Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ah, James Bond in Chaps???

The promised rain never showed up today, and my flowers are giving up the fight even with my daily watering. The long dry and extreme heat conditions are wearing people down as well. It is hard to remember when it has been so hot for so long!

This morning we left early for DH’s lab work, dreading the heat later in the day. Once we got the blood drawn in Springfield, we picked up some things we can’t buy here at home. Then we went to a movie at 10:30 in the morning! There isn’t much to choose from in the movie offerings these days by our standards. We like drama or historical settings. My pick today was Cowboys and Aliens; DH was shocked.

Okay, so it is far-fetched, and sci-fi has never been favored at this house. But hot summer days make for seeing a wild movie. I remember taking the kids to see Raiders of the Lost Ark and Zorro and Star Wars during summer days, just right for escaping the July sun especially when popcorn and soda pop were involved! So I told DH to put on his “willing suspension of disbelief” and go with the fun.

And fun it was. Daniel Craig, aka James Bond, was a perfect cowboy. He was lean and wiry like he’d just loped in off the range. Harrison Ford was his crusty old self. The scenery was awe-inspiring since it was filmed in New Mexico, some of it near Abiqui. Panoramic shots of thundering horses made my heart pound like westerns of the old days. Why, there was even a good dog!

But the story takes a turn when the foe is lizardy aliens and aircraft from outer space. Someone had a vivid imagination. DH had a hard time going with this, but by the time the aliens showed up I could already smell the leather cowboy’s chaps, taste the whiskey at the bar, and feel the dirt and grit from the New Mexico landscape. I was into the story! Besides it was summer, and this movie was just right for escaping the strangling heat that produces numbing boredom.

When I stepped out the theater doors, a slap of 103 heat and humidity brought me back to reality but could not dampen my mood. We went to Barnes and Nobles, to linger among the books. A second high was walking leisurely through the stacks of crisp new volumes, holding new worlds. I was so exhilarated from my movie that I was not bothered by the Nook displays, the threat of the new world  reading on a tool. I just filled up a sack with old fashioned reading printed on pages!

Then it was a late lunch at Zio’s, great Italian food washed down by gallons of the best iced tea. Then reading a good book while DH drove the highway home made a great ending to a good summer’s day. I wondered if I would see cowboys in my dreams—or scaly aliens.

Saturday Centus, Hot Tears

Today is Centus Day again, and Jenny has tossed out a "hot" one today. We have had triple digits here for days and days in a row. The heat is taking a toll on people's nerves, not to mention on their electric bills! July has had no fun as it was too hot to be out under a heat warning. So...we are being robbed of summer by the very sun we waited all winter for!

Today Jenny gave us a 100 words and only a picture prompt to write our scenes or stories. Below is my effort. Go to Jenny's blog for full rules to play.


                                         Hot Tears

Sarah shoved her groceries in the car and stole a look at the bank. The thermometer said 104 while sweat careened down her neck, through her crated breasts, under her waistband and headed for the back of her knees. She knew the car couldn’t get cool before she reached home, but it wasn’t getting any cooler dreading the trip.

Pulling into her driveway, she noted the lawn was crispy straw. The triple digit temps were taking a toll on everything, including her. Then, she dropped her grocery sack. As an egg firmed on the searing pavement, she began to cry.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Boots and a Book

Thunder and lightening last night but no rain. Early morning was overcast and cooler. Amazing weather. It was like finally having a flashlight turned off after someone shining it directly in your eyes for an extended time. You can’t focus on that fact you can see again…or in this case, not still be burning to a crisp. However, the air is heating up once more, and now it feels like a steamy sauna outside.

First of all today I want to welcome Lou Turner as a new follower. Visit Lou at where she writes about cowboys, Indians, and old fashioned westerns! It seems to me the westerns are coming back some. Let’s see where this goes in movies and publishing! I grew up in those good old days of westerns playing all over the television and at the theaters. It was also years that my grandparents belonged to a riding club, attending shodeos, rodeos, and riding in parades.

The group wore matching shirts and pants, and they all rode horses with saddle blankets showing lime and brown pom poms. Every Saturday night, we all ended the week with a new episode of Gunsmoke. Ah, the days of Mister Dillon and Miss Kitty!

Twyla, my cowgirl Granny!

As a kid I wore fringed jackets and pants, topped with felt cowboy hats tied under my chin. I had guns and holsters just as I had dolls. I tied a rope onto my bike for a “horse” mount. I wore cowboy boots, often with my dresses. Now this was before it was country cool for gals to do so. Only Dale Evans and I wore boots with skirts!

When I “graduated” from eighth grade, my grandfather wanted to buy me something special. He never went further than the 8th grade himself so this was a special occasion to him. He wanted to buy me a pair of boots that cost $100. My mother threw a fit, and a small family riff rocked things for a while. I wanted those boots, but mom said it was too much money when I needed so many other things. Besides it was a waste of money since I should be dressing like a young lady. To this day, I can not remember any gift I received then, only the one I did not.

I am reading the September selection for my book club, Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne. It is a cowboy and Indian story with the emphasis on the Indians since it is the story of Quanah Parker, born of a white mother and a Comanche father. Cynthia Parker was captured when she was nine years old in Texas during a Comanche raid. She later married one of the tribe and produced three children; her oldest son Quanah became the last chief of the Comanches.

The book is more than their story though. It is a tale of how Texas was settled, how the Texas Rangers were formed, the invention of the Colt pistol, how fighting strategies changed in the West, and how the fierce Comanches lost their power hold on the southern prairies. The book is fascinating reading, but it is violent and gruesome, just as Manifest Destiny was for many folks.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Blurb Friday/Summer of Angels

It is Book Blurb Friday at Lisa's Writing in the Buff (
It is so hot here that everything is dying except the Japanese Beetles! The week has been a trial with heat added to issues. Had I not written my blurb last weekend, I would never have made it today. ( See previous post!)

Finally, I am on top of enough things around here to participate again. Lisa provides a picture and writers produce a book blurb cover at 150 words or less. For complete rules visit her blog. This weeks picture reminds me of The Midnight Garden of Good and Evil, but my story is vastly different.

Summer of Angels
After the fatal car crash, Sarah visited her best friend almost every day. She pedaled her Schwinn to the park-like Oak Hill Cemetery where Melody listened to Sarah spill buckets of adolescent angst and never criticized or censured. Their visits were never interrupted with more than red bird chatter in the cedars.

Then one sunny morning as Sally sat in the thick grass near Melody's headstone, she heard choking sobs drift up from the Nelson mausoleum. There Sally witnessed a young man’s shoulders shaking, his head in his hands. Should she step away quietly or offer comfort? Who was he anyway? No Nelson had lived in town for years.

With Melody’s silent support and encouragement, Sally plays Nancy Drew seeking answers. It turns out to be an astonishing summer full of revelations and bombshell surprises.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Not An Earthquake, but....

It has been one trying July! This heat is a pain. We are missing our summer days of mowing, biking, being outside in manageable heat. Instead we fight killer heat, are cooped up inside like winter, and feel edgy.

So late yesterday afternoon when the house began to shake and the ceiling roared, I thought it was an earthquake. We both came running from ends of the house to see our outdoor living room smashed to smithereens! Luckily we were not sitting out there as usual. For once, killer heat worked in our favor. It was just too much for me though. I was wiped out and done in for today too.

Bless the friend who came with a chain saw and helped, even carrying away a large portion of the limbs and branches to his country burn pile. We still have quite a mess, but gradually is looking better. I replaced the umbrella today which is more necessary now that the shade is gone. I have dumped broken pots, tossed flowers or reported some saved plants. The hole in the roof is repaired. Tomorrow morning DH says he will replace the deck rail and hand rail that were destroyed. Steps made is as did deck floor and deck furniture.

What will tomorrow bring I wonder?  Frankly, I am tired of surprises!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Means Tomatoes

There are so many good and even colorful foods in spring and summer. Squash, zucchini, corn, peppers, peas, beans, cucumbers, and more, but it is the tomato that is the King of the Garden in my book. I live on them during the hot months. One summer as a child, I broke out in a red rash. The doctor said it was too many fresh tomatoes!
The heat added to drought-like conditions will surely hurt the garden tomatoes around here, but right now you can buy them in abundant amounts at the farmer's markets. Yesterday I bought my morning supply and then took a friend back to the market about 2:00 in the afternoon. She got her tomatoes, but the vendor was closing up shop early because the heat was melting folks right into the pavement. I asked the vendor if the tomatoes would keep until the next market day as there were so many left. Some would she said. "But the seconds will go to the cows and they love them."

What! The cows were going to get those tomatoes? So she made me a deal on a #20 lb. box of canners. I haven't canned tomatoes in years; in fact, I sold my pressure canner long ago. But I took those 'maters home and made fresh tomato juice. Some of the five quarts landed in the freezer for a cold winter's day when a bright red glass reminding us of July heat is needed.

A couple of weeks ago, I made about the same five quarts of salsa. No one ever made salsa like my dad. He constantly dabbled with the recipe, some batches being hot enough to scald the hair off a dog's tail. He got a bang out of my boys soaking it up on chips and downing it no matter what. He laughed when his kids came home and his salsa stash vanished. "Hide the salsa, here come the kids!" But he loved seeing us consume a batch of his salsa before Thanksgiving turkey and Easter ham. 

I like salsa, but no store bought salsa is ever as satisfying as Dad's recipe. Thinking of salsa makes me miss him more. My sister sent the recipe which I halved to see if I could even get close to his taste with tomatoes. Oh, mine wasn't as good but it was close--close enough that almost all five quarts have disappeared here. The next batch will definitely be made full recipe! 

So you can have your pink watermelon and orange cantaloupe, although I like them too. But it is that rich red tomato that I choose before other bites. Nothing like a round tomato, "smelling green" like the itchy vine it grows on. Smooth off summer's dust and bite into it like an autumn apple. The warm skin breaks, and  juice oozes out to run down my chin like liquid summer. Only a dash of salt could make it any better!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Centus/Cougar Time

How did it get to be Saturday again so fast? Well, in this stifling heat I guess time flies! We are looking at 100 plus all next week so guess I will get used  used to staying inside.

Since Storm Country submissions ended last night, I might see air soon. Still lots to read but at least I am not reading 10 a day while 15 more a day pile up in the account.

I stole a few minutes to check in on Centus today. Jenny says she is cranky this week, made it hard. Actually, only using 25 words made me think I could spare the time to do it. Thanks, Jenny, for a brief one. The prompt today is I'm not getting any younger. My brief tale is below.

                                                    Cougar Time

“I’m no cougar!” she admonished herself as the young roofer descended the ladder.

His boot touched grass and a smile beamed her way.
She grinned. “I’m not getting any younger either!”

Monday, July 11, 2011

What Was I Thinking?

As long as mixed grills and combination salads are popular, anthologies will undoubtedly continue in favor. - Elizabeth Janeway

The next time you hear me make rumbling sounds about “doing a book”, will someone kindly remind me I am nuts! I don’t think I have had such a brain drain since I was in college…well, maybe it was since MAP testing entered the public schools! But reading and planning for Storm Country has been such a job! However, I keep telling myself it will be worth it in the end every time a child picks up a good book in the school libraries of Joplin.

credit to John Hacker
Submissions are heavy. Everyone seems to want to help by donating their writing work. The publisher is donating time, other publications are donating ad space and promotions, and a photographer is donating one of his lightning strike photos for a cover to the book. Take a look at John Hacker’s work. Isn’t this a beauty full of the splendor and magnificent power of weather?

I have learned so much from this anthology project already, and I have come to really feel what editors go through. I am seeing this whole writing experience from the other side and have new appreciation for the work contest editors, anthology editors, and publishers like Lou Turner go through on a daily basis.

A few things I learned for next time (did I really say “next time”???) are:
Maybe only online submissions should be accepted since snail mail eventually has to be put into a doc. form anyway.

Always have the title of the story put in the subject line of an email. (Ah, do you know hard it is to go back to a story when over 200 emails that say Joplin Writers’ Anthology submission in the subject line?)

Be sure to hold to the guidelines. Refuse to read size 8 print with a magnifier.

Don’t feel guilty about rejecting a love poem when the guidelines clearly specified the topic to be entered…and it was NOT love poetry…or when the word limit is 1500 and a submission is Chapter One of someone’s novel at 6500 words.

Always ask for pages to be numbered.

The bio at the bottom of the submission is handier than on a separate document if possible.

Despite the work involved, the Storm Country project is so worthwhile. There will be no profits taken by the writing guilds involved. It all goes to the Tornado Relief of Joplin schools. Friday the submissions will close, and I admit I will be glad to stop reading stories about devastation and loss that the weather stories hold. However, I feel good knowing that so many writers are willing to give their work away so others may benefit. While not every submission can or will be used, all writers’ efforts are deeply appreciated.

My aim is to put down what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way I can tell it. - Ernest Hemingway

We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.- Somerset Maugham

Blogger Issues

Is anyone else missing their Followers? Mine disappeared over the weekend and I can not seem to bring them back. GRRRRR!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A July Outing

The last few weeks here have been constant work and issues of some kind. Now the heat ratchets up another notch complicated by the drought-like conditions with no rain. Watering seems useless as the grass and flowers still hunger for Mother Nature’s rain. We noticed today that the roadsides and fields are shades of yellow, yellow-green,and sienna, much like highways through the Oklahoma panhandle. A new picture of our grandbabies shows lawns in the Kentucky background in shades of lush green; it made us realize just how dry and brittle our fields and lawns are here.

Since the weatherman promised that the weekend weather would be worse, even using the meteorological term SHORCHER, we decided to do get out early in the mornings to experience the outside in gentler air. So yesterday morning our friends the Andersons and we went to Carver Days at the George Washington Carver National Park. This is a beautiful place located in a bucolic setting with the terrain still much like it was when George W. Carver roamed the streams and fields as a boy. We got to the park just as the festivities began. Notes of Bluegrass and Blues from the strings of Ozark musicians floated across the grounds. Under the big oaks and maples, it was cooler and still pleasant to walk around at the different stations offering education about Missouri history, crafts, and old time skills.

At a table with history of Missouri arrowheads, the man showed us an Atl Atl and how it worked. This was a throwing weapon used for hunting. It was used for over 10,000 years he said. At the tables with Missouri wildflowers, we saw wonderful native plants that would thrive in a natural garden. I loved the chicory.

A couple of ladies from Galena, Kansas showed Julie and me how to make the most beautiful stationery by stamping the petals of leaves and flowers on to card stock. You had to see this simple but natural process to appreciate the beauty of the finished product!
 Then we all went inside to hear this year’s storyteller who was Carole Shelton from St. Louis. I didn’t think anyone could match last year’s Bobby Norfolk, but guess what?

Carole did! The energy and creativeness she used in telling simple Br’er Rabbit stories and Aesop’s fables were amazing. She engaged the audience and had everyone participating.

If hearing Carole wasn’t enough of a treat, you had to feel good after listening to the children in the audience giggling loudly.

We were home shortly after noon for a sandwich under the air conditioning, but we felt refreshed mentally from our outing!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Fourth of July Saturday Centus!!!

The weather is under discussion again. Now it is so hot as to be dangerous. Heat index reaching 105 and 106 makes being outside miserable! Why, it might as well be winter; we are pushed inside to books, movies and looking out the windows while the electric meter races.

Speaking of weather, there are only 12 more days for submitting to the Storm Country anthology to benefit Joplin. (See for details.) We are running short of fiction dealing with Midwestern weather issues. Anyone thought of writing a story about HEAT?

Today Jenny tosses out a prompt with words from our national anthem. Just right for the Fourth of July weekend since we are thinking patriotism and flags right now. Her prompt is Oh, say can you see. My offering is below and well, you won't be surprised to see me influenced by the Joplin is still very much with us here in southwestern Missouri. For full writing details, please visit Jenny at:

Happy Fourth of July to everyone!

                                                       Let It Wave!
Dennison stood in a daze after the killer tornado. As far as his eye could see, trees were stripped, houses gone; new vistas shimmered in drizzling rain. Parents stood on crushed debris clasping their children in a vise-like grip. Neighbor hugged neighbor in relief, celebrating being alive. Somewhere a tiny voice drifted over eerie silence.

In front of a flagpole that amazingly still stood erect as a ship’s mast, stood a petite child in ragged dress. She stared up at the unfurled flag singing “Oh say can you see…” Dennison stepped up beside her, his tears streaming, and joined with “and the home of the brave.”