Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

As the old year fades away and we ease towards a new year, I harken back to one of my most memorable New Year's Eves. It was in the early '80s. My kids were small; my mom was babysitting because we were going to a party. Three lousy drinks in four hours did this teetotaler in! When we returned home at 12:30 a.m. I insisted my ex drive my mother home. She said she'd be fine. I talked incessantly about the dangers of being out after midnight. I pointed at my husband and then at my mom. I ordered her to get in and him to drive. She got in the car and he drove her home, three doors down.

Folks, don't drink and drive tonight, not even three doors down. Mom and I laughed about this incident for years. That is why I do not drink.

Happy New Year 2010. Blessings and publication credits to all.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why patience pays off

It is good to be patient. I submitted a story to New Love Stories Magazine in Feb.'08and forgot about it. Almost two years later I received a reply that my story is under consideration for future publication.

Santa brought us new cell phones and I read this email on the phone while we were at lunch today. You should have seen the people watching me do the victory dance in public. Well, I was somewhat subdued, but honestly couldn't sit in my seat and pumped my arms a few times. This is a high paying venue. Shoot! Even when it's a low or no paying venue, if it means publication, I jump for joy.

I heard from Beth, a long lost writer friend who has vowed to submit two things per month this year. That is a reasonable amount, and a great goal to set. A few years ago at a writer's guild meeting they asked what our writing goals were. At the time I wanted to get twelve things published, six for money, six for publication credits. Once you set your mind to it, you can succeed. Conceive, believe and achieve...let that be your mantra for 2010. Hope you have a safe and fun New Year' Eve.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Cookie Caper

The cookies are dwindling; there might be a dozen chocolate chip left. Bill can have them. I love those deceiving, bite-size peanut butter cookies. I kid myself into thinking I'm only actually eating the equivalent of four cookies when I pop those dozen little morsels into my mouth. If I still harbor guilt after cramming them down my throat, I tell myself they are paper-thin this year, because I got the bright idea to use a cake decorating tube instead of a spoon to drop the dough onto the baking tray. I'll be glad when these crunchy, melt in my mouth morsels are GONE. But do you think I will toss them? Not on your life. I so enjoy these little high protein (peanut butter), high energy (dark brown sugar) discs that elevate my mood.

In 1982, my friend, Rose, and I got on a sugar high that lasted from Thanksgiving, when we baked enough holiday cookies to supply the army, through the twelve days of Christmas; into the New year; until a day after Valentine's Day when we dashed into Walgreen's and purchased a decorative, heart-shaped box of Chocolates for our mothers, at 50% off! At that price, we could afford an extra large box for ourselves. A double layer of chocolates that we hid from our kids and spouses, lasted us until the first day of spring. Then we were only a few days from chomping the chocolate ears off our kids' Easter bunnies. That was the year that was.

My wonderful brother, John, a fabulous cook and baker, who lived in Reno, sent me a box of homemade chocolate chip-nut cookies the size of large saucers via UPS next day delivery. Two days before Christmas, Rose and I sat on my porch swing freezing, as we waited for the UPS driver who always made his daily rounds in our neighborhood at 11:30 a.m. We spied that brown tank-truck as it rounded the corner. We leaped off the porch steps, ran to the curb, and darted into the street hoping to save the guy a few steps. He swerved to miss us two crazy ladies. We waved frantically to flag him down. He waved back, honked and continued on. Rose and I looked at each other, dismayed. We watched his tail lights disappear, and then, like a wonderful vision, the truck reappeared way down at the end of our double long city block, on the other side of the street. The young fellow in his mud-colored uniform hopped in and out of his truck like a jack rabbit as he inched his way up the street.

We yelled like two sugar-deprived junkies waiting for their dealer. "Hurry up!" As he nosed to the curb half a block away, with only five houses to go, Rose and I waved our arms overhead like we were flagging a Boeing 747. The driver hopped into his truck. We dashed into the middle of Oleatha Street, prepared to accept the package through the driver's window. The poor guy's eyes widened; he gunned the engine and made a sharp right turn, right in front of us, down a side street.

Ten minutes later as Rose and I sat in my kitchen pouting, and watching two pancakes sizzle a crust around the edges, we heard the sound of a large vehicle rattle to a stop in front of my house. "This must be what you two were looking for." The poor guy seemed embarassed and sounded relieved. As I signed for that box of cookies wrapped in an entire roll! of clear tape, I drooled, I mean, salivated onto the form, just imagining those wonderful cookies. It's time I thanked my brother and apologized to that UPS guy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dressel's Pub

I have been invited to read at Dressel's Pub in the Central West End on January 5th. Please come enjoy a fun literary evening and good food.

Chicken Soup seeking devotionals

Here I sit at the computer, four days until the new year, looking at my December submission calendar. I have sent off eight pieces for possible publication. Realistically, I know that like much of the clearance merchandise at the mall, my essays will not be snapped up.

But readers, just because you don't publish everything you submit, it doesn't mean it is not publishable. It's probably that a particular piece doesn't fit the editorial needs. See, I KNOW this, but when those negative messages creep in: I'm not that great of a writer. They won't take a second look at this!... just remember that somewhere an editor is looking for your particular work. Patience pays off.

I have a short inspirational essay that I have repeatedly "reshelved" for eight years. Here I go again. My mind is filled with doubt. The call out is Chicken Soup for the Soul, Devotional's for Mothers, 600 words or less, including a Bible verse and a short three sentence prayer at the end. Here is my self-speak today, "Dummy,
they are looking for stories for mothers! You are a GRANDmother. BUT this particualr story is relevant to moms the world over." So, as I send my story into cyberspace, I send up a prayer that maybe one day in the New Year I will be blessed with a contract for $100 and ten free copies of the book. That's all any freelance writer can do: write, hope and pray. If my story comes back, I have an open space on the shelf just waiting.
Blessings!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

God Bless Grandchildren


In my grandchildrens' faces I see the past, the present and the future. In their blue eyes I see possibilities as endless as the sky, dreams undreamt, dreams fulfilled ... MY dreams come true! In their individual personalities I see distinct reflections of their mothers and fathers. I see my genetic code in their teeth formation and hair so thick it makes hairdressers and barbers cringe.

In Ashley's and Nicole's laughter, cries and squeals, I hear echoes of my thirty-nine year old daughter's resounding little-girl giggles and sobs, and I remember how my mom came to her rescue every single time, because she was "Nana's girl".

As Austin and Nicholas chase one another and wrestle until one of them gets hurt, I hear the echoes of my thirty-six year old son's little-boy boasts, grunts and groans and remember his daredevil antics.

When I look into their eyes, I can almost see the thread that weaves a connection through the generations. In the formation of their upper lips, their fingernails, their expressions, kindness, inner beauty and souls -I see my children, my brother, my parents and my grandparents, and yes, I see myself. Their strong will, determination and fierce declarations of independence they inherited from me!

Our Gang on Christmas



These are our delightful grandkids who have stolen our hearts, tickled our fancy and given us many laugh lines over the years. Left to right, back row: Madison,12; Sean,10; Nicholas,7; Morgan,10; Austin,12; front row: George,12; Ashley 20; holding Nicole,2; and Kyle, 16

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'T was the Night Before Christmas at the North Pole

Contemporary Version of 'T was the Night Before Christmas
by Linda O'Connell (with apologies to Clement C. Moore)

'T was the night before Christmas at the North Pole
Old Santa was edgy, feeling quite droll.
Mrs. Claus was baking and the house smelled yummy.
Santa walked to the kitchen, sneaked up on his honey.

He reached for a snickerdoodle still warm on the tray.
Big Mama said, "No more! You've eaten two dozen today.
Your cholesterol is up, your triglycerides soaring,
and while I'm at it, I'm tired of your snoring."

"You're going to have to start losing some weight.
And look at the time; it IS getting late."
Chubby old Santa said, "Oh woman, drat!
You're always complaining about this or that.

"Where are my long-johns?" he dared to inquire.
"For Pete's sake," she snapped, "They're still in the dryer."
She wiped her hands on her apron, then turned with a jerk,
grumbled, "Everything around here is woman's work!"

Santa reached for more cookies, munched two, three, then four,
and got cookie crumbs all over the counter and floor.
"Go hitch up the reindeer, go load up your sleigh,
get all the presents and be on your way!"

Santa tugged on his suit, and as Mrs. Claus watched
he loosened his belt another notch.
"Santa, I remember when you had a pillow gut."
"Yes dear." He smirked. "And you had a size seven butt!"

"Santa, I think you should leave now!"
"I think that I will, but first I need my cholesterol pill,
blood pressure too, and one for arthritis
another one for my sinusitis.

"I need Dramamine so that I won't get dizzy,
and a calm-me-down pill so I'm not in a tizzy,
a vitamin C so I don't sniffle and sneeze,
asthma medication so I don't cough and wheeze."

"Be on your way, man! Get going; you're done."
"Wait, my dear, I forgot the last one."
Santa popped a Viagra, climbed into his sleigh,
"The miracle drugs, they have today.

"I'll be back in a jiffy," he smiled with affection,
I have forty-eight hours to get a..."
"LONG WINTER'S NAP!" she exclaimed as he drove out of sight.
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

While Santa is the fun part of the season;
let us not forget that Jesus is the reason.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rocking around heaven

It is that time of year when I reminsce about Christmas past, when I was a young mother, new teacher, and Rose, my best friend and next door neighbor opened her home and Tupperware container filled with chocolate chip-nut cookies to me.

I worked at a small private school back then within walking distance, and on the last day of class before holiday break, I would carry my box of goodies down the street and stop by Rose's. I'd dump all of my gifts, ornaments, holiday towels and trinkets on her table, and we'd sort through them like two kids in a toy store. Those memories weave their way into my heart. I can visualize her kitchen with dark cabinets, orange counter top and her eclectic collection of over a hundred salt and pepper shakers. I can almost taste those cookies, and hear her voice and one-of-a-kind rat-a-tat laughter, and smell the stench of those skinny, little, brown cigarettes that she chain smoked. She died at age 52 of lung cancer, just before Christmas.

We used to dance to old time rock and roll songs. We thought we'd never get old, and said even if we did, we'd always be skipping down the street, not hobbling. We used to say that when we made it to heaven, if we were too feeble to actually dance, we'd be rocking in our rocking chairs to Bob Seger's song, Old Time Rock and Roll. Gosh, Rose, I hope you have that rocker rhthymically moving! And I hope that you are surrounded by your mom, my mom, your sisters and your brothers all singing, "Today's music ain't got the same soul...I love that old time rock and roll!"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Charity with a click of your mouse

This morning I finished Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, and I must say, as the tension mounted and the action peaked, the outcome was most satisfying and the ending was superb! I was rooting for the 93 year old main character, and I burst out laughing as I read the last few pages. This is one of those books that stays with you forever.

We all know how fun word games can be. Well, I received my AARP The Magazine in the mail today and want to share info published on page 16. You can make a charitable donation simply by playing a word game.

"FREERICE.COM feeds the hungry as you build your vocabulary. For every word you define correctly, this UN World Food Programme site donates ten grains of rice to countries coping with cronic hunger - more than 68 billion grains of rice thus far." FREEKIBBLE.COM gives food to dogs in shelters and Freekibblekat.com does the same for cats.

Please post this info on your website/blog or tell a friend.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cookies

I slept like a hibernating bear under my fuzzy blanket. It was delightful. But today was frightful, or I should say, tomorrow will be when I step on the scale. I sabotaged my weight loss. I baked cookies and ate the first dozen, shame on me!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

babies, blankets and bears

Some things are just meant to be. Today I went to exchange a duplicate gift, finally got to the service counter and handed the clerk my receipt. OMG! It was from the package I had mailed at the POST OFFICE! I apologized and before heading home for the real receipt, I strolled through the bedding department. I have been wanting one of those plush microfiber blankets ever since I fell asleep under the covers with my robe on. I slept twelve hours snuggled in that baby-soft material. The selections were brown, off white and green. I wanted blue to match my bedroom. On my return trip, I had decided I would buy the off white one. I made my exchange and went to get the white blanket, but it was gone and in its place was a BLUE one.

Yesterday, I babysat my two youngest grandchildren, 2 year old Nicole and 7 year old Nicholas. She wore herself out climbing through tunnels and zipping down slides in the play place at McDonald's. She had a tantrum when it was time to eat and also leave. When we got home, she tried her best to fall sleep. I finally laid down beside her; she snuggled up to me and was snoozing in two minutes. No better feeling in the world than the caress of a sleeping baby's breath on your cheek.

Her brother cracks me up. He has a real sense of right and wrong. He policed every kid who came near his sister in the play place. Back at our house he was reading a poster that our oldest, 20 year old Ashley, had made for Grandpa when she was five. Nick said very seriously, "Nana, if any cops come to your house, Grandpa had better watch out. Ashley has it in writing that he let her ride up front in his car. That's against the law." He is a hoot. He walked over to the jewelry display case at Sam's when Bill took him there and said, "Hang on a minute PaPa; I'm checking out what kind of ring my wife will wear someday."

I had so much fun with them. My son called me at 5:30 and asked when I was bringing them home. We'd had them since 10:30. "Soon," I said. I just had to take them to see the Teddy Bear House near Grant's Farm. Turn onto Eddie and Park Road off Gravois at Grant's Farm and it's half a block down---their entire exterior, lawn and even the interior is the most gorgeous and UNBELIEVABLE teddy bear Christmas display designed to steal the hearts and tickle the fancy of young and old alike.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I can't make this stuff up!

The oddest things happen to me. My LIFE is a story. Last evening I presented a parenting class to a group at my school which is in a residential area. The doorbell rang sporadically and I had to interrupt my presentation three times for late arrivals. Half an hour into it, the doorbell rang again. I asked a young female coworker to please answer. I could hear a male voice, so I went to investigate. The skinny, "strange" guy next door, in his late 30's-early 40's, asked if I knew who a particular car belonged to. I replied that I didn't. He said, "Well this is simply a courtesy request that you ask the person who owns the car to move it from in front of my house, because my mom is old,60 (MY AGE!) and she's coming to drop off a grandkid and I don't think it's right that she has to be out in this freezing cold walking half a block at night with a kid. Just a courtesy, if you don't mind."

Flabbergasted, considering community relations and not wanting to rock any neighborhood boats, I stepped into the classroom and asked who owned the car, explained that the guy said, blah-blah-blah. A woman says it's her car. A nice dad offers to pull her car out of the tight spot and park it down the street. Everyone seems happy. The class continues. Fifteen minutes later, the doorbell rings again! This time there is a heavy set man at the door. I refuse to open it. Two dads look over my shoulder as I ask the fellow what he wants. He asks, "Do you know who owns the(SAME FREAKING) car parked down the block?"

Fed up, I shout through the glass, "No! Why?" He says, "I just hit it, and I want to report it; it's the right thing to do."

Such is my life.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Acceptance and rejection

Oh the ups and downs of being a freelance writer. I received a rejection from an editor on a humorous poem and an acceptance from an anthology. My story, The Pigs Took the Cake will be included in the spring anthology, Patchwork Path; Wedding Bouquet.
Usually it's the bride that steals the show, but on my wedding day, the pigs took the cake!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Doug did double duty to earn his dole this day!


Left to right: Tammy, Linda, Becky

I left my winter coat in the car, and even though it was 35 degrees and I was wearing only a light fleece, I was willing to walk the six blocks to the restaurant along South Main Street in St. Charles after our booksigning. But No! Despite my protest, Becky spied Doug pedaling past in the opposite direction, and she flagged him down. The poor guy gave a quick look over his shoulder to assess the situation (ahem, our sizes), decided he could haul us in his single seat surrey bike and hung a U turn. We laughed so hard trying to fit three of us onto a seat built for two. Our behinds overlapped onto one another and Becky's derriere hung off the edge as a big red bow flapped in her face. Becky, you had a great idea!Thanks for the fun experience.

Tune: Jingle Bells
written by Linda O'Connell

Dashing down Main Street in a surrey built for two,
past the shops we go, giggling like three fools.
Becky took her seat, Linda hiked her big butt in
Tammy plopped on Linda's leg and did the fun begin!

Doug on bicycle pumped, straining all the way.
"Oh what fun it is to ride on this Christmas holiday!
Pedal hard, pedal hard, pedal all the way.
These gals had better tip me well, that's all I have to say!"

Chicken Soup for the Soul book signing at Main Street Books, St. Charles, MO 12/12/09


Pictured from left to right: Patsy Zettler, Sherry Stanczak, Teri Sanders, Tammy Goodsell, Pat Wahler, Becky Povich, Linda O'Connell



Thirty-five degrees, sporadic rainy weather, parking places a commodity -none of these things kept the crowds away. The sidewalks and shops along historic South Main Street in Old St. Charles, MO were packed with families enjoying the holiday season. Babies bundled like polar bears perched on their daddy's shoulders and little kids snug in their coats, hats and mittens stood curbside as young and old alike watched the Christmas parade. The fife and drum corp, led by the color guard, rattled windows with their rooty-toot- toots and rummy-tum-tums; Christmas carolers and street performers dressed in period garb made beautiful music. A life-sized female "angel" wearing huge feathered wings crossed the street in front of my car, an experience to remember. Everyone enjoyed the nostalgia of Christmas Past as Santas wearing costumes from many countries interacted with passersby. Nothing more appealing than those blazing fire pits, and oh, the blending aromas of chestnuts being roasted and sold by the bag; freshly popped popcorn in 34 enticing flavors, and the tempting homemade cookies being sold on street corners. Two melt-in-your-mouth snickerdoodles and one chocolate chip cookie later, I knew I had blown my diet! A block east, on the riverfront, ice skaters zipped around the rink as carols blared from a loud speaker. Truly, this was a day to remember.

The Chicken Soup writers donated a gift-wrapped box of canned soup to a local food pantry.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chicken Soup book signing

Main Street Books in St. Charles tomorrow from 1:00- 3:00 p.m. Hope to see you!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter, here and there

I am reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I am only a few pages into this book and can't put it down. Don't you just love when that happens?
I enjoy snuggling up and reading a book. I despise winter and wonder how I survived winter in Alaska forty years ago. When the temperature was forty below zero, I huddled under a woolen, olive drab army blanket. Television reception in our little town at the end of the Alaska Highway consisted of three shows: the evening news from Fairbanks one hundred miles away, Sesame Street or the Army channel during the day. The newscast was live and often the camera would pan the male anchors as they licked their palms and smoothed their hair before they went on air. The World News reels were flown in from Seattle a day after they aired in the lower 48, so Walter Cronkite's news was always a day old.

The cold wind always whispered under our door cracks during all four seasons, and when it whipped at gale force in winter, it ripped off the crank-style kitchen windows and shook the city-bus-sized trailer and wannigan (a wooden addition, the length of the trailer). The dark enveloped us eighteen hours a day; quickening hadn't occured yet, as I was in my first trimester of my first pregnancy. I slept through most of the next three months. Tonight feels like one of those biting cold evenings so long ago in Delta Junction, Alaska.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Woo-Hoo

Mom Writers Lit Mag, (now called MamaZina) just accepted my poem about my son, My Wild Child. It will be published in print version in summer 2010. I am thrilled because last year they published a poem about my daughter.

Saturday in St. Charles

Another pleasant surprise, I was invited to read at a local venue in the new year.

On Saturday, I will be signing Chicken Soup for the Soul books along with six other local Chicken Soup writers at MAIN STREET BOOKS in Old Town St. Charles. Those who donate a can of soup or other canned good will receive 10% off their entire purchase. Take a walk down Main Street and bask in the nostalgia of Christmas Past. Stop in and say hello or buy a book for a loved one. I hope to see you there.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

You never know what you'll find

I Googled my name in quotation marks and discovered a nice little surprise. In October, I had entered a fun, no fee contest on the VERB's web site, Reading Writers. The contest was to write an essay about a song without using any words of the song. So I wrote an essay about one of my favorites, The Final Acclaim, (You're In My Heart) by Rod Stewart. The website listed my name and entry, Last Declaration of Love, as one of the first round finalists. No compensation; only the first place winner was published in their print version lit mag. My thesaurus came in very handy for that little project.

This weekend we bought new end tables and a smaller Christmas tree. We live in a small ranch house, and in order to have our 7' tree, we always had to move an end table out for the month. We opted for a smaller, 4' bushy little tree which sits upon one of the new end tables. I also decided to get rid of half the decorations, and I must say, I am very satisfied with the outcome.

Snow! NO!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday gathering

Today I attended the St. Louis Writer's Guild Christmas Party. Holiday open mic readings were nostalgic, poignant and humorous. It was a very enjoyable time, good food and terrific friends. Lynn's story, Black Cake was outstanding; we were laughing aloud. It is one thing to write memoir, but it is difficult to stand before a group and read personal essay. She did a great job. My little tome was about my grandchildrens' Christmas pageant. Three year old Austin shouted in church when he saw his sister in costume, "Here comes Ashley and she's a German Shepard." The pageant went downhill from there, but it was one of the most memorable performances ever. If anyone wants to read it, let me know and I will forward it to you.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Guest author at library tonight

Insomnia is miserable! I have been awake since 2:00 a.m. You'd think it would be a productive time for me. I rewrote a nostalgic Christmas piece which I will read at the St. Louis Writer's Guild holiday party this Saturday, and I rediscovered some of my old stuff that I should recycle again. I am still wide awake. I'm thinking that I am still on a high because the doctor was so impressed with my 20 pound weight loss in one year, that she said I did not have to have my blood work up done yesterday. My cholesterol etc. numbers were good last year and she anticipated that they could only have improved. That is good news for sure.

Author, Wally Lamb (She's Come Undone, and MY ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOK, IKnow This Much is True, is featured speaker at the county library on N. Lindbergh (across the street from Nieman-Marcus)at 7:00

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Significant dates

I have a little decorative calendar. Each day I change the two wooden number blocks. Today the first thought that popped into my mind was how much I hated history classes - memorizing dates made me crazy. Once I got older and travelled to many of the places I'd studied, I'd wished I'd paid closer attention. To this day, I have trouble recalling dates with historical signifigance.

Today's date was a fateful one for me. Forty-two years ago, at the age of eighteen, I married my first husband who had just turned nineteen. The small church was where his parents had been married by the same old minister. It was a freezing wet, blustery, late afternoon. The sleet started as I stepped out of the car. My tears started as I walked down the aisle. The pastor offered me his handkerchief. When you are eighteen and your heart is battling with your head, you don't have enough wisdom or courage to do the right thing. During premarital counseling, the pastor stated that marriage can only survive if both people bring their own ropes, join them together and tie up their lives in a square knot that will not slip when times get rough. He demonstrated a slip knot and a square knot. The analogy sounded musical and made my brain spark with excitement because I love words. The message itself was lost on two kids trying to escape dysfunctional households. We succeeded, and we went on to create our own.

We were bound together for a quarter century with two frayed ropes, yet we never felt connected. The knot slipped, and when we came unbound, our lives began. We are both happily remarried and have two wonderful children and four delightful grandchildren as a result of our union. I regard this day not with sadness, anger, regret or melancholy; it is part of MY histoy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Discovering Unexpected Treasures

This morning I have come to a realization. I now know why I get so much satisfaction from walking the beach. Not only do I feel invigorated, I feel excited when I find a treasure in the sea foam. I think this must be the way my dad, who was a handyman who also sold scrap metal, felt when he went "junking". When I was five, he would call me "the boss" and tell me I could ride up front with him in his pickup on Saturday mornings as he scouted the alleys. Later when I was about ten, he and I would walk early Saturday mornings along the gravel parking pad that ran the length of Continental Can Company, right beside our yard. The employees partied on payday and kept us awake on Friday nights, but oh the morning rewards! It was easy to spot the pennies in the gravel, and a challenge to find a silver coin. We always came back home with a handful of silver dollars,quarters, dimes and nickles. It was a competition, and my eagle eye could spot them. Such a sense of satisfaction.

I know why I click on blogs so often and also reread my own. I feel excited when I receive a response to one of my posts. This morning it feels like I've walked the beach, the parking lot and gone junking with Dad. My friend sent me so many nuggets to discover. Thank you, Syl. You rock! Thanks to all others who post. If you are a regular reader but haven't signed on as a follower, please click on FOLLOW. It won't affect your emails or send you spam. It just shows editors who check my blog that I have a web presence.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Where have the years gone?

What a lazy, laid back Sunday. I made chicken stew, (yummy) and had a chocolate frosted, custard-filled donut for dessert. You'd think we were in the middle of a snow storm. The only other thing I'd need if we were in a snow storm, would be hot chocolate.

I am in the mood for Christmas music and T.V. holiday specials. Rick Springfield is singing Christmas carols as ice skaters perform.

It's 4:30 in the afternoon and it has been cloudy all day. After nearly a week off, I am ready to get back to work. These are very hectic days leading up to the Christmas program which will be attended by a couple hundred proud parents and grandparents, and that will make it all worthwhile.

I just found our first grandchildrens' letters to Santa which were published in the Suburban Journals. They are now 20 & 16. Ashley was six when she wrote, "Dear Santa, I will give your elves some of my cottage cheese and your reindeers some of my red beets." She loved those foods and was being nice! Kyle was two and a half. He said, "Dear Santa, I gonna give you a big yellow cookie, and I gonna give you reindeer some cat food and some big milk. I want a big hammer and screwdriver like Paw-paw's." It makes me nostalgic and I wonder, where did the years go? They turned out to be such great kids!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Back to normal

Whew! I did it. I made my deadline for the column I write for Hockey Stop. This has been a hectic week. First the death of Bill's aunt, visitation, funeral and all. The house has been a wreck with kitchen appliances strewn about because we installed a new floor and repainted the walls. I can't stand clutter, so I got rid of a bunch of stuff and did a thorough cleaning. I have been energized. I love it when the house is spotless, even though I know it's only temporary. Won't be long and there will be crumbs on the counter, piles on the table, but for now, I am basking in the glow.

It just feels wrong to be hanging outdoor Christmas lights when it is sunny, and almost 70. We were actually perspiring. Not complaining though. In the past my fingers have been frozen from tying red bows to the bushes.

Two out of fourteen submissions this month have been rejected, but I will forge on; it won't stop me. Don't let a little rejection slip stop you!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Miles of Smiles on Thanksgiving

On this Thanksgiving day, I have so many reasons to be thankful: for my husband, our health, our home, our children and grandchildren, friends and family near and far, my brother; oh, I could go on and on.

Speaking of grandchildren, yesterday afternoon we went to my son's house. I was having baby withdrawls and needed to hug Nicole. She had been at McDonald's Playland for the first time and her mom said when Nicole saw it, she stood there and squealed with delight. She was a little wound up and overtired, but she was still my huggy bear.

While we were visiting, Nicholas got a laceration under his right eyebrow and ended up at Urgent Care for wound closure. Light Sabre swords and five little boys playing in the backyard is a recipe for disaster.

Bill and I stayed and babysat Nicole who was exhausted from her adventure and fell asleep. When they returned, my daughter-in-law said, "Well, when you walked through the door you said you had to wait two more hours to clean the new tile floor. It's been exactly two hours." What a sense of humor!

The tile floor looks wonderful, another thing to be thankful for and smile about.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Funeral Music

I've heard beautiful organ music, vocalists singing hymns and also canned music at funerals, but what a surprise today to hear the church ladies sing from the pews (A capella) Que` Sera-Sera, a Doris Day song, one of Bill's aunt's favorites. She and I used to sing that when she was in the nursing home. It brought as many tears to my eyes as did Amazing Grace. I think funerals should be a celebration of life. Don't you?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Kitchen remodeling

Bill and his sixteen year old grandson Kyle, handsome, strapping tall, and hard working, laid a new ceramic tile floor this weekend. Our kitchen is going to look nice when it is finished, but it will not be completed by Thanksgiving, which means I am not cooking dinner this year. The kitchen appliances are crammed into the small living room and I am reminded of a complete kitchen remodeling job I lived through when my children were young. My ex and his buddy decided to do the job. They knocked out dry wall, ripped up flooring, tore down ceilings, took a crowbar to the pantry, well, let me just say that the demolition went fast; they seemed to be in competition. The reconstruction, however took nearly three months as they "worked" on it after work. They measured, cut a board, sat and had a beer, talked about the project, discussed cars, nailed a board, laid a tile, drank a beer, discussed life.

That Thanksgiving, my stove, tarped in the center of the floor, looked like a giant turkey dusted with wall plaster. This year's remodel job would be finished by Wednesday if not for a death in the family which has put the project on hold. Bill's aunt, who we have been responsible for, passed away. The next two days will be filled with family events and a funeral. So by this time next week, my dear husband will be expecting delicious home cooked meals every night.

Ah, the price we pay for remodeling!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Seasonal changes

I heard from a New England friend, (temperature is in the 30's) who said, they experience the four seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, Road Construction. They get over a hundred inches of snow. Imagine that! I am forever grateful for living in the midwest where summer stretches into fall and fall into winter. This weekend will be beautiful, and I plan to take advantage of it. Hope you do too.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chicken Soup call out

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking runner's stories. Unlace your running shoes, relax, and sit down and write your story.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A good night for reading

This weather makes me want to crawl under the covers and read a book. Actually, I have three books going at one time:The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Eagle and the Rose, a true story, and The Green Hills Lantern Literary Anthology. It is 7:00 p.m. our tummies are filled with wonderful authentic Mexican food form Burrito Loco, and I am heading for one of my books, because I am not always smarter than a fifth grader, and that seems to be the show Bill has on TV.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Open Mic at the Mack

Tonight was St. Louis Writer's Guild open mic at the Mack. I read a couple of poems. It is always enjoyable to hear the differen't writing styles. Lately I've discovered that some talented writers are not necessarily the best readers. A big part of open mic night is in the delivery, not just the content of the work. Well, that's my opinion. I do think we have some very good writers in SLWG. People helping people, writers supporting writers, friends meeting friends. Always a good time.

Dog Story Call Out

June Cotner has a call out for Funny Dog Stories. Pay is minimal.

I love dogs and cats; truthfully, it's puppies and kittens that I love, but I am finished with pets. I don't want to be responsible. Over the years, I've owned four dogs and two cats. My female dogs were smart and well behaved. I could speak to them in a normal tone and they understood. The male dogs didn't understand no matter how loud I yelled. They were thick ... in the neck, in stature, but mostly in the head. Willy was a large part hound, part Mackenzie River Husky (allegedly mixed with wolf). He was an overgrown oaf, a wild juvenile delinquent who roamed the tiny rural town of Delta Junction at the end of the Alaska Highway. He was forever getting into trouble. Imagine your dog snatching a neighbor's size 40DD bra off a clothesline and ripping it up. I buried it in the bottom of the trash barrel and watched my neighbor's husband torch the trash on the weekend. I still feel guilty. A story about GOOFY WILLY is forthcoming in a book next year.

Rocky was a little long-haired black and white Heniz 57, with ADHD. He had little man syndrome; he thought he was the size of a Great Dane. He'd take on any German Shepherd who passed the house, and he would chase flies or his tail for hours on the patio. The vet warned me. Did I listen? No!

Dusty and Buffy were smart little girls. Buffy brought Willy home most of the time at the end of the day, and Dusty, well she was my baby before I had babies. When I was a newlywed, I loved her more than I ever loved anyone or thing. Nothing more soothing than snuggling with a fluff ball.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happenings in the park

Sunday 5:00 a.m.

I have decided that it is the simple pleasures that make me happiest. Yesterday we hiked a trail and walked around the lake at Bee Tree Park with granddaughter, Ashley. We got a good workout. The weather was gorgeous. There were three wedding parties taking photos in the park which sits on the Mississippi River bluffs.

One time Bill and I were standing on the overlook pavillion when a middle-aged woman in a wedding dress joined us. She said she was waiting for her tugboat captain to dock below on the Mississippi. They both worked on a barge and had fallen in love with that spot that overlooks the river. They were to be married at 4:00 p.m.

Another time we were sitting in Jefferson Barracks park which also overlooks the river. It was a fall evening and we were alone. A woman towing a very small cart/buggy behind her car parked nearby. We watched her unhitch the buggy. Then she walked around to the passenger door, opened it, went around to the other passenger door and shoved a miniature horse out of the back seat. She hitched it to the buggy and rode around the parking lot, then she nudged the horse back into the car, hitched up her wagon and left. Bill and I sat in stunned silence. I said, "Did we really see that?"

Parks seem to attract colorful characters. One time when my children were small and playing at the playground, I sat on a bench beside a man wearing bright blue socks who was editing a thick, unbound, typed manuscript. I asked if he were a writer. He said he was. He told me he was writng about his interrogation by the CIA. They were suspicious of him because he had called to tell them every detail of the JFK assassination before it happened. He told me he was president of the UFO society and that aliens visit him at 2:00 a.m. every morning and give him privileged information.

UH-HUH! You can really see some interesting sights in parks.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Personal Essay

I just submitted a 2,000 words essay to a university press. The theme for the proposed book is adult children parenting parents. Writing my story was heart-wrenching and cathartic: about my step-dad's dementia and my mother's death and then one more shocking event.

Two months after my mom died, on what would have been her birthday, my step-brother called and said he was sorry. I said I was sorry too; I missed my mom. Then he dropped the bombshell. He was sorry to tell me his dad who had fallen and broken his hip had died. My healing heart was ripped open again and the pain was like a seemingly endless piece of yarn pulled from a sweater. I wondered when it would ever end.

Two years later as we approach my step-dad's birthday, I realize that dealing with the end of our parents' lives, was like them dealing with the beginning of ours: we all did the best that we knew how, and at some point, whether or not we were aware, our tears comingled just from the helplessness of the situations we endured. The best we can do is take one day at a time. Healing begins with forgiveness.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Submitting Consistently

I read at open mic on Tuesday and got lots of laughs and positive comments. That spurred me to go home and submit more stuff. I think that I am making up for a lost month. I am on a roll; eleven submissions in 12 days. Woo-hoo! So what if most will be rejected? At least they are out "there" instead of in "here".

A lot of people claim to be writers, but they don't write for publication, personal satisfaction or posterity. Words written today may weave themselves into the fabric of a cover that years from now a family member would enjoy getting wrapped up in. Start small; write about a childhood memory or something that you did that was uproariously funny or embarrassing. Don't listen to your inner critic, just free write. Have fun.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Poking fun at others

Is it wrong to get a laugh if it is at the expense of another? I used to think so. But after submitting a humorous poem to a literary magazine about a man I knew (and getting an immediate response), I have no reservations. At least not about this incident which happened more than three decades ago at a restaurant. At the time, I laughed so hard and long, I could not order my meal. My back was to the window. He kept asking me to shift this way and that. He said some weirdo was standing outside making faces at him. When he said, "Look at his eyes! He's a nut, you'll see!" I turned around and saw him: the guy sitting across from me hexing his own reflection on a sun drenched pane of glass.

Maybe I should have written about the explosion. Last week while Bill was repairing our shower plumbing, he rigged a temporary shower in the basement. He hooked a short section of garden hose to the basement sink, and he added a shower head. I turned that hot water full blast, stepped inside the plastic drop cloth "stall", soaped up and KABOOM! that hose burst and shot me full force in the face. I screamed, blinded by soap, frightened by the sheer force of the blow, backed up and got tangled in that flimsy drop cloth which clung to my naked, wet body like Saran Wrap. Bill said he heard the kaboom, but he was indisposed at the moment, and he figured the shower head had fallen to the floor. HA! He is still laughing about the incident. Well, if laughter soothes the soul, I guess it's okay to poke fun at others, as long as it's not malicious.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nightmares and sleep walking

There must have been too many covers on the bed. It's 4:30 a.m. and I have been awake for an hour. First, Bill woke up talking in his sleep and even sleep-walked. He never does either, and he rarely remembers his dreams. He is in for some teasing when he wakes up. When I finally got back to sleep I had a horrible nightmare, so I am ready to write.

Chicken Soup has a call out for Mothers and Daughters stories. I think I'll tackle that one, and if I get it finished, I will read it later this evening.

Tonight is open mic at Wired Coffee. I hope to see some friends and have an enjoyable evening. Guess I might have to take a nap first though.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Confounded overeating, and contests galore

Oh darn! The scale is reflecting yesterday's food fest. I'm up two pounds. I'm going to really have to move my body today! My brother and his buddy from Reno, came in town yesterday, so we had pizza and then toured the riverfront and Arch. In the evening we went to a Halloween party. Sitting outdoors in the cool night air around a fire watching everyone else munching chili dogs, nachos and brownies makes one lose her willpower.

I'll get back on track, just like I have with my writing. This warm weather and sunshine has been like a kick in the pants. I've been so inspired, I have written and submitted eight essays or poems in eight days.

Here's a writer's contest website to check out, National League of American Pen Women. www.soulmakingcontest.us

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Launch, Thin Threads

Look for Thin Threads: Real Life Stories of Life Changing Moments. Meet Stacey Battat (Kiwi Publishing) owner and publisher of a new anthology series, Thin Threads, to be released in 2010. My stories have been selected for publication. You may also have something to submit, but be sure to find the 'thin thread' - that life changing moment that defines your story.

http://www.webcastr.com/videos/health-living/thin-threads--life-changing-moments.html

http://www.eartthimes.org/articles/show/kiwi-publishing-launches-thin-threadsr,1023553-shtml

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Kids make me smile

It's almost 7:00 p.m. and I am not even tired, so I must be adjusting to this time change. I've been waking at 3:30 a.m., not good!

I am inspired to write again and have submitted four pieces in five days, so I feel like I'm back on track after being derailed by this viral repiratory thing that has lasted nearly a month. Just about everyone I talk to or know has been barking or barfing.

Saw my grandchildren this evening and am as happy as a bee in a flower. I told 2 yr old Nicole that I had to go and she said, "NO." So I said, "Then I'll stay the night." She took me by the hand and led me to her bed and placed a pillow under my head, then she plopped herself beside me on her princess bed and said, "Night-night," and she fake-snored.

I saw one of my students this evening. He looked at me with awe and disbelief and said, "Are you from my school?" They think I live there, you know. I love little kids.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Publishing Opportunity

Good Old Days Magazine is seeking stories for their column, Around the Kitchen Table. I'm sure we can all remember a special meal or guest that made a holiday meaningful. I knew when my grandma had been to our house for a visit while I was at school. She always left a bakery treat on the table for when I got home. Gosh, my mouth waters for those chocolate frosted whipped cream puffs, crunchy coconut toast slices, or slabs of peanut coffee cake drizzled with white icing ... ah, the comfort foods of my childhood.

The weather has been gorgeous, sunny and warm, and I have been enjoying extra long outdoor recesses with my students. One of my favorite delights is to look up at the blue sky and watch the trees rain leaves down upon us. This week alone has made up for all of those miserable rainy days in October.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lavanderia, A Mixed Load of Women, Wash and Word

Laundry, a mundane, monotonous chore, commonly referred to as woman's work has offered women opportunities to REBEL, (who hasn't slammed clothes into the scalding water when angry?); REVEAL (surely you've sorted truths and lies into piles); and REMEMBER (lost in reverie, our secrets unfurl like a sheet whipping in the breeze).

This morning my laundry hamper is stuffed with memories clinging to garments: the scent of Saturday casino cigarette smoke embedded in my favorite blouse. The fifteen dollar gambling loss was worth the delicious buffet! The sight of chili stains on hubby's shirt takes me back to the Halloween night bonfire. While that smudge of white frosting on my good black slacks makes me tingle with joy remembering how excited two year old Nicole was opening her birthday presents. It also makes me so appreciative that my ex-husband, whom I saw at the baby's party, is just that. I remember wringing his heavy fatigues by hand when he was stationed in Alaska. Twenty-five years of dunking, sloshing in gray water, hand wringing ... ah, yes, laundry, you can lose yourself in it.

I received my copy of Lavanderia, A Mixed Load of Women, Wash and Word. It is a beautiful 334 page book of women's voices. The cover, with subtle images, is the same gorgeous shade of purple as my flowering mums. The poems and personal essays
are beautiful, real, metaphoric, raw and wrenching. It is a multi-cultural glimpse of generations of women revealing their secrets, their tales of love, loss and life through the mundane task of laundry.

My story, From Old King Cole to Nat King Cole is on page 53, way up front in this high quality book, published by San Diego City Works Press
(www.cityworkspress.org) It is edited by Donna J. Watson, Michelle Sierra and Lucia Gbaya Kanga. It is available at Amazon.com.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Partied Out!

On Halloween, we went to Nicole's second birthday party. I ate not one, but two pieces of cake. (I try to plump my hips evenly so I don't walk lopsided.) Then we headed over to Crestwood to Bill's daughter's for a bonfire party where we pigged out on Butterfingers which will go right to my butter-butt.

They had only twenty trick-or-treaters, but we had a lot of fun. My world keeps shrinking. Sixteen year old grandson, Kyle is madly in love with Amanda. Her parents attended the party. As we sat outside getting acquainted, roasting our fronts and freezing our backsides, we discovered that I knew Amanda's mom and grandparents very well from forty years ago (my ex husband worked with her grandpa for decades). Bill always says that I can't go anywhere without having some connection to someone, usually from teaching for 32 years, but now it's happening to him. He discovered that Amanda's dad worked with him for a few months back in the 90's. Boy did we do some story-swapping. It is amazing what a small world it is!

We had planned to stop by Ashley L's party, but by 10:00 p.m. Bill's idea of a costume, a pig hat with flapping wings (swine flu) just didn't seem so funny. I was shivering cold and coughing in the night air, so we headed home. Next weekend, one more bonfire party. I am partied out.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween. Hope you have a great day. I remember when I was a little girl, I couldn't wait to go trick or treating. I'd peek out the door after dinner and watch the early birds get a head start on me. My mom and dad would say we'd have to wait thirty minutes until dark. I started counting 1, 2, 3, and by the time I counted to thirty four times, they were ready to shove me out the door.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Preliminary Contract

Woo-hoo! I just received a preliminary contract from Ultimate HCI Books. One of my bird stories has made it to the final round of evaluation, and I will know for certain in ninety days. I am always hopeful, but I won't go into deep depression if I receive a rejection at the last minute. Such is the writing life. I am thrilled, and my hubby is a little disappointed because they didn't select the story I wrote about him and his feathered fraulein. Would it be selfish of me to hope both stories are accepted? wink-wink, tweet-tweet, fingers crossed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Expressions of love

I'm reading an anthology, Heavenly Humor for the Woman's Soul. One of the stories made me smile. Rachel St. John-Gilbert wrote about aging and marital intimacy. Her mother told her that a woman has to adjust to the changes that come along with wrinkles and pounds, and she quoted Robert Browning, "Grow old with me! The best is yet to come." Her mother went on to advise, "But as time goes by, Aunt Minnie Pause drops in to visit Mom about the same time that Dad discovers his Don Juan readiness can't always be counted on. Add to that a drop in energy levels, and you may well have to take a nap before enjoying a nighttime romance."

St. John-Gilbert wrote that one winter night her husband climbed into bed before her, and she squealed with ecstatic gratitude because he had turned on the electric blanket on her side of the bed.

Sometimes it is the meanigful little things in the bedroom that matter as you age, like my hubby not complaining when I put my cold feet on him when I snuggle up. (grin)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Writer's Resource

I have a great resource for writers. Check out Bella On Line, writer's submissions; they have a lenghthy list of publications seeking submissions. Good luck to all of you. I just finished my 1,000 word column in less that half an hour. It just flowed. I love when that happens!

Time for me to go outside and do something today. I've been checking out some friends' blogs, and Becky is making my mouth water mentioning homemade apple pie.
Later~

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Piles of stuff

Saturday 7:30 p.m.

I've been gone all day. I had breakfast with an old friend/boss who came in town from Nebraska. She has a masters in physical education, taught at Harris Stowe among other places, left St. Louis for another university and is now out of a job. If anyone has any leads, let me know. She's willing to return to St. Louis, doesn't want to work with little kids though and is willing to do anything in the field of education or photography.

I came home a few minutes ago, checked the mailbox, saw a pile of something laying in the street; definitely a dead skunk. I took the pile of mail (a writer's check, yay! and bills to pay) and plopped everything on the desk and shook my head in disgust at the pile of stuff I should have been working on today. Then I read a friend's blog. She, like many writers is frustrated about not knowing where to submit her own pile of work. I then came across a most appropriate quote.

"Nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing." ~Sylvia Plath

I'm sure we all have our piles whether they are on the desk, or in the computer.I think that searching for markets is a pain, but it is absolutely the grunt work that freelance writers have to do. I spend several hours a week scouting markets early in the morning, and it is getting more difficult.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where to meet old friends

It is truly a small world. We went to the funeral parlor this evening and ran into several old high school friends. Somehow we are all intertwined still. It is amazing to see the young kids I grew up with now as grandparents. It makes me smile to think how naieve and innocent we all used to be. We all looked relatively good 40 years post high school!

I received a bummer of an email from a publication that accepted one of my essays. The editor apologized for having to tell me (along with many others) that it is being rejected because due to the economy, the publisher has folded. Sign of the times. I'll just have to send it elsewhere.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yes you can!

8:00 p.m. Wednesday

Attended the SLWG's open mic last night. It was mediocre at best, but my opinion could have been influenced by my achy jaw. My mouth didn't give up that wisdom tooth without a fight!

I wish I had more ambition. I just completed a lengthy IEP (Individual Education Plan) report on a student, and prepared a lesson for my senior writers for tomorrow. Now my creative writing juices have dried up. Guess I'll go swish some salt water and see if that sparks something, otherwise, it's going to be an early night.

If someone says you can't, prove them wrong; show 'em what you've got!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Editors make mistakes too

Editors make mistakes too. Earlier this year, I had to withdraw one of several stories that I had submitted. The editor inadvertantly pulled the wrong story. But after a nice little reminder, I received an apology and my story was reinstated and I received a check. When bad things happen to good writers, they don't stop writing, they don't get upset, they address the issue and move on.

I had a wisdom tooth pulled and I want pizza in the worst way. Now isn't that the way it goes. I hope the numbness wears off by the time I read at open mic tonight at The Mack.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cherokee Prayer Blessing

Sunday 7:00 p.m.

Today was an incredibly beautiful, sunny day. Bill and I walked around a lake and through a park slurping up the sun, sidling up to a blue heron, parting a gaggle of geese. Then I briskly walked at least a mile through a new Wal-Mart store. That makes up for all those treats I ate last night. The highlight was a visit with friends who just had a newborn baby girl. She's a little doll. And I was in my glory watching her mew and her little eyes flutter as she slept in my arms. Oh what a feeling!

I got an email from another friend whose mother passed away. It made me realize how we can be so filled with joy and the next instant consumed with sadness. So many of my friends are experiencing a multitude of emotions as they deal with family illnesses and their own; with loss and grief; with holding on and letting go ... with life. This I dedicate to all of you~

CHEROKEE PRAYER BLESSING
May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house.
May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there.
May your mocassins make happy tracks in many snows,
and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oh Sunny Day

My toes are tapping, my mind is spinning, my heart is fluttering because the sun is shining finally after so many cold, rainy days. I was thinking of the time my granddaughter was nearly three. We were in a dressing room, and she shouted that she wanted a bottle. I told her she didn't take a bottle. She assured me she most certainly did at naptime when she was at her great-grandma's house. I then asked her what she wanted to drink and she boldly replied, "I want a beer!"
I almost fainted. "You do not drink beer!"
"Yes I do, in the orphanage."
"You do not live in an orphanage!"
"Yes I do, with Annie and ... (she burst into song) the sun will come out tomorrow."

You just have to have faith that eventually the sun will shine.

Worry looks around. Sorry looks back. Faith looks up.~ anonymous

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hayride in winter weather!

I took my classes and their parents on a field trip to the pumpkin patch today for a hayride. Good grief, it was windy and bitterly cold. Of course that didn't stop the children from playing in the inflatable fun house, spook house, corn maze and at the playground. The baby barnyard animals were precious. I wanted to scoop the bunnies up. The three piglets were piled one on top the other; there was a pink one, a white one and a brown one with black polka dots which made the kids laugh. When the billy goat head butted a chicken the kids cackled. The chicken skittered away unhurt.

My feet were so cold, I couldn't feel my toes. That triggered a childhood memory. My mom used to say, "My feet are like ice cakes." I loved words even then and wondered if there literally were ice cakes or if she meant just the opposite of hot cakes. Grin!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Let a kid be a kid!

Children have one chance at childhood. I believe that society is forcing children to grow up way too fast; the age of innocence is rapidly shrinking. Why do adults buy Barbies for toddlers; let preschoolers watch inappropriate movies because they think the kids aren't listening, watching or won't be affected; rush them into learning activities that are far beyond their developmental levels; and then tell them they are "acting like a baby" when they revert back to younger developmental levels which represent a safer time in their lives?

Even adults when they feel sad, grumpy, afraid, or frustrated return to their earliest comfort level: kicking, crying, and complaining, and then curl up in the fetal position under the covers.

As we rush children to the next level, statstics show that most college grads are not financially independent until age 27, yet they declare their independence earlier and earlier. There's a paradox there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Uncle!

I am looking at a stack of unread books, a pile of papers and a half finished article with a Friday deadline. This cold is making me so miserable that I don't feel like reading or writing. I can only dawdle on facebook and blogs for so long. I have to admit to myself that this is going to be an unproductive night, and I may as well go to bed at 8:30.

Sometimes you just have to shout, "Uncle" and give in to what your body and mind are telling you. Giving in isn't the same as giving up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Abundant Blessings

I am thankful for my husband, my house, my health, our children, grandchildren and my friends. If only we knew when we're young what we know when we get older, but life itself is a learning experience. I have learned that what you give -whether it comes from deep within, out of your heart, or pocket -is reflected back to you. Anger generates more anger. Love and kindness, peace and calm, still the waters instead of ripple them. When your life seems to be spinning too fast, go to a quiet place in your mind, if only for a moment. My quiet place is a sunny lagoon in Mexico, shallow and turquoise blue where I eased my body down and floated without a care one summer day and listened to the surf pound the breakers hundreds of yards out. The ocean, my metaphor for life: daily living is sometimes like those breaking waves, but just beyond, there is a beautiful, calming, quiet refuge. Whether you are religious, spiritual or agnostic, may you find your higher power today and give thanks.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Finished reading a book

I finished reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. It was awesome. I could almost feel the sweltering southern heat and hear the buzzing bees.
I love a book that I can plunk myself right down in the middle of and feel like I actually know the characters.

I have been writing about a character who lived in my old neighborhood. Imagine Johnny Appleseed...drunk. I'll read it tomorrow at St. Louis Writer's Guild open mic.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nana's Girl

Seems only yesterday her dress-ups dragged the ground, and she listened spellbound to me read her fairy tales. My oldest grandchild, Ashley Anne Antoine is the author of her own life now, a college student living and working independently. Her early "chapters" contain some interesting, and memorable (real) characters! Along with all my love, this is my wish for her twentieth birthday tomorrow: may every chapter you continue to write end with happily ever after. Throw caution to the wind; write your life with flair, fun, forgiveness.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Under the Covers

I think there's nothing better than fresh sheets on the bed. I got the brushed cotton sheets from the linen closet tonight because it is officially cold.

I remember my mom telling me how cold it was in her house during winter when she was a little girl. At bedtime my grandpa used to cover her with his overcoat. What a wonderful childhood memory he created. It made her feel special, as she had five siblings. Do you remember a particular blanket, comforter, afghan that you snuggled under as a child? A great memoir topic!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Is your broom still standing?

Okay, so I heard on the radio that several planets are in alignment and the gravitational pull is so strong that a broom will stand upright by itself. It's true! I can't tell you how many people thought I was crazy until they tried it and discovered it works. I don't know what the phenomenon is, whether it is the heavenly bodies or some other scientific thing, but give it a try.

I love this quote. What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Don't get too big for your britches!

Today a three year old girl who was playing with a doll, wanted to put on dress-up clothes, but she didn't want anyone to get her doll. She asked me to help her find a place to lay it down for a nap. I opened my jacket, tucked it in and said, "I'll keep it safe for you right here." She shook her head no and said, "That is not the softest place in the world. I want my dolly back." Then she buried it in a pile of clothes on a cot. Now that is a little girl who knows what she wants and will succeed in life.

I've been thinking a lot about success. A woman I know wrote a niche book, promoted it on local and national television and went on the lecture circuit. She made a blanket statement that her only correspondence with email buddies would be to further her career, no personal chit-chat because she didn't have TIME. I think when writers burst at the seams, it's because they get too big for their britches. Time is the only thing we have, maybe not enough in a given day, but we must make time for others.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

random thoughts

Almost midnight

Rush Limbaugh buying the Rams? Why that's like Jack in the Box selling Chinese food. I was listening to KTRS this morning. Several idiots called in and said that they had never been to a Rams game, did not support R. L.'s politics, but if he bought the team, they'd go. HUH?!

It makes me sad to see all these people standing on street corners in their work uniforms soliciting patrons for their businesses: pizza guys and Oil & Lube workers and hairdressers flagging potential customers with signs. Guess it's a sign of the times.

Bought a new watch, had to return it, stood in a long customer service line, only to be told I had to take it to the jewelry department.

Today: biting incident, potty accident, kid shoving tissue paper up his nose. Same kid. UGH! Going to bed, tomorrow will be better.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Submit your work

Have you checked out Writer's Digest Your Story? It might be something you would be interested in. You must submit by the 10th of each month. No fee contest, no payment, but publication.

I have been sorting through a stack of possible places to submit. Wouldn't you know it! I am too late on most of the deadlines. Sheesh! How long were these little Post-its sitting here?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunny Sunday

I am delighted with the fact that the anthology, Hope Whispers in which my story appears, has my name on the back book cover listed as one of several "noted authors". Now that is noteworthy.

Today was delightful. We took a long drive about an hour away to St. Francois State Park, walked along the river bank, then stopped by to see my daughter. I am enjoying her company so much these days. She is a changed person, calmer and self-confident. My twelve year old grandson was all smiles even though I interrupted his impromptu baseball game to present him with a bag of Resse's peanut butter minitaures.

Yesterday I visited with my son and his family. I received news that my cousin's doctor was able to remove her breast cancer the other day. I spoke with my out-of-town brother, and also my long time friend who has first stage dementia. She was "with it" and said she had a wonderful day with all of her children and grandchildren at a county fair in her town. I also heard from a favorite writer friend. And I spoke with my elderly aunt who gave me information about things she and my mom did when they were little girls. My husband made me laugh a lot today. Life is good.

I finally broke down and put the comforter on the bed. After a bowl of homemade vegetable soup and a half slice of blueberry pie, I am ready to snuggle in; it's only 8:30. I hope my dreams and yours are as pleasant as my day was.

Video Games, mine and theirs

We have two grandsons who we're going to call cavemen. They literally stay in their lower level rooms and play video games for hours on end. The good thing though, is they are also very physical boys and are involved in sports. But when we drop by either of their homes for a visit, and they are not outdoors playing, we know we'll find them in their "caves".

I attended a workshop fifteen years ago presented by a neurologist and therapist who demonstrated how a child who was hooked up to a computer (think EEG wires and pads attached to the head, not inserted) could actually move a cursor with thoughts, concentration, and brain waves instead of hands. I must admit it was amazing.

I am not against video games, but I do believe that many kids these days get more exercise in their thumbs than their bodies. My friend has a 13 year old autistic grandson, and over the years, after many therapies and special schools, they discovered the one thing that improved his behavior consistently was rewarding him with video game time. As a form of therapy/self-therapy, I suppose it is a good thing. The boys are intense when they play and are able to tune everything else out, but then again, I have a suspicion that all male brains have that capability. (grin) On a positive note, maybe it increases their focus.

I must admit, I act the fool when I occasionally play video games. Of course, mine reward me with, or rob me of my quarters.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sue Monk Kidd book signing

What a lovely evening! I met my writing friends Becky, Tammy and Theresa at the county library headquarters in Frontenac to listen to authors, Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor. They were very inspiring speakers, and their NY agent was even present.

After hearing the women speak, I am convinced that I must write more. I know I have what it takes. I have to take my writing seriously and just do it!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Farewell September

This week absolutely flew. I can't believe that Friday is here, and I have flipped my Calendar to a new month. It's always difficult for me to write in September, what with getting back into a new school year and feeling exhausted in the evening. Eight submissions just isn't enough; I'll have to do better in October.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stepping into a new day and a new size

I slept 10 hours! With the windows open! Maybe that is what I needed, fresh air and more snoozing. I went outside barefoot to retrieve the newspaper before the sun came up. From the moment my feet hit the floor I felt joyful. I loved the feeling of the hardwood floor; then sinking into soft carpeting; stepping outside onto the smooth concrete doorstoop, scritch-scratching across the rough concrete driveway out to the lawn where the grass, wet and cold nipped my barefeet and made me feel so alive and awake. It is going to be a great day. I feel it in my feet. (grin)

It was a great day indeed. I stepped on the scale and met my weight loss goal of five pounds for the month. I tried on a dozen pair of pants this evening and discovered that I am between sizes, so although I was frustrated that nothing fit right, I am pleased that I will buy a size smaller very soon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

HOPE WHISPERS

I had insomnia last night and was awake from 1-3:00 a.m., so I read. I know I should have been writing, but it would have been way too emotional stuff. My mind is heavy with angst about my daughter-in-law. I know how tied down I felt with one car when I was a mom with young children. I can only imagine how she must feel knowing that she will have to give up driving and be dependent upon others. I got to thinking about that book, Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? Then I read an essay in HOPE WHISPERS, edited by Lynn C. Johnston. It is an anthology of inspirational poems and stories in which one of my fiction stories appears. (Yes! I got fiction published on page 60.) Here's the gist of the essay that touched me: when bad or good things happen how do you view yourself, as a SPIRITUAL BEING having a human experience or a HUMAN BEING having a spirtual experience? I had to really think about that. How do you see it?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daughter-in-law vision update

My daughter-in-law, Jackie Wenzelburger needs prayers. She has been blind since birth in one eye. Six months ago a virus attacked her one good eye and vision. They did surgery this spring, temporarily implanted a silicone bubble in her sighted eye to prevent her retina from detaching. A few weeks ago they did surgery on her blind eye, to remove a thick 35 year old calcified cataract. They knew she would not have any central vision in that eye, but amazingly she did have some peripheral vision.

Doctors hoped to remove the silicone bubble in a few weeks which would improve her vision. They concluded Friday that it is not possible, which means she will not drive again without some miracle or medical breakthrough.

They said that when they worked on her blind eye, they discovered that the scar pattern was identical to the scarring on her sighted eye. They believe that the virus was present at birth, causing her newborn blindness in that eye (not from receiving too much oxygen as a preemie.) The virus laid dormant in her system for 35 years and reoccured this year in her good eye. They decided that it is too risky to remove the silicone bubble because the virus is present in her system and may flare up again. So she has limited vision, and she must take anti-viral drugs for life. Now they've discovered that the steroid drops she had to use after surgery have caused a cataract on her "good eye". They intend to remove that before the holidays and hope to do no further damage. My heart is breaking for her. Please send prayers to heaven and good thoughts her way to uplift her spirits.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fun Run

This morning I was at the park at 7:00 a.m. to set up for our school's fundraiser, The Fun Run. Adults competed in the 3K race, elementary students and adults ran the 1K, and the cutest of all, the herd of preschoolers ran the Mini Mile. They barreled down the middle of the road racing with all their might to the finish line to win their ribbons. They were so excited and happy.

It is always very heartwarming to see my former students who are now in grades K-8. No matter how big they get, how they change physically, they still have the personality traits that they had in preschool. Proof that children are like a lump of clay which begins to harden by age 4. That is why the early childhood period of growth and development is called the formative years. I tell parents, "Be careful; your children are watching, and they want to be just like you!"

Friday, September 25, 2009

Discovering memories

Did you ever rediscover something that you had forgotten about? We bought a new coffee table this evening, so I had to clean out the little compartments on either side of the old one. I'd forgotten that two and a half years ago I had shoved my mother's photo album and some of her memorabilia inside one of the doors. It was a happy/sad time finally sorting through her photos and old greeting cards that the family had sent her, and finding her handwritten notes. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I miss my mom.

I am in the remodeling mood. I am tired of clutter and ready to pitch stuff. STUFF is getting on my nerves. I can't believe how many picture frames in a variety of sizes that I had stashed in the other side of the old coffee table. And I am ready to tackle the stack of papers and books on my desk too. My hubby had better watch out! When I get in a cleaning mood, it is like I'm in a frenzy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cheap entertainment

It seems like bad news comes in threes; I received emails that 3 women, friends and family, have serious medical issues. Now I'm waiting for three good news items, because the universe has a way of balancing itself. Life has it's highs and lows, and like St. Louis weather, I just have to wait a day or two, keep those people in my prayers, and wait for change.

Last night we were so bored. Bill had received a coupon in the mail from the casino for $7 for his birthday. It expires today, so we decided to get out of the house rather than go to bed at 8 or 9. We played on that little birthday ticket for four hours. I remember when my kids were little and I crabbed at them for throwing their (MY) money away playing Pac Man and Frogger and all those video games. Ha! Look at me now. I had so much fun playing the electronic casino version of the board game that I despise, Monopoly. When trains whistled and cartoon characters on board interacted with me, I won! Well okay, most people wouldn't get this excited over $20. But it was fun. I think I'll consider my win the first of my three good news items. Next, I'm hoping for a positive response from an editor. Hope you have a blessed day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dang! Dilbert's Right!

I just read a universal truth in the comic section of the newspaper. Normally I don't read Dilbert; I like Baby Blues (because I teach preschoolers), Swine Before Pearls (because I have sick humor), Zits (we have teenagers in the family), and Lola (I can relate to the old timer humor). But Dilbert's creator, Scott Adams cinched the cartoon with the last panel, "When you find a big kettle of crazy, it's best not to stir it." Don't you agree? Have a great day!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Read a book today

I usually can't sit still for too long, but this rainy weather kept me housebound most of the day. I spent the day reading Gap Creek, by Robert Morgan, a wonderful story about the hardscrabble life of a young married couple in the early 1900's. It was on Oprah's reading list, a very good book! It gave me insight into my grandparents' struggles, and it made me realize how people today take so many things for granted. In that time period, folks had to grow and raise their own food and make their own coffins and deal with natural disasters in a way that people today wouldn't be able to, I'm afraid. The main character was a very strong woman who survived unbelievable hardships.

Read a good book this week!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Backhanded Acceptance

4:00 p.m. Saturday

Just returned from the Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival. Great music, fun people-watching, and so many dogs you would not believe it. One lady hauled her three Shitzus in a grocery cart. Another person had four terriers. There were full sized poodles, boxers, mutts of every kind.

Got a rejection from the editor of an anthology who liked my story but rejected it for the book. She wants to post it on her website. No can do, I told her, not without compensation. I'm anxious to hear what the response will be. When I read the fine print I noticed the guidelines: "Even if rejected, you could still be published." Ha! that's one way to get your work for free. Be careful; be the judge of the merit of your own work. I do not recommend giving your work away, but only you can decide what's right for you.

I received a reply: "This is an on line lit mag, and I do all the work myself. I do not receive any compensation, therefore I can not pay writers. Good luck placing it elsewhere!"

So, sometime, somehow, I'll find a market for it; I know I will. Patience pays dividends.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Night out

7:40 p.m. Friday

We went to Arnold Park; tonight was the opening of a three day event, Arnold Days. The Smash Band was playing from 6:30-8:00. The crowd was sparse when we arrived, and the area in front of the bandstand was swarming with kids. We stayed about an hour, got sick of hearing the band play the Sesame Street theme song and Miley Cyrus songs sung by the kids in the crowd. Loved Janis Joplin's song, Me and Bobby McGhee sung by the female vocalist. I guess Smash was playing to his audience: old hippies and young kids. Bill and I are both fighting off colds and figure it best to be home rather than sitting in a field, in the night air thick with mosquitoes beside a lake.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Inspiration

One of the ladies in the senior writer's group that I teach said I had inspired her so much she decided to attempt to write poetry. It was excellent! I am flattered that my writing inspired her. That's how it is, your words affect others when you don't even realize it.

This evening we celebrated Bill's daughter's birthday. You should have heard the kids, ages 9,10,12,12,16 & 16 all belting out Taylor Swift songs. It was a hootnanny!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Have to quit monkeying around

I have this cute little monkey cut-out from a greeting card which hangs by his tail above my computer as a reminder to write. That little guy hasn't been enough inspiration lately. I need a mailbox full of writer call outs so that I can get cracking. Anybody have any interesting personal essay or poetry calls they are aware of? I'm tired of monkeying around. Maybe I'm just tired. It is almost 9:00 p.m.

I bought a cute, lightweight, red and black plaid jacket this evening. They say plaid will be big this winter. As long as I'm not any bigger! I'm considering the South Beach Diet after seeing candid photos of myself on my school's website. Ugh

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Open mic tonight

It is almost 11:00 p.m. and I am sleepy. Just returned from The Mack where I read a poem at open mic about autumn in New Hampshire, and also an essay about the news paper boys of long ago. Unfortunately it had a tragic ending -a real life story about a neighbor kid. Many years later I ended up teaching this kid's sister's child. Life is strange; it is amazing how interconnected we all are. I will forward these to anyone who is interested in reading either of them. I have entered the autumn one in a contest. Keeping my fingers crossed until next Monday when winners are announced.

The cutest thing I've heard lately is my granddaughter who is beginning to talk. She says, "I sorry." and "Tank ou." I have to squeeze her sometimes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Update on Daughter-in-law

My daughter-in-law had surgery on her eye. She's been blind in it since birth. The doctor's were able to restore her periphereal vision! We are so thankful. They inserted two lenses in the eye. She says she can see her hand, all the way around it but not the center. This is such tremendous news for our family. Next month the doctors will decide what to do about surgery on the eye that had retina detachment/viral infection. My daughter called at the moment that the surgery was happening and said, "Mom, look up in the sky; an airplane is leaving trails and there are three crosses in the sky." Thank you God for miracles.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Delmar Loop

Went to Cicero's in the Loop for poetry reading by Michael Castro and music by J.D. Parran. Those beat poets sure got it going on!

It was also nice to see my writer friends. I can not believe how hopping the Loop is. It reminds me of how downtown St. Louis used to be forty years ago, people everywhere.

Friday, September 11, 2009

TGIF and contest

You know, the older I get the less I care about what others think. I wore white pants and sandals to work and felt so comfortable. Who dictates these fashion rules anyway? I made it through the first week of school; most of the kids have settled in and I am back in my element. Now for the weekend.Going to Cicero's tomorrow night to hear Michael Castro and J.D. Parron. Hope to see some of my writer friends there.

There is a fun and free contest for those of you who are into creative writing. The VERB is loking for stories about (but not using any of the lyrics of) a 1977's song. I have been having a fun time trying this exercise. They probably won't even give it a second look, but it was a writing stretch for me and made me think hard and long about my wording. Follow the guidelines and remember to write "The End" at the end of your story.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Three things on my mind

Three things on my mind:

I'm tired of getting junk mail. I used to look forward to checking email. Now when I see the junk mail box stuffed with a big number, I groan. One of these days I hope it will contain an acceptance, but lately it's all been ridiculous.

Had a great day at school yesterday. Love the M-W-F classes; I can actually teach and do lesson plans with the pre-k kids. It will take a while for the three year olds wbo attend on Tu-Th to be able to learn the routine, but overall, it's going to be okay. I am so blessed to have had a job that I love for all of these years.

I hope that President Obama finally laid some fears and rumors to rest with his address to the nation on health care. No American should be denied medical treatment; no one should be refused care because of a pre-existing condition, no one should go bankrupt having to pay exorbitant medical bills. Something has to be done.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Adopting an end-of-life statement

As I age I am aware of my mortality. I know my loved ones will have to deal with my declining health one day. I found this in the newspaper this morning in Annie's Mailbox (formerly Ann Landers) A doctor shares his own end-of-life plan. I am embracing every word, as it is exactly how I feel.

"If you can fix me, please do. If you can't fix me, please help me avoid pain, fear, lack of air, hunger, nausea, thirst, loss of dignity and prolonging the dying process. I understand that it might take a few days to figure out whether you can fix me...or not. Most people don't fear death as much as the process of dying or the prolonged disability."
First day of school went very well, unlike one year when I had three simultaneous crises: one child vomiting, the other with strands of snot (which makes me gag!) and another who had a potty accident. Nothing like that yesterday. The child I predicted might have a problem was surprisingly adept and capable, and listened well. It is going to be a fun year.

Last night was Open Mic at Wired Coffee. That is always fun and interesting.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My day

Good grief! Sometimes I amaze myself. My early childhood column which is featured bi weekly in Hockey Stop was such a breeze to write this time; it turned into two articles. So that puts me ahead by one. Yay! I love when that happens. I have been writing for so long it's difficult to come up with new topics. The second one was easy and fun: Let The Kids Play With Their Food!

I didn't do anything spectacular today. Started by hopping on the Wii. Ha! I used to be the hula hoop queen when I was 40. I used to win contests and money. Let's just say more things have slid than the cartoon hoops on the screen that kept bouncing off the floor and whacking my little person in the head, despite my wide circular swaying. I got most of my exercise walking department stores. Didn't buy a thing. I'm looking for navy blue flats. I asked a sales girl who said, "How about these blue and pink ones?" I said, "I'm looking for navy." She said, "What about these turquoise ones?" I looked at her in disbelief. Then she said, "Do you like these teal ones?" I said, "Thank you." and I left!

I got my best hugs this evening from Nicholas and Nicole. Nick read a story to Nicole and me, then he went out to skate board. I had to leave; I am getting too old to watch the little daredevil.

Summer Vacation Coming to an End

Sunday we went to Cuivre River State Park. Bill's son-in-law rents the entire group camp site, Sherwood Forest for his four day family reunion. We no longer camp out in the primitive cabins, but we go for one entire day 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. There must have been over a hundred people, three fourths of them kids. At any given time there was a volleyball, soccer or football game going on, or archery or golf in an open field, not to mention board games and card games in the mess hall and continuous nibbling and munching on goodies. It's back to reality for me soon. School starts tomorrow and I have to get back on track. But this weekend is always one of our favorites. We play and do something special with each of the grandchildren; we make memories.

Today is my last day of summer vacation. I should do something spectacular. I wonder what I WILL do? I have a column to finish and a letter to write, nine grandkids' journals to catch up with, but then the day is mine all mine.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What a dream!

I'm not usually disturbed by my dreams, but I had the weirdest, most vivid dream just before I woke up. I dreamed I was lounging on my back on a bed or sofa looking out a second story window onto a back yard. My coworker was in the room. There was a tall tree and a back porch just off the room we were in. I saw a beautiful cat stretch out of a nest and rise, long and sleek, stretching it's front body up the tree. It was absolutely gorgeous with turqouise blue fur and bright red splotches. I was in awe of this cat; then it morphed into an exotic bird with fluffed turquiose and red feathers. It started flying frantically to the porch floor. That's when I spied it's offspring, three weaned fluffy, multi-colored, dark black and grey kittens searching for food. The bird flew out of the nest to find food. I was very distraught that she would bring these hungry kittens bugs and grubs instead of cat food. I was trying to figure out what to do, throw out some food, take the kittens to the Humane Society, rationalizing that the HS would destroy them, and the beautiful bird would produce another litter. I woke up with no resolution, ugh!

Geeze! I must be searching for an answer in my real life, because I have never had such a psychedelic dream. No medications, no big meals before bed, just a weird, beautiful and confusing dream. Any dream interpreters out there?

My Saturday

Saturday I learned a lot about tax deductions for writers from Faye Adams at the St. Louis Writer's Guild meeting. Who knew you could deduct laundry expenses?

Granddaughter Ashley and boyfriend Justin came over and tried out Bill's Wii Fit. Bill's very good at it and has been doing 30 minutes of low impact exercises for balance each morning. I'm a lot better at bowling than balancing. Ha!

My son came by to see if I wanted anything on his loaded truck destined for Goodwill. I nearly cried. They were getting rid of the baby crib, equipment and the electronic baby table with all the balls, bells and whistles that made the kids giggle when they were infants. It was all I could do to hold it together when I spied a container filled with their rubberized baby spoons and tiny forks. Awww. I can't believe how big all the kids are getting.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Stuffed pretzels

I have a tummy ache and have only eaten chicken rice soup today, but Bill and I went to Gus's Pretzel's on Arsenal at Highway 55, and he bought a big fat sausitza-stuffed pretzel. He loved it. Now maybe if they stuffed it chock full with cream cheese and dark chocolate, I might try one of those. Think of all the possible combinations.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Letting Go

Sometimes it is difficult to turn loose of your babies (stories). That's how it feels for me right now. I just wrote a check entry fee for my first big $$$ writing contest, followed the guidelines to a "T" and inserted everything into the envelope. Tomorrow it will be on its way. I will have to wait until 2010 to know whether it was accepted, rejected or even considered for publication. I guess it's not the letting go afterall; it's the waiting that is bad.

I have a friend who is a plein air fine artist. Her paintings are so beautiful; I don't see how she can part with them. It is like letting go of a little piece of yourself.
I guess the bottom line though is how the creative, written word or painting impacts others.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ER and not on TV

What a day! We relaxed, I bought a new pull over, we went to lunch, and just as I was preparing to sit out and read my new book this evening, my granddaughter called. I had to rush her to the ER. She lacerated her foot at work, fell off a step ladder, took down a shelf and when she put her foot down she landed on a broken candle holder. A piece of glass penetrated her shoe! and deeply pierced her instep. OW! She'll be fine. Kids heal a lot faster than older folks.

Heard from Thin Threads. They definitely accepted my story, Santa's Helper Was a State Trooper. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A full day

Almost 11:00 p.m.
Busy day: breakfast and goodbye to my dearest old friend of 40 years who has dementia from a brain tumor. I wanted to keep her here and protect her as much as I was ready for her to go. It was bittersweet. Then faculty meeting, purchase of school supplies, last minute classroom preparations, visit to the KG to see my old kids, then Dressel's Pub in the Central West End for a literary event. Emotionally drained, body exhausted. Time for some deep, restorative sleep. Goodnight.

Monday, August 31, 2009

How you phrase it matters

Monday afternoon, almost 4:00 p.m. We took my best friend and her husband to the zoo today. Her stamina is gone but she won't admit it, but I know how to work her. Hubby said, "She will NOT do a wheel chair, so don't even ask."

I said, "You seem tired. Would you do better if I got you a chair with wheels on it so you don't have to walk so much and I can push you a bit?" She readily agreed. It's not just what you say, it's how you say it!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bill's Birthday

It is almost 8:00 p.m. Sunday night and I am so full, happy and tired. Bill's 67th birthday party was fun. Our 4 kids came. Our nine grandchildren tickle my fancy and are growing so fast it frightens me. The baby, Nicole, almost 2, and I snuggled on my bed. She spied the mama rabbit figurine with a baby rabbit on a shelf and had to have them. Nana can't say no. So as we laid down I talked to her about the baby going night-night (like she should have been) and the mama kissing her baby. When I'd make the bunny kiss me, she'd belly laugh. Needless to say she didn't nap. Her brother Nicholas is 7, and everytime he sees me he says, "You look 21." He knows that will get him a hug anytime. He asked,"Nana, who's your favorite?" I smiled and said I couldn't answer. He smiled knowingly and said, "Well, I can answer who MY favorite is. YOU; you're my favorite grandchild!" Silly boy. He will have the girls falling all over him. He and 12 year old Austin chased each other like wild boys.

I played ball with Austin; that kid can slug a ball! Madison 12, and Morgan nine and a half, tumbled and jumped rope. Sean, 10 wrestled with Papa, as did George who is 12and as tall as Papa. Kyle, 16 and his girlfriend came. Ashley, almost 20, and her boyfriend stayed a while before they had to go to St. Charles to shoot film for her photography class. All of the kids are going in so many new directions. The older kids are subdued and sophisticated until somebody starts the family ruckus,a soccer game or tackle. Then all of them including their moms and dads have a free for all on the lawn. Oh yeah, we stop traffic. Wrestling your grandpa, aunt, uncle or cousin, or collapsing in a pile and laughing hysterically is a healthy, physical, fun outlet. We sure made some memories today.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Deadline

Time flies when you're having fun, drags when ... something like that. Time is almost up for two Chicken Soup deadlines. One is for Teachers and the other call out is CS for Mothers and Daughters. So get busy. The final day is tomorrow. Submit on their web site. Am I glad I went back and checked these deadlines. We have had out of town house guests, so I didn't get a chance to write as much as I usually do. It's 10:00 p.m. and it looks like I will be sitting here for a couple more hours trying to rev my brain and come up with something. I do well under pressure, and "last minute" sometimes works best for me. I hope it will for you too.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The thing that really makes me smile

We have been watching America's Funniest Home Videos. I have concluded that some people are just plain idiots, and also, there is no better sound than a baby who is belly laughing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Live in the moment

It's the moment that counts, not the memory. Today we went to Powder Valley and Suson Farm. My friend from Boston is here for a week. Sheila loves barnyard animals and is amazed at our wonderful parks. Whatever makes her happy! Our time together is precious and taxing on both of us. She is physically and mentally declining due to a brain tumor. Even though tomorrow she probably won't recall what we did today, at least she was happy for the moment. I believe that we should cherish each moment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

School

Whew! What an evening. Parent orientation and meet the teacher went well; we had a tremendous turn out. Then I went to Ted Drewes for ice cream with faculty. Laughter is so good for the soul.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'm beat and I want to eat.

I am exhausted. It is 6:00. I worked from 8-4:30 scrubbing every toy and surface of my classroom, hauled toys in and out after bleaching them. I ache. All I want to do right now is dip mini chocolate cake donuts in a cup of hot coffee and then lie down before my best friend arrives from Boston.
Aw, my wonderful husband is baking a pizza for us. I'm one lucky old gal.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ordinary or extraordinary?

Patchwork Path is seeking Wedding stories and the deadline is next week. I racked my brain trying to come up with a story. I had a unique wedding. I entered a Valentine's contest, wrote a paraody song and won a complete wedding package. We were married with 99 other couples, and the ceremony was broadcast live on the radio. But I had already sold all rights to that story. Then I remembered my wedding cake. I'd made it myself. Most brides are the center of attention, but at our wedding the cake topper (bride & groom pigs smooching) took the cake!

Everyone will write about the ordinary; find something extraordinary to write about and perhaps it will lead to publication for you too. The novel approach has worked well for me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Writers helping writers

If you have ever written about a very sensitive topic, then you know how difficult it is to get the mechanics of your writing correct when you are so focused on the story details. Today I tweaked and tweaked a personal essay that ripped at my heart strings and made every nerve in my body raw. I made obvious mistakes, and got so frustrated that I finally had to walk away from it and do something I don't like to do. I asked a fellow writer and dear friend for help. It was as difficult for me ask for a critique as it was to write the essay. I am indebted to you, D. Thank you-thank you.

Sometimes we just need a helping hand. Don't be afraid to ask. We should reach out to one another. I am here if anyone needs MY help.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Seasonal Changes

The wind is whipping the tree in the front yard, and fall weather is in the air. I love this season and want to be outdoors all of the time. Our tree reminds me of how lucky I am. Many years ago, thirty-five to be exact, when I was married with young children and we had only one car, I would take my ex to work if I needed the car to take the kids to a doctor appointment. We would drive down the street I now live on, past this house which always caught my eye. In fall, the huge maple tree three doors down made me catch my breath. It towered like a coloful umbrella reaching into the sky, a beautiful autumn masterpiece. How I wished I could live in this house, on this street in this part of suburbia instead of South City. I fell in love with the truck farm which stretches the whole block down the west side of the road. Instead of ten or twelve houses across the street to gawk at, I would oogle acres of vegetables and beds of pansies, and hear cars honking constantly at the two old farmers as they worked their fields.

In the late summer of my life, happily remarried, my second husband and I bought the house I had always desired, in the neighborhood I wanted, down the street from the breathtaking maple tree I loved, across the street from the small farm which captured my attention everytime I passed by. For the past fifteen years, I have been so lucky to be able to sit outside on a main street and watch traffic pass by and the farmers at work. Just beyond their property, the flow of interstate traffic hums.

In the autumn of my life, I sit outside and contemplate my blessings. I think I have figured out one of life's secrets: patience.

The farmers, now in the winter of their lives are unable to plant a crop, and the fields have gone to weeds, and the passing cars no longer honk their horns at the old boys who used to tend their fields from sun up to sun down. As the seasons change, I feel the winds shifting. It is not a cold, harsh, frightening wind; it is warm and comforting. I can only hope that my children and grandchildren, who are always in search of more-more-more right NOW, can learn to slow down, be patient and wait. Gifts are abundant and waiting.