I’m a Fairy Blog Mother – Meet my Blog Daughter

I recently became a fairy blog mother. That is to say, barely a fairy blog mother. I have a wonderfully funny friend named Roxanne who has been threatening to start a blog for some time now. She asked me if I would meet with her to help her get started. Yes, she is that funny – I laughed and laughed. Only she was serious.

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that all of my computer prowess is attributed to the wonderful man I married, Bob the Engineer. (Yes, that is part of our wedding vows. I must ascribe to him all tech glory.) It is only because of him that I have not thrown the computer out the window.

You might not be aware, since I have been doing this blogging thing for a while, that I have a fairy blog mother. Her name is Debi and she is one of my bestest friends. She writes a blog called The Romantic Vineyard. She had the painstaking job of getting me on WordPress. She is very patient.

Roxanne and I met one day to get her started. The first thing I wanted to establish is why in the world she would ask me for help. She said (and rightly so) we think alike. It will be fun.

2 Ibuprofen for the laughter headache

The first meeting would have been more fun if Roxanne had remembered to bring her computer, but still we plugged along. We met again, this time with her computer. We were definitely making progress. Not! I suggested we call Debi, who I keep on speed dial.

Debi came to the rescue. She planned a meeting with Roxanne on a day that God chose for me to have other plans. (He is a good God.) They got it together. Now, Debi is a fairy blog grandmother. It’s always nice to have a grandmother around, blogging or the regular type.

Roxanne just started her blog, Not That Big a Deal, last week. Please check her out. I know you will love her as much as I do. Click here to laugh along with Roxanne.

And, if you would like to check out Debi’s blog, which is all about inspiration for your marriage, you really should! It’s a great resource. Click here to be inspired by Debi.

Happy reading!

 

Blogger Fodder

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since we became empty-nesters and moved out of the neighborhood where we raised our children. Our new house is larger and has afforded us the privilege of having lots of company. I think there’s something to the fact that there is a separate area for guests and no children to compete with over the bathroom.

For the majority of the summer we have had adult children and grandchildren staying with us. When one family leaves, another arrives. We love it!

Selfishly, I figured it would give me fodder for my blog, so I created a little writing niche where I can go behind closed doors and create. But there are either ideas to write about or time to write them. Not to mention how distracting grandchildren are – all that cuteness! It is wonderful to be surrounded by people again, but there are a few drawbacks.

For instance, privacy – having grandchildren around means never peeing alone. I will tell them that I’ll be right back – I just have to go to the bathroom. They will even acknowledge me. Then off I “go” and within seconds they are yelling across the house for me with important questions like, “Can I have a piece of gum?”

It’s been a long time since I was a mom of school-aged kids, and I forgot the importance they place on having an immediate answer to questions like this. So I will teach them that like their mom, any question asked of me while I am in the bathroom gets an automatic no.

Even as I typed that last sentence I remembered the loop holes. Kids are great at loop holes. What if they ask if they can do the dishes for me or help a sibling with chores? Do I really want to say no to those types of questions? Wait a minute, there is little danger of these questions ever being asked so I think I’m 95 percent safe with my automatic no.

Another drawback is that kids can be kind of judgy when you do something differently than their parents do. For instance, while being a prize-winning grandmother and playing with my grandkids in the pool, I took a break from being squirted in the face with squirt guns and sat in a lounge chair to read a book. This is not the time to read anything that I need to concentrate on. War and Peace will have to wait. It is, however, the perfect time for Seriously…I’m Kidding, by Ellen DeGeneres.

So there I was sitting in the sun and reading Ellen’s funny little essays about life when I noticed I was being watched. “You’re reading that? Mom doesn’t like her.”

I glanced down at the book making sure I hadn’t accidentally picked up a copy of Mein Kampf. Little did my granddaughter know that for me, reading humorous books and stories is like taking my vitamins, except I don’t always remember to take my vitamins. In fact, excuse me. While I’m thinking about it, I better go take them right now.

Thanks. I’m back.

Later when I asked my daughter about this, she was equally baffled. She surmised that her daughter assumed her dislike of Ellen due to the fact that every time they go on the Epcot ride that Ellen hosts, she ends up falling asleep.

I remember those days. When we took the kids on the Haunted Mansion ride and they would snap our pictures. I was the one enjoying a nap on that dark, cool ride.

Speaking of falling asleep, my dad used to say, “Your mother could fall asleep while running for a bus.” I’m like that. Since having grandchildren around more, I’ve reverted to my old ways of dropping off to sleep at inopportune times, like while waiting at red lights, playing with children on the floor, watching movies at the theater, and even while zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. You get the picture – just like the people at the Haunted Mansion did. As a matter of fact, I hear my pillow calling me now.

Is There a Time Machine in Your Future?

I love making new friends.  I’m not talking about facebook.  I am talking about real, flesh-and-blood, face-to-face humans that I can reach out and touch.

I have a fairly new friend from church and we are enjoying getting to know each other.  We are both writers so there is an instant bond there.  A bond which might cause us to assume things about each other.  And you know how that usually works out.  One thing she obviously assumed about me was how computer savvy I am, which is not much.  (Not that I didn’t appreciate her higher opinion of me.)  I discovered the error in her perception when I received the following email from her, which I read from my phone.  This was all that showed on the screen.

IMG_4831
Honestly, I thought her account had been hacked.  A time machine for her desktop?  Asking me for advice about backing up my computer?  Clearly we need to spend more time getting to know each other.

I asked my resident IT guy (yes, he resides with me; he’s my wonderful husband) about it and he quickly resolved my questions.

  1. She had not been hacked.
  2. There is such thing as a time machine. It is used to back up data.  No, it does not look like a British phone booth, but that would have been awesome.

This was a relief and a disappointment.  While I was relieved that she wasn’t hacked, I was hoping maybe she had traveled in time and met future me, the computer wiz.  That would have been amazing.

Starting Over – It Only Feels Like a Punch in the Gut

Bob and I have been on the fast-track ever since we returned home from our trip to Europe at the end of April.  Our feet hit the ground running, or maybe they were shuffling and dragging.  Who can remember!  All I can tell you is – it’s been non-stop (our lives, not our flight from Europe).

Over the summer we had enough major events in our lives to do our own Lifetime made-for-TV movie.  Our youngest son got married.  Our middle son, his wife, and their baby, who had been living with us, moved to Michigan.  We sold our home of 32 years.  The home in which we raised our kids.  The home that Bob drew up the initial plans for.  The home which we had chosen every detail from floor to ceiling.  The home that was in a neighborhood where most of our closest friends live.  Okay, enough of that.  And, we bought and moved into a new (for us) house.  Now, after forty years of marriage, we are official empty-nesters.

This morning as I was trying to get pictures hung on the wall, I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be to hang this one.  I’m not talking about my usual challenge to do anything handy around the house either.


This is not the home where my story began.  Plus, I’m a little old to begin a new story.  I guess I should have left this plaque at the old house.  It doesn’t seem to belong here.

I remember when I bought it.  It was an encouragement.  Now it confuses me.

Yet, I cannot sit in the silence of my lovely new home and not write.  Soon I will have the last of the pictures hung and the last box unpacked.  What will my excuse be then?

So today is a small beginning for me.  This is my first written offering from my new home.  It was not without challenge.  I am writing in a new space with less ready-made distractions – no neighbors that I know and no people living with my husband and me (especially no cute little grandbaby).  It’s going to take some getting used to.  I can do that.  I got used to eating spinach.

For now, I think I’ll post this and go hang my picture.

A Thousand Little Celebrations

imageThrough this winter season we have almost constantly had a jigsaw puzzle in progress.  We have traditional puzzles for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I like these old favorites because they are family puzzles, meaning they consist of three different sized pieces in the same box.  We would line up the children on one side with the big pieces and the parents on the other side with the small pieces.  The middle ground was a compromise between the two.

Now that I wear bifocals, my favorite side is the one with the big pieces.  In this age of instant gratification I enjoy finding pieces quickly, especially after you work the puzzle for a while.  I want my puzzles to be like my life – more fun than work.

During the after-Christmas sales, I found a puzzle with an enticing picture.  Macaroons.  Yum.  Makes me think of Paris…..  I guess I was so busy thinking about Paris that I failed to give a second thought to the fact that the puzzle had a thousand pieces.  A thousand little pieces.  A thousand little pieces that did not have my preferred distinct variations in pattern or color.  It also would take more than a day or two to complete, all the while sending subliminal messages activating my sweet tooth and releasing my inner cookie monster.

image

The frame had been complete for several days and we were at the point where it typically starts to come together a little easier.  Only it wasn’t.  I begged Bob to let me put it away.  He was relentless.  I wasn’t having fun.  My back hurt.  My eyes were drying out.  My laundry was piling up.  I hadn’t brushed my teeth in days.  I was consuming massive amounts of cookies and coffee.

I thought about the frame.  We had picked through all thousand pieces to put it together first.  Unfortunately we had missed two pieces as the cruel puzzle maker had somehow managed to craft those pieces to look nothing like an edge.  So wrong.  But we had enough to work with.  We could begin to fill it in.

Bob continued to remain steadfast and refused to let me throw the puzzle back in the box and burn it.  I watched him work diligently, happily placing one or two pieces and giving each a triumphant tap as the picture began to come together.  He not only didn’t mind the challenge, he liked it.  That has always amazed me about him, I thought as I rifled through the box wondering if maybe I was color blind.

I needed an adjustment (not chiropractic, though that wouldn’t have been a bad idea after several days bent over a table).  So with the next piece that I found I celebrated.  Not just a little tap on the piece, but a hip, hip hooray.  Completing this puzzle was going to take commitment and a thousand little celebrations.

I’m happy to tell you that we did complete it.  Then I quickly gave it away.

There is something else that I have completed recently.  It started out as a bunch of characters, mental pictures and words in that brain box of mine.  Slowly the edges began to come together and then the picture started to gain focus.  There were a couple of key missing elements to the frame but with the help of my friends and family I was able to discover them.  Soon I had a completed work.  My book.  I completed the middle-grade novel that I have been working on for the last nine years.  After a few minor edits, I’ll attempt to enter the world of published authors.  I plan on starting that process in May.  This is one big celebration for me.  It’s even better than placing a puzzle piece.

Hey, Baby, It’s Relatively Cold Outside

Today is January 28.  Feel sorry for us  Floridians yet?

Today is January 28. Feel sorry for us Floridians yet?

It’s wintertime and I’m cold.  I will not dwell on that, though, because it’s important to me that I don’t complain all year long.  Our summers in Orlando start in May and continue through October.  By the time August hits I’ve just about had it with the stifling, unending, humidity and heat.  That is the time that I will complain.  And, I’ll continue to do so right on through October.

For now I will be brave through our grueling, semi-chilly, sunny January days.  Days when the temperatures are so low that I am forced to wear socks.  Days when I’m forced to use the seat heat in my car (though not the actual heat as that would be overkill).  Days like today when I need to drink hot tea and sit by a fire for warmth as I write.

Oh sure, I could be outside.  It’s not exactly frigid.  But figuring out how to dress is confusing to me.  It’s bright and sunny so I need my sunscreen if I’m in the sun.  Plus, should I wear a heavy sweater or a long-sleeved shirt with a scarf?  Perhaps a short-sleeved shirt with a heavier jacket would do the trick.  If I go in the shade then I need another layer of clothes.  Am I going to be active or sedentary?  So many questions!

My indoor view - flowers from my son, Jesse.  Thanks for encouraging me to blog, Jesse.

My indoor view – flowers from my son, Jesse. Thanks for encouraging me to blog, Jesse.

I choose to stay indoors for now.  It’s simpler and far less distracting.  Who can concentrate with the breeze making melody as it gently moves through the wind chimes?  Not to mention the singing of the birds as they nestle in the trees.  My orange tree is putting out buds and that alluring orange blossom scent is starting to fill the air, too.  Florida winter!  It’s calling my name and I must answer.  Excuse me while I grab my sunglasses and head outside.  It will be May before I know it.

 

Even in Sadness, Light Shines Through

June 4, 2014, was the last time I posted on my blog.  I am determined to post before July ends, so here I go with a snapshot of what the last several weeks have looked like.

June was Family Eye Doctor Appointment Month – at least it was for my parents and father-in-law.  During one week I had four separate appointments for them with a total of six appointments in three weeks.  They all go to the same group.  I am the transportation and extra set of ears for my parents and the “seeing-eye-daughter” for my father-in-law.  (He’s legally blind.)  I think I’m making friends there.

In mid-June, Bob’s two sisters came down to visit their dad.  Bob’s and my prayer was that he would be healthy and they would have a good visit.  His tendency to contract UTIs (urinary tract infections) would often land him in the hospital.  We hoped he wouldn’t be going through that or anything else during their stay.

God is good.  Their visit was amazing.  They spent a week with him and saw him every day.  Bob and his sisters took him out to lunch, which can be challenging.  It was a special time with him and his three kids.  They had great conversations and walked down memory lane.  There were no incidents.  The new declines that we were beginning to see were barely noticeable during their stay.  We were so thankful.

Two days after they went home, he fell.  A few days later on June 30, Bob and I were heading over to visit my parents to celebrate my dad’s 91st birthday when we got a call that he fell again and was being sent to the ER.

He was admitted.  We all thought it was a UTI, but it was not.  I think he was worn out.  It was his time.  On July 4, he was moved to Hospice House.  On July 7, he passed away at the age of 91.  It had been a long year for him, full of challenges physically and consequently emotionally.  We are thankful that he is now at rest in Heaven.

How kind of God to give such a wonderful final visit with his daughters.  And we are thankful for Hospice House – a place to die with dignity surrounded by people who understand, comfort and help.

On the last day that he was fully responsive, I spent several hours with him in the hospital.  He was living in his past and talking vividly about it.  I joined in his conversation like I was there with him.  Having known him for over forty years, it was not difficult.  I’ll always remember how happy he was on that day and how much he enjoyed reminiscing.  I had heard of things like this happening right before the end of life here on earth.  It was remarkable to witness.

The last thing he ever asked of me was to scratch his nose.  I think they had given him some meds that made it itch.  I gave it a good rubbing.  He said, “No, that’s not getting it.  The inside itches.  Scratch the inside.”

“Sorry, Dad, you’re on your own,” I told him.  He was not shy about asking people to do for him.  I don’t feel badly about not granting this last request plus it made him laugh when I said no.

Dale (Bob's dad) telling stories at our house last Easter

Dale (Bob’s dad) telling stories at our house last Easter

He also talked about his projects.  Right to the end, he was concerned about them.  For the last six months our daughter-in-law, Aubyron, had been more or less his secretary.  When she and our son moved back to Orlando, she wanted to help; so we hired her to see him weekly, take dictation from him and transcribe those last pesky stories that he had not completed.  Her duties also included delivering Icy Hot and Listerine and the occasional manicure and tweezing of the nose hair.  (This was not part of the original job description.)  She provided Bob and me with much-needed relief and she enjoyed visiting Grandpa.

When he died, we sent messages to our friends telling them that Bob’s dad had passed.  One of our friends asked us, “Hey, what was Bob’s dad’s name?”  He was always Bob’s dad or Mr. Anderson to them.  His name was Dale.  Among other things, he was a writer.  He encouraged me in my writing.  That being said, I guess I better buckle down and write.  That would make him happy.

Once Upon a Time…

This morning I was privileged to attend a short story reading event in my area.  As a writer, I think it’s important to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities.  It’s valuable to hear from other aspiring authors.  This group, I must say, was adorable.  They were my grandson and his kindergarten classmates.

photo (132)Each of the five and six-year olds wrote and illustrated a story and read aloud to a room full of photo-taking parents and grandparents.  My heart leaped a bit as I heard my sweet grandson, Manning, reading his story about the trip he and his family made to Lego Land.  I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.  The story had it all – plot, action, suspense, and very loveable characters.  I am so proud of him.

The teacher did an excellent job of coaching the kids, and they all loved sharing.  When their story was told, she supplied a bio for each of the authors.  She told us their name and where they live – for example, my grandson lives in his house.  We also learned what these up-and-comers do in their spare time.  This ranged from playing video games to playing outside, but my favorite was one little girl who likes to run around her couch.  And, what do these young authors want to be when they grow up?  Everything – doctors, lawyers, teachers, soccer players – you name it.  My grandson wants to do construction, which fits in perfectly with his love of Legos.

I was a bit surprised that two of the children want to be spies.  One of them wants to be a spy and a mailman, which I think has real possibilities of success provided the Post Office is still around twelve years from now.

None of the kids mentioned wanting to be a writer, but I think the seeds have been sown for some of them to do just that.  I overheard the couple next to me saying that the girl who said she wants to be either a lawyer or a cake maker really wants to make cakes.  The lawyer thing she added to make her dad happy.  By the looks on the parents’ faces, these kids are already doing a great job of that.  Most of their stories were dedicated to their mom and dad.  Only one child hadn’t made up his mind yet about his future – when you’re six, why not keep your options open.

A Bug By Any Other Name

A ladybug crawled across my windshield.  I love ladybugs.  They are small and bright, and they eat the aphids on my roses.  I don’t mind holding them, and if I see one on the sidewalk I’m careful not to squish it.  As I watched her, I began to ponder.  If a ladybug wasn’t called ladybug but was called roach, would it still be cute?

Suppose you never saw a ladybug before but you had seen plenty of roaches – everything from the small German variety to the huge palmetto bugs that torment us Southerners.  Then you saw a cute little polka-dotted bug that you had never before seen and when you asked what it was you were told “roach.”  Would you automatically squish it?

Ah, the power of words.  There are some ugly words out there and I think roach is one of them, which brings me to the following.

A Mississippi State professor did a survey to identify the ugliest words.  This was reported earlier this month on the local fox news station morning show.  Interestingly, as I searched for more info, I discovered that this professor has been doing this survey with his students for years.  My conclusion, it must have been a slow news day, but it did get me thinking.

The Mississippi State results are:

  1. Moist
  2. Phlegm
  3. Hate
  4. Ooze
  5. Vomit

I conducted my own survey from my facebook friends to discover what their choices for ugly words are.  My only restriction was to keep it “G” rated.  Out of all the words submitted, three were repeated often – hate, ugly and shut-up.

To report my findings, instead of giving you an ugly list of ugly words, I wrote an ugly short story.

The corpulent colonel looked ugly in his taupe uniform.  I hated watching him as he picked his scab and sucked mucous from the crusty pimple on his putrid foot.   The sight of the moist, curd-like substance oozing from it made me want to vomit.  It was as ugly as sin.  Sadly, this happened as I was about to enjoy a succulent steak dinner.  I asked him to stop but he told me I was retarded and I should just shut up.

Some of the above words merely sound ugly.  Others are hurtful and offensive.  Do we take seriously the power of words?  Wouldn’t you rather read a sentence like this?  The baby laughed as a beautiful butterfly landed on her nose.

Yes, words have power to build up or tear down.  Let’s use them well.  And I promise, I’ll never tell this ugly story again.  Meanwhile enjoy this clip from Seinfeld where George waxes poetic about the word manure.

Help, I’m Chained to my Computer

Bob is making me write this post.  He likes to force me out of my comfort zone.  Currently he is standing over me with his arms folded in front of him yelling, “Type, type.”  It’s like the writer’s version of being chained in the hold of a boat while the master yells, “Row, row.”  He has promised to let me have a sip of water once I’ve posted.

The reason for my hesitation is that this post is a little like patting myself on the back.  I’m not comfortable doing that.  Perhaps I should stretch first and that would help.  Anyway, Bob thought I should tell you a bit of exciting news.

My last post about stalking zombies at CVS described one of the most spontaneous bits of fun I’ve had meeting new people while out and about.  I decided to share it on Erma Bombeck’s Writers’ Workshop facebook page.  Today I was contacted and asked if they could share it on their blog.  I am so honored.  I grew up reading Erma and feel like she is part of my extended family.  I am reminded that I would have stopped writing a long time ago if I didn’t have a few people out there reading what I wrote (besides my mom and dad).  So, thank you, my friends, for reading the stuff I throw at you.  You warm my heart with your kind words of encouragement.  I hope my little offerings lighten your load and bring a smile to your faces.

In case you’d like to see my post on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop Blog and also take a look at what some other humor writers are doing, you can click on this link  for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop Blog.  It is a very entertaining place to hang out and do some reading.

Now, if Bob doesn’t mind, I think I’ll have that sip of water.