Saturday, July 31, 2010

Waving My Own Flag

This bunny is waving my own flag because I found myself printed online. I guess I slept through last Friday's issue of The Muffin on the WOW site. On the Friday Speak Out, a version of my essay about writing being hazardous to your health was there. If you missed it on my blog, you could read it here:

Last week, the local plant expert announced on a broadcast that the Japanese beetles were about done for this year. I know my friends and neighbors had fought them in June and early July. I guess the little buggers heard the plant expert speak and decided to show him because I had Japanese beetles on my plants this morning eating many green leaves for their breakfast! DH got busy with some spray, and we will have to check the results later. It meant no sitting on the deck this morning, but that was okay in this heat.

So since I was stuck inside and had the AC to help keep me cool, I baked. I made a fresh blueberry walnut (with freshly squeezed orange) bread. Then I made a new pudding that is featured in the latest issue of Country. It is called Cherries on the Snow and is a rice pudding made with dried cherries and whipped cream with a tad of rum. Add these items to sliced tomatoes, cantaloupe, and fresh zucchini stir fried and supper is settled for later.

Now I think I will go read more Saturday Centus pieces and maybe a novel. I see a Netflix and some knitting ahead in the evening hours!

Centus #13/Biking

This is Saturday Centus # 13 The prompt must be used word for word somewhere in the story.The prompt is highlighted. For complete rules see:

“Don’t worry, I will have your bike fixed by Friday,” said Jeb when he saw her tears.

Molly never meant to get old; she thought she could fight it. She accepted the butt spread, covered the gray, ignored the crow’s feet, but it was the insidious things like stiffening in her knees, the tighter turn of her neck that was becoming the bane of her life. Age had crept in on her like tide water on sand, easing away tiny grains of joy daily. Bike riding was her last freedom, that’s why it meant so much, and she did not want to give it up.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Random Friday Thoughts

Another week is fading, and tomorrow ends this month of July. I wish it would take the heat along when it leaves, but the August forecast if for more of the same. Yesterday DH and I went to Lowe’s for a replacement part for our doorbell. Walking across the fresh black top was breath-taking in a bad way. We remarked that somewhere men were pouring  asphalt, roofing houses, spreading cement, etc. in this burning heat wave; we were grateful for being spared those jobs. Today the Vietnamese are beginning to come in for next week’s celebration. They are setting up their camping tents on the OLO grounds, closer than eggs in a carton, and already the people look wilted.

I am also grateful that this is a year for a bumper crop of tomatoes. Is there anything more down home than a window with tomatoes lined up ready for munching? I get most of my tomatoes from the farmer’s market, but we do have a few lame plants in the yard. Our tomatoes are smaller and slower, planted in a poor soil. Cantaloupes have been wonderful this year too. A truck sits south of town every day with a load of melons with dark orange pulpy insides and the sweetest taste. We have not had one less than perfect all summer long.

It has been a mixed bag this week, some downs and some ups, but mostly a quiet combo of moods for the summer days. Last night my friend Agatha sent her daughter to deliver a gift to me. When they broke up her home and divided things among the children so she could go to assisted living, Agatha set aside her mother’s vinegar cruet for me. She wanted me to have something of the family to commemorate all the years we lived next door, those years of both shared joys and woes. Agatha said she does not remember where her mother got the cruet, only that she always remembered it being in her mother’s home. Her mother used it sparingly as she never wanted anything to happen to it. So if it was close to her mama’s heart and close to Agatha’s heart, it will be close to mine too. It is a beautiful piece and I am honored to give it a new home.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some HodgePodge

Ask me about the weather and one word will cover it: HOT! Forecast is for continued heat and even more intense heat by the first week in August. Well, that is a lot to look forward to after a steady steam of July hot days. I feel summer speeding by and that makes me sad. Today’s mailbox had magazines with pumpkin recipes and autumn decorating tips. I am just not ready for that yet!

Yesterday while it was actually four degrees cooler than it had been, I convinced DH to take a ride with me. I thought we had been on the property long enough and had read enough, that we needed a break. I suggested making the rounds of the thrift stores. He thought I was crazy because I wasn’t hunting anything specific. I told him I would know what I was hunting when I saw it in a store! So we took off, and he tolerated my sniffing out prizes for pennies. I spent $11 which including $3 for a book for him; I brought home seven other items for that price. Can’t do that at Wal-mart! These two white items were some of the finds, as well as this brand new Tetley tea pot for $1. (EBay has them for $10) It is not that I needed the tea pot for sure, but hey, a dollar for a new tea pot!

Early this morning I forced myself to ride my bike four miles, and yes, I felt better for it. Then DH and I settled on the deck for some reading in morning air. I took a stack of memos out to sort through first and never did get to my book. Two things popped up as writing opportunities I had set aside for myself. One was a magazine titled Still Crazy, and I felt the name definitely had me in mind. It is for people over 50 and the reading period ends on Nov 15. For more info go to

The second is a literary journal titled Natural Bridge and its reading period ends August 31. I need to get in gear if I am going to follow through on this one. I have never seen an issue, but it has a mailing address of St. Louis. I am wondering if my St. Louis pals have any experience with this one. For info go to

After lunch, I gathered up magazines to take to my friend, Agatha, who just recently went into assisted living. It was a hard thing to do, but at 94 she has done well without help for many years. She is independent, but she is kind, charitable, and thoughtful of her kids by taking the worry about her well being off their shoulders. Agatha has always read, and she wrote her own stories in family letters back when people stayed in touch through handwritten mail. Her new place is darling with all her own furniture including a huge floor clock that her husband gave her one year for their anniversary. Visiting her there was like seeing her in her own home. She gets three great meals a day and companionship. If I could afford it, I would rent a room across the hall for taking mini-vacations!

It was a crazy busy when I got home, but when I took time to check the email, I found a note from High Hill Press. I had sent two stories to their Write Us a Story contest and they are going to print both soon on their web site. What fun to hear! You can visit High Hill at

This day is about finished…I need to make a list for tomorrow, set up the tea pot, lay out bike clothes, and make sure there are many trays of ice in the freezer waiting for yet another hot day.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tea cup Tuesday #21

A few weeks ago I left a tea cup at the flea market, and when my sister and niece visited last week we visited the same flea market. The lone cup was still shoved to the back of a shelf waiting for me to return. The tag admitted that is was an unmarked piece and that it was a set of mismatched pieces, but the price was only $2. So I brought it home figuring that is only pennies more than a one big Sonic drink!

I also remembered a rooster tea pot I had tucked up on top of the hutch. I am not much for novelty tea pots since I want to brew in all my pots, but I was into roosters at the time and thought this fellow needed a home. I have not thought of him for a while until I saw someone post about chicken dishes and d├ęcor. He wasn’t far away sitting on top of the hutch, but do you ever walk by something everyday and not truly notice it?

Studying The Irish Wilderness

The deep of summer is proving to be great reading time just like the heart of winter is in January. However, even with reading for a few hours daily, I can’t get through all the stacks of great reads waiting for me. Wins from Donna’s blog ( contributed to my stack. I just finished a mystery, Without Mercy by Lisa Jackson, that I won there a couple of months ago. Mysteries are not my usual reading material only because too many other things come first. But I enjoyed reading this one, a nice change of pace with a snowy setting in the Pacific Northwest. I have also been working through a story a day in The 2005 Cuivre Anthology that I also won from Donna’s site. Fantastic little stories here…and so many great Missouri writers are among the writers showcased in the pages.

Always looking for the unusual and wanting to support local writers, I ordered Mystery of the Irish Wilderness by Leland and Crystal Payton. We have passed the Irish Wilderness turn off a few times on our way to Cape Girardeau, and DH has done a two day fishing trip years ago on the Eleven Point River that he would love to repeat. I had heard that Irish folks disappeared from that area in the 1860s, and the whole area seemed sinister to me when I passed by; I never felt the urge to venture down the road at the turn off. So I was glad to finally get a book that might unravel mysteries of this region.

In the mid 1800’s, Father John Joseph Hogan helped the poor Irish immigrants find a place to land in Missouri. They were escaping Ireland’s famine, but the people were unable to find work here. Father Hogan thought if they had farm ground, they could provide for themselves from the earth. Land in the northern parts of Missouri were too expensive so Father Hogan found land in the heavily wood areas of southern Missouri near the Current and Eleven Point rivers. The settlers had not been there long before the Civil War erupted. Anti-Catholic feelings, bushwhackers, and armies on the move caused most of the Irish settlers to disappear from the area. The myths and mysteries as to what happened to the Irish people and where they disappeared to created many questions about the Irish Wilderness.

While the Payton book does not answer all the questions about the Irish Wilderness, it is a good overview of the times when Missouri was being settled and when the state was an arena of war battles. The book does have many details about Father Hogan and how he helped the Irish come to colonize the area. There are also many good pictures of beautiful Ozark land, and later chapters detail how the Irish Wilderness was set aside for preservation, a 16,500 acre tract in the Mark Twain National Forrest.

Leland and Crystal Payton are from Springfield, Missouri and are owners of Lens and Pens Press, publishers of materials about the Ozarks and the Midwest regions. Readers can visit them at

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Does Writing Wreck Your Sleep?

 Some days just don’t work out and some nights don’t either.

This week I had one night I just could not sleep. I was in the bed three times, in the chair three times, drank milk, ate a spoon full of peanut butter, used a heat pad for restless legs, and finally about 3:30 am got to doze a little. But I was awake again by 6:30 so I gave up and went outside to reload the deck of pots, flowers, chairs, and bird baths. We had unloaded all of the same the day before and put a coat of sealer on the wood deck. At 100 degrees, it was certainly hot enough to dry well and fast!

I was not in pain that night, just wide awake and why? Well it could be caffeine which does cause old folks some issues. But I have given up a lot of caffeine in various forms, at least after 2:00 in the afternoon. One bothersome thing that night was some writing issues kept racing through my head. I had several contests I wanted to enter, but I could not settle on a topic for any of them. If I have an idea where I am going to go with a piece of writing I do better; when my mind is flipping through topics and ideas, I can’t stop them from bouncing around so I can sleep. My mind tosses around ideas one after another like a series of movie previews in the theater. One idea after another pops around, nothing solid, nothing finished, just scenes one right after another.

The next night I slept better because I got some lines down on paper during the day, but then this weekend has been one problem after another. Nothing tragic, just a wrong step here and there. This afternoon I decided to join friends at Sonic. For years, The Fearsome Four of us have gone every Sunday for a Sonic drink about 3 in the afternoon. Since the day was already a maze of wrong maneuvers…muffins to be made but flaxseed missing, a cake that did not cook correctly and leaving globs of chocolate under the cooling rack, Adobo spice that was too hot in the meat, a cell phone that would not work right, a printer that would not print, etc… Since sleep doesn’t come easily anyway and the day was a jumble, what was a little caffeine added to the mess?

Well, after sharing our woes and worries my friend’s car would not start. A clunk sound was the only response coming from under the hood. Great. Add that to the day. One man was on the creek, another was miles out at the farm, and another was doing who knows what. Cell phones jangled and soon all three men drove up at the same time. It took them all to ponder the situation. One had jumpers, one had necessary metric tool, one had sound advice. The car started long enough to get home where my friends will consider a new battery.

This weekend is winding down now and tomorrow is a new day. I need to fix a nice supper, plan for tomorrow’s list, pay a few bills, and try not to think of writing. However, there still is that contest…darn, what can I write for it? Well Scarlett dear, just deal with it tomorrow!

                                                                                 Three men and a battery!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Centus 12 Long Road Home

This Saturday Centus # 12. The prompt must be used word for word somewhere in the story. Tom contributed the prompt this week. The prompt is highlighted. For complete rules see:

Driving six hours is a long time on the road. Six hours spent singing car-aoke and taking in the picturesque scenery, but mostly reminiscing about the good times. But those days were long gone and my mind was in a different place now. Or was it? My pulse quickened as I passed the road sign which read "Medford 27 miles."

The sign forced me to deal with why I had come, my mother’s funeral. After Dad’s death, my sister got what she had always wanted. She had my mother all to herself; I was cut out as Della took over the house, the possessions, the mother. Now nothing was left except the bitterness of sibling rivalry. Would seeing my mother put in the ground end it, as I would never have to return here again? Maybe, but the emptiness and longing for a family I once knew would remain always.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Too Hot to Move

Okay, I think the dog days of summer have hit real early this year. Everyone I know is dragging; they have energy, no desires, no interests. Emails are almost non-existent or statements of no news to write, phone calls are only political recordings, and even the birds find the water too hot to bathe in during the afternoon. The flowers are wilting; the soil in pots won’t dry out but only steams under the humid sun. Reading and drinking are our only events here. Then we can’t sleep because we have had so much iced tea we are tanked up on caffeine! Still, it is a good life because being lost in a stack of books is always a fine endeavor.

My mind had a shot of spark the other day, and I wrote all afternoon. I polished a poem, submitted it, and resubmitted five other old things rather than let them life dormant in a file. The last was a real long shot, an autumn poem that I figured was too late this year. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that. It must have been my shortest rejection time ever. I emailed it at 6:00, got rejection at 9:00. As I figured, the poem was too late for the October issue and a little too long as well. But the editor gave me a cheery rejection and encouraged me to keep going. Hey, kind words are always welcome and make me feel like I’m a member of a great writing camaraderie. Then today I got another rejection from a new editor at an old publication. The old editor has rejected the story once, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to run it by the new gal. No dice.

The latest Wooden Horse Magazine News reports the following mix of news:

Bad news/good news: 90 magazines launched in the first half of this year, down from 187 new titles that launched in 2009 for the same period, according to media directory MediaFinder. On an up-note: “Only” 87 magazines folded this 1H compared to 279 in 2009; and 16 print magazines converted to online-only formats compared to 43 in 2009…

In a publishing world that is changing much too fast for me, I will think on the good news here and ignore the negatives for a while longer.

Lena Roy has launched her website in anticipation of her new book Edges coming out soon. Lena is the granddaughter of fantasy and memoir writer Madeleine L’Engle. She is obviously following in her grandmother’s footsteps. A picture on the site shows that Lena looks a great deal like her late grandmother who never thought of herself as a beauty but who was one of those people who shined a beautiful beacon on the world from deep inside.

Today I learned from Christian fiction writer Debra Vogts that a reading category has been added to the 4-H events at the county fair in my home state. Kids enter posters or design book marks that promote reading; they make scrapbooks of their own reading, or maybe even write a review of a book they read. Now how great is that? Reading at the fair!

Right now I am glad I don’t have to haul anything to the fair because it is just too hot to move. Ah, so I had better get back to what I do best right now and that is turning pages and jiggling ice cubes!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It's fun time again and time for a Saturday Centus. A story written with 100 words or less surrounding a prompt and linked back to Jenny. The prompt must be used word for word somewhere in the story. Sami by the Sea contributed the prompt this week. The prompt is highlighted. For complete rules see:

Going to Work

Light skimmed the wizened old man’s eyelids, and he realized he had overslept. Throwing back the covers, he headed for the closet on bandy legs. He laid out his green suit and a tie with emerald highlights before heading to the bathroom for a wee whiz.

He stopped in the kitchen for a swig of Guinness to jump start his day before stepping out on the porch. The rain was over and the sun peeked up at the horizon. He had better hurry since he was late for O’Hallaran’s. Now where was that pot of gold…oh yes, he left it somewhere over the rainbow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

All In a Summer's Day

It is Friday, not that the day means much in the middle of July. I started the day with defrosting the freezer in the garage. It took no time in the heat that was already cooking up a slight scorch for the day. Once it was done, I kicked DH out of the bed so I could strip the linens for some laundry time. By 9:30 I felt like I had earned my keep. We had Charleston tea on the deck even though the air was already a tad too warm.

DH has the theory that if you just stay outside you will ease into the heat and not notice its discomfort. Well, there is some truth to that, and I decided to share his practice of loving the heat today. Once I got used it, it wasn’t bad most of the time. But those trips back into a frosty house were nice before walking back outside into a blast furnace of the day outside! After the breakfast tea, I made two pitchers of Tropical iced tea which is a delightful choice for summer with passion fruit, kiwi, and lime; we drank it all. At noon we snacked on green peppers and cucumber sticks. At 2:30 we gave into Animal Farm sandwiches made of ham, turkey, salami, smoked Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and cranberry horseradish on orange raisin bread. He followed his with ice cream and cookies. I hope he doesn’t want any supper!

DH is reading World Enough and Time by Robert Penn Warren, not an easy book to read. I am glad to see him stick with it though, as I have to finish it some day. Meanwhile, I wallowed in an assortment of words. I read in my September book club selection, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America. It is good but so far I have not gleaned a fount of new information. It covers all the old issues of why people are poor, who is at fault, how can we make education work for the poor as well as the privileged.

I also read in an old poetry book I found on my shelf. Voices from the Interior, Poets of Missouri is a 1981 book published by BKMK Press. I thoroughly enjoyed some of these old, but timeless, poems. In fact, they spurred me to pen some thoughts of my own. I am ending the day with a strong skeleton of a good poem!

Late in the afternoon, thunder grumbled in the distance and the air cooled some. So I took advantage of the moment and got the mower out. I pushed and pushed and got the backyard done. But I was as red as Rudolph’s nose; it wasn’t as cool as I thought. When I came to rest, DH offered to mow the front if I took his book in the house.  You bet I would tote that book inside! So with combined efforts, we have yard done again before hotter days or rain, as the storms are surrounding us but without dumping rain, wind or hail yet.

It has been a good summer’s day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Winter's Bone on a Hot Day

It was time for some medical labs in Springfield and with temps to be scorching for days to come, there was no need to put the trip off longer. DH and I got up early and drove leisurely, had blood drawn first, and ran a couple of errands including a luscious but unnecessary stop at the Breadsmith store. Then we headed for the movie theater where all tickets today were a child’s price due to the heat advisory. We did not know that at the time, however; our reason for going was to see the new movie Winter’s Bone as it is not being shown any closer to home than Springfield. I had heard positive things about this movie filmed in Missouri and didn’t want to miss it.

A couple of years ago my book club was choosing books for the next year, and someone suggested Missouri writer Daniel Woodrell. Born in Springfield, Woodrell was gaining attention as a crime writer setting his novels in an area he knew, the Ozarks. We chose to read his 2006 novel Winter’s Bone with a West Plains setting which was not only a crime/mystery but a portrait of the meth lifestyle experienced by many people in the rural areas of Missouri.

Winter’s Bone was a hard book to read because of the realistic portrayal of impoverished hill people who resort to the production of meth to survive—and become addicted themselves along the way. The story tells of 17-year-old Ree Dolly who must find her missing meth-cooking father in order to save the home he bonded away when he needed to get out of jail. She searches among her family members, knowing they know facts they aren’t telling. In the process she is threatened and beaten. She never gives up, seeks a solution for her family right in there in the hills, exhibiting the strength supplied to generations of hill women but that was denied to her mentally collapsing mother.

Director Debra Granik took Woodrell’s story and turned it into a film as dark and bleak, yet as strong and satisfying as the book. Her independent film is shot in Missouri, the setting of the book’s action, and it has already has won four awards including Grand Jury at Sundance. With only a smidgen of curse words, no nudity or sexual activity and no graphic special affects, Granik steps back and lets the pictures tell the story. Instead of showing the corn cob pipe and black floppy hat hillbilly, her Ozark hillbillies are driving old beat up trucks, surrounded by mangy dogs, and everyone wears over-washed (or needs a good washing) fleece. Her shots capture the kitchens, the leaf littered winter landscape, and yes the meth labs of the hills and hollers so well that a viewer practically smells the fatback grease, sweat, wood smoke, and even filth of the character’s lives.

The movie manages not to be a melodrama which it easily could be since basically the story is reminiscent of family feuds and fighting over the still and moonshine business. Only here the issue is meth production and use. With characters bearing names like Tear Drop, Thump, and Sonny, the film also echoes of something like an Ozark Goodfellas!

The film is worth seeing on a scorching summer afternoon. It is a fine and realistic portrayal of a rather ugly side of the Ozarks, but acting and cinematography is so well done and the story so well told one forgets to be horrified by the seedy details of a sub-culture.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bon Appetit at the Keyboard

Yesterday I opened the door to a friend on my front porch holding this bouquet of flowers. Is there anything more cheerful and friendly than a fruit jar with handpicked zinnias from a summer garden, especially if it is in the hand of a friend? Today the heat index in our area is to reach 110. The temps are reaching for that number right now so I am driven inside to experience what another friend calls the winter/summer season, that is the hot season when we are as confined, limited, and lethargic as in the dead of winter’s cold and blowing storms.

I have plenty to read of course, but when I read on someone’s blog lately that she had a huge writer’s library I felt like I had to check my own out books again. When I left teaching, I gave away several writing books that I had used to inspire my student writing lab as well as my own work, but I thought I should check my shelf to see what was left. I found 41 writing themed books clustered like grapes on a stem near my desk. One was Stephen King’s On Writing which I pulled out. I had read it once in a hurried fashion, and I always meant to re-read it. Maybe now is the time. I notice the August issue of The Writer is reprinting one of King’s articles. It must be time to revisit King on writing.

What a wonderful time to write during this heat, but of course, that means the writer muse has to be co-operating. If she is hot or tired, bored or brain-dead, I can not get very far. Writer Sue Grafton says to be successful you have to put “your butt at a desk and get on with it”. That is easier said than done, the getting on with it part anyway. I can sit for hours, but if I don’t have that spark of an idea or some way of generating one, the butt merely occupies space—and in my case, a LOT of space! However, I do have some ideas beginning to stir again. They are not for particular markets which might mean no money, but they are words I want to capture on paper, a satisfaction for myself even though monetary gain is nil!

If money is not your focus right now, you might like to try the writing contest at Dear Reader. The prize is a colossal bag of books and maybe a printing in Suzanne Beecher’s next cookbook. Guidelines below and for more info go to: .

Deadline is August 9th, 2010

1. Maximum word count is 625 words, not including your recipe. (Please be sure to count your words.)

2. Please submit entries that have not been previously published. The only exception is if your story has only been published in a small local publication.

3. Feel free to submit more than one entry for us to consider. The entry must be solely your own work.

4. You must be at least 18 years old to enter.

5. Your story will be judged on style and content.

Right now I have to convince that muse she doesn’t have to chop and dice or boil or fry, but she does have to spur me on into thinking recipe stories! Bon Appetit at the keyboard!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tea Cup Tuesday Blue and Whites

Although Blue Willow is first in my heart, any blue and white china will capture my attention.

This little cup and saucer was only $2 in a junk store, but it was flawless and sturdy. It is nice for an ordinary cup and saucer.

This set is marked Nasco
Lakeview/Japan, and it is
a nice scenic
 cup and saucer set.

The various shades of blue make this cup below  interesting and reminiscent of Willow Ware. It is marked Royal Winchester, Avon Paisley, England.

Another set from a junk store for few dollars, this set is marked only Made in Japan, and I am sure it pretty new. However, it has a lacy edge, nice color, and the saucer has a deeper well making it useful for drinking from if necessary. It is marked only Made in Japan.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Clearance

Last night several couples gathered to eat Thai food with friends passing through on their way to Colorado. It was a relaxing evening with lots of memories and laughter, but a late night. Today’s morning was already hot by the time we got to the deck to enjoy the outdoors. Sitting there I hated seeing so many flowers dead and dying, no color. Lots of greenery as the ferns love the humidity and heat. I had bought several in the spring and divided them to make more; all were thriving. I had always bought a hibiscus, but I passed on one this year due to economy.

As I sat there lamenting the heat and the fact that July was rapidly approaching the middle mark, I thought of greenhouses being cleaned out in summer. So I jumped up and ran to Lowes to see if there were bargains, and indeed there were! I found everything half-priced and some ridiculously priced at 50 and 99 cents; some tiny geraniums were 20 cents, and even a couple of things were a mere nickel! True many were sick looking, but if you dug, you could find some thriving blooms worthy of trimming and fertilizing, trying for a second chance. Sadly, the fertilizer cost more than the flowers. I even found a glorious looking red hibiscus!

I dragged it all home and tried to put things in bare spots where other things had died. I worked them into existing pots here and there, especially the rail boxes. The result was still not a lot of color that I desired, but I can hope that in a few days with love and attention they will rally. And if they do not, well it is only a matter of weeks before it will be mum and pumpkin season again!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Stud and Jimmy Choos

Jenny threw a curve this week, called it a Shake Up. Hum...will give it a try.

I could smell the chicken scratch, oil tempered wire, and faint scent of leather even before I opened the mesh screen door. One step on the warped board floor inside reminded me I shouldn’t have worn Jimmy Choos. A spike heel on the wrong wave of wood could throw me further than a bucking bronco. I picked my way carefully back to the garden section.

Old Harry, toothless as ever, called from the saddle shop where he was tooling a spiral into the leather. “Find’in whatcha need, Rebbie.

I winced as no one had called me that since I had left the prairie years ago. Years fell away giving me an odd feeling deep in the pit of my stomach, or was that something else. The hair on my neck rose straight up, like a cat’s fur while facing a snarling dog.

When I turned around I was startled to meet a green eyed gaze. The eyes looked hard as two jade stones, and I remembered the fury they could hold. They were part of the reason I left Jensen County. Yet I couldn’t help but notice Jake’s Wranglers fit snugly, loins stretching blue denim like rawhide on a saddle horn.

What would he do next?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Writing, A Fun Place to Hang Your Hat

                                          Lobby of Brown Hotel, NM

My Blogger Dashboard keeps disappearing taking my reading list with it...anyone else having this trouble?

Last night was the monthly Writer’s Guild Meeting. The president could not make it to the meeting and after some confusion in the late afternoon, the meeting was still on for 6:00 p.m. DH had not felt well all day and the rain had come down for several hours drenching both ground and spirits. I had lingered most of the day in a robe with book and tea cup in hand. It was a hard push to get up and attend the meeting, and many others must have felt the same challenge as several members did not make it. Coming home the radio announced tornado warnings for quick-touch-down tornadoes (new term for me) in an 80 mile radius. Weather framed the day’s activities all around.

There was no great news at the meeting; no great sales other than Larry Wood had sold 50 copies of his Battle of Newtonia Civil War book at a book signing. We were all glad for his success. With no guest speaker, the exercise for the night was writing practice using scenery. Everyone got a different photo to write on for ten minutes, and we then had to share. We joked that this sounded like a school assignment, but being writers, everyone one dug into their word banks and got right to work. Everyone produced unique and interesting paragraphs quickly, and some were so creative as to cause shared laughter. Another exercise was to rewrite Peter Pan visiting London and put one writer at a loss since he had never read Peter Pan. His attempt placed Pan at Heathrow airport and everyone chuckled including the writer himself.

While at first we might have thought it redundant for experienced writers to do this exercise, the end result was enjoyable, a table surrounded by folks having fun. And isn’t that what all writing should be—fun?


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Decade Gone

One of Daddy's girls....

Wedding day, 1947......

Today is the 10 year anniversary of my Dad’s death. A decade ago, my dad died of mesothelioma. How can it be ten years already? How can I still see a graying head over a grizzly bear stature ahead of me in the mall and not think for just a moment, “Dad is here too!” How can I not drive in the Ozarks for tart apples in the fall and not think, “I’d better buy an extra bushel of Jonathans for Dad”? How can I not lean into a twisting curve on a blue highway and not think how much he would have loved this road? When I see my grandson, I remember Dad’s holding his own first grandson and how he would have so enjoyed holding his great-grandson.

Dad worked like a Morgan horse all his life. Short, but stout in legs and arms, he pushed and pulled something everyday of his life. He never delegated; always jumped in himself. He was the first to arrive, the last to leave. He took an early retirement and finally began to enjoy life. He bought a new Gold Wing to replace the motorcycle he sold when he became a father forty years earlier. He hit the road, letting the wind and sun caress his work worn body and began to know what the real meaning of life is. It is hard not to feel a tad of anger when others get a quarter of century more of life without appreciating the glory of it or when I think he might be here too if it had not been for the selfish greed of asbestos companies that chose a dollar over a daddy.

But Dad continued to both learn and teach lessons until the end. During the last hospital stay, he refused to give up his 5 a.m. walk. So I went too.

But I refuse to think of Dad as entirely gone. I see his broad behind when I pass my mirror. I hear his voice when I use his self made colloquialisms. When I see that bull dog attitude and ribald, off color humor of his in my number one son, and when I watch the fastidiousness and sensitive, generous heart of my number two son, I hear and see my Dad. When I spend time with my two nieces, I think how much Dad wanted a son, but how his heart was always loyal and devoted to little girls.

A decade is such a long time, such a short time, such an imprecise measure of time passed.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tea Cup Tuesday #18

I was a candidate for TCA (Tea Cup Anonymous) when I finally conquered my addiction. I was doing well until I met Tea Cup Tuesdays and fell into a (tea) pot of desire again! Everyone’s tea cups, tea pots, and lovely food presentations made me hunger for the hunt again. I had never heard of Ansely marks and so many of your lovely cups were of that maker. So I struck out last Tuesday afternoon to our local flea market to see if I could find one. No, I didn’t, but there was an abundance of cups in the booths now. I was up and down the aisles for 90 minutes; I got so tired I couldn’t go anymore! But I did not leave until I toted out a bag full of finds.

The first thing was this Spode Tower plate. Although I am Blue Willow person, I love any blue and whites. I was totally smitten by the depth of this blue. The tag said it was flow blue. but I am not sure. I just loved the shade.

I found this delicate cup with a mark saying Mignon and it looks like that was a popular china maker in the 1880’s. I could not find the pattern name; if anyone recognizes it, I would appreciate knowing the name.

I also got a great price on this Winnie the Pooh set. I normally don’t choose this kind of tea pot even though I think they are sweet. I have to have some kind of guideline and try to force myself to stay with florals or solid colors. But oh my, I thought the flower garden that Pooh and friends were frolicking in around the tea pot’s bottom just made this theme tea pot a must have. I can always hope that some day I might share a pot and a Pooh story with a grandchild or two.
And one last thing from this week was this little pink perk from a friend. She gave it to me as a thank you gift for helping her with her mother's 90th birthday celebration. It is a mini cup but a sweet one.

The Day After

The day after the Fourth of July was always a wee tad melancholy for me. The hot dogs, watermelon, firecrackers were over, and the rest of summer promised only broiling heat, steamy canning of garden produce, and the stocking up of shoes and notebooks for the coming school year. The Fourth nudged us and reminded us that not only was the summer now half over but so was the once new year.

This past June’s two weeks of intense heat made summer seem to arrive early. The grass has a crisp, yellowed look at the edges, and the less hearty flowers look limp and weary, falling down over the edges of their pots looking like wrinkled hosiery gathered at a grandmother’s ankles. I went out for a short drive to see if I could find pretty wildflowers. The pretty ones were on roads too dangerous to stop for photos. On country roads nearby, the ditches had been cut or sprayed to kill the unwanted weeds taking the bright wildflowers with them. What was left looked prematurely dry from the heat. I did see some of my favorite Queen Anne’s Lace, pretty and airy like the tatted edge on a great aunt’s hanky. Although considered a weed, I have always loved the way its head waved in a breeze and was a sign of summer just as May Apples were a signal of spring.

I no longer have to worry about school staring in the autumn. I don’t go to class, have to stock up on pencils and rulers for my children now grown, nor do I have to plan bulletin boards or write lesson plans anymore. But old habits are hard to break, and I still feel the Fourth as an indicator time is passing. In retirement I can continue to sit a little longer on the deck over early morning tea as others hustle to gather in the rest of summer like squirrels gathering nuts for winter. I can linger near the rebuilt fountain that DH made for me and listen to the water fall over rocks I have gathered over the years. The rocks are memories I have picked up in riverbeds near the Cimarron River with my boys while their dad fished, on walking trails near the filming of Dances with Wolves in South Dakota, from the edges of a Civil War battlefield, near ancient cliff dwellings, or even snatched up from Robert Frost’s driveway. Each rock is a reminder of a place and time gone by.

This morning I feel that after-the-Fourth-feeling that summer is passing, and like the child I once was, I feel again that slight panic that summer is half over. Even with less chores or responsibilities on my agenda, I still feel the days are precious commodities dissolving away never to be seen again like a frosty ice cube melting under a glaring afternoon sun.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Right Word

Want a way to practice writing scenes? Tightening lines? Come write with Jenny’s writing promt. Each linked essay must be 100 words or less, not including the "prompt" words. The prompt words can be used in any place within your story but must be left intact. To do Saturday Centus, use Jenny Matlock’s writing prompt found at

This week's prompt:"Are you sure that's the one you want?"

I felt a little lump in my throat as I peered down at my choice, held tightly in my hand. I didn't think this would be so nerve-wracking. Was I making the wrong decision? I couldn't agonize over this any longer.

I took a deep breath before managing to say, "... Yes, it is."

“You aren’t good at this,” she taunted.

I studied the index cards in front of me, shuffling them like a card shark at the gaming table.It was hard to choose, so many would work, but only one could be utilized.

My inner critic ridiculed me again when I finally selected a card. One simple word was written on it, but I hoped the word would work with magnificence.

"Are you sure that's the one you want?"

I felt a little lump in my throat as I peered down at my choice, held tightly in my hand. I didn't think this would be so nerve-wracking. Was I making the wrong decision? I couldn't agonize over this any longer.

I took a deep breath before managing to say, "... Yes, it is."

I inserted the word in the line and then read the poem aloud. “Perfect! A most perfect poem!” I shouted and brushed her out of my mind.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Missouri Haberdashers

President Harry Truman was a Missouri haberdasher in the beginning, selling men’s clothing. You don’t see many clothing stores devoted entirely to dressing men anymore. I remember a store named Litwin’s in the next Kansas town south. While it sold ladies clothing too, its long suit was menswear. Walking through the store’s front door, a customer inhaled masculine smells of tweed, wool, and leather.

The new Southern Lady magazine has a short article on two women who have become successful at men’s haberdashery. They started by making ties, ties with Southern motifs and character. The article brought up an old memory I had not thought about in years-my own practice of tie-making.

It was the 1970’s and DH worked at McDonnell Douglas as a designer. He had to wear a dress shirt and tie everyday. My friend in the apartment next door had made her hubby a tie using a pattern from a fabric store, and she shared it with me so I could sew my new hubby one too. I was looking for a teaching job, but Language Arts teachers were a dime a dozen then, and I had a few months with a lot of time on my hands. She and I fossicked for fabrics finding wild, new patterns and hues not meant for men’s ties until we created and stitched up our handmade neckwear. When DH wore his to work, the other men commented on the colors. One day a man offered to buy his tie and DH, never one to turn down a money-maker, pulled it off his neck and came home that night with cash in hand. He soon began to carry a few choices to work each day for Show and Sell at coffee breaks. Eventually, a few men ordered specific colors and fabrics, but most just bought their choices from the “traveling tie salesman”.

My claim to fame as a fashion designer was short lived. When we left St Louis for a job in the southwestern corner of Missouri, only 30 minutes from old Harry’s hometown of Lamar, DH’s new employer did not require anything in dress beyond causal. Times were changing and so were ties. But somewhere in the back of St. Louis closets today (or in a local thrift shop!) there are some of my handmade ties lingering.