Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tea Cup Tuesday #23 Tea Pictures

I have been three states away for a week taking care of a two year old grandson. As we headed home, we got call 91 year old mother-in-law is in hosptial 80 miles the other direction from our home. We are exhasted and mentally depleted here, but I wanted to try and get back on some target, to feel like things were returning to some normalcy. I had this post in files, so I will use it today for Teacup Tuesday, as it is tea cup related at least!

Pictures with tea cups and tea pots are numerous in my home as well as the real cups and pots!

This picture was painted for me by a friend. She put ME in the picture by using an apron, a hat, a book, lace, and a cup of tea...all things which I use daily.

This living room picture was painted my my mother-in-law.

This is a print that I used many times as a prompt  in my writing classes. It has produced many creatives takes, but I don't remember any relating to the cup of tea sitting on the table! It hangs in my office now.

Another picture in my office.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Two Weak Spots!

Kansas prairie near Beaumont. A picture can not contain the beauty of this land, nor can it show the rich earth that grows plush grasses loaded with nutrients to feed cattle nautrally.

I admit that I am having a 1950’s cowboy relapse. I loved westerns, all of them. I waited for Wagon Train, never missed Bonanza, had a love affair with Michael Anasara who played Cochise. Every Saturday night even when visiting our grandparents, the whole family stopped everything and watched Gunsmoke, admiring Marshall Dillon, loving Miss Kitty, and snickering at Chester’s antics. And who can forget Sal Mineo in Comanche? I have the Walt Disney video and have seen the horse “in the flesh” many times at the museum on the campus of University of Kansas.

After reading the Dusty Richards book and thumbing through some borrowed Baxter Black poetry, I still did not have enough. So this weekend I pulled out to read more in Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales of the Tallgrass Prairie by Jim Hoy. Hoy is an English professor at Emporia State University and written several books on cowboy history. This book details snippets of history about fences, rodeos, cattle, and outlaws even, in the Flint Hills. It is not a book that would interest most women, but I do love this period of time, the late 1800s and early 1900’s of Kansas. I am not getting much writing done, but maybe I am planting some seed for future cowboy poetry!

I doubt if I get much writing done for the rest of the month because DH and I will travel to Kentucky to babysit our not yet two year old grandson (even though he looks like he is four!). It is a long drive and we fear so many days with a tot full of energy. But maybe we will be miraculously energized to keep up with this guy. Too far away to do much bonding before, maybe now we all will get to know each other well while his parents take a long business trip. Always said we would never talk about our children or grandchildren to others, but I fear there will be many tales to tell after this trip. Get ready, Mason, here comes Grandma!

Saturday Centus #16, My Summer Vacation


Do you remember how during the first week back at school the teacher would make you write an essay about what you did over your summer vacation? Your story must be written in first person AND must be exactly 100 words long. It can be fact or fiction.

For complete details:http://jennymatlock.blogspot.com/2010/08/saturday-centus-week-16.html

My Summer Vacation, 1964

Freshman summer was not much different for best friend Dory and me. Waking in humid Kansas air, we helped our moms freeze strawberries, can tomatoes, or make jam before tanning on blankets or straddling bikes. We bowled bikes down gravel roads, munched chocolate in the cemetery, pulled romantic novels from cool library shelves and stopped at the Rexall for nickel cokes. There we lowered kick stands, tugged our madras shorts out of cracks, smoothed pony tails, and sauntered through the smacking screen door, catching sight of sweaty guys in plaid shirts, sleeves ripped out revealing hay bale-built biceps…um, good summer!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Remembering Cowboys

Born near the ranch of Will Roger’s parents and in a time before Oklahoma was a state, my Grandpa was a wanna be cowboy. He stood like John Wayne, and the two men in their youths did resemble each other in looks. He saw to it that I had fringed vests, double holsters with toy six shooters, cow girl hats, and he wanted me to be rodeo princess and lead the parade someday. (I never did.)He and my Gran belonged to a Saddle Club, wore matching shirts, had matching saddle blankets with brown and sage pom poms, road in parades and lived in the home town of the 100 year old Inter-State Rodeo (Coffeyville, Kansas).

One of my mother’s biggest arguments with her dad was when I was in eighth grade. Grandpa wanted to buy me a pair of $100 cowboy boots for my birthday when I needed so many other things plus she wanted me to put the cowboy stuff aside. My heart still aches for those boots, and my body now aches for the good legs to wear them!

It was hard not to adore boots and hats and the squeak of a good leather saddle when the favorite TV shows then were The Virginian, Bonanza, and Wagon Train. Why, even one of the most popular after-shaves, called English Leather, smelled rugged and earthy like a pair of well used leather work gloves. Every night I went to bed dreaming of straddling a broad-backed horse and racing across the plains. In my dreams, the horse never hit a prairie dog hole, came upon a rattler, or even threw me on my behind.

When I learned western writer Dusty Richards had a new book out called Writing the West, I wondered why I never wanted to write a western, although I had read a few. Did I need another book on writing? No, but something about this book appealed to me. I ordered it, and I haven’t been sorry. It is both an entertaining and informative read whether you are wanting to write a western or not.

Richards’s tone is casual and easy, but he knows his stuff. He has published 65 or so books in 20 years and won the Golden Spur award, an award for western fiction that ranks up there with the Oscars for actors. While his writing tips are aimed at western writing, any writer will benefit from the lessons Richards teaches in this book. He tackles dialogue, writing scenes, plot, internalization, sense of place and other nuts and bolts of writing. Richards gives very specific examples that are easy to follow; he shows samples of poor writing and then turns around to show exactly how it can be improved. Strewn among the facts and lessons are tiny tidbits like when the tumbleweed came to Kansas, ethic background of the cowboys of the West, the demise of the redheaded green parrot, and why trees of the plains lean a certain direction.

Richards doesn’t leave the reader with only his own words for reference either. The second part of the book calls in experts like Jory Sherman, Jodi Thomas and others to toss out pointers for writing the romantic western, young adult western, and stories about the mountain men who broke open the West. By the time I had finished reading Writing the West, I began to think maybe I had better return to my yesteryears, gather up some tack, shoulder a saddle, don a pair of Wranglers or Levis and head out to the plains…figuratively speaking, of course! Is that Tumbling Tumbleweed I hear on my Sons of the Pioneers CD right now?

Readers can find this great book at amazon.com or order it from the publisher High Hill Press at www.highhillpress.com. I guarantee that neither readers nor writers will be disappointed in this impressive book by a skillful storyteller.

Another Dusty

A few years ago we visited the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson. DH thought it sounded hokey. While I never ask to do much in Branson, I really wanted to see this! It was worth every dime. Seeing those pictures and memorabilia, the jeep Nelly Belle, Dale’s favorite skirts all spiced up with ric rac, and things like Roy Rogers lunch boxes from my childhood was a trip down memory lane for sure. Then after seeing the museum, we went into a small theater to hear Dusty, Roy and Dale’s son, sing old favorite western songs. I cried when I heard Cool Water and Back in the Saddle Again.

I just recently learned this museum is no longer open, although I don’t know why. However Dusty Rogers and his son Dustin Roy Rogers have a new show in another theater in Branson. I hope they still sing Happy Trails—and I bet they do!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday Centus#15 Going Fishing

This is Saturday Centus # 15. The prompt must be used word for word somewhere in the story on not more than 100 words.The prompt is highlighted. For complete rules see:http://jennymatlock.blogspot.com.

Going Fishing

Our neighborhood took a jolt to residential complacency when Dilworth and Sarah moved in. Delightful people and thoughtful neighbors normally, once in a while Dilworth went on a harmless bender we all tolerated.

It was near dawn one morning when I heard Sarah’s voice and Dilworth’s slurring nonsense. I slipped out of bed and opened the front door to see Dilworth clad in his Mickey Mouse underwear and dumping Sarah’s prize goldfish into my bird bath.

“Idiot, come home,” niggled Sarah from her lawn.

“Not before this old gal gets some purty in this dang dinky pond,”

I listened to them from my perch on the top step and didn't know whether to laugh or to cry...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the 13th

Today has been quiet of sorts. The air is so hot that even the dark side of a superstitious day lays low!

When you are just beginning to leave the moutains, the rocky scenery stays the same, but somehow you know  you are beginning to go back to the flat lands. The jagged edges, some in snow, still surround you; the air is still thin, but you know you have begun the descent and are headed towards home. That is the way the last two mornigns have felt around 7 am. The air is too warm and the scorching day is on the way to burning you by noon. But you notice that the birds are not as thick. The wrens no longer trill; robins are reduced in number. Leaves fall off the trees because they are too hot and dry to wait for autumn hues. Young acorns plop on roof tops, roll down to the deck to bruise your summer barefoot feet. It is still hot and the sun still shines, but you know the angle of the light has tipped ever so slightly and autumn’s pointer finger has stretched trying to reach you.

I gave up yesterday and dusted my living room. I don’t think it has been touched since Memorial Day because we have been living in our outdoor living room, the deck. I put away the tulips, the forsythia, the other silk flwoers that were so appreciated in May. I dragged out some orange silk lilies, lots of sun flowers and a even a few pumpkins knowing that we are on that downhill spiral to a new season.

This week’s heat has finally driven us inside for more hours than we have been out. I think today is the hottest day yet even though the temperature has been hovering at a mere 101 or so. Still, I carried my tea out this morning about 7 trying to absorb some of the summer air. I watered, I dumped some pots of plants that can no longer face the heat and are crispy despite watering. I read some in Dusty Richeards new book…about writing the western. Later I ran a couple of errands and found even an air conditioned car stifling. Then I came home to hover at my desk where I made seven submissions this afternoon, all contests though—Missouri contests! The Sringfield Writers’ Guild is having a contest that is open for about six more weeks. There are lots of categories. Check it out here: http://swgsite.org/

Tomorrow there might be rain and what they are calling a cold front, which I think is a misnomer since the temps might get down to a slight 95! Already I am looking forward to Jenny’s Saturday Centus and the writing assignment. Nothing else worth discussing on the docket …but on with the weekend just the same!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tea Cup Tuesday #22 Tea Towels

Recently freinds have given me some darling towels with tea cups on them. The tea canister was a fun flea market find.

This was all I had this week until a friend dropped by this afternoon. It was so hot, but we decided to go grab a quick Sonic during Happy Hour. I know, it should have been tea, but she is NOT a tea drinker. This friend has already given up on summer and has decorated her mantle with autumn leaves. She thought it would feel cooler! Anyway, we drove by the local hardware, an old fashioned kind that also does a lot of dishes. There in the window was the most delightful array of late summer hues; it was enough to make us forget the horrid heat. We went inside and had to bring a few of the pieces home. While I am not ready to put away all of July/August things, I thought these great sunflower pieces would make a nice transition into fall. While I am not a much of a mug person, I thought these would make great cups of hot tea on the deck on October mornings...or maybe in evenings when the air has a slight snap of chill to it.

Marian Days, 2010

Our small town hosted about 60,000 people this last weekend, and most of them stayed in tents a few blocks from us. We did not go down this year, although during the three day event the temps did go down to mere 92. Still too hot for us to want to be elbow to elbow with others. The Vietnamese are quiet and respectful; their event celebrates their religious thanksgiving to Jesus and His Mother Mary for saving them and leading them to safety here.

                                          For more pictures and info go to:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Romance of Years Past

Today is the same old song and dance about the weather: it is HOT here. About 10 a.m. the heat drove us inside to clean out folders, papers, orphaned cords,  connectors, and books in DH’s office area. I was jumping for joy to see some of that paper trash moved out! We filled an old copper boiler and then some. While the room does not look greatly different, I know the trash is gone, drawers are straighter. I feel like something was done today besides sitting and moaning over the temperatures.       

This week a friend sent me a link to the Denver Post’s pictures from the Library of Congress. These are in color and from the years 1939 to 1943. I find them gorgeous captures of the spirit of people during the Depression. I know it was hard, hard time but there is a tad of romance about those years as well. I think I fit better in those years than I do in my own time now. This is a picture of a Kansas City assembly plant where the B25 was being put together during World War II.

These women are actually workers in a train yard, but they remind me of women like Rosie the Riveter who worked in plane plants of Kansas. How hard these women worked and what an important part of the war effort they were!

If you would like to see more photos from this time period go to: http://blogs.denverpost.com/captured/2010/07/26/captured-america-in-color-from-1939-1943/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+dp-blogs-captured

I think these pictures are worth our time to ponder…lovely capsules of days (not all cheery ones) gone by.

Some time ago I wrote a piece of fiction set in those days. It placed 9th in a Saturday Writer’s Contest. I believe I will reprint it here for those who would care to read.  

                                                              Riveting Times
Rita heard the chirping voices of women relaxing around her, but her concentration was on the nighttime Kansas sky. Finished with her mid-shift sandwich, she studied the constellations wondering if Peter were looking at the Big Dipper or Orion from some precarious perch in the Pacific. News had not been good from there, but then for national safely reasons, she did not know exactly where he was either.

She sipped on her Coke bottle and summoned up images of orange Indian Blanket and nodding sunflowers that would be blooming now on the prairie outside Wichita. She had not seen anything but the inside o Boeing for several weeks. Working the night shift, she had been steady at her job for six days a week. No complaints form her though once she had sighted the war poster reading “The More Women at Work, the Sooner We Win”. It was a powerful invitation for her to help end the war, to do her part to bring Peter and the others home. She might even be riveting a plane Peter would fly in over the islands.

“Quit your daydreaming, Rita. Your fuselage awaits!” taunted Edna, a riveter of bomb doors, as she gathered up her napkin and banana peel from the outdoor picnic bench. Rita shut her own wartime fiberboard lunch box, the metal ones long gone to the war effort.

The women, a small group dressed similarly in belted coveralls with kerchiefs knotted over their curls, meandered back into the hanger where B-29s were taking shape. Before Rita even got inside the door, Tommy a young runner from the head office weeded through the women getting to her.

“Rita Hegel, Mr. Bower wants to see you in his office,” he said waving her through the workers.

The hanger became eerily quiet as workers feared anyone’s bad news. All wondered if it were Pete. Was Rita the next wife to learn her GI wasn’t going to come home again?

“Come on ladies, let’s hustle,” Edna urged the hushed crew towards their own posts while climbing up stairs into a plane and grabbing her rivet gun.

Rita opened the door to Mr. Bower’s office. Her stomach had already turned over and landed loose side up like a fried egg. One look at the man’s face said it was not good news he meant to share.

“Rita, I have some bad news, but it is stateside news,” Ed Bower tried to relieve her some, knowing full well she expected to hear it was Pete. “Actually, it is your brother, Samuel. His training plane has crashed and his injuries are still undetermined. Unfortunately, the other pilot has died. Your folks are on the way to Coffeyville now, and someone will get news to you as soon as there is some.”

Rita thought of Samuel doing pilot training right here in Kansas. She hoped his plane hadn’t been a “Texan” built in Dallas where they now built trainers out of plywood since aluminum was scarce and used only for war bound planes. If he had to crash, it was better here in Kansas where there was no enemy, with better chances of survival. Maybe he was injured just enough to keep him safe so he could stay home now, never going on to war zones.

Then she caught her selfish thoughts and remembered her people had always been strong, surviving folk. Her grandparents had come to Kansas when it was a wild place, willing to live in a cave in a river bank, to break sod, to build a farm on their own land. The least her generation could do was defend the land without complaint.

Rita returned to the hanger with yelping rivet guns and occasional cobalt flickers from masked welders. She mounted the metal steps into the cigar-shaped fuselage and grabbed her own rivet gun, determined not to worry. Adele, her bucker, was ready with bucking bar in hand. Rita smiled at her and began shooting rivets as fast she could to make up for lost time. Adele held the bucker fast and tight while Rita’s skill hammered the rivets tight as a hot canning jar lid.

A vermilion sun was just breaking the horizon as Edna and Rita waited in an exit line to have their lunch boxes and purses checked. Boeing was careful not to let secrets or contraband out of its gates. Seeing the stunning dawn reminded Rita of early mornings on the family farm near the Solomon River. The sun drenched prairie stretched far and wide there, and she missed the quiet comfort of the land. But holding a man’s job with good pay in bustling Wichita was going to help Peter and her buy their own place near Hoxie someday. If, that is, Peter came home; but she would not allow herself to think with any doubt now. Worrying about an injured Samuel interrupted the reverie, and she longed to hear more news of him.

After a short bus ride, the two women walked a couple of blocks to the bungalow on Oliver Street they shared with Barbara Smalley from Liberal. Barbara worked days assembling landing gear at a small shop downtown. When they opened the front door, they spied a note Barbara had left propped on the table. She had scrawled news that Rita’s parents had called leaving a message for Rita. Samuel was going to be okay, but he would need a long recovery; they would call her later with details. Rita sighed deeply, letting worry, fear, and exhaustion slump into the air, but she was grateful for some good news. Now if Peter could just come home safely. Edna was reading her mind.

“Rita, it will all be okay,” she said in a muted voice, as if trying to reassure herself too. Then with a gutsy laugh, “Hey, girl, go wash up. This is good news about your brother. They might not be making any new waffle irons right now, but the old Sears model in the kitchen fires up great. I am making some celebration waffles and then we can sleep!”

Making an overly dramatic face and a false salute, Edna added, “Tomorrow we return to building the protectors of the world!”

Rita rubbed her sore hands and achy forearms still rippling from hours of rivet work while nodding in agreement with a slight grin. “With blueberries, maybe?”

A batch of waffles might not fix everything, but it was a good start for a new day.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday Centus #14 New Mexico Mountain Travel

This is Saturday Centus # 14 The prompt must be used word for word somewhere in the story on not more than 100 words.The prompt is highlighted. For complete rules see:http://jennymatlock.blogspot.com.
Even the calming cobalt of a cloudless sky couldn’t keep Sam’s heart from pounding like a heavy hammer on an anvil. He knew the black SUV was following him on he narrow road, and he had to reach Santa Fe fast. He was sure anxiety had caused him to make a wrong turn, putting him on the tortuous mountain back road. He was glancing at the small gray letters of “Objects in rear view mirror are closer than they appear"when the cattle guard of the sinister vehicle rammed his bumper pushing his van over the road’s rocky edge and tumbling him into a deep and jagged ravine.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tea Cup Tuesday #22 Angels

Last week, I looked around and found no new tea cups in my house so I gathered up some tea related things for posting for a couple of weeks. Then when we made the thrift shops later, I found these two darling cups with no saucers. Neither had been used; the chintz is labeled Roy Kirkham, Fine Bone China, Made in England. I was excited to find it, and I was elated to find that both cups were only 79 cents!!!!

I added my own saucer, but thought I might look on line for a mate to the cup. However, the pattern is called Garden Chintz and I found no matches for that name.

Today I want to show my tea cup angels. I don't have many angels, but a couple do definitely celebrate tea drinking.

Now true this old crone does not look like an angel, but I think she is. She definitely enjoys tea and her life. No worries except keeping the tea hot!

And this little tea pot must have a ghost because numerous shots in more than one room always yield a rather blurry picture. Tell me true, are there tea ghosts as well as tea angels?