Look Out For the Rats

Shannon Kernaghan Look-Out-for-the-Rats-400 Look Out For the Rats Belongings Childhood Comedy Family Fun Gifts Humor Lifestyle Memories parents Pets and Animals

I discovered a few rats downtown, and last weekend I brought three of them home with me. They’re not real rats (or married people who pocket their wedding rings when going for a drink after work), but art rats.

A nearby gallery recently held a one-year anniversary and celebrated by selling donated art to raise money for the artist-run shows.

The gallery showcased a roomful of rodent-themed pieces designed from paint, ceramics, wire and needlepoint.

I’m not overly welcoming towards rats, unless they’re the cartoon or stuffed animal variety. But I do like to support our determined artists.

It takes exceptional people to bare themselves for public critique. And it takes courage to enter a creative field when there’s no guarantee of gain or glory. But try they must.

Besides, how many rat sculptures can you create and give to your mother before she stops accepting deliveries? Good thing we have our galleries.

It’s an indisputable fact – artists create because they must.

Why such admiration? Because I’m a left-brain thinker and can’t draw a convincing stick figure. I don’t even have a consistent signature when signing my name to the back of my ID and credit cards. 

My first artistic foray most likely involved Popsicle sticks, gold glitter and glue that ended up everywhere except the target. Years later, my high school dalliance with textiles resulted in a crooked gingham apron that only a mother – the same one with rat ornaments lining her curio cabinet – could love.

I appreciate those who pilot a potter’s wheel or wield a welding rod. For that reason, I’ll continue to collect and cherish their creations.

Will I end up with a Banksy Girl with Balloon piece that sold for $1.4 million even though it was partially shredded at auction? Who cares. I buy art because I like it.

For our wedding, my sister gave us a sculpted piece, a weird little monster named Theobold who wears a turtleneck and holds a cup in his gnarly monster grip. I’m happy to say that the marriage has fared the storms of time better than Theobold.

Although I try to be careful, poor Theobold has been broken on four or five occasions. Last summer he fell off a ledge while I read in a chair several feet away.

Luckily, I’ve retained good gluing skills from kindergarten. As for any financial appreciation over the years, Theobold has too many missing pieces to ever increase in value, but I’ll never say good-bye to him.

Please, no one send me a Rodin sculpture for my next birthday – if my monster is jumping off his ledge, just imagine the trouble The Thinker will get into.

Hang on . . . now my new clay rats are starting to eye me with suspicion. Better buy more glue.

Audio story backing track
Mind and Eye Journey
by
Emily Sprague

Milk-Bone in Your Pocket

Shannon Kernaghan Milk-Bone-in-Your-Pocket-500 Milk-Bone in Your Pocket Challenge Dating Family Fun Gifts Humor Lifestyle Love Relationship

Since I welcome any opportunity to tease my partner, Valentine’s Day provides yet another opportunity.

I’ll be gentle. I’ve been with the guy for half my life, which translates into a heaping helping of dog years. For that, he deserves a medal, not a hard time.

Speaking of dogs, if he were a canine he’d be a mixed breed: amorous like a Chihuahua, clever like a Border Collie, and regal as a Beagle. Those are his words, not mine. While reading an online personality profile, I asked Paul what three dogs he considered himself. And for the record, “amorous” isn’t the actual word he used but I’ve done a titch of editing.

I’d throw in a tough breed for Paul, such as a Bull Mastiff or Siberian Husky because my husband is no lap dog. Nor is he easily riled.

A perfect example was when I opened a letter from his doctor’s office, describing a simple test he’s scheduled to undergo. I read it aloud while we ate fajitas in a restaurant.

Although the letter referred to “minimal discomfort,” I changed the wording to “substantial discomfort.” Pause . . . no reaction. I decided to roll up my sleeves.

“If further tests are required,” the letter continued, “you may need a tiny wire placed through the skin, about the size of an immunization needle.” Of course I changed that phrase to “a two-inch incision, requiring several stitches.”

Again, no reaction. I bit my lip to keep from giggling and watched as he casually dipped into his salsa. “Honey, doesn’t that worry you? An incision? Stitches?”

He shook his head and shrugged. “Oh well, whatever.”

Like I said, he’s one tough Husky. I grow faint when tweezing my eyebrows. If I ever show up at your party with a uni-brow, you’ll know why.

People put a lot of pressure on Valentine’s Day, determined to exchange the perfect gift and sentimental card that expresses their love. Same goes for the scrutiny placed on marriage.

Marriage can be overrated, especially when people don’t respect the promises they jointly make. Actions speak louder than signatures on any old marriage certificate, no matter how much dust has built up over the years.
I’m a firm believer that love is demonstrated by how couples share their lives. It’s the day-to-day challenges they conquer and the effort they make to protect each other.

During an occasional trying moment, I hear Paul mutter: “I shoulda taken a wrong turn on the way to the church.”

“No way,” I quickly reply. “Who’d be here to brag about you, you big stud. Now go eat your kibble.”

Either I still love him, or I really need to get a dog. 

Happy Valentine’s Day, honey.

Audio music “Blue Creek Trail”
by
Dan Lebowitz

Good Intentions, Bad Gifts

Shannon Kernaghan Good-Intentions-bad-gifts-400-2 Good Intentions, Bad Gifts Culture Gifts Lifestyle Memoir Memories Xmas

What’s the worst gift you ever received? Is it hard for everyone to open a bad Christmas gift and pretend to be excited? I’ll never win an Oscar for acting because the moment I unwrap a bad gift, my facial features alter. As I try to smile, a smirk tugs down the corners of my mouth. My pleasant “Oh, how lovely!” sounds hollow and now everyone in the room is watching!

What defines a bad gift? You tell me. When I was in my twenties, my mother-in-law gave me big beige underwear (‘old-lady panties’ according to my husband) three Christmases in a row. Each year it was the same thing; after Xmas I’d trade in the 6-pack for something sexy.

After years of nervous anticipation during tense moments around the tree, I’ve devised a few logical suggestions to sail us through the giving and receiving:

1) Avoid buying the ‘practical’ gift. An ear and nose hair trimmer is the ideal choice for Uncle Louie, but he didn’t know he had a hair issue until you came along;

2) If you’re bold/foolish/uncaring enough to pawn off a previous bad gift, remove all evidence. My friend received a present from her aunt, a glass punch bowl with 12 cups. When she broke down the box for recycling, she discovered a gift tag addressed TO the aunt from someone else. FYI my friend doesn’t have a dozen friends to share punch, so this gift was both recycled and kind of sad;

3) Before the dreaded day, I mean Christmas, do some practicing: “Thank you, how kind, it’s just what I always wanted” in front of the bathroom mirror. Do you look sincere? If you can’t fool yourself, you won’t fool your holiday crowd;

4) Reserve comment UNTIL you’ve unwrapped the inside tissue. Just because there’s a picture of a can opener on the box doesn’t mean there’s a can opener inside. It could be a diamond tennis bracelet and here you’ve already gone and gasped, “How wonderful, I really need a can opener!” Chances are, if you already own two can openers, it’ll be a third;

5) Apply a generous coating of lip balm before the festivities begin. When your mouth dries at the sight of a poorly knit sweater in a shade of orange not found on nature’s palette, the extra lubrication will prevent your lips from sticking to your teeth;

6) At the first sight of a bad gift, visualize a favorite day at the beach. If that doesn’t make you smile when you open the gift certificate for an hour of electrolysis, nothing will. (Now you know how Uncle Louie feels);

7) And finally, suggest that next Christmas be gift-free for adults. Why put ourselves through this stress year after year? Wait a minute . . .  who says I haven’t given MY share of bad gifts? My mother had a suspiciously cheerful voice when she opened my childhood creations of melted crayon-covered jars and Popsicle stick pen holders. So much glitter . . . the horror.

Forget the angst of receiving bad gifts. Now I’m too paranoid to shop. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Audio story backing track
“Clouds”
by Huma Huma.