Friday, September 30, 2011

Numbers or letters?

Did I ever tell you that I am not math oriented at all? Throw a few numbers my way and I get frazzled, but throw a few letters my way and I can unscramble almost any word. I always won the bridal shower game where guests made as many words as possible out of the bride's and groom's names.

I was poor at math but one day when I was ten, my dad handed me a dollar and sent my nine year old brother and me to the store to get three items. He told us we could have the pennies to buy penny candy.

"All of the pennies?" I asked, my wheels spinning two-fers: 2 Mary Janes for a penny, two malted milk balls for one cent, two Swedish fish for a copper head. All that math and my imagination got the best of me.

When the grocer, who was also our landlord, handed my brother the grocery bag and dropped thirty six cents into my hand, I said, "May I have the change back in pennies?"

"Why?" He eyed me suspiciously.

"It's okay," I assured him, "Dad said we could spend all of the pennies we got back, so if you give us the change back in pennies..."

"I can't do that."

"Sure you can. You have a drawer full of pennies, and Dad said it was okay."

I convinced Joe, who looked and laughed like a jolly Santa (without a beard).

He chuckled from deep in his belly when he converted the silver and counted the pennies into my palm. I was giddy.

My brother and I giggled when we selected our candies.

I took the grocery bag from my brother and said, "Let me handle this."

I put the grocery bag on the table, and Dad said, "Where's my change?"

I had my candy bag tucked under my shirt.

"Uhmm, Joe gave us all of the change back in pennies and you said we could spend the pennies." I whipped out my bag.

I have vague memories of getting my butt whipped.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Apples and words, DElicious

Last week I took my class apple picking. This is my granddaughter, Nicole, who lost her ponytails to her own scissors, thus, the bowl cut to repair the damage.

We had fun tromping through the orchard and picking our own bag of apples.

I was thinking how apple picking is metaphorically like writing.

The children had to reach high for their goal, the perfect apple, much like stretching for the perfect word choice or phrase.

We had to twist and turn in order to get the apple to release its stem from the tree. Don't we have to tweak and prod our words?

The children discarded some apples with worm holes and bird bites. Sometimes we have to discard some parts of our stories because they're defective.

Bruised or rotted apples aren't as yummy as unbruised apples. We've all discovered how one rotten word can spoil a story.

As the children cradled their bag of apples like they were holding a baby, I was reminded that all of our stories are our babies, and it is difficult to edit parts that we wish we could keep. Sometimes we get so tired of lugging our babies, that we put them down for a while.

My 4-5 year old students made up and sequenced their own apple recipes that looked like this:


FIRST, smash up sixteen apples.

THEN, add about three cups sugar, a whole bunch of milk, and two pink flowers (heard someone else say 'a cup of flour') and two spoons 'cimanons' and stir it sixteen times.

NEXT, cook it in the oven sixteen hours and three minutes.

LAST, eat some and share with your mom.


See what I mean? Apples, words, delicous!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Birthday napkins are not just for wiping messy mouths

Here's what I do with left over birthday napkins. Open and glue a napkin to a piece of tag board or shirt board, that lightweight cardboard in men's shirts. Children learn about sequencing, continuity, staying on topic for four related sentences. They develop observation and verbal skills, creative thinking and higher level reasoning. They see THEIR words in print and begin to make the connection between, letters, words and reading: emergent literacy.

Reading and story telling are two of the greatest gifts we can give children. They love having their own books. Some kids are more verbose and will tell more than two pages, so you could also add more paper and encourage an ongoing story for a week. Be sure to read each book aloud and make that kid proud!

Tip: the book will open horizontally or vertically depending on how you glue the napkin onto the cardboard.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting my Sharpie ready for the weekend NOTE: TIME CHANGE

Introducing Dusty as a puppy

and here she is as a senior dog. She was my sweetie.


Booksigning - Whispering Angel Books "Nurturing Paws" Anthology

Saturday, October 1, 2011
11:00am-1:00 pm

Main Street Books, 307 S. Main Street
St. Charles, MO 63301

Please stop by and greet Linda O'Connell, Sherree Klemites-Nielsen and Faye Adams, local writers who have stories published in this wonderful book about their four legged fur babies.

Great book for the animal lover in your life!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Are you flying high?

I remember chastising my daughter when she became a teenager and she wanted Gloria Vanderbilt plastered across her back pocket. "You are buying a label, doing free advertising, and making that woman famous and richer. What has she done for you?"

"Mom, I am not wearing Garanimals mix and match; I want Gloria Vanderbilts."

I lost control. Feathered hair, funky fads and fun friends whose moms "let them do anything they wanted" won her over. I wasn't that mom! But I did buy her GVs for Christmas.

Last week I watched Gloria Vanderbilt, who is 87 years old, on her son's daytime talk show. Anderson Cooper is on Ch. 30 at 4:00 p.m. in St. Louis.

I've decided I like the classy old gal. I especially like a quote that Anderson attributed to his mother.

"We are not put on this earth to see through one another. We are put on this earth to see one another through." ~ Gloria Vanderbilt

I read Anderson Cooper's memoir, Dispatches from The Edge, and was astounded by his determination. He so wanted to be a reporter that he had a friend make up a fake press badge and he borrowed a video camera, hopped on a plane and went out to cover the war and news. His life story is amazing. His mother married her soul mate, his dad who was from Arkansas.

Imagine Anderson as a young man jetting all around the world with the guts to live his dream, not waiting for it to happen, but making it happen. That takes courage.

I imagine we have all had an experience or two on a plane that we could share. Here is an ongoing, online anthology call for submission, but it is not a paying venue.

Airplane Reading: Nonfiction about Flight
Airplane Reading (edited by Mark Yakich & Christopher Schaberg of Loyola University New Orleans) is an online, ongoing anthology dedicated to people's ordinary and extraordinary stories of air travel. The site features creative nonfiction, anecdotes, and observations about everyday experiences and misadventures of modern flight. Now accepting submissions at

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shhh! Can you keep a secret?

This was published in Boomer Women Speak a couple years ago.


Secrets, naughty or nice, have their own kinetic energy. Much like a bad case of vocal Tourettes, and despite attempts at ardent restraint, the words vigorously burst forth. Like a virus, once a secret is blurted or even whispered, it makes its rounds. Even the Center for Disease Control couldn't track the virulent strain of a secret.

For the past thirty years, I have been privy to more family secrets than the CIA. One of my preschool students drew a family portrait and dictated a story. By the end of her narrative, I knew which bar her daddy snuck her into, where her mama hid the money so her daddy wouldn't find it, who her teenaged sister sneaked out to see after dark, and what her brother did with the mail that came through the slot in the door.

Another child shared a significant secret. Her mommy had way too much wine in her belly to ever have enough room to grow a baby brother or sister. Secrets grow in proportion to perception. When I taught a unit on Native Americans, a child couldn't wait to whisper his secret in my ear: "My daddy is a ‘naked American' too."

Teenagers spread secrets like the common cold. One secret begets another. Teens burn up the phone lines with the precursor to every broken confidence, "Promise you won't tell another soul?"

Adulthood leads to maturity, but even the most well-intentioned adult can harbor secrets for only a limited amount of time. Like a pair of too tight jeans, they have to let it all hang out sooner or later. How many mothers have said, "Now don't tell your brother or sister..." How many siblings have continued the rivalry and squabbling because of one little secret released in a whispered hush?

The positive thing about secrets is that one only has to be concerned with keeping or spreading them for about six decades of their lives. After that no amount of coaxing can pry a secret from a senior citizen like myself. It's not so much my moral or ethical compass that guides me. It's simply that once a secret is revealed, the buck stops with me, because I can't remember what the secret was, or even who told me.

Do you believe in angel kisses?

Grandma's New Baby
(written for Nicole when she was born, 10/30/07)

When you aaah-chooo you blow me away.
Your hiccup rhythm makes me sway.
Your belly-burps are daddy size.
Your tiny toots are chuckle size.

Your coos and aahs rock my world,
Nana’s newest baby girl.
When we lock eyes it’s you and me,
Toothless wonder and old granny.

“I cuuute”, you babble, and I reply
“Yes you are, and so am I.”
You’re oh so precious, my little miss
Your Maw-Maw blew you an angel kiss. *

She caressed your cheeks from heaven on high.
Painted your peepers like the deep blue sky.
All of your noises, even your cry
inflate my ego and make me sigh.

I cannot believe
I’m blessed again.
You’re a gift from heaven
with an angel’s grin.

*In 2007, before my mom passed away, my daughter-in-law was expecting Nicole. I asked Mom to kiss her great-granddaughter on her way down from Heaven. Nicole was born with a red strawberry kiss birthmark on her tummy. Honest!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yum-Yum eat 'em up!

If your squirrles are anything like the ones around our town, it must be an indication of an early winter. The fluffy tails are manic in their movements, digging and darting all over the place. I have been dodging them as they dart in front of our car, shooing them away as they dig up our flowers.

Now here's a squirrel the kids are sure to love, one even a mom or dad won't mind having in the house. Invert an empty oatmeal container so lid is on bottom for easy removal of contents. Hot glue on faux fur or felt. Cut a wide mouth, add google eyes. This squirrel is a grandpa; he's been a round for quite a few years, but he has provided years of fun for preschoolers. Think of all of the concepts you could target: shapes, colors, letters, numbers, simple addition.

I sit with the child as they feed the squirrel, and I say "yum-yum-yum" as they drop the block in. When they least expect, I shake the squirrel and pretend it is gobbling the shape. I shout, "YUM-YUM", and the children squeal with delight/fright and say, "Do it again!" But they never know when ... This keeps them interested and I can work on a few shapes in one sitting.

Song: (do the actions)
Gray Squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail.
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail.
Put a nut between your toes, wrinkle up your little nose.
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail.

Go outdoors and look for squirrels and sing this song to the squirrels.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Froggy Fun

If enough people express an interest, particularly preschool teachers, I will post some of my home made "trash to treasure" teaching aids.

I fascilitate at teacher recycling workshops, and my class always fills fast.

Cut the top off a two litre green soda bottle, cut a frog from fun foam. Cut out a mouth, then hot glue it on along with egg carton cup eyes and add wiggle eyes. Purchase plastic insects or ask parents to contribute. Provide tongs. I have several kinds: scissor tongs, but they are too difficult for younger children; open-close easy-to-use plastic tongs, and the tongs that are pictured here have resistance to them so the kids have to apply pressure and squeeze.

Using tongs to pick up objects develops fine motor, small hand/finger muscles.

Allow children to make their own discoveries. First, they will manipulate and investigate with their hands and discuss the properties of each.

"Hey, this caterpillar really stretches."

"Look at all these black spiders."

"There are different kinds of bees."

"This is a giant size bug."

"Once, I chased a grasshopper like this one."

After children have had sufficient time to examine the insects, explain that they can only feed the frog using the tongs. They have to twist and turn their hands and get a little wrist action going as they maneuver the bugs into the frog's mouth.

This should be left out for free play. You will be amazed at how the children sort/classify/ count, and make observations. This unstructured activity provides hours of fun. Please, don't hurry the 'educational play'. Don't explain classifying etc.

Observe as the kids begin to do these things on their own.

To further extend this activity, add a soft dice and show the children how to count how many dots, and then feed a corresponding amount (that many) bugs to Froggy. Add numbers 1-6 and show them how to match the number to the amount of dots, so they can remember how many.

Sometime during the day, talk about Froggy. Listen to what the kids have to say about their individual experiences. Talk about how frogs catch insects with their tongues. Tell them to pretend they have a frog mouth. Do tongue exercises which helps speech development: stick your tongue way out, to the right, left, in-out-in-out-in, catch a pretend bug, crunch and munch, say, Ribbit" and lick lips all the way around. Make a bug to eat: peanut butter on Ritz crackers, raisin eyes... have fun.

Please let me know if these activities/homemade games are something you are interested in; pass the word to others.

For those of you who are not classroom teachers, remember, you are teachers too, grandmas, moms, whatever your official title, your kids and grandkids will be delighted with these nearly cost free and fun activities and games.

I will be posting preK activities on Wednesdays accompanied with photos. Please stop by and leave a comment, especially if you try something and the kids liked it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

fateful field trip

Next week we have a field trip, so the permission forms and fees have been coming in today, which reminded me of one of my most eventful field trips.

There was a large grocery store nearby, so for our community helpers unit, we visited the Schnucks Market. The children received freebie handouts at each stop: an apple from the produce department, a cookie from the bakery, a little smoky from the deli etc. We ended our trip at the check out lane. Scanners were brand new then, and the manager gave each child several items to scan so they could watch their amounts register. The kids were really into it, when one of the nearby checkers yelled, "Go get him!"

I took off running through the automatic doors, along with the manager and the undercover security guard, hoping I could get to my student before he got to the parking lot. My heart was pounding. I was breathless, scared witless.

The manager shouted for me to go back inside.
I was in the middle of an armed robbery and they were chasing the bandit.

Sometimes I think I really might be related to Lucy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

taco fish

Here is the anchor desk in my clasroom where kids take turns announcing their news.

I operated a six week, half day, summer camp for school-aged children for sixteen years. I had a similar set up. It was fun listening to the 60 plus children who were divided into four age groups.

The pre K & kindergarteners announced their news about upcoming events in their lives.
"I'm going to my grandma's to go swimming."

The 1st & 2nd graders talked in depth about their sibling problems.
"I wish I could trade my brother. He always hits me. If anyone wants to trade him for a skate board..."

The 3rd & 4th graders were the most candid and I always got an earful with them.
"My dad took me to the bar and bought me potato chips, but I'm not supposed to tell my mom, oh yeah, or that my big sister snuck out with her boyfriend."

The 5th & 6th graders 'played' more than the younger children. After watching them year after year, I concluded that somewhere along the line, they missed out on PLAY. Schools rush kids into seated, structured learning, instead of targeting developmental learning. Many parents and educators believe that acadmeics should be the goal; they do not realize the value of unstructured free play in a young child's life.

Did you ever put on shows or plays when you were a kid? It requires planning, doing, reviewing, devleops leadership etc.

We have been doing a unit on fish, sorting, classifying, fishing for letters and matching them. We read Bobby Bear Catches a Rainbow Fish. We examined stuffed fish, s-m-l and discussed likenesses and differences, and then we bounced them on a blue bed sheet (water) and predicted which size would bounce higher. Lots of giggling.

We sat down to name as many fish as we could think of: gold fish, cat fish, clown fish, Nemo, rainbow trout, and one little boy announced that there are also TACO FISH, because he eats fish tacos.

And here's my NEWS: I love teaching preschoolers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wild Life

Last night was Writer's Guild open mike night at a new venue due to a scheduling conflict. We read inside historic Kirkwood Train Station, which is a whistle stop, still in operation. After the readings, some of us walked over to a little ice cream stand, maybe as old as the train station. It had been hot, 90s all day and still very warm after dark. So neat to sit outside and watch the Amtrak passenger trains whizzing by.

As hubby and I pulled into our driveway, the car headlights caught two baby raccoons as they darted.

This morning one of them was lying under my car. I thought it was dead. No, it was snoozing. I touched it with a towel. It woke up groggy, but had trouble with its back leg which was dangling. So I scooped that cute little masked fur ball into a plastic tote bin and called wildlife rescue.

The lady said sometimes when it appears their hind legs don't work, they have distemper. They sent someone out to rescue it. The man said they would take it to the vet and rehab it if the leg was broken, or euthanise it if it had distemper.

Broke my heart. It was the size of about a six week old puppy, cute as can be.

I hope tomorrow I don't find the other one. While I am on the subject of wildlife, the hummingbirds are still around, but the temperature is about to nose dive to the 40's tonight, so the hummers will probably be heading south soon.

Stopped by Wal-mart this evening, and let me tell you, there's a lot of wild life there! You know how vanity license plates and bumper stickers make a statement about the person? The slogans on some of the shopper's T-shirts made me want to go "eww!"

"When My Work Day Ends, My Drinking Begins" She couldn't have been 18 years old.

"Everyone is Entitled To My Opinion" He looked like he didn't have a brain in his head.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Well, DUH!

I believe that literacy is the greatest gift we can give students. To be able to read and write is necessary to be successful, not only in school, but life.

In my preschool classroom I have a "newsroom", a small table with a non working keyboard, notebooks, pencils, a sticky note pad. On one half of the back drop there is a map for weather reporting or geography interest. The other half is a large blank area for their NEWS, which they jot down on the note pad. Then they stick their news to that area. Some children scribble, draw and others are eager to learn about writing and reading, so they print letters. The older children learn phonics letter sounds, and they write phonetically what they hear. The word 'candy' might look like this: kande.

A little boy was busy sounding out words. He called, "Teacher, how do you spell DUH?"

I asked, "Do you mean, duh-dog?"

He said, "No-no-no, I mean DUH! Like I am going to da store."

My first funny of the new school year, and I am certain there will be more.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflections on the tenth anniversary

Ten years ago, I stood in my living room and cringed at the sight of the first plane hitting the tower. I thought, what an horrific accident. I felt terrible for the people on that plane, and for those in the World Trade Center building. I did not realize that the horror had only just begun.

I turned on my car radio on my way to work and listened intently to the reports. Then, I heard that another plane had made impact.

I arrived at school a few minutes later. No one was quite sure what was going on. Teachers were asking one another, "Did you hear about the plane crashes in NY?"
The gravity of the situation -America was under attack- was like a collective punch in the gut. We all felt winded, worried, and wounded.

My preschool classroom was in the lower level of an inner city middle school. What I remember most is the panicked teenaged boy in the hall who shouted at me, "America is at war!"

"Calm down," I said. "Don't jump to conclusions. Nobody knows for sure what's going on. This does not necessarily mean WAR."

I walked into my classroom, made phone calls to my family and then stood in stunned silence as my preschool students went about their school day, unaffected by the attacks. My aide was capable, so I left her in charge. I felt as though I HAD to do something patriotic to relieve the mounting tension in the middle school students, although I was not in charge of any of them. I came up with an idea. I did not consult the principal or counselor.

I cut red, white and blue construction paper into strips, the kind that kids use to make paper chains at Christmas. I visited each classroom. I passed out a strip to each student and asked them to write what they were feeling at the moment about the tragedy; any fears, any words, anything would be acceptable. Some asked if they should sign it.

"If you want to," I said.

I collected the strips and rolled them into loops, then I stapled them to the bulletin board in the cafeteria. I assembled more than two hundred of them into an American "feelings" flag. I read, "I am afraid." "I want to kick their asses." "Bomb them." "Why did this happen?" "What now?" "I want to go home."

At lunch I observed students searching for their piece of that flag. I listened to them read their words aloud, giving voice to fears and feelings, owning their emotions.

I don't know if my action did any good. It just felt good to do SOMETHING.

I mentioned to my husband a couple of years after 9/11 that I felt as if the color had drained from America. I first noticed it on highways and parking lots. Most new cars were gray, beige or white. Emotions ran the gamut, people were depressed; everyone seemed blah and every thing seemed bland.

Now, ten years later, I notice that there are so many red cars and trucks on the road. Color is returning to America. People are blue from being homeless, hungry, jobless and hopeless. The "haves" have more green, while the "have-nots" shrivel, their egos bruised, deep, purple. There is an underlying current that runs through the population as orange as a flame; fire rages in the gut of all who are suffering during this recession.

We're desperately missing the color yellow, sunshine yellow, happy face yellow.

"I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony..." Remember that commercial where people of all colors, religions and ethnicities joined hands?

My plea to politicians at every level of government is, Please, do SOMETHING. Reach across the aisle, the great divide and extend a hand. Come to some agreement and shake on it. Do it for America.

God bless and comfort the heroes of 9/11, the families who lost loved ones and everyone affected by this senseless tragedy.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Massive mass

Ten years ago, after suffering like the rest of Americans with the horrific images and realities of the attack on 9/11, I couldn't take it anymore. My nerves were raw; I was on the verge of tears for two weeks. I was tired of crying.

I sent this to an editor:

I have shed so many tears and suffered so much sorrow. Like most Americans I am looking for a reason to smile or laugh. If you think my experience would help lift someone's mood, you have my permission to print. It went to print in the next issue, and I think I received $35. Tomorrow, I will tell you where I was and what I did on 9/11.

Baking Bread in Alaska… published Suburban Journal, 9/01

In the fall of 1969 I was a military wife living in a remote Alaska town trying to survive on a shoestring budget. A loaf of bread cost $1.50, while in the lower 48 you could buy four loaves of white bread for a buck.

One day my next door neighbor, Sheila, and I pooled our pennies and walked to the general store in town to purchase a double packet of dry yeast. She wanted to show me how to make homemade bread. We combined the contents of our nearly empty flour canisters and doubled the yeast so we would have a loaf for her and loaf for me. We took turns kneading the mass of dough. We watched it rise and then we pounded it a second time. We covered it with a moist towel to rise again, and then we trekked single file down a footpath through the woods to visit other army wives.

Three hours later we remembered our bread dough. We hurried home, confident that there was still enough time to divide that mass of dough, pop it into the oven and surprise our husbands. The surprise was on us. We darted into the tiny trailer kitchen and gasped in disbelief at that massive dough. It had swollen to incredible proportion, crept out of the bowl, onto Sheila's table and was slinking toward the edge. Speechless, we looked at one another in disbelief, then back at the sticky blob covered with ducky diaper pins, the empty yeast packet, two pennies, one nickel, two copper bobby pins to match my friend’s hair, the contents of an ashtray and three, red Yahtzee die. We laughed uncontrollably.

We gave the blob a fitting burial in the bottom of the community trash barrel. There was no trash removal and residents burned trash on the weekend. Sheila and I worried for days that the massive dough would rise to great heights when the landlord tossed the match.

Homemade bread? No thank you, unless you're baking.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Scary hair

Years ago, before blogging, an editor exchanged emails with me. She asked me to describe myself. I told her that my hair color depended on the time of the month, and no it had nothing to do with that time. First week of the month my hair is dark brown, next week it is medium brown, third week it is light brown and from there on it fades to shades of red to brassy orange. It doesn't look too bad indoors or on cloudy days; it's when the sun is shining and I catch a glimpse of myself in a window or the car mirror. And you don't even want to know what I say when I see my hair color in a dressing room mirror. Artificial hair color under artificial lighting... by the last day of the month, I look like I have Heinz 57 mutt hair.

I'm letting my locks grow, like an old lady's last hurrah, at my granddaughter's urging. My hair is poker straight, and curling it everyday is a pain. I can't wear straight hair; my ears stick out like Patricia Heaton's (The wife on Everybody Loves Raymond).

My hairdresser puts up with me. I say, "Chop it and don't ever let me grow my hair this long again; I look like Hillary Clinton." She smiles and nods. She cuts my hair, and I say, "OMG! I look like Laura Bush." She smiles and nods. She can't win, but she puts up with me.

I'm at that in between stage where I can't stand my hair. And one more thing, Miss Clairol and I are going to have a talk. I think she's watering her formula down.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Writing news

Good news, one of my poems will be published in Storm Country, the Missouri Writer's Guild anthology to benefit the residents of Joplin who were affected by the tornado.

I will be doing a book signing along with Faye Adams and Sheree Klemites Nielsen
October 1st, at Main Street Books in St. Charles. We're signing copies of Nurturing Paws. Come see us.

Critique group tonight was more than fun. Thanks Lynn for your generosity and hospitality. A good laugh is like a colon cleanse, it gets rid of all the crap in your life for a while.

Focus on the Family magazine, Thriving Family, is seeking humorous parenting quips, particularly about Christmas. Pay is $20.00


Monday, September 5, 2011

Did You Know...

Someone sent this to me, and it made me chuckle. Regardless of what your politics are, I think you'll smile too.

The English language has some wonderfully anthropomorphic collective nouns for the various groups of animals.

We are all familiar with a herd of cows, a flock of chickens, a school of fish and a gaggle of geese.

However, less widely known is a pride of lions, a murder of crows (as well as their cousins the rooks and ravens), an exaltation of doves and, presumably because they look so wise, a parliament of owls.

Now consider a group of baboons. They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates. And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons? Believe it or not ....... a congress!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

This is the weekend my son-in-law, the entymologyst (Bug Man) rents Sherwood Forest, an entire section of a state park an hour away, for group camping. No tents, no campers, just four clusters of ten primitive cabins with bunks. There is a group bathroom/shower house for each cluster.

He has twelve siblings and all of them have many children. There were so many kids, there must have been sixty this year; as all of the children are getting older and they invited their friends for this four day Labor Day campout. Ball fields overflowed with teens and preteens kicking a soccer ball.

The volley ball court always has a competetive game going on. The younger children ride bikes, go on hikes and shoot archery like the adults do, but the children use blunt arrows and think their big shots.

The adults number about 30-40, and everyday is a food fest; everything is prepared in a mess hall by individual families. We eat all weekend, and laugh and talk and sweat. Primitive means no air conditioning, and it was 97 degrees yesterday until late evening when a cold front moved in with fifty mph winds, kicked up dust, sent leaves swirling and cooled everyone down. We used to spend the entire weekend, but now hubby and I spend one entire day. The only thing we didn't do is lie down in the field and star gaze before bedtime. We were headed home by 9:00 p.m.

I love taking pictures, so hubby and I went on a hike and photographed leaves. He came up with a great caption/title for our combined efforts. Now I think I will develop a poetry chapbook with our photos and his title.

As I walked down a trail I wished aloud, "One flower, all I need is a picture of one wild flower to complete this." The trail opened at a field of golden flowers.

Such a nice and unexpected blessing, but the real surprise came when I saw this beautiful large butterfly lift off from one of the flowers. My camera was too slow, but this is my generous gift from Mother Nature.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

So you want a publishing credit or twenty-five? Can you hear me now?

The good news:
click here for a list of over twenty-five titles seeking YOUR stories.

If your story is accepted, you will receive ten copies of the book, and a publication credit. The publisher is a former Chicken Soup editor.

You can write with a saucy, PG 13 rated "voice", and I know a lot of you sassy pants out there can do this. I have already sent one off.

The bad news:
No monetary compensation. But just think of how fast you could rack up publishing credits. If this sounds like a fair trade off, check out the NOT YOUR MOTHER'S... call outs on the upper right hand menu of their page.

I personally think writers undervalue themselves when they work for peanuts all of the time. Your hairdresser, plumber etc. wouldn't do their jobs for a write up, so you decide. On the other hand, the ten books are yours to sell, so technically...


My husband finally decided last week that hearing aids were in order. He's had them adjusted twice. Yesterday he shouted into the bathroom as I was taking a shower,"You won't believe this, I'm picking up Morse Code in these things, dot-dot-dot dashhh. I have to get these things adjusted again!"

When I shower, I listen to the police scanner which we bought years ago during a tornado season. As nosy as I am, you'd think I'd have it on 24/7, but I listen to it for background noise only when I shower.

Sometimes when a call is being dispatched it is preceeded by a series of high pitched bleep-bleep-bleep-blipppppps which Bill intercepted loud and clear.

I laughed until my sides hurt.

The good news about his hearing aids: he can hear the slightest whisper. I no longer complain about the blaring TV, and I do not have to repeat myself and use exaggerated gestures anymore. They require batteries. So naturally, I messed with him when he said he heard the tiny indicator beep. I started mouthing what I was saying to him. "They went completely dead! I can't hear one word you're saying, speak up.

Oh you little..."

The bad news about his hearing aids: he can now hear my slightest whisper, "He makes me crazy leaving this mess!" He looked at me and said, "You do realize that I can hear everything you're saying now, right?" My tongue is sore from biting it.

The TV is so low, I can't hear it well, and if I turn it up, HE says it's too loud.

We are making adjustments, in fact he's going today for further tweaking.