Sunday, June 17, 2018

Break a leg

Sometimes things are not as they seem. Let me tell you how I got these bruises on my left upper arm, forehead, ankle.

Bill has a large comfy recliner which backs up to our front window. There is a four foot tall wooden  shelf  with five shelves and lots of ceramic frames which display photos of grand kids. It is against the wall to the left of his chair (as I am standing facing it.)

I saw a throw pillow on the floor behind Bill's chair. I reached for it, lost my balance, grabbed onto the upper part of his recliner and the dang thing RECLINED which sent me reeling into the shelf. The ceramic frames crashed like dominoes as I tried to upright myself.

"What have you been up to?" I heard Bill say.

"What does it look like? I busted my head and my arm, and I'm stuck. Why don't you help me here?"

"How long has it been?" he asked.

"How long?! Who cares? Just give me a hand!"

Then, the door opened and in walked Bill who found me crumpled in a heap. I had been interacting with a damned soap opera actor.

So much for my acting debut. I didn't even have an audience when I nearly "broke a leg."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Touched by an angel

Winter slammed into the Midwest in December 2010. Snow-covered, icy roads did not stop Donna from her duties as a foster mom.

As a single mother, Donna was always extremely responsible. She reached out to help others: family, friends and strangers. With her engaging personality, gravelly laugh, and lively chatter, she left a great first impression: BUBBLY. 
Someone was goofing around with her in this photo, thus the arm around her neck. This is how I remember Donna,

With incredible determination, she not only provided for her baby, who required frequent surgeries for a birth defect, Donna worked harder than two women. In addition, she cared for her own challenged mother. DYNAMIC! Donna was a super charged woman when we were young moms. When her daughter grew up and married, Donna filled the void with work and selflessly assisted other mother's daughters.  She became a foster mother.

On December 17, 2010 Donna was not going to allow lousy weather to stop her from transporting one of her foster daughters. She was headed back home for her other foster daughter's birthday celebration. Her tires hit a patch of cinders, meant to enhance traction. Instead she lost control of her car; it careened backwards, down a hill and bounced to a halt in a ravine. The back of her seat broke, and Donna was trapped, flat on her back, strapped in, unable to move. She was most concerned she could not answer her frequently ringing phone. She KNEW it was the disappointed girl. Donna was more worried about her than her own predicament. Donna lay in that car for hours/days until she was rescued. As a result of the accident, Donna is still paralyzed from the chest down.

My children and her daughter are cousins. I married the older brother, she hooked up with the younger brother.

It had been years since I'd seen Donna. We were long overdue for a meeting. Sunday, we met at a half way point, coming an hour from opposite directions. We ate a late lunch (because I was late) at Long Horn Steak House. She was accompanied by her daughter, my sweet niece, Veronica, and also her home health care attendant, Melanie, who does an awesome job and is very personable. Eighty hours a week, she works with Donna. Kudos for the good care giving and friendship. I felt as if I knew Melanie.   

Donna has the same genuine smile and dynamic personality, even if the years have softened her voice. Her eyes sparkle and radiate joy. Her heart radiates love. She is an angel. Donna has use of her arms from the elbows down, but arthritis has crippled her hands. That doesn't stop her from strapping on a wrist fork and feeding herself.

Obviously she is a home town Cardinals baseball fan. Look at those fancy fingernails! I admired her many pretty rings; this one in particular. She removed it and handed it to me. "Here, it's yours. I want you to have it." Her selfless act brought tears. I tried to refuse, offered to buy it, but she insisted. I will treasure it always.

Two hours passed quickly. We shared life stories, old memories, and made some new ones. We laughed and reminisced... our younger girls came out in us old gals. I hope she enjoyed herself as much as I did. She has a devoted daughter, my sweet Veronica, and a caring family and support system. Nothing seems to get her down. I can't imagine being confined to a wheel chair, but Donna makes all of life seem easy. Lazy me, I think about exercise and complain about my flabby arms. Donna exercises her arms and proudly showed me how firm they are. She's been my incentive. If she can do it, I will, too.

I am so proud of my sister-in-law. She is an inspiration. While many would have given up or given in, Donna continues to give... to everyone she meets. I really do know an angel on earth. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

What should I do?

Decisions, decisions! Is it always about principle?

I have been writing for many years, and have received accolades from far and wide. I have written for publishing credits only. I have written for money, and even chocolate... yes I won a contest on the theme of candy, and part of the prize was my favorite dark chocolate.

I have ghost written stories, letters, poems and articles that resulted in prizes of complete wedding packages, a scholarship, and publication for money (for others.) I created an anthology for a publishing company, and I have published in more than two dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

I have published for free for a cause, most recently on the topic of mental health to assist others. As a result of my words, I have been contacted by editors, publishers, friends and strangers in far away lands. I have made contacts and friends, and have helped others. I feel the need to give back, and I do. I present workshops, speak at libraries, conferences, and advise other writers.

I have been advised by well known authors that writers should never give their work away. I disagree. I have done so,  but this evening, I find myself reluctant to sign a contract. The misunderstanding is on my part. I mistakenly thought an acceptance came with a stipend as well as publication.

I made a decision based on the merit of my words, and I have to stand on conviction this time.
Have you ever withdrawn a submission. If I do not value my words...

Hope you are busy writing.


I inadvertently deleted a positive blog comment from the editor/publisher of the publication. Marc, please feel free to repost.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Six mug shots, and that doesn't include the newspaper clippings

Does the name Allen Funt ring a bell?
He was an American icon, a television producer, director, writer and television personality best known as the creator and host of Candid Camera.

TV's first reality show consisted of hidden-camera pranks when it aired in 1948. Camera crews headed to towns across the country, sometimes with assists from celebrities, on unsuspecting folks, then surprising them with the iconic phrase, "Smile! You're on `Candid Camera.' 

Versions of the show have played in every decade since; Peter Funt, Allen's son took over after his dad's death.

Candid Camera was one of my all time favorite shows. Many times in my life weird things have happened that made me suspect I was on Candid Camera, but actually every time I have been on television, it was always with my knowledge.

The first time I was featured on television was in the 1980s (when I had big hair.) The mother of two of my preschool students nominated me as a Class Act Teacher through our local TV station.  My classroom phone rang and a man said, "I'm calling from Channel 2 Newsroom. You have been selected to be interviewed as one of our class act teachers. I'm surprised I'm covering a preschool, because the contest is specifically for teachers of grades K through 12."

"Who IS this?!" I asked thinking someone was pranking me. Tom O'Neal convinced me he was the news anchor assigned to me and my classroom, and he was coming with a videographer the next day to spend a couple hours.

I was nervous, especially knowing I was on camera at all times. They interviewed two of my students— the child whose mom nominated me, and also a precocious little boy. Years later, I taught the same little boy's son. When the cameras weren't rolling, Tom and I made small talk about our teen daughters. Let's just say we had a lot in common, similar complaints.

The interview was pared down to a two minute clip which aired midweek and also on the weekend. They showed me in action teaching, and also discussing my teaching philosophy. I received mail from many. Email and cell phones were not in existence or the main communication devices then.

My next mug shot was with my last preschool's owner/director and several students. We were featured outside a newsroom window. The anchor came out and interviewed us about an upcoming community event in which we were involved. My mom called to say she saw me waving and smiling. I was wordless for a change.

Then when I started publishing in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, a media person from another local news channel inquired as to when three local, published CS writers and I would be available for a live on-air interview. We all went downtown and smiled for the camera and brief individual interviews.

My aunt made her husband take a photo of me speaking. She was so proud of me, she mailed me the picture. I was so nervous, I blinked my eyes way too much.

My next two TV spots were in my classroom while a film crew filmed me reading and doing actions to Chick-a-Chick-Boom-Boom with my students (shake your body.) They interviewed the owner about her one-of-a-kind school, which she founded specifically for children with food allergies. I received text messages and emails from many former students and moms.

My last TV appearance was a Mother's Day interview at another news station in town. The interview was to discuss a story I had published in The Ultimate Mom, 2008. 

Mama Left Her Hand Print is about the day our life insurance agent came to collect the premium for a policy. Mom asked me to tell him she wasn't home. So I did. "Mama told me to tell you she isn't home." Mama did leave her hand print...on my heart and soul, and in my story I enumerated the many ways.

The female news anchor was friendly and prepped me ahead of time. She asked me what I regretted most as a mom. I said, "Saying NO too many times. I wish I had been more flexible."

She wanted to go with that. She tried leading me several times, and for the life of me, I couldn't remember the word "FLEXIBLE." She finally had to say it, and then I agreed. Talk about a Candid Camera moment.

TV stations are no longer calling me. I wonder if I've been blackballed? 
 My mom's earthly birthday is coming up in a couple weeks. If you would like to read my story about us, I will gladly email it to you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Splishing and splashing

What a pleasant and unexpected surprise to receive a phone call from my granddaughter on Memorial Day in the evening. Ashley lives about 45 minutes away, and although we exchange children on a  parking lot each Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m., we are always in a rush and seldom have time for a leisurely chat. 

Years ago one of my teacher's aides used to say, "It's such a rushing world these days." She was nearing retirement, and her words didn't phase me then. NOW, I understand. 

Little mama in her third trimester, is expecting her third little boy in three months.
She asked where the sprinkler park is that Liam talks about. I gave her directions, and she and her family came  to our neighborhood for fun and games just before dusk.

 Alex loved splashing in the fountain. He was shivering and still wanted to do it again and again. What a giggler this little cutie is. He's quiet and very observant.
Daddy Justin and Ashley had fun in the sprinklers too. Ashley got soaked.
 Liam walked right up to a fountain spray and dunked his head, because he wanted to feel the hard spray on his hair. He laughed out loud! I hope he never loses his sense of wonder and discovery.
 He is such a curious little guy. He tried to catch the stream, stepped on it, sat on it. There is a button to press when the fountains stop. He frequently presses the button because he thinks he controls the flow. Oh to believe you have the power to move, catch, and control water. "That was a really good spray, buddy!" I encourage him, and he beams with pride.

When Ashley was seven, we were walking on the beach. She said, "Nana, I have a secret. I control the ocean waves. When I think slow thoughts, the waves roll in slowly. But when I think of fast things, like race cars, the waves come crashing in very fast."

"You are amazing!" I told her. And now I am telling her little boys how amazing they are. Time is flying. The sixth month of the year is upon us. It IS a rushing world.
I had the best time at the sprinkler park with my granddaughter and her family.
I am so blessed to be able to spend time with my little guys. SLOW DOWN, time.
Have YOU made any waves lately? 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My heart was pounding!

Bill and I stood in the back yard yesterday morning and watched as a behemoth like this flew into our neighborhood with propellers/rotors/engine roaring. It kept descending behind our house. We were concerned there was a sick case and a neighbor was being airlifted to a hospital. We observed as the chopper headed down the block to the elementary school's open grassy area and landed.

ELEMENTARY school for goodness sake. NO! I couldn't imagine another horrific event. Not in my own neighborhood. It made me sick to think about what might be going on.

Then a police helicopter followed the same flight path. Out front a S.W.A.T. tactical vehicle, firetruck and other emergency vehicles pulled into the school parking lot. I shouted for Liam and swept Alex up and hooked him into the stroller and away we went.

I realized what it was, career day at the local elementary school. Thank God! What a fun way to end a school year. The students filed out of the building and visited the various community helpers and their vehicles, and I'm sure they learned a lot.

Liam and Alex and I sat at a picnic table and observed from afar. Quite a thrill and lots of excitement in our neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Honey, sweat, carpenter...they all have something in common

What a thrill to discover a honey bee flitting from flower to flower. I wish there were more, but we only found one. Bees are crucial to pollinating the tomato plants in my honey's garden. And we want a bumper crop of those luscious Big Boys.

Baby Alex is nine months old tomorrow and getting cuter by the day. He is such an easy going baby. His personality is developing, and he is becoming more vocal. His babbling is hilarious and his laughter is contagious.

I spied Liam examining the red bud tree in our front yard. Its purple flowers are now gone, and the leaves are growing. I asked him what he was doing and he replied, "I want to climb a tree." So I lifted him up to a big branch and let him cling for a moment, explaining most of the branches are too small and he would break them if he tried to climb the tree. He agreed to wait a while. 

So he investigated the ring of flowers under the tree. When he spied a tiny piece of greenery fall from the tree, he ran like crazy. He thought it was an insect. So, of course...
we had to go in search of live insects. We found ants and rolypolies, which have their exoskeleton on the outside of their bodies like many crustaceans, and that's why they need moisture. We found a smooth caterpillar which might have been a slug and `moved it to new chomping grounds far away.
To Liam's delight, we discovered a tiny sweat bee in a rose. We watched its activity and discussed what he knew about bees: they make delicious honey, and they sting. I stuck his arm with my fingernail and showed him how a sting might feel. We learned that only female sweat bees sting, and most of the time you can shoo them off your skin and they won't bother you at all.

We have carpenter bees on our patio. They like to devour wood. Someone on Facebook said they stuff a small paper bag with plastic bags and hang the small brown bag on their carport. The carpenter bees think it is a paper wasp's nest and skedaddle. Worth a try.