Saturday, April 28, 2012

Do you need a nuzzle or a nudge?

What a sight to behold early this morning. On Easter when all of the children and grandchildren were here, I left this stuffed rabbit in the yard. The adult kids thought it was evil bunny, but after the little kids had hours of fun with it, the rabbit ended up by the birdbath, and that is where it has remained.

Hubby called me to the window but I missed the Kodak Moment when the real baby bunny went nose to nose with the stuffed animal. But I did get this shot of the little cutie heading under the shed. It must have been looking for its mama who was in the yard next door.

Sometimes we writers need someone to comfort us, just a nuzzle to let us know our work is worthy, or maybe a nudge in the "WRITE" direction. It is a good feeling to know that there is someone you can depend on. I'd like to think I am one of those supportive writers who will be there for you if you have a question or would like me to take a look at something you have written. So many people have been there for me when I felt alone and seeking information.

Hope you all have a great weekend. I am heading out to my honey-bunny granddaughter's bachelorette party which begins at a nail salon, and then we're going shopping, and after lunch we'll head down the highway for a tour of a local winery and a girl's overnight at a bed and breakfast.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Here comes the bride

In three weeks, my oldest granddaughter who is 22 and a half, will be walking down the aisle. I remember when she was four years old with a white lacey shawl draped over her head pretending she was a bride. Her real day is drawing close. I am reminded of how bright she was as a child and the funny things she said.

In first grade she had been writing and illustrating booklets. She had checked out Little Red Riding Hood from the school library. She showed it to me and she said, very seriously, "Nana, I think the little boy who wrote this had some violence in him. Don't you?"

In her mind, all books were written by children.

I have written a book of her quips and quotes and I will be sharing them with her bridal party tomorrow. Her maid of honor has organized an overnight stay and tour to a winery about an hour away. Three generations, Ashley, my daughter, and I along with all of her girlfriends will be making memories for our girl.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Standing in the spotlight

It happened almost four decades ago at the Arena. My daughter was about three years old and she loved her little square suitcase style record player. She played the same songs over and over: Supercalafragilisticexpeialidocious (excuse the spelling). I can hear her singing, "A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go dowwwwwwnnnn." She loved Mary Poppins.

When it was announced that Julie Andrews was coming to St. Louis for a stage performance of Mary Poppins, I bought tickets. The show sold out right away. We were offered floor seats. That meant sitting ON the floor, not a chair. But that was fine by us. Up close would afford a better view of the performance.

Just before Mary Poppins was to glide across the dimly lit arena high above the crowd on a wire, there was an announcement. "At all times children are to remain seated." I clutched my little girl on my lap. Suddenly, the ceiling was illuminated and Mary Poppins holding her umbrella, wearing a flowing black dress and cape, came gliding down-down-down...and that's when my little girl broke loose, darted off my lap and ran across the Arena floor shouting, "MARY POPPINS! MARY POPPINS!"

I had to make a split second decision, run after her and stand in the spotlight, or stay in the shadows and tell her dad to go get her.

Back then, I would do anything to stay out of the spotlight. I nudged her dad and he grabbed her and brought her back. My little girl upstaged Mary Poppins. It was her fifteen seconds of fame. She shared the spotlight and the applause.

Are you afraid of the spotlight? Would you rather stand in the shadows? You can't get your work or your name out there if you don't shine the light on yourself some of the time. I used to be embarrased to post writer brags. I would sit back and observe at meetings, because I doubted anything I had to say would matter. Conferences? Not me! I figured I couldn't measure up to the pros. But you know what? They were all beginners once, too.

These days I still do not like to brag. I am humbled by my successes and my ability to write. But I do put myself and my work out there. And you should, too.

Dianna Graveman is looking for stories on "Moms to Be" Anyone have a tale to tell about their pregnancy experiences? She would like to read them. It could lead to possible publication for you. And then YOU will share the spotlight. (Submission details above for the Not Your Mother's Books.)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy to be alive!

Happy Earth Day! Today hubby and I went out of town to visit a grandson who purchased a lake lot and to see his property. It was drizzling, but we saw a few delightful surprises. A flock of wild turkeys landed in someone's front yard and strutted all around, but by the time I closed my dropping jaw and grabbed my camera, we had driven past. I also spied a blue heron in flight and a vulture standing in a creek. On our return, the skies cleared and we came upon these horses in a pasture. This photo induces tranquility. I am so thankful to be on this earth.

As we strolled the property, I came upon this little sprouting of red fern among the greenery. What a delight. Little things make me so happy.
Discovering this little treasure gave me the same kind of feeling I had last evening at the Missouri Writer's Guild Banquet when my name was called during the awards ceremony. I received 1st place for a poem I wrote about my dad. I received 1st Honorable Mention from Saturday Writer's Chapter Flash Fiction Contest. I took 3rd place for MWG's Best Humorous Short Story Sponsor's Contest (sponsor Jo Anna Dale).

I am very honored to have received these unexpected awards. When I submitted, I thought my poem had potential, but I was up against some heavy competition in all other categories. Dianna Graveman gave me a run for the money. She took a couple of first places! Many of my friends won, and I was very pleased to be in the company of greatness. I sat with a great group of friends and wonderful writers. I believe that everyone who entered these writing contests are winners, simply for having submitted.

I am happy, I am humble and I have been hugging my hubby all day because he took me to breakfast to celebrate.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Today's lessons: lighten up and laugh

Sometimes you just have to dispense with the prim and proper and be crazy. After a week of beautiful, warm weather, it got cold and dreary. I wasn't going to let it get me down. I turned on music and picked up each of my morning class students, waltzed with them and spun them as they came in. You should have heard the giggles. The rain kept us indoors in the afternoon.
Usually I allow the children free play in the playroom which has one of those square plastic slides/climber and other toys. We had high absenteeism this afternoon, and we finished our work early, so I chased the three boys in the playroom. I tried to "get" their legs and shoes by reaching into the slide/climber as they laughed boisterously and dodged my grasp. One of them tried to ward me off with his foot, and another took it a step further. He removed his shoe and waved at me to fend me off. I pretended I was overcome with stinky feet, staggered backwards and held my nose and coughed...and you should have heard those little boys belly laugh. Sometimes, you just have to let loose. Laughter is good for the soul.

You can bet I was laughing and rejoicing the other day when I received an acceptance on a poem I wrote for Mother's Day. It will be published in Parent:Wise. It is what I refer to as a mirror poem, but possibly there is another name for this type. Each line in the first stanza is reflected in the second. I will share it after it goes to print.

Have a great weekend. This evening I am attending the Missouri Writer's Guild Conference banquet. I look forward to meeting old friends and making new ones.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Prom season is upon us. I heard a statistic that most people will spend $1,000 on prom. Those in the Northeast will spend almost double the amount. Those in the Midwest, will spend on average $750. Wow! Inflation and different expectations and types of celebrations have brought changes since my daughter's prom.

She and I went dress shopping. It was a nightmare. If I liked a dress, she didn't. Finally, I stopped expressing an opinion, and then she pulled the guilt card. "Why won't you help me? You don't even care!"

At that point, after hiking three malls and several bridal stores for the perfect gown; after devouring too much Sbarro pizza and Pepsi, and with blisters on my feet, I didn't care!

But the night of prom, when I saw my baby in that beautiful formal, with her hair done up, looking like a princess, it was all worth it. As her mom, I was so proud, but my mother who was obssessed with her grandchildren, couldn't get enough touch, pictures, hugs and kisses.

When my daughter and her best friend and their dates left for the evening, my mom who was more curious than an investigative reporter, insisted we go for a ride. She enticed, "I'll buy us an ice cream." I knew she was interested in more than ice cream. "Drive me past the reception hall where the prom is going to be."

We drove past, and she craned her neck to see the couples going inside. "Pull over, let's park in that lot across the street. I just want to see my girl go through the door."

So on a spring evening in the 1980s, my mother and I hunkered down in the car like two private eyes so she could get one more look at her girl. I thought she was going to bolt from the car when her girl arrived half an hour later. I had to roll the windows so she wouldn't shout and wave.

A generation later, my baby's baby was attending her prom.

Time goes on and prices go up and life goes a flash it seems.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Writing with intensity

Typically, I enjoy an easy read, feel-good fluff, nostalgia. But Wally Lamb's 734 page novel, The Hour I First Believed, is one of those books that you either love or hate. The ratings and reviews run hot and cold, either a one star or a five star. Chaos is a central theme, and I never thought that any author could get away with weaving fictional characters in with the Columbine tragedy, Katrina and other life altering events while adding little known snippets of history and using the actual names of the shooters.

This book is intense, and I can't put it down. It is unnerving as it takes the reader into the belly of the beast, so to speak. The premise is that Caelum and his wife worked at Columbine when the horrific events unfolded. Maureen a nurse, is emotionally damaged, ends up drug addicted and while driving home, kills a kid and goes to a prison, once owned by Caelum's family. The plot and subplots are character driven and multi-layered. The reader is often diverted into the lives of other characters. Some readers like this; others feel Lamb goes off on too many jaunts.

I appreciate when an author infuses comedic relief into a novel when the story line becomes nail-biting-intense. In one scene, Caelum is speaking to Dr. Woodward, the prison psychiatrist, who insists on being called Woody. "After a while I was only half listening to him because I had started making a list in my head of other Woodys: Woody Allen, Woody Woodpecker, Woody, the bartender on Cheers."

His wife's first psychiatrist, a woman asks him what is good instead of what is bad. He quips something to this effect, "Well it sure isn't Dubya and Darth Vader running the country for the next three years."

Sentences like these, allow the reader to exhale, take a deep breath and or chuckle.

I read Lamb's first book, She's Come Undone, and had to keep looking to be sure Wally was a guy. Everyone I have talked to about the book said the same thing.
His second novel, I Know This Much Is True is one of my all time favorites, but, I had to plod through the first fifty pages, and after that, every page was a page turner with a shock or surprise at every intersection.

If I had known the subject of this novel, about Columbine, woven with other current events, I most likely would not have bought it. I bought this novel based strictly on the author's name, didn't even read the jacket. Now it's too late; I'm drawn in. Involved. Hooked. On page 379.

Have you read Wally Lamb?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Believe it or not!

There used to be a section in the newspaper that drew my attention, News of the Weird. I would say this story qualifies, and I am embarrassed to say that it happened in my town.

Hit him where it hurts, in the wallet or in the groin, that's what most scorned wives would do. Lorena Bobbitt bobbed it, and many other women are behind bars because they committed a crime of passion in the heat of the moment.

In a very serene neighborhood, in a good part of town, as most folks were settling in for the evening, neighbors heard an explosion and ran outside. Apparently a neighbor woman who had caught her husband cheating, dragged his recliner outdoors and blew it up. Kaboom! Luckily he wasn't in it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

All God's children

Arianna Noel, our little angel I decorated the cake with a cute little angel figurine on it.

Today was Arianna's baptism. Arianna Noel was almost born on our couch on Christmas night. Her official relationship to us is step-great-granddaughter. Bill's daughter married a man who had a boy, Michael, who lived out of town. He grew up and married Vicki, and they are Arianna's parents. We see them at family events and on holidays, but this baby doll is just one more little darling in our family, no matter how infrequently we see her.

We received a message that the christening would be delayed by almost two hours. We were directed to go to the reception first, in an historic building that had been built with recycled materials from the St. Louis, 1904 World's Fair. I was anxious to see it, and I couldn't wait to hold the baby.

As we drove to the small town, a thunderstorm barreled up HY 44. We noticed flashing red lights and emergency equipment on an overpass, and I said a silent prayer for the people involved. Coincidentally, the next overpass had a fire truck with lights flashing. Wow! The weather was treacherous. With our windshield wipers working overtime, we drove cautiously and wondered aloud why there were dozens of people standing in a downpour on the next overpass with more emergency vehicles. The same thing on the next bridge, and the next and the next. An oversized drenched flag was suspended atop a hook and ladder fire truck with its lights flashing. We turned off the highway and onto the main street and gasped at the sight of people lined up for blocks and blocks, standing in the rain waving flags.

For a baby's christening? Of course not. The hoopla was for a home town hero's welcome. The soldier, a volunteer firefighter was supposed to come home on leave next week. He arrived today instead. In a casket. It was so inspiring to see such a turnout, love and support for this twenty-one year old man and his family who made the ultimate scarifice.

Two mothers, two children, one celebrating a beginning; one celebrating an end. All I can say is WHY? Why-why-why are we in this war? I remember feeling this same pain and anguish during the 1960's Viet Nam Conflict.

Arianna received gifts and cash, but LOVE is the greatest gift that we can give anyone. A baby cannot have too many people to love him or her.

The photographer requested a grandmother photo, and six women came forward. Arianna's maternal great-grandmother, her paternal great-grandmother, two step-great-grandmothers-in-law, her maternal grandmother, and paternal step-grandma gathered for a group photo with the baby. If I have lost you in all that family tree business, don't even try to figure it out. We'll all be called Grandma.

These lyrics speak to me, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love.."

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Be sure to come back tomorrow for a new post with baby photos.

Today I want to brag about what I discovered in my mailbox. I opened the large white envelope and saw that it was a copy of CANTOS, A Literary and Arts Journal from Missouri Baptist University. I thought to myself, What a lovely gesture. I opened it to read the first page and there were FIVE of my poems, not at all religious in nature. I couldn't believe it. I'd submitted them almost a year ago and never heard back. What a nice surprise!

This just goes to prove, you have to "write and release" and be patient. If it returns in a tri-folded envelope, you can probably kiss it good-bye, but not always. I once received an acceptance in my SASE.

Why don't you write and submit this week? You never know what you'll discover in your mailbox.

I looked out at our shed and saw two doves on the roof. The image reminded me of my parents, two old love birds, my dad wearing suspenders always out of breath trailing behind my mom, and so, I wrote this poem.

Love Birds, published in Cantos 4/12

Old soul mates, they strolled up the slight incline
one a short distance ahead of the other.
She paused, cocked her head back in his direction,
waited as usual for him to shuffle slowly to her side.
Together they strode to the apex,
his chest puffed out, taking in oxygen,
and the view from on high
made heaven seem closer.

He cooed and gave her a peck.
If he’d been wearing suspenders
he’d have inserted his wings into his straps,
popped them proudly and preened for his turtle dove up on the roof.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Way to go team!

I do not play sports. After this evening, I think spectator sports may be out of the question, too for a while. We attended a grandson's volleyball game at a local high school. We frequently attend his games, but this one made me sick. Sick enough to come home and lie down. Maybe it was the nosebleed bleacher seats ten feet from the ceiling. Or the combination stench of sweaty teenage boys and smelly tennis shoes permeating the room. It could have been the cheap perfume worn by a mom sitting directly in front of us that made my nostrils burn. Perhaps it was the deafening, skull splitting be-bop music (?) reverberating before the game began. Watching young boys on the court with full beards was a bit disturbing. I don't know WHY. My nerves were raw. Testosterone overload in the room: one of the coaches harrumphing loudly and disputing the referee's calls, boys pounding a ball with killer strength then high-fiving one another, a dad demanding loudly that his son ride home in his car instead of on the team bus. People cheering and stomping and clapping. Unable to alternate my feet, I hobbled down the bleachers thump-thump-thumping like a toddler, suffering from a headache, nausea, feeling off balance.

Sensory overload, that is what it was. I experienced briefly what some children have to live with all the time. Sensory overload is a real malady, especially affecting those on the autism spectrum. Hmmm, maybe I'm on that arc.

It was some game. Our team won. Yay!

(Sioux thinks I'm "special", but I think Lisa nailed it. The assault on my senses induced a migrane. My friend suffers from migranes regularly. I can't imagine having to endure these symptoms on a regular basis.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Boys will be boys

Our grandsons standing in order of height, being unnaturally still, restrained, looking uncomfortable in this forced line up.
And then, they became more relaxed, acted like themselves instead of one dimensional stiff characters. Two seconds later they were live wires, wrestling and rolling around on the lawn proving that boys will be boys.

If you are having trouble developing a character and your words are up a tree, escaping your grasp, don't give up. Allow your characters free rein. Observe, meander, allow them to surprise you. If you have to back away, catch your breath and let your characters rest, then do so. If you need to prod them into action, don't hesitate to climb that tree and go after them. Just as I posed the boys for a photo, writers position words into sentences, phrases, paragraphs and essays.

Allow for playfulness.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Entertaining angels

I said yes to Nicole when she wanted to go to the park on a drizzly day last week when we were on spring break.
She bent over and looked into a puddle and said, "Nana! Look! I'm an angel."

A few years ago, on an isolated beach in Florida, early one morning, as I scuffed along downhearted, I beseeched my late mom and God for an answer, as my faith was faltering because of a family tragedy. I came upon a woman writing in a prayer journal...the only other person on the beach. My mom's very words came out of her mouth. If she wasn't an angel, I believe the angels were instrumental in putting her in my path.

Chicken Soup sent me a "you've made the cut" contract today, but the final decision will be made in October for Chicken Soup Finding Your Faith.

My mom always quoted scripture and often said that we never know when we are entertaining angels unaware. Many of you are my angel friends too. You provide me with uplifting words, you make me laugh, you support me, and I thank each of you who read my blog.

Inside scoop for writers: Chicken Soup will be doing a book on ANGELS, so think about an encounter you have had with someone who just may have been an angel on earth.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Look what I found in the hostas! Happy Easter to all of you.
In about an hour the children, grandchildren and friends will arrive. I can't wait to hear them when they discover the cupcakes and my newly "hatched" deviled eggs.

I have an Easter album at school, album as in LP record. On our last class day before spring break I wore a deeper groove into it playing my favorite song over and over. Easter Parade...In your Easter bonnet... That melody, the resonance of Bing Crosby's voice soothes me, takes me back to childhood when I wore an Easter bonnet too. Fake green grass in my basket and real hard boiled eggs. That song reminds me of my mom. It reminds me of my children, my daughter in her Easter bonnet, and all of the Easter mornings when she and her little brother excitedly discovered their hidden baskets filled with candy, and their beloved stuffed animals.

I love the song so much that I drove my coworker crazy replaying it all morning, but then she does the same to me at Christmas with the Muppets singing Christmas songs. :)

When my grandchildren were very young, my daughter hid the eggs outside early in the morning. Then she and the kids left for church. Her now ex-husband awoke, saw the eggs in a bowl on the table and got busy doing bunny work. When the kids came home they were amazed that the bunny did double duty; the same eggs were back in the grass again.

Jesus died 2,000 years ago, but nowhere is history has He been referred to as the LATE Jesus, because he is risen and He is our living savior. A blessed Easter to you.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tour the riverfront with me?

On a warm afternoon this past weekend we drove to the St. Louis riverfront where the Gateway Arch towers more than 600 feet. I took my first grandchild to the top many years ago and I can still hear her squealing as she looked down from the observation window, "Wow! Look at all those wind up cars and the ant-size people." It is quite an experience. I watched the Arch being built from my high school window, and when the workers went to put the last section in didn't fit. The Museum of Westward Expansion, inside the Arch, is a wonderful, free museum with incredible exhibits.

Imagine Lewis and Clark making their way to the St. Louis riverfront. This bronze statue of them was commissioned by a friend of a friend. When the river floods, this goes underwater.
Tourists and locals enjoy taking a horse drawn carriage ride along the riverfront and also on the cobblestone streets along the Landing, which features restaurants and bars with live music.
On Saturdays, there are bridal parties galore riding in the Cinderella carriage and having wedding photos taken under the Arch.
The Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher are twin replicas of paddlewheelers that take visitors up and down river for an historic overview of the muddy Mississippi and St. Louis wharf.
You wouldn't get me up in a helicopter, but many tourists line up for aerial views of the city. On the fourth of July, the Arch grounds are packed with people, elbow to elbow, sprawled on their own section of grass to hear big name bands and performers (for free) before the gigantic fireworks display. One of the most memorable for me was Bill Cosby. He was hysterically funny. The Beach Boys, and many other well known groups have performed under the Arch. If you ever get to St. Louis be sure to visit the tourist attractions; many are free, paid for by our taxes.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Messages from Heaven

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven is a national bestseller!
My true story, Soul Friends, about witnessing my friend's spirit leave her body at the moment of her death is in this book. Please check it out, buy a copy for yourself or someone else.

Amy Newmark, coauthor of the book and publisher of Chicken Soup for the Soul, has been doing a series of radio interviews about the book and this Friday she will be the featured guest on George Noory's Coast to Coast AM show. This Friday night, if you would like to stay up into Saturday morning, you can listen to Amy talk about messages from heaven for two hours, starting at 10 PM Pacific Time (1 AM Eastern Time).

Coast to Coast is the most popular overnight talk show in North America and is heard on 564 radio stations in the U.S., Canada, the Virgin Islands, and Guam, as well as on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio (XM channel 168). Please click on the link below to find the radio station in your market that carries the show:

Sadly, I am leaving to go to visitation at a funeral parlor. My son's thirty-eight year old buddy and childhood friend was killed in a one vehicle accident. Heaven has another one.

I have just returned. Coincidentally, a disc jockey from a Christian radio station, (who had attended the same school as my son's buddy) was in attendance. My son introduced himself, because he listens to the station. I asked the DJ if he knew a woman named Janet who also had attended the same school.

I said, "She was married to ___ but they're divorced."

He said, "Yes, I married her."

I thought he was a pastor and had married them. NO! He is married to her. I taught her kids years ago, but we lost touch.

So Jan, if you are reading, please contact me.

It IS a small world! And there are no coincidences, I must remember this.

Monday, April 2, 2012

None of your business!

Back in the mid 80's my next door neighbor, Rose, and her sister, Millie, and I had been shopping at K Mart. Directly across the street on the corner was a small neighborhood bar, in a tiny wedge of a building. We saw a poster in the window advertising a live weekend band. We decided to stop in and see what the establishment was like. We ordered Bartles and Jaymes, flavored wine coolers and asked where the ladies' room was. The bartender directed us downstairs. An elderly gentleman wearing a hat, white shirt and tan slacks hobbled slowly down the stairs ahead of us. We sat at a table in the vacant room and waited for him to exit the one and only bathroom. We lost track of time laughing and talking. We had to "go" and we wished the old guy would hurry up. We waited until we couldn't wait anymore.

I volunteered to peek in. I opened the door an inch hoping that there were stalls with doors. I leaned way down and scoped out under the doors of the two closed stalls. I saw the old guy's tan slacks.

I ran back to the table and told my friends he'd be out in a minute. We waited several minutes, but he didn't exit. I peeked back in and noticed that he was still standing in that stall. I could see his shoes and pant legs facing forward as if he were about to open the door.

"Something must be wrong with him, maybe we should go get the bartender."

"Let US see!" We all snuck into that small john, bent down, and whispered that it was really none of our business what the old boy was doing. I peered under like a three year old in a dressing room. That's when I saw a guy in gray pants standing behind him. I snickered and motioned for my girlfriends to participate in my peep show.

Inside that stall was a life-size cardboard cutout of Bartles and Jaymes. Bartles was wearing the gray pants and Jaymes was wearing the same color tan slacks as the old man who must have slipped past us as we were talking and laughing.

Neither door was locked; they were both closed. We did our business and laughed all the way home snorting and spewing the Bartles and Jaymes wine cooler slogan, "And we thank you for your business."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Getting Sasee

Click HERE to read my story in Sasee Magazine, He Married Me Twice. Please leave a comment. Also return to Sasee's homepage and check out Lynn Obermoeller's story. She is a fellow writer and critique group member. PLEASE leave a comment for her too, at the bottom of the story.

This actually came as a big surprise. I received a "Thanks, for sending" repsonse from the editor, but not an official acceptance, so when Lynn emailed me, I thought sure it was an April Fool's prank.

It's going to be almost 90 degrees today. The sun is shining. My andrenaline is pumping and I need to get out of the house. I'm taking my camera. Toodles.