Writer’s Life

12 06, 2023

Father’s Day

By |2023-06-11T10:17:00-05:00June 12th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Holidays, Writer's Life|0 Comments

We will honor our father figures the third weekend of June. For some that father figure might be a birth father. For others, it’s a stepfather or a relative or friend that serves the father’s role.

Me, I’ve been blessed with three men who share their father’s love with me.

  • My father.

Daddy taught me how to fish, how to hunt, and how to dress out my bounty. He taught me how to build things, fix things, grow things, and cook things around a campfire. He taught me raunchy songs and words, then reminded me to always be a lady.


  • My beloved uncle—a Marine on Iwo Jimo when I was born—was a second father to me.

Uncle Dub taught me to shoot straight, with a firearm and with my words. He taught me the fun of antique auctions and the beauty of old things. He showed unconditional love in through my tough times and tough love when needed. He was a wise counselor.


  • I inherited my third father when I married his only son.

Rev. L. O., my preacher father-in-love shared his Bible wisdom and whetted my appetite for Bible study. And, best of all he raised his only son to be the best husband ever and a godly father.

I’m so thankful for having his son by my side as we raised our three children and now love and enjoy eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He’s been a vital force in all their lives.

My three daddies are gone now, which makes Father’s Day a bit sad for me.

I miss them but remembering all of them on their special day brings back fond memories and makes me smile.

22 05, 2023

Backyard Food

By |2023-05-21T10:37:20-05:00May 22nd, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Gardening has been around forever. Well, at least since the Garden of Eden.

The Pilgrims gardened to survive. Pioneers carried seeds and planted their food for their survival. The economy and lack of food supplies dictated home gardening during the Depression and war years.

Home gardening feeds our bodies and our need for self-sufficiency. If you don’t grow food for yourself, there are farmers’ markets where fresh produce, eggs, and even meat can be found.

We’ve been backyard gardeners off and on through the years. At first, we gardened because we couldn’t afford the fresh (or easily find it) and we wanted to teach how kiddos how to grow their food. The better taste of homegrown has made us continue.

We began with plots in community gardens. Once, when we lived in West Virginia, we plowed our entire backyard and planted a garden. The preserved bounties of that garden fed us well for years.

I became quite proficient in the art of canning and preserving. My jams and canned veggies even earned blue ribbons at many state fairs through the years.

We downsized our garden space considerably when we left West Virginia. But tomato plants in pots remain a standard planting in all our backyard landscapes. This year we expanded our backyard container garden with zucchini, yellow squash, and bush beans.

After weeks and weeks of heavy rain, the sun has finally come out and we’re reaping the bounty.















Nothing better than a meal of homegrown green beans cooked with petite red potatoes and served with a side of cornbread, tomatoes, and canned peaches.

Read more about the history of growing your food here: A Brief History of Gardening.

And here: The Story of farming

And here: Types of gardens

And here for how to start your own backyard garden

15 05, 2023

Scary, Scary Thunderstorms

By |2023-05-14T16:10:50-05:00May 15th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

We’ve been having severe thunderstorms in our area for the last three weeks.

A recent storm with heavy, heavy thunder and lightning sent our Finnegan jumping into my lap at the first clap. The next strike practically lifted us off the couch.

I knew it had struck very close because the flash lit up the night like those old floodlights stores used to highlight their grand openings. The beam circling the sky could be seen for miles.

The storms lasted off and on all night.

Finnegan was glued to us. He normally sleeps at the foot of the bed. Not this time. He was right between us.

All I can say is, thank heavens we have a king-size bed.

We realized how close the lightning strike came when we took Finnegan for a walk the next day and saw the lightning scar on the neighbor’s tree.

A second tree, to the right of this one, also had a lightning scar on the backside.

It’s been two weeks of continuous rainstorms. Fortunately, not all have had severe thunder and lightning, but the volume of the water has truly been overwhelming for the area. My phone is constantly beeping flooding alerts.

When you live at sea level, the water has no place to go. Flooding can be seen everywhere. It will drain off or run down to the Gulf eventually, but until then traveling on the roads is quite hazardous. Farmers and ranchers have to protect the livestock.





The sun has come out this afternoon for a few hours. It feels wonderful to see and feel the warm beams. The forecast is for a couple more days of rain and then the typical early-about-to-be oppressive summer heat will return.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ll be so happy. Finn and I truly hate hot, hot days when we can’t venture outside as much as we do the thunderstorms. But at least on hot, hot days we can hide in the air conditioning, in front of a fan.

17 04, 2023

Have you adjusted?

By |2023-04-16T12:32:14-05:00April 17th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Our spring Daylight Savings Time switches have been around since 1918. I’ve been doing the spring forward, fall back ritual my entire life.

You’d think I’d be adjusted. Right?


I find myself waking up an hour too early with the spring DST switch and an hour too late with the fall change back. My body clock isn’t fooled. It knows when it’s really 5 a.m.

When I was younger, I didn’t pay much attention to the time changes except for the task of changing all the clocks, especially the kitchen clock hanging high above the back porch door. Changing it was my special task.

I remember my daddy holding the kitchen stool, his hands steading me as I climbed up to reach the clock. I remember how the accumulated greasy dust clung to my fingertips and how we’d always wipe off the circular edge before we rehung it. I remember climbing down from the chair and standing beside him looking up.

“Done for this time,” he’d say and lift the chair back to its place in the corner of the kitchen.

From there, we’d move to adjust the windup Big Ben bedside alarm clocks and clock radios.

Next, we sat at the dining table and changed his Timex watch, the one with the genuine leather band. His eyes weren’t as sharp as mine so he’d undo the treasured timepiece from his wrist and hand it to me. He trusted me to move the hands ahead or back, but he never to do the winding.

Lastly, we’d set Mother’s gold bracelet Longines. Her prized possession. It always felt like such a giant responsibility. The watch ran on a battery so we didn’t have to wind it but twice a year we did have to change the time.

Eventually, glowing red or white digits replaced pointy black analog hour and minute hands. Watching the numbers spin around and applying the exact amount of pressure so I didn’t go too far and have to start over was (is) a challenge.

I can still hear Daddy saying, “Slow down.”

Those memories of helping Daddy are the best part of the DST changes for me. I miss that ritual. Adjusting to all the time switches, not so much.

It’ll be time for the reset fall back change again before I’ve settled into the new daylight time.

3 04, 2023


By |2023-04-01T08:43:10-05:00April 3rd, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Growing up hand-me-downs and mended defined most of our clothing.

There were everyday school clothes, play clothes, and Sunday/dress-up clothes. You didn’t wear a Sunday outfit to school unless it was a special occasion and you never ever wore your good things to play in.

Dresses, jeans, shorts, and shoes were passed between siblings and cousins, and friends. We’ve carried that tradition down, always passing good clothing and stuff we can’t use on to friends and family.

Whenever our family gets together these days, we still exchange what we call the “obligatory bag.” Inside can be clothing, shoes, magazines, food, or any manner of re-useable household items to pass along.

In a recent exchange, my youngest daughter passed on some sneakers for me.

I have to smile. As the youngest child, she wasn’t always excited about her hand-me-down, homemade wardrobe. She rarely got brand-new, store-bought things. Now she’s carrying on the tradition in reverse—hand-me-ups.

I love my “new” bright pink sneakers.

27 03, 2023

The Garden

By |2023-03-27T09:11:30-05:00March 27th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Gardens are gifts to ourselves and wildlife. The once sadly neglected gardens at our home are once again a place of refuge for humans as well as animals and birds. It’s taken time, back-breaking labor, and lots of patience.

The previous owners hadn’t been able to keep things up, but since our house was a designated Certified Habitat for Wildlife, the beginnings were there.  Over the last six years, we’ve trimmed, removed dead trees, cleared brush gone wild, planted, and watered until we had a garden and could sit on the porch and enjoy the view.

There were times of throwing our hands in the air and shouting what’s the point? We wrestled with hoses and tripped over shovels. Our backs hurt. Our shoulders ached.

But we persevered.

What began as pitiful patches of sickly grass, haggard shrubs, sad old crepe myrtles, a neglected dogwood, and a sad tulip magnolia, returned to life. The birds and butterflies came back. Our backyard became a busy wildlife place again.

Then Mother Nature stuck with four days of below-freezing temperatures and crippled our efforts. Our garden sanctuary was once again dead and desolate.

Ugly brown foliage was all we saw from the porch swing. The creek fountain sprung a leak. The birdbaths were abandoned. Gone was the respite of sitting on the porch.

Spring-like weather finally arrived but the yard wasn’t the same. Missing the birds and the blooms, we started over.

We found the pond leaks and sealed them. The fountain flows again.  Water trickles over the creek bed into the pond. A helper cleared the frostbitten plants and weeds, removed dead shrubs, and dug holes for new shrubbery, then spread mulch. College boy neighbors, on spring break and needing cash, cleared the roof and raked debris into thirteen bags.

Weeks later zinnia and marigold seeds are sprouting. Four o’clocks and Cardinal plants are popping up in the dirt behind the patio and fountain. The Angel Trumpet has new growth and the freshly planted Arbor Day seedlings have tiny leaves. Our sanctuary’s begun to emerge again.

Soon we can sit on the porch swing and watch butterflies and hummingbirds feasting on blooms. Birds will bathe in the tricking pond again.

I can’t wait. Come on warm weather.

7 11, 2022

My love of Robots

By |2022-11-06T14:03:42-06:00November 7th, 2022|Writer's Life|1 Comment

Machines that do repetitious jobs using AI are manpower savers. Industry has employed robots for years.

As a longtime Star Wars fan, robots and droids fascinate me. I love watching these guys.

Back in my elementary school teaching days, I taught a robotics unit where we designed robots with Legos and wrote essays about the robot’s use. No automation, but each design had to have a purpose.

The kids loved the designing part…hated the writing part.

Legos advanced to motorized remote control robot kits and robotic competitions. Two of my grandchildren competed in several and won several

Robots are marvelous things for industry and movies. Now we have robots designed for repetitious household tasks.

I never realized how much of a good thing a household robotic vacuum would be until C-3P0 came to live at our house. I was always skeptical that a machine could vacuum as well as a human. Then our OES Finn was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that causes him to lose his hair.

Sick and tired of having to vacuum every day, we took the plunge and bought a robotic vacuum. Named after the Stars Wars robot, C-3PO is a marvel.

Using a phone app to control where he goes, we watch C-3PO buzz along sweeping the floors over rugs and door thresholds.

So does Finn.

When C-3PC’s finished, he gives a beep-beep like a roadrunner and heads to his station to recharge.

From teaching kids about robots to owning one—life’s amazing!

What next?


29 08, 2022

Bye, Bye Summer

By |2022-08-28T12:58:17-05:00August 29th, 2022|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|1 Comment

Another summer is about over. Labor Day is coming.

Fall will officially arrive on September 22, 2022, at 9:03 pm EDT.

Every year at the end of August this one-time schoolteacher becomes a little nostalgic. I’m not saying I’d want to be back teaching in a classroom again. Not with the challenges teachers face today. 

Once the back-to-school chatter begins, I can’t stop a part of me from missing the excitement of setting up my classroom and seeing the eager young faces.

I swallow the lump in my throat from memories when I spot a school bus and send up a prayer for a “really good year” for the bus driver, the kids, and the teacher waiting in the classroom.

Back-to-school this year meant three grandchildren headed off the college. One to Arizona, one to Missouri, and one to San Antonio. Two others continue honing their craft as electricians and auto mechanics. The youngest granddaughter continues her homeschooling toward high graduation.

The most exciting thing about this year’s back-to-school is another granddaughter follows her mom, Chicken Wrangler Sara aka music teacher, and me into her classroom as a first-year teacher.

Another granddaughter will continue her teaching career at a new school. Say a little prayer for both of them and all teachers.

August is more than back to school though, it’s the freshness of new beginnings. A time of changes. A mid-year New Year’s Day.

I’m looking forward to the new season. What about you?

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.

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