Monday, September 28, 2009

Amoeba Life

Discipline. It's a tough word for me to implement in my life. I'm having a heck of a time with it in all those areas that show.

I need the discipline to clean my house. The cobwebs are a clue.
I need discipline to pull weeds. Our front bed is green, but it's not because the vinca's taken off.
I need discipline to eat healthy. I've eaten popcorn, a bowl of Raisin Bran, some cheese and crackers, frozen grapes and a handful of chocolate chips today.
I need discipline to exercise. I did go to yoga, but I didn't even try to do the "Growing Tree" pose.
I need discipline to write this blog. My last entry was back in July.

I need somebody to come over here and give me a paycheck. Maybe that would encourage me. I don't get an evaluation from anyone. Maybe that would put me on notice.

Kent is way too easy on me. He tells me I'm pretty, have a great figure, and shouldn't pull weeds because it might hurt my back. He tells me to go ahead and eat another cookie, that I can exercise tomorrow and that nobody reads this blog anyway.

He never complains about any money I spend. He thanks me for making dinner when I put (almost) anything in front of him. I can't remember him ever pointing out that I needed to clean - even when Francie has torn up a tissue out of the trash into five hundred twenty-eight million tiny shreds. I don't think he notices the cobwebs, either. He's pret' near close to perfect. I won't mention the two things he does that I don't like. I think I would sound petty.

It's good and bad being married to someone so wonderful. It's good because I am probably the least stressed wife on the planet. It's bad because I am probably the least stressed wife on the planet.

I'm convinced that stress is the great motivator that I'm lacking. When I worked, I got much more done than I do now that I'm a freelancer. Shoot, I remember putting in a full day at the newspaper, then coming home and painting our living room pink (it was supposed to be salmon) while Billy Joel sang about his Uptown Girl.

I think I even got more done when I had kids at home. That's arguable, but possible.

Now my days are my own. Time is as shapeless as an amoeba. No supporting structures. On any given day I have way too many options. I can write. I can paint. I can read. I can make phone calls. I can write notes. I can clean. I can weed. I can exercise. I can eat. Whenever I want to.

The choices are paralyzing. I'm a girl who can't even decide whether to get a chicken taco or a Mexican sandwich when
we go to Tribeca. How am I supposed to decide what to do with my LIFE every day?

I think I need to start making more lists. I used to make lists. I'd go through and check things off at the end of the day. Sometimes I'd add something to the list after I'd done it, just so I'd have more to check off. It was a great feeling of accomplishment.

Yep, tomorrow I'm making out a list. In the meantime, anybody want to go get a cup of coffee?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Diversions from Pain

I'm always looking for ways to distract myself from thinking about my chronic pain. The pain's a fact of my life, but I refuse to be defined by it.

It's true that some days don't give me much of a choice. I have to give in and rest. On those days, you won't hear from me. I cloister myself in a dark, quiet room, remain as still as possible and wait.

But today! Today I won! I beat it back and triumphed! Take that, pain! Ha!

How? I threw caution to the wind - literally.

At Green Turtle Bay Marina, the summery souls who love to sunfish sail are giving free lessons on Saturdays and Sundays until September. What's that? Did you say free? Free! Now, there's never been anything free that I didn't look at twice. I've bought more Clinique and Estee Lauder products that I didn't need just to get the free "bonus" than I care to admit. I'm a sucker for a deal.

And today's deal was just too good to pass up. The sun was shining while the wind gusted gently. A cute kid was out in the cove, briskly tacking and heeling and clipping along across the diamond-kissed water. He made it look like it was the most fun a human could have. He made it look easy. He made it look painless.

Evidently, this kid - Zach - was hired to fake me out, to lure me in, to mess with my mind. Doug, the instructor, smiled at me and assured me that sunfish sailing was going to be a breeze. Obviously he was part of the conspiracy as well.

I strapped on my life jacket and climbed in. I might mention that right now I'm trying to get accustomed to some new medication. It makes me a tad dizzy. In fact, it makes me feel like I'm trying to walk across a wave-tossed dock with 25-pound weights strapped to my ankles.

I don't think this had anything to do with what happened next, though. No, I don't think I can blame medication, Doug, Zach or anybody or anything else. I'm inclined to think that maybe it was simply my own inability to coordinate a tiller, a boom and my bottom.

One minute we were sailing merrily along. The next, I was sliding slowly (yet gracefully, I was told by onlookers) into the very water that had called me away.

Yes, I had fallen off the boat. And now I faced a tough decision. Swim to shore or try to get back into the boat? Doug was quite confident that he could haul me back into the boat. I like a guy with healthy self-esteem, but I feared he was overly-optimistic. I probably out-weighed him by 40 pounds.

I suggested that I try by myself. I gripped the edge and flung my leg up and over. Half of me was on the sunfish. Half of me was still in the lake. Realizing that I couldn't do this without resembling a drunk walrus - or maybe I used the words "beached whale" when conversing with Doug - I surrendered my pride. I rolled over to my stomach and thrashed until the other leg joined my torso on the little vessel. Now I was laying flat on my belly, but at least I was on the boat. All I had to do was gently roll over and resume my dignified position as sailing student.

Doug was stunned into silence.

The second time I fell in, we both knew the drill. After I was safely back aboard, he said, "Oh, you got back in much faster this time." But, of course. I may not be slick, but I do learn. And, I might mention, I had fallen in twice now, but had managed to keep my sunglasses and visor...a fairly impressive accomplishment, I thought.

With Doug's praise ringing in my ears and my shade accessories still in tact, I determined to get out while I had a shred of dignity left. At least, I had deluded myself into thinking that I still had a shred. A girl's gotta believe what a girl's gotta believe.

Doug turned the sunfish completely over to me and, after I repeatedly assured him that I didn't think I should try sailing without him in the boat with me, we made our way back to the sandy shore.

I felt victorious. I was alive. Doug was alive. Zach, the kid out on the water with us, was still alive. I had not harmed anyone seriously, not even fish or turtles. My bruises and tender ego would heal. They always had before.

And the best part? I was distracted from pain for a whole 43 minutes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


We've taken some days away. Some days to be still and quiet.

Right now I'm looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows of this beautiful house that overlooks Barkley Lake.

The lake, still and glassy, holds onto a fathomless, deep olive green while it manages to reflect the soft, blurry blue of the sky. A thousand tiny shards of mirrors shimmer when a breeze skits across its surface.

A fat, furry groundhog scuttles across unfamiliar terrain, clearly uncomfortable. He's comical in his bunching, awkward travels. He's surprised himself by being where he is, it seems, and he's nervous and tense, unhappy to be exposed. Unhappy to be away from his home.

A flock of geese try to take over the yard. They strut territorially, obnoxiously announcing their arrival with throaty honks, daring a homeowner who doesn't want to deal with their droppings to confront them.

A majestic bald eagle, not fully grown, swoops through the humid air, cutting and dipping, finally landing in the tall trees. He holds himself still and silent, as if expecting the reverence and honor due him as king.

Turtles strain their necks to pop their heads above the surface of the green water. Though they seem to be bobbing along on a course, they're actually paddling frantically underneath with prehistoric, webbed feet, moldy green, both tough and tender.

A whole host of hidden birds call out to each other, communicating with trills and cries, a Morse code of warbles and hymns. Gray squirrels chase each other from limb to limb, weaving through branches that were abbreviated in the ice storm.

The trees stand with a new vulnerability, bearing the scars of the winter's icy grip. It looks as if dinosaurs have roamed through, chewing hunks out of the tops and sides of ancient oaks, hickories, dogwoods. Some are totem poles now, bleak and bare, pointing upward, unwilling to give up.

White cumulus clouds thicken the sky. The air hangs heavily, weighted with humidity and heat. But, once in a while a breath tickles through, blowing a hint of comfort, altering the clouds' piled formations.

Now and again a boat courses across the water, reminding me there are other people out there. But on the whole, I'm a solitary observer, seeing through my eyes, my self hidden away, safe from any judgments or claims.

My soul feels comforted by the sweet song of nature. Its spell conjures a healing balm for my spirits. It's a quiet, restoring symphony of discoveries.

Bless the Creator for such a gift.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wedded Bliss

Like my brother-in-law said, "You get a bunch of Baptists a couple of hundred miles away from home, give 'em sparkling grape juice and a good band and there's no telling what will happen."

Our oldest son, Ben, just married our -- I mean, HIS -- dream girl, Amy. What a celebration! I don't know when I've had more fun. If I would have known how much I was going to enjoy myself, I might have popped like a corn kernel swimming in hot oil in anticipation.

I am slightly concerned about photos showing up of me, though. Amy's uncle took quite a few candid shots. And, I was pretty much letting it all hang out. I was shocked when I learned my glass was full of grape juice. For all I knew, it was the real stuff. My neurologist (yes, that's a head doctor) had given me quite a bit of medication earlier in the week, hoping it would help my chronic headache and allow me to enjoy all the festivities. Evidently, I thrive on Lortab.

I danced with pretty much everyone at the reception and sometimes I just danced all by myself. Thinking it over, I may have permanently scarred the boys' psyches. I'm not sure anyone should see their mother behaving that way. Fortunately I didn't embarrass my sons, new daughter and husband enough to cause them to cut off all ties. They are still speaking to me.

Of course, the video hasn't been released yet. Upon further review, they may decide I did make a total fool of myself. Thank goodness I've already gotten this year's Mother's Day gift. Maybe by Christmas they will have forgotten.

Or maybe not.

No, I doubt any of us will forget how much fun we had, how much joy we shared. After all, it's not every day that you get to welcome a new daughter, a new sister and a new wife into your life.

It was a day of blessing, worthy of dance!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spaghetti for My Soul

Oh dear, I opened my mouth and out they came! Words! A string of words like a strand of hot spaghetti. Words I could never take back! Words that slipped out instead of in. Words that were awful, just awful.

I was mortified. They were the kind of words that immediately after you say them you think, "Did I really say that out loud? Did she hear them? Of course she heard them! How could she not have heard them! She now thinks I'm an idiot! She KNOWS I'm an idiot! What am I thinking? I AM an idiot!"

Let me fill you in. We were at "Spaghetti for the Soul," a conference for women at our church. I was the chairperson who had been working on it for weeks, months actually. Brenda McElroy, our director of Women's Ministry, and I had spent many hours on the phone, in meetings, at lunch and on our computers communicating about this event. We had prayed a lot about it. We were really, really looking forward to it.

Kathy Troccoli and Ellie Lofaro, two "big names" in the world of Christian women's ministry, had agreed to come to little ol' Paducah. They had agreed because they are not "Stars." They are servants. They wanted to spread some truth around, spread a little refreshment, encourage women.

So, the morning begins. I thought it started well since my voice worked and it hadn't worked AT ALL for the past six days. I opened my mouth into the microphone and out it croaked. "Good morning." I wasn't dazzling, but - hey - I got the point across and I hadn't fallen down getting up there. I don't know that our guests were as impressed as they should have been. Perhaps someone should have explained it to them.

Then, the schedule moved along smoothly. One singing session, one talking session and it was already time for a break. I directed the women toward the restrooms and muffins and coffee. I even attempted a lame joke. Hey, I was starting to like this.

That's when God decided to humble me the first time. Oh, Lord, why? Why did those words come out?

Kathy actually is a star, despite her humility, genuineness, great sense of humor and beauty. I mean the woman had a song that was #4, was a Grammy nominee, a Dove winner, is the author of award-winning books, was one of Today's Christian Woman's Most Admired Christian Women in America, etc., etc., etc.

And, as we left the sanctuary, she, this outstanding woman, took my hand and said, very gently, "You are so sweet." Guess what I said in reply? Just guess.

Mature woman that I am, I said, "Oh, I want to be your friend."

Now, I ask you, does that sound like something a 3rd grader would say or what???

"I want to be your friend."

How idiotic.

She probably thinks I'm going to be one of those stalker fans now.

I mean, why couldn't I just have said, "Thank you." and left it at that? Or simply smiled a sweet smile, for pity's sake.

The rest of the conference she called me Tonya. I think she was distancing herself subliminally. I don't blame her.

I want to be your friend.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Before I begin my blog today, let me apologize for having taken such a long hiaitus. I have had a psychotic schedule for the past five weeks. I suppose that's no excuse. If one is to have a blog there's a certain responsibility to keep that blog up and running. After all, I have 14 followers.

Fourteen people out there are counting on me to keep you up to date on critical information about my crazy, nutty life. So, sorry. I really mean it. It won't happen again. Now, onward...

I have so much to tell you that I don't know where to start. There have been wedding doings. You do know that our oldest son is getting married May 24th, don't you? There have been book marketing doings. You do know I have a flutterbies book out, don't you? There have been vacation doings. You do know I spent a week at the lake chasing geese, don't you? (That's a whole blog in itself!) And, there have been getting ready for Spaghetti for the Soul conference doings. You do know that special day for women is April 25th, don't you?

I should have been writing about all of that. But, I didn't. So, now, I'm just going to tell you about my walk today. Francie and I just returned from a walk with Patience and the whippets. It takes three rounds to walk the whippets. Francie doesn't mind. She likes all nine of them. They don't feel the same. Well, just one of them doesn't feel the same. Mama Pajama is not that fond of her. Francie is small, hairy, and gets in her space like a rabid rabbit might. Mama Pajama doesn't find that amusing.

Mama and the new whippets, Easy and Spice, go on the first walk. They are fairly happy to ignore the short, hairy dog. The second walk consists of Fat Charlie, Delia, and Giocomino. Of these three, Delia is the least crazy about Francie. Fat Charlie and Giocomino are unconcerned with her - unless she gets right up in Giocomino's face; then, he might give her a little lesson. The third walk is the friendliest for the furry tag-along. Swede William, Lindy Lue, and Sam I Am don't have issues with small, hairy Corkys.

In fact, Francie has a crush on William. He's from Sweden, so he's got that appealing foreign accent. He's got a different look about him. He's tall, dark(ish) and handsome. She's quite taken. Smitten, you might say. She tries to snatch kisses right there on the sidewalks of Paducah. Sometimes she jumps up on the curbs to make herself taller. She yearns to gaze into his eyes. "Look at me!" she calls with longing.

An interesting phenomenon happened today on our walk. Usually - we're talking 90 percent of the time - people go goo-goo, gah-gah over the whippets. "Oh, those are beautiful dogs!" they'll say. "Are they greyhounds?" Patience thanks them, tells them that they're a smaller version of the greyhound and we go our way. NO ONE makes a comment about Francie. I am not exaggerating. Ninety percent of the people we encounter on our walks IGNORE my precious dog. They make NO COMMENT whatsoever, favoring the long, sleek, elegant whippets instead of my low-slung, fuzzy, funny-faced Corky.

Occasionally my eyes well up with tears. I try to blink quickly. I bite my lip bravely. I look to the horizon and think of something else. I try not to care. But it hurts, people. It hurts.

Today, though, today was different. Four - count 'em - FOUR people out of six or seven (not sure now) commented on Francie! They said she was cute or noticed her in a positive way! Oh, I do love those quilters. What a day! What a day!

So, you see, I had all those big doings. Wedding. Book. Vacation. Geese Chasing. Women's Conference. And, when it really comes down to it, the daily walk is what matters.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To the Rescue

There's no question about it. Kent is my Knight in Shining Armor. He is my Superman (from Metropolis, no less). He is my hero. I am nuts about that man. There's just one problem. I'm nuts. Or, maybe that's why this relationship works. He is a super hero and I am in need of rescue.

As I told the nice women at the post office the other day, my life always has a few little kinks in it. It's never completely knot-free. I guess no one's is, but really. Wait 'til you hear what happened.

It was an unassuming, gray, frigid, weary, dreary, wintry, Friday the 13th. I spilled like a moldy, thick cup of coffee out of my tangled covers onto the floor and slipped on my tattered robe (the zipper's torn out of it). My feet found my battered clogs and I headed for the whimpering pooch. I put on the warmest thing I could find - get this - my full-length mink coat. It was a gift from my precious grandmother, slipped the lead around Francie's neck and headed out into the cold for potty time.

Francie, being a morning dog, was so very happy to see me and to be outside where her fur coat was doing its job while she did her job. She scampered expertly to and fro, tossing her fuzzy head, sniffing the breeze, sniffing the ground, sniffing, sniffing, sniffing. Alert! Her head came up! There was a noise! Hammers! Men on a roof banging! She went to full attention. Her ears were at pointy peaks, trembling with excitement. The men were just one house over and they were OUTSIDE! Maybe they would like to play. I quickly put an end to her hopes. Potty time was over.


We were locked out.

Yes. That's right. Locked out. Francie looked at me. I looked at her and she said, "Hey, not to worry, you've got that hidden key." But I knew the truth. I didn't have that hidden key. Our youngest son had that hidden key. And he was in Florida.

OK. Think. Think. Override that new medication you're taking and THINK!!! I knew Kent was the answer, but how did I get to Kent? All of my neighbors were gone. (At this point, anyway, that's what I thought...It turns out one of them was indeed home).

With all the courage I could muster, not exactly knowing where I was going (the coffee shop maybe??), I started walking down North 8th Street. Now remember, I'm wearing a robe, no socks, black clogs and a mink coat. I have not touched my frizzy/curly/wild hair. I have not brushed my teeth. I have not dug the sleep out of my eyes. I'm not fit for public consumption. I'm really not even fit for my Knight in Shining Armor to see me.

But that's when my encounter happens. One of the men working on the neighbor's house walks out from that house and says, "Could you use some help?" I think that might have been an understatement. But, he'd been raised right.

"Uh, yeah," I said, trying not to breathe his direction. "Do you have a phone? I've been locked out of my house."

"Well, I don't, but my friend does. I'll get it for you."

So, I took his friend's phone and tried to use it. I say tried, because I couldn't figure the thing out. I stood there forlornly waiting for him to wander by again.

"Ummm, I can't figure this out," I said.

"Oh." He slid the case open. Boy, did I feel dumb.

"Thanks." But, it got worse. I STILL couldn't figure it out. I came close to deleting Britney Spears music several times. Finally, he had to come back, take it out of my hands and just dial the number for me.

When Kent answered he said, "Where in the world are you calling from?"

"DOES IT MATTER????" I wanted to say, but I didn't. I just calmly told him and begged him to come home to let me in. He did. To expedite things, he drove his silver car instead of riding his horse. Once again saving me.

I really need to give the house builders a hand, too. They were awfully nice to me. Today I went for a walk and they were working. They smiled at me, but they were gracious enough not to laugh - at least to my face. I thought that was generous.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Try One, You'll Like It!

I got to go to the Kentucky Crafted Show in Louisville over the past weekend and, let me tell you, I had a ball! Of course, it helped that I got to set up shop in someone else's booth. The fine people at McClanahan Publishing House did all the hard prep work and my mother and I just swooped in with my books and poster and cash box.

I'm not sure I remember the last time I smiled so much in my life. I felt like any minute I might break out into a little song and dance routine, but figured that might run business off. The point was to bring them in. So, I kept the tunes to a mental note. I was singing inside.

For those of you not familiar with Kentucky Crafted, let me fill you in. It's a large market where artists from the state go to sell their wares to wholesale buyers and the general public. Retailers from everywhere come to see what the talented artisans here have to offer. And, by golly, they've got a lot. There are jewelers, painters, woodworkers, basket weavers, potters, glassblowers, authors, and signal the trumpets, my personal favorites: cooks! (I made myself a little queasy on the food aisle. It was those dang bourbon balls.)

But, I did pick up a good line for selling my book. As people passed, I'd say, "Pick it up and take a look. It's like the food aisle; you've got to sample it." For some reason, that worked. Most would pick it up, turn through it and I'd get a laugh or two.

The laughs are what it is all about for me. I don't want to sound corny, but I know I'm gonna. So, here goes...I like making people happy. I like that look they start to get in their eyes when one of my flutterbies connects with them. I love it when a smile starts to form at the corners of their mouths and the giggles erupt. I adore it when they nudge their friend and say, "Read this one! It's just like..."

Art and writing is about connecting with emotions. It's about touching a place in the heart. I may not be the most complicated artist or writer, but I still have the same goal. I want to bless someone with a little stroke of joy on a gloomy day. I want to splash a touch of bright color where there was only gray. I want to remind somebody she isn't alone. She is understood. Even if it is only because she snorts when she laughs.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

So Much Going On

I don't know where to begin! There's so much going on in my life I haven't had time to check in here at Bizarro-world.

I guess I'll start with today and go backwards. That's logical.

Today, I sat on the couch.

I know, I know...riveting. In the newspaper business, they teach you to start with your most fascinating or important fact. It really depends on if you're writing a feature or news story. Fortunately, I'm out of the newspaper business and I get to write any old way I want. Of course, I'm no longer getting paid, either. There are trade-offs.

I figure that since there are approximately 11 of you reading what I write here, you are truly dedicated to being interested in my life. Even the mundane. So, I thought it was high time I caught you up.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, sitting on the couch.

Well, I did do some other things today. I went to church, where, I have to admit, I felt extremely nauseous. Didn't have anything to do with the service, just me, I'm sure. Then we came home and I got Kent to agree to help me clean. This is big. Really big. He cleans even less than I do. I am not gifted in this area. He's less gifted. So, with his precious promise hanging in the air, I got jiggy wid it, as they say in my neighborhood. Had to strike while the iron was hot and all that.

All that cleaning reminded me that I had had an epiphany the other morning at 4 a.m. I had woken up and was having trouble returning to the land of nod. Instead of worrying, I decided to take another course. I decided to name my appliances.

My parents had been staying with us during the post-ice storm power outage and I had become quite accustomed to having company around. I'm a people person, see. I like having company. But I live in an empty nest and I work at a solitary, lonely job. So, while it was difficult for them, I was secretly happy to have them around. I'm some kind of daughter, huh? So unselfish.

Anyway, I knew that the time was coming that they would be leaving. I needed to prepare. I decided to personalize, give names to, the only things around here that talk to me (besides my ever-faithful Francie, who has an extensively developed language all her own).

I won't tell you the names of all of my appliances, but you might want to know that Tilde the dishwasher is not doing her job properly and may be out on the street before her time, if you know what I mean. Max, the microwave, is prompt, efficient and - dare I say ? - pretty hot! But, he can be a little persistent with this pesky beep of his. It can be a touch annoying on bad days. Then, there's Marco, Hildegard, Jack and Diane, Pedro, Rocky and Sally. I'll let you sort out who's who.

Mom and Dad have left. Kent's back at work and I'm just fine. I am. Really. I am.

I'm back on the couch and the doctor promises me that I'm fine.

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's Here! It's Here! The Book is Here!

Finally! The book you've all been waiting for! It's here! Maybe you didn't know you'd been waiting for it, but you have.

Once you get it, you'll say to yourself, "Oh, my, I didn't realize it, but this is the book I've been waiting for all of my life. This may be the best book I've ever held in my hands." (You may say that. You really might. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and thinking positively.)

It's a book of flutterbies, born over a 10-year period. (That's a pretty dog-gone long gestational drama if you ask me, the mama.) In that time frame I've written over 120 of these little whimsical sayings, but I've only included about half of them in the book. I wanted to leave you wanting more.

Now, I want to be honest with you. When you see me, I want you to tell me that you LOVE the book! I don't care if you've seen it or not. Just hop up and down, waving your arms around and carrying on like a maniac set free from the nut house. I love enthusiasm. Feel free to tell me I'm wonderful and creative and talented. Well, wait a minute, don't get carried away. At night, as I'm going to sleep, I want to pretend that what you said was the truth.

Thinking on it even more, I don't even care if you say a word. Just buy one. Or, two. Heck, I'd sell you as many as your pickup can hold.

Oh, and by the way, come on down to my book signing at Etcetera on Feb. 14 from 9 to 1!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Warming Center

I've been at our church for the past two days helping with a warming center. If you've ever been involved with a shelter or pitched in during an emergency somewhere, you already know what an experience it can be...some parts good, some not so good.

This was pure delight.

The people who needed our shelter were simply grateful. Nobody complained. Nobody cried -- except for a two-year-old and a three-WEEK-old. Nobody demanded. They just said, "Would it be OK if...?" and "Thank you."

At first all we had to offer was heat, shelter and hot coffee. We didn't have cots, blankets, pillows or clothes. Eventually, we found some hot dogs, buns and popped some popcorn. Then, this morning we were able to provide muffins, fruit, crackers and cheese and had turkey sandwiches and chips for lunch.

One woman in the neighborhood walked over and volunteered to help. Others called and offered their services. Another lady stopped by with a bag of groceries and donated them.

A city commissioner and a government official stopped by to thank us and see if we had any needs. A police officer checked in on us.

My heart just about burst when an elderly woman I have known almost all of my life came in. Her husband is in the early stages of Alzheimer's and her adult son is mentally challenged.

"Thank you so much," she said as she put her tiny arms around my waist. "We're so glad to be here."

What could I say? I hadn't done anything. "You're welcome" seemed to indicate I had. It was my privilege.

I just pray those dear people don't have to find refuge there for long.

Monday, January 26, 2009

25 Random Facts

One of my Facebook friends recently tagged me in a game of "25 Random Things About Me." You're supposed to come up with a list of facts that others may not know about you. It's a fun exercise that allows you to get to know people better.

Unfortunately, I found out something about myself. That's never good. You should avoid getting to know yourself better. You'll just be disappointed. And, sure enough, here's what I learned: I'm boring.

Obviously, that's why I'm blogging about my life now. It's a vain effort to transform the mundane into something worthwhile. If it's written about, it must be worthy...that's my subconscious logic talking.

So, I decided while showering this morning (is that too much information?), that I would come up with a new list, an INTERESTING list, of 25 Random Things About Me.

Here goes...
1. My great-grandmother traveled with a group of gypsies; she juggled knives.
2. I have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, blindfolded.
3. I can speak backwards.
4. I once passed for a spy and another time for a movie star.
5. My mother's paintings will one day be collectibles. You might want to buy one now. I can hook you up.
6. The late former President Ronald Reagan often called Kent, my husband, for advice.
7. I've written a best-seller, but told Oprah that I wasn't interested in appearing on her show.
8. I've seen my guardian angel in person. She has frizzy hair.
9. I'm a trained armchair psychologist.
10. I'm actually a petite blond.
11. My father was a boxer, who had a manager and the whole nine yards, or the whole kit and kaboodle, or the whole she-bang, whatever it is when it's boxing...
12. I am a descendant of Abraham Lincoln.
13. I have sung live with Linda Ronstadt.
14. I've completed a triathalon.
15. I voted for the newest color of M&Ms.
16. I was attacked by a huge swarm of mosquitoes as I stood on the Paducah Tilghman football field at attention while in a bright blue and white sequin-covered twirler uniform. I fainted afterwards.
17. I have danced the flamenco.
18. I have eyes (they're green) in the back of my head
19. Which reminds me, I am the mother of two men who are going to change the world and they will probably give me most of the credit when the time comes. They might give their father some just so he won't feel bad.
20. I can juggle knives. It could have something to do with gypsy genetics.
21. I have flattened several pennies on Railroad tracks in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
22. I have had two near-fatal encounters with opossums at my home.
23. Michelle Obama calls me for fashion advice.
24. When I was a little girl, scientists studied my writing because I was so special. I don't wonder at all what they meant by that term "special."
25. I sometimes stretch the truth.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Feeling Lucky

Saturday evening and I'm waiting for some friends to come over for a hot bowl of stew. We're going to play a new game I got, too. I'm feeling lucky.

The last time I played this game was during Christmas with my family. I never once won. But, that didn't stop me from trying, again and again and again.

Unlike my mother, I am a very good sport. And I do not cheat.

The game is called You're Sentenced. You receive a number of discs with words on them. There are strange nouns, awkward verbs and other quirky sentence parts. You try to be the first to form a sentence with them. You get bonus points if you use all of your discs, but your sentence has to make sense. It's one of those games that requires everyone else to judge your work.

My family didn't think my sentences made sense. Hmmpff. They made perfect sense. I was able to tell little stories about them. I thought the stories were quite imaginative. Fascinating, really.

They were just gunning for me because I call myself a writer, and happen to be the ONLY one of them with college training in writing. Plus, I'm the ONLY one who's worked for a newspaper and a magazine. The ONLY one who's been nationally published. The ONLY one who's writing a book. The ONLY one...Well, I think you get my point.

It's a terrible thing to realize that your family has it in for you.

But tonight... I'm feeling lucky. Yep. Gonna win.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Time Keeps on Slipping

Oh, my word! The days are flying by as fast as Francie runs when she herds cattle. Technically, she's never herded cattle anywhere but in her dreams. But if she had a herd, she'd herd them fast. I can tell you that for sure.

But, I digress. My point time keeps on slipping into the future (didn't the Steve Miller Band sing about that back in the '70s?) . My week has been packed fuller than that one suitcase you're allowed to take on flights now. In fact, if my week had been a suitcase, I would have been charged for packing too much weight. Note: Before I would pay extra to take stuff somewhere, I would unpack right there in the airport and leave important items, like shoes and underwear, behind. Do they allow you to make donations to the homeless when you're in the airport? I think it's a good idea. Just think of all those dangerous tubes of toothpaste that could go for bettering America's dental hygiene.

But, I digress again. I've spent the week inside the world of Nathan Stubblefield's father, "Captain Billy." For those of you who don't know -- and there are undoubtably very few of you who don't since I try to work it into most conversations as casually as possible -- I am writing a book. I know. I know. It sounds impressive; but, it also sounds a little cliche. Isn't everyone writing a book? But, this book is going to be published. I have a contract. La-tee-dah. Now you're a little more impressed, aren't you? That's more like it.

Motes Books is publishing it as part of a series about Kentucky heroes, which brings me back to Nathan Stubblefield. He is the hero I'm writing about. Murray, Ky., claims him as their native son and some folks there (and elsewhere) claim he -- not Marconi -- invented the wireless radio. Thus, the research into Stubblefied's past...

Which leads me back to my point, being...Let's see, was I talking about time slipping into the future or Captain Billy's diary? Oh, well, never mind. Suffice to say that researching and reading and writing have completely consumed me. Time has slipped. It's now the future.

If you'd like to hear more about Captain Billy, who grew up on a tobacco farm, put himself through law school after very little "real" schooling, became a captain in the Confederate Army, kept a diary of his service in the Civil War, wrote an autobiography, and married his children's governess (after their mother died!), stay tuned or let me know, or both.

And, if anybody has any wonderful anecdotes about Nathan, do tell! I'll give you tons of credit and may even send you a free, signed copy of the book.

La-tee-dah, indeed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday musings

Monday! It's the day I try to get everything I'm supposed to do all week done.

I'm not sure why I do this to myself. Call me an optimistic over-achiever. Call me loco. Call me. No kidding, it's a little quiet around here. I love e-mail...but I love a phone call, too. Phone calls are so human. So personal. So absolutely derailing of everything I have to do.

Here are some things I've been thinking about today:

How come I can't figure out how much of the pasta box to pour into the boiling water to make just the right amount?

How come now that I'm not supposed to eat peanut butter, all I can think about is eating the peanut butter in those little tubs I swiped from the hotel I stayed at in Atlanta?

How come I decided to reduce the size of my laundry room when we built our house? It's too small to even turn around in, for pity's sake.

How come I'm having night sweats, but not hot flashes? I'd enjoy a good hot flash during these cold days.

How come Francie likes to lick the shower door track?

How come I drip something on myself every time I eat? My dad does that. Is it genetic?

I had a day chock-full of things to do, items to cross off my list, laundry to fold, food to cook, life to lead, and yet I still had time to ponder all of those thoughts.

I lead a fascinating, fulfilling life. No question.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Terrible News...

Terrible news. Francie ate my ears. Not only that, Kent ate my cake.

I'm not sure which is worse.

Francie is, after all, barely out of her puppyhood; so, I can excuse her. But, Kent?! He's not even a "cake man." He likes pies. And cookies. And Jell-O. Not cake.

For his birthday every year I make him a big fat bowl of Jell-O. Sometimes I make it straight. Sometimes I prepare a special recipe that is chock-full of dark cherries, cream cheese, pineapple and nuts. On his last birthday he turned 50, and he got the special recipe.

So, why did he eat my cake?

I had made it for my church book club and forced all of them to eat a piece. I guilted them into it by saying, "I have a sprained ankle, but I still made this cake. So, you people better eat up." Nobody refused. Everyone looked at each other with a trace of fear in their eyes, and quickly rose to follow me to the kitchen.

That pesky pastor's wife (who's a little bitty thing even after having had three babies) only took a half a slice. I thought that was pretty cheeky. The rest of the crowd took what I gave 'em. I didn't get any compliments, but nobody got sick, either.

I saved out one piece for myself. After all, I am on a strict diet. And froze the rest of the cake until I've earned it. I figure when my jeans fit again, I'll thaw it out. Hopefully it will not be a glazed-over hunk of freezer-burn by then.

My plan was to eat just a little bite of it every night after a healthy, nutritious dinner. I even asked Kent if he wanted some before I froze it.

"No," he said. "I'm not a cake man."

Now, my husband is definitely one of the kindest, smartest, funniest people I know. In fact maybe THE kindest, smartest, funniest person I know. But, I may have found a little flaw. He evidently lies about cake.

Some truths are hard to stomach.

As for Francie eating my ears. Well, I'm devastated. Those rabbit ears were ever so much fun, and they are irreparable. Eaten to bits.

I had big plans for the ears this year. It was going to be the year of the rabbit ears.

Two big blows in one day. Life can be tough, but I press on.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rabbit Ears

After milking all the sympathy I could yesterday, I decided today was a new day. "Get a grip!" I told myself. "Buck up!" "Tally-ho!" Tally-ho? I don't even know what that means, but it sounds rousing, doesn't it?

I filled flutterbye orders all morning, then called Patience to go for a walk. According to the weather wizards, it's going to be about 2 degrees tomorrow and I don't plan on exposing my body to the elements until it's in the serious 40's again. Today was my last chance at a dose of sunlight.

So, with my professionally-wrapped ankle bound, I loosened my "running" shoes and slipped my fat foot in. This simple action is always Francie's signal that she is going to get to see her friends, the whippets. She did a mid-air flip, ran to get her lead, and headed for the door.

Since it had been a while since I had gotten to walk with Patience and our whippet friends (There are six who will walk with Francie. The other two pass.), I decided it was a celebratory event. I donned my newly acquired rabbit ears!

My new ears are white and pink and very, very soft and they stick straight up or will bend into various positions to reflect my mood. If I'm alert, both ears are up at attention. If I'm relaxed, both ears are bent casually, about mid-way down. If I'm down-hearted, both ears droop. If I'm happy, one ear is jauntily cocked. You get the idea.

Francie, being a Corky, has very expressive ears and I knew she'd be proud of me. Sure enough! She thought the idea was grand.

The whippets weren't so sure. "Is she taunting us?" one of them asked Patience. "She knows we like to chase rabbits. She knows we eat soft, furry things for breakfast. What's up with this human, anyway?" Patience reassured the troops and we took off.

As we walked and talked, we all eventually forgot my headgear. After all, there was a lot to catch up on. We hadn't walked and talked in days.

That's why it was so odd to us that cars kept slowing down as they passed us. The garbage truck came to a complete hault. Dogs hung out the windows of passing vehicles and barked like crazed maniacs. Who would think that a six-foot-tall woman with rabbit ears on would cause such a commotion?

All in all, it was a much better day than yesterday. My foot was a little achey by the end of the walk, but it was worth it. I can highly recommend wearing fuzzy, white and pink ears. They just make you stand up a little taller, enjoy the sunshine a little bit more, and generally perk up your attitude. And, anything that will stop a garbage truck has got to be good.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Great Fall

So, it's Monday morning. I've been out of town for four days and I'm severely behind in my day-to-day life. I decide that rather than hit the ground running, I'll start off slowly. Pace myself. After all, what good would it do me to run out of steam at noon when I need to last until midnight?

I sit down to eat breakfast. Eggbeaters, toast, bacon, hot tea. A hearty launching. I gather the news, sip my tea, make my list for the day and give myself until 8 a.m. OK. Next step: stand up and get going.

That's where my plans all went awry.

My foot was asleep! Arrghghhghg, blpbllbpbp, klonk. That's the sound of me falling to the floor. My ankle had twisted. It wasn't pretty. I hit the TV on my way down, knocking it off the air, bounced from the table and then to my final destination. Instead of hitting the ground running, I had just hit the ground.

If anyone had been around (besides Francie, who was now licking me and wagging her stubby tail with great enthusiasm), they would have heard me groan out loud. But, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?

I say YES! I definitely made noise. Bodily and verbally. You see, I hurt. Really, really hurt. And groaning was appropriate. As I lay there, I wondered about my future.

The first thing that ran through my mind was, "How the heck am I going to get up?" I actually hurt so much that I didn't think I could get up off the floor. I'll admit, I was being rather dramatic. Of course I could get up. I got onto my knees, employed my "good" ankle, which I had twisted back in the summer and still wasn't working properly, and hoisted my behind onto the couch. Now Francie was on my lap. "Hey, this is fun!" she said. "Get back down and play with me some more!" I deferred.

What next? Should I call someone or just go to the ER? Unlike my summer fiasco, I decided it wasn't wise to ignore it. I had blown off my fall then and my ankle was still achey from the accident. I decided to think practically. Bottom line. Where could I get this taken care of in the most economical way? When your body dumps you to the ground and you are in pain, it's no excuse to abandon your budget.

I debated. I called Kent. He wasn't in his office and didn't answer his cell phone. I called Stefanie - she's my next door neighbor and a nurse. She wasn't home. I called Patience- she's a little-bit-further-away neighbor and a nurse and (bonus) she's married to a doctor. Bingo. She was home. But, she didn't believe me.

"I think you're just trying to get out of walking today," she said. "If I come down there and find out that you've taped a grapefruit under your sock, I'm going to be ticked." Dr. Bill offered to look at it, but they both said I'd probably ought to get it X-rayed. "At our age," Patience said with a sinister laugh, "there's always more of a risk for a break." Great. Thanks. Now I hurt and felt old.

I decided to go for more sympathy while I considered my fate. Got hold of Kent. Stef came over when she got back. And, e-mailed everyone I needed to respond to that morning. The concensus was to get it X-rayed. I called the doctor who was going to cut out my bunions to see if he would see me. Amazingly, I could go in that afternoon.

By this time, my ankle had grown a tennis ball-sized lump on the side, but I could wiggle my toes. Kent was determined that I should elevate it (above my heart) and ice it down with frozen peas. I had yet to check off the first thing on my Monday list, but I humored him. He can be very persuasive.

So, instead of filling my flutterbye orders, catching up my blog, unpacking from my trip, answering my 165 e-mails, or cleaning the house for my upcoming book club, I lay on the couch all day trying not to freak out about how behind I was.

Well, you'd think after all that I'd have something to report, a cast to draw on, a bootie to lace up, at least a pill to pop. But, as it turned out, it's a sprain. A "class one" sprain. Not even a horrible, really, really awful sprain.

I don't care. It still hurts and I still want sympathy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Book Club Day

Of all the things I love to do, reading and eating have to be at the top of my list. When you add friends to that equation, it's almost more than I can bear. Today was Book Club Day. That's right, capital B, capital C, capital D. It's a day of honor on my calendar. I look forward to BCD like a kid looks forward to his birthday.

See, BCD transforms even the grayest, gloomiest, dullest day into a party! I know that I'm going to be with intelligent, funny, gloriously zany women who won't mention that my pants are undone because they don't fit after the holiday feeding frenzy I've been on, but will mention that my hair looks stunning. These are women who, while drinking tea from china cups, can still snort when they laugh. These are women who use words like lambrequin, prodigious and cockalorum correctly in their conversations, and yet giggle when the word titillate comes up.

We save up really good stories for each other. Today, Mary told us all about discovering that she has poison ivy on shall I put this?... booty. In January, no less. Who gets poison ivy on her behind in January? And, how? Let's just say it involved pantyhose and a cat named Mr. Puss and leave it at that.

We also found out that Kay had a come-apart with her daughter-in-law, who - we all agreed - was being rather bossy about bagels. We concurred that Jill had definitely entered a moment of undistilled lunacy when she suggested her daughter have a New Year's Eve party at their house. "It was only about thirty 17-year-olds," she said. That's like saying, "only one small herd of wildebeests in the living room." And, we learned that Jean's energy medicine techniques worked wonders on Patience's dog that was once deathly afraid of thunder.

We also learned how to make crustless beet and cucumber sandwiches, such precious pink delights. We sampled a smorgasbord of tea-time goodies. Spinach and cheese scones. New potatoes stuffed with Myrick's ham salad. Buzz's egg salad on gluten-free crackers. Rum cake. Crunchy, tasty cookies. And, of course, chocolate, the dessert's dessert.

Don't get me wrong. It's not all cake and punch. We savor the books, too. Our meat. The substance of our meetings. Our raison d'etre. Books, those luscious trips of the imagination that send us to the south of France, up the side of Kilimanjaro, or to the backwoods of Montana. Books, those endless resources of characters we'd like to slap or hug or talk quietly with in a coffee shop. Books, those fantastic sources of words that roll like waves to the shore of understanding, crystallizing a thought, capturing a feeling, giving voice to that motive. Oh, the poetry of those twenty-six letters arranged in groups of threes, fives, eights and twos, undulating in starts and stops, pauses and spaces, telling their tales.

Book Club Day. Everyone should have one. Or, twelve.