Thursday, November 30, 2017

Frosty has nothing on this guy

Looking at my writer's  submission calendar for this year, and with only 31 days left, I realize I'd better get growing. Not just going, but growing in the literary sense. 

At quick glance I notice I am slacking: only one submission in September, and four this month.  
Although I have submitted 83 pieces, I am unmotivated, and discouraged by the lack of paying markets, especially for personal essays. 

It is a busy time of year, and people don't have time for blogging, but when I receive a comment it is as exciting as discovering a seashell on a beach walk.  

My blog is more or less a personal journal, so I know if I want to direct traffic my way, I have to offer readers tips and provide info, and freebies... not just cute pictures of my great grandsons Liam and Alex. But I am going to end this month with Liam and the snow family. 

Look at how HE has grown. 

                                                                    Six months
                                                                         18 months

                                                                             2 &1/2 years
                                                                           3 & 1/2 years

Well, there are at least 15 hours left in this day, so I'm off to write. Enjoy the photos.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

They are both a laugh a minute

Hubby and I had an urge to go to Taco Bell. The computers went down when we walked in. The cars in the drive through lane were wound around the building. The lobby had three people waiting. The manager who looked as though he came from the deep woods, and was  loud and  overzealous, apologized through his missing front teeth. During our twenty minute wait, the workers were shouting, "Help! We need assistance back here!"

I wondered if they were paging customers for help. 

While waiting for our nachos, I asked Bill what his confirmation name was. 

He looked at me confused. I said, " You know, the Biblical name or saint's name you assume when you're confirmed."

With confusion on his face, but not missing a beat, he said, "FRANCIS."

I laughed out loud. "That's a fake out!  It is NOT Francis!"

"Then what is it?" he asked.

"I can't remember what you told me when we met, but I know it isn't Francis!"

"Well, it's FRANCIS until YOU can remember."

The man makes me laugh. I am so thankful for him.

Granddaughter Ashley stopped by to use the computer. 

I said, "I don't know what I'll do if Grandpa dies before me. I can't figure out any of this technical stuff. I will be so lost, in so many ways, without him. I can't even think about it!"

She said, "Nana, relax. I have this figured out."

I thought she meant the computer, but she continued...

"You and Gramps are going to go on a cruise, get severe food poisoning, and die at the same time." 

I laughed out loud at her.

Now I am not laughing at either of them. Our old guts are roiling after eating at Taco Bell.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving comes but once a year; why not every day? Not the meal, family gatherings, and over-stuffing. I'm talking about the "giving thanks" part.

As we gather around the table in the coming week, I wonder if instead of an impersonal rote recitation of formal grace, our heavenly father would be more pleased if we spoke individually from our hearts and thanked Him for our many blessings.

The tenets of the world's religions dictate the specific prayers and ways for followers to express thanks. Some may call me a non-conformist because I don't follow ritual. I pray, but not on bended knee at the side of my bed, not on a padded kneeler in a church pew, not in a darkened closet, not on a pallet on the floor with hundreds of others.
It is my personal belief that God Almighty hears me when I rise in the stillness of the morning, when I am driving, or walking down a busy street, when I'm in the classroom, boardroom, or bathroom. No matter how far away I am from Him, I know He is always near to me, waiting for the reach of my hand, my heart and soul. In the hustle and bustle of everyday living, it is easy to forget or fall out of step.

I don't wait for a specific time or day to pray. I ask blessings and protection for family, loved ones and complete strangers. When I peruse Face Book and come across a plea for prayer, I beseech God to help or heal, His will be done. I thank Him for my eyes when I see His handiwork in the face of my great-grandchild, a leaf on a tree, the snow-covered ground. Before I stuff a dark chocolate covered pretzel thin in my mouth, I thank God that I have plenty, and I pray for those who don't have enough. I thank Him for my health and pray for the health of others.
Instead of always pleading, I make it a habit to say thanks. 

On this Thanksgiving Day, I intend to bend God's ear as I gratefully enumerate my blessings.

How about you? 

Published 11/14 Pallonttine Restorative Center Blog

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Gift from Beyond

Twenty years I have been receiving a flower in winter from the great beyond, per the pact my best friend, Rose, who was dying of cancer, and I made before she passed away. 

We purchased this basket of mums from a hardware store the first week in October. It was sopping wet. The garden guy over-watered it, and it lost all flowers, and withered. It has been that way since the second week of October...and look what we found today, on the anniversary of Rose's death. Tiny little buds are erupting, but this cluster of four flowers reminds me of The Golden Girls. You can read my Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul story  HERE.

Some things are unexplainable in earth terms. Earth's mysteries are heaven's gifts.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Santa Claus made an appearance

Saturday was a busy day. I drove from one end of town to the other. The temperature was 70 degrees when I left home at 9:30 a.m. By the time I arrived at Half Price Books in St. Charles to meet fellow Chicken Soup for the Soul writers for our book signing, it was 40 degrees and raining. We had a successful event and canned food drive.
            Linda O'Connell, Cathi La Marche, Lynn Obermoeller, Tammy Goodsell, Pat Wahler

I left there at 2:00, drove home and picked up hubby and his Santa suit, and hurried to the other end of town to my daughter's and son-in-law's so Paw-paw could play Santa for Alex and Liam.  We prepared Liam for a week. I told him the same Santa who came to visit at our house last year (we showed him photos of himself with the big guy) would stop by Nana Tracey's. All the people who love him would be there, his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, and we'd make sure he was safe. I asked if he was afraid or thought he might cry?

"NO, Nana Linda. I am not afraid. I am not going to cry. I'm going to tell Santa I want two big dragon dinosaurs, a red one and a blue one, like I saw at Wal-Mart.

Alex loved all the excitement and jabbered as he was passed around from one of us to the other.

Liam was so excited when Santa came in. He tried so hard to be brave, but you can see the melt down about to happen. Poor Santa looks overwhelmed, too.

"Santa, I want two big dinosaurs..." Then the waterworks started.

So, this is the official Christmas card picture, unless they can get him near another Santa.

Santa left Liam a present and promises for more to come... then he left, and everyone settled down.
Lots of huggin' and lovin' with my sweet great grandsons who settled in for a long winter's nap.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FIFTY BUCKS UP FOR GRABS... Stirring Up Chicken Soup for the Soul

                                       Pat Wahler         Sioux Roslawski      Linda O'Connell

What would you do for fifty bucks?

Last Saturday 11/11 we did a book signing at Half Price Books in University City to promote the various books in which our stories are published.

We met some interesting people and connected with a woman who was a former Texan and multi-published Chicken Soup writer. You never know who you will meet.

Our town has several strong writing communities. I'm one of several local, multi-published writers in the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. We promote our books and try to give back to the community.

THIS Saturday 11/18, from 11:00 - 3:00 Tammy Goodsell, Cathi La Marche, Lynn Obermoeller, Pat Wahler, and I will be at Half Price Books in St. Charles in Bogey Hills Plaza off Zumbehl and Highway 70. If you are out and about, drop by and say hi and bring a can of soup. We'd love to see you.



Chicken Soup for the Soul books make great gifts!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Autumn Gift

This tree is in our neighbor's yard, but years ago there was one on our city block between my best friend's house and ours. THIS particular tree first captured my attention forty years ago when the kids were small and we were a one-car family. On those occasions when I needed the car, I drove my then husband to work through this neighborhood.

The moment this amazing autumn beauty caught my eye, I silently enumerated all my blessings and thanked God for my eyes. I so admired the ranch house next door to this tree. It was my dream home in the county.

Twenty-one years ago THAT house, next to THIS tree became our home. Funny, how life works. I believe it is no coincidence that my dream came true. In most instances, I have been blessed with everything I have yearned for, but seldom WHEN I wanted it.  Mom used to always say, "God's time, not our time." I believe that.

                              Autumn Gift

At 51, my friend Rose sported a wig and a raspy voice, the result of the debilitating cancer which had robbed her of her hair and her strength. She had more bad days than good, and as the weather cooled, the dark, wet skies mirrored her situation. After nearly a week of rain, the clouds lifted and so did Rose's spirits. When I came for a visit, she was alert, her voice halting but strong and assertive for a change.

"Take me outside. I want to sit in the sunshine."

She shuffled into the yard with her oxygen tank in tow. We sat in silence under the sugar maple tree enjoying the brisk breeze. I tucked her afghan around her. Hundreds of orange, gold and yellow leaves rained down upon us and made Rose smile. Memories of our twenty-five year friendship whirled in our minds like the leaves overhead. We were entranced by the waltzing leaves and watched as wind gusts swept them up and sent them dancing at our feet. The yard was very much alive, and so was Rose that day.

"Will you please get me that red leaf," she asked, "and that yellow one?" She pointed here and there, and I bounded about gathering brilliant orange, red and golden leaves in a huge bouquet as she orchestrated the activity. Rose soon tired and asked to go inside. I placed her leaf bouquet on a table beside her, tucked her in, and I told her I'd see her the next afternoon.
When I arrived the next day, she was glassy-eyed and weak.

"I have something for you," she said pausing breathlessly, gasping between words. "Do you remember the big maple tree in the old neighborhood?"

When we were neighbors, the gorgeous towering tree, Mother Nature's masterpiece, was the focal point of our neighborhood each autumn. We were blessed to have it right outside our doors. We collected leaves with our children when they were young, and we made centerpieces with the colorful array that blanketed the lawns and sidewalks.

"I made you a gift." She handed me ten sheets of white paper on which she had arranged  and scotch taped the colorful leaves that she had collected the day before.
Tears welled in our eyes. "Do you like them? Can you use them?" she asked.

"Yes. I love them! and I will treasure them forever," I said.

Like the autumn leaves, Rose completed her life cycle at the end of fall. I laminated the colorful leaf collages, and every year I use them as a teaching aid with my preschool students. And I think of Rose as I tell my students about her and the leaves.

"Leaves are like people, they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Redwood trees are the tallest of all. Their roots intertwine. They support each other when the strong winds blow, sort of like when you hold hands with your best friend and it makes you feel safe."

The simple treasure is a priceless gift bequeathed with love, and it will keep on touching lives, just as my friend Rose did.

Published: HCI Communications, Voices of Breast Cancer 2007

Thursday, November 9, 2017

What a Halloween!

In spring when we booked our late October cruise, we didn't even consider the fact that Halloween
would fall within the week. I wore my old T-shirt that made people smile and point.

There were few kids on this cruise, so we thought we'd participate in the evening costume contest. I made my shirt...Bat Ship Crazy, which made lots of folks laugh and say, "Creative!"

Hubby wore a generic Wal-Mart T-shirt and met up with an old African-American woman wearing the same kind. They joked about their good taste. Many people went all out as you can see below.

 This guy wore a body suit and red knee highs. I 'd say he had to have some nerve.

 Then, we saw this dude, and I had to look away...until we spied the next guy.

He dressed as Boss Baby and offered young women a suck on his bottle. No thank you. Not that he offered me a swig. LOL!

Then we had the winner, Stephanie Leavins as Cinderella and her mother as her real fairy godmother.
Stephanie's mom made her costume and adorned her wheel chair to resemble a carriage. Stephanie was born with Muscular Dystrophy. The muscles did not develop in her limbs, but her heart of gold has made up for her physcial limitations. She is a gospel singer and Christian motivational speaker. Check her page here . People crowded around her and took pictures with this joyous woman. 

 We met a really nice couple on the cruise; they were about our age, and we dined with them most evenings. Rhoda and I hit it off right away. She bears a striking resemblance to young Doris Day. Our husbands wondered how we could talk and understand one another with all the background noise in the lobby, where there was a dance party going on. You know how it is when you meet someone you can relate to? That was us. Even if we had to shout over the noise, we had similar stories, intelligent conversation, and an enjoyable time. Bob and Bill also were compatible in their politics and joking ways. Have to say, this was one of our more fun cruises.
And now I'm back to let you know, I can really shake 'em, sorry, still hearing that dance song. I will be back to blogging and writing, but today I am heading out to see my great grandsons and spend the day with them.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The time is what o'clock?

We were on a Caribbean cruise last week. There was a woman on the ship who looked exactly like Claudia. I mentioned Claudia in my previous post. I didn't talk to her, but we smiled at one another frequently when we met. Almost a gift.

Driving home we had to detour because someone had a wreck and damaged an overpass bridge girder, thus closing Highway 55. We were detoured into a single lane of traffic down a rural, winding two lane. Semi trucks for miles and miles wending through a rural town in Arkansas. Took us longer than ever to drive home. Finished last load of laundry at 9:00 p.m. last night and collapsed in our own wonderful bed.

Woke to an early phone call from a neighbor that another neighbor had passed away and the funeral was in an hour. So I rushed through getting myself ready (honey has a cold), and arrived at the funeral parlor fifteen minutes early. Sat there another hour and fifteen minutes, wondering what was going on. DUH! Daylight Savings time, and we hadn't adjusted our clocks when we got home! 

Now we are off to replenish the refrigerator and car gas tank. I will post photos and recap our trip later. Always on the go. You'd think I'd lose weight. At least I didn't gain any.