I've contributed to perhaps the best humor compilation I've ever read. Available now on Amazon!

My second chapbook, "The Second Book of Pearl: The Cats" is now available as either a paper chapbook or as a downloadable item. See below for the Pay Pal link or click on its cover just to the right of the newest blog post to download to your Kindle, iPad, or Nook. Just $3.99 for inspired tales of gin, gambling addiction and inter-feline betrayal.

My first chapbook, I Was Raised to be A Lert is in its third printing and is available both via the PayPal link below and on smashwords! Order one? Download one? It's all for you, baby!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hold My Calls; or I'll Be In the Tub

I love a hot bubble bath.

The bubbles?  They don't have to be the  Cucumber Mandarin Monkey Lips from Bath and Bodyworks. The bubbles can be from a squirt of dish detergent and an egg beater.

My love of the hot bubble bath is not about the bubbles.

Forget about the bubbles. The bubbles are periphery.

It’s not even the bath. It’s not the bathroom or the tub or the towels or even, so help me, the hot water. 

It is the combination of those things. The holy braid of hot water, bubbles, and a clean tub. The bath tub requires nothing of me but my presence. It’s not hard work, taking a bath; and I can do it like nobody’s business.

But mention “bath” to some people and they look at you as if you’ve suggested that they sit in a tepid tub of chicken broth.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the shower. It has its place. When you’ve got dirty feet, when you’ve been sweating all day, when you’ve been at a particularly smoky bonfire, when you actually stink, then a shower is your best friend.

Trust me. I enjoy a good stink now and then – I mean, who doesn’t – and when I stink, I shower. But my lifestyle just doesn’t put me in the direct line of sight of a good funky stink very often.

But this isn’t about the shower, dagnab it! Forget the shower!

The bath. It’s about the bath. No one worries in a bathtub. No one gets bad news in a tub. Turn off the phone! Bring a book! Sit in the hot water, legs stretched out in front of you. Encourage a cat to balance on the edge of the tub, if only for the looks of suspicion that she’ll give your toes through the bubbles…

Scratch that. The cat is not the point.

The cat is periphery.

It’s the bubble bath. The bubble bath is the point.

And I feel the need to defend it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ya HEAR That Sonuvagun? Listen. Listen...

A repost from this date, 2011.  I hate not being able to write -- work has consumed me -- but I do love this piece...


I learned to listen to music, growing up, through my father’s weekend ministrations.

The man was in love with the stereo.

A connoisseur of swing music in particular, I was his chosen child:  She Who Stands Between The Speakers.

“Stand right here,” he would shout over the music, ushering me to an oddly matted spot on the living room carpet. “No, over here – Pearl! Pearl! Are you listening to me? Come here! Come here!"

There it was, the best spot to stand in order to receive the full affect of whatever he was listening to, there in the living room between the speakers.

I was one of the few 4th graders I knew who could accurately identify a drummer by song, timbre, or style.

OK. I was the only 4th grader I knew that could accurately identify a drummer by song, timbre, or style.

You’d think this would garner a cult-like following of my fellow 4th graders, wouldn’t you? Ah, but you’d be wrong there, my friend. No matter where we moved, my ability to tell Chick Corea from Buddy Rich was never fully appreciated.

You can imagine my surprise.

“You hear that? You hear that?” he’d say; and my father, in the middle of conducting the imaginary 40-piece orchestra in the middle of the trailer park living room would dash to the stereo, picking up the needle.

“Now listen,” he’d say. “Listen for the high-hat – you know what the high-hat is, right?”

“Da-ad!!” He was forever quizzing me on the names of the various pieces that make up a drum kit, who played what in which band, wanting to know if I preferred the recorded or the live versions of songs.

Oh, Dad. Questioning me on the cymbals? I would shake my head in disgust. Who does he think he’s dealing with here?

And then he’d drop the needle.

“OK – wait. Listen! You hear that?! You hear that sonuvagun play?” Dad was a passionate fan of the drums, being a drummer himself, and had a reverence for Gene Krupa in particular that bordered on the religious.

And after years of listening, I find I do the same thing to my son – a professional drummer – and I finally see what the music really is, why the stamp of music geek was placed on my brow so many years ago, and why the matted carpet between the speakers on that “Harvest Gold” shag was the best spot in the living room.

It's not just music we're sharing.

We're sharing history.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Kitty Knows All, Tells Only Some

Dolly Gee Squeakers (formerly of the Humane Society Squeakers), a long-haired Siamese mix with a penchant for a dripping bathroom faucet and Virginia Slims has taken to dragging a string around the house only to abandon it in order to dash, madly, blindly, from one room to the next.

“Mrrrrrrrowwwwwwww? Mrrrrrrrowwwwwwww?”

She asks a lot of questions, this one. Frankly, if I had four teeth and crossed eyes, I’d have some questions, too.

Of course, the truth is that she’s quite an attractive pussy cat, despite the periodontal challenges she faces. Look at her over there, hunched possessively over her bowl, face-deep in the Meow Mix. Each piece of kibble is picked out carefully, chewed delicately on the side with the most teeth. Crrrrrrunch. Crrrrrrunch. Two “crrrrrrrunch”es per bit, five bits per visit.

Finished for now, she takes cautious aim, jumps up on the stool in the kitchen – and misses.

What can one do? Crossed eyes, you know.

Kitty lacks depth perception.

The string, though. This is new. And like her collection of novelty and commemorative ashtrays, it’s hard to tell what set her off.

Who gave her that first one, the ashtray in the shape of a Spaniard’s helmet?

And where in the world did she get that piece of string?

Oh, really, it doesn’t matter who gave her the string, does it? She grips it, earnestly, twixt her remaining teefers, high-stepping over it as she drags it, tail-like, from one room to another. Her delicate lips part, almost undetectably, as she pauses between rooms.


The questions ends in a glissando that runs up the kitty meow-meow scale (in the key of Mouse Flat) as she gives in to the four-pawed urge to tear from one room to the next, skittering around furniture, sliding sideways on the hardwood floor.

I make a note to check her for fleas as Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) sighs heavily and sets down her book, Rutherford’s “Sarum”.

“Really,” she says, eyes closed and massaging the bridge of her nose with one delicate paw. “What is she doing?”

Only one being in the room knows why the kitty races from one room to the next, a bit of string trailing behind her.

And that kitty's not telling.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wherein Pearl Becomes Conscious, or Look, You Little !!#@$%, I Said "MOVE OVER"!

As part of a social experiment in 8th grade, our political science class had a general election. As a result I, along with other classmates heavy on charm and short on real action, was voted into office.

Whereupon we were promptly moved to better living quarters.

There, at the front of the class, we lolled about on extra-large desks. Members of the high school football team peeled organic pomegranates for us, and we were carefully talcum-ed before exertion, lest we chafe.

We were, of course, thoroughly convinced that we, the elite, were deserving of these things.

Meanwhile, our constituents were forced toward the back of the room, their desks pushed together in overly friendly and possibly unhygienic groupings. Cries of “heeeeey, no fair” went unheard; teeth were bared in boisterous and vicious acts of aggression; and correct penmanship was disrespected in wanton, territorial displays against the left-handed.

My campaign promises, whatever they had been, were quickly forgotten, not only because I was an eighth grade twit but because those of us on “Mount Olympus”, as our neighborhood was called, quickly came to political differences with those on “Cannery Row”.

Arguments ensued. Friendships were forever altered, but for crying out loud, couldn’t the people in the back of the room see that we deserved all that extra space?

It was a far cry from yesterday’s yoga class.

There I was. Wedged between Amy and The Guy What Smells Like Cheetohs, mere inches from six people, while the row ahead of the row ahead of me had full range-of-motion rights.

Look at them, up there! Why do they get special privileges? How come the sweat around their mats is from them only? Look at them, with their breathable air and their smiley yoga faces!

No fair!

It is part of the practice, of course, to set aside petty annoyances, to tune out that which does not serve us in pursuit of serenity and a good stretch.

I close my eyes, do my best to ignore Stinky and Fuzzy and Sweaty and the other yoga dwarves crowding my mat.

It was then that I remembered Social Studies.

I had this coming to me.

Wendy, wherever you are, I’m sorry that I didn’t work harder to make more room for the desks. I’m sorry that I suggested that if you worked harder that you, too, could get elected and move to Mount Olympus.

And I’m sorry we traded that one time and I kept your painters pants.

It’s been 30 years, but I finally see the error of my ways.<

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mondays are Awesome, and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

Mondays are among the more tiresome of the weekdays, don’t you think?

These are the days when the bed has never been quite so comfortable, the kitties quite so adorable, the looming work week quite so, oh, I don’t know – duty-driven.

Don’t get me wrong. I love working, as is required by all Midwesterners; but I can’t help but wonder: Is this all there is?

Surely others are fulfilled by their careers, yes?

Let’s see.

Perhaps I’m doing this wrong.

Get up early. Leave where you’d like to be, follow through on your agreement to rent your brain out by the hour, return home to find that everything you’ve not done there remains, mysteriously, undone; and then, as the plastic bottle says, rinse and repeat.

What am I missing?

Perhaps if there were costumes involved. I’m thinking clown suits on Monday – or perhaps clown suits on payday would be more apropos. What about Cowboy Tuesdays? I like the sound of Naked Thursday, but if we're wearing our birthday suits I suppose I'll have to get some of this ironed...

And is it too late to bring back drinking alcohol in the office on Friday afternoons?

I suspect it is.

It used to be almost commonplace, you know.

At any rate – but particularly at this one – I shall soon be reconsidering my stance on goat production as a career path.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

I’m going to need a tractor, a shack (preferably one with a sauna and separate quarters for the servants), and a herd of chickens.  I'll need a Nash or some other big-hooded car for them to climb on.  Ooh, and a gaggle of those ankle-nipping dogs that herd your beasts...

You see?

I’m going to put as much thought into my forthcoming career as a farmer as I did in my current career.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Suspect is Believed to be Driving a Car. Yes, a Car...

I stood on my front steps last evening, talking to my neighbor, a woman as vigilant in her park surveillance as I am.

You see, there’s a public park across the street from our properties, a lovely green spot with big trees. There’s soccer and baseball in the summer, hockey in the winter, large intra-mural colored-tee-shirt-wearing competitions between teenagers of different churches (“Current standings: Lamb of God has walloped Christ Our Lord at the three-legged race; House of Mercy has trounced Abundant Life in punt/pass/throw! Up next: The Church of the Nazarene against 34th Street Southern Baptist. You have two minutes to the starting gun! Two minutes!”)

Screaming/laughing kids, bull-horned announcements, and cars.

Sometimes there are cars.

Sometimes the cars pull up, cut their engines, make phone calls, wait for other cars. Thug-Life tattooed men move things from one trunk to another and then speed away.

And there I am, on my second-floor porch, watching, trying to get a license plate number.

Difficult to do, but the binoculars I got for my birthday help.

And no one ever looks up.

Those aren’t hotdish recipes they’re trading.

I call every time, but the cops haven’t made it in time to catch them yet.

The cars – who can describe them? That’s the problem when you can’t get the plate number.

“Ummm. It was a white car. It had four doors and tinted windows. I’m pretty sure it had tires. And there was chrome. Lots of chrome. Oh, and I believe “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle” was on the DVD player in the back, but I might be wrong about that.”

Have you seen that car?

When did I stop knowing things about cars? I like to think it was when, at least in my eyes, they stopped being distinctive and interesting; but it could actually be about the time I didn’t have to know anything any more, aka after me and the Lug Nut broke up.

I think I became willfully ignorant after that, just because I could.

Ha! Take that, ex-boyfriend! I refuse to remember what you taught me!

That’ll teach him to, uh, teach.

Anyway, what I know about cars would fill a thimble, and get your thimble ready because here it is: You absolutely can flush your own radiator by following the directions on a package; if you’ve just changed your oil and yet nothing registers on the dipstick you might want to check if you put the plug back in; no matter what anyone tells you, your Van Allen Belt is not loose; and there’s not been a single recorded instance of someone being dangerously low on blinker fluid.

And when you absolutely can’t tell a Honda Accord from a Honda Civic, you keep your camera at hand.

Bring on the arms traders.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Glen Never Came Back

Excuse me, ma’am? Would you have any spare change? God bless.

There is, of course, no such thing as “spare change”.  I have a spare tire, conveniently kept about my middle; and at one time had spare brain cells, judging from past behavior.  But spare change?

Scene:  the alley, autumn, four years ago.  In a seasonal battle involving salt residue, gravel and various bits of trash, I have once again entered the gardening ring.  The alley taunts me, yearly, a barren stretch of precious city ground.

I shall conquer it.

Dirty workpants, layers of long- and short-sleeved t-shirts, dirt smeared on my face in no doubt an attractive fashion, I have been clearing weeds and sundry bits of trash for one cold, windy hour when I hear a throat clear behind me.

It is a man: sallow, tired, he wears a filthy jacket wrapped tightly and belted with rope. Hatless, his dirty, dishwater blond hair blows in the wind.

He is a young man with old eyes.

“Do you have four dollars?”


He looks around, his face completely impassive. “I need seven dollars so I can sleep inside tonight. Can you give me four?”

I pat my pants’ pockets.  “I don’t have any money out here, and I’ve got all this to clear before the sun goes down.”

He stares at me, childish.  “I need seven dollars,” he repeats.

“Well, I don’t have seven dollars,” I say, peevishly.  “Now if you want to help me with some of this, I can run into the house later and see what I can find. I know I can find around four.”

He looks away, his eyes following the alley. It is getting dark, and the wind is coming up.

I hold out the shovel.

He takes it.

“You turn it over,” I say, “and I’ll grab the weeds, OK?”  I smile.  “What’s your name again?”

His name, he tells me, is Glen.  He offers nothing more.

Ten minutes on, Glen removes his coat. I can smell him, a sour, sad stench screaming for a hot bath.  He isn’t yellow anymore, though.  He might even look a bit pink.

I ask him if he is okay.

He says he is.

It is then that I realize, with Glen standing over me, shovel in hand, that perhaps my kneeling on the ground, blithely shaking the earth from the desperate roots of the evicted weeds may not be my brightest idea to date.  I picture the neighbors finding me with a shovel embedded in my forehead, the words “I just wanted seven lousy dollars!” spelled out in gravel and homeless weeds on the ground next to my body…

Glen, however, manages to fight the urge to beat me to death with a shovel and we are done in less than 20 minutes.  I run into the house while he waits in the alley.

I return with six dollars and a bottle of water.

“This is all I have,” I say. “Seriously.  I wish I had more.”

He looks at me, looks at the money.  He takes it gingerly from my hand, puts it in his pants’ pocket.  He puts his jacket back on, re-secures the rope around his waist.  I hand him the water.

He says nothing and walks away.

“Come back in the spring, Glen,” I call after him. “There’s always work to do.”

He doesn’t say a word. 

Glen simply walks away.