Writer’s Life

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.

11 04, 2022

Pollen and Planting Time

By |2022-04-10T10:47:34-05:00April 11th, 2022|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Spring has sprung in Rosehill, Texas. Azaleas are bursting with blooms. White blossoms fill Bradford pear trees. Unfortunately, pollen from pines, oaks, and every green tree is also clogging the air. Daily pollen counts here are double, triple previous years.

Pollenpocalypse may be upon us, but the gardener in me won’t be stopped.

Morning Glory seeds need to be planted and zinnia seeds dried from last year’s blooms must be spread in the flower beds.

Plus, Confederate Rose trimmings rooted over the winter have leafy growth. Time to get the sticks into the ground so those twigs can grow hardly roots.

If you’re not familiar with a Confederate rose, this is one.

The showy blooms, 4 to 6 inches wide, appear in fall. They open white, fade to pink, and, as they age, end up red. All three colors can appear on the same plant at the same time. It’s not a rose at all but a species of hibiscus native to China (Hibiscus mutabilis).

It’s a favorite Southern passalong plant since it’s so easy to propagate. The easiest way to reproduce the plant is to simply put cuttings in water like I did.

Legend says the flowers were used to soak up the blood spilled on Confederate battlefields and hence the name Confederate. In the book Passalong Plants, Felder Rushing says ladies in Mobile, Alabama gave these flowers to Confederate soldiers returning home from the war. He’s a well-known authority on all things southern especially gardening things so it’s bound to be true.

Another name is “cotton rose” because its leaves resemble cotton foliage and its round flower buds resemble cotton bolls.

The Confederate rose can be either a small tree, a perennial, or an annual.

One good thing that’s come from Global Warming is more people are being introduced to the Confederate rose.

In places that don’t have winter freezes, it can get grow thirty feet tall. What a sight to see so many multi-colored flowers each fall.

The best thing about Confederate Roses…

All you need to do is ask a friend to have one in your yard. Don’t be shy about asking. It’s what we do down here. It’s perfectly acceptable.

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.

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