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 LHJessaycontest@meredith.com. 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 species...men, 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?