Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Soup with Soul

Yesterday I got a message to call Amy Newmark, editor of Chicken Soup for the Soul What I Learned from the Dog. It seems they have a television proposal for early morning TV news shows and wanted to use a shortened version of my story, “Best Dog in the World,” for one of the pilots. It’s only in the proposal stage, so it may never come to fruition; still, it was flattering and exciting.

I liked Amy very much. She, too, it seems, champions humane societies. She mentioned projects in which the new dog book is being used in conjunction with various fundraisers to aid in the placement of stray and rescue dogs.

She was genuinely proud of the book, and not just as a product. It was clear that she is fully aware of Chicken Soup’s significance as a positive force in society, and that touched me deeply. This was not just a person who cares about selling books; this was a person who cares about making the world a better place.

I like to think it’s that core premise—that conscious awareness of the greater good—that makes Chicken Soup for the Soul series such a success. I do know every one of the contributors I’ve met is a font of talent, truth and wisdom in her own right. It never ceases to amaze me how uplifting it can feel to be a small cog in a big wheel…as long as that big wheel moves the force of good in the world.

But words are things, and a small drop of ink, / Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces / That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think. ~George Gordon Byron

Friday, September 25, 2009

Demented Decades

It was bad enough when my daughter informed me it was “Decade Day” at school, and she had picked the 80s because the clothes were so funny. The eighties? Far too recent to warrant a “Day.” It was a little like hearing my era’s music on an oldies channel for the first time.

But being such a great sport, I quickly warmed to the idea. For instance, when she asked me what she should wear, I told her: Think big except for the jeans. Big, permed hair. Big, stick-out bangs. Big, padded shoulders.

“No, really,” she said. “I get to wear leg warmers, right?”

Turns out her view of the eighties was derived completely from the movie, “Flashdance.” She wanted to wear workout clothes. I explained to her that people didn’t wander around that entire era in workout attire. She was horrified.

Feeling proud of myself, I led her to the basement where I still happen to have authentic 80s clothes…well, really nineties, but they still had an eighties feel.

Horrified, she wanted to know why I still have those.

Honestly, I don’t know. Some of it was formal wear that I couldn’t stand to give away when I’d only worn it once. Some was so darned cute that I was sure it would come back in style. And some was just so tiny, I guess I needed to remember that I was once able to fit into it.

But the thing is, she didn’t want authentic. Too dorky. She wanted pretend 80s. Shoulder pads and giant bangs? Forget it. The only thing she wanted to be giant was her earrings. She wanted an off-the-shoulder sweatshirt and a side ponytail in a scrunchie. Never mind the fact that regular people wore those things…never. To me, there was no small amount of irony in the fact that she skipped off to school looking like a mismatched Trailer Trash Barbie because real 80s attire was just too clownish.

Later that evening, she told me that “everyone” was dressed pretty much exactly the way she was, other than the ones who had chosen the 70s. And then she said one kid came wrapped in one of those Snuggle Blankets. You know what I mean—those blankets with arms? Anyway, this kid, God love him, said he was from this decade.

Ha. I told my daughter I am going to purchase a Snuggle Blanket just to save for her children. When it’s “2009 Day” at their schools, I will have just the outfit for them.

Children are the only form of immortality that we can be sure of. ~Peter Ustinov

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Place to Rest His Feet

Last weekend was Parents’ Weekend at my son’s college. I forgot to take my camera. So I started to ask him to take pictures with his cell phone…but then thought better of it. This is what he sent last time I forgot my camera and asked for a picture of his dorm room. Please—don’t go to any trouble or anything, ‘kay?

At least he is not a photography major.

"Oh yeah? Well my son is god to millions of Asians." ~Peggy Hill, “King of the Hill,” after reading a "My Child is an Honor Student" bumper sticker when Bobby is being considered as the next Dalai Lama

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Guess You Serve Them at a Pity Party

The older and wiser I get, the more I love my job. The other day, while subbing in a seventh grade class, a little girl came in and uttered one of my all-time favorite quotes. So I’m giving it its own post.

Here it is, spoken by a 7th grade girl (while walking in the door and swinging her giant pink purse):

“I feel sorry for muffins, don’t you? When you think about it, muffins are, like, really ugly cupcakes. They’re like cupcake rejects, all naked and bald like that.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chakras Again

I haven’t mentioned chakras lately because I’ve been on the solar plexus one. It seems that, instead of requiring yoga positions for proper chakral tuning, this one necessitates some actual abdominal exercises. So I ran some off from an exercise website, and that was plenty exhausting, let me tell you. Am thinking this one could take a while.

Is it working, though? Well, I had several great weeks at work, got offered a good—if temporary—job, have had fun weekends, and got asked out by someone who didn’t mention steaming his brain fungus or start a conversation discussing his close encounter with aliens. And I suddenly can’t quit writing. Hmm....

Everything You Do Or Don’t Do Is An Expression Of Your Walk With God. ~Robb Thompson

Saturday, September 12, 2009

An Art Fair to Remember

Went to the Saint Louis art fair today. I took a picture of this cute little café area almost as an afterthought, but later loved the way the fair booths were reflected in the window.

Great event, great weather, great day. Have lived in a few cities across the nation, but St. Louis is my adopted home because it’s the one that has the most variety. As my son said, it has everything but an ocean. I can live with that.

Don't compare your life to others'. You have no Idea what their journey is all about. ~Anonymous

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

All Partied Out

This part cracks me up. The day after, it just looks so pooped.

Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. ~George Carlin

Monday, September 7, 2009

That Ain't No Lady

Here she is in all her glory—Queen of the Night Orchid or Night Blooming Cereus (though it’s really a jungle cactus). Some people actually have Night Blooming Cereus parties. Okay, admittedly not the most exciting-sounding party theme in the world; sounds a little like watching grass grow to me, but who knows.

What I do know is that Epiphyllum oxypetalum blooms are the size of a dessert plate and showy with a capital SHOW that borders on garish. The hoochy-coochy dancers of the flower world, they don’t whisper to potential pollinators, but shout at them with all manner of trumpets and fanfare and blowsy petticoats and beckoning ticklers and effusive nighttime perfume.

Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge. ~George Carlin

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Growing Cereus-ness

I love this stage where the monstrous, pinkish, be-tentacled buds elongate and reach up as if ready to strike an unsuspecting victim. To me, these have a "Little Shop of Horrors" feel that makes me not want to turn my back on them....
Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!Feed me, Seymour Feed me all night long~"Little Shop of Horrors"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What Do You Call a Group of Frogs?

Answer (according to Jeeves’ former employer): An army.

This is half of our pond army. And it does seem like an army when they’re all out at attention, eyeing me with amphibian apprehension. At ease, guys.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”~Mark Twain