Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A little Cat Nip

 This sassy cat talks more than any cat I've ever known. He mimicks us, he whines, he begs. And he has dozens of cat toys, but look at what he claimed as his prize, a piece of paper. He laid on it, rolled on it, scartched at it and was very content.

Sort of reminds me of my son when he was a little boy. He would receive lots of Christmas presents but preferred playing with the boxes.

Just goes to prove, you don't need fancy toys to make Sassy Boy happy.

When I reached over for it this evening, he nipped my arm. Well keep it then!


Friday, September 11, 2020

The Feelings Flag

 In commemoration of all the lives lost on 9/11/01

The Feelings Flag by Linda O'Connell

published in Chicken Soup for the Soul The Spirit of America, 2016

I stood in my living room and cringed at the sight of the first plane hitting the first of the Twin Towers. 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 turned on my car radio on my way to work and listened intently to the reports. Then, I heard that another plane had made impact.

I arrived at school a few minutes later. No one was quite 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 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 young man in the hall who shouted at me, "America is at war!"

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

They insisted they saw it on TV and that military jets were intercepting other planes.

I walked into my classroom, and watched as my students went about their school day, unaware of the attacks, I knew they were okay. My aide was capable, so I left her in charge.

I felt compelled to do something patriotic to relieve the mounting tension and confusion the middle school students were feeling, although I was not in charge of any of them. I cut
twelve- inch by two-inch strips of red, white and blue construction paper into strips, the kinds  kids use to create paper chains. I did not consult the principal or counselor. I acted on impulse. I visited each classroom and intruded on each classroom teacher. I asked each if might have a moment, then I said, "Nobody knows exactly what is going on. We've all heard rumors and news reports. It's a frightening time for all of us."

 I passed out strips of paper to the students and asked them to write what they were feeling at the moment. Any fears, any words— anything would be acceptable. Some asked about spelling, and some asked if they should sign it.

"If you want to," I said.

I collected more than 200 strips and rolled them into  loops, then I stapled them to the bulletin board in the cafeteria. I read an outpouring of emotional comments. "I am afraid." "I want to kick their behinds." "Bomb them." "Why did this happen?" "What now?" "I want to go home."

I posted one after another, row after row, until an American flag took shape. Some of the comments were laced with misspelled words and profanity; some were smeared with tears. I did not censor. I stapled every single one. I stood back and admired that "feelings flag".

At lunch I stood against the wall and observed teens and preteens, who were usually destructive with bulletin board displays, as they searched for their piece of that flag. I listened to them read their words aloud, owning their emotions, giving voice to their fears and frustrations, initiating conversations.

On that horrible day, when America came under attack, I didn't know if my actions would do any good. It just felt good to do something. My friend Tammy said,

'With that spontaneous action, you gave children a voice when no one knew what to say."

The bulletin board flag stayed up for more than  a week. Then the strips began disappearing as individuals claimed their sections... and their feelings.

 

 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

A rare sighting, a rare gift


Our bedroom window looks down upon our backyard bird feeder, bird bath, a variety of birds, two chipmunks, and a trio of young squirrels that excite Sassy Boy, our fat cat. He sits on the chest of drawers and meows at the critters and wags his tail. Yesterday I was petting him and looking out the window. I saw a sight to behold, a pure white hummingbird. I did not take this picture. In fact I didn't have my cell phone with me at 8:28 a.m. But I will always remember the gift I received. Of all the people in the world, I saw a white hummer. They are very rare.


 It flew into my neighbor's yellow Canna Lily. Incidentally, these were my late best friend Sheila's favorite flower. It was almost like a gift from beyond. I feel so honored to have been privy to this oddity of nature.
Ah, there are changes coming. I feel it in the air, in the shortening days. Our hummingbird feeder has had three frequent flyers. I remember when we went to Mexico one year. I could not believe how many hummingbirds were at rest on a lush bush. I wasn't aware that they sit still for long periods. Their wings flap so rapidly; I thought they were always in motion.

Just think they have to load up on sugar and nectar to make their imminent long journey south, across the gulf waters, all the way to Mexico. Nature is amazing!

The ruby throated green one, and the brown one, and the mottled one are not afraid of us sitting outside, but they fuss at one another. I am hoping to see that white hummer again. I have my cell phone next to me now when I sit outside and read. I hope I can get a photo.

What have you noticed lately about nature?

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Standing tall and proud

Somebody tell me when it happened. My son and his wife stopped by with Nicholas and Nicole. They have outgrown me, both are taller than I am. They are sweet as ever and still like my surprise treats. Today I melted Dove chocolate squares and gave them each a banana to dip in the dark chocolate. Of course I gave them a handful of squares to go.

It really is the little things that mean so much and are often remembered. They both love back rubs, and I hope they never outgrow that special little connection, because I will always be available for gentle loving touch, which matters when words aren't sufficient.

The world is getting crazy. Violence is everywhere, and it is getting closer to home. Yesterday two police officers were shot, one is critical, the other released. There were several shootings, murders, and a home invasion in nice parts of the city where I used to live and work. Places you would never expect.

Nicholas told me his best friend's cousin was traveling home from California, arrived in St. Louis, and was gunnend down in cold blood on the interstate, for no reason. I worry for my family.

And so I arm myself... with prayer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Forced marriage?


Ahh, that little boy of mine. Actually he is my granddaughter's little boy, but six-year-old Liam and I have a connection that wraps itself around each of us like his long legs that entwine my lower body when I arrive at his door, and he jumps into my arms.
Liam came home after his first in-class day of 1st grade and told his mama a little girl asked him at recess if she could be his playground girlfriend.
Ashley said, "Did you know I was sort of Daddy's playground girlfriend? We met when we were in school."

Liam looked at his mom aghast and asked, "You mean I'm going to have to marry her?!" And you think wearing face masks is the only concern for first graders? Ashley explained he'd have many playground girl and boy friends throughout school. He did not have to marry them.🥰



Saturday, August 22, 2020

Would you? Could you?


Not just writing a Good Reads or Amazon book review, but personally contacting a New York Times Best Selling author… 

Would you? Could you? Have you ever?

I have. 

When my grandson was a young reader he was thrilled with a middle grade novel, Saving Zasha, a story about a boy and his German Shepherd during WWII.

I contacted author, Randi Barrow to express my thanks and tell her how much her book influenced Nicholas, who declared after reading Saving Zasha that he was going to join the military when he finished high school.

Until recently he was still so influenced by Randi Barrow’s book, he considered joining the Army. I am happy he changed his mind and will be entering college on Monday. Saving Zasha is a book that will forever remain with Nick.  

Randi Barrow replied to my original letter, and I presented her letter to Nick, who still considers it a treasure.

**********
 Lesley Kagen is a New York Times Best Selling Author of ten novels. 

Her books are written from the viewpoint of children as narrators and they are set in the ’50s and ’60. Recognizable places, things, and brand names make me smile at the familiarity. Page after page transports me back to my childhood. Her themes address serious adult issues and empower the narrators.

About the same time Nick discovered Randi Barrow's Saving Zasha, I discovered Leslie Kagen's first novel,Whistling in the DarkI felt as Nicholas did, enthralled, lost in the story, a part of it. I didn’t want it to end. 

I contacted her and told her how her book was the escapism I needed to get through a particularly difficult time in my life. My friend Sheila was suffering from effects of brain cancer and I knew we would lose her soon. Through the pages of Lesley Kagen's book, I imagined Sheila and myself as the main characters.  

Lesley Kagen replied with a heartfelt response. A week later her next book arrived in the mail with a lovely inscription… a complete surprise, which made me cry.   

Authors are people who have lives just like you and I.


They thrive on positive reviews and encouraging comments.

This week I picked up another of Lesley Kagen’s books, Land of a Hundred Wonders, and I intend to get lost on another great adventure.

Lesley Kagen's latest and greatest, Every Now and Then, will be released October 6, 2020.


Do you leave book reviews? If not, please do.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Oopsie again

So here is another oopsie of mine.

Sassy cat woke me before dawn begging for breakfast. Does he look like he's starving?! He banged against the closet door just because he knows the noise will wake me. When that didn't work, he went to sharpen his claws where he shouldn't. I got up and out of bed with narrowed eyes and achy knees to reprimand him. When he meowed sweetly and softly, I had to smile because he's been a real mama's boy lately. So I gave him some kibble to hush him.



 I saw a cup of yesterday's coffee in the pot and poured it into my dark mug in the dark kitchen and microwaved it. I grabbed a few Famous Amos mini chocolate chip cookies with pecans and settled in front of the TV to watch the anxiety-inducing news.

I dunked my five little cookies and sipped my coffee right down to the bottom of the cup, tipped it up, encountered cookie crumbs and pecan pieces, and chomped the last bit of sweet goodness. I thought! Only it was yucky old coffee grounds. Fat cat just sat and watched me sputtering and spitting into a tissue.

That was how I started my day. How was yours?

I have been writing stories for Chicken Soup for the Soul's new titles. The only one I can not think of a story for is for the collection titled, What I Do For Me.

Dare I write about how many cookies I eat?

If you are a writer, remember that sometimes the most mundane things can evolve into a 1,000 word publishable story.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Keep your nose clean!

I wrote about this on Facebook yesterday when I discovered something about myself.

I hate taking any medication, and I have never done drugs, unless you consider dark chocolate a drug. And I could never snort cocaine or any other thing, not even dark chocolate!

I opened a brand new container of orange flavored Metamucil and snorted a cloud of Tang dust up my nostrils. It nearly did me in. My first instinct was to flush my nose, but something in me said, "NO! What if you cause a gelatinous clog?" I blew, I snuffled, and I swore I would never open a container under my own nose ever again. Just a warning to all of you.

This morning I received an acceptance from Prairie Times, an out of town publication, for October. I've submitted a lot of work, but acceptances are not pouring in. Just doing the happy dance and sending a warning to all of you to keep your nose clean!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Weirdo magnet working

They find me. The weird folks home in and find me.

I was in the back yard washing a small rug and hosing it  down on the fence. I saw a woman about 25 walking through the neighbor's yard behind us. She walked toward me wearing red cap, red shirt, red pants and red shoes. She had a large purse slung over her left shoulder. She approached and said, "HI."
I said, "Hi. Who are you?" Thinking she was a friend or relative of our backyard neighbors.

She said, "Oh I live around here. I'm taking a short cut. She flung her purse over our chain link fence about four ft high.

I said in a firm voice, "This is not a short cut; it is our property and if you get hurt we are responsible."

She hopped the fence and said, "See I'm not hurt." And she walked to the front of our house and walked down the street shouting, "Hi, how are you?" and waving.

I thought she was talking to Bill or our neighbor. 

Nobody was around. Wheee!

Today you just don't know about people. I told Bill she could have had a gun in that big purse. He said, "What would you do, turn the hose on her?"

I thought about it. YES!


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Raindrops kept falling on my head

Charlie turned two-years-old. He was amazed with his cake. Those are finger marks below his name. I caught him sneaking the colored sprinkles off, naming the colors and munching. 
We sat on the front porch and watched the rain come down, then their mama took off their shirts and encouraged Liam, Alex, and Charlie to go find some puddles to jump in. They had a blast.

Alex shouted, "Brella!" then I joined them for a little Mary Poppins fun. Making memories.
I took my boot off temporarily because it was soaking wet, but I have 10 more days of wearing it.

I would appreciate prayers of protection and good wishes for Liam as he starts school tomorrow. I am so concerned for his well being, but the decison to send him was not mine to be made. This virus is relentless. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Congratulations are in order!



She said, "Yes!"
Bill and I broke quarantine and socially distanced Saturday. Grandson Kyle proposed to Abby; the wedding will be next fall. Meanwhile, they've bought a farm and a darling house about an hour out of town. They are as happy as the cows in the pasture, the pigs in the pen, the ducks in the pond, the galloping horses, and their crazy little dog, Beau, who has finally grown into his legs.  

                         
Beau is Kyle's dog through and through. He runs after (and rides on) four wheelers and tractors and in Kyle's truck when he drives to work each day. Kyle has a lawn care business, and Beau is spoiled by the workers and office personnel. 


 There were darling decorations and cute cookies and so much food. But we did not partake. We ate before we came. Oh wait, we did have a bakery cupcake with so much frosting and filling... Abby had glazed donuts with paper diamonds inserted, which looked like huge wedding rings. Such cute ideas.

 Beau made a  big splash when he jumped in the algae-covered pond, and had to be hosed off. He was even part of the celebration. He had a neckerchief printed with, My Humans are Getting Married!

The temperature was in the high 90s and heat index was over 100, but we stayed outside away from the crowd. We sat in lawn chairs on the end of the huge front porch and socially distanced. Kyle rigged up a gigantic fan, which kept us cool and allowed us to watch from afar as they took photos. It is a shame Covid had to shadow their celebration, but we are too old to mingle during a pandemic. Hope this virus is gone by the wedding!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

What is that awful smell?


Do you see the tiny ladybug?  When I was a little, I called them potato bugs. They are not bugs, they are beetles, and they are not just ladies. Male and female can eat 5,000 aphids in their lifetime.
Some people think they bring good fortune. Other people think they are a pain. Before winter they hibernate inside homes. Experts claim they cuddle in groups and do no harm.

I saw on the internet where a dozen of them had wintered at the base of a swirly flourescent light bulb in a living room lamp. This shorted the light and led to a near fire.

Which leads me to the awful odor we smelled when we were driving the car, as if something was burning. Bill took the car in for an oil change and mentioned the odor. The mechanic called and said he found the source of the smell. The car engine had served as a winter retreat for rodents. The airfilter was crammed with seeds, droppings, and acorns, plus there was another nest, which could have led to a fire under the hood.

Now Bill has moth balls on the ground under the car. He has been searching for Grandpa Gus's Mouse Repellent. When he gets on a kick, he delves deeply. He's been researching on the internet for two days.

"I've got to do this the right way. Some users said the mice loved Grandpa' Gus's old spice fragrance and refused to leave. Well we're not having that!"

So I will hear about this for some time.  I told him I think it's that fat chipmunk who snatches the fallen bird seed. So yesterday he ordered a humane trap and plans to relocate the rodent to the farm across the road. I think the chipmunk might get the last laugh. I don't want to tell Bill I saw our chipmunk chasing our neighbor's little rodent.

He may need more traps.

One more fact about lady bugs: they produce a noxious toxin which doesn't hurt humans but makes them distasteful to birds. The brighter the  lady bug, the stronger the toxin. Now you know.





Wednesday, July 22, 2020

I'm back!

Robin, my wonderful step-daughter, saved my blog. Chocolate drizzled popcorn for life!

My dear husband bought me a new laptop, and we transferred everything form the desk top. Whew!

That was a chore for a technology-challenged writer. I am blessed with a patient husband.

How are all of you doing? This spike in Covid-19 has me concerned, especially since our state became a hot spot. Life has sure had a lot of twists and turns this year.

I turned my ankle and broke it, but next week I go to the doctor to see if I can give this boot the boot!

I will be back!











Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Sometimes it's right to be wrong

The orthopedist said the X-ray indicates my ankle is healing faster than expected and looks good. He told me to leave the boot off if I get up in the middle of the night and see how I maneuvre without it.

I told him I can't wait. I also explained that they issued me a defective othropedic boot. It had only one soft pad velcroed on that hard piece of plastic. (See the plastic form there with the holes in it?)

He said it required only one pad for comfort on top the ankle. I complained that my leg was sore from the velcro scartching it and I had to put a soft fabric inside to ease my bruising and skin irritation.

He looked at me and asked, "Where have you been wearing that molded peice of plastic?"

"Next to my skin, to stabilize my leg and ankle."

I couldn't see his smile behind his mask, but I know he was smiling by the twinkle in his eye when he said, "Bet that's been uncomfortable. It's to be worn on the outside."

Well now you know why my great improvement. Instead of four more weeks, he says he'll see me in two. What do you know! I did something wrong that turned out right.

Bill says I should get a boot for my other foot so I can stomp all around town.

I'll tell you though, I'm getting spoiled by using the electric ride on shopping carts.


Saturday, July 4, 2020

Bringing the sea to me

My ankle pain is easing, and I am physically UP now, but emotionally I am DOWN more than I am up. Yep, life is a roller coaster ride. Try dragging a heavy boot along on the ride, while keeping your balance using a cane, and ripping open heavy duty Velcro strips to encase the boot. It's annoying. But, this too shall pass. I have much for which to be thankful.

                                                               I'm really not that wide.

I've come to the conclusion 2020 will rob us of a beach vacation this year. So I'll relive my happiness by looking at old photos. This one was taken in Mexico, I think.

The sea calls to me in my day dreams AND night dreams. My heart and head are filled with wonderful memories. One of my fondest is a tour we took from our resort to the town banker's property. The tour bus drove through the banker's banana plantation that opened onto wide open land with a mansion that abutted a pristine, calm, turquoise lagoon. It stretched out to the breakers and opened to the sea. We swam and floated in that lagoon one afternoon. I left a little piece of my heart there.

I had a longing to float in the sea. I prefer showers to baths, but I filled the bathtub and soaked until the water cooled. Sometimes you just have to settle for the next best thing, and if 2020 so far is any indication of what's to come...

a monster heat wave is predicted for the Midwest by next weekend bringing temperatures as high as 110 and above.

Happy 4th of July, friends.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Don't tell me... But let me tell you.

Did you ever go through old computer files or writing folders and uncover a nugget you'd written? Amaze yourself that your writing was not half bad? Realize rejection was not about you personally, and maybe not even about your writing, but maybe not suitable at the time for the publication to which you submitted?

I went to the Dollar Tree today and bought a few packs of Post-It Notes in bright colors. Just a little something to make me happy and inspire me to jot an idea, copy a quote, or write a reminder to take an Ibuprofen for my achy ankle. Sixteen days in a boot has been no fun. Ripping the Velcro closures open during the night scares the poor cat, when I have to get up and back into bed. We will both be relieved when this is over. I can't wait to get back into my flip flops, but it will be a long time before I ever get to a beach with this virus spiking. Stay safe, friends.



I found an essay I had written based on a true story a non-writer friend told me. I changed the names, added imagined dialogue, and submitted it to my critique group, Wild Women Wielding Pens. They are familiar with my writing style, mainly personal essay/creative non fiction.

They commented that my "fiction" was pretty good.

I never considered myself a fiction writer, but this might be a stepping stone to discovering a new writing genre. Sometimes we get locked into one way of thinking. Maybe it's time to broaden horizons.

Have you ever imagined writing one thing and ended up with something all together different?

One of our writing prompts for our next Zoom meeting is to write a story with this opening: Don't tell me... 

There will be many different takes on this. Want to add your two cents, just a sentence or two? Allow your imagination to carry you away. Will one sentence evolve into a paragraph, a short story? A rant? Horror? A thriller? A sob story? A fear? Give it a try.

Give me a sentence? 


If you are a writer here's an added bonus: Erica Verillo 
publishedtodeath.blogspot.com has some great news for those of you who have files filled with material. There are many places seeking submissions. This is a goldmine. Enjoy the hunt!




  

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Surprise-surprise-surprise!

As if self-quarantine wasn't bad enough, I broke my ankle (twisted it and fell taking a walk last Friday.) I'm out of commission wearing a heavy plastic boot for 6-8 MORE weeks. My mobility is compromised which gives me a deep appreciation for anyone who is physically handicapped or challenged.

On Sunday, I was outside on the patio with my leg elevated, when I heard a car pull in behind
ours. I saw this bouquet of flowers coming toward me, and then I saw my great grandson Liam.
He had been shopping with his mama. When they passed the floral display he mentioned,
"Blue is Nana's favorite color."

You can bet I grabbed my face shield, and then I grabbed my little buddy. He said with SO much emotion, "This is the first time we've MET... (long pause as he calculated the months) in three months!" That was the longest sweetest hug ever! I took off my boot and showed him my boo-boo. He said, "Yeah, Nana! Yeah it IS broken. Look how black and blue and big it is."

                                                                      Yep, it is broken.


I feel like a failed contortionist. It takes me forever to maneuver on a cane or walker. I decide to sit on the couch and elevate my ankle with an ice pack. I tie three throw pillows to the walker, tie my ice pack around my ankle, lift my leg to the pillow... and my ice pack slides. Straighten that... and my pillows slip. Finally get organized, scoot too far back or forward... and have to lift my body weight with one leg elevated. Exhausted, I lie back ready to relax... and realize I have to pee.

                                                               The birthday boy!
Yesterday I decided to  break quarantine. It was Liam's sixth birthday and so we had a picnic  outdoors for him and his family. He played with water balloons, bubbles, squirt guns, and toys in the wading pool.

Liam looks like a meany in the next photo, but he was trying desperately to shoot a bubble at the camera. He is actually very kind, caring, and sweet.

I usually make sheet cakes for all family birthdays. He saw a plate-size muffin decorated with sprinkles and candles and said, "Nana! Why did you make me a small birthday cake? I mean, Nana, THANK YOU for making me that small birthday cake."

I had to squeeze him... and Alex and Charlie, my great grandsons. We've certainly missed one another.



If you are a writer, remember to show not tell.
A dozen writers would describe what is going on in this photo in a dozen ways. 

Truth be told, Liam was merely frustrated and the other two, who look happy-go-lucky, each had big surprises in their diapers. I might look like I'm smiling, but I was holding my breath. 

If a picture tells a story... tell yours with flair, surprise, intrigue. 

Now for MY surprise. I received an acceptance from Guideposts. I've finally broken in.
Do you have any news to share with me?

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Graduation then, graduation now







Commencement means a new beginning. 

When I graduated high school 53 years ago I thought of graduation as an end, but it actually was the beginning of my journey into adulthood.

My mom used to say, "If only I knew then what I know now." Made no sense!

Soren Kierkegaard stated: Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.

Makes sense now. Looking back I can see how my decisions and choices affected my life.
                                         This is a photo of my mom, stepdad, and me at 18.

 I had so many hopes and dreams for my future. Six months after graduation I married the boy I went steady with for three years.  I know!

We could not wait to get away from home. Back then, girls did not strike out on their own.

On our one year anniversary he received his draft notice, and half a year later we were in Alaska where he was stationed with the US Army. About a year after that we had a baby daughter.

I never dreamed I'd be in Alaska, but I always wanted babies. Three years later, back home, we had a son. I loved being a mommy. That was my dream come true!

This is my daughter Tracey on her high school graduation day, a couple weeks before her 18th birthday. She was Grandma Ginny's girl, and we were both so proud of her. Now she's married has a girl and boy and grand kids! Where does time go?

Then it was Jason's turn. He graduated from Naval Junior ROTC Academy with his future bride. He looks like a baby at age 18. Now they have a teen son and daughter. I sure was skinny back then and wore the typical 80's big hair curly perm.

Nicholas, Jason's son, just completed high school and he's enrolled in college for fall.

2020 has been a crazy year. He did not get to celebrate prom, senior days, or graduation ceremony due to Covid-19 pandemic. Is he disappointed? Absolutely, but he's able to accept what he can and let go of what he can't. He's resilient, ambitious and will be a success.  Life is what you make it.

He has a great attitude.


Liam entered kindergarten with a head start. He could read,write, and make up stories. Due to the pandemic, his first year of classroom school ended abruptly in March, but he continued with on line learning. His teacher spoke to her class, posted pictures, promoted him to first grade and announced Liam's name as one of the future class of 2032.

 He did not get to parade with his classmates, tell his teacher good-bye, or wear his little cap and gown, but he said he's okay with that. He received the most creative writing award in his class. 
I am so proud of my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. Go forward with confidence. God bless you all.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Are you getting it done?

This little chunk chipmunk stuffs his jaws with spilled birdseed. He wants it all-all-all!
 If you are a writer it is normal to want an agent, a contract, a best seller.

 Liam is graduating kindergarten Monday. He will be a 1st grader. He will make so many new discoveries. Recently he lost his first tooth. He asked his mama why she was so excited. She said, "Buddy, your'e growing up so fast." He laid his head on her and said, "I gotta get a job, don't I?"

This isn't the first time he's been in the spotlight, and it won't be the last. If you are a writer, do you seek the limelight or avoid it? Take a chance and shine.


 Alex likes to observe first and then join in. Charlie wants to do everything his big brothers do. They were tossing rocks into the creek. Liam slam dunked this one and it splashed them.  
If you are a writer, you can get noticed with a little splash as well as a big splash. Sometimes you have to start small... consider publishing an excerpt from your larger work in progress. Literary magazines are always seeking, and if your work is accepted it shows your future agent your potential. 
 Charlie is curious and chatters loudly about EVERY thing. If you are a writer you have to attract attention and promote yourself. Talk up, attend open mics and writer's groups. Share generously and learn your craft.
 If you are a writer, are you attaining great heights? Reach as far as possible, and never doubt your abilities. Write on!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Life is just field of oranges sometimes.

This morning I woke early and placed a chair at the front door. Sassy Boy is fascinated by the fat rabbit that lives under the shrubbery. He waits for a sighting, and when he gets a glimpse, he wags his tail like a dog, but doesn't make a peep. This morning he was disappointed. 
 He heard rustling under the bush and darted to see... a squirrel. He sees squirrels and birds outside our bedroom window all day. He loses interest. But when he sees a rabbit, oh how excited he gets.

 Life is sometimes disappointing. We expect one thing and get another. So we make do.
If you are a writer, be sure to offer your reader an alternative. Do the unexpected.

Louie-Bobba-Louie ( he doesn't answer to any of his names) wants to be near us all the time. Summer has arrived on the tail of spring rains. We brought out his soft sided cage and he sat contentedly on the patio table while we played Rummy Cube. He just wants to be close to us. Satisfied to watch the back yard critters and know we are near. This cage is three feet in length. Bobby Boo Boo is a big cat! But he's a kitten at heart. If you are a writer, give your toughest characters an endearing quality. 

 Sometimes it's satisfaction enough to just be close to your tribe. If you are a writer, are you keeping in touch with fellow writers? I have been "Zooming" with my critique group. I also participated in a poetry prompt challenge each weekday last month. I wrote twenty-three poems.

 I like to photograph interesting scenery. Bill and I are still adhering to social distancing and are pretty much self quarantined. We do go to the park a few times a week. We picnic in our car, just to get out and watch people. I like to take photos.
 There was something about the composition of these objects. If you are a writer, be sure to toss in something interesting and unexpected for your reader to focus on. 

There were so many ducks. I was surprised to see two goslings wandering. The flock of geese had taken wing and soared back in en mass. Toss your reader a surprise once in a while. Let them hear the whoosh of wings, the splash landing.

I was shocked and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw these oranges by the fence in the park. I wanted to know Why? Who? What? How? Your reader wants answers, too. Give them something shocking or incredible to visualize. And write on!
What do YOU think about these oranges? Who, what, why?

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Nature's gifts

I have been reading and writing and eating way too much junk. I enjoy sitting outdoors when the weather permits, but what really makes both of us happy is a brief outing. 

We stopped at a fast food drive through and took our breakfast to a nearby park with a lake. 
 I took photos of flowers that made me smile and sigh, but the nicest surprise was when we parked the car and watched this heron glide across the lake, then soar away and return to strut its stuff.

I so wished I could visit with these doll babies and share my nature discoveries in person with them.

 As we drove through the park we saw this beautiful sight. Realized later that all that glimmers is not gold. This is a field of goldenrod (I think). After I oohed, ahhed and inhaled... I aaachooed!



Saturday, May 9, 2020

Happy Mother's Day...remembering mom

My mom was 20 in this photo holding me. If I cried and begged, Mom let me trail along with her when she visited neighbors. When I was school age she'd tell her lady friends, "You can say anything and talk freely in front of her, she never repeats anything. Linda's my little trooper." 
I had no idea what that meant, I didn't understand their girl talk, but I felt valued.
If my mom ever loved me and my brother, born a year later, she adored my first born who was her pride and joy, and then her first grandson. 
I also had a little boy for her to love. Then he grew up, married, and they had a little girl and boy.  

Nineteen years after my daughter was born,  Mom's love tripled when Tracey became a mom, making my mom became a great grandma to Ashley. To say Mom was obsessed with "her girl" would be an understatement. When Tracey had a baby boy, mom's love blossomed again.

I only wish she could have known Ashley's sweet little boys. Nana Ginny loved her babies.
 Mom was a petite, sometimes sweet, sometimes snappy spit fire who taught us about love and God.
She was fun loving. She loved her family and we loved her. We miss you, Mom, today and everyday.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms in our family: my daughter, her daughter, my daughter-in-law and my step daughters. Thank you all for going when you've felt like quitting, smiling when you've felt like crying, and for taking outstanding care of my grands and great grandchildren. You all have a piece of my heart.

Becoming My Mother

By Linda O'Connell
Becoming My Mother
When I was a little girl I wore dress ups, played with baby dolls and emulated my mother. On hot summer evenings, I’d sit on the gentle sloping lawn, thick with clover flowers, and listen to my parents talk about the day’s events. While other moms wore make-up and teetered on high heels, mine never did. This morning as I slipped my feet into my new pair of wedges, the kind of shoes Mom used to wear, I took a nostalgic stroll.
I’m a freshman in high school. Mom and I wear each other’s clothes and swap purses. On Saturdays, we walk a mile to Cherokee Street, the six block shopping center with a variety of independently owned small variety and specialty stores. She forbids me to wear make-up like the other girls, but for the most part, Mom’s okay. She sits on my bed on Sunday mornings, and we talk like friends. She sure doesn’t act like a mom, I tell her. We enjoy one another’s company.
I’m a high school senior, and suddenly I don’t want to be anything like the woman I strongly resemble. Complete strangers stop us and comment that we look like sisters. The last thing I want to hear is, “You look just like your mother.” No matter how accurate the statement, there is a twenty year gap between us. I am my own person, seeking my own identity and independence. Soon, I plan to get married and start my own life. I cannot wait to get away from Mom’s restrictive rules.
I’m twenty-two, and Mom is forty-two. She walks a mile every other day to my house to adore and spoil her first granddaughter. They idolize one another. I enjoy Mom’s company again. I can do my own thing, wear make-up if I want. She’s always available to babysit at a moment’s notice. I feel blessed.
“Mom, why don’t you let me put make-up on you?” I beg until she finally gives in. I poof her bouffant hair, tint her lips, rouge her cheeks and smudge sky blue eye shadow across her lids. “There, let me see. You look beautiful,” I say. My puzzled expression makes her dash to the mirror.
“I look painted. This isn’t me,” she insists, but she leaves the make-up on to please me. As we sit across from one another dunking Danish – she always brings bakery goods – I can hardly bear to look into her face. One of her heavy eyelids sinks into the socket, and the blue eye shadow disappears into the fold. She looks like a clown with one bright, blue lid.
“You’re probably right, Mom, you look just great without make-up.” I reach for the cold cream.
Mom tells me that a little lipstick is good because as a woman ages it brightens her appearance. So I always wear lipstick, and Mom wears it only when she’s going out.
Mom tells me that a little lipstick is good because as a woman ages it brightens her appearance. So I always wear lipstick, and Mom wears it only when she’s going out. The other day she smiled at the neighbor with bright pink lips and no front teeth. She had forgotten her partial dental plate, and her mouth sunk in like a collapsed clay pot. I was totally embarrassed for her and myself. “I’ll never be like that!” I vowed. Mom is sixty; I am forty; my daughter is twenty, and her little girl is ripping wrapping paper off her first birthday presents. I overhear my daughter talking to my mom. “Gram, I adore you, but Mom drives me crazy! I hope I’m never like her.” I’m 55 and concerned as I stroll into Mom’s hospital room. What a place to celebrate her seventy-fifth birthday. I ask if she has a nail clipper, rummage through her purse, and discover a bottle of moisturizer and a razor wrapped in a paper towel. “What is this for?” I ask. She smiles self-consciously and taps above her top lip, rolls her eyes and says, “You just wait!”
No wonder her kisses often feel a bit abrasive. I shake my head and cringe. I hope I am never like Mom. She’s becoming a real embarrassment with her bristly lip, droopy lids, sometimes toothless grin and unfiltered comments.
She is surrounded by three generations singing happy birthday so loud the doctor pokes his head into her room and laughs at the sight of a birthday cake with candles ablaze. My sixteen year old granddaughter shares a confidence with Mom and me when her mother walks out of the room. “My mom doesn’t know anything! I can’t wait to go to college and get away from her!”
I chuckle and clean up the party mess. As I wash my hands, I look in the mirror and see that I bear a striking resemblance to my mother. I massage moisturizer into my facial creases and wonder when my eyelids got so heavy. I listen to the conversation in the room and smile when my daughter jokes, “Gram, we all have the same family traits: your sassy mouth and heavy eye lids.”
My sixteen year old granddaughter moans, “Mom, how embarrassing!” She utters the same phrase under her breath that has been repeated by four generations, “I hope I never act like you.”
I hug and kiss my children and grandchildren as they leave the hospital. After everyone departs, I walk over and plant a kiss on Mom’s wrinkled cheek and say, “I love you.” I expect her to reply with something sweet. Instead she says something profound. She taps her lip, points at mine and says, “Honey, my razor’s in my purse if you want to use it.” We laugh out loud.
Mom has always been a spunky, little, fun-loving woman who speaks her mind. I enter the hospital elevator, send up a silent prayer for her, rub the space above my top lip and chuckle.
Alone, I look at my reflection. Is that me or is that my mom? I see her in my mirror, and I hear her in my words. The age lines blur and I realize, I am becoming my mother.