Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pearl Harbor Day

I wish I could say that I have visited the Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor -- I almost did. My friends and I vacationing in Hawaii a few years ago, took a ride out to the area, expecting to visit the memorial. Sadly, it was closed for repairs.
I did learn one interesting thing from the literature we carried with us: Every hour, a small oil bubble rises to the surface, and has done so ever since the sinking of the USS Arizona. And I saw it. Almost as good as being on the memorial site.
I don't know how many young people today would recognize the day and its significance. I say that because, a couple of years ago, I was at the screening of "Tora, Tora, Tora" the Japanese perspective of the planned bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Japanese language was translated with English sub-titles so we could very well understand what was happening.
The movie was long enough to require an intermission, and I filed out into the lobby with the other patrons for a little refreshment. As I stood sipping my soft drink, I overheard a young woman looking about college age and her date conversing about the movie. I nearly dropped my cup of soda at the following statement from the young woman as she turned and asked him: 
"Do you think the Japanese are really going to bomb Pearl Harbor?"
OMG! I thought. Does she think this is all fiction? Didn't she read the sub-titles? And, more importantly, did she not learn our nation's history, and the important dates that are impressed on our -- uh -- elderly minds?
To grow up to be a college student, don't you think she should have had a smattering of history? Especially the important dates our nation observes? And what do her classmates think? Are they as ignorant as she is? God, I hope not.
They probably don't know the adage, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Again, God, I hope not. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Who Invited the Indians?

For your holiday pleasure, I present one of the newspaper columns I wrote for a local paper and have published as "My Ashes of Dead Lovers Garage Sale."
Ordering information is located at the end of the column, which deals with, of course, Thanksgiving, but offers a different perspective.


If you thought standing in long lines at the supermarket, looking for the best price for the best turkey, whipping up pie crusts, crumbling cornbread for dressing, slicing, dicing and otherwise concocting salads, vegetables, and assorted other "extras" was exhausting, just think of the original Pilgrims who prepared that famous First Thanksgiving Meal.  No supermarkets for them.  No convenience foods, no, siree.  Let's just imagine...

Preparations began about a week ahead of time, when one of the leaders of the colony proclaims, "It was a good harvest.  We should prepare a great feast to give thanks."  Everyone nods in agreement; the men pick up their firearms and disappear into the woods to Hunt for Game.  This leaves the women-folk to do Everything Else. 

Everything Else consists of:  hauling water, building fires, tending said fires, grinding up the grain so it can be mead into bread, milking the cows, carving pumpkins (oops, wrong celebration; that was for Halloween) -- scooping out the pumpkin meat, squashing the squash...the list grows and grows as the days pass. 

And every evening the Men folk return, empty-handed, gobble up half of the prepared foods, fall asleep and then the next day, set forth again to Hunt Game. 

Don't you suppose the women folk got a bit tired and resentful of the whole thing?  After working all that time on such a huge feast, to have their men come back from the Great Outdoors with nothing but sore feet and empty stomachs, and no thanks for all the womenfolk have done? 

It doesn't seem to matter, however, and the days pass and the feast grows bigger and finally, one day, the men return with Game.  Well, at least, they called it Game....

"And prithee (pray thee, this means) what callest thou that?" one of the womenfolk demanded, pointing to a huge, scrawny, ugly bird dangling from a Proud Hunter's hands. 

"It is called Turkey," the Proud Hunter replied, flinging it onto the trestle table.  "Clean it and cook it, woman; it will be part of our feasting."

"Hummph," Woman retorted, surveying the scraggly fowl.  "Couldn't find a deer, huh? So we must make do with this pitiful excuse for meat?"

Of course, there being no reply, Woman prepared the Turkey as best as she could, and the men kept bringing the blasted things in from the woods.  Day after day, more Turkeys appeared, some of them bringing fowl...oh, excuse me.  We were talking about the Men folk bringing Turkey, weren't we?

Well, after a while, Women became inventive, stuffing the insides of the loathsome fowl with all manner of ingredients, each one vying with the other for the most unusual combinations, until at last, the Big Day arrived, and all was in readiness.  The Women had this Turkey thing down Pat, by golly.  They wearily placed the foodstuffs on the trestle table, the Men folk settled down to enjoy their repast, when suddenly, from out of the woods, a Tribe of Indians walked slowly towards them.

"Prithee," one of the more adventurous Women asked her husband.  "Why are these savages approaching?"

"Oh, I forgot to tell you," Husband said through a mouthful of Turkey.  "I invited the Indians to have dinner with us."

Hmmmm.  There may be some modern-day similarities here, after all.  After many days of preparing a feast, and their husbands Hunting for Game (channel surfing the TV. for the best football games, that is) womenfolk finally set the food on the table.  The doorbell rings.  "Who can that be?" she wonders idly.

"Oh," says the husband as he settles behind the mounds of food, preparing to carve the turkey, "I forgot to tell you ..... I invited my brother and sister and their families and Uncle Oscar and Aunt Jane to have dinner with us...."

Some things never change.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

One of the Mysteries of Life

I was folding clothes fresh out of the dryer last night, and I noticed a rather peculiar thing: All clothing that has pockets had their pockets turned inside out.
Now, I understand about lost socks. Or rather, lost sock. Single. I'm accustomed to looking through the laundry for the socks to match, and generally succeed in pairing white with white, brown with brown, etc. but occasionally there will be just one sock.
There must be a spot in Sock Heaven where those solitary socks end up. Alone and lonely for its mate. So it sits and waits and waits for the missing sock to arrive and they can rejoice in their reunion.
Or not. I used to keep a basket for just such an occasion: one sock missing, hoping its mate will show up. Of course, that never happens, so eventually I turned some of the lonely socks into dust rags (they fit nicely on your hand) and didn't worry about it.
When my children we little, I pinned their socks together before putting them in the washer. A safety pin held their toes together, and both socks emerged from the washer AND the dryer. Someone once told me the socks go down the drain pipe when the washer cycles from wash into rinse. Could be. But the washer isn't clogged; it works just fine. Maybe the sock goes on its merry way out into the sewer world, never to return.
But I digress. I was pondering another great mystery of life: Why are all the pockets turned inside out when they emerge either from the washer or dryer? I'm saying, I don't particularly look for that phenomenon when I remove the items for the washer. Don't know if the washer does it, or if the dryer is the culprit.
I wonder if the pockets are turned inside out during the agitation process, where the clothes are swished around, or maybe it's during the spin dry cycle. 
 Next time I do laundry, I'll check out the pockets before I put the load into the dryer.
Until then, it will remain another great mystery of life.

Monday, October 21, 2013


That's one down, and seven to go. My novel, Ladies of the Club, is now available on the Create Space Store, as of today. In a week or so, it will be up on Amazon and Kindle.
This is a re-do of one of my novels my former publisher had in her possession for the last few years. When some of her authors contacted me that there was evidence of embezzlement on our royalties, we all pulled our books down from every site we were on. Then we began the process of self-publishing through Create Space.
My fellow authors breezed through the process, but I found it daunting, to use an old fashioned work.
I could use my "brain-fog lupus" as an excuse, or the fact that I've recently been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, when I had been quite contented to write novels and occasionally blog. Or the year of my birth could be a cause. Friends my age believe I'm a whiz at all this computer fun, and I have been loving the ability to send my novels electronically first to a publisher, now to Create Space.
But this new method of formatting has me sitting at my laptop, almost in tears that I cannot seem to manage this one aspect of my writing life. And my "benign essential tremors" produced by stress has kicked in, at least for today.
So enough of my excuses and whining. Here's the scoop on my first novel published through Create Space:
Originally titled "The Women of Camp Sobingo," Ladies of the Club is about:
Four women of diverse backgrounds form a bond while en route to join their Army officer husbands in Korea in 1946.
Their experiences in a far-flung military compound strengthen three of the women, but a fourth chooses to end her life, and during a reunion twenty-five years later, long-held dark secrets and sorrows are revealed. 
Take a look at it on the Create Space Store, or you can order from Amazon and Kindle in a few days. 
In the words of the Duck Dynasty clan: "I'm happy, happy, happy."

Friday, October 4, 2013

I Love October!!

Here in N. Central Texas, we are not really feeling "crisp" air, like some of our Northern neighbors are telling me. Today is warm (in the 90s) but we've been promised a cold front that will chill us down to the 70s!

I hear you snickering out there. The 70s is still warm to you Yankees, but for us in Dallas-Fort Worth, that temperature is a welcome relief from the 100s and high 90s we've been living with for the past few months.

I ran some errands this morning, and the air felt different. Not exactly cooler, yet, it was still 80-something but the air itself was charged with Promise. A Promise that fall will arrive soon, and we can turn off our air conditioners, at least at night. A Promise that shows in the scuttling clouds heralding a terrific cold front on its way. A Promise that Halloween will be cool enough so kids might require a sweater.or at least, the adults who are accompanying the  little ghosts and goblins will need them.

The Promise that we can expect a full month of dry, sunny days, and cool nights. We can get back into our parked cars and not feel par-broiled when we run our errands in the local mall.

Folks who live in states that don't have such a wild variance of weather conditions "don't get it" when we speak of heat, humidity, rain, tornadoes and dust storms, all in the same month.

October is the month that obeys us Texans' wishes: One whole month of decent weather, where you might require a light jacket in the evening, or at least, you don't complain about how your jeans are too hot now, but comfortable at last.

We can begin thinking about Thanksgiving, looming over the horizon. Christmas doesn't seem so far off, now. While folks in the northern climes may do spring cleaning, folks here in this are are more prone to have "fall cleaning"-- we don't faint from the heat confined to an open garage where we're displaying our wares we'd rather not live with any more. We gather in the front yards and chat with our neighbors more in October. Summer was too darn hot to be sociable at any hour; October lends itself to more civility within our environs.

When I hear the news of a cold front on its way, I'll be the first to be standing on my front porch, arms wide open, to welcome its arrival.

Oh, the weatherman on television just announced the arrival of a cold front.

Excuse me while I go celebrate.....

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Crooks are Afoot.....

in my neighborhood. Last week, there were three break-ins on my street and one street over. And two nights ago, my next-door-neighbor's house was hit by intruders. Lucky for him, his alarm went off and the robbers vanished.
So what has happened to my nice little neighborhood? About four houses were on my street when I moved into this little sub-division in 2003. That makes 10 years of living in a tranquil, well-maintained neighborhood. Residents here are just regular people, mainly blue-collar workers, salt of the earth, with some households where both the husband and wife are working. I joked when I moved in, "This looks like Bubba Drive." Pickups were parked in driveways, of if not a pickup, then a big ol' honkin' SUV with a passel of kids in the back. Neighbors introduced themselves while out mowing the grass, washing their cars or ferrying kids to school and themselves to work.
Now, the "work" portion of our neighborhood changed recently. Oh, say, around 2-3 years ago. Many of the people in my subdivision were employed by a big government contractor. We all know how risky that employment can be. Sure enough, many workers were laid off. The economy tanked, and spouses also lost jobs. Bankrupt, many neighbors moved and either sold their houses or resorted to renting them out. As I drive down my street, I notice many vacant houses. Don't ask me how I know they are vacant; I just know.  The house has a forlorn look to its facade; windows are shuttered and the once neatly trimmed yard has lost its green color to the simmering Texas heat.
Why not move? I hear you asking. Because I'm not going to be run out of my home of ten years just because some punks want whatever they think I have. I'm an old lady, but I'm tough. My son lives with me, and he's even tougher. And between the two of us, we have a big ol' shotgun.
If they start trying to kick the door in, they're dead where they stand. We'll just be sure to drag the sorry bastard's body inside the house before we call 911.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hold That Blog!

It used to be "Stop the presses" when a newspaper editor wanted to insert something new into the currently printing issue. Not any more, at least not in this digital age. Things change so rapidly, it almost makes a person dizzy.

So it is now with my blog. Previously, I had stated I would go forth and seek a publisher. A "big" publisher. The stress of trying to get a manuscript whipped into correct digital format had darn near killed me.

Thank God I belong to a very supportive group of authors who have also left our publisher. They very gently suggested I hire a certain person to do it for me. And at a realistic price, too.

And, truth be known, hiring this person leaves me with time to finish the sequel to my last novel; work on a couple of other sequels, and life, fer cryin' out loud. 

Being the Type A person I've always been isn't easy to tone down my overly-scheduled days. I've argued with Reason and Relax until my body yells, Enough, already! I pay attention to that voice, because I know my body's limits, most of the time.

Pain will get my attention, every time.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Thoughts on 9/11

Everyone has a story about where they were on 9/11/01 when they first heard about the plane crashing into the World Trade Center. Here's mine, a day late, but I have an excuse-- I was at the dentist's office nearly all day. So I missed out on that particular posting day.
I drove to work on my last day of a temporary assignment for a company where I had been a full-time employee for many years. Due to certain health considerations, I had to leave that company and go to work as a "temp" administrative assistant for any venue that needed me for a day, a week, or even a year, at one point. But this day was my last day as a "temp" in this particular company.
The car radio was on, and the music was stopped for a bit of news: An airplane had flown into the The World Trade Center. I pulled into the parking lot and went inside the building and checked in with the security guards, telling them about the plane hitting the WTC. They turned their television set on and I went up the elevator to the 14th floor and entered my workspace. I told my colleagues about the news. Someone turned the television on that was used for depositions, etc. and by that time, the second plane had hit.
All pretense at working halted as we watched the news unfold.
Then, we heard that the Pentagon was on fire; an airplane had hit that building.
A gnawing sense of unease hit me in the gut. "We're at war," I said. Someone looked at me and asked, "What?" I repeated myself, a bit louder. "We're at war." This old army brat had pulled her old experiences from not only her memory, but from her intuition. My dad had instilled in me certain key indicators of what constitutes a war, since we were part of the US Army of Occupation in Austria after WWII. And this fit his premise exactly.
The department personnel clustered around the television set, watching the events unfold. Shanksville, PA is another place where planes went down; this time from heroic acts by its passengers.
It was soon time to leave for a doctor's appointment, and I would not return to that office, as my work was done. But when I entered the waiting room for my doctor's visit, the television was also bringing us the horrible news: One of the WTC buildings was falling, to be followed shortly by the other.
Appropriately, I was in my psychiatrist's office (I should add here, that a psychiatrist is the appropriate person to dispense anti-depressants only; the old cartoon of a patient lying on a couch and saying what he "feels" is no longer valid.) I was there to report on how the anti-depressant was working for me. Having lupus brings with it a built-in depression; chemical changes in brain activity.
We barely spoke to each other, I told him only what was necessary, and we both went into the waiting room to see the ongoing devastation.
A pit was forming in my solar plexus, as if I had been hit by something. When I reached my apartment, I called my children, something I learned most people did. They were all right. Stunned, of course, but unharmed.
The television remained on until I went to bed, and my dreams were populated by images of people jumping from a high building. What a horrible choice to make.
Life went on around me, but it seemed in slow motion. The pit in my stomach lasted for about a month. Like others, I was in shock.
Time has passed, and a semblance of normalcy returned. Life goes on.
Each year, as I watch the remembrances in all three locations where the terrorists took so many lives, I remember that day, wishing I didn't have to look at it again, if only in memory.
An ordinary day in September. Burned forever in our hearts and minds.
God help us prevent this or anything like this from ever happening again.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Stress and Writing

Stress, in its latest form, came calling this morning. A couple of weeks ago, I was diagnosed with "benign essential tremors" by a neurologist who assured me that it was treatable and the prescription for its treatment was an older, cheaper drug that I start with one 50 mg Primidone at bedtime. Next week, we'll see at my follow-up appt. whether I need to increase the dosage. I vote for "yes."
Since this latest "gift" of lupus thrives on stress, I have to make some decisions, here, about my writing career.
I have recently "fired" my publisher, Vanilla Heart Publishing, for breach of contract on many levels, along with 12 of my fellow authors in that publishing house. That's a stressor of major proportions, and not quite by coincidence, that's when my stress level increased to the point that I had to find out what was going on with my lupus. Heh. You might say I'm brain damaged, since the cause of these tremors is that nerves in my CNS are on overdrive; coming out of my overactive, stressed brain.
I have been trying to self-publish, and been found wanting in the skills needed. After spending three days on Create Space, editing my 350 page manuscript, only to have it sent back to me as a "proof copy" and correcting such errors as "be" turned into "he" and vice-versa, not even to mention formatting issues.
Ever the over-achiever, I was convinced that I could do this. But, upon waking this morning, hands trembling once again while making coffee, I came to realize, "This stuff is killing me. Why not try to find a decent publisher who will take all, some, or one of my books?"My son confirmed my decision when he correctly stated, "Your time is non-productive doing this." And he's correct. Those three days could have been better spent on working on my sequel to my last novel. Maybe even finished the last few pages of my second draft. Instead, I wrestled with such issues as "formatting glitches" (theirs, not mine) and even doing yet another spell check.
No more. I'm contacting reputable publishers, even the "biggies" in New York. What can they say, other than "No?" I've been told that before; it's not a bullet through the heart.
I cannot continue abusing my lupus brain cells. I need to let go of my idea that I can run with the other kids, who are self- publishing.
Who have sailed through the process with never a problem. I thought I could do it, too, but reality has intruded. They don't have lupus and other chronic illnesses. And let's not forget the "brain fog" that creeps in on little cat's feet. (I think that phrase is from a poem, right? Just can't remember the name or the author. Typical of a lupie.)

I'm starting a new blog for writing, also. Look for "MyViewFrom Here" on will be copied to that new blog, since it pertains to writing.
So I'm asking: Does anyone have a publisher they would recommend?