Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dear Santa . . . .

Normally sunny here in Alabama, today’s sky has been reminiscent of an Ohio’s wintry day, i.e., drab gray. No cerulean blue in sight. While the weather outside was frightful, my interior 68 degrees wasn’t quite delightful, but it was doable . . . as long as I overlooked the deep freeze claiming my feet as I sat at my computer.

Speaking of frozen feet reminds me that I recently learned the delights of a hot water bottle bedside. We’d vacationed in western Virginia where, nestled in a valley, the chilly rental house provided lots of comforters and, yes, a hot water bottle complete with lambskin casing. Despite growing up in a house where ill-fitting bedroom windows allowed small snowdrifts to form on the wooden floor, I’d never tried using one.

How did I ever do without?

In the winter months, I snuggle in, pull the covers over my head, and hope that my cold feet warm up enough to let me drift off. But they often refuse to cooperate, even when I pamper them with socks or wrap them in covers. My husband, sometimes kind enough to let me put my feet on his legs, can only take so much abuse.

Yes, I’ve finally seen the light in the shape of a hot water bottle. Glowing from the warmth within, it has the potential to change my life. Happy feet, longer sleep, better sleep. Deeper dreams, creative juices, fabulous stories. Books on shelves.

You can surely understand the connection between a nice hot water bottle and certain fame and fortune.

Let’s just hope Santa sees it that way.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Harvey saves the day

Harvey felt bad. The other phones were smart. Where did that leave him?

No text, no games, no internet. No fun. 

Susie played Scrabble with Tommy.

Johnny gave directions.

April spit out reminders.

Misty sent messages.

Jordan took pictures.

But Harvey was only good for one thing. Talking. He did have a red button, though—not that he ever had to use it.

One day Harvey and the other phones went to the park. While everyone else was playing games, texting, and checking e-mail, Harvey just hung around. What else could he do?

Footsteps pounded up the path.

“Ah-hah! Smart phones!” said the bank robber.

The robber picked up the phones and tossed them into his money bag one by one. But then he came to Harvey and laughed. “Hoo-boy! Nobody wants this piece of junk.”

He left Harvey lying on a rock.

Before the robber had a chance to run off, police surrounded the park.

“Hey, Officer, how did you know where to find me?” said the robber.

“There was a 9-1-1 call from this location,” said the officer. “I’m betting it was this little guy.”

He picked Harvey up and looked at the red button. It was glowing.

“Yep. 9-1-1.”

Harvey rang, and the Officer answered. “Yes, yes. I’ll tell him.” When he hung up, he said,  “Harvey, the Captain wants to congratulate you on a job well done.”

Harvey was so pleased with himself that he couldn't help but vibrate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's national-write-a-letter-to-your-favorite-author day (well, I made that up).

All in all, I’m a matter-of-fact kind of a gal. I say this despite being the one who tears up at the National Anthem and the one who sobs uncontrollably at movies. (I’m speaking here of  the Valley of the Dolls, back when I was 23. I also read the book 5 times to the accompaniment of many tears.) And I hate to think that I’m the only one who cries at Dick Van Dyke reruns.

A scientific study claims that women cry 30-64 times per year. My eyes mist up on a daily basis--probably because I read everyday. There's usually something so sweet, or so tragic, or so beautiful in a story that I can't help myself. 

Despite the waterworks, I still claim that my feet are planted firmly on the ground. That’s why it surprises even me when I write the occasional fan letter. No, so-called stars hold little interest for me; they get enough recognition without my help. But sometimes, after reading a good book, I immediately send the author an email; I don’t expect anything in return. I’m just so amazed and appreciative of that type of ability that I feel compelled to share this with the author.

But imagine my delight when one of my all-time favorite authors, Betsy Byars, wrote me back . . . in longhand. Learning that she and her husband are friends of a friend of a friend, I looked her up online and found that we have a few things in common (in addition to the friend of a friend of a friend), so I was able to point these out in my letter to her.  And, yes, it was a letter sent to a physical address. Since I figured I had nothing to lose, I broke my rule of not expecting anything in return. I audaciously sent her one of my picture book stories, hoping for words of wisdom. While she didn’t get me magically hooked up to an editor, she gave me the next best thing: encouragement. She said I deserve to be published.

So when I get my next rejection, I’m just going to have to think “A lot you know!” . . . because Betsy Byars, the queen of dialogue, told me I have a knack for it.

I’m getting misty-eyed just thinking about it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Little Red Riding Hood vs. Mother

Evidently, Little Red Riding Hood got on her mother’s nerves. A lot. All I know is that I would never have sent my children into the woods alone, even on their worst days.

So what we’ve got is one screwed-up mom and a child that may or may not have been unbearably aggravating.

Let’s look at the facts:

Aggravation #1: Red Riding Hood gets distracted easily. What kid doesn’t? There’s a game here, a toy there, the TV’s blaring, and pretty soon, the kid’s hanging from the lampshade. Is it any reason to send the child to the wolves?

Aggravation #2: Red Riding Hood talks to strangers. We keep telling and telling our kids not to talk to strangers, but how will they ever get to know someone? Every single person is a stranger at first. And, besides, I do it all the time. Any time I’m stuck in a line with no People magazine nearby, I comment to the person next to me that I chose the wrong line. And, before you know it, I’m learning her life history.

Aggravation #3: Granted, Red Riding Hood shouldn’t be sharing her destination with the Wolf. That was just plain stupid, much like plastering your destination on Facebook before your vacation.

Aggravation #4: Red Riding Hood took the long way around. Now, really, if her mother really wanted her to make it to her grandmother’s house in a timely fashion, wouldn’t you think she’d have pointed out a shortcut? The evidence is mounting up against the mother, I’d say.

Aggravation #5: Once again, I’m holding the mother culpable. If that poor child could not tell the difference between a wolf and a grandmother, she needed: 1) her vision checked, 2)  her hearing checked, 3) her smelling checked, 4) her sense of touch checked—when she nuzzled her grandmother, couldn’t she feel the hairy face? and/or 5) an IQ test administered. Red Riding Hood was a tad young to be taking herself to the doctor. (Then again, her mother did insist she visit her grandmother alone.)

Aggravation #6: Maybe this is where the mother lost it. I wouldn’t mind hearing, “What big eyes you have,” but if I had a child tell me, “What big ears you have” or “What big teeth you have,” I’d be thinking the next thing out of her mouth might be, “What big feet you have” or “What a big belly you have,” and that would be just plain rude. I might throw her to the wolves, too.

Through the facts presented, though, Little Red Riding Hood was a young, innocent dupe. All in all, that mother was just plain lucky she didn’t end up behind bars.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just us chickens

I’m stuck on chickens right now. KFC is my favorite fast food restaurant—much to my chagrin when it comes to cholesterol level—and I’ve been eating egg salad on toast just about every day for 18 months. But what really strikes my fancy is their entertainment value.

I’m telling you, I feel pretty ducky when I go to bed with the chickens, probably because I’m no longer a spring chicken. I tend not to run around the next day like a chicken with its head cut off. Most people think I’m a good egg with a sunny-side-up personality, but others might tell themselves, “You have to take the feet with the feathers.”

During the day, I’m often home alone so, generally speaking, there’s nobody here but us chickens. I’m trying to build a nest egg, but I’m barely scratching out a living. I’m a mother hen when it comes to my chicks, and I’d get madder than a wet hen if someone crossed them. You’d hear me squawk, for sure.

I’m neither a dumb cluck nor a bird brain. Sometimes I'm a chicken; but, if I make up my mind to do something, I don’t chicken out easily.

I hope I haven’t laid an egg with this blog entry.

By the way, I will write for chicken feed.