Monday, July 29, 2019

Creating a Title that Catches

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Reboot
The Heroes
When "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" appeared in the early 1990s, I was stunned. Who thought this up? Were they crazy or were they just plain brilliant?

In this comic series, these turtles live in the sewer and have been mutated by some green oozy toxic stuff, turned into the mutant turtles. They are named Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo. They fight an evil mutated rat, which makes up the ongoing plot.

I laughingly said that these were two drunk 20+ unemployed guys, sitting around who came up with up with this. And it would probably be drawn on a napkin. Well, by golly,  IT WAS! So that is how this multi-million dollar movies and comics production came to be.

So, then how about some more incredibly unreasonable book titles?  

Nettles and Me: how I learned to accept them.

Mystery of the Deep Veruca 

How to Train Your Sea Cucumber

Slugs: The New White Meat

The Little Snail who Could

True Story of Jack Sprat

The Crystal Slipper Origins: Godmother Tells All

Trials of a Canine Dentist

Truth about Being A Flying Squirrel by Rocky J. Squirrel

Living a Low-Carb Diet by American Badger

My Large Termite Family Reunion by Ted Isoptera

Okay, Do you have some totally ridiculous titles? Oh, come on. You're creative people. Give us all a giggle.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

No Place like Home

hero image
standard large California suburb

In our California communities, houses are built in sub-divisions with the same usual three house designs. Our own house had the same design as one just two houses down the street.  

Residents were permitted to choose new house colors from a list of three. Each were desert colors of tan, desert rose (another tan), and brick tan. Color choices had to be approved by the Homeowners Association. Every exterior change had to be approved.

Anyone with an imagination might struggle with blandness. People may even find themselves numb by repetitive sameness. 

It has always impressed me how newer houses change with the times and technology. Our old house was built in 1976, one of the famous ranch houses of the time, with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, 1400 sq. feet.  After 27 years, we moved to our current house, built in 2002 within a retirement community and has great conveniences.  

Even so, here there are the same restrictions on color and exterior structure changes must also be approved. Such is life.

This urged me to go awandering and looking at unique houses, ones that inspire.

Fallingwater house by Frank Lloyd Wright

Famous unusual homes
underground house
 cleanString alt
Classic design
Frank Lloyd Wright

Question: Could I live in either of these? You betcha. Could you live in either?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Treasure Chest Treasures

 Second Grade Blogs
Classroom Management
The Treasure Chest was finally full, bursting from its cardboard seams.  Parents had pulled through, had donated to the treasure hoard, according to a list of requests from Ms. Wallace, First Grade teacher in Room 31. Some parents donated even more. 

When the new first graders streamed through the classroom door, pencils had been sharpened and books stacked. The classroom rules and rewards were posted on the wall, along with bright alphabet letters and numbers lined up in a row. First day was thrilling for all.

Life in First Grade

At the end of the day, three lucky students who had shown exemplary behavior reached sweaty and dirty hands into the treasure box, pulling out their own special prize. School bell rang, students from Room 31 poured out onto the playground to see what those treasures were.

From Australia
Day two, then day three, day four, and finally day five came about and three  little girls reached claw-like hands into the chest, pulling out matching Barbie-pink pencil cases. Squealing, all three dashed out with other Ms. Wallace students.  What is it?  Open it! Open it!

Out on the playground, each pulled out white tubes wrapped in white paper. Ooooh, look at that! What is that?  Excitement became confusion.

Each girl revealed a strange cylinder of compacted cotton with odd strings hanging out one end.  One girl pretended to put on makeup. Others experimented, which allowed students to take turns swinging one around.  But, novelty wore off, most first graders ran to waiting parents. Only the three girls remained, batting each other and giggling.

They raced around, swirling Tampons over their heads and then batting the tether ball pole.

Ms. Wallace thought she had seen it all in her years of teaching, but now she had watched the three girls chasing each other, swatting each other with Tampons. You missed me! No, I didn't! Here, take that!!  A sword fight using Tampons broke out. One Tampon was dropped into a puddle and magic happened as it absorbed the liquid.

You can carry this in your purse or backpack!
Ms. Wallace stepped backwards into a dark corner as the parents found them.

Hurrying inside, Ms. Wallace culled through the Treasure Chest, opening each Barbie-pink pencil case with a Tampon discreetly wrapped inside. Other donations were up to the list's standards and Tampons definitely were not on it. 

As she drove home, Ms. Wallace sighed. There'll be hell to pay tomorrow.

Part of this true: the Barbie pink containers did contain two Tampons, and only one girl chose it as her prize. She then did all of those activities (except the water bit) in the car with her younger sister. They had a good time.  It was a heck of a thing according to my daughter.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Where had it all gone wrong?

Goldman Sachs

Richard huddled in his jail cell, pulling his Armani suit closely around him.  Now he was watching his world disintegrate.

Where had it all gone wrong? We had a duster clean the computer files.  We dated everything retroactively . He wondered.  Surely everyone in the investment business embezzled from his clients now and then.  It was part of the investment game after all.

With the untimely arrival of the arrest warrant, he was for a moment left spellbound.  Richard’s travel carry-on sat by the door, stuffed with one-million dollars and a change of underwear.

Five more minutes!

Five more minutes and he would have been out the door, heading to the nearest non-extradition country.


This is a re-post from 2015, using Wednesday Words provided by Delores. This is an opportunity for bloggers to play with words. Words can be found also at Elephant's ChildDrifting through Life, as well as other talented bloggers.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Intrepid Young Explorer

Warm laundry...mmmm

Being intrepid did not always work in Little Man's best interests.

When Mummy turned her back, he crawled toward a vase, leading to a crash and broken glass.  Then Little Man discovered a spoon and Daddy’s iPad.  Just a few bashes resulted in a clang, a flash¸ and some loud buzzing.

Yes, being intrepid could possibly drive Mummy over an emotional cliff.

I crawled here, and stood up.  NOW what do I do?

This is a repost from 2013. Italicize underlined word are from Wednesday Words, prompts for bloggers to play with. Little Man is now 7 yrs old with a little brother who dearly loves his big brother.  Grandparents love them so much.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Being Groomed

I do not want to write this. I don't know if I can. This will be a long post. This tells a story, one that has been part of a dusty history, a page in a yearbook, a memory that cannot be erased. 

Yet, at the oddest moments, there it is.

Sitting and consuming obscene amounts of ice cream, there it was: the memory I had never ever told anyone, one that scares me still. 

My husband John had just asked me about something we did with our kids, and my computer brain pulled that file up. My computer mind is one that never forgets almost anything.  It amazes people when I remember a family bbq nearly 40 years ago, when flames leapt high enough to ignite a false banana plant. It amazes them when I can tell them who was in the pool that day. It amazes...

As we watched ice cream melt and drip down chins, this other memory burst through the barriers I had constructed and flowed from my lips, my voice changed. 

"You know, I remember something when I was 17 and so naive, so ignorant. I didn't even know sex was.

"There was a professor, a handsome and mature man, he paid attention to me, no other boys I had dated did that. He smiled at me, his eyes were brown and warm. Each day, he treated me like I was special, that I was beautiful...

I became infatuated."

I bowed my head, staring at my clenched hands.

"He'd walk me to the cafeteria, laughing at my nervous girl jokes, each day he walked me.  And then, he said he and his roommate were going to paint a room, and wondered if I knew anyone who could help. Of course! A girl friend and I showed up and helped. Professor stood close to me, guided my hand."

I scribbled in the melted ice cream on the table.

"I was 17!  I didn't know. Once I turned 18, he changed. The roommate was somewhere in the house but we were alone.  I asked about that and he said he'd show me the house.  He showed me his bedroom, and I froze. He stood on the other side of the bed, and I commented on the quilt, hurried up the stairs."

"Another time when his roommate was there, he sat down close to me on the sofa. He picked up a coffee table book about human emotions. Professor flipped to a page, finding it easily. He pointed to a woman's face, distorted with a strong emotion. Having sex. Turned the page, the same woman after giving birth."

That was when he told me how old he was. 31 years old.  31.

"When I had turned 18, he changed even more and more.  He took me to a concert, knowing I had never seen one. He...he had his mother fly to meet me.  Meet me!  What do I do? What can I do. So I met her. Then he wanted to meet my parents.

"Help me..." But I couldn't say the words. I waited for Dad to say something, to protect me. He didn't. Even though Professor criticized Mom's cooking "despite its common proventiality", then he criticized a painting I had done of myself, then he criticized...everything. 

Help me, help me.

"We went to a movie with his roommate and his girlfriend. He looped his arm over my shoulder. There was a part of the movie where the Henry VIII disposed of Anne Boleyn. He whispered into my ear, I hope you won't get rid of this cow."
He tapped his chest."

Help me...Help me...

"He drove me to my dorm, I sat far away from him, clutching the door handle. Then he turned to face me, telling me that he was going to teach in Arizona.  My breath caught in my throat. I was 18."

"I can't, I won't. I can't go to Arizona with you. I worked so hard for this scholarship, to go to college. I won't give that up."

He reminded me that his mother had come to meet me. That he had met my parents. He didn't say anything more, but he grasped my face and smeared a kiss on my mouth. 

I leapt from the car and ran into the dorm, up 5 flights of stairs.

After that, Professor was cold and angry, treated me horribly. Then suddenly he was gone before the end of school and another professor took his place. Later I found out that he had done this before, found a stupid girl like me before. This time he was dismissed and just disappeared."

My husband John had been so quiet, his head bowed down. He asked if this was before I met him, and I said yes. Like John always does when he has an anxiety issue, he stood up and went somewhere, like the men's room.

My hands relaxed and I turned my face up to see my daughter and teenage granddaughters. Their eyes were wide, their faces white. She whispered He was your professor. He was a pedophile. He is gone now.

Ice cream now covered the table in random swirls. We drove away in a silent car until Bohemian Rhapsody played from the speakers. We talked and laughed as we ate dinner she had fixed. A good time with my family.

But, his face still appears randomly and those events are still vivid in my computer brain.  No, he is not gone. 

My brain still wraps around him like a cancerous cocoon, a tumor. Even though it has been 50 years, my brain has him strapped in with other memories.

I pray that he is dead, that he died a horrible death. I pray that there was not another young 17 year old girl. If there was, I pray she saw what I saw and got away.

Until I told my husband and daughter, I had never told anyone. Hoping that this will release some of the pain I feel, I have told you.

What that professor was doing at that time was courtship and seduction that would lead to an intimate relationship. He had wanted a virgin wife, one who would be submissive. He was grooming me. Grooming and seduction

Not everyone understands how it is to have an eidetic memory. It is both a curse and a blessing. Fortunately, I do not recall everything, only those to which I have some sort of connection, with all the senses. Visual is the instigator. This has been part of my life since I was a small child.

I have turned off the comment section for this post.

Please access these highlighted underlined words for more information.

Monday, July 15, 2019

About Joy

Time comes in all lives when a person says “That’s enough…I’m done…”  Turning off the tractor, closing the grade book, handing over the keys and walking away.

Point of this post:

Recognize when it is time to stop, to walk away.

You know when it is time, you can feel it.  Do not deny the hip, knee, or shoulder.  Do not ignore pain or sense of exhaustion. Growing old is serious business.

A number of issues forced me to retire from teaching, a good ten years early.  Pain took me out. Changes in state requirement were strangling teachers and education.

Mainly, joy was leaving me. 

When that joy is gone, it is time to stop, to walk away, and head to something that returns joy to you.

Have you done that? Can you do that? 

Robert Louis Stevenson quote

Friday, July 12, 2019

Let the Chips Fly Where They May

Image may contain: plant, outdoor and nature
Harvest of fresh-yet-to-dry-out
Tonight my friends, we ride.

"This evening begins the annual Chatham Jaycees Cow Chip Roundup."

Image may contain: one or more people, people riding on horses, cloud, sky, outdoor and nature
Wranglers on the prowl
Our legion of experienced chip wranglers will ride off to round up the 2019 crop of cow chips for the 2019 Illinois Cow Chip Throw! Wranglers round the chips up, then our chip technicians humanely cull the herd choosing only the best, ripest, and most aerodynamically perfect chips.

The chips are then transported to our one of a kind Cow Chip Confinement Unit (CCCU) patent pending, to rest and undergo a final inspection by one of the Chip Masters, primarily the Most Reverend Donald Peck.

After wind tunnel testing, those special chips are ready for their moment in the sun on July 20 at the Chatham Jaycees Sweet Corn and Cow Chipping Festival.

Image may contain: outdoor
Painting CCCU to prevent satellite spying

Image may contain: one or more people, grass and outdoor
Highly trained professional
Image may contain: 1 person, standing, sky, outdoor and nature
Security personnel

Why do we go through such an elaborate and mostly fictionalized process?

Because we love you. And we put a little love in every chip. (For legal reasons we are unable at this time to describe that process.)"
Future  Chipper
Image may contain: 1 person, indoor
Musicians play to encourage cows to produce. Earth, Wind, and Fire could not appear, altho they were requested.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, sky, outdoor and nature
Staff of Collection and Security Personnel


Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
King of the Sweetcorn 

When the festival is over, excess cow chips disposed, celebratory bottles hoisted, this is what is left.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, twilight, tree, outdoor and nature
Farm in Chatham, IL

This is a follow-up from June 30, 2019 post. Now the time is upon us and I believed that you needed to know the new info. 

P.S.  Information and news releases provided photos and information for this post have been provided by the Chatham Jaycees Cow Chipping committee. Thanks go to the Most Reverend Donald Peck, who has been quoted as saying   "I was the Cow Chip Consultant, CCC. I have PhD in the business." As he is my brother, I can attest to the accuracy of this statement.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Stumbling Stones

Street led to the Vatican
We are ages 69 and 67, youngsters
by all accounts.

Throughout the decades of our life together, we had always said Let's go to Rome someday. Our answers were When the kids are older.

Then as time went by and our progeny left home, we said again, Let's go to Rome someday. Our answers were We have to save up for retirement. AND we can't get off from work.

Then after these excuses we eliminated, Let's go to Rome now. Does May sound good to you? Retirement and strong investments and inheritance from our mothers allowed us to do that.

We took the leap, found ourselves on a bus tour with 40 other retirees, having an awesome time. 
Leading to Sistine Chapel
On two days we were on our own explorations.  Everywhere we turned along old winding streets, we were amazed to see local churches. Small churches were tucked in at corners and looked unimpressive.

But each one was filled will their own grandeur, well-used by parishioners. The kneeling rails showed decades of prayers. We were utterly humbled.
A small church tucked in a tiny street. I slipped
down a step, but only my
pride hurt.

How-ever, this post is not about all the crazy 

amazing historical splendid sites that could merit days and days of exploration all by themselves. This post is about the little things.

This is from the Jewish Ghetto.
Now, instead of looking up at the gilded and amazing ceiling paintings, I found myself gazing down.  Looking down at the cobblestones, I discovered shiny gold bronze plaques embedded within a sea of gray. Looking closer, bending over, I gasped as I read the engraved names and dates.

The left one reads (with difficulty, given its wear and probably misspelled): 

Qui Abitava
Dora Fiatelli
Nata 1887
Arrestata 15.3.1943
Morta 1.7.1944

Can you read them? Enlarge and see these "stumbling stones" as they are called.

These stumbling stones can be found throughout Europe, in probably every country.

Life is about the big and the little bits throughout history.  It is easy to see the big grandeur amazing epic bits.

But for me, thecontemplativecat, turning a stone over and finding the magnificent there, this is the way I am.  Looking down, as well as up, grants a picture of time and people.

Our someday has become someday we will return and learn more.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Think I'm old? Just watch me.

St. Charles, Missouri
Living in a 55+ community where many of the residents were alive in the WW2 and Korean War time period, I have observed some amazing people. Some are old and frail, but they are amazing.

Many can be seen at the clubhouse playing cards (gambling!), in the exercise room, and in the pool.  Don't count these or any seniors out.

That being said, here can give you an idea what an old person can do.

I don't know about you, but I sure couldn't do those dance moves, wouldn't even attempt them. I could give that cashier a chewing out like nobody's business. Young whippersnapper.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Adventures of Lord James St. John

Books:Literature 1900-up, [Boy Stories]. Group of Seven. Various publishers. Seven adventuretitles from the 1930's targeted to boys such as W... (Total: 7Items)
adventure stories 1930s
Another hot day in Kansas City began by 9 a.m., and David sighed.  Why the hell did we move here?  Why? Chicago to Kansas City was a leap of insanity, especially in July.

David found himself on the library steps, trudging up into the brisk cool air of books and tables, musty and old.  

Purposefully, David headed back to where he had last tossed “The Adventures of Lord James St. John” onto the floor.  The book, of course, had been shelved by some over-zealous librarian.  Even so, he caught the sapphire blue spine among other lined up remnants of insipid adventure fiction books.

Sitting in a dark corner on a battered leather chair, David experienced a surge of anticipation.

“…the ground rumbled beneath him... as he raced ahead of the cave-in, only to sense burning vitriolic acid mist surrounding him, engulfing him.  The air morphed into a freezing mixture, combined with rotten egg scent of  liquid sulfuric acid…

Oh, come on!  Sulfuric acid AND gaseous nitrous oxide?  Together? Ancient tribes would have no knowledge…Idiot writer…Do your research, why dontcha? David sneered.

Misfortune loomed as the fumes waved over him.  Coughing through a torn shirt sleeve, he had an epiphany. Holding his breath, he crouched and crept along the craggy cave floor, breathing through the rock and dirt.  

Stay low, stay low…out of the mist…David whispered.

 A light gleamed ahead, a source of rescueSt. John tumbled and rolled into the bright daylight.  He snatched grass and twigs to pull him the rest of the way until he could escape the fumes. Lord James revived just enough to see his worst nemesis towering over him. Lord James St. John groaned.

David smirked. Well then…this was unpredictable. He should have been taken captive, tortured, or something.

A tall man glared down at him.  “…had to take another gamble, didn’t you?...A man who finds  misfortune, unworthy to bear the colors of the St. John banner…”

James lost consciousness blessedly, but when he came to, the man was still there, still haranguing at his son.  “…you impertinent worthless…."

Can’t he just shut up…just shut up…David growled.

First you deny the privilege of serving Queen and Country…A PACIFIST….”

David groaned. His dad.  Just silly plot twist.  Come on, really?

Lord James William Arthur St. John, puffed out his medal covered chest. “Why, in my day…”

Lord James St. John gazed through a haze at the self-proclaimed hero of martial glory.  Before passing out with a fading smile, he whispered, “You peacock you…”

David chortled.  Flipped a few pages ahead, Lord James St. John was already on another adventure.

Why not?  He took the book to the check-out desk.

The underlined words were provided in 2015 from Wednesday Words, maintained by several talented bloggers: Elephant's ChildRiverDelores. Over the years, the words have been challenging and entertaining.

After editing and rewriting and then editing more, this emerged. It was a load of fun, but then, isn't writing just that?

Essential Books for the Well-Read Explorer