Cheese Zombies

Dear Yakima School District:

Your best effort ever, according to my childhood, was the Cheese Zombie.    My favorite childhood hot lunch was paired with a reconstituted, milky tomato soup. Thank you, Mom, for making sure that I had a hot lunch ticket on Cheese Zombie days.

Lunch lady.  Ordinary.  Plump.  Hair net meticulously crowned.  Drawn eyebrows.  Large chest in a below-the-knee cafeteria dress. Varicose veins above sensible shoes.  Apron.  She is white, of course.  99.5% of the people at my elementary were white.  I was barely aware that people came in an amazing array of flavors.  White kids.  White lunch ladies.  White bread.

The Cheese Zombie was steeped in delicious carby, fatty mystery.  That singular hybrid of easy starch and fat required less chewing than food ought.  Dip that Zombie into sweet, hot tomato soup.  For a few moments your childhood troubles melted away.

Worry over lessons.  Worry over playground politics.  Worry over what you might encounter on the walk home.  Worry over what would be at home once you got there.  All of it melted away in the gooey, warm, buttery sensation of a Cheese Zombie and tomato soup.

No wonder I have food issues and a love affair with Cheese Zombies.  🙂



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Miss Almira Gulch

Miss Almira Gulch terrified this child when she came screaming down the Kansas landscape on her bicycle, little Toto trapped in her basket.  The Wizard of Oz delivered us a wonderful villain.Actress Margaret Hamilton barged onto the flat, sepia farm with such ferocity that she seemed to suck the very air out of the place.

While Auntie Em would take the brunt of Gulch’s vitriol, it was Uncle Henry who punctuated her visit when he shut the gate, hitting Gulch on the backside as she went through.

If there was an Oscar for best performance by a gate…surely Henry and Em’s gate would have taken the prize that year!

A search re Hamilton this morning revealed she had been a kindergarten teacher. Imagine what lively books she brought to life for her little students!

Wikipedia quotes Hamilton speaking about her personal appearances before children:

“Almost always they want me to laugh like the Witch. And sometimes when I go to schools, if we’re in an auditorium, I’ll do it. And there’s always a funny reaction, like ‘Ye gods, they wish they hadn’t asked.’ They’re scared. They’re really scared for a second. Even adolescents. I guess for a minute they get the feeling they got when they watched the picture. They like to hear it but they ‘don’t’ like to hear it. And then they go, ‘Ohhhhhhhhhh…!’ The picture made a terrible impression of some kind on them, sometimes a ghastly impression, but most of them got over it, I guess…because when I talk like the Witch, and when I laugh, there is a hesitation and then they clap. They’re clapping at hearing the sound again.”


Photo posted by Insomnia Cured Here on Flikr.

Via Daily Prompt:  gate

He Shares the Moon


Her father warrior, her father most kind. His foreign fields now left far behind.

Then he defended and mended at will. Those days recalled are treasured still.

His sword now rests with memories mixed.  A quiet life upon him is fixed.

Her mother, his great love, away has passed.  But her framed face smiles, his sassy lass.

Now daughter dear, he nightly calls, to share his glorious find.

“Did you see the moon?”  He begs response with tenderness refined.

“Yes, I see the moon.  Thank you, Dad!”  She holds each call to heart.

Love’s kind exchange is never trite with bonds that never part.

Dedicated to Shirley, with love.

Photo by Luis Argerich

via Daily Prompt:  Champion

Banana Cream Pie ala Vern


“What is Vern making?” He plunked a grocery sack on our table. Sacks were always paper back then. 

The retired prison guard was childless, older than mom.  “Banana cream pie,” his deadpan reply. His Hitchcockian face paired with low, monotone voice was often pretty creepy.

Hhhmmm. For once Vern, who was good for buying restaurant meals and dispensing unwanted ‘fatherly’ instruction, piqued my curiosity.  

What could go wrong with banana cream pie?

Ready made graham pie crusts – check. Bananas – check. Cool Whip – check. What followed solidified my disdain.  He set a pre-made crust in front of him. Sliced chubby coins of banana piled onto the crust, naked and ready to receive…Cool Whip! That’s right, Cool Whip!

“There you go,” Vern said.   “Where is the pudding?!?” The words almost stuck in my throat.  You don’t tease a girl about pudding. “WHAT IS THAT?”  I might have cried a little.

Mom’s skepticism deferred to normalizing whatever Vern did. No help came from her quarter. She was supportive of the old, grumpy, tattooed man who believed that he could replace my father.

“This is how you make a banana cream pie. I made them like this all the time in the army.” Ugh. Was he serious? And the soldiers didn’t mob you and leave you for dead?

My cynical teen mind was quick to find fault, however. Vern really met my lowest expectations of him that day.

At least he didn’t add, “If I were a few years younger, I’d go for you myself!”.  No 14-year-old girl wants to hear that! It was Vern’s way, I guess, of boosting my frail confidence. EEEeewwwww!

Vern died many years ago in the company of a new girlfriend.  Rest in peace, Vern. Enjoy those banana cream pies.

photo by Slice of Chic


Geta Did

via Daily Prompt:  Blur

All kids wanted to please my older (and only) sister. She inspired trust. She was confident, adept at firmness, with a generous gift of compromise.

I was an onlooker when she took any one of my children shoe shopping. It was glorious.

“I like this pair, Geta!”

“Well, now let’s try them on then.” She gave no hint of the excitement to come. “There. Now, how do they feel?”

“Good, Geta. Real good! I want to get these. Look! They have…(glo-in-the-dark stars, pink flowers, sparkles, Ninja Turtles, Barbie, Thundercats).”

“They are nice. But…the real question is:  Do they run fast?”

“I’m sure they do, Geta!” My child’s anticipation of the coveted prize dispelled any traces of doubt.

“There’s only one way to find out if they will run fast.”

Whatever did she mean? And there it was, that precious illumination. Your child’s face awakens with understanding. Was she really saying to run, right there, in the shoe store?

“Should I try to run in them, Geta?”

“Yes! Let’s see how fast those shoes can really go!”

Any hesitation dissolved in a flurry.  Whoooosh! The blur of new shoes delivered its promise with speeds worthy of a cheering stadium.  Up and down the aisle the new shoes proved their metal against the roar of the crowd.

“Did you see that, Geta?  Did you see how fast these shoes are?”

“Why, yes I did!  Thank you for showing me.  I now see that they are, indeed, very fast shoes!”

The verdict was in.