Wednesday, July 27, 2016

"Criminal" behavior

We are just a few weeks away from starting school. Children will be boarding school buses across the nation. I guarantee you, your students won't find a cuter bus driver than Liam.

I used to roll play with Liam's mom when she was little. We would act out what to do and say if someone bullied her (or someone else.)

Roll playing puts children in charge, empowers them and gives them practice. We always acted out several scenarios and solutions. Sometimes she was the "criminal" she called it, and sometimes she was the problem solver. I wish schools taught this in depth. It is up to parents, so pass this info on to someone you know.

When Ashley came home from kindergarten with head lice in her thick, long, blonde hair, I removed the nits for hours outdoors as she begged me to tell her another "criminal story." I covered just about every offense imaginable. She was as precious, smart, and precocious as her little boy.

Here's another of my favorite boys!

On one of the hottest days of summer, almost 100 degrees, we met Cole, one of my favorite former students and his mama Stacey at the all-abilities park. The boys are both very capable and enjoyed playing together. 

I pray for the health, happiness and safety of all children as they grow up in this
criminal-infested, crazy world. When Cole was in my class he and I sang You Are My Sunshine...he filled in the blanks. He sang it at our Spring Sing in front of parents and families.

 I sang in his ear at the park when I greeted him, and I could see a memory-spark from years gone by. he really is a ray of sunshine.

My little buddy is a fearless water baby.
Little wise guy is getting too smart for his britches. He loves the sprinkler park, and he has figured out how to fill his cup. It is fun to watch him figure stuff out.

He also loves his noodles, not mac and cheese, but dry pasta noodles. He enjoys the sensory activity of scooping and pouring the noodles. One day last week he was tossing them all over. I said, "Look, Nana's barefoot. When you get the noodles on the floor, it might hurt my toes and feet. Keep them on the sheet and off the carpet."

My little darling looked at me, stopped pouring and gazed at my feet. He said, "Wear your shoes!"
I know he said that because if he had said, "Where your shoes?" his little voice would have gone up at the end of that sentence. He's a cutie, alright, a real problem solver.

I put him down for his nap after lunch and as I was cleaning the kitchen, I heard the pitter-patter of his little feet. He greeted me with a grin and said liltingly, "Good Moaning, Nana."

I said, "It is not MORNING and you have to take a nap." I chased him all the way down the hallway and into bed with much giggling.

My wish for all of you~ at least half as much happiness as Liam brings to me.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hot and bothered

We're having a heat wave! I am grateful I live in a first world country, no matter how crazy our leaders are acting.

Tuesday evening at bedtime, we heard a loud boom in our back yard. We have a power pole with a transformer in the yard behind us. All of our neighbors came outside in night clothes with flashlights. We figured the transformer blew in the storm with those 70 mph wind gusts. I reported the outage which they were already aware of, but because it only affected 116 residents, I assumed we weren't high priority. We made it through the night, though.

The next morning, hubby saw a repair truck up the block. The lineman said it was not a transformer issue; a power line snapped in our neighbor's yard when a heavy tree branch fell on it. He assured us power would be restored in 20 minutes.

Thank God for those power crew people. Good man! A job well done.The storm was long gone. The sun radiated, and the thermometer climbed into almost triple digits. Air conditioned breezes soothed this old gal, and I was again privy to all the news I don't need to know, about whose line it was anyway. And I'm not talking power lines.

Less than two hours later, I heard an awful rumble from the bowels of the house. We live on a busy street with large trucks passing frequently. It sounded like a semi truck with no wheels going past the house. Nothing outside, then no electricity inside, as it all came to a grinding halt.

My sweet hubby took another walk up the block. He discovered an awful mess. The top of a power pole behind a small retail plaza had snapped off, along with two attached transformers, which pulled live wires down. All of  it was laying on the ground oozing oil or some liquid in a stream down hill.

I called 911 and the firefighters came. Old men with stories to tell gathered under shade trees, swapped stories, and complained about the heat. We headed back to the house.

Hard working hubby gassed up the generator, hooked up a couple of extensions, one to the TV and fan, and one to the fridge. We were back in business. He came in pouring sweat, so he went to take a shower. When he came out of the shower, the power came back on. Apparently they swung our neighborhood to another system or something.

Hubba-bubba hubby unhooked all the wires, and headed back into the heat to wind it all up again. Came back in and took shower number two.

I am so grateful for running water, electricity, food to eat, a bed to lie in, and most of all, being hooked up with a man who knows how to hook things up. Without him, I'd have spent my day in the library.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Did you smell that?

Smell is a potent wizard that can transport you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.—Helen Keller

Sense of smell is most closely linked to memory; smell is also emotive.

When I was a kid, we lived across the street from a large manufacturing company which produced cans for a variety of products: Anheuser-Busch beer, shortening, food, soda, and baby food.
The memories of the emissions from that factory still reside in my olfactory bulb —a part of my brain— pungent, offensive; a sickening blended smell of ether and some sort of petroleum product.

That particular odor triggers so many childhood memories:

Searching for bits of colored glass on the gravel parking lot to add to my empty mayonnaise jar.
Mary Jane candies, better than Bit-o'-Honey from the penny candy counter at the confectionery.
Wild sunflowers along the back fence which towered over me, leaves large enough in which to stash a childhood dream.
Catching grasshoppers that spat brown juice into my hand.
Floating Ivory soap and emerald green Prell shampoo.
Itchy mosquito bites.
Friday Night Fights on TV... falling asleep during the Gillette Razor blade commercials.

Take a moment and think of an olfactory memory that triggers 2 other memories, for example:
Vanilla-scented candles casting shadows on old family portraits.
Makes you remember... crocheted doilies on Grandma's furniture, which leads to memories of...
dipping Hydrox cookies, better than Oreos, in a glass of milk with Grandma at her chrome and Formica kitchen table.

Care to share an olfactory memory and let readers see where it leads?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Has anyone ever exposed themselves to you?

Do  you have a pile of papers on your desk, or scraps of scribbled inspiration? I came across a poem I wrote in 2007 when I was going through a rough period, suffering from great loss. Two good friends had died, and one was dying. The kids were doing their own thing; the grandchildren were growing up and away. I felt like everything I cared about was going, going, gone. And then, out of all that sadness and chaos, a new baby was on the way... my ray of hope.

Today, as I reread Going-Going Gone, I remembered the reaction it garnered that evening when I nervously read it at open mic. Most people in attendance looked away or met my eyes with sad expressions, although it was not my intent to get sympathy. I was merely venting. I was very uneasy pouring out my angst in front of a roomful of strangers in the back meeting room of a neighborhood bar that served delicious pizza.

I will always remember one of the poets, Ken Brown, a neighborhood guy in his 40s. He had long scraggily hair, a ruddy complexion. He was a creative literary genius who could/should have been a beat poet. He wrote with brevity, yet his work spoke volumes. He had a signature sign off when he finished reading. He tossed his papers over his shoulder onto the floor.

Ken was a full-fledged alcoholic. But he was the only person that night who commented after I read. He scraped his chair back on that crummy floor at The Mac (where the St. Louis Writer's Guild met once a month for readings) and stumbled up to me. As he came closer, I backed away, uneasy as he approached. With a blast of alcohol breath, he said, "Aww darlin." He leaned in, kissed my cheek, and shook his head as he walked back to his seat. It wasn't a come on, or pity. The late Ken Brown was expressing empathy. I will always treasure that moment.

Writing about your angst can be a release, so if you feel burdened by personal problems, overwhelmed by events, or the world situation, journal your feelings. Share only if you want to. Write for release. It helps.

And when you are at an open mic and someone undresses in front of you, makes you feel uncomfortable by baring all, exposing their deepest emotions, remember we are all human, and a little empathy goes a long way.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

22 days and counting!

Releasing July 30th 

Lisa Ricard Claro's first two books in the Fireflies Series are filled with lively characters and realistic plots. I'm anxiously awaiting the release of LOVE TO WIN,  her third book in the contemporary romance series (Black Opal Books.)

I can't wait to see what's happening in the Kincaid family... drama and romance awaits. Lisa has a knack for character development and I must say, Caleb from the first book, still has my heart! Will Dante move into first position? I'll let you know.  

Learn more about Lisa, the writing services she offers, and her novels.

Coming July 30, 2016

~ #3 in the Fireflies series ~

Love to Win
She hates to lose . . .
Competitive barista Brenna Kinkaid loves a challenge, and she’ll do whatever it takes to win, especially when it comes to her nemesis, Dante Caravicci. But when forced to team up to save their best friends’ wedding, Brenna recognizes that Dante might just be her ultimate win.
He plays to win . . .
Restaurateur Dante Caravicci won’t quit anything until he can claim success. He’s bided his time, but he’s used to taking big risks and surviving, so he figures he’s got nothing to lose by playing for Brenna.
Hearts at risk . . .
These two fall fast, and it looks like a win-win—until a competition pits them head-to-head and one of them goes way too far. A nudge from an improbable source may be the only way these two competitors will ever admit that the only way to win is to lose their hearts.
 “Well, I like that,” Brenna said. “My own mother likes your cake better.”
Dante regarded her with amusement. “Not everything has to be a competition between us, does it? What difference does it make which of us bakes the better cake?”
“Or sautés the better shrimp?” Brenna said, remembering Dante’s shrimp dish from Thanksgiving that she, Rebecca, and Maddie had all deemed to be almost better than sex. Not that she’d tell Dante that. She blew out a tired sigh. “I’m sick of losing to you in the food department. I try so hard to be creative, and you whip something up at the last minute that takes home the gold.”

“Is it really that big a deal?” He raised his brows.

Brenna stared at him a moment and made him laugh when she said, “Bet your ass! I hate coming in second on anything, especially to you. And say what you will—” She poked his chest with her finger for emphasis. “—but you’re just as competitive as I am.” He moved back a step and she poked him again. “You don’t like to lose at anything either.” One more poke. “You always do whatever you have to do to win.”

Dante’s eyes narrowed, but his lips curved. He stepped forward against the press of her finger, forcing her to step back—once, twice, thrice—and she sucked in a breath when her hips bumped against the counter. She reached behind her to grab the edge of the countertop, and her eyes widened when Dante rested his hands on either side of hers, hemming her in as he had done in the storeroom.

Brenna’s heart sped to triple speed. Dante leaned down and she parted her lips, in spite of herself, when his mouth stopped a mere breath away from hers, so close she swore she felt the radiating heat. A second passed, and another. His gaze dipped to her mouth. Brenna licked her lips and her eyes fluttered shut in anticipation, and then the stubble darkening his jaw tickled the skin of her cheek with the barest touch, and his warm breath against her ear made her shiver when he whispered, “You’re right. I’ll do whatever I have to do to win. You’d do well to remember that, sweetheart.”

He pressed his lips against the tender skin just below her earlobe and made her shiver again, then stepped back. Brenna stared at him, her mind whirling.

“It’s late. I’ll follow you home when you’re ready to go, make sure you get there safe,” he said. “And relax, I don’t expect to be invited in. I know you just want to be friends.”
Brenna still gripped the edges of the counter, her eyes wide and lips parted in surprise when he disappeared out to the porch.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Hurry for holiday discount

The weather is cool and rainy this 4th of July weekend, and even though swimming, picnicking and fireworks are not on the agenda, I am still cheering for the red, white, and blue!

Chicken Soup for the Soul Spirit of America is filled with patriotic stories. One of mine is included.

Also, some buzzard messed up our computer which has been in shop for three days, so I have been unable to post the latest info. is offering a new four week session. So if YOU want to learn how to write a Chicken Soup-type story, sign up by tomorrow for a 10 % discount (on any of the classes being offered.) Click on "Our Courses" to see the selection. Check out "Our Instructors"