Friday, March 29, 2013

Almost here! Almost here!

A to Z Challenge [2013]

Five….four…three…NOW PUSH!  BREATHE! 

No, it’s not giving birth, although it may sometimes feel like such. 

No, this is the final weekday before the A-to-Z Challenge 2013!  On Monday, April 1st, over 1400 bloggers will be posting blogs that focus on the letter “A”. 

My theme this year is in line with my way of thinking: 

taking an idea, shaking it, turning it upside down, and connecting with something totally/almost/maybe unrelated or not

The difference is this:  Each letter will connect to the theme of its partner letter.  A few titles are as follows.

April 1 & 2= letters A+B  Apostolic Barbarian
          April 3 & 4= letter C+D  Canines=Dogs
April 5 & 6= letters E+F  Exclusive Fiefdom

Each pair of days will follow the thoughts or theme of its partner. Rather than have 26 different topics, there will be 13 connected topics that cover the 26 days. 

Golly, I sure hope this works. 

While thinking about the A-to-Z, we all need to acknowledge and praise the team that put this all together!  Go to their sites and give them the praise they deserve:


The Madlab Post (Nicole Ayers)
Tossing It Out (Arlee Bird)
Amlokiblogs (Damyanti Biswas)
Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh)
Life is Good (Tina Downey)
Cruising Altitude 2.0 (DL Hammons)
Retro-Zombie (Jeremy Hawkins)
The Warrior Muse (Shannon Lawrence)
The QQQE (Matthew MacNish)
Leave it to Livia (Livia Peterson)
No Thought 2 Small (Konstanz Silverbow)
Breakthrough Blogs (Stephen Tremp)
Spunk on a Stick (L. Diane Wolfe)

Perhaps the biggest HUZZAH! should go to Arlee Bird, who started this idea way-back-when! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Five Days

The alphabet swirled around her head, inside and out. 

The A to Z 2013 Challenge was only five days, a crazy five, days away.  

Oh, the easy letters had been nailed down, scheduled.  A?  In her sleep.  D?  On scraps of paper towels.  T?  Didn’t even break a sweat.

One would think that “W” would be easy.  But the brain froze somewhere in the spin cycle, and the letter “W” was a soggy mess. 

Would an idea emerge tomorrow?  Would a dream become a revelation?  Oh, when would brilliance assert itself?

One will have to wait until April 26 to see what she will do with the Letter W.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Born Yesterday logo
Avo Theater in Vista, California: source

Sitting in a darkened theater as actors unfolded the plot, Susan realized that she may be the youngest person in the small local theater.  If 61 years can be considered young, then she definitely was.

The high pitch of hearing aids and occasional stage whispers what-did-that-man-say-I-can’t-understand-any-of-this reminded Susan that age is relative. 

It reminded her that walkers and hearing aids do not an old person make.  Yes, creaking joints, arthritic fingers, and sagging skin are darn good indicators.  But, it is what happens in the brain that makes a difference.

The fact that the theater was full of elderly people who got there on their own power and who laughed at the right times (mostly) says a lot.  The fact that groups of widows talked about going out to dinner afterwards says life goes on. The fact that the husband & wife couples still held hands says more. 

All in all, Susan felt like a teenager. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Brussel Sprouts Re-Defined


Children are brilliant in so many ways.  They literally burst into this world with all the right parts.  Then these little creatures manage to survive inept parents, grow, and start talking.

But one of the best ways in which they are brilliant is that they lack the EDIT button in their brains.  What they think is what they say.  Like it or not, the words come out of their mouths in honest certainty and sincerity.

I have written about my grandchild, Sunshine, many times before.  She is a delight and a frustration.  She looks at the world and picks up on clues that would escape most children.  At almost seven years old, Sunshine is a powerhouse.

per Wikipedia

Sunshine watched “Jumanji” recently with her mama and sister, Bright Eyes.  Early on in the movie, Alan (Robin Williams) and Sarah (Bonnie Hunter) were playing the game of Jumanji.  Alan was pulled into the game, disappearing for 26 years. 

At this very point, Sunshine started weeping uncontrollably.  She said that Alan would never see his mommy and daddy again, and they would miss him.  They would look and look for him, but never find him.  Then Alan would be somewhere without them, and all alone.  Then they would die….  She followed the train of events without seeing the movie. 

 When my daughter calmed her down, the movie started resolving all those issues.

Bright Eyes told Sunshine, “Hey, this is just a movie.  Get over it.”

Yesterday, my daughter served brussel sprouts in lemon and butter sauce.  Sunshine’s response?  “I’ve never tasted poop before, but it might taste like that.”

No edit button in her head, is there?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Delores at myfeatherednest posted some Wednesday Words yesterday.  I wrote something in the comment section, and felt silly afterwords.  The words deserved something more, which Delores wrote today.  Simply lovely.

That in mind, I wrote this today.  Hopefully, it will be better.

Piano in Decay: Grand piano left to the elements; near Millstatt, Austria

Richard ran his fingers lightly along the piano, willing himself to ignore the pain in fragile arthritic fingers.  Had it been so long ago? 

Peeling away the memories of hours spent in solitude at this piano, Richard recalled the joy, the utter joy at playing such a magnificent piano.  

Genius…that was what they called me, then.

The first chord sounded and Richard willed his hands to play the classics once more.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The List

Me on a lovely bright beach day

It is a dark room day.
In a dark room house.
Not a creature is stirring,
Not even a m…

Wait!  Wait…I didn’t mean to write that.  Just slipped out of a brain that is on automatic mode.

What does one write when it is a dark room day, when light hurts and sounds skewer the head?

I read Delores at thefeatherednest and Cro at Magnon's Meanderings who created lists of good things, events, memories that remind them of the goodness of living.  Their lists were excellent, as they themselves are excellent.

My list on this dark room day is as follows:

                        Finding the perfect pillow
            Smell of movie theater popcorn
                                    Scent of lavender oil

            A crescent moon in a clear sky
                                    Seeing a baby
                                    Holding a baby

            Memories of Christmas with our children
                                                My husband’s laughter

                        Freshly baked bread
            Real butter

Our granddaughters giggling in the backseat of our car
                                    Reading Little Women for the first time
                        Buying packets of seeds in the spring

            Having a phone

                        Indescribable joy of God’s love and presence
                                    Knowing how to pray

            Picking strawberries with my mother and talking with her, alone
                        Making strawberry jam
                                    Songbirds in the spring

                        Singing and not caring who hears me
                                                Talking with strangers in a line at the market

Watching a returning Marine sweep up his child at the airport
            Knowing that I am loved
                                    An hour without pain
                                                Redwood trees
                        Crème’ Brulee

                                      Holding a quilt made by a great-grandmother
                        Moments of silence
                                    Being able to weep, cry, mourn, laugh, giggle, etc.
                        Possessing empathy

                                                Rhythmic beating of a heart

What would be on your list?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day: a re-post

Saint Patrick's Day: At King David’s Pub and Winery

(Scene opens in Heaven, at the Pub.  Seamus and Patrick are sitting at the bar.  Patrick is asleep, with his head on the bar counter.)

Seamus (St. James):  Say, Paddy, now.  Wake up, you idjit. 

Padraig (St. Patrick)/Paddy:  Ah, Seamus.  Can ye not leave a good saint to a daecent sleep?

Seamus:  It’s yer people there, Paddy.  They’re at it again.  (Leaning over his pint, looking down on the velvet green)

Paddy:  Oh, Mother of God, is it that day already?

Maire (St. Mary):  Paddy, was it ye who called?  Oh.  (She looks down on Dublin.)  So.  Yer Irishmen are at the celebratin’ yer Holy Day.  The day ye up and died down there.

Paddy:  (Looking down) So it ‘tis, Maire.  And would ye look—Chicago has dumped green into ta rivers again!  As if that meant a ting, Lord help us.

The Lord God: (enters with angels singing and clouds billowing)  Was it ye, Paddy, that called m’name?  (Seamus and Paddy vacate their pub stools immediately.)    David, here, be a good man, and pour me a glass of cider.

King David:  Aye, My Lord.  The best Yer Hands ever made, here Ye go.  Have at it. (David pushes the glass over to God, who has settled down on a stool.)

The Lord God:  So, Paddy, what’s troublin’ ye, up here in heaven?

Paddy:  Oh, it’s the Irish people agin.  They’re after celebratin’ my holy day with all sorts of carryin’ ons.  And it bein’ Lent, ‘tis a sad ting ta behold.

The Lord God:  (quaffing a satisfying amount of apple cider) Well, ye know, Paddy,  People ha’ forgotten jest what I did for them, sendin’ ye to Ireland.  They were a terrible mean group, worshippin’ trees and such, ‘fore ye taught ‘em about the Trinity.

Seamus:  Yer right, My Lord.  An’ Paddy drove out them there serpents, and done all them miracles.  Ye did right good work, there.  (Seamus pats Paddy on the shoulder, who nods and perks up a bit.  Maire sits down next to The Lord God.)

The Lord God:    ‘Tis my desire that ye shake the Irish up a wee bit.  Paddy, ye go down to yer holy wells—there’s one down near Clonmel I’m partial to.  Stir the waters up a bit when there’s a group there.  And, Maire, go to some of yer holy grottoes, and send some tears down the cheeks of yer image.  That’ll make the Irish think a bit.  I bet ye’ll see more pious Irish at Mass come Good Friday.

Seamus:  I’ll go along with ‘em, My Lord, jest to keep ‘em company.  (The three saints exit.)

The Lord God:  (watches the saints depart, and laughs softly) Ah, there go some fine saints.  Glad I made ‘em.  (He leaves the pub in a cloud of glory, with angels singing.  David gathers up the glassware, and hums “When the saints go marching in…”  Scene ends.)

If I have offended any, please forgive me.  I lived in Ireland, and have a different perspective. This is a re-post from March, 2011.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A rat's attic?


Brian plugged away in his home office while Lily and Clara played in their bedroom.  The three and five year old girls made a fair amount of noise most of the time, giving him a relaxed sense of security.  There were enough “Daddy, can I have…” questions, just enough to reassure him that the girls were playing benignly.

With confidence, Brian finished his projects and phone calls, and then went to check on the little girls.  He encountered a construction of impressive size.  Stacked atop a sturdy round child table (IKEA) were three Ikea stools, upon which was laid a TV tray top.  Balanced on the tray were a Barbie suitcase and some lunch boxes. 

From layer to layer, Brian followed the tower.  It rose to just below the in-ceiling attic hatch.  The hatch was cracked open with a toy broom wedged in the opening. 

“Girls…what did you do…?  Brian’s voice drifted off as he appreciated the stability of structure.


Both were coloring quietly.  Without looking up, Lily sweetly told him.  “Well, Daddy, we heard you say something about I don’t give a rat’s attic about…, so we decided to check for rats in the attic.”  Giving her daddy a smile, Lily concluded.  “We didn't see any rats, so it’s okay…”

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Our Town

One year the High School Drama Club staged “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder.  In previous years they had performed ambitious edgy projects (The Crucible and Inherit the Wind).  Those may have been too edgy for a rural town where the local movie theater showed one movie on weekends only and at only one show time.

Thornton Wilder
This play, however, requires minimal staging and props.  It does require serious thought, about serious subjects.  Wilder once said that it is a small play about big ideas. 

 “Our Town”:  it could actually have been a story about our own town.  Small town, church picnics, choir practice, sweethearts, gossip and town secrets, etc.  This was the grist and gristle of small town life.  The performances at my school were well received and praised.  

The main character is Emily Webb, whose life we follow through each act.  In Act III, she dies in childbirth.  She is granted her desire to review one day of her life, and she chose her twelfth birthday.  In her memory, that day was the best day of her life.

At the age of 16, I watched and wondered why-the-heck-did-she-choose-that-day?  Now, I wonder what day I would choose.  For that matter, if I could go back in time and spend time with someone, talking and asking questions, whom would I choose?  What day?  

What about you?  What day would you choose?  Who is important enough in your life that you would want to see?  Would this person be one from history, or your experiences?

Note:  If you would like to view the movie, visit this archive site.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Here's to a Midwest Publisher

One of many titles

Scanning through old books at antique stores is something that gives me joy.  Holding a well-used book and appreciating the hands that once turned pages fills me with happiness. 

Sometimes I find a real winner, like The Ideas of a Plain Country Woman.  The writer (The Country Contributor) preferred to remain anonymous, although she had written articles for Ladies Home Journal.  Her observations and honesty are rare now, let alone in her times, circa 1909.

And other times my finds are true disappointments.  The Farm Animals on Strike by A. H. E. Hoosier, published in 1923 by A.Flanagan Company, Chicago, Illinois, is one of these.    I tried to read it, but the book was an ill-disguised lesson on proper treatment of farm animals.  When the animals were speaking, it was entertaining.  But the moment a human started dialogue, the sentences were blogged down in verbosity.

One of many titles.

The thing is I truly wanted a real gem here, and in a way, I got more than I had hoped. 

There is a library card pocket glued on the inside cover. Taken from Port Allen Library, librarian’s peculiar cursive states the author, title, and book number.  The book was checked out on Feb. 5, 192-, by Jackie Forbes, followed by Patrice and Randy.  Tucked into the book are two 3X5 index cards.  One side of each has been mimeographed (remember that??) “Superintendent’s Check-Out Card”.

One of many titles

The teacher, Hazel E. Pine, was clearly closing down the school year, doing the mundane paper work which required that every book be accounted for and returned.  Necessary, but mundane work.

So, here I am, holding this old book.  I went to an archived site (included beneath the pictures) and found a collection of educational books published by A. Flanagan and other publishers.  Each book is accessible for on-line reading.  Definitely worth checking out, especially Mistakes in Teaching.  

Not exactly a gem, but maybe a gold mine from the past?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fate in the Sock Drawer


The occupants of Sock Drawer saw this coming.  All the indicators were present, and doom was inevitable.  

Clustered together in the dark recesses of the Sock Drawer, whispers and muted conversations rose from the worried pairs.  Gold Toes and Ankle Crews rolled into little balls and hid in the dark corners.

Whenever a pair of socks reached “Favored Socks” status, it was only a matter of time before the end would come.  This would be the fate of the Neon Green Sport Socks.

Hard wearing and dryer heat were a sock’s mortal enemies. 

It was barely noticeable at first, but tiny holes began to appear.  Thin patches on the reinforced heels and rips along the double-stitched toes were the tell-tale signs.  The Neon Greens acknowledged this.

When they returned from the dryer time, the Neon Greens called the Sock Drawer inhabitants together.  All gathered around the Greens to say their good-byes.  

Lint was shed in copious amounts and static electricity charged each one as the Greens touched their worn toes to others.  Spandex to wool, cotton to mixed blends, without words farewells were expressed.

The next time the Neon Greens left the drawer would be their last.

Such is the fate of all well-loved, well-worn socks.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

This was the preferred reading book for children at one time.

A book makes a stamp on the reader’s mind. 

A good book will remain in the reader's mind. 

A great book may make a change in the reader’s mind.  

An amazing book will remain in the reader’s mind for the rest of his life, changing the way he perceives the world.

As a proponent of quality young adult books, I firmly believe that even the earliest children’s books must reflect that same expectation.  Children must experience truly good books in order that they grow to appreciate truly amazing books. 

from Wikipedia
Beatrix Potter brought a shift in children’s books, which were virtually non-existent in the 19th century (heck, for that matter, in any previous century).  She insisted that her books be "child-sized" for small hands to hold.  Ms. Potter knew her primary audience were children.  Say “Peter Rabbit” and most people know its source. 

What quality book from your youth affected you?  In what ways?  Can you suggest books (picture, chapter, poetry, etc.) that you hope would qualify as good/great/or amazing?

Monday, March 4, 2013

What a Baby Thinks

Have you ever noticed the expression newborn babies have?  Granted, the facial features are flattened, with the nose scrunched a bit, the eyes swollen, and the skin reddened.  No, that’s not what is meant.

New babies peer out at the world with a look of confusion and consternation.  Look at these pictures of my grandson over the weeks following his birth.

I may be asleep, but that doesn't mean I am happy...

This is the internal dialogue I would give the wee little man:  

Who are you?  And what do you want? 

                What the heck am I doing here?!!

Put me back!  Right this instant!  I insist!

                I was just fine where I was.

Who is in charge here?  I insist to speak to someone in charge.

                If I am to stay, give me something to eat.  Immediately!  And it must be fresh!

Don't touch that!  It is mine!  Oh...Oh..alright.  

While I take great liberty with the inner workings of a baby’s thoughts, I believe this would be pretty accurate.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

The door was wide open...

The door was wide open and that was the problem.  No one was paying attention and that was the second problem.

Amanda toddled to the door, seeing a bright sun and hearing spring song birds.  The brothers were playing a game with their backs to the door.  The birds, such pretty birds. 

She had learned how to go down the step, holding onto the rough stucco and putting one socked foot down.  Then the other.   The grass was green and warm.  Each step was on soft freshness, so lovely. 

Bright yellow dandelions lay in her path.  Two year olds don’t have far to bend over and Amanda plucked one.  She touched the golden petals, tasted them, and then dropped the flower. 

Minutes passed.  Amanda toddled across the grassy yard, pajama legs dragging the grass.  More yellow flowers.  More grass. 

The sidewalk was next and then the road with all the cars passing by the house.  Amanda reached the curb.  Just step down which she knew how to do.

What happens next?