Cranky Little Turf War

Four hummingbird feeders.
Two in back;  two in front
For two pair of
Ruby throated works of art.
Or, rephrase that…
For two pair of
Cranky territorial warriors.
Instead of a plentiful season of sharing
A five month turf war raged
With civilian casualties.  We
Hapless humans were scolded and
Pummeled by iridescent bandits
Careening full tilt
Around the northwest corner in
Crazed hot pursuit of rival invaders.

Hot summers in Tennessee
Necessitate frequent nectar changes.
Kevlar armor is not readily available here in the suburbs.
Four feeders have been deemed
Too dangerous and high maintenance.
Risky and potentially perilous as it may be…
Down to one feeder this year.




Outlier Worries

To be an outlier in a retail environment means a.)  Your store is so far out of the district’s main territory that the DM does not visit much and b.)  Your store will have to be on an outlier call, which is a “come to Jesus” thrashing where you better explain why the store did not meet sales, did not meet credit, did not meet payroll, did not meet receiving, did not meet training and generally did not meet, just, well, “did not.”

Retail is more than shopping.  Retail is more than Black Friday.  Retail is more than racks of clothes, shelves of toys, appliances and electronics all set to a corporate plan-o-gram.  Real people with goals, hopes, dreams and families work retail and sometimes their lives do not fit in a plan-o-gram.

Here is what it was like to work HR in an outlier store of a major retailer:

An all too common and, sadly, often repeated conversation with my married, 47 year old boss who perpetually and pathetically pursued 20 year old women associates went something like this:
Me:  Why is she texting you?
Boss:  I don’t know.
Me:  How did she get your number?
Boss:  I don’t know.
Me:  This does not reflect well on you.  This is making other associates uncomfortable.
Boss:  -blank stare-
Me:  Well, just stop it or it will need to be documented.
-I leave-  His behavior was documented on more than one occasion, but corporate did nothing.

Every month the P&L would print.  One sheet, tiny print.  The store stubbornly entrenched in the bottom 10% of the company.  Every month I would stare at this paper with the tiny print looking for something positive.  Every month I would bring the paper with the tiny print to my boss who would wearily smile, because he knew what was coming next.  I would proceed with my thoughts on how we could, maybe, with hard work and dedication, get ourselves out of the bottom 10%.  Every month he would tell me the same thing:  “You don’t need to be worrying about this stuff.”
Toward the end, in desperation, and totally disobeying the company policy of not giving proprietary information away, I brought the P&L home to show my husband.  My husband knew we were breaking rules looking at this paper with the tiny print, but he was probably as weary as my boss and simply decided to take a look.  My husband has a finance degree, 30 years of management experience and has mentored dozens of interesting, fabulous people, so surely he could help me lift the store up, set us straight and, if nothing else, for God’s sake, tell me what all these tiny numbers mean.  With his best patient smile, he went line by line, category by category and percentage by percentage until he finally said, “you don’t need to be worrying about this stuff.”

When former employees see me in Kroger, after they give me a hug, they say, “you probably don’t remember me.”  Oh, but I do.  Your daughter was getting her master’s degree in education.  Your husband was in a car accident.  You had to leave at two o’clock to pick up your grandson.  You liked working in jewelry, but not returns.  You had diabetes, but still drank a liter of Pepsi at lunch.  You wished your ex-husband would reconcile.  Your mother-in-law fell and broke her hip.  Oh, yes, I remember.  I was with you.

I was in charge of attendance records.  Your dog died.  Your aunt died.  Your third cousin died.  Your neighbor’s hamster died.  Any relative, friend or acquaintance you ever knew, did not know or even remotely heard of died.  All of them.  Everyone of them died four times over.  I was with you.

I was in charge of store morale and psychiatry.  Would I call someone to cover your shift?  Can you take a leave of absence and still get paid?  Do I think you should buy a house or get a dog or have a second baby?  How do I establish my credit?  Would I look good as a blonde?  What would you do, Ms. Diane?  I called corporate looking for employee assistance when we had a tornado.  I called corporate looking for medical bill assistance when a baby was born premature.  I bought birthday cakes, retirement cakes and anniversary cakes.  I was with you.

I worried myself into a promotion.  A promotion I did not even apply for, because I spent so much time worrying about whether I should apply…or not.  And when I accepted the new position, I was told I would need to do my old job, too.  When a new individual was hired for my old position I would need to train them, and by the way, it would be great if you would coordinate the corporate volunteer program.  But there was still that pesky P&L with the tiny print.  When I expressed concern about the challenges of trying to attempt three jobs and raise the tiny print of the P&L, I was nonchalantly told, “oh we never meet those goals. You don’t need to be worrying about that.”




Have You Ever Seen A Turtle Run?

My husband called me
from the mall parking lot.
Someone left a turtle
in a box.
Come get it
he instructed.

Red-eared slider
what a beauty.
Big, too
maybe ten inches across.
Shifting about in the box
as we leaned over to admire.

Turtle rode shotgun
in my Maxima.
Jostling around, agitated
wanting out of the box.
Maybe he was thirsty,
thirsty for freedom.

I plopped Turtle
in the warm, green grass
near the warm, green pond.
Off he went!
Sprinting toward that mucky water
surely setting a turtle land speed record.

Have you ever seen a turtle run?
I have.


Sprinkles and Seeds

Decided to be goofy this week.



Saturdays Are…

Saturdays are for meditation.

Here are a few facts on the history of meditation:   Meditation is believed to have been practiced in India and China over 5000 years ago.  Meditation is a part of many religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism.  The etymology of meditation comes from the Latin word meditatum, which means “to ponder.”

Here are a few health benefits of practicing meditation:  Meditation lowers blood pressure by increasing the compound nitric oxide that helps open blood vessels.  Meditation changes gray matter in our brains that can help with learning, memory and perspective.  Meditation helps us remain focused and improve attention spans.

Just pick up your phone:  There are meditation apps galore.  If you have no experience with meditation at all, but are curious about beginning a meditation practice, you could try one of these apps.  They are free for the first few lessons and will give you a feel for what kind of meditation may be most comfortable for you.  Mindfulness, body scan, walking and lovingkindness are types of meditation you will find on these apps.  Here are 3 well-known meditation apps:  Headspace, Calm and 10% Happier.

My personal experience:  Just like running and writing, you need to make a commitment to find the time to meditate.  Luckily, just 15-20 minutes a day will be all that is needed when beginning a meditation practice.  When I began meditation, I was always seated, always had my eyes closed, always in my house and always focused on my breath.  I love to be outside (even in the cold or gloom), which is part of the reason I like to run (I’m not much for a treadmill), so I tried taking my meditation outside.  There is a park in my neighborhood with a walking path that my husband tells me is 2/10th of a mile long.  The first loop I do a body scan.  How do my feet, legs, torso, shoulders, neck feel…you get the idea.  The second loop I listen to the birds.  Bird songs fill me with a sense of wonder at the diversity in nature even in my little neighborhood park.  The third loop I focus on my breath.  I practice walking meditation about twice a week.  The biggest surprise for me has been the benefit meditation has had on my running.  Unfortunately it has not made me any faster!  However, my concentration/focus and breathing have improved.  I have been able to find a rhythm between my legs and lungs that allows me to focus on my posture/core or enjoy the scenery.

The path in the park in my neighborhood.
Snowy morning at the park.



Thursday’s Doors

Pleasant Plains Baptist Church, Jackson, TN

Endangered Label

A little box.
A little handle (remember when it was string?)
For little hands.

The circus is closing.
Will there still be animal crackers?

The lion and polar bear are listed as vulnerable.
The gorilla and elephant are listed as endangered.
Will there still be animals?


Saturdays Are…

Many of the state parks in Tennessee were having free guided hikes today.  I chose to attend the hike at Big Cypress Tree State Park, because I had never been there before.


Big Cypress Tree State Park was named after a giant cypress that grew in a remote swamp on a farm in Weakley County.  Unfortunately the tree was struck by lightning and burned in 1976.

Saturdays are…for imagining a cypress tree over 39 feet in diameter.  Bill McCall, park manager, told us that the tree was thought to be the oldest and largest tree east of the Rocky Mountains.

Saturdays are…for spotted and marbled salamanders and one jumpy little leopard frog who almost managed to land in the shirt pocket of a lady from Memphis.  Dr. Thomas Blanchard, who teaches herpetology at UT Martin, spent his morning mucking about the swamp finding salamanders and frisky leopard frogs to show us.

Saturdays are…for learning about blue birds and barred owls.  First, we watched 2 male bluebirds competing for the approval of a female bluebird.  They were also bringing twigs to a bird box for nesting material.  While these bluebirds were seemingly going to nest in a bird box, bluebirds will also use old woodpecker holes.  Blue birds are secondary cavity nesters.  Also, bluebirds are good to have around, because they eat lots of insects.
Dr. Dawn Wilkins, who teaches ornithology at UT Martin, tried to call in barred owls.  Dr. Wilkins explained barred owls are named for the vertical  brown stripes on their chests.  The barred owl’s call sounds like “who cooks for you/who cooks for you all.”  Now, if you are sensitive, do not read the next sentence.  The barred owl will eat those aforementioned salamanders.

Saturdays are…for thanking Mr. Bill McCall, Dr. Blanchard and Dr. Wilkins for their time and knowledge.  While he was sloshing around, Dr. Blanchard picked up a soda can and bag of chips out of the water.  Don’t litter.  We are all connected.  Whether we are spotted, barred, blue or marbled, we are living in the same park.  Whether we fly, jump or slither, we look up at the same sky.  Whether we hoot, chirp or croak, we breathe the same air.  Everywhere we are connected, even when it is just some rural, swampy plot in West Tennessee.




Acrostic: Nervous/Northern Cardinals


I was going to try to take a really awesome shot of the cardinals that come to my deck to feed, but, hey, you know, what, this is way more what my life is actually like.

Nests of twigs hold a clutch of
Eggs, speckled brown
Residents, year round
Vibrant red males mean a healthy mate
Often territorial
Unique two-parted song that both will sing
Sunflower seeds are their favorite thing

Northern Cardinals
Edgy and excitable
Represent a
Very many state bird
Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia to name a few
United State’s sports teams also include the bird
St. Louis Cardinals for baseball and Arizona Cardinals for football




Center Ice

Zamboni cleaning center ice