Wilmoth Foreman


Phone fits and the cat’s meow

June 14, 2016

Tags: Cats, phones

The noise level at our house has been out of whack lately. One reason being my new phone. For no discernible reason, it has fits.
Typically, the two of us —— me and the new cell phone —— will be minding our own business till I’m startled by its unpredictable burble.
Years ago in Los Angeles, California, I watched tar pits as captive gases roiled and boiled, forcing their way from the depths with bursting bubbles and contentious ripples.
This new phone emits noise that disturbs its surroundings much like escaping gases disturbed the surface of those murky tar lakes.
In and of itself, the phone’s burble is not unpleasant. It’s the why and when that makes it annoying: Did someone call, but the ring tone is accidentally off? Could we have missed notification that a tornado is nearby on this ostensibly calm day? Does the battery need charging?
One predictable is —— whenever the sound happens, the phone has switched to lock mode. I have no idea what this entails except that, to place a call, a person has to begin at the beginning of phone calisthenics.
Another “for sure” is that the phone’s favorite time to burble is the dead of night.
Turning the thing off isn’t an option. Folk with advanced degrees in phone savvy have not been able to find an off button. Hence, it cannot accompany me to numerous places my former phone went —— church, rehearsals, meetings in general.
I even considered leaving the phone in the car while grocery shopping. But if it emotes mid-produce aisle, I revert to a tactic used when the children were small. To deny familial ties during a temper tantrum: I’d stand near some grocery cart other than the one that contains the offending child…or phone.
There’s another reason our home’s noise level has been out of kilter. The cat got laryngitis. This is significant because the normal volume level of Blossom’s meow is off the charts.
Once when I mentioned that the cat yelled at me, a friend said I should change the verb to “meowed.”
“She yells,” I replied.
Even when there’s cat food at her feeding station, Blossom will converse at length. I suspect a lot of it is gossip. Plus, she is highly opinionated.
For most of last week, Blossom jabbered away with nary a sound escaping her lips. I almost felt sorry for her. But the feeling passed as I reveled in silence, give or take occasional phone fits.

I am From...

May 17, 2016

Tags: Poetry

I occasionally write poetry. Here’s one that, in a recent workshop, began as a response to a prompt:
I am from…
Wilmoth Foreman

I am from trees, from black curtains of rain
moving toward us across the distant railroad tracks

I am from the dense, sweet smell of cow feed,
from the snake across the barn path,
from shoveling manure and knowing its worth

From hands bloodied by quarrelsome setting hens
who, with sharp angry beaks, protect
the warm eggs beneath their ruffled feathers

I am from a world where the supper chicken had a name,
where I hated the geese who nipped, hissed, and
flailed their wings, hating me back with a pure holy hate

I am from goat kids squirming happy under each arm,
from tender new honeysuckle tips
that disappeared into their nibbling mouths

from onion sets meant for planting in the garden
but dipped in a premeditated fistful of salt
and languidly eaten beneath the all-seeing cedar

I am from picnics under silent pasture hardwoods,
from puppies and kittens born harum-scarum, out of range
of pamphlets preaching ‘spay’ and ‘neuter’

from little unseen animals scurrying through night-lives
inside bedroom walls, falling with grunts and oooffs
when their scrabbly feet outran them

I am from asparagus fern and rosebud corsages
pinned on scratchy piano recital dresses

from giggles with girls as we leapt and climbed
on the big eternal rocks waiting behind the barn
that centered the world I am from.

Hollow homes for rent?

April 27, 2016

Tags: Bees, Outdoors

There’s an apartment complex at the top of the hill in my back yard. It’s politically correct — doesn’t discriminate as to color, religious affiliation, gender, etc. The only unwritten criterion is, to live there, you gotta be able to either fly or climb.
I’m referring to a tree, a really big ash tree that’s determined to die. Hence, a lot of its considerable bulk is hollow. This ups the ante beyond nest-building for potential and current renters.
The biggest hollow is home to a hive of bees. They’ve been there maybe five years now, and are why I change my mind each time I decide the tree absolutely must come down.
Bees are essential to the natural scheme of things. Without their pollination of fruits and vegetables, our food chain would likely collapse. They are also at a premium. Pesticides and a currently fast-spreading fatal bee disease have made them a very vulnerable species.
As to our ash tree bees, they’re either super smart or just lucky as to where they’ve picked to live. Any of several beekeepers who’ve attempted to relocate them will testify that the setting is nigh on to impossible to reach.
First of all, the entrance to the bee condo is on the downhill side of the tree, which makes ladder access dangerous. Added to that are thick, well-established poison ivy vines that encircle the entrance to their hive.
One gallant guy actually suited up in bee-proof garb, climbed a precarious ladder in hopes of honey, only to learn that the bees’ stash is a good ways up the hollow tree from the entrance hole. He dared not try reaching the honey while barely balanced on a ladder.
So both the bees and their nectar are safe, at least till I get stung a few times. Here’s hoping all the bird and squirrel families in that ash tree appreciate their bee neighbors for giving them home security.

Ain’t words fun?!?

April 11, 2016

Tags: Poetry, Words

It all started with this poem my 80-something-year-old friend in Florida sent out at 5:34 this morning:
The other day
my nose ran
as I was walking.

My nose doesn't walk
and I don't run anymore
much to my distress.

I need a handkerchief
more than I need track shoes.

But as we are prone to say
these days
“It goes with the territory.”

I walk now with some ease
and scuffle only occasionally.

How long good mobility
will accompany my longevity
is a matter that sometimes
runs through my mind
as I take my walks in the morning.
--Russ Peery

To which I replied:
Dear Russ, I couldn't resist teasing you a bit. So here goes: In the lines

I walk now with some ease
and scuffle only occasionally

you may have meant 'shuffle' instead of 'scuffle.' But I had a good chuckle picturing the 'scuffle' option. Who or what might the foe have been? ;-]

Russ’ answer:

Can't wait for a poem about who--or what--you schuffled with. An alligator? a big bird? a golf cart? an indignant shuffler? Go for it, Russ!

Russ’ answer:
A columnist!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How do you spell touche? ;-]

Russ’ answer:

At which point, this columnist realized that Sir Peery had the well-deserved, if sadly spelled, last word.

Ah, Spring!

March 29, 2016

Tags: Spring, Outdoors

Ah, Spring! Who can resist its charm?
Even if we could, why try?
Here in middle Tennessee, the season has appeared all at once — like we brought home a cardboard box off the garden center shelves marked Instant Spring, opened it, followed directions and stirred.
With great success! Redbud trees bloom with abandon ingreening fields and leafing woods. In manicured yards, they compete for the spotlight with tulip trees and Bradford pears.
Forsythia bushes and a riot of buttercups were in full bloom by the time our flowering trees woke up. Even as all that yellowness fades, its happy aura remains.
And there’s more on the horizon. Dogwood flower buds are scrunched tight, waiting for the just-right day to burst forth in beauty. And here it comes, only two calendar squares away—April 1.
Happy Spring, no fooling!

J. B.’s Carving Tree

March 4, 2016

Tags: Summer of the Skunks, Outdoors

During one episode in Summer of the Skunks, Calvin and Jill Clark harbor a down-on-his-luck family friend, J. B. Walker.
Whenever Jill can get away unnoticed, she joins J.B. in the pasture at his ‘carving tree,’ hoping he’s in a storytelling mood. She is seldom disappointed.
Long after the novel was published and making its way in the world, I began to wonder if the tree I had created on paper (actually, at keyboard) might really exist. The only way to satisfy that curiosity was to, well, seek out such a tree.
I expected the quest to be long-lived. But during my next walk in a nearby park, a couple of the trees I often passed, if viewed through a forgiving lens, were facsimiles of the fictional one.
To settle for either, however, diminished the challenge.
Gas prices were falling, and our county was not yet totally entombed in pavement. I’d search high and low, near and far…
Around the next bend, there it stood — tall, full-leafed, roots sprawling above-ground — J.B.’s carving tree.
The emerging visual was even easier to see than the tree. There on the biggest root sat J.B.in scuffed up but clean brogan shoes, khakis, a gently fading blue shirt with sleeves rolled to his elbows, his carving knife making slow steady passes along the chunk of wood in his left hand.
Across from him on a smaller root, Jill leaned toward J. B.’s story. Her left hand idly patted Calvin’s old dog Bo, whose likeness was emerging beneath J.B.’s knife strokes.
Look carefully at the tree roots pictured above. Your mind's eye will likely picture J.B. and Jill, as mine did.