Sunday, August 16, 2015

Yesterday I saved a grasshopper

Yesterday I saved a grasshopper in the pool. It could not push its legs against the water to fly, so I scooped it out with my hat and placed it on the rough concrete.  While I did my laps, I watched it drying out, moving its wings and flicking its antennae.  It took more than a half hour and I was toweling myself when it moved, one leg at a time across the cement and then pushed.  Like me sometimes, struggling to exercise my stiff joints, there was little grace in its movement.  But move it did and then sprang to a shady bush.  I would like to be that grasshopper, saved by grace and given another chance to live in the summer sun.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

When I was growing up...

When I was Growing Up, a mini-memoir by anita c. fonte 8/2/15

When I was growing up, the first four words I learned to speak were: tv, bird, cookie, dada. 

TV-- because I watched Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bill.  When I came down with measles, my mom said I looked like Howdy and I cried.  He was a freckled puppet who jerked when he danced, not at all graceful like the dancer who, at five, I wanted to be.

Bird—because their chirps, trills, and colored feathers as they fluttered at the feeder outside my grandmother’s window suggested adventure, beauty, magic.

Cookie—because I loved sweets at all meals.  Breakfast was Rice Krispies and milk, sprinkled with sugar.  Lunch, white bread and butter with brown sugar smeared on both sides of the bread.  Dinner ended with dessert, often my mom or grandmother’s baked sugar cookies dotted with raisins or chocolate chips.  The only kitchen time I enjoyed (and still enjoy) is baking.

Dada—because my dad was a looming figure from toddler-hood through my sixty-five years.  His arms had hands that could lift me above his head or slap me hard.  He had the will to shovel snow off roofs, push lawn rollers over bumps and gopher holes.  His determination was hardened by his childhood poverty and his service in the Army burial corps arriving in Normandy on D-Day plus 2.


Sunday, July 12, 2015


Remains (From a prompt in Writers’ Digest July/August 2015)

I ate it—but not all of it.  It was terrible.  That’s what happens when I am hungry and tired.  My standard for edible food collapses like a wall of sand. 

The cheese crisp was not crisp.  It was cold and tasteless.  I think the cook threw two handfuls of grated cheese on a floppy tortilla and sent it out to the server.  I sat there at the restaurant table smoldering from stuffed frustration and envy.  The kid’s plate across from me looked divine and she was devouring it with gusto: a juicy hamburger on a toasted bun with pickles, lettuce and a side of fries.

The next day, I salvaged the remains of my meal.  I sliced a fresh red pepper and patterned the slender pieces on top of the crisp, sprinkling it with parsley and drizzling garlic-seasoned olive oil on the tortilla.  I placed the tortilla on foil and baked it at 325 degrees in the oven for seven minutes. 

It came out with edges lightly browned and bubbling cheese and toppings.  The peppers were sweet with a touch of garlic and juicy.

Sometimes the remains of a disappointing entrĂ©e can be resurrected into a tasty treat.  On its second do-over, I ate it all.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mommy, I don't like this

1.      Cookie Rescue

Mommy, I don’t like this (prompt from WritersDigest May/June 2015)

“Mommy, I don’t like this.”  Riley squirmed in her back car seat and threw the blueberry popsicle to the floor.  Diane, harried with rush hour traffic, glanced through the rear view mirror at her frowning daughter.

“Okay, honey.  We’ll be home soon and I’ll fix mac n’ cheese for you. Okay?”

No, it was not okay.  Riley let out a frustrated howl.  Diane, her tense stomach tightening, turned around. As she did, her car slammed into a cab stopped at the light. 

Minutes later, Riley was screaming and Diane was tapping 911 into her phone.  The cab driver came out of his dented cab, carrying an open bag of Oreo cookies.  Approaching Diane’s rolled down window he waved the cookies toward her crying toddler.  “Betcha, she’d like a cookie, huh?”

Diane said a quick prayer of thanks and nodded with a tired smile at her new best friend, Shelley, the cab driver.

“Here, honey.” She cooed as she moved from her seat to undo Riley’s seat belt and pick her up with a hug.  “Look at this yummy treat.”

Riley sucked in her last sob and held out her sticky hands for the cookie.

“Oh, Mommy, I like this.”

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Keeping the Red Nose Day message alive

Although the official Red Nose Day has come and gone (5/21), I was so touched by many of the stories shared on the telethon that I see merit in keeping its message alive.  Whether it was the family in Chicago going to the local food pantry, or the orphan on the streets (interviewed by actor/comedian Jack Black) in Africa, the sight of children hungry, sick, lost and alone breaks my heart.

Maybe it is my Grandmother Dice's voice in my head reminding me to think about others who have less than I have; or my Grandad Dice's admonition when we left their farmhouse home after our frequent visits: "if you can't be great, be good."

I think I gave up trying to be great after college.  In the early 1970s, my focus was on just trying to find a place (somewhere warmer than northern Illinois) where I could plant my own roots and thrive.  Unexpectedly, Tucson became that place.  And, in addition to establishing my life (home, family, career) here, it's the center of the community work I continue to be "called" to do. 

But I live in a broader world, too.  So while I contribute as a volunteer and donor to local causes, I also am open to those that touch my heart. does that for me right now.  And maybe you will open your heart to their message, also.  We need to take better care of our children, however we can.  Even a hug today to a child in your life will make a difference.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tracyville: International Day of Happiness Recap

One of the examples of how Tucson connects and makes us "parts" bigger and greater as a "whole."

Tracyville: International Day of Happiness Recap: Above are a few of my sweet reminders of Tucson's International Day of Happiness last Friday. It was a lovely day chock full of gre...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Practice Poems

(A Bref Double, prompted by Writer's Digest, October 2014)

"Between Places"

She sits at the table, pen in hand
gazing at the rain-filled mountains.
It is an autumn afternoon. Pomegranates bloom
along the graveled road.

There are places disconnected
yet connected through memories of land,
space and taste of coffee
that lightens her weekly load.

It is not one she bears with a grudge
but rather a willingness
to lean forward, making room
for whatever the Fates forebode.

Although she lives in a city of sand,
coffee reminds her of another ocean road.

(An ekphrastic poem, prompted by a photo in Writer's Digest, October, 2104 and from viewing Anthony Bourdain's CNN show on The Bronx)

"The Bronx"

I see you on the floor
pushing your chest against the dirty tiles
as you raise up to face your enemy.
He slams his leather boot against your torn shirt.
You grimace, then smile at me.

A lanky feline,
I just happened to come out from behind the metal staircase
and find you fighting for your solitary life.
I wish I could give you one of my nine.

You fed me fish an hour ago,
but now it appears
I am alone on the streets again
as you sputter your last breath.