Wine of Memories

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Memories can age like fine wine or they can become bitter. We are just bags of memories walking around, telling our stories. Some memories are straightforward, but like dreams they can be layered into meaning.

I remember days like this where the clouds clumped in the sky and the rain fell halfway down the sky. The droplets would die in the dry air before they hit the ground, leaving the ground day. I remember a day like this when Otto would stand on the balcony, watching the sky and the birds with a cup of coffee in his hand.

I would lean against him and smelling his person scent– of flour, yeast, and baking bread. This was his time to start the day calm. I remember that it was Otto who told the doctors that the corticorsteroids were messing with my head.

The doctors had me on very high dosages of prednisone that threw me into hell. I was having walking nightmares and couldn’t get relief of them either in the day or night. Without Otto, I would have been put in a mental institution because of how I reacted to the medication.

It was during those days that he would tell me to hold onto one good memory because the meds had re-wired my brain to paranoia and hell. Even the knives talked to me about the sweet release of death. It took me years after being weaned down to a better level to re-wire my brain back to seeing goodness instead of evil.

After his death, I needed mental help to pull through the grief. It was a kind family counselor who dealt with grief and chronic illness in mainly children and teens who helped me heal myself by just listening to my memories.

There is one thing I’ve learned in my lifetime and it is that diversity is not from the color of your eyes. It comes from the diversity of experience. So every afternoon I sit with a diverse group of seniors who were entertainers, military, or travelers and we swap our stories.

I make new memories that I can hold onto — good memories.

First Day of Summer

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In Southern Nevada where I live, summer brings oppressive heat, dust, and browning vegetation. Here the preferred seasons are spring or fall. Winter does get cold, not as cold as the North, but enough that I pull out my heavy coats and bundle up in freezing temperatures.

I was born in the north western area of British Columbia so when we moved to Oakland area around the year I was three, I was prepared for the wet cool summers. It was when we first moved to Utah that I experienced the burning heat.

My first summer in SLC, I wore tank tops and shorts. I burned so badly one afternoon that my mother had to put me in ice water. The burns were bad enough that my parents called the doctor. From that time on, I wore short sleeves and even long sleeves in the summer.

I loved summer and the sun didn’t love me back. It was a hard lesson to learn. I spent several years staying inside from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. because those were the times that I burned. It wasn’t just cracking and peeling, I would get second and third degree burns. If I had to be out in those times, I made sure that I only stayed in the sun for no more than fifteen minutes at a time.

I was so jealous of my sisters who had olive skin and could sunbathe. Also I freckled.

I could say that there is an upside to this– I haven’t gotten skin cancer. My skin didn’t wrinkle as much as my sisters and so forth. But in those days, I was the Odd white girl amid sun-kissed beauties.

It’s funny about standard of beauty. In my day, you always had a bang that lifted up and fell across your face, which imitated the hair bands. Or then there was the Afro- hairstyle. Even the guys were perming their hair. I saw the bell-bottom pants with the bottoms almost as big as skirts to the skinny jeans of now.

Then there was the earring phase and we were always guessing– is the guy straight or gay?

I’m not really into fashion. I did like the bright colors of the 80s and the double socks. Yes, I wore the socks. It was some small way I could be rebellious.

I even wore the belts slung across my hips– you know the metal ones. I quit wearing that one when I was fifty feet away from a lightning strike. Yes, I felt it in the belt and on my hips. It was too close for comfort.

I suppose there is a point to this. I do love summer and watching the boys and girls buzz around each other. I do love walking on the beach barefoot, feeling the ocean water cool my feet. I do love the old-fashioned summer movies.

Maybe we’ll have that kind of summer again.

Sunday poems

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Refuse

trash compacted
in a white plastic bag
leaned against a dumpster

dirty creatures
trailing plastic bottles,
soda cans, and wrappers
behind you

Yelling of climate change
and racism
Expecting others
to clean up your messes

By Cyn Bagley (c)2021

Sometimes I wish for rain

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I lived about five years in Panama and there were only a few days when I could see the sun. Mostly it rained. It had two seasons– dry and wet.

Wet season it rained all day long for days. Dry season it rained maybe once or twice in an afternoon. Sometimes we would sit under an umbrella and look for the moon. There were so many clouds that only the moon shown through. For the years I lived there, I missed the stars.

But there is something good to say for so much rain. It is always green. The wild grass if not cut would grow six feet in a couple of months. The bad thing about rain is the humidity. Leather didn’t last in such conditions. My late hubby put a belt in the closet and forgot about it. In a few months it was wet and dripping with mold.

When we finally left the place and moved back to the States, we had to wash everything. Any furniture we brought back, we had to clean with a wet vacuum. While you were in Panama, you were so used to the smell that you didn’t know how much mold you carried in your clothing.

Another fun fact about Panama when I was there is that the electricity was so expensive that no one had an air conditioner. Also during the dry season, the electricity could be shut off for hours or sometimes a week if there was not enough to go around. The electricity was generated by the Panama Canal, which provided energy to Panama City. I think it also provided electricity to Colon on the other side of the canal. When we got tired of living in such humidity we would spend a three day weekend at the Marriott Hotel. They had generators for the time there wasn’t enough electricity to go around. Plus they had real air conditioners. It was in Panama that I got a real appreciation for the US.

I really like how the US invents new ways to make the lives of their citizens better. Or at least it was like that in the 80s and 90s. We would come back to the States for vacation and would be amazed at the newest trinkets and the freshest air. In Panama City they were still using lead in their gasoline. You would see billows of black smoke going out of the buses as they rushed down the main streets. Also the buses were all privately own– think private cabs. They went where ever the bus driver wanted to go. You also had to have a good relationship with the driver.

It was not a good thing to be an American during Mardi Gras. I remember that some of the soldiers liked to party downtown. They would be surrounded by young men who would slice their pockets and steal whatever was in them. It was such a common practice that soldiers and airmen were not allowed off base during holidays.

What I miss about Panama were the animals. We used to see the toucans fly by twice a year. They were shy and would sit in the tops of the trees burring at each other. Or the monkeys who would sit in the trees and wag their butts at us. There were lizards, and spiders, and snakes. Thankfully I didn’t see too many of them. They hid in the foliage.

There were small wild cats that roamed the bases. And I learned about parrots. The little green ones are pests. They would sit on the eaves of the houses during a wild rain and chirp at each other. They would be so loud that they would drown out the rain and any conversation you could be having.

I wouldn’t have stayed in Panama except my late hubby asked me to come. Because I made that decision, another turning point in my life, I had twenty two years with him as a husband and protector.

I may miss the rain now, but then I wanted to get back to civilization with a little less humidity. I also learned that because of a government that ran on bribes, you couldn’t rely on a government to even get the mail to your house. If you wanted to live and survive in that environment you made friends with the same values and you helped each other.

A lot of people lived in compounds and would pool money to pay for guards.

It’s been a long time now since I was in Panama (left in 1997) and for our sins I am seeing the signs that we might be going in the direction of Panama. I hope not.

Green Knight Terraforming Co.

Most customers are extremely satisfied with the job “The Green Knight Terraforming Co.” does to refurbish their planets. However when there are customer complaints, then the human Joe called Tiny is the person who solves those problems.

Joe’s backup muscle, Donald is there for the occasional times when Joe touches before he looks. Joe, Donald, and the lab animals troubleshoot those problems that need a delicate touch with a hammer. There is a one hundred percent guarantee that this group can fix any customer problem– or fix the customer.

A Collection of Short Stories

Debut

A few years ago I took a writing workshop with Dean Wesley Smith on coming up with writing ideas. I had already earned a B.A. in English Lit with an emphasis on Creative Writing. What I learned in one workshop with Dean was more than I got from any college course.

In the process I came up with the Green Knight Terraforming Co. with a human who came from a proscribed planet. He was modeled after my late husband with his sense of humor. If Otto had the chance to go to space, he would be the one who could fix anything anywhere. I saw him do that in Germany when we contracted for the military to repair computer systems.

Anyway, it was a light-hearted look at troubleshooting in a galaxy far away. When he died, I had a hard time writing more stories. The last story in this collection was written about three years after his death.

I’m hoping that I can have the muses permission to write more of these. It keeps my hubby’s memories alive and even in the worst situations, the personality of Joe makes me laugh.