Writing My Life

Now and Then


Me and My Cockemamy Dreams

I know I renamed my blog “Life in 100 Words or Less,” but I’m already thinking of revising it to “Life in 100 Words – More or Less” because some posts just require more than the requisite 100. Today’s is one of those. Not that it is in the least bit more significant than any others.  I just don’t want to spend hours word-smithing. It’s amazing how fast 100 words accumulates.

G.E. wonders how I ever get any rest because my nights are filled with craziness, and I don’t even share all the dream’s details with him. (He already thinks I’m related to Stephen King.)

Last night’s dreamscapes were especially entertaining in a weird sort of way, and since G.E. isn’t particularly interested in hearing about them, I’m going to share with you lucky readers. (Insert smiley face.)

  • Dream 1: I completely missed my college science final and then took the wrong physical education test. Kept wondering what creating a mural about America’s reaction to the war on terror had to do with P.E, and then I had to convince the professor – my former Mormon bishop – to accept it.
  • Dream 2: I wandered into a time warp that took me to Moab, Utah where ancient members of a Mid-Eastern culture were recreating massive structures that ranged from Athen’s Pantheon to Rome’s aqueducts as well as Egyptian-like structures. In the midst of the project, scary priests (think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) offered human sacrifices, and I continually ended up in the line heading in that direction.
    • I held a little girl close to me while exploring different escape routes that included winding stone staircases, rapid water-slides, and rolling rivers. Along the way, I bumped into former school friends (who shall remain nameless) that helped me avoid purification rituals, survive earthquakes, and navigate mazes.
    • And all this on an empty stomach.

P.S. According to the Urban Dictionary, cockemamie means funny, silly, or foolish. I think it’s one of Sheldon Cooper’s favorite words. 

"Nightmare" ~ Compliments of Flickr's BrentBat!


… dreams – crazy works of fiction that entertain me all night long …

A dream is a work of art which requires of the dreamer no particular talent, special training, or technical competence. Dreaming is a creative enterprise in which all may and most do participate. – Clark S. Hall

No 50-w0rd-fiction tonight. Too tired to think right now. So I’m going to ramble a bit before hitting the hay.

I’m looking forward to beddy-bye time and another seven or eight hours of sleeping and dreaming. Even the weird dreams make me laugh – not at the time I’m wading through images like toothless wolf puppies who try to gnaw me to death OR teeth that tumble out of my mouth while I’m trying to teach a class OR showing up to school in pajamas or a robe that I can’t change out of OR teaching students that are totally out of control OR being stalked by an old boyfriend and I can’t find G.E.

I dream in genres, too. For example, I’ll experience end-of-the world dystopian dreams, a lot of sit-com dreams, a few scary dreams and occasional historical dreams. Most nights, though, I have drama dreams with amazing twists and turns that totally make sense in dreamland but turn bizarr-o once I wake up.
Of course, I’m leaving out those really entertaining details that make these episodes so unique.  But I’ll tell you about some of the interesting “stars” who make guest appearances – like David Letterman who drops by on occasion and Tom Selleck who comes around once in a while. When I dream about these guys, I’m close to my real-world age, but I’m a kid in many dreams, and when that happens, old friends from elementary, junior high, and high school join me. We have a great time!
My favorite dreams, however, feature loved ones who fly in from Heaven to remind me that they are still thinking of me so I will keep thinking of them. I always appreciate Daddy’s visits as well as seeing G.E.’s mom and dad and my grandparents. Most of the time, these dreams are very comforting, but sometimes I wake up extra lonely for them.
Wow. This post took a turn I didn’t foresee. There are only a few more days of August, and so I’ll wrap up this month of daily posting with a few more “mini-stories.” In the meantime …

Sweet Dreams!


… 50-word fast-fiction: Morning Glory …

Note: Penny, over at WIDELY UNREAD, introduced an interesting writing exercise from 3 A.M. EPIPHANY that challenges writers to create a scene using imperative commands. Penny’s example is 500 words as suggested by author Brian Kitely. I decided to accept this challenge today using the 50-word limit! Let’s see how this works. 

Morning Glory

Meet Chelsea at the parlor on Main. Watch Raul open new needles and check latex gloves for pinholes.

Don’t be brave; let Chelsea go first.

Breathe; the stings WILL stop.

Admire Raul’s handiwork, hidden so Mom won’t see.

Dream that night of spreading vines.

Awaken to a nightmare come true.




… it was really wishful thinking …

Yesterday I wrote about my excursion to Capitol Hill, and I observed that many women were there to fight the good fight. Perhaps, I added, The People’s House, a nick name for the capitol building, should also be called The Women’s House. 

As I pondered that idea, however, I remembered a story my teacher friend told me that day. As educators were scrambling to meet with legislators, the difficulty of so doing became apparent. 

“I’m sorry, can’t do that right now.” 

“Maybe later this afternoon.” 

“Could you write me a note?” 

And then, my friend noticed that the football coach from her school headed toward a small crowd of lawmakers. He hadn’t even opened his mouth before one legislator called after him. 

“Well, what’s the state champion football coach doing up here on the hill?” 

The men smiled, shook hands, and then the cluster pulled Coach into their midst for a good ol’ chat. But I really shouldn’t complain because the coach was there to support his school and his district. Because of the proposal to increase class size and eliminate planning/preparation time every other day, teachers and coaches at that school decided they needed to cut some after-school activities  such as spring training for football. Students and parents were not happy about this decision because it’s hard to maintain championship teams without additional training. 

I’m not being sarcastic about this because I see the value of keeping young people busy in our non-agrarian society where they don’t have to plant and harvest crops. I just wish some groups saw the same urgency in beefing up academics as much as we beef up athletic programs. I also wish the legislators extended the same cordiality to the non-coaches, the mothers, and the female teachers that approached them.

Utah's first woman legislator


As I wrote yesterday, I stopped by Olene Walker’s portrait to pay homage to her. Gov. Walker was the first woman lieutenant governor and governor. Her party abandoned her when it came time that she could be re-elected, and it hurt Olene very much. 

Once I was on the Capitol grounds, I also stopped to say hello to Annie Wells Cannon, Utah’s first woman legislator. She was active in the territorial government, and in 1912 she was elected to the House of Representatives. Hey! Wait a minute! Women couldn’t even vote in 1912. But they could in Utah, AND they could be elected to public office as Annie was. 

That’s not all she did, however. Annie was  charter member of the Red Cross and the Utah Women’s Press Club. She was a teacher at age 14 and a doctor by her mid 20s. Of course, she also served as a Relief Society President for 16 years, worked on the general board of that organization for 8 years, and raised 11+ children!!!! 

The tributes to women may be few up there on Capitol Hill, but their CONtributions are many, as evidenced by these two examples!


… Bonnie, in memoriam …

Artist: Bonnie H. Behunin

If you log onto the Internet and type Bonnie H. Behunin or Bonnie Howe Behunin in a search window, you will find her. You may learn that she authored a book, Wake the Unicorn, and you might find it is still available on Amazon.com for $8.95. The copy “is signed by author. Very minor cover wear. Text clean, no marks. Pages tight. Purchase aids a non-profit animal hospice.” (I didn’t know there WERE animal hospices.)

Another link shares an excerpt from Wake the Unicorn, and you’ll learn the book was the … 

Utah State Poetry Society Book of the Year

1983, Wake The Unicorn by Bonnie Howe Behunin

The Witch

Sometimes children taunt me,
small eyes whispering
behind hands extended
like open Chinese fans.
―Her face is smooth.
She is not old at all.
But I am old.
Old as the rocks
on the Greek shores
of my birth.
Old as your fear
of the unknown,
unopened box
of my smooth face.
Guard your fear.
This distance
between us
may be the only separation
preventing you
from becoming me.

You might be curious enough to look up “Utah State Poetry Society” (USPS) or “Utah Poet of the Year,” and there you will see the long list of those honored since the award’s inception. Among those dates and names, you will find hers:

1983    **Bonnie H. Behunin  Wake The Unicorn

You will notice the two asterisks hovering near that capital “B”. Slowly, you scroll down to the bottom of the list, passing a few other starred names along the way. Double-spaced below the 1965 poet, “Vesta P Crawford Shortgrass Woman,” you find the key: “**deceased.”

Somewhere on the WorldWideWeb you might learn that Bonnie was born on February 22, 1948 to Pete and  Ida Howe, but that would take longer than you have time. I doubt you would discover that she attended  a one-room school house in Atomic City, Idaho or that she was diagnosed with “sugar diabetes” at age. 12. Your research may turn up her death date, and you may wonder if that vile disease brought her down at age 36. It did.

If you ordered Wake the Unicorn from Amazon or the USPS, you could read “About Bonnie” on page 57. The paragraphs would fill in some gaps – 4th of 5 children, rode the bus 2 hours a day to high school, read scores of novels during those rides and into the night, graduated from Brigham Young University with a double major in art and English,  enrolled in every creative writing class that she could find, and her poems were published.

Before leaving the short biography, you discover that she adopted her two-year-old neice, Kristina in 1978 and married Newel Behunin at age 32. You won’t read that she taught school in Vernal, Utah until she went blind, but you will learn that “her close-knit family [had] been an inspiration to her … when her health [had] been precarious.”

If you peruse her poetry, you will most likely agree with the author of her biographical sketch who wrote, “Born … on George Washington’s birthday, this writer can ‘never tell a lie.’  Her poetry is honest, sometimes painfully so. She weaves memory into the fantasy of universal experience in a unique way.”  And then you’ll re-read the judges comments:

Wake the Unicorn shows a consistent pattern of development; the voice in the poems is one of honesty and integrity … the strength is in its fresh imagery and sustained emotional impact. While the book is regional in its flavor, it escapes being too provincially involuted and bounded by the author’s ego.

Here is fresh perception, sensitive, genuine. There is a lovely, restrained tragic sense, but it is an un-self-centered and moving sorrow, and soul searching. This is artistic without artiness.

The author is facile, has caught in minor tunes, the major themes in life through a lovely simplicity.

If you read her poetry, you’ll see into Bonnie’s heart and mind and will feel the sensitivity, the honesty,  and the tragedy. We were cousins, Bonnie and I, but I didn’t really know her. At age 7, I visited her in Atomic City and went with her to that one-room school for a day. I chatted with her at family reunions and ran into her now and again at BYU. We caught up with family news and then drifted back to our own lives.

In 1983, I attended the poetry reading and reception that honored her as Utah’s Poet of the Year. Dr. Max Golightly read her poems, and I was so proud OF and FOR her. I still am.

Bonnie haunts me, however, and so I want to remember and honor her during this month of her birth, this February with its Valentines Day and presidents’ birthdays.  You see, Bonnie Howe Behunin lived as a poet, and her words memorialize her.

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… a time for wishes and dreams … another storytale …

Once upon a time, a grandma who liked to read and tell stories found that snapshots of her grandchildren contained wonderful tales needing to be told. And so the grandma decided to create “story-tales,” based upon the GranDarlings in the photos, some fictional details, and a few facts. Here is the second one!

“She’ll grow out of it,” her parents assured one another after tucking their oldest daughter into bed. They could hardly find her amidst the scores of stuffed horses, unicorns, and ponies. A quick glance around her room didn’t build their hopes as they gazed at posters, paintings, and drawings of Appaloosas, Palominos, Mustangs, and quarter horses. Then Dad nearly cursed when his bare foot landed on the hard bodies of plastic Pintos and Arabians scattered across the floor.  My Little PonyBefore her father shut the door, a colossal collection of “My Little Ponies” grinned at the parting parents thus adding to his aggravation.

Certain that Mom and Dad were downstairs in their own room, the daughter awakened from her pretended sleep and stared up at the skylight just above her bed. Momentarily, the clouds masked the stars until one twinkling light pushed its way from the mass of particles. Its gleam triggered an instantaneous response from the dreamy child.

“First star I see tonight,

I wish I may, I wish I might

Have the wish, I wish tonight.

I wish for a pony.”

No sooner had the words whisked from her lips, when the glittering star sank back into cloud’s cover. The girl smiled, rolled over, and pulled the quilt snuggly over her shoulders.

A few years passed, and the parents’ prediction came through. Their daughter’s bedroom now housed posters of Hannah Montana, Taylor Swift, and the Jonas Brothers. The stuffed unicorn was the only equine reminder of her youthful obsession, plus she finally stopped asking or wishing for ponies. While she no longer talked of horses, she did think about them, and sometimes wondered what happened to that middle-of-the-night wish on the lone star that showed up in the center of her skylight.

Until one summer day, the girl dismissed this curiosity as something from her “childhood.” She knew she was growing up, and so she had less time for wishes and dreams. But that particular day, she was watching her little cousin who was just about the same age she had been when she became fascinated with ponies.

After twirling through “Ring-around-the-rosies” at least a dozen times, the two cousins collapsed onto the grass, dizzy with exhaustion.

“Now what can we play?” the three-year-old asked.

“I dunno. What do you want to play?” her older cousin replied, pulling her pink hat over her eyes to block the sun.

“I wish we had a pony, don’t you?”

Taylor and MiaSuddenly, the sky clouded over, and a wind swept down from the graying, swirling mist. The little one squealed first in fright and then in delight, as she looked up into the green eyes of a beautiful pony wearing her cousin’s pink hat! Without hesitation, she climbed onto the pony’s back and hugged it tightly. Off the two went amid joyful shrieks and whinnies.

With the setting of the sun, the two playmates again found themselves lying on the cool grass wondering how, when, and why wishes come true, as they often do.

Note: Nothing is more delightful than watching grandchildren frolic in the backyard on a warm summer evening.