Thursday, June 30, 2011

Artificial Intelligence, Satellite Sally

We have been traveling to Florida for years and have never needed anything more than a fold up, paper road map. I can tell you where every single Shoney's Restaurant is along the way. But, one time, one lousy time, I had the map upside down and we drove in circles for ... LESS than an hour. He told everyone when we got home, and the kids felt sorry for him and replaced ME with her.


My Husband’s Gal Pal Sweetie

My husband has a girlfriend,
and he acts like I don’t know.
She sits up front between us.
He invites her everywhere we go.

I asked him quite directly what
their relationship might be.
“She’s just my gal pal sweetie”
Who’s he calling sweetie? Is it her, or is it me?

She’s got a phony little voice, sweet as sugar candy.
He hangs on every word she says, he thinks that she’s just dandy.
I’ve even seen him fondle her when he thinks that I don’t see.
He fiddles with her buttons, but he hardly touches me.

They carry on like I’m not there, and if I dare to take a nap,
he asks HER for directions and says, “My wife can’t read a map.”
He thinks she’s smart and talented, because she knows her way around.
If Satellite Sally keeps yapping, I’m going to take her down.

I can’t stand to hear her voice, and if he touches her one more time
I’m going to toss her out the window and show her he’s still my mine.
He says he loves me more than her; he assures me every day,
but his Gal Pal Sweetie - GPS he calls her - is getting in the way.



Ironically, we were headed toward Ole Miss; I could see it up ahead on the left and my Shoney's on the right. I shouted, "Turn RIGHT!"

His chick-a-dee chirped, "Turn left at the intersection."

"Don't listen to HER! Shoney's is on the right." I yelled.

"I heard what SHE said," he said.

He swung that camper left and after driving less than a mile, finding no place to turn that hunk of metal around, he had to admit I was right and she was wrong."

Neiner-neiner-na-na-na-na!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Imagine this!

Imagine having a loving family, security and food, then being instantaneously homeless and alone. That is what happened to many of the animals of Joplin that survived the tornado.

Pat Wahler has a love for animals and a passion for helping them. Please check out her blog,CRITTER ALLEY. Click HERE

Tell Pat what you think of Bogie and Indie, her fur babies. Tell others about Critter Alley.


Imagine reuniting with an old love, a first love - the memories and feelings, as intense as your grip on the steering wheel.

Fantasies abound about finding an old love, but read what happens when your old love's new lover contacts you and even sends you a photo.
Click here to read Gerry Mandel's expose` and to view a picture of his beauty today.


Imagine actually taking the job and shoving it. Imagine a road trip across country with your mutt, no not your grungy boyfriend, but your pooch. Jean Whatley is days away from her coast to coast adventure. She's scared, wouldn't you be? Please visit her blog,HERE to find out how you can contribute to her endeavor, even if it's just an atta girl!

Monday, June 27, 2011

To Tattoo or Not To

Hubby had the tires rotated today, and as we sat and waited we observed people of all ages with tatoos. Which brings me to this recently rejected essay that I will share with you. If you enjoy it, will you tell someone else? Direct them to my blog http://lindaoconnell.blogspot.com/

I am trying to hit 150 followers. Thanks everyone. Well, not HIT them.

Marked for Life

Everyone agrees that laughter is good for what ails you. Like most people I like a good comedy; I enjoy a funny joke, but when the joke’s on me, or my body, it’s no laughing matter. I am not one to judge others. I’m a writer and an artist and I believe in self-expression, but I prefer sketches and paintings on canvas or graffitied on the sides of buildings, not on biceps, legs and necks and certainly not shining from the back of a teen-aged girl’s low-cut waistband. Ouch!

In the 1950’s it used to be guys with “Rosie” tattooed on their chest. Old Navy guys, who in their youth, spent shore leave getting anchors and girlfriends’ names etched onto their forearms later buried them like old memories under long-sleeved shirts and hid them from wives with different names.

Nowadays you see young people, girls and guys, whose bodies look like walking bulletin boards. I am not a prude; I don’t object to what other people do to their bodies or how they flaunt their tattoos. Some display brilliantly hued ‘sleeves’ from shoulder to wrist. It is not uncommon to observe respectable looking men and women standing in check out lines with numerals and letters etched on their forearms and necks.

Personally, I prefer a plastic name badge to announce my affiliations. Nobody’s inking my neck!

When my children were small, I adamantly disapproved of rub-on tattoos. When they
came home from birthday parties, I rifled through their goody bags. Sure, I snatched a piece of candy or two, but my quest was for those fake tattoos that some dumb mom thought was a cute and harmless party favor. If the kids rubbed them on their bodies, I scrubbed them off. I considered transfer tattoos precursors to permanent branding. I vowed not be a party to the defacing of my kids’ bodies. They did enough of that on their own – my son was a billboard of scrapes, scabs and scars and my daughter sported too-orange blush, clashing pink lipstick and hideous fashions.
Kids are fickle at fifteen; if they had imprinted the names of their latest sweethearts on their bodies, there would have been weekly scratch outs and replacement names up and down their arms. I couldn’t prevent their weekly heartbreak, but I was able to prevent their future pain of tattoo removable. I simply said NO to permanent tattoos as they got older.

Times have changed. Nowadays, I cringe when I see my grandchildren sporting a temporary Spidey on their forearm. What can I say when they shove some super hero under my nose and ask me what I think? If I told them, I’d never get grandma visitation, so I direct their attention to my own "tattoo". Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t a willing participant; in fact I was so mad at my new husband when I discovered the half dollar sized, indigo blue heart shape on my lower left leg, I screamed. “Bill, what have you done to me!”

“Married you on Valentine’s Day and made you my wife.” The big joker laughed. His playful nature and sense of humor drew me to him. I liked my funny honey, but I did not appreciate being drawn ON.

“You know how I feel about tattoos.” I grimaced. He watched me spit and rub; he observed as I scoured and scrubbed. But the image remained.

“What did you do, use permanent ink when you drew this?”

“Honey, I didn’t do it. Let me see your leg.”

I raised my leg and shoved my foot into his gut and said, “Look at what you did! I can’t get it off.”

“Now calm down. I didn’t draw on you. Take a closer look and tell me what you really
think.”

“I think I love you, but I’m forty years old, and I don’t want a teeny bopper tattoo to prove it.”

I looked closely at my shin and gasped as the realization sunk in that no amount of cleanser or intense scrubbing – nothing, could remove it, short of a visit to the dermatologist. One of my spider veins had broken into a clearly defined, perfect heart shape. I was marked for life.

Nowadays when my grandchildren show me their tattoos, I hike my pant leg and take each child aside individually and say, “See Nana’s tattoo? I got this one to show the world how much I love YOU, but shhh!, don’t tell the other kids.”

When your body plays tricks on you, you might as well laugh and play along.

No tats yet for the clan, at least not where I can see them :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Everything is coming up roses...


We used to have a camper that we parked in this space, but now I have utilized this area as a flower garden. I've planted some of the flowers that I received from my students.

I have the blackest thumb, but for some reason, these are looking pretty spiffy. We recently transplanted the rose bush in the background on the left, (you can zoom in by clicking the photo) which never did very well at all in the back yard. It is flourishing here on the side of the house. Every other day it surprises me with a different colored miniature rose in shades of pinks, yellow, salmon. It is gorgeous.

The azaela bush is going to produce deep pink flowers and grow wide and tall. The flowers in the planter seem to love the full sun. It is 80 degrees, sunny, breezy and I am happy.

This is my new, summer haircut.

To my right is our Bosnian neighbor's garden, and those six footers are Bosnian beans climbing up poles. They remind me of Jack and the Beanstalk. I used to tell that story to my first grandchild. Paw-paw would bellow, "Fee-fi-fo-fum" and chase Ashley through the house as she giggled, "Catch me Paw-paw."

Funny, the things we remember. She came for a visit, sat outside on the patio and shared her wedding plans and the book of ideas with us. Her date is next May 19th.

She said, "Grandpa, would you dance with me at my wedding to a very special song?"

We imagined a touching ballad, a traditional wedding dance song.

She said, "I want you to fast dance with me to Itty Bitty Pretty One, (a 50's rock and roll song) like you did when I was a little girl. You used to twirl me, and you'd let me dance on your feet. I remember that."

Brought tears to Bill's eyes. Made me so proud of him. He is the best grandpa ever.

Every man's memory is his private literature. ~Aldous Huxley

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Woo-hoo, it's over, or has it just begun?

beginning/end
old/new
short/long
steep/flat

Yesterday was the last day of school. Today is the first day of my summer break.
Old memories linger. I will make new memories.
I have a short haircut. I took a long, four mile walk on this breezy summer morn.
As hubby and I hoofed it, we conversed, teased, laughed, enjoyed the paved trail and woodsy area.

High atop a wire,he whistled a wolf-call at me, that ripe tomato colored, plump cardinal. He caught my attention, as did the lone, small, multi-hued cloud in the bright blue sky. I am thankful for this day and so much more.

Yesterday I had to say good-bye to some children who touched my heart and soul. One little boy in particular, so sweet and sensitive with a life-threatening medical condition and developmental issues. Last year, although he was age-eligible for kindergarten, I convinced his mother to leave him with me one more year. She obliged and it has made a real difference, if for no other reason, that he had one more year to enjoy his learning experiences instead of being force fed an education that forces educators to teach to the test instead of individual needs.

I know what Ben needs. He needs someone to understand when he reaches up his arms with wrists that don't rotate, that he needs one more hug. He needs extra time to express himself. He needs someone to be gentle with him, because he is sweet and sensitive. He notes when others are sad and he often misconstrues facial expressions. A firm look does not mean I'm mad; it means "I MEAN IT."

He liked to engage my assisatnt, but he recfognized that one look from me. Then he'd laugh and comply.

He threw himself into my lap at the end of the outdoor graduation and picnic. He was the last to say good-bye. He babbled joyously, "Miss. Linda, I love this picnic, I so happy."

He spied a tear roll down my cheek. He said, "Miss Linda, I so sad. I so sorry."

I so hugged him and told him not to be sorry. He didn't do anything wrong.

I so hope that someone loves him the way I do. He'll be mainstreamed with an aide. He'll struggle. It will be an uphill battle for most of his shortened life.

As hubby and I huffed and chugged our chunky bodies up the last part of a moderate incline towards home, I remembered what my dad told me when I was a kid and we were driving out west. "Keep looking forward. Keep your eyes on the road until I tell you to look back."

I was amazed, when I looked back to see that we had climbed a mountainous road. It didn't seem steep at all while I kept my eyes on the road ahead.

When the road seems too steep, stop and rest, keep your eyes forward and you will look back in amazement whether you are writing, reaching for a goal or living daily life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mother's Day

I am a little girl in the early 1950s. I play with rubber baby dolls with open/shut eyes and I emulate my mother. On hot summer evenings, I sit on the gentle sloping lawn, thick with clover flowers and listen to my parents talk about the day’s events. I sit at Mom’s feet and admire her shoes. I always want to clomp around in what Mom calls her “wedgies”. While other moms wear make-up and teeter on high heeled spikes, my plain-Jane mom balances on chunky heels and wears pedal pushers or house dresses.

The same style shoes are back in style. Yesterday I slid my feet into my new pair of wedges, slipped into my Capris (pedal pushers) and strolled down memory lane:

I’m a freshman in high school. Mom and I wear each other’s clothes and swap purses. On Saturdays, we walk a mile to Cherokee Street, the six block shopping district with a variety of individual stores. She forbids me to wear make-up like the other girls, but for the most part, Mom’s okay. She sits on my bed on Sunday mornings and we talk like girlfriends. She sure doesn’t act like a mom, I tell her. We enjoy one another’s company.

I’m a high school senior. I am tired of her being my boss. I don’t want to be anything like the woman I strongly resemble. Complete strangers stop us and comment that we look like sisters. The last thing I want to hear is, “You look just like your mother.” No matter how accurate the statement, there is a twenty year gap between us. I am my own person, seeking my own identity and independence. Soon, I plan to get married and start my own life. I cannot wait to get away from Mom’s rules.

I’m twenty-one and Mom is forty. She walks a mile every other day to my house to adore and spoil her first granddaughter. They idolize one another. I enjoy Mom’s company again. I can do my own thing, wear make-up if I want. She’s always available to babysit at a moment’s notice. I’m very blessed.

“Mom, why don’t you let me put make-up on you?” I beg until she finally gives in. I poof her bouffant hair, tint her lips, rouge her cheeks and smudge sky blue eye shadow across her lids. “There, let me see. You look beautiful,” I say. My puzzled expression makes her dash to the mirror.

“I look painted. This is not me,” she insists, but she leaves the makeup on to please me. As we sit across from one another dunking Danish – she always brings bakery goods – I can hardly bear to look into her face. One of her heavy eyelids sinks into the socket, and the blue eye shadow disappears into the fold. She looks like a clown with one bright, blue lid.

“You’re probably right, Mom, you look fine without make-up.”

Mom tells me that a little lipstick is good; as a woman ages it brightens her appearance. So I always wear lipstick and Mom wears it only when she’s going out. The other day she smiled with bright pink lips and no teeth at the neighbor. She had forgotten her front teeth partial dental plate, and her mouth sunk in like a collapsed clay pot. I was totally embarrassed for her and myself. “I’ll never be like that!” I vowed.

Mom is sixty-two; I am forty-one; my daughter is twenty-two, and her little girl is ripping wrapping paper off her birthday presents. I overhear my daughter talking to my mom.

“Gram, I adore you, but Mom drives me crazy!” This from the daughter who used to beg to go everywhere with me and now depends upon me to help care for her little girl.

Mom is seventy-five. Thinks she's still five feet two. She looks so small in her hospital bed. I ask if she has a nail clipper. I rummage through her purse and discover a bottle of Jergens moisturizer and a razor wrapped in a paper towel.

“What is this for?” I ask. She smiles self-consciously and taps her top lip, rolls her eyes and says, “You just wait!”

I cringe. NEVER-EVER will I be this way. Mom is becoming a real embarrassment with her bristly lip, droopy lids, sometimes toothless grin and unfiltered comments.

Mom is surrounded by three generations singing happy birthday so loud, the doctor pokes his head into her room and laughs at the sight of a birthday cake with candles ablaze.

My fifteen year old granddaughter shares a confidence with her great-grandma and me.

“My mom doesn’t know anything! I can’t wait to go to college and get away from her!”

Everyone is saying their good-byes. I clean up the party mess, and as I wash my hands with antiseptic soap, I look in the mirror and see that I bear a striking resemblance to my mother. I massage moisturizer into my facial creases and wonder when my eyelids got so heavy. I listen to the conversation in the room and smile when my daughter jokes, “Gram, we all have the same family traits: your sassy mouth and heavy eye lids.”

My granddaughter moans, “Oh, Mom!” She utters the same phrase that has been repeated by four generations of us women. “I will never look or act like you.”

I hug and kiss my children and grandchildren as they leave the hospital. After everyone departs, I walk over and plant a kiss on Mom’s cheek. “I love you,” I say.
She taps her lip, points at mine and says, “My razor’s in my purse if you want to use it.”

Mom’s always been a spunky little, fun-loving woman who speaks her mind. I enter the hospital elevator, send up a silent prayer and rub the space above my top lip. I realize that in more ways than one, I am becoming just like my mother.

My daughter will be forty-one on Friday; I just turned sixty-two. She telephoned to tell me she is becoming just like me. It won’t be long before her twenty-one year old daughter calls and says the same words to her. No matter how we disagree, we all know that our mother-daughter bond is unbreakable and sealed with a kiss.

Mom’s been gone four years now. What I wouldn’t give to feel the slightly abrasive brush of her lips across my cheek. I would cherish one of her sandpaper kisses.

May the angels in heaven sing Happy Birthday today on what would have been my mom's 81st birthday.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Sometimes I think I can actually remember it, but in reality, I just remember my dad telling me about when I was a baby standing in my crib. "Show me your toesies," he'd say. I would pull up my night gown and show him my toes. He thought I was so smart.

Actually, a baby's receptive language develops before their expressive language, (they understand a lot more than they can actually say), but I never did share that tidbit with Dad. I liked that he thought I was a wise little cracker jack at ten months old.

My dad gave me horsey back rides and wheeled me around the block in my toy wheel barrow when I was a preschooler. On hot summer nights we sat on the lawn as a family of four, or we went to Chain of Rocks Park to try to catch a breeze high atop a bluff. Frequently he treated my brother and me to foot long hot dogs, ice cream cones and real pony rides. He strummed his guitar and made up songs with my name in them. He told stories about Lazy Elmer, a grasshopper who was forever getting into trouble. I imagined Lazy Elmer as a big kid, a teenager. Lazy Elmer would not do his chores, he'd go off with his friends, then sneak into the house late at night and try not to creak the floor boards. Just when he thought he was tucked safely into his bed, his parents would tell him to wake up and take his medicine (punishment). Dad used different voices and intonation for dialogue. I can't tell you how many nights I wanted Elmer to get away with his misdeeds. But he always had to suffer the consequences of his actions ... life lessons to my little brother and me.

When I was four, I walked to Tucci's Market in Walnut Park, with my father. An older girl walked in with her father and called him Dad. I asked DADDY what Dad meant, which proved I wasn't as smart as he thought. When he explained, I was thrilled with my newfound word and over used it proudly as we walked three blocks home.

Dad had a child-like quality; he was playful, and my younger brother and I thought of him as the fun parent. Now I realize Mom HAD to be serious, she had three kids :)

On this Father's Day, I pay tribute to my late dad for making me feel special, calling me his little boss and making me feel smart. Dad had a third grade education. He couldn't read me a bedtime story, but his oral story telling kept me spell bound. He captivated old and young alike with his ghost stories.

Without either of us realizing it at the time, his stories helped me to develop into the writer I am today.

Happy Father's Day to my husband for being the very best father and grandfather. He knows he is cherished. Today our home will overflow with children and their spouses and our grandchildren. We will over eat, rehash old memories and create new ones.

Hats off to all of the men who stepped up to the plate when bio-fathers couldn't or wouldn't.

I can't belive this, but I should, because I do not believe in coincidence. I was just preparing lunch when something caught my eye, (bigger than a floater). It was a grasshopper walking up the kitchen window. Not a red-eyed cicada, but a real GRASSHOPPER. Hello, Dad.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bye-bye 9-5, hello highway!

Surely you have been there. The nine to five grind ends up stretching hours longer, robbing you of your home life, suffocating the creativity out of you, draining your energy. You draw a line in the sand. One footstep across it leads to another. Your creative juices and bright writing ideas propel you forward. Your imagination and the thought of all of the possibilities of living your dream, achieving success drives you to finally chuck it all!

My friend, Jean, a former St. Louis news anchor, journalist, (too many hats to name) has had enough of the corporate tug on her life. She is about to embark on something I can only imagine. Would YOU do it? With your dog as your travelling companion? Quit your job? Hope for the best, and hit the road? I wish her the best.

Will you please read about her, listen to her minute long video, and then pass on her blog LINK to others? Thank you so much. Click here

I know that I will be vicariously riding shotgun with Jean. Won't you come along? All aboard.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another tell all!


Click here to discover a wonderful blogger, named Sylvia Morice who has a warped sense of humor like I do. She awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award, which means I link back to her, pass on to seven others and reveal seven things about myself.
Since I have done this recently, I shall be brief.

1. I have unofficialy mentored more degreed professionals than I can name. One teacher, in the public school where I once worked, used to stand outside my classroom to read my bulletin boards so she could LEARN. She taught middle school and I taught preschool. She also admitted that she bought her blind son a car. So there you go!

2. I'd rather be barefoot or wearing flip-flops.

3. On a recent 97 degree day I opened my closet for a birthday gift bag and nearly sobbed at the sight of Christmas decorations which made me profoundly aware of how much I despise dreary, long winters.

4. I can walk miles on a beach, but need an incentive to walk the neighborhood.

5. During the '82 World Series, my ex was auto mechanic to many of the St. Louis Cardinal's baseball players who came to our house. My daughter still has Keith (darned good-looking) Hernandez's autographed photo.

6. I almost drowned in the Missouri River when I was ten.

7. I had my first child in an army hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska. When I told the medic that it was "time", he replied, "The doctor is on coffee break, and the TIME is almost 1:00 a.m."

Should you decide to accept this award, please follow the guidleines, link back and pass it on. Now, drumroll, please...the versatile blogger award goes to:

Barb, who uses a purple pen (purplepen-barbsmusings.blogspot.com)

Beth, who digresses (bethmwood.blogspot.com)

Dianna, who writes in the midwest on a variety of topics(diannagraveman.wordpress.com)

Lynn, who waxes sentimental (lynnobermoeller.blogspot.com)

Val the Victorian, who lets the cat out of the bag (unbagging the cats.blogspot.com)

June Freaking Cleaver, who tells it like it is (ratiooffailures.blogspot.com)

Mary, the teachR writR (writrteachr.blogspot.com)

Debora, who has lovely things (whatsoeverthingsarelovely.blogspot.com)

Some of these folks have multiple blogs. Amazing!

Oops, I added eight, oh well, you are all deserving, and I am a rule breaker.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Help thy neighbor


Have you ever been stranded? We all recognize that helpless feeling. Which way do I turn? What do I do? Sometimes when you can't figure it out, God sends someone to help you out. I was that someone twice today.

We spent time with my daughter, her husband and my grandson who at age fourteen, has lost all ability to speak in full sentences. Grunts and one word responses are about all he can muster. The kid can't carry on a conversation with anyone over fifteen, but you should see him slug a ball. Seriously, his coach thinks he may have a future in major league baseball. I am so proud of that non-verbal young man with straight A's. They live on this lake. It is so peaceful there. The geese have young little waddlers that are so cute! I love water. We walked around the lake. Austin jogged with his buddy. He's in training for the 'majors'. Good to have a goal in life.

Grandson, Austin on the left and his buddy, Zach.

We were driving down the road when we saw a granddaddy of a box turtle trying to get across the road. His head out looking left, right, at us. He'd clocked a few years; he was as big as a dinner plate. I'm sure he's crossed that road a time or two by himself, but I told hubby to stop! I jumped out, picked up the turtle and placed him on the other side of the road. I felt better.

This evening as we were returning from a band concert in the park, we were at our exit. Across the road on the on ramp, I spied a grandfather with a young kid (who probably conversed fluently with his grandparents. But then, he didn't appear to be fourteen yet). They were walking, thumbing, wringing their hands, trying to figure out what to do. I recognized that helpless feeling.

Instead of turning off the highway, I went across the road back onto the on ramp and stopped. We offered assistance. Their car was broken down on the highway. The Bosnian man was ever grateful for the use of our cell phone, but alas, no one answered at the number he dialed.

So, hubby took me home and went back to pick up the man and his wife and two grandchildren and drive them home. That is the way we live our lives, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Whether it is a turtle stranded on the center line, a person on the side of the road, or a fellow-writer stranded in their writing and in need of encouragement, reach out with a helping hand. One person passing a kindness forward is like a ripple in the lake.

P.S.
Hubby just walked through the door. He said on the way home his cell phone rang. a man said, "WHO IS THIS?!"
Hubby said, "Bill."
The man said, "What do you want?"
Hubby said, "What do I want?! YOU called ME!"
They hung up, confused...

Merely a miscommunication. It was the guy whose phone number the Bosnian man had dialed, but hubby didn't realize it until he just relayed the story to me. I am laughing so hard. He doesn't understand what I think is so funny.
He said, "The poor guy probably thinks I was pranking him," which made me laugh even harder.

One bottle, two straws

I watched an old Twilight Zone episode about a guy, who after thirty years, returned to his boyhood town. When he arrived, he actually had gone back in time. The people were still kids, and adults hadn't aged. Nothing had changed. Time had stood still. But nobody recognized him, even when he called them by name.

He paid for items with money imprinted with dates thirty years in the future. It was mind-boggling for the proprietors of the small businesses.

Got me to thinking about businesses years ago. Dime Stores and drugstores had soda fountain counters with swivel stools. These were the places to go in the mid '60s.

When I was fifteen, I used to walk to the little neighborhood corner store,(confectionary) to buy a Coca Cola in a "stacked" green glass, eight ounce bottle. Then came the sixteen ounce bottles...way too much for me to drink. The store keeper would pop the metal bottle cap off and insert a narrow, paper straw into the bottle. If the straw bent or became water logged it was useless. Next came new and improved paper straws with a wax coating, and then, plastic straws were invented. Times they were rapidly changing.

Bottle caps were replaced by twist tops, and glass bottles by cans with pop tops. The game of bottle caps, played by guys in alleys or on parking lots, with a broom stick and bottle caps (like baseball) could only be played if one could beg the local bartenders for bottle caps.

Kids used to go to the neighborhood store to purchase cigarettes for their parents. My parents, like most of our neighbors, ran a bill (tab) and paid it every Friday. My girlfriend (future sister-in-law) and I used to scout the neighborhood to find discarded soda bottles and turn them in for ransom (deposit of 2 cents or 5 cents for the big 32 ounce bottles). If we collected enough money, we would walk to the greasy spoon restaurant and split an order of fries drizzled with ketchup. If we had enough money, we each ordered a Coke, if not, we ordered one Coke and two straws.

If we had no luck locating discarded bottles, we'd then walk back to the confectionary and order a Drumstick or ice cream sandwich, or a big sour pickle from the huge pickle jar on the counter and say, "Put it on the bill."

Such were the innocent days of my youth, the precursor to "Charge it!", before nearly everyone you knew had a dozen credit cards weighing their wallet and their lives down. Young people today have just about anything they want, and they never have to wait for it, or save for it. They lug a heavy load.

We look at our kids and grandkids and comment about the changing times. Instant gratification ... maybe we parents of the 70s created it by trying to give our kids what we didn't have.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Parroting your elders


Yes, my school is STILL in session, until June 22nd. Eight more days. I can break it down for you in hours, even minutes if you'd like to know exactly how long. Then I am off until the day after Labor Day. Woo hoo!

Yesterday my students made parrots and learned a little about the rain forest. I slit a toilet tissue roll down the center and hot glued the parrot to the tube and wrapped them bracelet-fashion around the child's arm as a perch for the bird.

I taught the children to mimic. They thought it was the most fun. They laughed out loud as they parroted one another. At dismissal time instead of releasing the children as a group, I released one child at a time and allowed some individual parent/child interaction, instead of dealing with massive noise in the hallway.

Mom/Dad: "Oh, that is such a cute parrot."
Child: "Oh, that is such a cute parrot."
Mom/Dad: "How did you make that?"
Child: How did you make that?
Mom/Dad: Ha-ha-ha, I get it."
Child: "Ha-Ha-Ha, I get it."

Fifty percent of the parents to me: "I WILL get you for this!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Big dummies

Many years ago I paid 35 cents to go to the movie theater on Tuesdays and fifty cents on weekends. The marquee announced the features, and a neon sign flashed, "COOL INSIDE", airconditioning.

First came the previews, then the cartoons, and then the movies. Life was simpler then, and going to the show was a great form of entertainment. I like being entertained, but even as a kid, I hated having my intelligence insulted. Maybe it was just my pet peeve, because I never heard anyone else complain about cartoons. It was always difficult for me to get INTO a movie. I was always wondering how and where the camera man was filming the scene.

I enjoyed Tweety and Sylvester, Tom and Jerry, Yosemite Sam...these cartoons I could tolerate even as a little kid. Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner annoyed me, yeah right, walk off a cliff, get steam rolled and then get right back up! I despised the bear cartoons which were personified, they acted like people but they had bear faces. How dumb did they think this eight year old was? I wanted to shout at the big screen, "Give them PEOPLE faces!" Maybe I've always been a control freak.

I despise South Park; The Simpson's can be irreverant but funny at times; I prefer Hank of King of the Hill. Now that show portrays real life situations. I can relate to him and his lame-brained family and friends.


I am not completely anti-cartoon. I like Pixar, Disney and such, but this entire week I have noticed a new trend in the advertising arena. Have you seen those animated PEOPLE, hawking products? Unless you are a real person, don't expect me to buy your schpeel on skin care products, financial institutions, or hamburgers, (yeah you too, Jack out of your box).

No, the heat is not getting to me, and it's "Cool Inside" my home.

Blogger still won't let me post to blogs that do not have comment moderator enabled.
There are enough real-life characters out there, I have had it with dummies.

I'm just saying ... and isn't this an overused phrase. Don't get me going. :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blah-blah-Blogger

Okay, Blogger is up to new tricks. Now I am unable to post comments on several blogs. I guess I will wait a while and see what happens. I have to sign in repeatedly to even post on my own blog.

Just want to assure you that I do read your blogs.

Chicken Soup is seeking stories about people who have or have had back problems/pain. They want first person, true stories about how you overcame or deal with the chronic pain. It must be in the form of a Chicken Soup story.

I could write about how Blogger has been a pain in my ... oh yeah, not that part of my anatomy.

Heard a good one (oldie but goodie) the other day at a picnic.

Husband says to his wife, "I killed five flies, three were male and two female."

She says, "How would you know that?"

He replies, "Three were on a beer can and two were on a cell phone."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Riding the rails

I used to love roller coasters. The exhilarating climb, the heart pounding curves, the thrill of rapid descent, the loopty-loops made my head spin. Last time I rode one was about ten years ago and I thought that would be my last.

Life's roller coaster has me planted in the front seat again, and I am on a bumpy ride. It is not a thrill seeker's paradise. My best friend of 43 years is headed for a nursing home. She has dementia from brain cancer. Radiation scar tissue caused a stroke in '04. Her short term memory is gone, and life has been difficult for all involved. My heart is breaking for her, but my positive thinking has me convinced that this could be a good thing. She will have social interaction there. She was always a talker- never met a stranger type person. The doctor's at Mass General (where she has been for a week due to a fall and bad test results during her annual check up) told her husband the tests all came back negative, with abnormal brain function, and they have nothing to compare her to because she has survived twenty-two years and no one with her type of tumor has survived more than a few years. She is in rapid decline. My emotions are on a roller coaster, thrilled, afraid, sad, happy. I wish there weren't so many miles between us.

All aboard! Half the family and several friends are seated behind me with their own issues. I hate those early morning and middle of the night phone calls.

This morning at 3:10 a.m. I was rattled out of bed by an eartquake. Yikes! What a ride I've been on.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Happy birthday to you, you belong in a zoo

Born at home on a kitchen table
on the south side of Chicago
in a rundown rooming house.
When mother went into labor
father ran to the corner pay phone
called Cook County Hospital clinic.
A doctor and two nurses arrived.
Then, I did.
Mom always told me how the nurse held her hand and coached her. She told her she had delivered six kids. Mom thought she was talking about her own. My mom thought, if she can do this six times, I can do it once. After I was born, the nurse told her she didn't HAVE any children.

After I wailed into the world, Dad kissed me on my unwashed cheek, then ran to the corner bar, bought the doctor a beer and Orange Crush sodas for the nurses. That's how it was on June 6, 1949 on Madison Avenue, in Chicago, Illinois.
(I think I would have insisted on a bed, but the doc thought the kitchen table would make a nice delivery table. eew!)

This morning I awoke to a cute card my hubby made for me. He is so creative and computer literate. I also received a coupon for a free pastry at Panera Bread Co, a free order of nachos at some restaurant, a free entree at Qdoba's and a brownie ice cream sundae from Chili's. It looks like I can just eat from morning till night. But I won't!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm coming undone, and someone's a liar!

The thirteen year cicadas have erupted from the ground and it is like a plague of insects here. They swarm, their mating calls are droning and deafening. But this is not about those winged creatures who will be gone by the end of the month. This post is about another aggravating pest.

I've seen them a lot lately, maybe you have too? Out of the corner of my eye. In front of my face. In the shower. In my glass of milk. Sitting at the computer staring at the screen. Talking to parents during parent-teacher conferences. They are as black as an ant, as fast as a fly, smaller than a size 10 font period, and they are driving me crazy. I swat like a crazy woman at these black dots. I scream when I catch unexpected movement in the room.

"I thought someone was in the room." I laugh. My husband doesn't.

I squeal when I discover one in my milk, shake the contents of my glass like a bartender mixing a martini, but the fleck never surfaces. I'm not about to swallow the drowned blip, so I pour out my milk. Okay, I've actually used a tea strainer and coffee filter to find it. Haven't yet!

I've splatted those little suckers on the mirror and whacked the heck out of the computer screen, but surprisingly they are gutless. I know for sure I GOT IT this time, and then, no trace of it, anywhere.

In the shower, I spy the aggravators on the white tile. Cautiously, I roll up that wet wash cloth and smack like I'm chasing my hubby. Creepy damn things disappear before my eyes.

During a parent-teacher conference, I watched the pest whiz in front of me. I clapped my hands once. Opened my palms and saw, NOTHING! The parents looked at me. I clapped again and said, "I applaud you for a job well done. Your child is a joy."

They smiled and nodded. I caught their sideways glances ... and then I saw that little bugger again, but I held my hands in my lap the way I expect my students to do at story time. I know how hard it is to have restraint.

These black specks are making a fool of me, or causing me to make a fool of myself.

Just researched the little devils. They are called floaters.

Speaking of floaters. You can learn all about a real floater. She's a braggart, an embellisher and she's accusing me of unspeakable acts using duct tape. See her previous post about my grandchild. Go to this site to find out about her!

You'll learn about how abbreviated versions sometimes have more impact than a lie. Seriously, try this exercise. Write a 500 word essay. Reduce it to its abbreviated version, a poem, and witness how you have strengthened and supported your story like a broken arm in a cast.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

What makes one kid want to party and another want to work?

Another graduation party this afternoon for Kyle's best buddy. Kyle's mom, her dad (my hubby) and I attended. You know where Kyle was? Up on a roof all day (doing a roofing job)and he refused to come down. He is the hardest working kid we know. 97 degrees and he'd rather work than play. It was 9:00 p.m. when we got home and there was Kyle sitting under a spotlight on the roof with the elderly owner. The old man and the young man having a heart-to-heart. I think Kyle is an old soul in a young body.

He feels different from his friends. Many eighteen year old classmates want to party and engage in risky behaviors. Kyle sees no point in it. He is goal-oriented. College in the fall. But this summer when most kids are transitioning, he has purchased a riding mower, wakes early to mow lawns and do roofing jobs. His goal is not money; it is WORK. He is driven to do manual labor. We predict he will own his own contracting business. We have predicted this from the time he was three years old and duct taping everything together to make his 'creations'. He received two scholarships, numerous awards.

Several moms were talking about their sons who all grew up together. A preschool boy entered the room and the women all said, "It seems so long ago that our boys were all that little."

I looked at them, smiled, and said, "To Grandpa and me, it seems like only yesterday."

Life seems to drag when you are in the middle of all the turmoil, but time flies when you get older. The years pass way too quickly.

The old buzzard and this old hen have a good brood. We are proud of all of the kids and grandkids.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Can you say it without words?

How do you say STOP with out speaking? Raise a hand.
Come here? Wiggle a finger.
Check him/her out? Eye movement and head gesture in the direction.

I had a friend who would watch me getsure, and say, "What's the matter?"
If I whispered, "Check that out."
She'd loudly resond, "Who, what, where?" as her head spun in circles.
I'd groan and say, "Nevermind."
I still have friends like this, and usually they are very book-learned, intelligent people, but they're not intuitive.

Non-verbal communication, is easier for some people to decipher than others. Either you have that connection with someone or you don't. My friend, Rose, and I had it. We spoke in fractured sentences, with our eyes and sometimes we hummed our words, which drove the kids crazy when they were little.

I use non-verbal in the classroom. I fold my hands and stop reading, and merely look at the disturbing child. When that child looks at me, he or she knows what I want, because I raise my folded hands and put them back in my lap. Usually the child complies. No staring down with hard looks, snide remarks, belittling or attacking.

Kristy, a former colleague was sharing a story about non-verbal communication when she and her husband were on their honeymoon years ago. She is olive-skinned, has dark hair and a great personality. You can't help but like her and laugh with her.

She said they were sitting in the sand when he gestured with his head to move her head closer. She inched in. He tapped his lip. She leaned closer. He frowned. She backed up. He tapped his lip again. She smiled and puckered up. He tapped his top lip. She tapped hers and dived in for a tooth knocking kiss.

He pulled back and said, "Uhm, I didn't want to SAY it; I was trying to tell you that you have a mustache, do you know that?"

Some men never know when to keep their mouths shut. We laughed so hard at Kristy's telling of that story.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Singing, dining and dancing in the parks

Thank you all so much for your patience. I have spent the last hour and a half redoing my bloglist, and half way through, they were wiped out again. So, I had to add and then SAVE each individual one. Very time consuming, but I am finished for now.

I am certain that I have forgotten some of my followers, so please send me your link, and I'll add you back again.

Now that it is June, just a reminder that all around St. Louis, there are free concerts in the parks and also downtown at the Old Post Office, and at the Zoo. Also, on Wednesday nights, free admission to the Botanical Gardens after 5:00 and they also have great live music. Everyone brings a blanket or chairs and stakes their claim on a section of lawn.

I am looking forward to the concerts in Carlondelet Park on Sunday evenings. June
5th, Bob Kuban is performing, and then, on 6/12 they have an old time rock and roll band. Nothing I enjoy more than people watching and listening to MY music in the park.

For those of you out of towners, it is a sight to behold: hillsides filled with picnikers, blankets and lawn chairs, people of all ages, pets, everything from dogs to cockatoos and parrots.

Some folks go all out, they pop the cork and dine on wine and cheese. Some have family dinners on pop-up tables. It is a writer's paradise.

I plan to be at Tilles Park tomorrow evening for the St. Louis Writer's Guild picnic. Hope to see you there.