Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ingenious intentions

One day last week when the early morning temperature was under 99 degrees, hubby and I took a hike on a paved trail near our house. It was enough to work up a sweat and an appetite. The wooded trail goes on for eight miles. We walked one section, a fraction, two and half miles.

Exercise had gotten my pulse up, my blood pressure was down, because my mood was mellow and I was surrounded by sights and sounds of being alone enjoying nature at dawn. I was communing, reverent, grateful, introspective, thinking I should probably do this more often. Then some idiot sent my heart and blood pressure racing when he shouted,"On your left!" as he biked by with a bull horn voice.

I balled my fists, picked up my pace; my nerves were jangled. I wished I'd had my bike. I'd have snuck up on that guy and scared the stuffing out of HIM!

But alas, our bikes have been on a hook in the shed for two years, maybe three. The last time we took our bikes out was enough to make me swear (off bike riding). The skinny seat was murder on my seat, so hubby bought me a padded gel seat, but well, let's say, the padding was insufficient. So I decided to remedy the situation on my own. Hubby says that I am the only person he knows who will destroy one good thing to make another. (Yeah, so?)

I grabbed a navy blue, incredibly soft, micro fiber, throw pillow, and I slit a seam and inserted said pillow over my bike seat. All I had to do was resew the seam when we got home. Ingenious!
Ahhh, that pillow brought instant relief. Hubby and I rode four miles, stopped at a gas station and bought an ice cream on a stick. As we rode four miles back home my seat became increasingly uncomfortable. Eight miles may have been too much I surmised.

When we pulled into our driveway, I put my kick stand down and went to remove my pillow so I could sew it back up. It was flatter than a pancake. Barely a bit of fiberfill left. I had left a trail on the trail.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ha-ha-ha! Say WHAT?

WORDS unexpectedly trip my trigger and strike me as funny.

I spoke with an older woman who said she was concerned about her own eyesight because her sister has "Immaculate Generation" (macular degeneration). I smiled.

I heard a mother in a store call her toddler, "Come on, what are you doing over there? Come on, how many times have I told you...? Come on, you are not listening." She told a sibling, "Go over there and get Come On." I chuckled.

We were in traffic yesterday behind a bus with an advertisement on the back: FOOD A PROBLEM? OA (Overeaters Anonymous) CAN HELP, and it listed contact information.
We pulled alongside the same bus at a stop light. The advertisement on the side was a billboard size  graphic rendering of a Jack-in-the Box double cheeseburger, fries and soda for $4.99. I mean you could see the grease droplets from the double patties and the salt grains on the fries. I laughed out loud.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Red evergreens and rotten tomatoes

The midwest is in such a drought, our evergreen bushes are orange-red. My potted flowers are barely surviving and despite the soaker hoses operating twice a day, the tomatoes have bit the dust. We're begging our baby tree to hang in there, but the leaves aren't cooperating.
We were driving down highway 55 passing through St. Genevieve commenting about the thermometer readings. 105 in St. Louis and then the temperature slowly decreased twenty degrees. I'm sure the farmers were hooting and hollering when the clouds let loose, but alas the rainfall was too late and not nearly enough to make a difference. Corn crops have failed miserably and well, everyone knows what that means. Next year's grocery bills are going to surpass this summer's electric bills.

In the past, our first tomato ripened in early July, and we picked the last one from the vine in late August. This year, the crop is a month ahead of schedule. Our vegetable garden is almost kaput!

The last time I ached for a good old midwest thunderstorm was in 1970. St. Louis was under a tornado watch, the sky was green and the atmosphere eerily still when I left for Alaska in the summer of 1969. All week long we'd experienced electrical storms with sizzling lightning and booming thunder. I'd grown up on those rainmakers.

As a kid, after one of those thunderstorms, my brother and I would float popscile sticks down the overflowing stream at the curb. We'd splash in pot hole puddles. We'd laugh at the birds bathing.

I couldn't believe that thunderstorms were not a daily spring/summer occurence in Alaska. In April, May and June 1970 I waited expectantly. On June 23rd, the evening that I went into labor, I heard the first thunder rumble. I looked out the hospital window and yippeed at the sight of falling rain.

This week the sky darkened, the wind kicked up with a tease and thunder threatened overhead. Then, the clouds whizzed by without so much as a sprinkle. After nearly a month of triple digit temperature readings people, plants and animals are aching from this parched feeling. I'm ready to do a rain dance. How about you? The weather guy is predicting heavy rainfall midweek. I think he's a guesser. But I'll continue to hope and pray.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My lips will not touch that thing!

My country cousins did not have running water in the 1950s. They had a hand pump in the yard and they'd draw a bucket of water from the well. If the kids were thirsty, they'd dip the blue enamel dipper in that bucket and sip, slurp, swallow, then hang it back on the nail for the next person who came along parched, with his tongue hanging out from play.

City slicker that I was, the thought of drinking after others made me sick. Boy cousin cooties, germy unbrushed teeth, back wash, floaters, YUCK!

We took ten year old Nicholas and four year old Nicole for a rootbeer float and I asked if he'd be willing to share with his sister. I recognized the look on his face. That had to be my expression the first time I realized it was a shared dipper and to quench my thirst, it was do or die. I did it!

"Umm, Nana, I sort of have a little bit of a problem drinking after other people, especially my sister."

I hugged him and said, "Buddy, I understand."

In high school when the kids were dumping peanuts in Cokes and passing the bottle around, I would not partake. 

 Is it just me and Nicholas? Do you have an aversion to drinking after others?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Demise of two great ones

Oh no! Dr. Joe Gannon died today and so did my cell phone. In high school most of the girls liked tall, dark and handsome Dr. Ben Casey. I mooned over Chad Everett, Medical Center. It wasn't his blonde hair and fair-skinned good looks, it was his demeanor, his bedside manner, his smile that made me fantasize.

I watched my very basic phone fade slowly away today. Oh, but the brilliant colors that precipitated the demise. The colors went from vivid to pastel and then finally I couldn't pick up my emails.  A quick trip to the  AT&T store where a nice kid worked his magic on me as though he were Dr. Gannon easing my pain.

I had to upgrade and now I have a new 99 cent I Phone with way too many buttons for me to figure out. I think they call them apps...I wish I knew what that meant and what to do with this little electronic gizmo that ended up costing way more than 99 cents when all was said and done.

Grandson said we should link up to Netgear so we can get internet on WiFi when we are out. Does that sound right? I can see me running the charges up because I don't know what I'm doing.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Splish-splash water fun

It's always fun at Nana's and Paw-Paw's house. Nicole and Nicholas were bored, so I took half a dozen water bottles from the recycle tub and opened one side, then zip-tied them to the fence to make a waterfall. Then I gave each of the kids a cup and the food coloring. They could add one drop or two different ones to their water. They had so much fun with this simple, nearly cost-free activity. Half a pan of water = half hour of spontaneous fun.

Nicholas wants to tell his teacher about this fun experiment. All it requires is an empty styrofoam egg carton, each section filled 3/4 full with clear water. Then start with three basic colors red, blue and yellow tinted water. Use eye dropper to place some of the red/blue/yellow water into each section to make color blends. Another half hour of fun!

And when my little miss bored of the color blends, I gave her a basket of seashells, and she counted them, laid them out in patterns and washed them.

It's always fun at Nana's. You will be a star in your own show if you do some of these things with your family; even older kids love the color blend and waterfall activities.

I hear the pitter-patter of little feet, which means Nick and Nicole are awake and will be wanting pancakes in the shape of ...something surprising. Have a fun day. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dishing the dirt

 I watched the neighbor across the way get off his riding mower and sink a shovel into the ground. He'd been yanking weeds out of the parched ground for an hour. I assumed he was going for the roots. I watched in disbelief as he unearthed a thick blue hose. He wrestled that thing like a mighty snake hunter, twisting and turning and tugging. I figured it was his underground watering system. When it wouldn't surrender, he got on a little back hoe tractor and sunk the metal teeth into the earth, snapped that blue hose and launched it airborne. He wiped the sweat off his brow and flung that hose and probably a swear word or two.

I recognized his feeling of success. There are times when I struggle with my writing. I wrangle a word, a paragraph, a title with the sweat of my brow. Then, I collapse in relief when I achieve good results.

A few hours later a pickup truck double parked on our four lane road, then another and another. I looked out the door and wondered why the cable company had so many service trucks in front of the neighbor's house. You guessed it! He had dug up the underground, buried T.V. cable.

Digging to the Roots is a poetry anthology calendar at Writers Rising Up.  The guidelines stated that writers could purchase a calendar if their poem was chosen, which sounds like a vanity press. But if this is something you would be interested in, check it out. Just be sure when you submit to a publication that you dig deep; read the fine print.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I may be a weirdo!

Why should I divulge three weird things about myself? Superb writer, Jenny Beatrice at Corrections and Clarifications nominated me for a blog award, and the tell-all is part of the deal.

1. Out in public, I may be sitting right across from you looking into your eyes, but you can bet I am listening to three other conversations going on around me. I always pay my portion of the bill, but I seldom pay undivided attention.

2. Most women want diamonds or flowers for birthdays and holidays. I prefer nightgowns.

3. Most grandmothers play games with their grandchildren when they come for a visit. I play hide and go seek and chase mine through the house, into the basement, indoors and outdoors cackling and screeching, "Gramilda the witch is coming to get you!"

Now I pass this award on to my fellow WWWPs. Wild Women Wielding Pens is more than a critique group. It is a sisterhood of classy, sassy, sometimes smart assy writers. I am indebted to all of them.

Click on the names below to check out the individuals in the best writer's group in St. Louis.

                Tammy, Sioux, Beth, Linda, Lynn

Sioux has details posted about our research field trip we attended this past Wednesday,and also our conference at the lake last Sunday. She often has her tongue in check, oops, cheek.

Tammy writes eloquently about a variety of topics, and also shares Senior Sex(less) in the City posts which will crack you up. Scroll down on her blog to read a few.

Beth is intropective at the moment, as her milestone natal day is here. She has a one track mind and knows her stuff. She is a killer critiquer, always spot on. Her snort-laughs send us all into fits of laughter.

Lynn writes poignantly in the epistolary style on her blog to her late mother. She is the hostess with the mostest. She hand writes letters to people and provides all of us with everything we "need".

By the way, there is a contest at backacrehomested.com with a $100 prize and my essay is on line already. Check it out here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

His gal pal sweetie has a deep voice

Okay, so it has taken me a while to get over my vacation embarrassment, but now I can talk about it.

We found a wheeled carry on suitcase with dozens of compartments that matched our luggage. It was on sale for $20.00. We couldn't pass it up. We packed incidentals, medications, and personal care items in it. Bill loaded all of the luggage in the car.

"Did we miss anything?" he asked.

"No, I double checked. We're good to go. Did you program Chatty Cathy (GPS)?"

"Yep. Let's hit the road."

We were two and half hours down the highway when I wondered if I brought my good watch to match my good jewelry for elegant dining night on the cruise. I reached back and unzipped my suitcase, reached into the zipper bag for my fabric jewelry case and my heart thumped. I felt around frantically like a new mama looking for a dropped pacifier in the dark. I unlatched my seat belt and climbed over the seat and began rummaging.

"What are you doing? No seat belt!"

"No jewelry! No kidding! I mean NO jewelry. It's not here! I must have left it at home."

"Do you want me to turn around? Can you make do?"

"With what? I have NO jewelry to go with any of my outfits. Stop at that outlet mall ahead and I'll just have to buy the basics, red, black, turquoise, and silver earrings and necklaces." I had received a sum of money from my students and coworkers, and I had planned to buy something special while out of the country on our cruise. I bought something special alright, replacement jewelry.

I was so upset with myself. But only half as upset as I was when we arrived at our first hotel. I unzipped the new suitcase, unloaded our personal care items and discovered that I had stashed my jewelry in a hidden compartment. That little four wheeled, multi-zippered bargain ended up costing $80 before it was all over.

That was MY boo-boo. Bill's was worse. Second day we were exhausted and couldn't wait to arrive at our hotel in New Orleans. Chatty Squeaky Cathy kept recalculating. I mentioned that the terrain seemed different, not swampy like before.

"She knows her stuff. She says we are half an hour from our destination. Relax; she's recalculated a new route, a shorter way, that's all."

"It isn't right. We should be going south toward sea level, not inland."

"Look!" He wagged his finger at the car dash. "It says we are only fifteen minutes from 112 Royal Street. Destination!"

"Pull over and check that GPS."

He was adamant. "See, right there, 112 Royal Street, Baton Rouge."

I should have shut my mouth and allowed him to pull up in front of someone's home in Baton Rouge. I started laughing.

"Me and my jewelry, and you and your Gal Pal Sweetie (GPS)."

After an hour of sporadic giggling through rush hour traffic, we finally arrived in New Orleans.

Last week hubby put the GPS on the dash when we went to visit the grandson at his lake property.

"Take interstate 55 south..." A baritone, male voice!

"What happened to Chatty Cathy?"

"Um, I can't understand her, even with my hearing aids in."

"Uh huh, and I have a bunch of duplicate jewelry."

Growing old together is an adventure.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wear your label proudly

Who owns what? Click here to discover product brands.

Branding is important. When you have a blog presence you want people to recognize you. You want to stand out from the crowd with a lable that rocks.

What does your brand say about you? Sassy, snarky, informative, funny, witty, dependable, service provider ... ?

My mom was easily fooled into brand loyalty. Her sensitive stomach could only handle certain brands of  coffee, tea and food products. If she asked if the tea was Lipton instead of Nestea, I smiled and nodded. She drank one thinking it was the other and never knew the difference. But if she knew, she refused or complained about how it affected her.

What's your brand?

Thanks to Kim at http://ratiooffailures.blogspot.com/ for the brand site.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A gift for my writer friends

We've all been there: you feel like you're on the brink, success is a reach away and you've come too far to turn back.

It was a standoff between the species at the lake yesterday. George who is 15 and 6'5" and Kyle who is 19 and at least 6' tall were conspiring like when they were little boys. I was giggling to myself as I sat on the pontoon boat listening to their conversation.

The geese wanted the bread, and the boys wanted to get as close to the geese as possible. In the end, the bird brains won. They grabbed the bread, and when the boys grabbed for them the birds lifted off over the guys' heads.
Don't you feel this way sometimes when you write? You know what you want to say, the words are within reach, and then poof! Gone, flew away. It happens to everyone. But do not let that stop you in your writing tracks.

Take a little time for recreation, loosen up, relax and play around like our grandsons did at the lake.

May the perfect word choice or phrase sneak up on you like Sean did on the big guys.

May you reach your word count or whatever your own personal challenge of the day is.

 Check out this incredible site, GCW. There are so many places where you can submit your work. Here are a few listings. I wish you success.

Stretch. Reach for whatever it is you want. If you don't try, someone else will make the big splash.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Reading, writing, relaxing

Bill's nineteen year old grandson (how did he get this old) bought a lake lot about an hour away. He has cut down trees and has built a pole barn (cabin) out of scraps and trees. He is in college and has his own lawncare business. He is such a go-getter, he would rather be working than playing. When he was a little boy he was always hooking things together, nailing, taping, constructing and creating.

The whole family is going to the lake for the day to brag about his place and to enjoy. I baked golden vanilla cupcakes and frosted them with strawberry icing. I'm taking bug spray, sunscreen, a book and a chair. Let the family fish, swim, boat. I am going to relax and read.

For my writer friends, there are two sites to check out. One is Justacontest.com . Some are free and some you pay to enter and some have cash prizes. Good luck.

Another wonderful FREE site that I use is Gigaalerts.comhttp://gigaalerts.com/. It tracks your interests for free. For example I typed in Essay Markets and Anthologies, and I receive call outs on my Email. Some are "deep results", meaning they want you to upgrade from the free service. But if you are wise, you can find these by searching the web. Good luck my friends on this Friday the 13th...always a good one for me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Oh what a relief it was

We have several hummingbird feeders in the back yard because last year we had about eight of those little hummers zipping back and forth. This year we have had only one visitor who left for better sugar water.

 But in Honduras, we spotted what could be our little friend perched on a bush. It sat completely still for about five minutes, and then flew off to paradise. Bird of Paradise is a tropical flower.

Tropical mimosa tree blossoms are deep orangish-red, unlike our pink ones.

I am so grateful for my eyes and to be able to see these beautiful sights and colors. We had a terrible near-tragedy a couple years ago with our daughter-in-law. She almost lost complete vision due to a viral eye infection. She is having another problem. The surgeon seems to think that there is dust on the lens of her one and only good eye, so she will have another procedure this week to blow the dust off. Please keep her in your prayers that it is as simple as the doctor expects.

After we disembarked the cruise ship, we drove from New Orleans to Tunica, Mississippi, the Midwest's Gaming Capital. One of the casinos offered us free room and board and food for two nights. Free is never free. But that's our own fault.

As we pulled out of town, I shed a tear and then another. Not at losing fifty bucks in forty-eight hours and eating to excess, and not because vacaction was coming to a close. Numerous billboards loomed every quarter mile and advertised the many casinos, offers of senior buffets, upcoming giveaways and new and old performers. I shed a tear because I had something in my eye, a dab of mascara I presumed. It burned and made me squint my watering right eye closed. I tugged at it, covered it, put on my glasses, closed my left eye and tried to focus with my right. Then I cried out, "Oh no, I must be losing my vision. I can't see any of the  words or pictures on that billboard right there ahead of us, not one word!"

Bill, ever the calming presence, said, "Open your other eye."
Much to my relief, it was a blank billboard, all white space, no announcements, no pictures.
We laughed so hard I cried, and in so doing, washed away whatever was in my eye. What a relief!

Writers call outs here! If you are not familiar with Writer's Relief, check out several opportunities. Leave your comfort zone and approach writing in a new way. Try a flash piece or a poem. I heard that! Don't feed yourself those negative messages. Just because you never did, doesn't mean you never can. Lots of dates and different places to submit. Have fun.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Submission call out, talk radio and shaking this monkey loose

I love monkeys. When I was a little girl, my dad (a story teller) used to tell me that when I went off to kindergarten he would get me a little monkey to carry my books to school in a satchel. I loved the word, 'satchel' as much as the thought of having my own little monkey. Not like the spider monkey kept in a cage at the gas station in 1953. I envisioned my very own baby chimpanzee. Didn't happen.

The cruise ship steward worked hard cleaning our cabin, changing beds twice a day, and folding towels to create scare-the-crap-out-of-me animals. I came in one night and found a huge bug-eyed crab on the bed, and I screamed. But oh, this monkey hanging from the ceiling made me laugh out loud.

The little bugger appears to have my head in a vise grip.  I have been back from vacation for a few days but I can't get back into my routine. I want to write. I sit down to write. And then it's as if that little tree climber squeezed the creativity right out of me. I sit in my comfy swivel office chair, look at the monitor and wonder why I came in here. I still have this monkey on my head.

I saw a call for stories in AARP Magazine.  For the third year in a row Consumer Cellular wants to hear grandparents' stories on what makes the grandparenting experience so special. In the past, readers shared stories about new perspectives and special moments, laughter and the little things that come so unexpectedly. Two grand prize winners will win either a European river cruise or vacaction package to Orlando, FL. Deadline Aug. 15th, plus there are other prize categories as well.

Check here for details.

A cruise! or a trip to Florida...wouldn't you think that would be enough to shake this monkey loose? I am uninspired. Going to give it one more day of R&R (THAT's RELAXATION and RADIO) and then I'm going to write like crazy.

Tune in Monday 7/9 to our radio interview with Dellani Oakes, Daytona, FL (where I would rather be) at 3:00 p.m. Central time.

Dianna Graveman, and I will discuss writing topics.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bottoms up!

Physically I am back from our cruise, but my mind lingers here in this tropical paradise where we saw gorgeous flowers, butterflies, birds, fish. Where lazy meant lounging on a beach, and my only worries were getting back to the ship on time. And you know me! If there is going to be an incident...
I bought a new swim suit for vacation, not necessarily because my other perfectly good one was a little snug. This purple and black one was on sale and looked cute. It is a one piece with a flouncy black skirt and blousy top. When I  jumped in the water the top billowed around my waist like an inflatable and I had to keep holding it down. I sat under this waterfall with my skirt tucked in because it also wanted to surface everytime I moved. Usually I am fighting gravity which is dragging everything down. This time things were springing up unexpectedly. So I decided to stay in one place and do water aerobics arm exercises. I kept my hands underwater, made fists and rapidly rolled my arms in a knick-knack-paddy-whack-give-a-dog-a-bone-fashion. I was meeting a lot of resistance in that water and could feel the burn in my biceps. When I shifted my body weight, my blousy top swelled and entrapped my arms. Trying not to look obvious, I stood straight up and my skirt flared to the surface and also became entangled. The underlining on the suit is flesh-tone lycra, and it looked like I was flashing when I tumbled face first glub-glub-glubbing and swallowing salt water. All I have to say is, "bottoms up" took on a whole new meaning.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

We spent the night in New Orleans, before boarding our cruise ship. I was glued to the Weather Channel, as Tropical Storm Debby (or was she a hurricane?) was roiling in the Gulf.  My worst fear realized! Then we heard about the horrendous hot weather in the Midwest. And Miami meterologists had the audacity to claim that they had record highs of 93. Please! We are still 104 degrees today. We wandered the French Quarter and listened to some very talented street musicians.

The ship was easier to maneuver because we sort of know the basic layouts, having cruised previously. The first day wasn't bad at all because it takes six hours to travel down the river before arriving at the ocean. Then, things started rocking and rolling. The waves were 6-8 feet at least. I didn't panic or get seasick. I realize that airplanes hit turbulence and ships encounter high waves. BUT, our neighbors, a young couple, Elsbeth and Daniel, in their early twenties were having a rough time. She pleaded to be taken off the ship. Begged for Dramamine, paced for hours, while he walked out on the deck and shouted repeatedly, "F**k YOU, ocean!" The next day the seas and the two of them calmed down.

Our first port of call was Isle Roatan, Hounduras. Oh what a spectacular sight to behold. We spent the day at the beach and was I shocked when a pelican swam right past me and many others. It was oblivious to the people, and focused on catching a fish.

The next day we went to Belize, but we were very disappointed and saddened by the sights on shore. There were groups of  young children sitting at the side of the road playing "music" on upturned broken buckets for spare change. I so wish I had remembered to bring the bag of lollipops I had brought along. We deposited a dollar each in buckets for the three groups of children who had dull, sad eyes. It broke my heart.

The cabbies offered to take us to a beach for $49. They said the water was so murky at port because they were eight inches below sea level. Huh? In any case, we went back on board the ship and went in the pool. What an experience. Three couples: twenty-something-year-old newlyweds, a couple in their mid-thirties and us old timers. One thing led to another and before you knew it, we women were having a convention. I taught preschool. The bride taught first grade and the other gal taught 1st grade. We all had the same stories, and our husbands had the same complaints: we spend too much on our classroom supplies. It was an enjoyable day.

Third island, Cozumel, Mexico. We snorkeled at the state park, Chankaanab, and swam until we were exhausted and sunburned. Oh, my, I could live right there under one of those palm trees.

I missed you all, and I will catch up on your blogs soon. Please see my previous post, and if you wouldn't mind, leave a comment on Sasee's sight. Thank you.

I have more stories...think Lucy!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sasee Chick is clucking

I am back from vacation and will tell you all about it tomorrow. It is 101 degrees here, and I am exhausted. Have four loads of laundry and unpacking to do. Our garden is wilted and our new little tree is screaming for a drink. I have stuff to do.

Chicken Soup sent me a contract for the hockey book. I was so excited I dashed down to the hotel lobby, printed the contract, and had them fax it...forgot my signature. Had to resend.

We arrived home before the post office closed. I picked up a week's worth of mail and found a check from Chciekn Soup for my story which was recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul Married Life.

And another surprise, I found Sasee Magazine in the stack of junk mail with my story, Gym Dandy  in it. Local writer, Pat Wahler aslo has a story in this issue.

Please click the link and read the stories and, leave a comment, pleaseeee?