Monday Blues? Not me!

Mama’s Monday included clotheslines, clothespins, and a possible thunderstorm on the horizon. (Photo credit: Bigstock.com)

It’s Monday and I’m sitting at my PC thinking I might put a load of laundry in the washer sometime today. This is not my mother’s Monday, but I remember. And I’m so very glad we haven’t had a clothesline for many years. It’s been about that long since I owned a clothespin. And I never used a wringer washing machine. Thank goodness!

But in days long gone by, I was very familiar with clotheslines, clothespins, and the wringer washing machine and tubs Mama set up early Monday morning.

I think soaking Daddy’s work clothes in gasoline might have been the first step. I’m not sure what came next because I went out to play about this time. I remember the smell of bleach, bluing, and starch. I only remember bits and pieces of Mama’s Monday until the wash was hanging on the line.

I knew better than to run through the sheets (one spanking later), but it was okay to play between the rows of laundry hanging on the line. We had three lines that stretched across the backyard. Dry laundry was removed and replaced with wet laundry as the day went on. In the Oklahoma wind, drying didn’t take long and everything smelled fresh as a spring breeze. (Mondays in winter didn’t leave pleasant memories but frozen laundry dries.)

If a cloud came up… We hurried out to snatch the clothes off the line. Sometimes we were successful in gathering it all in before the first raindrops fell, other times, not.

On a sunny day, when I was old enough to reach the line and put the freshly dried laundry in the basket without dragging it on the ground, “gathering in the clothes” was my job.

It would seem that the “gathered in” laundry was ready to fold by today’s standards. Not so back then. Everything washable was 100% cotton. Mama folded the sheets and towels but the rest had to be prepared for Tuesday. Ironing day. I’m leaving you there, and going back to my computer… I do own an iron and ironing board. One item is in the garage and the other is on a shelf, very high up and out of sight. I do not do Mama’s Monday, or Tuesday, I love today’s fabrics and modern conveniences!

 

Old Fashioned Christmas Pageant

christmas-pageant-1946This was 1946 and the whole elementary school participated in this Christmas pageant. First and second graders that I recognize are front center, identified as small angels with tinsel trimmed halos and wings plus children who came to worship in black skirts and white blouses. I’m third from the manger on the left, the one in a white blouse, black skirt, and glasses.

Other cast members included the shepherds, three kings, a modern-day choir to accompany the Heavenly hosts on the risers, center back. As a six-year-old, I don’t remember much about the pageant. I think it was mostly singing Christmas carols and not much reenactment. The rhythm band performed first. I played the triangle before hurrying backstage to take my place near the manger before the curtain opened.

This Christmas program was tradition. I think my mom and dad probably had a role in a similar performance twenty years earlier. No one ever heard of any such notion that schools couldn’t celebrate Christmas. Back then in our small town, if you knew someone who worshiped differently than you, that meant you were Baptist and your friend was Methodist. “Happy Holidays” included Thanksgiving through New Years. As December 25th neared, everyone said Merry Christmas.

But times have changed… maybe not so much in my hometown… but definitely in bigger cities. If someone worships differently than you, they may celebrate a completely different winter holiday. I guess schools can’t spend the whole month of December celebrating different holidays… so maybe it is best not to celebrate any. And, I think I’ve just gotten way over my head trying to explain this in a way that is acceptable to everyone who might read this. So, I’ll just say, I’ll be celebrating Christmas and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season no matter which holidays you choose to celebrate.

Here are some gift suggestions that works for everyone!

If you’re in the countdown to your shopping deadline, maybe this will help. It’s the season of chaos and joy. Choose the one you like best!

Christmas Mugs for You!

Here are a few favorites I found while browsing Amazon. If you see something you like, click on the image and do a little browsing yourself!

I have to start off with this one. It’s way more than a mug. It’s a fabulous soup bowl for a cold winter lunch or supper.

Here’s a pretty one followed by a must have – My thinking anyway! I love the green Grinch!

 

Now for a few ordinary and extraordinary Christmas mugs –

It’s That Time of Year!

 

gift-cup-for-blog

A gift mug brings happy thoughts of the giver!

Yikes! December has arrived and shopping days are dwindling! The first things on my list are the fun things… like fun mugs for morning coffee or tea. Okay, I love mugs! So I’m sharing my list. This should get you started on your own list. Click on the image for more information and then browse –

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN NICE!

Silly Stuff first:

Inspiration:

For Your Best Friend:

For the Moms on your list:


For the Dads:

Keep calm and shop happy!

My Favorites:

I’m a Collector of Lovable Stuff!

 

stuff-staff

A few of my collectibles keep me company while I write.

I’ve been a collector for as long as I can remember. As kid, I collected rocks I scavenged from fresh piles of sand, gravel, or loads of chat. That’s all I could afford, but there was another reason. I loved rocks, and I still do. I’m a sucker for those bins of polished stones in tourist stops in Arizona and I can spend hours in the mineral section of a museum… or a jewelry store. (My tastes have changed with maturity.)

I have collections stored all over the house. I loved the Beanie Baby craze. Before that, it was collector plates. Sometime after that I began to admire lithographs and porcelain figurines. I have collector cards, cups, coins, books, books, and more books! Most of it would look like junk to someone else, just like my mother viewed the rocks I hid under my bed. But I love them, or maybe I just love collecting. Some of us are like that, I think.

There was always the thought that something I collected might turn into a fortune. I’ve read about that happening to other people, and I’ve seen it on TV. So, since I’m between books now, I did a little checking on some of my collected items. Some are worth less than I paid for them while in the collecting frenzy. Others might be worth a little more. And some don’t even get mention. For the most part, I loved the “stuff” than no one wants now. But, I still love it. The sad thing is that if I wanted to get rich in my old age, I had the opportunity. We received the Sunday comics every week. If I’d just had the good sense to save them, preserved in pristine condition, we could be rich. Some Peanuts comic strips being marketed to collectors are worth $30,000 according to the sites I checked this morning. I’m certain; however, if I actually had a comic strip or two, so would everyone else and there would be no demand! So, I’ll just be glad to enjoy my stuff myself.

If you’re inspired to collect and haven’t started yet. Here are my suggestions. Start with rocks, move to Beanie Babies, and then figurines. From there, you can find a whole world of stuff to love. Click on the picture and go. Enjoy!


Tomato Worm, or What?

tobacco-horned-worm

What’s eating my tomato plant? You know, of course. I thought I did, too, but as it turns out, I didn’t.

Day after day, my tomato plant had more stems without leaves. I kept looking for the culprit but couldn’t spot him. And then when most of the leaves were gone, I found one small green worm with the familiar white stripes and horn on his backside. I couldn’t believe he did all the damage, kept looking, and found his siblings, two of them.

By this time, the tomato plant was almost stripped so I decided to let nature take its course. But… I began to wonder — Where did those tomato worms come from, and what do they become? Since the usual routine requires pulling the little suckers off and a lot of green gore, I figure very few of them make to butterfly stage. But my curiosity was engaged and I had to find out. (I’ve written a lot of nonfiction for kids so I’m trained… when I say I had to find out, I mean, I had to find out.)

So I did a little research.

And the results were surprising! If you want to do your own research, check this out?: http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/4dmg/Pests/tomato.htm

A tomato worm is green, the exact shade as the tomato plant, has eight stripes, and a dark blue or black horn. They mostly eat tomato plants but some other plants as well… mostly veggies. And, they turn into…. drumroll, please… a creature commonly known as the hummingbird moth.

But, the worm on my plant has seven stripes and a red horn. This creature is not a tomato worm. It is a tobacco worm! And, furthermore, its diet is not limited to the list given in my research. After devouring the tomato plant he moved to my nearby, very healthy, petunia! And then he became slimy green gore!

tobacco-worm-on-petunia

But the most amazing thing I found in my research – another drumroll please – You can order hornworms from Amazon! And some other stuff, see below — Who knew!

Less Time Cooking, More time Writing!

I’d rather write, or read, than cook. Love my computer. My oven, stovetop, mixer, etc., not so much. But computer games and kitchen gadgets rank about the same on my LIKE LIST.

No. 1       INSTANT POT

A kitchen gadget, the INSTANT POT just hit the top spot on my LIKE LIST. I was suspicious at first. Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of scary tales about pressure cookers. But the reviews on the Instant Pot made it sound pretty much like a magic. I ordered one and let it sit on the counter about a week… Remember those scary tales? Then I tried it, and fell in love. It’s wonderful. Put the food in, follow the instructions, press the button, go away. After the allotted time (or more) has passed, open the pot and serve. This puts food preparation on my schedule. I put the food in when I take a break, and then we eat when we’re ready. It’s great! And easy to clean. Don’t take my word for it, go to Amazon and read the reviews. (By the way, the Instant Pot sears, makes yogurt, and does non-pressure slow cooking as well as pressure fast cooking.)

No. 2      CUISINART GRIDDLER ELITE

And there’s another gadget that resides near the top of my list. It’s the Cuisinart Griddler Elite Grill. We aren’t that interested in outdoor grilling now that we live in windy Oklahoma. We like grilled food but waiting for a calm day to grill… well you have to live here to understand. But, with the Griddler, we can have grilled food anytime. And after the griddler is hot, it’s two minutes to sear a couple of steaks on both sides and then cook for two to five minutes more. If you did the math, you see that cooking time is four to seven minutes. This fits my schedule well. More time writing and less time cooking. I think this works best for empty nesters, It works really well for the two of us. And, It’s easier to clean than the outdoor grill, plus I don’t have to spend time getting Dan motivated!

No. 3      CUISINART FOOD PROCESSOR

And, there is one more item near the top of my list, my Cuisinart Food Processor. It’s the workhorse of my kitchen (when we aren’t eating out). Like the barker at the fair shouts, “it slices, it dices, it mixes, it blends… etc.” It does all that, but mostly for us, it makes cookies. Toss the ingredients in the bowl, press the button, and the flour, sugar, and eggs, etc. turn into cookie dough. I store the dough in the fridge, bake six cookies at a time, and we have cookies fresh from the oven every day if we want. We like it!

One more good thing! I don’t have to hunt for room to store these three items. I found space for them when I threw out the appliances they replace. My old slow cooker, outta here.  Gave the indoor rotisserie away. The outdoor grill has been retired – could be reinstated for a family meal on a still day. And the big mixer is outta here. Other things could be on their way out. If they aren’t fast and don’t work to my writing schedule, their days are numbered!

 

 

Gettin’ in the Zone

Me Coloring 2

Some days writing comes easy. Other days, not so much.

Some of my writing friends wait for the muse to appear. But I need to be in the zone. That’s the place where my creativity dwells and imagination soars. It isn’t a place where I can decide to go, I have to get there. Some days I pull my WIP on the screen, place my hands on the keyboard, scroll to the last sentence, and I’m there. My characters greet me and pick up exactly where they left off. It isn’t magic, but it is something just as amazing.

But, what about those other days? The ones where I place my hands on the keyboard, scroll to the last sentence, and nothing happens. My characters ignore me as though they are hiding in another dimension. I guess they are, and I have to find my way to them.

I have found that artistic creative activity leads me to the zone.

I take my hands off the keyboard, turn around, open a grown-up color book, and choose my colors. Right away, I’m creating and pretty soon my characters are… well, I think they are wondering how I can be in creative mode without them. Next thing I know, they’re leaning over my shoulder vying for my attention. Pretty soon, they’re talking to me, I’m listening, and the story picks where we left off.

Maybe my tactic will work for you. Want to try it? Here’s what you do:

Choose a color book — Amazon has a bunch! These struck my fancy. (A click on the images will zip you to Amazon for more information.)

I like colored pencils because – no smears and no mess! Crayola colored pencils are good to start. But if you don’t want to feel like a kid, go for a more expensive set.

Than add a manual pencil sharpener plus a sack of candy and your good to go!

(I can’t eat chocolate so these caramels are the next best thing)

Enjoy!

What Did I Miss?

Robert Fulghum says, “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” and he made a really good collections of essays based this premise. I love his essays, but this book made me wonder what I missed.

When I was five years old, our town didn’t offer kindergarten. I don’t think it fit the local budget. So I learned what I needed to know at home, under my parents’ guidance. I had a sandbox, a swing set, some kittens, puppies, a little brother, and some chores.

Don’t throw sand, don’t hit, and watch your mouth came first. Then I learned that the right to ownership carries the option to share. Brownie points could be earned by sharing with little brother. I also was given the responsibility to respect authority (parents), be kind (to little brother), and tell the truth (if you do something wrong, own it). Failure to do any of these resulted in consequences I didn’t like much.

All this gave me a good foundation for what I would learn in grade school. Our school day began with the pledge to the flag and Lord’s Prayer. We learned that we lived in a free country with a lot of rights. Oh, wow! The right to do what you want… ??? Yes, as long as what is learned in kindergarten (at home) is honored – respect for authority (teachers), be kind (to classmates), and tell the truth.

We soon learned that what the teacher meant when she said, “Your freedom to swing your fist ends where the other fellow’s nose begins.” Experience soon proved that encroaching on someone else’s rights had consequences when the nose owner’s right to self-defense came into play.

Yes, I agree. Everything I needed to know I learned early. Respect authority, kindness, and honesty pretty much form the foundation for everything one needs to know to get along in society. From my experience as a child, and as a parent, the biggest responsibility for this learning and teaching experience is in the home.