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Strange Little Bird: Page 2
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I Remembered

It was a welcome thing during the blazing West Texas summer – a cool afternoon with a breeze that reminded you that you were indeed alive, that you hadn’t wilted beyond repair just yet. There were rain clouds moving in slowly, so slowly that they seemed gentle and friendly, and a hint of desert sagebrush rode the air.

My mother and I had walked down the one paved road in the tiny town to the park.

We sat on the swings like two little girls, swinging and talking about nothing of any consequence or weight.

She was beautiful. She was perfect. I remember listening to her voice, and thinking how much I loved her, and how grateful I was to have those moments. Those perfect moments with my mother.

I thought, “I have to remember this. Someday this will be important to me.”

And in this very moment that memory is the most important thing in the world.

Monday September 24, 2007
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I Forgive You, Uncle Steve!!

Dear Steve,

I found your letter today to the iPhone pioneers to be both encouraging and impressive! Thank you for listening to us, and for understanding that many of us were not concerned with a dollar amount, but with a perceived breech of trust.

I found your words impressive for several reasons. You, in your eloquent fashion, managed to apologize to us without ever admitting any wrong doing. It takes talent to get people on board with that kind of apology. Well done!

I was also impressed by your promise of a $100 Apple Store credit to the iScrewed crowd. I mean this with all sincerity – it is sheer genius that you figured out a way to give us some of our money back without losing any of it yourself. Next week we will trot on over and buy with our credits wireless keyboards and iPod Fatties and such, and likely we’ll each spend more than our $100, so I guess everyone wins. Good show!

In closing, I now have a renewed faith in Apple. I am comforted that you took the time to hear our concerns and act on them in a manner that benefited all parties. It’s a good feeling. A happy ending.

Sincerely,

SLB

PS – Did you have this whole scenario in mind from the beginning? You can tell me, really! I’m good with secrets! Didn’t you know we would riot with torches and pitchforks, and then when you did the right thing that everyone would see that Apple really is awesome? You’re a brilliant man either way…

Thursday September 6, 2007
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I Agree with Satan

Driving down the road the other day I was accosted by a giant red billboard that read, “I hate Lifechurch.tv.” For a nanosecond I was excited until I saw that the quote on the board was attributed to Satan. I felt the overwhelming urge to scale the billboard in broad daylight with a can of red paint and color over “Satan.”

If you don’t want to go to church, that’s all fine and good. Really, it’s okay. But if you do, go to a real church. Not one that ends in “.tv.”

Wednesday September 5, 2007
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Uncle Steve Robbed Me!

Dear Steve,

Let me begin by telling you how much I love my iPhone. It is indeed the coolest gadget I have ever beheld. I have enjoyed my iPhone for all of the 31 days I have owned it.

Until today.

You see, today I read that you thought it was best (best for your sales, I’m sure) to make the iPhone more “affordable,” so the price has been lowered by $200. Now I was never great at math, but I’m pretty sure that’s a 33% decrease in price. And it’s only been out for two months.

Now Steve, I must tell you how hurt and insulted I am over this. While $200 is mere chump change to you, it represents many hours of hard work for me and others like me who scrimped and saved to buy the shining end-all-be-all of toys. I am aware that I deemed the iPhone to be worth $600 when I bought it, so I am responsible for the twist in my panties.

But you suck. You owe me $200. I am [was] a loyal Apple customer who had faith in you and your company’s brilliant products. Faith that you wouldn’t screw me.

So, shame on me for trusting in The Man. Shame on you for becoming him.

Sincerely,

SLB

Wednesday September 5, 2007
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Two Rants for the Price of One

Number One. I’ve been meaning to rant about this one for several days, but unfortunately I’ve been frying bigger fish (or maybe I’ve just been sleeping – who cares).

Last week on Dateline (I was too lazy to get up and get the remote to change it to something better), they did this whole lame expose on iPod theft. Basically, they left a bunch of new iPods sitting around various locations, unattended, and waited for nature to take its course. News flash: PEOPLE STEAL STUFF!! And I’m not too sure I consider the people who took the bait iPods straight up thieves, either. Taking something out of someone’s car=stealing. Taking something left alone on a park bench=shame on the person who wasn’t more mindful of his crap. Anyway, that’s not the part that burns my cookies. The Dateline goons added some low tech spy program to their iPods and tracked down several of them post-disappearance. Good for them. But then they proceeded to dog Apple for not tracking down every stolen iPod since the beginning of time. Wait a minute – I don’t recall ever hearing about LG or Motorola helping a customer to track a stolen cell phone, or Canon taking any steps to retrieve a nabbed camera for a victim of theft. Could it be that this lovely Dateline piece aims only at vilifying Apple? Could this be because NBC and Microsoft are butt buddies??? Let’s develop some ability for critical thought, folks.

Number Two. I’ve been thinking of adopting another dog. Fosse’s been lonely since Binky left us. Curiosity has taken me to Petfinder.com and to the websites of several area shelters and rescues. Much to my dismay, I’ve found that many of these rescues put more effort into screening potential pet parents than an adoption agency would for a human! Seriously, I’ve seen lengthy pre-screening applications. They want to know why you want a dog. They want to know about every pet you’ve ever had, how long you had it, and how it came to an end (I bet they’d love to read about my husband’s pet hamster that accidently found his way into the clothes dryer). They want personal references and a letter of reference from your vet. They want a description of your home and yard. They want a mini-bio of everyone living in your house. They want to know where you work and what hours. They want to know your activity level. If you rent, they want an affidavit from your landlord stating that your are allowed to have a pet, and maybe even a copy of the check with which you paid your pet deposit. And as if that wasn’t enough, THEY’RE COMING TO YOUR HOUSE FOR A “HOME VISIT.” I’m surprised they don’t want to know if your wear boxers or briefs!!

I am an exceptional pet owner. I love my dog more than anyone ever loved any dog. He has the best of everything and is happy and healthy. However, I don’t qualify to get a dog from most rescues because I work outside my home and therefore am gone too many hours a day. Brilliant. They beg for foster parents on their websites, but they won’t let good people adopt their animals. They speak of the ills of buying from a “back yard breeder” and extol the virtues of getting a pet from a rescue, but yet they won’t let you have one! How is that supposed to work? I think they should reconsider some of their “qualifications.” They’re missing out on some great homes for their charges.

Good night, and good luck. The world is a screwed up place.

Tuesday August 7, 2007
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Binky

She was the last one picked. Seven years ago yesterday, my mother and I stopped at a sad little excuse for a flea market at an abandoned gas station on the outskirts of a dying West Texas town. My mother had had a huge stroke a few months before, and she had just gotten out of rehab that week. I was home from college for the summer to help her. There was nothing at that flea market anyone would ever have wanted. It looked like a bunch of garage sale leftovers. I walked close by my mother, because I still wasn’t so sure she was steady enough on her walker. The tennis balls on its feet still were still too clean for her to have had much experience with it. We scooted over to a large cardboard box in the middle of the floor, and before I even realized what we were looking at inside, Mother said, “Marg, I want it! Please?”

“What is it?”

A sunbaked middle-aged women who smelled of cigarettes popped up seemingly out of nowhere.

“She’s a pure-bred Pomeranian puppy. Born on April Fool’s and just weaned. Last one I have, so you better get her. No papers, but she’s pure-bred.”

Right. April Fool’s indeed. The thing in question looked more like a defective kitten. She was all black except for a snow-white patch on her chest and tiny puffs of white fuzz that seemed to grow from between her toes. She had beady brown eyes that peered up at us from the box.

My mom was cooking up some tears. Her chin quivered slightly.

“Mother, we can go to Midland to a breeder and get you a real dog. There’s no telling what this thing actually is!”

By that time the little soot puff had managed to sit up on her little hind end, and she began to wave her front paws in the air before she toppled over. It was cute. I knew what was next.

“But Marg,” she said breathlessly, “I want THIS ONE.”

The flea market lady new I was beaten. “Okay, fine, we’ll take her. How much?”

“$150 and she’s all yours.”

“Right. I’ll give you $75.”

“$100.”

“I said $75.”

“How ‘bout $85?”

“Fine.”

The tiny dog rode home in my mother’s lap. For the next six years she was pretty much always in Mother’s lap, or curled beside her in the bed, or stretched out at her feet. She was sweet, docile, and a little dumb. There couldn’t have been a more perfect companion for Mother.

Binky entertained herself quite well by rolling and spazing in the floor, or by tossing a stuffed Mike Wazowski toy (“Green,” or “Her Man”) to herself. She didn’t like to go for walks, really, and she knew just one trick which took me years to teach her. I called it the Binky Dance. If I held a treat in front of her she would begrudgingly stand up on her hind legs and turn in three circles while anyone who watched cheered her on. She always did the cute begging thing that she had done the first time we saw her, which Mother dubbed “praying.” Binky prayed for bits of food, prayed to be picked up, prayed to get in the bed, prayed for anything she wanted, which she usually got. She was a good dog.

She didn’t act right after we found out Mother was sick. Something was different in her eyes. After Mother died, I tried to leave Binky with Mother’s fiance because I thought she’d be good company for the poor man, but that didn’t last long. She was too much trouble for him, so she came home with me. The vet told me that her melancholy would wear off with time, but a few weeks ago she stopped eating. The vet said she had an infection, and sent me home with some antibiotics for her, but I dreaded what I knew in my heart was coming. Last Sunday, on Mother’s Day (my first Mother’s Day as an orphan), little Binky gave up. I guess she just didn’t want to hang around here without Mother. I don’t really blame her, but I do miss her.

Binky Pearline

(a.k.a Binky Taco, Taco Rocket, Snot Rocket, Soot Puff, Binker, Binky Dink, and a host of other goofy nicknames)

April 1, 2000 to May 13, 2007

Lux perpetua leceat ei

Sunday May 20, 2007
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Less

She no longer valued her own life the same as she had before. Maybe now she realized that we all die, one way or another, or maybe her mother’s death had just proven to her that life is too short to live with so much apprehension. Or maybe she felt that there was one less person in this world to whom she mattered, and the fewer people one matters to the less one actually matters. At any rate, she was changed; broken beyond repair in some ways, but stronger than she’d ever been in others.

She stared at the glassy grey surface of the monument. She wanted to cry, but the tears would not come. She only felt the emptiness that had plagued her for almost six months. She knew that although life would distract her, and she would go on, she would never ever be without that empty feeling.

Friday April 27, 2007
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Tree

Almost two years ago I found that a tiny tree, no more than two inches tall, had made its home in my back yard. I’m not sure, but I think it was a little cedar tree, no doubt planted by a bird or squirrel. It looked so proud, growing there like it knew what it was doing, and I loved it instantly. I arranged some stones around it so it wouldn’t be stepped on accidently. I began checking its progress regularly. During dry spells I always remembered to water it, and whenever my husband got out the lawn mower I reminded him to watch out for the little tree. Over time that tree came to mean a lot to me. It survived and even flourished through drought, hellacious Texas heat, freezes, and curious squirrels. I admired the tree’s tenacity, and every time I went out to check on it, I was reminded that good things come when least expected, and that sometimes we can prosper even when the odds are piled against us.

Today my husband mowed it down with one careless swoop of the weed eater, and I was reminded that everything is temporary when given enough time.

Sunday April 8, 2007
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Rosa's Travels

I catch a glimpse of her faded blue smock as she darts past the door to my office.

“Rosa!” I have stamps for you!”

Someday I’ll be brave enough to tell her in Spanish. I could, but I’m very self-conscious. I shouldn’t be. Rosa is one of the least judgemental people I’ve ever known.

She comes in and I hand her the postage stamps I cut out for her when I went through the mail this morning.

“Oooh, Tanzania! Thank you, thank you, Margarita!”

We have the same conversation a few times a week. We get loads of mail every day at work, and when international packages and letters come in, I carefully excise the stamps and save them for Rosa. She likes to collect them. Sometimes I see her looking on the big globe, searching for the countries on her stamps.

The postage stamps are how she travels. She probably won’t get to see any of those places in real life. The only stamp on her passport is Mexico. She works so hard, mopping floors, emptying trash bins, and cleaning bathrooms, but she’s never bitter. Her job put her son through college, and that means more to her than she could ever say. Rosa always has a smile and kind words. She’s one of my heroes.

Monday April 2, 2007
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Seven for No Mankind...

It came to my attention recently that Seven for All Mankind jeans come in limited sizes. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but their women’s sizes stop at 32 (inches).

I would bet that there are countless beautiful teenage girls in this country who have had their self-esteem leveled by SFAM jeans. In a society where one’s worth is based on looks and possessions, I can see where girls who are just normal, rather than tiny and stick-like, might toss up their dinners, eat laxitives, and run until they fall down and bleed just to be able to fit into a 32. A waist bigger than 32 does not constitute “lard ass.”

I’m not ranting about this for personal reasons. Although it would be painful, I could, if I suddenly became insane, mash my 33 inch waist into a pair of 32’s. It’s likely that one or both of my ovaries would shoot out my eye sockets if I were to sneeze, but it could be done. Which brings me to my next point:

Muffin tops. You know! The fat that squishes out on the back and sides of the wearer just above the two-sizes-too-small waist band because it has no where else to go. Rarely did I see girls walking through the mall wearing pants so tight that they cannot sit down before SFAM came on the market. Damn, just buy pants that fit.

And finally, consider the origin of the name. I read that it is derived from the statistic that the average American owns seven pairs of jeans at any given time. I currently own six, and their total price does not quite add up to the price of one pair of SFAM. Seriously. Mine are normal jeans (Levi, mostly), and normal jeans just don’t cost $200 a pair. Really.

So, in closing, I’ll stick with my jeans that fit and don’t cost as much as an iPod. And I’ll smirk at your muffin tops.

Sunday February 18, 2007

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