The Green Study’s “Positively Happy Nice Story” Contest: 1st Place

canstockphoto142844611st Place goes to Kiri at The Dust Season for the “A Happily-Ever-After Story Involving Break-Ins and Police Action”. It takes a village to raise a child, but those villages often wait to show themselves. At just the right moment…

She was sent one Green Study Coffee Mug, a postcard from Minneapolis and $100 donation was made to the American Red Cross on her behalf.

“A Happily-Ever-After Story Involving Break-Ins and Police Action”

By Kiri at The Dust Season

My son is an escape artist. He revels in finding ways around the protective prison cocoon of his home life. This would be fine, if my son were normal. But he isn’t and this story isn’t. So, before everyone gets up in arms about my use of the word ‘normal’ in relation to my son, let me get one thing straight: something beyond ordinary happened—and that’s okay.

I am coming to terms with the fact my autistic son is getting older, bigger, faster—and let’s be honest—smarter than I am. He recognizes that, by the end of the week, mommy is flat out exhausted and lacking in due diligence. This has led to several problematic incidents involving the police.

Before my mother-in-law left to go back to sunny (drought ridden) California, we were enjoying a last Masterpiece Theater. We were snuggled on the couch waiting for Inspector Lewis to figure out who dunnit when there was a knock at the door.
Argh, fifteen minutes to the end….

canstockphoto17258172As I approach the door, I spy the red and blue lights flashing against the windows. This does not clue me in. I open the door to find an officer standing there.

“Ma’am, don’t you answer your phone?” The officer says.

“Uh, we don’t have a home phone, just a cell phone.” I say, nonplused.
(Note: No alarm bells are ringing yet. I haven’t had this pleasure before.)

His next question sets off alarm bells aplenty.
“Do you have a son?”


I scream my son’s name, whip around to go search the house despite the quite apparent evidence he—like Elvis—has left the building.

“Ma’am. Ma’am. I need you to calm down.”

I’m frantically grabbing shoes, my purse, my phone which has been in my bedroom recharging, but the officer won’t let me leave until I am no longer hyperventilating.

“Your son is fine. A neighbor called it in.”

Turns out my son was visiting a cul-de-sac two blocks east and north of our home. It’s a favorite route of his when we take walks. Someone at that address saw my son and realized how odd it was to see a boy scribbling on paper squatting in someone’s driveway at 10:30 p.m.

I follow the officer in my car, we get to the location where another officer is waiting with my son. He didn’t restrain him, just walked with the boy until mom arrived.

A conversation ensues in which I learn they figured out who my non-verbal child was because of a piece of paper he had in his hand which had his name scrawled on it. They called the local principal who helped to identify my son through process of elimination.

canstockphoto8143483This would be a feel good story, if it ended here. This alone, this interaction in which nothing bad happened despite the unlimited opportunity would be enough. But no, my son discovered his super power and he is now making the most of it.

Two more times, since this one, my son has escaped my hawk-like surveillance.* All of these times coincide with Sundays when I am tired, distracted, and just a little too grateful that he is being ‘quiet’ and ‘good’ when actually he is breaking into the local church and, then, two weeks ago, a neighbor’s home—a neighbor we don’t know.

This is where true serendipity comes in.

My twelve-year-old, who is big enough to no longer have the automatic cute appeal of a child, entered a stranger’s home. The stranger was alone at home with her small child and a dog.

I promise you, I have spent many nerve wracked hours imagining what could have happened. What might have happened. What didn’t happen.

Instead, the woman contacted the police. The police contacted me because they have my son’s information on file and now are getting to know him. The woman even took her dog outside because my son seemed upset. The woman was not mad, did not blame me and even tried to console me. I was never made to feel like I was a bad parent because I couldn’t keep track of my child.

In a world that is so very eager to tell you the worst case scenario, where autistic children die from wandering, where the police react before recognizing a special needs situation, it felt important to share that sometimes things turn out okay. And that’s simply extraordinary.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:
*If by hawk-like surveillance you mean geriatric, near-sighted-buzzard-distracted-by-carrion awareness.

canstockphoto34208068The author has now installed a door alarm which shrieks like a demented banshee whenever the rear door is opened so much as a sliver. It is the most beautiful, heart-attack-inducing sound you will ever hear.

Congratulations Kiri (for winning and for your new door alarms)!

Here’s The Dust Season Sampler:

An Unnatural Brunette Gets Political

A Creep in the Nighttime

A Villain After My Own Heart…

The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of that 45?” Contest: Honorable Mention

An Honorable Mention from The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of that 45?” Contest goes to d. Myers for his poem about a mid-life crisis. He’s a writer, currently working on his first book.

He was sent one The Green Study Coffee Mug, a postcard from Minneapolis and $25 donation was made to his local Red Cross chapter.

mid-life crisis

By d. Myers

slow down and watch it all collide
watch it trail like a fish
is there ever any sign
smelling dog food in a dish

I’ll play with monkeys in a barrel
and legos at the mall
gonna get another snow cone
while I buy my kid a doll

old cars, old shoes, old people
they help to keep it all intact
I’m getting better all the time
I’m getting so I like the cracks

not the smooth stuff or the easy
is ever worth the tripcanstockphoto11178704
when I fall I fall so hard
but I’ll never feel the slip

little white fences all around me
I don’t feel too safe at all
fluffy curtains on the windows
and stuff hanging on my walls

great big trees and open highways
start to sooth my aching head
come and put me in a jacket man
and take me off to bed

Congratulations d. and good luck on your writing journey!

The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of that 45?” Contest: Honorable Mention

An Honorable Mention from The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of that 45?” Contest goes to Ruth at Travelling True North for the morning conversation we often have with ourselves.

She was sent one The Green Study Coffee Mug, a postcard from Minneapolis and $25 donation was made on her behalf to the Red Cross International Emergency Response Fund.

“Life in the Midlife Teens”

By Ruth at Travelling True North

Mind: What’s that noise? 5am and someone woke me up. Ergh… Zzzzz.

Body: Zzzzz….

Mind: Argh. Again? It must be the cat. No, stop that, it’s your child.

Body: I’m not getting up.

Mind: Well, neither am I because I am only 18 and I deserve sleep.canstockphoto15812243

Body: Still not getting up.

Mind: No. No. No,no,no,no,nooooooooo. Still with the noise! What’s that husband doing? Sleeping. Argh…

Body: I still hurt from staying up past 9.30pm last night. But YOU ARE A PARENT. Get. Out. Of. Bed.

Ok, done. Ugg boots on (it’s still a bit cold), fleece….

3 mins.

Body: Damn. Still up. Now with cuddly child. Lovely cuddly child, all warm and soft and desperately clinging on while saying ‘cuddddddddllllllllllleeeeeesssssss’. Nice. Eyes still barely open though. Just missed walking into the wall. Argh.

Mind: What do you mean we have to function? It’s 5am. 5. A.M.

Well, I leave it up to you.

Body: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no no. I’m the one who knows how old we are. I’m the one who feels the aches, the stress of aging joints, the fatigue of needing a few hours more sleep each day, and the head thump of that extra glass of wine last night.

YOU’RE the one who seemed to think this is all ok. That kids past 40 was a great idea and that we all had the stamina for several YEARS of sleepless nights, extended bedtimes, no personal time and endless rounds of the ‘why’ game. We’re all in this together, baby. Stump up.

Mind: Hmmm. I am still 18 you know. 18 was not that long ago, if you recall. We were vibrant, healthy, had a nice growing bank balance and could lift weights greater than our body fat index…

Body: 18 was YEARS ago. YEARS.

Mind: But then not so much has changed, has it?

Has it?

canstockphoto20425615Body: No, no. Though, um. There’s that ‘changed’ waistline, the hair colour, red-eye-reduction eye drop fascination and fondness for soft cheeses. Oh, and the need to head to bed at 9pm…

Mind: Well, in my defence soft cheeses are brilliant. And the kids have ruined all hope of normal sleep.

Body: And we’re all just passed 40…

Just sayin’…

Mind: 40 is the new 20.

Body: Really?

Mind: Really.

Body: Realllllly??

Mind: Pause.

…the new black??

Body: Clutching at straws, my friend. Clutching at straws. Do you recall when our 17 year old niece came to visit? You spent all that prep time thinking about how you would connect about social interests, school, friends and personal values. And it became verrrry clear that your scintillating conversation about home cooking, tree hugging and the joys of craft were falling just short of the dramatic eye-roll/ rapid-exit combo move. Even your ‘I really liked a party’ tale from the 90s was met with a well meaning, bemused, smile and a quick hug goodnight. Loving, but. Not quite what you were expecting?

Mind: Humph.

Body: Or the time you said yes to skiing and we broke a leg? 12 weeks in a cast, no driving, little travel and a particularly challenging time trying to work. Could have gone better, Lady Osteo?

Mind: Well, it did break on the end of a great run… And it was a very stylish manoeuvre…

Body: I say it again, juuuust not 18.

Mind: Right. Well then, I guess you’re saying it’s all back to hot flushes, the hair colourist, a stab at the 5:2 Diet, and carving out personal time in an overworked schedule?

Body: And reading Miffy at 5am.canstockphoto1486647


Mind: And reading Miffy at 5am.

Body: So, it’s not so bad… Is it?

Mind: (Staring at a bundle of warm, soft, cuddly child, resting in peace) No. It’s not so bad.

Mind: Not so bad at all.

Congratulations Ruth!

Check out her blog for a little direction:

Not on Facebook. Here’s Why.

A Week of Underachieving: 4 Ways to Ease the Mind

Location, Location. Finding Your Spiritual Home.

The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of that 45?” Contest: 3rd Place

3rd Prize goes to Fransi at 365 and Counting for “Aging Gets Better with Age”. There’s nothing like a middle-aged meltdown to make you feel all growed up.

She was sent one Green Study Coffee Mug, a Minneapolis postcard and a $50 donation was made on her behalf to the Red Cross International Disaster Response Fund.

“Aging Gets Better with Age”

By Fransi at 365 and Counting

 For some reason, age has always been an issue with me.

Maybe it’s because I’m an only child. I spent a lot of time with adults. So in some ways I was more sophisticated than most of my contemporaries.

When I was 10, I couldn’t wait to be a teenager. When I finally was 13, I couldn’t wait to be 16. Then 21.

My twenties and thirties were sublime. My forties, well I did gulp on my 40th birthday. That came as a bit of a shock but I was having such a good time both in my career and socially, the horror of the number didn’t last long. A blink and it was over.

And then came the big Five Ohhhhh. Actually I went into a slump slightly before my forty-ninth birthday. About six months into my forty-ninth year I was completely freaked out at the thought of turning fifty. I just couldn’t handle it. Working with a bunch of twenty and thirty somethings could have had something to do with it, I don’t know. But I was in a bad state.

I worked with a gal who always acknowledged my birthday so I knew I had to clip her wings before she planned “an event”. I was so demented I went to her assistant, half a year in advance, and laid it out for her; and begged her to make sure “S” got the message.

canstockphoto4562663All I wanted for my birthday was for everyone to ignore it. The day came. I dragged myself to work. I just didn’t have a good feeling. Sure enough, at about 10:00 a.m. I was called to reception. A huge — and I mean — gigantic arrangement of flowers.


Not wanting to make a scene out there, I took them and stalked back into my office, where I slammed the door shut and literally had to sit down I was shaking so bad. I don’t have to tell you who they were from, do I?

Called my boyfriend, sobbing. Men are not known for their sensitivity, but he really got it. He talked me off the ledge for a few minutes and told me to call her into my office and explain she’d really upset me — even though her intentions had been good. She should have respected my wishes.

First I checked with her assistant to make sure she’d done what I’d asked. She swore she had and I believed her. Then I called “S” and essentially let her have it — in between sobs.

canstockphoto0276849She ran to my office and apologized, but I was way too far gone by then. When she confessed she’d also organized a lunch, I totally flipped out. Dumped the flowers into the garbage and flounced out of the office and went home.

A slight over-reaction to be sure, but I was totally and insanely traumatized.

Before I knew it, I was over it. And it turned out to be no biggie. Although from then on each passing year did give me pause; and then something interesting happened.

Sixty. I turned sixty and stopped giving a damn. Really, who cares? I’ve had a fabulous life and it’s given me bragging rights. I am armed with all the knowledge and wisdom only someone who’s been around long enough to make every mistake in the book (and learned from them) can have. So I figure I’m entitled to say what I want, do what I want and go wherever I want.

Definitely a perk of aging.

True, I do have to deal with some previously unknown aches and pains. If it’s not an ankle it’s a knee. Or my shoulder. Or my back. Or a wrist. Or my index finger. But I can still get up there and shake my booty with the best of ‘em when the right music’s playing.

True, the future’s a bit too close for comfort now. So I concentrate on the now. The present. Today and canstockphoto7431966only today. Yesterday is history and tomorrow, if I’m lucky enough to see it, is yet another blank canvas for me to decorate — however I choose.

What’s wrong with that?

Congratulations Fransi!

Check out her blog to see what counts:

Day 46. Helping Others

Day 47. Polishing Work

Day 120. I’m Afeared

The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of that 45?” Contest: 2nd Place

2nd place goes to Kiri at The Dust Season for “Personals vs. Real Estate, Financing Available”. This essay made me laugh, while thinking that I might need a contractor or ten as well.

She was sent one Green Study Coffee Mug, a postcard from Minneapolis and $75 donation was made to the American Red Cross on her behalf to her local Red Cross Chapter.

“Personals vs. Real Estate, Financing Available”

By Kiri at The Dust Season

canstockphoto22518543I have come to the conclusion that, in terms of real estate, I am what’s known as a fixer-upper. Or, rather, a handy-man’s special. Now, before you interrupt, saying, “No, no. You are what’s known as a woman who’s been ‘well-loved’ and ‘priced to sell’.” Let me just stop you there. This isn’t that kind of post.

House hunting has brought me to a new appreciation of the dating site I am on…which shall remain nameless, but bears a resemblance to being the K-mart of free online dating. Not quite as well-known as or Dis-Harmony (names changed so I won’t get sued) but just as great at getting me out there on the market.

Looking at houses and being critical of poorly vented furnaces, lousy window installations and shaky roof construction makes me wonder, is this why I haven’t found a buyer keeper on my dating site? Maybe it is a seller’s market there too! Hear me out.

If I took a look at myself as a prospective home buyer might, I’d like to say I see the same solid construction and weather-proofed body of my twenties and thirties. I’d point out all the selling features: Look she’s maintained the furnace and all the pipes work. She even comes with ample storage.* This gal has everything you are looking for when it comes to putting down roots. But the truth would come out in the inspection, so what’s the point? I’m all about the disclosure statement, which would probably look something like this:

canstockphoto2439049This structure hasn’t been updated in a while. Still has original fixtures! Some wear and tear and it will need a new support beam sooner rather than later. The paint has faded a bit, but just needs a splash of color makes it look shiny and new again. Comes with child already attached. Warning, house has some issues: intermittent gas may cause an odd odor to linger in the basement. Foundation has shifted over time and the balcony is in need of buttressing.** And, if you watch a lot of comedy, it is prone to leaks.

When you look at all the flaws, it is hard to see why someone might be willing to put down an earnest deposit. But, I remind myself, someone did once before. He was a special homeowner, that guy. He didn’t notice the flaws and always played up the character and love gleaming beneath the clutter. He even put up with the kitchen’s tendency to feed him vegetables for dinner. So that’s what I’m waiting for, a buyer who can see past the cosmetic and value the classic. In that light, here’s my offer:

New Listing:

This little family model is ready for the right buyer. Presently it is built for two, but has room for growth. The property has a huge entertainment center—both outdoor and indoor—and you’ll spend so much time in the kitchen you won’t notice the squirrels in the attic. Don’t pass up this opportunity, this gal’s got massive potential.

canstockphoto6630357I took my listing down for a while for a lack of a committed buyer, but I am contemplating putting myself back out there and all this house hunting has got me thinking…maybe it’s time to spruce up my curb appeal? So, stay tuned for Next Week’s Installment of This Old Broad, where a team of workmen pinpoint my flaws and try to refurbish me for a quick flip!

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Not sure this is a selling point, now I come to think of it.

**It was too perfect. How could I not say it?

Congratulations Kiri!

Check out her blog and see what This Old Broad is up to:

You Hate Me, You Really, Really Hate Me.

Long-Term Sleep Deprivation = Permanent Brain Damage, or….

Home Buying for Morons, Part III: The Good, The Bad and the So Very Ugly

The Green Study “Worst Job I Ever Had” Contest: Honorable Mention

canstockphoto4598050An Honorable Mention from The Green Study “Worst Job I Ever Had” contest goes to Dave over at 1pointperspective for a job where the work was only slightly less humiliating than the uniform.

He was sent one The Green Study Coffee Mug, a cheesy postcard from Minneapolis and I made a $25 donation to the American Red Cross on his behalf of his local Red Cross Chapter.

Two Pepsis and Hold the Red-Eye

by Dave at 1pointperspective

Naming your worst job is not as easy as you might think.  On any given day, even the best job can seem like the worst one.  Keeping track of the truly awful jobs can be a good exercise to help you appreciate better ones.

I looked at my sordid career history and tried to narrow it down.  Though I had a few doozies back in my youth, I felt it wasn’t fair to look at any of those jobs, since there were no mortgage payments or little mouths to feed.  To me, any job you can walk away from without big repercussions couldn’t have been that bad.

Overall, I’d have to say my worst job was one which never actually had a single good day.  It was a blissfully short in duration, only a few weeks, but every time I think of it, I get a chill and a slight wave of nausea.  It was back in my bartending days, before embarking on my current “real” career.  I already had a decent gig slinging gin and light beer, but the commute was brutal.  I was getting old for the bartending scene and driving 45 minutes each way was adding time to my work-night and sucking precious tips out of my pocket and into my gas tank.

There was a buzz about a new place opening up just minutes from my house.  New places are always packed around here.  People go to the “new place” over almost any other choice.  Local bar and restaurant owners have been known to change the names of their establishments just to cash in on this phenomenon.  Getting in on the ground floor of a new place also meant an equal footing with other bartenders when it came to getting the best shifts.

As soon as I got a chance, I rushed over and got my application in.  The bar was huge and had a theme.  I’d have to wear a standard uniform – so what?  I got the job and went in for training.  The little voice in my head which tried to tell me that things might not be so great was drowned out by the amplified crooning of Billy Ray Cyrus lamenting his Achy Breaky Heart.  The specter of dollar signs blinded me to just how absurd I looked in a cowboy hat and bolo tie.  That’s right – investors had gotten together and decided that a country bar with line dancing would be a gold mine in suburban South Jersey, just minutes from Philadelphia.

I already knew I could put up with any music in a bar, as I had done for years.  What I didn’t realize was that even a thousand miles from Gilley’s, people took their country line dancing seriously.  They came out of the woodwork and wore their very best western garb.  I suspected that many of them were closet cowboys, wearing pinstripe suits and hair gel most other waking hours, as there’s just not too many jobs for cowpokes in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Those boots and big belt buckles must have cost them a lot of money, because these folks had scant change left over for yours truly.  In addition, they were so wrapped up in avoiding any missteps while performing the boot scootin boogie, that they didn’t want to risk clouding their minds with alcohol.  Time after time, some middle manager dressed like a ranch hand would saunter up to the bar and order $19.75 worth of sasparilla, hand me a 20 and wait patiently for his quarter.

My tolerance of bad music and idiots playing dress-up is apparently directly proportional to my love of a fat wad of damp dollars in my pocket at the end of the night.  After two tortuous weeks of making less than nothing and listlessly participating in demeaning-but-mandatory staff dance numbers, I’d had enough.  I hustled my backside 45 minutes west and somehow got my old job back.  Somewhere in the weeds and detritus of the side of Philadelphia’s Schuykill Expressway lies an ill-fitting ten gallon hat with a bolo tie nearby.

Congratulations, Dave!

Make sure you mosey on over and check out his blog:

I’ll Have a Venti Mocha Latte Where The Sun Don’t Shine

Holiday Greetings from the Zombie Apocalypse

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon-Scented Garbage