Monday, February 28, 2011

Micro fiction and real life

If a pebble in the two-timing king's shoe can cause him a teeny bit of aggravation, imagine what this rock will do to his cheating sole.

Micro Fiction Monday over at Susan's Stony River Please visit Susan and comment on the other Micro Fiction writers, or give it a try.

The news that I have been holding close to my heart is that I will be assisting C. Hope Clark at the Missouri Writer's Guild JUST WRITE! Conference. Yes, it is THE Hope Clark who has provided a wealth of information to writers across the globe. I am honored to assist. Check out Hope's blog and web site, Funds for Writers. She has an interesting observation about black dogs. Our humane society did a story on this topic a while back.

My writing has been like the weather, tornadic. I rip through one essay and am on to a poem or two or three. Last night we headed to the basement as the wind whipped and hail pelted and the tornado siren blared. The storms came and went rather quickly. The meterologists are claiming tornadoes touched down several times, damaging roofs and snapping light poles. Took out the movie theater sign and hop scotched across town. We didn't have any damage.

I would love to hear from YOU today.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Price Some Pay for Fame

America's got talent!

"Stars" dance and do fancy footwork on big screen T.V.s in households across America.

Fame and a name! Singers, dancers, performers and writers, everyone would like to see their name in lights.

Whether it’s one name recognizables such as Tina, Cher, Sarah, or Tiger; whether we approve or disapprove of their behaviors, politics, or lifestyles, we just can’t help gawking and listening.

I sit in my comfy home declaring, “If that were me, I would …” I posture and feel empowered imagining how I would handle any of their particular situations. I shove another cookie in my mouth wishing I could lose a few pounds as I watch a sixty-something-year-old icon prance her lithe legs across a talk show stage.

What really makes someone a celebrity? Susan Boyle was an unknown, never-been-kissed, fifty year old when she was discovered on a talent show. The world audience reveled in her success. We watched her physical and emotional transformation take place before our eyes. Her angelic voice rippled into households like electric current. How many unknown talented people will never be discovered, transformed or will never transform others with their gifts and talents? Why do we devote so much time to the stars? Maybe it’s the kinship we feel with an undiscovered nobody, or a somebody with the same kinds of personal problems.

It’s not that I don’t have enough issues in my own life, but focusing on the stars’
lives allows me vicarious interaction. I imagine myself dining, dancing, singing, schmoozing with the good, the bad, and the beautiful. No matter how down to earth performers appear to be, I know for a fact that they wouldn’t give me a second look. But through a variety of media I can witness their lives and through my active imagination I can be a part of it.

I can’t carry a tune, but I can sing a duet with any number of iconic singers. You should see me strut my stuff. I beam at my reflection knowing how proud Tina Turner would be of me when we sing Proud Mary together. I can almost hear her shouting, “Take it away!” as she tosses me her microphone.

I imagine sitting in Cher’s southwest decorated kitchen singing, "If I Could Turn Back Time", then talking honest to goodness mom talk. When I read in magazines of her failures, her successes and most of all her kids’ feelings that she sacrificed motherhood for a career, I relate. I know what it’s like to have your kids point their finger and say, “You did or didn’t…”

My children are thirty-seven and forty, and to this day, at family gatherings, I know that one of them will publically humiliate me. Word for word, I can quote them. I clutch my heart and prepare for the knife plunge.

“Do you remember when we were kids and Mom always made us split a Happy Meal?”

All eyes turn my way, and the tongue lashings begin. There’s no escaping the pangs of motherhood when you have kids who aren’t afraid to dish the family gossip.

I lived in Alaska for a couple of years way back when. That’s the only connection I feel with a certain up and coming political hopeful, but I can certainly relate when she gets embroiled in her daughter, the dancer’s, personal business. I am a grandmother who had a pregnant teenage daughter. She had an out of wedlock baby when she was 20. I fought as fiercely as any mama grizzly for her cub. I am right there sipping coffee with Sarah, complaining about kids and the things they put us through.

Tiger, well now, his personal life is such a mess, but on some level, I relate to his foibles. Perhaps, as he says, it wasn’t a golf club that did the damage. I want to sit that young man down and tell him to tell the truth. Addiction is painful. I know; I used to be an adrenaline junkie. My former husband had the air let out of all four tires when he pulled some wild antics many years ago. Did I admit to doing it? Would I do such a thing? Did we dance around real issues and hurt the kids? Well, now, I know from experience that taking the tiger by the tail is only the beginning of transforming one’s self. Taming the tiger results in healthier family relationships.

I ask myself why I get so embroiled in the lives of stars, and after a bit of self-examination, I realize it is because on some level, regardless of fame or fortune, we’ve had common experiences. I’ve been the ugly duckling. I’ve regained self-esteem. I’ve fought long and hard for underdogs. I wrestled my own tiger, I, who feared public speaking more than gaining ten pounds, now address audiences. I have been the wounded, and I have healed others’ wounds. I have lived it up and I have had to live it down. I am a star in my own right, and you are too.

Now go out there and shine today! Do some fancy footwork, smile at a stranger, write from your heart. Sparkle.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How do you write?

Write Jobs is a writer's blog that you will definitely want to check out. Be sure to look at the side bar on the right side.

Do you believe that you must write something everyday? Are you the kind of writer who forces yourself to write? Stepehen King used to do that.

I personally cannot write on demand, not even if I demand it of myself. I sit in workshops and watch others scartch out plots and scenes and complete stories. I envy these people. I can produce a great tome or poem if I am relaxed and it is quiet. But the moment my concentration is broken, a door slams on my creativity.

Give me a topic, almost any topic and I can write a personal essay. Most people regard me as an inspirational Chicken Soup writer. Google "Linda O'Connell Chicken Soup" and you will find many of my published pieces, not all C.S.

Lately though, I have been stretching my writer's muscles, taking on new genres. At first it felt awkward, but the more I practiced, the more comfortable I became. When I write from my own perspective I know what is going to happen next.

When writing a piece for a fiction contest the other day I surprised myself when I actually took on the voice of the main character, a scoundrel of a man. That was some scary fun. I figured I did a fair job when my daughter said, "I could actually see and hear that horrible guy!" (I will email it to anyone who wishes to read it.)

Now that's enough to keep my creative juices flowing. Even though I do not write everyday, other than on my blog, I allow my ideas to percolate, simmer, and then at some point, they pour onto the page and I stew up a storm of syllables, sentences and stories. Argh! alliteration, sorry, I got carried away there!

Could you give me a few words, your thoughts about crossing the bridge between winter and spring? Do you stomp? leisurley glide? How do you make it these last few weeks when winter still has some of us in its clutch, yet spring is a breath away?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Writer's website to check out

Some wonderful person sent me a website for creative writers. I am unable to link you to CRWROPPS-B (Creative Writers Opportunity Services) which updates daily. You do not have to pay to join. It is worth checking out, especially if you write flash or poetry. I never thought I could write poetry, until I took one of my essays and condensed it to a poem. I recently learned that is an exercise in writing flash. First you reduce a story to a poem, then you remove the line breaks and there is your flash story.

I sent off four Missouri Writer's Guild Chapter contest submissions yesterday and one non ficiton submission not affiliated with the conference. Then I slept ten hours!
I can't wait for this conference April 8-10, terrific speakers, agents, writers! I hope to see YOU there.

Have you written anything this weekend?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Micro Fiction Monday

I am joining Susan at Stony River for Micro Fiction Monday. Please check out her blog and read what others have to say. Come up with a 'story' using 140 characters or less.

Al stood in the hall, peeled dry cracked paint off the walls and chipped away at his own bitter thoughts. So many doors had been shut in his life. Another one is about to slam. (138 characters)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The air is redolent with spring

These are a few of my favorite things!

Spring is four weeks away. Today I could smell the loamy earth damp from snow
melt breathing spring's promise. The temperature was nearly 70 degrees and the sun was shining, and the breeze was warm and brisk.

We walked around the lake at Bee Tree Park and took photographs. Thank goodness for digital cameras. Remember when you had to make every picture count because film and processing were so expensive? We took pictures of seagulls nose diving for fish. A gaggle of geese sqwonked and swam away from us. Turtles sunned themselves on a log, and best of all, four bald eagles soared overhead one right after the other like the Blue Angels on maneuvers. They swooped right above our heads. It was an incredible sight to behold. All of it. I mean, seagulls in St. Louis? They hitchhike on tugs and populate near our rivers and streams now. We spied a giant blue heron gliding overhead. My skin prickled at the sight of daffodils sprouting.

We sat on a bench at the scenic overlook and watched barge traffic on the mighty Mississippi. We walked to the car counting our blessings and the days until spring.

A couple of weeks ago, I got so excited when I spied a tiny green plant protruding out of the snow. I thought it was the first sign of spring, a crocus. I looked closer and realized it was a vegetable. I yelled for my hubby and told him to come see the baby broccoli plant growing in the back yard. Oh my! It was a sprig that I had thrown to the bunny that lives under the shed. Should I even admit that? I am so in a hurry for spring.

The wedding last night was uneventful unless you consider that my brother-in-law introduced his wife of twenty-something years by his ex-wife's name as the two women stood side by side. Sparks flew and not just between the bride (his daughter)and the groom.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What can you get for ten bucks?

Even if you live half way across the world or as close to the ocean as I want to be, you can still enter the Missouri Writer's Guild Chapter Contests for a $10.00 fee per category. I have some stiff competition out there with my writer friends, but I'm willing to support the team by divulging these secrets:) I can't get the link to work, but the site is

All of you are capable of writing a 1,000 word or less essay on What Does it Take to Make You Happy? The fees from that contest go to support my organization, St. Louis Writer's Guild. You do not have to be present at the contest to win.

They have also just added a paranormal and a humor category. So many of you have made me belly laugh with your writing, so why not enter? There are poetry contests. There's a Flash contest too, $25 first prize for 500 words.

Contests are in their final week except for the humor contest which has a March 15th deadline. I can provide details on that one as soon as I have them. Come on folks, you'll probably spend five bucks on coffee or soda, won't you support a writer's organization?

I am headin' to a weddin'. Bride and groom (on hubby's side)have been cohabitating for 25 years. Most people at this stage of the game are getting divorced rather than married. My bet is there will be lots of laughs, bad jokes, and well wishes. I'll let you know.

Friday, February 18, 2011

You uplift me!

Each of you is a balloon in my blog boquet. You all add beauty and insight and information to my life.

You know the sound an inflated, untied balloon makes when you release the air and let it fly? Well that's sort of how I've felt lately, BTHWOOOOOT. All I want is a thumbs up or down from editors. I know we are all busy, but just a No Thanks email would allow me to proceed instead of stew.

I have sent off poems to contests, prose to magazines, essays to books. My Jan-Feb submission calendar has twenty-one little squares filled in. Not bad for forty-eight days. But not a word from any of these people until yesterday.

I saw my folded SASE on the kitchen counter and frowned. Reluctantly, I opened it and saw my document with handwritten notation on the bottom: "This is lovely, but will not be accepted with the photo. Would you like to edit and resubmit the text?"

That does sound like an acceptance, doesn't it? The weather is changing and so is my mood. Sometimes life is a reflection of what you project. Other times, life just happens. Good things are coming my way.

Sunshine, seventy-seven degrees in February in St. Louis is a gift.

My blog followers have increased, shooting for 100 by the end of month.

An author from a national publication has offered to mentor me because we embrace
similar philosophies.

I'm holding a big secret close to my heart (which is pounding with excitement), until I can release the information soon.

I did a private poetry reading in someone's home this week. That was amazingly fun.

I have been invited to display one of my previously published essays on a prominent blog and will be featured as one of the voices of Fierce Females for Women's History Month.

I am woman hear me roar! Sometimes I merely "squeak" but my balloon is always half full, either inflating or deflating. Right now it is on the rise.

I thank each of you for following me, supporting me in my writing endeavors and for being my friends. I awe at your posts, laugh out loud, feel your pain and your joy, and I learn from all of you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An award for my hero

Congratulations to locally born, Dr. Marguerite Annie Johnson who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Early on she was married to Thomas Enistasious, a Greek. Her brother called her Maya when he was small, and her name evolved from Maya Angelos, to a world-wide recognizable name of Maya Angelou.

I admire her honesty, her writing style, her poetry, her self-expression in the form of song, dance, the written and spoken word. She is my literary hero.

I love words. I like to roll them around in my head, play with syllables and let them roll off my tongue. When I find the perfect phrase it makes my brain spark, makes me envious of the author, and it makes me try that much harder. I have realized, no matter how creative my mind, how I marry words, I will never be a Maya Angelou.

I am reading her book, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas.

I want to be able to do this like Maya Angelou:
"...the frenetic drummer who pushed his words over and around a wad of chewing gum..."

instead of this, "When he spoke he chomped his gum."

Who is your literary hero?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Still yourself

Do not ask the lord to guide your footsteps if you are not willing to move your feet.

I found this quote on my daughter's Facebook page this morning and thought how true that is. So often we want to detour and do things our way. We create our own stumbling blocks.

I have known my hairdresser, Jennifer, since she was a baby. She is a good person, a great mom to a high school senior and fifth grader. She's a hard worker. She has had some hard knocks but has always been resilient and bounced back. Last year she did a lot of soul searching, raised a Christian, she examined several religions and embraced the tenets of Buddhism. She gave up on doing things her way. She quit complaining and began to seek her inner voice. After two former husbands and a couple of Cracker Jack prize boyfriends, she gave up on men.

Saturday, she is getting married. She said, "I wish I had known that giving up was the answer. I am so at peace and so happy."

What I think happened is not that she gave up, but that she gave in to her spirituality, the voice we always hear and often debate with, the one we try to prove wrong. When we are noisy with ourselves, our loved ones, and our enemies, we can't hear the voice of God.

This reminds me of a poem which hangs on my refrigerator as a daily reminder that my way isn't always the right way.

As children bring their broken toys
with tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God
because he was my friend.

But then instead of leaving Him
in peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
with ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried,
"How can You be so slow?"
"My child, He said, "what could I do?
You never did let go."

~ Anonymous

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Markets, Musings and Winnings

I am doing the happy dance! I won a book, Counting on Grace, by author,Elizabeth Winthrop. I can't wait to read it. How did I win? I visited Clara Gillow Clark's blog click here. I will post a review on my blog after I read Counting on Grace.

I had a fantastic Valentine's/Anniversary weekend. We ate at a lovely restaurant, and we danced the night away. You should see this old couple jitterbug! The weather even delivered a lover's gift, warm temperature, and cupid is sticking around all week. Sixty degrees sounds like summer.

Teaching preschoolers is rewarding, sometimes I hear uncomfortable things, and I know I have to act. This happened to me early on in my career.

A three year old girl, with green eyes and long starwberry blonde hair came over to me and asked, "What's the name of that guy who comes to visit me at night when I'm in bed and gives me love?"

Uh-oh! My heart thumped.

"I don't know, Rachel, tell me more about him. Is he young or old?"

"I think he's young."

"Hmmm, can you tell me more about him?"

"Yes, he's naked."

I gulped. LOUDLY.


"Yes, and he shoots arrows at your butt to give you love. What's his name again?"

"Cupid, honey CUPID!"


Now, my gift to you. I struggle trying to find markets. I know you do too.

Chicken Soup has a new call out: Finding Your Happiness, Your Purpose, Your Passion, and Joy.

Ruminate is a Christian Literary and Artists Magazine. They have a fee-based contest going on, but this is a great site to explore.

Writer's Journal also is coming up on deadline for their latest prompt contests. I am now going to submit my entry which bounced back a day after deadline for another contest. I need to slow down when I type. At first when I saw that my husband had opened the mailer-daemon notice (don't you hate those things!) and didn't tell me about it, I felt upset, but then my angel tugged my needs-to-be- colored hair and hissed, "Calm down sister; everything happens for a reason."

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Funny Valentine

I can't figure out how to turn the photo, and Mr. Right is sleeping, so please turn your head sideways to read the verse.

My honey has given me beautiful cards with heartfelt verses for our wedding anniversary in addition to a Valentine's Day Card. On February 14, 2002 when I opened this Valentine and the arrow popped out, I laughed so hard and told him, "You will never find a better card that will ever make me happier than this one."

He has dated it and given it to me every Valentine's day since. One of my simple treasures.

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you too. May your day overflow with love.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Double hitched

Where's Waldo? Uhmm, Linda? His red boutonnier is prominent and we are in the center. See us? Click on photo to enlarge.

Tune: He Ain't Got a Barrel of Money

Oh, he ain't got a barrel of money,
and he might have a big old tummy,
as we travel through life
I'll be this man's wife
standing side by side.

He likes his ice cream and candy,
but I think this big guy's just dandy
Young love's exciting and new,
ours is like an old shoe,
I love my big old guy.

Silly lyrics, you say? A fun little ditty? A tribute to my honey before Valentine's Day? All of those would be true, but the real reason behind these lyrics is the reason that my husband married me twice in six weeks.

We had our wedding date set for the first Saturday in April. I asked my best friend(we met as army wives in Alaska and maintained a long-distance friendship Boston to St. Louis ever since) to be my Maid of Honor. Her husband, who became my husband's best buddy, was to be his best man. A small, family wedding, my cousin, a minister would officiate. The plans were laid, the hall rented, travel tickets purchased and then, well if you know anything about me, you can kind of figure there will be an "and then".

Late January I was driving to work listening to my favorite radio station, Y-98, when I heard the DJ, Guy Phillips announce a contest.

"Send in your best, your funniest, you sweetest, your most unique reason why YOU want to be married on Valentine's Day and YOU could win a complete wedding package, from wedding bands to tuxes, flowers etc. Gals, you buy your own gowns."

I went home and penned this little ditty, and unbeknownst to my hubby, I mailed it off on pink paper and bordered it with red heart stickers.

I giggled periodically and wouldn't tell Bill why. He thought he was marrying a kook. He found out how kooky I am. A couple days before the contest winners were to be announced, I began to panic. I stood on tip toe and kissed him.

"Honey, if I could WIN a wedding, and it wouldn't cost us a penny, would you go along?"

"Ha-ha, surrrre." He winked, smiled and nodded.

I was driving to work when I heard my name (at the end of the list because it began with "W" back then) and I went nuts, screamed, pounded the steering wheel, made a spectacle of myself in front of other drivers, screeched into a parking place, ran down the halls laughing maniacally adn announced to my coworker I was getting married.

She looked at me and said, "I KNOW! It's a still a few weeks away."

I called my honey at work and said, "We're getting married. We have to be at the court house by 5:00 p.m. Meet me after work."

"Slow down. We have plenty of time."

"No we don't. We need a marriage license. NOW! Today."

He continued to try to calm me and I excitedly broke the news that I had won the contest. I did not tell him until after we got the marriage license that we would be getting married in a grand ballroom, with 97 other couples for a grand total of 98 (for the radio station call numbers) and the ceremony would be aired live on the radio station, and over my school intercom.

The night before, we sat sipping a drink on an indoor balcony overlooking the hotel lobby, watching brides arrive with their long gowns. I had my suit with a beaded, sequined collar hanging in our room. I panicked again.

"I can't do this."

"You bailing, NOW?"

"No, I just can't wear a dumb suit while all these young brides wear gowns." I was in tears.

"You'll look just as beautiful."

"You're biased."

"You're making too much of this."

"You're not the bride!"

"Okay, well, we can leave in the morning. We're having our real wedding in a few weeks anyway."

And then I saw her down in the lobby. She was my age and she had a red evening gown slung over her shoulder. Another bride walked in carrying her turquoise 'prom' dress. An older woman arrived with a suit on a hanger and wide hat with a huge plume.

"Okay, I'll wear my suit now." I wiped my eyes.

My honey just smiled and nodded. He still does a lot of that.

A few weeks later, instead of professing our vows before thousands of listeners, we declared our love and renewed our vows in an intimate cermony before family and friends.

Proof that writing DOES pay off! I sold this story to a magazine. Double pay off.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Letting go

My former mother-in-law, recently diagnosed with cancer, died. She would have been eighty-one in a few weeks.

My granddaughter wrote on Facebook, "We have about a hundred years on earth, that doesn't seem long enough."

I don't know if that was an unattributed quote or if it was spoken directly from her heart, but I'm sure we all agree.

Ruth was my mother-in-law for twenty-five years and she was in my life to some degree, since I was fifteen years old. She was the "proverbial" mother-in-law and I could write a book about problems, alcoholism, wounds and scars. I could toss in a few sentiments about marrying too young for all the wrong reasons. But then this post would end up being about me. Let me tell you some things about her. She had four children. My deepest sympathy goes out to her immediate family John, Ray, Carl and their late sister Sue; Ruth's sisters Betty and Rosie and her brother Terry, and all of the extended family members.

A tough exterior of gruffness, anger and/or orneriness is often a shield worn to protect someone who has been hurt in their early lives. Ruth suffered cruel emotional indignities at the hands of her own mother.

Early on, she fell in love with a man, and then she married his brother. She fell head over heels in love with her first-born and held onto him for dear life. She spoke her mind without temperance and didn't mind letting others know what she was thinking.

When she came to our wedding, I feared that she would drunkenly stumble down the aisle and cling to her son. Instead she sat sober in a pew, legally signed her boy over to me, and giggled with my mother who shocked everyone when she arrived, TIPSY. I was mortified.

She and my mom were the daring duo for a year or two during their mid-life crazies, one trying to be a religious goody-two-shoes and convert the other who had a devil-may-care attitude, but was baptized at the end of her life.

When her son was drafted and sent to Alaska, she took me in. I split my time between her house and my mom's (blocks apart). I was a married KID with two sets of dysfunctional parents and I couldn't wait those four months for that plane ticket to Alaska, my great escape.

They found me, even though we had no phone and only a post office box. On Christmas they called the State Patrol and dispatched him to the green trailer on School Road where buffalo and moose roamed freely. I had no money for a long distance call and so he directed me to the only folks in our area with a phone. I stood in their livingroom in the presence of authority and trembled with fear about who had died back home.


I heard their voices, a duet if you will, one after another wishing me a happy holiday and singing, Beautiful-Beautiful Brown Eyes.

I have blue eyes, so I figured Ruth was singing for her son. She and my mom used to send their 'recordings' to him when he lived in the barracks, and he played them on an old fashioned clunky tape recorder.

So, there I stood in the elderly, retired school teachers' living room, suffering from complex emotions and pregnancy hormones, trying to maintain my composure, trying to look a little shocked at the "bad news from home" "HMMING" and "Oh my-ing", wanting to shout jubilantly, "Merry Christmas; what do you two think you're doing calling the Alaska State Police to find me?!" Instead I said, "I love you too and thanks for letting me know."

"Oh yes, officer, everything is okay back home. Thank you."

When I looked into her coffin last night and saw her wearing a sky blue chiffon dress and a peaceful expression, I released a torrent of silent laughter at all of the silly things she and my late mom engaged in.

I packaged up a prayer, tied it loosely with a ribbon of forgiveness, and asked her to take it to heaven to hand to my mom just in case they bump into one another.
Lord help the angelic choir if those two reunite and try to chime in.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A present from the past

Over the weekend I stopped in the Goodwill store. I usually buy my books there for
seventy cents each. When I got home I discovered a folded peice of paper tucked between the pages. There were two names and phone numbers. The handwriting resembled my late mom's and gave me a chill-thrill for a moment. Then I discovered a memento from the 1940's. It was a selective service card that had probably been used as a bookmark. I phoned the top number, but the man did not answer, so I phoned the number at the bottom. Diana answered with a cheery hello. Her voice sounded like my writer friend, Dianna, but it wasn't.

I explained how I had come across the family memento which was faded and worn,
probably carried in a wallet for years. I could barely make out the name on the card, in fact, I read the first letter of the last name incorrectly. When Diana asked if it could be a "C" instead of a "P", I realized it was.

She said, "That's my grandfather!" I asked if he had lived on Edwards in the city and I could hear the excitement in her voice, "YES!"

I asked if she wanted me to mail it to her, and her response warmed my heart. "Yes, it will be like a receiving a present."

I thought, "Present from the past, an heirloom."

I hope when she holds that business card-sized fragile document in the palm of her hand, she feels her grandfather's kiss on her cheek, smells his unique scent or perhaps the aroma of spaghetti sauce simmering in a pot on Edwards Street. I hope she has a happy memory of him. I hope he is still alive and well.

This might seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of life, but it is my belief that we are all somehow connected, and there is a reason for everything. My grandfather came from Italy. I wonder if Diana's did too.

I hope that this family treaure will have a ripple effect and keep touching others in her family, perhaps mend a fence or make someone smile.

Blessings to you Diana if you are reading this.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Winter, beauty or beast?

A few months ago I stood on the opposite side of this hill and photographed the breathtakingly beautiful autumn leaves on these very trees, scarlet as a queen’s velvet cape, red as a new tricycle, yellow as Goldilock’s mane, golden as a ripe squash, orange as a goofy-grinning Jack-o-lantern. The chilled air crept under my jacket, slid up my sleeve and tapped my shoulder, a gentle reminder of winter’s impending wrath.

Yesterday, these trees were as astounding in their bareness as they were in their fall cloak. The hillside reminds me of the few weeks we have yet to climb to get over the hump, to reach the apex, to glimpse tiny buds at the tip of a branch, confirmation of the promise of new life, a renewal of my spirit that has been whitewashed by winter.

The unwrinkled snow blanket will give way to a lumpy emerald carpet plugged with sprigs of lilacs and an unruly patch of daffodils. The sky will retain its blue bonnet, and the billowy clouds will catch and release raindrops to enrich the earth and keep the seasons cycling.

I will peel off my layers, unburden my cares, inhale a tease of spring air, complain about rain and anxiously wrap myself in summer’s arms.

The white stuff is affecting my gray matter and making my mood blue. How about you?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

White sand or white snow, which do you prefer?

Those who really know me, know that I'd prefer white sand between my toes to white snow on my boots. I'd rather have a soft drink with a thin straw than suck on a thick icicle like I did when I was a little girl. I'd just as soon grin and bare it,
(my thunder thighs), than cover them in multiple layers of winterwear.

So folks, come along with me to Critter Alley and travel down Dixie way to a sandy beach where the separation of blue skies and turquoise water is indistinguishable. I promise it won't cost you one penny, no airfare, no packing. Just lay your pen down, turn your phone off and tell your family you're leaving for vacation and you'll be back soon. You will return without smelly seashells, sunburns and snapshots to download. The promise of a relaxing good time and a reprieve from winter awaits you. If you want to, tell Pat that this travel agent sent you. Reserve a spot for me.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Doggone it!

Dusty (sweet and gentle) and Rocky (arrogant)1980's

Goofy Willy and Smart Buffy 1969 in Alaska

My friend, Gerry, is mourning the loss of his twelve year old Golden Retriever. I know that heartbroken feeling; the pain goes deep and it feels like it will never end. Dogs are not just our pets and companions, they are family. I just heard of a recent survey. Seventy percent of the respondents said that if they had to choose one, they preferred their dog to their mate.

I've had four dogs. Dusty, a mixed Springer Spaniel, was my baby. I got her when I was a newlywed. She went blind at fifteen but could find me anywhere in the house when I peeled an orange. She loved oranges and had a receptive vocabulary equal to a toddler's. She behaved better than my kids.

Willy was a goofy overgrown hound pup who stole (among other things)a neighbor's bra off the clothes line in Alaska. He was part Mackenzie River Husky which meant he had some wolf in his lineage, but mostly he was ruled by his comical hound dog genes and he was always getting into trouble. (He was really my ex-husband's dog.)

Buffy was my sweet girl. Her mom was a white poodle and her dad a husky, her litter was an oops! My friend and I were walking through the woods. We passed a homestead. We saw a big truck tire on the ground encircling a litter of pups. The owner was hawking the puppies. Most of them were brown or black or a blending of colors with curly hair and round little faces. One was smaller with husky facial markings, a pointed nose and Benji wirey hair. She looked like she had on thick black, mascara. My friend said, "Get this one and name her Buffalo." A free roaming buffalo herd traveresed our road at night. I called her Buffy. When she got older, she and Willy would wander off into the Alaska wilderness and often she would return home alone, so I'd send her back out to get him. She'd bring him home about the time that the sun slid down the back side of the mountain. She was so intelligent. Willy, not so much. (He was my ex-husband's dog.)

Rocky was a little black and white weirdo who chased flies on the patio for hours. The vet thought he was a bit 'touched'. (He was my ex's dog.) I came by him (the dog) most unexpectedly. My friend's dad was retiring from Anheuser Busch Brewery. She got this cute six week old little bundle of furry hyper-energy and named him Bud. She packaged him cuter than a Bud Light, put a bow on him and said, "Surprise Dad, this Bud's for you." Her dad said, "That's what YOU think. I've had enough Bud, Busch and everything else. I'm retired."

Each of these dogs had unique personalities; the females were smart. They were MY dogs. The males were testosterone driven because my ex didn't want to take away their ahem, manhood. My heart broke each time I lost one of them; they were family. Unless you are a dog owner or have been owned by a dog, you cannot imagine the depth of love, the connection and attachment a human can have with an animal. My sympathy goes out to Gerry and Mary Lee.

Years ago when my first granddaughter was four, we went through the bank drive through. Ashley was a little blonde cutie, who wore her hair in a thick pony tail. The teller sent the pneumatic tube on its way and said, "Thank you. Here's something for your little honey."

Ashley said, "That's me!" and flipped her blonde pony tail. She heard the clunk as the machine spat out the tube and she shouted, "A sucker for me!" I opened it up and out fell a dog biscuit. You should have seen the looks on our faces. I guess from five lanes away, her hair shaking from side to side resembled a dog's tail.

Special dog in your life?
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Another snow day, no school. I know I should be writing, but instead I intend to finish a book my daughter gave me, Open House, by Elizabeth Berg. I have been snickering out loud at parts, especially when the main character, whose husband just walked out on her decides to get even. She charges a small fortune at Tiffany's. You know, there's an old saying, break my heart, I'll break your bank.

Many-many years ago when I was going through marital discord, I decided to punish him by spending a great deal of money on myself. We had just completely remodeled the kitchen, floor to ceiling. He bought a new fridge-freezer that stood side by side closer than we ever did, and a new range for me to roam. I hung shelves longer than our love and displayed my teacher mugs with cliche's inscribed on them. Behind the sink, I sunk fake bricks into thick adhesive and left the last one askew, like our life.

Being the practical person that I am, I drove to Sears and bought myself a $300.00 heavy-as-me microwave (that's how long ago it was; they were new on the market) and a set of ceramic canisters that cost an exorbitant $40.00. By the time the Sears charge came due, the lawyer was dividing the debts, and we ended up splitting the charges. :-(

Neither of us were substance abusers, but I joke, rehab didn't work!

Our son and daughter have each blessed us with a boy and a girl, and the youngest, Nicole, three, is Nana's girl! When they were small I told each of them that the stick figures on my sweatshirt were them and their sibling. Nicole is convinced.
"This one's ME! and that's my brudder!"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Weather or not!

Thanks to all who played my first line game. That was fun.

I'd rather be sweating than freezing.
I'd rather have snow than sleet.
I'd rather be kicking my shoes off than
kicking snow off the boots on my feet.

The news stations are bombarding us with dire predictions of varying amounts of snow 3-24 inches and ice 1/4 - 1 inch. The governor has declared a state of emergency. Schools and businesses are shuttered, and the National Guard has been called in.

The media blitz began yesterday and has been non-stop, "Ice can snap branches, take down trees, electric lines, and this amount of snow can collapse roofs. We are expecting major power outages. Do not call 911 unless it is a true emergency. Be prepared to hunker down in your car if you get stranded, as emergency vehicles may not be able to respond in blizzard conditions."

I thought about preparedness. I used every appliance in the house while we still have electricity. Laundry is finished, dishes are clean. TV is still blaring catastrophic conditions which have not materialized YET in our area. We do have a thin coating of sleet on the driveway. I toasted half of a cinnamon raisin bagel, opened the fridge and found the strawberry cream cheese, I perked a pot of coffee and dunked a handful of mini Oreos, and flipped on the computer. So, this is how it's going to be until all that moisture blends and the winds start blowing and the white apocalypse arrives. Stay warm everybody.

Please let me know what the weather is like where you are. I welcome those sunny, high temp reports. I can live vicariously through y'all down south, far south, not just those of you who live in Arnold.

When I was 20 years old living in rural Alaska, a neighbor (brilliant engineer)
decided to dig a hole under his trailer to insert a heating stove to warm the floor. The temperature plummeted to minus fifty and before he could dig the circumference big enough to fit a stove through, every line in the trailer court froze: diesel heating fuel, propane cooking fuel, water lines. No plumbing and pregnant. The nearest bathroom a quarter mile away at a honky-tonk road house. I hand-washed and wrung my ex's heavy green woolen shirts and pants which froze stiff. We piled under blankets with two dogs for two days until another neighbor swiped a big commercial heating blast furnace from the army, and invited us to stay with him and his pregnant wife. That heater shot out flames like a fire breathing dragon. Those were the days, no money, no sense, no kidding.
That was then; this is now. I am prepared. How about you?