When we first got internet access In 2000, I was very timid about everything. I found some newsgroups about the health issues I was enduring and read long enough to know I wanted to be a part of them but needed an email account. Should I put my real name out there? Will it make things weird? Am I neurotic?

So I opted for using a screen name. Advice from family members ranged from “whatever you want it to be” to “make it about what you like to do.”  Well, I didn’t do much anymore as my body had done me wrong and I spent more time on the computer than on the couch and more time on the couch than in bed. I would still like to do a lot things, but I no longer could.

Finally the right offspring came through. She thought about it for a minute. She was old enough to really remember when I was busy. I wrote music, conducted some choirs, sang in church choir etc. And with my other hand I raised the five children I birthed.

Need I say more? Melodymom.  Ta-da!

The End.

Ashes to Joy

Every day when I wake I feel sorrow and pain.

With my feet on the floor I struggle to gain

Enough strength to force this body upright.

Going through the motions, first steps are taken

Slowly, so slowly, the cobwebs are shaken,

Darkness recedes from strengthening light.

Things of yesterday have not all been burned

In the fire, nor have they all been turned

To ashes. Some now glow as the refiner’s gold.

Joy’s hands reach in with warmth and start

To touch and heal this tired heart

With songs of praise both new and old.

God is Love.

Back in NYC

I never lived in a big city when I lived in New York State so any trip to the City brought me a sense of excitement, anticipation, adventure and a dash of wonder. Some of the memories are of class trips to museums and planetariums and once to the Opera. When I was 14 and a freshman in high school, a class trip took us to the NY World’s Fair. I remember the Ford exhibit, Disney’s Small World, some other exhibits and Jessie and I began hanging out because we had found a compelling reason to become good friends — we both smoked.  Just when we found a cigarette machine, another couple of girls came over to us. I said to Jessica something to the effect of ‘oh, no’ and she whispered to me that one of the girls also smoked. This third person heard her name spoken and inched over closer.

“I do what?”,


“Oh. So does she,” referring to the other girl.

And so began our friendship, a happily puffing foursome, though I do remember we did our happy puffing in semi-protected spots always on watch for someone from our school, especially a teacher. My neck was achy later that night from playing a guilty turtle on her way into her shell. We hung out together for quite a while, and then something happened that rather weakened the friendship. We met a couple of boys. I think they were a year or so older than we were and pretty cute. The six of us wandered for a bit and the guys moved in on the ones they had chosen. A while later the two unpicked girls peeled off leaving the boys with Jess and me.  We found Bourbon Street, every snack bar in our paths, and sweaty hand-holding. Jessie and I had a deadline for getting back to our schoolbus and we ended up running, still holding the hands of our one-day boyfriends, reaching the bus with just enough time to have a kiss and a hug in full view of our classmates. The long trip home was the time for feeling exhilarated and a little triumphant. Bad me. I did gloat a little. We neither saw nor spoke to them again, but we had our memories.

I have previously written about going to the city once with Jessica and her mother and sister. After that Jessie and I went several times on our own. A lot of things happened on our various trips, but what happened on which day gets pretty muddled in my mind. We met some really sweet guys and some really nasty ones. We were hit on frequently.  If it was convenient we went with the flow just to see what would happen. We frequently had decided on our plans ahead of time, and if the guys were not going our way then we nicely but firmly bid them farewell. There is one day, though. that remains fairly intact in my memory.

We said good-bye to whichever parent had driven us to the train station in Katonah. bought our round-trip ticket, boarded our train, and headed to Grand Central Station. This day we went to the library (huge!) and found some material copy-worthy for whatever report we had to do, made our copies, crammed them into our respective purses, and headed for the nearest subway station. Jessie could read the maps. I am so directionally challenged I could never figure out which way to go or even where we were. Once I was underground, I was absolutely, entirely and utterly lost. But with my best friend by my side I knew we’d reach our goal. This day we were going to Coney Island.

Ah, Coney Island! I’d heard about it so much about it, and never been there before.  The sun was shining, the sky was as blue as it could be on the east coast – smog, don’t you know – and we were young. I even remember what I was wearing! It was a dress my mother had made for me, an A-line mini-dress with a paramecium print, predominantly yellow and green with black and white adding definition and accents. I can’t quite visualize the shoes, but I remember my earrings. They were from a set of different colors of half-balls that popped onto the dangling part of the earrings (clip-ons). I did one side green and one side yellow to match my dress and felt all fashionable and stuff.  We began to stroll through the amusement park trying to see everyone and everything at once. We made our way up to a stand to get something to drink, and turning away from there we came face to face with a group of boys around our age. There were four of them and two of us. Perfect! At the time we didn’t refer to them as boys, as we felt ourselves to be too sophisticated to be hanging out with “kids.” Nor did we think of them as men, not even young men. Men were those older ones who were probably married with children. Young men were people’s little brothers dressed up in a suit and tie for the first time. No, we called them “guys.”

Guys were the males of our age or maybe a few years older. Guys rode motorcycles (loved them), sometimes wore leather (loved it), sometimes wore English Leather (LOVED it), drove or had a friend who did, and could keep up with us on the dance floor (not all that easy!). We never did learn if these guys did any of those things, but it really didn’t matter. They were gorgeous! We made our introductions and made an interesting discovery. One spoke English fairly well. One spoke some English hesitantly. They all spoke Italian. They were first generation Italians who lived in an Italian neighborhood and didn’t have much need for English. As we headed to the roller-coaster, the famous Cyclone, we naturally paired off. Jessie got the English speaker, I was claimed by the one who spoke some of my language, and the other two just followed along looking for girls of their own. Makes us sound like puppies.

The first thing I saw after being seated was the sign above us directing us to remove all items from our top pockets, and warning about some items of jewelry if memory serves. I removed my dangling spheres, stashed them firmly in the bottom of my purse, and wrapped both arms around the safety bar in front of me. The cars started with a rattle and a couple of jerks (not us), and I spent the rest of the ride alternating between terror and exhilaration, between feeling sick and feeling wonderfully alive! When the ride ended it was hard to unwrap my arms from the bar and once I had let go and disembarked I found my legs were a touch wobbly. My friend asked if I was okay. I answered, “Let’s do it again!”

We spent the next couple of hours on the beach being athletic show-offs. I, in my mini-dress and bare feet, won the long jump. Mostly we admired each other with a gentle wrestling match thrown in now and then. Communication was slow, a matter of guessing what was being said and trying to simplify until we reached an understanding.  My guy wrote my phone number down and we parted ways. He called me from a pay phone a few times after that day to ask when I was coming back, but when he told me he had to see me again, I asked him why. He responded with emotion, “It’s about love!”  I don’t remember what I said then but I never saw nor heard from him again.

Jessie and I left the beautiful guys and headed back to Grand Central. We had a car to ourselves initially. Most of the seats are in rows perpendicular to the sides but we chose one with the back against the side of the train. With the seat at a forty-five degree angle to ours being empty, Jessica placed her coat on it, stashing her purse under the coat.. A few stops later, a nicely dressed man somewhere in the vicinity of sixty boarded the subway. With all the empty seats in the car, only one would do – the one by us. He seated himself, bowed his head in our direction and struck up a conversation with Jessie. He avoided my eye to keep both of his on my friend. After an introduction was made in which Jess included me and he did not, he invited her to dinner. Just her.

“Denise and I are here together. I don’t want to leave her alone.”

“She’s a big girl. She can take care of herself,” he replied gruffly.

“Then I have to decline your invitation, sir!”

In retrospect I am entertained by his desire for the exploitation of Jessie running head on into our desire for a free meal. Users all.

Jessica suddenly noticed his hand creeping slowly under the edge of her coat. She, appearing calm and unhurried, reached under her coat from our side and slid her purse out, casually looking in it for anything that would explain her looking in it, finally locating her chapstick. She ran the tube over her lips a few times, and put it back in her purse which she then closed up and set in the small space between us. Standing up for a few seconds, she put on her coat. Old Guy, a.k.a. Older Man, again began talking to Jess about the nice restaurants he could take her but before he could once again attempt to lure her into his lair, another person boarded the subway car. The new guy looked around at the nearly empty car and made a beeline for the empty seat next to Old Guy. Guy had to maneuver over Old Guy’s leg to get into the inner seat. Leaning forward a little, and nearly touching Jessie with his knees, he acknowledged both of us. The good thing about this was the derailing of Old Guy’s plans. The look on Old Guy’s face was priceless, causing us to clamp down on the giggles wanting to escape.  The downside was, well, everything else.

Guy was somewhere around twenty, maybe. His hair was greasy, his clothes were shabby, his teeth were blackened or missing, his lips were crusted and brown, and he stank, stinked, stunk, and smelled bad besides! He began to try to engage us in conversation and the first whiff of his alcohol-soaked and rotting breath woke up my gag reflex. We couldn’t help it. A few giggles and a snort got loose. Jessica bit down a little on her index finger to try to get control.

Guy: Why do you have your finger in your mouth. Did you hurt it?

Jessie: (removes finger from mouth) No. I just like to do it. (replaces finger, bites harder)

Guy: Why do you like it?

Jessie: (around finger) Cuzsh it tashtsh good.

Guy: Let me taste it!

Okay, we let out some strangled noises despite our intentions. I spent the duration of the conversation trying to do the turtle thing, keeping the guffaws completely internal. The outward signs of them were shaking shoulders and tears running down my face

Guy: What are you laughing at?

Jessie: We just remembered something funny that happened this morning.

Guy (looking suspicious): Are you girls laughing at me?

Jessie: Um-mmm.  ( grabs her purse and starts looking through it desperately)

Guy: I hope your not laughing at me. I have a knife you know. Yeah, I just got out of jail for stabbing someone who laughed at me!

That did it for us. The train had just stopped at a station. The doors next to us opened. We waited, and without any apparent communication we together jumped up and out the doors just a nanosecond before they closed. We didn’t wait to see what was happening back in the car. We just started running, laughing and running. When finally out of breath and feeling secure, we slowed down and came to a stop to light up, of course. While we stood there a vertically challenged bag lady approached us, walking bent over to one side with a slow gait that reminded me of a crab’s walk.

Bag Lady: Girls, do you have a cigarette you can spare?

Me: Sure. Do you want a Marlboro or a Salem?

BL: Marlboro, please.

I pulled one out of my purse and held it out to her,

BL: Throw it on the floor.

Me: Huh?

BL: Throw it on the floor, please, miss.

Me: Okay.

I tossed it on the sidewalk between us. Bag Lady slowly bent down while walking about halfway around the coffin nail, thereby screwing herself down close enough to the “floor” to pick up her cigarette. She straightened herself up to her normal bend.

BL: Do you have a match?

Me: (pulling a book from my purse) Sure!

Bag Lady: Throw it on the floor please, miss.

I tossed, we ran, and eventually stopped and laughed and laughed. We had left the subway long before our stop and were in heretofore unknown territory. The street had four lanes and, to our astonishment, almost no traffic. A large black man wearing what to us was flamboyant clothing was standing across the street. There was barely a breeze in this concrete canyon so when he called across the street to us we could hear him well.

Big Man: (bright smile) Hello, ladies. How might you be on this fine day?

One of us:  (sounding for all the world like a foreign language dialogue)  Fine,  thank you. How are you?

Big Man: (huge smile) Are you girls looking for work? Need a place to stay? I can help you out with anything you need.

Us: No, we’re just visiting here today.

Bid Man:  (Big Hungry Smile). But if you need anything, I’ll help you out. Just ask for N***** Chris. Anyone can tell you where to find me.

He smiled some more and waved. We were already running. We were shocked, not only because he’d said the “n” word, but also because he called himself  N-word Chris, like that was his given name! Being the smart (yes) and sophisticated (NO) baby women we were it took a while for it to sink in – I think it was over dinner – that Chris Big Man was a pimp! Oh my goodness! And he was inviting us to add to his profits. If we hadn’t been really hungry we might have jumped up from the food and started running again.

Later, back on the train heading for home sweet home, Jessie and I were exhausted and all those unused giggles kept rising up and drowning us in hilarity, the hilarity of the young, the invincible, the unbelievably lucky. Ah, Jessica. I miss you so.

I Know This Place

I know this place. I’ve been here before,

Though I can’t remember when, or who

Was my companion and what

We did or didn’t do.

I know that big old apple tree

Growing by that old stone wall

With apples gone and dropping leaves

With upraised arms it greets the fall.

I’ve seen this field in winter’s rest

And in rebirth in spring.

I’ve seen the blossoms turn to fruit

While birds return to sing.

I’ve seen this place before,

And I hope I will again.

I yearn both day and night

For a place I’ve never been.

Inside Out

I am sitting in my chair, laptop atop my lap, dog curled up, also on my lap, close enough to work as an armrest. The temperature has cooled down and a breeze gently comes through the screen window, for which I am very grateful. My body is like a rare and delicate flower needing a coolhouse as opposed to a hothouse where I am wilted and grumpy. I also need sunlight. I am aware of how many times I use the words “me” and “my” and “I” as “I” talk about “my” opinions, observations, and wisdom.  “I” am sort of kidding. It is all about “me.”

Sometimes I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. I’m fairly certain most people have suffered that loneliness, heaviness, belief that they don’t belong. Most of the time though I am on the inside looking out. In a literal sense I sit in the living room looking out at the streets and scenery and flying things.

The street I live on starts just out of my normal view. I don’t know my neighbors but I see their cars passing, first leaving then returning later. Thanks to tinted windows and the angle of vision I don’t know the faces in the cars and only know which driveways are home to a couple of the vehicles. The cars turn right at the end of my little street to go down a few blocks on the downhill slope to another street that offers a left or right choice. In the winter I have a clear view of the hill. In the summer pieces of pavement are hidden by leafy deciduous trees in all shapes, sizes and shades of green so the cars play an involuntary game of Peek-a-Boo as they come and go.

The scenery is far better than the pavement and cars for soothing and calm and sometimes awe. Though I am unable to name the trees other than nonsense names like Griselda Mae and Jones, I am still amazed by the variety and change. I rarely tire of watching them bow and sway with the passing breeze, their changing colors both spring and fall, and the awe-inspiring storms bending the vulnerable trees to their will, breaking even the strongest, changing the shape of the weakest and leaving in their wake a testimony to the magnificence of the wind and storm.

I also, from the inside looking out, am diverted by the flying things. The birds come first on the list of things in the sky. Spring and fall the geese and ducks and many smaller birds clutter the sky in flocks and squawks, in formations and with direction, hundreds flying together with no obvious order and a few playing leap-frog as they travel from tree to tree. The sizes vary from flock to flock, the colors vary from bird to bird and season to season. Some fly smoothly, their bodies seeming to travel in a straight line. Some rise and fall with the beating of their wings and have to fly extra distance because of that rise and fall.  I find them fascinating.

And clouds! Varied, ever-changing, hanging in layers above me.  I have a view in my room, too, and often watch them spread across the sky, the layers moving independently, the sun playing with the colors by making some cast shadows on others revealing the separations, the heights and the depths.

There are also airplanes day and night. I enjoy watching the holding patterns of the big planes headed for the big airport on the nights where there are especially long delays. They also play peek-a-boo, first hiding in the clouds, then popping out again farther west or now heading north. Small airplanes fly immediately overhead aiming for the small airport. And then there are those various aircraft going home to JBLM (Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the local army and air force base).

Sometimes, when the family is all together here for occasions like birthdays, Super Bowl, Christmas, I get involved with the arriving guests, spending a couple of minutes talking with them until someone else demands their attention. Usually the demanding one is our youngest grand-girl, Annabelle. Then somewhere during the grandchildren’s noise and activities, the adult children’s conversations  back and forth across the room, across each other, I am overwhelmed. I shut down for a few minutes.  As I return to the world of people I find that – though still in my recliner – I am again on the inside looking out. I’m a watcher. It gives me time to see how people are really doing and how much the grandchildren have grown, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I see them in a different light, and it’s good for me and for the people I watch, the people I love.

Then comes the leave-taking, the parade of family saying their good-byes, with kisses and hugs. We are a hugging family! I bask in their love. They leave, it grows quiet, and I am right-side-out again.


A holiday like this should be
Boisterous and full of a melody
Of laughter and love and living sound,
And the sight of the youngest running around.

A barbecue to signal the retreat
Of the season on scurrying feet,
And the coloring leaves
Of the backyard trees.

Endings are just beginnings
But we’re hoping for extra innings
If only I’d money to buy it
I’d want just a little less


When I hear helicopters flying overhead in a westerly direction I assume they are heading back to base. Coming from the west they are probably leaving said base. Circling the area may mean a news helicopter looking at an accident or other catastrophe so that we earthlings will have a head start on knowing how to feel about it when someone in some booth cuts back to the camera in the studio.

The scariest helicopters are the ones flying back and forth, side to side, up and down as though looking for something. At night the lights focused down at the ground tell us they are indeed looking for something – or rather, someone – who is armed and dangerous and an escaped ax murderer, or perhaps a newly arisen zombie. We don’t have many of those in the area yet, but the numbers are increasing. Thanks to a totally accurate TV show we all know how to destroy them provided we know they are coming. I guess that means the helicopters are an advance warning system, giving us time to turn off our lights, lock our doors, and grab our weapon of choice. Maybe in the reverse order would be best.

One year my family worked up an emergency zombie attack plan. All the young ones had a variety of escape routes planned and a couple of different meeting places in case one had been taken over.  The old bed-ridden one had a lighter, a torch and a violin to fiddle while the zombie burned. We even had my next door neighbor play the part of a zombie to give everyone the chance to practice their actions to help keep them from freezing up in the event of an “actual emergency.”

My neighbor made one huge mistake. He decided to wear ugly make-up and a ripped plaid shirt. My children were terrified. Thinking this was an actual emergency, they fended off Pseudo-Zombie with what weapons they had handy, including a rake, a bread knife and a toaster, and ran to our meeting place shrieking and cheering. My neighbor recovered after months in a catatonic state, but has never spoken to nor looked at us again.

My favorite kind of helicopter is the one I can see from my bed or recliner.  They show up in the summer dancing and bobbing and hovering and darting. When they are playing in the front yard their shape, maneuvers, grace and speed provide days of delight for my eyes. My mother called them dragonflies. To my grandmother they were darning needles. I call them wonderful.

I’ve heard a story from a source who shall remain unnamed, Corbin, of two idiots — delete idiots — young men who took two dragonflies captive. Though the men were unable to get their prisoners to talk, they were able to carefully tie strings to them and fly them like kites. When through playing, the helicopters were released, physically unharmed. The good-twin-me was appropriately shocked and horrified. The flip side couldn’t stop howling with laughter.

Every summer when I see a dragonfly I also remember that story, and I can’t help wondering. Which of us (the helicopters, the young guys or me) could be most helped by therapy?

Me, Myself, and Denise

Born August 14, 1951 as first baby, later oldest daughter as 1 sister and 2 brothers joined me in the attempt to drive our mother nuts.  It worked!

Played several musical instruments, some better than others. Sang. Taught piano, guitar and accordion. Many years later (before and while finally going to college) I directed adult and children’s choirs with great joy. I had great joy, and the singers sounded joyful, too.

Started college in January, 1991. Became a 40-year-old dropout about a year later, devastated.

Got weaker and weaker, all sorts of problems following until one day everything went to pieces. I had trouble seeing right, dizziness, tremors on and off,  attacks of vertigo, and finally the weakness was so great I couldn’t get out of bed and to the bathroom without help. I couldn’t see to read.  When I could read after a time, I had difficulty holding the book. “Animaniacs” helped to keep me sane.

Things improved a little over time. I live in pain, tire very easily and need a wheelchair to go anywhere when I have to walk very far, like to the store or the movie theater. I’ve lost making music,  cooking, cleaning, gardening, and studying. My memory is not good, but I try! I read in spurts as sometimes I can’t take it in and have to read and reread and reread again to keep it in my head long enough to continue with a degree of understanding. Most days I also can do puzzles, watch TV, and every day I pet my dog.

I can always visit people, almost always my family. And I can spend time on the computer if I can sit in my recliner long enough to get to it.

I am a Christian. I tell you this because the Lord is a given in my life and does affect my perspective. If I offend you, don’t read my blog. My intention with my scribbling is to hold on to my thoughts, leave a record for me, and share stuff with anyone who wants to hear me. Good reading what I hope is good writing.