Twain, The Muse, and Hannibal


It had been a difficult week, and lining up to be a difficult month.  I didn’t want it to continue to a year.  Rejection is part of a writer’s career, but six rejections in one day were too much.  The strain of rejection flowed into the strained relationship with my muse.  No matter how I begged and pleaded, she remained silently aloof, watching me flounder.

            After several days of writing and rewriting the same chapter to the same book I’d been working on for over a year, I reached an epiphany.  Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this writing thing after all and my delusions of grandeur were as much fantasy as those published writings I’d been reading.

            Mom was right after all.  I was just wasting time daydreaming and avoiding responsibility.  My muse must have had her ears attuned to the despair and negative vibes that surrounded me.  The fickle minx chose that as a cue for her departure.

            I knew the moment she had abandoned me, it was for someone whose talent was providing them with a generous income; an income that would keep the traitorous muse in chocolate, silk, and pearls.  I could see her in my mind’s eye lounging on a chase in a tropical location inspiring one of my favorite authors.  She stared back at me in a familiar smugness, lowered her sunglasses and smirked.  She lifted her glass of champagne to me as a sun-bronzed server named Javier brought her a sumptuous platter of crab legs and assorted tropical fruits.  I stared at the tuna salad sandwich on my plate and lost my appetite.

            Feeling like a miserable failure, I’d lost my appetite for just about everything in my life.  Not being prone to depression, my mental state obviously showed.  My husband decided we needed a change of scenery for the weekend.  Money is tight as always but sanity is worth the investment.

            We found ourselves in Hannibal, Missouri.  The term quaint was coined for this small town that is approximately one hundred miles north of St. Louis.  I wanted to be on a beach somewhere tropical–sticking my tongue out at Ms. Fickle Muse – not on the banks of the muddy Mississippi River.  I could hear her riotous laughter at my expense. Inwardly I pouted at the unfairness of the whole situation.

            Best known as the birth place of Mark Twain, this riverfront town has definitely retained the charm of history.  There is a nearly palpable sense of the slower, peaceful pace that is so foreign in our high tech instant world today.  A welcomed sense of lazy summer days offered retreat to the stressful state of mind I had been caught up in.

            A dinner cruise on the Mark Twain riverboat eased us into the relaxed atmosphere of Hannibal.  The soothing rumble of the engine as the boat chugged slowly over the water worked like a massage for our minds.  The spectacular sunset viewed from the top deck with a gentle breeze coming off the water offered the perfect sigh of relaxation to end the day.

Mark Twain riverboat            Back at our hotel, the hot tub offered further relaxation and real conversation, something we hadn’t actually engaged in for some time.  We discussed our job frustrations, family troubles, our growing teenagers, and our future.  It had been so long since we had considered, much less actually talk about our dreams for the future, it seemed strained at first.  It didn’t take long for us to look past the current circumstances to find hope again.

            As I reconnected with my soul-mate, it occurred to me that I hadn’t realized how disconnected we had become.  The busy state in which we lived, the stress we accepted as part of everyday life, and the pressure we were both feeling had been robbing us of enjoying life.  How did we get so caught up in the mess that we forgot to live?

            The next day we visited the Mark Twain museum, Samuel Clemens boyhood home, and Mark Twain Cave.  There was a walking tour of numerous Victorian homes which cost nothing, except a bucket of sweat from the sweltering July temperatures. Ironically the walking tour was far more satisfying than the other tours.

            Over cold drinks and hot pizza, we talked about Twain. I was reminded in the museum that Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer was the first book  I had read voluntarily.  I became fascinated by the adventure of the book.  A whole new world was opened to me through literature.  That book sparked a life long passion of reading, which led to a passion for writing.

            I contemplated this on a deep intimate level, suddenly aware that Ms. Fickle Muse was nowhere to be found when inspiration struck in my childhood.  Multiple notebooks filled with the tales of dragons, knights, monsters, and ordinary people that turned out to be heroes and heroines popped into my mind.  There was certainly not a lack of imagination on my part, so when did she (the muse) show up?

            We discussed the difficulties of Twain’s life.  The adversity that Mark Twain went through in his life could have easily been overwhelming to most people.  Yet, through all of it he managed a certain sagacious wit that is distinctly Twain.

All copyrights to this photo belong to Rockcliff Mansion management.

All copyrights to this photo belong to Rockcliff Mansion management.

            The final day we visited a turn of the century manor called Rockcliffe Mansion. Although renovations were going on in parts of the manor, the tour was well worth it.  It was full of lavish furnishings that were original to the home.  There were crystal chandeliers in numerous rooms.  A very large stained glass window on the landing of the stairwell was designed by Tiffany.  The servants’ quarters were more spacious than the master bedroom of our modest home.  Rockcliffe is a 13,500 square foot American Castle built to showcase Mr. John J. Cruikshank’s wealth.

All rights reserved to management of Rockcliffe mansion.

All rights reserved to management of Rockcliffe mansion.

            The millionaire lumber baron and his wife had four daughters that they raised in this mansion.  There were handles on the fireplace for the girls to hold while their corsets were being tightened by their attendants.  It was a lavish contrast to the austere home that Samuel Clemens lived in as a boy and not five miles separated the two homes.

            Twain came from very humble beginnings and a life of tragedy yet he became one of America’s most loved and recognized authors.  Very few people remember the millionaire lumber baron Cruikshank.

            I’ve heard it said that tough circumstances don’t last, but tough people do.  I’ve also heard the saying “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.”  Winston Churchill stated “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”     These are statements made by men who have succeeded in their lives.  These were men who overcame adversity in their own life by applying diligence and following their moral convictions to achieve success.

            It struck me like a wrecking ball upside my head that success is achieved, achieved being an action word.  It seemed so simple, so obvious, that I began to laugh.  The tension began to uncoil as I laughed at my own foolish behavior, my own deceptions and frustrations.  It was at that moment my husband chose to return.  The timing was so imperfect, I laughed harder, realizing he must think I’m as crazy as a loon.

            Such is my life. A series of unfortunate and inconvenient incidences, the worst timing, and a knack for outbursts of laughter at the wrong moment that could either cause constant embarrassment or the source of great writing material.  Who needed a muse when I was comedy central-live, twenty four/ seven? What I needed was to slow down and relax.

            I had a goldmine inside me!  I already had the mining tools and the raw material.  I just needed to start the mining process.  Being abandoned by my muse turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened.  When left to my own devices I was faced with the reality that finding out whether I am made of the right stuff is totally up to me and no one else.

            This modest weekend getaway wasn’t at a tropical resort, or even anywhere I would have chosen.  It was in fact exactly where I needed to be to get myself straightened out mentally and emotionally.  After reading about the adversities that Twain overcame in his own life, I felt embarrassed with myself for the pity party I had been indulging in.

            I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel and quit, and I had yet to begin  singing.  The secret to Twain’s success was an old tried and true method.  He didn’t wait for a muse to inspire him. Twain worked many varied jobs.  He worked and he kept at it, never giving up.  He wrote at every opportunity provided and created a few for himself.  “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” (Winston Churchill)

            Zig Ziglar, a well known motivational speaker, states that success is made of the following characteristics:  conviction, commitment, hard work, love for what you do, integrity, character, consistency, persistence, discipline, heredity, environment, humor, luck, faith, passion, and connections.

            Mark Twain had commitment; he kept at it when people told him he couldn’t or that he was a hack.  Yes, even Mark Twain had to deal with rejection.  Twain has been quoted as saying: “There are basically two types of people; people who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things.  The first group is less crowded.”

            As I went through the list checking all the facets that Mark Twain had, I realized that not one of them was having a muse.  Luck didn’t count in his life, unless you counted bad luck. Overcoming adversity provides confidence that the next adversity may be conquered as well.

            That fact had me wondering how my husband and I lined up against the list.  We had lengthy discussions.  We evaluated our strengths, our weaknesses, areas that we needed to improve, and realized there were things we had no control over.  We also realized that there were many more things we could do to achieve our own goals.

            “Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain.” This quote by Mark Twain is one of my favorites.  It now held new meaning for me.

            Our circumstances do not define who we are.  What we do with those circumstances determines where we end up.  Armed with that bit of information, I made a new plan.  The drive home was enjoyable with real conversation, laughter, smiles (something neither of us had done in a while) and the sense that we were going to get through this mess that we called our lives.  We decided we need to laugh more often and seek the brighter side.  After all, sometimes it comes down to whether you laugh or cry and laughing is much more enjoyable.  The choice is ours.

            That is the whole key.  It is our choice how we handle adversity. Even though Mom always said I was a dreamer, she also took every opportunity to remind me I came from strong stock.  We are stronger than we think we are and able to do much more than we think we can.  It was time to revisit my dreams, and apply myself to achieving them.  Those dreams became a vision.  The vision became a plan to which I added the determination and perseverance.  I made up my mind to pursue those dreams, and not let anything stop me.

           I posted the words of Winston Churchill next to my desk: “Never, never, never give up.” 

            Less than a week later that fickle muse returned in her lazy manner.  She made a grand entrance.  The large brimmed white sun hat tossed on the sofa, she sank into the easy chair with a resolved sigh.  I ignored her.  She brushed an imaginary piece of fuzz from her gloriously tanned arm, then smoothed her designer dress over her flawless figure.  I continued to work.  There was a great deal of gesticulations and posturing before the slightest whisper of exhaled breath as she stated “Well, I’m here.  I guess we can get started now.”

            I mentally told her to go back to where she’d been.  I politely stated there were other writer’s who were waiting for her and she was wasting her time with me.  That mischievous smirk of hers appeared.  She was rather dense and didn’t catch on for a few minutes.  Never looking away from my screen as my fingers flew fast and furious trying to keep up with my brain, I reassured her she could go.

            Several minutes later she sidled up beside me to critique whatever tripe I had been working on while she’d been away.  That was when I had to be blunt.  “This just isn’t working out.  It’s me, not you. You’re fired.  You can let yourself out.”

            As I continued working on the scene that played out on the screen before me, a sense of achievement and a new-found freedom settled in.  Even if I fail, I’ll give it my best efforts.  It won’t be for lack of trying, or from fear of failure.  My conviction is that I will succeed; it’s only a matter of time.

            “History is” as Churchill stated, “written by the victors”.

Write on my friends – I know I will!


I’m Plotting

Yes I am plotting.  I’m not plotting a new novel, I have plenty of thsoe to work on.  I”m not plotting a cemetary into individual graves for the dead horse – that’s just futile.  What I am plotting however is a Grand Mayan end of the World Party!

Yes that’s right!  Prince was a little premature in his “Party like it’s 1999” song.  The purple years have passeed without incident.  Now, however even the national weather bureau is talking of the mayan calender ending summarily on December 21st.  Perhaps my zombie horse was a predictor, it does say in the Bible that the dead shall rise  in the end times.  Hmmmm.

Regardless, we’ve decided that a grand festive Mayan party is in order. Hot chocolate will be served, as will a giant chocolate fountain to cover whatever you will, even the cute guy in the corner! (That’s right I’m talking to you!)   Chocolate coins will be plentiful as the Mayans were rich with gold, and er,  chocolate.  Tortilla chips and salsa will be upon every table, and a tequila fountain flowing in the front corner. Other refreshments will be made available I am just undecided at the moment.

One of those “yule logs” will be burning on the computer screen where the great effigy sacrifice will be made to the jaguar god.  A paper effigy pattern will be made available, so that the guests may attach whoever’s picture on it that they are going to offfer in sacrifice.  At a specified time, effigies will be offered in mass burning on the yule log to appease the great jauguar god and hopefully delay the end of the the world. If that doesn’t work we will offer 10% of the Twinkie stash that was hidden for post apocolyptic survival.

I’m sure some hackers out there somewhere will come up with a Mayan trojan or some other virus to destroy laptops and tablets.  I have no such deviousness planned. Simply a last chance party.  Last chance to live it up if it truly is the end.  Last change to believe that perhaps the Mayans really knew what they were doing an they didn’t die off  becausee some other tribe killed them. I always thought perhaps the calendar maker died and no one else knew how to finish, then of course the Spaniards came in and took over.

Whatever reason, I’m really tired of this whole end of the world thing.  Here’s a news flash – none of us get out of here alive!  I know sounds like a pessimistic view but it’s not.  Everyone has to die eventually.  It’s all just part of the great circle of life. (cue the Lion King music) While everyone is refusing to attend a myriad of holiday parties for religious reasons, my party will be the smash hit of all time – becasue it’s the LAST party of all time!   ROFL  The end of the world does not discriminate for race, creed, color, sex, sexual preference, religious views, or age.

Tribal dancing, effigy sacrifices, mass consumption of chocolate – what can possibly go wrong with that?  Let the tequila fountain flow!

Write on while you can my friends, write on!





Same Difference

There are times when people say the stupidest things, and you’re suppose to play it cool.  Grammatical errors are common place. Some have become the norm.  This happens to be one of my “pet peeves” .

While attending a barbecue, one of the guests–Sue– announced she would not be eating the meat, she had become vegetative.  I couldn’t help it, I sprayed tea all over my daughter in an instantaneous reaction.  So much for playing it cool.  The woman spoke volumes.

In my defense, I respect those individuals have decided to live a vegan lifestyle.  Maybe it’s health concerns, maybe it’s moral conscience, whatever it is I applaud you.  It leaves more meat for me.  And yes, I know where meat comes from.  My parents raised poultry, and  I gathered eggs.  I’ve seen the big brown eyes of cows.  I’ve seen the adorable baby pigs.  And yes, I even like venison.

I eat meat.  There!  I’ve said it, and I’m not changing my mind.  Grilled, baked, fried, roasted, smoked, and especially barbecued; I enjoy meat.  Of course, I’m not prejudice, I eat veggies too.  They fill in the space beside the meat on the plate. Let’s not forget the fruit and dairy.  I do have a fondness for dairy.  Ted Drew’s’ livelihood depends on dairy, and I fully support his career choice. If you visit St. Louis, you must have a Ted Drews! While my omnivorous diet isn’t for everyone, it’s definitely for me.

I thought about going vegan once.  Ten minutes later, I heard the honey-glazed ham calling my name and resigned myself that it was destiny.  It’s good to be at the top of the food chain.

In Sue’s defense, she may have actually been commenting about her mental state.  I’ve questioned her brain activity before but figured that since she was able to walk and talk–not necessarily at the same time–she was merely clueless.  Sue is a very beautiful woman who is tall, slender and could easily be a model.  I have a theory that really thin beautiful women are actually so starved of nutrients that their brains can’t function and have shut down the intellectual synapses to conserve life-sustaining functions.

After apologizing for my faux-pas and trying to wipe up the tea, I explained that I thought her misuse of words humorous.  She looked at me like I was a Cretin, and said “It’s the same difference.”

For the record vegetative refers to the absence of brain functions. This condition usually requires life support systems.  Vegetarian refers to the dietary choice to not eat animal flesh or animal byproducts, sometimes  including milk and eggs.

Apparently to Sue, they are one and the same.

Have a great day and go eat some barbecue!

Write on my friends, write on!

Top Ten Reasons Writers Rock!

Welcome to my Monday pep talk. It seems the naysayers and critics are out in force. Why is it the common masses have devolved into grumbling malcontents?  It seems the greater percentage of the population spends more time complaining than anything else.  ARRRGGGHHHH!  Which is why I give myself these pep talks.  What if malcontentment was the first sign of zombification?  I’d have to learn to survive!  So in the preventative  effort of avoiding being turned into a zombie, here’s my top ten reasons why being a writer rocks.

  1. Imaginations:  Who else can come up with the stuff that makes excellent movies, excellent books?  Regardless of the genre, the worlds that writers create takes us to magical places. Whether it’s Neverland, Narnia, or Middle Earth,  the deep magic of the writer’s imagination fuels the reader to experience dangerous thrilling situations without ever being in physical danger.
  2. Deep Pools:  Writer’s tap those deep inner recesses that common folk lock away behind padlocked doors. Some suppress it with Xanax, some with Seagram’s.  You know all those times in movies when you are yelling at the actor on the screen “Don’t go in there!”?  Writers are the twisted individuals that put the “scare” behind the door.  A writer’s mind has more twists and turns  and underground tunnels than the world’s best rollercoaster.  Don’t go into the deep – it’s where the monsters reside.  Unless you’re the writer, then they are your pets.
  3. Power:  Depending on what we write, writers can rule the world.  Disagree? Consider the following: the Harry Potter phenomenon,  created by writer J.K. Rowling; True Blood – Charlaine Harris; Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin;  The Twilight phenomenon – Stephanie Meyers.  This is the type of success the rest of us strive for.  The power to influence the minds of an entire generation; and crossover to some of the other generations as well.  We really can rule the world.  At least the world we create in our minds.
  4. Therapy:    Both sides of this coin:  those that employ therapists, therefore helping the economy by keeping at least one therapist employed. and those that avoid therapy by the cathartic by-product of their writing.  I’ve heard arguments for demonic exorcism, but I’m not convinced.
  5. Pride:  You know all those people who tell you “Get a real job” ? Think about the pride that we provide for them.  Without a creative, specifically a writer, those working stiffs might not feel so high and mighty about themselves that are so inclined to criticize our daily pursuit.  When the big day comes, and they are scratching their heads or their butts, wondering how it suddenly happened for us, we can take pride in every single hour that we have labored in our pursuits, knowing that we didn’t give up our dreams.  Yeah, like sweating blood is for wimps.
  6. Tensile:    (tnsl, -sl)

    1. Of or relating to tension.
    2. Capable of being stretched or extended; ductile.
    • 3. capable of being shaped or bent or drawn out; “ductile copper”; “malleable metals such as gold”; “they soaked the leather to made it pliable”; “pliant molten glass”; “made of highly tensile steel alloy”  There is no way on this green earth that a writer can endure the hardships, the financial strains, and emotional frustrations of the writer’s life without developing some brass. Yeah, notice those descriptives?  Bent, gold,  malleable – oh yeah, I could so go on a tangent there .  * OK secret huddle – yeah, I’m telling you that writers learn to grow a pair, whether they be cahoneys or casabas*  Don’t piss off your writer friends, they are made of tougher stuff than you think.
  7. Sense of Humor  If you don’t learn to laugh, you’ll end up back at number four paying for Dr. Flabio’s Ferrari.  We develop our sense of humor, laughing at ourselves and our failures.  You know that old thing of “this will be funny – someday.”  At the moment the situation may seem bleak, but it’s subject to change.  Circumstances always change.  Great writers learn to not take life so seriously.
  8. Observative Powers  We live in the same world as everyone else, well mostly. We observe the same daily routines as those around us, yet we can see inspiration all the time.  Example:  That little old man who lives down the street using a walker.  Most people see him as a harmless old man, maybe a cranky old man who doesn’t like the neighborhood boys in his yard.  A writer however can create an entire life for the man.  What if he was a former criminal?  Maybe he robbed banks. Maybe he was a murderer that served time, or never got caught.  What if he was the romantic sort in his youth? He romanced his wife, spent several happy years until cancer took her and now he fights putting a bullet in his brain every day. Raw material is all around us.  The non-writer walks by and never sees it, but a writer takes notice of details.
  9. Devious Minds  Refer back to Number 6 when I said don’t piss off your writer friend.  Yeah, we have devious minds.  We will kill you in our books.  It fuels our antagonists, and provides plot points to our work.  Devising torturous methods for the character you become to suffer.  It’s usually not a quick death either.  That would be too simple, too compassionate.  It’s best really that you don’t find out what lurks behind door number 3.
  10. We Are Writers!  Come on, did you really have to read all ten to realize that we as writers are more than the average bear.Most of us work other jobs. Sometimes multiple other jobs.  It’s not what gives us satisfaction.  For a writer, satisfaction will never come without engaging in the act of writing. It’s our life blood poured onto the pages, oozing out from our finger tips, casting a magical spell over the reader as well as a euphoria within ourselves.  It may sound weird for some – but the writers will get it.  Even if we do take a day job, we still write;  sometimes in secret, sometimes in public.  It’s our obsession.

Dark Shadows

Jonathan Frid, who played vampire Barnabas Collins on the cult classic TV show “Dark Shadows,” has died. He was 87.

Frid died  weeks before the release of the feature film adaptation of the show starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton.

Frid and Kathryn Leigh Scott, along with their castmates, traveled to England in July to shoot cameos for the film, which  is releasing today! During the filming, Frid met Depp, who is taking on the role of Barnabas.

The new film is an update of a show as beloved for its spooky tone and languid pacing as it was for its sometimes slipshod production values. Fans obsess over mistakes that somehow made it to air. The daytime serial ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971.

OK, enough promoting for the movie.  When I was a kid I loved, loved, loved Dark Shadows. Jonathon Frid scared the bejeebers out of me and I loved it.  Barnabas Collins lived in my closet at night, and I was terrified.  It was cheesy, it was campy but I had to watch.  Come on, it was either that or Gidget.  I was glued to that set faithfully, laying in the floor on my belly, propped on my elbows until Barnabas took the stage.  Then I scooted back and sat up, back arrow straight and practically held my breath.

Flying monkeys weren’t scary.  Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t scary.  But the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Bela Lugosi, and Jonathon Frid terrified me.  I was a officionado of everything vamp before vamps were cool.  I knew all the septs, and variations of vamps.  Trust me, none of them sparkled, but considering the glitz and glam of the 80’s it’s not surprising that the current vamps sparkle.  Stranger things could happen.

I watched every B movie about vampires.  Every book about vamps was consumed.  When I entered college, you could almost say vamps were an obsession. ( And this new generation thinks they are  cutting edge –  vampire stories have been around for ages.)  I read vamp stories with a critical eye.  If the author deviates from historical ideology, I don’t mind as long as they have a good reason.

There’s only two things I’ve asked for this Mother’s Day. (They asked!)  A kindle, as my book library is approaching the size of The Library of Congress, and a movie date.  OK, technically the movie date consists of three things but it’s a package deal.  Dinner out, Dark Shadows, then  Ice Cream.  Hey I’ve been on a very restricted diet for a while lately, and I want a splurge day.  I’m willing to forego the theatre popcorn for a good pizza, and some ice cream.  Is it really a date if you’re taking the kids? Hmmmm, maybe I’ll have to modify that. Unconventional, but I never claimed to be amongst the average crowd.

Johnny Depp is a talented actor.  I think the only think I didn’t like him in was Cry Baby.  That whole movie was just wrong.  I am curious as to how he portrays Barnabas, and the trailers look intriguing.  I’m thinking that Johnny Depp’s version is going to be a little more similar to Michael Meyer’s Austin Powers than Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, but hey it works for me.

What does this have to do with writing? Not one bloody thing, unless you’re writing a vampire story.  There are a few in the future projects file, but when there’s  Eric Northman, so what’s the point in writing another?  I may pursue them, eventually.  Vampires are after all eternal.  They never truly go out of vogue.

The Zombie fad will fade, but Nosferatu are immortal.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms!

Write On!


Stirring the Pot(ter)

Apparently I struck a few nerves yesterday with my post mentioning Harry Potter.  I knew that Potter fans were fanatical, but I suppose I didn’t take into account the vehemence with which they defend their fervor.  (If Christians were as fervent, they could make a true difference.) I left some of the comments up if you care to read them, but had to delete many, the vulgarity of language did nothing to substantiate their claims of why Harry Potter rules the known world.

The suggestions of where I should put my crutches were, of course omitted. I won’t even begin to go into the ones that had sexual overtones; thanks for the invitation but no thanks!

As “powerful webmaster”, a term one of my commenters used to describe me (really? maybe I should break out my wizardly robes after all) I have the power to post or not post comments that I find offensive like the aforementioned offers, or post those that I feel contribute intelligent thought processes.  Yes, fear the all-powerful webmaster Ellie!  Hmm, somehow it just doesn’t have that sense of awe does it?

Anyway, moving on . . . Potter fans have expressed their outrage at my faux pas of not having read the books and daring to share my opinion of my favorite author.  Ever heard the garbage pail theory?  Opinions are like garbage pails and they all stink!  It’s my blog, my opinion and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me.  Even if we don’t agree, can’t we just be civil here?  “Can’t we all just get along?”

The point was brought up that Harry Potter does have dragons in it.  My interest has suddenly been piqued!  Dragons?  J.K. Rowling wrote dragons in it?  I may just have to read it then on the basis of dragons and all so that I can give a more objective view next time.  ROFL!  Seriously?  Do you come here to my blog for an objective view?  Do you think I’m going to remain serious at all times?  NOT BLOODY LIKELY! (And yes Raymond, I yelled that!)

Amidst the comments I have to give a rundown of an assessment I’ve made.  Twelve rather rude comments and um, invitations  came from the southern United States.  I’m glad you’re reading, but just because I don’t share your passion is no reason to be rude!  Three comments came from other locations in US, and were fine.

Two comments were made from Pakistan, and honestly you need a better translating tool!  My friends in the UK are the most objective and made intelligent comments, although most didn’t actually apply to the current post.  One was very eloquent in his defense of why Rowling should rule the free world and my American idiocy should be cut short through some reference to HP that quite frankly I didn’t get, because – pay close attention here – I haven’t read the books!  Therefore the very eloquent insult was completely wasted.  The art of insult is that the person whom you are insulting at least comprehends the insult even if the full impact of it hits them in a delayed reaction! (at 2 am: Tomato juice!)

If you’re going to hurl insults at me, do it right!  Which although the very eloquent dissertation was in fact well written prose and snappy dialogue, apparently insult is an American talent.  No, we’re not talking about my momma either!  As one commenter mentioned I miss out on some of the jokes because I don’t get the Potter references.  Hurling Potter insults at me is like bringing a knife to a gunfight!  Of course, that’s an American reference as well.

I don’t believe at any time I dissed Harry Potter or the subculture that it has become, I simply admitted that I missed it.  I chose other books, other avenues of entertainment during this wave of Potterism.  I did reference that many of the people I know haven’t read classic materials.  It was a blanket statement interpreted as every person that read Potter isn’t widely read.  That’s just crazy because we all know that absolutes are never absolute.

Just imagine the turmoil I will create when I start discussing the faults of plotline in Star Trek, and the lack of creativity in the alien races that appear throughout the Trek universe.

I guess I am regressing to my  opinion column days.  One of the reasons the editor liked me is that I managed to whack the hornet’s nest and stir the pot regardless of the topic, usually in 500 words or less.  Sarcasm, it’s a true talent for some of us, and unfortunately not something that can be taught.

To Potter or not to Potter that is the question.  I will take it into consideration if someone can prove that it does indeed have dragons in it. Or, are the Potterites actually Borg in disguise, sort of pod-potters and I will be assimilated?  Maybe it’s a bacterial infection on subcellular level of tiny nanoborgs that are implanted during nano month, screaming through the veins that resistance is futile!  Attack of the podBorg zombies, quick throw the Twinkies!!!  Run for the hills – no wait, those have eyes.  Kittencalendar, kittencalendar, kittencalendar, kittencalendar. Shh, shh, shh. . . ok, what were you saying?

Maybe I’ve had too much coffee and all my sci-fi storage units are cross-contaminated!  System overload reaching critical mass, self destruct will begin in thirty seconds!  (halon alarm sounding)

Um, I think I better get the Twinkies and maybe some sleep.  If the NanoBorg haven’t overtaken you by Monday, I’ll see you then!

Confessions of A Killer

Springtime! The garden departments are overflowing with a variety of plant  starts. From twenty varieties of tomatoes to flowers of every shade; a paradise  of flora awaits.

I’m drawn like a moth to a flame. The scent of peat mixed with the delicate  fragrance of flower blossoms create a euphoria that I’m unable to resist.

I drool over begonias, loading them into a plastic tray. My heart races at  the vibrant pinks of Dianthus. Beads of sweat dot my upper lip as I brush my  hands over the supposedly hardy geraniums. Giddiness overwhelms rational thought  as I load multiple trays of beautiful starts into my cart.

Then, it happens. I never intend for it to, it just does.

Once home my true nature manifests. I am a cold-blooded plant killer – yes, a  plant sadist. I try every year to make appealing arrangements like my neighbors.  The outcome is always the same: They end up dead.

If they require full sun, they end up in shade. If they require shade, they  get the full sun. If they require little water, I drown them. Those requiring lots  of water shrivel immediately.

I spend hundreds of dollars to buy plants that will beautify our home, only  to end up with dull lifeless carcasses. The remains of previous victims are  scattered across our back patio as harbingers of the new plants eventual fate.  My conscious efforts to nurture them are overruled by unconscious murderous  tendencies.

If you could hear their little voices, there would be tiny little screams  from my cart. I try – honestly, I do – to make them thrive. It only gives them  false hope, putting off their inevitable fate. Eventually, they die. Not a quick  death, but rather a slow tortuous agonizing demise.

Some people have a green thumb, mine’s black. The black thumb of death. I  can’t seem to stop. I’ve killed cactus, ferns, various flowers, and even a  mother-in-laws-tongue. Someone told me they would never die, even if you  neglected them forever. It took a while, but I killed them.

Ironically, I can grow a vegetable garden. If I can get them in the ground,  they stand a fair chance of survival. But then there are the horn worms, aphids,  and squash bugs vying for their lives. Eventually, the stress wears them down,  and they surrender to the gaping maw of death that taunts their very  existence.

My husband spotted the trays in the shopping cart and pleaded to stop the  senseless brutality; to give the poor plants a chance and put them back. I  conceded when I spotted two bright pink azalea bushes that were beckoning.

I needed something to replace the dead viburnum at the end of the driveway.  As I placed the trays back on the shelves, they seemed to be drooping. Maybe it  was just my imagination.

As we paid the cashier, my husband asked if she could hear the screaming.

Oh,  the horror!


Spring Is In The Air

Most people think spring has finally arrived when they can shed their coats,  and go bare-armed outdoors. The appearance of skin on other parts becomes  prevalent as well. Others think when the forsythia is yellow it is definitely  spring. I want to let you know of an absolutely definite way to determine that  yes, spring has arrived.

It’s not the jonquils, although they are up. It’s not the forsythia, although  they are beautiful. It’s not the “peepers” heavenly chirping after the long hard  winter. It’s not even the calendar date of the vernal equinox — the “official”  start of spring. My absolute fail-safe method involves the sense of smell. Spring has most definitely arrived. The anticipation is killing you so I’ll cut  to the chase.

The skunks are on the move. That’s right, it’s skunk mating season. I can’t  go a mile without running across the remains of some poor massacred skunk in  amorous pursuit of a female. The sad bit is he probably never got to finish the  job. While the grass is greening and the trees are budding, the skunks are  stinking up the place.

In the Disney classic, “Bambi”, Owl makes the observation of Flower the  skunk, Thumper and eventually Bambi, that they were “twitter-pated.” It had  nothing to do with Facebook or tweeting, it was a coined word for “love is in  the air.” In the case of Flower, Pepe le Pew, and all other skunks, love must  involve stink.

Pheromones are the chemicals responsible for the attraction of one to  another. My personal preferences run more along the lines of Irish Spring and  Aramis. Deer can scent a female for miles. Dogs instantly know when  there’s a female in heat within a five-mile radius. Our sense of smell isn’t  quite so refined. This is why we have drug sniffing dogs not humans. Although  some people try, but that’s a different thing entirely.

It’s true that you can often smell the B.O. of an individual three aisles  over in the grocery store, but I am repulsed not attracted to it. This leads us  to the next season, summer. Ever notice the volume of stink from sweaty people  increases exponentially?

But I digress from my point of the numerous skunks killed on our roadways.  Spring is a time for new adventure. Every day becomes potentially dangerous. A  simple drive in the fresh country air can become a lethal toxic assault on your  olfactory senses. These little guys have saved up all winter, and it’s some  potent stuff. It brings tears to my eyes; tears of pain that is.


Freaky Friday

Not the movie,  It has been my day.  First thing this morning storms moving through the area.  Exciting thing driving through hail.  Storm chasers were staying at the hotel next to the gym, and two of the guys were talking about it what they suspected the storms were going to do.  Way to  set a tone of apprehension for the day guys – thanks for that!

Electricity was off when I returned home so no computer – nice.  Starting to panic about not having my seminar notes printed, and my power point is still incomplete.   My phone was nearly dead from listening to my music on the phone instead of mp3 player, and everything I thought I would do to take my mind off the panic rising within me required the use of electricity.

The storm passed, with another on its heels to arrive within a couple of hours.  Great!  I can get in a couple of hours work and wrap this up before it arrives.  Isn’t it funny how things never quite work how you plan?  Distractions just seem to jump out sometimes and even though they may be opportunities, I was on a tight schedule here.  Never the less, I succumbed to the distraction.

Did I mention before that I’m speaking on getting control over your emotions as part of my presentation?  Yeah, well I got excited about an opportunity to travel to France.  A beautiful Chateau, very reasonably priced, a paradise waiting for me.  I started calculating –  we could so do this!  What a wonderful vacation to give our girls before they head off to college.  Then I started adding the other travel expenses like airfare.  OUCH!  I had been at the pinnacle of the rollercoaster, you know that peak of the  climb where you seem to just hang in stillness for a few seconds?

Well, the plunging ride down that slope to the crash at the bottom knocked the breath out of me.  I hit rock bottom and I hit hard.  maybe it’s the intensity I’ve been working at this for the last few days, or even the months I’ve put into the planning but I crashed and burned.  My elation was replaced by a pit of despair as I ran the numbers in my head, and ran through the necessary expenses, and the practical things we should spend that kind of money on instead of being frivolous.  I heard my husband’s voice of reason and got angry with him because I knew what he would say and what his reaction would be.

MInd you, this was a one person rollercoaster ride.  It was a complete debate, argument, reasoning session within my own head.  Strange maybe but I’d be willing to bet that everyone has done this on more than one occasion.  HIs irrational imagined response made me furious, because I knew after so many years of marriage exactly what he would say.  How else do you make a good case to present such an opportunity in the first place?

Finally with a feeling of hopelessness, I gave up on the vacation idea and resumed working on my presentation.  I had to go over it just one more time to be prepared.  I had to laugh at my own reactions.  Here I was going to speak on managing your emotions and I was a perfect example of what NOT to do.  Oh brother!  I hung my head in my hands, wondering what on earth ever possessed me to think I could have something worthwhile to say to anyone. There was no getting out of this now – unless the tornado came through.

I became suddenly aware of the time that I had wasted and the fact that it was time to get the kids from school  My daughter has her permit, and I let her drive.  Trust me when I tell you that facing an audience feeling unprepared is nothing  compared to the terror of my daughter behind the wheel. IN a distance of 10 miles, we had 4 near misses.

She said “I like it better when Daddy rides with me, he doesn’t yell at me.”

Maybe not, but he’s not stressed about speaking at a seminar!  He’s also an easy-going kind of guy.  I wanted to kiss the ground when I got out of the car.

We unloaded body parts from the car and carried them into the house.  the mannequin was unassembled and I had to figure out how she went together and find some clothes for her.  Lusty wench only wore a banket around her when I retrieved her, not to mention where her detached hand was when I collected her parts.  At least Sir Rustalot was a gentleman and kept his armour on!

The storms are dissipating so there’s no help from that front – no pun intended.  Looks like I’m going to have to go through with this thing after all.  I decided I better print out my notes before I forget  aaaaannnnnnnddddd – we’re out of ink – lovely!

The rest of my evening will be running into town for an ink cartridge, returning home to load a knight and his, um I use the term lady loosely here, into the car, dig out the flame thrower, find those black cloths, and somewhere in there manage to prepare dinner for my family.  I’m sure I will be up late stressing over the printed notes searching for errors, and places where I can cut and add, continually editing.  Who knows what will actually come out tomorrow!

Someone said they may record the seminar.  I may have to get a copy just to find out what I said myself.  If nothing else maybe they’ll like my jokes.  If not, I’m wearing my New Balance shoes so I can run really fast!


Ever have those days when your best laid plans go horribly awry?  It seems to be the running gag throughout my life.

I have these ideas and they sound so wonderful at the time.  My impulsive nature acts on them often before I think things through.   Sight gags are often funnier than written comedy but bear with me, I think you’ll find the humor.

We want to think about the good side of relationships; the romance, the love, companionship, stuff like that.  However my life isn’t so picture perfect as a happily ever after tale.  Opposites attract.  It’s like polar opposites and sparks fly.  In the bedroom – va va va voom. I daily life – sparks fly there as well.  Let’s just say make up sex is a great thing.  Two people of different personalities living in the same house, day in and day out are bound to have conflict.

Conflict leads to resolution, resolution to the make up session.  Ideally.

I had a vision of inspiration, and acted.  As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching I thought it best to clear the air, and get our differences resolved.  The kids were at a sleepover; the house was clean; I put on romantic inspiring music as I worked.  The new satin sheets were on the bed, rose petals spread on the bed, the candles lit throughout the house.  I put on what I considered to be my most flattering lingerie and sexy high-heeled shoes.  I added my best jewelry, and greeted him at the door with two glasses of chilled merlot in my hands.

Surprised wouldn’t exactly be the expression I was greeted with as he came in through the garage.  The table was set, the steak was ready to serve and I stood with wine in hand wearing the lingerie and an apron.  I’m happy to say the dinner was a success.  We talked between bites and cleared the air about our issues.  That was a good thing.

While I cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher, he took a shower.  I removed the apron and headed down the hall with my refilled glasses.  I leaned against the door frame, trying to strike the seductive pose as I admired the view on the bed.  It went sharply downhill from there.  I didn’t see the jeans laying in the floor as I stepped forward, tripping myself in the process.  My ankle twisted in the 4 inch heel, and I lunged forward throwing the wine on him and the bed.  When I fell on the satin sheets I slid across the end of the bed to the other side.  I grazed his leg as I passed so technically we did touch.  When my butt made contact with the floor m head made contact with the dresser drawer at the same time the glass I still held in my hand made contact with the wood and shattered cutting my hand.

Quite the romantic aren’t I?  What a mess!  What was intended to be a romantic evening ended up being an embarrassing trip to the emergency room.  After I put on more appropriate clothing and he showered again to remove the wine, we sat in the emergency room for hours.

We can laugh about it now, especially with the pain meds. Hope your plans work out better.