2 05, 2022

In Search of the Leak

By |2022-05-02T06:29:16-05:00May 2nd, 2022|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|1 Comment

There’s a leak in the water feature in our backyard. We know there is because the water in the pond drops when we turn on the fountain.

We have been trying to find the leak for weeks. It’s a perfect example of things life keeps tossing in my world to keep me from my writing.

We filled obvious cracks with a cement caulk. Then coated the entire bed of the creek that winds from the fountain by the garage to the retention pond at the edge of the back porch with a rubber product to seal it.

That task required removing all the rocks that weren’t cemented to the creek bed. The rubber then had to cure for a week before we could add water again. The poor birds were not happy to lose their bathing hole.

Once the rubber cured, we refilled the pond, but, alas, when we started the pump again, the water sank like bathwater down the drain. Clearly, there was still a hole somewhere.

The creek drops in elevation in sections. We isolate each section to test for the leak. That narrowed the search to one section and upon careful examination we found a hole going through the rubber coating and the cement structure below to dirt.

We plugged the hole, filled the pond, and started the pump again. Our backyard birds were ecstatic.

The plan was to add more black rubber over the white patch once we knew we’d fix the problem. But sadly, the pond level sank again when filled.

Only about a quarter inch this time. But still not good.

After more scrutiny, we discovered tiny cracks in the fountain structure and water seeping out around the bottom edges.

That song from Girl Scout campouts, “There’s a Hole in the Bucket,” ran through my head as we were working. Have a listen if you’ve never heard it. Warning: You’ll be humming it all day.

I remember the last verse we sang at camp differently. We passed a bucket around as we sang and after the last verse, the one holding the bucket stuck it on their head.

We’ll be using our heads, but not like in the camp song. We’ve called the stonemason who built the pond. He’s coming to isolate the fountain leaks and fix them.

25 04, 2022

And Then There Was No Internet

By |2022-04-25T12:11:03-05:00April 25th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|4 Comments

Our internet provider had a major outage recently. No warning. No explanation.

I suspect one of the construction crews accidentally cut a fiber-optic cable. We have lots of roadwork and new home construction going on around us. The city is encroaching on our quiet little community.

No power, we’re used to that but having power without internet—that was weird.

To make things worse, we switched to streaming from the same provider so we had no Netflix or Amazon Prime. No series to binge after dinner. We found ourselves thrust back to pre-internet days.

All was not lost though.

I had never tossed our DVD/VCR player or favorite DVDs and VHS tapes in any of my downsize purge frenzies.

We had options.

We spent a very enjoyable evening watching one of our favorite DVD movies from 2001, Moulin Rouge starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.

Watching their love story made me want to write a romance novel titled “Come What May.”

After the movie, we headed to bed to read. Normally we say, “One more episode. It’s not too late.” and end up staying up too late to read.

Not a bad day overall.

One day without internet was a nice break, but no internet at all? No thank you.

14 03, 2022

Nothing like Irish music to Put Ya in a St. Patrick’s Day Mood

By |2022-03-11T05:55:46-06:00March 14th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Holidays, Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|0 Comments

St. Patrick’s Day brings all things Irish out around my house, even more so than usual. We feast on Irish stew and soda bread and start our day with scones. The air rings with Irish music.

But traditional Irish music isn’t limited to St. Paddy Day. You’ll often see a bit of toe-tapping going on around here. I could listen all day. And often do.

Music is the heart of Ireland. Whether the fiddler on a corner in Dublin or the man on the country lane blowing his Irish whistle or a late-night session at the local pub, you’ll find toe-tapping, hand-clapping music everywhere. Our visits to the pub sessions were the highlight of all our trips to Ireland.

 

 

 

 

 

One night, as a session broke up a native Irish speaker leaned over to me and said, “Ah, I tell ya, it was great music, ‘twould make the water stand out in ya eyes.”And indeed, tears did sparkle in my eyes that night. Nothing is more wonderful than the combination of traditional music and dancing.

Every visit to Ireland should include an Irish evening of traditional music, song, and local dancers. We still talk about our long-ago visit to Bunratty Castle’s Irish Evening at the Corn Barn.

Here’s a commercial video describing the event. I promise it will put you in St. Patrick’s Day mood.

7 03, 2022

The Gonk Has Returned

By |2022-02-26T10:30:35-06:00March 7th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Uncategorized, Writer's Life|2 Comments

Don’t know what a gonk is? Meet Gonk.

The Gonks’ signature features are a small, spherical body and two googly eyes. A gonk is not a gnome or a leprechaun though there are family resemblances.

Gnomes have a pointy hat and face full of hair. Gonks don’t.

Leprechauns sport green hats and orange beards. Gonks don’t have orange beards or stovepipe hats.

 

Gonks are the creation of English inventor Robert Benson. They were quite literally the first toy craze in England post-World War II. Endorsements by Ringo Starr and Peter Sellers aided in their popularity.

Gonks also appeared in the 1964 movie Gonks Go Beat. The film is a take-off on the Romeo and Juliette theme. Two musical communities, one who likes rock and roll and one who likes ballads, become reunited through a couple who love across their communities.

With the publication of this 1960s Simplicity pattern. Gonks became homemade toys. Children loved them and they could be made from almost any material and any size.

The Gonk-guy below was created from the pattern by hubby-dear’s sister, seamstress extraordinaire.

Her Gonk creations were much desired and cherished.

Around our house, we have many of Nita’s Nitawork needlework creations including Mr. and Ms. Santa Claus, a holiday door wreath, and a Texas State Fair First Prize-winning wall-hanging of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Sadly, our University of Texas gonk met his demise years ago.

That’s why I was so delighted to discover this round, cuddly guy with a great message on his shirt when helping Nita’s son clear out his sister’s apartment.

A treasure that brings back fond memories.

7 02, 2022

Why Valentine’s Day?

By |2022-02-02T15:54:51-06:00February 7th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Holidays, Valentine's Day|0 Comments

Soon many people will be exchanging cards, candy, gifts, or flowers with their special “valentine.” Why do we do that?

Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr Saint Valentine a real priest who lived in 270 A.D. and provided Christians with sacraments outlawed by the Roman Empire such as marriage and ended up in prison.

Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment, giving them to the soldiers and persecuted Christians to “remind them of God’s love and to encourage them to remain faithful Christians.”

On the evening before his execution, he wrote the first “valentine” addressed to the daughter of his jailer and signed the greeting “Your Valentine.” And thus began our custom of giving cards and reminders to loved ones on February 14th.

The Greeting Card Association estimates as much as $933 million will be spent on cards and gifts this year. One billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year.

Esther A. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” used “scrap” to make elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures. The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester holds a large collection of her valentines.

I have a personal ephemera postcard collection. While not as elaborate as Ms. Howland’s, I love the way these cards speak of romance.

If you don’t want to spend money on cards or have the time to make a card. You can always express your love with these “signs” from Signing Savvy, the online American Sign Language Dictionary.

Moi, I’m not shy about romance or telling the ones I love how much I love them on this special day. My Valentine cards are in the mail.

31 01, 2022

No New Year Resolutions for Me

By |2022-01-30T10:04:23-06:00January 31st, 2022|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|1 Comment

After everything that happened in 2020, I had so wanted 2021 to be our return to normalcy. There were moments, but normal didn’t happen.

We had even more COVID variants to put up with. Plus, we lost Betty White and Alex Trebek. Not a good year at all. I was more than happy to turn my calendar and head into a new year.

January always feels like a second chance, a time for fresh starts. To begin again with resolutions for changes, if not in the world, then in ourselves.

Bloggers offer plenty of ideas for resolutions. I usually prepare a goal-setting blog or two myself. Not this year. No blog and no list of personal goals for me this year.

Why? Because resolutions are notoriously unsuccessful. Life always gets in the way. I’m trying something different this year.

I haven’t liked what I’ve seen in the world in the last two years. I haven’t laughed a lot. Some days I haven’t even smiled.

Instead of making a resolutions list, I intend to laugh more in 2022. While I can’t change the past, I’m counting on humor to get me through the present.

I know there will be new challenges in 2022. According to experts, China’s “gift” to the world is entering the endemic phase. That means COVID is never going away. The good news is, having survived the last two years, we have an arsenal to combat an endemic.

Will laughter solve all the issues we face? Of course not.

But laughter will increase oxygen intake and stimulate our heart, lungs, and muscles. Most importantly, laughter will increase the endorphins that activate and relieve stress responses.

In today’s world, that’s a win-win.

24 01, 2022

The Posing Tree

By |2022-01-28T12:06:56-06:00January 24th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|1 Comment

We have a huge oak tree in our front yard. Its trunk is thick. The branches wind and curve and resurrection fern covering the limbs unfurl to life after a rain.

Arborists tell us it’s around two hundred years old. We love it for its beauty and shade.

It begs to be climbed.

Old and young and very agile answer its call.

It is a perfect posing tree for photographs.

Photos that capture moments of time.

Photos that bring smiles.

Memories are what I love most about our beautiful oak tree.

 

What are you loving most these days?

6 12, 2021

Celebrating Christmas Texas Style

By |2021-12-03T09:12:31-06:00December 6th, 2021|A Writer's Life, Holidays|0 Comments

Christmas on the Texas Gulf Coast is a little different. No snow, no cold, and a few other traditions unique to the Lone Star State.

There’s our version of the classic Night Before Christmas to read. The Night Before Christmas in Texas, That Is by Leon A. Harris,  This tale has a definite Texas spin with buckboards and bunks. It has entertained Texas audiences for more than forty years.

From the inside cover flap:

A Western Santa Claus-decked out in Levis, a ten-gallon Stetson, a cowboy vest, and with a bandana around his neck-makes his Christmas journey on a buckboard piled high with presents.  Swooping in over the prairie to the amazement of sleepy residents and jackrabbits alike, a plump, jovial Santa parks his buckboard outside a peaceful ranch house. From boot-stuffing gifts to the faithful “hosses” pulling his “sleigh,” this is a Christmas tale rich in Texas tradition.

A must-read every holiday if you live in my house.

Gene Autry recorded the poem for Columbia Records in the 1940s or 50s. My copy of the original 78 release is still around somewhere. Take a listen to a later release:

Other Lone Star Christmas traditions are not strictly Texan, but unique to customs of the southern states.

Hanging a pickle on the Christmas tree

Lining our sidewalk with Luminaries

Eating tamales on Christmas Eve

But it’s definitely not Christmas in Texas unless we sing “Merry TEXAS Christmas, You All.”

Gene Autry recorded the song on the flip side of “Night Before Christmas” Click on the link to hear him singing:  https://youtu.be/onGs1BaA7co

22 11, 2021

Reasons I’m Thankful to Be a Writer

By |2021-11-21T06:20:12-06:00November 22nd, 2021|A Writer's Life, Holidays|0 Comments

Thanksgiving in the United States is just around the corner. Cornbread for dressing is baking in the oven. The big bird’s thawing in the frig.

It’s time to focus on thankfulness.

 

As a writer, I’m thankful for so many things.

  • A supportive spouse who is my walking research resource and also happens to be the best critique partner, plotting budding, and editor ever.
  • Writing friends who support, cheer, and listen to my rants.
  • Non-writing friends who ask how’s my writing is going and accept that deadlines can interfere with get-togethers.
  • Family members who let me talk about my characters as if they are real and always answer my wild questions.
  • The imaginary friends and their voices in my head. Without them, I couldn’t do what I do.

Then there are the uniquely writerly things

  1. I get to work in pajamas.
  2. I always have a blank page to start fresh.
  3. Life is filled with funny stories, daily struggles, and multitudes of blessings, so there’s always be something to write about.
  4. My first-try draft doesn’t have to be perfect. Think about it. Professionals like doctors and dentists can’t say that.
  5. Edits and revisions do, in fact, eventually end.
  6. My Google searches haven’t gotten me arrested…yet. (I’m probably on watchlists, but so far no one’s come after me.)
  7. I can escape into other worlds – ones I create, and the ones other authors have created for us to read.
  8. Reviews! Even one or two-star reviews mean a reader’s read the book.

So many blessings in my writer world. What’s in your world that makes you feel thankful this Thanksgiving?

15 11, 2021

The Wandering Pickleball Paddle

By |2021-11-14T06:10:54-06:00November 15th, 2021|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Hubby-dear is a Pickleball addict. He wears his hat all the time which leads to questions.  Because he loves the game, he’s always eager to share. He’s been responsible for growing the sport every place we’ve lived.

Hubby-dear also carries paddles, nets, and balls in his car for a quick demonstration. If someone wants to learn, he offers one of the extra paddles.

During our great Texas Ice Apocalypse remodel last February, Hubby-dear invited one of the workers to join him on our local city park Pickleball courts. The young man didn’t have a paddle, so Hubby-dear lent him my Ol’ Yellow paddle from his stash.

The young man played a couple of times. He loved the game so Hubby-dear let him keep the paddle until he could get his own. He even wrote his phone number on the paddle so the man could call with questions.

Fast forward to two days ago, Hubby-dear received a text from a car dealer in Mississippi. He’d found a yellow Pickleball paddle in a car he bought at a car auction in Texas. Was it Hubby-dear’s?

After an exchange of texts and calls mostly about Pickleball (the car dealer was a Pickleball addict too), Hubby-dear gave the car dealer our address.

The paddle arrived the next day via next-day delivery!

I think I was happier than Hubby-dear. I’d played many a game using Ol’ Yellow until health issues forced me to retire. These days I watch Hubby-dear win local championships with his partner.

I may not play, but Ol’ Yellow is back in Hubby-dear’s supply basket awaiting the next new Pickleball convert. Who knows where the paddle will end up next?

If you haven’t played Pickleball, stop by your neighborhood courts and watch. And, yes there will be a court somewhere close by.

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in American.

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