Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Friday Fictioneers

Many things have kept me from participating in creative play lately, but how could I resist Rochelle's picture for Friday Fictioneers? This is a picture of Union Station in Kansas City. I have been there but not often. I love the marble, the clicking heels on the floors, the vaulted ceilings, the spacious elegance...not to mention all the history here!

So I had to take a stab at the 100 word challenge to go with the picture. For complete rules and more readings go to  Now I am going to go read some of those pieces myself!

                                Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri
                                        Kansas City, June 1933
Sarah felt buoyant among marble pillars dripping shades of melted sherbet in the train station. She was meeting her fiancĂ©’s Chicago train. She paused facing a gilded mirror to get the tilt of her rose-colored beret right and noticed another face beside her reflection.

The man’s square, baby face sat over a tight collar with yellow bowtie. Well-cut hair peeked out from an angled fedora. He touched manicured fingers to the brim and flashed an acknowledging smile.

She turned, tugging her white gloves, but he was gone.  Then a 30 second blast of bullets wreaked havoc outside.
Baby Face Floyd probably would not have been lurking inside the station on the Massacre Day, but who knows?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Mish Mash

This is the last Monday in August and summer draws to a close officially with Labor Day next week. The heat has returned again so we won’t forget to be somewhat glad to see summer leave. Things have been rather quiet, not a bad thing, allowing for iced tea and reading on the deck. A little daydreaming slips in as well.
Autumn’s calendar is beginning to fill up, which is often the case. The new school session doesn’t affect us much these days other than reducing traffic on the road a slight degree. The Ruby Slipper is beginning to snort for a road trip, a good idea since winter is rubbing her mittened hands with glee at seeing autumn move in on us. She will be next! Then there is the last fishing of the year to done while lazy leaves float down Ozark streams.

This last week I had to take pictures for an editor to accompany a memoir piece about my growing up near a Grandpa’s DX station. I can still smell the oil, feel the grease that lingered on everything including the phone book, and see that old distributor cap recycled for a pen and pencil holder. The editor asked for a picture of the Tom’s jar. They appear in flea markets now, some are reproductions, but I know the provenance of mine as it came straight from Grandpa. I can lift the lid and think I smell salt from peanuts, sugar from Double Bubble, or chocolate from Pay Day candy bars.                                               

This picture hangs in the gun section of the Bass Pro in Springfield. I took a picture of the picture because it fascinated me. I would like to know the story that goes with this woman and her bear. Hum, I may to write a bear hunting story on some coming day!
I have been reading a lot Old West stories lately. Lots of crime, murder, hangings in those old days, but a day’s news now doesn’t sound a lot better. Humans have progressed in many ways but anger, jealousy, and hatred are still as rampant as they ever were. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by the senselessness of it all. Maybe that is why I read of days gone by…there was still hope the human race might improve. I return to those days of yesteryear when cowboys honored womanhood, a gun was a tool for good more than bad, and squeak of leather on a saddle and clip of hooves was music better than mega speakers from car radios ranting foul language.
Enough mish mash from me on this Monday...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

First OWL Meeting, Terrific!

This has been a great weekend thus far, although some manual labor is on tap for tomorrow. Friday we headed to Branson for my first-ever OWL meeting (Ozark Writers League). I have been a member for a while but always had a conflict with the meeting time. So I put the date on the calendar way in advance and made this one.

We left early on Friday so DH could stop by Harbor Freight and Grizzly’s in Springfield. Next to Grizzly’s is a mammoth antique mall with a lovely tea room we had never tried. So it was time to experience that as well. The food was good, and we shut our eyes to eat carbs and gluten both. The dessert is their signature recipe, a lemon and blueberry mascarpone cake. This was light, delicious, and sinful to eat!

On to Branson where some OWL members gathered at Box Car Willie’s for a supper and open mic evening. I have never been to open mic, and I really enjoyed myself. There were numerous readers, and I had read a lion’s share of the material but never met the writers. It was fun to put a name to a face. Then DH and I put in a sleepless night, and we don’t know why! No caffeine or chocolate or anything. Was it the carb devil making us do penance for that cake?

                                                  OWL president, Jan Morrill
Early this morning DH let me out at the Plaster Center at School of the Ozarks. Oh, the campus is so beautiful, but I was so distracted the entire day that I never got a picture. C. Hope Clark was the speaker; she spoke about the Shy Writer. Very interesting material and though I don’t think of myself as a shy anything, I guess I fell into some of her categories.
                                                      C. Hope Clark

Lunch was a wonderful meal at the Keeter building, the Dobyn’s dining room. Lovely place and with the best iced tea I think I have ever tasted. It was so dark it looked like Jed Clampet’s Texas Tea that bubbled up through the ground! We had some fried green tomatoes with our meal. Then it was 1:00 and time to resume with C. Hope Clark. She talked on Funding for Writers and Markets. Wow, and hour and half was gone instantly! So much info!

Now I have to process all this information and get to work using it. I also bought a bag full of books from Ozark writers there. Waterproofing the deck tomorrow does not sound like fun when all this is on my mind, but maybe it will act as a sifter time, a time to sort out and sift through what all I heard today.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Book History

I ordered some Penzey spices this morning and talked to a lovely gal in Wisconsin. She said  my order would be here by the end of the week. I told her she might want to send that box by boat!

Yes, it's raining—again. So this morning I was thinking about my book life and how it developed.
My first readings were two children’s magazines that I got in the mail even before I could read. I loved my Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill. Mother read them to me and helped me learn mazes and matching before I got old enough to read the stories to myself. It was during this time period that I read a lot of comic books. Mother let me pick one at a time at the drug store where I agonized over choices between Superman and Batman. In the beginning she would sit down and read them to me.

Then when I was in grade school our coffee table in the living room always hosted the True Story, LOOK and LIFE. Mother discouraged me from reading True Story and when I became a skilled reader, she put those in her bedroom. But the pictorial essay magazines were ours to read or cut up or take to school.
Then I got old enough for a library card! In the beginning Mother took me and we carried home stacks of books. I gradually moved up to riding my bike, and I moved chapter books, horse stories, fiction about nurses finding romance, and eventually made it to the classic shelf where I tackled Around the World in 80 Days, Last of the Mohicans, War and Peace and the like. I missed a lot with my young mind but pushed through those books as best I could.

Then came Shakespeare in high school with the drama every junior reads, Romeo and Juliet. I loved it. “Romeo, Romeo, where forth are thou?” I went on to read Shakespeare histories and comedies in college. While I always appreciated his work, it was never easy reading for me. I had to read it aloud (which are the way plays are written—meant to be heard) to get my small amount of understanding. I remember people living next to my apartment asked me what I did every night as they could hear just enough of the lines through the wall to think I was slightly weird. Once they knew I was an English major, they understand and then knew for sure I was weird!

Over the weekend I finished Dragging Wyatt Earp, a great memoir of growing up in Dodge City, Kansas. Rebein, the author, is a master at evoking place, but then he was in my favorite place, the prairies of Kansas which was once an underground sea. He also captures the days of the American cowboy in truthful manner; their life was not the glamorous adventure portrayed by Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates.

Then I read local author Larry Wood's Murder and Mayhem in Missouri. Larry found some little known stories about some gruesome murders in this state. Much of it reads like a tale off Criminal Minds, CSI, or Dateline maybe. He also included a chapter on Jesse James' murder and the shootout in Kansas City that involved Pretty Boy Floyd.

Today I picked up Snow in August by Pete Hamill about a boy's growing up in post WWII Brooklyn. The title seemed appropriate today as the dark and damp invade crevices of my mind just like winter cold can do. Yet, I hear it will be summer again by the end of the week. Until it does arrive, I am putting on the tea kettle and turning pages!

                          What are YOU reading today?

Why does Blogger mess with my font?!?!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

August Guild Meeting with Larry Dablemont

Despite a gray sky and storm clouds heading in from the west, the Joplin Writers’ Guild had a good turnout for the August Meeting. Members had been very busy submitting work, and there were also a few acceptances. Larry Wood brought a copy of his newest book, Murder and Mayhem in Missouri, which looks to be a great read.

Larry Dablemont, editor and publisher of Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal, was the guest speaker. He told stories and tales about his writing life starting with the Front Bench Regulars that told stories to him as a boy in front of the pool hall in Houston, Missouri. He began writing newspaper columns and became a Naturalist along with doing work as an Ozark fishing and hunting guide. His work of books and columns, 4600 columns so far, are full of firsthand experiences in nature.

Dablemont said luck and perseverance were major factors in his writing achievements. He encouraged writers to write about what they know and love for success. He said he knew sports and wrote about them, that he would have failed had he tried to write romance. He was hard on English teachers that pressed knowledge of predicates and participles. I understood where he was coming from, but none the less this English teacher thinks a writer should know her tools just like a carpenter knows his. After all, a house build without a T-square or one built with nails hammered by the handle of a screwdriver might be shelter but not a fine work of construction.

Dablemont also informed the group about the state of affairs of the now defunct Ozarks Mountaineer. The once popular magazine folded recently after being published a short time by Texas publishers. He is attempting to reprise the magazine under the name Journal of the Ozarks. The first issue will cost $7, have 72 pages, and be in black and white. From there, time will tell what the publication will be and do. For your own copy or more info, write to or

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Marian Days

Surprise, more rain this morning! I wanted to put my head under the covers and stay, but it was Tai Chi and Tea day. So I dressed and by midmorning the rain stopped. By noon the sun was out with the promise of more rain by evening. So DH and I took a walk down to Marian Days.

When the Vietnamese priests settled here in the 1970s, they started a yearly celebration and devotion to Blessed Mother Mary, to whom they credit their safe passage to America. For the first twenty years it never rained on the gathering. But since then, the believers have suffered extreme heat, wind, and rain. On a few acres of ground, about 40,000 to 60,000 Vietnamese crowd together in tents and on tarps to pray and visit. The whole affair is a mix of carnival, revival, and family reunion. After a four day celebration, they leave and in a couple of days you never know they were here. The grounds are spotless of cups, napkins and other trash. That is a miracle in itself.

Events have kept us away from the event the last few years, but this week the break in the clouds at noon allowed us to walk down. Of course, it was like walking in a sauna, but once on the grounds the huge tents offered shade. I love see the bouncing umbrellas. Rain or shine, carried by men and women, the umbrellas ward off both rain and sun. No one cares if they make a fashion statement. They want comfort.

There are many tents from California, Texas, and Louisiana that serve meals to raise money for their churches and youth groups. There are booths with religious items, jewelry, and music CDs for sale. It is hard to tell what things are as everything is written in Vietnamese, but the people are eager to help you understand.
There was a tent this year of very strange fruits and vegetables. Some quite expensive as they were shipped in from China, Mexico or other far flung places. There were jack fruit which to me looked like Osage Orange hedge apples on steroids. These were dragon fruit which I thought were beautiful to see.

DH and I chose to eat at the Port Arthur, Texas tent which represents a church that has come to the event for 40 years and is a favorite of local people. I am not sure exactly what we ate, but we called it a Number 5 and Number 12!

There were several people wearing shirts that said CIA. (Catholics In Action) There were people having all kinds of laughs or joyous moods.


                                                   Someone did not sleep well last night!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Our neck of the woods had over 11 inches of rain this last week. This is unheard of in the August Midwest! It looks to be a short summer as in only a few weeks the autumn activities will begin. So many interesting and fun things are crammed into autumn. I hope it will be a long season as the summer feels shortened by the rain.

Business brought Kentucky son to within an hour of us. He brought the two year along, and we met them for two days. Rain dampened our play only slightly. We went to the newly redone Bass Pro Shop which is like a zoo to a two year old. “Animals,” he shouted. It did not matter that they were stuffed as nothing moved as fast as Simon anyway! The new outdoor scenes were beautiful and alligators have been added to the live areas.

Then we went to Dickerson Park Zoo between the showers. Oh, it was SO humid and wet which definitely added to the feeling of tropical jungles in certain places. The older giraffes were particularly interested in food. I could have stayed there longer. I am always amazed by animals with long, graceful legs after a lifetime walking on my thick tree stumps.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Misc. for These Days

July raced by and we did not do much. The pow wow and a couple of movies were about it. I am not complaining. Just digging out local things or looking at old places with new vision is enough for me. Books take me on glorious trips as well, not to mention that writing (when it goes well) is a glorious escape of its own. We took it easy in July as we see travel, house repair, tree cutting, family reunions, fishing and more on the autumn calendar if all goes as planned. It is just the way the cards fell this year...thus far anyway.

DH spent time working on a toy box in between summer living. He had made a toy box for the first grandbaby and now number two wants one. This time he reinforced corners and made some decorative wood pieces just for his own variety. Both chests are made of oak though.

My book club has a summer treat of lunch in midsummer. This summer is was at a tea room a short drive away where there are lovely flowers and gifts to see as well. I thought this garden decoration made of plates and bowls was fantastic. I wonder if we could make them?
We have had rain storms for over a week and flash flood watches are out tonight. More rain is expected in the next week. This is very odd for August in the Midwest for sure! Last year at this time it was drought and 110 degrees.
Between rains on the deck or in my office when it is too wet outside, I have been pouring over books and writing. I have read two books for the autumn book club...Language of Flowers, an unusual book with a background of foster children and Mary Coin, a wonderful read about surviving in the Depression Era as migrant workers. Both are novels but are eye-openers and thought-provokers. I am finishing up The Ragamuffin Gospel about Grace and have ready to crack the covers of Dragging Wyatt Earp, a Personal History of Dodge City. No one can accuse me of being stuck in one genre!
What is in your August?