Monday, November 30, 2009

Discovering Unexpected Treasures

This morning I have come to a realization. I now know why I get so much satisfaction from walking the beach. Not only do I feel invigorated, I feel excited when I find a treasure in the sea foam. I think this must be the way my dad, who was a handyman who also sold scrap metal, felt when he went "junking". When I was five, he would call me "the boss" and tell me I could ride up front with him in his pickup on Saturday mornings as he scouted the alleys. Later when I was about ten, he and I would walk early Saturday mornings along the gravel parking pad that ran the length of Continental Can Company, right beside our yard. The employees partied on payday and kept us awake on Friday nights, but oh the morning rewards! It was easy to spot the pennies in the gravel, and a challenge to find a silver coin. We always came back home with a handful of silver dollars,quarters, dimes and nickles. It was a competition, and my eagle eye could spot them. Such a sense of satisfaction.

I know why I click on blogs so often and also reread my own. I feel excited when I receive a response to one of my posts. This morning it feels like I've walked the beach, the parking lot and gone junking with Dad. My friend sent me so many nuggets to discover. Thank you, Syl. You rock! Thanks to all others who post. If you are a regular reader but haven't signed on as a follower, please click on FOLLOW. It won't affect your emails or send you spam. It just shows editors who check my blog that I have a web presence.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Where have the years gone?

What a lazy, laid back Sunday. I made chicken stew, (yummy) and had a chocolate frosted, custard-filled donut for dessert. You'd think we were in the middle of a snow storm. The only other thing I'd need if we were in a snow storm, would be hot chocolate.

I am in the mood for Christmas music and T.V. holiday specials. Rick Springfield is singing Christmas carols as ice skaters perform.

It's 4:30 in the afternoon and it has been cloudy all day. After nearly a week off, I am ready to get back to work. These are very hectic days leading up to the Christmas program which will be attended by a couple hundred proud parents and grandparents, and that will make it all worthwhile.

I just found our first grandchildrens' letters to Santa which were published in the Suburban Journals. They are now 20 & 16. Ashley was six when she wrote, "Dear Santa, I will give your elves some of my cottage cheese and your reindeers some of my red beets." She loved those foods and was being nice! Kyle was two and a half. He said, "Dear Santa, I gonna give you a big yellow cookie, and I gonna give you reindeer some cat food and some big milk. I want a big hammer and screwdriver like Paw-paw's." It makes me nostalgic and I wonder, where did the years go? They turned out to be such great kids!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Back to normal

Whew! I did it. I made my deadline for the column I write for Hockey Stop. This has been a hectic week. First the death of Bill's aunt, visitation, funeral and all. The house has been a wreck with kitchen appliances strewn about because we installed a new floor and repainted the walls. I can't stand clutter, so I got rid of a bunch of stuff and did a thorough cleaning. I have been energized. I love it when the house is spotless, even though I know it's only temporary. Won't be long and there will be crumbs on the counter, piles on the table, but for now, I am basking in the glow.

It just feels wrong to be hanging outdoor Christmas lights when it is sunny, and almost 70. We were actually perspiring. Not complaining though. In the past my fingers have been frozen from tying red bows to the bushes.

Two out of fourteen submissions this month have been rejected, but I will forge on; it won't stop me. Don't let a little rejection slip stop you!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Miles of Smiles on Thanksgiving

On this Thanksgiving day, I have so many reasons to be thankful: for my husband, our health, our home, our children and grandchildren, friends and family near and far, my brother; oh, I could go on and on.

Speaking of grandchildren, yesterday afternoon we went to my son's house. I was having baby withdrawls and needed to hug Nicole. She had been at McDonald's Playland for the first time and her mom said when Nicole saw it, she stood there and squealed with delight. She was a little wound up and overtired, but she was still my huggy bear.

While we were visiting, Nicholas got a laceration under his right eyebrow and ended up at Urgent Care for wound closure. Light Sabre swords and five little boys playing in the backyard is a recipe for disaster.

Bill and I stayed and babysat Nicole who was exhausted from her adventure and fell asleep. When they returned, my daughter-in-law said, "Well, when you walked through the door you said you had to wait two more hours to clean the new tile floor. It's been exactly two hours." What a sense of humor!

The tile floor looks wonderful, another thing to be thankful for and smile about.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Funeral Music

I've heard beautiful organ music, vocalists singing hymns and also canned music at funerals, but what a surprise today to hear the church ladies sing from the pews (A capella) Que` Sera-Sera, a Doris Day song, one of Bill's aunt's favorites. She and I used to sing that when she was in the nursing home. It brought as many tears to my eyes as did Amazing Grace. I think funerals should be a celebration of life. Don't you?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Kitchen remodeling

Bill and his sixteen year old grandson Kyle, handsome, strapping tall, and hard working, laid a new ceramic tile floor this weekend. Our kitchen is going to look nice when it is finished, but it will not be completed by Thanksgiving, which means I am not cooking dinner this year. The kitchen appliances are crammed into the small living room and I am reminded of a complete kitchen remodeling job I lived through when my children were young. My ex and his buddy decided to do the job. They knocked out dry wall, ripped up flooring, tore down ceilings, took a crowbar to the pantry, well, let me just say that the demolition went fast; they seemed to be in competition. The reconstruction, however took nearly three months as they "worked" on it after work. They measured, cut a board, sat and had a beer, talked about the project, discussed cars, nailed a board, laid a tile, drank a beer, discussed life.

That Thanksgiving, my stove, tarped in the center of the floor, looked like a giant turkey dusted with wall plaster. This year's remodel job would be finished by Wednesday if not for a death in the family which has put the project on hold. Bill's aunt, who we have been responsible for, passed away. The next two days will be filled with family events and a funeral. So by this time next week, my dear husband will be expecting delicious home cooked meals every night.

Ah, the price we pay for remodeling!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Seasonal changes

I heard from a New England friend, (temperature is in the 30's) who said, they experience the four seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, Road Construction. They get over a hundred inches of snow. Imagine that! I am forever grateful for living in the midwest where summer stretches into fall and fall into winter. This weekend will be beautiful, and I plan to take advantage of it. Hope you do too.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chicken Soup call out

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking runner's stories. Unlace your running shoes, relax, and sit down and write your story.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A good night for reading

This weather makes me want to crawl under the covers and read a book. Actually, I have three books going at one time:The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Eagle and the Rose, a true story, and The Green Hills Lantern Literary Anthology. It is 7:00 p.m. our tummies are filled with wonderful authentic Mexican food form Burrito Loco, and I am heading for one of my books, because I am not always smarter than a fifth grader, and that seems to be the show Bill has on TV.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Open Mic at the Mack

Tonight was St. Louis Writer's Guild open mic at the Mack. I read a couple of poems. It is always enjoyable to hear the differen't writing styles. Lately I've discovered that some talented writers are not necessarily the best readers. A big part of open mic night is in the delivery, not just the content of the work. Well, that's my opinion. I do think we have some very good writers in SLWG. People helping people, writers supporting writers, friends meeting friends. Always a good time.

Dog Story Call Out

June Cotner has a call out for Funny Dog Stories. Pay is minimal.

I love dogs and cats; truthfully, it's puppies and kittens that I love, but I am finished with pets. I don't want to be responsible. Over the years, I've owned four dogs and two cats. My female dogs were smart and well behaved. I could speak to them in a normal tone and they understood. The male dogs didn't understand no matter how loud I yelled. They were thick ... in the neck, in stature, but mostly in the head. Willy was a large part hound, part Mackenzie River Husky (allegedly mixed with wolf). He was an overgrown oaf, a wild juvenile delinquent who roamed the tiny rural town of Delta Junction at the end of the Alaska Highway. He was forever getting into trouble. Imagine your dog snatching a neighbor's size 40DD bra off a clothesline and ripping it up. I buried it in the bottom of the trash barrel and watched my neighbor's husband torch the trash on the weekend. I still feel guilty. A story about GOOFY WILLY is forthcoming in a book next year.

Rocky was a little long-haired black and white Heniz 57, with ADHD. He had little man syndrome; he thought he was the size of a Great Dane. He'd take on any German Shepherd who passed the house, and he would chase flies or his tail for hours on the patio. The vet warned me. Did I listen? No!

Dusty and Buffy were smart little girls. Buffy brought Willy home most of the time at the end of the day, and Dusty, well she was my baby before I had babies. When I was a newlywed, I loved her more than I ever loved anyone or thing. Nothing more soothing than snuggling with a fluff ball.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happenings in the park

Sunday 5:00 a.m.

I have decided that it is the simple pleasures that make me happiest. Yesterday we hiked a trail and walked around the lake at Bee Tree Park with granddaughter, Ashley. We got a good workout. The weather was gorgeous. There were three wedding parties taking photos in the park which sits on the Mississippi River bluffs.

One time Bill and I were standing on the overlook pavillion when a middle-aged woman in a wedding dress joined us. She said she was waiting for her tugboat captain to dock below on the Mississippi. They both worked on a barge and had fallen in love with that spot that overlooks the river. They were to be married at 4:00 p.m.

Another time we were sitting in Jefferson Barracks park which also overlooks the river. It was a fall evening and we were alone. A woman towing a very small cart/buggy behind her car parked nearby. We watched her unhitch the buggy. Then she walked around to the passenger door, opened it, went around to the other passenger door and shoved a miniature horse out of the back seat. She hitched it to the buggy and rode around the parking lot, then she nudged the horse back into the car, hitched up her wagon and left. Bill and I sat in stunned silence. I said, "Did we really see that?"

Parks seem to attract colorful characters. One time when my children were small and playing at the playground, I sat on a bench beside a man wearing bright blue socks who was editing a thick, unbound, typed manuscript. I asked if he were a writer. He said he was. He told me he was writng about his interrogation by the CIA. They were suspicious of him because he had called to tell them every detail of the JFK assassination before it happened. He told me he was president of the UFO society and that aliens visit him at 2:00 a.m. every morning and give him privileged information.

UH-HUH! You can really see some interesting sights in parks.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Personal Essay

I just submitted a 2,000 words essay to a university press. The theme for the proposed book is adult children parenting parents. Writing my story was heart-wrenching and cathartic: about my step-dad's dementia and my mother's death and then one more shocking event.

Two months after my mom died, on what would have been her birthday, my step-brother called and said he was sorry. I said I was sorry too; I missed my mom. Then he dropped the bombshell. He was sorry to tell me his dad who had fallen and broken his hip had died. My healing heart was ripped open again and the pain was like a seemingly endless piece of yarn pulled from a sweater. I wondered when it would ever end.

Two years later as we approach my step-dad's birthday, I realize that dealing with the end of our parents' lives, was like them dealing with the beginning of ours: we all did the best that we knew how, and at some point, whether or not we were aware, our tears comingled just from the helplessness of the situations we endured. The best we can do is take one day at a time. Healing begins with forgiveness.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Submitting Consistently

I read at open mic on Tuesday and got lots of laughs and positive comments. That spurred me to go home and submit more stuff. I think that I am making up for a lost month. I am on a roll; eleven submissions in 12 days. Woo-hoo! So what if most will be rejected? At least they are out "there" instead of in "here".

A lot of people claim to be writers, but they don't write for publication, personal satisfaction or posterity. Words written today may weave themselves into the fabric of a cover that years from now a family member would enjoy getting wrapped up in. Start small; write about a childhood memory or something that you did that was uproariously funny or embarrassing. Don't listen to your inner critic, just free write. Have fun.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Poking fun at others

Is it wrong to get a laugh if it is at the expense of another? I used to think so. But after submitting a humorous poem to a literary magazine about a man I knew (and getting an immediate response), I have no reservations. At least not about this incident which happened more than three decades ago at a restaurant. At the time, I laughed so hard and long, I could not order my meal. My back was to the window. He kept asking me to shift this way and that. He said some weirdo was standing outside making faces at him. When he said, "Look at his eyes! He's a nut, you'll see!" I turned around and saw him: the guy sitting across from me hexing his own reflection on a sun drenched pane of glass.

Maybe I should have written about the explosion. Last week while Bill was repairing our shower plumbing, he rigged a temporary shower in the basement. He hooked a short section of garden hose to the basement sink, and he added a shower head. I turned that hot water full blast, stepped inside the plastic drop cloth "stall", soaped up and KABOOM! that hose burst and shot me full force in the face. I screamed, blinded by soap, frightened by the sheer force of the blow, backed up and got tangled in that flimsy drop cloth which clung to my naked, wet body like Saran Wrap. Bill said he heard the kaboom, but he was indisposed at the moment, and he figured the shower head had fallen to the floor. HA! He is still laughing about the incident. Well, if laughter soothes the soul, I guess it's okay to poke fun at others, as long as it's not malicious.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nightmares and sleep walking

There must have been too many covers on the bed. It's 4:30 a.m. and I have been awake for an hour. First, Bill woke up talking in his sleep and even sleep-walked. He never does either, and he rarely remembers his dreams. He is in for some teasing when he wakes up. When I finally got back to sleep I had a horrible nightmare, so I am ready to write.

Chicken Soup has a call out for Mothers and Daughters stories. I think I'll tackle that one, and if I get it finished, I will read it later this evening.

Tonight is open mic at Wired Coffee. I hope to see some friends and have an enjoyable evening. Guess I might have to take a nap first though.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Confounded overeating, and contests galore

Oh darn! The scale is reflecting yesterday's food fest. I'm up two pounds. I'm going to really have to move my body today! My brother and his buddy from Reno, came in town yesterday, so we had pizza and then toured the riverfront and Arch. In the evening we went to a Halloween party. Sitting outdoors in the cool night air around a fire watching everyone else munching chili dogs, nachos and brownies makes one lose her willpower.

I'll get back on track, just like I have with my writing. This warm weather and sunshine has been like a kick in the pants. I've been so inspired, I have written and submitted eight essays or poems in eight days.

Here's a writer's contest website to check out, National League of American Pen Women.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Launch, Thin Threads

Look for Thin Threads: Real Life Stories of Life Changing Moments. Meet Stacey Battat (Kiwi Publishing) owner and publisher of a new anthology series, Thin Threads, to be released in 2010. My stories have been selected for publication. You may also have something to submit, but be sure to find the 'thin thread' - that life changing moment that defines your story.,1023553-shtml

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Kids make me smile

It's almost 7:00 p.m. and I am not even tired, so I must be adjusting to this time change. I've been waking at 3:30 a.m., not good!

I am inspired to write again and have submitted four pieces in five days, so I feel like I'm back on track after being derailed by this viral repiratory thing that has lasted nearly a month. Just about everyone I talk to or know has been barking or barfing.

Saw my grandchildren this evening and am as happy as a bee in a flower. I told 2 yr old Nicole that I had to go and she said, "NO." So I said, "Then I'll stay the night." She took me by the hand and led me to her bed and placed a pillow under my head, then she plopped herself beside me on her princess bed and said, "Night-night," and she fake-snored.

I saw one of my students this evening. He looked at me with awe and disbelief and said, "Are you from my school?" They think I live there, you know. I love little kids.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Publishing Opportunity

Good Old Days Magazine is seeking stories for their column, Around the Kitchen Table. I'm sure we can all remember a special meal or guest that made a holiday meaningful. I knew when my grandma had been to our house for a visit while I was at school. She always left a bakery treat on the table for when I got home. Gosh, my mouth waters for those chocolate frosted whipped cream puffs, crunchy coconut toast slices, or slabs of peanut coffee cake drizzled with white icing ... ah, the comfort foods of my childhood.

The weather has been gorgeous, sunny and warm, and I have been enjoying extra long outdoor recesses with my students. One of my favorite delights is to look up at the blue sky and watch the trees rain leaves down upon us. This week alone has made up for all of those miserable rainy days in October.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lavanderia, A Mixed Load of Women, Wash and Word

Laundry, a mundane, monotonous chore, commonly referred to as woman's work has offered women opportunities to REBEL, (who hasn't slammed clothes into the scalding water when angry?); REVEAL (surely you've sorted truths and lies into piles); and REMEMBER (lost in reverie, our secrets unfurl like a sheet whipping in the breeze).

This morning my laundry hamper is stuffed with memories clinging to garments: the scent of Saturday casino cigarette smoke embedded in my favorite blouse. The fifteen dollar gambling loss was worth the delicious buffet! The sight of chili stains on hubby's shirt takes me back to the Halloween night bonfire. While that smudge of white frosting on my good black slacks makes me tingle with joy remembering how excited two year old Nicole was opening her birthday presents. It also makes me so appreciative that my ex-husband, whom I saw at the baby's party, is just that. I remember wringing his heavy fatigues by hand when he was stationed in Alaska. Twenty-five years of dunking, sloshing in gray water, hand wringing ... ah, yes, laundry, you can lose yourself in it.

I received my copy of Lavanderia, A Mixed Load of Women, Wash and Word. It is a beautiful 334 page book of women's voices. The cover, with subtle images, is the same gorgeous shade of purple as my flowering mums. The poems and personal essays
are beautiful, real, metaphoric, raw and wrenching. It is a multi-cultural glimpse of generations of women revealing their secrets, their tales of love, loss and life through the mundane task of laundry.

My story, From Old King Cole to Nat King Cole is on page 53, way up front in this high quality book, published by San Diego City Works Press
( It is edited by Donna J. Watson, Michelle Sierra and Lucia Gbaya Kanga. It is available at

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Partied Out!

On Halloween, we went to Nicole's second birthday party. I ate not one, but two pieces of cake. (I try to plump my hips evenly so I don't walk lopsided.) Then we headed over to Crestwood to Bill's daughter's for a bonfire party where we pigged out on Butterfingers which will go right to my butter-butt.

They had only twenty trick-or-treaters, but we had a lot of fun. My world keeps shrinking. Sixteen year old grandson, Kyle is madly in love with Amanda. Her parents attended the party. As we sat outside getting acquainted, roasting our fronts and freezing our backsides, we discovered that I knew Amanda's mom and grandparents very well from forty years ago (my ex husband worked with her grandpa for decades). Bill always says that I can't go anywhere without having some connection to someone, usually from teaching for 32 years, but now it's happening to him. He discovered that Amanda's dad worked with him for a few months back in the 90's. Boy did we do some story-swapping. It is amazing what a small world it is!

We had planned to stop by Ashley L's party, but by 10:00 p.m. Bill's idea of a costume, a pig hat with flapping wings (swine flu) just didn't seem so funny. I was shivering cold and coughing in the night air, so we headed home. Next weekend, one more bonfire party. I am partied out.