Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I need HELP, please.

Can anyone tell me HOW to add this photo to my side bar? I removed the other picture, and now I cannot repost. I have followed all instructions, but when I go to  layout and design, the box where I would add a gadget has a border of broken lines, (dot-to-dot) and when I try to load the photo I get an exclamation point inside a spinning circle. I am getting very frustrated after three days of trying to no avail. Thank you to anyone who can offer a suggestion.

One More...

    Today is the anniversary of the day I lost my mom, aka Nana, Grandma Ginny and Maw-Maw.
When I was a little girl seven years old, Mom took me to Ben Franklin Dime Store. The aromas of freshly popped pop corn and chocolate candies tempted my taste buds. I walked over to peer into the glass candy counter with its glass dividers and multitude of selections which were sold by the pound. We could seldom afford even a quarter pound of the chocolates or Brach's Bridge mix. I gazed wistfully at the confections. I inhaled the delightful aromas. I salivated imaging how the gooey caramel-filled chocolates would tingle my tongue. I spied Mom's favorite, peanut clusters and Dad's favorites, sugar coated gummy orange slices and green spearmint leaves. I made my way around the square island. I was shocked when I spied a bin of  non-pareils as big around as clip-on earrings. I stared in disbelief at the gigantic size Snow Caps and jabbered to myself about them. Then I looked up into a mannequin's face. I said, "Hi" and excitedly laughed. The mannequin returned my greeting, "Hi."
Embarrassed, I bent down so as not to be seen, and I hovered near the wooden base of the candy counter. I scanned the immediate vicinity for my mom, but she was nowhere in sight. Too embarrassed to stand up and look at the candy counter salesgirl, I reached for a small shiny object on the floor and sliced my finger wide open on a piece of broken glass.
I wailed, not from the pain of my cut finger, but from the fear of losing my mom. She had been nearby all along. She rushed to see what was wrong. I clung to her skirt. I preferred her scolding to having to look into the eyes of that "live mannequin."
Losing my mom was one of the most heart pounding, breath taking, scariest feelings I'd ever experienced. My throat constricted. When Mom grabbed my hand, relief coursed through me.
Fast forward fifty years. Mom and I had been zipping in and out of the car all morning going to yard sales on a hot summer day. Mom liked to linger; I preferred to scan the items, make a purchase and/or move on to the next sale. It wasn't unusual for me to wander off, especially when there were several sales in the same area. By 12:30 we were tired and agreed we'd had enough for one day. She asked me to take her to the grocery store before taking her home. As I was heading there, I noticed a sign for a block sale ahead on a cul-de-sac street with eight houses. 

I was so excited by this wonderful end to our yard sale day. I couldn't wait to get out of the car for this last hurrah. Most of the tables and displays were picked over that late in the day. I rushed from one sale to the other. After I made several purchases, I turned around to show Mom my treasures. I looked down the block. Up the block. I hightailed it, and back tracked around the arc of a street to the first house. My throat felt tight, I was on the verge of panic. Where could she have gone? I revisited every yard and peered into every garage. My heart pounded wildly. I felt like that little seven year old girl again who had lost her mommy. Alone, lost, afraid...for her well being this time, not mine.
I asked each homeowner, "Have you seen my mom? I seem to have lost her. Little, elderly, white haired woman wearing a white visor cap? She was just with me."

Nobody had seen her. The sellers began to look at me strangely when I babbled, "We've been together all day going from one sale to the next. I can't imagine how I lost her.  Where could she be? Maybe she asked someone to use their bathroom?" Before long I was talking more to myself as I wandered up and down the street two more times past the eight homes. When I got to the last house, I glimpsed the bank building across the main street.
Embarrassed, my throat constricted, my heart thumped like a jack hammer and I could not meet the eyes of those yard sale proprietors. I rushed to my car, inserted the key and drove across the street to the bank, hung a left and pulled up in front of the brand new Save-A-Lot grocery store.

"I thought you said you'd be right back!" Mom said accusingly as she slid into the passenger seat with her groceries.

"I thought you were still with me! I was afraid I'd lost you. I've been searching for you for fifteen minutes. I couldn't figure out where you were, and those women must have thought I was nuts looking for someone who was never even with me in the first place. I even told those women you got out of the car with me. I asked if they remembered seeing you."
I shook my head and chuckled, "I completely forgot I dropped you off at this store! I was thinking we were going to our regular store, Shop and Save, after these last sales."

By the time I drove her to her apartment, we were laughing so hard we were both crying.

Today the loss is especially deep. It has been exactly seven years since Mom died. My throat feels tight. All day I will blink back tears.
I feel like that little girl again.

I feel like that middle aged woman who thought she'd lost her mom at the yard sales.

I feel like the old woman I am. I wish I could have my mom back for one more day, for one more laugh, one more hug, one more...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Orleans French Quarter

Click on the pictures to enlarge and see the details of these balconies and shops in New Orleans French Quarter.
I was fascinated by the architecture.
The early morning sun illuminated the flowers.
At first glance, I thought these were reindeer decorations.
Jazz Funeral
"Where People Are Dying to Come In"
Voo-Doo Blues

We arrived on the last day of the New Orleans free French Quarter Heritage Festival which is the nation's largest festival offering music, food, entertainment, arts and crafts and lots of people watching.
Ivy's handler, a young woman, was exposing her to crowds in preparation for being a therapy dog.
Ivy was a sweetheart, a real show stealer.
 The Heritage Festival, a three day event held in the French Quarter and along the River Walk, resulted in tons of trash and yucky streets. Early in the morning street cleaners whizzed up and down the streets spraying a wide band of foamy water. The trash trucks were rolling, too.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

All kinds of blues

Sailing-sailing over the ocean blue...
Spring break finally arrived. This winter was brutal and seemed never-ending. The thought of taking a cruise to the tropics in spring kept me working all winter, otherwise I'd have hibernated.
We left New Orleans and headed out to sea in a thunderstorm. The weather cleared as we reached the Gulf of Mexico, and by the time we arrived at our first port, Costa Maya, Mexico we were ready for the beach. How disappointing for us (and many others) to discover a rocky beach which was not accessible. Most people returned to the ship right away.
Our next port, Mahogany Bay in Roatan, Honduras was a glimpse of paradise on earth. The flora and fauna were incredibly beautiful, the water as turquoise as the top stripe on my sun dress.
Sunshine was the elixir that I needed to recoup from winter weather. I absorbed it through my skin. It warmed my body, heart and soul. 
Although, I am back in town, a little piece of my heart is right there on that beach. After this port of call we swam in the Caribbean Sea in Cozumel, Mexico. I walked the beach. SIGH
Come back again for more photos. We were so fortunate to have arrived in New Orleans a day early. We unexpectedly discovered the largest three day jazz festival in the nation going on in the French Quarter and along the River Walk. I will post pictures of some of the scenery around New Orleans on my next post.
I am too blessed to be stressed. I returned to a slew of mail. The best: a check and contributor's copy of  the June issue of Good Old Days Magazine in which my story, Grandma's Machines is published, along with a photo of me at age three.
I also received a check from Sasee Magazine for my story, We Do, about Bill and me still saying, "I do," to each other after all these years. "Do you have a pain in your knee?"  "I do!"
Last but not least, I did the happy dance when I opened a large envelope and discovered a check and award certificate from Missouri Writer's Guild. My story, In Preparation for the Big Dump, took third place in the Humor Category at the 2014 conference.
Chicken Soup is looking for stories about miracles/angels. So is Whispering Angel Books, and Not Your Mother's Books is seeking immediate stories for their "in the work place" anthology.
~Write on~

Friday, April 11, 2014

In my Easter bonnet

I know my coworker is sick and tired of hearing me sing along to Irving Berlin's "In Your Easter Bonnet" on the (ancient) record player at school everyday. I play it over and over. I tell her it's payback for my having to listen to her play the Muppet's Christmas CD at Christmas. So, for a week in December and April, we both grin and bear it.

The record is  a 33 rpm, which means there are several themed songs on it: Bunny Hop, Peter Rabbit, Little Ducky etc. The minute I hear the musical intro to "Easter Parade" I am transported to childhood. No matter how hectic the day, hearing Bing Crosby croon "In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it..." actually calms me. It lowers my blood pressure, I'm quite certain. Those lyrics evoke memories of my own Easter bonnets and my daughter's Easter bonnets. Do they even have Easter bonnets anymore?

Here is a photo taken in April, 1951 on my grandma's steps. My cousin, Jerry 20 months old,
 me, 21 months old, my brother John, 9 months. Look at that expression on my face. Stinky boys!


My fondest memories are not of the baskets and goodies. Back then it was strictly candy and not soccer balls and big toys in oversized store bought prepared baskets like today.

The eggs were real, boiled, and breakfast!

I envision myself at age 7 wearing a fancy dress. I have a matching bonnet and purse. I am wearing my little white gloves and patent leather Mary Janes heading into Sunday School class with my banana curls bouncing. The teacher places a potted pansy planted in a plastic margarine container in my hands. It is mine. Each child receives one. What a thrill! She says it is a sign of hope, and God's love, rebirth and resurrection. I am just a little girl. The Bible story and Easter message is simplified, but I understand.

To this day when I hear that song, "In your Easter bonnet..." I smile and go home. I inhale the aroma of cutlets frying and sliced potatoes and onions sizzling on the stove... I hear my dad's guitar picking and singing; my mom's voice; my brother begging me for a turn. I was way too bossy.

When I hear "Easter Parade" I am a little girl again...
I get a whiff of spring air...circa 1956.

Wishing each of you a happy and blessed Easter. I will be going on spring break, which means I will be reading comments related to this post and then taking a blog break. Thank you all for your visits. Please come back in a week or so.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Not just caterpillars and butterflies...we are all "morphing"

A fuzzy-wuzzy caterpillar crawled on a leaf, spun a cocoon and went to sleep. Fuzzy-wuzzy caterpillar woke up by and by, and said, "I have wings. Now I'm a butterfly."
It is that time of year when we make our hall caterpillar. First each child scrunched up sheets of newspaper and stuffed their plastic bags. I tied them off.  Then, I stood the children in a row (sometimes I pair them up) and placed the bags on the floor at their feet. I do not give any direction. The first children to touch their bags are usually born leaders. Those are the kids who are most inquisitive, confident, and will be risk takers in life. Not afraid to take a chance. 
Then, the fun began. They tossed the bags to each other, up in the air and they kicked them. Lots of energy expended and lots of fun using their large muscles. Next we identified shapes and placed them on our bags with tape. I hooked our caterpillar together and we moved it to the hall. I encouraged parents to stop and talk about it with their children.
I also posted photos of us seated as a group, legs wrapped around one another as we scooted as one long caterpillar. It takes cooperation to move as one unit. 
 I presented an assortment of stuffed caterpillars, and we discussed likenesses, differences, sizes. I have two giant caterpillars that the children sit on. We hold the antennae and have caterpillar races.
You should hear the cheering and laughter. 

Our weather was sunny and warm enough to go outdoors and have butterfly races.
Our unit would not be complete without decorating our own smaller, paper butterflies. Sometimes
we color them with markers, sometimes colored glue, but this year we used eye droppers and colored water and made color blends. First we mixed primary colors in a water filled ice cube tray. The little scientists oohed and ahhed at their color combinations and discoveries that mixing blue and yellow really does make green. Then they made every color hue you can imagine. I hope my students take a love of learning with them into kindergarten and beyond.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A little dirt didn't hurt.

Spring is in the air. The calendar says one thing, but the rainy cold weather says another. We have yet to be able to play outdoors in warm sunshine, but the promise of 70 degrees and sunshine is in the forecast for Thursday and Friday. Until then, we are bringing spring indoors at preschool.
A furniture delivery man tossed this mattress-size box on the sidewalk next to school last fall and was preparing to shove it onto his truck. I asked for it. We have had so much fun in this box. At first the children got in and pretended they were swimming. We colored and scribbled the interior. We had colored bows to swim in in December. In January we placed stickers all over the walls. In February  I poked holes all the way around the sides and gave the children CDs and pegs, so they could insert a peg through a CD. That was fun for a while. We extended the activity in March. I used permanent marker to color flowers on the CDs, and then the students had to match the correct peg color to the correct flower on each CD. The box has been propped against a wall for a while. Yesterday I got the bright idea to convert it into our garden.
Twenty years ago, Bill had foot surgery and was in a cast. He couldn't plant his vegetable garden on time. Our first two grandchildren, Ashley and Kyle were small. They found a bag of artificial flowers in a shopping bag and went outside and planted them. They came running in. "Don't worry Grandpa, we planted your garden for you." That story was published in The Ultimate Gardener.
Knowing how much fun THEY had, I just knew my students would enjoy it, also. I filled a large black, plastic tub with a large bag of potting soil, then gave the kids artificial flowers, real flower pots and Styrofoam cups to use as vases. They had so much fun "planting." Tomorrow we are going to make play money and a "florist shop" and sell our flowers.
Yes, our classroom was a mess. Our floors were dirty, but oh the fun was worth the sweeping.

 We talked about insects in the dirt. I buried lots of plastic bugs in this pan of potting soil, and the children used tongs to unearth them. Then they classified them by insects that CRAWL or FLY.
They were so excited, played cooperatively, and learned a lot.
Come back tomorrow so I can tell you all about our GIANT caterpillar and accompanying activities.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

How do I do it?

Please stop by Debora Rorvig's blog at the link below. Scroll down her blog a little bit and read her right sidebar: I am

When I first read that, it touched me very deeply. I encourage all of you to do an "I AM" of your own.


Readers, I'd like to thank all of you who nominated me as the next person to reveal something about myself as a writer. I also need to apologize for not doing this sooner and for turning some of you down. The writing life for me is wild-crazy at the moment, not to mention preschool.

What are you working on right now?
I am doing a final edit on the book above. Not Your Mother's Book...On Family has been a labor of love. Its release date will be June 10th. I am a co-creator of this anthology which means I aided publishers and owners of Publishing Syndicate, Ken and Dahlynn McKowen on the selection, and layout of stories. I was one of many editors who looked over the book. The publishers had final say, of course. I am busy setting up book signings and preparing for a launch along with Dianna Graveman who is co-creator of Not Your Mother's Book...on Being a Mom.

I would also like to do a book signing for the Chicken Soup Alzheimer's and Other Dementias book. If anyone has contacts, please let me know. Proceeds to benefit the Alzheimer's foundation.

I am also editing a book length manuscript for a writer. It is a fun read because I recognize some of the "fictional" characters in our community. No, I cannot reveal any details.

I am trying to meet April 15th deadlines for freelance opportunities, and I am also trying to keep up with blog posts.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I am a multi genre writer but I write mostly creative non-fiction and personal essay. I write from my heart with the intent to engage the reader using sensory details and life-like dialogue. I touch on human emotion and write slice of life vignettes. I try to add a dash of humor and use metaphor to address an issue.

I write and release, knowing some of my stories will fill a niche while others will not be considered for a particular publication. Rejection only means recycling for me.

Why do I write what I do?
I write to touch others. I write because I want to share my experiences. I keep my circus drama and monkeys to myself, but in everyone's life a few clown's must come, so I often bare my soul to connect with the reader. The broad range of human emotion has touched all of us. I want my work to be relatable.

How does my writing process work?
I write best under pressure. Today was the deadline for an assigned six page article. I tackled it last night and put the finishing touches on it a few minutes ago. That's how I operate. I edit as I go and then lay my work aside for a few hours, or a day, and I come back and edit again.

I do not write everyday, but when I do write, I write intensely.  I go like gangbusters in January. Typically I submit anywhere from 15-20 pieces in January.

Then, reality hits me. I try to send out at least five submissions per month. That is my personal quota, although I have submitted more in spring, and less in fall when I am returning to a new school year.

I wake early, around 5:00, peruse the internet for writing markets and sometimes get lost on social media. If I see a particular call out  that appeals to me, I will begin right away. I may only write a sentence or jot an idea and allow it to germinate into a story. But it is right there on my desk top beckoning me to add details.

I do not like writing on command, and I find it difficult to write in workshops and produce something in fifteen minutes. I need to think it through, find a direction, and then follow the path it takes me. Sometimes I surprise myself.

I am passing this on to anyone who wishes to participate. Please link to my blog if you do. I would appreciate it.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

We still do!

My dear readers (Debra, I WILL get to your request), will you please go to the above link, read my story and leave a comment on Sasee's website? It would mean so much to me and it shows the publisher I have a following. I so appreciate your help and especially your visits.

I apologize, but I'm not sorry

I admit it, what I did was not nice, but it was fun.

When I was growing up, April Fool's day was fun. We were always pranking one another. It would continue until the next day when one of us would say, "April Fool's is past, and you're the biggest fool at last."

Yesterday morning I hurried out the door as hubby was getting himself out of bed. I came running back, banged on the door, laid on the doorbell. He FINALLY answered, all disheveled, tucking in his shirt. "What's wrong?"

"Oh gosh! I ran over the rabbit." I sobbed hysterically.  "Come help me. What am I going to do? Oh my." I even worked up a tear.

"Where is it?" he asked.

I bent down and looked under my car. He came closer and bent down, too.

Then I said, "April Fool!"

He chased me into the car and said, "You got me out of the bathroom for this?!"

I could have said I ran over the squirrel, or possum, or skunk and he'd have turned and gone back inside. But when I said, "THE rabbit" his facial expression changed. He buys carrots for the wild rabbit who has survived all winter under the shed. He has plied this creature with so much salad fixings it is not far from having a Winnie the Pooh moment: stuck. It is almost too big to squeeze under.

I noticed when I came home my honey had bought carrot seeds to plant in the garden. I suppose he's planning to invite the big bunny boy to his backyard buffet.