box in the closet I had retrieved an old rag doll. It was huge --probably four feet long, as you can see from the photo of it on my typically unmade bed ---from when I was about 8. I laid the doll across my arms to look like the robot on TV carrying a dead body.
        I crept down the hall to Linda’s room. At her open door, I started flashing the eyes off and on and walked stiff-legged like a robot. I grunted a little and bumped against the bed to wake her. Finally, she sensed my presence. In the light from my robot eyes, I saw her eyelids flutter open, then her startled face ----and then all hell broke loose.
        Her scream could have lifted the roof from the house. She sounded like Fay Wray when she spotted King Kong through her window. And my sister wouldn’t stop screaming. I ran to my room, tore off the mask, hood and costume shirt, and threw them under the bed along with the doll. I jumped into bed and pulled the covers to my neck. By that time, my mother had flown up the stairs. My father slept like the dead, so knew nothing had happened until the next day.
        I wiggled out of the costume bottoms, leaving them under the covers and stumbled down the hall rubbing my eyes, asking what was going on. I didn’t want to miss seeing my sister turning into a blob of quivering Jello. When she calmed down enough to speak, Linda kept saying the robot from “The Thin Man” had been in her room. My mother, at first, thought she had been having a nightmare. I tried to act totally innocent, but I couldn’t keep a straight face. My mother finally figured out what I had done.
        I hadn’t thought ahead enough to realize my sister’s sonic screams in the middle of the night could have given my mother a heart attack. However, my mother had a sense of humor and laughed about it the next day. Linda, however, never found any humor in the experience.
        I don’t remember my punishment so it probably wasn’t too terrible. But, no matter. It was worth it. Besides setting my sister’s knees knocking for a few days, the incident put an end to her pathetically amateur practical jokes. Ultimately, she realized she was in the presence of a master.

(©2009, C.J. Peiffer)
To read about my all-time best practical joke, click here: "CARD TRICK"


This is a post (partially) in response to "A Thousand Word Thursday"
Click on the link(s) to add your own response to the
challenge(s) or to view those submitted by others

I just discovered a website called SNOWDAYS where you can design your own unique snowflakes. The image above includes a few of my own efforts. If you want to create your own, click on the link and follow my instructions. SNOWDAYS is a little slow loading, so be patient.


1. Click on CREATE YOUR OWN SNOWFLAKE. It will show a virtual paper folded to create a six-sided flake.

2. Using your mouse, cut shapes into the edges, along the folds, and holes in the middle.
If you don't like what you have done, you can go back by clicking UNDO once or multiple times or you can start over by clicking RESET.

3. When you are happy with your result, choose DONE.

4. It will ask you to enter your name and other info. (I think you only need to enter a name and it can be a nickname.) Then click ADD.

5. It will then ask if you want to email it to anyone. If so, you can enter email addresses. Choose NO THANKS or SEND.

6. Wait until you see your snowflake fall from the sky on the animated picture. (Remember it moves slowly.) It will have an arrow that says YOURS.

7. Click on your snowflake. It will give you several choices for printing it. For example, you can print a greeting card or a single large flake. Your print will include the catalog number of the snowflake. If you keep a copy, you can retrieve it easily with that number, although you can use your name, too.

8. You may print other people's snowflakes, too. On the animated picture showing snow falling, there are large snowflakes floating down the page, but even the ones that look like dots are snowflakes that you can "catch" with a click of your mouse, then print.


CUTTING: If you are cutting a shape from the edge or on a fold, make sure you start and end your cut with your mouse outside of where the full sheet of folded paper would be. I found when I didn't do this, I often had little pieces of white that were floating outside of the rest of the design and sometimes it was difficult to eliminate them. You can always UNDO back several steps until you get to the step before that happened.

MAKING UNIFIED DESIGNS: You can start hacking away, removing any kind of shapes you wish ---and you may end up with a wonderful design that way. However, I suggest that a good way to unify your design is to make shapes that repeat a line or curve similar to one next to it.

On the example below, Notice that lines in the same color seem to repeat lines above, below or beside that one.

(You might also notice that when this section of snowflake is greatly enlarged, the lines aren't as smooth as they appear when smaller.)

I don't want my snowflakes to look the same all over. If every shape I cut were a circle or a diamond shape, the final design would lack interest. You might decide to make all your pieces curved in one snowflake or with straight lines and pointy edges in another to give it unity, and still make each cut a unique shape.

Another thing you can do, is, make the top of a shape curved (for example) and the bottom zig-ziggy. Then make the shape next to the zig-zag repeat that zig-zag and make the bottom of the next shape sort of squarish. The next shape might be squarish at the top next to the other squarish line and curvy at the bottom, and so on.

Another way to add variety, is to make the distances between the cut shapes vary, so there will be more white space in some areas and less in others. At the example at the top of this page, the snowflake at the lower right was done with small areas between cuts toward the center and larger spaces toward the outside edges.

SIMPLE OR INTRICATE DESIGNS: You can make designs as simple or as intricate as you wish, but the system may eventually tell you that you have reached your creative limit. At that point you can UNDO, RESET or decide that you are DONE.

MAKING A COLORFUL PRINT: The backgrounds on the printouts are gray, so they aren't all that pretty. After printing each of mine, I scanned it. Then, in Phtotoshop, I chose just the white flake, copied and pasted it onto a blue background.

THE IMAGE ABOVE: The image at the top of this page includes my first three snowflake designs created on SNOWDAYS (the 3 large flakes) plus numerous copies of the same three flakes which I scaled to smaller sizes.

I'm sure this would be fun for kids, but it does take some skill to control the mouse, so it probably won't work well for children under 9 or 10 unless they have excellent mouse skills. With younger children, you could ask them where they wanted you to place a circle, triangle, diamond, square, curve or zig-zag ---so they can help you create a snowflake and also learn the names of shapes.


You can, of course, do this with real paper. I recommend paper no thicker than printer paper. Construction paper is normally too thick. White butcher paper works well.

Start with a square ---I recommend at least 8 inches. Even though snowflakes are six-sided, the easiest thing to do is fold the paper in half three times. This will result in an eight-sided flake. Use a compass with the point at the pointed end of the folded paper, to draw a curve on the outside edge. Cut it along that line.

Now start cutting just as you would on the website. Use sharp scissors. If you want very intricate or lacy effects manicure scissors work well. When cutting where there are no folds or edges, you can either use an Exacto knife (with cardboard underneath to protect your work area) or you can make more folds anywhere, but be careful you are not cutting through to other openings. (Look at both the front & back to see previous cuts.)

Another possibility, is to draw your design with pencil before cutting. Instead of attempting to erase the pencil lines on the delicate snowflake, turn the paper to the clean side.

You can paste the snowflake on colored paper.

At the left is an example of one of my hand-cut snowflakes.

(©2009 C.J. Peiffer)

You may make copies of this post (with attribution) for EDUCATIONAL purposes only.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


        In February of 1989, the school district where I taught selected me to attend a workshop for William Glasser’s Reality Therapy or what we called Responsibility Training, the new discipline program the school would be enacting district-wide the following school year.
        Charlie who was also selected to attend, picked me up at the junior high and we drove to the airport. I knew who Charlie was, but since he taught in an elementary building, I didn’t know him well. He confessed on the way that he was not fond of flying.
        We were seated in the plane waiting for takeoff when the man in front of us lifted his newspaper. The headline was about an airplane flying from Hawaii in which a door flew open in flight and several passengers had been ejected from the plane and lost at sea. Charlie was not happy. However, I convinced him of the unlikelihood of two plane disasters in one day. With white knuckles he gripped the arms of his seat as we took off.
        A van picked us up at at the airport in Cincinnati to take us to the small college where the workshop was being held. I expected all of the participants to be teachers, but most worked in other fields such as psychology, drug rehabilitation, counseling, or law enforcement.
        Apparently our school district had enrolled us late. There were no rooms for us at the college, so we were told that another woman and I would share a room in a motel in Covington, KY, just across the river, and Charlie would have his own room there. While we waited for my roommate in a reception area of the college, a drama was playing out elsewhere.

        A workshop participant named Tanya showed up at the registration desk, signed in and was given a key and directions to a dorm room. Tanya used the key to open the door to the room. Already situated were three middle-aged women in the four-bed room. They looked up in shock to see Tanya. One woman gasped, but recovered and politely inquired what Tanya was doing there.
        “Uh, I think we have a problem. I’m supposed to be your roommate.”
        Tanya backed out of the room and returned to the registration desk to explain that there had been an error in the room assignments.

        In the photograph below, you will see why Tanya’s “roommates” were a little shocked. 


        Tanya was paired with Charlie to share his room at the motel. Just to make things more confusing, my roommate was a female named Danni. 
        Over the next few days, we got to know each other. Danni was a parole officer. Charlie’s wife was eight months pregnant with their first child, so he was on the phone with her five or six times a day to make sure she was doing okay.
        Tanya worked at a juvenile detention center. At the college cafeteria, he filled two plates of food and four or five glasses of milk for each meal, and told us all his siblings were about his size including his sisters who were over six feet tall. It was no surprise to learn he had been a defensive end at Michigan State and had been drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 1980.
        Despite his intimidating appearance, Tanya was a gentle man with a great sense of humor. During one of the workshop exercises, he had tears in his eyes when he spoke if his grandmother. When he told us the story of this room assignment mix-up ---or perhaps his mistaken "sexual identity" ---he had us in stitches. 
        I had to have a photo of the four of us together. Every time I told this story, I would display the photo at just the right moment.
        My principal thought Tanya might be a good person to hire as a one-man discipline machine for our entire school system. 
Note: I am about 5'8" ---Tanya appears to be at least 6'8".
(photo and text ©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

Thursday, February 12, 2009


This is a post in response to "A Thousand Word Thursday"
Click on the link and share your own photograph.

After living in Brazil for two years, I stopped in Peru on my way home. Along with two friends, I explored the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu for most of one day. At the hotel, we requested a pre-dawn wake-up call so we could experience the sun rising over the Andes Mountains.
This is one of the photographs I took that day.
If I had to choose a favorite place on earth, this would be it.

For more information, please read my post "Tether the Sun" about my visit to Machu Picchu on this blog or the same story at my other blog A Little "Peace" of Brazil about my experiences in the Peace Corps in northeastern Brazil.
(photo ©2006, C.J. Peiffer)


In response to a writing prompt at Mama’s Losin’ It:
List your five most recent favorite things.

I decided to choose one thing from 5 different categories of things I like.

1. FOOD: After living in Brazil for several years where I had the choice of 12 different varieties of bananas, here bananas just didn’t taste right to me, so I rarely ate them for nearly 40 years. In a recent attempt to add more fiber to my diet, I started to eat cereal with soy milk and a sliced banana for breakfast. 
        I like my bananas when still slightly green ---and hate them once they turn fully yellow. Luckily my husband likes them slightly riper than I do, so he can eat the ones beyond my personal expiration date, and when they go beyond his, he bakes banana bread.

2. TV: I love Life ---that is “Life” as in the TV show, the story of a police office Charlie Crews, who was framed for murder and spent 12 years in jail before being exonerated and reinstated on the L.A. police force. Charlie got life, but then got his life back.
        Besides working on current cases with his partner Dani Reese (played by Sarah Shahi) he is attempting to solve the murder for which he was wrongly accused. Cruise is played by British actor Damian Lewis ---without a hint of a British accent. Charlie is quirky. He loves to eat fresh fruit because it was scarce in prison. He has a unique, almost Zen-like, take on life. Adam Arkin plays Ted Early, his former cellmate, who is now managing Charlie’s fortune, won in a lawsuit for wrongful imprisonment.
        I like this show because I enjoy mysteries, detective stories, and police procedurals, so I like following a murder case on each episode, but I also like the ongoing mystery of the murder Charlie was accused of. And I love that “Life” has a sense of humor.

3. MOVIES: My husband and I watch a lot of movies. We pass a library from a huge library system on the way to my mother’s. There, we can find new releases, old black and white films, and practically anything from the BBC. We can order videos or DVDs online and have them delivered to that branch of the library. With our Netflix subscription we can have 3 films signed out at once. Our list there, has 420 DVDs on it ---and if we are ever without a film we haven’t watched, we can watch something instantly online with Netflix. 
        Although we sometimes enjoy a recent popular film, our tastes are rather offbeat. We like foreign films, even with subtitles, documentaries and films about nature. “A Room With A View” is on both my husbands and my top-5 list. My husband loves film noir and old horror films like the original “Dracula” and “King Kong.” I like romantic comedies, if not too silly. Among my favorites are “Moonstruck,” “Tootsie,” and “Bull Durham.” Since we don’t have cable TV, we also like to view videos or DVDs of TV shows we have missed such as “The Wire” and “Lost.”
          For a recent favorite, I have chosen “Saudade do Futuro” a Brazilian documentary about street musicians in São Paulo. You can find more about this film on a post at my other blog, A Little “Peace” of Brazil.

4. WEBSITE: I discovered several months ago. I love watching full-length movies and a zillion old TV shows. You can also catch up on many current shows you may have missed, like “Life.” One is subjected to a few short commercials, but they aren’t extremely intrusive.

5. BLOG: It is nearly impossible to choose a favorite, but one I love is “The Big Storm Picture.” It features photographs taken by those crazy people known as storm chasers. 
        One can view photographs showing the aftermath of storms and their devastation, but the most dynamic photographs are of the storms while they are brewing. It seems odd that storms can be so destructive and also extremely beautiful. I especially like the photos that show both black storm clouds and patches of sunshine, making for dramatic contrast.
        Here are links to a few of my favorite photographs: Haybales Portal in the Sky Down With the Topmast! Supercell at Sunset Kansas

Sunday, February 8, 2009

TONE DEAF: Part Three

        Despite my hatred of piano lessons and relative indifference to music, as posted in Tone Deaf: Part One (Piano Lessons) and Tone Deaf: Part Two (The Missing Gene) somehow almost everyone I ever dated seriously or married was/is extremely interested in music. I wonder what a Psychiatrist would have to say about that. There have been far too many to write about here, but I will mention a few.

        Of course the first man in my life was my father, a pianist and church organist. He also became my piano (and later organ) teacher. See Part One of this series: Piano Lessons for more information on our relationship


        My first boyfriend, J, was a saxophone player in his high school band and orchestra. His family belonged to a conservative Christian sect and he was not allowed to listen to rock music, but he loved popular music and listened to it anyway. He just had to remember, before getting out of the family car, to set the radio back to classical music or to Christian radio. 
        We met on a blind date at the beginning of the summer just before I turned 16.  J was tall, handsome, and blond. He gave me my first kiss and I fell hard for him. But while I lived in a northern suburb, he lived on the southern side of the city, nearly an hour’s drive. When school started, his parents made him stop seeing me because I lived so far away and they expected J to perform at the top of his class during his senior year. His family’s extreme religious expectations would have eventually turned me off, I'm sure, but the break up from my first serious boyfriend was devastating.


        My first college boyfriend, D, was a French horn player and music major. He and his friends had a small combo in which he played piano. We rarely attended college social events because he was always playing for a school dance, a frat party, or a local wedding. He was involved in rehearsals and performances of the marching band and for the annual musical. He played his horn in a brass ensemble and the university’s orchestra. He often played piano accompaniment for vocalists at music recitals.
        Music majors were expected to practice every night in the music building’s practice studios and they had to attend every musical performance on campus. There were performances by undergraduate and graduate students, visiting musicians or orchestras, both instrumental and vocal concerts ---several each week. I started attending the concerts with D, not to hear the music, but because it was one of the only chances we had to see each other.
        In college, I was the only person in my Music Appreciation class who earned an A ---partially because of what I had learned from my hated piano lessons, and partially because of D’s help.
        I learned one valuable musical lesson from D. He taught me to listen to the lowest notes of music. If I listened to, for example, the bass, I could hear all the music above it. If I just listened to the melody, that was all I heard.


        Fast forward to my first husband D2. Although he was not a musician, he was extremely into rock music. Despite financial struggles, he often purchased expensive tickets for live performances. We attended a Led Zeppelin concert at the local stadium. People in the audience were throwing firecrackers into the crowd. When I was in elementary school, a boy in my school had blown off several fingers with a firecracker, so I knew the damage they could cause. I was afraid someone would lose a finger or an eye. I insisted we move to the highest section in the stadium, far above the firecracker crazies.
        Sometime later, we attended a B.B. King concert at a large municipal auditorium. The couple behind us talked throughout the entire concert about which kind of pipe they used for smoking marijuana. When others asked them to be quiet, they were told to f*** off. The guy was rather large and had a menacing appearance, so everyone let it go. But I was fuming. Why would someone pay good money to attend a concert, then not listen to any of it? Then some audience members started to light sparklers in the crowded seats. Finally, B.B. King stopped the show to announce he could not continue because of the fire hazard ---and finally the idiots put away the sparklers.
        We attended an Alice Cooper concert at another public arena. While most of the seats were tiered, we were on a flat floor on uncomfortable folding chairs. When the people in front of us stood on their seats, we could see nothing. It was Friday night. I had been on my feet all day ---actually all week ---teaching school. While D2 stood on his seat, I refused to stand up. So I sat through the concert and saw nothing. After that, I told my husband the next time he wanted to attend a concert, to buy one ticket. With the money he would have spent on my ticket, he could buy himself recordings of the artist and listen as often as he wished, because I had attended my last rock concert.


        My second and current husband, K, played classical guitar, which he had taught himself. He had taken voice lessons, studying opera while he worked in New York City. His job there was in a recording studio of the music department of a major university. Also, he had built himself a clavichord which he also taught himself to play.
        K listened to a classical music station or classical recordings. He rented opera videos from the library. I don’t have much interest in either classical or operatic music, but, as explained in a previous post, I don’t have much interest in any music. Willing to learn, I asked my husband to tell me the story lines of the operas he watched. Soon I began to notice a trend. After that, I'd walk into the room where he was watching or listening to an opera and I would ask, “Which woman dies at the end of this one?”  
        My husband claims the only time I seem to be interested in music is when some oldie comes on the radio and I get silly and start swaying to the beat while mouthing the lyrics.
        We have a huge detached garage. If it weren’t filled with tools and other junk, we could store five cars. At a secondhand shop, we found some old traffic lights. One is a stop light that is wired to flash green, yellow, red about every five seconds. The other is a walk/don’t walk sign which flashes between the two options. We installed both in the garage. 
        In order to entice me into helping him with a project in the garage, one night K turned off the classical music and cranked up the speakers on an oldies station. When we were finishing for the night, we turned off the overhead fluorescent lights. Neither of us likes to dance much, but when “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” came on the radio, he grabbed me for a twirl around the garage floor. With only the flashing traffic lights, it was a romantic moment, almost as if we had our own private disco.


        I called this piece A CAPPELLA, which means "unaccompanied." I thought it was an appropriate title because the men in my life (father, boyfriends, and husbands) have had to, for the most part, enjoy their music alone, unaccompanied by me.

(©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

Please see my previous posts on this topic

Thursday, February 5, 2009


This is a post in response to "A Thousand Word Thursday"
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A photo of myself that I actually like:
        When I taught art, we teachers had to have our photos taken each year for the yearbook. We had to sit for the photographer around 7:00 am, before students arrived. I am NOT a morning person, so in my photo I always looked like I had just eaten a lemon. If I received a fairly good image of myself, I used that same photo for the next seven or eight years until another good one showed up. 
        I am just not photogenic. Usually, I look like my smile is fake or I am not smiling at all. Or my eyes are closed. Or there is glare in my glasses. Or my hair is a mess. It's always something.

        A few days ago, I visited my 94-year-old mother. When I arrived, she was showing family photographs to a man from her church. She handed me the one above and asked where it was taken. On the back was written "1987" the year I turned 42 and she turned 73. Some relatives from out of town had been visiting, so we met at the home of other relatives for dinner. I drove there after a day of teaching. Otherwise I would have been wearing jeans instead of a dress.
        Despite the big hair, I like this photo of me. I look bright and happy. That may be because it was taken in the afternoon when I was full of energy and felt like a real person, not at dawn when any sensible person would be in bed. 
        Of course, I would look good ---I was 22 years younger in that picture than I am now. And despite the strangely-tinted glasses my mother is wearing, by contrast she looks healthy compared to her current frailness. 
        Until I find a better one, I will say the photo above was "my best shot."
(©2009, C.J.Peiffer)