Saturday, August 24, 2013


Photo by Elena Kalis

The barrier is not so firm, but fine.
Did you catch a glimpse before slipping through,
leaving behind
the canker that muddled your mind,
limbs weary from fighting the current?
Is the other side a reflection
of this murkiness, but clear?
Take along your vivid colors.
A sweet savor trails in your wake.
Rest with the saints in glory,
but we know you won't be still.
If work there be to do, you'll find it;
idleness was never your ideal.
Family ties still anchor us--
we'll watch for your beacon smile
when our turn comes to cross
and wait, with you,
'til every silken hair will be restored.

For my mother-in-law, Sierra Sue Osgood, 1946-2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Extreme Swishing

Marcelle Lender Dancing the Bolero by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

"--and it's a proud day for Liechtenstein.  Fabian B├╝rzle has captured not only the gold but a new world record in the Top Hat Limbo, stooping nearly two centimeters lower than the second-place contestant from Spain.  Now we'll turn it over to Stanley for the next event in the twenty-fourth Impracticalympics."

"Thanks, Bob.  Francine and I are here in the Grand Ballroom for the finals in the 50-meter High Heel Hurdles.  After a day of tough elimination rounds, the top challengers are lining up at the start.  What do you think, Francine?"

"These ladies have come a long way, Stanley.  They've faced tough scrutiny of their shoes this year, but all the finalists' heels are within the regulation height range of 8.5 to 13 centimeters.  And each is wearing the standard three petticoats."

"Hasn't there been some controversy about that, Francine?"

"A few participants caused a stir in the World Games two years ago, running in miniskirts and shoes with added rubber soles.  But the International Committee ruled last September that the miniskirts were unsightly, and rubber soles were contrary to the spirit of Impracticality.  Only plain leather soles are permitted for this competition, and petticoats are mandatory."

"What about the jewelry?"

"The runner from Sweden is toeing the line, wearing only a light silver chain.  Heavier necklaces are favored by traditional athletes, but the Committee hasn't imposed any weight regulations yet."

"The ladies are assuming their starting positions for the final race of the High Heel Hurdles.  The starter raises his pop-gun and . . . they're off!  China takes an early lead, with England and South Africa close behind."

"I love the swish and click of this sport, Stanley.  Thanks to Our Corporate Sponsors for the in-floor microphones that share it with our audience."

"England pulls ahead, Sweden gaining.  It's amazing how they can clear those hurdles, Francine."

"It takes most athletes years of training and determination, Stanley.  Practical experience helps, too.  We've seen impressive performances from young mothers whose toddlers are restless at church."

"Oh, no!  The runner from South Africa wobbles and--could she have broken a nail?"

"It's a beginner's mistake, Stanley.  Only the high stress of international competition can bring that out in an athlete with this much experience."

"China and England are necklace-and-necklace, Sweden straining to catch up.  And . . . Velocita Gonzales from Venezuela takes a great leap over the last hurdle for the win!" Stanley rustles his papers.  "Wait.  Where did she come from?"

"Venezuela, obviously."

Stanley shrugs.  "And it has been another amazing race, full of triumph and tragedy, in the twenty-fourth Impracticalympics!  Next up, platform shoe diving, and the 1,000 meter butterfly chase.  Stay tuned."