The ping pong ball

California afternoon_photo by Wendy Jo carlton It was the dream the old man had before. The one with the river and the floating that felt so damn good. Beneath his body was a rubber inner tube and his arms and legs hung lazily over the sides of it. On the side of the tube was a cartoon of a smiling big-headed rat twirling a lasso. “The rat must be my guardian angel”, the old man thought. “Could be worse”. Then below his wet backside, in the clear cool water, he spotted, only for a second, amongst the river rocks and fallen branches, a white rosary swaying with the current.

The old man grew up Catholic, and even though he hadn’t stepped inside any kind of church for 50 years, the rosary still snagged him as something precious. It needed a pair of hands. He tried to stand up but his feet couldn’t touch the bottom, and the river was moving too fast for him to swim against backwards. He held his breath deep and stuck his head under the water to get one last blink at it, glowing and yessing at him like a blessed hula. But then the river curved around a bloated bluff of Willow trees, and beyond them was a parking lot full of cars.

The old man climbed up the river bank behind the VFW Hall and tied his raft to the bumper of a white limo. He saw his reflection in the windows, soaking wet and older than he felt, but still with a full head of dark hair to brush back. By the time he crossed the hot parking lot, the steam coming off of him made him look freshly pressed. He felt that the ping pong ball was somewhere inside the building. He could smell hot dogs and buttered popcorn and knew what was going on in there. Bingo. Even though he only loved the Mother Mary part of Catholic, the forgiving, blue-green part of it, he remembered what the nuns had taught him, about the mystery of numbers.

The old man entered the hall. Even with the ceiling clumped full of air conditioners blasting full force, the thickness of the cigarette smoke nearly gagged him. He coughed until his eyes teared up, so when the jittery skittery ping pong ball rolled right in front of him, it looked like he was crying with joy. The players did not look up from their cards because this was the the final game, the jackpot. But the caller did glance over, just in time to see him place the ball in his mouth and sprint out. The old man worked in the Senior Center for going on 6 years. He hadn’t lost a ping pong ball yet. He was happy there was something he was good at. And each time that beautiful, half-blind Sandra Kolenda flicked one out the window, it was another chance to show off his fantastic way with recovery.

Super Tuesday Super Vote Super Fat: Hungry can be fun!

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Juicy Planet will not turn the TV on today until after most of the Presidential primary voting is finished. The 24 hour, forever-on, cable news media will be frothing over every possible story and proceed to say the same thing a hundred different ways between commercials.

This is one of the most promising days in years for American citizens and the future of all lovely humans. The people are casting votes on an empty stomach today, perhaps unable to be clear-minded after 7 years of demoralizing bad behavior by the Bushies. Some of the citizens voting today are still Bushies, and no matter what obvious economic (or ethical) evidence there is to the contrary that supports the dire need for a more equal, democratic, transparent, and socially responsible federal government, some citizens will always remain steadfastly hypocritical, homophobic, hateful, and self-absorbed. We accept this possibility.

Today is a juicy day for American politics, as the Republicans do not matter one iota. What matters is a qualified and intelligent woman and a qualified and intelligent black man are competing for the honor to lead and lift the country. Voters are so hungry that they may be choosing on the basis of colorful labels and packaging. So be it. Super Tuesday is fun fun fun. What better hope for America, than a Clinton/Obama combined ticket? If they can prioritize service and progress over ambition and ego, this will be truly something juicy. Working toward a Resurrection…what could be more faithful than that?

Interested in details of the differences in health care plans offered by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama? CLICK HERE

A free Juicy Planet Cheat Sheet for February 5!

Super Tuesday: Day in early February of a presidential election year when votes are cast for desired candidates in U.S. More delegates can be won on Super Tuesday than on any other single day of the year, so candidates must do well secure their party’s nomination.

Fat Tuesday: same as Mardi Gras, Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”. Also known as “Pancake Day”. The day folks, Catholics especially, celebrate the last day before Lent’s fasting begins. New Orleans most famous location in U.S. for this, although it’s celebrated worldwide.

Ash Wednesday: First day of Lent, always a Wednesday, because Easter is always a Sunday. Christian/Catholic practice includes attending church service and receiving a blessing of ashes from a priest or minister, in the sign of a cross on the forehead. This symbolizes repentance for one’s sins and a reminder of our mortality in the body. Easter, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, symbolizes spiritual after-life and redemption.

Lent: 40 days before Easter, spent fasting or “giving up something” , as Jesus spent 40 days fasting and praying in the desert before he was crucified and then rose from the dead, 40 hours later. Juicy Planet is giving up despair for Lent.