The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, December 31, 2010

A Thank You to Followers

photo by floraluniverses
       There are many bloggers who do a great job of welcoming their new followers. I'm not one of them, although I do get excited when someone new is on my list of followers.

       So, I thought I'd take the next five days and thank/formally welcome the few, the brave...the ones who have chosen to occasionally check out my blog.

      There are some who I don't know much about.  They don't have blogs (at least I don't think they do) and when I try to send them an email message, I have to be "signed in" and then I run away, scared.  I wish they would send a quick message about who they are, and what they're interested in...

Scott Webber

      Thanks for stopping by.  You might have just happened upon my blog, got stuck like in a tar pit, and could not get loose until you signed up as a follower.  You might have gotten bored with it long ago...Even if that is the case, thank you for stopping by at least once.

Estrella at  She has everything from recipes to introspective writing pieces.  Check out her blog. 

Gin Rowe---You don't have a blog, but I know who you are.  I gave birth to you 31 years ago.  You are one of the most beautiful and talented women I know.  Now, get to those illustrations! (And don't ask, "What illustrations?"  You know which ones I'm talkin' about.)

Nancy Olson--Nancy wrote this great book called "Thanksgiving at Grandma's."  It's a picture book, and is available at a great price (under $10).  If you want to know how to get in contact with her to buy a book, send me a comment with your email address, and I'll send you Nancy's contact information.

And finally, Barb Hodges at  I think Barb was my first follower.  Barb has this incredible ability to write a rhymed poem, on any subject, on demand and for any occasion.  She is very observant, and sees things in everyday life that most of us miss.

Thanks for following my blog. I hope that the year 2011 is  a great one for all of you.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

photo by Carlos N. Molina--Paper Art

        Most years I don't make any resolutions; I never keep them, so why go through the motions simply because a new year has begun?

       But maybe I should.  Maybe I should make some resolutions, but reasonable ones, so there's a possibility the changes will stick.

1.  I will try and alternate dark chocolate with milk chocolate.  I know eating dark chocolate results in some health benefits.  In fact, when I was in my late teens, I preferred dark chocolate and for some unknown reason, I switched to the less healthier variety.  So when I pop a blue-foil wrapped Dove or two into my mouth, I'll try and give equal time to the red-wrapped ones...

photo by lisaargiris

2. I will try and stop making snarky comments about pain-in-the-butt people.  Okay, scratch that one.  There is no way I can corral my snarkiness.  Sorry.

photo by Linda Cronin

3. I will get my eyebrows waxed on a regular basis.  Eight bucks is not a big deal, and my Nazi Eyebrow-Archer does a much better job than I can do with tweezers.  Why do I end up thinking of it as an annual event? 

4.  I will slow down when it comes to the accelerator.  Recently, I found that the hold-your-breath-until-you-pass-by-the-officer-shooting-radar technique does not always work.  Since I am not a cardiac surgeon, I am never heading to an emergency.  I need to ease off the gas a bit.

photo by sewingamelie by liebesgut

(It looks like Viggo the Piggo is going to have some company!)

5. I am going to find a way to "treat" myself that does not involve potatoes or pizza or hot chocolate.  I have not figured what would be good alternatives, but I'm hoping to discover the key to controlling what goes into my mouth.

6.  I'm going to write more.  Today I was at the library, picked out four DVDs, and then put them back.  I need to write tonight, and do report cards over the weekend, so no time to watch movies.  And since this is my "warm up" writing, to get my fingers into the right groove, good night...And have a great time--either in a quiet or rowdy way--celebrating the start of a new year.

What are your resolutions for 2011?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yikes! I'm Legal Again!

         About a month ago, a colleague was chatting and told a few of us her driver's license had expired. Since it had only expired three or four months earlier, she was fine; all she had to do was pay the normal fee and get a new one issued.

         I sat there and smugly listened.  I was not smug because I am known for keeping on top of things.  I simply thought, That isn't the case with me.  My license is f-i-i-i-ne.

         Several times in the last five or six months I've been to the bank.  (Are you thinking, 'What is going on?  Has she lost her train of thought?' Just bear with me for a moment, and you'll find there's a connection, I promise.)  Each time, I put my driver's license into the pnuematic (spelling) tube along with the withdrawal slip. Each time the transaction happened without a hitch.  Everything was cool...

         However, last week, a couple of days before the holidays I again went to the bank.  I had just been there a week earlier, but this time was different.

       "Do you have a valid driver's license?"

          What?  My head swiveled towards the screen, and I was told the license I gave them expired in June of 2010.  More than 6 months ago...

           They were nice enough to give me the money anyway, but then, of course, I had to come home and plot out the rest of my day.  My afternoon was not going to be spent making cookies and wrapping presents.  Suddenly, my day was going to be spent on "official," government business. Dangerous business (at least dangerous for the license bureau people, if I flunked the test).

          When I found the closest office, I found I first had to take the vision test.  That should have been the easy part, right?  Unfortunately, I didn't sail through it like a breeze.  An officer built like a redwood told me to put my head into the machine so I could read a specific line.  Easy-breezy.  But then he gave me another line to read.  I squinted and strained and rattled off a few letters and he replied, "They're all numbers."  Uh oh.

        "Do you wear glasses?"

         I then started talking a mile a minute. "Well, yes, I-wear-contact-lenses-but-only-in-the-right-eye-because-I-got-to-the-age-where-I-had-to-wear-bifocals-but-my-insurance-company-refused-to-pay-for-no-line-bifocals-and-I-think-I'm-too-young-to-wear-those-old-lady-glasses-so-my-eye-doctor-suggested-this-and-it-works-because-the-right-eye-is-for-distance-and-the-left-eye-is-for-closeup-work."

         I think Officer Redwood stopped listening as soon as I said, "Well, yes,"  He walked to another testing machine, and told me to "stick" my head into that one.  (Why did I feel like a cow getting prepared to get milked?)

        Thankfully, I cleared the first hurdle.  The next one?  The written test.  Da da da duuum.

      Please remember:  I last took the written version of the driving test 35 years ago.  Back then, stone tablets and chisels were used.  Now the test is taken on the computer.

      I got a 92% on it and--not meaining to brag--but the two questions I missed I erred on the side of caution.  I mean, do you know how far something has to extend out your car's rear end before it must get flagged?  (FYI---five feet.  I think plenty of damage could be created with something extending out 3 feet...Perhaps the state of Missouri has it wrong?)

     Then I was told to have a seat, and wait to be called for the driving portion of the test.  I got permission from Officer Redwood to move my car to a closer spot (so I could clear off the front seat), and returned. Fortunately, my wait was not too long, so the sweat did not have time to creep all the way from my armpits to my waist.  Almost. But not quite.

photo by Paul McRae (Delta Niners)

      My final score was an 80%, and I blame my low score on the car being too quiet.  I am sure I made some small mistakes because I never drive without the radio blaring.  If I can't listen to Earth, Wind and Fire or Janis Joplin or Gnarls Barkley, the car doesn't move forward. 

       One thing I did ace was the parallel parking.  Thirty-five years ago, I did not even attempt to parallel park.  I had called ahead of time, found out it was only worth 7 points, and figured I wouldn't need that 7 points.  Now, old lady that I am, I'm a pro; in fact, it was the easiest part of the test.

      So now I am legal again.  I have a valid license.  And perhaps my sad, scary tale will cause a few of you to sniffle a little, or shudder a bit, or...check your own license to see when it expires!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Magpie Tale

The gloves were off.
Consideration...tossed out the window.
It was now time to fight free from rules...

Writing to Get Your Pen Warmed Up

          I used to be a quilter.  In fact, I've gotten hooked (pun intended) with every type of handwork from counted cross-stitch, bargello, crewel, and currently...knitting.  But years ago, I was knee-deep in fabric scraps and rotary cutters and batting.

        Your quilting fingers, just like your imagination, need to be warmed up sometimes. Gifted artists with a needle advised to have a "warm up" or "junk" project off to the side.  Before working on a project you were serious about, it was suggested to quilt a bit on a project that did not matter to you. In that way, your fingers and your needle could get into the groove and get warmed up before it really matters...

photo by interchangeable parts

        There are occasions when the words flow out in the right way the first time they are written, and little revision is needed.  Count yourself fortunate; it doesn't happen all the time. If you find yourself struggling, if you get stuck, perhaps beginning with a journal entry or writing part of a letter will stretch your writerly skills.  Then, after your hands have gotten into the groove of tapping on the keyboard or scrawling words across the page, you can transition over to the project that really matters.

photo by E.L.A.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Microfiction Monday...Birds of a Feather

         He stood and gazed at the birds. Were they birds that mated for life? Why did people insist on flying free, instead of being content to perch together forever?

    Thanks to Susan at Stony River.  Weekly, she posts a photo or an illustration.  It is up to us to create a super-short story or poem (140 characters or less), and unfortunately, spaces and punctuation counts.  If you have not tried it before, give it a whirl.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Name the Pig

       Lisa, well known for her marvelous blog, suggested I name my magical pig.  Certainly this stout, handsome pig deserves a name but sadly, it had not entered my mind.

A pig with no name is a pig with the blues...
photo by Netream

       She offered the name "Ernest" after Hemingway.  It looks like it might be earnest as well as answer to Ernest.  However, I don't want to overlook other possibilities...

        Please check out the photos on my blog yesterday (12/21) and if a name comes to you, like in a dream, please send it my way.  After all, a pig with a much power as this porker has, deserves an appropriate name.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Magical Pig

          A couple of weeks ago, Love a Golden Rescue worked an event at Purina Farms about an hour outside of St. Louis.  As I was working the booth---it was then late in the day---I spied someone carrying a large metal pig.

         Racing over to them, I discovered where they had purchased it.  Telling my boothmates that I would be back, I grabbed my purse and headed toward The Pigman. (Paul Zindel--where are you when I need you?)

         Did I need a pig?
         Do I collect pigs?
         Would this make a great gift for someone I knew?

         No, no and no.  But still my feet propelled me toward the booth with the pigs.

photo by Laughing Squid

         There was only one large pig left. Like the other one, it had wings attached. Blue body. Orange feet. Red ears. Yellow wings. And rusty scratches and weld-marks all over, adding to the "character" of the pig.

        I cannot explain it, but that pig spoke to me. And to make my desire even more inexplicable, our house is tiny.  We have two small bedrooms, one bathroom, (I would kill for a second bathroom!) a kitchen too small to eat in, and our "greatroom."  I laughingly call it that because it is definitely not huge, but serves as our livingroom/familyroom/diningroom (with TV trays)/recreation room (wrestling with the dogs for a spot on the couch)/entertainment room (that's where the TV is).

        And I told the welder-artist that: it doesn't "go" with any of our "decor," I don't really have room for it, but it spoke to me. And the artist--wisely--did not argue with my crazy impulse.

         The pig hid in my car for several days, until I could bring it into the house, cloaked in darkness, along with my coat thrown over it, so I could find a spot for it before my husband caught onto another piece of junk being in the house.  (He sees a thrift store and floors it, while I attempt to catch a glimpse of the goodies I'm missing as we fly by at 93 mph.)

         There are many things that will probably only happen when pigs fly.  Getting back down to 150 pounds.  Finding some technology that will hoist up my breasts so they hover above the two-feet-off-the-ground mark.  Being able to tear Viggo Mortensen/Johnny Depp/Mark Harmon/Benecio Del Toro away from any skanky girlfriend/wife they have settled for.   Another "when pigs fly" accomplishment: getting a book published...

         Three days after I bought the pig, I heard from Louella Turner of High Hill Press.  She says her publishing company might be interested in a picture book manuscript of mine.

          Is this possible success due to years of writing and revising and response groups?  Is this glimmer of hope the result of a modicum of writing talent?  Is this dream coming true due to hard work and persistence?

        Or is it the work of the Magic Pig? 

         My money is on the pig...

My Magic Pig

Mine!  All mine!  If you want to rent him,
please contact me for the details.

If you want to buy your own pig, I don't know if John Everett has the materials in stock to create another one, but you can contact him at  His website is  He's located in Grafton, Illinois, not too far outside of St. Louis, Missouri.  His cell phone is 314-607-0407.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cruising for Pumpkin Cheesecake

        (This title came from The Husband. Since it is his dastardly dog that did the deed, and I'm giving him credit for claim to the canine, I am also giving him credit for the title.)

       Picture the scene:  two middle-aged women (middle-aged if they are going to live to be 100 or 120 years old).  Both redheads (from the same bottles).  Both a little a lot ditzy. Both responsible for wrapping gifts at a St. Louis Barnes and Noble for Love a Golden.  To round out the team is Foley.  He's embodies what I like in men--he's handsome, blonde, and not too bright. (Actually, my glances rarely stray to blonde men, but since I don't have a chocolate or black lab, I have to work with what I have...Just follow along.)

Foley...Photos of Cindy and Sioux are not available, due to
their wish to remain anonymous

      One is retired teacher. The other is still teaching, so they get excited about simple things.  Tape that comes off easily from the tape dispenser. Pens that write nicely.  Anything free.

      At some point The Husband comes with two tall chocolate-coffee drinks in his hands, along with two servings of pumpkin cheesecake.  Cindy and Sioux squeal.  Chocolate and sugar and caffeine and pumpkin (which is usually just relegated to Thanksgiving!).  And it's free (for them).  More shrieking and shivering with anticipation.

     A couple of bites, a couple of slurps, and then someone ambles over to the table with some books to wrap.  Sioux put her plate on her chair--since she had to stand to wrap--and Cindy put hers on a chair way off to the side as they busily worked.

     When the books were wrapped, Sioux began to sit down.  Since The Husband was still there, he shouted out, "Don't sit down," but it was too late.  Sioux's rear end had made contact with the cheesecake.  It was not completely flattened, but probably (since there were witnesses) past the point of being edible. 

     Off Sioux went to the bathroom to wipe the whipped cream off her butt.  (She also took a moment to contemplate:  Would it be so improper to eat the cheesecake?  After all, some of that rear end came from eating cheesecake...It would be like a brother meeting a long-lost sister.  And how dirty could her rear end be?  No one ever thought dirty thoughts when gazing at her flat, wide rear end...)

     Since falls and trips and drips and spills are such an integral part of Sioux's life, this was not life-shattering.  And thankfully, The Husband had fed Foley the "ruined" cheesecake during the clean-up in the toilet, so Sioux did not have to face the dilemma of the century...

     A few more book wrappings later, The Husband (still there, perhaps waiting for the encore performance, albeit sans cheesecake) noticed that Foley had whipped cream on  the top of this head.  And Cindy noticed that her dessert plate was completely empty.  And all three noticed that Foley looked quite...content.

photo by scrap sister
Could Foley have been cruising the internet, spied this photo, and developed an
overwhelming desire to taste whipped cream? 
     Now the Cheesecake Factory is screaming out their new endorser:  Foley.  He helped wrap gifts the next day as well but sadly, there was no more pumpkin cheesecake for him.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Appearances Are Deceptive...Or Are They?

         Yesterday, for most of the day, I was wrapping gifts at Barnes and Noble.  It is one of Love a Golden Rescue's top fundraisers each year; we are at several area bookstores during the holiday, and always have a great time talking to people.

       There was a couple I recognized; when I walked past the cafe to use the restroom, there they were.  For several years now, I have seen them when I wrap up books.

        I don't know what the attraction is. Do they come in to read the magazines for free?  Do they come in because it's a warm place in the winter? I didn't look too closely, but I assume the male half of the couple was drinking coffee or tea in the cafe.  All I saw the female doing was talk. Loudly.

photo by weirddollz

         To describe their clothing choices or their appearance would not do them justice.  They both  have the look, however. You can tell, just by a quick glance, that they are a bit "off."  (He has the oddest-looking, longish least I am praying it is a wig.)

        Mentally ill?  On the brink of homelessness?  Just a bit mentally retarded?  I wasn't sure.

         As they were heading out the door, they stopped at my table.  She wanted to go home.  "I'm feeling a bit peckish," she said.

        Geeze Louise!  I've never heard anyone use that term.  It's from another century; I've seen it in ancient books, but uttered from a mouth in 2010?  How weird!

       She then playfully grabbed the donation box--full of dollar bills---and said, "Thanks for the donation!"  Catching my eye, she put it down, and they walked out the door.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Humor with Barbs

        If you want a well-needed chuckle, or your sense of humor runs like mine (way into the realm of sarcasm),check out this blog.  Her posts are brilliant.  You thought a depiction of a casual get-together would be a bit dry?  Think again.  Is corporate mumbo-jumbo dull?  Not with Pearl.  If you aren't already a follower, you will be soon...

        (Be sure to read Pearl's 3-part mystery about the death murder of her fish, Yang.  It was posted on December 15.  It's unbelievable.)

photo by katyekat30

Potential: Buried and Wasted

           I was reminded of Karen Carpenter when reading Becky Povich's blog. (She has music that accompanies her blog, and there was the Carpenters, a blast from the past.) When I was 11 or so, I loved the cool, smooth harmonizing of the Carpenters.  What a voice!

          Then when she died, I was a bit angry.  Having that talent, how could she be so tortured?  Me, who when I sing, cause people to wonder if a cat is caught in the car engine...What would I have done with a voice like that?

         I also bemoan the absence of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Croce and Harry Chapin.  What would our musical world be like if they were still around?

Harry Chapin
photo by RSB Image Works
Janis Joplin
photo by frangeek

        Some of the talent I shake my head about belong to people who are still around, but have been hit with the whacky stick (numerous times).  Robert Downey, Jr. is one.  There was a time when he wandered around, got into a stranger's house and was found, asleep, by the homeowners.  In and out of rehab.  He is such a talented actor---what did he need drugs for?  (However, it looks like he might be on a straighter and more narrow path these days.)

       Whitney Houston is another.  If you ever saw the "reality" show that trailed after Houston and her husband, you know she was far off the whack-a-doo scale. If I had just a small fraction of her singing talent, or her looks...Where would I be now? 

        What writer or performer or artist do you miss the most that is "gone," whether that absence is due to death or drugs or mental illness?  (It could even be someone from a hundred years ago.) 


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pinch Me, Please!

photo by lens&needle

          In case you missed the earlier whining, along with the backstory, here goes: girl writes story.  Girl sits on her butt for several years, not sending it out yet continuing to whine, all the while certain it's a decent story.  But on her butt she sits nonetheless.

         Enter Barb Hodges and the Saturday Writers.  Girl is motivated to send her picture book manuscript---finally---to a publisher.  Girl sits on her hands for almost four months (so she can't bite her nails in nervousness).

       Girl gets rejected (of course) but she has a Plan B in mind.  Riding in on a majestic horse is Louella Turner, of High Hill Press.  Because Lou is sitting on the saddle behind John Wayne, she has to lean out to see Girl, but manages to tell Girl that High Hill might indeed be interested in the manuscript...

       Pinch me...Is this a dream?

Spying On People, For the Sake of a Story

        Writers often are observing their surroundings, the people around them, always ready to jot something down to use later.  Sometimes the gems they take home are exactly what they saw and heard and smelled.  Other times, the story only exists in their head.  A face, a gesture is all it takes, and the imagination takes the wheel...

photo by Jay Rajamanickam
        A blogger friend of mine, Rohin Kallat, has a post on December 15 called "Imagining Life and Love, In a Moment" that begins on a train.  Since I have never traveled through India, much less on a train, that alone made it interesting.  As the train rolls along--or not--the story also unfurls.  Writers make ordinary moments extraordinary.  Rohin does this.  He freezes a moment in time, and really gets into his own head as a writer.

photo by Jay Rajamanickam

        If you have time, check out his post and make a comment.  We are all hungry for an audience!


High School Reunion Advice

            Rumjhum Biswas has written a marvelous poem about school reunions.  Go to her post on December 15; she has a link to the poem.

photo by mere2007

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

True Grit Meets the Coen Brothers

         I was raised with a mother who loved anything with John Wayne.  I think she even loved the movie he did where he was Genghis Khan.  (How whack was that?)  On occasional Saturdays or Sundays there were John Wayne movie marathons.  When that happened, she would take over the television and we'd either have to watch it with her or retreat into our room with a book.  Boooring!

         However, there were a couple of his movies I loved.  The Quiet Man was one.  The fact that it supposedly took place in Ireland, a fiesty red-head costarred in it...Perhaps I enjoyed it in spite of John Wayne.

         True Grit is the other one.  I saw it as soon as it came to the theaters, and even though my mother was next to me, enthralled with John Wayne, I was there to see one of the costars.

photo by One Eyed Z
          Glen  Campbell.

           I know, go figure.  I had graduated from Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy to Glen Campbell.  Or maybe I have the timeline wrong.  Whatever.

          For a while, I had a huge crush on him, and when he died in the movie, I was crushed.  (When he married Tanya Tucker in real life, I was pissed.)  There is an incredible scene where Wayne is against several gunmen and he takes the reins in his mouth, shouts a great phrase and gallops towards them, with a gun in each hand.  Kim Darby is wonderful in it, and Robert Duvall plays a great villain.

photo by Paul Garland

         Recently I've gotten excited about the Coen Brothers' most recent movie--True Grit--which will be released this holiday season.  They have made some of my favorite movies, and I'm intrigued. 

       Apparently Joel and Ethan have an "if-it-ain't-broke, don't-fix-it" philosophy, which is encouraging.  They have changed some of the scenes so it is more consistently from Mattie's perspective but reportedly have not strayed but instead stayed true.

photo by One Eyed Z

           I will be going to the theater in the next two weeks, but I am also interested...

           Who did you have a crush on when you were a kid?  Perhaps it's a crush you'd like to shove under the rug?

Monday, December 13, 2010


        Today I got the mail, and carrying it into the house, I glanced at the holiday cards, and the "junk" flyers, not even noticing what lurked in the midst of the stack.  Folded around part of the mail was a familiar-looking jumbo envelope.  It looked familiar because I had addressed it back to myself, and of course, since I had not gotten a business-sized envelope back, it was bad news.

photo by almostgotit3

      Albert Whitman & Company passed on my manuscript.  I'm disappointed, but I have a next step already in place.

photo by Allan Sanders

     Lou Turner, be ready!  High Hill Press, tell me what I need to do...Send you a query?  Type up a letter of acceptance so all you have to do is sign it?  Let me know... 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Where Have All the Tigers Gone?

     Imagine a guitarist strumming along...

Where have all the tigers gone?
Long time passing...

Where have all the tigers gone?
Long time ago...
Where have all the tigers gone?
Poachers extinguished them,
One by one.
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn? *

      A blogger friend of mine, Rohin Kallat, has a marvelous post about the plight of the tigers. The picture he paints should cause everyone to go to the zoo and drink in the sight of these gorgeous beasts, because they probably won't be around for too much longer.

     And in case you want to enjoy some delicacies from the plundering and poaching of these big cats, here is how much you need to stuff into your wallet:

   pair of tiger eyes  $175-250
   raw tiger bone $140-370 per kg.
   powdered tiger bone $3,000-4,000 per kg. (so, order the
     raw tiger bone--it's a bargain!)
   tiger skin $15,000
   and the piece de resistance:  tps $320 a bowl (tiger penis soup)

     Choose your tiger from the following photos. You pick 'em and we'll poach 'em.  But hurry. Don't spend too much time on your appetizer. Soon they'll be extinct...
photo by ianmichaelthoms
photo by Swamibu
photo by law_keven
(Note:  If you want the ground-up bones of both the mother AND the cub, that'll cost you extra.)
photo by digitalART2
(Note:  The eyeballs of the tiger cub are the most succulent.  Those'll cost you extra.)

photo by Firdaus

*For those who are not 300 years old, you won't have any idea of the melody, and if you are old enough to have heard the folk song Where Have All the Flowers Gone but were a conservative, you'll still be clueless. Sorry.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Letter to Future Self

Dear Sioux,

       I know that right now you're obsessed with not fitting in.  You're not an athlete---definitely not---and you aren't willing to kiss any butt, so you're not part of the "in" crowd.  Your fondness of wearing overalls and baggy shirts makes you the object of ridicule.  Get used to it.  You won't fit in as an adult, either, and when you're 40 or 50, people will still make fun of you, although it will probably then be done behind your back...snarky, unsaid comments about your fondness (now) for Crocs, and the baggy, sloppy shirts are still hanging around.

      At this age--15--you are crazy about a boy.  Your very existence ebbs and flows with the ties between the two of you.  So much angst and anguish!  You will find, in the next three or four decades, that a 15-year old boy is about as trainable as the 45-year old version.   Resign yourself to the fact that it is impossible to beat them into becoming civilized creatures.  Enjoy them when possible,  ignore their clumsy blunderings, and count yourself fortunate that your gender doesn't feel it necessary to constantly scratch and readjust...

      As a teenager, your sarcastic sense of humor gets you into trouble.  By the time you are in your 50's, your size 11 feet will fit into your mouth quite nicely. Figure that barbed remarks and self-denigrating comments are a permanent part of your DNA. 

      I'm hoping that this note will make these rough teenaged years a bit easier to survive.  Relax--as much as possible--and realize that your youth is something to be savored.  Now, you can eat a whole bowl of ice cream right before you flop into bed, and your ribs are still visible.  By the time you enter the 21st century, all you have to do is contemplate ice cream, and your cellulite starts mating with your wrinkles. Maybe you should slow down now and try to get rid of that chocolate monkey on your back? 

photo by TammyLynnPhotography

      And as a final note...You're a terror now. A wild child. You are the reason your mother has to dye her hair and why your father is losing his hair.  As crazy as it sounds, your parents will have the last laugh.  Because someday, you will have a daughter and a son.  And the havoc they wreak will increase exponentially...


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Handicapper General

         My post about Rick Reilly got me on a dodgeball tangent, which led to a comment from a fellow blogger about a school that--she swears it's true---discontinued recognizing honor roll students because the certificates might make the other students feel bad about themselves.

      That got me thinking about a Kurt Vonnegut short story that had a tremendous impact on me when I was 13.  (Yeah, I know...a 13-year old probably should not have been reading Vonnegut.  Perhaps he is the reason why I'm so wacky now?) It was about our country, after the 213th amendment had been added onto our Constitution, when everyone was equal in every way.  If a person was superior intellectually, they had to wear a device that made an obnoxious sound in their ear every few minutes, to ensure the genius did not have time to form a complex thought.  If a person was physically attractive, they were forced to augment the face or body so they appeared disfigured.  If a person was graceful, they had to lug around large bags of sand.  There is a handicapper general who makes sure everyone is equal.

      And as close to a "boy meets girl" story as Vonnegut could get to, a gorgeous, strapping hunk of a man meets a beautiful, lithe ballerina, and they...(You have to read the story or watch the movie to find out what happens.) 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rick Reilly's Retro World

           Rick Reilly has always managed to do the unthinkable for me. He makes sports interesting to me. A writer, he used to write a column for Sports Illustrated and even wrote a whole book on golf which I read (okay, some of the stories I passed on, but most of them I read and throroughly enjoyed).  Anyone who can write about sports in a way that my eyes are kept open and the snoring is suspended has performed an incredible feat.

          You can find some of his pieces archived on the internet, and there are several books you can check out as well.

Rick Reilly column on becoming the new baseball commissioner
Rick Reilly's column on "tattletexting" at games
Rick Reilly on Ron Elway
Rick Reilly--a behind-the-scenes look at the half-time show at the Super Bowl

         One (of many) of his columns that is memorable is about kids' games.  Now that dodgeball and Red Rover are no longer allowed in schools, he proposed new "politically correct" games, games where everyone would feel like a weiner winner.

        I'm sorry, but what's going on?

        In life, are we going to always be surrounded by people who make us feel all warm and fuzzy?  At the end of the day, no matter how mediocre--or substandard--our performance is, will it be proclaimed as marvelous?  Do we live in a world where we automatically win every competition?  

       I think not.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness (or Evil with a Twist of Good)

        In our building, we are doing "Secret Santa."  You know the routine: you draw a name, hopefully some information about their likes/dislikes is included, and you buy little gifts for them for a week or two.  Sometimes you get a person you're not particularly fond of, but I won't go any further with that...

      Some people are participating. Some are not, so a few of us got together and have masterminded a fun scheme.

       We choose--randomly--a person every day or so, and one of us gives them an extra gift.  We are not their Secret Santa. Since some of the people we choose are not even participating in the gift-giving, they're really thrown for a loop. It creates a funny bit of confusion, because the Secret Santa will see a 2nd gift for their giftee, and they're puzzled. They know they didn't wrap that gift and put that gift tag on it...Who could it be?

       It's always fun to mess with people's minds...

        On a side note, if anyone is not already collecting Boxtops for Education, and would not mind cutting them off boxes/packages and sending them my way, I would appreciate it.  Our school uses them to get extra materials for our kids.  You could send them to:

Sioux Roslawski
Griffith Elementary School
200 Day Drive
Ferguson, MO. 63135


Do They ALWAYS Have to Be Mentioned?

         My husband only likes my funny posts.  I think he started reading my blog because I am never home--working too long into the evening--and he wants to know what is going on with me, hence he occasionally checks in on my page. 

       Unfortunately, I cannot always be funny.  Some of my kids nudge me into feeling the tragedy and sadness of their everyday life...Some people are so petty, they drive me crazy and I have to vent.  And sometimes I don't see much humor in my existence.

       Anyway, he liked the one about my fantasy wish list, thought it was funny, but asked, "Do your breasts have to be a part of everything you write?"

photo by autumnsensation

        I don't know...

  • What did I wish for more than anything else when I was 12 and Donna Milburn was also 12, but my chest looked like a wall and her chest made her look like she was 32?
  • What did I buy "training bras" for, in the hopes of encouraging some growth?
  • What, when they did surface, made wearing a blouse fun?  (Is there any gaping open going on?  Do I need to put safety pins in in-between the buttons?)
  • What brought the tips in, when I was a waitress?  ('Uh, sir...My eyes are up here.')
  • When I become the "anti-stripper" after losing my job, because kids all across the state are failing at the state test,what will bring me in piles of cash?  ("Please, lady.  Cover those UP and I will give you a dollar.")
  • What do I wish I did not have, now that gravity is working its magic?    

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

       I just read that Oprah has chosen two of Dickens' books---Great Expectations  and A Tale of Two Cities---for her next book club.  I am thrilled that hordes of people will run out and buy these classics.  Sadly, it took a talk show host to make it happen...

       When I was in junior high, I had a marvelous teacher named Mr. Greg Gates.  He saw in me a hunger for fine books, he saw that I dabbled in anarchy, and he saw that I was extremely self-motivated (at least when it came to reading and writing).  The rest of the class read Great Expectations; for some reason, I looked disdainfully down my nose at Pip and the old lady (Mrs. Haversham?) and got to read A Tale of two Cities instead.  It has been one of my favorites ever since.

        That school year, I embarked on a journey of independent study.  Mr. Gates allowed me to choose the books I read, and I kept track of my observations and meanderings in a journal.  (I imagine the journal entries were quite entertaining to my teacher--full of angst and puffed-up self importance, probably.)  I fell in love with J.R.R. Tolkien, Alan Paton, and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men as I finished up junior high.

        I was listening to Oprah as I typed this, and she admitted she had never read anything by Dickens.  That is sad as well...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Role of the Artist

           Within the last week, I read an interview of Jake Gyllenhall.  He said his father had always told him that the job of an artist was to "disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed."

           That idea really struck a chord. 

          Many of the books and paintings and films I have fallen in love with have shaken me.  They have left me with my mouth gaping open, in amazement or shock or perhaps anguish.

           One of my all-time favorite novels is Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted.  It is certainly disturbing--not for the weak-kneed, especially one of the earlier "stories" entitled "Guts."  But the premise of the book is mind-boggling:  a group of people go to a 3-month writing retreat where they are isolated from any outside contact.  All the writers are hiding in some way, and they soon find out that unless they start doing things to each other, they will never churn out any decent writing.

photo by F. Sigorski--Part One

         I think of pieces of music like "Strange Fruit."  It was meant to sicken, disgust, and enrage. 

photo of Billie Holiday by "My camera'" My camera! My Kingdom for a camera!"

         I think of movies like Into the Wild.  The end was so slammingly sad...

         I think of songs like "Crazy" by Brett Dennen.  It makes me bounce around when everything else fails...
         How have books and films and music "disturbed" you?  How has art comforted you?

A Fantasy Christmas

Every day in December,
She'd blog if she remembered,
But last night a puddle of drool
Reminded her that hormones still rule!

She got up this morning, glanced in the mirror
and screamed without warning...
Her mustache hairs had gone wild---
They were white and wiry and looked riled
up.  "Why is aging so rough?
My breasts have grown long enough!
This Christmas season, I want no jewels,
Nor do I want any kitchen tools.
No chic, new, stylish clothes
Or even cute socks that warm my toes.

Instead I'd like a fleet of personal trainers---
And who would they be?  That's a no-brainer!
Viggo (Mortensen) to run with me across the plains,
Johnny (Depp), on his guitar he'd strum
While I thump on my belly like a big bass drum.

photo of Johhny Depp by skittleydoo04

photo of Viggo Mortensen by Arnthor

  Mark (Harmon) would walk with me from here to St. Elsewhere,
and Benecio (Del Toro) would teach me not to care--
Not being able to stop traffic with my looks
is less important that nibbling on chocolate while reading a great book.

photo of Mark Harmon by nathfromfrance

photo of Benecio Del Toro by elezde

So, this Christmas, all I want are my two front teeth
(to stay put, 'cause my gums are receding)
And a band of brave men--that's all that I'm needing..."

Sunday, November 28, 2010


            I was a weenie when it came to NaNoWriMo; I lasted a few days, found out I really did not have a story to write, and surrendered. 

          However, I think I can accept this simpler challenge, and even succeed.

          The idea is to post on your blog every day during the month of December. 

           Some of you bloggers post several times a day.  Perhaps you could hold off, and save one as a draft, so you can post it the next day?  

           There are quite a few blogs I love to read; I look forward when there is a new posting.  I would really enjoy it if there was a new post every day on the blogs I follow.

           So, who is going to join me?  

Getting Older is Getting Better: Seven Reasons Why Fifty is Nifty

           Honestly, if I could be thirty again, with a smokin' hot figure and a gorgeous face and great hair, I would trade it for all the wisdom I've gained over the decades. 

          Important sidebar:  Did you note that the "again" only applies to the age?  I wasn't smokin' hot ever, nor did I ever have fantastic facial features or cooperative (and thick) hair.

         So, if I returned to that age of limbo---too old to be young and stupid and too young to really know--I would only be younger and thinner.  Not a lot of pluses to weigh in against all the things I'm now aware of.

          Since I am 50-something, these are things I have learned:

  • In a pinch, a tube of lipstick from the Dollar Store is just as good as the tubes you pay $5-8 for at Target.  Granted, the color choice is limited, and probably it is made from blubber off of "Free Willy" himself, but hey, I can smear it across my lips and chin just like I can the expensive stuff. (And I just looked at the tube I am currently using. It is Sally Hansen's brand, and the color is called "Hint of Desire."  For the fifty and fat group, the "desire" is for fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies...)

    photo by iamdogsmom
  • A good bra is great friend.  Take the time to go to a real bra shop where a swarm of short, blue-haired women will hover around and take your measurements in a very unobtrusive manner (I promise), and after finding out your real bra size, you will leave a changed woman.  No more bonus boob for you (you know what I mean--when you have a third breast in the middle, because your cups overfloweth...)If you're in the St. Louis/Wentzville area, I recommend Ann's Bra Shop.  They are wonderful.

photo by patti white

  • Napping is delicious.  While toddlers rail against taking a nap, when you're my age, you rail when you have a nap planned and something screws it up.  Falling asleep in the middle of a Saturday afternoon while reading a marvelous book, a puddle of drool forming around your head, is even better...

photo by wojszyca
  • Your eyesight is getting worse.  Really, it's a good thing.  When you look in the mirror, you cannot see all the lines and wrinkles and craters that are forming on your face unless...unless you get one of those magnifying mirrors, that makes your face 20x bigger than it actually is.  Do not, under any circumstances, buy one of these mirrors.  They are evil.  (I used one that belonged to a friend, and I spotted Buzz Aldrin walking around. Scary!)
sketch by david shepstone sketches

  • You seem formidable and trustworthy.  Younger people are scared when you roar occasionally.  They also believe anything you tell them, even when you're being extremely sarcastic.  It's entertaining to mess with their minds.  Really.

photo by swrvler9284

  • People are easily surprised...They're surprised you did not just emerge from under a rock--gray-haired and grayish skin--where you've spent the last half of a century.  And in their mind, while you were under that rock, you listened to nothing but Lawrence Welk.  When you can sing along with a Train song or Lady Gaga, their mouths gape open, amazed.  It's funny. 

  • Laughter is important.  Look at life through humorous-colored glasses.  And realize that it's crucial to make the ordinary seem extraordinary.  Elevate a simple dinner into a gala affair with some candles and the "good" china.  Sing along with your significant other--loudly--when "Me and Mrs. Jones" (and overexaggerate the lisp) comes on the car radio.  And have fun...

photo by nanettesol
(Note:  Great writers take the everyday and make it extraordinary.  Today Tammy has a post about mowing the lawn.  Now, I never thought someone could write about cutting the grass in a way that would make me laugh,  but I'm wrong. Check it out.)