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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Senior Sex(less) and the City: #20

Joe Cool
Joe is cool. He’s so cool, in fact, that all he has to do is say what his job is. Then he leans back and awaits the praise. I.T. Joe is IT.

I ask him about his job. I’m not intending to pry; it’s just all I have to go on, and Joe and I are sort of isolated on one end of a table with no one else to talk to. Joe’s response is to give me a “look” to tell me how stupid I am. Joe’s job is so cool, I should know all about it.

A woman sits down next to us and Joe is too cool for her, too. So we talk to each other. She is a child psychologist and very nice. But when she goes to the bathroom, I sneak a look at Joe’s face because there just isn’t much else to do. Joe has a goatee that doesn’t go. It might go on some people, but it gives Joe the look of an aging evil genie. Joe’s goatee makes me wonder if the word “goatee” has something to do with goats. To me Joe’s cool goatee looks a little like pube art sprouting on his evil genie face.

Joe is popular. He’s so popular, in fact, that he texts his friends at the table during the middle of dinner. Don’t you have a phone, Cool Joe asks?

I have to stifle a giggle while addressing Joe’s facial pubes. “I yell at my children when they do that,” I say, indicating the texting at the table. He rolls his eyes to show how very uncool I am.

I yell at my children when they do that, too.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Improper Poll: Flashes of Non-Brilliance

In honor of college starting, I can’t help but think of the time I walked clear across a college campus with my blouse unbuttoned. As in, seriously unbuttoned. I don’t know which is worse—the fact that I didn’t detect the breeze, or the fact that my flashing attracted so little attention that I didn’t notice until I got home.

Have you experienced any wardrobe malofunctions?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Book Blurb Friday #26

I’m late this week for Book Blurb Friday, a meme from Lisa Ricard Claro’s Writing in the Buff. This fun challenge invites readers to come up with a book jacket blurb of 150 words or fewer that makes potential readers feel compelled to buy the book.

I struggled with this week’s, so I apologize in advance. But at least, with 129 words, I’m under the word limit!

~Dallas, But Not That One~
By Wanda Goodjob
Come listen to a story ‘bout a man named Dallas
A rich businessman, kept his family in a palace
Then one day he was enjoying autonomy
Then-boom!-he lost his job in a depressed economy!

Downsized, that is. Sacked. Pink slipped.

Well first thing you know old Dallas was so poor
Mortgage company said, “Dallas move away from there”
They said, “tarpaper shack is where you ought to be”
So they loaded up the U-Haul and moved to Valley.

City, that is. North Dakota. Low unemployment rates.

Well now it’s time to say goodbye to Dallas and all his family
‘Cause they’ll soon freeze their butts off in the northern territory
Y’all are invited back, but please leave your car
And don’t forget to drop some money in the jar!

After you've checked out the clever book blurbs, be sure to stop by Donna's Book Pub to enter her Cactus Country Anthology giveaway!

And welcome to Beth Wood of I Digress!   

If you show enough houses, you learn all the tricks. Every realtor is just a ninja with a blazer. The average burglar breaks in and leaves clues all over the place, but not me. I’m completely clueless. ~Phil Dunphy, Modern Family

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Being True

I am driving to the college, my car packed so full that we had to make portholes between pillows and piles of clothing. I amuse myself by wondering with what profound words I can leave this child. It seems necessary somehow to have an important parting sentiment.

I think about Polonius’ famous parting words to his son Laertes, “This above all: to thine own self be true/And it must follow, as the night the day/Thou canst not then be false to any man." And I think about what I’ve tried to get across to my children their whole lives: Respect yourself and others. Seek balance. Play fair. Look at the big picture. Make good choices. “Make good choices” became a joke among us. A half-joke. We were kidding but we meant it.

You’d think with all of the goodbyes I’ve said in my life, I would be better at it. Most of my married life, we moved a lot. Every time I had built a life that I loved and lived in a house that represented all I had built, we moved. And every time we’d drive away from a place that one last time, I would mean to turn around and look back so that I could store that memory in my brain like a photograph that I would take out and reminisce over. At least that was the plan. But what happened every time was that I was always too busy to look back.

Which was okay. Sometimes it’s better to look ahead.

In the end, we hug somewhat awkwardly, and I say something that is not remotely profound. The words of wisdom I blurt out are, “Have fun.” Like I say, I am bad at goodbyes. Have fun? What kind of lame thing is that to say to your teenager? Do I really want that?

Well, yes, yes I do. Of course I do. Not the kind that hurts anyone, of course, but I do want my children to have fun, happy lives. Are my parting words really that bad? Who knows. These are responsible people who do, by the grace of God, make good choices. Now is not the time to teach them anything I’ve never taught before. So I drive away, thinking of the tall, wonderful, surprisingly self-possessed young person I’ve marveled over lately, and while I am smiling over that, I forget to look back.

And I realize as I am driving away that I’ve just left a person whose job it is to find their own wisdom. Which is, of course, what it’s all about, anyway.

Navajo proverb: “We raise our children to leave us.”

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Improper Poll: Blog Award Time!

Jules at Just Trying to Get Over the Rainbow gave me a lovely award Friday! Thanks so much, Jules! Problem is, I can't get the actual award to post.  Nonetheless, the answers Jules gave were hysterically funny. Here are my answers. They are also your Improper Poll questions should you decide to accept them, so pay attention to the questions!

Are you a rutabaga?
I don’t know what this means, but yesterday I drove out of town, so I’ll say I feel more like a Winnebaga. And I lovelovelove summer festival time.

Who is your current crush?
I have one! I do! A real live person this time! That’s all I’m sayin’. ;)

A picture that makes you smile.
Pretty much anything on Awkward Family Photos.  The pictures—along with the titles and captions—never fail to make me giggle uncontrollably.

Oh, and also this. It’s all over the Internet, but for good reason. Who can resist a bowl of kitties? Especially a wash bowl? Add those expressions…. It doesn’t matter how often I see this picture. I melt every time.

When was the last time you ate a vine-ripened tomato?
Today, thanks to my friend John who gave me two big bags of them, along with two big bags of peppers from his garden. And they are incredible!  I didn’t grow them this year and have regretted it every day of tomato season.

Name a habit that causes other people to plot your demise.
Here is but one. I sneeze about ten times in a row after I eat. It makes some people very uncomfortable. Me too. Though once when it happened at lunch with a friend, I was apologizing in between sneezes. She merely shrugged and gave me this sage look she has and murmured, “gustatory rhinitis.” I looked it up when I got home and as usual, she was right.

What is the weirdest most disgusting job you have ever had to do?
I did product demonstrations in college. When it was food and I was in a grocery store, I had to wash up in the meat department. Butchers have to be the lustiest group of men on earth, giving new meaning to the term, “meat market.” They could be counted upon to ask for my phone number, probably because, in contrast to everything else in their workspace, I was female and human and alive. The back of a meat department is enough to make you a vegetarian—which I un-coincidentally was at that point in my life—and has to be one of the most un-romantic places in the world. So I was standing there shivering in the cold and struggling not to dry heave while surrounded by the stench of raw, dead animal flesh and little globs of fat and pools of blood getting on my shoes, and some old guy in a bloody apron surrounded by cleavers would be coming onto me. Trust me, it was disgusting.

Where da muffin top at?
Forgive me for boasting, but I bet I could produce a muffin top around any cinched body part. Case in point.

Describe yourself using obscure Latin terms.
Besides Gustatory Rhinitis, which sounds Latin to me, Vetulus Pectoris, Ploutizo Pneuma. According to something I read, it means “poor souls, enriched spirit.” I heard it in reference to artistic types. In case that’s not obscure enough, I speak gardening Latin such as clematis triternata rubromarginata.

I never know how people feel about awards, so I officially pass this one to anyone who wants it. You have been polled! Thank you again to Jules!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Blurb Friday #25

Time for Book Blurb Friday, a meme from Lisa Ricard Claro’s Writing in the Buff. This fun challenge offers a picture for inspiration. Our job is to write a book jacket blurb of 150 words or fewer that makes potential readers feel compelled to buy the book.  This week I came up with 126 words.

~Grand Land~
Decker “Deckhead” Worthingless was a spoiled trust fund baby who decided that the best way to get his parents’ attention was to ignore them. Going home for Christmas vacation with his Princeton roommate, the brilliant and eccentric Larry Squirell from Grand Island, Nebraska, seemed just the thing.

Despite the name, Grand Island is neither grand…nor an island. Yet Larry affectionately referred to his small, prairie-grass-roots home town as “Grand ’Land.” What Decker found in Nebraska surrounded by the Squirell clan—Helen, Chuck, Grandpa Winslow, and Larry’s quirky sister Evelyn—was indeed something grand that would change more lives than just Decker’s…especially when Decker made a mistake that no trust fund could buy off.

Fortunately for everyone, what happens in Grand Land doesn’t stay in Grand Land.

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. ~John Powell

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


When I was very, very small, my grandfather would hold up his watch. Hear it? He’d say. Hear the tick tick tick?

He was born on this day in 1889. And when my own son was born in 1989, I was proud to hold up that same watch that I’d wound for just that purpose.

My grandfather had several gifts to give: the wisdom to know what to pass along, the inclination to pass it, and the talent to do it well. He was a former teacher who knew that life is a lesson and a game, both, and he possessed the divine sense to give these gifts to any child who would take them. He died when I was too young yet to thank him, so I try hard to pass along what I remember and hope it is thanks enough.

Now I look at my son who is studying to be a teacher. Born 100 years after his great grandfather. Learning to be a real man in his own right, nurtured by teachers, coaches, his girlfriend’s father who is both. Hear the watch, my son?

I believe he did. He heard.

And only now do I know. That tick tick tick was the sound of immortality.

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Improper Poll: (Don’t) Give Me a Hand

I recently read an article on weird dreams and what they mean. Nowadays I tend to have nightmares about things like my air conditioning going out. Which did, in fact, come true. And yes, it was a nightmare!

But it got me thinking about my Weirdest Dream Ever. It was a toss-up between several, but this is the most recent. I dreamed I’d moved to Boulder, Colorado and wanted to have a party to meet people. My neighbor suggested that if I wanted to be really cool, I should serve as an hors d’oeuvre the latest delicacy: human body parts. I thought that was gross, but I also happen to think some kinds of sushi are gross, so I called the contact she gave me. He told me he had a nice shipment of hands coming in. I asked him how one prepares human body parts, and he told me it would come precooked and everything. Hooray for convenience food!

Fast-forward to party day. I went to pick up my hors d’oeuvre. The Body Part Guy proudly pronounced my prize “a real nice one” and pulled back a piece of foil, and there, on a plate, was a slightly roasted man’s hand. To this day I can’t type this without shuddering. It was a decapitated hand with fingernails and little hairs and everything, and I was so horrified that I awoke with a gasp and couldn’t get that picture out of my head.

I eventually realized the dream was meant to be what it was: a hefty little wake-up shove from my subconscious mind…in this case about some parenting issues. It’s easy to get lazy as a single parent. Parenting is hard work even when there are two of you. With one, you really are forced to work twice as hard to do a good job, yet there’s no one to back you up. And the great paradox of single parenting: if you make a mistake, it’s your fault for trying.

What I realized was that I was allowing my teenaged son to do something only because some other parents I knew allowed it, but that didn’t make it right. (I can’t remember now what it was. Nothing major, but child-rearing is never a truly minor thing, is it?) That dream was the equivalent of my subconscious mind asking me if I would jump off a cliff just because some other parents were doing it. And would I serve human body parts as food if that were the latest craze, too?

I tell you, single parenting…bites. Because you could always use an extra…hand. Ack! Do you have a really weird dream you’d be willing to share?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Blurb Friday #24

Have you ever had a week that simultaneously dragged and flew? That describes my week and my body, come to think of it. I’ve felt like a really fast zombie. School started like gangbusters, and no one seemed prepared…including my immune system.  I promptly caught a cold. Plus months ago my daughter and I decided her graduation party would be more of a bon voyage party right before she and her friends set sail on the winds of their various futures. Which turned out to be this weekend.

So…am sorry I’m so behind on your blogs this week, but I hope to get caught up now that I’m almost over the hump. Till then, thank heavens for caffeine and Book Blurb Friday, a meme in which our delightful host, Lisa Ricard Claro of Writing in the Buff, posts a picture of a pretend book cover. The challenge is to write an accompanying blurb of 150 words or fewer to sell the book. Mine is a petite 80 words. 

~Embracing Nice~

Carolyn Sweeting was nice. And nice, of course, is practically synonymous with nerdy. Nice is the oatmeal, the mouse brown, the canvas tennis shoes of virtues.

But Carolyn’s not-so-nice husband gave her the only real gift of their lives together: the realization of what it was she valued most in this world. So when the children moved out, she divorced him and left behind her former soccer mom life in order to move to…where else? Nice. Nice, France.

It was only when Carolyn embraced nice that she found sometimes…nice can be a lot more exciting than anyone ever seems to think possible.

“Just like your mother, you’re unfailingly kind—a trait people never fail to undervalue, I’m afraid.” ~Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Improper Poll: Haggaday

They say it as I’m leaving Costco: “Haggaday!” Bank tellers say it, too. “Haggaday!” I just heard it again as I was leaving the grocery store: “Haggaday!”

I’m not making fun of them; the words are bound to slur together when people utter the same sentence hundreds of times a day. The thing that makes me giggle is the logo that always pops into my head:

Do you ever hear a silly pronunciation?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Book Blurb Friday #23.

Time for Book Blurb Friday, a meme from Lisa Ricard Claro’s Writing in the Buff.   We are challenged to use the picture for inspiration to write a book jacket blurb of 150 words or fewer that makes potential readers feel compelled to buy the book.  Mine this week was 77 words.

~Rain, Rain Go Away~
By Rob R. Duckie
We feared it would rain down on us as bombs.
We feared it would rain down on us as plagues.
We feared it would rain down on us in the form of poisonous gasses.
We even feared it would rain down as poisoned food and water supplies.
What no one foresaw was that it would rain down on us…as rain.

Rain, rain go away,
Come again another day
Or we’ll all die in a horrible way….

(This is kind of ironic since we are currently getting the first significant rain we’ve had in ages. I actually danced a little jig of hooray-I-don’t-have-to-haul-the-hose-out happiness. A real-life rain dance!)

“Why?” ~Purported last word of Rebecca Schaeffer right after a stranger ambushed and shot her

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Senior Sex(less) and the City: More Single Women!

Chatty Cathy
I got stuck next to her during a single’s event where very few people showed up. Thing I learned : don‘t ever, ever sit on the end at a single’s event where you know no one, because on the end, you might only have one person seated next to you, and then you’re trapped.

“…cousin, who’s friend is a professional hairdresser….”
“…next house had only two bedrooms….”
“…was a drunk, and so was his brother….”
“…vet. So I picked up Fluffy….”
“…go, ‘No way!’ And she goes, ‘yuh huh,’ and….”
“…Wicked Witch of the West! No kidding…."

I kept zoning out and coming to, wondering things like how she breathed and so forth, so that I just heard fragments. It didn’t matter, because there wasn’t enough of a pause to allow me to respond, anyway:

“…shift starts at 9:00, but I always….”
“…from cirrhosis of the liver….”
“…houses down? Or was it three….? Anyway, he goes….”
“…barked. It was the cutest thing! So….”

I finally got “sick” and had to leave. She probably still hasn’t noticed.

From Modern Family:

Phil [about their son, Luke]: He’s one of those kids you get him a gift and all he wants to do is play with the box.
Claire: One year we just got him a box, a really nice box.
Phil: And we made the mistake of putting it in a gift bag.
Claire: So he played with the gift bag.
Phil: We can’t get it right.