Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rusty Left His Paw Prints All Over Me

When my eight year old son ran up on the porch with that little orange tabby bundle of fur, I said, "No! Next week you and your dad are taking it back to the country!"

"He doesn't have a mom; I found him in the barn with two other ones."

All I could think was, maybe the kitten's mom needed a reprieve too if her boy was as rambunctious as mine. The country cat became a city cat who snuggled on my chest for seventeen years. Tonight his memory is alive, and I can almost hear his purring, and feel his soft little paws wrapped around my neck. I loved that cat; he was the only constant in my life at one point, and we loved one another unconditionally.

Hopefully, readers across the globe will learn how Rusty left his Paw Prints On My Heart when they read Chicken Soup, My Cat's Life. This is my thirteenth story accepted by Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I probably have that many more stories floating out there. I submitted this essay December 12, 2009 and received a contract today, 8/31/10 The release date is April 12, 2011.

My Dog is My Hero is an anthology edited by Susan Reynolds, published by Adams Media, and that book contains a story about a goofy dog who owned us in Alaska.

Waiting for an acceptance or rejection, and especially for the contributor's copy of the book is harder than writing the story. We authors just itch to have that book in our hands.

My advice to writers, once you write it, you must release it, because it takes quite sometime from submission to publication. Just when I think an editor has passed on one of my stories, I find an acceptance in the mail. Patience is as important a tool as the keyboard or pen.

Did you ever have an animal that left its paw prints on your heart? Briefly, won't you tell me about it?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Don't be deceived by imposters

Here's a little quiz for you. Which one is NICK? What is Nick holding?
If you think Nick is my grandson you would be right. If you think Nick is my granddaughter you would be right. If you think Nicholas is holding an ice cream cone and Nicole is not, you would be wrong. That little squirt is holding a water gun in the shape of a strawberry ice cream cone, and can you guess WHO he squirted? If you guessed ME, you would be right.

Don't let looks deceive. That holds true in the writing world too. Check out Preditors and Editors if something looks too good to be true.


Now here is something that is not too good to be true, there are lots of discount coupons for local restaurants if you just scour the internet. We found a $5 off of $20 at O'Charley's coupons.com. I recommend the Teryaki Tilapia!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shake those pony tails!

Granddaughter, Nicole, will be three the day before Halloween. Like my son (her daddy) and my daughter, she too was nearly bald for a year, had a smattering of hair at age two and now that she is about to turn three, her hair is finally growing. If she is like the rest of us, she will grow a mop of hair so thick a clamp won't hold it. But for now she is so happy with her pony tails. She has always worn her hair in a Buster Brown hair cut, so when I saw her after being away for a week, and she saw me, we both squealed with delight at her new 'do'. She was so thrilled she had to shake her head and flap her ponies from side to side. I don't know which of us laughed harder.

Are any of us ever satisfied with our hair? My hair is like a bush. Hairdressers complain about the thickness and the fact that it grows up and out instead of down. Years ago I used to get long, curly perms which required twice as many rollers as most people. These days I've quit fighting the never-ending battle of color or curl. My hair just won't hold curl, so I color and let my poker straight hair do its own thing. My daughter and son and grandkids have enough hair for two people each, and the barbers and hairdressers always comment about it.

I covet my friend, Pat's, naturally curly, shoulder-length hair. In high school she used to iron it straight. It seems that those of us who have curly hair want straight and those who have straight hair want curly.

How about you? We all have good and bad hair days, but generally speaking, do you love your hair or hate it?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Down by the Sea

Having vacationed in the Caribbean, my heart still pounds to the rhythm of the sea. I shopped at the little open air markets where natives sold handcrafts and trinkets. I bought several necklaces which made me happy. We snorkeled along a barrier reef and saw the most amazing colorful tropical fish in shades of cobalt blue and yellow. Bill pointed to a giant sting ray, then we drifted off in different directions. I floated atop the surface of the sea, gazing into the crystal clear depths. I spied a white conch shell the size of a large couch cushion. I thought it was a big boulder thirty feet down, but when it extended a claw out and began to drag itself along the bottom, I believe I inhaled saltwater as I yelled for Bill to come see. Alas, he was too far away and heading back to a hammock.

Usually people bring home souvenirs and photos from vacation. My treasure this trip was an intangible souvenir, that giant conch leaving a trail on the bottom of the sea and an image ingrained in my mind. If only I had a photo to prove it; nobody believes me!

Monday, August 23, 2010

My grandparents and family lore

Today I had lunch with my twin aunts, Shirley and Dorothy. They are in their mid-seventies, don't see one another often, so we planned a lunch date. Sometimes they fuss and act like children; sibling rivalry ressurects itself when they are together. One of them shoots me a look and whispers something about the other behind her back, and I just nod and smile. They shared so much oral family history with me. I was absolutely thrilled; I felt like a kid in a candy store wanting more-more-more.

I noticed this old photo of my grandparents holding their first two children, my aunts, Mary and Lucille. It was taken in June, 1928. I immediately went out and made a copy. I am proud to have this in my possession. My grandfather was from Italy, my grandmother's family from Germany, and when the sparks flew and they fell in love and married, their parents disowned them. They later reconciled with their families, but I can only imagine the turmoil.

When I was a little girl, my mom used to tell me that some of her sisters were in the circus. I always thought it was a tall tale. As it turns out, my aunt Dorothy confided, when she was eight and her oldest sister, Mary (the baby in my grandfather's arms) was sixteen, their dance studio went on tour and hooked up with a circus in Mexico. The girls did acrobatics. Their mother gave the girls permission to travel, but what she didn't know was that they weren't staying in a hotel and being protected. Instead, they slept on the floor of an abandoned warehouse and were fed beans and were always hungry. Mary would come home after a date and tell Dororthy about what she had to eat. When they were performing, and one of the workers yelled, "Hey, Rube!" that meant there was trouble brewing, and the other performers and workers would run to their aid. The things I found out today. It was like paging through a family history book.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dog Lovers Delight!

One night just before midnight while I was snuggled in bed sound asleep, my husband, Bill, who some of our friends affectionately call Willy, woke me up. He was so excited. His volume was as loud as the T.V. "Wake up! I've been on the computer, and I see that you just received an acceptance on the story you wrote about ME, titled GOOFY WILLY."

I could have flung my pillow at his head had I not been laughing so hard. My dog story, Goofy Willy was accepted by editor, Susan Reynolds and published by Adams Media.

Willy was a naughty mischief-making, overgrown pup of about three months old. His dad was a Mackenzie River Husky, but his mom was a hound. He was thick in stature, but even 'thicker' in the head. My former husband was in the military and we lived in Delta Junction at the end of the Alaska Highway, where the animals outnumbered the residents. Willy was forever getting into trouble. He stole a winter hat right off of a kid's head. There wasn't a day that went by that someone didn't report one of his goofy infractions. His worst offense was snatching a neighbor's bra off the clothesline and chewing it to bits. I buried it in the bottom of the trash bin and watched her husband set fire to the garbage that weekend. Oh Willy was a character. To read more about my dog and many others, please purchase My Dog is My Hero, available September 18th in bookstores and on Amazon.com.

Monday, August 16, 2010

On my soapbox

The news is so depressing. In the name of religion people argue, declare wars, fight about mosques being built etc. We are all children of God, and that is why this morning I bought a wino breakfast; we all have basic needs as well as our own vices, and who am I to judge? My vice is sweets.

The mark of an immature man is to want to die for his cause. The mark of a mature man is to live humbly for his cause.~Wilhelm

If only everyone's cause was to respect the other person and lend a helping hand, for who are we to judge? Sorry, guys, I am on my soapbox, because there is so much pain in this world and most people want to cast a look, a remark, a stone.

Have a nice day and don't let the heat get to you.

Oh how I drooled over that dreamy-eyed Elvis when I was a teenager. Happy Birthday Elvis. :)

Now I have to get some writing finished, LOTS!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nature's gifts

One morning I awoke to a sudden, five minute shower just before daybreak. And then suddenly the sky was aglow with this brilliant rainbow. The colors were stunning. With the promise of a new day, we decided to walk a trail at the park before the temperature climbed to 100 degrees.

This heat has taken its toll on vegetation; our tomatoes have rotted on the vines, the flowers are withering, and so, imagine my surprise to find this single, beautiful flower poking out of the parched earth, under a tree along the trail.

In the quiet of the early morning, we saw a small snake sunning itself in a ray of sunshine. Then we came upon these deer, so close we could see one another's eyes. We simply looked at one another, and then they returned to grazing. It was awesome.

We returned to the car thinking about all of nature's gifts, and I received one more blessing. There in the gravel lay this dime, a gift from my dad in heaven. A few years ago I had a story about dimes from Dad published in Remincse Magazine(The Carousel Ride). When I was a little girl, he used to toss pennies in the grass for my brother and me to find. (He thought we didn't know, so we played along.) Whenever we found a dime, it meant we could ride the merry-go-round carousel horses at Chain of Rocks Amusement Park. Now when I find a dime, I say, "Hi, Dad." I find them everywhere!

So even though my computer has been on the fritz, and my life seemed topsy turvy without internet, I realize that I received far greater gifts than any old computer could deliver. These were hand delivered from God.

Be on the lookout for blessings. It is the little things in life that matter.

I will be busy writing and trying to get caught up, so bear with me if I don't post frequently this week.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Exercise makes me hungry

I had the kiddie pool to myself at the gym this morning. I watched the water aerobics senior ladies doing their exercises in the lap lanes, and I did mine in the lazy river. I walked, hopped, and even skipped against the strong current. I did knee and leg bends, arm exercizes; I even boxed the water with hands submerged (try this strenuous exercise.) After forty-five minutes in the pool, I'd worked out and also worked up an appetite. It's a never ending vicious cycle. Doc says, "Move it or lose it." If only it worked this way: Eat it and lose it. I'm going to munch something healthy before I devour that oatmeal raisin cookie calling my name.

Don't forget, if you are looking for something fun to do this weekend, head to Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, MO tomorrow. Dianna Graveman and her husband and co author, Don, will be signing their book Missouri Wine Country from St. Charles to Hermann, from 11:00-1:00. It's grape stomping time!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Assurances and connections

We are on day nine of no home computer, but the friendly fellow in the India call center assured us, "You are right, it IS the modem, and it is in the mail." Halleluia! I am assured that I will finally be able to submit those eight stories/poems before the month expires. I will soon be connected again.

I am thinking of other assurances. I feel so blessed in the morning when I see the sun rise. I am assured that I have another day on this earth to try to forgive, (those dummies in the call center and the annoying girl at the library and the older sleeping man sitting across from me who startled himself and ME when he loudly farted).

I am assured that I have the opportunity to make someone's day by listening,
laughing and smiling. I am assured that I make a difference when I go to see my two year old granddaughter and she squeals, "My nana, my nana's here!" And my eight year old grandson asks me if I can help him write story and he prefers to sit with me than play outside with his friends. And better yet, my sometimes sweet, sometimes moody daughter-in-law asked me, "When are you going to help me write MY life story?" I was so touched by her request. I know my writing makes a difference.

I am assured that life will go on without me, but while I am here, I feel I should make the most of every day that is given to me. So on that note, I want to say, I appreciate all of you. You make my day. When I see a response to a post, I rejoice. When I read your blogs I feel as though I am sitting in your kitchen. I am assured that despite the lack of computer, we are all connected. Have a great day and write on!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Stomp on over to Stone Hill Winery where Don and Dianna Graveman will be signing books

Don and Dianna Graveman will be signing their book, Missouri Wine Country, from St. Charles to Hermann, (Arcadia Publishing) at Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, Missouri. Whether you are into stomping or just staring at the stompers, be sure to stop by and check out the Graveman's book this Saturday during registration for the annual grape stomp from 11:00 - 1:00 pm. This book is rich with local history and photographs, a treasure for family and friends.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Still waiting

If you've ever cursed at a computer, molly coddled it with sweet words, pleaded or slapped the crap out of it, then you can only imagine what I have felt for the last few days. It gets worse. I am at the public library and have been trying desperatly to sign on to blogger, and finally, now that my minutes are about to expire, I am able to. And I forgot what I wanted to write about. Maybe it's the frustration of having a teenaged girl sitting next to me singing along with the song on her head phones. Dirty looks aren't stopping her mumblings, ranting back at her emails etc. Maybe I do need to slap something.

Anyway,oh, I know, I have published a book. Actually I wrote a book for an 83 year old woman who was one of the first settlers in the small Alaska town where I lived in 1969-70. So it is not my creative work, actually SHE published it. It is an As Told To biography. Book title and ISBN # and Amazon info should be available when I receive the book by mail this week. Another thing I am waiting for! Computer part AND book. More details. Hopefully the next time I blog, it will be on my own computer with my own crazy noises, not this nut's sitting next to me. Love and miss ya'll.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Computer problems

That little four inch square box has been driving me crazy for two weeks. My DSL power supply to the computer finally croaked last Thursday, so it is on back order and should be in next week. Until then, or if I get back to this library, I won't be blogging much. Miss you and will have great pictures to post when I do get back on line. Miss you all.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Water aerobics aren't for me

I wrote this last year, and silly me! I'm going back again today.

I've Had My Fill of Exercise
Linda O'Connell(c)

I joined a gym this morning; I rode the stationary bike,
until Barbie sat down beside me, and gave me a look I didn’t like.

So, I walked over to the treadmill and kept a steady pace.
After just one mile, I was sweaty and red in the face.

My boobs were bouncing wildly, my belly keeping time;
I hit the speed up button and nearly landed on my behind.

I hurried to the ladies room, feeling like a fool.
I spied a class of women exercising in the pool.

Aha! I said delighted, and opened up my locker,
I slipped into my swimsuit; man that was a shocker!

I couldn’t believe that bimbo standing right there in my mirror.
My tiny little swim skirt didn’t cover half my rear.

I made my way to the edge of the pool, got brave and dropped my towel.
I swear I heard that teenaged life guard let out a little yowl.

The aquatics instructor smiled, “Come in; the water’s fine.”
I heard some whispering women comparing theirs, to my behind.

“Okay ladies,” the instructor said. “Pull your partner up and down the lane.”
I headed to the lazy river; water aerobics looked insane.

Second lap around the bend a woman shouted, “Watch out for my noodle!”
I’d had my fill of exercise, so I headed home to eat my apple strudel.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Grant's Farm

Zoo animals are ambassadors for their cousins in the wild. ~ Jack Hannah

It was a day just like today, miserably hot and humid, temperature soaring to 100. I took my grandson Austin, then ten years old, on an outing to Grant's Farm, the 281 acre ancestral home of the Busch Family (Anheuser-Busch beer) where they once lived in the 'castle'. Gussie Busch travelled 20 miles on rutted dirt roads from the brewery to Grant's Farm, his palatial country estate, which was named after Ulysses S. Grant, who founded and farmed part of the land. The Busch family had a love of animals and turned part of the estate into a mini zoo, which has always been free and open to the public. Parking now costs, but it is possible to park elsewhere and hike a nearby flat trail to the entrance. We are so blessed to have this always- packed tourist attraction five minutes from our house.

Visitors ride a tram around the lakes and grounds where they encounter free-roaming zebras, deer, bison. There are over 100 species of animals housed there. The mini zoo has baby goats that children can feed with baby bottles and ice cream cones filled with pellets. There are giant tortoises, monkeys, baby bears and many other critters. There are also elephant and bird shows. It is a delightful place.

On that sweltering day that I took Austin, I had just stopped to purchase a large soda for him. He took one sip, saw the camels at the fence and walked over for a close encounter. Two seconds later, a camel snatched Austin's drink, threw its
head back and chugged every last drop of Mountain Dew, then dropped the paper cup on the ground at Austin's feet. It happened so quickly, and the astonished look on my grandson's face made me laugh out loud, and then he laughed, and we ended up laughing all day about that crazy camel.

When my daughter, Austin's mom was five, she had an up close encounter with a llama. She walked too close to the fence and the llama reached over the fence and took a plug of her hay-colored hair.

Did you ever feed peanuts to an elephant, leaves to a giraffe? Any personal interaction with a zoo animal?