Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FIFTY BUCKS UP FOR GRABS... Stirring Up Chicken Soup for the Soul

                                       Pat Wahler         Sioux Roslawski      Linda O'Connell

What would you do for fifty bucks?

Last Saturday 11/11 we did a book signing at Half Price Books in University City to promote the various books in which our stories are published.

We met some interesting people and connected with a woman who was a former Texan and multi-published Chicken Soup writer. You never know who you will meet.

Our town has several strong writing communities. I'm one of several local, multi-published writers in the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. We promote our books and try to give back to the community.

THIS Saturday 11/18, from 11:00 - 3:00 Tammy Goodsell, Cathi La Marche, Lynn Obermoeller, Pat Wahler, and I will be at Half Price Books in St. Charles in Bogey Hills Plaza off Zumbehl and Highway 70. If you are out and about, drop by and say hi and bring a can of soup. We'd love to see you.



Chicken Soup for the Soul books make great gifts!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Autumn Gift

This tree is in our neighbor's yard, but years ago there was one on our city block between my best friend's house and ours. THIS particular tree first captured my attention forty years ago when the kids were small and we were a one-car family. On those occasions when I needed the car, I drove my then husband to work through this neighborhood.

The moment this amazing autumn beauty caught my eye, I silently enumerated all my blessings and thanked God for my eyes. I so admired the ranch house next door to this tree. It was my dream home in the county.

Twenty-one years ago THAT house, next to THIS tree became our home. Funny, how life works. I believe it is no coincidence that my dream came true. In most instances, I have been blessed with everything I have yearned for, but seldom WHEN I wanted it.  Mom used to always say, "God's time, not our time." I believe that.

                              Autumn Gift

At 51, my friend Rose sported a wig and a raspy voice, the result of the debilitating cancer which had robbed her of her hair and her strength. She had more bad days than good, and as the weather cooled, the dark, wet skies mirrored her situation. After nearly a week of rain, the clouds lifted and so did Rose's spirits. When I came for a visit, she was alert, her voice halting but strong and assertive for a change.

"Take me outside. I want to sit in the sunshine."

She shuffled into the yard with her oxygen tank in tow. We sat in silence under the sugar maple tree enjoying the brisk breeze. I tucked her afghan around her. Hundreds of orange, gold and yellow leaves rained down upon us and made Rose smile. Memories of our twenty-five year friendship whirled in our minds like the leaves overhead. We were entranced by the waltzing leaves and watched as wind gusts swept them up and sent them dancing at our feet. The yard was very much alive, and so was Rose that day.

"Will you please get me that red leaf," she asked, "and that yellow one?" She pointed here and there, and I bounded about gathering brilliant orange, red and golden leaves in a huge bouquet as she orchestrated the activity. Rose soon tired and asked to go inside. I placed her leaf bouquet on a table beside her, tucked her in, and I told her I'd see her the next afternoon.
When I arrived the next day, she was glassy-eyed and weak.

"I have something for you," she said pausing breathlessly, gasping between words. "Do you remember the big maple tree in the old neighborhood?"

When we were neighbors, the gorgeous towering tree, Mother Nature's masterpiece, was the focal point of our neighborhood each autumn. We were blessed to have it right outside our doors. We collected leaves with our children when they were young, and we made centerpieces with the colorful array that blanketed the lawns and sidewalks.

"I made you a gift." She handed me ten sheets of white paper on which she had arranged  and scotch taped the colorful leaves that she had collected the day before.
Tears welled in our eyes. "Do you like them? Can you use them?" she asked.

"Yes. I love them! and I will treasure them forever," I said.

Like the autumn leaves, Rose completed her life cycle at the end of fall. I laminated the colorful leaf collages, and every year I use them as a teaching aid with my preschool students. And I think of Rose as I tell my students about her and the leaves.

"Leaves are like people, they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Redwood trees are the tallest of all. Their roots intertwine. They support each other when the strong winds blow, sort of like when you hold hands with your best friend and it makes you feel safe."

The simple treasure is a priceless gift bequeathed with love, and it will keep on touching lives, just as my friend Rose did.

Published: HCI Communications, Voices of Breast Cancer 2007

Thursday, November 9, 2017

What a Halloween!

In spring when we booked our late October cruise, we didn't even consider the fact that Halloween
would fall within the week. I wore my old T-shirt that made people smile and point.

There were few kids on this cruise, so we thought we'd participate in the evening costume contest. I made my shirt...Bat Ship Crazy, which made lots of folks laugh and say, "Creative!"

Hubby wore a generic Wal-Mart T-shirt and met up with an old African-American woman wearing the same kind. They joked about their good taste. Many people went all out as you can see below.

 This guy wore a body suit and red knee highs. I 'd say he had to have some nerve.

 Then, we saw this dude, and I had to look away...until we spied the next guy.

He dressed as Boss Baby and offered young women a suck on his bottle. No thank you. Not that he offered me a swig. LOL!

Then we had the winner, Stephanie Leavins as Cinderella and her mother as her real fairy godmother.
Stephanie's mom made her costume and adorned her wheel chair to resemble a carriage. Stephanie was born with Muscular Dystrophy. The muscles did not develop in her limbs, but her heart of gold has made up for her physcial limitations. She is a gospel singer and Christian motivational speaker. Check her page here . People crowded around her and took pictures with this joyous woman. 

 We met a really nice couple on the cruise; they were about our age, and we dined with them most evenings. Rhoda and I hit it off right away. She bears a striking resemblance to young Doris Day. Our husbands wondered how we could talk and understand one another with all the background noise in the lobby, where there was a dance party going on. You know how it is when you meet someone you can relate to? That was us. Even if we had to shout over the noise, we had similar stories, intelligent conversation, and an enjoyable time. Bob and Bill also were compatible in their politics and joking ways. Have to say, this was one of our more fun cruises.
And now I'm back to let you know, I can really shake 'em, sorry, still hearing that dance song. I will be back to blogging and writing, but today I am heading out to see my great grandsons and spend the day with them.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The time is what o'clock?

We were on a Caribbean cruise last week. There was a woman on the ship who looked exactly like Claudia. I mentioned Claudia in my previous post. I didn't talk to her, but we smiled at one another frequently when we met. Almost a gift.

Driving home we had to detour because someone had a wreck and damaged an overpass bridge girder, thus closing Highway 55. We were detoured into a single lane of traffic down a rural, winding two lane. Semi trucks for miles and miles wending through a rural town in Arkansas. Took us longer than ever to drive home. Finished last load of laundry at 9:00 p.m. last night and collapsed in our own wonderful bed.

Woke to an early phone call from a neighbor that another neighbor had passed away and the funeral was in an hour. So I rushed through getting myself ready (honey has a cold), and arrived at the funeral parlor fifteen minutes early. Sat there another hour and fifteen minutes, wondering what was going on. DUH! Daylight Savings time, and we hadn't adjusted our clocks when we got home! 

Now we are off to replenish the refrigerator and car gas tank. I will post photos and recap our trip later. Always on the go. You'd think I'd lose weight. At least I didn't gain any.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Save Me

I have been heartbroken over losing so many friends to cancer. Claudia passed away recently. She was a writer friend who lived in Carthage, MO. Claudia touched many lives. I have her blog listed on my blog's side bar. I was considering deleting it. 

I've changed my mind. Every time I look at it, I am reminded of her sweet nature, our personal emails, our connection. I can scroll back and read her posts, hear her "voice," and view photos of trips she and her husband made. The old West called to her and many of her stories were western-themed. 

I found this poem she sent me in March and have decided she is right... we must keep her.  

Claudia's following poem is reassurance that she lives on in our memories... as she wished.

Save Me

Cancer will change me, alter me
but the world will still turn, turn, turn.

Cancer will wreck me, ruin me
but it won’t steal the green from spring grass.

Cancer will stop me, end me,
but it won’t shake the breeze
of summer under a searing sun.

Cancer will silent my voice but not
my name on the lips of others.
Speak often and repeatedly of me
and I shall continue to live. 

Claudia Mundell 4/17/17

Friday, October 27, 2017

Celebrating a couple of cuties

Happy birthday to my son, Jason, who has a heart as big as the sky. He is always joking around with his kids, wife, and ME. When I least expect it, he taps my shoulder, jumps out, acts silly, then says, "Who me? What?!"  Playfulness keeps us young.

Forty-four years ago, my belly was as big as an inflated beach ball. Every Sunday before he was born, we took a drive to the country, and I hiked to the top of  a tree-covered hillside, my favorite exercise to this day. 
 Since he was born, Jason has made me proud, worried me gray, and given me wrinkles and smile lines, depending upon how many wheels he was riding around on. I think his first word was, "Vroom."  If he could have, he would have been a moto-cross driver.
 Ten years ago Nicole was born two days after her daddy's birthday. She is quite the artist and creates fantastic fashion designs. I have a notion she is going places in the fashion industry. She is still sweet and innocent, Nana's girl! Happy birthday, baby girl.
You can't imagine how many Halloween-themed birthday cakes I have made over the years. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Say what you mean and mean what you say? Or say it your way.

Last week, Liam, who was three in June, asked me if we were going to get a pumpkin.
I replied, " We'll get a pumpkin today. Yes siree, Bob!"

He put his hands on hips and said, "I am not BOB! I am Liam."

Naturally I laughed out loud. 

I researched the origin of that phrase. Some websites claimed "Bob" was used as a euphemism for the word, "God" and the idiom came into use at the end of the 19th century. Some said it was slang, informal and rural colloquialism.

Did you ever hear or use this phrase? Or am I really dating myself?

According to the Grammarist, an idiom is a phrase that is more than the sum of its parts, or in other words, has more of a meaning than the individual words used in the phrase. Examples include pay the piperfor the birds, and pulling one’s leg.

 Idiom is also a synonym for dialect, a way of speech particular to a geographical area that has specific vocabulary, syntax, and grammar. Finally, it can be used to describe a method of expression particular to a person, time period, or object.

colloquialism is a phrase that has risen from verbal speech. The only criteria for this designation is that the word or phrase be extremely informal. They may originate from a dialect, but do not have to. Examples include a whole nothercould care less, and raring to.

Do you care to leave any of your examples? Other than, "So hungry I could eat a horse."

Friday, October 20, 2017

Courage, heart, and brains... INDEED!

The Variety Children's Charity (formerly The Variety Club) serves children with disabilities.

In its ninth year, Variety Children's Theatre paired with a full orchestra, an inclusive children's ensemble, talented kids with special needs, and also professional actors and dancers to bring the  Wizard of Oz production to our city.

There is no other program like this in the world, according to Jan Albus, Executive Producer. There were twenty-four children on stage with a disability and twenty-four without.

Lara Teeter, Director and Choreographer, is a Professor of Theatre and the Head of Musical Theatre Program at the Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts. He has performed in six Broadway shows and has graced the Muny stage many times.

Speaking of Broadway shows, last night Bill and I attended this year's performance, which was OUTSTANDING. I felt like I was in New York.

Some of the Variety Children's Theatre performers, actors, dancers, and interns had limited vocal ability, yet each introduced themselves and their positions with such pride and confidence... to rousing applause.

The opening comments and introductions moved me to tears because I have taught children with many capabilities and some with severe disabilities. The pride these performers felt equaled the pride felt by their families and audience members. This was a night to remember, a performance beyond comparison, and I felt honored to be in attendance.

My classroom motto Never say, "I can't." Always say, "I can try!" was in full force with these talented and determined Variety Children's Theatre performers. WOW! The cast of determined individuals was phenomenal. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Do you compare? How are You Growing?

I began "officially" writing and submitting in 1997. I have come a long way as a self-taught freelance writer. I was looking through some of my old files, comparing my earlier writing to my more recent.

 It is evident I have grown in my literary life. I have access to a computer now, which I did not have when I began. I was thrilled the day my honey purchased a word processor for me at a yard sale from a college student. Still had to use the whiteout strip, but I didn't care. Now I have the Internet at my fingertips. Research is effortless, and my writing life has improved immensely. 

We are all at different levels of development whether it is in our writing, or personal growth, and we should not compare ourselves to others. 

But I cannot help comparing cuteness today
I babysat Alex on Thursday, which was his mommy's birthday.    

Happy birthday to my first grandchild, Ashley, shown here at two days old.

 Alex, at two months old, looks like his mama when she was a baby. He did not like the bright sky outdoors, but he did enjoy his stroller ride. He is beginning to mimic vocal play. I love snuggling and playing with this little cutie. He is so precious. I must remember not to compare him to
you know who...

 Happy Liam, at four months old, loved EVERYTHING and still does. He has a zest for life and has the same personality as his mommy. His vocabulary is superior and his reasoning is amazing.

At 3 years and three months old, Liam loves the different playgrounds around town, and he tells us which color he wants to visit. He recently returned from a camping trip with his paternal grandparents. He is talking a mile a minute about all the things he did.

These three years have flown by, and I can hardly imagine Alex this big, but growing up seems to happen in the blink of an eye. I feel so blessed to be a grandma to all of our "babies," big and little.

Now let's talk about your writing... have you been writing, and submitting? Get those babies out there. Your words impact others. Wishing you a beautiful day, and hoping to see some of you at Spencer Library in St. Charles tomorrow form 10-2.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

When an authority figure goes too far

I am not here to argue a point, discuss patriotism, or debate kneeling when our national anthem is played. This post is not about any of those things.

I want to share an incident that happened everyday when I was in 8th grade, and tell you how it indirectly affected me.

We were mostly innocent and immature thirteen-year-old students attending a public, inner-city school. We sang patriotic songs in music class honoring all branches of the US military. When The Star Spangled Banner aired over the intercom, we were to stop moving, stand at attention and place our hand over our heart. Then we would say The Pledge of Allegiance to the nearest American flag.

A girl named Paula who was very quiet, stood out from the class because her religion dictated she wear long hair, skirts, and long-sleeved shirts. She was not permitted to wear shorts for gym class. She wasn't allowed to sing the national anthem, nor participate in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Our male gym teacher continually bullied this young girl mercilessly and threatened her with failing 8th grade if she did not dress out or say the Pledge.

"Rules are rules!" he bellowed. "I don't care what your parents or preacher tell you. If you do not follow the rules, you will fail 8th grade!"

He made her sit on a bench. Some of us argued (yes, I spoke up) in her defense that she could still participate in class even though she did not wear shorts. He shot us down with his authoritarian comments and blatant insults. I suppressed my anger, confusion, and inability to help Paula. I felt helpless and overpowered by this man who went on to become a  prominent district athletic director. 

Paula did graduate, but no child should be shamed for their parent's beliefs and/or religious values. Paula tried to explain, "My parents say we pledge allegiance to one master, and that is God."

At that time, the words of our anthem and pledge were meaningless to me. Today, more than five decades later, I have analyzed the words and some disturb me: "liberty and justice for all" I am not talking about incidents making today's nightly news. I speak of incidents that happened to our family who did not receive justice after being killed by a drunk driving football player in town.

I am concerned about nations that indoctrinate children to blindly follow policy without question. I am not slamming our country, our leaders, our citizens... merely seeing things in a different light. 

I welcome your comments and will simply leave them as your commentary and not debate.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Come out and bail me out of my funk

I fell asleep on the couch last night.
At 2:00 a.m. I finally went to bed.
Searched for the top sheet,
but found my honey burrito-wrapped instead.

So I wrote a couple pieces 
and sent them off with hope.
They all bounced back this morning.
Now I sit and mope.

Such is the writer's/retiree's life.

If you are out and about on Saturday, stop by Spencer Library for the Indie Author Event from 10-2. There will be 100 authors there! My fellow Chicken Soup for the Soul writers and I will be participating. This is always a fun time. 

 427 Spencer Road St. Peter's, MO (Chocolate for my friends!)

You do not have to sign up. Disregard those words on the poster.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

If the hat fits, wear it.

My brother John is a goodhearted man who does kind things for others. He makes rings out of dollar bills for waitresses, and rings out of higher denominations for elderly aunts. He does fantastic origami designs and gives them to children. He makes wonderful creations out of paper or cardboard. He is probably the most creative person I know. He often donates his creations to his local library, schools, day cares and individuals. I'm thinking Mom sparked our creativity.

When we were little kids, she showed us how to fold a page of the newspaper to make a boat. I was amazed to discover when placed upon the head, it looked like Robin Hood's hat. A simple piece of newspaper became a fascinating plaything for my brother and me.

When Mom would get upset with someone she'd say, "Oh, he talks like a man with a paper hat."

I always thought she meant a newspaper Robin Hood hat. I didn't understand what she meant until I was older and Dad told us stories about his childhood in the early 1920s. He was the class clown in school and often had to sit in front of the class wearing a paper cone hat... a dunce cap. 

I finally got it! I understood Mom's remark. 

I've heard some bizarre comments lately by an influential person. One thing I heard with my own ears was, "Enjoy yourself." 

This was spoken to a person dealing with the aftermath of hurricane devastation. Normally I would rant and rave to my hubby about this person's insensitive remarks. But now all I can think is, "He talks like a man with a paper hat." 

And it's not a Robin Hood hat!

I imagine my mom winking at me from heaven.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Chugging through life or zooming... which track are you on?

The Museum of Transportation is a fascinating place for children as well as adults. When I told Liam I was taking him to the big trains he did not want to go. He was anxious and afraid I was going to put him on a big train by himself. "I do not want to go. I'm afraid. Let's just go to the playground."

Life is all about perspective. How seldom we view life from our little ones' perspective. As adults, we have years of experience, larger vocabularies, and high expectations. In our efforts to teach our young ones, we sometimes forget they don't have our knowledge base and have to learn what we already know. It is our job to prepare them for what's ahead, but also to allow them to be free to explore and learn at their own pace, and to comfort them when they are ill at ease. This is the stage for building and developing trust, kindness, and confidence that they will take into the world.
Liam discovered we could actually ride the miniature train, but even better, we were allowed to climb steep steps and tour the inside of old trains. He was delighted "driving" me to the red, green, or blue playgrounds he likes to visit. He enjoyed playing with gauges, levers, knobs, switches, and steering wheels.
 He met a little buddy named Carter who was 12 days younger. These two little  guys were birds of a feather. They giggled, took turns, shared snacks, and laughed uproariously each time one of them shouted, "banana peel" (which they did a lot!) The two little monkeys tried to climb a tree!

Observing the innocence of these little boys made my heart swell with pride and thankfulness. Liam is bright, kind, caring, and friendly, and so was Carter. They became best buds.

Carter's mom, Lynn, and his grandma, Sandy, and I sat and watched these little guys who had no preconceived notions about one another, no biases, no prejudices, not an ounce of hatred in their little bodies. They could have been any color, any size, any religion or nationality...the only things that mattered was that they connected intellectually, emotionally and socially. They were both highly verbal, and over-active. They had a zest for learning and love of life. Their antics helped me forget the world situation for a while.

When it was time to leave, they joined hands and walked the path down to the lower level.
 WHY can we not live in peace in this world? Why is there such divisiveness? Why can't we find our common thread, seek our sameness, walk alongside one another, holding hands, uplifting each other?

Why aren't  we satisfied with having enough, instead of always wanting more-more-more? Why in our developed nation, where we have an abundance of everything... WHY are there hungry children, homeless people, aching hearts? We need more Carters and Liams.

 My neighbor and late friend Lisa once told me that generally speaking, people under age five and over age 65 do not care about the other person's race, religion, or creed. Folks in those age brackets seek their likenesses. Under fives haven't been influenced and indoctrinated with hate, etc. Those over 65 have lived long enough to know those things that divide us are less important than the things that unite us.

As the boys bid farewell, I smiled knowing that Carter and Liam WILL make a difference in this world. They will fight for social justice, set good examples, and be leaders. I taught PreK for almost 40 years, and I can see the goodness in these boys. I could always spot our future leaders.
May we all make a difference in someone's life today. Start with a smile, a kind word, a donation, a prayer or positive thoughts for those hurting and in need of a helping hand. What the world needs now is love. Seek peace.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Christmas is three months away. How about a book and some dark chocolate?

I am proud to announce my story will be included in this book. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Toys for Tots Marine Corp campaign. 

That makes 27 Chicken Soup for the Soul books in which my stories have been published.  

This is our  (almost) 18 year old granddaughter, Morgan. She made me laugh out loud when she came to visit us the other day. I offered her and her girlfriend, a snack, a cookie or something sweet, maybe some chocolate. She laughed and said, "You know what, Nana? When I was younger, I remember you told me that dark chocolate is healthy for you and it helps put you in a good mood. So I kept a chunk in the freezer, and when I was...well, let's just say, I'd go to the freezer and nibble a bite in the mornings." 
Now if that isn't proof that kids are listening... even when it seems they don't hear you. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Flat on my back in the dark

Over the years we've spent many stifling hot Labor Day extended weekends at Sherwood Forest with sometimes a hundred family members and friends. We stayed in primitive cabins with bunks and no air conditioning. There was a shared bathroom/shower house, and a communal kitchen, where everyone gathered to prepare family meals for their own. Some of us would sneak into the walk-in freezer for a reprieve from the heat. But on those memorable holidays, regardless of the heat, there was always a soccer, volleyball, or baseball game going on in the open field. Kids ran freely and explored. They connected with cousins and enjoyed the sights and sounds of nature. When the kids of all ages FINALLY settled down at night, after chasing and teasing one another, everyone slept good from fresh air and exercise.

The highlight of those holiday weekends was laying stretched all across the field on our backs  at pitch dark, stargazing. Whispers rippled as someone pointed out a constellation or spied the space station. Treasured moments in time. As the kids grew up and went off to college, and families had other obligations, the holiday gathering drew less and less family and friends. Today the memory resides deep in my heart.

I wrote a poem about those days. It won a $100.00 award and will be posted on the Metro buses and Metro Link rail cars for one year. I am honored to have been one of the 14 winners selected  from over 200 poems submitted. A reception was held at Regional Arts Commission on Thursday evening.
I stood at the lectern and lost my thoughts. I mean total brain blip! I asked the audience what the holiday was in September. They looked at me like I had lost my mind.  I said, "Not Memorial Day, the other one, oh yeah, Labor Day!"  I laughed at my own brain freeze. Makes me human. Then I went on to explain what inspired me to write my poem. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

From tiny to towering

Despite a roomful of toys, this measuring stick is the first thing our grand kids darted for when they were little. They were so excited when they could move their name which indicated growth. Sean is 18 and George is 20. Last month our house overflowed with family for Bill's birthday. The first thing all of the grown kids went for again was the measuring stick. George is 6'5". Sean's 6'

        Kyle 24, Sean 18, George 20, Ashley 27, (9 months pg with Alex), Madison 19.
 It seems like only yesterday I was nuzzling their baby necks and kissing their baby toes.
                                                                       And now this!
I cannot believe I get to do it all over again. Also can't believe that one day Liam and Alex will have big, old, stinky feet, too.
I am so smitten with this tiny kitten.
 And so is Paw-paw Bill. There is something about his voice and happy face that is magnetic to children. We are so fortunate to have reared our own children, had a hand in shaping the lives of our grandchildren, and now we are so blessed to have a chance to do it again with these tiny boys.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Tongues were wagging

Four dynamic motivational speakers!

                               Gianna Jacobson, Kim Lozano, Kelli Allen, Linda O'Connell

I participated in a panel discussion with these writers, editors, and professors on the topic of why or why not to submit to literary magazines and university journals. The St. Louis Publisher's Association meeting room was filled. My critique group members, who were supposed to be at our own meeting, walked in and surprised me. I am proud to be a member of the Wild Women Wielding Pens critique group. Sioux, Lynn, Kim, and Laura are the most supportive friends.

Gracious hostess, Peggy Nehman introduced us. Since we were presenting in alphabetical order, I knew I would be speaking last. I was concerned that the others would cover most everything on the topic of literary magazines, so I talked about my personal journey and mild success with lit mags. I explained that I do not have a Masters in Fine Arts. I consider my MFA and acronym for Mighty Fine Attitude. I admitted I have been a successful freelance writer because I chose to take a chance.

You are not too old.
It is never too late.
Take a chance.

Those were my key points as I admitted my vulnerabilities and shared some of the mistakes I have made along the way.

I benefited from this event as well. I learned from my fellow panelists, and I received positive feedback after the meeting. I also received private messages, emails, and gained a few blog followers. You never know where life will take you, what connections you will make and  what a difference you can make in another person's life. A word of encouragement can have a long reach and inspire others.

"The panel was knock-your-socks-off terrific. They were four of the most prepared, intelligent, creative women I have met in a long time. The program was well worth attending, just to hear them speak." Bobbi Linkemer.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

As the clock moves forward...

The simple things in life make me happiest.

Bill and I took a leisurely stroll through the interior walking path at Francis Park, alongside a shallow lagoon. When we first met, we used to walk the perimeter of this park three times...almost three miles every Sunday. First lap we walked side-by-side, second lap hand-in -hand, and the third time, his arm wrapped around my shoulder, me tucked under his arm. We were a perfect fit 28 years ago. 

 This pretty lily pad and the gold fish swimming about brought such a peaceful joy, a soothing calm.

This fragrant bush in one of my late friend's favorite color made me think of Millie. I remembered the fun we used to have together, her favorite song, her laughter. The summer of our discontent.
The doctor says my honey and I need to exercise more. When I suggested strolling through this park, Bill said, "Why do you always wait until after I eat to ask me to walk? That's bad for my heart."

I replied, "I think the ice cream is bad for your heart." And he retorted, "Yours, too." LOL
Midway around the inner path, my king found a work-of-art throne where he could sit and rest.

Those were the days when we could hustle around the park three times. We were getting to know one another then, discovering each other's likes and dislikes. Our similarities.  Yes, we were a perfect fit back then.  And I'm happy to say, we still are...albeit a bit heavier, happier, older... yet still content.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

What is your method, big or small?

As a writer, do you think small? 
This is Howie when he was a puppy.

                                                                   Or do you think big?
Howie is a full grown Golden Doodle boy. I say boy, because he still wants to hug Kyle who has to kneel down for a loving embrace. Howie has not outgrown his puppy personality, and possibly never will. He is sweet and playful, and he thinks he's a lap dog. He's so big he has his own large otttoman to snooze on. He loves going to the dog park and gnawing on his hard rubber toys.

When you tackle writing, do you think small or go big? I'm reading What Comes Next and How to Like It, A Memoir by Abigail Thomas, a writer and writing instructor.

Every writer has their moments of self doubt. Here's what happened to her. Sound familiar?

I had written poems in the seventies, but the poetry dried up. When I tried to write words that went all the way across the page I got discouraged; "Who do you think you are?" I'd mutter, balling up the paper and tossing it into a wastebasket ~ Abigail Thomas.

She gave her students an assignment. They were instructed to select a ten year period of their lives, and write two pages about that time using only three words sentences.

Think of the tight writing, the poetry that might evolve, and the possibilities for future stories. She says you either run away from the truth or toward it. I imagine this exercise can produce outstanding writing.

You do not have to stretch words all the way across the page, no paragraphs or formatting. Just three words at a time. Less intimidating. Abbreviated revelations. My own examples.

I loved motherhood. Kids my happiness.
Rotten stinking marriage. Tossed the garbage.
My great escape. Could breathe again.

Nana at 40. Ocean-deep baby love.
Watched friend die.  I cried ugly.
Met soul mate. Delighted each day.
Never been happier.

Me a writer? Didn't take classes. Took several chances.
Success with anthologies. Credits piled up.
Me a presenter? Who you kidding?
Speaking gigs everywhere.

See how easy? Will you give it a try, maybe a leave a sentence, or two or three?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hands on learning vs worksheets

Make learning fun!

Right now Liam is a mommy snuggler and baby brother kisser, but when she returns to work he is going to be so surprised with this activity board. It cost me $1.00 to make. I picked up the large cardboard which separates stacks of food items at Sam's Club for free. I picked up the foam leaves and golf tees at a garage sale, 50 cents each. I drew a tree and tinted white glue with food coloring to draw the grass and flowers and to outline the tree top and Jack-o-lantern.

Won't my little buddy be surprised to find himself seated on the Jack-o-lantern? I can hear him now when he discovers his very own dogs, Mack and Riley, hiding among the flowers.

The preschool teacher in me comes out at the beginning of a new school year, and I must create.
I will teach him beginning letter sound, matching letters, alphabet recognition, concepts big/bigger/biggest; above, below, and other pre-K concepts.

You can make an activity board at little or no cost. The only problem I encountered was the golf tees are so long they bump the wall. I solved the problem by hot gluing a foam block to each top corner. Now it leans against the wall perfectly.

The other side will be decorated with a large Christmas tree and he will be able to hang A-B-C ornaments in December.

There's a song that goes along with this fall theme:

Leaves, leaves, yellow and brown (flutter fingers above head)
Leaves are falling down to the ground (touch floor/ground)
Leaves leave yellow and red
One leaf landed right on MY HEAD! (Child shouts it)

So, who is going to Sam's, Costco, or another big box store to pick up a piece of cardboard?

Monday, September 4, 2017

My husband was in hot water, not I.

Click this safe link to read my latest story, A Real Blast.

The September Issue of Sasee Magazine features beautiful cover art by artist Celia Wester.

If you have time, please read my latest essay, humorous now, but certainly not when it happened.

My husband always means well, but he almost pushed me over the edge with this incident.

Would you be so kind as to leave a comment on Sasee's page after reading my story? Thanks.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Whose joy ride did I pay for?

I have been remiss in keeping up with my blog and others because I have been enamored with a newborn, dealing with car repairs, and trying not to "Oohh" and "Oww" too much when I sit, lie down, or stand.

My honey and I went to lunch at a restaurant Monday, and I slipped in an unseen water spill, went down hard on my hip, elbow, knee. The paramedics said, "Nothing broken, just banged up good." Understatement: "You will be sore."

A nurse friend told me I'd be surprised at all the muscle strains. I can tell you I am  glad for the padding. If ONLY I had landed on my bottom. My left side below my hip is black, my knee is a beautiful blend of purples and blues. But I am healing. Can;t keep this old gal down.

I dropped off my rental car at the dealership to pick up my car after repairs. Short story: I got way too excited as we hurried to the hospital for Alex's birth. I plowed into my daughter's Mustang which was parked behind me.  The story that will grow over the years.

Anyway, my cars is good as new. I left the dealership and went to a store across the street. Going home, ten miles away, I spied the rental car, (identifiable by the out of state license plate I memorized) and observed a young woman recklessly driving it.

I called the dealership and asked about the gasoline refill charge since I chose and option with the car rental company to replace the gas at $2.00 per gallon regardless of  increase. The receptionist said, "The car rental manager just picked up the car. I can give you her number."

I asked the "driver" how my gasoline fees and usage would be billed. She said, "Our computer shows the car arrived with 3/4 tank of gas."

I told her I have photos of the mileage and gauge which shows the tank only half full, and I used only a quarter tank. When I mentioned someone driving the car shortly after I dropped off, she changed her tune and said, "Well, let me see if I can adjust this down." And she did. How many other people have been duped?

Pretty slick, that I would have to pay for her joy ride.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Liam, Alex, and Harvey

The big brother is getting too big. 
Liam has been very helpful with his little brother and wants to kiss him all the time.

Well who wouldn't want to kiss this cute little face? He is such an alert baby. He looks like his mommy's baby picture here. Going to be another smart one.

Keeping all those in the path of hurricane Harvey in my prayers. This looks like a devastating one. Just heard 20,000 people on several cruise ships are unable to head in to Galveston and cruise lines are making accommodations. Many folks on board are concerned their cars parked at port will be washed out to sea. I can't imagine 36 inches of rain after Harvey makes landfall and then spins around again. Stay safe, folks.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words...or DOLLARS

Saturday we celebrated two lives.

Paw-paw Bill is celebrating a milestone birthday, and baby Alex was introduced to all of his relatives.

Naturally the women and little girls hovered over the four-day-old baby. One little six year old girl (like an adopted granddaughter) held him, and whispered in awe, "Go get my mom! Go get my dad! Go get everyone. I can't believe this!" It was such a thrill to see everyone having such a fun time. We have a small ranch house, and our living room (furniture and floor) was covered with mostly big kids sprawled wall to wall... and as you can see, Liam's popsicle sticks.

Kyle who is 24 let all the little kids climb on his back when he was on the floor. What a good sport.

 George, 20 years old, is home from his college internship at University of Alabama and will be heading back to New York for his junior year at Vassar.

He has always loved babies, ever since he was a baby. Just look at the joy on his face as he held Alex for the first time.

Nicholas, 16, our la cross champ, insists on wearing his hair in this "flow" style like the  professional players. I think it looks pretty cool. Parents don't always agree with grandparents. Nick is a softie for babies, too. Just something about these big guys bonding with their newest cousin that touches my heart.

But THIS is the picture that brings me to tears.

 Ashley texted me this photo and said, "I am so in love with him, I think my heart will break."

And speaking of breaks... I'd really rather not tell you about what broke my heart on Tuesday evening. My daughter pulled onto the parking pad behind my car in our drive way. She left adequate space between our cars. We waited for the phone call which we knew would be coming any moment. At 6:00 p.m. Ashley called and said, "The doctor said you have one hour to make it here before I deliver."

We rushed out to MY car, buckled Liam into his car seat. I started the engine, threw the car in reverse floored it, and plowed right into my daughter's MUSTANG! My car is much worse than hers. 

Talk about a Keystone Cops episode! I will certainly have a story for Alex when he's older.