Writer’s Life

23 09, 2019

Footprints in the Concrete

By |2019-09-29T20:11:23-05:00September 23rd, 2019|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|1 Comment

Over 300 hand prints, footprints, and autographs can be found in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. Celebrities have pressed their hands and feet into wet cement since the 1920s.

Not only people but ventriloquist dummies, horse prints of Trigger and Champion, and tires of “The Love Bug” have left their mark.

Leaving impressions in fresh concrete is a tradition that’s been around for ages. Something about wet cement calls for hands or feet or initials or just the date to be pressed on the surface.

I’ve left my print on patio slabs, stairs, and sidewalks over the years. So has my husband.

Back in the 80s, during our first return to Texas, we visited a home where he’d lived in 1946. The house, in Austin, was being renovated. The back sidewalk with his family’s embedded footprints was to be demolished. That made us both sad.

He located the new owners and asked permission to remove the section of sidewalk with his family footprints. The contractor used a diamond blade to cut the four-inch thick concrete and removed the section with his family’s footprints.

The slab weighed a ton. Well, maybe not a ton, but it was heavy. Three men loaded it into our station wagon and my husband brought it home.

Once in back Houston, we loaded it onto a little red wagon and wheeled it into the house. The slab fit on our raised hearth in the living room as though custom cut. It was quite the conversation piece!

Then we moved to Colorado where the slab lived on our covered front porch, protected from the ice and snow. Now it’s back in Texas again, on our front porch here, protected from the hot sun.I rubbed the footprints with stain to make their impressions more visible. The date 9-30-46 has worn a bit. It’s barely visible.

We smile when we pass by and think of those four footprints that now walk the streets of heaven.

16 09, 2019

Emotional Stages of a Writing Project

By |2019-09-16T06:38:21-05:00September 16th, 2019|Writer's Life, writing, Writing Craft|0 Comments

My blogs generally focus on my writer’s life with stories about things that strike my fancy. Today I’m sharing a fun video aimed primarily for writers.

I first saw the video many years ago on the blog of The Steve Laube Agency. Fridays on his blog are FUN day and he shared this great video by James Andrew Wilson titled The Five Emotional Stages of Writing a Novel.

If you’re not a writer, I’m hope you can relate to some of the same stages in projects you undertake. And, it’ll help you understand your writer friends better.

5 08, 2019

THE Chair

By |2019-08-04T14:15:16-05:00August 5th, 2019|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|2 Comments

This little chair came to live with us in May 1990 after my mother-in-law passed away. We’d given it to her when she started having trouble sleeping in a bed.

She loved the small size because it fit her small sized body and shape. And, the lever made it easy to recline.

We enjoy it for all the same reasons.

After my husband retired, the chair became his chair. He’s not tall, 5’ 9” so the size worked perfect.

We’ve now had the chair nearly thirty years. With each relocation, the chief determinant for a new home was “where will THE chair fit?”

The main living area had to be sized so that the chair aligned with the television for all baseball and football game viewing. Usually placement was easy.

With our move from Texas to Colorado, the house had only one location for the television and the chair. It came off the truck, the movers set it in place, and there it stayed until we returned to Texas.

Our new Texas house was a different story. The new living room had four windows, a fireplace banked by built-in bookcases, and our piano that needed an inside wall. Positioning THE chair across from the television meant blocking the opening into the dining room.

Not a serious problem, but I felt sure there was another solution.

That’s when my interior designer cousin came to help.

Studying the unique room, she nodded her head toward THE chair and innocently asked, “Can we move that?”

The answer, of course, as long as the tv sits across from it.

She laughed. “I see.”

It took a bit, but together we finally figured out another arrangement for the remaining furniture, so the room didn’t look like an overcrowded showroom.

And, I’m sure you’ve guessed, THE chair remained exactly where it was.

1 07, 2019

To Back or Not to Back into Parking Spaces

By |2019-06-30T16:45:56-05:00July 1st, 2019|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

If you’ve read my blog about our l-o-n-g driveway, you know that backing my car is not one of my strong skills.

I hate to back.

I’ve backed into more trees than I care to admit. Once with a church van and vanload of women. It was a dark and lighting was bad, that’s my excuse.

Another time I backed into a friend’s tree. No damage to the tree, thank goodness. I immediately drove to our friend’s repair garage and he pulled the dent out for me. Never told hubby and he never noticed.

I took defensive driving many years ago (to lower our car insurance rates, not for a ticket reversal, I promise). Anyway, the instructor said, “The first movement of your vehicle should be forward.”

He went on to point out that most parking lots are marked so that spaces can be pulled through. That eliminates backing easily.

If the parking spaces are marked at an angle, it’s a bit trickier when pulling out from a pull-through. You must be sure the lane between parking rolls is wide enough to maneuver a turn to head out the correct direction. Or, risk traveling the wrong way to the exit.

The instructor also pointed out that if the spaces are straight and flanked by curbs, you should always back into the space. “You know what’s behind you going in – a curb. Backing out you don’t. There could be a person, a car, a pole, etc.”

I took his advice to heart. I rarely pull forward into a parking space. I back or pull though with my SUV. I am constantly amazed at how many other cars follow the same advice.

When I first started going to the sports gym where I swim every morning, I would be the only car backed in. I noticed when I came out the other morning all the cars were also backed into the spaces.I’m not sure whether they copied me or took defensive driving and had the same instructor.

I admit my backup camera helps when I must back, but I much prefer to pull forward out of a parking space.

What about you? Do you back into parking spaces or pull through when you can?

17 06, 2019

The Squirrel War

By |2019-06-16T16:13:41-05:00June 17th, 2019|Writer's Life|3 Comments

There’s a war going on in our backyard.

My husband fills the bird feeders and the birds gathered. We love watching them from our kitchen table. Too often when we look out, the squirrels are on the feeders snarfing down the birdseed.

That wasn’t too bad. We kept refilling the feeders.

Then the critters got greedy and started on our peach tree.

For the first time, we had 20-30 baby peaches on our backyard tree. And, sadly, the furry-tailed rodents leaped from the wires above to the high tree limbs and worked their way down the tree one peach at a time.

When the entire crop of peaches disappeared, that easy-going squirrels-have-to-eat-too attitude changed. It was the last straw.

Hubby studied the ascent of the squirrels on the bird feeder pole for several days. It’s a thin metal pole which unfortunately is also close to the wires running from the electrical pole to the house.

He researched on Google and discovered a slinky-type contraption that could be wrapped around the pole that was supposed to stop the squirrel invasion.

Of course, the proximity to the wires still provided access, and feeders continued to be emptied within hours of being filled.

Determined now to stop the squirrels from stealing the birds’ food, he moved the pole to the center of the yard far away from any trees, shrubs, or wires. For a few days, the feeders fed the birds. Then the evil little rodents figured out how to shimmy up the slinky!

That was too much.

Determined now to stop them, he applied grease to the pole and the slinky.

So far, the squirrels haven’t mastered the slinky and the slick pole. We can look out and see cardinals and jays and sparrows feasting away again.

Score battle one for the human!

10 06, 2019

Summertime is Burger Time

By |2019-06-09T16:09:24-05:00June 10th, 2019|Home Cooking, Writer's Life|1 Comment

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

I read that Americans gobble an estimated three burgers a week. That comes out to 156 burgers a year. Multiply that times the U.S. population and the number is around 50 billion burgers eaten a year.

That boggles my mind.

I’m not a three times a week burger eater, but I must admit there’s nothing better than the taste of burger straight from the grill or the smell of a burger grilling on a summer day. And, I’ve been known to enjoy a plain ‘ole fried-in-the-iron skillet burger on occasion.

This year I’ve noticed some interesting twists on the standard burger. Toppings like coleslaw, grated zucchini, avocado, mac ‘n cheese instead of regular cheese. Additions like fried onions, fried eggs, shrimp, mushrooms, and Jalapenos.

There are also some interesting recipes for making burgers. Basil burgers, garlic herb salmon burgers, Cajun salsa, bacon burgers with peach mayo, or barley beef.  Lots of recipe options from Taste of Home’s “34 Incredible Burgers to Grill This Summer” here.

I sometimes vary my burger choice with chicken, turkey, salmon, or veggies patties instead of beef, but that’s about as far as my experimentation goes. Some of those add-on options are too wild for me.

I’m a burger purist.

How about you? Is your burger plain-and-simple or piled with whatever you can find in the refrigerator?

20 05, 2019

A Child of the Soaps

By |2019-05-17T16:52:02-05:00May 20th, 2019|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|5 Comments

Long before epic series like Game of Thrones and Outlander kept us breathlessly awaiting the next episode, serial radio shows kept listeners beside their radios.

Busy taking care of housework in 30s and 40s without the benefit of today’s appliances, housewives tuned to tales of Clara, Lu, and Em, three sorority sisters, or Painted Dreams, a story of a mother and her unmarried daughter. Those stories continued from day to day and one story line led to another or multiple story lines.

Listeners, primarily women, lost themselves in the fictional lives. Networks and advertisers saw the great potential of a daytime market and serialized radio stories became daytime television stories.

The televised programs, dubbed daytime soaps because program sponsors were companies like Proctor and Gamble or soap operas because organ music transitioned from one scene to the next, quickly became popular. By 1970, the three major networks aired eighteen different daytime serials.

That’s where I came in.

My Oma’s favorite “stories” transitioned from radio to television. She followed her characters to the small screen and took me with her. We’d have lunch on TV trays and catch up on As the World Turns then return later in the afternoon for Guiding Light. The shows, originally fifteen minutes in length, expanded to an hour presentations. 

The stories were fascinating and progressive for their time. Women didn’t dress like Aunt Bea of Mayberry. They had flawed marriages, rotten kids, and successful careers. In fact, the police chief and head cardiologist of General Hospital were both females.

There were cheating spouses, secret babies, evil twins, amnesia victims, ghosts, time travel, and vampires. The shows aired daily allowing little time to fully memorize and polish lines like prime time shows. There were no retakes with live TV.

Nowadays only four daytime soaps remain: The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS), Days of Our Lives (NBC), General Hospital (ABC), and The Young and the Restless (CBS). But, viewer numbers are shrinking so the number may shrink more.

I rarely watch any of them. They aren’t my soap.

Graphic: The Soap Opera Wiki https://soaps.fandom.com/wiki/Guiding_Light

MY soap was Guiding Light. It first aired on radio in 1937, moved to television in 1952, and ended on my birthday in 2009 after a record seventy-two years. I still miss the Spaulding, Cooper, and Lewis families, especially Reva and Josh.

While some consider soap opera watching a waste of time, I credit my hours of watching with sparking my storyteller gene and providing endless ideas for story lines.

13 05, 2019

Mother’s Day Trivia

By |2019-05-12T13:36:56-05:00May 13th, 2019|A Writer's Life, Holidays, Writer's Life|1 Comment

A long time ago in a land far away, we wore roses to church on Mother’s Day.

I can remember as a child going to my grandmother’s house before church to pick a flower to pin on my dress.I also cut blooms for my siblings.

I would carefully choose the prettiest red roses I could find for me and my siblings, cut the chosen buds and we’d take them home. There, my brother and sister and I would pin the rose to our Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes and be ready for church on Mother’s Day.

A red rose meant your mother was living and a white one meant she was dead.

When I tell people about the annual chore, I usually get a puzzled look as if they’d never heard of it. Maybe it was only a Texas thing. There are lots of only Texas things that puzzle people.

Still, it was tradition for our family for many years. After I married and left home I continued the tradition. Once my children became teens the whining and complaining won and I kinda let the wearing roses thing fall to the wayside.

Anna Jarvis started the practice when she honored her own deceased mother with a special day of remembrance at a Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia in 1908. By 1914, she had campaigned so successfully that President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the proclamation making Mother’s Day a national holiday.

Interesting fact I uncovered as I researched about the tradition, both Jarvis and the President Wilson insisted that the spelling be singular possessive — Mother’s Day — to encourage a personal rather than generic observance.

The wearing a rose tradition makes the day even more personal. Red to honor. White to remember.

I’m thinking it would be nice to revive the tradition. Next year, maybe my rose bushes will be blooming, and I can pick a white one to wear to honor my Mother in Heaven.

4 03, 2019

Saga of the Long Driveway

By |2019-03-04T09:32:09-06:00March 4th, 2019|Writer's Life|7 Comments

Our driveway is long. Very long. It also has a killer S curve.

We noticed it when we looked at the house. But, there was so much to love about the property with the yard and interior we decided it wouldn’t be a problem.

The length wasn’t an issue for my husband because he’s an expert backer-upper.

Me, backing is not my strongest driving skill. We won’t go into details.

Instead of letting the view when pulling out of the garage paralyze me. I came up with a plan.

I’d back partway out, pull forward to the side yard and turn around with a short backup so I could head out instead of going backwards the killer distance.

That worked well until two things changed.

One, I started driving alone more. When we’re together, hubby drives and backs down the demon path while I sit in awe of his skill.

Second, a wet, wet fall and winter mean the side yard is rarely dry. My solution of turning around to drive out forward doesn’t work so well. I’m executing a tire-twisting maneuver on the soaked, soggy ground. The ruts are growing. I’m making a mess of the side yard.

Not good. Not good at all. I’m being forced to learn to navigate the killer driveway in reverse.

I inch backward. Very slowly. Pulling forward and adjusting for those silly curves.

It takes a good ten or fifteen minutes. I have to allow extra time whenever I’m going out on my own.

My husband assures me with practice I’ll get better. Maybe even someday be as good as he is. I have my doubts.

At least I haven’t hit the big pine tree yet.

18 02, 2019

What to do as Winter gives way to Spring

By |2019-02-08T15:42:28-06:00February 18th, 2019|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|2 Comments

I read in a weather blog recently that “February is not Houston’s prettiest month” and I have to say, how true.

February in Texas is the March of mountain states. Both are the months when Mother Nature is trying to transition to Spring. Skies are gray and the ground is yucky.

In the higher altitudes that means mud and slush as snow melts. You can’t ski, you can’t ATV, you can’t hike without getting dirty. Best thing to do is stay inside and read or do jigsaw puzzles.

Now that we’re back in the Houston area, February is our March. There’s no snow to melt or icy slush on the sidewalks. Nope. We have dreary, overcast days and endless misty, rainy days.

The temperature is like the wildest roller coaster you can imagine. One day will be cold and damp, the next a warm eighty degrees.  Or, that can happen all in one day.

It’s not pretty.

What I do when I can’t be outside is the same thing I did in Colorado. I work puzzles.

And, write, of course.

Working on puzzles actually helps me solve stubborn plot problems and characterization issues. A different part of my brain begins to work in the background.

Then, as the pieces of the puzzle come together, that other part of my brain sorts out the plot and characterization issues until everything comes together. By the time the puzzle’s complete, I usually have a solution for my writing dilemma.

On a recent cloudy day that kept spitting rain, which often makes me colder than those sub-zero days in Colorado, I pulled out one of the dozen or so puzzles I’d packed nineteen months ago.

It’s not a new puzzle. I’d worked it before. It’s a winter scene with snow and snowflakes to help me remember how winter was before.

I didn’t get to spread it out on the large puzzle table by a roaring fire like I did in our mountain home. That puzzle table stayed behind because it wouldn’t fit in the smaller space here.

I used a card table and discovered it works just fine for puzzles with a smaller number of pieces, which I really prefer. Those 1,000 piece puzzles, beside being so large, take forever to complete. I get impatient.

How about you? What do you do when the unpretty months between winter and spring arrive in your locale?

Load More Posts