Monday, October 4, 2021

Change is coming

 It seems I have lost some loyal blog followers. I hope my family pics and posts didn't bore them to tears or scare folks away. I believe what is meant to be will be in all aspects of life.  

Summer is sashaying right on out of here, and fall is putting on a preview of what's to come in a few more weeks. This is my favorite season to be outdoors. I hope to get in a few more steps and read another book outdoors. I like it that I have to wear a lightweight sweater in the mornings and evenings.

I notice change in the my the world. I worry and wonder, but in the end I try to live my life by the words in this plaque. 

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Interspecies communication

My nightmare started lasted Sunday and continues with my close loved one, who ended up hospitalized with serious illness, and has a long uphill battle and future surgery. I can share details with you on private messenger but not on social media. I ask you for continued prayers for healing.

To top it off, hubby and I both developed bronchitis and were unable to visit in person at the hospital. It was horrible trying to speak (cough-cough, hawk it up) on the phone.

I called our new, young, doctor's office. His nurse claimed he wasn't seeing SICK patients. WHAT?! I begged for an over-the-phone prescription for my honey, as his condition was worsening, and he has a history of bronchitis, and it's all in his files at the doctor's finegrtips. 

She returned to the phone and said the doctor insisted on a Covid test to rule it out. Said we should have results within 36 hours.

I told the nurse he would develop pneumonia by then and begged for antibiotics. She said she'd pass on the info. If he worsened to go to Urgent Care. 

We drove to nearby county, waited in long drive through line for the Covid swab, and then stopped by our pharmacy in hopes the doctor was merciful and had called it in meds and inhaler. YES!

That night another nurse called to say, "The doctor has approved the prescriptions and you can pick them up now."

I told her thank you, we had picked them up in the afternoon. Because of my coughing spells, it  was better when I communicated by text. My finger tips are sore from hunting and pecking on my cellphone keyboard all week. 

Yesterday afternoon, I sat on the patio, sipping tea and slow-tapping one sentence at a time. Click click click, click-click-click. Pause. 

I heard an echo: Click click click click-click-click, pause.

A neighbor's granddaughter was visiting and playing with a tennis racket. I thought she was imitating my morse code typing. It continued. Every time I typed on my phone (volume high) I heard the echo. She went inside. It continued. Some neighbor was mimicking me sound-for-sound. I was getting irritated.

I laid my phone down on the patio table and saw the source of my echo. A fat little chipmunk sat under the table matching me click for click with its little mouth. I must have been communicating something. This little chunky chipmunk eats dropped bird seed from the feeder and scampers when it sees us. 

This was too cute!

Now as if life events weren't bad enough, my adult son called to say he had been camping with his dad, and they had been rearended, pushed into the car in front of them. Not seriously injured but vehicle damage.
Next phone call reported a life altering event: another family member rushed by ambulance to hospital for emergency surgery. They say when it rains it pours. There is something to that cliche. 

And obviously to my click-click keyboard typing.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

He was no Paul Bunyan, and what else don't I know? for more info check out this safe link. You might have to ckick twice. Find out his cause of death and many other facts.

When Robert Wadlow was born, he weighed 8lbs 5 oz.

By the time he was five years old, he was 5’6” and weighed over 100 pounds.

The Gentle Giant was born in February 1918 with hyperplasia of the pituitary gland, which resulted in an abnormally high level of human growth hormone. Wadlow’s greatest weight was 493 pounds. He was still growing at the time of his death in 1940; at age 22, he was 8’11” inches tall.

Wadlow was the tallest person on earth. He lived across the river in Alton, Illinois, a St. Louis, Missouri border state.

While watching a documentary on him this morning. Bill said, “They didn’t mention that he played cards with my grandpa back in the 1930s in the house I grew up in. No, I didn't know him. He died before I was born.”

The things you find out after decades of marriage!


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Fear is fine; it serves a purpose.

Six weeks ago Charlie turned three-years-old. He loves super heroes, is an active little guy, and a non-stop talker. He makes observations about everything he sees, names the objects' colors, purposes, etc. He even talks in his sleep. I know because he spent the weekend with us. 

His older brothers went on a camping trip with their mom and dad. Mom said if he'd potty train fully he could go next time. I was brave and put him in super hero underpants. Two minutes later I heard him in the playroom shouting,  "Nana Linda! Nana, come see what happened. I so sawdy."

I hugged him and told him it was OKAY as I cleaned his puddle. Then he wanted to put his little blanket on the living room floor and jump the "puddle."

During the night he called out and rambled a bit. I waited to see if he would go back to sleep. He did until he didn't. At 2:00 a.m. I heard this little voice call, "Hewwwwo, anybody there?"

I laid down with him. He kicked me all night and jabbered off and on. Maybe he was overly-excited about our planned events. Our bank was opening a branch office, and they were having all sorts of attractions. Charlie enjoyed a free snow cone, free popcorn, but he refused a big helium-filled ballon. He's afraid of popping balloons. 

He was slightly interested in watching a young man, a balloon maker, twisting long ballooons into different characters such as Spiderman. When Charlie realized Spidey was made of balloons, he said, "Nope!"

He waited with anticipation for the Super Heroes to arrive. I explained that all I wanted was to take his picture with them, so we could show his brothers. He was all for it until they walked through the door. As you can see, he crossed his arms and flipped his entire body away from them. I snapped a photo and we left. 

Papa Bill asked him about it. He said, "I was scared, Papa."

What a good papa. Bill said, "Well Charlie, we have feelings like that to keep us safe. So when you feel afraid of something, that's your warning system. It's okay to feel afraid." 

Oh how I love this man of mine.

On Saturday, I told Charlie I was taking him to see BIG balloons. He said, "Oh Nana Linda, no thank you." 

I assured him they would not pop and explained they were giant, hot air balloons. I drove to Forest Park, found a parking place right at the curb, and laid Charlie on a beach towel and told him to look up.

When the hot air balloons rose above the tree line, he was so excited, and started yapping, describing each. 

"See that one Nana Linda? It's Mine Craft for Liam and that one is yellow and orange. And look at that one, it's Mario, and ...

It was such a hot day. We watched about two dozen balloons glide above us, and then I packed up my little babbler and we sat in the air conditioned car where he continued to tell me all about each one. 

When he woke up Sunday morning, Papa gave him a dollar bill. We walked to the corner store, where he selected a big pink frosted donut. He put it in a clear bag, and set it and his dollar on the counter. He clutched his donut and asked, "Where's my dollar?"

First lesson in economics. LOL

All in all a very good weekend with a sweet little talker, who developed seasonal allergies and began coughing and sneezing. Do you think he stopped yacking?

NOPE. I took him to the playground. I passed gas. He turned around and said loudly, "Did you faht?"

I said, "I think it was a frog talking."

He said, "I think it was you butt talking."

I couldn't be upset. He was just making an observation. 

We are truly blessed to have had these experiences with this little, wise, cutie pie.  


Friday, September 10, 2021

The Feelings Flag

 On September 11, 2001 I was stunned, like every other American. I didn't know what was going on or what to do. I felt compelled to give students a voice. This true story was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Spirit of America, 2016


The Feelings Flag by Linda O'Connell

I stood in my living room and cringed at the sight of the first plane hitting the first tower. I did not realize the horror had only just begun. As I drove to school I listened intently to the reports. Then, I heard that another plane had crashed.

I was as shocked and stunned as every other adult in my school. No one was sure what was going on. Teachers were asking one another, "Did you hear about the plane crashes in NY? Is America under attack?"

It was like a punch in the gut, beyond our comprehension. Everyone 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. 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 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 classroom teachers. I asked each if I 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 butts." "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 rolled each into a loop and stapled every single one. I stood back and gazed at our"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.

(Thank you for reading my story.)



Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Giggles, grins, and belly laughs

 I have been in a writing slump. I usually catch up by year's end. But if I am not in the mood, it's best I wait until I am motivated. Then I can write like gangbusters!

Today I went back and looked at my submissions calendar. I have sent Chicken Soup for the Soul 22 personal essays to fit themed call outs. The majority of my stories were for humor books.

Today in my inbox, I discovered a last minute request from CSS for a humor essay. That ticked me off! I had been working diligently on my stories. If the first 15 I'd sent didn't tickle their funny bone, then apparently I didn't have what they wanted. Forget it! 

I was ready to close the computer when I checked my emails one last time. No, I did not get an acceptance for one of those stories, but I laughed myself silly at some of my junk mail correspondence offers.

I thought... this could be a story. And so I got to work composing those subject line, eye catching emails and my responses to each. My piece made ME laugh. 

Hope this submission lands on a few funny bones. 

What is the weirdest email offer you have received?  

Monday, August 30, 2021

A Snickers bar?

 Everyone knows you can see some interesting individuals at Walmart. Usually they are customers.

Today I had a strange encounter with a store associate when I was picking up photos.

The young man in the electronic's department presented me with the envelope of photographs. He said, "Look and see if you want them."

"I do. I want all of them. I edited them on the store photo computer."

"Well, are you sure?"

 "Yes, I'm sure."

"That will be $2.13."

I handed him eight quarters, two nickels and three pennies. 

He shouted, "Holy cow Martha! Look at this, a full sized Snickers bar. And don't feel bad, ma'am I need the change." 

Okaaay. I didn't feel bad; I had cash in my wallet. 

WHO was Martha? He was working alone.

A Snicker's bar?

Maybe it's me.

I left shaking my head, but pleased with my pics of Alex and Charlie in the pool.

Friday, August 27, 2021

I love a good laugh

 Sometimes I am amazed at people. 

We went to a restaurant, masked and socially distanced, for lunch. A couple maybe in mid 30s appeared to be on a first date. She said, "Well yes, I wouldn't mind seeing a movie. But no, I wouldn't want to see THAT movie. However since we are on a date, I would sit there beside you in the theater, but I would not enjoy it."

He told her to go online then and select something she wanted to see. 

He asked what she liked to do for entertainment. 

She said, "Well I'm trying to be more adventurous."

 His eyes widened. "How?"

"Well skating for instance. I don't want to just skate. I'm thinking about skate boarding."

He did a double take but said nothing. He opened his wallet to pay with one of the several 100 dollar bills he flashed. Making a first date impression?

I am sitting here wondering how that date ended. They both weighed about 400 pounds, no exaggeration.


My honey made me laugh out loud yesterday. A few days ago, he noticed a little bump on his bottom lip and got a tube of herpecin (for fever blisters and canker sores) out of the medicine cabinet. 

Every time I saw him he was reapplying it. I told him he might be overdoing it. 

He came into the living room later and said, "Why didn't you TELL me I was using LIP GLOSS instead of that medicine on my lips for the past three days?!

The dentist always gifts patients a tube of lip gloss. I laughed until I couldn't laugh any more.

Friday, August 20, 2021

I am diving in!

 I pride myself on being resilient, possessing inner strength, and having strong faith, however...

channel surfing local and world news and foreign outlets this morning, I became so overwhelmed I could not watch for another second about how this world is in such chaos: the flooding, wild fires, hurricanes. People suffering, the pandemic raging again, and foolish adults fighting one another making mask-wearing a political issue, instead of protecting innocent children and realizing it is a potential life/death medical issue. My heart aches for our grandchildren going back into the classroom next week. 

As I felt my chest tightening, I realized I was holding my breath and tensing my hands. Like the last block precariously placed upon a child's wobbly tower, I could not pile one more thing on.

So, I flipped on a sit-com rerun, Mike and Molly. Silly jokes and one liners made me grin. 

Carlton's grandmother has the best lines; they never fail to make me laugh out loud. Her wise cracks to her annoying police officer grandson who lives with her, had me guffawing. 

Laughter can be an emotional release, better than crying because my eyes don't get puffy and my nose doesn't get stuffy.

When Victoria, Molly's flaky sister, was reading and reciting Shakespeare with a friend, she said, "You see, I am not so much book-learned as I am magazine-learned."

That struck me not as funny but as alarming, as I fear many people are facebook-learned, social media misled, misinformed, or completely uninformed. 

Crazy world we live in. You have to recognize when to turn off and tune out. 

Liam, Alex and Charlie swam Wednesday. I am not babysitting today. The filled-to-the brim kiddie pool in the back yard is calling me. Water, particularly the sea, beckons me. I yearn for the beach.

Vacation is out of the question again this year, and besides, the Florida beaches are inundated with red tide, flesh eating bacteria, sharks coming into shore, and who knows what else. 

I heard, "The Redneck Riviera is a haven for Covid." The Florida Panhandle, a day's drive away, is often refered to as such. Hmm. No thank you. We will stay home.

Today I am going to take a good book into the back yard and dive in. Rather, slip in carefully, and float my worries away for an hour. 

I am blessed to have actually floated and snorkeled in the Caribbean Sea with colorful fish and creatures, soaked in the Gulf of Mexico, swam in the Pacific Ocean, and waded in tide pools teeming with sea life in the Atlantic with my late best friend.  

I will travel today...back in time and reminisce, reflect, and pray.  

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Mom was sworn in as a deputy

 Chicken Soup for the Soul chose my story as the featured free story in their daily newsletter on Friday 8/13/21. This story was released June 23, 2021 in  Chicken Soup for the Soul Eldercare and Dementia. My mom did not have dementia. She sure knew how to juggle, though.

Social Butterfly by Linda O'Connell

“You are not moving me into a nursing home, young lady!” My tiny mom with a tight gray perm and pursed lips sat in the passenger seat of my car with her arms crossed, refusing to exit.

“Mom, this is not a nursing facility; it’s the independent living, senior apartment complex you applied for two years ago. You’re free to come and go as you wish.

Mom sat like an obstinate child. Cajoling didn’t work, sweet talk didn’t faze her, so I used my teacher voice and ordered her out of my car. I buzzed the office intercom.

“See! They lock you in!” Mom was convinced she was about to become a prisoner.

The property manager greeted us with a wide smile, “Welcome, Virginia. We’ve been expecting you.”

Mom put on her happy face like a kindergartener being praised. We walked through an elegant vestibule, past a large aviary where parakeets flitted. A lobby area with comfy plaid couches, overstuffed chairs and a large screen television had a homey feel. Tables and chairs and stocked bookcases invited residents to linger in the lobby. Mom gave me the side eye and whispered, “I am not visiting people I don’t know.”

I nodded. “You won’t have to.”

From the office to the elevator, we strolled a long, glass-enclosed hallway. Outside, the green space, teeming with flowers and bushes, was home to bunnies and even a box turtle.

“I do like to walk, and I don’t like to feel closed in. Nice.” She commented to herself.
The manager explained the four apartment buildings were connected by these corridors, so she would be able to walk in comfort, regardless of weather.

After Mom settled in, she called me several times a day. “Do you know they have line dancing here?  But I’m not joining!” She’d never been a joiner. When I had Tupperware parties she refused to attend because she didn’t feel comfortable in a crowd. I was amazed when she mentioned amenities such as card making, book clubs, and free bus transportation to shopping centers and grocery stores.

I felt a sense of relief. I had been my mom’s sole transportation for many years. I was about to get a break. Mom used her sweet voice to entice me.

“Honey, if you have time, could you come take me to the grocery store?”

I hopped on it, even though I wished she’d hop on the free bus.

“Can you come over and help me straighten my drapes?” I could hear the smile in her voice.

I dropped by whenever she called. I brought leftovers and bags of homegrown tomatoes for the residents. I took her shopping and on evening rides.


One evening while carrying her groceries to her apartment I looked at the sign-up sheet on the bulletin board. “Why isn’t your name on the bus list? I thought you said you were going to the mall this week.”

Mom waved me on and said, “I might, and I might not.”

I called my grown daughter and asked if she had seen her grandma lately.

“Of course, I have. I see her almost every other day. I always take her to the mall and grocery shopping.”

I phoned my adult son and encouraged him to stop by his grandma’s. “She might be feeling lonely, you know?”

“How could she be? I’ve seen her almost every other day. She asked me to program her television remote. Then the VCR wouldn’t rewind. When she called to tell me her thermostat wasn’t working, I had to convince her not to touch it because it’s a heat pump system. I took her for ice cream last night. She wanted me to put something high up in a closet. Next week she’ll call me to take it down.” He chuckled.

The next day Mom asked me to take her to McDonalds for a fish sandwich.

 That evening my daughter called to tell me she’d taken Mom to McDonald’s.

“Not true!” I said. “I took her this afternoon for lunch.”

“Well I just took her for a chocolate sundae.”

 While we all imagined Mom suffering from loneliness, she was busier than ever yanking all our strings, orchestrating which one of us she would see on different days at different times.

Little did we know Mom, who had been shy all her life, was becoming a social butterfly in her later years. As it turns out, she had joined all sorts of clubs and had even met a best friend in a Bible study group.

When the office manager called me into her office to show me a photo of Mom and three other residents wearing white cowboy hats and silver badges, I couldn’t believe it. Mom brave enough to stand before a group?! Dressed in costume?

“This was our monthly residents’ meeting. There was a theft in our building. Someone stole the large screen T.V. last night. So, because your mom is always walking the halls, we deputized her and these other two women and man as our residence watch committee. Did you know your mom has even tried kicking up her heels on the dance floor?”

Really?! I walked into Mom’s apartment. “What have you been up to lately?”

“I’ve been busy working as a deputy,” Mom beamed showing off her badge and photo. I expected her to run to the closet and pullout boogie-scooting-boots.
Mom, a late bloomer, was like a lovely wild rose that finally blossomed in her elder years. 

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.