Monday, July 26, 2021

Historic river town

Many folks I know are taking trips, going on vacations, but we have opted to stay close to home. We would really like to be taking our annual cruise, but that is impossible with Covid. So we have put it off another year. 

We are fortunate to live very close to the Mississippi River. In fact we are on the Illinois/Missouri border.

 What a nice surprise to see the Delta Queen River Boat arriving at its new port of call about twenty miles South of our home. 
Kimmswick, MO is a little historic river town settled in the 1800s. Many of the buildings have been preserved and converted from residences to restaurants and unique establishments/shops that sell crafts and goods of all kinds. They have an annual apple butter festival that attracts thousands in the fall, and in summer they feature the Strawberry Festival.  
The picture above is  the Barabagallo House, circa 1850. The building below is a winery/port of call for the Delta Queen. When we saw a local news clip about it, we decided to take a drive.
The Blue Owl (not pictured) is a famous restaurant in Kimmswick; it always has a full parking lot and often a waiting line. The large front porch is the best place to eat a large piece of homemade pie. And what a selection! They also have indoor dining.

However, we prefer this quaint little restuarant around the corner. The Dough Depot has delicious and reasonably priced lunches. The former residence takes one back in time. There are four rooms for indoor dining. But Bill and I prefer to sit on the patio to eat our yummy sandwiches served on pretzel bun and delicious, aling with large portion salads. We enjoy watching passersby moseying along, shopping in all the little shops. This has been our Wednesday date all summer. They have scrumptious and reasonably priced homemade baked goods and pastries, which always seem to find their way home with us.

We discovered that the best time to arrive is 10:45 am to 11:00. By noon there is a waiting line.   

 If you have a chance, check out this historic town. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to watch the Delta Queen pull in.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Did you ever kiss a bed or a beak?

Poor little buddy Charlie is STILL two-years-old. He was chasing his brothers and conked his forehead on the bed frame. Laid the area between his eyebrows wide open. It was a deep laceration that required six, PLUS TWO stitches. Additionally they placed Steri Strips over the wound because the nurse observed that Charlie is a non-stop talker and uses his facial muscles to express himself. They were concerned he would bust a stitch just being Charlie.
Well, he did! On the way home from the ER his unibrow was numb, but he could sense these little "whiskers" which he pulled off, thus loosening his stitches. 

Back to the ER for another bill, two more stitches, and a gauze wrap around his head. He'll be three in a couple weeks. We will be glad when the terrible twos are in the rearview mirror.

I babysat Liam and Alex this week. I took them to the playground and screamed at the top of my lungs when I saw Alex at the top of the slide leaning over. Off to the car with two kids screaming that they didn't want to leave. 

The park is wooded and has lots of picnic benches. As we drove down the lane, I saw a man who appeared to be snoozing on a picnic table with this macaw on his chest. I stopped the car, rolled down my window and showed the protesting boys. The art of distraction works at any age. 

 The man asked if the boys wanted to see his bird up close. He walked to the car, and the macaw rode his arm perch. As it neared the open car window, the bird started screeching. "She's three years old and acts like a two-year-old kid!" the man complained.

"Sir, I know exactly what you mean. They live a long time, don't they?"

"Eighty years."

Well the man looked half a century old himself. "What are you going to do?" I asked.

He laughed as we said goodbye to the bird who couldn't get enough of his handler/owner's smooching.

 Let me tell you, a peck on the lips took on new meaning for wide-eyed Liam and Alex. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Tornado Alley

 Friday I awoke at 10:00 p.m. on the couch as the meterologist excitedly said egg-size hail was pelting everything in the counties just west of us. I ran out into the pouring rain to move my car under the carport. By the time I got back in he said, "Well look at this! See the red dropping on my map? The hail is pushing down and the storm is collapsing just as it arrives in (our area)."

What a relief. The night air was eerily still. I have experienced enough tornadic activity in my life in the midwest to know to be on guard. 

My granddaughter lives thrity miles south of us. She texted a video of what my mom used to call an electrical storm with continual lightning illuminating the sky. I listened to the audio as Ashley, her husband, and the kids watched what looked like fireworks. It was an incredible light show off on the horizon. "Ooh! Ahhh! Wow!"

Seven-year-old Laim said, "Imagine if all the lightning all over lit up at the same time." Creative mind! 

Almost three-year-old Charlie said, "I scared." Mama told him to come by her. Needed security.

Almost four-year-old Alex said, "When is it going to be DAYtime?!" Wise little guy reasoning that soon it would end. Not soon enough.

I tend to stay away from windows and avoid being outdoors during storms, but my thrill-seeking granddaughter, an amateur photographer enjoys them. 

Ten years ago, jagged baseball-size hail pelted the area of Tornado Alley in which we live, resulting in severe damage. It also did major destruction in Joplin, MO. Thus, Missouri writers did a collaborative book drive to resupply the Joplin Library and schools which were destroyed.

This poem was published in 2011 in Storm Country, The Anthology, compiled by Missouri Writers' Guild. Out of 337 submissions mine was one of 153 pieces selected.

Storm Chaser

Wind whips, gusts howl, sirens shriek.
Thunderhead barrels and swerves up interstate.
Tornado drops, streaks across prairies, into towns,
flattens flora and fauna, peels roofs like sunburned skin,
splinters treetops wishbone-fashion. 

Relinguishes its bully grip, roils the Mississippi River, and heads East.
Reverberating trees and strangled hearts, still.
Night air thickens, blackness sizzles with electrified ions.
People search for their candles and wits, survey the damage.
Worried loved ones contact each other.

My cellphone plinks a text received.
I read the message and gasp. My granddaughter,
the photography major, sends me a just-snapped image.
The swirling wide-mouth monster bearing down,
chomping faster than her boyfriend can drive.

Her message: Safe! Isn't ths a grt shot?
I stomp and storm up the basement stairs,
shake the wrinkles out of my wadded up nerves,
send a silent prayer, "Protect those affected and this crazy kid, too."
I calm down and realize I used to be young and invincible.

Not included in the book: I texted her back. "Grt sht, now gt home u little sht."

Saturday, July 3, 2021

S.O.S! Dumb luck. Truck Stuck.

Bill came in from outdoors just as I was mopping the kitchen floor. (Always!) He hurried back out the door and said something, but I couldn't understand.


"Just come out and see the excitement when you're finished."

His idea of excitement could have been a strange bird at the feeder, a pedestrian walking by, or the neighbor putting on a new roof up the block. I didn't rush.

I finished mopping, and as I walked outside I heard a distraught female voice. "Oh no! Oh me! Oh dear!"

As the U.S. Mail letter carrier drove along a parking pad to deliver mail at the curb, she got stuck on a raised sewer in front of our house. The rear driver side wheel spun and spun, but the vehicle wouldn't budge. 

I heard her calling her office/boss. Apparently she left a message on an answering machine. The gist of her message was "Truck stuck. Need help."

I walked out and asked if she'd like a cool drink or a sandwich.

"God bless you offering such kindness. I called the police and maybe they can help me. The truck is stuck."   

"Well, do I have any mail? I'm hoping for a check. I'm a writer."

"Sure do." 
It wasn't a check!

I said, "Wait right there. (Ha!) I have something for you."

I brought MARIE a copy of the latest @Chicken Soup for the Soul book, Navigating Eldercare and Dementia. She graciously accepted and posed with it so I could promote the book which contains my story, Social Butterfly. 

The police officer arrived. He was 12, oops, he looked 12, but he was probably 21. He assisted as best he could. He blocked a traffic lane (we live on a four lane street). Oblivious drivers had to be directed by all three of us to get in the other lane! 

I said, to the letter carrier, "I'll show you how to get their attention."

Standing in the street at the curb, I wagged my finger in Marie's face and said, "I sure hope you enjoy the book! My story is about my momma and she was a little stinker." 

Finally, drivers slowed down and realized they had to change lanes. Or perhaps they thought we were in an altercation. You know, people tend to jump to conclusions. Marie and I put on a little show and had ourselves a little laugh. 

The police officer asked if I had scraps of wood or a concrete block to shove under the tire for traction. I retrieved those. But no luck! Nothing worked. Bill was unable to help. His knee is out and he is on a cane. He sat on the front porch and observed.

A motorist stopped to assist. The gentleman used a jack and succeded in getting the vehicle raised off the sewer. 

Sweet Marie was on her way, smiling the brightest smile, waving and expressing gratitude to the stranger, the police officer, and me.

"A little kindness is what the world needs right now," I said as she drove out of sight. "You'll have something to talk about, and I'll have something to write."

Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. I was raised on this Bible verse and it applies more than ever these days. 

Marie, if you are reading this, scroll down and read the post before this one about my great grandbaby. You will really laugh.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

This one takes the prize!

Out of the mouths of babes. Charlie is two-years-old, very talkative, emotive, and so doggone cute. I was sitting on the patio when he asked me to help buckle his sandals. I leaned over and he held onto my shoulder. 

" I like you shirt, Nanny. These are so cute." He was referring to the ties on my scoop neck peasant style blouse with beads hanging on the ends. 

"Thank you, Charlie." I said.

As the blood rushed to my head, still fumbling with his sandal, he backed up a bit with his foot in my hand.

"OH, Nanny, don't be gross! Don't show you butt like this!" He pointed to my  smooshed cleavage which looked like a baby's butt.

I said, "THAT is not my butt!"

He looked at the seat of my chair. "How did you get you butt UP there?"

I said, "Those are my boobs!"

We laughed and laughed.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

He's been acting up

This man of mine is a laugh a minute! He twisted his ankle and limped or sat in his recliner while I waited on him all day. I went to bed before 10:00, so he turned off his Netflix flick that has lots of grunting, groaning, and violence in it, perpetrated by a drug lord and a queen. He came to bed early. 

It takes me a while to fall asleep. Not him. He was snoring two minutes after his head hit the pillow. I was watching the news when he shouted, "Come on! Come on! Come on!"

I asked, "ME?"


"Where are we going?"

"To blow up trailers."

"With people in them?"

"No empty. Come on! BLOW. IT. UP!"

I think he watches too much TV. He does not usually talk in his sleep.

Few minutes later he woke himself coughing. I asked, "Are we still blowing up trailers?"

"NO! We did that yesterday." 

At least he's following a time line.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Not a four leaf clover, but I'm charmed

We were both much younger in this photo, but it is one of my favorites. Mom did not like having her picture taken. 

 Happy heavenly birthday to my mom on her 91st birthday. When I was five, I sat in the grass with her one hot summer's eve, and she showed me how to make clover flower necklaces.

I just came outside to read, and found a single white clover flower with long stem on my patio chair. Maybe the wind blew it. Maybe a bird dropped it. Maybe Mom stopped by to say hello.

Yeah. That's what I believe. I can see her smiling face.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Readers around the world will soon discover my mom

Chicken Soup for the Soul Navigating Eldercare and Dementia

Parenting a parent, or have a loved one suffering from memory loss? This wonderful book contains 101  inspirational, hopeful, sweet, sad, humorous, and helpful true stories.

Yes, I do read every single story in the books in which I am published. This makes 31 Chicken Soup books where you can find my stories. I am proud to be a part of the CSS family. 

My Story, Social Butterfly is about my mom who did NOT have dementia. She was smart as a fox and out smarted each of her immediate family members when she moved into a senior apartment building. 

Read my story to learn about my mom who was shy all her life, but in her elder years became a social butterfly.  I was shocked to learn she had become a boot scooting deputy. 


Saturday, June 5, 2021

Brotherly love and aggravation

 My great-grandsons are leaving their marks... on each other and PawPaw's shed. 

Liam (almost 7) sneaked up on two-year-old Charlie and left his handprint in shaving cream. Charlie freaked out after I showed him the photo on my cell phone. He tried to douse his back with water, but soon forgot about it when I brought out the paints. Three-year-old Alex loves painting outdoors.

These boys are going to leave their marks on this world, I just know it!

What about you? Are you doing anything creative, or helpful?  Everyone leaves a legacy, a lasting impression. Let kindness be yours. 

If you have never read  Orange Cheeks, a very short story by Jay O'Callahan, do check it out. This simple story about a small boy and his grandma has resonated with me for years since I heard the author speak. I'm sure it will touch you, too. 

Orange Cheeks

 4.71  ·   Rating details ·  7 ratings  ·  3 reviews
Four-year-old Willie loves visiting his Grandma, but his mother has warned him -- if he gets into trouble again, there'll be no more overnight visits for an entire year. Planning to be very, very good, Willie (in the way of all four year olds), actually gets into yet another situation he can't get out of -- but it's Grandma to the rescue! A wonderful story about a boy's relationship with his beloved grandmother, and about the love we feel for the special people in our lives.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Still running towards goals

My story is on page 4

I hope you can take a moment to read about an incident that happened when my little go-getter grandson was four. He is now 19 and taking me to lunch today. So proud of Nicholas who is still a high achiever and proud owner who restored his Mustang. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

At a loss for words

 More than a week has flown. Winter weather is shelved along with sweaters, and summer weather has arrived. I am delighted. This morning we were  planning to go grocery shopping. Bill showered, dressed and went out on the patio. I got ready and came out to discover he was not on the patio, in the yard, or shed. Hmm...

I found him visiting our Bosnian neighbors on their front porch. It is difficult as it is to communicate with each other because we speak very-very little of each other's languages.

The woman, a little younger than us, had surgery couple weeks ago. We thought she was on vacation. Her husband told Bill, "Hospital. Her Zooknekey." He pointed to lower abdomen. 

 I told Bill he was probably saying uterus. Female surgery. Bill concluded the surgery was laproscopic when her husband indicated "Doctor four holes stomach."

So as we sat on the porch, her husband translated that she was feeling much better after throwing up so much. We discovered the woman had gall baldder surgery, not female surgery. 

You know how difficult and awkward it can be to tell someone there is something coming out of their nose even when you speak the same language and know them well? I thought better of bringing attention to it. And kept smiling and trying to communicate with the neighbor man about their cute baby granddaughter. "She is so cute. She looks like grandpa."

"I  grandpa. I love Esme." And he does! 

So we were making a little progress when all of a sudden a small insect flew onto his cheek, traveled into his nose, and then backed out, and climbed into his mouth. 

I had to leave. How do you say in Bosnian, "You have a booger in your nose and a bug in your mouth?"

Such is my life.  


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Time Traveler

The other day I discovered the website of a neighborhood where I grew up many-many years ago. I was surprised and elated to see the faces and names of my childhood friends. I remember playing with the two girls (back left) Susie and Sunny. Funny how seeing this photo placed me smack dab in Susie's home across the street from our home. I can picture her dad, brothers, mom. 

Life takes us far away, but somehow, and sometimes it circles us back "home."  Everyone sat on porches on hot summer evenings. We went indoors to listen to 15 minute serial radio programs: Jack Benny, Young Dr. Malone and so many more. Television was just making its debut. Black and white! 

The milk man delivered milk in an enclosed carriage, pulled by a single horse. And if we were lucky, he would use an ice pick to break off a chunk of ice and toss it on the grass for us. Sucking on a large ice chip on a hot summer day was a delight. Walnut Park was the last St. Louis neighborhood to have horse-drawn milk delivery wagons. Two dairies thrived in that area. 

My Italian grandpa, who I called Pappy, died when I was five. He would sit on the front porch with me and drum his fingers on the rail.  "Listen, hear the horses clopping our way?"

Try as I may, I could never get my little hands to make that galloping sound. 

Too bad the neighborhood is a high crime area, too dangerous to drive through. I sure did leave my early childhood memories there.

I do not own the rights to this photo. But I am delighted to share it with you.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Forever in our hearts


Happy Mother's Day...remembering mom

My mom was 20 in this photo; she's 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.
Mom loved me and my brother, born a year after me. 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 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.

  • Sasee Magazine
    Features (This is a repost)

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.
When I look at my blogpost picture, I see my mom.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Planting Paw Paw's Garden

 I so wish I had a photo to show you, but twenty-five years ago we didn't have cell phones available for instant picture taking. Let me tell you about a special garden and the love that grew in that garden.

Bill had torn his achilles heel, and had to have surgery. April weather teased with premature heat. 

His adult daughter was sitting in the kitchen talking to her dad. My granddaughter Ashley was seven and Kyle was three. Before his injury, Bill had tilled the garden in preparation for planting. He complained,
"I sure wish I could put in my garden, but it looks like this year I'm not going to be able to hobble out there and get the plants in the ground."

Ashley and Kyle asked for large serving spoons and headed outdoors to plant PawPaw's garden. We thought it was cute they were going to pretend to help. They ran in and out the door as we adults conversed. At some point Ashley discovered a full shopping bag filled with spring arts and crafts supplies. She somehow sneaked by us with it.

An hour later she and Kyle came indoors beaming proudly.

"PawPaw, come see. We planted your garden for you!"

He hobbled to the door and peered out at a garden filled with a variety of more than a hundred artifical flowers. It was the cutest thing EVER! 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Growing up

Kids don't need electronics... these hand-held devices (clip clothes pins) provided a challenging fun activity with many learning components and vocabulary words. Everything you do with children can be a learning experience. Alex and Charlie are strengthening all of their hand/finger muscles... not just their thumbs.

Our neighbors' garden is amazing. In a few short weeks we will not be able to see across the yard, as the Bosnian beans will climb, the Bell peppers and the tomato plants will rise, creating a small jungle for rabbits, field mice, chipmunks, and birds to forage in.

One of my fondest memories of Alex, who is standing behind Charlie, happened two years ago. I caught his little two-year-old hands inside the fence picking a green pepper and walking it hand-over-hand up the fence from the neighbor's side. He beamed with pride when he was able to grasp it with both hands and show me his treasure.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Being good stewards

On #Earthday2021 I babysat three-year-old Alex and two-year-old Charlie. I surprised them with a big dump truck and a trash truck. I provided a container of polished rocks and scraps of aluminum foil for them to scrunch up. We did counting and sorting activities.  

I asked them, "What is it called when someone throws trash on the ground?"

Alex wrinkled his nose and said definitively, "It's called GROSS!"

I explained it's called littering.

Charlie piped up, "No, Nanny, it's called GROSS!"

I acknowledged they were right, and I explained about taking care of the earth.

Seems their parents are doing a good job because the boys were telling me about recycling. 

These little tigers sure make me happy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story, THIS IS A MUST READ!

                                MEET THE AUTHOR, 
                  SIOUX ROSLAWSKI


        Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story 
Open the first link which takes you directly to website.

Sioux is a St. Louis middle school teacher, freelance writer, and member of several writing groups. She is a facilitator and consultant at St. Louis Gateway Writing project, part of the National Writing Project.

                                         Linda O’Connell’s book review:

Sioux Roslawski, created her middle grade, historical fiction novel, 
Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story, with grace. The saga of twelve-year-old Henry Simmons, published by Editor 9-1-1 is available NOW! This riveting, multi-layered story about family, race, and loss will appeal to adults as well.

 A true, horrific event took place on May 31, 1921, in Greenwood, Oklahoma. One hundred years have passed, and still, most Americans are unaware of the painful event that happened in the thriving, peaceful, Black-owned community of banks, businesses, residences, and churches. The area known as Black Wall Street flourished in the northern part of Tulsa.

Sioux Roslawski brings the gripping, and gut-wrenching details of shocking destruction to life through the eyes of twelve-year-old Henry Simmons.
A likeable protagonist, Henry, living a secure, happy life, has his sense of dignity, right and wrong challenged. A decent, young man with a loving family and good upbringing, he witnesses unbelievable horrors as he watches his community, the residents, and his life destroyed completely, the result of racial hatred.

Henry’s escape and adventures along the way are presented with highly-charged emotion, honesty, and a prophetic vision.

This haunting story is written with a keen eye and will keep readers engrossed until the last page. The ending made me sigh with satisfaction.

Welcome, Sioux. Congratulations on your debut novel. What inspired you to write Henry Simmons’ story?

Sioux Roslawski: Thanks so much, Linda. I attended a teachers’ national conference, and a presenter immersed us in a historical event that all the attendees in that full banquet hall were ignorant of---The Tulsa Race Massacre. It upset me that teachers didn’t know about it. It wasn’t being taught in U.S. history books, not even Oklahoma history books. That is when the kernel of an idea was formed---the idea that our country needed to stop sweeping these tragedies under the rug.

Please tell readers what your writing process was like. How long did it take to write Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story… from idea to publication? You mention that Henry helped write this story. Can you explain?

Sioux Roslawski: Five years ago, I sat down in front of a computer every school day in class during the month of November, and my students and I participated in NaNoWriMo---National Novel Writing Month.

I taught three English (writing) classes, so I had a little more than two hours every day to write--- surrounded by middle school students. However, I didn’t have a first draft finished that first school year. The next year, I finally finished it, and sort of a second draft.

The following year, I had it edited, and received such specific, spot-on feedback that I was able to rewrite it almost from scratch. The third draft was tight. It had tension and a plot that was engaging.

Did you plot your main character, or did you get to know Henry as you began to write?

I didn’t plot the story, unfortunately, so the first and second drafts stunk up the place. However, with the help of an editor I hired, the third draft really flowed.

And yes, I got to know Henry as the story unfolded. I didn’t write the story; Henry wrote the story. I don’t know how to explain it, because it’s never happened before, and I doubt ever will again. Things happened to Henry in the story. I didn’t plan, outline, or think of them. They just happened as I was typing.

For example, one character takes a bag on a dangerous trip, and everybody wants to know what’s in the bag. It is a great effort to take this bag. No matter what happens along the way, the character hangs onto the bag. A writer friend was reading a draft of my story and asked me to reveal what was in the bag. I didn’t know until months later when the character opened the bag, and I discovered the contents.

I don’t know if it just happened because so many voices have been silenced, and this one voice simply erupted, or if I channeled someone from 1921. I just know it was a weird and exhilarating ride…

Do you have a writing talisman, habit (for me it’s barefoot and a cup of tea), that you engage in as a writer?

Sioux Roslawski: I have a metal pig with wings that sat next to my desk. I bought it years ago, thinking I’d get a book published when pigs fly. Well now, I’m going to hang it from the ceiling, because pigs really can fly!

Do you have a favorite writer quote? Which authors inspire you?

Sioux Roslawski: I love the simplicity of Guy de Maupassant’s “Get black on white.” Get ink on paper. Get words down on the paper.

I love some of Stephen King’s novels. I adore Joe Hill’s writing (Stephen King’s son.)  I am in awe of Chuck Palahniuk, Sandra Dallas, Jodi Picoult, and Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Any tips or advice for writers?

Sioux Roslawski: Don’t give up. When I was feeling really low--- when I had sent out more than a hundred queries to agents and publishers, and nobody wanted to represent me or publish my manuscript--- I looked up some famous books that had been rejected many times. The Help, a book I love, was rejected sixty (60) times. What if Stockett had stopped there? It was her 61st query that snagged her a “yes.”

Sioux, is there any writing advice you would like to impart?

Sioux Roslawski: Go with your gut. I hired Margo Dill as an editor--I just had a feeling she’d do a great job, but she didn’t do a great job; she did a brilliant job! For me, small and personal is a good thing. Margo bends over backwards to showcase her authors, and every one of her decisions--- editing, choices, regarding the book cover--- are reflective and spot-on.  

One more thing about your writing routine.

Sioux Roslawski: I wish I could say I write every day. I wish I could say I have a routine, you know, like “I write every evening after dinner.” I don’t. Most of the time, I write in the early morning (4 or 5 AM) when I’m the only one up. It’s just me and the dog. Late in the evening works for me as well. However, what does keep me writing on a regular basis is my writing critique groups. If I haven’t written something, and we have a meeting coming up, I will definitely spend a few evenings drafting something. I don’t want to go to a meeting empty handed. If I did, I’d miss out on an opportunity to get feedback, and for me, that’s invaluable.

Thank you for sharing with readers. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Greenwood Gone: Henry’s Story. I believe your book should be required middle school and high school reading. Henry Simmons will remain with me for a very long time.


Saturday, April 10, 2021 2021


I am pleased to announce my 1st Place win in a humor writing contest (family category) at I won a monetary prize and registration fees for the on-line humor conference and workshops. There were attendees from all over the globe. Despite the two hour time difference, it all worked out well. I read my piece at an after party. 

The lineup and conference was organized by Robb Lightfoot, an affable and knowledgeable emcee, humorist, and educator for forty years. He hosts a multi-disciplinary humor/creative community at

The lineup included many talented folks. 

John Vorhaus, author of The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if You’re Not.

Dave Fox,
an international traveler who discussed writing about travel catastrophies etc, for fun and profit. His background: Rick Steves’ television travel guru, writer. Check him out at

Humor coach, Judy Carter and panel of stand-up comics: Leighann Lord, and Brian Wetzel conference producer, who has been an opening act for George Lopez.

Songwriters Sara Hoxie and Leah Specher. Also Steve Vanzant of the Banana Blue Slug String Band.

John Ramirez, Disney story board artist and the animator of many Disney and Warner Bros films.

Great grandson Liam, age six, asked me all kinds of questions about Hercules! I faked the answers and showed him an illustration/photo of the hercules cell images. 

Dave Master, mentor and multi-talented animator, teacher and pay-it-forward advocate of fostering creative communities.

Agents and editors panel: Gordon Warnock, Savannah Brooks, and Andy Ross.

What a great lineup and terrific conference. I am grateful for the win and wish to thank Georgia Hubley, a Chicken Soup for the Soul writer who told me about the contest in the closing days. I didn’t think I had a chance.

Never say Never!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

That silly bunny!

 Happy Easter and a blessed day is wished for each of you whatever your faith.  I am grateful for spring!

Twenty years ago my daughter's first husband thought he was doing a good job when he hid the big bowl of Easter eggs he found sitting on the kitchen table while his family was at church.

After church, my grandson ran inside shouting, " Daddy, the Easter bunny hid our eggs all over again. They are the same ones."

Seems mama had beat him at putting them out in the grass at the crack of dawn.

Friday, April 2, 2021

What they don't know won't hurt 'em

I am participating in Washington University's Life Lines poetry event for the month of April. This is my first posted poem using the five assigned words in bold type.

 Spring Fling

Mercy! Hilarity ensued when the deviltry
of my inner child went wild
gathering petunias, pansies, and
primrose to plant around trees.
“Going to be a hard freeze,”
my neighbor screamed. “Better wait.”
I laughed and beamed. “Won’t kill these.
They’re all fake.”

Sunday, March 28, 2021

We are just full of surprises!

"You're going to be surprised," my hubby said when he got up from MY desk and MY computer, even though he has his own in the same room. "I ordered you something that will fix something."

Yesterday I received an Amazon package and discovered new mouse pads for our computers. Mine was dragging and needed to be replaced. What a nice gesture. He knows how much I love and miss the beach. 

Now I see he had an ulterior motive. Look at the one he chose for his desk. Uh huh! So I decided a little surprise for him was also in order.

                                     Won't he be surprised! Wait until he unwraps HIS package.


Friday, March 26, 2021

Oh the things people say!

Wowser! That second Covid vaccine wiped me out for 36 hours, as predicted. I had chills, and lethargy like I have never experienced. No fever.  Once my babies went home, I went to sleep at 6:00 p.m. Bill said he thought I had died in bed. I was in such deep sleep.Woke this morning energetic, no symptoms. 

Some things I heard this week that made me snicker, raise my eyebrows, and wonder about rude people.

I gave the boys a pan of uncooked rice and plastic eggs to fill and then crack open. When they hooked the tops and bottoms together I'd say, "Oval." 

Two-year-old Charlie insisted, "No, Nanny! Pac Man!" He no longer calls me Nana, he likes Nanny.

When I received my second vaccine, the nurse advised, "Do not take pain reliever. Drink Gatorade to keep your electrolytes up." Then she leaned in and said quietly, "And if you get a severe headache, drink straight tomato juice." She might have been an alcoholic.

I stopped at the Goodwill store. There was a little, old, Italian woman with her older teen grandson ahead of her in line. As the young man at the register was ringing up the boy's purchases, the grandma snatched the sports jersey out of his hands and said, "Now-a you ah listen to me. I will a pay for this. You no seem a too bright, so let me explain. You a take off that price and put it on a my order. You ah get that?" 

Oh dear. It's not that the clerk looked "ah not too bright" he looked stunned.


Sunday, March 21, 2021

What lives in a hole?

I am so happy spring has sprung. Alex, 3 and Charlie, 2 have given me so much joy in the past two weeks. They come to Nana's home preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They are having fun learning, and they think they are just playing. 

I surprised each of them with a homemade pop up bunny. I tied a knot in the thumb, middle finger and pinkie of a surgical glove, inverted it, and drew on a face. Stretched the bunny over a cup, added a tiny hole to insert a straw, and taped the hole so no air escaped. I poked the bunny down in the center of the cup and asked what might live in a hole in the ground. We are learning about the many critters that live  underground. (If you make one of these, tape it to the rim of the cup.)

I encouraged Alex to blow on the straw to discover what comes out of its burrow. When he blew, the bunny inflated slowly, but he kept blowing, and the bunny flew up in the air and landed on his head. He giggled and giggled. Poor Charlie wanted no part of it. "No! I scared. get it away!" 

He needs more time. We went outdoors and looked under large rocks to see if we could find insects and worms waking up. They are enjoying themselves, and so am I.

They loved water play. We predicted which things would sink or float. When they weren't looking I slipped some seashells and decorative turquoise, blue, and green beach themed stones in the pan. Gave them a big spoon and let them go "fishing." Charlie kept saying, "Oh, Nanny this is so shiny!"

Then we fished for magnetic number fishies. Hands on learning, the only way!

Hope you are enjoying the reawakening. Our grass is green overnight! Daffodils are sprouting. I love spring! How about you?