Monday, January 25, 2010

Clean Slate

My dog ate a bar of soap the other day. Dial Gold. 'Round the clock odor protection. I imagined foul smelling intestinal flora running for their lives as it barrelled down the pike. I thought about cleansing, renewal and resolutions. I thought about the New Year.

You may marvel at the disturbingly short distance I've drawn between January 1 and a dog's ass. I welcome you to my world of disparate associations, sometimes amusing and often as claustrophobic as a carnival sideshow in August. This is not easy territory for one as black and white as myself; lines are crossed, boundaries blurred and it can be one mell of a hess.

A New Year's tune-up is an exhilarating exercise in drama-the first day of the rest of your life. Buoyed by the optimism of fellow resolutioners, we set out on the path to self-improvement. We will extinguish cigarettes, shed pounds and reduce clutter. Our teeth will be whiter, our finances will be in check and we will be on time. Ha, ha, ha, ho, ho, ho, and a couple of tra-la-las. That's how we laugh the day away in the Merry Old Land of Oz.

Soon the holiday lights grow dim, the confetti is swept away and we find ourselves in the clutches of mid-winter's icy grip. Even the noblest of intentions may not have a fighting chance against cabin fever and chilly winds. Let's see- couch or cardio? Hot chocolate or hatha yoga? A short tumble off the wagon and we're right where we started with an extra helping of guilt on top.

I'd like to propel my life in a positive direction, but I think I'll refrain from making grand declarations, proclamations or predictions.  Spouting off about my great expecations may provoke the gods into sending a reality-filled meteorite my way. In the meantime, I'll just watch for those sparkling bubbles to pour out of my dog's derriere, a la Lawrence Welk. A one an a two...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Trouble With The Grey

"This will never work out. You're black and white and I'm all shades of grey."

Great breakup line, eh? Handed to me by a fellow artist in my senior year of college, the colorless phrase was perhaps a bit too perfect but said it all. I've always had difficulty navigating life's muddy waters.

Monday morning wakes me up to yet another dreary week.
It'll come and go like every one before.
There's enough to keep me busy but my interest isn't piqued.
Frankly dear, it's all become a crashing bore.

I wrote those words several years ago for the first verse of a song called "Trouble With the Grey". The chorus continues:

No one calls me on the telephone.
If they did, what would I say?
The highs and lows don't get you down,
It's what happens every day.
I'm having some trouble with the grey.

Ain't it the truth, ain't it the truth. We rise to the occasion in the most extraordinary situations, but can be unraveled by a Monday. I rode my parents' waves of dementia, macular degeneration, spinal stenosis and cancer for nearly six years and now I'm beached. "What's wrong with the beach you ask?" As tranquil as any place on earth, it's a nightmare if you're stuck there with sand in your pants. I'm stuck and I'm afraid to check my pants.

Momma told me I'd be someone,
But she didn't mention who.
Said there wasn't any place I couldn't go.
I could climb the highest mountain,
Sail across the ocean blue.
But instead, I'm sitting here on my plateau.

My mother did tell me I'd be someone. Her exact words, delivered during one of my frequent scream fests, were, "You know Joan, you should be on the stage." Perhaps my interpretation of that phrase is a bit loose, but she was always in my corner and, if not supportive, tolerant of the wackiest of my endeavors. I suppose I should "get my ass in gear", as she would say, and pick a passion and have at it. Said ass does not slip into gear as easily as the younger version, but I will remind myself that I'm not dead yet.

Gonna roll out my red carpet
Chase away these sorry blues
With the brightest palate you have ever seen.
Won't my friends be tickled pink
By all the colors that I choose
If they haven't turned a lovely shade of green?

Shortly after Dad passed away, I said to a friend,"Shit, now with my parents gone, I'm going to have to make an effort to get some sort of life." Hardly an epiphany worthy of Oprah (or even Judge Judy), but it's one I'd like to remember.

You can try me on the telephone
But I might be on my way.                                                                                                               
The highs and lows don't get you down
It's what happens every day.
I'm having some trouble with the grey.

"Too Blue" is currently in the studio, recording their latest CD which includes "Trouble With the Grey" by Joan Harrison. Details on the release will be posted here and on

Monday, January 4, 2010


I am honored to kick off the 2010 Blog Tour to promote "WOOF- Women Only Over Fifty", a delightful book geared toward those women of a certain age who refuse to go down without a fight. Please enjoy this guest posting provided by the "Woofers" and take time to visit their site via the links provided below. You'll also find a link to where you can purchase your own copy of "WOOF", a great post-holiday treat for fiesty Fidettes and Fidos alike. Here's barkin' at ya."

Chocolate-"Nuff Said

" explosion of cocoa science that has the potential to change the lives of people in terms of their health."

"...flavanols have the potential to inhibit biochemical pathways that can cause inflammation, which is a process that can contribute to cardiovascular disease and other health issues."

Flavanols, Schmavanols! Who cares? The only thing smart WOOFers know is that chocolate, especially the dark kind, improves our moods and gives us reasons to woof down dinner to get to dessert...a creamy Dove Chocolate or Hershey's Extra Dark. What the hey? Gimme a full-size bar!

Now, before you go jumping on me about ignoring my health, I'm thrilled knowing these small bites of heaven really do have medicinal benefits. But I can tell you right here...right now, that the only biochemical pathways I care about are the ones from my hand to my mouth.

Unfortunately, chowing down on a five-pound box of truffles usually coincides with my expanding waistline. Guess that's why I only bake 2 chocolate cakes a year...for birthdays. There's just the two of us. Still, a full-size layer cake disappears in less 3 days. Not good.

So, when I saw a recipe for "chocolate cake-in-a-mug," I thought, problem solved! I don't know what brilliant chef came up with this, but I'd bet a bag of Butterfingers it's a woman, and she's over 50! Be warned, though, it's still very filling and has a *few* calories. (heh-heh)


2 tablespoons flour (I used self-rising. Some recipes call for cake flour)

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey's Dark!)

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons chocolate chips (A MUST!)

Small splash of vanilla extract


Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in milk and oil and mix well. Add chocolate chips and vanilla extract got it...mix well.

Microwave on high for 2 minutes. The cake may rise over the top of the mug (I used over-size coffee mug), but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool and tip onto plate if desired. (Hubby added vanilla ice cream to his)

*Note: Prepare and consume this early in the day, or plan to spend the night — wide-awake — watching reruns of The Golden Girls! WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty

Do you have a favorite chocolate recipe? Whether you do or not, leave a comment and enter a drawing for "Accentuate the Pawsitive," a WOOFers guide to realigning your life!

"Mind spinning? Mood Swinging? Middle sagging? Get used to it! When you reach 50, shift happens. But, you're not alone. WOOFers to the rescue!"

Mary Cunningham (aka - Milkbone)

“Hilarious! Made me laugh out loud!” Blog Critics - Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

WOOFers Club

WOOFers Club Blog

Amazon Buy Link

Echelon Press

Like to laugh? You'll discover more funny women stories, limericks and poems when you...

Melinda Richarz Lyons is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in many publications, including True West, Nashville Parent, Cats Magazine, Reminisce, Frontier Times and Cincinnati Family Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love. Lyons is author of Murder at the Oaklands Mansion and co-author of WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty (Echelon Press).

Mary Cunningham is author of the award-winning, four-book ‘tween fantasy/mystery series Cynthia’s Attic (Quake) and two short stories Ghost Light, Christmas with Daisy, a Cynthia’s Attic Christmas story, and is co-author of WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty (Echelon Press). A member of the Georgia Reading Association and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club, she lives in the mountains of west Georgia.

Diana Black is the third author of the humor book WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty (Echelon Press). A published songwriter and cartoonist, her professional work also includes illustrating children’s books as well as graphic and cover design. Her project, Wendel Wordsworth: No Words for Wendel, a picture book, song and educational materials, is designed to encourage young readers. Black is a member of the SCBWI (Southern Breeze Chapter) and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club.

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

Babies are okay. I have been known to hold one, managing to look reasonably comfortable, but I can't say I actively seek out the job. Not one of those women overrun by maternal urges, I don't often find myself nuzzling an infant and drinking in the aroma of baby powder. My sensibilities may have descended from my father. I once asked him if he was sorry that I hadn't provided him with grandchildren and he answered, "What, and have them run up to my car with jelly fingers?"

My mother was enamoured with infants, the smaller the better. At home with the tiniest of subjects, she was undaunted by their size and fragility. She often expressed a desire to have a third child, but Dad was nowhere near the same page. With a brother eight years my senior, I often wondered if even I was in the script. Realizing that my birthday, September 1, was exactly 9 months after New Year's Eve, I asked, "Mom, did you and Dad plan to have me?" She answered slyly, "I did." I still wrestle with the image of my mother in a negligee with a noisemaker.

My own parental instincts have been pretty much limited to puppies. I have been disappointed and delighted by the canines, and occasionally wonder how well I would have fared with a human. Still a work in progress, the jury may be out on the results of my development, but God knows my mother gave 110% during my formative years. She was the "Neighborhood Mom", chauffeuring kids to movies, school picnics and practices. Her tolerance was drawn from a bottomless well; she withstood my screaming tantrums, answering with, "Do you want something to cry about? I'll give you something to cry about." She never did. Maybe she should have.

I think that I might have been a good mother if it hadn't been for that little thing called sacrifice. The thought of passing along a part of myself was intriguing (or bone-chilling), but I never wanted to stop whatever I was doing long enough to seriously consider the task. What was I doing, anyway? Ah, yes- waitressing, painting, playing the banjo, living in New York City, moving upstate, decorating the apartment, decorating the house, mowing the lawn, raking the leaves. As far as Mom was concerned, the list read like the minutes from a session at the U.N. Living vicariously through my life, she could romanticize my most ordinary days and glorify the slightly unusual ones. While working out at the New York Health and Racquet Club, Farrah Fawcett and Tatum O'Neal walked into the room where I was doing an exercise for my butt. Farrah asked if I would show it to her, so I gave her a demonstration which lasted all of three minutes. Of course, my mother bragged to her friends, "Do you know that Joan works out with Farrah Fawcett?" I'll never have a more motivated publicist or a bigger fan.

My lack of maternal desires aside, I really do love little girls and could have been easily swept away in a daughter's world. I would have provided her with memories of swimming pools, shopping trips and Broadway plays. She would have been advised to adjust the price of a new blouse before she modeled it for her father. We would have had our little secrets.

While delivering Christmas gifts to my father's neighbors, I stopped to visit Kim and Dan Natitus, a wonderful young couple who moved in next door to Dad. Nearly a year ago, they were blessed with the smiles and sweetness of a baby named Julia. I sat on the floor and was warmed by her easy acceptance; she rested against my knees as I played with her hair and held her hands. Clearly in love, Kim's eyes widened with every move of her little girl. I like to imagine my mother looking at me that way.