Sunday, September 29, 2013

I can still thread a needle

We went shopping today for new kitchen placemats. Every store has seasonal homegoods, and that was not what I was looking for. I like simple and neutral. Autum leaves and pumpkins just wouldn't suffice. After going to seven stores, I went to Sears. What has the world come to? The sales clerk told me they no longer carry placemats.

So, I bought some white ones at the thrift store and sewed a decorative fabric border on each. They look really cute and I am satisfied with the results. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and be creative.

Many years ago I decided to make a quilt. I precut squares in four different fabrics: navy blue, blue small print, white and sky blue. Having had no experience, I laid out the pieces on the bed in the pattern I liked and began sewing blocks together and then rows. It took hours, but it did look pretty. Then I discovered my major mistake. I had used cotton material on all of the squares except the sky blue ones. They were polyester. They stretched and would not hold their shape. It was a learning experience.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Sprucing up

I should not have spent all afternoon watching the Love It or List It real estate show. I am amazed at the expensive cost of living on the coasts. What costs us $150,000 for a home in the midwest would cost three to four times that amount elsewhere.

I love to watch the home buyers decide which of three houses to choose. I also like to watch the renovations. And that is how it all began this evening. Hubby asked what I wanted to do, and I said, "I want to go to the hardware store and buy replacement handles for our kitchen cabinets."

"Have you been watching that home and garden channel again?"

"Could have asked for jewelry." I smiled.

Fifty dollars and three hours later, my old cabinets have a new deep-cleaned lustre and cute brass and ceramic handles. Little things like this make me happy. Imagine if we did a complete renovation. Or imagine how high I'd be flying if I had a beach house. Oh my, a woman can dream.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bareback riding

 I rode this beauty bareback, felt the wind in my hair as we galloped across the pasture. Okay, that was all in my mind. But I did find an apple with a few bites out of it near the kiddie playground. I tossed it to this horse which was grazing in the grass. It was thrilled beyond belief. After eating the apple, it galloped up to the fence to see if I had more, and I was able to pet its nose.
When I was a preschooler my parents would take me to ride the shetland ponies on hot summer evenings. The poor horses walked in a circle around a track at the traveling kiddie carnival. Not my idea of horseback riding, but it was better than the mechanical bucking bronco that cost a nickel, or the slow poke merry-go-round ponies. I was often unlucky. I got stuck with the stationary horse that did not glide up and down the brass pole.

At 21, I rode a horse in Alaska...bareback...for real. We were visiting homesteaders. Their youngest boy asked if I wanted to ride his horse. Sure. I mounted that big dude and asked the little dude how to make it stop. He said, "Nudge him with your heels." That horse shot out through the woods, and when I saw the tree branch at eye level, I got tossed off and landed in a pile of cow manure. My pale pink turtle neck and my pride were never the same.
These ducks were a sight to behold. The one in back had a soft downy tuft on top of its head. Click on the picture to enlarge the photo. That curly tail makes me thing it's a female. No self-respecting male would wear such a hair do.
Suson County Park is free and open to the public. There are several stocked fishing lakes, a playground, a barnyard of horses, cows and other animals, and there is a playground. Picinic areas galore, too. The perfect place to spend a  weekend with family or friends. St. Louis has so many free attractions and beautiful parks.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Look what we discovered downtown

The graffiti "taggers' are quite artistic and at some point the powers that be sanctioned the painting of the flood walls along the riverfront. This mural stretches for blocks, and each artist's design is unique, interesting and creative. I think this beautifies the far end of our riverfront area.

We spied these cyclists making their way through the centuries. Such handiwork!

But the most fascinating thing we saw was a wedding party in an industrial area. The photographer was using old downtown brick building as a back drop for the wedding photos. My granddaughter did the same thing on her wedding day. Interesting.
Don't you just love to discover unexpected surprises such as this? Anything fascinating in your world? 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fall festival time

Fall festivals aren't what they used to be. No more kiddie rides. Almost every community in the St. Louis area had an event this past weekend. This festival had a climbing rock wall, a gigantic inflatable slide and bucking bull.
Then we spied this poor guy who got dunked everytime someone hit the bulls-eye. It was 65 degrees.  Fun-fun-fun on a beautiful fall weekend. Did you do  anything interesting?

Elvis Presley tribute

 Steve Davis performing Tribute to Elvis Presley at Affton Days
Steve Davis (50) grew up in Florissant, Mo. He studied theater at Northeast Missouri State University, served six years in the Army and earned a master's degree in media arts at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He lives across the river from St. Louis in Illinois. Steve has twenty years experience doing this; he has made a name for himself in these two border states. This year he also made a movie for an independent religious filmaker. You should hear him sing gospel! "Let the spirit move you," he proclaims at his concerts in parks, reception halls, churches and mortuaries.

Every January, he commmemorates Elvis's birthday, singing to a packed house of Elvis enthusiasts at The Pageant, a music venue in the Delmar Loop area of St. Louis.

Steve has been described as an Elvis impersonator and also an Elvis illusionist. Serioulsy, this guy has the voice, mannerisms and moves of Elvis incarnate. He has the stamina of ten people. Years ago I saw him do a two hour show with no break, singing one song after another. These days he sometimes has two other "greats" with him, a Buddy Holly impersonator, and a Patsy Cline impersonator who are also superb.

Can you imagine his performance statistics? Last year he did 350 solo appearances, 100 concerts, weddings and gigs, including nursing homes and funerals where he sings everything from "How Great Thou Art" to "Burning Love."

Yesterday at the Affton Days community festival he praised a WWll vet, and allowed a little old lady to come wipe his brow with her handkerchief. That's mild compared to some of his female admirers :)

 Elvis and I have left the building.
To see where we (okay, HE) will be next:

Friday, September 20, 2013

You learn something new everyday

I saw the cutest thing going to work and also coming home. A dad was walking down the street with his two year old little boy. The toddler was holding a bumbershoot the size that a golfer might use or that would accomodate six people. The dad was holding it by the tip-top point. The little guy was holding it by the handle, so proud of carrying that big thing all by himself. The poor dad had a child-size bumbershoot over himself.

Coming home I saw a mom with two babies in a two seater stroller. She also had one of those gigantic bumbershoots. She maneuvered around in an attempt to protect herself and the small ones, but finally gave up, plopped that bubble top between the two seater stroller and went on her merry way getting doused.

According to Wikkipedia: a bumbershoot (American slang), or brolly (UK slang), is a canopy designed to protect against rain or sunlight. In other words, an umbrella.

The weather people were wrong again. Prediction: rain moving out by noon and cool air moving in. It has been raining all day and it's still stuffy, muggy and miserable.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Are you kidding me!?

One summer evening, my parents, 9 year old brother, and I, age10, looked heavenward and watched in awe as a ten-inch thick, pure-white, puffy cloud (about the size of a child's small swimming pool) floated over our city neighborhood like a hot air balloon. It slowly descended and landed on the gravel lot where the moving trucks parked at night. Four or five neighbors gathered. Everyone moved cautiously toward it, curious. The things I heard that made no sense at all to me. And my thoughts:

"It's  a real cloud that landed." Then wouldn't it be fog?

"No, that's impossible." That's right! So what is it?

"It's a cloud of insect spray from the mosquito truck." Are you kidding me!?

"Back away. It's probably poisonous. Don't breathe. Cover your nose."  Don't breathe?

"It's heavenly. It's an angel." Are you kidding me!? No facial features or wings?

"It could be a U.F.O. Don't touch it." Are you kidding me? From outer space here to pick up all of you crazies?

"The communists probably launched it like that Sputnik." Who and what the heck are communists? Sputnik was that spiky turquoise blue ball of bubble gum I bought at the candy store.

"Someone get me a stick so I can poke it." Someone is going to get contaminated. Hold your breath.

"Aw, it's foam, just a big cloud of soap foam!" Are you kidding me!? You big bunch of grown up dummies.

And so, it was... a huge escaped blob of soap suds foam that had drifted from the Proctor & Gamble plant located less than a mile away.

But oh, the imaginations were running wild that evening.

It's a done deal!

The cover may be deliberately muted, I don't know, but this is the way it looks on the website. In any case, I received confirmation yesterday that my story has been selected for this book. I am so excited and so is the mister, because of course, his name is in here.

One midnight, years ago when I was tucked in sound asleep, he woke me to excitedly to tell me to get up and look at the computer, because I had received an acceptance on a story I had written about HIM, titled Goofy Willy.

Willy was a dog I had 40 years ago. Talk about popping his bubble! This one should make up for it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Things that made me giggle

This morning I was at the stop light in front of a fast food restaurant. A bald man wearing a lime green jacket got out of his car with a soft bristled hand-held broom that one might use to sweep crumbs into a dustpan. It had a handle on the side; it wasn't a whisk broom. He stood outside his car, brushed the crumbs off  his trousers, and then he brushed the back of his neck, his bald head back to front and, then he swiped all around. I guess he was remembering when.

I saw a church sign on my way home. First line:You would be amazed at how much power you have. Second line: Bingo at 7:00 p.m.

I wonder if that was deliberate?


Friday, September 13, 2013

A few of the simplest things

Isn't he a proud fellow? Hubby and I sat outside last evening and watched the cold front move in on a cloud bank. Fall weather is here. Those high 90's are finally gone.
The birds, bees and butterflies know change is in the air. We courted one another---this cardinal with his beautiful trill and I, with my poor excuse for a mimic whistle. 
Our purple and pink flowers are in full bloom attracting a hundred butterflies and bees. But as I came close to take a photo, they flew off.

It really is the the simple things in life, so close to nature, that make me feel the happiest.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Growing older, growing up.

Hodak's is the best little OLD chicken restaurant in town, so famous they scoff at advertising because there's usually a waiting line. It's a neighborhood icon in South St. Louis city. You never know who you will see when you go there.

Five couples: Pat & Phil, and also Ron & Betty were high school sweethearts who are still married after all these years. Bill & I are happy in our almost 20 year marriage; Ray & Jeri, and Chuck & Linda are in committed relationships.

We gathered for food, fun and fellowship. Those guys are sure showing their age, but we gals haven't changed a bit since high school.

As we rehashed old stories, we unearthed our histories. The longer we sat there laughing and sharing... the adults we are today became the high school kids we used to be in 1963. There was Chuck walking down the hallowed halls bucking authority with shoulder length hair. Ray the wise mouth, Phil the funny guy, Ron the party animal. Then there was  my poor hubby and Jeri who were outsiders trying to fit in. We girls had teased or flipped hair back then, and we had to have the lastest shoes and fashions. Prom queens and everything in between...we have evolved. We are comfortable in our own skin, wrinkled as it may be, and we wear comfortable shoes and fashions now.

Such talent and creativity at our table of ten: a famous woman artist, two successful musicians, a writer, someone who is making unique coffee tables that sell for thousand$, and a woman who was on the Price is Right recently and won a green Ninja motorcycle. It was delivered to her door in a Hollywood truck. Every single person in our group has made contributions to this world, their families, their work place. A few of us still work, while others prefer retirement.

More famous than we realize, our greatest accomplishments, cultivated in youth, attained as we grew older, are merely the things that make others awe. In our own families, we are all held in high etseem because of the simple things that make us unique to our loved ones: hugs, kind words and the advice and love we dispense across the generations, because some of us are still sandwiched.

As we swapped stories, I looked at each of us and realized that we are all stars, especially in the eyes of our next generation of little patience-testers. Some of my classmates yearn for grandchildren they probably will never have. Some of us worry enedlessly about the ones we do have.
As we hugged good-bye, we vowed to do it again, soon.

Growing older happens no matter how we try to stop the hands of time.

Growing up...sometimes it takes a lifetime.

We are getting there.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I witnessed a miracle!

I know, I know all about the HIPPA laws, patient privacy act and all that, but I have to shout it from the roof tops. My best and dearest friend of 45 years, Sheila, who lives outside Boston, had brain surgery last week.

Her mental and physical condition had been rapidly declining; her speech was slurred and her short term memory was nearly non-existent. She fell frequently, and although her husband wanted her at home, one of her doctors was pushing for a skilled nursing facility.

Twenty plus years ago she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. She finally went into remission, but as a result she lost most of her short term memory. She began having seizures, so they put her on restricted fluids, and that broke my heart. As the years went by she got progressivley worse, and I didn't think she'd be with us much longer, as this summer she took to her bed and became weak.

A brain surgeon suggested at her annual appointment that her balance may improve if they put a shunt into her brain to divert fluid to her stomach. BUT, chances for improvement were 50/50. Prognosis was uncertain; success in days, months or perhaps up to five years, or not at all. There were no guarantees that she would even survive the surgery. She said she wanted it.

I worry-prayed all day of the scheduled surgery. Then I received an email from her husband: doctor called out on emergency. Surgery cancelled and rescheduled. Another week of pray, beg, worry.

A week after her surgery, I telephoned. Her voice was vibrant; she was alert, made sense. She told me about her new great-grandson, and we did something we haven't done in years, we laughed and laughed together.

It is a miracle. I am so relieved. I have been sending her a card or letter a week for years and years, talking about old times, because her long term memory is intact, I usually wrote about our days as neighbors in Alaska when our husbands were soldiers.

Her mobility is still impaired, she stumbles, but is getting stronger. Best of all, she came out of anesthesia sooner than expected and she began talking coherently, and she hasn't stopped since. I am so relieved, thankful and happy.  Praise God and the surgeons.

Monday, September 9, 2013

And now, the truth revealed...

My honey and I, seeking something fun to do on Saturday, drove into downtown St. Louis mid-morning for the Hispanic Festival.

We couldn't believe there were so many parking places available. We fed the meter by the Main Post Office and walked a couple blocks toward the array of parked emergency vehicles. The mister wondered why there were so many on display. I explained because they are a big attraction with little kids. There were only a few boooths set up, so we wandered over hoping to peruse the hispanic items. But, there weren't any crafts, serapes, or sombreros for sale. Firefighters manned the booths and handed out literature. Odd collaboration, I thought. We walked around and looked at the water rescue boat, the pumper trucks and every other kind of firefighting apparatus.

We had 45 minutes on the parking meter. It took us 15 minutes to realize that yes, we were on Market Street alright, but nowhere near Keiner Plaza --- six blocks up the road where the Hispanic Festival was in full swing. We were at a firefighters' festival. Lucy and Ricky!

On the way back to the car, (DENNIS is your research), I spied one of those Cheerio signs endorsed by Nelly, our home town rapper. Those posters are at every bus stop. I posed my honey in front of it. He WAS holding something between his legs, PEARL, you silly girl. He had a grip on his ball cap.

No we did not end up at the Hispanic Festival; we shot our wad of quarters in the first meter, and by noon it was unbearably hot, so we headed back home.

My writer friends, now go back and read my first sentence. I answered, the wh questions. When you pitch to an agent you have to be able to summarize succinctly. At a writer's conference one year, an agent said they know within the first or second sentence whether or not they are interested in your manuscript. Often they read no more then eight words, so you'd better set the scene right away.

Thank you all for playing. This was really fun. My honey hasn't seen my blog post yet, but when he wakes up I am going to start his day off with a laugh.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Now it's your turn; will you play my game?

Usually I am telling you the story. After looking at this photo, why don't YOU tell me what you think? A good writer answers the "Wh" questions: Who? What? Why? When? Where? 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Salt water, chlorinated water...ahhh water!

Impulse, urge, uninhibited, call it what you will...

This evening I was out in the driveway hand-washing my car. The water rushing over my feet felt wonderful. I sprayed my bare ankles, shins, knees; I was heading all the way to my head with that hose when the Bosnian neighbor man came out and looked at me curiously. I lowered the hose and my head and continued scrubbing the car. I was within a split second of dousing myself.

Funny, isn't it how we tame those impulses as we age? I think if we were having a downpour, I'd be out dancing in the rain about now. What is it about water that makes me feel like I am returning to primitive roots? That feeling overtakes me every time I am at the seashore.

I have to go wring out my Capris now.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

If you really want to know...

I'm finally ready to step up and tell you all about stepping out last Friday. If any of you heard the rumor that I was in a cloud—not just on a cloud—it would be true.

You see, I went to the thrift shop to find boots to wear with my disco outfit for my meeting with Gloria Gaynor. I never wear boots, but these were my size, and despite the three inch high chunky heel, when I tugged those spandex boots on, they felt wonderful. I took them home, sprayed them with anti-fungal and walked around in them a while. No real pain. I was getting attached to my boots. Literally. My feet began to sweat and were stuck inside the boots. When I finally pried them off my tootsies, I knew right then and there I'd have to resort to my old high school trick of powdering my bare feet.

Ahhhh, that worked and felt so much better. I walked outside to get in my car, and with every step I took, I stomped out one powder cloud after another. The tops of my boots (across my foot) were white by the time I got in the car. I slid back out in my hooker-red outfit and clomped back into the house. I shook those boots upside down and sideways to get the baby powder out. I washed my feet and dried them. Eased my feet back in. Stepped lightly. No problem. Walked out on the concrete drive and pouff-pouff-pouff, those clouds were back. I ran back in and used a wet wash cloth to scrub those boots inside and out.

Tromped to the car. Relief. I felt self-assured when I got out at the Hilton downtown and strutted into the lobby. We sat a while. Then we four women headed to the ladies room up the hall and around the corner. Somehow all of that high stepping dislodged the clump of powder that must have been stuck in the toe section. Too late.

We were invited to the 17th floor and had to go right away.

I sat on the sofa next to Ms. Gloria Gaynor and felt the urge to tuck my feet. Then, I saw the tiny hole in my leggings! I'm sure she thought I was a poor old soul with those holey pants. She must have thought those boots were my winter shoes with salt stains on them. She was very gracious and didn't say a word.

On the way home, in the car, the other women kicked off their heels and sighed with relief. I was afraid I'd release a puff that couldn't be contained and we'd choke on that cloud... not to mention leaving my footprints on the car carpet, so I toughed it out.

Well, there you have it, another day in the life of Lucy. I mean, Linda.