The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

When "No" Means "Yes"

Sometimes people hear "no" and they don't stop. They're told they can't get something published... and they publish it themselves. They're told they'll never get into a certain publication... and they keep trying until they do.

No can shut people down. However, it can also fire people up.



If you'd like to find out what being told "no" has done to me, check out my post on The Muffin. It might be some nibbling you'll enjoy...

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

2nd Place

Sometimes being #2 is enough. Sometimes it's wonderful.

A couple of days ago I read of a writer who snagged the second prize in WOW's nonfiction essay contest. Her piece was A. Maz. Ing. It's a moving story and it's well crafted.

You can read Bea's story here.


Today is my second day with students. Yesterday was an incredible day. My goal (one of many): to remember a few students' names in each class.

Sometimes #2 is better than #1. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the first day, I'm looking forward to an even better day today.

How do you handle not making #1? Does missing top spot get you discouraged? 

Or, does it make you dig your heels in and try even harder the next time?



Friday, August 2, 2019

Back to Work

Next week I officially go back to work. Last week I went in and began working on my classroom. This week, I've done the same. There are still some crates to unpack, along with things to put away.

Along one wall I've attached a long banner that says, "Our greatest heroes are ordinary people doing extraordinary things." On another wall, on the sections of wall space between my six windows, I've hung posters of some of my historical heroes. Jackie Robinson. Abe Lincoln. Mae Jemison. Harriet Tubman. Anne Frank. Barack Obama.


I'm hoping that if my students don't have any heroes, they'll discover some during the school year. 

We'll be writing research papers, creating movies, and interviewing senior citizens. (My school is right next door to a senior complex.)

Who are some of your historical figures? 

Friday, July 26, 2019

A Glimmer

It's almost the end of July and I'm filled with glimmers.

A glimmer of excitement. I worked in my new classroom one morning this week. (I'd be there more, but I don't have keys yet.) I set up 5 of the 6 tables I'll need for students, along with chairs. (I'm mixin' it up. Alternating tables, some with orange chairs and some with blue.) I laminated some posters of some of my historical figures. (Mae Jemison. Harriet Tubman. Abe Lincoln. Jackie Robinson. President Obama. Anne Frank.) I put out my Author's Chair and a rug that used to be perfect, but after the science fair last year, now has a smear of rubber cement.

A glimmer of joy. I've been hitting the streets, begging for donations from area restaurants for donations. Love a Golden's trivia night is coming up, and it's my responsibility burden to get the majority of the gift certificates. We're just about to reach our goal, so I'm thrilled. I can slow down the prostrate train...




A glimmer of hope. A second publisher has requested a full manuscript. Obviously, such a request might result in them still saying, "No thanks." In fact, both of them might say, "Um, no." However, I'm preferring to keep looking at that glimmer of hope.

And if you'd like to catch a glimmer of why I love a new TV show, check out my post on the Muffin.


As Emily Dickinson so eloquently wrote:

Hope is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sioux's Baaack!

I'm back. On the previous post, I said I was disconnecting due to doing some family fun stuff. That wasn't completely true.

I was out of town--on another continent--for 10 days, and I didn't want the riff-raff (who, of course, are reading my blog) getting wind that I wasn't home. After all, I got lots of valuable stuff to pilfer through... stuff like a half-full crate of markers I haven't moved to my new classroom yet... stuff like almost every John Prine and Cat Stevens album ever recorded... valuable stuff like 10 or 12 writing journals (each one with only a few pages written in).

I was on a cruise that circumnavigated Iceland, and found it to be a country of such differences. Parts of it looked like another world, with weird rocks that seemed to leap out of the surface, creating huge formations.




Parts of it were brilliantly green...



There were incredible mountains, formed by glaciers and volcanoes...



And the most powerful waterfall in Europe? It's in Iceland.



My photos cannot capture the beauty of the country. Fortunately, my memories did capture how gorgeous Iceland is... and I will always remember the starkness, the lushness, the other-worldly amazingness.

If I made a movie about my trip, it might have been more effective than mere photos. And today on The Muffin, that's what my post is about--making movies.
Check it out. (And how about you? What fun or exciting things have you done this summer?) 

Monday, July 8, 2019

Disconnecting


This graphic makes me wonder. When we don't have access to the internet, to social media... do we feel like we're imprisoned?

Or, are we imprisoned by our constant need to check our email, our posts, our Facebook whatevers? Do we feel anxious and deprived if we can't connect?

I am disconnecting for a couple of weeks. It's by choice. I'm going to be doing some things with friends and family, and I want to be present in the present.

By the time the middle of July rolls around, I'll reconnect. I promise. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

100 Story Ideas... and the Rest of My Summer

During the rest of the summer (which is flying by) I have a few things to look forward to.

photo by pexels

Later this summer I'm doing some traveling. Hopefully, I will be able to take pictures. To tease you with some details, the place I'm headed to is on another continent, there's lots of light, and the country's name is a misnomer.

Sometime between now and the beginning of August, I'll also be going into my classroom and unpacking all the boxes and figuring out the arrangement of my room. I've ordered some posters of historic figures (since I'm teachin' history), and I am going to buy some succulents (since even my kill-proof plants that weren't succulents did not fare well last year).

Also, I have the opportunity to devote four solid days to wading through my curriculum and getting some lesson-planning done. A group of teacher friends and I are doing an advanced institute of a class--this one is free and for no credit. Fellow educators can either work on their personal writing, or do curriculum work... or whatever uninterrupted work they want to do.

One of the resources that was shared during the earlier class (which was for credit and did cost dearly) was Times 100 Best Photos from 2018. If you head here, you can read about the story idea I wrote about one of those incredible photographs, and I share a link to the resource.

After all, every picture tells a story...


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Halfway Through the Summer... Rejection... and Some Encouraging Words

It used to be that summer lasted for three months. When I was a kid, and when I first started teaching, school ended in the beginning of June and began again after Labor Day.

These days, a teacher's summer break lasts a couple of months. I would say there is an extra week or two of free time thrown in, but that is ASSuming the teacher doesn't go in and work on their classroom--getting it set up--until they're required to. (Most teachers go and either set up their class like a tornado--fast and furiously--or they go in a piddle around, getting things done at a snail's pace.)



The graduate class I teach is over at the end of this week, which means I will have some time to work in my classroom (in a new school, along with teaching a new subject). I'm looking forward to arranging and rearranging the tables, setting up things, etc.

I've slowed down submitting my manuscript. I did have the chance to create a movie about the manuscript--and I'll share it later in July. The only excuse I have for being a slug when it comes to submitting: it's been discouraging. 

However, I did get a reply that's encouraging. A small publisher is interested in seeing the whole manuscript. 

I am guardedly hopeful...

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Happy Father's Day... and the Father I Might Kill

When I was a kid, fathers weren't as hands-on as they are now. I don't know, but I imagine my dad didn't change a lot of diapers. His job was to bring home the bacon... and the ground beef that got mixed with lots of spaghetti and stretched thin.




My dad was a great parent. Was he a bit inflexible? Yes. Was he too conservative for my tastes? Yes. Did he sometimes get too loud and blustery? Yes. However, he put up with my shenanigans along with my brother's, was a master BBQer and loved a cocktail every evening before dinner.

My father (and mother) chose me--I'm adopted. However as a writer, I chose the characteristics as I create fictional characters. 

How will they end up when the story is finished? It is up to me...

Please check out my post on The Muffin. In it, I share a little about my WIP... and a little about the father I might be killing.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Packing Up the Old... Headed to the New

Today I'm headed to both my new classroom and my old one. I'm hoping to unload two carloads full of crates and boxes into my new classroom. Then I'm going to clear out (more) stuff from my old classroom, eat lunch (with my "old" colleagues) in the middle of the clutter-fest... followed by boxing up more of my clutter.

As I was clearing out and organizing last week, I threw away a lot of stuff, gave away stuff and packed up stuff. It made me think of the impasse I've reached (recently) as a writer.

I've been plagued with rejections from agents. Several of them were personalized. Two of them praised my writing... my manuscript just doesn't fit their current needs. 

That's the old.

A couple of days ago I began reading the book Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham. The format (back and forth between two characters living in two different eras--along with the two storylines--inspired my inner core to budge. I've been stagnant as a writer for a month, mired in self-doubt and despondency.



But no more. Now I'm looking to the new. After my former classroom is cleared out and my report cards are finished, I'm moving forward.

How about you? Are you stuck in the past or are you plodding forward?


Thursday, April 25, 2019

What We Know or What We Want to Know?

When I was much, much younger, I was told, "Write what you know." 

Today, that would involve battling my mustache... and I'm a woman. It would involve falling asleep at 7:30 at night on the couch, surrounded by a puddle of drool. It would involve daily trying to camouflage my poochy belly.

That's what I know. Does anyone want to read about that stuff?



Probably not.

For a serious discussion of the dilemma I'm currently facing, go check out my post on The Muffin. 

And if you have a suggestion or you know an agent or a publisher (who owes you a big favor), please let me know.

After all, I'm looking for just one yes...






Thursday, April 18, 2019

Mired in ???

I feel like I'm stuck in a tar pit. Not that I have an experience with that horror, but I mired in sticky stuff... stuff that's keeping me from moving forward with my writing.



I recently got a rejection in which the agent brought up the #OwnVoices trend. If you're not familiar, that's the movement pushing for books that focus on LGBT characters be written by someone who identifies as LGBT. A book centering on a person of color? That should be written by a person of color.

As I read and contemplate and seek advice, I wonder: can a white person write a novel with a young African American as the main character? More importantly, can they create a nuanced character with respect and authenticity woven in?

In the next couple of months I'll be figuring out my next steps with my manuscript... and hopefully I can pull myself out of this tar pit very soon. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Poetic Postings Day # 3

Today's prompt involved a list. Some suggestions: 10 things I'd change... 10 things I've learned... 10 things I know to be true.

The one I chose was this:


10 Things I Love

naps on Saturday afternoon
getting together with friends after work
a glass of cold milk
snuggling with my dog
watching a spur-of-the-moment movie with my husband
Tyrion Lannister
falling asleep with a good book in my hands
my students
salt and pepper pistachios
a road trip with a friend





Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Poetic Postings Day # 2

The best part of me
is underneath
honking and telling
rude drivers
they're number one

The best part of me
is hidden by sarcasm
and snarky remarks
and shrugging off 
the pain

The best part of me
is often misread

The best part of me
is given freely
but rarely accepted

When you see me 
hunched over, writing

When you see me
prodding 
and praising students

When you see me
gush over my granddaughter...

You're seeing my best

Monday, April 1, 2019

Poetic Postings Day # 1

April is here. I've accepted a poetry challenge. A poem. Every. Day. (What have I gotten myself into? ;)

This poem is inspired by my son and daughter-in-law's foster baby. This young man is three months old and was born two months premature... and he's such a doll.

Big brown eyes
Just learning to side-eye

Fingers so incredibly long
and skinny
I just know you'll be a musician
some day

Beautiful skin,
Like milk chocolate
Legs that never quite relax--
Just like  your arms

Two months premature
is way early
You were all chill in
your mama's swimming pool
of a tummy
and
now
you've got to find your way

Someday

Someday you'll grab a handful
of life
(not just my finger)
and this tenuous beginning
will be behind you,
leaving not even a wispy memory

But until someday comes along,
there's today

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 31: What is Art... and What is Next?




Yesterday I sat in the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis for most of the morning. I overlooked a huge sculpture. I'd write. I'd glance up and look across the gallery. I'd write. I'd scan the pieces that were part of the artwork, then I'd chat to a writer friend who sat next to me. I'd write some more.

Here is a view of part of the piece:




Here is another view:




Some people might not think this is truly art. I used to think that, but over the decades, I've changed... been transformed, which I think is such an integral part of art. If it's transforms, if it makes us think or reflect or talk with others... if it's an expression of the artist, it's art (at least in my opinion).

Today is the last slice from me (don't cheer too loudly. I know some of my slices have been sour or bland). Beginning tomorrow I'll be posting a poem every day. We'll see how much inspiration I can whip up for myself on a daily basis.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Slice of Life Day 30: Yeah, I've Been Lax...


Well, it's almost the end of my (almost) daily Slice postings... and something next will start in April: daily powerful poetic postings (Say that five times, and say it quickly.)  Okay, the poems I come up with might not be powerful, but I needed another "p" word to put into that string.

Right this minute (Saturday morning, 10:09) I am sitting in the Contemporary Arts Museum St. Louis. In front of me: a huge sculpture display of charcoal gray cylinders (gigantic) strewn across the enormous gallery. 

All around me: the sound of voices and music blended. The voices are distorted enough that they're not distracting. I can't make out what they're saying, so I can't fixate on their message instead of my writing. 

Behind me: A rainy, dreary day.

Just like I will begin something new on April 1--blogging-wise--I will begin something new in August. This week I snagged a job. The school I'll be working at next school year is suuuuch an easier commute for me. Currently, to avoid traffic jams, I drive over incredibly rough roads--where other drivers (along with me) drive at such high speeds, it's like the German autobahn, even though none of the streets are highways.

It might not be the best job, money-wise, but it felt like the best place for me, and it came about so easily. The principal wanted to meet me before setting up an interview... I knew what his motives are. I've been teaching for so many years, I know he wanted to see if I was a little blue-haired lady using a walker to get around. Obviously I passed the she-fogged-up-the-mirror test...

 I got a tour with the principal, we talked as we walked, he asked if I had spoken to any other schools (trying to sniff if there was blood in the water), and then said he'd love to offer me a contract.

A. Maz. Ing.

A new school. A new community to build. A new/old subject to teach (social studies). I am so looking forward to it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 27: Whoopsie

Slice of Life Day # 26: Pathetic Exhaustion + Just a Moment of TV Watching = Delicious Confusion (This was supposed to be posted on Monday but in my messed-up mind due to my evening nap, I posted it on another site. Yikes!)

Waking up, I shook my head to get rid of my confusion (figuratively, of course, because it would take a lot more than that to shake off my real-life mental cobwebs ;).

I wiped off the dried-on drool.

Panic set in. I fell asleep! On the couch! Did I oversleep? Am I going to be late for work?

Oh. It's 10:30 at night. I fell asleep sometime between 6 and 7.

It's gonna be a long week... 


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 26: A Bit of Math



10 cold toes during morning duty (I insisted on wearing sandals)
7 sets of science fair note cards scored
1 minute left until This is Us Begins
2 halves of a Nora's chicken salad sandwich eaten on the way home at 7-something
0 plan periods (that's every Tuesday)
36 throws in Radar and my game of fetch at the end of twilight
5 fellow writers who will help me with my essay tomorrow
48 years disappeared the minute I heard a Partridge Family song play on a sitcom (I still knew most of the words)
5 more days of this Slice fun...






Monday, March 25, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 25: A Radical Change

I watch a particular show every Sunday morning--CBS Sunday Morning. Each week there are stories that make me think, make me laugh, make me cry, make me dig in and do some research.

Today, for example, there was a story about a little girl who got a baby duck, and the duckling imprinted on the girl. Now the duck follows the girl everywhere. When the family goes on vacation, the duck goes. When the girl reads a book in bed, there is the duck, snuggling with her. (They have the duck wear diapers, which answered the big question I had.)

Also today was a story about a man who'd been a soldier, had killed more than 25 people, and he was still quite angry with Muslim people. In fact, he daydreamed of making a bomb and taking out a whole mosque full of Muslims along with himself.

Well, the story ends in an incredible twist. It truly moved me.






Sunday, March 24, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 24: Something Horrible, Something Wonderful and Something Small


It was the worst of times, it was the best of times. It was a time of almost certain death, it was a time of rejuvenation. It was a time of horrendous pain, it was a time of joyful remembrance. 

Can you tell I love Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities? Because of my fondness for his novel, I should probably ask his forgiveness for my awful imitation but it fit my day yesterday.

Warning: If your nature is a bit squeamish, you might want to scroll down to the text below the photo of the three old women...

I began by heading to a writing event for students. As I was driving down a four-lane street, I spotted a squirrel smack-dab in the middle of my lane. There was no other car around... I could have swerved to change lanes, but this happens all the time. Squirrels are quick-moving and wily, capable of evading a car's tires with incredible skill. 

So I didn't change lanes. I figured that while I roared hummed down the street, nothing horrible would happen. I would gaze into my rear view mirror and see nothing... and realize nothing terrible had happened.

But that's not what happened. Bump. The squirrel had not managed to dodge my wheel. Unfortunately I did look into my mirror and saw something worse than a small heap in the middle of the street.

I saw the squirrel dragging itself to the side of the road, its rear legs destroyed. 

That was the beginning of my day.


On the left, a teacher friend (Jane Zeni), Anne Wright is on the right and I'm in the middle.

Later, I had lunch with a former teacher, Mrs. Wright. She was my high school composition teacher and back then, I thought she was old. In actuality, she was in her early 40s.

Now she's 85 and her memory is still sharp.

Over fried chicken, a reuben and a veggie burger, we spoke of cancer, of widowhood, of children and grandchildren. We spoke of former colleagues and the struggles that teachers have in the present. We spoke of writing and books.

And then we parted.

And the something small? At the end of my day, I visited with some friends who live in the same part of town as where I had lunch. The wife grew up in North County, the same area I grew up in. (We didn't know each other back then, and haven't discussed where exactly we each went to high school.)

I told them I'd had lunch with a former teacher, a teacher who was always no-nonsense, who always had high expectations, who was always rigorous, a teacher who wore cat-eye glasses.

My friend said, "It wasn't Mrs. Wright, was it?" (She said it was the mention of cat-eye glasses that jogged her memory.)

What an incredibly small world.

Who--from your past--have you connected with?

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 23: The Luxury of Time

A rainy weekend day. As I'm lulled by the sound of the rainfall, I write. It's too sloppy outside to play with the dog, and the gray clouds aren't luring me out to do errands. It's as if the skies are conspiring to get me to write.

All it takes is a willingness. Being willing and able to say "yes" to writing is a privilege.



Sometimes the weather--in its lack of cooperation--is uncooperative. Sometimes it's an impromptu trip to a coffeeshop that gets me writing. A change of scenery can do wonders to my word count.

And sometimes it's just time--no matter where I am. Today I'm writing with some unknown writing colleagues--students I've never met. It'll be three hours of writing.

Too often, we think we don't have time to write. We're too busy to write a short story, an essay or a novel. As teachers, there are countless priorities pulling us in different directions. 

However, how can we expect our students to write, to make a habit of writing, if we don't?

Short stories, novels and essays all begin the same: one word at a time... 

How about you? What is your favorite time or space for writing?

Friday, March 22, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 22: Mrs. Wright



I'm so excited. Tomorrow I'm having lunch with a teacher I haven't seen in over 40 years. 

Will she recognize me? Back then I was thinner. I wore overalls and moccasins (every day). My face was unwrinkled.



Will I recognize her? I imagine so. Back in the 1970s, I thought Mrs. Wright was ancient. Old. Her gray hair (actually dishwater blonde back then), her senior citizen shoes (actually just sensible heels) and her polyester dresses and suits (that was the style in those days) all seemed laughable, making me almost dismiss her.

However, it was Mrs. Wright who made me do the hard work when it came to research. She taught me the value of revision (even if it took decades for me to fully embrace the concept) . She taught me perseverance.

That's Mrs. Wright--on the left--with a student teacher. 

This fall, in NCTE's journal Voices from the Middle will publish a letter I wrote to Mrs. Wright. (The issue is being dedicated to teachers from the past.) Because of Mrs. Wright I am a freelance writer... and a wannabe/soon-to-be novelist.

I can't wait...


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 20 and 21: An Unflagging Spirit



It was cold. If you're a parent or a coach, you know the Law of Ball Fields: No matter what the temperature is at home, it's always 20 degrees colder at a ball field. (This switches when the weather is sweltering.) Last night was no exception.

The small crowd at Belleville West High School shivered and huddled under blankets and coats. (This school is Home of the Maroons--we wondered what the mascot looks like. Are they simply a piece of maroon paper? Is the mascot a giant maroon crayon? We never found out.)

I came to watch a former student play lacrosse. As a first-time watcher, I was fascinated by the game. Those girls were amazing in their ability to hurl a small ball across a field to a teammate... the teammate then snagged the ball and kept it in a small net as they ran, their stick held upright.) She wasn't hard to keep track of. Elizabeth is incredibly tiny (I think she's under 5 feet tall) with blonde hair and blue legs. (Well, I imagine they were blue. Those girls wore shorts--and the majority wore no leggings or sweatpants under them.)

What remained long after the game was over was Elizabeth's spirit. Her fierce competitiveness. Like a wolverine, she kept preying on her opponents. Every minute of the game she was nipping at their heels. Or she was waiting for the enemy to race into her territory. Or she was standing on the sidelines (never sitting on the bench), poised... ready to get called back in--and all the while she was watching the game, her eyes darting from player to player.



The same spirit was exhibited in the classroom and the playground. Elizabeth was extremely competitive (with herself) when it came to academics, and she was her fiercest when it came to other students and her teachers. If a peer was being ostracized or a teacher was being disrespected, she couldn't help it: her claws would come out, her blue eyes would turn red and (almost literal) steam would shoot out of her ears. She never backed down, no matter how unpopular it made her with her classmates.  

Getting the privilege to know young people like this... teens who will soon be leading our country--is one of the many perks of being a teacher.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 19: Hiding the Tails


If you've used more than one kind of yarn or more than one skein, you have to weave the tails in. If you're skilled enough, the knot is small and is easily hidden. If you're an artist, you can slip the yarn--needling it in and out of the holes--so that it looks like nothing's hidden... so that, to the trained and untrained eye alike. it looks just like knitting, and not like concealing.

What do we keep hidden from others? I wonder. As we deflect questions and fail to open up to others... What knots are we hiding? What tails are we weaving in, until they're invisible?




Here are 2 truths and 1 lie about me:

1. Colin Firth and I were in the same social studies class when I was in 7th grade.

2. I've done 3 solo skydives.

3. I've played basketball while on the back of a donkey.

Which is the lie?

Monday, March 18, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 18: Accentuate the Positive


I've been submitting my manuscript for the past couple of months. Those months came after several years of writing, researching, revising, editing, re-revising, (is that really a word, you ask? It is as far as I'm concerned.) and begging some beta readers to invest their time in reading the 53,000 words.

Each time I get a rejection, my confidence dips. However, I tallied them up, and so far, I've only gotten 4 rejections. There are 9 agents that still have not answered. If all 9 of those remaining also say no, I will look at my query and my first 10/15/30 pages to try and determine what's wrong. (Some agents want the first 10 pages, some the first 15, some want 30 and one agent wanted the whole manuscript.)

Keep your eye on the positive. Eliminate the negative. And give things time.






Sunday, March 17, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 17: Green All O'er



Smears of green across faces. Kelly green and glow-in-the-dark green and new-grass green shirts. Green beads draped under smiling faces.

A flood of shoulder-to-shoulder party-goers. The Tamm Avenue sidewalk is lined with them, from Oakland to Manchester.

Beer... (for some) the breakfast drink on a day like today.

Today I'll be watching the Dogtown St. Patrick's Day Parade. However, I'll be watching it while in the comfort of a home (a home belonging to two friends--surrounded by their family and other friends) with a bathroom (not a porta-potty) and lots of delicious food. 


This photo, taken by a Riverfront Times photographer, shows
a bit of the craziness that goes on during the day. The later the hour,
the crazier the party...

Happy St. Patrick's Day. Drink beer. Eat corned beef and cabbage. Celebrate a sturdy stock who helped form this country... thankfully, before a wall was being bandied about to keep out people from other countries...

Friday, March 15, 2019

Slice of Life Days # 15-16: Wait For It



Yeah, I know. It's kind of cheating if I lump one day with the next. However, the lumping is a good thing when it comes to you. My existence is fairly dull, so often, one single slice is not incredibly tasty. Two slices masquerading as one has the chance of some flavor...

Don't bother enlarging the picture in an attempt to find the point of
this picture. Making it bigger will not make the photo more exciting.


I saw one of Radar's balls sitting--all by itself--on our carport. I know what Radar (probably) is thinking every time he trots by the ball. My ball! I'd really like to play some fetch. Maybe next time I'm out here, somebody will play with me.

He's patient. He's willing to wait. I need to learn something from my 78-pound furball: patience.

I need to wait for the right job to come along. It will. (Of course it would help matters if I actually applied for some jobs.)

I need to wait to hear from an agent. I will. (And one of these emails will be a "Yes, we'd like to see the whole manuscript," instead of a "Thanks for thinking of us, but your piece isn't a great fit for us.")

What are you waiting for these days?

Slice of Life Day # 14: A Fresh Start


Every year it happens. The dead leaves are shoved aside by new shoots of flowers and grasses. The brown segues to green.

Every school year it happens. A new quarter. Students begin with a fresh slate. The grades they made earlier in the school year are in the past. They have the opportunity to make different choices--better choices--if they struggled with their behavior or their attitude. If they didn't try their hardest, they have the chance to finish the school year with drive and determination.

And me? I must begin my writing work with a fresh start. My manuscript... I must not obsess over the rejections. I need to look ahead at new possibilities when it comes to agents. My creative nonfiction work... I've had success with Chicken Soup for the Soul stories but lately, I've gotten way more rejections than acceptances. I need to begin with fresh eyes, and bolster my spirit.

How about you? What fresh starts are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 13: Naps




Naps are wasted on kids. It's the grownups who yearn for naps.

For me, there's something delicious about cuddling under some blankets, a book in hand, and drifting off to sleep... in the middle of the afternoon.

Often I wake up and 

My Spring Break is coming up, and I'm planning on at least a couple of naps during the week.

How about you? Are you a napper?




Slice of Life Day # 13: Goin' to Church

Tonight I worshiped at the Church of Mellencamp. It was a night of as much feeling as hearing. The wailing guitars, the sometimes-unrelenting drums... My chest throbbed with the vibrations. One of his song's lyrics has a refrain that goes like this: "And the walls, come tumbling down And the walls, come crumbling down And the walls, come rumbling tumbling down" At one point--earlier in the concert--John Mellencamp shouted out that it was time to end "all this bigotry bull-$@#&" and given all the divisiveness in our country, it did not surprise me when he changed some of the choruses to sing about THE WALL coming down. Or was it just my wishful thinking?

Monday, March 11, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 11: Sal Army Days

Eight hours a day of rocking her. Eight hours a day of encouraging her to drink her formula, of carefully diapering her. Eight hours a day of carefully slathering lotion onto her, putting a thick white coating onto her peeling, tissue-papery skin.

What brings back a memory, decades-old? What brings back an ancient vision, making it seem like it flashed before my eyes only yesterday? This time, it was a foster child. My son and daughter-in-law just got a foster baby, and as soon as I saw a texted picture, I was immediately transported to the days when I worked in the infant room of the Salvation Army residential facility (on Marine Avenue) for abused and neglected kids. 

Marie and her father had fallen asleep in the same bed, along with her father's cigarette. Almost 30 years later, I still remember her pink skin which was covered by pieces of peeling-off dead skin. Like a birch.


  

Along with her pink burns--from her scalp to her toes--she sported another color that caught everyone's attention: blazing blue eyes that could shoot arrows when she was pissed off. Which was all the time. It was uncomfortable for her to stand up--when she got old enough for that--because of her fragile skin. It didn't feel good to have us rubbing thick globs of skin cream all over her body... but it had to be done. Her hair was like a scarecrow's--if the scarecrow had survived a three-alarm fire. Several times a day we'd take a fine-toothed comb and try to keep the straw-like hair free of the dead skin that seemed in endless supply. If looks could kill? I would have been dead hundreds of times over because of that little girl's spirit.

Marie was one of the few success stories. She got adopted by a wonderful family. She was loved and doted on. Most of the other kids drifted into a foster home or back to their birth parents... which meant that some of them would continue to endure the abuse and neglect... more burned buttocks or strings tied around a boy's body part to help with toilet training... more molestation... more time left alone in a crib without anyone to bond to...

I hope this new foster baby is like Marie. I hope that wherever he goes to next (next month? Later this year? Next year?) is either to a loving adoptive home or back to his mended and caring birth family. 

What survivor or underdog still remains in your memory? Inquiring minds want to know...

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Slice of Life Day # 10: Click Clack

Short ones. Long ones. Fat ones. Skinny ones. All I can knit is scarves...

Some evenings I'm Madame Defarge. As my knitting click and clack together, I chronicle my day (in my head). For me, it's relaxing. I can do something constructive while I watch a television show or a movie.






The left needle is anchored between my arm and my side. The right needle weaves in and out, the yarn looping around the dull point of the needle.

Tightlooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooselooseloosetight

The scarf I'm working on currently is 21 stitches across. At the end of each row I pull the yarn taut. At the beginning of each row I pull it tight. Otherwise, it's loose.

How do you keep loose?