Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A New Lease on Life

Although I’d lived in sixteen different residences since 1969, September 1978 found me contemplating yet another move. After I hurled the ring at my fiancé, I developed a sudden interest in court reporting—not completely out of the blue, mind you. In a serendipitous sort of way, that same day a newspaper article claimed the need for fast-fingered court reporters. A light bulb turned on; perhaps my 100 words per minute on the Selectric could translate into a higher-paying job. Not putting a whole lot of thought into the actual destination, I moved from Columbus, Ohio to attend a school in Saint Louis, Missouri. Granted, it wasn’t the smartest thing I ever did; my ex-boyfriend’s parents lived there. Obviously, I wasn’t as committed to distancing myself as I should’ve been, having dated the guy for four years and facing a future alone at age 27. The breakup was short-lived. When I returned to Columbus after only six months into a program requiring two years, I enrolled in another college to finish my schooling. Called Bliss, the college all too aptly reflected the saying “Ignorance is bliss.” (I quickly learned that I could ace the Friday spelling tests without actually being there during the week. The headmistress disagreed with  my lackadaisical approach to class attendance, marking me as doomed forever: “You’ll never amount to anything!”) At any rate, discouraged with both the training and the boomerang romance, I broke off both relationships. While I felt lighter from shedding two burdens for the price of one, I also cried myself to sleep more than once.

But breaking up required further action, and I relocated my physical possessions to yet another dwelling. Planning to stay there indefinitely, indefinitely lasted all of three months. It’s a good thing I didn’t sign a lease.

You’d think Columbus would be a mecca for court reporting schools, as the actual capital of Ohio and, therefore, bustling legal arena. Instead, Springfield, an hour away, seemed to house the only decent court reporting school around. I resisted moving until I couldn’t take it anymore. Hey, I commuted for a month; I can’t help it if I have a low threshold for boredom.

One beautiful morning—at least, it started out that way—being stuck behind yet another smoke-belching semi temporarily obliterated my view—I’d decided I’d seen all I-70 had to offer. Besides, historically-speaking, autumn’s blue skies and deliciously pleasant days were numbered. With Ohio’s terminally gray skies and frigid temps rapidly approaching, I needed to navigate my way into an apartment close to campus—and soon. That weekend, I scoured the rental ads, identifying the precious few apartments within my budget. Placing several calls only netted me one concrete connection. Mike—my future landlord?—assured me of several vacancies. Hoping that this trip into Springfield would end the two-hour path I’d been forging, I slid onto the bench seat of my trusty, old station wagon.

An aspiring slumlord if ever there was one, Mike didn’t even attempt to put lipstick on the pig. Was this all I could afford? Dump after dump left me pessimistic.

My lack of interest in buddying up to cockroaches soon struck Mike as a negative. I have to give him credit. While he held little potential as a trusted landlord, he nonetheless had my interest at heart. “Some friends of mine own a Victorian house,” he said. “They’ve been working on it and turned the upstairs into two apartments. I think one of them is available.” I took him up on his offer to introduce me, and we walked there together.

The house loomed ahead of us in all its 1880s glory. Interesting. Unique. A little bit spooky. I worried about drafts. And bugs. And mice.

When Basil came to the door, I thought, “Cute.” When Steve followed, I thought, “I’m renting the place, no matter what.” Tall—well, tall’s in the eyes of the short beholder—dark, and handsome struck a chord. I never noticed Mike’s departure.

Cosmetically speaking, the empty apartment left a little to be desired. Dirt and construction debris littered the floor. After all, the owners were guys in their twenties, not terribly used to tidying up after themselves. But I browbeat them into helping me spruce up the place, and it did clean up nice. No mice. No bugs. A minor plumbing problem that soon got ironed out. No drafts that bothered me. A row of windows in the living room even made the hardwood floors gleam.

And Steve—a carpenter living on a shoestring, apparently untainted by the need for fiscal responsibility—granted me a week’s free rent for helping them clean. When I dug deeper and found that he was also strong, smart, funny, and nice, I realized I couldn’t let a landlord like that get away. Three years later, I married him.

I never did become a court reporter, but I learned the value of a contract. Lease at Suite 101, 806 South Fountain Avenue? Bring it on, baby. Marriage contract?  Between you and me—and, well, there’s Steve—I wouldn’t have it any other way.



Monday, November 12, 2012

Milk an idea for all it's worth!

I just read the disappointing news that Chick-Fil-A refuses to accept unsolicited ideas. While I dislike their chicken recipe and totally disagree with their fundamental philosophy, you’d think that I’d be less than eager to offer creative ideas anyway. But the thing is this: I adore their billboard campaign.

With that in mind, I created a billboard message in my sleep last night based on my son’s recent dream involving cows organizing a “moo d’état”—a Far Side invasion into the deep recessions of his mind. Since lots of folks know that a coup d’état means overthrow, but don’t necessarily know how to spell it, I figured those  uneducated, oft-misspelling cows played right into this. This is how the billboard would play out:


Now, is that not brilliant?! Just think of the moolah I could make—well, if unsolicited ideas were accepted, that is. I had even formulated a letter demanding payment; if they didn't pay up, they’d face the moooooo-sic. Of course, I would have signed the letter “Standing on the side of cows” or “Moooooooooove aside, Mad Men,” depending on my mood.

Instead, here I am, my idea rising to the top of the milk bucket like cream, while Chick-Fil-A pushes it aside to go for the skim.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Poetry in Motion

Poetry in  motion. That’s the best way to describe Desert Baths. Author Darcy Pattison and illustrator Kathleen Rietz set their poetry in motion with action on the desert.

Bathing takes all forms, few of which require water. But that’s not the case with an Anna’s hummingbird; she bathes with dew drops by sliding her breast feathers down a leaf.  The desert tortoise hopes for rain, but instead often skips bathing since rainfall is scarce on the desert. Some animals scratch and groom; others simply shed their skin. Dueling it out for the most interesting of baths is the scaled quail which uses an ant as a bath mitt and the  western banded gecko whose tongue licks his eyeballs to keep them moist and clear.

Desert Baths includes an educational section called For Creative Minds with six pages of learning activities. A big boon to the usefulness of the book in the classroom, a separate Teaching Activity Guide by Sylvan Dell Publishing provides fifty-two pages of additional information and activities.  

Be sure to get a copy of Desert Baths at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, or your favorite online bookstore. In fact, you can order it from any local store. Online versions for schools are licensed at Sylvan Dell’s website. Also the audio alone (both English and Spanish) can be found at iBookStore.
Pattison has struck gold once again with her latest book on nature.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Must-tell stories

More on vacationing at the beach:

When five Ohio-born women get together in the Deep South, there's bound to be a discussion about bugs. Specifically cockroaches. There's no question as to their presence, but how ubiquitous are they? When Bette found a cockroach in her closet, a big discussion ensued at dinner: how big do they get? Even the waitress chimed in, describing the gigantic palmetto bugs that fly. (They're THIS long, but don't worry; they immediately die if they get inside. Huh?) Nancy was getting particularly grossed out by the possibilities. So when Bette had the opportunity to play a joke on her, she went for it. What should Nancy find when she went to the bathroom? A dead cockroach on the toilet seat, of course! I'm not sure if Nancy thought it died a natural death just sitting there, but she seemed pretty convinced that the cockroaches were now going to attack her while she slept.

But things went from bad to worse in the scaring-ourselves department. Before the night was out, I was unable to open my door to the balcony (which faced the ocean), despite the fact that it was on the second floor and there were no steps leading to it. Several of them had me convinced that an intruder would, no doubt, find his way in to commit mayhem; thus, the knives were put in the freezer. Yes, the freezer. That's so the intruder would have to use his own knives.

Moving into the light of day found us at the beach. By now, all of Arlington, Ohio must know that Kay lost her phone and camera. When we discovered the loss, we seriously backtracked with some heavy-duty beachcombing. In the meantime, a good samaritan found the phone and started calling. The recipients of those phone calls may not have known about Kay's whereabouts, but they quickly learned. At any rate, Kay happened upon the caller who, fortunately, handed over the phone and camera, no questions asked. That may have had a better ending than the incident with the key. I found it in the sand; not knowing what else to do with it, I threw it away from the shoreline amidst protests. Too late, I pictured a lost soul searching the sand, locked out of her house with the magic mirror.

Yes, magic mirror. In the middle of the giggles and the shrieks, we admired ourselves in the magnifying mirror in my bathroom. I stumbled upon its magic when I pulled it away from the wall. I'm not kidding, it took ten years off my life. When I pointed out my discovery to the others, they felt compelled to follow my lead and came away astonished. I made it a practice to check its magic every now and then. After I caught a glimpse of my blurry eyes when I awoke, I stumbled pass the regular mirror to the Magic Mirror and saw only wide-awake youth. Must have been beach magic. There's no other answer.

Those are the stories I'm free to tell. And then there's the rest of the story.

Friends, family, vacations . . . oh, my!

I’ve traveled here, there, and everywhere over the past month. The first part of the month found my husband and me in western NC to build a ladder-backchair (husband) and learn how to draw (myself).

Next was a short visit to my son in Norfolk since we were halfway there—happy to see him in his new place; sad not to hug him. I had a fierce cold that I’d picked up in NC—fortunately, not until Friday evening AFTER our fun week there. (I know the exact time when it happened. I laid my head down on my pillow to go to sleep and glanced at the clock . . . BAM! At exactly 10:30 p.m., the itchy sore throat set in!)

Nathan had a hand in designing the building in the background, the MacArthur Center.

When we returned home, I spent a few days recuperating before I hit the road for Birmingham and WIK12 (Writing and Illustrating for Kids). Spending hours with Donna Jo Napoli inspired me; walking with Leila Sales, associate editor at Viking Children’s Books, delighted me; and chatting with Julie Ham, associate editor at Charlesbridge, and joining her for a written critique left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Finally, the workshop with Marietta Zacker, agent for Nancy Galt Literary Agency, left me in stitches. (Many thanks to my delightful host, Joan Broerman, for her hospitality and to Peggie Hulebak for keeping me company throughout the day.)

Leaving the conference before the wrap-up party, I sped home to get ready for a few days at Gulf Shores. When the Pacifica pulled in, loaded to the gills with suitcases and women, I was ecstatic. After hugging Nancy Alexander, Bette Richard, Kay Sidle, and Janie Jarvis, I shepherded then inside, demanding everything that had been said in the previous nine hours. From that point on, we talked incessantly: at my house, in the car, on the porch facing the ocean, on the sand, poolside, at the restaurants, inside the luxurious five-bedroom place. You name it, and we talked about it. One would think we’d tire out, but lively conversation continued on the trip home. Of course, one of our topics included when and where to meet up next. Since they all have family nearby and I’m the odd woman out, I have to take into consideration chunks of time to visit my kids. At any rate and lots of giggles later, we returned home very happy to have gotten this chance to spend time together.

People envied us our youth and our fun, or, at least, that’s what we claimed when people started staring at us at Bahama Bob’s. It surely had nothing to do with a certain someone drinking—okay, I confess, it was I—one Long Island Tea, precipitating lots of giggles on my part, which infected the others. (But was it really necessary for the one truly-old geezer to turn his chair around to watch us? And why didn’t anyone ask about our lookalike tee-shirts? Is this normal behavior for the Gulf?)

At the risk of sounding sappy, we really are five forever friends. Having known each other since elementary school, the fact that we’ve taken the time to become reacquainted has been such a blessing. We all look forward to our next big adventure together. Wanna join us?

Only seriously silly women need apply.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Voted best, most unusual vacation ever!

Nestled in the hills of western North Carolina lays an inviting workshop. Run by Drew Langsner, Country Workshops offers periodic how-to sessions in a remote, idyllic setting. Last week, my husband started with this:

And ended with this:



Steve will weave the seat soon.


Drew’s wife, Louise Langsner, works the garden, and, boy, are we glad she does! This lady really knows her way around a bean! With hearty soups, fresh eggs, homemade breads, and other luscious treats, we ate exceedingly well. I'm sure all of us wanted our own Louise.

While Steve did his thing in Drew’s workshop with two other not-afraid-to-work apprentices, Jim and Dan, I hiked past the cows to the neighbor’s studio to learn how to draw from marvelous artist Nancy Darrell. Before I took art lessons, the best face I could draw was this:


Afterwards, I managed this:

Not bad for either of us, huh?

I plan to write more about Country Workshops. Any suggestions on where to submit?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Reading beyond your comfort zone

I’m a big fan of children’s stories. Funny picture books? Oh, yeah. Middle grade fun and adventures? Lovely. Teen angst, romance, and struggles? Definitely! But fantasy of any persuasion? No way!

As a reviewer for childrenslit.com, I receive five books every few weeks and I don’t get to choose which ones. In other words, I’ve been forced to expand my horizon. And that’s a good thing. Strictly a fiction reader in my previous life, I now read nonfiction and biographies as well; as a result, I’ve discovered some pretty interesting facts about people, places, and animals. I’ve also developed a better appreciation of historical fiction. Of course, not all of the books deserve good reviews, and I’ve had to grit my teeth to get through some of them.

To tell you the truth, I had low hopes for my recent shipment. Regardless of my newfound appreciation of books I wouldn’t normally read, did I really want to review two dystopian novels and a book about warring angels? Really? The mere idea made me groan, and I resisted reading them as long as possible.

And then I re-discovered the joys of reading great writing, no matter what genre. All three of the previously frowned-upon collection of unusual-for-me reads struck a chord. But the one that sliced me to the quick with its angel sword was Angelfall by Susan Ee. Ee had me perched on the edge of my seat with room for my wings to expand, hoping to save the day if Penryn couldn’t. Believe me, the mere mortal has her work cut out for her. Raffe, despite his lack of wings, is quite a feathery handful. The schizophrenic mother, with her cattle prod at play, doesn’t help matters. And you don’t even want to know what happens to Penryn's little sister Paige! Ugh! Does Ee tie Angelfall up in a nice, little package? No Way! Fortunately, the ending begs for Book 2!

So now, thanks to my highly paid position as a reviewer—what more could an avid reader want than to be paid in books?—I’m a fan of warring angels and interspecies love.

And to think I never knew such romance existed!

Monday, September 10, 2012

I'm seeing things. Again.

But they aren't mice. And they aren't real.

First, there were a few lightning bolts. I blinked. It was storming outside, after all. But then I went into our dark bedroom and continued to see the bolts. I hit the sack, hoping that the streaks would disappear and not return.

The next morning, they were there, but remained fleeting. And then another issue came to the forefront. I biked around the block. As my feet pumped and my face caught the wind, I spotted a web of branches in the corner of my left eye--disconcerting, to say the least. I couldn't help but shake my head in reflex. The web remained.

I called the eye doctor. The message I received: Don't mess with this; come in immediately.

After a brief exam and a photo of confirmation, the verdict was straightforward. I have a floater, and it's not floating anywhere.

I liked my doctor's explanation. The eye, made up of collagen, vitreous, and water, usually acts as plastic wrap. It's nice and taut and can be easily seen through. But, once in awhile, plastic wrap wrinkles. And once the wrinkle's there, good luck on getting it out.

No one tells you about this aspect of aging. When my doctor asked my age, she nodded sagely. Sixty-one? You have a sixty-one percent chance of this happening, and you probably haven't seen the last of it. Lightning bolts? Common. Webs or branches? Also common. This floater is part of you now, and you'll get used to it after a month or two. If you start seeing jellyfish, though, worry.

She also pressed home the fact that eye issues shouldn't go unaddressed. If a retina becomes detached, the longer you wait to see the doc, the harder it becomes to correct.

So the way I'm going to look at this is . . . I'm still growing and changing.

That can't be all bad, can it?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I'm seeing things. Really.

A rapid-fire movement caught the corner of my eye. I turned, dreading the approach of the all-too-often-sighted, southern-bred cockroach; instead, something even larger sped toward me! I screamed, scaring the critter into a hidey-hole, or so he thought, being only slightly camouflaged by the tangle of computer wires underneath my desk.

As I caught my breath after a couple of more screams, I began to talk to him: “You are so cute! You are SO cute, but you are a mouse.” And just in case he didn’t know it, I screamed, “YOU ARE A MOUSE!”

If only I had had a camera trained on me, I would be winning big-time on America’s Funniest Videos (or maybe not—no one would have been harmed in the making of this film, and that seems to be a requirement). Yelling at him to stay put, I ran to the kitchen, scrambled for a cracker, slathered PB on it, grabbed a large paper bag with handles, and tore off toward the den.

Shoving the cracker in the bag, I propped it open and urged the mouse toward the trap. He didn’t fall for the ruse.

I ran to the kitchen again to get my yardstick. Using it, I tried to herd the mouse into the bag. He started a mad dash around the perimeter of the room with me in hot pursuit. When he got close to the door, I shut it, thinking that the quarter inch at the bottom could not possibly allow exit. Ha! With me screaming, “Don’t! Don’t! DON’T YOU DARE!” that mouse wiggled through so fast, he made my head spin. I quickly opened the door. As he tried to hide underneath a corner table nearby, I handled that trusty yardstick with finesse. Luckily for me, his tiny feet had to shake off dust bunnies; they slowed him down, enough for me to successfully herd him back into the self-contained den.

So then the little devil re-started the perimeter run. Ending up where he started—behind the computer wires—I once again yelled, “Don’t you move!” and dashed toward the kitchen to grab the broom. Running past the front door on my way back, I opened it wide.

A determined woman, I pinned the terrified, little mouse underneath the broom, dragged him through the den, and swept him out the door in one big swoosh. He landed in a bush about five feet away. I imagine it dazed him for a short time.

I shut the door, locked it, and did a victory dance.

The next day, I found a mouse on the road. He was tiny. He was cute. He was dead. He was gray. My mouse had been brown.

While minding his own business the next day, my husband heard a sound. He yelled to me, “I think our mouse returned!” I joined him, only to hear what sounded like a beaver gnawing on a large hunk of wood. My husband slowly opened the drawer underneath the oven. Movement. He removed the drawer and crouched, spotting a cowering mouse. But we weren’t quick enough. The mouse sped here, there, and dashed underneath the dishwasher. At one point, he fishtailed around the corner with his tail high in the air, mimicking a cartoon critter.

We can’t have a mouse in the house, no matter how cute. Project Extermination was launched.

My husband set three traps with peanut butter; two of them were licked clean. He reset them, adding a fourth, and adding attic locations.

Bye-bye, mouse.

Hello, mouse family!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Buyer, Beware!

Famous quote from Sister Act: “Turns into a nuns’ bar, and I’m outta here.”

I hope my faithful followers, not all of whom are writers, also appreciate the entries that are writer-centric. (And, if you don’t, don’t worry. Future entries will, at times, be totally without  rhyme or reason—well, okay, maybe rhyme.)  The occasional focus on writers is the nature of the beast—the beast being I as a writer and the Local Liaison for Southern Breeze, a region of SCBWI. (For those in the dark, that’s the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. You can see why it goes by initials.)

In the next two weeks, I’ll be blogging about authors because I’m doing my part to promote them and their role in the upcoming Southern Breeze conference (Oct. 19-20).

I don’t wanna hear someone whining: “Turns into a writers’ blog, and I’m outta here.”

Monday, August 6, 2012

A woman possessed

Books, books, books. I cannot get enough of them.

Last week was typical. Outwardly, I appeared normal. After having reviewed the requisite five books given me by childrenslit.com, I got the dishes washed, dinners cooked, clothes ironed, toilets scrubbed, miles walked, zumba danced, even TV watched (which, apparently, did not squash my creativity as I wrote a new picture book and revisited four others).

But inside I seethed with the angst of a teenage girl having been bitten by a vampire. That doesn’t happen to just anyone.

Throat by R. A. Nelson introduces Emma. Just when she thinks normalcy is right around the corner—seizure-free for six months and she’ll get her driver’s license—she comes throat-to-teeth with Wirtz, the very worst kind of vampire. Luckily for her, his “dinner” was interrupted by the very thing she feared—a grand mal. So what will happen to Emma, now that she has super powers? What will happen to her family if Wirtz has his way? Most importantly, what will happen to her love life? Throat is just the kind of story a teenage girl can sink her teeth into.

And when Throat no longer had me by the . . . well, throat, Teach Me, also by R. A. Nelson, held sway. A story of a teenage girl falling head-over-heels with her teacher—blech! but oh-so-imaginable!—things get really interesting when he dumps her. One bad idea turns into one even worse. How can Carolina, Nine—just a number to those who know her—escape from the nightmare of her own making? Riveting. Edgy. A story that could be any one of ours if we’d just taken that one forbidden step.

And then Little Texas lurks, hoping to fill the spiritual space within me. A teenage evangelist persuades me of his unusual powers in Days of Little Texas. And R. A. Nelson convinces me, yet again, of his ability to tell a powerful story. The sixteen-year-old known as Little Texas can’t help but wonder if he’s meant to remain a minister. Wishing for normalcy, in a “family” like his, he’s anything but. Haunted by a beautiful girl he has “healed,” can he take her at face value? Is she who she seems? Dealing with saints and sinners alike take its toll on our hero.

There is no doubt about it—Nelson’s books stand out. The number of awards they’ve earned prove it. Teach Me even made NPR’s top 100 best Young Adult books ever . . . and “ever” includes some pretty impressive titles. Reading is like breathing to me, so, of course, I’ll soon be reading his remaining book, Breathe My Name.

I may sound like a one-woman fan club, but there’s a reason beyond the mind-boggling appeal of his works. R.A. Nelson is local. His settings take place in or around Huntsville, AL. I’m familiar with names like Rombokas, places like Madison Square and the Marshall Space Flight Center. (Are vampires lurking at the Space Center as we speak?) Being able to identify with the setting can be just as important as living within the main character's skin.

Best of all is that Nelson, a member of SCBWI Southern Breeze, will be part of a panel at the upcoming schmooze I’ve arranged.

After spending some time fighting demons, vampires, and one’s own conscience, it’s time I come back to earth. Meals to deliver, bingo to call, schmoozes to advertise, reviews to write.

Oh, heck. Those things can wait. Breathe My Name is doing just that. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Talent abounds in the Huntsville area

Huntsville's known for its engineers. But guess what? Plenty of authors and illustrators live here, too. Find out more about them by clicking on the links.

I'm taking my new role as Local Liaison for Southern Breeze to heart. In arranging my first schmooze--a gathering of like-minded, children-book-centric individuals for the purpose of mingling and connecting--I've come to the realization that  success flows all around me. Starting with my own critique group, comprised of prior and current educators, an engineer, an artist, and an attorney, we can claim a few successes of our own. Annie Laura Smith has been published more than 250 times with her novel Twilight of Honor coming out in September. Mark Hubbs, with numerous magazine articles under his belt, will see his first historical fiction novel The Secret of Wattensaw Bayou in print in late 2012. Both Nellie Maulsby and Gail Hopson have read their stories on Public Radio, and one of Gail's stories appeared in a Chicken Soup book. Heather Montgomery, an author of fabulous kids' nonfiction books, has hit gold with Wild Discoveries: Wacky New Animals as Scholastic has targeted it for book fairs. Kay Casteel is a published illustrator. A prior member, Mary Ann Taylor, has to deal temporarily with family drama--no, make that family comedy. (Tune into National Geographic's Rocket City Rednecks, and you'll see her son and husband launch their acting careers--and various items!) And I personally have a  love/hate affair going with my only published book; Alicia Saves the Day is not my best work, but it filled a particular niche--that of a bilingual book with a moral--and won a prize of $1000--and, best of all, it's for a great cause! Besides the few articles I wrote for The Huntsville Times way back when, it's the only money I've netted in the publishing world, so who am I to quibble? The remaining members--and I--continue to write feverishly . . . because it's what we love to do. (And maybe the successes of the H's in Huntsville--Heather, Hester, Hubbs--will rub off on this particular H.)

Then there's the ever-expanding circle of success that surrounds me. Of course, you've heard me rave about  Hester Bass. (You'll find more about her "Show, Don't Tell" retreat in the Southern Breeze newsletter.) Her book The Secret World of Walter Anderson will represent Alabama at the Pavilion of the States at the National Book Festival on September 22 in Washington, D.C. What I hadn't been aware of before setting up the schmooze was the presence of two more very talented YA authors within our area: Beck McDowell and R. A. Nelson. (Be sure to read his very entertaining bio.) McDowell's exciting new novel This Is Not a Drill comes out on October 25. And Nelson's novel Teach Me made the recent NPR's Best Ever Teen Books list!

After sending out an initial enthusiastic flurry of emails in my new role as Local Liaison to a cast of a hundred, I was delighted with the many positive responses I received--and no negative, thank goodness. I connected with the illustrator, Danaye Shiplett, new to the area. And I discovered that my daughter's friend's father likes to write children's books. :-) I certainly didn't know that about him, and he wasn't aware of my interest either.

So being a Local Liaison has its pluses--ready-made friends and a window into the lives of some pretty exciting, talented, PERSISTENT writers and illustrators.

And that's just fun.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

It's a small world

It's a small world, as verified once again by my son and me. He works at an architecture firm in Norfolk, Virginia. As part of the team chosen to research new 401k plans, he met with delegates from four different financial institutions. When a Vice President of Suntrust said, "Nathan? Remember me?" he looked more closely. He didn’t recognize her immediately because he hadn’t expected to see a prior classmate from Madison, AL. Being fourteen hours from their hometown didn't prevent them from a chance encounter.

Then there's the flurry of e-mails I exchanged with an SCBWI member from Ohio. Living equidistant from both Nashville and Birmingham, I'm a member of SCBWI Southern Breeze but a visitor to SCBWI Midsouth events. As such, I'm on both listservs. An Ohio SCBWI member, Kerrie Logan Hollihan, sent an e-mail seeking information about the Southern Festival of Books as she was invited to sit on its panel in October. (She’ll be signing her latest book, Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote). Her name rang no bells, but I recognized her hometown and promptly wrote back, admitting my ignorance about the festival but commenting that I, too, lived in Blue Ash once upon a time. In return, she asked if I were Nathan's mom. When she told me her son's name, going on to tell me he majored in music, I knew exactly who she was. (Her son had played the lead in Oklahoma the year we lived there.) Our children shared the same grades and schools, and we mothers knew and liked each other. Our connection stemmed from 1996.

Traveling another path, I’ve been actively reconnecting with my friends from where I grew up, my small town of Arlington, Ohio. (There were 47 in my graduating class.) Although I attended most of the reunions and two of us steadily exchanged Christmas cards throughout the years, with the advent of e-mail, I reconnected with another classmate and then one more. The five of us are jumping onboard the friendSHIP that’s sailing down to Gulf Shores this fall. Five grown women, giggling over the past and cementing the friendship of the future—nothing quite like it.

My point is that it is, indeed, a small world. You never know when you'll reconnect with old friends. You never know where your journey will take you.

So keep your ears and eyes open for adventure.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Daisy Dog Sings of Love

You slowly came to me with bone in jaws.

You laid the bone upon the kitchen floor.

And out you padded gently with your paws.

You touched my heart by way of doggie door.

I saw you first across the meadow green.

You looked my way and bounded in delight.

We met and sniffed with sense of smell so keen.

We slobbered, glad we didn’t have to fight.

Love at first smell, we frolicked when we met.

Owners schmoozed with leashes at their sides.

I must thank mine. I’m deeply in her debt—

She let me loose—against the law she normally abides.

To love like this with body all a’quiver.

You should be by my side, like kidney next to liver.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Gearing up to the challenge

I’m taking on a new role: Local Liaison for Southern Breeze, the AL/GA/MS faction of SCBWI. For those of you not in the know, SCBWI stands for the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators. Everyone involved in some facet of children book production either is or should be aware of this great organization.

My new duties include keeping members informed of what’s going on within the writing community locally as well as . . . well, from here to infinity! I need to take responsibility for arranging at least one speaker in the next year to lead some sort of workshop—called a schmooze—but I hope to line up more. It’s my goal to encourage people to meet and talk about the art of writing and illustrating by setting up a regular time and place in which to meet and critique each other’s work. I’m researching the possibilities right now.

This is a job that’s good for me. Although some of my friends might dispute this, I’m basically shy. Put me at a cocktail party, and conversation is likely to dry up like yesterday’s bread left outside its plastic bag. But I have great organizational skills, pretty darn good writing skills, and an association in which I believe. That’s a recipe for success.

We writers and artists so often live within our heads because imagination is the key to productivity. Meeting with other writers and artists allows us to get beyond ourselves and make new friends; and, of course, critiquing may shed some light on what’s lacking within our work—why hasn’t it been published? Because, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves that it’s the delightful process of putting something on paper that’s important to us, we all want to be recognized.

After all, what’s wrong with craving immortality?  

Monday, June 25, 2012

The wheels on the bus go round and round

I just read my last blog. The retreat seems to have taken place eons ago; yet, it has only been 12 days. So much has happened since then. 

When I brushed off the (pixie) dust of the retreat and sat down at the computer, I edited a few stories over several days running. I also wrote an article about the retreat for our Southern Breeze newsletter. Keeping up with my writing wasn’t easy because life interrupted—in a good way—as it has a tendency to do. Most noteworthy was the visit of our niece Maria.

On her first day here, she and I baked chocolate chip /walnut cookies, and I shared my baking secrets for perfection.  (Okay, they aren’t all that secret—use a mixture of butter-flavored Crisco and butter, plus sift your dry ingredients, even when using all-purpose flour.) We don’t often barbeque because we’re hold-outs for charcoal—which takes a bit more effort than gas—but we barbequed that night. Yum.

Her arrival got us out of our rut to witness the world around us. My husband took her sailing while I read in the shade at the edge of the dock overlooking Lake Guntersville. Bliss for all involved. We went to the Space & Rocket Center—something I hadn’t done since my kids were half-pints wondering if they’d grow up to become astronauts. In the great out-of-doors, we listened to a 14-year-old boy croon about love, followed by the lovely sounds of a friend’s Celtic band. We hopped in the car and drove an hour and a half to Lynchburg, TN—a disturbing name, indeed—where we toured the Jack Daniel Distillery. (And, if you have a chance to go, make reservations a couple of weeks beforehand at the famous Miss Mary Bobo’s. But be prepared to share your delicious meal family-style, as well as your life history.) The final day found us strolling through our beautiful botanical garden and taking life easy.

YOLO. You only live once. It takes a teenager to share the meaning of the latest initials. Maria was game for everything—from eating anything I cooked to going to zumba with me (where she wasn’t a bit mortified by the presence of her aunt on-stage) to helping paint the deck. And while Steve remarked to me that it was reminiscent of having teenagers in the house again, it really wasn’t. She was on her best behavior, and so were we. You know how it is.

After she left, we felt a hole but reverted quickly back to our usual routines. And that’s when I got busy again.

I now have a new  job with www.childrenslit.com. Learn more about its mission at: http://childrenslit.com/about_new.php. It’s a volunteer job, but it pays—in books. For every five books I read and review, I get five more to read and review. Despite the fact that I’m expected to review books outside of my typical genre, this job has my name written all over it. But reading takes a fair amount of time, and reviewing takes even more. If I think something stinks, I have an obligation to let people know . . . in as gentle a way as possible.

But that’s just me. Don’t feel any obligation at all to let me know your true feelings about this blog.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

No: She was mad. Yes: Her upper lip curled, her nostrils flared. SHOW DON'T TELL!

Just having gotten back from the Show Don’t Tell Retreat: How Acting Techniques Improve Writing, I’m all hopped up. Led by Hester Bass, award winning author of The Secret World of Walter Anderson, I had been looking forward to tips that would allow me to approach my writing in a different way and, thus, strengthen it.

Timing was everything; accumulating rejections takes its toll. And while I write steadily and meet with my critique group regularly, it had been too long since my last workshop. This was just the shot in the arm I needed.

Having attended several workshops and conferences, I’ve learned the importance of keeping an open mind in my quest for understanding and I’ve learned that shyness just won’t cut it. But this retreat particularly required me to keep an open heart. Yes, a few of us knew each other beforehand—but not particularly well. Imagine spending an entire weekend with people you’ve never seen before, getting physical, sharing emotions, acting out characters, living in the moment with improv. (Don’t think it’s easy to pretend you’re a 4-year-old girl who has to GO RIGHT NOW but insists there’s nothing wrong, while your caretaker, a 17-year-old boy, insists there is!)

When you can learn writing techniques under the leadership of a woman who has lived a fairy tale—who slips into accents like a minnow through reeds, who makes you laugh until you cry—and learn within the safety net of like-minded, fun-minded individuals, now, that’s cause for motivation!

The setting alone would have inspired the Greek gods to rethink Mount Olympus as their home, and the feeling of camaraderie was nothing short of miraculous. But, best of all, are the results.  I’ve been burning up the keys this week, applying my inspiration, my renewed energy, and my new-found secrets to the stories within me.

Perhaps, like Hester, I'll write a manuscript that attracts the attention of a famous author who will subsequently become my mentor, a literary agent, and an editor (who sees my work on Monday and offers me a contract on Friday).

My advice to writers: Open up your minds, your hearts, and your arms.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's all just a balancing act

I’m a planner. I’ve been a planner from way back. You’d think that would automatically make me well organized. Naaaaa. Achieving that goal is a constant struggle. Unless I’m expecting company, papers cover most available surfaces.

The trouble is I don’t like to file. Yuk. I do like to recycle, and therein lies the problem. I have to study every piece of mail that comes in before I can sort into toss, shred, or recycle-whole piles.

But when a bill comes in, I pay it. When a vacation’s in the works, I compare locations, airfare, and lodging possibilities for days on end. When the laundry’s wet, I dry it. And when my husband comes home from work, dinner’s waiting for him.

I tell you, I’m on top of things. Most of the time.

But in my twenties, I saved $10,000 and blew all of it going on a one-month European vacation and two years of court reporting school that didn’t pan out. By my early thirties, I’d saved another $15,000 and spent it on a wedding, a car, a baby, a house. In my mid thirties, the second baby arrived. Did we question long-term expenses? Heck, no! We lived on a wing, a prayer, and, Steve’s ability to pull in a steady paycheck. The urge to contribute to the family finances overwhelmed me on occasion, but it was never calculated to last.

And we never really worked out a budget. The mere word struck terror in my heart. We didn’t spend much and, therefore, no budget was needed. Or so I claimed. The truth was that I was afraid I’d find out I should spend even less.

But now retirement looms, and it’s time to ask—well, actually, considerably too late since this question should be addressed in one’s twenties:  Is retirement something we can afford? And, more importantly, when?

To my way of thinking, the best retirement calculator is T. Rowe Price’s: http://www3.troweprice.com/ric/ricweb/public/ric.do?adcode=7208&PlacementGUID=66B8A3E8203C44F389F50FE7E4482F7E

When using this, you’ll understand the need for another question: Where does the money go? And to figure that out, I just spent five hours poring over Quicken, labeling the expenditures I should’ve been labeling all along, and drilling into my head that I would need to continue to do so from this day hence.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I’ve determined that, at least, in my case, common sense = budget within means.

Phew. I don’t have to go back to work.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Home Sweet Home (yet again)

From the looks of this blog, you’d think that I vacation endlessly because: 1) I frequently write about vacationing, and 2) my blog entries are few and far between because I’m either preparing, experiencing, or recuperating from a vacation. And while it’s not true that I’m perpetually on vacation, it is true that I just returned from another.

As glamorous as Hawaii? Well, no. But, like the one in Hawaii, it was an action-packed vacation taken during lovely weather and enjoyed in good company (but this time, other than my husband). At the luau, I was surrounded by beautiful native women and muscle-bound native men. In Ohio, I experienced the same thing. My great nieces are nothing if not gorgeous, and my muscle-bound nephew spends untold hours lifting weights.

If someone asked me what I enjoyed best, I couldn’t say. Was it the visit with one of the lovely couples my husband, kids, and I have vacationed with throughout the past 30 years? How about dinner with a friend who knew my husband before I did? My mini-reunion with high school friends? The family lunch and dinner? Meeting the Amish for the first time? The breakfast with a friend or the tour of the Courthouse provided by another? The time I spent reading my book to appreciative first graders in my cousin’s library? A birthday celebration with a few of my aunts, uncles, and cousins? Watching a great niece wow the audience as she danced and sang her heart out? Holding my 3-month-old great nephew as he cooed and drifted off to sleep? 

Yes, it’s difficult to pinpoint THE highlight, but I do have to expound, as I did in an earlier blog entry, about the delights of getting together with friends I’d grown up with. Last January, four of us met in Nashville and couldn’t stop laughing for two days. This time, eight of us—plus a husband thrown in for good measure—met in Findlay for dinner, followed by dessert at the locally famous ice cream place, Dietsch’s, at which time we ran into a locally—and, apparently, nationally—famous basketball player by the name of Aaron Craft. (Not being a sports fan, I just assumed my friend knew the guy when she gushed, “Hi, Aaron.” I didn’t realize he wasn’t just another guy with whom she was flirting until she gave her husband a pen and said, “Don’t come back until you get his autograph! Get him to sign your t-shirt!” And, yes, it was an OSU t-shirt, and, yes, the husband came back with said signature. Anyway, the evening—and the laughter—continued on the back porch of a friend’s house, and I ended up feeling sorry for any class member who couldn’t join us that evening. 

And the visit with the Amish was eye-opening. My sister, having sponsored many foreign exchange students through the  years, often went to Holmes County to visit the Amish. She knew the area well. We visited the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center where a tour guide explained the heritage of Amish and Mennonite people from their Anabaptist (doubly baptized) beginnings in Zurich, Switzerland in 1525 to the present day via a 10 foot tall, 265 foot long mural-in-the-round. But, more gratifying as a visitor, I was invited into their homes. Through her regular visits, my sister, being the extrovert she is, made special friends. I learned a lot from my brief encounters; for instance, while I understood their primary mode of transportation was horse and buggy, I didn’t know that they could have others transport them. (One family had just returned from an Amtrak trip out west.) I didn’t know that they could get dispensation to obtain electricity under special circumstances—for instance, in the running of a sawmill. I didn’t realize that many of them had beginnings similar to my own. In fact, one of the women recalled her husband’s first encounter with an indoor bathtub—acquired before our own—she couldn’t get him out. (I remember our first tub, and it didn't have a drain.) To tell you the truth, I hadn’t realized that they were more like me than unlike me.

So, anyway, Bonnie’s Excellent Adventure was just that. I can’t answer the question of my favorite highlight adequately, but I can answer this one: Did I look good behind the wheel of the little red, rented Fiat? 

You bet!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Visiting the Big Island (a.k.a. HAWAII)

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't written for about a month. Trying to gather my thoughts since vacation has been an uphill battle. Preparing beforehand, the vacation itself, and recuperating afterwards took a huge amount of time. Keeping a journal while traveling resulted in a full-blown travelogue although I'm sparing you many of the details. (If you don't think I kept a list of expenses, addresses, phone numbers, every single dish that Steve and I ate, the books we read, and what movies we watched, you're sadly mistaken!) But here are a few facts:

April 16: Whereas I usually pack light, my bag weighed nearly 50 lbs., having to pack both cool- and warm-weather clothing (many of which were new--one can't experience a second honeymoon in old attire). We booked the airfare, rental car, housing, insurance, snorkeling trip, and luau through www.deltavacations.com. I had the foresight to download two movies.

April 17: We took a cab to the Huntsville airport, arriving at 5:45 a.m. The flight from ATL to LAX, although long, was relatively comfortable. Once there, we raced from plane to plane. The final leg of our trip—LAX to Kona—was miserable. The plane was the same size—a 757—yet, I'm convinced, it held more seats. The travel time was 13 hours altogether. (If you're planning a trip this size, you should include an additional 7 hours to get to Australia!)

Arriving on time, we admired the huts that comprised the Kona airport--and, no, we didn't get lei'ed. We picked up our rental car and went to the lovely condo we'd found through hotwire.com. We then drove to a nearby restaurant that sat on a hilltop overlooking the ocean.

April 18: We ate at a wonderful place called Bongo Ben’s and got on the road again. (Gas was $4.90/gallon compared to our own $3.75.) We drove to Point South, the most-southern tip of the U.S., surrounded on three sides by ocean. 

Our next stop was the Hawaii Volcano National Park; we saw a movie at the visitor’s center and visited the Jaggar Museum where we witnessed steam rising from the caldera as part of the Kilauea Volcano. Since it had turned into a chilly day—63 degrees with a brisk wind—we put off hiking until the next morning. We had reserved three nights at the Lazy Lehua Cottage, a place I found through www.vrbo.com.  Nestled in the rainforest, the place was lovely and private, requiring the warmth of the fireplaces but no drapes. (And all this for $120 a night!) Steve figured out how to get the key from the lockbox and laid it on the table. After touring the upstairs back porch, we went out to the downstairs back porch where he promptly shut the locked door. Oops! He was able to skim over the porch railing, walk around the front, and enter through the (fortunately) unlocked front door.  

We ate at the Thai Thai Garden Restaurant but not until we ruled out the lodge. After waiting for a couple of minutes with no greeting, Steve asked the woman behind the counter if we were in the right place to be seated. He said, “I don’t mean to be rude, but . . . .” and she said, “Are you sure? Because I’m helping another customer.” We walked out.

April 19:  We seemed to get a jump on the other hikers, arriving in the parking lot at 8:25 a.m. The four-mile hike took us down through a crater via switchbacks. With its moon-like surface, we had to follow piles of stones, called cairns, to make our way across and back up the other side via steeper switchbacks, sometimes including stairs. The morning was absolutely lovely, and I eventually zipped off the legs of my hiking pants. When we returned to the lot, we jumped in the car and drove the minute beyond to the lava tube hike, Lasting only about 15 minutes, the walk took us through a small cave made by the flow of lava. Named appropriately, the Lava Rock Cafe was our next stop. We took it easy that afternoon. 

Around 6:30 p.m., we headed to the park again in the chilly rain. We stopped to see the steam vents and then headed to the Jaggar Museum which revealed the perfect vantage point from which to witness the glow of the caldera.

April 20: Packing our backpacks with bananas, water, and raingear, we headed to the park for another hike. Setting out from the Maunahulu Trailhead, we hoped to walk 5 miles there and back. Mostly across desolate moonscape, it didn’t take much rain to convince us to turn around at the one-hour point. We donned raincoats, but the driving rain soaked our jeans below the knees. We stopped at the Pú u lookout but, otherwise, headed back. The sun came out again, and we headed by car down the Chain of Craters Road to see more and more craters. The wind at two of the lookout points quickly dried our pants, so we felt comfortable enough to dine at the Ohí a Café where we ate outside.  

We drove north to Hilo at 2:30 where we saw Rainbow Falls—yellow and muddy—and the boiling pots (but didn’t see what the attraction was). Afterwards we ate downtown at the Café Pesto. After dinner, we crossed the street to a park but quickly crossed back when we realized we were in the midst of some pretty unsavory characters. (It was sunset, and the homeless and druggies were settling in.) We also ran into two Hare Krishnas, a sight we hadn’t seen for quite awhile.  

April 21:  It rained heavily through the night but had leveled off by the time we hit the road yet again. Our first destination was the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden which we found off a 4-mile scenic drive. There we saw heavenly flowers, a gorgeous waterfall, plants with gigantic leaves that looked polished, and trees showing webs of above-ground roots. Although mostly quite sunny and beautiful, a tropical rain hit. We donned our raincoats and, for double protection, stood under a tree with very large leaves.  

Once we got on the road again, we headed north and then west. On the east, we had seen field after field of lava; on the west, we saw that again after going through desert-like conditions and passing several sandy beaches.

We arrived in Kona about 4. While the accommodations weren’t as lush as the previous two, it had its advantages—most notably a balcony looking toward the ocean just a few feet away! It was also within walking distance to everything we needed--and some things we didn't. (While in Kona, I discovered the delights of a Mai Tai.) 

April 22:  We ate breakfast and lunch at home and explored the sandy/rocky beach next to our condo. We found the Farmers Market. That evening found us at the King Kamehameha Luau where we enjoyed Polynesia dancing, fire-eating, music, and a wonderful dinner.  

April 23:  We walked a mile again to get to the pier for our expedition on the Body Glove. We boarded at 8:45 and ate a hearty breakfast on our way to Pawaí i Bay. Steve signed up for a 30-minute underwater trip (called snuba diving). He loved it, and when he was finished snuba-ing, he snorkeled with me. I had trouble getting out because my right foot cramped with the first two attempts. Third time was the charm, and one of the instructors dragged me toward the shore holding onto a small raft because I couldn’t seem to make it on my own steam. The angelfish and sea urchin were abundant. There was a grill onboard, and lunch was provided. I got only slightly seasick.

April 24:  Our big outing today was to visit a sandy beach touted as the most beautiful beach in the U.S., Hapuna Beach. The sea was beautifully colored and the water was warm, but it has nothing over Gulf Shores! The stinging sand, sent by the fierce breeze, drove us off the beach—but not until after Steve’s head took a blow from a flying boogie board!

On the way home, we passed a sign that read “Donkey crossing for the next two miles during dawn and sunset.” Since this included some serious acreage of lava field, we couldn’t manage where they’d be coming from or going to.

April 25, our last day on the Big Island: We hiked to Captain Cook’s monument at Kealakekua Bay. Being downhill all the way meant it made for a really hot, hard climb to 1300 feet above sea level on the way back. The bay was beautiful; the monument was large. On the uphill trip back, we walked by an unsaddled, rider-less horse, a mongoose, and four horseback riders. 

Since our plane wasn't leaving until nearly 9 p.m., we walked around a lot, taking advantage of free WiFi to download movies for the return plane trip. The trip home was even more painful than the one there, including a self-imposed 5-hour layover in LA. (We each received $400 vouchers for volunteering to be bumped.)

Fall-out from the trip: I experienced crackling in my right ear and Steve had some sinus issues for the next three days. Fortunately, both conditions cleared up fairly quickly.

And if you want any more details, just ask!  :-)

Friday, April 13, 2012

If you read a previous blog, you’ll remember that I recently hosted a multi-family yard sale for our church. The six weeks leading up to it was a lot of fun; I thoroughly enjoyed rhyming at will and seeing my poetry in print.  

And when it came time to label and organize, I also had fun—the camaraderie was well worth the admission price. But we had a bit of a rocky beginning. After only one person showed up on my doorstep to help, I sent out a loud and clear SOS, and the worker bees buzzed in to help over the next day and a half. Organizing them—or, in some cases, the reverse—paid out in dividends. After spending a sleepless night wondering whether mischievous teenagers planned to cart away the many tables we’d covered with treasures and adorned in plastic overnight—we alerted the police in case they wanted to do a drive-by—I recovered enough to sell my first bargain at 6 a.m. Seventeen hundred dollars later, a tired euphoria set in.

I expected to be somewhat consumed by the event beforehand, what with having to sacrifice my garage—and eventually my living room, dining room, and kitchen. I had arranged pick-up by a charity on the following Monday. Once the pick-up was complete, I would wash my hands of the affair. What I didn’t anticipate was continued involvement.

After my clean-up crew packed everything nice and neat, I thought I was through. Dead tired, my husband and I headed toward our next function and out to dinner. Bedtime couldn’t come soon enough. But the next afternoon, I found myself examining the crowded garage. A niggling thought wormed its way into my tired brain: What if I tried to sell this on craigslist? What if I washed that and lowered the price? I just couldn’t believe what some people passed up. My brain might have been screaming, “Clean out the garage!” but my hands laid claim to treasures right and left. Soon the gigantic pile of leftover stuff became two piles: one for charity and one for the next yard sale. You heard me right. My husband thought I’d become unhinged.

So now my garage remains crowded but in a very methodical way, and my attic claims a few treasures of its own. Anyone need a size 14 wedding dress, stroller, Coca-Cola mobile, tailgate net, antique medicine cabinet, rolling backpack, canisters, or motion sensor? How about boxes and boxes of clothes organized by size? You’ll find them on craigslist for a steal.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Keep your fingers crossed!

The odds are pretty darn high that I’ll lose the $540 Mega Million lottery; in fact, the odds are 1:175,000,000. But the way I figure it is if I don’t buy a ticket, those odds go up dramatically.

But here in Alabama, we’re all losers every single time we vote down a lottery. Nearby states recognize that funds generated from lotteries meet a need that isn’t being met elsewhere. Georgia gets 30 cents on the dollar to benefit the HOPE scholarship and preschool programs; while the number seems low, it adds up. Tennessee claims more than $2.2 billion has been raised for education since its start-up in 2004. What does Alabama claim? Moral rectitude. Self-righteousness has never yet paid the bills.

Opponents of a lottery claim that the money generated from lotteries is a poor man’s tax. Living in Alabama, I’ll tell you what’s a poor man’s tax—sales tax, rather than property, that funds education—a sales tax including a tax on groceries. What a ridiculously ineffective way to run the business of education. What a shameful way.

But, getting back to the business at hand—that of winning a lottery—I hear that my chances of being attacked by a shark or hit by lightning are better . . . but I’d really prefer to win the lottery.

After all, I’m willing to bear the burden of a pot of gold.


Monday, March 26, 2012

To get our health back on track, maybe we all just need a good scare from the doc

Duke was a lion, a most able king.
He would have been happy except for one thing.
Like a lion should, he looked so strong.
But when he spoke, his voice came out wrong!
All within sight expected to hear
A really loud roar—but, goodness!  Oh, dear!
He meowed instead!  What a shock!  What a bore!
A puny meow!  Not a terrible roar!
Duke went to Alice, his neighbor and friend,
Hoping that she had advice she could lend. 
He knocked on her door and asked, "What should I do?
I sound like a kitty.  I might as well moo.
Meowing is fine if you're just itty-bitty,
But big as I am, sounding small is a pity."
“You need a nap,” she said with a frown.
“Put on a nightcap, and take off your crown.”
“But I cannot do that—I can’t up and quit!
My subjects would notice; they might throw a fit!”
"Well, do what you must," said the friend with a shrug.
"But meowing like that just won't work, you big lug.
A king should not yip.  A king should not moo.
And meowing is something a king should not do!"
"I know.  Oh, I know!  Oh, I have to make noise!
I want to scare girls!  I need to scare boys!"
“Well, good luck with that!” and Alice said, “Bye!”
“So long,” Duke said, with a great big sigh.
He walked away slowly, his thoughts all a'jumble.
"What should I do?" a bird heard him mumble.
"Are you talking to me?" asked the bird as she fluttered.
"I couldn't help hearing your voice as you muttered."
"My problem is this," said the king to the bird.
He opened his mouth and out came one word:
"Meow," said the king.  And the bird said, "Good grief!
Who stole your roar?  We must catch the thief!"
"A thief did not steal it," the lion said sadly.
"I just open my mouth, and my roar comes out badly.”
"Meowing is something that kings should not do.
A king should not yip.  A king should not moo!”
"I know.  Oh, I know!  Oh, I have to sound mean!
Meowing like that just makes me sound clean!"
Duke walked away slowly, his tail drooping down.
Instead of a king, he felt like a clown.
“I should NOT yip or moo or meow.
I need to roar loudly.  I need to roar now!"
He thought to himself, "Now, what are the facts?"
A light bulb turned on, and he stopped in his tracks.
"A doctor!  A doctor will help me, I know!
To Old Doc Magee, I must go.  I must go!”
He went to his doctor to look for a cause.
The doc looked him over from his tail to his paws.
"Now, what's wrong with you?" asked the little old guy,
As he looked in Duke’s throat, and he tugged on his tie.
"I just cannot roar.  All I do is meow.
I need to roar loudly.  I need to roar now!”
“Everything's fine,” said Old Doc Magee.
"But I’m sure I can help you.  Here is my fee."
The lion looked down at the bill in his hand.
The roar that came out could be heard through the land!
It was loud!  It was fierce!  It was mean through and through!
It was NOT a meow or a yip or a moo!
“I thought that would do it!” the old doctor crowed.
He grabbed his hat then, and he raced down the road.
Duke started to chase him but stopped in his tracks.
Cause these were the absolute, positive facts--
Duke never had yipped, and he never had mooed.
And, thanks to his doctor, he no longer mewed.