Friday, January 29, 2016

A Couple of Thoughts

Today is Kansas Day celebrating the birth of the state in 1861. I loved learning Kansas history in grade school, and we always celebrated the day at school. After Christmas (before MLK Day), it was a long haul to the February holidays. It was a nice break in January to have a sunflower cookie or some sunflower seeds in honor of our state's birthday.

In my late adult life I have learned some of the uglier stories of Kansas which were linked to how our Union was formed and cemented together. In recent years I have not always been proud of some of the events taking place in my home state. However, overall I love Kansas like that peculiar aunt on a branch of the family tree that gives both pause and pleasure.

How can one not love the Flint Hills, the cow towns, the breadbasket elevators that feed the world with rich grains, the home of Pizza Hut, the home of IKE, the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, and home of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz along with much more!

Happy Birthday,  Kansas!


Today I have an essay up on THE MUFFIN. Check it out if you have time and consider leaving a comment. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Movie Time!

I don’t know when or exactly why I came to love the movies. I was hardly more than a toddler when I went with my parents to the drive-in to see Spirit of St. Louis—and slept through much of it, but I still remember Jimmy Stewart! At six I had a couch date late at night alone with my mom for a watching of The Wizard of Oz. At eight during the Easter season, again mom and I went together to see The Ten Commandments. At nine my Granny took me to the drive-in on a summer night to see Ben Hurr. At ten my whole family went to the drive-in to see Old Yeller. When I was twelve and we were waiting on my baby sister to be born soon, we all took a pregnant mom and went to the theater to watch Big Red.

We didn’t go often, but when we did, it was an event. By the time I started dating, rules for the downtown theater meant no jeans or shorts. It was a good date place. DH and I both loved movies. Our first date was Mary Poppins and the second was My Fair Lady. These are not his favorite movies, but he was trying to impress so anything was acceptable then.

I loved the movies because in those days movies were stories. Now days the words trash, stupid, empty, and maybe horror are what to come to mind. Today we saw seven movie trailers…all were zombies, comic book characters, the exorcising of evil spirits, and one thriller that was built around the world in chaos from extreme terrorism. We don’t go to the movies like we used to for date night, married date night, or just plain entertainment because most of the movies out there cost a fortune and are not entertaining.

But we have done a wild turnabout since Christmas. Our local theater has been bought out and cleaned up. Some great movies are out there. We need some getting away like the old days. We have seen three movies in two weeks. Amazing. The fact the theater furnace was broken and we watched one movie at 62 degrees made the management give all of us free movie passes for another show sometime. That helped pull us out. Going early in the week, at the cheaper time slot, and getting Senior Citizens price breaks help too. 

We have seen three distinctly different movies, all three telling a story, a good story. We saw Spotlight, Brooklyn, and Revenant. (What is with the new one word titles?) Of the three, Brooklyn was the one done “like the old days”. Sweet faces, few bad words, limited sex with no nudity, an often-told romance told in a new way. The story is of an Irish immigrant in the early 1950s and her homesickness that turns to a romance with an Italian boy. A family death calls her back to Ireland where she has to define the meaning of home. Ah geez, it is lovely movie that carried me back to a former time. The colors in the movie are so vivid…something about the photography allows you to feel the water of the Irish coast, the corduroy pillows, the velour coats, the warm tea pots on the table. The bullet bras, heeled shoes worn with rolled down socks, yellow cabs of 1950, and real Italian spaghetti and Irish rashers help set the scenes.  

So I am excited about the Academy Awards this year. I wish I could see more before the Oscars, but now I have seen enough to feel like I can “participate” in the Academy Awards glamour night. The fact that five of the eight nominated films this year came from published books is just one more punch up for writers. Maybe stories of all kinds will make a real come back!

 How about you, are you a movie and Oscar buff?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

January Pause

I can’t complain about my weather after seeing what the East coast has endured. Here it has been cold, some black ice, snow flurries, and nothing horrid considering it is January. I usually tolerate January fairly well, and if there are heavy snows, that is fine because I basically hibernate anyway. I have written, submitted, studied markets, and read books until I am numb.

But I have felt the old S.A.D. symptoms sneak in during the last week. Normally, I don’t see that until late February or March. It is a physical response as much as mental; S.A.D. rolls in quietly like the tide, hovers around the ankles before suddenly becoming a drowning feeling. But while this January has been one of office work, it has also been one of very dark days. Give me bright snow reflecting the heaven’s light over a sky looking as gray as freshly poured concrete any day! I found myself getting up later, moving slower, and one day never dressed at all.

So yesterday morning I met a friend at a local coffee shop forcing myself out. It was cold but I warmed the car so Miss B could go too. She is also tired of cold and dark. None of the other dogs come out to play at the fence this time of year!  She was glad to sit on the town square and watch the people moving about the town square while I had a cup of tea. People were out like flocks of birds at feeders despite the frigid air. The streets were dry and they got out to “blow the stink off them” as my dad used to say.

Once back in the car with the heater running, I could not face coming home just yet. I was up, out, but had no place to go, needed nothing. But I made an errand when I decided I needed new white silk tulips. Once I had walked about the store fetching them, I still was not ready to return home. So I went to a couple of flea markets making quick passes through the aisles. Like I told one store owner, it is hard to find what you want when you don’t really need anything and you aren’t sure what you are hunting!

But I did find a couple of baubles…white hobnail bowl and a bone china tea cup with pansies. Dragging them home, I heard my head repeat my own adage: One comes in and two goes out. Oh what will I discard for these two winter prizes?

Miss B and I brought home our shopping, put it away, and she got her supper while I went to a quick church service. The sun had actually peeked out for a short bit but dusk was falling again. I noticed the sky was wiped in shades of blue reminiscent of milk remainders in a bowl’s bottom after a blueberry breakfast. Then I noted it was 6:00! The days were getting longer and the pitch black of winter was easing. Only 55 more days until spring!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Writing Mode

It was the first local writer guild meeting of the new year last night, and I made the effort to get there for the first time in months. I missed so many meetings last year, and I was hoping to start fresh and try again. There were 22 people attending last night which is a lot for this group…but then everyone these days thinks they can write a book, right?

There was a new president in charge and Chanin is going to be a whizz bang. She had new ideas and means to push for more action out of folks. Her agenda was well-formed, and she stuck to it moving folks along for accomplishment. There was a brag session (always long), several items of new business, motions made, programs planned, each individual made a list of writing goals for the year to be handed in and checked next year, and even a ten minute writing prompt write before the members left. The meeting stopped right on time and people left enthused.

I have different writing tastes than most of the members. There is a lot of paranormal, memoir and religious essay. Poetry is finally coming forth as a couple of young teachers have joined, and they are interested in publishing poetry. Chanin offers a whole new interest to the group because she is writing a screenplay and wants to work in humor.

Before the meeting last night, she posted on Facebook the new guidelines she expected to be followed for the new year. You will see her funny bone showing and it set a mood for the group even before we got there. A couple of members even brought her candy and it was a laughing moment.

As your new President, I have decided to set up some guidelines/rules/laws of the land for our meetings. 
1. You must bring the President a gift at every meeting you attend (preferably snacks). 
2. In the winter, one of you will need to leave 5 minutes early to warm up my car. 
3. In the summer, one of you will need to leave 5 minutes early to cool down my car.
4. If you are late for our meeting, I have it set up for you to help return books to the library shelves. 
5. Sucking up is completely acceptable and encouraged. 
6. Most of all...we are going to have FUN! *even if I have to tickle you*

This morning I made Biscuit famous with her softer side in a poem up on Post Cards. Please visit and leave a comment if you have time.

And now another day begins…maybe the lines be with you!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Can You Go To ER Without Underwear?

This week I have really worked at writing which means not only putting down lines but submitting, studying markets, checking on outstanding submissions, answering editor emails, and the like. Today was to be a different kind of day. I wanted to start reading the new Elizabeth Stout book, get in a set of exercises, and then an early luncheon with special friends before an afternoon studying the new markets I had found.

Nothing started right. Biscuit was demanding and barking and I only got one page read from sitting and jumping up. Then DH got up, dragging around slower than usual. Finally, it was only an hour before the luncheon when I just gave up all my morning agenda. I started bath water and figured I could run some errands before luncheon, wiping a couple of items off my “to do” list. Before I could step into the hot bath, DH appeared before me holding his hand dripping blood. “Hurry, I think I have cut my finger off to the bone.”

Remembering to turn off the tub water, I grabbed clothes and tried to find matching shoes. I ignored hair plastered to head. I forgot watch, makeup, and eventually I learned I forgot my cell phone as well. I did get underwear on! We threw dog in back as it was easiest to do and headed for Joplin. It was a nerve-wracking drive for me. DH called himself names including “stupid” all the way. The smell of blood nauseated my already tremulous gut.

The news was good, a miracle in fact. He had run his hand through a planer, which has three whirring blades, when the board slipped. He estimated 900 sharp teeth did the damage. It did not get to the bone, but the flesh was chewed as if pinking shears were cutting fabric. There was nothing to sew. They trimmed the flesh, disinfected, put on a gel sponge pad over the wound, and wrapped it in a huge bandage. It will be a week and then the finger should start regrowing somewhat and closing up from the outside in. The nail he will probably loose permanently and the finger will be deformed.

Then they made a mistake. They told him he could go back into the shop right away, just keep the bandage clean and don’t get the finger wet. Have you ever seen a builder or woodworker with hands he did not need to wash? Can you tell a husband anything? Well enough said.

And people question why I don’t write a 600 page, multi-generational family saga in my free time?

On the way home, I ran into the grocery store for something and saw beautiful yellow roses. They called to me. On the way to the car I carried them and small sack. DH said, “I’m not feeling that bad.” 

“Well, I am!”

Next stop was the slow moving line at the pharmacy for the meds the ER ordered. Finally with all the necessaries in hand, we got home in midafternoon. A friend followed us in. Her mother had just been diagnosed with colon and liver cancer. 

That put a chewed up finger and lost writing time  in perspective. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Morning Wandering

Small white whispers fall
From the concrete gray heavens
Winter earth listens

 Yesterday’s snow was merely snow flurries. Now this morning is extreme cold only, down to ten with a wind chill below zero. The tea pot was extra friendly to see in the half light of a new day. This is a weekend of reading, cooking, writing, laundry, and restless sleep filled with faces of family long gone. It that inspiration stirring in my head? Or fear of the future? Or unresolved issues of the past?  I no longer can explain anything!


The Ozark Writes Guild’s February meeting in Branson will work with a chunk of poetry related sessions. Walter Bargen, state poet laureate, will speak. Author Jan Morrill will do a session on haiku. There is so much going on during this meeting. Check out OWL at or on Facebook.

Rat's Ass is an online poetry journal with attitude. The editor and I have been wrangling over words for six months. He both encourages and tries to change some of my work. I fight it in some cases. He has started a new issue called Ensuing Madness dealing with love-lust-sex and challenged me to try. I didn't think this was for me, but the next week I listened to OPT's Big Band Music and wrote. He took my lines. The issue is up now but warning: some of the poems are racy and raunchy. Some are just beautiful. You can read the poets alphabetically. I suggest Morning by James Fowler, Ripe by Karie Fugett, and Tangerine Fingernails by Kathyaran McChan, and War Baby by ME!

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Gray Day

Today the skies were as gray as a pewter bowl; they were dark and felt stormy. The weathermen can’t agree on what is coming or when, but snow is the favored prediction. On days like today I wish the skies would just open and dump, get it over with. Snow would be fine if the sun would shine on the white making the world glow.

At noon we went to the Encore lunch at Grace Church. Once a month they have a luncheon prepared by the priest or volunteers, and they ask for a donation only to pay for the supplies. The meal was a simple soup, salad, and wonderful bread. The dessert was bread pudding. All was delicious and simple and full of winter heartiness!  

There is a speaker or program of some kind at each Encore and all is finished in little over an hour. Today the speaker was from a local nursing home who spoke of how to deal with aging family and friends. She was full of necessary info on durable power of attorney, DNR, and living wills. She stressed the extreme amount of paperwork necessary for the elderly and that everyone should get things lined up way before it is needed. She reinforced her points with real life stories, including her own of losing a mother to suicide and her husband to sudden death.

 I know the info was necessary but it was not uplifting to me. It seems we have a harder time getting out of this world than we did getting into it. Tomorrow maybe the gray of the world will be washed white in a snowfall!

                                Father Steve and retired school principal Dennis--who I learned writes poetry!!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Where to Publish?

The bitter morning is bright with sunshine and so the day feels better. Am grateful for each nice January day….and February…and March…

Today I have submitted, followed through on some things, and edited a short story. Maybe it is finished and ready for publishing, which brings up the issue WHERE. How do my fellow writers choose where to publish? 

A member of the local writing guild always stresses that a writer should know where she aiming and what she is writing for before starting. I think that is good advice, but hard to follow. I have stories I want to write that defy definition first. Sometimes I have to write the story to see where it goes.

Also it is hard to find a market with magazines anymore. Magazines do publish articles, but gone are the days of poetry, fiction and personal essay in so many publications. When I look at lists of possible markets I am knocked out by their wanting specific topics related to myths, witches, or the paranormal. Or maybe they want work generated by only Black or Jewish or California or Egyptian authors.

No one wants a previously published work; editors want all fresh and new. It is hard to produce so prodigiously each day when one doesn’t know where it will land or if it will be wanted. Yet to write for only certain (and sometimes boring) markets is limiting.

Everyone is writing a novel. I have a novel idea, but I don’t know where to begin and am intimidated by the size and scope of such a work. Thinking about writing a novel makes me feel like starting to climb Mt. Everest in flip flops!

So writers, how do you choose where to submit your work?

What are your favorite venues to read?

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Real New Year

This morning I opened my eyes to a dark sky looking like the inside of a stainless steel pan, trees naked of leaves and with limbs stretched out like a reaching witch’s fingers, and it was January cold. It was Monday…a new day, a new week, a new month, a new year…but it looked a lot like the old year. That is not all bad; there is comfort in the routine, in the familiar.

I put the kettle on, brewed up tea, and fed Miss Biscuit. I urged the furnace up a wee bit and she and went to my chair to read something, anything to postpone facing the real day. Finally, dug in the frig and found all the goodies for vegetable soup like my mom made. Its rich beef and tomato broth steamed up the windows. Eventually, I added healthy things like potatoes, carrots, corn, peas, okra, and kale. While it simmered, I did my exercises, deleted old files from the computer, and organized my writing folders.

The soup lunch was yummy and the whole house smelled inviting and comfy. The sun had come out, brightening the day through the windows and doors. Then I heard the weather forecast for much colder air this week and a touch of snow. Tomorrow the wind chill is to be near 10 degrees. Hum. I had postponed the post office trip, but Biscuit and I changed those plans to go while the sun was out. I had a submission that could only be mailed. So we took out and even stopped for some green bananas for the coming chilly days.

And so we are back to the way things are here….we move along like a stick thrown in the creek. I read over the holidays that time just goes on and we have no choice but to go with it. I think that is so true. And so today, I went with time and I can already feel tomorrow coming!

I hope you readers are all off to a good start on this first Monday.

"We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking" 
                                                                                Richard Rohr