Carpe Diem Y’all by Michele Bernard

Writer, Texan, Semi-interested Sports Fan

Manday Hangover

images.jpg  The clock talked loud.  I threw it away, it scared me what it talked.  ~Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle

I have a Manday hangover.  Manday fell on Saturday, April 28th this year.  For a brief moment in spring, footballs replace baseballs as the men in my family make pilgrimage back to home televisions, to gather together to observe Holy Orders broadcast live on sports television.  A moment of silence is observed to recognize the absence of a big brother away on military duty, and brief discussion ensues on whether the also absent fourteen year old male-child is ready to partake in Manday.   At the conclusion of business, den doors close sans the fourteen-year-old, and Draft day services begin. 

Manday is tense, not for the faint of heart, and definately not for a woman trying desperately to hang on to what little estrogen still flows through her body.  I back away from the men on Manday.  Too much Man Talk.  Too much debate.  Too much focus on the clock.  Too much scratching.  My husband actually squeezed his glass coffee canister while making a point during the Why Hasn’t Brady Quinn Gone Yet Drama, shattering it with his bare hands.  Note to self:  buy band-aides to replenish depleted supply in kitchen first-aide kit.

Today as I drive the fourteen year old to school, he studies baseball stats in the scorebook he keeps in the vehicle for just this sort of occasion.  “We should’ve taken Colorado’s kicker,” he offers, never looking up from the batting average table, “He’s amazing, and we really need a kicker.”

I note his Sports-Brain is mature enough to consider two sports simultaneously.  I’m sorry my husband and his brothers miss this developmental milestone, but they’ll be happy to know he’s ready to celebrate Manday with them next year.

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele


April 30, 2007 Posted by | baseball, Best Lines, Blogroll, Carpe Diem Quotes, Family, Football, Humor, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Notes from the Cheap Seats, Parenting, Sports Stuff | 5 Comments

Sunday Afternoons

tomatoes.jpgToday I remember my great-grandmother’s kitchen table, laden with bounty from a tiny back yard garden.  Fresh tomatoes, cucumber salads, corn on the cob, snapped beans, mashed potatoes, fried okra.  It’s hard to imagine how they produced so much harvest from such a tiny plot of land.  And, it’s hard to imagine the numbers they fed.  Our family numbers many.  Yet somehow, each Sunday afternoon, four generations plus friends, would gather together to share a meal, visit, bid goodbye to the weekend and say hello to the week to come.  There was always plenty of food and plenty of cousins to play with.  Today, as I watch baseballs and boys fly around my own back yard’s recently potted tomato plant and herbs, I remember Grandmother and Old Dad’s tiny back yard.  Somehow there was always plenty of room for all of us to grow back there.

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele 

Spend the afternoon.  You can’t take it with you.  ~Annie Dillard

April 29, 2007 Posted by | baseball, Best Lines, Carpe Diem Quotes, Family, Food and Wine, Inspiration, Inspirational, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting | Leave a comment

3 Blind Moose, A Monkey and A Boot

ist2_2425590_three_wine_bottles.jpgAre chilling in my refrigerator.  My job is to pair the appropriate wine with whatever gourmet delicacy my husband creates.  The thing is, I’m not a wine connoisseur.  I merely play one on weekends and special occasions.  So I choose quirky labels that appeal to me, hence the 3 Blind Moose, the Monkey and the Boot.  Tonight’s menu:  grilled grass-fed lamb, sauteed mushrooms in a port reduction, zucchini, roasted beet salad.  What goes with that?  I’m thinking Monkey.   Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele  P.S.  Actual Choice:  Campo Viejo Tempranillo Reserva 2001 (YUM!)

May you live all the days of your life.”  ~Jonathan Swift 

April 29, 2007 Posted by | Best Lines, Food and Wine, Humor, Michele's Musings | Leave a comment

How to Make a Perimenopausal Female Swoon

lovesongs_sm.jpg Donny Osmond Love Songs of the ’70s, Song #3:  Donny covers Al Green’s classic Let’s Stay Together.  I join my Inner bell bottom wearing, Partridge Family Watching-Marsha Brady Wanna Be within by saying:  Iiiii…….I’m soo in looove with you too Donny! Let me….be the one you come running toooo….., Donny baby.  Iiiii’ll neva bee uuuuntruuuuuoooouuuu……Sighhhhhhhh…..Carpe Diem y’all, Michele

April 27, 2007 Posted by | Donny, Michele's Musings, Music | 1 Comment

Notes from the Cheap Seats

baseballs-008.jpg Notes from last night’s game:  I fear my son will look up from the pitcher’s mound one day and see something therapy-worthy sitting in the stands, instead of a loving mother cheering him on.  “You never looked that freaked out when my brothers played,” I imagine his eyes accuse as he drops his head in shame.  That’s why I move out of his line of vision when he pitches.  After almost twenty years of watching my sons play baseball, I’m a fairly cool cucumber.  I don’t embarass myself or my children with questionable public displays.  To the naked eye, I look like any other mild mannered mom sitting in the cheap seats.  But tonight, underneath the calm demeanor, turmoil bubbles. My baby is starting pitcher against a team of unusually large, unusually talented fourteen year olds.  We’ve faced these corn-fed boys twice already this season, with shall we say, less than positive results.  I think of another baseball mom I know.  On the night her son pitched against the reigning state champions in a key play-off game, she hid in the ladies room with a cell phone in her ear and alcohol on her breath.  Obviously tonight isn’t that, but I still find it difficult to stay put and watch as my son gives it a go on the hill. 

But stay put I will.  This is my kid who loves baseball.  His brothers enjoyed it, he lives it.  What an honor to witness him living his young life to the fullest.  Even if it does give me ulcers.  Carpe diem y’all, Michele 

April 27, 2007 Posted by | baseball, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Notes from the Cheap Seats, Parenting, Sports Stuff | Leave a comment

Fingernails Too Dirty To Type

baseball-and-yard-work-april-07-008.jpg  Reasons Why I didn’t Update Writer’s Blog Last Week:

1.  Monday:  Novel writing class; lunch with writer’s group; Extra, unexpected, blessed freelance work with extra-short, extra-hard deadline.

2.  Tuesday: Worked on novel   

2.  Wednesday:  Husband took week off work.  He and I both so busy Monday and Tuesday, didn’t really click till Wednesday that we were actually on unexpected vacation time.

3.  Thursday:  Went to Farmer’s Market, came home with truck-load of plants, flowers, fresh fruits/vegetables and great ideas.  Sliced and diced while Husband created magnificent vegetarian meal with Farmer’s Market finds.

4.  Friday:  Planted flowers and vegetables from early til late. 

5.  Friday night:  Sat on front porch rocking, admiring flowers, sipping wine, talking til too dark to see.


Last night a huge storm rumbled through the neighborhood.  Tree branches litter the street and yards.  Mercifully, our plantings survive.  This makes me happy.  Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

April 25, 2007 Posted by | Michele's Musings | 4 Comments

Stop the MMadness

colormyworld.gif The Easter Bunny camme for a visit, bringing with himm a basket full of candy-coated love.  I’ve been jacked up ever since.  Last night, I finished mmy last candy-filled egg and you know, I’mm relieved.  Really.  It’s not like I have to have themm.  I can do without themm you know.  I just eat themm on special occasions and at baseball gammes.  I mmean comme on, doesn’t everybody?  I can stop whenever I want to.  It’s not like I have a problemm or anything.  God mmy head hurts this mmorning.

They say the first step is admitting you’re powerlessness, so here goes:

I admmit I amm powerless and mmy life has becomme unmmanageable.

Just for today, I will abstain fromm mmy drug of choice. 

Carpe Diem Y’all, MMichele

April 12, 2007 Posted by | Humor, Michele's Musings | Leave a comment

My New Hero

2003658115.jpgElsie McLean, 102, becomes oldest golfer to ace hole 

“For an old lady,” she said, “I still hit the ball pretty good.”

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

April 11, 2007 Posted by | Best Lines, Golf, Inspiration, Inspirational, Michele's Musings, Sports Stuff | Leave a comment

Best Line I’ve read today

“It’s a no-win argument – that business of what we’re born with and what our environment does to us.  And it’s a boring argument, because it simplifies the mysteries that attend both our birth and our growth.”  John Irving A Prayer for Owen Meany


April 9, 2007 Posted by | Best Lines, Blogroll, Books, Michele's Musings, Writerly Stuff | 1 Comment


pedi.jpg  Glancing at the ceiling, I’m sure Jesus is looking down, shaking his head in defeat, as he recognizes that on this particular Maundy Thursday, I’ve obviously missed the point.  Again.  As I fiddle with buttons activating massage chair rollers, feel them travel up my spine, and dip my feet into the aromatic footbath in preparation for a pedicure and foot massage, I’m sure he’s correct.  Again.  Which begs me to ask :  What more can he expect from one who’s patron saint is Peter? 

  “Color?” the nail technician asks as she girds up her loins and sits before me. 

“No thank you,” I reply, “Clear please.”

She smiles in understanding as she gently lifts and swaddles my foot in toasty oil-infused towels.

The telephone rings.  My nail tech’s grand-daughter answers it.  I see she is concerned.

“What do you mean I have an English as second language issue?” she asks.  I wonder the same as I listen to her crystal clear pronunciations.  She concludes her conversation and hangs up.

Turning to me she asks, “Nails?”

“Yes please,” I reply.  Sunday is Easter. 

She is deep in thought as she files my nails.  Brows knit together, she works in silence.  At my feet, her grandmother does the same as she scrubs winter rough skin from my heels.

In the silence, I think about the church service I will miss this night.  Again.  I remember past footwashing services particularly the one with the homily reminding us that Jesus asks us to do more than one thing.  Remember him through the breaking of bread AND follow his example in behavior with one another. We Episcopalians always remember to eat, yet we sometimes forget to wash our neighbors’ feet.  And God forbid we allow anyone besides a nail tech to touch ours.

I notice a tear form in the corner of the grand-daughter’s eye. 

“Are you alright?” I ask.

“My English professor gave me a C minus on an essay.  She says I have English as second language issues.”  She stops her work and looks at me.  “I’ve been in this country since I was six years old.  Our primary language is English.  I speak English , I think in English, I even dream in English.  I struggle to speak Vietnamese,” she says as she gestures toward her grandmother massaging lotion into my calves.  “How can I have an English as second language issue?  I think my english teacher makes assumptions based on my looks,” she concludes.

“Do you have the paper?” I ask, “I’ll be happy to take a look at it if you like.”

I find it difficult to read the essay.  Not so much from the writing itself, and not even because of the difficult position I sit in, right arm stretched across my body to reach the grand-daughter to my left, or for the jarring vibrations caused by the grandmother as she pounds my calves with tiny fists.  I find it difficult to read for the bright blue circles and cross-outs and long cryptic notes and suggestions written on, over and beside the grand-daughter’s work.  The word “desecrate” comes to mind as I try my best to read through the professor’s grafitti.

“How long has it been since you’ve attended an English class?” I ask.

“Fifteen years,” she replies, “I liked money too much when I was younger.  I didn’t want to go to college.  Now that my children are older, I realize I need a degree so I can be honest when I teach them that a college degree is important.”

“I see no English as second language issues in this paper,” I say, “I see haven’t-taken-an-English-class-in-fifteen-years issues.  Common issues with easy fixes.  I write everyday and I still experience issues.  Every writer I know does.”

“When I’m through, do you mind showing me how I can make this better?” she asks.

“My pleasure,” I respond.

The grandmother looks up.  Smiling she points to my toes.  She’s embellished my clear polish with tiny hand-painted flowers.  My face hurts I’m smiling so big.  This small gesture both honors and humbles me.

The grand-daughter and I move to a workstation in the back of the salon.  I lose track of time as I interpret and explain what I see and teach her how to watch for these issues the next time she sits down to write.

As I leave the salon I look up.  Again.  And thank God that I didn’t miss Maundy Thursday services after all.  Carpe Diem y’all, Michele

Copyright © 2007 Michele Bernard

 612px-giotto_-_scrovegni_-_-30-_-_washing_of_feet.jpgIJohn 13:14-17 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

April 7, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Episcopalians, Inspiration, Inspirational, Michele's Musings, Writerly Stuff, Writing | 3 Comments