What happened to March?

7 April, 2017
Rat Fink

It kind of just flew out the window, I think. I didn’t even get to comment on the bizarre weather the last two months.

Last time I wrote to you, I was celebrating my ninth birthday here at RtB, back in February. Then I woke up this morning and it was 7th of April. How’d that happen?

As I sit here with the space heater blasting my tiny frozen feet at 6:40 on a day when I should be getting ready for school, but instead I’m “enjoying” another snow day (seriously, 5 inches, hello spring), I wonder how, with eight remaining rehearsals, my high school choir will sound on our upcoming concert.

I know, first world problems and quit complaining. Still, while many would say they’d be rejoicing if they got a day off work, and teachers have it so easy and stop with the feigned frustration, the frustration really isn’t faked. It’s April, and for public schools in the US, that’s testing month. There was a big test scheduled for today, which sounds simple enough to reschedule, but when you examine the intricate ballet of assigning laptops, rearranging testing spaces, closing off certain sections of the school, changing the order of classes and generally upending the entire day so the Ohio Department of Education can administer yet another in its long line of expensive tests designed for kids to fail, well…it’s a bit of a mess, and that’s not even considering the actual material on the exams, to wit:

A teacher friend told me that some of her students had to interpret Othello and glean aspects of the character of Desdemona based on a conversation with her father, while others had to write a comparative analysis of symbolism in Shakespeare’s sonnet #54 and Edmund Waller’s “Go, Lovely Rose.” Still others were asked to analyze two arguments about whether bus or plane transportation was better. All of this on a standardized test, written supposedly to measure mastery of a standardized benchmark. And of course, when the students fail, it’ll be the teacher’s fault. Insanity.


To say that March crashed in like a lion is pretty accurate. Both the Thriller and I had major health issues in March. Mine are on the mend, but he still has some mountains to climb. Sister Mavis also had some surgery and complications. But we’re all doing better, so no complaints here.

I still don’t know where the lamb went.

RF, in the April blizzard

Hey, I’m nine.

26 February, 2017
Rat Fink

Would ya look at that. Who knew?

In February of 2008, I thought it’d be a good idea for me to flex my creaky writing muscles and get some regular practice at what was, at that time, the hottest form of quick publishing: the web log, or “blog.”

I started over at wordpress.com when it looked like this (this is today — pretty snazzy). After about two posts in, I decided I wanted more control and flexibility, and a day later, finkweb.org was hatched.

What’s the coolest part about all this? It’s an answer my vast readership of 100 souls worldwide probably already know. It’s them. You. Writers write for various reasons: pay, enjoyment, therapy, self-realization, vanity, communication, survival…pick one. I write for the two-way street element blogging generates. It’s a drug to me, which might lead some to look at my posts over the last year or so and surmise that I am now addiction-free.

Not quite.

Rather, I seem to have fallen victim to the Lennon-ism of life happening while I was making other plans. (NB: While Lennon did include that lyric in his song “Beautiful Boy,” he apparently didn’t coin it. Who says you can’t learn anything from Reader’s Digest?) Life has happened and happened and happened while I was making plans to write every morning. My family dynamic alone has brought me much change and joy. When I started this little adventure, I had a four-month-old grandson named Jake. He’s since been joined by brother Justin and cousins Anderson and Arthur. The Thriller’s daughter married and inherited two wonderful stepchildren named Bri and Jay Jay. With a grandparent card this full, what’s not to love about that kind of “busy?” They are the joy of our lives.

I always thought that as I chased the bright, elusive butterfly of retirement from public school teaching, I would somehow become less overwhelmed with the machinations of life; I’d slow down and smell flowers and porch-sit and such. Hasn’t happened. On the contrary, the ramp-up in bizzy is alarming. Why is that? Am I trying to smush everything in during the remaining six or seven years until my retirement, even though retirement from one job will simply mean the undertaking of another? (I’ll never not work, so long as I’m physically and mentally able.) Where’s the sense in that?

Matters not, I think. What’s important is the “now,” and this day, I have you. You read my nonsense and respond in friendship and with great insight. I love that about you.

So what’s the future of RtB? My most hopeful answer is “smooth sailing.” Or at least a navigable course in life’s choppier moments. Thank you — and you know who you are — for sticking around with me.

Hey, wanna see the new Finkmobile? OK. :-) Mama’s new go-kart goes.

HB to RtB — vroom

I’m afraid

26 January, 2017
Rat Fink

…to go into my garage.

Yesterday morning, while tooling along at around 55-60 MPH on the dark, country road that is my daily commute, a raccoon ran out into my path. Like, we met inches away. There was no stopping or swerving. I just nailed him, ugly bumping sounds and all.

Of course, I kept going, but as I did, I realized, to my horror, that well…he was still with me. Or at least parts of him were, jangling about inside my wheel well on the front driver’s side, probably six inches from my left foot when I engage the clutch. Around and around and around.

After another few hundred feet of ugliness, the sound seemed to quiet down, but then there’s the hisss, hisss, hisss of something like fur *gag* shmushing inside the space above the tire.

I got to school in the dark, and refused to get out a flashlight and check it out. I high-tailed it into my classroom and began the day, and sort of forgot about it.

Then I got in the car at 8:30 p.m. to go home from rehearsal. My friend was back.

I thought maybe if I wankled the wheel back and forth on the road, I’d dislodge him. Nothin’ doin’. I just looked like a moron, unable to control my vehicle. When I turned back onto the country rooooaaad that takes me hoooome, it returned with a vengeance. It was now a bloated zombie, desperately clawing to come up through the body of the car and attack my left foot as I depressed the clutch. You know, like when I was little and I had a lesson in school about Abraham Lincoln getting shot, and I had a waking nightmare for years about him being under my bed, waiting to grab my feet.

(About now, you’re thinking “psychoanalysis…”)

I panicked. I didn’t stop driving, but rather had the mobile version of a freakout. I pressed the “talk” button and texted the Thriller:









There was no response. hahaha

By the time I neared my house, however, the noise had subsided. I pulled into the garage (still didn’t check anything — no way) and decided that he must have dropped off in the last five miles or so. But as I sit here at 5:27 a.m., I am haunted by the feeling:

He’s out there, waiting. The thing with bloody fur and half a face but a full rack of pointy teeth lies in wait for me to put my foot on the clutch.

If I don’t see you again…



1 January, 2017
Rat Fink

HNY, fiends!

I just noticed I never wrote a Happy New Year greeting for 2016. Hmmm. Foreshadowing, mayhap? If so, it was certainly by accident.

For every social media/cultural trend, it seems there is almost always an equal push for the opposite. Towards the end of 2016, people began to label last year one of the worst ever. And of course, as if to say you’re not the boss of me, others chimed in, claiming that there was in fact plenty of good in 2016, and stop being so morose and really this is all about sore losers and Trump won so get over it. And stop complaining; it could’ve been 1929 or 1933 or 2001 or this. Are you saying 2016 was worse than those?

Then came the obligatory, fallacy-of-unwarranted-assumption Everyone talks about celebrity deaths, but no one acknowledges our military personnel who died trope, as if recognizing popular and cultural figures’ deaths is somehow diminishing or even negating the importance of soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors who gave all for their country. My kingdom for the ability to reach through the monitor…

Nobody (at least that I’ve seen) has said that nothing good happened in 2016. But you cannot ignore facts (well, some people can, but that’s for another day). I won’t list everything here, as I’m sure you’re already aware of the slew of souls the performing arts community lost, as well as the record number of law enforcement officer deaths, and murders via gun violence this past year, and that Brexit and the American presidential election proved beyond doubt that one way to win the support of the populace is to play on its nationalist assumptions and irrational, racist fears. Those events alone can poop all over a whole year, and in my opinion, they did.

Still, we rejoice in waking up this morning, even though the Thriller and I have spent most of the last week coughing, hacking and wheezing, which also means I have exactly one seventh of the work I wanted to do over break completed. Nice.

We can also celebrate that our republic has faced the horrors of civil war, slavery, rampant social injustice and being an eyelash away from nuclear disaster, and still survived. If we faced those trials and prevailed, we can surely outlast what lies ahead. There is hope.

So I challenge all my readers (as you know, there are 100-some worldwide — a veritable multitude; a vultitude) to resolve this day to make 2017 shine. We are greater than our circumstances; let’s prove it, over and over. Allons y!

Happiness and peace,

Fah-who Foraze

18 December, 2016
Rat Fink

Welcome, Yule! All things will be new.

As I sit on this icy morning (when no one should be on the roads, and judging by the absolute silence outside, many agree), drinking coffee, enjoying the quiet and my lovely Christmas tree lights, I realize that it’s up to me to make a new start. No one else is going to do it for me: not my friends or my boss or my family or the incoming president. I’m afraid it’s up to the fink in the mirror.

And I’m not even waiting until 2017. How about now?

I confess I’ve been in a terrible funk since Tuesday, 8 November, and I haven’t wanted to write. My entire energy store was depleted just trying to be civil and keep my head up about the horrifying reality that smart people about whom I care deeply thought that a monster with one thing on his mind (the “one thing” definitely not being the welfare of our country, but the enriching of his personal wealth, brought to bear in no uncertain terms by his selections for the sham of a Cabinet that will be with us for at least the next four years), and whose savagery included regular, unmitigated attacks against women, minorities, and anyone who looks, talks or thinks differently than white male was somehow the right choice for leader of the free world.

I confess I’ve struggled with actually *wanting* things to go south, just so I could say, “This is who you wanted, and now we all bear the reap of what you have sown.”

But, dah-who doraze, that ain’t gonna cut it. That makes no one miserable except me. And it’s not nice; it wasn’t the way I was raised. I’ve gone on record in writing several times about absolutely hating mean people, and here I was, being a mean person but calling it something else in the name of righteous indignation. Nah. It was just meanyheadedness. So I need to cut that out.

I can’t wear the responsibility of the entire world as a hat. I need to just be a good person, and love my family and friends, and be secure in my faith and my humanity that I’m doing everything I can to make life around me better — or at least to not make it worse. I need to be the best wife, mom, Grammie, sister, teacher and friend I can be. I need to make being around me NOT a chore.

It’s easy to be hard, ya know. Easy to be cold. I tell my choirs all the time, “It’s easy to sing poorly; many, many people do it, and with no effort at all. It’s difficult to sing well, but that’s what I want for you.” Mama needs to heed her own advice and apply that epithet to the rest of life.

Serenity amidst turmoil — if you can swing that, you can do just about anything. That’s the focus from today forward.

Christmas day will always be, just so long as we have we.

I’m glad I have all of you Whos. ;-)