Thursday, June 10, 2010

CJ Hodges-MacFarlane - Queen of the Wind

Duluth, Minnesota, U.S.A.
& loving Anthony Quinn

She is the Queen of the Wind.
When I think of CJ Hodges-MacFarlane, that is how I see her.
She has the most amazing hair, you see. Long, insanely curly. Like Peppermint Patty's, only sexy. Like the way we all wanted our hair back in the '80s, only we paid a week's wage for a spiral perm and we still looked like Mom did us in the kitchen with a box of Toni.
I see CJ in the wind, her hair lifted and lingering, her arms outstretched against the massive blue sky above the rocky shores of the great Gitche Gumee. 
I see her as a goddess, a goddess with a pierced lip and a broken heart, a fierce mother with a fast comeback, a mouth like a sailor and an insatiable lust for wild blueberries.
She is a walkin' dude.
She rolls the sidewalks of Daloot, taking the Magster to junior kindergarten, picking up Drumsticks at the supermarket for Chris, having waffle fries at the Duluth Grill. She walks ceaselessly, along city sidewalks, forgotten forested trails, pebbled beaches. She brings her camera and her iPhone and her beaming, shiny personality. She is a wrangler of people, rodeoing them towards her with a ceaseless CJ energy that is the life force of all who cross her path.
She walks because she can.
She writes because she can.
She is also an artist - a painter, a creator of stained glass, a purveyor of beauty in any and all respects.
She was a marine, once.
She is feisty, always.
And loving, always.
She is my friend, I know this in the dark bowels of my soul, I know this like I know the faces of my children, like I know Dave loves me, like I know anything, and I miss her, I miss her like crazy, even though we have never, ever met.
And might not, either.
I ache for this.
Damn this crazy online lie that makes us feel like we are so close, like neighbours borrowing brown sugar, but we're so far away, so fucking far away. And don't give me any shit about being able to visit because we can't, we just can't, for way too many goddamned reasons than I care to count.
Even the Queen of the Wind can't walk this far.
Even on our carpet of mingled tears.

The List
by CJ Hodges-MacFarlane

She took a bite of her cereal and looked at the grocery list. The slip of paper with a cheery Hello Kitty design had a lot of space left on it. Those two items always topped the list - no brainers. The family went through cereal and milk in seconds in seemed. It would be a jug of 1%, for her husband in his paltry way of trying to be healthy by making the family drink milk with a percent less fat in it. There would be a jug of 2%, because she hated to listen to the kids complain that the cereal (which would be a mix of healthy and sugar-laden fun ones) didn't taste right without that extra percent of fat. That's how she did things - tried to make everyone happy.

Soy Milk

That was for herself. She was trying to eat healthier and had read somewhere that soy milk was healthy for lots of reasons, although none that she could remember. More than that - it tasted delicious on her multi-grain Cheerios with a frozen blueberries and a sliced banana. Soy milk came in assorted flavors and she always picked the vanilla, because it felt like she was indulging herself every morning, as it froze around the blueberries and made her breakfast taste like some posh frozen dessert.


She hoped the fresh cherries had come down in price a little, but wasn't sure if they were quite in season yet, but they probably weren't. Grapes, apples, melon again. Maybe she'd pick up an exotic fruit. She used to do that when the kids were younger - come home with star fruit, for example, for the first time and they'd all sit around the table nibbling it and laughing while trying to figure out what it tasted like and if they should buy it again.

Paper towels
Pasta fixings

She tapped the pen on the table and surveyed the last entries ... Same ol' shit, but it filled the list a bit more. Hadn't she found a new recipe she'd wanted to try? She couldn't remember, but figured she'd end up going back to the store at least 4 more times this week. Chewing thoughtfully, the pen tapping gently on the table, she gazed out the window.


She was pretty sure she saw birdseed in the pet aisle at the grocery store, and had been meaning to fill the feeder for a year now.

Italian sausage

The "meat" meant anything on sale that was tasty. In the warmer temperatures, she could get away with any meat because everything tasted good on the grill. You didn't need any fancy ingredients or sides when there was grilled meat on the table. One of her daughters had become quite adept at handling the grill, too, which was helpful.


At last count there were 17 assorted bottles of shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom, as her husband so kindly pointed out. There were four females living in the house - all with hair that needed some sort of special attention - curly, wavy-about-to-be-straightened, dry, oily, brittle, colored, etc. The scents alone were fascinating (refreshing tangerine, red raspberry, ocean breeze, juicy green apple, waterfall mist) and the girls had a lot of fun flinging their hair under someone's nose and showing off the silkiness and scent-staying power of the latest acquisition.

Laundry detergent
Fabric softener

She put the pen down and read through the list. Nothing else came to mind and she wasn't so interested in the whole undertaking to bother checking the cupboards and refrigerator. Another trip to the grocery store was always in her near future, no matter how detailed and researched her lists were.

Finishing her cereal, she got up, rinsed the bowl and gathered her wallet, phone, cigs and keys. The screen door slammed shut and the list fluttered gently to the linoleum floor, Hello Kitty smiling cheerily.

This one's for you CJ, my very, very, good friend.


  1. It's good to get to know CJ a bit. I know how that is when you find a kindred spirit online and just know you could be best friends if you lived next door. It's bitter-sweet.

    Just like this little story. I chuckled and groaned through it--it was way too familiar! Vanilla soy rocks :-)

  2. I do believe we have the same grocery list...except for all the shampoos. As Shannon noted, it's nice to hear more of 'she who is CJ, Cathy's best bud'.

    I think, to solve the problem of everyone living all over North America, everyone should move to Newfounland so we can all visit more often. Just sayin'...

  3. CJ's "Letter to the Editor":

    was one of the first #fridayflash stories I read, and it's still one of my favorites. Her artwork is fantastic. I like this story, "The List", because of its realistic depiction of an inexplicable, yet mundane thing: why make the list, when you know damn well what you're going to get? Just as mysterious and just as real as eating blueberries and soymilk for your health, then grabbing a pack of smokes.

  4. Cathy: Thanks so much for introducing me to CJ Hodges-MacFarlane. It's hard to keep up with all the fridayflashers and I thank you for introducing me to another damn fine scribe. I will be visiting her blog for sure...

  5. I echo Ant. I hadn't met CJ before, and I'm glad I have now. Thanks, Cathy.

    Great story, CJ. Just like life. The details are intimate and true.

  6. Lovely intro and writing by CJ. A list that is deceptively quiet, and one that seems very familiar.

    And that song, Cathy, yes that song....

  7. Ah, the grocery list. The grocery store a minimum of four times a week. I've started so many stories in the grocery store, but bored myself before I came to a satisfying conclusion--much like every trip I take there. Now, I not only forget the list, but I forget the reusable bags. Add guilt somewhere in the middle of the list.

    Brilliant story, and I loved the execution. I think I've come across CJ at six sentences, but will pay more attention for her name on #fridayflash. Thanks Cathy.


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