Monday, December 31, 2012

Forget fingerprints!

We took my wedding ring to the jeweler in the mall. The prongs on the head were worn and have to be replaced, so I will be without my rings for two weeks. I feel lost without them.

I said to the man who can shop daily in the same hardware store for bargains, "You go on down to Sears and I will look in Claire's or Icing (kid's jewelry shop) for a cheap costume ring."

Actually I didn't want to be seen in public tonight all gussied up appearing to be an unmarried floozy. I need a ring on my finger. So I walked into the store and was approached by the sophomore behind the counter who kept a wary eye on me.

I found a ring display; each ring was wired to a small card. I found one I liked, slipped that size five ring onto my size six finger, and as soon as it passed over my knuckle I knew! It was stuck, locked on, not budging a bit. My eyes bulged! I had the mother of long-forgotten hot flashes. I gulped. I imagined security watching me on video. I imagined them calling the cops, the fire department.

I put that card to my lips and lubricated that finger. Okay, I slobbered all over the ring. My lipstick smeared the card a pretty shade of pink. I twisted my finger. But that ring wouldn't turn left or right, slide back or forth. I walked around holding my hand out "admiring" the ring on the card attached to my finger, wondering what in the world I was going to do. That's when three young teens came in to browse, and the sales girl went to assist them. I grabbed a bottle of antibacterial soap behind her counter, slopped a glob onto my ring finger and slimed that ring right off my hand. I sighed loudly with relief and hung that card back up.

It looks so pretty and pink hanging there among the plain white ones. I will never go back into that store. Forget fingerprints, they have my lip prints on file at that store.

I am ringless for two weeks. I don't care if I do look like a girlfriend instead of a wife at the dance tonight. If I can get my heels up high enough I'll kick my own behind.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


I told the grandkids to gather for a family picture, but boys will be boys. Can you figure out how many boys are contorted on the sofa? Nicole was not happy.

The holidays wore me out. I barely had time to blog. I don't know about you, but all of those holiday cookies made me sluggish. If I lie prone on the couch, I end up taking a long winter's nap and find myself wondering who is yapping at me at midnight when I startle awake and the TV is blaring.

This has to stop! I'm making a New Year's Resolution: no more going to sleep at dusk and I'm done goofing off. Seriously, I'm determined to tone my flabby upperarms. I can always wear a swimsuit skirt to cover the flabby thighs, but those arms of mine, well let's just say cellulite and low muscle tone are not a pretty sight. I have a few hours left to get serious, until New Year's Day. I am going to dust off my hand weights and polish off the rest of the cookies.  THEN, I'm getting serious.

I had a story published in Chicken Soup, My Resolution in 2008. I resolved to substitute one word in my vocabulary. I vowed to try to use the word "AND" everytime I was tempted to use the word "BUT". Instead of, "You made a nice drawing BUT left your paper scraps," I rephrased, "You made a nice drawing AND I know you'll remember to take care of your scraps."

Are you willing to give it a try? This simple change works to gain cooperation, makes you sound like less of a nag AND increases the peace. It is difficult to change speech patterns that you've used for years, and it is not always easy to remember. I encourage you to catch yourself before you say the word that makes my preschoolers, giggle. And, let me know if it worked for you.

Monday, December 24, 2012

With apologoies to Clement C. Moore

Contemporary Version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
by Linda O’Connell, with apologies to Clement C. Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas at the North Pole
Old Santa was edgy, feeling quite droll.
Mrs. Claus was baking, and the house smelled yummy.
Santa walked into the kitchen, snuck up on his honey.

He reached for a snicker-doodle still warm on the tray.
Mama said, "No more! You’ve eaten two dozen today.
Your cholesterol is up, your triglycerides soaring.
Absolutely no more, and I’m tired of your snoring.

"You’re going to have to start losing some weight.
And do you realize the time? It IS getting late."
Chubby old Santa said, "Oh, Woman, drat!
You're always complaining about this or that.
"Where are my long Johns?" he dared to inquire.
"For Pete’s sake," she said, "They're still in the dryer."
She wiped her hands on her apron and turned with a jerk,
mumbled under her breath, "It’s all women’s work!"

"Get dressed. Hitch your reindeer, load up the sleigh.
Get all the presents and be on your way."
Santa tugged on his suit, and as Mrs. Claus watched
he had to loosen his belt another notch.

"Dear Santa, remember when you had a pillow-gut?"
"Yes Mama, and back then, you had a size seven butt!"
"I think you should leave now!"
"I think that I will, but first I need my cholesterol pill.

Blood pressure too and one for arthritis,
and another one for my sinusitis.
A Dramamine pill so I won’t get dizzy,
a calm-me-down pill, so I’m not in a tizzy.

Vitamin C so I don’t sniffle and sneeze,
Asthma medication so I don’t hack and wheeze."
"Be on your way, Man! Get going; you’re done."
"Wait," Santa shouted, "I forgot just one.”"

He popped a Viagra, climbed into his sleigh.
"Ah, the miracle drugs they have today!
I’ll be back in a jiffy," he smiled with affection
"I have forty-eight hours to get a…"

"LONG WINTER’S NAP!" she exclaimed as he drove out of sight.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ho-Ho-Ho Santa Knows

The gymnasium was filled with parents, grandparents and family members. My students sang, recited poems and performed a play. As you can see, my little miss had a part in the play.
This is one half of my class, the other half is on the other side of the stage. The three year olds were in the front row and you should have seen them rock the imaginary Baby Jesus like he was on a thrill ride as they sang at the top of their lungs, "Go Tell It on the Mountain. Go tell about the baaaaaaaaaabbbbyyyy."
Don't be misled by this innocent look. When the children were asked if they'd all been nice, they nodded. When asked if anyone had been naughty, Nicole saw Nicholas in the front row, pointed  and shouted, "My brudder!" It was impromptu and she stole the show. Ten year old Nick looked stricken.
Nothing like a children's pageant to make my holiday.
My most memorable school program was when hubby played Santa and came prancing towards the children with the front of his coat tail tucked into his belt and his pants gaping open...thank goodness he was wearing jeans under them. I whispered in his ear, "Santa, XYZ" (examine your zipper) and he sang into the microphone,  "A-B-C-D-E-F-G" and so I had to belly up against him and tug on his suit.
Thirty-seven years of children's programs, and I can't get enough!  
Come back tomorrow, I will post my holiday PG rated poem.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In the midst of sorrow, a laugh

The day was sunny and unseasonably warm. We went to a park with three stocked fishing lakes. There were so many fishermen. It seems odd that people are wearing shirt sleeves in mid-December.

It was a perfect day to take a good hike, but I walked around one lake and went back to the car. I'm feeling really sad. This pair of ducks reminded me that we must lean on one another and be there for one another. They swam out to a small island and tucked their heads under their wings. I imagine many people feel the same way after the horrific shooting in Connecticut.

Driving home we saw so many inflatable Santas and snowmen deflated and collapsed on lawns which reminded me of the tiny victims. On the verge of tears I wondered, why are those folks being interviewed, the reporters and even the president, stifling tears? Why are we embarrassed or ashamed to publicly weep and grieve? Why do we permit children to watch violence and then protect them from our emotions?

The best thing about emotions, I tell my students, is that feelings come and go; they don't stay the same. If you are angry or sad, it's okay. You won't stay that way all day. Feelings change. It is okay to feel.

Proof is in the photo above. This inflated sock monkey perched on a roof was like a gift. It made me laugh out loud.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What a pain in the neck!

These are a few of my favorite things. Actually, these occupy only two of the five shelves. It makes me happy to see these little cuties. Our weather is unseasonably warm and it doesn't seem like we'll be seeing any real snow buddies anytime soon.

Talk about a pain in the neck! I had an accident yesterday on my way to work. I stopped for a man with his dog in a cross walk and was rear-ended. Nicole was in her car seat and we both yelled, "Ow! My neck!"

 I called hubby who was without a car because his transmission on his 2010 had lost its fluid. He said, "I'll hop on my bike and be right there." What a guy! He would have, but my daughter-in-law picked him up and brought him to the scene, and then my son arrived. He called his boss to report that he wasn't returning to work; he was taking his daughter home. His boss said, "I can't talk. I have to go. My daughter had a roll over accident."

Was it 12/12/12? The police officer said I was his third accident and it was only 8:45 a.m.
So other than BEING a pain in the neck, I have one. But I am very grateful there's nothing else seriously wrong with me. Certain people might disagree. Maybe I should rephrase that.

The emergency crew checked us out and said we would be sore for a week or more and to keep moving our necks and stretching the muscles. I look like a stalker turning my head as far as I can to the left and then right. People think I'm odd or very interested in them. My severe headache subsided and I am thankful it wasn't any worse.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chicken WHAT?!

If you click on the picture HERE of the little girl with Santa you'll see my granddaughter's  big blue eyes. After Nicole's dance recital, Santa arrived on a fire truck and she ran out to greet him and his elf. The photographer for South County Times snapped her photo.

Today Grandpa asked his precious little girl where she wanted to go for lunch and she replied, "Burger King." He placed a coupon for two Junior Whopper meals on the counter and asked her what she wanted. In a fast food restaurant, crowded with lots of blue collar men on their lunch hour, she said, "I want little chicken balls, french fries and ketchup."

Bill and I looked at one another, and then we looked around. He said, "You want chicken nuggets?"

She said loudly, "No, I want chicken balls."

Then I saw the video menu screen change pictures automatically and laughed out loud. "Oh, she wants an order of popcorn chicken."

She sat at the table and sounded worse than Bob in that movie What About Bob? "Yumm, I love these little chicken balls. Uhm, thank you Paw-paw and Nana for these chicken balls. Ohh, um-um these chicken balls are so good."

I tried, "Honey it's popcorn chicken."

Cutie said, "Nana, it's not popcorn. These are little chicken balls."

All we could do was laugh and ignore the greasers.

Well, that was a nice surprise!

Jennifer is a gem. If you are not familiar with Jennifer Brown Banks you should be. She features guest bloggers, delivers the goods on writing and provides writing services. My introduction to Jennifer was through a writer's magazine. When I picked it up and read about breaking all the rules, I thought, "Wow! I've been doing that and didn't even know it." Writing and submitting is all about connecting first with your first reader, the editor. Check out Jennifer's blog, Pen and Prosper. I did, and my poem won her contest. My prize came in the mail yesterday, a book on writing, a daily purse planner, other little goodies and CHOCOLATE!

Monday, December 10, 2012

What a fun day!

Seated, L-R: Cathi LaMarche, Lynn Cahoon, and standing, L-R: Linda O'Connell, Pat Wahler

We four Chicken Soup for the Soul Writers have been published this year in ten Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. The fourth annual Chicken Soup for the Soul, Canned Food for the Body Book Signing and Food Drive at Main Street Books in St. Charles, MO was a success. We sold a bunch of books and collected non-perishables for the local food bank.

This year was a multi-store, multi-author event which started at 10 a.m. and ended at 6:00 p.m. Eleven women travelled from store to store supporting one another. Talk about parking issues! I think Theresa Sanders, Tammy Goodsell, Sioux Roslawski, Nina Miller, Patt Pickett, Donna Vokenannt, Beth Wood, and those of us featured in the photo laughed more this year than ever before.

 Please patronize these participating independent book stores, Main Street Books, All on the Same Page, and The Book House.

We were honored with the presence of a real Victorian ... oh wait a minute, it was Val the Victorian, no wait, she is a teacher who was once a Valedictorian. Her students love her and her blog followers wish they could write with such acerbic wit. She travelled far, brought yummy gifts, and she even brought Happy and the Genius who found books galore to buy from the haunted book store. Pony stayed home galloping around.

Four of the five women in my critique group were published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books this year. The fifth, our illustrious hostess, Lynn Obermoeller visited each of us and bought books from all of us. What a champ! She is one of only twelve writers selected for a soon-to-be released anthology, Fifty Shades of Santa, so don't underestimate her writing ability. She beat us out!

My group had clear view of Main Street which is home to century old, brick row houses that now house antique and specialty shops and restaurants. The Christmas spitrit was everywhere as carolers strolled, and a fife and drum band high stepped. Characters dressed as Santas from around the world, the Town Crier, the Sugar Plum Fairy, a life-size angel, historical WW11 characters and so many more walked up and down Main Street handing out collectable trading cards. The parade, as always was a delight; the crowd enormous and controlled. One of the best sights I saw in the crowd was a set of twins dressed in red hoodies and hats wearing holiday tu-tus. They were middle-age, a wee bit short and round and certainly not hung up on body conciousness. Made me smile with delight.

Heads up for those who submitted to Chicken Soup for the Soul On the Spectrum book. They have not made final selctions yet but will soon.

Why don't you send a story to CS? All you have to do is write from the heart on the topics listed on their website.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My boogie woogie boy

Our weather has been unseasonably warm, 74 degrees a few days ago. Doesn't appear we'll be making real snowmen anytime soon. The first snowfall of the season makes me happy. After that, you can have the slush and muck.

But oh how I love my fake little snow family. For years I have admired my daughter-in-law's little piano playing snowman, which I think came from a Hallmark Store. This summer I finally found one at a yard sale for $3 to add to my snowman collection. A treasure I am telling you, because it gives me such joy to press the PLAY button and watch that little guy shift in his seat and boogie woogie. The lights flash as he "plays" three holiday songs. This is my all time favorite. I'll be posting more of my collection.

Do you have a holiday collection?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Time to give back!

I find that the closer I write to my heart, the more I am published. 
Readers want to read more than the headlines, they want a glimpse into your life. This year my true stories have been published in four Chicken Soup for the Soul Books. I am thankful, and I plan to give back. CS writers are compensated only one time for each story. So a book signing garners nothing for us, but it does help the independent bookstore/small business owners and of course, Chicken Soup for the Soul. This is our fourth annual multi-author FOOD DRIVE and book signing. Please, won't you come out and support our effort? Buy a CS book and receive 20% off your entire store purchase.

              Fourth Annual “Chicken Soup for the Soul,
                Canned Soup for the Body” Book Signing
Ten local Chicken Soup for the Soul writers will sign books at three independent bookstores in the St. Charles/St. Louis area on Saturday, December 8, 2012. The annual combination book signing and canned food drive has expanded this year from its original venue at Main Street Books in St. Charles to include the other two stores in honor of Chicken Soup for the Soul’s upcoming twenty-year anniversary. Customers may bring in a canned good to be donated to area food pantries and receive 20% off their entire purchase that day. Participating stores and authors are:

10-12 noon, All on the Same Page (Contact: Robin Tidwell, owner)
11052 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur, MO 314-567-4144

Nina Miller, former Children's Area Specialist at Borders Creve Coeur, has just finished The Ultimate Storytime Guide, to be published soon by McFarland & Co. This book will offer parents, teachers, booksellers and librarians information on creating a complete story time experience that includes music, art, movement, food and literature.

Theresa Sanders is a frequent Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor, with fifteen stories published by the series. An award-winning technical writer and former manager of a documentation and training department, she is currently completing a novel.

T’Mara Goodsell is an award-winning multi-genre writer who has six stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as other anthologies and newspapers. More of her writing can be found at
1-3 p.m., Main Street Books (Contact: Vicki Erwin, owner)
307 South Main Street, St. Charles, MO 636-949-0105

Cathi LaMarche is the author of the novel While the Daffodils Danced. Her stories appear in eight Chicken Soup for the Soul books, as well as other anthologies. She currently teaches composition and literature, and she writes in her spare time.

Linda O'Connell has been published in seventeen Chicken Soup for the Soul books and many other anthologies, magazines and books.
Lynn Cahoon is an Alton, IL contemporary romance author with a love of hot, sexy men, real and imagined-ranging from rogue witch hunters to modern cowboys. She blogs at her website ( about writing, lessons learned while surviving breast cancer, and living the dream.

Pat Wahler resides in St. Peters with her husband, dog, and cat. She is a grant writer by day and freelance writer by night and has been published in dozens of local and national venues. A life-long animal lover, Pat ponders critters, writing, and life's little mysteries at

4-6 p.m., The Book House (Contact: Michelle Barron, owner)
9719 Manchester Rd., St. Louis, MO 314-968-4491

Beth M. Wood is a mom of three, marketing VP and freelance writer. She is a devout reader, semi-fanatic editor, and not so great golfer. Follow along at

First-place winner of the 2012 Erma Bombeck Global Humor Writing Competition, Donna Duly Volkenannt lives in St. Peters with her husband and grandchildren, who inspire her and fill her with joy. Learn more about Donna at
Sioux Roslawski is a 3rd grade teacher with the Ferguson-Florissant School District. A freelance writer, she also rescues dogs for Love a Golden Rescue. Her writing can be found at

Since 1993, more than 112 million copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies have been sold in the United States and Canada alone, with titles translated into more than 40 languages. Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC, is a world leader in life improvement. For more information, please visit:


Friday, November 30, 2012

Was it Norman Bates?

I am not one of those people who peek behind shower curtains when visiting at other people's houses. I am not Psycho-scared in my own bathroom, fearing that a knife wielder will be lurking in my tub.

In fact, I hesitate to admit this to you people who think I still have most of my marbles. I believe a ghost lives in my bathroom, always have, ever since we moved into this house many years ago. Strange noises, unexplained  things happen. I don't even touch the door when I enter, but MY towel hanging next to his, falls off the hook for no apparent reason. When I'm standing in the shower, shampoo bottles and wash cloths kerplunk into the tub without any help from me or from a stream of water. I am used to it. My "friend" has been pretty active lately. But no sir, I ain't afraid of no ghost!

Well, let me tell you what happened the other day. I had unplugged the motion detector night-light to plug in my curling iron in the morning, and I had forgotten to plug the night-light back in.  So when I woke at 4:00 the next morning the room was completely dark. I figured I might as well take a shower, so I flung back the curtain, poked my head into the tub to turn on the water and in complete darkness, I completely buried my entire face in "the ghost". You should have seen me moon walk out of there; I back shuffled and my blood pressure shot up. I could feel that sucker on my face! It was too early to scream for he-who-thinks-I'm-goofy. I got up my nerve to go back and turn on the overhead light, because I ain't afraid of no ghost! Cautiously I pulled the white cotton shower curtain embroidered with pink rosettes back, and I looked in the tub. There hung the lightweight, fast-drying, white flimsy liner, half of it looped over the shower hose to dry faster. I swear I could feel that  billowing thing squeezing the air out of my lungs when I shoved my head into it. May have been too early to scream, but I sure laughed a crazy woman's laugh of relief.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What I found at the thrift store

A local thrift store has a 50 % off the entire store sale on the last Wednesday of the month. Last evening I bought a cute purple sweater originally from Christopher and Banks, also a darling blouse with a linen lace collar to wear under sweaters, and a snowman pillow, all for $6. I also found a cute little lost boy about four years old. He was looking left and right wandering and talking to himself. "I'll find you. I know you're in here somehwere."
"Are you lost?"
I took him by the hand and told him I'd help him.

"Yeah, I'm looking for Maw-Maw."

"What's her name?"

"Maw-Maw." (I should have known better!)

"What's your name?" I asked as his young and pleasant mom walked up, smiled and said, "His mom and Maw-Maw are both with him, but do you think he could stay with US? Come on buddy."

He shook his head no and stayed at my side. I dropped his hand and said, "Go with your mom now."
I walked away and he trailed ME. She had to plead with him to come with her.

Bill calls me the Pied Piper of little kids. I guess that is my calling.

Did you know that Lindenwood University literary magazine is seeking submissions? Have you ever sumbitted to a local press or a literary magazine?

Monday, November 26, 2012

How do you say cute?

How do you say cute? HOWIE!
This is our newest granddog. He is all of eight weeks old. He's outgrown his baby bed which he snatched from Dusty, the queen of the house, a tiny ShihTzu who has been royally displaced. She is not at all fond of this little fur ball the way the rest of the family is. Howie is a Golden Doodle, which means he will be a big boy. But right now he is such a clumsy baby. He has his days and nights mixed up, covets his toys (he's laying on them) and when he's not snoozing, he's chasing Dusty and wants to play with her while she is pottying in the yard. Must be like having an aggravating big brother. She grumbles and growls at him, but he comes back for more, time and time again. He's growing cuter and bigger by the day.   

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Waiting for the pop-up thermometer

Turkey in the tummy and pounds on your hips?
Our bird's still frozen; not one bite has passed over our lips.
Today I shall roast it and slice it up right.
We'll eat turkey and all of the trimmings in sight.
I'll bake pumpkin pie and top it with cream
When I step on the scale you might hear me scream.
Mashed potatoes and gravy, hot rolls and yams
dressing and green beans, cranberry sauce, oh man!

Our daughters prepared Thanksgiving dinners the weekend before so we knew we would be having a
low key kind of day while all of our kids did their own thing and travelled to relatives

Wednesday night we gave into temptation and bought a frozen turkey. We agreed, when IT was ready, we would be ready. We are hours away from a tryptophan induced mellow mood.

I am thankful for family, friends and blog buddies.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oops, I did it again

Each morning I scan the Yahoo news feed, a window strip of 50 top stories. I don't give a hoot about the Hollywood youngsters, whether or not OJ really did it, or what the political scene is all about at the moment.  One headline caught my eye and made me stop and click on: HOW TO STOP ADULT BELLY.

Just when I thought I had discovered the key to busting my gut, I discovered how to take on a bully. Huh? What's up with that? I read again. Oops. I should read more carefully.

Now, if I really wanted to knock out my belly fat I would not be sitting here at 5:30 a.m. drinking a cup of hot tea, munching a banana and nibbling a chocolate chip cookie with my smile teeth to make it last longer.


Monday, November 19, 2012

My Fowl Little Puppy

I knew she was a little trouble maker from the time I first set eyes upon her. I watched her great escape from a kennel at Arlan's a Department Store on Chippewa and Hampton where the Target store now is located. She led her litter mates to a broken bag of kibble and feasted until her belly looked like a puffer fish. I had to have that spunky little pooch. I had to carry around a brown crayon to repair her damages, too.

Her story is included in this collection, published by Publishing Syndicate. This book would make a great gift for dog lovers. The stories are sure to make readers say, "Aww."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Silly Heads

Every single thing you do with young children can be a learning experience. Forget the bells and whistles and high priced electronics. This activity is purposeful; nearly cost free, and it targets fine motor development. Paid $3.00 for 36 electric outlet safety plug covers. I glued google eyes on them and a pom-pom nose and drew on mouths with permanent markers. Then I decorated a plastic ice cream carton head ( to hold the pieces) and hot glued it onto the box. Next, I drew circle faces on the box and  made one inch slits (the width of the plug ins) on the front and two sides of the box. The children inserted the silly heads into the slits. This activity generated conversation about likenesses and differences, color, sizes: mine has big/small eyes/nose, they counted how many on each side of the box. They competed against one another, and they had fun. It takes a bit of pushing and pulling to insert and dislodge the plugs. The kids thought they were "just playing" but actually there was so much learning taking place. Using the index finger/thumb (pincher grasp) develops fine muscles and finger/hand strength needed for printing. Originally I designed these little plugs to use with playdough, but the children preferred using the Potato Head body parts with playdough and the plugs just sat there, so...I made Silly Head today and they loved it.
We have been doing a unit on the Native American Indians. Today Nicole dressed as a mama with her papoose. She'd been wearing the dress-up backwards, and when I turned it around to take her picture, she noticed the symbols, and said, "Wow! I like this dress a lot better." That's my silly girl. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Would you do it?

That so-called children's classic, Hansel and Gretel scared me worse than any horror movie I ever saw as a kid. The idea of finding an edible house with candies and goodies was intriguing, but the thought of being abandoned by parents, and the supidity of dropping a crumb trail (I knew the birds would eat them) and that old hag witch caging the kids and fattening them up to put them in the oven...well as my oldest granddaughter said when she was a little girl, "The kid who told that story had a bit of violence in him, don't you think, Nana?"

I couldn't resist snapping this photo of Bill by a gigantic gingerbread house. It was actually part of a dining area and there was a table and chairs inside for diners. I kept one eye on the viewfinder, and one eye out for the wicked witch. And by the way, those are real cookies and candies adorning that lovely gingerbread house. No way, though could I dine inside. I went right to the buffet. I couldn't do it. Could you?

Then, I thought, "Hmm, if that old witch sees me fattening up...."

Monday, November 12, 2012


My heart remembers~
1969 Walter Cronkite on the evening news reading the nightly numbers: tragedies and fatalities associated with the Viet Nam Conflict. It made me angry; it made me weep. Forty-three years later, my heart still aches when I hear the details about current battles.

My hands remember~
washing my former husband's heavy woolen army fatigues in a basin of water, twisting and wringing until my fingers ached.

My feet remember~
the thermometer registered forty degrees below zero in Alaska as I hoofed it to the post office in town hoping to find a dollar tucked in a letter from my mom. Many days my toes were nearly frostbitten.

My eyes remember~
the mountian range in the distance that looked like white clouds reaching as high as I could see into the sky. The aurora borealis painting the night sky, and stars so close it appeared that I could reach up and pluck one. The summer 'round the clock sunshine and the field of pink fireweed growing wild across the road.

My funny bone remembers~
the Inspector General was coming to Ft. Greely to inspect every solider's equipment. My ex polished his brass, spit shined his shoes, and I decided to help him out by washing his mess kit and canteen with baking soda. I shined it to a silver lustre.

The soldiers stood shoulder-to-shoulder at attention, their items laid out in order at their feet. The IG stopped before each guy and examined random items, then moved to the next soldier. He stood before my former husband, bent down and picked up his sparkling canteen. He raised it above his head and turned it upside down to inspect the interior. That's when the water trickled from on high onto the IG's high-glossed shoes.

If memory serves me correctly, there was a verbal reprimand or two. In response to the IG's tirade, my former husband said, "Sir! Yes Sir!"

In response to my former husband's tirade, I said, "Fine! Okay! I won't touch your equipment ever again!" However, I did, and that my friends, is another story for another time.

Hats off to all of the men and women who serve or have served in the military.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Are you a turkey?

I made an A-B-C turkey bingo game. I drew a simple figure of a turkey with tail feathers spanned and printed an alphabet letter on each feather. I told the class that instead of shouting "bingo" they had to shout gobble-gobble.

I designed the game so that all children would "bingo" at the same time. When a dozen little darlings realized that they were one away from winning, the excitement was palpable, the noise level rising, and then, I called the final letter. You should have heard those birds.

Not one turkey in the class. Each of them looked at me for validation that they were correct. I merely sat and looked at them with no expression. They were confused. Then I said, "Gobble-gobble" and they all repeated after me like a gaggle of wild gobblers. I smiled approvingly and they all got up to wait in line to dig in the prize box.

Their responses and their air of superiority and confidence that THEY were the only RIGHT one, reminded me of the way many bird-brained people express their political points of view. They tweet, cackle, cock-a-doodle and bawk-bawk their opinions all over Facebook and the Internet, convinced that they have THE RIGHT ANSWER and everyone else is wrong.

My bet is, if I had "cock-a-doodled" the students would have followed along.

I strive to teach my students to respect diversity and one another and to seek peace. What the world needs now...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Out of sadness came joy

Have you ever felt clueless and shocked? Sadly, our grandson's girlfriend's mom died of cancer this week. We went to the wake yesterday and saw a woman we recognized from twenty years ago standing up front. We hugged, and I asked how she knew the deceased. Her response shocked me.

"She's my sister."

It was like old home week during that visitation. Our friend's husband used to be a well known disc jockey who we followed years ago when we used to dance several times a week. The room filled to capacity with many of our old acquaintances. There were hugs, greetings, laughter and lots of catching up. I think it must be that way in heaven. The joy of reconnecting must keep a perpetual smile on our loved ones' faces. What could have been a very sad occassion turned out to be a joyful reunion.

I witnessed one of the nicest touches ever at this wake. The family had positioned a basket filled with free copies of the deceased's favorite book, Heaven is for Real, on a table for mourners. What a lovely and thoughtful gesture. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

The phone rang...

The past week I have not answered the home phone. I listen to the answering machine. If it's a hang up then I know it's a political call. I don't know WHY I answered the kitchen wall phone today, but I am certainly glad I did. I was so excited I was doing the happy dance dragging the cord (we do have cordless phones and cell phones too) through the kitchen as the caller announced that I was one of eleven winners of the Poetry in Motion, Metro Arts in Transit contest. My poem will be printed on a poster and displayed on St. Louis Metro buses and/or Metro Link  trains for a year. My photo and poem will be posted at the Regional Arts Commission. There will be a reception and monetary prize for winners. Oh yeah, I am happy!

by Linda O'Connell

Lilac whiff unveils a childhood sigh.
When we dueled buzzing bees for honeysuckle nectar,
fireflies danced in full moon glitter
and wishing stars filled up the sky.
Rosebuds unfurl with breath so sweet,
a long-lost promise whispered
when I was innocent, sweet sixteen
and petal luster glistened on my cheek.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nana and Nicole

Some days all you need is a hug from five year old princess Aerial.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hairy Mary

When I was a kid, Mary, the neighborhood hairdresser, was twenty years older that most of the moms of my friends. She had one teenage son our age, and she doted on this change of life boy even though they argued like cats and dogs.While my friends and I were hoofing it ten blocks to school, or parking our bums on city bus bench seats, her boy's bucket was comfortably positioned in leather bucket seats. Mary bought her pride and joy his own pride and joy, a muscle car with a Hemi engine.

If you wanted a tight perm or a wash and curl, Mary was the go-to gal for the older gals in
the neighborhood. Everyone knew she was a bit off kilter. She would always squeak her mind, and that woman spread gossip like Dippity Do.

When someone came in and asked for a chin length cut, she'd give  them the stink eye and cackle, "You don't have the face for straight hair. You have to be beautiful to wear your hair straight." She sold my mom and mother-in-law many a perm with that line and she put a few worry lines on their mugs with that nonsense of hers as she flipped her bottle-blond straight locks over her shoulder.

One day the gossip mongers gathered for coffee klatch and someone brought up Mary's latest. Seems she wandered into her own bathroom one day before going off to her shop and picked up a can of hair spray and spritzed her hair with half a can of super hold.

When she walked into her salon with mirrored walls, she screamed at the red haired hag looking back at her. Seems she picked up a can of Larry's red spray paint which he had left in the bathroom.

I nearly died laughing, and thinking about it years later, it still made me chuckle...until this past Monday. I shall laugh no more at Hairy Mary. I was late for work, suffering from tummy distress. I reached for the hairspray and spritzed like crazy. I walked into the school bathroom and thought some straight haired chick had beat me to the seat when I saw myself in the mirror. It was like a haunting from Mary. Beware, not only does Febreeze take the stench out of carpets and draperies, it also takes the curl right out of poufy curling-ironed hair.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Help! I'm overdosing on chocolate

First of all, welcome to my newest blog followers. I appreciate each and everyone of you. I'm coming up on 200, and I can't wait for that to happen.

I am so excited to announce that my "chocolate" entry won first place at Pen and Prosper, Jennifer Brown Banks' BLOG. Every writer worth his or her chocolate knows that flavinoids induce good writing.

I've been a follower of this brilliant writer since I read her first article in a writer's magazine about breaking the rules. I knew then, that we were kindred spirits. Please visit her site and peruse the articles.

Writer's Inspiration

M&Ms three at a time ... colorful ellipses for my writer's mind.

Melted exclamation point on my tongue, a puddled Kiss.

Dark chocolate covered coconut, Mounds of happiness.

Chocolate, solidified or liquified, a writer's Bliss.

I'll be telling it the way it is

Steve Wiegenstein and I will be speaking to Saturday Writers in St. Peters, MO this Saturday. His morning presentation will be on the topic of fiction writing.
 I will speak in the afternoon about the many aspects of writing creative non-fiction.
Kristi Makanski from Blank Slate Press will be accepting pitches from writers.
I do wish all of my readers could be there.
I am very excited about this opportunity and can't wait.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You'd better not write about this!

I awoke this morning at my usual time, 5:00 and went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I saw something crawling across the floor. A dust bunny I told myself. Then I put my glasses on. ACKKK! Black, pencil-lead thin, an inch long, inching along, its antennae wiggling like a GPS device trying to get a handle on location.

I didn't scream. I placed a tissue on the floor and waited for that creepy crawler to climb aboard. I grabbed the tissue and ran to the front door, opened it and looked for the critter before I dumped it, but it was NOT THERE. Yikes, not climbing up my arm? I did the scaredy girl dance, then I turned on every light in the living room. To heck with my sleeping honey. I searched the floor, no sign of it. I had to know, so I grabbed a flashlight and opened the front door and stepped into the darkness. As I was scanning the door mat, the motion light illuminated me in my nightgown as traffic whizzed by. I ran in and slammed the door.

All the lights, and whiz bang action woke you-know-who. I heard him brushing his teeth. I went to the computer to Google a picture of the critter. Hubby walked in and sat down. He scooted his wheeled desk chair behind me and looked over my shoulder as I researched.
"What are you doing?"

"Looking for information on a creepy crawler that I found in the bathroom." I grabbed a pen and pad of paper and drew it for him. (Maybe I drew it a little bigger than an inch.)

"A thousand legger? Centepede?"

"No, the shape of a worm, belly crawler, inching, its back raising up and down, antennae going wild."

He shoved his chair back and shouted, "Oh! You're coloring your hair!"

This is the same guy who said yesterday as a gust of wind whipped my locks, " It's time to color your hair; did you know it's all white underneath?"

"Yes, I'm coloring my hair. Does that surprise you?"

He laughed, obviously embarrassed and said, "I thought the damned thing bit you. Now I see it's just a drop of hair color on the back of your neck."

I laughed all the way back to the bathroom. He walked away mumbling, "Maybe you're right, I do watch too much Sci-Fi. You'd better not write about this!"

If you happen to see you-know-who out and about, you didn't read it here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

We're all adults here

I need to tell someone.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I clicked on the computer this morning at 5:00 and read,
Dear Mr. O,
Your order for sanitary lubricant
has been shipped from Amazon.

I read and reread. I researched the product: non toxic, edible, petrol lube that could also be used on dairy cows. What the heck? I was flustered and my mind was spinning all sorts of possibilities. My imagination was running rampant and my pulse was keeping pace. It was all I could do to wait for hubby to wake up.

Cheerful as ever, he walked into the study and said, "Good morning."
I looked him in the eye and said, "Is there something you want to tell me? Or that I need to know?"

"I love you?"

"I'll throw the laundry in?"
"What did you order personal lubricant for?" My words came out thick as molasses.

He looked at me speechless and dumbfounded.

Hesitantly he said, "Umm, (never a good sign!) for the meat slicer I bought at Sears yesterday. The drive gear, pivot points and blade have to be lubricated before using it. The brochure said to use Vaseline, but when I went to Wal-Mart and read the label, it said, This product is not to be used orally."

I exhaled deeply and laughed out loud when he told me he'd asked the paharmacist if they carried edible Vaseline behind the counter. Let me just say that my facial expression probably didn't compare to the pharmacist's. The guy just looked at him. When hubby explained the intended use, the guy referred him to Amazon.

Whew! It's heck to have a writer's mind.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Danger! Beware!


Having recently come upon a small snake while out walking, (see picture in previous post) this made me laugh so hard my sides hurt. A friend in Boston sent it and I am sorry but I don't know who to attribute the writing to. I hope you get as big a kick out of it as I did.

Garter Snakes (Thamnophissirtalis) can be dangerous! Yes, grass snakes, not rattlesnakes. Here's why.

A couple in Sweetwater, Texas, had a lot of potted plants. During a recent cold spell, the wife was bringing a lot of them indoors to protect them from a possible freeze.

It turned out that a little green garden grass snake was hidden in one of the plants. When it had warmed up, it slithered out and the wife saw it go under the sofa.

She let out a very loud scream.

The husband (who was taking a shower) ran out into the living room naked to see what the problem was. She told him there was a snake under the sofa.

He got down on the floor on his hands and knees to look for it. About that time the family dog came and cold-nosed him on the behind. He thought the snake had bitten him, so he screamed and fell over on the floor.

His wife thought he had had a heart attack, so she covered him up, told him to lie still and called an ambulance.

The attendants rushed in, would not listen to his protests, loaded him on the stretcher, and started carrying him out.

About that time, the snake came out from under the sofa and the Emergency Medical Technician saw it and dropped his end of the stretcher. That's when the man broke his leg and why he is still in the hospital.

The wife still had the problem of the snake in the house, so she called on a neighbor who volunteered to capture the snake. He armed himself with a rolled-up newspaper and began poking under the couch. Soon he decided it was gone and told the woman, who sat down on the sofa in relief.

But while relaxing, her hand dangled in between the cushions, where she felt the snake wriggling around. She screamed and fainted, the snake rushed back under the sofa.

The neighbor man, seeing her lying there passed out, tried to use CPR to revive her.

The neighbor's wife, who had just returned from shopping at the grocery store, saw her husband's mouth on the woman's mouth and slammed her husband in the back of the head with a bag of canned goods, knocking him out and cutting his scalp to a point where it needed stitches.

The noise woke the woman from her dead faint and she saw her neighbor lying on the floor with his wife bending over him, so she assumed that the snake had bitten him. She went to the kitchen and got a small bottle of whiskey, and began pouring it down the man's throat.

By now, the police had arrived.

They saw the unconscious man, smelled the whiskey, and assumed that a drunken fight had occurred. They were about to arrest them all, when the women tried to explain how it all happened over a little garden snake!

The police called an ambulance, which took away the neighbor and his sobbing wife.

Now, the little snake again crawled out from under the sofa and one of the policemen drew his gun and fired at it. He missed the snake and hit the leg of the end table. The table fell over, the lamp on it shattered and, as the bulb broke, it started a fire in the drapes.

The other policeman tried to beat out the flames, and fell through the window into the yard on top of the family dog
who, startled, jumped out and raced into the street, where an oncoming car swerved to avoid it and smashed into the parked police car.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Blossom where you're planted.

Make your writing stand out like this wild Gerber daisy flourishing among the weeds.

Don't allow fear of failure or success to frighten you into NOT doing it. Don't let those deadlines slither away.
 Don't think that just because your submission was rejected, it can't be resurrected. Among all the dead blossoms on this "butterfly bush" one last bloom erupted making everyone take notice.

Hubby and I discovered a wonderful, new, paved trail along the Mississippi River. I will post more pictures later, but these snapshots spoke to me as a writer. Make your writing shine. If you are not a writer, shine your light into the world another way. A smile, a kind word, eye contact with a street person, a gentle touch can make someone's day.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sometimes you just have to smile and nod

Fair warning, this might make you blush.

I took a walk this evening and noticed a small white tube from a feminine hygiene product on the ground. I snickered. Thank goodness no one saw or heard me. They'd have thought me an immature senior, or a bit daft. I snickered because it made me think of an incident that happened to me about twenty years ago when I was teaching in a public school.

A community meeting room was next to my classroom. On this particular day the room was being utilized by the Young at Heart, a neighborhood senior citizen group, comprised of two dozen gussied up women reeking of Evening in Paris perfume. They loved it when I brought my class in to sing for them. After our presentation they gifted each of the students with their craft project, a rocket ship made of a Tampax. They had decorated the white cardboard tube with red, silver and blue stars and a little triangle top. The string hanging down, one woman pointed out, was for "blast off".

Sometimes you just have to smile and nod and say, Thank You. My coworker and I couldn't contain our laughter and dissolved into fits of hysteria when we got back to our room.

Really? You're curious as to what I did with them? I blasted them right into the trash can.

Old Man River

Overlooking the bluffs of the Mighty Mississippi River last evening, we could see evidence of this summer's drought. That sandbar is about 1/4 of the width of the river, and for a while barge traffic was at a standstill. These barges were hugging the shore where the channel has been dredged.

Watching a tiny tug boat shove a dozen loaded barges against the current reminds me of being a writer. Some days you inch your way along, chugging slowly and other days the channel's open and creativity flows.

I hope you are busily writing, hopefully toward publication. Like the squirrels scampering about these days storing nuts for winter, you should have a stockpile of stories, poems, ideas to draw from.

Ladie's Home Journal is having a contest on the topic The Day That Changed My Life, maximum of 2,000 words. Contact Deadline December 7th.

Jot something about a river and leave it as a comment. If I choose yours, I will credit YOU and link to your blog.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Clowning around

This evening St. Louis Writer's Guild held its monthly open mic at Kirkwood Train Station. During the two hour session there are ususally four or five trains that roar past. The reader pauses in mid sentence and waits for the engine to chug by. Tonight I saw a few clowns! The fourth train came whizzing by and stopped all of US in our tracks. It was the Ringling Brother's Barnum and Bailey circus train! What an awesome sight to behold.

When I was a little girl I hated the three ring circus. There was just too much going on for me to concentrate on any one particular ring. Also, I used to think that clowns were a separate, women, children, clowns. I felt sorry for the caged animals. The tight rope walkers made me worry, but those trapeze artists sent me to knew heights. I loved the way they flew through the air with the greatest of ease. If I could have, I would have swung higher and higher from the trapeze bar and then dropped into the safety net below.

Do you like the circus?

Train Facts

  • Ringling Bros. is divided into two simultaneously traveling unit trains: the Red Unit and the Blue Unit.
  • Maximum train speed is 60 miles per hour.
  • The stock cars, for the elephants and other animals, ride directly behind the locomotive where the ride is the smoothest.
  • Individual stock car water tanks and electrical generators provide continuous water and power supply while the stock cars are separated from the coaches for unloading. 

Special Accommodations for Animals

Ringling Bros. stock cars are specially designed and custom-built to meet the needs of each animal species. Elephants face each other in railcars and are tethered for their safety and that of their handlers. At each venue, elephants disembark the train and are led by their handler to the venueÕs animal facility, where they remain for the duration of the stay in each town. All elephants will then board the train right before the circus leaves for the next town.

The elephant stock cars have the following special design elements:

·         Fresh supply of water available in every car

·         Food storage locations that are accessible to animal care staff while en route

·         Fans mounted in roof for air circulation; windows and doors open for cross-ventilation

·         Heating and misting systems for climate control

·         Direct access to the animals for handlers in all cars and working/living facilities for handlers in some cars to provide uninterrupted supervision of the animals while underway

·         Specially treated, non slip flooring to allow for fast, easy cleaning and disinfecting

·         Drains in car floor which function regardless of whether the train is moving or standing still

·         Specially designed ramps for loading and unloading animals

·         Additional generator to supply electricity to the stock cars when separated from main power source


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Let me get my lasso!

Woo Hoo!

I feel like Annie Oakley right now, a notable cowgirl in the wild west. I used to watch the TV show Annie Oakley when I was a little girl. When I had my own little girl, I dressed her as Annie Oakley for her first Halloween. I put yarn braids on my little two year old baldie, gave her a fringed vest and little turquoise blue skirt and a six shooter. I have a picture of her looking at the gun with an expression of HUH? And what was I thinking?! Giving a toddler a toy gun. Then again, that was forty years ago.

This morning I received an acceptance on my four sentence flash Western story from Brett Cogburn, great grandson of  Rooster Cogburn the real person, portayed by John Wayne. It will appear with other short-short Best Westerns Never Written in Cactus Country III, an anthology published by High Hill Press.

Hop on over to Pen and Prosper and show Jennifer Brown Banks what you've got. She's running a "chocolate" contest. Check out the details and read my entry. Jennifer has been widely published. I discovered her article in a writer's magazine and have followed her words of wisdom ever since.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I admit it, I did it!

One of my favorite writer quotes is by William Wordsworth ~
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.

I am witnessing love at first sight with my almost 16 year old grandson who is filling the phone with texts of his heart. I have never seen a boy so smitten. He was texting during a funeral! His usually glum mood is elevated; his smiles are free instead of forced. Ahh, young love. He thinks it's the real deal ;)

I am so mad at myself. I was served a one pound, 1,000 calorie-laden gourmet brownie at  the funeral luncheon. I was too full to eat it there, so I took it home. I was going to be good. I cut it into eighths and froze it. I intended to nibble a nugget at a time. I did nibble a nugget at a time...all the time...a bite with a cup of coffee to start my day... a nibble with my lunch and then, after the hectic day and several interruptions at school ... a few more bites. The debates did me in ... I shoved every last piece into my mouth. Ugh. If I had more ...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Don't Even Go There!

The weather was incredible yesterday, overcast, breezy and 75 degrees. It reminded me of all the times we sat on a bench overlooking Lake Carlyle, walking around the camp circle or riding our bikes across the dam. Those fall campfires and camping weekends collected in my mind like a bunch of comfy socks wadded up in a suitcase. Maybe it's because yesterday when we finished breakfast at Cracker Barrel, we walked next door to a camper dealer and browsed...remembering when. No, we don't want to go back. We like the outdoors, but appreciate a real sized shower and softer bed these days.
One year we had tugged our camper to the Lake of the Ozarks. Next to us there was a man about fifty who moped around. I told Bill that I thought he was recently divorced or widowed. Bill said, "You and your writer's mind!"

That evening around a campfire, the guy spilled his life story and everything I had suggested flickered like ashes. When we climbed into bed, Bill asked how I knew. I think I am intuitive, nothing more.

We saw a young fellow with a preschool boy pull in and set up his tent across from us on Wednesday. He had a roaring campfire going that evening, and sometime early in the morning he roared off in his pickup truck and didn't return. Not that night, or the next. I strolled over to his tent and glanced in the camp fire where I noticed a singed and torn letter. I read what I could. It was obviously a Dear John.
"I bet he committed suicide."

"Then where's his truck?" the thinker who should have been a cop asked.
"I don't know, but it smells bad over there, and I'll bet he's dead in that tent."

"Stay out of other people's campsites and rest your writer's mind."
I couldn't. For three days I pondered as the stench grew worse.

"I'm going to tell the conservation agent when he comes around."
"Tell him what?"

We debated endlessly and then, Saturday night, the guy came roaring back in his pickup truck. I watched him unzip the tent and run to the dumpster with a pack of rotten uncooked hamburger.

"See? See!" my honey grinned with superiority.

I saw.

But I still think that having a writer's eye/mind comes in handy, sometimes. How about you?
Are you intuitive? Do you create scenarios about strangers?