Friday, April 30, 2010

Windtoons...An Artist's Contribution to a Cause

Meet John Terry, a retired art teacher from New Jersey and part-time resident of West Virginia. John is the artist behind the website '' and his depictions of life in the shadow of industrial wind are stark reminders of what the future might hold.

I was contacted by a reader of GAG a couple of months ago, and this gentleman pointed me in the direction of the Windtoons website. I meandered over and liked what I saw. Since that day, I have showcased different Windtoons on Grumbles and Grins, with the website's permission.

The Friends of the Highland Mountains, thanks to the generous benevolence of Nancy Gray, owner of the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, are holding a benefit supper in an effort to raise money to fight the development of Highland's mountains. One of the ways in which we will do this will be to hold an auction of donated items and services on the evening of the event.

Sitting here at my desk the other day, I wracked my brain; trying to think of unique items that might garner good bids. I wanted something windy; after all, that is the theme of the Big Wind Regatta. And all of a sudden, I had a thought! (That happens so rarely that I thought I ought to point it out...)

I contacted the Windtoons website, not having any idea who was the talent behind the industrial wind turbine drawings. I made my plea to the anonymous artist. Would he or she print off one of the cartoons, autograph it, and send it to me to be framed and auctioned off? I was contacted by John Terry the very next day.

And the rest-- well, it's soon to be history!

Mr John Terry not only generously agreed to donate a Windtoon to our cause, but he volunteered to create an ORIGINAL, one apropos to our particular fight here in the western mountains of Maine! And then... oh, and then... he drew us TWO! Actually, three, if you count the color and the black and white versions of the vacationland Windtoon! And not only has he drawn, signed and donated them; but he's matted and framed them, too.

Holy smokes! What a man!

I've said it before. I am constantly humbled by the goodness and generosity of the people who have come together to teach about and decry the folly of industrial wind on our mountaintops. Rarely have I been so impressed by a grassroots movement. These people come from all walks of life, all political persuasions, all corners of America. They are polite. They work to spread facts, and not propaganda. They fight honorably, and they make me proud to be counted among them.

With good people like these, I believe we will prevail in making sure this state stays: "Maine-- the way life SHOULD be!"

Thank you, John. You're a Wind Warrior, for sure.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mothers Say the Darnedest Things!

My friend Lorraine stopped by the office today and reminded me of something: Mother’s Day is right around the corner. In her hand was a folded piece of paper; a collection of “Famous Last Words” she’d read which caused her to smile, and she wanted to share them. It hasn’t been that long since my friend lost her own mother, and so I was touched that she included me—and therefore you—in her sentimental and humorous musings.

I’ve been a mother for twenty-seven years. The older I get, the more I realize that I am very similar to my own mother. The silly things she said to me are often repeated in my house… even though I recognize that those warnings and admonitions are usually foolish. We mothers can’t help ourselves. We are desperate to raise kind and well-grounded and productive members of society. We are determined to do our best to keep our children safe, and we yearn for their happiness. And so… when common sense doesn’t work, we resort to whatever we have in our arsenal which will.

Here are a few of the standard, oft-used and mostly ridiculous phrases employed by mothers like me. Mother’s like Lorraine, and Leona, and Jo. We simply can’t ourselves.

**If you don’t stop, your face will freeze like that.
**I only have two hands.
**Let me kiss it and make it better.
**Because I’m your mother; that’s why.
**Go ask your father.
**Wear clean underwear; you could get into an accident. (It always amazes me that this works!)
**Don’t put that in your mouth; you don’t know where it’s been.
**I don’t care who started it.
**If I didn’t love you so much, I wouldn’t care what you did.

**You’ll have kids of your own someday.
**Clean your plate; there are starving children.
**As long as you live in my house, we’ll do it my way.
**Wait till your father gets home!
**If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you want to do it , too?
**Don’t ever forget that I love you.
**You’ll always be my baby.

And my personal favorite, used by busy mothers everywhere who simply don’t have time for debate:

Because I said so!

Yes, I admit it: I have used every single one of these idioms in the last quarter century. Each one passed through Mum’s lips, as well. They are the time-honored quips of beleaguered but loving mothers, everywhere.

I’m thankful for my mother—for what would I have used to keep my three offspring in line if I hadn’t had her good words to carry with me? Mum worked hard to raise us right, and she didn’t have it easy, either. After all, she had to walk barefoot through snow uphill both ways to get to school when she was a child. And I’m pretty sure I did, too.

I love you, Mum. And to mothers everywhere, happy Mother’s Day.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Big Wind Regatta at the Harraseeket Inn, Freeport, Maine

This posting to GAG is by way of an announcement, I suppose. I made the acquaintance of the most wonderful of Maine ladies. Nancy Gray, owner of the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, is generously hosting a fund-raiser for the Friends of the Highland Mountains.

A gala event is being held at the Inn on June 5th, and Mrs. Gray is not only providing the beautiful conference room, but she is serving a sumptuous buffet meal, too. For a small, $10.00 donation, guests can look forward to hors d’ouevres and a cash bar at 5:30, followed by the meal. There will be several brief speakers during supper, and then we will have the premiere showing of the DVD, ‘Save the Mountains of Highland, Maine’. After this awesome video, our guests will be entertained by a bit of Big Wind.

Yeah, that’s me. I’ll be performing a little ‘stand-up comedy’. Oh, Lord. Here we go again! How do I get myself into these things???

See, there’s a reason why I’ll put myself through this agony yet again. When I’ve concluded the entertainment portion of the evening, we will wrap things up by auctioning off some awesome items donated by generous people from all corners of this state, and even a few friends ‘from away’. I am humbled by the generosity of so many people who are dedicated to preserving the wildlife, ecology, environment and quality of life in these western mountains of Maine. And it’s a proven fact: people tend to spend more money when they are happy. Therefore, I will make a complete and total ass of myself beforehand.

It’s all for a good cause. Really. That’s what my friends keep telling me.


Those who care to spend the night in this elegant Inn can also take advantage of the special rates Mrs. Gray is giving to our friends. Rooms, each normally rated at $235.00 on a Saturday night, can be reserved for a mere $95.00, and that price includes a full, hot buffet breakfast and afternoon tea. Check-in is at 3:00 p.m. and check-out at 11:00 a.m. If you’d like to reserve a room from this block that is being set aside for us, please do so before May 10th, and reserve under the name ‘Turbine Wind Power’.

Wow. The awesome generosity of the people of Maine humbles me every time. Wow.

Come down to Freeport. Eat, drink, learn some facts about industrial wind, and see me have some fun at my own expense… and maybe at the expense of the Windustry.

Big Wind... can I say that it blows? Come find out if I dare. June 5, 2010, 5:30, at the Harraseeket Inn, 162 Main Street, Freeport, Maine 04032. (To make reservations, please call (207) 865-9377) Hope to see you there.

P.S. Please tune into Maine Outdoors, the North Woods Sporting Journal's live, interactive radio show on Sunday night, 4/25, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. for a discussion about mountaintop industrial wind and it's impacts on the pristine mountains of Maine. I will be the guest of host V. Paul Reynolds, and I encourage you to listen and call in. This is a wonderful opportunity to spread the facts about Big Wind to the people of Maine. WVOM-FM, 103.9 and WQVM-FM 101.3.

Canada Lynx and Industrial Wind

It was almost two years ago that I saw my first Canada Lynx in the wild. You cannot imagine the thrill that gave this game warden’s daughter, who has spent her whole life enthralled with the wildlife of Maine.

If their permit application is approved, Trans-Canada plans to build a grid-scale industrial wind turbine development on Sisk Mountain, one of the Boundary Mountains along the Chain of Ponds, between Quebec and western Maine. The permit states that 17.5 miles of new roads and 17 miles of corridor will have to built and maintained in order for the 15 massive turbines to be brought onto the site, erected, and maintained. These aren’t simply country lanes or skidder trails, either. These roads will permanently fragment prime wildlife habitat.

That big cat had been hunting. She had a rabbit in her mouth and she was running for home. I imagined a litter of lynx kittens waiting in the den, scuffling with each other as they practiced their own hunting and social skills while waiting for their mother to return with their lunch. I was humbled and in awe.

This is the Maine I dream about, and the one in which I was raised. It’s the Maine I now share with my children; the one in which I hope they can rear my grandchildren. If LURC grants Trans-Canada’s permit to place industrial wind on Sisk Mountain, the low and ultra low frequency sound, the shadow flicker, the criss-crossing of hunting trails by 60-150 foot wide roads, and the intrusion of man and his foreign-manufactured machines will devastate the rich habitat that the Canada Lynx has reclaimed as its own.

She had a rabbit in her mouth, and she was taking it home to her babies.


Please add your voice of opposition to the industrialization of Sisk Mountain by attending the public Hearing on May 11th and 12th at Sugarloaf Mountain. For more information, please go to

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Right to Remain Silent

The following blog entry to Grumbles and Grins was written by my friend and 'over the mountain' neighbor David Corrigan, a registered Maine Master Guide. He did not write this to submit it to a blog, did not type it to send to a newspaper editor or magazine publisher. He wrote it because he was frustrated, and he's a writer. We writers express ourselves best this way; through the written word. I was honored when he shared this with me, and I asked if I might have the privilege of publishing it here on GAG. In truth, he hesitated. The quotes listed below were uttered by his own friends and acquaintances, and Dave is a good guy. A real good guy. He doesn't want to offend.

I have confidence that he won't. I trust that, instead, he will do his utmost to bring factual information to the people of his community, and in a patient and gentlemanly manner. Like I said... Dave is one of the good guys.


It’s been a stressful week. In between painting a shed, prepping the garden, cutting firewood and all the other spring chores, I’ve been talking about wind. Specifically, I’ve been talking to people about why I oppose the Highland Plantation Wind Project.

I’ve detailed how the project will negatively impact the environment, the local economy, and my way of life. I’ve explained that the project is not financially feasible, and can only happen by being granted millions of tax dollars in the form of subsidies. I’ve talked about the health problems, lack of sleep, and loss of property value suffered by others who live near industrial wind projects. I’ve shared my belief, backed by the evidence, that wind projects like this one will have no significant effect in reducing green house gas emissions. I’ve even explained how if this project goes through, we will likely see as much as three hundred miles of Maine ridgeline turned over to industrial wind development within the next ten years, at enormous tax payer expense.

Most people have been sympathetic, even supportive, of my views. Predictably, some have also been apathetic, simply believing that it did not affect them one way or the other, and so was none of their concern. Then there were the frustrating few who should know better, but insist on supporting wind power on the strangest of grounds.

These few, who are intelligent, educated, well adjusted, voting members of society, have absolutely astonished me with some of their arguments. They had the right to remain silent, but apparently, not the ability.

“It’s the wave of the future, so it must be a good thing.”

“The wind blows and we get free energy, of course we should do it.”

“If it wasn’t good, the Government wouldn’t be promoting it.”

“I don’t mind wind mills, I think they look kind of cool up on the mountains.”

“It will be good for our economy.”

“Well, they do it in Europe, and it’s about time we caught up with the rest of the world.”

And my personal favorite; “They have had windmills in Holland since the time of Don Quixote, so they must be a good thing!”

All of these, of course, being uttered with complete confidence, as conversation enders, by people who have not bothered to do any real research. To put it simply, by people who should have known better, but have instead chosen to be completely, simply, and sadly, ignorant!

The woman who uttered that last quote is a well educated, very smart friend of mine, but to tell you the truth, when she said that, I almost had one of those moments myself, where I had the right to remain silent, but not the ability!

What I really wanted to do was to slap her up side the head and yell; “What the hell is wrong with you? Did you even hear what you just said? Forget that Don Quixote was in Spain, not Holland, what I really want to know is, how many kilowatts do you think those 16th century windmills were producing? Do you even realize that you are comparing primitive milling or pumping machines, built by hand on open level ground, with 400 plus foot tall modern machinery, being built in some of the most important mountain habitat in the Northeastern United States?”

I mean really, it was all I could do not to jump up and down and turn red in the face while screaming at her to stop being a sheep following the party line, and to open her damn eyes and do a little real research, so that she would be qualified to deliver an informed opinion! But, I didn’t. For once, I took advantage of my right to remain silent, and I simply offered to share some of my research, if she was interested, and then I let the conversation calmly end.

My mouth, or rather, my inability to keep it shut when someone desperately needs correcting, has a tendency to get me in trouble. I was proud of myself. For once in my life I had had the ability to keep my mouth shut when I REALLY wanted to say something. I did it, and it was probably a good thing, but damn it was hard!

Top Photo is of Bigelow's Indian Ledges-taken by Greg or Jenn Perkins

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'll Say It Again: There is Value in Proof-reading!

I’m busy.

I suppose I’m no different from any other working wife and mother; as a rule we tend to take on a full load of responsibilities… because, of course, we can’t say ‘no. Some women, I’ve found, are great at juggling several chores at one time. They are excellent multi-taskers.

I don’t fall into that category, I’m afraid.

Instead of coping with two or three jobs at a time, I tend to fit a like number of obligations into the same time-frame by another method. I hurry. And trust me when I tell you that the end result is not usually a desirable one.

The most obvious example of why it is not a good idea to hurry can be found in some of my recent writing. Sadly, I’ve been too busy with my current obligations to do any serious story-telling. The occasional column for the newspaper and entry into GAG is about all I can manage to write in the ‘entertainment’ category. Beyond that, I am writing letters to editors and letters to representatives and letters to scientists and politicians and activists. It’s a type of writing that is completely outside my comfort zone… but it’s necessary.

For my serious (and more long-winded) writing, I have a wonderful friend who steps in and proof-reads for me. But I can’t call upon Jack to double-check every letter and op-ed and email that I send. Can I? I’d like to, but then–not only would I not have a life—Jack wouldn’t, either.

So, I’ve been winging it. Pounding out essays and updates and notes, and often (because there is a whole pile of tasks awaiting my next free moment) I’ve been just hitting ‘send’ without giving them more than a cursory glance.

Bad idea.

I was recently involved in a game of writers’ ‘Tag’, in which several authors participated in the writing of one story without conferring with each other as to where the tale would go or how the characters would develop. It was great fun, even though it added a bit of stress to an already hectic schedule. Anyway…I recently wrote my required chapter, gave it a cursory glance and posted it to the online forum. And then I left. Got busy. Went on to do something else.

By the time I returned to the site, it was too late. My bonehead moment had already been discovered. Discovered, and commented on! The mistake? This sentence: “He swiveled on his tool to face her.”

Hehehe… oh, brother. It was a perfectly innocent, easy-to-make error, right? I typed out the ‘s’ at the end of ‘his’, but neglected the one that directly followed, which would have made my hapless trucker swivel on his STOOL instead of his tool. That one missing ‘s’ completely skewed the whole mental image created by the sentence.

I’m really not sure which one I like better, but it inadvertently changed a serious scene into a humorous one, and that wasn’t my intention.

And just the other night, I authored another typographical classic. This time, my mistake occurred in a letter; a letter with a serious tone, intended to convey a strong opinion. A letter which was emailed to men. My memo ended with this entreaty: ‘I hope if I ever become a polarizing influence, you will lick my ass to the curb.’

Good God. Oh, good God…

It was an hour before I went back to proof-read. It was a useless exercise to begin with, because I knew the letters had already gone out, but I was just rechecking it to make sure I’d conveyed the intended tone.

I’m pretty sure I failed.

In my defense, I am almost positive that the ‘k’ and the ‘l’ are much closer together on my keyboard than they are on those of most other writers. They have to be. They simply have to be.

Thus far, I’ve survived the humiliation brought on by that particular Bomo. The fellows I sent the missive to are gentlemen… gentlemen who have learned to deal with a woman who, even when making an innocent mistake, tends to be a bit ‘earthy’. My Freudian slip barely warranted the roll of an eye.

The only comfort I can find is in the fact that I am not alone. A friend mailed me some timeless classics which were actually published in newspapers, and I’ll share a couple of them with you. While I feel bad for the authors, editors and publishers of these poorly proof-read articles, I have to admit: I feel much, much better now!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Essence of Mammy

It was Easter Sunday, and Steven and I took the kids to my parents’ home in Kingfield for a short visit. My grandmother, Mammy, has been living with Mum for the last year, but due to hectic, crazy schedules, it had been awhile since my two younger children had seen their great-grandmother.

Mammy is almost ninety-four years old. She has been blessed with good health for most of those years. But when I walked into the living room to greet her on Easter morning, I knew something had changed. Was changing. Her lips smiled—they always do—but her eyes told a different story. Mammy’s poor little body is getting tired out.

Over the years I’ve thought a lot about life and death. I suppose part of that is due to being a writer. I write about everything under the sun, and while putting pen to paper, I have to give the subject of my prose some serious thought. So… I often reflect on those elusive questions; the ones most people avoid thinking about. I’ve even talked to Josie, Eli and Guy about my eventual death. I want them to be at peace when I am gone. I want them to know that even when the time comes and my body fails me, I will still be here. Bodies aren’t indestructible. They are nothing more than tissue and water and calcium and sinew. They aren’t made to last forever. But the spirit? The soul? The essence that makes me, ME? Now THAT is something that is durable and long-lasting!

When my children do something unkind or boneheaded and feel that modicum of shame… that’ll be me shaking my head and urging them to think first, next time, and to try harder. When they help someone or act selflessly and feel that little burst of pride? That will also be me, giving them a hug and an ‘I’m proud of you, babe!’ It won’t matter that my body has turned to dust. The core being, the quintessential Karen, will always be around. You simply can’t erase the essence of a person that easily.

Mammy knows that the end is near. No one knows exactly how near. That’s up to God or biology, or a combination of the two. But at her age, and with her body wearing out, she knows.

But this is what I hope with all my heart she truly recognizes. I want Mammy to know that she will always, always be with us. She won’t ever leave. She can’t! Her soul is too strong, her influence too great, her awesomeness simply too awesome. I know for a fact that this woman will be hanging around these western hills and glacial lakes and the trails through our forests for a long, long time. Every single time I see a train or hear its whistle blow, I’ll think of Mammy, who first walked with me on the rails of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Every time I pick a raspberry and taste its warm sweetness, I will see her filling a basket from the bushes in Seboeis. When I play cards, it’s Mammy’s lovely, wrinkled hands I’ll see dealing them as I remember all the games of Solitaire she taught me. When I sleep at night, it’s under a quilt she lovingly made. When I do the mundane chore of vacuuming, I’ll remember how she drove all the way to Kingfield from Milo one rainy day, just to buy a vacuum for me at Jordan Lumber Co. because she knew mine had sucked its last hairball. When I write a poem, I’ll reflect on the fact that the very first one I ever wrote was a gift for her and my grandfather Grankie, because I couldn’t afford to buy them a Christmas present… and I’ll remember the pleasure those two old folks expressed when they received that simple gift. They gave me the confidence to write, and that has been a gift beyond measure.

When I see a pile of moose poop (and that’s a story in and of itself), who will I think of? Mammy. When I find a pretty rock? A funky mushroom? A wheat penny? That wonderful woman will be right beside me, oohing and ahhing as I look in wonder at the small treasure.

Mammy’s not going anywhere. Nope. Her body might be rebelling, but that lady’s spirit scoffs at such weakness. I’ve said it already, but it bears repeating: Ruth Dolley is awesome. The best grandmother a girl (or boy) could have asked for. I didn’t ask for her, but I got her anyway. How lucky, how blessed I have been. How blessed I AM.

Leaving us soon? I don’t think so! No way, no how. There will come a day when I won’t be able to easily lay my eyes on that lovely, smiling face, but I will never, ever have a problem finding her. Every day, in every direction I turn, she will be there. Because I love her, and because she loves me, she will always be right here beside me.

The essence of Mammy. Something that awesome won’t ever leave those of us who love her, those of us she’s touched.

I love you, Mammy. Forever.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Jumping Jehovah's Witnesses!

I was home one day a few months ago, trying to get caught up on some tasks. I mixed up a batch of cookies and threw a pan of them in the oven, and then went upstairs to my bedroom.

I’d just received three books from Peter Watt, an Australian author who is a friend of mine. He’d donated them to the my home town library; the New Portland Community Library.

Before handing them over to the trustees, I wanted to take a picture of them to send into the Irregular, along with a blurb, so that he would get recognition for his generosity; albeit, recognition from 10,000 miles away.

I propped the three books up against the mirror on my dresser and took a picture. It was dark in the bedroom, as the day was overcast. So, I lit a candle to either side, causing a lovely ambient glow. Just as I prepared to take another photo, I heard a knock on the kitchen door.

I ran downstairs to answer it, and there on my porch were a man and a woman. A well-dressed man and a woman, with a Bible in one hand, and a Watchtower magazine in the other.

Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I want you to understand, I have nothing against Jehovah's Witnesses. In my opinion, someone with that much courage and that much conviction, who goes door to door preaching to total strangers, deserves a few moments of my time, and my respect. So…I stood on the porch and let them speak for a few minutes.

Suddenly, the timer on the oven buzzed behind me. My cookies were done. I said ‘Excuse me, I’ve gotta take some cookies out of the oven’…hoping that they would take the hint and leave.

No such luck. They stepped into the kitchen right behind me! I took the cookies out and placed them on the stove top. I was a little nervous now…they were ensconced in my home. How was I going to politely get rid of them? Yup, I was nervous.

You know by now that something awful happens to me when I get nervous. Something really awful. I’m overtaken by this affliction…this syndrome. I call it the BONEHEAD MOMEMENT.

Holy cow…

In the course of the conversation, the lady asked me if I knew where they could spot some moose. They were city JWs, you see. They thought there was some kind of moose hangout up here… a Fellowship Hall of sorts. A place where they congregated. And it was my duty, as a savvy country chick, to straighten them out.

Oh, my God, I made such a fool of myself! I told these upstanding, God-fearing people that it was the moose rut. Mating season for moose! I told them that our friendly neighborhood moose were not so friendly right now. Because, of course, they were INCREDIBLY HORNY! And I’m not talking about antlers, here! Yes, that’s right…I went ON and ON and ON about how horny the moose were right now!

I told them that if, in fact, they came across a moose, it was a good idea to go along their way and not bother the passionate fellow. That he might be tempted to do them harm. Because he would be horny. Full of lust.

Yes…horny. My term, and a refined one, at that.

Not ONLY THAT, but I told them if they wanted a really good shot at seeing a horny moose, they ought to talk to the BIG GUY! THE BIG GUY!!! That’s what I called Jehovah to His witnesses…

Holy Bullwinkle! What the heck is the matter with me??? I COULD NOT shut up! It was like the sexual exploits of the largest mammal in North America had suddenly become my mantra. I could NOT shut up.

Of course, their eyes were HUGE!!! They were enthralled with my story. I think I scared them a bit. As I drew a breath, about to launch into a new chapter pertaining to the mating habits of the woodcock, which I thought they would be particularly interested in, since their mating calls sound like FARTS…

Just as I was about to expound…

They began to talk about the END of TIMES. How the world was coming to an end ANY DAY NOW! And suddenly, all that talk about FIRE and BRIMSTONE made me remember something. I’d left those three autographed novels on my dresser, next to two lit candles! The thought scared the crap out of me! And just as the gentleman handed me a Watchtower magazine, I hollered ‘CHR**T! I’m gonna BURN THOSE BOOKS!!!!’

I am SOOOOO going to hell….

Well, they jumped about a foot in the air, but my time for politeness was over. I ushered them out the door and slammed it in their faces, then ran upstairs to see if there was an inferno on top of my bureau.

I am SOOOO going to hell.

Of course, you realize that I’ve now become a special project for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I could tell right away that I’d been covered by an invisible cloak of holiness, because I couldn’t cuss worth beans for the rest of the day. I am absolutely positive that they went back to Tabernacle to set up a state-wide prayer circle for me.

Just as soon as they went and found themselves some horny moose...

I am SOOOOO going to hell.

Moose photo published by National Geographic Magazine
Photo of Pete Watt's novels (on dresser with lit candles) taken my KazzaBP

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ode to Penny Rue

I write custom poems. I've often said that every occasion is worthy of a poem... I sure hope Mr. Grumbles loves me as much as I think he does...

There was a man named Steven who owned ten little toes.
Most often, they were boring things—not worthy of my prose.
They had a vital duty. And they were always ready
To help Steve walk a straight line, and keep his gait quite steady.

This fellow named his little toes. The first was Pinky Pea.
And Penny Rue did follow, as proud as she could be!
Rudy Whistle loved his spot! He was the middle digit.
He kept the other toes in line and didn’t let them fidget.

Mary Ostle (number two) was Steven’s longest toe.
And though she wasn’t ‘middle’, she could tell them where to go!
Then, number one—the BIGGIE—Tom Bumble was his name.
He was a proud majestic toe, and put the rest to shame.

Pease’s tootsies got along, and lived together well,
But when the man ignored them, they decided to rebel.
For years and years the little toes were tickled every day.
The man just couldn’t help himself—with toes he LOVED to play.

He’d wiggle them and give a pinch; he’d stroke them with a feather.
It didn’t matter; night or day, sunshine or rainy weather!
This Mr. Pease, he did devote an hour to his toes
Come snow or wind or chicken pox or running of his nose.

They simply were too cute to be ignored for very long,
And when he wasn’t stroking them, he’d sing a little song.

“Pinky Pea, you darling, the perfect tiny toe!
Penny Rue, beside him, wherever Pinky goes.
Rudy Whistle, what a toe! You’re best when playing footsie!
And Mary Ostle, long and lean—you are my favorite tootsie!
And rounding out my handsome feet is Mighty Tommy Bumble!
Without this strapping lad of mine—why, I would trip and stumble!
My toe-sies, I adore you! You are the perfect team!
And at the beauty parlor, you’re the ped-o-filer’s dream!”

At first the man would skip a day, and all the toes would sigh.
But then, he’d pull his sock off and be the perfect guy.
He’d tickle and he’d love them, and sometimes he would kiss
Penny Rue and Mary! Their toenails filled with bliss!

But time between his ‘tootsie games’ at last grew very long.
He started to neglect them. His toenails, they grew long.
Not only were they over-sized, he let them get so grubby!
And dirty nails that are too long are apt to make one stubby!

Not only did he never play, he rarely washed his feet!
His toes had always been the kind that smelled so fresh and sweet!
But days of buffed and powdered toes became a thing of yore.
And since he didn’t care for them, they started to get sore.

There came a little fungus. It liked that Penny Rue.
She hollered, ‘Get it off me!’ There was nothing they could do!
The fungus liked the Pease’s toes. He settled in, so bold!
But he was never selfish and he shared the foot with mold.

Once mold and fungus spread the word, there wasn’t any doubt
That Steven’s foot would be the perfect place to have some gout!
And gout invited bunion; and she brought corn along.
And all this cornucopia created rancid pong.

His foot looked like a garden-- sprouting stalks and seeds!
Mushrooms sprouted here and there, amongst the ped-o-weeds.
And Penny Rue, the first to host a guest who came to stay
Said, ‘I will put my foot down! I cannot walk this way!

If Steven doesn’t care for me, then I will make him limp.
I feel it in my tarsal bones…he will become a gimp!’
That Penny, she was stubborn—a mulish little toe!
If Steven wouldn’t care for her, she’d be the first to go!

She concentrated all her might on causing Steven pain.
She’d had it with this filthy man from western hills of Maine.
The doctor finally noticed, amidst the verdant growth
A little bit of swelling? A tumor? No, t’was both!

He said, ‘Now Mr. Pease, it seems that you have got a lump!
I’ll get my little snippers and make your toe a stump.
But you must heed my warning! A harvest’s what you need!
With what you’re growing twixt your toes, the third world you could feed!’

He gave the man some Lidocaine, he gave him Percoset,
He strapped on mask of oxygen, and then he went to get
A hoe, a rake, a tiller…a gardener’s trusty tools
And then, despite the caution sign, he broke a surgeon’s rules.

He said, ‘With all that’s growing there, I guess that I am willin’
To trust in ‘no infection’—he’s sprouting penicillin!
I will not wash my hands today. I’ll pull these ‘shrooms and mold!
But I cannot believe that man could treat these toes so cold!

‘Look at Mr. Pinky Pea!’ He snipped a stalk of green.
‘Isn’t he the cutest toe that you have ever seen?’
He pruned around Tom Bumble, he weeded Mary’s nails.
He shaved a fuzz of lichen, making Rudy Whistle pale.

He tweezed and mowed and whipper-snipped. He did all he could do…
But there was just no saving the fourth toe, Penny Rue.
She was so very swollen; her skin, it was all cracked
And all those nasty funguses, her tissues had attacked.

(And just in case the reader thinks this poet is absurd…
I know that it is ‘fungi’! I recognize the word!
But this is my creation! And I can choose to say
That ‘funguses’ is plural! So ‘funguses’ will stay!)

Okay, my tantrum’s over. The story must conclude.
(To point out my deficiencies was really very rude!)
The doc, he very carefully removed Steve’s Penny Rue.
He used his newest pruners. His snipping, it was true.

The surgeon had a soft spot for parts of human feet.
(Podiatrists are known world-wide for thinking toes are sweet.)
So Penny Rue, instead of ‘waste’ discarded by the healer
Went home with him and was embalmed in Mexican tequila.

The moral of this story (if there is such a thing)
Is wash your toes, and tickle them, and to them, always sing.

December 28, 2009
Photos taken at The F.A.R.M.