Writer’s Life

15 08, 2022

And then came Cribbage

By |2022-08-13T08:41:53-05:00August 15th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|1 Comment

All the boiling hot, humid days where we live have forced us to spend more time than usual inside. We’ve read, we’ve taken siestas, but mostly we’ve stayed inside and played games.

We dusted off the Scrabble game and ordered a current Scrabble dictionary. You can read the blog about Scrabble and the Heat here. Our games are challenging and competitive  The outcome often depends upon who draws the Q, Z, or J tile. Our vocabularies have grown.

Wanting a game to challenged our math skills, we rediscovered Cribbage. Our granddaughter taught us years ago but we’d forgotten the details and we didn’t have a game in our game cabinet stash.

We ordered a Cribbage board from Amazon. While we awaited its arrival, we learned about the game and watched how to play it on YouTube videos. The game seemed complicated, but we did agree that we needed a challenge.

The history of Cribbage is fascinating. The game has been around since the 1600s and the way it is played has not changed. Charles Dickens’s description in The Old Curiosity Shop helped with its popularity in Victorian England. The game is played worldwide now.

We also learned Cribbage is a favorite on American submarines. The O’Kane Cribbage board of Rear Admiral Dick O’Kane is carried aboard the oldest active submarine of the United States Pacific Fleet.

Cribbage vocabulary is even more fun than its history.

Hands consist of a deal, the play, and the show. You earn points for pairs, runs, and straights until the play totals thirty-one or a player plays his last card. Points of 15 or 31 are scored with pegs on the snake-like board design called streets. Games are played to 121. All the adding and analyzing is great for our brains.

Cards are cut to decide who deals the six cards. You discard two cards from your hand for your crib.

The unused card pile is cut again and the top card is used to total points for a hand, and if it’s a Jack, the dealer scores two points for his heels or his nibs.

Then you have your muggings and Lindbergh’s, and always a pone or opponent.

Cribbage has a non-profit organization The American Cribbage Congress, dedicated to making the game fun and fair for people of all ages.

And best of all, the fast-playing game keeps us entertained on hot days.

I’m thinking it’ll work as well on chilly winter days too.

25 07, 2022

It’s Finnegan’s Birthday

By |2022-07-24T12:25:26-05:00July 25th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|2 Comments

Somewhere back in time, I fell in love with Old English sheepdogs. We adopted a mixed-breed puppy (part OES and part New Foundland). He and his litter had been found abandoned in the snow. The puppies were raised in the science lab at our daughter’s high school in Connecticut.

Azariah was big, black, and kinda scary. He didn’t much care to be told what to do and had bitten several people. When we moved to Texas, he didn’t.

Because I loved Connecticut and wasn’t happy about moving back to heat and humidity, hubby-dear promised another real OES puppy and a swimming pool. That made the idea of a move far more attractive.

Obadiah arrived. He too was big, but not scary. He loved to play hide and seek with the children. He even let our daughter dress him in her softball shirt.

Obie’s face always greeted me in the front window whenever I came home from my teaching day. The dog could tell time! Obie was a terrific dog and he instilled an even stronger love for the breed. Sadly, an OES lifespan is 10-12 years and we lost Obie.

Things were sad around our house that holiday season until my Christmas present arrived-you guessed it, an AKC Old English puppy-we named Micah Bear. He was another great dog. Our nest was emptying and he filled the space as only an OES can.

He was joined by Bernie a terrier mix and Rhinestone, a rescue OES. Our walks with the three dogs stopped traffic. We lost Rhinestone and Bernie and then Micah Bear, and decided we’d go dogless.

That did not last.

Tobias Bear flew in from Florida to join our family. He was a love with all the fun traits of OES in abundance. He was intelligent, playful, sociable, bubbly, loving, and adaptable. When we added a Maltese brother, he loved him too.

 

We lost Toby before our return to Texas and decided Buster the Maltese was pet enough. After a couple of months, all three of us were so depressed without our Toby that we started looking for another OES.

Micah Bear had come from Bugaboo Kennel in Colorado Springs so we hopped in the car and drove four hours from our mountain home to meet another puppy who would be our next OES, Finnegan MacCool.

He was a hairy bundle of joy who loved being held from the first moment we saw him. That was charming when he was a puppy.

Now full grown and ninety-four pounds it can get trickly fitting on laps.

He’s my writing buddy, always laying nearby in front of a fan because we’re back in Texas.

Time is moving far too fast.  Finn will be six on July 27.

Happy Birthday, Finn.

18 07, 2022

Guest Book Tradition

By |2022-07-17T07:01:29-05:00July 18th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|0 Comments

When you read the blog title, bet you thought about a guest book at a wedding or funeral or the cute welcome books at bed and breakfast inns or Airbnbs. There are those, but that’s not our guest book tradition.

We welcome guests to our home with our guest book and a cead mile failte plaque, which is the Irish greeting that means “A hundred thousand welcomes.”

Asking our guests to sign our guest book is a tradition we started when we were first married, a long time ago. As we moved around the country and world, we’ve always had a guest book. Guests who come for dinner or stay longer have filled more than one.

When we lived in Colorado, every summer our home overflowed with guests escaping the heat of their hometowns. Now that we are back in hot, humid Texas the guest book pages aren’t filling near as fast.

We have other guest books. The one from our wedding, and all the guest books listing those who paid their condolences at family funerals. We rarely look at those, but I’m so glad we have kept our home guest books.

We have signatures of family and friends from far and near. We even have Earl Campbell’s signature from his days as the Houston Oilers’ star running back. It’s fun to skim through the names and remember the occasion. We smile every time from fond memories with our guests.

If you don’t use a guest book in your home, and you’re interested in starting to use one, there are some great ideas on Pinterest. A lot are for wedding guest books but are easily adapted for home guest books.

This is a cute blog about a young couple and their guest book. They share their reasons for having a guest book and how they chose from all the options.

11 07, 2022

Ginny has arrived!

By |2022-07-10T15:27:53-05:00July 11th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|2 Comments

Nope, not a person. Ginny is our generator.

She may seem like an extravagance. Unless you live in an area with powerlines above the ground in the heart of Gulf coast hurricane land, you don’t fully understand how very, very dependent you are on power.

We have recurring days and weeks without electricity. We’ve weathered multiple hurricanes, some mild and others wild like Harvey, and plus the Great Texas Snow Apocalypse with its lengthy power outage.

Our area has power lines above the ground on old poles. The lines crash from overgrown vegetation and blow transformers with just about every puff of wind and even on a perfectly clear day.

In summer you add blackout/brownouts that mean no power for hours. We’ve had excessive heat index alerts like the one to the left every day since May.

All the above are reasons we bought Ginny.

Yes, we’ve had other power outages other places we lived, but not as often or for as long. Here we lose power far too much.

We saved our money, ready to purchase. Then COVID hit and too many people needed their own generators. Supplies dwindled and generators weren’t available or there was a two-year wait. That’s like birthing an elephant!

But we placed our order and finally, the installation process began after fourteen weeks, much earlier than promised.

Our anticipation grew as first the concrete pad was poured then the gas line dug. Next came upgrading the gas meter. The process took weeks before Ginny was tested and put online.

Come on hurricanes and ice storms and blackouts. We’re ready now. No more scrambling for candles and flashlights in the middle of the night. Or, resetting all the digital clocks when the power comes back on.

Thing is, now we probably won’t lose power as much and that’s okay too.

27 06, 2022

Scrabble and the Heat

By |2022-06-26T08:01:38-05:00June 27th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|2 Comments

It’s like living in hades in Texas right now. Probably hot where you live too. I’m a native Texan. I grew up without air-conditioning. You’d think I’d be used to hot summers.

Not this heat though. Going outside during the peak afternoon hours is unthinkable. We stay inside.

There’s always a jigsaw puzzle calling to be finished when it’s too hot to be outside. This summer we started afternoon game time. Card games, board games like Parcheesi, and dominoes.

Word games are very popular these days. Wordle scores keep popping up on social media. You’ll find dozens of other varieties, online and off. All are fun and challenging, but Scrabble, the board game, is my favorite.

We used to play Scrabble a lot. It kinda got forgotten. Not anymore. We rediscovered our love of Scrabble when we pulled the deluxe board that swivels from the game cabinet.

Now every afternoon it’s game on!

And we’re keeping score. At this point, I’m behind but moving up fast.

Hubby was the reigning 50-point word champ.

For non-Scrabble players, that’s when you use all seven of your letters to make a word and earn the word score plus a bonus of 50 points.

Recently I’ve managed the feat twice with the opening word

Scrabble was created in 1933, and there are over 121 billion Scrabble versions sold worldwide in 31 different languages, even a Braille version.

Why do so many people love Scrabble?

Mainly because it’s fun and challenging, but there are substantial benefits to playing. Here are ten:

  1. Scrabble teaches you the vocabulary
  2. Scrabble helps develop your intellectual abilities
  3. Scrabble teaches you strategy
  4. Scrabble encourages social cooperation and bonding
  5. Scrabble helps improve your emotional well-being and personal confidence
  6. Scrabble improves creativity
  7. Scrabble develops concentration
  8. Scrabble fosters learning through creative play
  9. Scrabble helps boosts the immune system
  10. Scrabble makes you happy

That last one is especially true if you live in Texas right now.

13 06, 2022

Wandering Writer and Stories

By |2022-06-03T08:54:31-05:00June 13th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|1 Comment

I am a wanderer. I love to see the world and the people in it. Oftentimes my wandering is dictated by outside forces, but I’ve always been ready to go.

I’ve wandered on foot, by plane, by bicycle, and by car.

I will meander through houses, mine and others, the woods and neighborhoods, stores, through cities and towns near and far.

Wherever I wander, stories find me and the memories of those encounters stay with me. Here are three that will always make me smile.

Once in Ireland, sitting at a Dublin train station, an older woman sat beside me and began to share about her family and her country. She told me she was returning home after being with her daughter, who had given birth to their twelfth grandchild. Another grandson, she said with pride in her eyes.

Yes, there were pictures and lovely tales of her family told as only the Irish can spin.

Recently in a grocery store not far from home, a young woman waiting behind me in the checkout line patted the multi-colored headscarf she wore. “Chemo,” she said. Her eyes misted. She shared her journey with breast cancer. I couldn’t stop myself I squeezed around my full cart of groceries and hugged her.

Walking with my dogs when we lived in the Rio Grande Forest always brought stories. Once a little girl playing outside at one of the rental cabins nearby ask to pet the dogs. My Old English loved on her. The Maltese jumped around all jealous then relaxed when she petted him too. As we walked away, the youngster plucked a purple wildflower and rushed over to give it to me.

Life is filled with so many chance meetings. Each encounter is unique, and I come away with a myriad of feelings from each.

Those characters and emotions from my wandering encounters frequently find their way into my stories. Not the specifics, of course, but the emotions and characterizations.

What about you? Do stories find you in your wanderings?

23 05, 2022

Memorial Day and Weddings

By |2022-05-20T21:16:13-05:00May 23rd, 2022|Holidays, Writer's Life|3 Comments

I’m so excited that Memorial Day  is on May 30 this year. There’s a good reason.

That was the official date (1868-1970) until Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act to create three-day holidays and the last Monday in May became the day to celebrate Memorial Day.

An obscure fact I realize, but there’s a reason for remembering it. Many, many years ago hubby-dear and I chose Memorial Day for our wedding ceremony.

Back then we were financially strapped students from equally financially strapped families. Plus, time off from work for a wedding or honeymoon was out of the question. That particular year Memorial Day fell on Thursday, May 30 which meant an extra day off work for us and our families.

To save more expense, I wore my mother’s wedding dress, which she’d worn twenty-five years earlier.

My mother is in the dress in the picture top left. I’m in the picture below her wearing the dress, and the larger picture is our daughter in the dress for her wedding, twenty-five years later.

Every year Memorial Day changes. Celebrating our wedding anniversary doesn’t. This year, we get to honor family members we’ve lost in service and celebrate our marriage at the same time.

9 05, 2022

Mothers

By |2022-05-07T06:48:25-05:00May 9th, 2022|Holidays, Writer's Life|2 Comments

Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother. ~Oprah Winfrey


I totally agree with Oprah. Yesterday we honored women in our lives.

I’ve been blessed with some motherly women in my life starting with the little four-foot six-inch Irish immigrant Oma Julia. Oma because she married into a strong German family who settled in Texas.

Next came her daughter Helen, the one who birthed me. I have another brother who was born over a decade after this picture was made. Sadly, I couldn’t find a picture of all four of us with Mother. (Note to self: Take more pictures when the family is together.)

Then Rose, the Mom-in-love I inherited when I married her son.

And last, but never least, my Aunt Bick, my other mother who always said, “The stork just dropped you at the wrong house.”

These three ushered me into the ranks of motherhood. All of theirs crowned me a grandmother.

And now I’m a great-grandmother with number three great-grand due any day. All our family can’t get together for Mothers’ Day celebrations. My children and grandchildren are scattered across the country. My mothers are no longer with us.

But thinking about my mothers always brings a smile. I hope you smiled too.

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.

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