Sunday, October 31, 2010

What is it?

Sunday, Bill and I took advantage of the beautiful fall weather and took a drive to the country. We stopped at St. Francois State Park about forty-five miles from home and walked through the campground. The leaves have peaked in color and are now mostly smudges of brown against the blue sky.

Most of the campers had packed up and pulled out by 1:00 p.m. The air was thick with wood smoke from campfires. I loved hiking and crunching through dead leaves. And there is nothing more inspiring to this writer than the sound of a babbling river.

We spoke with the campground host, Stanley Hicks, who was very informative when it came to my discovery. I happened upon these hedge apples, scientifically referred to as Maclura Pomifera. They are the fruit of the thorny, Osage Orange tree, native to Oklahoma and Arkansas. Years ago, before the invention of barbed wire, settlers planted the hedge apple seeds close together in order to grow thorny hedge rows to keep their cattle in and the wild hogs out. There are male and female trees, and of course, the female trees bear the fruit. It takes ten years for the trees to mature, and there is no way to tell the tree's gender until it grows its fruit. It drops it in the fall. The globes are about six inches around or better, have a green puckered, dimpled surface. When ripe, they fall from the thorny trees and give off a slight citrus odor. Cows and horses have been known to choke on them. Legend has it they contain a natural bug repellent, and scientists have discovered a chemical compound that does act as a repellent to roaches, but it is buried deep inside the heavy balls. Hedge apples stay green for about three months and then they start to rot and turn brown. Squirrels love these fruits and work hard to dig the individual encased seeds out. The Osage Indians used the wood of the Osage Orange tree to make arrows.

Mr. Hicks volunteers four months of the year in Missouri State Parks. One of his duties is campground host with the Department of Natural Resources. He explained that Missouri State Parks are funded strictly by sales tax revenue. While the sales tax-free weekend, right before school starts, benefits parents and students, it negatively impacts the park system. This year they’ve had to layoff several part time personnel.

Stanley Hicks knows his stuff. He told us that the buckeyes, persimmons and hedge apples were all early this year. He mentioned an interesting phenomenon about the persimmon which has a seed nearly as big as the sweet, orange, fleshy fruit. He said if you break open the seed, you will see either the shape of a fork, knife or spoon. Legend has it that if you find a knife shape inside, that forecasts a smooth, easy winter. A fork shape indicates a lot of ice. A spoon shape indicates an abundance of snow. Sad to say, he claims that they have been discovering more spoon shapes this year.

I had a wonderful day in the country. I urge you to take advantage of Missouri’s State Parks. Many are within driving distance and at this time of year, it is the perfect way to spend a fall day, especially before the snow starts falling.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chocolate can do what chicken soup can't

No-no-no, it had nothing to do with actual PMS, it was just that kind of week for this writer. Thank all of you for your words of wisdom and support. If you all were sitting in my livingroom I'd overdose you on chocolate too. It's amazing what the right combination of flavanoids and friends will do for a gal. I am on a writing frenzy, two poems and one short story half finished.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Anybody know how I feel?

Writer’s Dilemma
by Linda O’Connell

Retirement’s on the horizon, and I need to pitch my book.
But that means I have to promote it and come up with a unique hook.
Some days I want to be a writer and do nothing but compose.
Then, I sit down at the keyboard and what do you suppose?

My thoughts fly out the window, my muse runs out the door.
I sit and mope and flip through blogs to even out the score.
I tell folks that I’m a writer; it sounds really cool, but
the most I’ve written this week is reports, and that’s for school.

I recently published a biography, but it’s really not MY story,
I surprised myself the other day and wrote a tome that’s rather gory.
Fiction is not my forte, and killing grandma’s not too slick.
I asked a friend to look it over and she responded, “Woman, you are sick!”

I heard Ted Kooser, Poet Laureate. His words inspired me to write.
I planted my butt in a chair, and I sat there half the night.
I had a great idea, and then it left my head.
I told myself, you want to be a writer, but you’re a wanna be instead.

I laid in bed and pondered, I thought about my day.
I ought to stick to teaching, at least it’s steady pay.
No worry about point of view or metered rhyming verse.
At school it’s just the little kids, but sometimes that is worse.

This week it’s all about scary things: skeletons and witches.
One kid left me speechless and gave me involuntary twitches.
I said, “You and I have a skeleton, and we are not alone;
animals have skeletons too.” Little Johnny said, “My penis has a bone!”

I’m a writer who is wordless,
a teacher who is speechless.
I just want to cruise the globe
and lie on sunny beaches.

Anyone else searching for their voice? Muse? Purpose? Warmer weather?

This weekend I will post Halloween pictures of my adult costumes that have been prize winners. Now-now!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Scarecrows

Today at preschool my four and five year old classes had their Halloween parties. Those little cuties had so much fun. They've been practicing songs and poems and fingerplays for the big event. Their parents stayed and watched them parade in costumes and recite. One of their favorite poems (with actions, of course) is The Dingle Dangle Scarecrow: I'm a dingle dangle scarecrow with a flippety floppety hat. My arms can move like this and my legs can move like that. I wish I could attribute it to a particular author, but after 34 years, I can not remember who wrote that little ditty. Were they ever surprised when I opened the door and the Dingle Dangle Scarecrow greeted them. (That's a fat little crow in bib overalls on my hat.)

Hubby and I went to a costume party as Mr. and Mrs. Scarecrow, and we won a prize! We did look pretty cute hanging out in the field together.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wow! what a weekend

What a glorious, balmy day, temperature 75 degrees, partly sunny, leaves bursting in tangerine, amber and ruby, nature's jewels. The wind kicked up and it became blustery; the leaves started raining down. Oh, the little girl came out in me and I just had to dance and spin and toss the leaves.

The leaves are breathtakingly beautiful and I am so thankful for my eyesight. This tree was one of my favorites.

I could have sat on this bench all day.

But, we moved to the river overlook and watched the Mississippi roll down to the Gulf. We also saw an older woman get out of her car, walk over to a bench and pull a chocolate cupcake and container of milk from her purse. She looked up and said, "What a fine place to eat my lunch." I agreed on all accounts,especially since she was eating my kind of lunch.

This is the perfect tree, the symmetry, the depth of colors, truly God's masterpiece.

I have the best husband; Bill makes me smile and laugh. He holds my hand, my heart.

The tree blew him a kiss! I love being outdoors and this was fun, but the whole weekend has been great. Friday evening I attended a poetry reading by Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser. His work is free verse and down to earth. He is the master of metaphor:"He was a balloon of a man who deflated when..." Those words made my brain ping!

Saturday night we volunteered at the cemetery for the last weekend of Voices of Valhalla hayrides. Valhalla Cemetery (provided the venue), St. Louis Genealogical Society (did the research), The St. Louis Writer's Guild (wrote the scripts), and the Hawthorne Players (acted out the scripts) collaborated on this first time event to bring St. Louis history alive. The hay wagon made ten stops to visit with the dearly departed and learn about the significant contributions they made. When I was a child we lived across the street from a large cemetery. I was never spooked.

At the end of the evening, just before the witching hour, I left Bill and writer friend, Mary(who had written one of the scripts) standing near the bonfire while I escorted a handicapped couple down the sidewalk. I had mentioned earlier that my grandparents were buried in the cemetery. As the full moon went behind a cloud, Mary came up behind me unexpectedly and called, "LIIIINNNDDDA." Holy moly! It sounded like my grandma, and now I know exactly what they mean by the hair standing up on the back of your neck. I had goosebumps!

As thunder rolls across the sky and night darkens this beautiful day, I am inspired to write. I am so thankful for my blessings and for all of you who stop by and leave a message, and to those who prefer to just read and not comment.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Playing tricks

Oh my gosh! I had a frightening experience on my way home from school this afternoon. I was at a stop light, and off to my left across the intersection, (I did not have a straight on view and the road slighty curves), I noticed a young couple atop a building lunging forward and then running back. I thought they must be pulling a Halloween prank; surely they weren't going to leap off that one story office building. Then about ten feet further down I noticed a family, parents and a young child doing the same thing. My over-active imagination kicked in and I thought maybe they were all committing suicide and were going to plunge to the ground. I tried to close my eyes because I did not want to witness it, then the light changed and I had to drive through the intersection. I looked up at them as they ran forward. Then I realized it was a darned billboard covering atop the roof that had pulled loose and was being whipped in the wind. It was an advertisement for applesause and the characters were life-sized. Their movements were so realistic when the wind gust would catch one end or the other. I thought the people on the roof were crazy. When I told my hubby about it, he thought I was crazy. Guess you had to be there. I sure breathed a sigh of relief.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Phases of love

Tonight we ate at a local casino buffet because they sent a two for one coupon. There was a disc jockey outdoors for the October Fest celebration. It reminded me of when we were young and used to dance into the wee hours. After our meal, we sat and listened to two songs. The night air was chilly and so we headed home. These days it's all we can do to stay awake for very long after our bellies are full.

The Phases of Love
by Linda O'Connell

There’s a special kind of love for little girls and boys;
they love their parents, puppy dogs and all their favorite toys.

That pitter-patter teen love fills girls’ hearts with doubt.
Does he really like me, and will he ask me out?

There’s nothing like mother’s love; it’s different with our spouse;
we love our babies unconditionally, but not our man when he’s a louse.

I love his arm around me and I love to snuggle close.
It’s not so much the sex I want, it’s romance I want the most.

I love it when he listens and knows just how I feel,
especially when he says, “My dear, let’s go out and get a meal.”

As we're growing older I appreciate the little things
a hug, a kiss, a tender word, or the donuts that he brings.

Old love turns to something new; it’s called companionship.
We listen to each other belly ache and try to bite our lip.

Lip locks lose their passion, smooches become a peck.
Love is at the buffet now, but we’re happy; what the heck!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Non-traditional pumpkin activities

These activities were fun at school today, and just imagine the fun your children or grandchildren will have if you do these things with them this month. Fall is in the air; fall is everywhere, why not fall into a pile of leaves, kick up your heels, or decorate a pumpkin in a non-traditional way?

Sure, everyone loves a Jack-o-lantern, but carving a face into a pumpkin is not the only thing that you can do with one. The kids pounded golf tees, and I removed them. Then they used the Mr. Potato Head features to create their own Jack-O-lantern (multiple personality) as you can see.

Then I gave the children colored discs and tees and let them pound away. They giggled so hard whenever they'd say, "Again! Again!" and I'd say, "Oh my, you are making me coo-coo saying 'again-again'." They pounded tees and discs into practically every inch of this pumpkin. The best part is, tomorrow we will remove them and they will do it all over again. This is a great hand-eye coordination activity.

Oh sure, other people paint features,and produce a "product", but we simply enjoyed the "process" of painting a pumpkin, and let me tell you, by the time we went indoors, this pumpkin had layers of paint.

What a beautiful fall day to go outdoors to jump in a pile of dried leaves, roll in them, toss them up and crunch them in our hands. One child said, "This was my best day all year!" I'd have to agree.

An autumn treasure

Years ago, a giant sugar maple tree, the focal point on our city block, towered over oaks, a sprinkling of pines and sycamores. That tree stood like a sentry between my brick house and my best friend’s bungalow. When Rose and I were young, we'd sit on the porch swing on warm autumn evenings and watch our small children frolic outdoors in the crimson red, brilliant gold and orange leaves. They took turns scraping metal rake tines across the sidewalk, and they belly laughed as they leaped off the steps and sunk into leaf piles.

Each autumn school day they scuffed their shoes through the fallen leaves, moist with morning dew. Rose and I gathered the most brilliant ones and we used them to decorate. By mid-November the kids joyously crunched and stomped and rustled through the faded brown decay beneath their feet.

Today, as I watch my grandchildren frolic in the fall leaves, reverie carries me back. I can almost see them. There goes my little girl, Tracey, walking up the block. She bends over and tugs her red knee socks up after tromping with her little brother, Jason, and her best friend, Denise, through the new fallen leaves. I remember their laughter as a wind gust loosens a few more leaves which dance upon their heads.

I see myself young, going next door to visit my best friend,Denise’s mom. Rose and I sip coffee, dunk a sweet roll, wonder about life, and predict when that last hanger-on at the top of the tree will let loose. We watch it for weeks. Just before Christmas I bundle up and hurry next door. Rose greets me with a warm chocolate chip cookie in hand. Her gaze drifts beyond me and she laughs aloud. “Look!” Together we catch a glimpse of the last leaf to fall. Satisfied, we settle in for our morning chat. Our conversations are serious, silly, soulful and sometimes sedate.

Twenty years we watched the seasons pass. Every spring we waited anxiously for the first buds to burst on the sugar maple tree. Its green canopy shaded us on hot summer days. We were awe-struck by its autumn finery. The tree’s annual life cycle represented another year of our friendship. Rose was like the last leaf to drop; she hung on as long as she could, but just before Thanksgiving, she lost her battle with cancer, at age 52.

At this time of year, I am reminded of the special time I spent with her in her last days as she fought to make it through one more Christmas, her favorite time of year. Before she died she gave me a handmade treasure. We sat in her yard and she pointed out brilliantly colored leaves she wanted. I ran to gather the selection, some before they hit the ground. She clutched them like a bouquet. She tired rapidly and wanted to go inside. She asked me to come back the next day.I did. She was so weak, she could hardly speak, but she presented me with ten pages of computer paper on which she had scotch taped the leaves in different patterns. "You like them?"
"I'll treasure them forever," I said, knowing that my forever and hers were so differen't. "I'll use them every year with my preschoolers," I promised.

Every autumn since her death I show them to my students and tell them about my friend. We guess how many are on each paper; we talk about the colors which are somewhat faded after 13 years, but still crisp and preserved in Contact paper.

Fall, with its early darkness and the impending date of my friend's death makes me feel melancholy, but there is a certain beauty to these days, as everything has a life cycle, leaves, flowers, people.

Rose sent me a gift from beyond too. I shall share it with you soon.

Now go tromp in some fall leaves.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Who are you going to call? NOT Ghostbusters!

I will admit that I was not that interested in history when I was in school. Then, as an adult when I began to travel and see some of the places I had learned about, I wished I'd paid more attention in history classes.

Last night Bill and I witnessed history come to life, in a graveyard. Steve Zell of Valhalla Cemetery on St. Charles Rock Road near the innerbelt, collaborated with the St. Louis Genealogical Society, The Hawthorne Players (actors), and St. Louis Writer's Guild to produce one of the best October events in our town, HAYRIDE THROUGH TIME, a hayride through the cemetery to meet prominent and interesting "residents". On a mid-October night, with a slight chill in the air, under a cloudless sky, with a half moon and starlight illuminating the tombstones, the hay wagon halted several times. A Valhalla "resident" left his or her state of repose. Some meandered slowly towards us, others bounded out from behind a tombstone to jubilantly greet us wearing period clothing; some had props. Each told us all about their (short or long) interesting lives. Not all were saints. I must tell you, this was so realisitic, and non-scary, we hated to see them return to the "grave". The cost is $10.00 for the tour. You can still make reservations for next Friday and Saturday night from 7-9 p.m. Who're you gonna call? NOT GHOSTBUSTERS! Call Valhalla Cemetery 314-863-3011.

I promise you a non-frightening good time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sometimes I am speechless

Thursday and Friday I took my students and their parents to the pumpkin patch. We rode a hay wagon pulled by a tractor out to the fields where we saw a variety of crops growing, a patch of pumpkins and a rainbow of mums. There were added delights, many different story book character displays: The Three Pigs, Captain Hook, Snow White and all her dwarf friends. There was Woody and Jessie from Toy Story, Native American Indian displays and Teepees. A large playground area, a fort to run through, a corn maze to get lost in. A very fun, sunny and warm day. Some of the blessings I will count at the end of this day.

As usual, kids say the darndest things, and sometimes they leave me speechless. In preparation for this trip we talked about ghost, bats, cats and skeletons. I told the children that each of them has his or her own skeleton; they are the 203 bones in their bodies. We felt our head bones, hand bones, leg bones, and wouldn't you know it, a little three year old boy said, "And I have a bone in my penis." Yes he did say that! And all I could do was smile and say, "Can you all show me your ankle bones?" What would YOU do?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What I learned from Greater Yellow Legs

One summer evening, while the sun was hanging low on the horizon, I sat off to myself, in the calm surf near a rock jetty. The gentle waves rippled over my legs, and I was content to watch children and families frolic in the Gulf waters off to my right. I was counting my blessings when I received another unexpected one. I spied a large shore bird aggressively pursuing its dinner, wading in and out of the shallows, making its way downstream towards where I sat near the rock formation. At first I thought it was a blue heron, but as it flitted closer, I realized how the Great Yellow Legs had gotten its name. This bird had nearly thirty-six inch long, bright, yellow stick legs. I almost chuckled out loud at its appearance and determination to catch its prey. That silly bird chased a small fish to within ten feet of where I sat holding my breath, watching in awe. It snatched a six inch nearly see-through fish. Yellow Legs flipped that fish on shore; the fish flopped back into the water. The bird snagged it with it's long bill and pitched it back to shore. The only problem was, the bird couldn't open its mouth wide enough to just swallow the fish. It would latch on, toss its head back to gulp, and the fish would flop back onto the sand. By the time Yellow Legs got another grip, the fish was back in the surf, and the bird would fish it back out. I nearly giggled at the antics. That bird was unaware of my presence, as I sat like a statue. After about ten minutes, Old Yellow Legs won and swallowed that little clear fish whole in one gulp. The problem wasn't catching it; the problem was trying to get it up into its long beak so it could then toss its head back and devour it.

I often return to that evening, and I wonder why it is that we humans also try to swallow everything whole, and gulp "IT" down in one big bite. The good and the bad. Are we greedy? Go Getters? Gluttons?

The Greater Yellow Legs devour their meals this way, but sometimes we human beings tend to stuff ourselves with problems that seem too big to swallow in one gulp. When we try to deal with the big picture, we can't see the details, and sometimes it's the little things we need to work on. We also tend to overindulge; we want it all, the bigger the better, and sooner isn't fast enough.

I would describe that clear fish (which was as big as my open palm) as SMALL but to Old Yellow Legs with its narrow beak, that fish was BIG.

Everything boils down to perception, doesn't it? Ever notice how looking through water can magnify an object? That fish must have looked like a whale to that shore bird.

What I learned from that bird: Don't magnify your problems and don't ever give up.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Bride and Groom

The happy couple sitting at the entrance to the Hummingbird Inn Bed and Breakfast in Branson, MO in the heart of the Ozarks.

The grounds were so beautifully landscaped, and I fell in love with this rose garden.

The foliage in Missouri is just beginning to change colors here in the Midwest.

Tracey with her children. Ashley was her Maid of Honor and Austin was the #1 Best Man

It is 10:00 p.m. on 10/10/10. It has been a long and wonderfully exciting weekend. My daughter, Tracey, married her sweetheart, Dave, at an outdoor ceremony in Branson, MO at The Hummingbird Inn. The day was sunny and 80 degrees, gorgeous weather, gorgeous bride, a lovely day.

I am so happy for the newlyweds who are so good for and to one another. I wish them many years of wedded bliss.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Here comes the bride

My daughter is getting married this weekend. She is forty, and as I told her and firmly believe, life begins at forty! You finally discover who YOU are after many years of taking car of THEM.

She met him a year ago at her grade school reunion. She and her honey were compatible, laughed a lot and began dating. This is the second marriage for both, and I am convinced it will be their last, because they are so good TO and FOR each other. I am very happy for them and wish many years of blessings, health, happiness and wedded bliss to my baby, Tracey and Dave.

She wanted to be married on the beach in Florida, but that didn't work out, so she and two of her grade school friends went to the beach for their fortieth birthdays in June. One day she and Dave will vacation in Florida, but for now, work calls and the beautiful Bed and Breakfast wedding chapel overlooking a hillside in Branson will be where the wedding takes place on

One year while Bill and I were vacationing in Florida we sat on the beach and observed three sunset weddings. In all cases the brides and grooms had barefeet. The first was a middle-aged, hispanic couple with a large gathering of family and friends. They were all dressed regally in cultural dresses and shirts. Ah, it was a rainbow of vivid colors, so pretty.

The wedding that stays in the forefront of my mind was a couple maybe in their thrities, surrounded by immediate family. The pastor stood seaside and handed each person a small, dark stone. He asked everyone to imagine the most awful things that could happen in a marriage and told them whisper it onto the stones. Then, he instructed them to toss their worries and cares into the sea. Next, he passed out white stones and asked everyone to whisper a happiness wish and toss it too, with the assurance that God will take care of all of us. It brought tears to my eyes.

Bill, however was engrossed in the other wedding of a very young couple, perhaps still in their teens. The bride wore a white knit bikini with a sheer white beach cover and a veil. The ocean breeze made her long black hair blow and all that gauzey material cling.

Another wedding that made a profound impact on me was my best friend's daughter's outdoor wedding in St. Louis. My best friend had died the year before. The bride left an empty chair up front in honor of her mother. The wedding was a Native American Indian wedding blessing. The minister began, "Bless his/her eyes, so that they may always see the beauty in the other, his/her mouth so that they will speak only kindness" then, the minister took the groom's hands and placed them on the bride's face, and gradually moved them over her body parts and said, "Bless his hands so they will wipe away her tears, kiss her tenderly, hold her gently, feel their baby..." It was simply astounding, but more astonishing was when a beautiful white butterfly flew over them and landed on the empty chair intended for the bride's mom.

My son's wedding, many years ago, still brings a smile when I remember how my mom and dad who were very reserved and quiet, surprised the heck out of all of us at the reception when they got up and jitterbugged. We couldn't believe our eyes. They almost upstaged the bride and groom.

Now, this weekend I will add one more wonderful wedding to my collection of memories and I will post pictures Sunday night.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dave was in town!

Last night we went to see David Alan Coulier. His physical appearance hasn't changed much over the years. I'm almost certain that you know him. Joe Gladstone ring a bell? Perhaps you called him Uncle Joey like the girls. He shared a home with Jesse and Danny who were also stand-up comedians. Alright, still not sure who I'm referring to? I know what it is, most of you were hung up on Jesse, not Dave Coulier who played Uncle Joey on Full House, one of America's top sitcoms
from 1987-1995. Although the first and second seasons didn't do too well, by the third season, America had fallen in love with the twins Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. I think the highest ratings came from teens (and moms) who fell in love with John Stamos, who played Uncle Jesse. Bob Saget, Uncle Danny went on to host World's Funniest Videos.

According to Wikipedia, the show was originally going to be adult-oriented and named, House of Comics, but because The Cosby Show and Family Ties had strong family values, the producers changed the premise to a family-oriented theme and named it Full House.

Dave's performance was G rated for at least the first hour; we left early. The audience was comprised of middle-aged and senior citizens who appreciated his humor; then there was the young crowd who had no idea or interest in his mundane schtick about life in general. They had no clue as to who Mel Blanc was, or many of the other references he made.

He said that Bob Saget performed 'blue comedy' and people would gasp and say, "And they let HIM parent those little girls?" Ha-ha. These guys were actors. The show was going strong and there would have been an eighth season if it hadn't been moved to the new WB network. John Stamos objected and decided to quit.

"Uncle Joey" briefly hosted World's Funniest Videos and Ice Skating with the Stars. He lives in California with his teenaged son. I wish I could say his comedy routine was 'fresh', but it was as clean and wholesome as "Uncle Joey".

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Through the eyes of a child

Children are honest; they see past the pretense and into the soul. The father of one of my students is a soldier in Afghanistan. His child had always seen him clean-shaven, but for this mission he grew a full beard (with a bit of white in it.) The mother showed the boy his father's photo and hesitantly asked, "What do you notice about Daddy?" The little boy replied, "Daddy's happy smile."

If only we adults could get past the surface. I had an older neighbor whose philosophy on race relations was that almost all people under six and over sixty-six rarely judge others on color, because they have the same concerns and more similarities than differences during those periods in their lives. She said, "Walk into any preschool, kindergarten or nursing home and you'll notice the occupants all have the same needs."

In school as we compare leaves for our autumn unit, I pick up two apparently different leaves and ask, "How are these things the SAME?" Too often people of all ages immediately seek obvious differences. In my classroom I encourage children to notice likenesses first. I guess my lessons are paying off, because we were out at recess and some of the children came up to me with twigs and sang "MY" song, "Tell me, tell me if you can, same or differen't in my hand?"

As you go about your day, deliberately notice someone who is obviously different from you and then, in your mind discover all of the ways that you are similar. That's hard to do when you see a gang member with droopy drawers, or a crazy young/old driver ... well you get it. Please share your experience.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My twenty-five cent words

Someone sent me a subscription to Reader's Digest a few years ago. The first page I turned to was Word Power; I always scored high but never aced the quiz. Recently, I picked up a book at a yard sale for a quarter. Best twenty-five cents I've spent. Verbal Advantage, by Charles Harrington Elster teaches 3,500 words.

When I was a little girl, I used to love to figure out words. When I realized the word 'suitcase' meant a case in which to pack suits, I could feel my neural pathways hooking up; it was like a brain spark. To this day when I make that "connection" I feel a spark of excitement at learning. In college when I learned about the amelioration and pejoration of words, it was like a booster shot in the brain. I love words, although my written vocabulary is stronger than my oral expression.

I've heard that a lot of writers feel that way. Do you?

Here are a couple of words. Do you know the definitions?
This time of year I would be more peripatetic if it weren't for the crepitation of my shoulders and knees.

I like to stroll through the residential neighborhood near my school during my lunch hour and look at fall decorations. I am invigorated at this time of year.

Peripatetic (PER-i-puh-TET-ik): walking about, going places on foot.
Crepitate (KREP-i-TAYT): to make a crackling, snapping, or popping noise.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Up Up and Away

I just read about a high school student who put a message in a wine bottle and sealed it and tossed it into the Atlantic Ocean. Six years later a young lad and his dad were out walking along the coast of Ireland when they found it. I've always wanted to put a note in a bottle, but the ocean is so clogged with debris, and I figured my bottle would surely roll back in on the first wave and be found by an environmentalist intent on punishing me for fouling the sea or shore. So I never did it.

However, many years ago when I worked at another school, we had some sort of celebration and did a helium balloon release. I attached this laminated message to each balloon string: I released this balloon into the sky. If you find it, please reply. Well, a week later we received a telephone call from a Shriner's clown who said he'd found one of the balloons about five miles away near the railroad tracks. He brought the students a bag of balloons. We were thrilled. Then a week later we received a letter from a farmer's wife in Ohio. She and her young son had spied the balloon which had landed in a flooded field. They anxiously waited days for the water to recede, then they pulled on their boots and ran out to retrieve it. What excitement that response generated. St. Louis to Ohio... what a head wind that must have been!

Did you ever send a message off into the air or sea or to heaven for a deceased loved one?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

First Sunday in October

Today we took a fall hike. I was looking for colorful leaves for a school project tomorrow. I came across this 'lady cigar tree' with leaves bigger than my head. Won't the kids be excited? We saw deer grazing nearby; we watched barge traffic on the Muddy Mississippi River. Oh what a glorious day. In a few minutes I will be serving homemade chicken pot pie (aka chicken bake) as the sun makes its slow crawl down the horizon. I am thankful for my blog friends and for finding my lost book, and being able to spend time outdoors reading Blue Highways, A Journey Into America, by William Least Heat-Moon. I felt like I was traveling the highways and byways, meandering through small town America and meeting the colorful characters. This memoir is chock full of history and interesting facts.
Welcome, Amy! Thanks for following my blog. Matthew will have a blast tomorrow.

Did you do anything fun and interesting this cool, fall weekend?

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Saturday afternoon, doors and windows wide open, crisp fall breeze; kitchen scrubbed clean. Sauerkraut, new potatoes and sausage simmering, bread warming, a big fat streussel-topped raspberry-chocolate chunk muffin to share for dessert.

Rain this morning detered hubby and me (but not our eight year old grandson and his team) from the soccer game. We drove onto the parking lot as the black cloud let loose and drenched everyone. We smiled and waved hello and good-bye.

Yesterday was every teacher's dream; I received three unexpected gifts. First, my little boy with a developmental delay and physical condition, reached up (the bones in his arms are fused and he doesn't have rotation) and hugged me. He has a happy, round face, and he's always pleasant and cooperative. He said, "Awww, you so CUUUUUTE, Miss Linda." I hugged him and laughed which made him laugh. We repeated this about five times. Then a little girl came in and she and her mom gave me a package of (locally produced) chococlate-dipped Dad's Scotch-Oatmeal cookies. Indescribably delicious. Another little girl gave me a lovely necklace. Three wonderful and unexpected surprises, and do you know what? I liked the first one best of all.

Just when I was thinking TGIF, God showed me I had a lot to be thankful for!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Three more sniffers, then I quit!

First of all a big welcome to my new followers, Allison, Betty, Road Dog Tales, Sugar in the Golden Retrievers, Jennifer and Katie. Thank you for stopping by and please leave a comment.

I'm still on my "sniff sentences" kick, especially since hubby trimmed the shrubs and cedar bushes. And a miniature rose bush I thought was dead at the end of summer, just blossomed again.

A dozen sweet smelling roses snuff out the bitter scent of betrayal, then wilt like a dead marriage. (I'm happily married.)

Broken evergreen boughs leach Christmas memories tangled in lights, wrapped in a red satin bow.

Apple cobbler cooling, chili simmering, fresh bread baking ~ warming the house and heart.

Please write a sensory sentence and share it. It might be the beginning of a great poem, or it might stand alone as a poem.

Have a blessed weekend. It's going to be nippy here, only in the 60s. Time for a hike.