Monday, June 30, 2014

Taken for a ride

I am a compassionate person. I don't attend church regularly but I try to live by the Golden Rule. I'd like to think I am wise enough not to be taken advantage of. I can tell the down on their luck people from the clean shaven kid on the corner wearing Nikes with his hand out. I've given rides to the downtrodden and elderly.

One Easter I saw a homeless couple who always panhandled near the highway. I took them food. the woman said, "I'd rather have $45 for a hotel room across the street."

I asked is she wanted me to call a shelter, and she adamantly said NO. As I pulled off, she said, "Are you just going to leave us out here in the rain?"

She was under a pavilion completely dry.

I saw her the following year in Florida. It was their way of life. But still, I will always share food.

Yesterday we went to Target and there was an Hispanic looking  man with a sign, a big smile and a little boy sitting at his feet beside their van with Texas license plates. Bill  had $6 and I had $2. We pulled over, he came to the car and I asked, "What is your story?"

He said, "No gas, need gasoline."

I handed him the money. Then I asked, "Where are you from?"

He pointed to the license plate and in a dialect other than Spanish, said, "Yeah-yeah, from there."
The five year old spouted the truth, "Albania."

Caught! The man's eyes widened and he said, "Yeah-yeah, Albania."

I recognized him as one of the ten families of gypsies living in a four family apartment next door to my old school. We were taken.

My heart was in the right place. So was Bill's. I do hope they got some gas or food. It's people like this who make it bad for those in real need.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Horrific news

A few years ago my former husband's cousin, Steve,  who was a decent guy and a bit younger than I am, died a tragic death. He was visiting a girlfriend out of town. Her teenage daughter's boyfriend made a terrible scene earlier in the day, and Steve ordered him to leave the premises. 
That night as Steve and his girlfriend were sleeping, the daughter's boyfriend broke in and slashed them with a machete, killing Steve and maiming the woman.

For one whole day, night and the next day, this incident was on my mind. I could not shake it and could not explain why I was thinking about it.
Then, on the five o'clock news, I heard the report. Newscaster announced, "31 year old (my former husband's first and last name) was followed home by two men and stabbed repeatedly. He is being air lifted to the hospital."

My former husband is not 31, so I knew it wasn't him. After his parents divorced, his father remarried a younger woman and they had a son. She wanted the baby named after him. Never mind that he already had a 35 year old son with the same name. The families were alienated and never close. My ex husband's half brother grew up and moved to a neighboring rural town after his parents passed away. I hope and pray that he survives his injuries.

Shocking as both of those incidents are, I am more shocked by the "premonition" I had. Or was it coincidence? Things like this happen to me often. You?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pre-lottery era chance cards

I have been thinking about something from years ago, back in the 1970s, and I wonder if you remember too. When I worked, women would bring in a punch card, and people would take a chance by punching out a small circle to reveal the amount that the chance would cost, then they'd write their name on the back of the card beside the numeral they punched out. Some paid 78 cents, 58 cents $1.98 and so on. After the circles were all punched out, then the last circle on top next to the photo of what the chance card featured ( jewelry box or figurine etc.) would be punched out to reveal the winning number. That person won the prize. It may have cost the winner a few cents to a few dollars. I'm thinking it might have been Fingerhut, but then again maybe not.

Does anyone else remember those?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hollywood hunks helped us with our firstborns

So, here's how it all went down.

Bill was hacking up a lung on the seventh floor of the hospital when my granddaughter called to say she was in labor. My bronchial seal bark echoed down the elevator shaft as I abandoned my honey and made my way to the parking lot. Ashley drove herself to the hospital from work.
Parking spaces are a commodity at the hospital at noon. I was fortunate to find a place just inside the garage for her car. I stepped into the vacant space hoping to prevent a driver from swinging in. I saw my granddaughter pull in and I flagged her down. I screamed like a banshee as she drove past and idled at the front door entrance waiting for me. I  panicked, and instead of using my cell phone to text her fifty feet away, I grabbed a middle age nurse passing by and pleaded with her to stand in my place and save the parking spot while I ran to get my granddaughter. (Yes, I did.)


"Please, my granddaughter's in labor, and she's right there in the blue car. I will run over and direct her back here. PLEASE? We need this parking space."

The woman shrugged, looked around for a hidden camera, then stepped off the curb and into the parking space. I took off running which triggered the bronchitis bark. I directed Ashley to the parking place. The woman stood there in an official stance, arms out, waving people by, shouting, "Saved for a woman in labor!"
What a gal! "That IS the woman in labor! Let her park," I shouted upon approach.

We went inside, and the doctor examined her, monitored her contractions, and said, "I want you to cough like an old woman in a nursing home and bear down. If you leak, we'll take you to labor and delivery. If not, you go home and we'll see you Thursday for scheduled C section; it's probably false labor."

I hugged a very pregnant, very disappointed expectant mama good-bye and returned to my other baby. We would wait until Thursday.

Tuesday I was at a school when the call came. "Nana, I'm having the baby today."

"Within the hour. As soon as the doctor arrives; he's delivering another baby."
Two grandmothers and this set of great-grandparents made it to the hospital in record time. We walked in to her room just before the doctor arrived. Her female OB doctor was not on call.
Her partner walked in. He looked exactly like this actor, Matthew McCaugnahy. Ashley, feeling no pain and slightly sedated, sat up to listen to his schpeel.

He exited the room. 

She flopped her head back, gazed up at her mom, me, and her husband, who lovingly ignored her when she said, "Oh my! He is hah-hah-hah-hot!" Everybody laughed, including the nurses and attendants. She denies it. We should have videotaped her. 

Today is her mama's, my baby's 44th birthday. I remember vividly how I walked to the nursery to peek at her in that army hospital in Alaska, and there she was with Frankie Avalon. He was rocking her in the rocking chair and cooing at her.

Okay, so it was actually a medic who looked like the actor, but let me tell you, walking to that nursery got easier and easier :)

Wednesday is MY day with baby Liam and Nana's girl. Can't wait!


It's a release! ANNOUNCING...


Today is the official release date of Not Your Mother's Book...On Family.

   Dianna Graveman and I, along with Ken and Dahlynn McKowen,
owners of Publishing Syndicate, co created these anthologies.
We are having a book signing at STL Books
Proprietor, Robin Theiss 
Tuesday, July 15th
6:00-9:00 p.m.
100 West Jefferson
Kirkwood, MO

You are invited!

Ask friends and family to post reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Good Reads.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Our pride and joy

LIAM (pronounced Leeuhm)
 Ashley's and Justin's smiling baby boy.
Great Grandpa Bill's Pride,
Great Grandma Linda's joy!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Announcing the arrival

Ashley was supposed to wait until Thursday for her scheduled C-section, but Liam did not cooperate. She went into labor at 3:30 a.m. She thought it was false labor, same as last week, but by 7:30 a.m. she called her husband and told him to come back home; it was the real deal.
Justin is the proudest daddy I have ever seen. When the baby cries, he rubs his little head and coos, "Daddy's here. It's okay." Oh to be 25 and doing it all over again.
Liam is a buster. He weighed in at 9 lbs. 4 oz. and was 20 3/4 inches long.
He is nursing well and even when he got his shot, he only cried for a moment.
I am thrilled beyond words! I am deeply in love.
Four generations: granddaughter, great grandson, me and my daughter.


Monday, June 16, 2014

I need to get back into the swing of things

I feel so out of the writing loop. This has been a wing-ding month so far.

I came home from the hospital to a slew of emails. Two of them were unbelievable.

I have taken advantage of two free internet sites for years, Giga Alerts and Google Alerts. Giga monitors my interests and sends me updates on specific submission opportunities. Google of course sends periodic updates on my name search.

I opened GIGA to discover a call out with a link to my very own blog! It was something I had posted for others to read. Now that wasn't much of a help for ME.

GOOGLE listed a link to FOX News: an article about the Chicken Soup Alzheimer's and Other Dementias book, with four direct quotes, one of them MINE.

My latest writing news: The Salvation Army magazine, The War Cry has accepted one of my personal essays, and they pay 25 cents per word. I am thrilled. I think of the War Cry as that pamphlet that the bell ringers give out at Christmas time.

Which reminds me of the time my four year old granddaughter who had been shopping with me, dropping coins in every kettle at every store one winter day. The last guy said, "God bless you." She stopped in her tracks, turned around and said, "Why do you guys keep God blessin' me when I'm not even sneezing?"

This is the same kid who stopped in her tracks coming out the door at Wal-Mart. She pointed to the LOST KIDS pictures on the wall and shouted, "I know where these kids are! They live with the old woman in the shoe. Nobody but her could lose this many kids."

She was so smart and precocious, and Thursday she will have her own little darling to brag about, to make her laugh, cry, sob, smile, show off.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Three wise men

Happy Father's day to my husband, their dad, stepdad, grandpa and soon-to-be great grandpa, the man in this family who ranks #1. He is our rock, our funny man, our shoulder, our wise guy, and the elder who offers wisdom not in the form of a lecture but in the form of questions to make us all do our own reasoning. He is amazing and loved by all of us. His wisdom has guided several generations.

Since his release from hospital for pneumonia, it's TLC for my honey, Total Life Change. He's going to drive me crazy for a while counting carbs and grams, but we are heading in the right direction. I am so happy to tell you Bill is on the mend, eating healthy, resting and getting a little exercise...and making me a little crazy. All is well in my world again. I say that with a big happy smile.

Today I remember my late dad, who, with his own story telling, laid the foundation for mine. He was a fun, playful, carefree dad who made my childhood happy. When I was about four, I walked into Tucci's Market with Daddy. I heard a little girl call her daddy, Dad. I asked my daddy what that meant and when he explained, I smiled. On the spot, he became Dad. He used to scout for scrap metal in the alleys, and sometimes he allowed me to be his side kick. "Come on little boss, you can ride with me today." When I put my bare feet up on the dash of his old 1949 pick up truck, he'd laugh and say, "Pewee, you're stinking up the whole neighborhood." I can still hear his laughter.

Today I pay tribute to my step-dad who provided for me from age 14-18 and for my late mom for over forty years. No matter where I am, I am always caught off guard when I see an older man wearing suspenders. His needs were simple; his greatest past times were the Bible, playing Solitaire and showing strangers his life-long pilot's license. He had five children and talked about them frequently, but it was his oldest son who held a special place in his heart.

I am grateful, today and everyday for these men in my life.


Friday, June 13, 2014


Thank you so much for your good thoughts, and prayers for my husband who had pneumonia. Three nights in the hospital, and he's inching his way towards the door. He got his appetite back and ordered steak last night. I know he's on the mend.

Hopefully he will get a good oxygen reading and positive blood test results and will be released to come home. It's just a wait and see day, but he looks and feels so much better. Antibiotic infusions are miraculous.

This was a wake up call. We are getting off the fast food track and on the healthy eating fast track. We have decided we LOVE fresh asparagus.

Must go to school more week. I will be back, so don't go away.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Will be absent

Hubby battling bronchitis and weeklong fever. Admitted to hospital with pneumonia. Prayers appreciated.  I'll post in a few days.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Lightning did indeed strike twice

My daughter did it again! What a girl. Friday was my 65th birthday, and she told me to save the date because she was taking me somewhere special. OMG! I couldn't believe it when she presented me with tickets to this concert. We had a blast.
Fifteen years ago she called into a radio station contest to win a pair of Rod Stewart tickets. She was the 19th instead of the 20th caller, but before they could hang up on her, she begged the DJ and told him it was for her mom's 50th birthday. She prattled on and on about how much I love Rod's music. Short story, they gave her the tickets for lawn seats at an outdoor venue. I remember it rained and we sat on a hillside under an umbrella. She remembers, and I don't doubt it, that I nudged her  and said, "Follow me."
"Mom, don't you remember inching our way up into the seats under the pavilion at River Port Amphitheater?"  Would I do that? You bet I would.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't particularly like the little English dude who has babies all over the place, but I love his voice and music. I sang along song-for-song, word-for-word. I was in my glory.
Carlos Santana and his crew rocked the house with music and song. His wife is an awesome drummer. He invited  Don Isley from the Isley Brothers to come out of the audience and up on stage to sing a song. Then, Rod invited local renowned musician, Billy Peek (who at one time played with Rod Stewart) on stage to play one of his famous numbers.
There were Celtic women performing on harps, horns and every band instrument imaginable. Incredible performance, a lot for the money! Tracey, thank you, honey.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

In the presence of greatness

The man, a transient resident in our building, flushed as he entered the foyer and excitedly told everyone within earshot that St. Louis, Cardinal baseball great, Joe Garagiola was visiting three doors down.
I had no interest in hometown baseball and no idea who Garagiola was. I gazed out the door at two Italian men, one middle age and one elderly. They sat in metal lawn chairs in bright sunshine conversing animatedly, wiping sweat off their brows and gesturing with their hands. What I remember most about that summer day on my 11th birthday is the laughter, but it wasn't just Joe Garagiola's and his old uncle's.

The memory connected to that day was a ten cent one. I waited for my turn to use the pay phone in the stifling hot, dingy hallway of the old brick rooming house on North Market Street. Before I could insert the dime in the slot and dial my grandma, the coin slipped from my sweaty palm and rolled across the dusty floor. A teen boy on the staircase watched me as I bent over and chased my dime. He looked down my blouse at my pre-pubescent braless chest and taunted, "Ha-ha! I see your titties."  My face burned with embarrassment as he ran laughing hysterically up the stairs and slammed his door.
Behind every door in that old turn of the century building, a story resided. My story was unfolding chapter by chapter, character by character and it was no fairy tale...
Friday is my milestone birthday. I am toying with writing my memoir.



Sunday, June 1, 2014

We ARE wild women wielding pens

Sioux, Linda, Beth, Tammy, Lynn, WILD WOMEN WIELDING PENS, my writer's critique group.

We were all published in the Columbia Chapter of Missouri Writer's Guild anthology, Well Versed.

Our road trip from St. Louis began at 11:30. We arrived in Columbia just after 2:00 p.m. for the launch of this book, an awards presentation, and author readings.

 Lynn won Honorable Mention, and she read her non-fiction story before the group with passion and emotion. I also read my humorous essay, and Sioux closed the event with the delightful reading of her personal essay.

Afterwards we went out for late lunch and dined at an outdoor patio. Lynn's adult daughters, Rita and Jessica accompanied us. Our full day started at 11:30 and ended at 8:30 p.m. Lots of shared laughter and memories created. I am so grateful for this group of supportive women.