Thursday, July 31, 2014

Friday Fictioneers/Night Witches

It is time to play in words again. Rochelle put up a picture and asked us what we saw. In a hundred words we are to tell a story based on the picture. Read the entire rules and more stories at:

                                                 Night Witches  *

From a sky black as a walnut shell, Nadia leaned out and saw her target resting still on the earth. She cut the purring engine back and began a glide with her hand on the bomb release. Her plane sliced through the air making swishing sounds like broom straws against wooden floors. She felt the biplane tilt, lighten, and then straighten as four large bombs fell away.

Nadia smiled and lifted again to head back. As she turned, her smile faded. Three planes with Swastikas were rising rapidly behind her. Her job wasn’t finished just yet.

*Night Witches was a name given to Russian women pilots in WWII. While American women were used to ferry equipment, mail, and for training purposes, Russian women pilots actually went to the front and were bombers!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Random Thoughts

The other night after being asleep about an hour, the phone rang. Immediate thoughts of injured or dying family came to mind. Do you know what kind of words I said when I learned it was a telemarketer? It was a computer controlled telemarketer for Seniors no less, and I could not even rant at a living being! Calling Seniors in the middle of the night to warm them of the dangers of falling? Get real.


This has been an odd summer in that we have had some cool days and long for rain too. There have been some excruciatingly hot days, but they have not gone on for weeks and weeks. You can often expect that in the Midwest in July! Now we are getting ready to jump into August…the back to school month. Our phone popped today from family and friends needing help in the coming weeks. I hope we can keep up energy in these old bodies, that things go well for all those we care about. 


I have my autumn writing contest submissions mailed off! Six entries and I hope something does well. I am waiting on a couple of submissions from magazines too. I have exchanged several emails with an editor over a nostalgia piece and sent several pictures. He wants to use but no date for publication given. I need to be forming new ideas but with a busy August looming I probably won’t even be able to THINK much let begin to write. Meanwhile, I hope to keep reading because reading good writers is one way I think I hone up my own writing—by studying their examples.

DH loves toting in the tomatoes right now. He is getting a few every day. Since we were paying $5 a pound for nice slicers, these are handy in the kitchen. Love tomatoes! Love corn too, but we can not eat much here at this house. One nice pan of roasting ears was pure Heaven last week. It seems that the summer eating has gone as fast as the summer days. Already people are beginning to think of fall crops, of fall produce. Only a month away from the hummingbird migration…and we notice that the birds are still here but in less numbers. We have not heard our wrens in a couple of days…wonder…?


Last week while it was so hot, I could enjoy early mornings on the deck, but by noon it was uncomfortable. That meant long reading times inside. Nothing wrong with reading! While I ran across a couple of books I just could not continue reading, I found two good reads. I no longer punish myself to finish a bad book. I was never a quitter, taught always to finish what I started, I now give myself permission to put down a bad book!

I read John Grisham’s The Innocent Man that he wrote in 2006, a work of non-fiction. He follows the investigation and trial of men after a murder, am extremely brutal and sadistic one, in Ada, Oklahoma.  The police and prosecutor made a mess of the situation and sent two innocent men to jail for twelve years. One was five days from being put to death before a stay arrived that saved him long enough to be found innocent. It is scary this book…how close any one of us are to being misunderstood, pushed aside, falsely accused, and denied a fair treatment.

The other good book was a piece of fiction but full of researched details. Wildwood Boys by James Carlos Blake is about Bloody Bill Anderson and William Quantrill. Blake makes the history of the Border Wars and Bleeding Kansas come alive, although I will admit it is a rather ugly read not for the faint of heart. While I knew of Order 11…of Burnt Mill…of the burning of Lawrence,Kansas, of the 90 plus Union soldiers massacred over at Baxter Springs, Kansas, Blake put the events in order and let me see them on a type of timeline through story.

I grew up in Kansas and to be honest, I did not really hear that much about the Missouri side of the story. I do remember hearing in grade school that the Jayhawks were “just an imaginary bird”. No one along the way explained to me the meaning of those red legs, those blue jacket feathers. Nor did I ever understand the meaning of a Rebel Yell! Frankly, Union and Rebels were neck in neck with the horrors they committed. Blake’s writing is good, the book a page turner, but be warned it is a gruesome tale!

And so, August is coming like it or not...I believe I'm  ready. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Friday Fictioneers/Revenge Is Sharp

I have not done any online fiction writing in a long while. I do love to participate in Friday Fictioneers, and I dropped in this morning to see what I have been missing. This is a 100 word piece of writing done in response to a picture. I had no intention of writing, but when I saw the picture, a whole scene popped into my mind just like that! While Rochelle herself saw a gentle scene, my own creative effort was tinged with some violence. I guess that is because I am reading Wildwood Boys about the ruffians along the Kansas-Missouri border during the Bleeding Kansas days. It is great writing, by the way.

Speaking of writing, Rochelle does great writing herself. Her book of short stories is a fantastic read. To check out her Friday Fictioneers go here:  My story is 96 words.

                                                           Revenge Is Sharp
Bell, short for Bellingham, was eating with his family at the Bamboo Garden. His parents listened to his sisters’s chatter. Bell was hearing only voices from lunch rattle in his head like marbles in a metal tin.

“Hey, Ding Dong, ya eatin’ that cake?” He watched as they poked straws full of sucked up milk into dessert on his lunch tray. The cake collapsed to mush, the boys laughed drawing attention from other tables. Bell wanted to fade away.

Bell fingered the unopened chopsticks and slipped them in his pocket thinking of tomorrow’s lunch at school. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Blue and White Tea

I think sometime this year, my Granny’s dining room set turns 70 years old. She waited long and hard for it; she bought it (I think) at Buckner’s in Coffeyville, Kansas. Shortly after she bought it, Gramps traded her lovely two story Cape Cod town house for a country acreage that was a first class disaster! But I digress; my point is how many beloved meals have been served around that table including ones in my own home for thirty five years or so.

Family and friends have dispersed for various reasons, and I find fewer and fewer big meals are served there. I used to have a big dinner for my friends at Christmas, but those too have faded in number in the last decade. I always had spring teas on the deck; I had fire pit suppers in the fall. But all things get harder to do…no, harder to make happen.

It is VERY hot here this week, but the mornings are pleasant enough if out early. Yesterday I enjoyed myself so much on deck feeling that some things were caught up in my life while waiting on others to transpire. While I enjoyed the morning tea pot and book, I knew the afternoon was going to be a furnace! I was a little sad that another spring had gone by while I missed hosting a spring tea.

So I made an executive decision to have a tea party. I ran to Sonic for ice, stopped at Walmart for cookies, threw out the tablecloths, and fired off an email invite. Forget the cucumber sandwiches and tiny mint candies. This tea was simple but neat. Loads of cookies left. People come for something besides the food. Nine managed to make it. Tall blue glasses, icy with cinnamon orange tea accompanied by gentle conversation and hearty laughter made our day before the heat ratcheted up. Like sponges dropped in water, the ladies unfolded from cares of the world.

I just love deck teas so much! So we had a summer tea this year….maybe an autumn tea could be in our futures! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Quilt Rack

My Gran used to say that idle hands were the Devil's workshop. I certainly have a hard time keeping DH's hands busy. If I don't help point him in the right direction, I pay by having a wall knocked down or some other crazy idea put in motion.

This week I started him on a quilt rack I really don't need and only mildly wanted. But I found a picture and then altered it to a rather peculiar size. It is smaller than most quilt racks, but I did not want to give up a lot of space in my room with the twin bed.

I have quilts that are not on racks, but today I played with putting my vintage tablecloths on the rack. I would love to have this in my kitchen, but alas, there is no room. Yes, I know, most people do not hang tablecloths in a bedroom, but I am not most people!  I might not leave this, but for today while I was digging in my linen cupboard, taking these cloths out sure freed up a nice chunk of room. I will see. Every day is a new day here.

DH? Oh, he is out in the shop right now making another one, a bigger one, for my sister!

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Loss for the Class of '67

He was never my date because he was wee bit on the wild side for me. He wasn’t much of a student either although his life was to prove him very smart in building a business and being successful. He had no time in high school to spend on books much less the desire. His free time was spent helping his step-father eke out a meager living from the Kansas earth. By the time we were seniors, he was sipping cherry vodka from a cherry cough syrup bottle (at school no less!), and his record of speeding, fender benders and DWIs began to mount.

He got married, had a few kids, left them all…It was Vietnam years, off to war and then home again with more drinking, drugs, car wrecks, broken back, jail time, and then a religious experience he found in the Bible. He came home to the Midwest and began to rebuild some bridges of his life. He started his own millwright business and became very successful. He indulged himself with four-wheelers, cars, clothes and women. But he also began to give to others, to bail others out of their own messes. He loved kids and had patience with them, more than he had with his own children years before. He reestablished relationships with those grown children too.

Anyone who met him thought him an unusual man. Odd he was called. He definitely heard a differently drummer. Our son helped him on an odd job or two when he was about twelve. We thought it would be a few hours one day and it turned into twelve. They had driven miles between jobs on construction sites, eaten loads of hamburgers, and apparently driven WAY too fast coming home. My mother’s instinct took over and it was a last time.

One day he showed up at our house with an older style Rolls Royce convertible. Oh, it gleamed with black paint shiny as a starry night sky. He took me for a ride racing around the country side. It felt wonderful and free, hair blowing in my face and wind whistling past my ears. He loved seeing me enjoy the ride and for just a bit we were both carefree young teens not burdened, responsible adults.

He died this week from breast cancer. He probably waited too long before checking it out as was his way. The time he reached under a deck and was bitten by a copperhead, he did not see a doctor for nearly a week. His arms swelled like a balloon and pain, well he did pain well. Finally when others feared he would lose his arm, he was convinced to get help. He was dauntless and reckless and fun-loving.

This was our fifth loss since Christmas. Only one at age 98 could be said she might have been ready to go. The others all died with the murmur of “to young to go now”. The minister kept repeating my friend was a man of a big heart, of a good heart. So he was. Goodbye pal, and I do hope there are fast cars, curvy roads, and wind for your face in Heaven.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Writing Sunday

This week we will see the middle of July. How can that be? My life has been loaded, bloated, and exploded for months, but these last few days I have been working like crazy with every spare minute I can find. I am determined to enter the Ozark Writers’ League contest due by September 1. Yes, I do think September is going to be on us in just a jiffy.

So I let the dust gather….wipe up only the big things like bathrooms….refuse to see cobwebs….nearly trip over shed dog hair (so much it looks like a small dog is hiding in the corners!)…and avoid going to Walmart at all costs. I fail my friends for chatter and shopping.  I deal with only the big things in the family. Emails are skimmed and put on a waiting list.

The OWL contests are full of various categories. I want to enter several.  I have three pieces of fiction and thought one was ready to go. I wrote…edited…edited again….edited a third time. Then today before printing the final copies I sat down for another read. Oh golly, I found mistakes scattered about like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs! How could this be? I fixed one more time and got another surprise. Somehow I was 150 words over the word limit! AUGHHHH as my friend Charlie Brown would say. So back to the drawing board. I think I am ready to say this story is done now.

Writing the story is just the beginning. Proofreading and editing are just as much work! Then, if you are submitting to a publication or entering a contest, you have to follow the rules which are different everywhere. A cover sheet…no, name on copy….page numbers on left side of page…no, on right side of page….paper clip…absolutely no paper clip. Email only, never email but use snail mail, or maybe you have to use a submissions manager. Send as document…no, send no attachments! Whew, it is hard to keep every detail in mind and do it right.

Then I think about the author of Stone Fox ( a YA novel) who could not spell a thing right. He wrote in longhand…and the publisher fixed it all for him. And how about Thomas Wolfe, wasn’t he the man who wrote in long hand while standing over a refrigerator?  Computers help but writing is still work…but great work when you can get it!

So how do you handle edits? How many times do you read a piece before thinking nothing has escaped your eye?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Guest Essay Over at The Muffin

It's Friday and the forecast is for HOT! It is July so I guess we can expect that days could be unbearably warm. I have stacks of books to read and pages of stories to write so I hope to use the hot day wisely.

Today I have a guest post on the Wow! Women on Writing website about drinking and writing. I invite you to visit and leave a comment.

A speical thanks to Sioux over at Sioux's Page for inspiring me to write this page. Visit her at

Stay cool and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chairs for Chemo

                                                     Chairs waiting for some rehab!

My Tai Chi and Tea exercise group meets in the bottom of the Grace Episcopal Church. Most of the gals are members of the church, but a few are not including me. There were some old chairs falling down, and I asked Father Steve what plans were for the chairs. “Burn them, I guess,“ he said.
                                        A few children's chairs were donated to the cause!

But I came up with another idea and convinced DH to haul those old wooden chairs home and make them solid. Then I suggested to Father Steve that he have local artists paint the chairs, hold an auction, and give the proceeds to a charity. Father loved the idea. Since I am not member of the church,  I wanted to stay in the background without leading or organizing.


Today the artists were invited in to pick up their chairs. There was a tea party for them and for the organizers of the program. Chairs will be painted, press releases will be written, a float with chairs will be entered in the October Maple Leaf parade, and the chairs will be auctioned in November. The proceeds will go to help buy equipment for the hospital’s new chemo room that will enable people to take treatments here in town rather than driving to Joplin.

My part today was making cinnamon orange tea by the many pots full while there were savories and sweets served. It was a pleasant beginning for a great program. I am going to be happy to watch from the sidelines and hope to see many great chairs develop in the next few months!

There were even some chair cookies.