Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wild Out of Control Animals

 First of all, welcome to my newest followers. I so appreciate every visitor.
We have a world class zoo. The children's section is amazing. I always loved going there to see the newborns in the nursery. There is an indoor building with caged small animals such as a desert fox etc. Outside there are uncaged parrots in trees and  a variety of animals in compounds.

When my daughter was four, she was heading to the outdoor slide by the goat pen. We passed a llama in an outdoor compound, and of course she wanted a better look. The llama obviously wanted a closer look at her. As if in slow motion they approached one another at the fence, and the llama reached over and snatched a plug of her blonde hair as if it were hay. Then it walked away chomping.

Grandson was eight years old. We were at Grant's Farm, the Busch (Anheuser-Busch) beer baron's estate in town, where they have a mini zoo, free to the public. Generations of St. Louisans have ridden a tram around their acreage where large wild animals roam freely. Ever seen a zonkey, cross between a zebra and donkey? A camel up close and personal?
My grandson walked up to the fence with his cup of Mountain Dew. He took one sip and the camel ran to him, leaned its head over the fence, snatched his cup, flipped it up and drained it, then dropped it at our feet. We were dumb-struck for a moment and then we laughed all the way home.
I'm thinking it's about time for another trip to the zoo.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What a potato head!

When Welsh farmer Ifor Edwards dropped his keys he called in a metal-detecting agency. They found the keys and also 14 medieval coins from the 14th and 15th centuries, according to a story published Monday in the Shropshire Star.

Can you even imagine? Well, I can. My son was digging in our back yard when he was a little boy and he found a partially corroded coin with an 1800's date. Someone advised us to place the coin into a slit, raw potato. We did and he put it in the fridge. Of course the potato shriveled and turned black around the area that was cut.

My mom was very helpful and often folded laundry or hand washed my dishes when she came for a visit. Can you imagine my son and his dad when they went to check out the coin in the potato and both were gone?

Mom thought she was tossing food-gone-bad. The trash truck was long gone and by then, so was Mom.
Do you want to know a secret? I am old enough to remember the first Mr. Potato Head game. The plastic pieces were inserted into a REAL potato. Eww, can you imagine storing that?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Better lawns and gardens

The weather has been unseasonably cool. We broke all records with a low of 56 degrees yesterday. The grass is greener than ever and the vegetable garden is gifting us with an abundance of crops.
We live in a neighborhood where all the men take pride in their lawns and generally mow on weekends. I love the green blanket of zoysia that stretches yard to yard, up and down the block. Our neighborhood can't measure up to this one, though.
We took a short cut the other day while driving and came upon this house with very little grass to cut. I yelled for hubby to stop, and I snapped this photo. The entire lawn was planted in petunias, I think.
I thought it was beautiful, Bill thought it was a little too much. What do you think? Would you like to be neighbors with this homeowner?

Mark your calendar!

I have been invited, and now I'm inviting YOU.
Won't you join me, please in the Central West End?
August 6th from 7-9:30

Dressel's Public House
419 N. Euclid
Saint Louis, Missouri 63108
Poems, Prose and Pints is proud to present Poets and Writers:

Jon Dressel
Taylored Poet
Julia Gordon-Bramer
Tony Renner
Linda O'Connell
More TBA

Musical Guest: Chris Ware

Emcee: Ben Moeller-Gaa

Hope you can stop by for a pint and to listen to some real talent!

Friday, July 26, 2013

This is no laughing matter

There is something wrong with me. It's not just the little things I forget, such as what I went into the closet for. Today my actions had my husband ready to commit me.

We went to lunch. I unwrapped the linen napkin and placed my silverware on the table.  I answered my cell phone "message received" and excitedly babbled on and on about my final acceptance notification from Chicken Soup Just Us Girls book.

Then, I went to take a bite of my food and got all flustered.

"Are you messing with me?"

He looked surprised as he shoveled a forkful into his mouth. "Nuuhnnn."

"You are! Aren't you? You saw me sit here and unwrap my silverware. Here's my knife and spoon...YOU took my fork!"

He never cracked a smile or uttered a word, just kept his eye trained on me as he ate.

"Just give me my fork. I need to eat this before it gets cold. If you didn't take it where is it?"

I finally saw it, the tines were buried in a huge scoop of the cheesiest macaroni and cheese in town, next to my tilapia and spinach. I HATE when that happens.

He never took his eyes off me as I blushed as crimson as my napkin.

"Uhmm, no, I didn't take your fork," he said as he wiped his mouth with his napkin.

It's that dry humor of his that makes him. We laughed all the way home.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The rest of the story...

First two days we were at sea. We ate, lounged, went to comedy shows and live Broadway shows, the casino, watched outdoor movies at night on a drive-in theater size screen, napped, read, relaxed.

When we arrived in Freeport, Bahamas the remnants of tropical Storm Chantal was dumping, and it rained most of the morning. We walked around the shopping district and then went back onboard ship. No excursions. That night after the wonderful stage show, we returned to our cabin to find a note on the bed. What now!

Attention: The U.S. Embassy in Nassau has issued a tourist alert. Do not carry large sums of cash or wear flashy jewelry. GREAT! (Probably a bad experience for a tourist on the last cruise.) We don't have glam jewelry or large sums of money. We had purchased an excursion to Atlantis Water Park (but not the slides) that you see advertised on TV. It was delightful. We swam in the Caribbean, ate lunch, stopped for a few minutes in their massive casino, explored the remarkable underground cave-like aquarium where I fell in love with this little yellow sea horse. Look at the shrimp around the corner. There were people swimming with a manta ray the size of a Mini Cooper car, sting rays with their barbs snipped, humongous fish and all sorts of sea creatures and sea life. It was amazing!

Yes, there were some highs and lows of this vacation, but the highlight of our trip was a spontaneous moment as we set sail for home. We looked over our eighth floor balcony and saw "flying" fish darting across the water. Then to our surprise we looked down into the crystal clear turquoise sea and spied a pod of submerged gray bottle nose dolphins just below the surface dining on those flying fish. In the past I've seen dolphins breech and pass near us as we've sat on the beach, but never have I been able to view them like this.  MADE MY DAY! I didn't have my camera handy, so I didn't get a picture, but it will forever be ingrained in my mind.

We're thinking maybe next vacation will be by train or plane. 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The saga continues

Cruise Day 2

The river was still closed due to the sinking of a tug boat, and the cruise ships could not get into port. Passengers were directed to report at 8:00 a.m. to the  Port of New Orleans where we were to board motor coaches to be transported to the Mobile,Alabama Cruise Terrminal, which had been closed for two years.
 Bill and I were going to be first in line. We were up and on our way by 6:30. We joined a line of traffic and were directed to an unfamiliar New Orleans terminal and parking area by officials who didn't have a clue!   
Bill dropped me and the luggage at the front door where the security guard told us to wait for someone to let us in. There were a dozen families ahead of us. I couldn't get in line with four pieces of luggage, so I stood at the main entrance off to the side while Bill parked. The line continued to grow longer.

I watched as Big Bubba with his belly hanging out of his T shirt dropped off his mama and twenty pieces of luggage. I did a double take; she looked exactly like the late Irene Ryan, you know, Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies. She twanged just like her, too. She narrowed one eye and looked at me.

"I cain't get in line neither 'cause we're waitin' fer ALL the fam-i-ly. There's Orin, Mion and Urin, and they even in-vited the mother-in-law. Be daimned if they think I'm gettin' stuck with HER!"
Sometimes it's best to just smile and nod. I bobbed my head furiously and waved frantically when I saw Bill walking my way. I told him about the woman's kids' weird names, and then it hit me, she meant "Ours, Mine and Yours". I went to get in line while Bill entertained the idea of talking to her.

We watched with frustration through the glass front doors as people trailed into the terminal through the back doors. NOBODY knew which door should be the Customs entry point. Finally as the masses on our side of the demarcation line got restless and ticked off, an official woman came and fielded our questions with, "I don't know what's going on, but I'll find out."

 I told her we had found out that people were entering through the other door. I started to walk away and she said, "Stop! You can't go in there." At that point another woman came and told her that we should proceed to the back entrance. Bill and I trotted like race horses around the corner, went through Customs and right onto a bus for the scheduled ninety minute trip.
We arrived in sixty minutes. You do the math. State patrol had pulled three motor coaches over for exceeding the speed limit. We weren't one. Arrived at the Mobile Terminal which had been closed two years. An older man boarded the bus and said, "You all are sterile, so you can't get off until we figure out what's going on. Once you get off, do not stop to smoke a cigarette or you won't be sterile anymore."
WTH did smoking have to do with anything? He meant we had already passed through Customs and had to proceed directly through the terminal door and through a scanner. We waited twenty minutes on the bus while they scrambled to get full staff  from Port Canaveral in Florida to operate the closed Mobile terminal. It was utter chaos. They admitted THEY didn't know what was going on either.

Finally we embarked the ship and sat down to people-watch. The first indication that I might have seen one of Granny Clampett's kin was the obese woman strolling down the promenade wearing a shirt emblazoned with I BEAT ANOREXIA.

Having skipped breakfast, we headed upstairs to Guy's Burger Joint (from the Food Channel) and had one of Guy's  Famous Burgers. Yum! Worth the wait!

We found our cabin and no sooner settled in when someone rapped at the door. A bottle of complimentary wine. We don't drink. Another knock on the door. A large fruit and cheese basket (on a ship that is a rolling buffet), so we ate the humongous concord grapes and gave the rest to our Malaysian cabin steward who appreciated it, or hocked it, or whatever.
We walked out onto our balcony to watch the ship take off. What we saw was a fully staffed Coast Guard boat approach, weapons at the ready. When a small pleasure craft with a  family came too close to the ship, one of the guys ordered the boat to move away. Someone on a balcony above us shouted, "They're not terrorists!" In this day and age, I guess you don't know.

Overhead, local television news crews hovered in helicopters. Reporters lined the street with live cameras. Shhh! Maybe my 4:00 a.m. call to CNN did make a difference. Maybeeeeeeeee...THAT'S why we got wine and fruit. The CNN reporter thanked me for breaking the story as they had heard nothing about another Carnival incident. Granted, it was an unforseen accident, not due to Carnival Cruise line, but this was not a carnival atmosphere, let me tell you!

Bon Voyage! We needed a nap after the belly full of burgers and sights for sore eyes.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Nightmare B.C. (before the cruise)

The Essence Festival rocked the New Orleans Convention Center, and thus there were no hotel rooms to be found on July 6th. We stayed an hour away in Hammond, Louisiana at The Best Western, that wasn't! After a ten hour drive, Bill went into the lobby to register. The computers were down and the newly hired, young and frustrated desk clerk could not pull up our reservation. Twenty minutes later she assigned us to the first room available, that "housekeeping had just cleaned" and we rolled our luggage in. My flip flops stuck to the DRY tacky floor like those wacky sticky suction toys my kids used to sling against the wall. Called for housekeeping and the woman brought a too small, not-too-clean mop and went over the floor again complaining how awful it was to work with such a small mop and how awful it was to work for that place blah-blah-blah.
I looked forward to a swim, but the pool had no visible bottom. If the water's not clear, I steer clear. So, swimming was out and we were in a room for the evening/night. I awoke at 3:00 a.m. and checked my I Phone for e mail messages. My squinted eyes flew open when I read the message in the dark: Do not report to the cruise terminal at 9:00 a.m. as scheduled. The Coast Guard has closed all traffic to the Gulf as a cargo ship has sunk at the mouth of the Mississippi River. We will update you as soon as we know more.

Oh right! I thought the kids at home were playing a joke. No joke! It was an official communique.

Bill was snoring so peacefully, but with my adrenaline flowing, I just had to broadcast the news. We shook our heads and wondered aloud, "What do we do now?"

By 6:00 we had called the emergency number several times. Nobody had an answer and they kept telling us they were waiting for an update, too. What a nightmare. Were they going to cancel the cruise? We turned on CNN and heard that Tropical Storm Chantal was building and heading for the Bahamas where we were also heading. We had to be out of our room by 11:00 and I certainly did not want to stay another night there.

Bill said he was going to the lobby for breakfast. I told him breakfast wouldn't be ready, despite the posted sign: Breakfast served  at 6:00.

Fifteen minutes later I walked into the lobby and saw him sipping coffee waiting for breakfast.

"How did you know?" he asked.

"How could you not know? This place is run by kids. Kids don't want to be awake at 6, much less preparing pans of powdered eggs, nuked sausages and stirring grits."

As we ate breakfast, guests wandered in and out of the lobby wearing robes, or wrinkled clothes, looking hung over and hungry. Nod and smile is about all people do at that time of day. Nobody makes real conversation that early. Except...

Lisa Douglas's look alike. You know, Eva Gabore, the "city" Mrs. to the "country" Mr. Douglas (Eddie Albert) on Green Acres. In she tottered on four inch heels, a designer top that would have made a male peacock envious, blonde hair done up, and makeup that would make a drag queen ache. Her diamonds and baubles probably cost more than my house. Miss Bubbly greeted everyone. We asked if she were headed to the cruise terminal.

"No, we're heading to a farm (this could not really be happening) to pick up a dog for my husband. We live in Texas, but he also has a country home, although, I am not at all country (no kidding!) and if he thinks I'm moving out there just because this new big dog needs room to roam ..."

Sometimes, I can't help myself. I chuckled, "Sounds like Green Acres is where he'd like to be, and city living is the place for you." (Shut up, Linda!)

She smiled sweetly and said, "Oh it's my second marriage, so I'll give in some of the time, but he's not moving me out there to live full time. Well, all y'all have a nice day."

My phone plinked a message received. The sunken ship was a tug boat, crew rescued, BUT the cruise ships were being diverted to the Port of Mobile, Alabama, (which closed two years ago) and they were scrambling to find staff to open the place for embarkation. The ship wouldn't be in for another day, and we'd receive another update by 3:00 p.m. Do not drive to Mobile as your return ship will debark in New Olreans.

We approached the desk clerk and asked the teen to call New Orleans and make reservations for a night. She said, "Could I use your cell phone to call? It would be faster than this system."

Seriously? I asked her to give me the number. I called. No rooms available, (ugh!) "Oops wait, someone is checking out now and you can have the room. When do you need it?"

In one hour we were unloading again. It was like walking into a technicolor dream. The Essence Fest featured every African-American big name and wanna be music artist in the business, from Beyonce` and beyond. At 9:00 a.m. the streets were packed with women in evening wear, glitz and glamour everywhere. It was a fashion show, I tell you. And then, we spied her. She was a big woman, plus-plus size. She strolled through the French Quarter in high heels and a shocking pink swimsuit. Oh the sights we saw.

At 3:00 p.m. we received another update. Passengers could cancel for a full refund, or skip the first port of call (which we wanted to see) and proceed to the Bahamas on a shortened cruise. Well, Key West was having torrential rain anyway, and tourists there were traipsing through six inches of water, so we decided to skip first port and opt for the shortened cruise.

We wended our way through the French Quarter, and perused the town. That night we tried to sleep, despite the revelers outside on the streets all night long. 

OMG! In the morning....
to be continued, please come back.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho it's off to work we go

Blogger friend, Liz at No Excuses, wrote about the jobs she's had. I thought I'd share my work experiences, too.

I was a senior in high school and member of FBLA, Future Business Leaders of America. We were allowed to work half day and attend school half day. My first interview was at the state mental hospital. My directions were to take the Arsenal bus and get off one block west of a particular street. Having no sense of direction, I saw the street name and got off the bus. My interview was at 1:30 p.m. By 2:00 p.m., after having wandered through an open door and WARDS, I finally found the office. The interviewer was in a meeting and wouldn't be available until the next day. I nixed that job!

My next interview was in an old house that served as the offices for the Board of Education. I would earn $1.00 an hour. They hired me that day and put me to work. Hunched over, I filed for four hours. My head was splitting and I knew for certain that was not the job for me. Not for twenty bucks a week minus taxes!

Third interview was at Stanley Photo, a family owned photo finishing plant and retail store. I started in the plant doing a variety of chores for $1.25 an hour and gave half my check to my parents for household expenses.

I was assigned to an NCR billing machine to ring up processed film. I proved to be the fastest biller across the nation and could ring twice as many packets as anyone in the other fifteen plants (which became Fox Photo). Next they moved me to the office. I liked my new title, but related better to the plant people. Another office worker, a recent college grad and I were sent to the phone company for  switchboard operator training. I out-performed her in every way, yet they gave her the job as relief switchboard operator. Upset, I complained to my boss. He said I was more valuable in the office and she had a degree. In the end, I proved right and she couldn't handle the job. When she quit two weeks later, I became the full time switchboard operator receptionist and absolutely loved that job. It was a big old fashioned cord board that you see in the movies. My hands were so dexterous and I could handle fifteen calls at a time. Loved-loved-loved when it was busy.

One faux-pas, I was at my office desk when the phone rang at 10:45 as it did everyday when Tina, the previous receptionist called to tell me she needed a break. I answered with, "Hi, do you have to pee?"

My male boss said, "No, I need to see the files..." OMG I was 17 or 18 and so embarrassed. I worked there until I was almost 20, then moved to Alaska to be with my former husband in the army.

Five years later, with two children ages three and one, I worked for a year on weekends 3-11:00 p.m. at a telephone answering service. That was  the most interesting job. The switchboard was three times the size of the one I was used to and I worked alongside another operator. We answered calls for hundreds of business in town, from insurance companies, repair companies, psychiatrists...oh boy those were some fun calls! Answered for concert and fight promoters for Ali and the greats. It was fun to be on the fringe of all the excitement.
Then one day my daughter's preschool teacher asked me to cut some figures out of construction paper. I did that for two days and then offered to volunteer.  And that was the beginning of my career as a preschool teacher. After two years as an aide, I was assigned my first class of three year olds. My wages barely paid for the kids' tuition, but I was thrilled and fulfilled.

Years later I was taking an evening adult ed business class at a public school. The coordinator walked into my typing class, introduced herself and asked what each of us did. When I told her, she said, "See me after class."

She asked if I was interested in a position as early childhood instructor. Coincidentally, I had applied for that very job two years previously, but they had chosen a college grad. The coordinator asked about my education. I told her I would enroll in college in the fall if I were hired. When I mentioned my mentor's name, a pioneer in early childhood who had taught four generations, my new boss said she knew her. As we conversed we realized that we had met years before when she was 17 years old and had brought her bunny to my class when I was a teacher's aide. Small world.
I enrolled in college and have never stopped taking early childhood and continuing education classes. I have attended seminars, workshops and conferences...and here I am going into my 38th school year, having taught at four schools.
I have taught adult writing classes, school age summer camps and early childhood teacher education seminars and parenting workshops. I am blessed to be able to do what I love.

Care to reveal your early jobs?


Friday, July 19, 2013

Encounter with the movie stars

A few posts back we were talking about name dropping, and some of you mentioned famous people you had encountered.
Twenty-five years ago I was teaching at a summer day camp K-6th graders. I supervised four staff members and 50-75 kids per day. We had a lot of fun. Spontaniety was the name of the game. We had a daily routine, divided into four age groups, rotated every forty-five minutes, and attended scheduled field trips.
But the day we saw one tractor trailer after another roll through the neighborhood and park on a tree-lined residential street, I had to go investigate. The following day I told the children I had a surprise for them. I walked them two blocks. First we passed a semi-trailer with back and side door open. It looked like an overstuffed closet filled with old clothes. One of the men standing around, invited us up the steps and into the interior. My students were always well-behaved and had been warned to keep their hands to their sides and their mouths quiet. The movie set wardrobe woman almost had a hissy-fit. By the time she saw us traipsing through in single file, it was too late to turn back. "Don't touch the costumes!" she fretted. I assured her the children would not, and they did not.
We proceeded quietly on to an old home in the neighborhood which served as the movie set for A Will of Their Own. The children, school staff and I stood on the sidewalk. One of the film crew notified the actors that we were outside. Lea Thomson walked onto the porch briefly, waved and hurried back inside. We were disappointed that she wasn't more friendly.
Then, the door opened and out bounded Thomas Gibson (of Dharma and Greg favorite sit com). He greeted us jovially. He made his way down the front steps and as he walked into the crowd, his hand accidentally brushed my bottom. HE was unaware.
But oh my! For years I would tease Bill and say, "He touched my butt!"
Actually, not only was he gorgeous and very "Hollywood", he was also very friendly. He told one of the props guys to show us the bottle of whiskey, and then he proceeded to explain to the children that actors don't really drink booze on the set. He had the props guy demonstrate how they made it with watered down tea. He gave a brief comment about drinking being a no-no, and then he smiled that million dollar smile and waved good-bye. I was awe-struck, but the kids were not so much.
I filmed that made-for-TV period movie on two VCR tapes and lost one when we moved. I sure wish I had that movie again. It really was excellent, and so easy on the eyes :)  
Thomas Gibson
Lea Thomson

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Look closely and you will see it...

What a delightful surprise it was to see a rainbow after a rainstorm in the Bahamas.
What an absolute thrill to discover the END OF THE RAINBOW in the ocean outside our balcony.
You know they say if you discover the end of the rainbow you will find a treasure. Well I have a treasure for my writer friends. Pass this along, please.

DEADLINE:  September 16, 2013

GENRE:  Short Stories

OPEN TO: US residents aged 21+

DETAILS: Submit a maximum of three stories per person, 2,500 words

per story.

PRIZE:  $750 and publication.  




DEADLINE: September 19, 2013
GENRE: Non fiction
OPEN TO: US Residents aged 19+
DETAILS: 1000 - 1,500 words personal essay on the theme: " What's
the bravest thing you've ever done?"
PRIZES: $3000, $750, $500 and publication in Real Simple


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I'm in the movies now!

I came home from vacation to discover  my mug on YOU TUBE. I look like a bobble head; my voice sounds like my grandma's; my hair looks hideous, the curls on top of my head had all fallen by the time it was my turn to read my story for Listen to Your Mother St. Louis, on May 11, 2013. There were seventeen of us who read, and we are all critical of ourselves. I guess it's human nature. Click on the link to view me reading my story, A working Mom's Retirement Plan.

This picture was taken a few days ago in the Bahamas. Vacation relaxes me, eases the stress lines and softens the wrinkles. I love salt air in my hair and on my skin. I could live by the sea and be as happy as can be, but alas, it is time to get back to reality.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Clucking in Mississippi

I hope you are having as great a day as I am. We are enroute home from our crazy cruise, stopped in Tunica Mississippi. I am at the best library in town! The women here have been more than helpful and friendly. Thank you to Ruth Harris, Head Librarian, and also  Brenda Garrett, Vary McKinley and Patricia Pipkin who are fun, friendly and funny. We shared some great moments, and a lot of laughs. I appreciate their help in faxing my signed contract to Chicken Soup for the Soul, Just Us Girls. My story, Seasoned With a Serious Side of Sass is a tell-all about an adventure with some of my dearest friends...okay and me, too. Thank you Wild Women Wielding Pens for your continual support and encouragement. You all should come with me to Mississippi. The folks down here use different words than the people up north. They say things like Yes, Ma'am and No, Sir and please and thank you. I love this town!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Say it again?

Waiting to check luggage, an older woman told us she was waiting for her family: Orin, Mian, Yorin. Then I realized she meant ours, mine, and yours. First laugh of the day might as well be at yourself.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Here we go again!

We drove ten hours Saturday almost to New Orleans.. Discovered TheEssence Convention in town and no hotels available. We stayed an hour away at The Best Western ... which wasn't! Our shoes stuck to the floor, we couldn't see the bottom of the pool, so no swimming. A family with tap dancing kids had the room above us. I awoke to a text at 3:00 a.m. I thought it was a prank
" We regret to inform you... " Oh geeze! Bill, WAKE UP!

A cargo ship had sunk at the mouth of the river which empties into the Gulf. The channel was closed. Instructions from Carnival Cruise: Do not proceed to port. Wait for an update on your cruise.

Nobody had answers. At 8:00 a.m. local news reported it was a tug boat that sank and crew had been rescued. But the ship enroute to port was being diverted to Mobile,Alabama. update by 2:00 p.m.

Finally, received a text... Be at port terminal at 8:00 a.m. Tomorrow!

They're bussing us to  Mobile and will skip the first port and head to The Bahamas. So, tomorrow we will have a 2-3 hour motor coach ride.

It has to get better from here. We are in a high class hotel watching people dressed to the nines for the Beyonce concert. Oh the sights we have seen. Plus size woman walking down street in shocking pink bikini, and a young man wearing a mini skirt and halter top, his "Carol Channing" overprinted lips grinning, gold high top tennis shoes sparkling... as he panhandled for tips. "Take a picture, I'll drop my top for a dollar." It is elbow to elbow; so many people on the streets and huge police presence.

Update next week. I'm sure there will be more colorful characters to tell you about.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Dropping a name

These are two of my most impressive fireworks photos taken lakeside on July 4th.
I wish I had a better camera because you can't see the ducks swimming in the reflection of the fireworks. They stayed on the lake. It was an incredible sight to behold.

So now, let's get around to name dropping. I was on Facebook and read two posts yesterday that reminded me of an incident long ago.

One person said she was having dinner with the mayor of New Orleans. Another person said she was having lunch with one of the actresses from The Office who is in our town doing summer theater.

At first, I was impressed, and then as I read further into each post I noted that these people were not actually seated at the table with these VIPs, but actually dining at the same restaurant.

Years ago I dropped an impressive name. I had to go downtown to the Board of Education main office to check on where my check was, as nobody seemed to know. I was being given the run around. After an hour I came full circle, having traipsed three floors and spoken with three department heads. I'd had enough. I walked into the next office and explained that I had left numerous voice mails, to which the woman replied, "Oh, I never listen to those."

I was seething by the time I explained my story yet again. She said she couldn't help and directed me to payroll. I walked in with my head high, made direct eye contact and said, "I just spoke to Superintendent, Dr. ___ and I have been directed to come see you about issuing a replacement for my lost check."

At the mention of the superintendent's name, the slouching woman sat up, asked for my information and promptly resolved my problem.

Did I lie? No. The superintendent (who was already in the elevator) and I greeted one another with a cheery smile and hello. (I did speak to him!)

I WAS directed to the payroll office. I didn't say WHO directed me. 

I stated my problem and how I wanted it resolved. I got results.

Name dropping has advantages. Have you ever had a celebrity encounter or dropped a name?


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Watch Your Mouth!

Yes, this cute little "mouth" is sure to spout something meaningful, opinionated or useful to the right individual at the wrong time, as the women before her have. I was thinking about the freedom we truly possess in this country. The freedom of speech reigns high on my list. I come from a family of outspoken females. My mom had five sisters and one brother. Everybody steamrolled each other's conversations when they were all in the same room. It was noisy in that house of Italian-German women. When the words flew, the hands were moving and the hips were positioned so as to prop a hand for effect.

My grandmother, mother, daughter and I have all had to hobble around for a day or two because we inserted one of our feet into our mouths. But in the long run, we got results.

My grandmother had taken my daughter to Woolworth's lunch counter for an ice cream sundae. The waitress served my little girl and asked my grandma, "Anything else?"  Grandma  spoke loudly, "This is my great-grandchild, and she  deserves more whipped cream than that."

My daughter wanted to sink under the table, but witnessed firsthand the results of speaking up. Her sundae had a mountain of whipped cream. Then Gram asked for an extra cherry.

I had taken my mom with me to a public meeting on city funding allocations to keep a program afloat. Many officials spoke. At one point my petite mom who was fidgety and could never sit still for long, walked outside to pace and smoke. When a man came out and stood nearby, she looked over at him and said, "Those people are a bunch of nuts talking nothing. Don't you think? They need to keep my daughter's preschool program open and give the schools the money; do it for the kids."

He nodded and listened a bit more to her, and then, the mayor went back inside to take the podium. Fifteen centers received the much sought after grant that funded the early childhood programs.

My daughter was young, working the video department at Schnucks, one of the biggest locally owned supermarkets in town. A young man, a few years older engaged her in conversation. He asked her about working at the store. My daughter speaks in paragraphs, not sentences. After she finished, he extended his hand and said, "Hi, you are refreshingly honest. My dad is Mr. S."
She was mortified when she came home. Complaints were addressed and changes instituted.

I had been running interference for my boss, answering phones while trying to teach a class, prepare for a faculty meeting, and had just returned with students after a fire drill, which was actually a bomb threat. A "suit" walked in looking for my boss and asked, "How's it going?"

I vented, "It would be going a lot better if the right hand knew what the left hand was doing in administration." The school board president extended his hand and introduced himself. He suggested some changes that very day which made a real difference.

Declare your independence, defend yourself, stand up for what you believe in, address a situation respectfully, and never put any official, or higher-ranked individual on a pedestal.  Happy Fourth of July.