Monday, April 30, 2018

The sun is shining and the house is shaking

What does it mean when your house is shaking, and a small shelf  just fell off the wall?
Not an earthquake. No, the dryer isn't travelling across the floor.
The pavers are out front FINALLY laying asphalt down our county road.

Hooray! Little things really mean a lot. Now to go find some sturdy anchors to suspend my shelf.

Sometimes you have to shake things up before you realize what you should have done all along, such as install those little Molly devices that hold screws in the wall. I talked about it forever. Now that the shelf over my bed is on a pillow where I lay my head, I think I will get a move on and secure it.

Although I tend to work best under deadline, procrastination leads to my laziness. Truthfully I'd rather be sitting on the patio on my porch swing reading. But I must write, because today is the last day of April and I need to submit two more pieces to meet my self-imposed quota of seven submissions a month.

I hope you have a productive day.The sun is shining, and I am pining to get outdoors. 85 degrees tomorrow! I am delighted.

What are your plans for this week?  

Thursday, April 26, 2018

So long SASSY; hello CHARLEY

Originally I named this three year old cat Sassy. When he found us during winter, he was a terrified yowler who flinched at touch and snapped at hands coming toward his face.

 He has since developed trust, calmed down, and although he is still a sassy talker, his voice is less piercing and quieter, and he's become quite the lover boy. 

My granddaughter has decided not to name their baby Charley, (as Liam and I had hoped,) so now WE have a Charley. And he actually responds better to his new name.

Today I planned on telling you how sweet Charley has become since I gave him a bath last month. He did not resist and enjoyed it. He is more affectionate than ever, translation: pat me, touch me, hold me, PLEASE.

At night when we go to bed, he waits until we're snuggled under the covers, then he pounces up onto the bed, cautiously walks up to look at me, and meows softly. He walks over, gazes at Bill, and meows into his face, as if to say goodnight. Then he pads to our feet and curls up. I cover him with a small blanket. He sleeps the night.

At 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. he starts meowing softly, then a little louder. If I ignore him he walks up and looks into my face and gets increasingly noisier. I fake sleep, so he reaches over to the nightstand and does what he sees me do each morning. He reaches for my glasses. Sometimes I catch them before he sends them sailing onto the carpeted floor.

And so our day begins. I feed him a big breakfast, but he would eat all day if I'd let him. We researched his breed on line and discovered Charley is true to his DNA. This type of cat is VERY affectionate, always wants to eat, and 80 % of litter mates are males.

  Charley has been an inquisitive snoop and nincompoop this week.
He found a new perch and actually thinks he's hiding from me on a kitchen chair. He's been reaching on our desks to see what he can knock off: ink pens, papers etc. This morning he had fun catching fluttering butterflies.

They were just out of reach on an end table. Liam had been matching sizes using the butterflies I cut out from a decorative Kleenex box. Charley finally knocked them off, caught them as they fluttered down to him, and happily tossed them into the air. He has all sorts of toys to chew and chase.

 However, today he prefers MY things. He swiped seashells from the shelf behind him and knocked them all around. He found my pillow and attacked it. He's looking for trouble today.

I think Charley has spring fever. Do you have spring fever? I do.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

AM I sleeping with another man?

It is possible I have been sleeping with two guys. Maybe.

Liam is an imaginative, exceptionally bright, three year old who will be four in June. Our guest room has an entire wall of toy shelves and he sleeps in the guest bed when he spends the night, but on Tuesdays when I babysit, he readily climbs up on our bed for a nap.

 This week he said, "I don't want to take my nap in there with that man in your bed."

Do you mean Pawpaw? He's not even home.

No, that MAN in there!

Okay... is he a nice man or a mean man?

No. I don't know.

Does he scare you or is he nice to you?

No. He's okay.

How does he look?

I don't know.

What color hair does he have?


Is he big like a grown up or small like a kid?


The more I probed, the more he avoided my questions.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Of all the roads I've traveled...

This is happening outside our home today, finally after eight months of lane closures, detours, and orange cones. The activity this morning resurrected a vivid memory.

On July 2, 1970 I was a passenger in my ex-husband's, Army seargent's brand new Mustang. He and my husband had 14 day leaves. Sarge invited my husband to split the cost of gas and drive home with him, since we lived in neighboring towns. He insisted I fly home (to show off our new baby girl.) I insisted I wanted to ride with them. He complained but relented. The maniac drove the winding, gravel Alcan Highway all the way across country to the Midwest at speeds of 85-100 mph in 2 1/2 days! We stopped once to rest a few hours in the car, in front of a gas pump, waiting for morning until the gas station opened, so he could refuel and take off again.

Crammed into the back seat with a week old baby who was strapped into a solid, hard plastic pumpkin seat on my lap, I prayed and worried. No room to move, no voice to demand the maniac stop for my much needed potty breaks. It was a ride from hell.

On a two lane mountain pass, he blew past a semi. The wind force blew the rear car window in on me and the baby, sending safety glass shards everywhere. We were unhurt. But the maniac driver, spun a U turn and chased the semi, until I cried and begged him to stop. He stopped at a restaurant/gas station where I bathed our newborn in a bathroom sink. She wailed and broke out in hives. I cried, she cried, inwardly Sarge was probably crying for allowing me to come along, because the car seat handle was rubbing the paint off the interior of his new baby. We were all a mess. 

Upon our return to Alaska to finish my husband's tour of duty, he received notice he would be released in early November instead of December. When October arrived with fierce winds and freezing temperatures, and the need to replenish the fifty gallon diesel heating fuel drum, I just wanted to go back home. I missed my mom, our home town, the bakeries on every corner, the paved streets to push my baby in a stroller. 

We said good bye to her daddy a month early and bought a plane ticket home. With a baby bed packed in a box, a dog in a crate, and our daughter in my arms, I took my last trip up our  Alaska gravel road.

As I looked back on the eight ramshackle trailers, side by side in a rainbow of colors, I watched the heavy equipment workers paving our road. My final image is of the asphalt being poured, the fire underneath the paving equipment and the steam roller drawing up the rear.

Funny, now that I think about, my first ingrained image of Alaska is the firey sun in the midnight sky as I flew into the Fairbanks airport 110 miles from School Road in Delta Junction, and my final image  of our gravel road was the fire beneath the asphalt paving equipment.

Of all the roads I've ever traveled in my life, School Road resurrects the most emotional memories: it's where my best friend and I walked everyday as expectant mothers. 

Today I travel a path towards yesterday and miss my late friend Sheila.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

That takes the prize!

My sweet Nicole is ten-years-old. How did this happen?! She's almost as tall as I am. She loves art, drawing fashion designs, singing, dancing, and playing with her best friend CeCe.

She and (my son) attended a father-daughter dance at her school. She has a fun daddy, and he has a fine little girl. 

I love her giggles and hugs.

Nicole's art work, A Kaleidoscope of Leaves, was featured in an art show this week. She really has artistic ability, and I just know she is going to be a famous artist one day!

We had a sunny, almost 80 degree day last week, so why is Nick wearing his cap backwards?! 

Nicholas is 16, and his favorite past time is fishing. He's driving now, so he and his buddy Parker go fishing every single day after school, until dark. He loves fishing! When Bill and I discovered him at a local park and fishing lake, he hadn't had many bites in two hours! But he was still trying. He said he caught his biggest fish on a day when it was freezing cold and sleeting. What dedication!

Although this one was a real keeper, Nick catches and releases. He will be attending a fishing tournament soon. I just know he will bring home a trophy or prize. He's a winner for sure!

What is your passion? If you practice your craft, invest in your interests, and apply yourself, you too could be a winner. Sing your own praises, dance and rejoice. Announce your achievements no matter how insignificant you think they might be; let others know. You may inspire someone.

What are you're waiting for, the weather to improve? Inspiration to strike? More time? Get out there and just do it. 

You may not take the prize, or even receive acknowledgement of a submission if you are a writer, but much like fishing, you never know when you will get a strike and possibly land the big one. Wishing you the very best in all pursuits.

Also wishing for spring, it's going to be in the 30's today. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Looney Toons, Coo-Coo for Cocoa Puffs... ditch the labels!

Three decades ago, I did a lesson on occupations with my preschool students. A little boy said, "My daddy works at the NUT HOUSE with the crazy people." His father was a psychiatrist at the state mental health hospital. 

Negative labels, derogatory comments, and stigma about mental health issues still exist.

I am pleased to be a contributing author to Dis*or*der Volume IV, an anthology about mental illness. My poem is one of twelve selected. The book also includes essays. 

Rock-a-bye Mama is about my late mom's nervous breakdown when I was a child, although I didn't specify that detail.

We all have skeletons in our closets. I urge you, don't hesitate to write the unnerving, the difficult... your truths. But do so without hurting others.

Learn more about Elizabeth Dillon (, who states this will be an annual anthology. Check the website to see other anthology topics, submission guidelines, and schedule. 

This is a powerful publication, and the most important two words I've read about this book are "HEALING anthology." I like the site. So many self-help pubs and anthologies  focus on the illness and not the wellness or overcoming. This collection covers a broad spectrum and is representative of numerous diagnoses. I am proud to be a part of this book. ~ Linda O'Connell (a non-profit) and RedDashboard LLC are collaborative grassroots organizations which developed Dis*or*der Volume IV.

This is the blurb on website:

"Mental disorders are no-fault genetic brain conditions which affect one out of every five families. Mental illness can and often does cause chaos, suffering and an inability to function in daily life. They can be difficult to diagnose, yet they usually have a genetic component. Mental illnesses are the leading cause of disability in the United States, more common than heart disease or cancer. Mental illnesses are treatable yet many who suffer are afraid or unable to get treatment.
Authors and Poets come together in this collection by sharing their experiences in their personal life, with family and friends, and in professional lives, the bittersweet reality of living with dis*or*ders. Their words on these pages can begin to replace the stigma surrounding mental illness with understanding, hope and compassion."

Dis*or*der, Volume, IV will be available in May, and we would all appreciate if you could  spread the word by purchasing copies and sharing the info with those you love and within the mental illness community.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Growl it... announce your success

Liam was two and half when this picture was taken.

And here he is three months before his fourth birthday. I cannot believe how he has grown. He has achieved so many milestones. He is reading simple three letter words. He is so proud of himself.

Are you continuing to grow in your pursuits, endeavors, interests? We grow when we continue to feed our soul with things we enjoy doing. I enjoy writing. Some of my subject matter is personal and I have self doubt about whether anyone would be interested in my experiences. However, I recently received an acceptance on a poem I submitted to a publication months ago. It was one of only twelve selected. The subject matter is one that affects many people, mental illness. I can't name the publication yet, but it will be a "healing anthology." That has a nice ring, doesn't it?

I promise to promote as soon as I get the go ahead. I just want to encourage YOU to follow your passion. Take time and make time to do the things you enjoy. Hop a painted tiger and growl your success to the world at large. Believe in yourself.

Friday, April 6, 2018

A real zoo

We finally had a warm day with sunshine, so we headed to the zoo for an outing Tuesday. I walked so much, I went to bed early and slept until 7:00 a.m. I am always up at 5:00 so I figure age is catching up with me. 

This brown bear was sitting high on a rock, saw Liam, and came right down to go nose to nose with him.

I was sitting in the sun feeding baby Alex when a

 young couple with five stair-step children passed by. The middle child (about six) dragging up the rear growled and stomped every time her parents turned around to speak to her. 

The oldest smacked the next one. Dad was pushing the baby in a stroller. A three year old was walking alongside tugging on dad. 

The young man looked over at me and laughed. He said, "You're getting a free show. Usually we can charge for this." The overwhelmed mom just shrugged. 

Then I heard another mom yell for her little girl, "Come here, Glitter!" That name was a little sparkly for me!

Another mom called for her son, "Wellington" which made me think of Richie Rich comic books for some reason, maybe the pretentious name.

It was a real zoo at the food court, so many people purchasing over-priced hot dogs and wilted french fries. Workers weaving their way through the crowd shouting, "Excuse me." Stroller pushers shouting, "Can I please get through?" 

Talk about sensory overload! 

74 degrees yesterday and 24 in the morning. Come on, winter hit the road!