my woods


I grew up on the edge of woods. It was extensive and I spent a lot of time in it. When I headed off to college, my parents left their empty nest and moved to the city. I didn’t revisit my beloved woods for years.

Out of school, I went to work. I had ideas. I made a lot of money. Three-hundred billion dollars, in fact, which is… a lot of money.

When I finally returned to my woods, I found a subdivision. Average price of the midwestern homes in it, three-hundred thousand dollars. That is, one thousand homes per billion dollars.

Over a decade, I bought thirty-billion worth, thirty thousand homes. I built a twelve-foot wall around them. Removed the homes and built one for myself.

With the tracts for about forty-four homes per acre, the wall enclosed about one hundred and fifty thousand acres, or two hundred and twenty square miles. In the portions of the wall facing still-existing woods, I added portals that could be opened from sunset to sunrise, for the wildlife.

I had a new forest planted, and added a plank path that ran through it.

Now, in my dotage, I ride a golf cart out into my domain every morning.


Photo: Mike Vor
For Sunday Photo Fiction


You have to lecture your kids. You also have to lecture your husband — and sometimes your neighbors or the mailman or a solicitor or the Jehovah’s Witnesses — or even, on a very bad day, Jehovah Himself.

That’s just the way it is.

I use a lectern. Lecterns have one purpose and lecturing is it.

I have an indoor lectern on wheels, for moving around the house, and an outdoor mobile lectern for trips to school, where my kids sometimes need my advice or a good scold during classes or recess. (Props to SNL and Melissa McCarthy for the outdoor mobile idea. That lectern is especially useful for following older my kids on their dates.)

The workers in my husband’s office are well familiar with my lecterns. The indoor lectern attaches to the larger outdoor lectern so that once I get to the skyscraper, I can just roll on in.

The White House has the most famous lectern, with a big seal on its front representing the President or the U.S. or whatever. My seals are nothing fancy like that one. Just my face with a stern look on it.

The main thing about lecterns, and you should remember this in case you’re ever standing behind one, is that you don’t necessarily have to tell the truth to your audience while you’re there, whether it be your family or anybody else. You’ll notice this with the Presidential Lectern, for example. There is something about fielding tough questions from your listeners that requires an occasional slide into fabricationhood.

How many times, oh Lord, have the kids or the hubby called out, “Yeah, but what about you?”

“What about me?” I reply. “Let me tell you how much I love you. I have been teaching you, guiding you, explaining things to you, badgering you, threatening you,  reporting you to the police and other authorities, snitching on you to your best friends, and posting embarrassing homecam shots of you on Facebook since the day you were born, or in the case of Frank, since the day we were married, and have I ever asked for thanks? No. This lectern is three inches shorter than when it was new, from me pounding on it.”

But I’ve got to go. I’ve had the bathroom door widened so I can get this thing through it when a family member requires a lecture while using the facilities.

For Daily Prompt

The Budget Will Pass Before Midnight

Boy we’ve had our troubles passing our annual budget this year.

Times are tight. Al wants this and that. I want the other.

So far we’ve kept our tempers, but it seems neither of us wants to compromise.

We’re sworn to settle this. To write a budget and sign it before the sun comes up.


The kids are over at Grandma Jane’s, out of the way.

Then Bob comes by and asks Al if he wants to walk down to the VFW for a beer. Go on, I say, it’ll do you good. Order yourself a shot and let the beer chase it, I say, and they’re off.

Now I sit down and open the spreadsheet on the Mac. I’m alone and suddenly I’m in the mood to compromise. I give Al some of what he wants. Why not? We’re a team, aren’t we? Married thirty-five years. I give myself some of what I want.

Time passes and the budget is finished. I print it out. When Al walks in, he’ll be three sheets to the wind but that’s ok because Al is a pleasant drunk. I’ll sit him down and rub his shoulders and give him a cup of coffee and a piece of coffee cake and he’ll sign and I’ll sign and we’ll turn in.

Our version of the government.

Memo Released to Public

I am releasing this memo to the Congressional Grammar School in Washington, D.C. because it shows that my daughter, Sue, favors my husband over me. She should be ashamed. Let the teachers and students at CGS make their feelings known to her! As for my boys, Bob and Fred, they’re ok but they could show a little backbone once in a while.


From: Sue

To: Bob and Fred

Security: Classified!

Mom is a real jerk! A boob! I like Dad a lot more.

Dad lets us do what we want, as long as we make a few bucks and don’t bug him for $$. We can litter, he don’t care. A little weed. Whatever. Let him watch TV and play golf and that’s all he needs.

Mom cares more about the poor kids next door than she does about us. She’s always out demonstrating or “organizing.” And she’s low energy. Why doesn’t she organize Dad’s sock drawer if she cares so much?

I know you guys are “older and wiser” but jeez, I’m five years old. I got my rights!

Ask Sister Theresa: Can This Marriage Be Saved?

Dear Sister Theresa,

We are five lovers, recently married in Goosefeather, California.

We are:

Carl,  assigned sex = male, gender identity = male, sexual orientation = cis

Eunice, assigned sex = female, gender identity = female, sexual orientation = cis

Nancy, assigned sex = male, gender identity = female, sexual orientation = cis

Tom, assigned sex = female, gender identity = male, sexual orientation = cis

Brad, assigned sex = male, gender identity = male, sexual orientation = gay

Our problem is that Brad, our only non-cis marriage member, is having trouble fitting in. Or adjusting, might be a better way to put it.

We have “hit the social scene” searching for a solution and have found 4 new potential marriage partners:

Paul,  assigned sex = male, gender identity = male, sexual orientation = bi

Cheryl, assigned sex = female, gender identity = female, sexual orientation = lesbian

Lucy, assigned sex = male, gender identity = female, sexual orientation = intersex

Gordon, assigned sex = female, gender identity = male, sexual orientation = polysex

Do you think Brad may find a more complete true-love connection if we add these prospects to our marriage?

Sister Theresa responds:

Wow. You guys have got me in a bit of a pickle here. When I was Brother John, I had some strong ideas on this subject, but now that I’m Sister Theresa, I’m lucky to get my wimple on straight in the morning.


We have one last day in the Verma/Wong household to pass a budget. Shutdown looms.

Once initiated, the shutdown will end only when a damned budget is agreed upon between Ms. Verma and Mr. Wong, with Mr. Wong and his boat and his poker nights taking it seriously for once!


Upstairs and downstairs baths, showers, and sinks will be shut off.

Toilets will be kept on for the first week of shutdown. Outhouse remodel should be complete by the second week. Sears catalogs are ready to be deployed in it.

Medications, medical equipment, and sanitary paper supplies will be limited to the first-aid kit and box of Kleenex in Ms. Verma’s Prius.

The TV and all iPads are locked in mom’s closet.

Actual, real books, with pages and covers, will remain available because apart from mom, who really cares?

Reduced Services

Pets will be fed. The children will be put out in the neighborhood to forage.

Infant nursing by Ms. Verma will no longer occur in public.

The house will be locked at night, although in Ms. Verna’s view there is no longer anything in it worth knicking.

No WiFi. This is the final post.

Budget Talks

Budget talks will follow the same protocols as those set for North Korea/South Korea talks. The Goldfarb house next door will be our DMZ. (Mr. Goldfarb will continue as Ms. Verma’s potential divorce lawyer. Ms. Goldfarb will cover it up around the house for once.)

Post of Shame

Why, why, oh Lord, am I doing this? Riffing in… what is it…WordSmith? WordPress? Improvising anonymously, away from the prying eyes of my public?

My God. Peace and quiet, that’s why.

So afraid that the hounds of FaceBook, the shrews of Pinterest, the… the somethings of Instagram… and that SnapChat thing… will find me. And Tinder. And Grinder. What was I thinking?

And what are they putting in this weed?? Absurdly strong. Absurdly cheap. My fingers are numb. I’ve got to pull over. Typing one-handed on the freeway like this is nuts. Traffic is light though, for LA. Not counting the 101 closures caused by the mudslides.

Hello, Baby. It’s just you and me here. Alone at last. Better than meeting in that Whole Foods parking lot, surrounded by SUVs with the fully tinted windows.

This will sound crazy I know, but it’s the legal pot talking: when I lecture tomorrow at the studio in Culver City, and I start to work my way through the PowerPoint script deck, I’m going to plant that picture I took of you cooking in nothing but the blue apron, halfway through my spiel.

Don’t hate me. I just got a Like on this site from someone suspicious. That’s one good thing about Whole Foods. Nobody has ever Liked me there.

Swearing toddler taken into custody

[Huffington Post headline]

What the fuck? Hey, I can walk, asswipe!

Stop calling it toddling. and get your filthy meathooks off me!  Son of a bitch! Pedophile!

Where’s my mom, motherfucker? Yeah, I still nurse. What’s it to you, hornbag? Nurse on this!

I grab one extra piece of motherfucking birthday cake and Jamie’s mom shits a brick. Who am I, Curious George? What a cunt. If my mom was like that, I’d shoot the bitch.

Alright. You don’t care? Unnngggg. Nnggg. There. Right in my motherfucking pants.! Enjoy the smell.

Hey, pussface. I’m a min-or. You put me in there with these drunk druggie faggots and I will ream you out. I will eat your ‘nads. Yes, bro, I will fuck you up.

Fine. Slam that door. When I get out of here, I will stick my foot so far up your ass, a croc will come out your earhole. I will stab you in the eye with my Barbie. I will dig up Mister Rogers, cut off his head, and leave it at the foot of your motherfucking bed. Clown-turd.

Oh, hi, Mom. School was ok and so was the birthday party. What’s for dinner tonight?

Single Mom Of 10 Went To Get A Turkey, Got Huge Surprise Instead

[Huffington Post]

My children expect a damn turkey at Thanksgiving. I got my first turkey at Bother’s Market way back before Rufus, my firstborn, arrived. I was fifteen at the time. Thanksgiving was coming on and my ma sent me down to the market to buy a turkey.

To my surprise, Mr. Bother did not want to take my money. To my surprise, he told me to keep the money for my own and not tell my ma. Mr. Bother told me that I could “earn” the turkey.

It wasn’t hard to do. It was a little uncomfortable, Mr. Bother being a big man, but it didn’t take long and soon I was on my way with the turkey and the turkey money too.

My next surprise came a little bit later when I learned I was in the family way. Ma had twelve of us herself at the time and no man in the house. She told me one more wouldn’t make any difference.

I spent the turkey money on underwear and flip-flops.

The next year, Ma sent me back to get another turkey . She didn’t give me any money this time so I guess when my underwear and flip-flops showed up, she figured out what had happened.

I earned another turkey and nine months later, my Edie-May was born.

What I’m saying is, after ten years of turkeys, a mother has the right to expect another one the next Thanksgiving. Ten children, ages one through ten, were at home waiting with their little mouths watering.

But Mr. Bother told me that Pearl, a fifteen-year-old from down in the hollow, had just earned my turkey for herself. Mr. Bother said that if I swept out the back room, I could earn a chicken, but that was the best he could do. My mouth just dropped open. Was it a huge surprise? Dang right it was. I was angry, disgusted, and frustrated.

I took the chicken, but I also came back the next day. I waited in the shade across the street from the market and when Baylee-Ann, who is fourteen, went into the store and Mr. Bother flipped the sign on the front door to Closed, I waited a few minutes and then went in and grabbed my turkey.

Police: Spy Likely Died Naked In Gym Bag By Accident

My husband? Yes, he was a spy. He loved his country, enough to sneak around and snitch on folks like a rat. That’s how patriotism has got to be sometimes. Like that time when I was in the bathroom trying to… Never mind. Suffice it to say, my husband was a spy 24×7.

When he first became homeless, after I forgot my own love of country and lost my head and kicked him out of the house, he lived in a cardboard box in the back yard. Outside the bathroom window, now that I think of it. A nice big cardboard box.

You see where I’m going with this.

Fact: The gym bag was waterproof. Important during the rainy season.

Fact: My husband, technically, wasn’t naked, as he had one of my merry widows wrapped around him, though not fastened.

Should you try to make coffee or fry an egg in a gym bag? In retrospect, no. Wait for the rain to stop and build a little campfire in the dog run. Begging at the back door won’t do any good, storm or no storm. And move the damn bag away from the down spouts. Show some common sense.

Plus, anyone who tries to climb a ladder while in a gym bag, to peek in a window during a raging storm, deserves whatever befalls him.

Fact: The old scarring on his body was, yes, caused by accidents, him being a clumsy guy, though wait, the big one on his forehead was another example of me being unpatriotic.

Fiction: Drago and Dajbog (our pit bulls) would not attack a man for taking their food. Well, yes they would, but probably not my husband. The wounds seemed too deep and ragged to be inflicted by squirrel or skunk, but a raccoon could have done it. As for an opossum, I don’t know.

Was I responsible for my husband’s death in any way? No. But just in some cosmic case I need to make restitution, I’ve signed up for a yoga class at Gold’s and I’m going to carry my leotard to it in the gym bag, once the bag is released by the police and thoroughly cleaned.