Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eating eggs for the sake of Dragon Eggs

by Shirley Bahlmann - I have been SO GOOD since the doctor told me to eat a low-cholesterol diet in August. No eggnog, no ice cream, no sour cream, no eggs... until my son was in the market for dragon eggs. "I need to blow out some egg shells to make dragon eggs," he said. "Will you eat them if I do?" Well, how could I stand in the way of progress? So I ate two eggs. And here's a blurry picture of the resulting dragon eggs. I don't get points for sticking absolutely to my diet, or taking clear pictures, but may I please have a couple of points for fostering creativity?

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Legend in My Own Time

by Shirley Bahlmann
I didn't know I was a legend until last Tuesday when I sat in front of Snow College Professor Bruce Peterson at my son's school Christmas program. Between songs, Peterson leaned forward and tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up from my book (which I read between songs) to see him smiling down at me. "Do you know what I remember about you?" he asked.
Now that was a loaded question if I ever heard one! So many possibilities ran through my brain that I was dizzy when I answered, "No. What?" I wondered if there were any other seats I could move to in the jam-packed gymnasium once he revealed some terrible deed of my past.
"You were reading a paperback book in a college class. When the teacher called on you to answer a question, you looked up, answered it, and went right back to reading."
"Oh," I said, not specifically remembering the incident.
"The teacher stood there with his mouth open," Peterson laughed. "I was amazed. The whole class was. I didn't even know the answer, and I'd been listening. So now, every year I tell my students about you, and say that they can do whatever they want as long as they're getting the information. If they can answer the questions, then they can read or draw or listen to music or whatever. But if they can't, then they have to do it my way."
"You tell all your classes about me?" I asked, my eyebrows disappearing into my hairline.
"Yeah. I just thought that was so great when you did that. You taught me that everyone learns differently."
"Cool," I said. "Thanks for telling me." Then I turned around, my eyes falling on the sweet adventure of the written word.
It's really kind of exciting that you never know when you'll do something that impacts someone else. I just happened to find out because I was just being my weird self, reading books in my spare time everywhere I go.
Sometimes I'll sing a bit of song in the grocery store. Sometimes I do high kicks when I'm walking down the street. I don't know why. But if you ever see an urban setting and people on the street break out into a series of random high kicks, then you'll know that Shirley has achieved legend status once again.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Giant Red Gumball of Death!

by Shirley Bahlmann
It was evening, and I was puttering around the house, clearing away a little clutter here and there. I even cleaned out my purse, and that's where I found the giant red gumball of death.
I'm sure that my nine-year-old did not know it's true nature when he stashed it in my purse weeks ago. Neither did I when, in a mindless sort of way, I put it in my mouth and tried to chew. It was as hard as a jawbreaker. Ah, a challenge! I was up for it. I persisted, and finally broke through the outer shell to the tough sugary center that had the consistency of a super ball. I was surprised by some little bits of candy that fell out of the middle, and a blob of sugary moisture slid down the wrong tube in my throat.
Let me tell you, air does not travel well through sugar. My breath came in increasingly small amounts until I wasn't getting any air at all. My almost 18-year-old, Zackary, was passing through the room just then, and I grabbed his sleeve. He turned around, took one look at my fish face with my mouth going open and closed, open and closed, then dashed behind me, placed both fists under my ribs, and gave me several sharp squeezes of the Heimlich maneuver. The blasts of air seemed to loosen the sugar blob, and my breathing gradually got easier.
"Are you all right?" he asked.
"Yeah. Thanks," I said, then spit the gum out. It wasn't worth my life.
So, don't despair of your teenagers. Keep feeding them, because you never know - one day they may save your life!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Fuss Before Christmas

By Shirley Bahlmann
After Thanksgiving, I got right on track
Joining the troops for a shopping attack.
I started out happy, it was a fine day.
I had a long list, I was ready to pay.
But others were out with their shopping lists, too.
It was hard to find parking, the place was a zoo.
I managed to grab a nice Christmas ham,
But for vegetables there was just one shriveled yam.
The eggnog was missing, so prune juice instead,
With crackers and cheese to get the family fed.
With still lots of presents I needed to buy,
My feet started hurting. I wanted to cry.
The crowds were horrific, the tug of wars nasty.
They sweaters they fought over stretched out like taffy.
Toy shelves were sparse, with things that were broken
Or cheap knock off copies shipped in from Hoboken.
The clerks were all surly, the sizes all wrong.
The holiday music was sung from Hong Kong.
I finally gave up and dragged myself home.
I sat in a chair, tired clear to the bone.
I started to count all the things that I had.
If they weren’t all equal, someone might feel bad.
Well, Bradley had more things than dear little Sally.
I was short for my mother. I re-checked the talley.
I was all out of money, my credit was low.
But giving for Christmas was expected, so…
I heaved myself upward, I wasn’t yet free.
I stumbled outside past the Nativity.
Then I stopped and I turned. I stared at the child
The baby Jesus on hay that was piled
Inside a manger, the crudest of beds.
It was His birthday, yet where was my head?
Filled with the shopping, the giving, the getting,
The food I’d be feeding, the fussing and fretting.
It was His birthday. The gifts he received
Were just three in number on that Christmas Eve.
Three gifts for the Christ child, that’s all that he got.
His Christmas was simple, mine certainly was not.
I turned right around and marched back in my house.
I picked out three gifts for my children and spouse.
Three for my mother, three for my cousin.
Three was the number, not 3 or 4 dozen.
Then I made cookies from something called “scratch.”
When I taste-tested one, it was the best batch
I’d tasted since the Christmas party.
My fatigue was gone, my laughter was hearty.
To simplify Christmas was the best thing thought of.
To simplify Christmas was to emphasize love.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fun With Heather Moore

by Shirley Bahlmann
Heather was a featured speaker at the Gypsy Writer Author Talks in Ephraim, Utah in November! (I've posted the least blurry picture that my 9-year-old took. Thank you, Michael.)
One thing I've always admired about Heather, or H.B. as her writing fans call her, is that she's so polished and professional. We had a good crowd of about 30 attendees listening to her talk about her writing career and asking her questions about story ideas and her future projects. Several people told me afterward how much they enjoyed her visit!
Now Heather is the proud owner of one of the coveted Gypsy Writer awards! (There are only seven in the whole wide world.)
Thanks to Heather and her mother, husband, and cute children for making the trip to Ephraim, Utah!
(Hm, I wonder... does the blur in the picture soften my wrinkles?)