Hot Mess

In a world of noise, confusion and conflict, it is necessary that there is a place of inner silence and peace, not the peace of mere relaxation but the peace of inner clarity and love. Thomas Merton


At the grocery checkout stand, directly across from me, there is a middle-aged woman, stylish brunette hair, full-figured, who arrived at exactly the same time. This is after standing in massive lines for at least 20 minutes (could have been 15), with loaded carts, no toilet paper, and exasperated expressions. 

I look up from my station where I’ve just punched in the secret code to all my riches, took a small cash allowance, and donated $5 to the starving children fund (no Larry I didn’t get a receipt). The thing I notice is the woman’s t-shirt, printed in bold red letters on a black shirt is I’M A HOT MESS, I think the script is surrounded by flames.

I’m that shirt, it’s custom-made for me, and I want it. I consider asking if she would switch with me, as if a sorority prank, but I’m wearing a Lululemon jacket over a sports bra so that’s not happening. 

Watching her through my foggy lenses (mask issues) I covertly observe her purchases. The clerk scans several boxes of sushi, at least three bags of chips, and a variety of salsas. I see bacon, a selection of cheeses, box of Wheat Thins, grapes, chocolate and I lost count at five bottles of wine. As Shannon Mayer claims you are a hot mess of contradictions, my friend. Like a bacon and chocolate dessert.

Now I want to be her friend. 

She catches my eye, I mean I am blatantly staring at her, and I try to wink because you can’t smile. She lifts an eyebrow and avoids any further eye contact. Does she think I’m attracted to her? I want to explain myself but what would I say? I want your shirt? I’m a Hot Mess too? I like sushi?

I try to mind my own business, but fail, as I watch HOT MESS walk through the sliding doors with her party loot, which she loads in a silver BMW, and heads west out of the parking lot. 

Yes, I pulled out my phone, opened the Amazon link, and searched; t-shirt, Hot Mess, black. It will be delivered in two days. Booyah! 

Back at the recently vacant homestead Larry and I are preparing to head up to the lake for a few days. We haven’t been in over a month and it feels as if I haven’t been to church? There were various obligations in the Bay Area that created this Hot Mess (so to speak). Julie and Nic moved out, Kelley and Tim moved in, our remodel starts in a week which required the packing up of my favorite things, and then Jesus rose from the dead. Never a dull moment. 

We hit the road, stop at the Bahue’s for a fabulous dinner, seared flesh, good wines, great conversation, arriving at the lake before midnight.

Three things happen when I pass through this lakeside portal; my blood pressure drops, my plaque psoriasis goes into remission, and this silly ass feeling lodges in my chest as if I just received an unexpected gift. Oh, and I can’t stop smiling? 

I greet the lake with a reverence reserved for Mass, I’m not kidding, somehow this expanse of water invites me to sit at it’s edge, dangle my toes in the crisp water, it’s as poignant as receiving communion, I feel nourished. 

The last time I was here, winter was covering her massive landscape as if a wool blanket, but as I scan the shore today spring has thrown off the coverlet. She jumps out of bed and stands naked before me with all her blooming glory. The word lush comes to mind.

As I scan the grounds, if all we had were bright red tulips that would be enough, but there are white roses, bold geraniums, purple lantana, pink peonies, prolific succulents, and massive trees that have sprouted new leaves after a long dormancy. It reminds me of a vibrant painting, not limited by a frame, or backed by a wall.

Our observations speak volumes, don’t you think?

Larry says, “look how the weeds have taken over the beach.”

I say, “never mind the weeds, what time are Jim and Amy coming to dinner?”

“Around 4:00, we have to drive into town, I need to pick up a few things at the hardware store.”

“I need groceries.”

“Let’s go.”

So we stop at the hardware store first, he picks up a blow torch attachment for a gas tank, and spider spray?

At the food store, I grab salmon, asparagus, lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, and rice.

On the way home I say, “what in the world are you planning to do with that blow torch?” 

“I’m going to burn the weeds off the beach.” Apparently, Jim gave him this little idea, I’ll remember to berate him tonight. I mean we live in California, hello we catch fire every summer, and I don’t want the first massive burn to be named the Larry Fire. 

“That seems dangerous honey?”

“It’ll be fine.”

“Famous last words.”

As I’m setting the table for dinner, arranging charming yellow tulips in a massive white vase, Larry is attaching the blow torch to his gas tank. He carries the entire contraption down to the beach as if he knows what he’s doing.

I peek over the deck in case I need to douse him with the garden hose. I see a man, with a blow torch, his untamed hair held back with a headband, and it looks as if he’s at war with the weeds, but they’re totally out gunned. He has little flames started in patches all over the beach, but the green weeds are providing some militant resistance, and refuse to burn. He perseveres. 

I say, “Larry your shoe is smoking.”

He kicks out the flame, “I’m fine.” 

I say, “You’re a Hot Mess.” He thinks I’m complimenting him?

He smiles and says, “later.”

Oh good Lord, who couldn’t love this man? I pull out my phone, open the Amazon link, and order Larry a matching shirt.

I’m Living in the Gap, we’re going up in flames, who’s with us?


  • “Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.” George Carlin
  • “Women need to feel loved and men need to feel needed.” Rita Mae Brown
  • “She did not know that males do not care to be circumvented, however wonderfully, by their females.” Rumer Godden


Leave a Comment

  1. That lake house is a sanctuary. I never wanted one before ‘you’, but now it seems to be the most important thing in my life. Shame I can’t afford it, and the need for ‘Spider Spray’ would mean my wife would refuse to accompany me anyway.
    Enjoy your T-Shirts, Cheryl, 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The lakehouse is an imperfect delight, she takes us all in, harbors our joy, but as with all beautiful things, she requires a ton of shit to keep it blooming! And did I mention the spiders? They are part of the deal! We give them pet names, and lots of space, then they eat our bugs. Win, win. Shhh…the shirts are a surprise! Thanks Pete for your joyful comment, warmly, C

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my goodness Kim, yes, you are so in the club! I’ve had a relaxing morning, hammered out a post, and we’re going golfing this afternoon! Mind you the last time I hit a golf ball was three years ago, I’m going for the Bloody Mary he promised at the club house when we’re finished! Warmly, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leigh, so glad to have brought you a giggle! He was so excited about his blow torch he offered to rid the neighbor of his weeds! Really, there are dishes to wash, toilets to clean…I’m sure he will enjoy wearing his t-shirt while torching things! Thanks for your comment Leigh, C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “…and then Jesus rose from the dead. Never a dull moment.” I’m LOL-ing so hard, Cheryl! We had my dad here for Easter; he is a different sort of hot mess, lovely…but still. This week will be quieter and I’ll get more done on my manuscript. Not to be a word count braggart but I’m closing in on 72k!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Cheryl,
    I continue to love your posts. What a great place you have to escape to. I can see how you would get a little down if you haven’t been there in a while. I get the same way about the farm. This is the time of year where I want to spend all my time there. The turkeys are gobbling, the Morel Mushrooms are popping and it is time to get the garden up to speed.
    It is amazing how some people take whatever you say, and assume the best. Larry has that gift. I have to agree with Larry that the blow torch is a great form of weed control. It does not disturb the ground, and this seems to decrease the weed recurrence rate! I gather it turned out well, as I have not heard any mention of the Larry Fire (this made me laugh.)
    Love the anecdotes. Men are indeed dumb and they do need to feel needed.
    Judging from the following song, Larry is right! Being called a hot mess is a compliment.

    Give our best to everyone.
    PS Hurricane Ellie arrives home next week and we will get down to finalizing travel plans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mike! Always a pleasure to see your name appear on the blog. When you said “what a great place you have to escape to,” I thought you meant the blog, as in writing has become my alternative universe! Then I realized you meant the lake house! Bahaha. Yes, it is my favorite escapism and I can’t imagine this ever not being so. I know you feel much the same about the farm. And I totally agree, your farm is a dream come true! I miss it! Right now our main house is completely torn up and several of the rooms are down to studs and base boards. They’ve created a blank mural to fill will all my culinary dreams! We’re deep into selecting countertops, cupboards, and hardware. Jumping topics, I mentioned to Larry your approval of the blowtorch weed control method and how is discourages regrowth. Along with the fact he didn’t burn down the entire community, I think it’s a win, win. I head back to the classroom today for our first inclass teaching for over a year! I’m hoping I haven’t forgotten how to dow it. Good luck with your delightful hurricane Ellie, let the summer plans unfold! Love to you and yours, keep us posted on the calendar updates. Warmly, Cheryl


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