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Showing posts from January, 2010

Be It Ever So Humble

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Friday brought ice and followed it with snow.  My granddaughter was ecstatic and ran out to play.  Having lived most of my life in the north, I didn't view it as much of an accumulation.  But from a southern child's perspective, it was a true blizzard. 

Yesterday brought more ice and the trees glistened. Very beautiful when viewed through our windows.  And that's how I like it. Safe from drivers who are inexperienced with these conditions and who exercise little common sense. Away from the cold and damp. No need to go anywhere or do anything.

Ah. There truly is no place like home.

Convictions - Installment #3

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New to Convictions?
Full story:  Index
Quick Story: In a Nutshell Lucy Smith was removing brownies from the oven when she heard the excited voice.

“Gran! Gran you have to see this!”

The tiny, wrinkled black woman stood and raised a finger to her lips.

“Miss Lucy”, she corrected gently, “Your mom is home, Angel”.

“Sorry, I forgot. Rick and I discovered treasure. The box is stuck in the ground.”

“Would you like a hand getting it out?”

. . .
At Beth's resounding yes, she quickly set the brownies to cool and turned off the oven. They stopped at the tool shed for a spade, then headed towards the back of the lot where Rick impatiently waited. The corner of something red was just peeking through the dirt. Although dulled, it seemed obvious to Lucy that it was made of metal. She began to dig. Although her small size and wrinkled face suggested someone too old and frail for this activity, it became quickly obvious that she was neither. Within a minute, she had loosened enough earth to r…

Predator

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Predator is loose. Seeking it's prey.
Stealthily moving from room to room.
Seeking, anticipating. Getting closer.

There! Up there! Unaware it is stalked.
Moving even slower now.
Gentle step by gentle step.

It is time.
He makes his move. Strong and graceful.
Leap and capture become one.

Big orange tabby cat.
Proudly brandishes captured Q-Tip.

More Than Enough

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Last week I listed things that I'd love to do more than once.
Today,things I don't like get equal air time.

One of the things I don't want to do
is eat cottage cheese.
Baked beans make two.

I really hate funerals,
they don't comfort me.
That's why on this list, they're number three.

What's earned a place as number four?
Cleaning clothes, house or dishes -
there's always more.

Laying in hospital barely alive,
is truly not fun.
But it is number five.

I'm not successful and don't get my kicks
raising money for charity.
That's number six.

I like making bread, using yeast as a leaven.
But when it won't rise,
that's number seven.

Paying the bills is number eight.
And on creditors' lists
when I am late.

Am I included with people who whine?
I'm hoping not,
'cause that's number nine.

Put foot in mouth. Yes, that's number ten.
Someday I'll keep quiet,
I'm just not sure when.

Fog, snow and ice, whether drivi…

X-Ray Vision?

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You've Got My Number

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Phone service has come a long way from the 8-party line. Or has it?

With a party line, I had to listen for a ring that identified whether the call was mine. It was a small interruption. But some days, the phone rang incessantly – for other people.

I've had a private line for years. Yet, after multiple interruptions one day, I realized that none of the calls were for me:

Good morning. I'm Lisa calling to ask for your support in reelecting Bob Smarmy.
 Sorry, Lisa, I've already promised to support my cat.

Good Morning. I'm Cheryl, your account executive, at Cashless Credit Cards. I'm calling today to offer you an exciting new card. You say that you're on the National Do Not Call Registry? Ma'am , that only applies to companies you don't have a business relationship with. Since you already have a credit card with us . . .
 So why do I want another one?

This call is for (pause, automated voice) Sam Brokealot. We are calling to discuss an urgent personal busin…

Popping

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I am participating in a new (to me) meme today. It's hosted by The Simple Woman's Daybook. Participant's complete a series of phrases. The phrases stay the same from week to week, but hopefully my answers won't.

Outside my window... the promise of spring - both the warmth and the rain.

I am thinking... about popcorn. Wish it were a more lofty thought, but popcorn is on my brain.

I am thankful for... living in the same house as my granddaughter. She is my daily dose of sunshine.

I am wearing... one of my comfy blue robes. I have several. I don't think this item is going to change much.

I am remembering... that it's my brother's birthday. I want to call him today and remind him that he is still older than I am.

I am currently reading... the grocery list.

I am going... to add more popcorn to the grocery list.

I am hoping... for more sun and less rain.

On my mind... the refrigerator. Not for any tasty treats. That thing is overdue for a cleaning.

Noticing th…

If You Build It

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A couple weeks ago, I was bemoaning my lack of posts over the weekend.  The next day, Calico came up with a wonderful idea, a new meme for writers of all kinds.  With this literary field in mind, Calico embraced the "If you build it, they will come" motto.  Within a couple days she had the Weekend Writers' Retreat built and ready to go.  We looked forward to the weekend with excitement.  When the retreat was opened for submissions on Friday, we kept peeking and waiting for some posts.  When ours were the only Friday posts, we reassured one another that most folks were waiting for Saturday.  Or Sunday?   Just when they would come was never specified.  Guess we'd missed that in the fine print.

Everyday life can get in the way of our hobbies and dreams.  It takes time to put a submission together.  If you've never let the general public view your writing, there's bound to be some nervousness about it's reception.  Having started to post a novel that is no wh…

Convictions - Installment #2

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New to Convictions?
Full story:  Index
Quick Story: In a Nutshell The bus left the prison behind. Trentsport dwindled to a few homes, then to woods and fields. The bus crossed the county line. Bethany gradually relaxed. Just viewing the world beyond the prison walls was a pleasure. Her enjoyment was curbed by the startling speed of the bus. Other passengers read or chatted, seemingly oblivious. It took a minute to realize that years of incarceration had left her body unaccustomed to normal travel. It produced a queasiness that caused her to regret the hearty breakfast. She struggled to adjust, but gave up when the bus turned onto the turnpike entrance. She was not ready for anything faster. She turned away from the window and let her mind wander back.
. . .
He stopped next to the big pine that marked the edge of the woods and scowled his frustration. He had meticulously searched every inch of the two vast properties. Behind tool sheds and gazebos, under the porches, beneath shrubs. Even…

Perspective

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When I was young, I'd wonder why
bad times would come to make me cry.
What had I done? What was the cause?
Were these the fruits of divine laws?

Now that I'm old, each day's a gift:
the good, the bad, the subtle rift.
My life flows swift towards end of time
and I am glad that they are mine.

Unfulfilled literary aspirations?.
Join us at the Weekend Writer's Retreat to share your work.
Or just stop by to appreciate others'.


Once Is Not Enough

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Some things are so pleasurable that they deserve to be repeated. Here are 13 things that I've done more than once or would like to do again.
Watch the sunset at Lake Ontario. The sky becomes saturated with a million shades of pink as the fiery sun glides into the water. A walk along the water's edge would be a fine companion to this visual pleasure.Hear my father's laugh again. He was known for a delightful sense of humor and his laughter was strong and melodic. Some days I yearn to hear it just one more time.Sip a good cup of coffee while I sit at my computer. This morning ritual never grows old.Enjoy my daughter's childhood. It was such a joy to watch her grow. And yes, trite as it sounds, it happened all too fast.Catch a Frisbee. I was never the athletic type, but one day I was with some friends who were throwing a Frisbee in the park. It sailed towards me, too far above my head to catch. Without thinking, I flew into the air, extended my fingers and the Frisbee…

Progress

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Packed

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I attended a private high school that was run by an order of nuns. As you might guess, religious classes were mandatory for all students. Some proved to be interesting, but when a teacher mentioned that religious scholars had once debated how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, I was just incredulous.

At fifteen, religious arguments had little place in my head. Already a budding geek, I was enthralled by my math classes. And, of course, the question of whether a certain handsome classmate would ever know that I existed. I'd like to tell you that one day he looked at me and realized what he'd been missing, but Grandma can't keep a straight face while she tells a whopper that big. He went steady with a pretty petite cheerleader and never gave a second glance to the chubby geek girl who placed 2nd in a state math contest. Well, he did notice me once. Asked if he could copy my math homework.

He might have been the reason that I developed a never-to-be…

Curious #202

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Here are the week's questions from Curious As A Cat. Check out this link and have fun coming up with your own answers. Here are mine for Week #202:

About how many hours a week do you spend watching TV?
It varies depending on the time of year, but 8-10 hours would be a good estimate. Watching TV is a recent interest for me. I used to go months without turning on the set. I wrote a post about this a couple of weeks ago. The full story is called Days Of The Week.

If you have a day off, do you like to sleep in or get up early?
When I worked, I got up at 4:30am and was out of the house by 5:15am. When I had a day off, I'd try to sleep in, but would be wide awake by 6am. Guess that was sleeping late for me. Since retirement, I have reverted to my natural night owl tendencies.

If you could exchange work space--not job assignments, just desk or work area--with someone at your job, with whom would you switch?
I worked for many years in a high-rise building. The outside walls were glas…

What Are You Doing Next Weekend?

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Yesterday, I posted the first installment of my novel, Convictions. I'd thought about writing for a long time, but it had never become a reality. How satisfying to finally take that first step.

If you've ever thought about writing - a story, a poem, a novel - here's an opportunity for you to join others with similar aspirations. Calico and I have started the Weekend Writer's Retreat. This meme will give you the opportunity to share what you have written and receive feedback from other writers.

Your writing submissions will be accepted from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening each week.  So get ready for the first round which begins next Friday, January 22nd.  Sift through your literary creations and make a choice.  Or start writing.  Now!


Convictions - Installment #1

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New to Convictions?
Full story:  Index
Quick Story: In a Nutshell
Bethany stepped outside and the door clicked behind her. Through hovering fog, she could barely see the outline of downtown Trentsport. She walked  to the gate and started down the narrow road. She'd been offered a ride, but today she needed to walk. She needed to do this by herself. It had been so long.

Oblivious to rain that soaked her hair and penetrated the thin jacket, she moved at a pace better suited to blue sky and sunshine. When she reached the intersection, the urge to look back became strong. It was harder than she had anticipated to say goodbye. She wanted to go, had dreamed of leaving, but fifteen years held so many memories.

. . .

Good ones, bad ones. No matter, they would always be a part of her. Unaware, her walking slowed, then halted. Memories pelted harder than the rain. A four-wheeler honked a warning at an emerging car. She jerked back to the present. Bethany squared her shoulders and turned ont…

Be the task

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When a task is once begun, never stop til it is done.
Be the task great or small. do it well or not at all.

I was only eight years old when I took issue with this saying.  I'd heard it frequently from my mother.  She'd heard it just as often from hers.  The task was to clean my room.  I thought for a minute and replied, "Okay, I won't do it."  Of course I was in BIG trouble, although I wasn't sure why.  I felt the words offered an option and I had made a choice. The mistake was not repeated. By adulthood, the message had become firmly internalized.   

It was hard enough to take care of my home and family, attend college and hold down a full time job without bringing expectations of perfection to these tasks. Frustration forced me to reevaluate this motto. Yes, it had it's wisdom.  Doing something well brought a lot of satisfaction.   It had some flaws too. Who can do everything well?  What if there isn't enough time to complete a task? Tell the baby t…

Things I'm Not Writing About

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Sorry. I won't be able to do a Thursday Thirteen this week. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't come up with a topic. But I tried. Really I did. I can prove it. Check out all the topics that I considered and discarded:
The Weather
It's been miserably cold and damp. Why would anyone want to read about that?

Water Feature #1
I heard an interior designer say that water features add serenity to a room. This has not been my experience. So you will not be reading about the joys of having your house flood a week after you move into it.

The Mess
Who wants to hear about clutter in the office,  dying plants in the kitchen and pet fur that rivals the fruit fly's  reproductive capabilities? I've been avoiding this mess for days, weeks, months. Why focus on it now?

American Idol
If you love it, you already know  it's back.  You also know that there are far more than 13 reasons to watch it. If you don't love it, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Virtual Pets
My focus on these cute l…

Wishful Thinking

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When I created this image in the heat of summer, I just know that I was thinking of a cooler day. Take me back.


Sweet and Sour

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For some, the term may bring Chinese cuisine to mind. It takes me back to early spring at my grandparent's farm in New Hampshire.

For a week, my grandfather had been busy collecting sap from buckets that hung below taps placed in his maple trees. The sap had been filtered and deposited in a huge vat which sat on a grate over a roaring fire. When the sap had boiled down to maple syrup consistency, it was cooled and placed in containers. After reserving some for the family's use, the remainder would be sold. When the harvest had been completed for the year, it was time for the sugaring off party.

Long shallow pans were packed with snow, which was still in plentiful supply at that time of year. A portion of the sap was removed from the vat and brought into the kitchen. It was left to simmer on the stove until it reached a consistency that was much thicker than maple syrup. This boiling concoction was ladled in strips across the pans of snow. It quickly hardened a…

Curious

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Here are the week's questions from Curious As A Cat. Check out this link and have fun coming up with your own answers. Here are mine for Week #201:

1) Do you know any professional athletes?
Know? If I ran into one, I wouldn't recognize who they were. The term "sports illiterate" doesn't begin to describe my ignorance in this area. I didn't know who OJ Simpson was until he went on trial.

2) What one thing frightens you the most about growing old?
Becoming invisible. I slid into old age quite rapidly, when I became seriously ill a few years ago. At my workplace, I was respected for my problem solving abilities. Colleagues frequently asked for my opinion. One day I was working in this environment. Less than 24 hours later, I was lying on an ICU bed. Health professionals stood next to it, discussing me as if I wasn't there. Questions and explanations were directed to my daughter. I had become invisible. Many people translate my physical frailties t…

Restful

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I still remember the never ending boredom of Sunday afternoons in my youth. Sunday was observed as a day of rest. The concept was a good one. The definition was not. No playing with friends. Sunday was a day to stay at home and rest. Bike riding, rope jumping or a swim in the pond were out. Anything that remotely resembled physical activity was considered work. Working on a craft? Did I say "working"? You know that wasn't on the restful list. Sitting quietly and reading the Sunday newspaper was OK. The part I read was the comics and that only took a few minutes. The day wore on.

On the really bad Sundays, we piled in the car and went for a long ride. I was the youngest and had to sit in the middle of the back seat with my legs perched on top of the hump in the floor. My brothers, already on the way to 6 feet, blocked any possible view through the windows. Smoke from my father's cigarettes would drift back. Sometimes it would make me sick and the ride …

Saturday's Stories

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If you've ever enjoyed reading a good book, you've probably thought about writing one. It might have been just a passing thought. Or some good ideas for a plot. Even if you've never put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), the idea of writing a novel is intriguing. While some might be happy with that substantial accomplishment, most of us want more - publish it, spend months on the best seller list. Part of the allure is probably financial, but the thought of so many people absorbed in something you wrote is pretty heady stuff too. A literary rock star.

My head is filled with snippets of plots. Lacking the motivation to take it further, it's highly unlikely that my thoughts will be translated into a novel or be published.

Or is it? In the blogging world, I never touch a piece of paper. I don't spend days or years completing a masterpiece. I just put down a couple of thoughts and hit the Publish button. Okay, no best seller yet. But I have never receiv…

Zzzzzz

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Like most children, I was never that anxious to go to bed. Having to take a nap was considered severe punishment. Rare occasions to stay up late were treasured.

The years quickly changed that attitude. Holding down a full time job, working towards my college degree and caring for home and family left me craving for opportunities to snooze. Sleep arrived seconds after I lay down. Those who had difficulty sleeping got little compassion from me. If they couldn't sleep, they should get up and do something. They'd be sure to sleep the next night.

This one has certainly come back to haunt me. A good night's sleep has become as elusive as the winning lottery ticket. Four years ago I had surgery that saved my life. It also left me with a fair amount of pain. Some nights the pain is responsible for the sleep shortage. But on many others, the reason is not as clear. The pattern varies as well. I might fall into a deep sleep only to wake up in an hour. Or I might just tos…

13 Cats Who Have Owned Me

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There are those who raise their eyebrows when I insist that each of my cats had a distinctive personality. But it's true. Their stories are varied too. Check them out.
Fuddy
I was only 5 and loved him dearly. My parents weren't nearly as fond, due to some undesirable potty habits. He disappeared the day after he left a deposit in the middle of my parents' bed. I was an adult before it dawned on me that this wasn't a coincidence.

Muffy
This darling white long-hair had one blue eye and one green one. He was fearless around water and let me push him around our farm pond on a small wooden raft.

Victoria
My first cat as an adult. Her previous family evicted her because they feared that a cat would lay on their new baby and smother it. She had a queenly bearing and a mellow personality. Victoria contentedly shared her water and litter box with my daughter's rabbit.

Uncle Fluff
A feral cat about 8 months old. Really too old to tame, he put some severe scratches in…

No False Advertising

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If your eyesight is good or you're handy with your browser's zoom feature, you may have noticed that Grandma's image has "Geeky Grandma" on the bottom right corner of the PC. I certainly consider myself a geek and I'm quite proud of it. Does the rest of the world view me as one? What qualifies a person for this honor? Can you become a certified geek?

Imagine my delight to find a questionnaire to assess my geek qualifications. I played fair on it. I wanted to have my geekiness confirmed and know that I had genuinely earned this fine title. I was worried for a while, seems that role playing and science fiction films play a huge part in the assessment. I'm pretty weak in that area. What if I failed? What if I had to remove my Geeky Grandma title? I held my breath and crossed my fingers as I waited for my score. And then I read the results.

Dramatic pause . . .

I did it. Grandma is now a fully qualified geek. Not just a few geekish tendencies. …

Three Square Meals

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I was curious about the origin of this expression and did a little research. Sailors used to be fed their meals on square wooden blocks. The blocks were practical because they stacked easily when not in use and wouldn't shatter when seas got rough. Lacking modern storage methods, supplies went bad quickly and food shortages were not uncommon. Meals became nutritionally unbalanced causing scurvy and other deficiencies. When supplies didn't spoil and food was plentiful, the sailors received three square meals a day.

The healthiness of eating three square meals a day is now in question. My mother, however, was a firm believer. Breakfast was not grabbed on the run. The family sat down together at the start of our day. We headed to school with bags containing well-balanced lunches. Dinner was leisurely and it's shared conversations are one of my favorite memories. The food is not.

Mom was a skilled ICU nurse and a generous volunteer. She was not a gifted cook. Indeed, …

Stop Thief!

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They say that confession is good for the soul. Perhaps I'll find out who they are some day. They also say that the proof is in the pudding. So I'll give it a try and occasionally confess some of my past crimes. Here's number one.

My first career job was as a computer operator in a manufacturing plant. The shift began at 5pm and ended around 3am. While the factory ran 24/7, the office was a 9 to 5 operation. Shortly after arriving at work, I found myself alone for the rest of my shift.

I didn't own a car yet. The winter weather was pretty brutal. I bundled up to walk the half-mile to work, but it was harder to take my baby daughter out in that cold. My dad came to the rescue by loaning his car to me on Fridays. Errands, grocery shopping, doctor visits – if they didn't get done one Friday, they'd wait until the next.

One Wednesday afternoon, I made an unpleasant discovery. The toilet paper holder was empty and there was none available to refill it. Oth…

Days Of The Week

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During a three week hospitalization, I was visited numerous time by a health professional who was obviously there to evaluate my mental competency. What's your name? Where are you? Why are you here? What day of the week is it? I loved the day of the week question. There was a large daily calendar on the wall of my ICU room. The walls were pretty bare and it was hard to miss. If I had forgotten, I just looked up at the wall.

Nowadays, I fear I might not answer that question as easily. While I think I'm fairly sharp, my current life has little to anchor me to dates. When I worked, the days of the week were rarely muddled. Let me assure you that I never went to work on the weekend because I thought it was a Thursday. My granddaughter's school days provided that same anchor once I was no longer working. Things got a little muddled in the summer, but a new school year would get me back on track. This year, she is home schooled. It's proven to be an excellent …

The Wallpaper Theory

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Stick with me for a minute It takes a bit to get to the wallpaper theory. Although I'm prone to meandering, I really am headed somewhere with this.

I began this blog a couple weeks ago. Of course, I had given it a lot of thought, done some research and created a web design. No one just gets up one morning and decides to write a blog. Right?

Let's restart with some honesty. A couple weeks ago I got up one morning and decided to start a blog. I hadn't planned on it. I didn't know much about doing it. I had no idea what I would write about. And I certainly didn't have a page designed. Had I mentioned that I'm also prone to impulsiveness?

I chose a template and wrote my first post. Since we were in the midst of the holiday season, I decided to customize just a bit and added a festive holly background. My daughter pitched in and provide a few graphics. At the end of the first day, I thought it was looking pretty good.

Alas the holiday season has end…

Auld Aquaintance

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Got a call from an old friend last night. We hadn't talked in quite a while. It was good to hear her voice, although it was choked with tears. "I feel so alone."

She wasn't alone. She and three of her children make their home with her parents. Thirty other family members had joined them to celebrate. But I knew just what she meant. Most of us have experienced that feeling of being disconnected from those around us. An old friend is a good panacea. Someone who knows us. Someone who brings back memories of togetherness. Someone who has seen our best and worst. And still loves us. We talked for a while and the panacea worked it's magic. Soon she was ready to join her family for the midnight festivities.

Why is Auld Acquaintance sung at New Year's? Nostalgia for the past? Closure before moving on? These had always been my thoughts. But perhaps we're summoning the troops. Gathering the security of old friends around us. Mustering th…