Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Whispers on the autumn breeze



One of us will turn loose first.
                                     Let's gussy up,
swagger in the breeze,
                            tease a smile out of passersby.
ang out till the very end, then
                      take the plunge with an air of authority,
                    as though we have always been in control
                                     of our own destiny.
I wrote this poem as I walked through the woods and personified the foliage. Giving human characteristics/emotions/attributes to inanimate objects was a fun challenge. Have you ever written from this perspective?

Your challenge: give it a try, and share a line from a leaf's perspective with me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I am honored, thrilled, delighted, amazed...

It is soul touching to know that something I have written will make a difference in other's lives. I am thrilled to share this letter I received yesterday from Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Dear Linda  
Chicken Soup for the Soul is working with The Boniuk Foundation, a non-profit organization, to promote tolerance, respect, and compassion, inspiring young people and adults to embrace their differences, reject stereotypes, and make good choices. This multifaceted project started about a year ago and has become a very important part of what we do.

There are many components to this program, with the three largest being:

· Books for kids, teens, and adults

   Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be the Best You Can Be — Inspiring True Stories about Goals & Values for Kids & Preteens

   Chicken Soup for the Soul: Create Your Best Future — Inspiring Stories for Teens and Young Adults

   Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Great Kids — Inspiring Stories about Sharing Values Generation to Generation

· A new half-hour weekly Saturday morning family television show, Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Hidden Heroes, which starts on CBS October 3, 2015.

· A national literacy-based anti-bullying program for kids from Grades 1-12, using the stories in the new books to prompt discussions and provide the foundation for lesson plans.

The partnership between The Boniuk Foundation and Chicken Soup for the Soul uses storytelling to encourage young and old to accept and respect people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, and culture—one story at a time.
One of your stories was chosen for this program and appears in one of the three books listed above.   
To my blog readers, if you are not a writer and do not submit for publication, know that still, your words can have profound impact. Leave your legacy; write a letter of appreciation to someone who made a difference in your life. Write a note to a loved one, a letter to your grandchild, parent or grandparent. Words are far reaching and you never know what impact they will have in the future. I encourage you today to put your thoughts on paper.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I spent three nights with another guy, and I am in love!

Where have I been?
My daughter, Liam's grandma and babysitter, was out of town, so I kept my sweetie pie three days and nights. I am delightfully exhausted.

I took him on his first trip to the Zoo and he was afraid of everything, including the painted frog statues on the ground. Once I convinced him they were toys, he got brave enough to get closer and put his hat on a frog's head.

The goats terrified him, especially the one that hopped up on the bench next to him. I had to rescue him.

He liked the penguins, sea lions, and large fish. But what he really liked was the elephants. He watched as one used her trunk to rip leaves off a tree branch and then carry the branch around.

When he heard the train whistle as it click-clacked down the track, he got very excited. So, of course we had to go for a ride.

He sat on a seat like a big boy so I could take his picture. Then he noticed the animal photo
on the seat in front of us. He babbled and jabbered and touched it, telling me about the elephant.

I said, "Yes, that's an elephant, and we saw the elephant eating leaves."
He listened and looked and smiled.
He noticed the locomotive up ahead as the train was boarding. We were seated three cars back. He got very excited when he saw "Thomas" the tank engine leading us. I said, "Yes, that's the train, and you are sitting in the train. We are going to ride this choo-choo."

He understood what I said, kicked his legs and squealed with delight. He was astounded when the train rounded the bend and slowed in front of the elephant compound. He even loved going through the dark tunnels.

This little guy is 15 months old and is repeating words and talking. His latest: hi kitty cat, hi papaw, bouncy ball, basket ball, what's dat? BALLLL. (Everything is ball to him.) Instead of saying the word "more" and tapping his fingers together, he uses the baby hand sign for more food and says, "Ball." We have been working for three days on saying "more" and touching his mouth. He did it twice. He's stuck on the word "ball."

He zooms down the drive way on his riding toy car, lifts his feet and coasts like a big boy.
What an active little sweetheart. We are blessed.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

TWEETING took on a new/old meaning

Sunday was Kirkwood's (St. Louis suburb) annual Green Tree Festival. The aromas of caramel corn, funnel cakes and every kind of food imaginable permeated the air. Craft booths filled the park; artisans sold their wares. This family-friendly event drew huge crowds. There were three different stages with live bands, and there were dogs and kids everywhere.
I often hear people talk about the Good Old Days, when times were easier. I wonder if that time really existed, or if it all seemed less hectic looking back. The pace of living has certainly increased, and in many ways the work load has lightened. Will our children consider these days their good old days? 
We took a walk and discovered Frontier Village, an encampment of actors portraying frontier life.
 Years ago, women spun sheep wool into yarn to make goods for their families.

These guys were forging iron, working the bellows to fan the flames to do metal work.

These pioneers were tin smiths and candle makers. Tallow candles are nothing like fragrant Yankee Candles.

Quilting is almost a lost art. So pleased to see these women working their needles, making those fine stitches.
Children and adults had fun trying to walk on stilts. Many landed in the hay, laughing and sputtering.

The canon misfired the first time, but the second attempt was like the shot heard 'round the world. It reverberated throughout the park. 
Imagine having to hunt animals to make buckskin clothing to wear. It's hot and heavy.
I'd travel anywhere in this covered wagon as long as I had this big guy by my side.
No matter the century, mothers have always reprimanded their children. We passed this mom telling her children, "Go blow those bird call whistles over by the tree. I'm tired of your tweeting."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The clowns were everywhere, and no one wore grease paint or red nose

The Hot Air Balloon Glow was cancelled Saturday due to gusting wind, so although the balloons were not inflated, they did fire up. Just not the same for the huge crowds that gather in Forest Park to see the Energizer Bunny balloon and so many others light up the night.
Saturday the wind was still whipping, so the balloons did not lift off until 5:00 p.m.
Liam spent the day at his other nana's, so I was unable to take him, and we did not attend. 
 Bill and I went to a neighborhood fall festival, where we saw some really strange sights. Steve Davis, a dynamic Elvis impersonator performed. Usually Elvis-obsessed older women run up to plead for a scarf. Instead, there was a group of blind youth attending this event, and two of the older boys couldn't sit still once he started singing. They got up and danced to every song. "Elvis" motioned their caregivers to bring them forward. He wrapped a scarf around each of their necks. The crowd went wild with applause, and the boys were thrilled. They upstaged the king. 
This older, German gent in lederhosen was either hawking beer mugs or double fisting and draining the contents, because he was a hoot. He danced and sang and moved to the groove with a live band that performed Taylor Swift songs and Top 40. He grabbed a microphone and sang an oom-pa-pa ditty and invited everyone to come see him at the October Fest next month. He certainly was one of the interesting ones.
This young lady was a sign of the times. She kept removing and replacing her cell phone from her bra. If you look closely, you can see it protruding. 

A kid begged his mom seated across from us for more money. She reached into her bra and whipped out her phone, a camera and a wallet...which made me wonder if she buys bras that are a couple sizes too big for her conceal and carry contraband.

A middle age "quirky" couple seated under a canopy at the table across from us were love struck. He positioned his chair so it faced his sweetie instead of the band. He took her head in his hands, and nose to nose, he stared into her eyes for about five minutes. I'd have gone cross-eyed. She went to sleep. When her head nodded, he whispered sweet nothings, probably in shades of grey, and within minutes she perked up, and they were walking off the parking lot hand in hand toward their car.

Then there were the dog lovers. A woman who seemed normal and resembled Mimi, the secretary on Drew Carey's old sit com, cuddled her peek-a-poo in a blanket. Every time Elvis or the bands sang a song about dogs: You Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog, etc. she would prance around the bandstands and walk her dog. When a wind gust kicked up on this sunny, glorious 80 degree day, she grabbed her pooch, wrapped him in a heart decorated fleece blanket and pulled off the checkered red and white table cloth and further encased the little yapper until it was panting. Then she unwrapped the poor thing, sat down at the table, whispered in its ear, and clutched it to her ample bosom, its butt planted on the table top.

An older man and woman sat down in folding chairs at our table to watch the Elvis impersonator. She had gray hair and appeared normal. He had gray hair and wore a sleeveless shirt. He sat down and shortened the leash on his service dog, a white lab who laid at his feet. We noticed the guy's shoulder and arm tattoos: a non professionally inked Howdy Doody, a character from a  children's show, circa 1953; and a Marine Corp insignia, among others.

She got up and moved her chair into the sun.
Out of the sun.
A few feet this way.
A few feet that.
A table over, and then back to us.

He moved with her each time. Then he got in her face and mouthed off quietly, and she pointed her finger in his face and told him to calm down. They played musical chairs for about ten minutes, and when he got up to walk the mutt, she moved clear across the parking lot. He came back and couldn't find her. He was like a lost kid shrugging his shoulders, his head spinning in all directions. People in the crowd pointed him in her direction.  She motioned him with her index finger, patted a chair and invited him to come join her.

Meanwhile, without discussion, Bill had been observing their behavior. He whispered, "Either his mom has driven him crazy, or maybe he's a Viet Nam vet, and that's why he needs that service dog."

"Maybe," I replied.

Elvis announced his next selection, a slow song, Love Me Tender. Couples got up to dance. As we observed the dancers, Bill nudged me. "Look. He's sicker than I thought. Look at how close he's dancing with his mom and caressing her backside. Oh sheesh, his hands are traveling..."

I asked, "Where's his mom?"

Bill puzzled, "Isn't that his mom he's dancing with?"

"What makes you say that?"

"Well she was pointing at him and telling him to behave."

I laughed out loud, which drew unwanted attention to myself.

"That's not his mom; that's his wife."

There were so many clowns at that event, and not one of them wore a painted face or red nose.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Up up and away

The monarchs are arriving. The brisk wind kept some of them at bay. They had to circle around the patio a few times before they could land on a flower. I am thrilled to think that we are providing food for these delicate creatures to make their long migration.
Hubby and I found a trail along the Mississippi River. At dusk we sat on a bench and watched barge traffic. The Midwest is a hub for commerce, and there was a lot of movement of goods.
A couple who were a few years younger than us, sat on another bench a few feet away. In our town, somebody always knows somebody who knows somebody. The guy worked with Bill's brother, and they knew our neighbor. Small world.
I am so hoping the rain holds off and I can take Liam to the Hot Air Balloon Glow tomorrow night at Forest Park. Lift off is Saturday, but on Friday evening, all of the balloons fire up. It is a sight to behold. Liam saw an inflatable advertising hot air balloon on top of a restaurant and got so excited. He thought it was a ball. And that is his favorite thing. Won't he be surprised, if the weather holds? I'll post pictures if we are able to attend.
Have you ever attended a balloon glow, or hot air balloon races? One year, when the kids were little, the balloons flew LOW over our house, and we could hear the conversations overhead.

The balloon glow was a bust. Wind gust and storms prevented the balloon owners from inflating their hot air balloons, but they did light up the night with fire lapping at the wind into the air. A big disappointment for many. Hopefully, the storms will hold off and the wind will lessen, and they will be able to lift off Saturday. Lots of people are looking forward to this annual event. But alas, Mother Nature is in charge.

There are fall festivals all over towe this weekend, so we will be out and about.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Treasures and blessings

I wrote and submitted eight stories this week, and so I took it easy today.
Hubby and I stopped by the goodwill store and found this little statue for $3.00 I placed these little sweet-faced children near the sedum, which is flowering and attracting insects. Not nearly as many bees as in the past though, which makes me sad.
 I spent the afternoon reading outside on the patio swing. The weather was absolutely perfect; a cool light breeze brought a taste of fall. The days are getting shorter, and I'll soon be snuggling under my new ultra soft blanket, as silky soft as our gentle kitty boy who loves to be petted and begs for treats.
 I gave thanks for my blessings: the last produce from our garden, for my health, my family, my life.
I am especially thankful for my great grandson Liam, who amazes me. He will be 15 months old this week. He raced me up the drive way, learned to raise his feet and coast back down. Oh did he giggle.
He is beginning to string words. "Bye-Bye, Nana. Hi, kitty cat." He's walking all over now... a little boy on the go.
When he wore himself out, we did a quiet activity. I sat him in a pan of uncooked pasta. He picked up a handful and rubbed it between his palms. He sat in that pan for 20 minutes picking up noodles and filling the containers. Didn't put one in his mouth. He so enjoyed this sensory activity. It really is the simple things in life that make me happy.


Friday, September 11, 2015


Fourteen  years ago, I stood in my living room and cringed at the sight of the first plane hitting the tower. I thought, what an horrific accident. I felt terrible for the people on that plane, and for those in the World Trade Center building. I did not realize that the horror had only just begun.
I headed to school and turned on my car radio. Ilistened intently to the reports. Then, I heard that another plane had crashed.

No one was sure what was going on. Teachers were asking one another, "Did you
hear about the plane crashes in NY?" The gravity of the situation -America was under
attack- was like a collective punch in the gut. We all felt winded, worried, and wounded.

My preschool classroom was in the lower level of an inner city middle school. What I remember most is the panicked African American youth in the hall who shouted at me, "America is at

"Calm down," I said. "Don't jump to conclusions. Nobody knows for sure what's going on. This does not mean WAR."

He insisted he saw it on TV and that military jets were intercepting planes.

I walked into my classroom, made phone calls to my family and then stood in stunned silence as my preschool students went about their school day, unaffected by the attacks. I knew my students were okay. My aide was capable, so I left her in charge. I felt as though I HAD to do
something patriotic to relieve the mounting tension in the middle schoolstudents, although I was not in charge of any of them. I came up with an idea. I did not consult the principal or counselor. I cut 12 inch red, white and blue construction paper strips, like kids use to make paper chains at Christmas. I visited each classroom. I passed out a strip to each student and asked them to write what they were feeling at the moment about the tragedy; any fears, any words, anything would be acceptable. Some asked if they should sign it.
"If you want to," I said.

I collected the strips and rolled them into loops, then I stapled them to the bulletin
board in the cafeteria. I assembled more than two hundred of them into an American flag. I stood back and admired that "feeling flag". I read, "I am afraid." "I want to kick their asses." "Bomb them." "Why did this happen?" "What now?" "I want to go home."

I felt the same way. At lunch I observed students looking for their piece of that flag. I listened to them read their words aloud, giving voice to fears and feelings, owning their emotions.
I don't know if my action did any good. It just felt good to do SOMETHING.

I mentioned to my husband a couple of years after 9/11 that I felt as if the color had drained from America. I first noticed it on highways and parking lots. Most new cars were gray, beige or white. Emotions ran the gamut, people were depressed; everyone seemed blah and everything
seemed bland. Now, fourteen years later, I notice that there are so many red cars and trucks on the road. Color is returning to America. People are blue from being homeless, hungry, jobless and hopeless. The "haves" have more green, while the "have-nots" shrivel, their egos bruised, deep, purple. There is an underlying current that runs through the population as orange as a flame; fire rages in the gut of all who are suffering during this recession. We're desperately missing the color yellow, sunshine yellow, happy face yellow.

My plea to politicians at every level of government is do SOMETHING, reach across the aisle, the great divide and extend a hand. Come to some agreement and shake on it.

We must seek peace. There is too much violence in this world.

"I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony..." Remember that commercial where people of all colors, creeds, religions and ethnicities joined hands?

My heart aches for the victims, their families and all of us.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Oh my, a pie!

Bill's daughter, Michele, came to visit. She thanked her dad for taking her to the Father-Daughter Girl Scout event when she was a little girl.

Michele: "Remember I told you everyone had to bring a pie?"

Bill: "Yes, and I thought we were going to have them for dessert."

Michele: "And when we arrived, all the dads were standing side by side at a long table, each one with their pie in front of them."

Bill: "Uh-huh, and you bought my favorite pie, coconut cream."

Michele: "Yep, and when the troop leader said it was a pie eating contest, you were a good sport and dived head first into that solidly frozen coconut cream pie and tried to swallow that icy, lumpy bite. Remember?"

Bill: "THREE bites. How could I forget?"

Michele: "Hey Dad, when I went in to buy that pie, I almost got a frozen Mrs. Smith's apple pie."

Oh the joys of parenthood. And I know for a fact, Michele's and Robin's sweet daddy would do it all again...for any of the kids or grandkids. That's just who he is!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

I am ashamed to tell you this

So, we went to a well known indie taco shop last evening for dinner. We always order the chicken quesadilla, but this time we decided to try the chicken fajita salad. Big mistake. Hubby ordered his with fire roasted tomato dressing and I ordered mine with avocado ranch. Our salads were way more than either of us needed, served in large silver mixing bowls. We laughed at the hot sauce on the table and then we sat there and ate every bite of our salads.

Today I woke with a cramping, gurgling gut. I went to the bathroom and the cat had to come nose around which didn't help my upset belly any.  "Errrr, gerrr, rnnnn."

"Quit purring and get!" I said.

It wasn't the cat. It happened again, "Unnnn, errrg, unn-unn."

I clutched my belly, afraid my intestinal distress was serious.

It settled down, and not ten seconds later, started up again.

I was ready to yell for my honey when I realized
it was the neighbor using his weed eater, and the sound was coming through the overhead bathroom vent.

What a relief!


Friday, September 4, 2015

He always tells it like it is.

When I'd heard the latest account of another car jacking, I got mad and said to my husband, "I think if that ever happened to me, I'd go ballistic and hit someone, and then I'd..."

Before I could finish, my honey said, "Babe, the spring has gone out of your chicken. You wouldn't bounce back."

I said, "What do you mean by that?"

He looked at me and said, "You do realize you are no spring chicken, don't you?"

Well that was a fine how do you do!

Is crime rampant where you live?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

State it and don't debate it. A little gift for you.

I learned a valuable lesson today. I submitted a brief query to a high profile magazine editor. I stated that I had been successful in the anthology market, 22 Chicken Soup for the Soul books and many other publications. My article was about how I successfully discovered a way to get local media coverage for a book signing.

The editor replied that because CS does not pay residuals, the article would be of no value.

I wrote back that my article would not even mention CS. The topic was about how I obtained media coverage. I did not say it was for an anthology.

Editor's paraphrased reply: You used your technique to gain media coverage to promote a book you would get no further compensation for. Not interested.

Was this a result of lack of communication, a mutual misunderstanding, or one editor's opinion of anthology contributors? In any case, I hope I never get haughty.

Lesson learned: State your intent in the first sentence, because few editors have time to read on.

Most important writing tip: Always be kind.

Here's a calendar list of free contests. Hope you enter and win.