Here is where I am as a writer as of 2/27/2021-My biggest victory: Having Laughing Africa accepted and published simultaneously by two journals after being rejected numerous times. My biggest surprise: Vanna Nguyen hiring me as a proofreader and blogger after reading my short story Listening to the Voice .

A challenge: Working with a friend and helping her edit a children’s book now on Amazon. Trying to write my own story of the pug and husband commenting why is it such a good subject but it sounds like a teacher’s edition? Ugh, it is. A grammar book as my pug is understanding more and more English. I think I have a way to go. Manuscript is still on husband’s desk with a hint to help me out if he can by editing. Question to self: do I need his honest opinion as this has a way to go. I am not a natural children’s writer. Husband is an excellent editor. He also has a thriller and needs an ending. I want to encourage him to start on this when he is feeling better.

My biggest hope: the current book I am working on and have so many pages. I hope to find an editor and someone to publish.

Fall/Winter 2021 “The Stray Branch” The Spirit is Willing (short story)

Fall/Winter 2020 “The Stray Branch” Monsters We Meet (short story)

01/20 Cupcake Cache blog-Trash Travellin’ (poem dedicated to veterans)

12/30/2020 Vanna Nguyen-contributor to blog and proofreader of her book. I worked with her for about 2 years.

Jan 2019 Feet on the Edge of the Feeder-Via Brevis (poem)

Dec 2017 Catch me If you Can-Vita Brevis (poem)

Listening to the Voice-“The Writing Disorder” . 2019

“Untitled” “The Stray Branch #20 vol. 17-Nov. 2017

“Abu Dhabi Time” “The Exit” “The Cold Zone” 2017 Mused Literary Review- non-fiction

“Lost Things” 2017 Page and Spine (short story)

Anapest Journal “Wishing on Cotton” 2017 (poem)

2018 Literary Review-Horror Zine-Poet of the Month-2019

Page & Spine “Swamp” and “Sing” 2019 Paid $14 upon publication. (poetry)

2020-June 19th Laughing Africa Spillwords & The Finest Example

The Artiste Spillwords nominated for writer of the month (poem)

80,000 words-untitled who dun it ??? Still to be released…I hope to finish in another month or so and search for proofreaders. Please forgive my editing mistakes with the blog as I was eager to publish and put this down in writing. You know there is something which makes life and promises to self and to others more real in writing. This is published to help me continue with strength, patience, and ideas until the end. Writing is digging in the trenches kind of like getting my knees all dirty this morning in the garden and of course, prickling my body several times with thorns from the blackberry bush. As some might say, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” Work is not pretty but I am trying.

Published just under 20 x. Waiting to hear back from my teacher friend about the children’s fantasy series we are working on. Both of us busy with new jobs. My contract finished in Feb. but she is still going. The teachers I was filling in on medical leave returned. I am taking a break but still teaching online part time. Time to continue with my book. Thanks for reading.

One weekend this past month or last month, before the operations and when I had a day to myself, we visited an old general store. We were en route to Webster for the outdoor flea market. We had to make a pit stop for the restroom, so we explored a dirt road that was off 301 that led to a park area. We found historic Richloam General Store which is a living, working museum. It was through a place called the Green Swamp and in the backwoods.

The proprietor lived next door as did her son. It is open 7 days a week carrying products from the 1920’s and 1930’s time era. It is a refreshing step back in time when people had small polite conversation while you perused the items at the General Store. We had a similar one in the Catskills where I grew up. It was a place where people congregated to hear the news. We did not have so many issues with kids in school because we all knew each other and this kept us in line. Recently near us, a middle school child was arrested for selling stun guns at school. A 12 year old girl. My first thought was ‘how do they even have access and how do they get these ideas?’ In other words, what is going on in their household. My second thought and fear was for the classmates and the teachers at school. I hope that the deputies, the Resource Officers, the social workers, the Admin, . will be able to figure this out.

Anyway, husband found a 16 oz. buttery topping made by the Amish Country for $6 and bought it. He uses it for omelets, and grilling meat. It was his idea and it is excellent as the buttery topping does not burn. We even returned one weekend and Michael, the planner, bought 5 of them. You only need a small amount and the meats, eggs, etc. cook nicely. Wal-mart has it also but it sells for $12 or so. It is not a long trip and the outing is nice, so we are glad to go proving that the most interesting times are often wrought from desperation: in this case we needed a restroom but found an interesting destination. Getting off the beaten track is often a good idea. Although in these Covid times, we are off the beaten track but the wonderful thing about Webster Flea Market is that we were often outside perusing the goods and were not required to wear a mask. Most of us keep to the rules being pragmatic, as we move forward during these times. At least, we hope.

Just for your information: husband has been Covid-free through every operation as have I. We take sensible precautions but never go overboard. And as for my haircut next week, it will no longer be a production. I am cautious about visiting a place called “Revolution” and not getting out before they charge me half a c note for a cut, trim, style and then there is the tip, so I will go simple to a chain and hope I get a good hairdresser. Mostly, I do and my superfine hair is simple to cut and style. The husband will go to his favorite barber and of course, leave $20 which will include the tip and then we will meet up for lunch. Until then, it is just a hair cut, isn’t it and not a production.

Thanks for hearing. From my house to yours……let’s meet in the middle.

My husband pulled the trigger this week. I realized it worked well. It was over pillows. We needed new pillows but somehow I convinced myself that we could not agree on the style of pillows. So I told my husband about seeing the pillows, rows of pillows with plush fabric, cool to the touch, and fluffy in Big Lots. A whole aisle on sale. He asked me, “So, which ones did you buy?” The truth is I didn’t buy any because I convinced myself that he would not like my choice and was too fussy. He went and picked them out after I described the ones I liked in detail. He is feeling much better and getting around nicely.

The roof in our garage was falling down, so without hesitation he called a guy we know from our Cupcake Cache days and his helper to come fix the roof before it ended up on our car. So, he is here. Sometimes it is uncomfortable: the banging, getting out and around him, etc. but we needed to pull the trigger. Someone did and the husband is much better at that than I am. I analyze the cost, the time, the possibilities, so that even getting a haircut becomes a major production. There is always going to be someone better and someone worse out there for the job, true. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

The truth is every time I have pulled the trigger and made a no holds decision; I did not regret it. Those trigger decisions enabled me to go to France for one year, stay in the United Arab Emirates for a year teaching, and also led me to the decision to marry my husband. Yes, there are the naysayers around me who told me I was crazy; who would go to the Middle East at this time; hasn’t he been married before? What about? And these are the decisions I do not regret, so sometimes you have to pull the trigger. I don’t remember much about the woman who told me that going to France was for dreamers and I need to start working as soon as I could. I don’t remember some jobs I had but I remember that year at the Sorbonne and being an au pair. I am still married to my husband so many years later. And the ex-wife has not bothered me.

Now, actually pulling the trigger if you are in danger or someone breaks in your home, that is another thing which I probably won’t discuss but if the time comes, I will pull the trigger and think not. Thanks for listening to my thoughts this morning. Sometimes your best reaction is to react and not think about it. But that is another blog. And yes, those pillows are helping us both sleep well at night, so the money spend was worth every dime.

I have decided to write down some of my meanderings in my online journal as my in person journal is not getting a workout. Husband just went to pick up a few items at Publix which is a good thing as the second operation is treating him better. This time his reaction time is not off and the store is nearby.

I made French toast for breakfast with the no carb bread for me, cut up bananas, lots of butter, and of course, diet free syrup. He has lost 20 lbs. in one month, so after the walk around the alligator boardwalk with the dog meeting only a grumpy man who suddenly turned and gave me a big smile or was it the pug…..I decided en route to make a big breakfast to get us going. The pug is snoring and wakes us up out of a deep sleep, so I end up going to our spare room and even Michael, famous for his ability to sleep anywhere wakes up grumpily and nudges the dog.

It is cold this morning but my intent is to visit the health club for a workout. My feet are finally back to normal after being on them all last week. This morning I finished reading “A Treacherous Paradise” by my new favorite author, Henning Mankell. This story was based in Africa and centered around the main character who came from a very poor part of Sweden. The books has some supernatural parts in which superstition and I guess, voodoo play a part. My kind of book as my short story “Laughing Africa” has some elements of this. My main character, Genevieve, was loosely based (with a pinch of fiction) on a person I did meet and knew while living in Paris and attending the Sorbonne University. She now has returned to South Africa to be with her family. I am looking forward to reading the next book, “The Troubled Man” which is part of Kurt Wallander series about a Swedish detective. I enjoy the very cold setting of Sweden as part of my heritage is Swedish and I enjoy reading about Sweden and the very small area that the detective lives in.

One of my wishes was to finish writing my book which I feel I will once I am able to have more time to myself. Summer break. And to go to Africa on a safari with my husband. I don’t know if this will happen but ironically one of my students in my online college class that I instruct now lives in Florida. Her family owns a safari business in South Africa but they have relocated here. I found this writer to read: Henning Mankell.

Is this kismet I ask you? Kind of like the pug, Mr. Iago finding our home and following me in from the mailbox the year before we closed our store….he has comforted my husband and myself through so many events….my mother’s love was such that I believe she would watch out for me from above. I do believe she is. Once someone is gone, I do believe love lives on.

Thanks for reading. Have a good day.

I learned an interesting word the other day reading: zero sum. It is like a balance in economic theory in which one person’s gain equals another’s loss. Two or more are competing for the same resources and like a matrix only one will gain. Whew. Mathematics keeps you cold and logical while words and poetry make you soft, sometimes.

I guess life gives us plenty of opportunity for both of these options at different times enabling people to say, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.” I was watching an old Archie Bunker and I think he said this. So you see, the idea goes back a long way. The husband is out of the second operation and is healing. Slowly but surely. Even though you know what to expect, you don’t know what to expect. There is always something new but hopefully all of the tumors have been identified and removed. Sounds like a mathematical equation which is probably why I stutter often sharing the medical details.

Some of us are better in the abstract spouting poetry, observations and words but when we realize that perhaps the twain can meet, there is a lyric out there. The other day, an Arabic speaker at work asked me ‘What was my favorite song?’ Behind my mask, I muttered or tried to speak as clearly as possible through 3 layers of my favorite protective gear “Viva La Vida.”

She said, ‘What?’ and her eyebrows crinkled, “Dida la……” I repeated “Viva La Vida.”

She shrugged and smiled. I asked, “Do you know the song?”

She shook her head. I asked her, “What do you like to listen to?” And then I remained grateful that she was very vague and only said, ‘It depends on how I feel.’ Even speaking behind the mask, I knew that I would not recognize the artists she listened to in the generational gap and then there might be a cultural gap.

“Viva La Vida” my song to relax and chill to when I need a reminder, kind of like a balance that life will move on. Michael’s health will continue to improve with time. The hardest part of waiting is over and the tumors have been removed. The healing begins.

Thanks for listening. What is your favorite song to chill out to when you take a break or when you are debating ‘sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.’

I have a long weekend which is nice, so I thought I would drop a line. Michael is doing better just in time for the second operation next week to remove three more tumors from the liver. The doctors said, “This will not be as painful” so I am hoping….or praying by the bedside this will ring true.

Husband and I went this morning to Ikea. As he gets better, he doesn’t just want to sit around the house for 12 hours sleeping, so after the new floor was put in, he ordered a lightweight glass desk and got rid of his big clunky desk collecting lots of cobwebs and dirt. I was thrilled as you know I am a minimalist…and then he said, “I will probably give away some of the books that I have not read….” The shopping trip went well in Ikea and he came home with some tin storage baskets which he is trying to figure out how to attach with a little flashlight as I watered the garden and took care of the hanging plants noting branches collecting on our roof.

In the car on the way home, we talked about salaries of football players and other sports people. I mentioned that I was helping a student with an article read and chose the right answer for an article about Jackie Robinson. The student mentioned “humble” as he did not expect much unlike some of the sports players of today. I related to the husband my story and he immediately mentioned that Tom Brady plays for fun and ‘love of the game.’ He is satisfied with his salary as he is like the 8th or 9th highest paid quarterback and he is also married to supermodel Gisele and she has an estimated worth of around $400 million! And they are Tampa residents! They chose to live here. I think they also may soon have a home in Miami. I am not up on the gossip but then he mentioned another player who signed a contract, and then demanded they hire a coach he wanted. And they didn’t, they hired who they wanted as they thought he was the best choice. They did not appreciate the comments of the quarterback and now the husband mentioned that not many will pick him up. Is it enough that we just do our job as best as we can and try to follow the lead as best as we can. We may not always agree with leadership but perhaps they know something we do not. I certainly would not demand that someone hire someone because of their ethnic background, their zip code, the way they dress or act, they are friends with me or the same gender…I would want the “best fit.”

This leads me to question “why are some so greedy?” If you sign a contract, is your ego so big that you think you can finagle with the contract and manipulate it to your wishes? Hmm….I think back to the middle schooler speaking of Jackie Robinson and his humbled beginnings. He remained true to form and his beginnings of growing up in a home speared and directed by his mother, a single parent. I felt proud of the student for being smart enough to realize this.

Oops, husband just said, “I got it. I figured out the directions” and the metal box from Ikea is inserted correctly. I promise a picture when we are lighter in possessions and thoughts. After the next operation, things should be a little smoother. If you are searching for my husband’s blog, Earth Spins, he is still around and the light is on…just like that commercial, “We will leave the light on for you.”

Thanks for listening.

Seeing the atmosphere and feeling the excitement of Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning the Super Bowl is a great feeling. Michael and I watched the Super Bowl together! I am not a big sports person but I was so happy that the Super Bowl was here and our home based team was playing; Michael was feeling better so I pulled up to the futon and the pug and watched.

I even learned a few things about the game of football and the quarterback. Then there was the defensive tackle, etc. And those lines…you know. I have to say the husband was a good sport patiently answering my questions some of which in the middle I zoned out. I never realized how much depends on the quarterback and the lead. Even now, I hesitate to write something which I might strategically pronounce or state the wrong way. I enjoyed though listening to the play by play commentary. My math improved as did a game plan: how to score, I think.

I remembered my father and brothers patiently discussing the stats and making charts. I thought of my husband and his friend discussing the plays, the players, and which player went to which team. And then like the newbie, I also discussed the name of one player which sounded like the name of a player’s mom I taught English to when I first arrived here. It was at the University of Tampa’s language school. No, my husband stated, ‘That is another sport.” This led me to the conversation, ‘I wonder if she still lives here.’ You know, if you are not originally a sports collector of information…your mind wanders in various directions.

We watched the commercials, the half time show and the next day at work, ‘I could not understand why someone kept mentioning ‘My friend got called by the Weekend to audition.’ For some reason, I kept wanting to correct him and asking him, ‘what do you say?’ I goggled it and discovered what he meant.

I guess I will be looking up some sports information and some music information for the next month or so. I might even write a few blogs about it. Have a great week! And the best part was that it ended before 10 p.m. so not too many people missed work the next day because you know…..

I am grateful to still be kicking like the long life battery the end of a long week. Grateful that the husband is getting stronger and using Advil for sleep and pain control after the embolization of his liver. Grateful for his strength and foresight to buy in bulk which makes this time easier, for sure.

I still need to do grocery shopping in addition to other added chores and work but I made it through the week. I am grateful for an administrator who asks, “How my husband is doing?” because in another two weeks, another operation will be underway to remove the remaining tumors on the liver. It is painful to hear my husband recant to his brother over the phone about being awake, tied down during the operation and following the directions of the surgeons as to when to breathe. It is a dangerous operation and leaves one vulnerable. I am grateful for my husband’s pragmatism and hope he has, mostly, passed it along to me.

In the days of healing, I was annoyed at the husband because he pushed the ticket by deciding to have a friend and his helper replace our living room and office floor which was coming up and needed to be replaced. I did not think it was the right time. I went with Michael to the store and we picked out the tile and had it delivered. He was in pain and moving cautiously. His answer, “If not now, when……” I thought the better time would be the summer. In the end, it looks wonderful, and they have one more day before it will be finished. Last night they finished later, and I stayed out doing some grocery shopping and just sitting numbly in front of the library exhausted after a stressful week. I could not go home to face the workmen, a messy displaced objects, etc. I continued texting the husband until they left at 6:00 p.m. I went to bed at 8 p.m. It was a trying week. As for the husband pressing this issue, now that it is near the finale, I agree it will be wonderful but it was challenging to return from a very stressful week to this.

It reminds me of the time my husband pressed for us to buy a home…I did not think the timing was right…I was not sure about living in the area forever and would we be able to afford it….well, he pushed, we did and here we are so many years later. The Super Bowl is in Tampa. I was reminded of it the other day as I was leaving and one of my co-workers wished me a good weekend and then he reminded me of the Super Bowl this Sunday. It seemed like he was almost jumping up and down. I nodded and repeated, “the Super Bowl.” The husband asked me last night, “Was everyone talking about the Super Bowl?”

I remembered, one person was because this is me and sports. But then I figured the husband is getting better all the time! Thanks for listening! Have a great weekend! And then he reminded me this morning that several years after the Kansas City fans came for the Super Bowl, they ended up coming back and living in the Tampa Bay area because they liked the beaches, the people, and the atmosphere. Yeah, things are returning to normal. We just have to be strong and know a little more what to expect for the second operation. But when my husband is talking sports, he is on his way to healing, for sure. As for me, when I talk sports I am speaking the Super Bowl commercials, the music, and the traffic coming this Sunday.

I will still find time for the gym but then again I have a few great new books to read on OverDrive. I must tell you more about them as they take me to new parts of the world, opening my mind, and making this time go faster.

You know, I have been accused of being a “pinger.” I don’t stop and like a rolex, she keeps ticking. I think they might get more dollar amount for a rolex. This is the time I ping…husband is recovering slowly and I have a new appreciation for pain.

My rolex will keep ticking but I probably won’t keep whining over little things as much such as “writer’s block” “going to the gym” or going “grocery shopping.” I will probably still moan over the price of cars and over the things people do or don’t do if they know you aren’t watching them.

To who or whom are we accountable: mostly ourself is the person we hold truce with and shake hands with each day in the mirror. We must be honest like Benjamin Franklin with ourself which is why things get challenging when they keep deciding to replace the face of bills with others, our schedule, or something happens which pulls us out of our record player playing the same music. You can only listen to Donna Summers so much before you need to change the channel…so much drama and queens of melody. I don’t want to be the queen of drama even if I get you to listen…..

So I have been pinging on to a new schedule while the husband recovers. I walk the dog very early and have discovered the school buses come even earlier than expected. I miss some dog walkers because I am up before them so the route is pleasant. I have been streamlining things and going different routes so I have been growing and discovering some interesting things. I won’t confide them but it is kind of like car shopping with my mom years ago.

I returned from teaching English in South Korea after three years. She helped me try to find a car from used car lots. Picture a mom who lived most of her life in New York City and did not have a driver’s license. My father, for some reason, was unavailable or did not want to involve himself. I can still remember speaking to the salesmen and women and traipsing the lots. We ended up buying a car from one of my mother’s retired friends that was in excellent shape, a good price, and allowed me to make my cross country move. We had to discover a lot of duds in those car lots and engage in much trivial pursuit of information which you can only appreciate after you find the one car you buy or when you find out how best to relate to changes gracefully. At this point in my life, I am remembering “grace before pressure” or trying.

However, the medical information, the people information, everything and all the pieces I am learning is like going to the car sale and not knowing some of the basics. I won’t let someone else pick out the car but man, my learning curve is very high and I am pinging. It is not an easy time for either of us but a needed time.

Thanks for listening and all your good wishes. I won’t always mention the husband’s health but we are still pinging along. I might mention books, and some good writers I have discovered… you know…enjoy your weekend! After pinging and the storm, will come some much needed rest.

“The heart is the only muscle that never rests.” Today I was at the VA Hospital with my husband waiting for him while he had several pints of blood taken for lab work. Sometimes he has had more than the 4 tubes required, much more. I went with him because I had the day free and wanted to be supportive.

While I waited for him, there was a Vietnam Vet who began a conversation with me. We continued the conversation and I continued wanting to breathe but unable to say much as he shared a story with me of his time in Vietnam and being captured, his escape into the jungle. As he described his captors torturing him with needles, my eyes closed. I prayed inwardly and squashed my emotions not wanting to seem weak. I sensed some people don’t want sympathy but only an ear to listen and perhaps a pen to write the story. The nurse called and he left. Several other veterans came in with Vietnam hats and memorabilia pasted onto their body.

I listened to their conversation traded like trading cards and then I, feeling worried and antsy, about my husband and his upcoming surgery this week to remove several tumors, posed a question, “Who did you vote for?” I needed to know….when I told my husband his jaw dropped as usually I just sit there quietly taking it all in.

“I would have told you it was none of your business.”

Yeah, but somehow I did not think these men would mind and with bated pause, the first one said to me, “Trump.” The others nodded in ascension. I said, “Thank you for telling me.” I smiled and laughed. To me it was interesting that every single vet, all 5 of them of different cultures, had voted for Trump. One Vietnam vet wearing a t-shirt with a tribute to Martin Luther King was praised by the nurse for wearing the shirt this day. Everyone was comfortable with one another and there was no fighting. The true fights had already taken place years ago. Or maybe they learned that when the shoe drops, the war begins and as soldiers they did not want a repeat performance.

My husband came out and the wait was short and I dropped the phone. It made a heavy thud. There was a guy opposite me and his eyes never left my face as he watched me apologize for the loud bang and then quietly pick it up. They had just been discussing PTSD, and this guy told me proudly, “I voted for Trump both times.” Idly, I wondered why the media never prints these stories of the vets for Trump and why they feel that way. Somehow I doubt if many of the reporters have served in Vietnam. The most we can do for history is to remember, so that to the younger generation one day they won’t ask or be fed a tale like some about the Holocaust…it never happened….I want people to feel the same curiosity after meeting these Vets and hearing their stories to look up this war and I want them to pause and wonder about their vote. In other words, it isn’t sexy and it is not a Harlequin novel and not part of the in crowd but for me it tinges my heart and exercises my muscles.

I told him, “I hope your vote counted.” He laughed but I will remember the way his eyes silently watched me pick up the phone. The stories I heard from the first Vietnam Vet were heart breaking. Again, I wondered if I had the stamina and mental discipline to volunteer if I had the time with the vets and not show my emotions.

The heart is the only muscle that never rests. This week is a long one. Thanks for listening.

Note to self: Although the heart never rests, my hips and back are feeling 45 minutes of intense exercise this long weekend and lifting weights. When I have a rough week, I do the physical easily but as always it is the mental and emotional that one must practice daily….here is to a good week.

What is she talking about? Last night I watched “Antique Road Show” about someone bringing in an original Keith Haring painting. Keith Haring was an American artist whose pop-art and graffiti grew out of the New York street culture of the 1980s. According to Wikipedia, much of his work includes sexual allusions that turned into social activism. ‘He achieved this by using sexual images to advocate for safe sex and AIDS awareness.’

I remember New York City and the underground subways of the 80’s because I was there. Well, evidently there was a man there who ripped down a poster by Keith Haring off the subway wall. This is the ARS episode I am watching with interest. The artwork is interesting as I like this type of art.

There is some mystery and intrigue and as always I like shapes, patterns, etc. which are deceptive and which you must figure out by studying closely. There are some layers so you can’t label it by saying, “It is what it is.”

Well, as the commentator continued, with the overall value of the original artwork torn down by his friend from the subway wall, he estimated it to be worth between $30-$60,000 or something like that. My mouth dropped open and I wondered ‘why I had not torn down any signs off the subway station in New York?’ And then I wondered like ‘does it really belong to him? or to the city of New York?

Then I remembered those New York days of the late 80’s struggling to make a living in an expensive city on my own with a few friends, watching my monies, and handling two jobs. Who had time to really read the subway signs? And of course, the man on ARS was like jumping up and down and salivating at the mouth. Evidently, he had the time and inclination to keep the artwork for so many years and bring to ARS.

I was reminded of one of my mom’s friends from the City bringing to the Catskills a beautiful print and a visitor of about 8 years old decided to draw on the signature or to claim as his. It was a limited edition. My parents kept it on the wall accepting gracefully the situation. I enjoy artwork but this led to some interesting dilemma’s and then I wondered amongst the readers if anyone had ever ripped down a piece of artwork or poster that years later increased substantially in value?

In the end, follow the monies to know who is in and who isn’t….sometimes time will tell tales or no tales need apply. That is all, folks! Enjoy the weekend.

Sometimes in my dreams of reverie or halfway between sleep and awake, I am revising my life, day, words. It is weird because I wake up with lots to do and by the evening have totally forget my time of reverie. Usually the times I revere, the next day or the same day depending on how you look at it is very productive.

I just read a blog that the blogger was interested in visiting Abu Dhabi entertainment parks and that did not happen in 2020. I was thinking that if 2020 has been anything like the tv show 20/20: What would you do? she probably in retrospect should be glad she did not go.

I remembered visiting the Abu Dhabi Ferrari Park with my friend, Madonna, an American living for many years in the Middle East. We watched, we thought about it, we put our hands on our hips, contemplated the speed and moved forward to a safer platform. I thought of my father visiting Busch Gardens and saying he only wanted towards the end of his life to ride the roller coaster. I can’t remember whether I did or not or whether he did or not. We were very busy earning a living at the time.

Reverie: it is a French word which I am sure I could research and it would point me towards whimsical delightful feelings, emotions, and places. But the point of reverie and , if it is a ballet term, in my mind, it is. It seems to be a place of instability where you must always been on pointe reaching for the top. Unfortunately, we always wake up and life pushes us over the dredges; people impinge upon our restraints; and we have no choice but to dance as quickly as we can.

And sometimes we laugh, giggling at someone chasing us: Catch me if you can! The best resolution one can fulfil this year: remember to not be caught, enjoy the year, and never let anyone label you. Keep growing, learning, and moving forward. Thanks for listening!

Enjoy 2021! Best wishes for an extraordinary New Year.

I know most people have never bothered to read Our Constitution top to bottom, or the Declaration of Independence, or The Federalist Papers, or even the Bill of Rights. They pay more attention to the back of a cereal box than they do to these documents. So here is an exert from THE DOI- —That […]

Declaration Of Independence — The Earth Spins

We visited Webster’s flea market and I found my new toy for the start of 2021. It was part of the $1 box. You shake the rattler and the six winning numbers to chose for the lottery come up. I will have some fun using this in a convenience store. The end of the year is so near and we are ready to call it a wrap. What is your routine during these days? Traffic is busier than ever, and I notice some places such as the eye doc is busy, as is the gym starting to have customers return. How long will the New Year’s resolutions last? Should we take bets?

Wrapping things up, so we can start a new year. One thing I have learned this past year is that I have about as much control over the future as the randomly chosen numbers in this little lottery shaker toy I bought. For a $1, it was a great buy! I also learned this past year that I am not a gambler. Despite my family’s predilection for gambling on various items; my father with the market, and family members with horse races, sports scores, etc. I am not willing to lose that much. I think of my grandfather losing a bit during the Depression and I just can’t bet it all. I learned from my mom to trust my intuition and that despite everything, luck is involved with so many aspects of life. However, good common sense gets you through the uncertainty. With my husband, the retired analyst I have learned patterns of numbers and patterns in life which repeat often or where to look for a pattern. But then again, I am not betting the family farm on patterns.

It has been an interesting year. And that is why this random toy I picked up will be near my desk as a reminder of everything outside of my control. Sometimes one gets lucky with choices and sometimes things happen, despite our plans. We must learn more to go with the flow as best we can and welcome 2021. I will be keeping a written journal in my little red book and next year, I will be curious to see how we all weathered the changes and how things stand. So, clean up your messes before the end of year, de-clutter, get caught up, but stay flexible ready to deal with patterns unexpected popping up.

What are your last minute things to do before the New Year begins? Do you have any traditions or things you have to finish before the New Year? I like to go through my paperwork and shoes trying to consistently have smaller numbers but my pattern is such that I visibly feel as if I am losing a numbered amount on a bank account based in the Caymans. The other day, I donated an old pocketbook to a thrift store…an alligator purse I picked up on sale in Saint Augustine. I checked the pockets 5 times before donating it the shop along with a pair of leather DKNY boots which no longer fit me. As the man behind the desk watched me with disinterest, “Yes, we accept donations” and I rummaged through the boots also to make sure I had not hid anything in the sole and then reluctantly handed them to him.

Why is it so hard to break free of patterns? If I ever write a book about a missing person, I will most likely find him or her by following their pattern. But this is another blog. Enjoy your day!

The Christmas Project of which I am so proud of: framing my husband’s print from the race he participated in years ago in Honolulu. He finished in the top 10 percent for his age group! I want him to stay motivated, so I took it out of storage and had it framed.

This also inspired husband to remark we need to repaint. The overall winner was from Kenya.
This room is also home to the bookcase husband build from a photo I showed him, our books, and his shadow box.
My closet which holds 15 pairs of shoes and more books. We need to repaint this, also.
A clever way to hide away a map of Old Tampa Bay and our water cooler from “Cupcake Cache.”
Memo that we have this tree planted in our front yard.

Husband’s photo from time in Hawaii. An old photo of me enjoying my 20’s! Photo of husband and I. Need to update.

This is my office. The pocketbook portfolio holds my writing which I am prepared to attack finally this afternoon.
My bulletin boards and my school bag nearby. There is room for an old Swedish futon which is room for company for the family. There is also a tv above the desk just in case I get bored of writing. I guess it is a he/she room functioning for both of us. I am most proud of finally getting the picture framed as it was hidden in a closet for many years.

I never tire of hearing this song, lyrics or none…each time I hear it, I reach for it like an old comfortable blanket soothing the soul.

Chris Martin, the band’s frontman, stated that the idea behind the album is Frida Kahlo’s strength to face hardships and still celebrate life. I found this under “7 songs inspired by some of the most iconic paintings in the history of art.” Her last painting which she completed shortly before she died is a still life with watermelons. Personal tragedy including medical complications led to her right leg being amputated below her knee. The watermelon is a popular symbol in the holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which depicts watermelons being eaten by the dead or shown in close conjunction with the dead.

There are so many layers deep to the words of the song and the cadence that I find myself returning to it for inspiration, fortitude, and when I need more patience as I hear the melody soothing the beast ready to roar…not 2021, yet.

Dear Santa,

For my Christmas goodwill this year, I wanted to post a critique about “Secret Angel of God: The Captive Clairvoyant” written by Eileen Slovak. I discovered her blog Over Forty Witticisms’ and enjoyed her writing, so I clicked on the Amazon link and bought her book.

I always admire those who finish a project they start as their efforts are deeply within a kindred spirit. I hope to finish my book but I have a few challenges along the way. So this is a tribute to a blogger who finished her book. The book has an unusual theme with enough mystique and mention of clairvoyance for me to be intrigued. I enjoyed the book because it is unusual and not one which follows the same old formulas.

So, I hope some bloggers will check out her book and her blog. Thanks for listening. My good deed is checked. I now must attend to my own procrastination and try to finish my book. Have a wonderful holiday! And an even better new year to all who find themselves at a dead note waiting for the next chord….a new year is on the way. If not now, when?


Cupcake Cache

I am enjoying my time off! The days are crisp and clear walking the pug in the morning and there is joy in knowing I have time to myself to read, shop, and if I so desire, write. I haven’t had much desire to finish a short story or write poetry. My mind is clearly in the present.

The other day, I was in a thrift shop I like discussing a pocketbook with a woman in her 70’s. It was on sale half price. She was feisty and I realized that I could count on her to give a honest opinion, so I asked her about a brand new pair of pants marked down from $78 to $20. We aren’t allowed to use the dressing room because of COVID restrictions. It was a size 12 but looked very small with narrow hips. I am a size 10 but it didn’t seem as if it would fit me. She confirmed me by looking me up and down, “That might be a girl’s size. This will not fit you.”

I told her, “Thanks. You didn’t hurt my feelings,” and we laughed. There was a young man in his early 30’s listening near by and he kept glancing over at our discussion as we discussed our preference for pocketbooks and she told me, “Your pocketbook is very pretty but not big enough for me.” This led to a new conversation about “where we were from,” and we continued discussing all aspects of pocketbooks which led into other reins of conversation. I saw him blink and smile as if “wow, women really can bond over discussion of a pocketbook?”

I guess men might bond at Home Depot or over a couple of shots at the bar. I don’t know. Whatever.

I have learned that you can’t really tell much about people by viewing them from the outside. Going for my Christmas pedicure treat to myself, I started a conversation with a woman the same age as I who looked very tired and was sitting in my seat. I thought she might be down on her luck. As we talked, I learned that she and her husband were in the process of moving to the Appalachian mountains; she had a good job and was getting ready to retire; they had just sold their home in a very nice area of town; she came to the beauty school all the time because the prices were good and the service was excellent.

It was! I went because I was also checking out their services on hair style and color. I said to her, “I might get a hair cut here.” She looked intently at my hair, and said, “Yes, when was the last time you had your hair cut?” I smiled, and said, “This past week.” I realized that my favorite hairdresser had given me a nouveau style cut which appears to be feathered, different lengths, and seems as if I did not get my hair cut? Hmm…but I decided to leave this for another day. I had been at a 7 a.m. dentist appointment, light Christmas shopping for a new 2020 calendar and it was time to head home.

All I had to do to leave the COVID blues was leave the house, speak to a few people, and I slept very well last night. Thanks for listening!

If women gave birth to cars…drive the jaguar home. I found this thought on the internet. You know, it is world-wide, so many of us have the same thoughts. Today the husband and I were walking around the golf course on the other side of the street and we met an old customer from our store “Cupcake Cache.” She and her husband greeted us and we caught up quickly. As we walked around the hilly golf course noticing the beautiful and unique houses nearby the site of Billy Graham’s decision to become a preacher, the hills are where the coyotes have been spotted. I spotted a lone black cat parading along the golf course warily eyeing the terrain.

We don’t know what the new year will promise. I am grateful my husband is still here with me continuing his treatments with the VA and I am grateful that I will return after the New Year to my job, again. One more time, nothing is promised in this world, but it is nice when several things come through. Speaking of giving birth to cars, we passed my favorite car, a new Volvo in the parking lot of the country club. It is on my wish list one day, but it will be an older version we will eventually need to purchase. I like Volvos because they are a) Swedish like me b) the car my brother was driving many decades ago when we crashed into an oil tanker which did not stop at a 3-way crossing. All three of us survived which was a miracle and explains why years later, I am still terrified of crossings and someone else driving. We can’t change the past but sometimes the longer we live, the more we can find out why we are the way we are. And sometimes we don’t want anyone to tell us. I asked my husband today, “Am I old-fashioned, do you think?”

Wisely he said, “I don’t need to answer that or want to talk about that right now.” Smart move. I feel like a different person treating myself to a new hair do called “balayage.” The funny part is that the bold colors make me a strawberry blonde and I am more of an ash blonde type. After the hairdresser finished, I stared unwaverly at myself, “I don’t think this is what I wanted.” So three hours later, she streaked certain high lights and I left still feeling increasingly unsure of my hair. I listened to the conversation next to me of a customer wanting “purple highlights” but unable to have them because of the workplace. I wondered “Am I old-fashioned?” The young lady who did my balayage was in her 20’s and I am sure she felt it was perfect. I tipped her well and left thinking, “Will anyone notice?” Yeah, they did and I am sure the folks will at work or a few will. I decided to try something new and not be old fashioned and so, I did. It will only last 3 months or so, right. I realized that the young lady and I had a totally different expectation of “hairstyle” but don’t we all follow our own recipe each year. I know she felt that she did an excellent job! And for all I know, her interpretation was spot on. The old fashioned part of me did not want to connect to the businesses wifi and no magazines in the store. Next time, I will bring a picture.

We did not put up a Christmas tree or stockings this year but we mailed gifts to our family members. I also bought a present for my husband that I have been wanting to get him for a very long time. It is part of a project and I took that project out of the closet and finished something for him. Just like the cobwebs or the never ending strings, I needed to tie this up. I also send an interesting reminder of my father’s chess games he played with my brother’s son to my nephew. I hope he will understand the analogy to his gift.

I don’t always make things clear but yet I am lucky enough this year to be surrounded by people presented in my life who make things absolutely clear and for that, thank you.

Happy Holidays! I see some changes. The Volvo is not on the doorstep but my new strawberry blonde do is out there. Perhaps she was spot on with her interpretation but inside I still am an ash blonde.

if he loves you

carry your pocketbook if you need a free hand

get sanitary pads for you from whichever store is open…..

hold on to your pocketbook while you try on shoes….

he will note the small things you like even if they are a little crazy: your pork rinds need a touch of mayonnaise on them…

he will learn “hummus is actually a thing….” and it is best found in Middle Eastern stores

you will also do for him….

wait in a line at 4 a.m. for the special sale (equipment) or ask crazy questions at Home Depot while entertaining the sales people….

tag along to a sports game if it is not your thing….

listen to stories of before you met when he was in the military doing codes and introduce you to all of his badges

meet his buddies….listen to the stories…

and make him enjoy listening every once in awhile to opera, Amy Winehouse, an oldie, some classical

while he plays AC DC, and rocks on…

It is all in the spirit of the holidays and making memories.

And sometimes you find the perfect balance and place to agree…

They might be “blue herons” but there is always someone in line somewhere in Florida on Black Friday. I took these pictures after doing some early Christmas shopping for a few people. The most interesting conversation was with the 20-something sales lady who mentioned missing “getting up to shop for Black Friday at 4 a.m. with her mom and sisters and then going out for breakfast.”

I remember waiting on line at 4 a.m. clutching a bag of golf clubs one year. Who can forget also getting up early for markets in South Korea as the first shopper gets the deal.

Why do we choose certain things to write about? I was contemplating recently in my hiding place just outside the garage door. There is a narrow piece of territory where the sun shines and I call “mine.” Dibbs on planting sunflowers, a shed in the background, and a small blue collapsible chair. The sun beats me into quiet submission as I observe the birds flying above. First, I hear a plane and as my eyes lazily watch the speck until it disappears beyond the clouds, I see the birds circling following one another and some circling back as if this is a favorite route.

Why do they choose the route above the house? Why do writers choose topics? I think of the writer on WordPress who writes about the possibility of having hot sexual encounters with another dog walker in a park and then continues like a record playing “repeat” the sexual encounters. It is obviously something she craves or maybe needs, like  attention. Many of us remember the 20’s, 30’s as this type of hot and heavy and then we moved into more committed established relationships with one person. Most hopefully.

What do I choose to write about? Like the pattern the birds follow, I choose often ethereal topics like characters following superstitious beliefs or people who are avid bitten gamblers, loners, sometimes pursuing things because of a sixth sense about something or someone. They follow without reason because they have no choice but to do so. My characters are often build around memories of my brothers, friends, and my interesting family. I have a brother I use often his character in my books. For now, he is lost to me and I don’t have any idea where he is. They say it is hard to lose someone but sometimes I dream of meeting him again. There might be a reason he does not want to be found. I might write a book about this. This is my style and that is most likely why I enjoy reading Jack Reacher’s adventures. Because for me, he is the ultimate cowboy without roots saving those randomly without reason, those who don’t know they need a hand.

Perhaps my sixth sense is telling me something. Thanks for listening. Until the next break, Christmas. And to my brother, if you are listening I love you.

Thank you for your submission to The Stray Branch. I accept, “The Spirit is Willing” for publication in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue.
Debbie Berk

Dear Ms. Berk, 

I am submitting my short story of 1000 words for possible publication in “The Stray Branch.” As always, I like stories with unusual endings and tales of special powers. 

I reside in Florida which lends itself to the unusual or often those with stories to tell. I hope you will enjoy reading my short story. The concept of being able to travel by imagining yourself in other places is one that has always sparked my interest as the thought of one person in a family losing a superpower and another person picking up the power in another realm. 
Attached in my short story “The Spirit is Willing”. Thank you for your consideration. 


To tell the truth, I am not a person who sits still easily, my husband will tell you. Perhaps it is a by product of growing up in the Catskill Mountains on a farm in the middle of the woods. My parents were city people who moved long before it was a popular thing to do. We always had something to do. As a teenager, my mom would leave me notes instructing me how to make dinner, or heat up things. My dad would expect me to weed the garden boxes with vegetables. They were always busy as we owned a business and my dad had a full time job, also. My brothers were older and left the house as soon as they could. I often had time alone and was responsible at a very early age.

We did have a pool and 14 acres, a beautiful barn (2), and a beautiful location until my father sold as I graduated, moved out, and taxes continued to climb for New York state.

So, I have 9 days off from my in person job but my online job is still “on.” I do have Conferences, correcting papers, a lesson plan that I am teaching with a resource person about mythology when I return…she asked me to prepare the lesson. I am trying to not have thoughts of my students, plans to interest them overwhelm my thoughts. It takes a few days to make my mind blank and then I rush around trying to shove in everything I am missing like exercise at the health club, enjoy the garden, walk the pug, a bike ride, some fun shopping, should I get my hair cut, new meals to try….and then I begin throwing away some plans, doing some plans, and voicing my thoughts to my husband.

I realize it won’t always be like this. After January, the teacher I am replacing will return, so I don’t have to keep track of everything and try to leave it all together and in good shape for him. About two weeks ago, I replaced a plastic apple full of pins and paper clips with chocolate from my Halloween treats for the students. I used books with the class that had not been used in ages and the resource person became involved. She asked me about my plans for January and I told her “I don’t know.”

I do realize that what I wrote on the black board “Hail Mary” and something about ‘The Cardinals Hitting One” doesn’t have to be a blog. Although sports is a foreign language to me, as is Spanish, I don’t have to know the answer today. It is a time for a break, so I will continue reading the latest Jack Reacher on my kindle, dusting a few corners, enjoying the gym, maybe a coffee with my friend, Ms. D. if she is up to it, talk of a future vacation with my husband, and enjoy being in the home and the garden, sitting in the sun, just learning to be.

Enjoy your week, everyone!

Sometimes I wonder what the end goal is for other people? If you are writing that you feel sorry and sympathy for teenagers or children in trouble, why not become a guardian ad litem?

If you write posing in a picture without a bra asking for a money donation, why not find a job or a friend if you need attention.

If you left Portland, Oregon because of the crazy politics and you voted in some crazies and you now live in Podunk, I don’t need to read your crazy liberalities. Check out the candidate you voted for very carefully.

If you don’t like someone, so what…in the end it is the policies or the actions we vote for. I know that I don’t want to be wearing masks for another year and for small businesses to go under. I don’t want to see hypocrites in action.

I want real. In other words, I want everyone who needs something to do it instead of whining. And if you plan on coming to my state and taking advantage of a few things, remember to give back because those who don’t think ahead might have to prepare for a rude awakening. If your taxes increase and you can’t sell your home. Apartment rents are too high, I don’t want to hear about the second job you are forced to take because you did not anticipate the end goal of some.

Thanks for listening. And I don’t want to hear anymore about masks, donations for coffee, etc. get a job, vote in the best person, and move forward.

The other day we were at Ollie’s and I picked up a couple of men’s casual t-shirts for workout clothes and to wear around the house. It occurred to me that men’s clothes seem to last longer than women’s do. I picked up a couple of t-shirts at Target and they eventually (6 months later) became cleaning rags. I did not care for the v-neck, etc. and the material ripped.

Ollie’s is like a big discount store where I can buy my Columbian keurig, pick up sole savers for my gym sneakers, and find a few odd items. I couldn’t find the coconut oil for my almond fat bombs, so while I went to one line, husband went next door to the Dollar General.

I was pleased to find find a 15-pack of slimfast keto meal shake to go for $8. A steal! I bought 2. Husband found a book which I will probably read also. I like these days when one has time to meander around a store, sleep in the mornings, and stay up later watching Rockin’ 1000 full concert at Stade de France, Paris 2019. We both agreed we liked the conductor the best!

What was nice to see was everyone getting along and to read some of the comments. We stayed up way past our bedtime. Tomorrow is Monday, a busy week! Enjoy.

I was even able to release a few clothes into the bin of let go’s which is something I have trouble doing. I bought new ankle socks for my workout, and got rid of some of the old ones. I cleaned out my drawers. I have two closetfuls of clothing. Asking myself, “Do I really need to keep a top I had made in the Middle East while teaching there?”

“Will I really wear it here?” Challenging questions to answer this morning, more so even than will I fit into the size 8 pants again? Don’t get me started on shoes. Thanks for listening!

This is why I comb the plants carefully. The wasp’s nest.
Requiring some interesting maneuvering to spray and then take a photo.
After Hurricane Eta left the house, the gecko found this house.
He or she found their way in, and now will find a way out.
Lots of rain and heavy winds last night. No watering needed.
The frog keeping watch. No trees blew down. A few heavy branches did.
Pond husband build to catch water. Full of pebbles and water evaporated.
The cherry tree keeps growing with lots of rain, looks healthy.
A good window on the world.

Husband blew the driveway clean with a blower. A woman went by while I was online with my Conference to the adult students and peered in with her three dogs looking at our clean driveway at 8:45 a.m. I mentioned it to my husband smiling, and he said, “Maybe I should buy a shirt which reads, ‘This is Mike, husband of Eve, and then it should say, who is that man, Eve’s man.”

Always entertaining…between hurricane Eta and the clean up. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Husband and I went to one of the remaining flea markets in the Tampa Bay area recently. The building and property have been sold and there was one vendor left with a few excellent deals.

He sold me a clear plastic bag which can be used at a sports event, for a lunch box, or as an airline take on bag. I bought some strong hanging line for a project for my classroom. He sold me these two items and a third for $5. I was happy!

Wandering around the dust bowl, checking out various items is something I like to do. Husband was checking out a few items on this own wondering if we could use a few things. I found these and I could not give them up. There were like 20 or more in a small bag and I thought I know I can use them especially when he told me $5 for everything.

What do you think they are for? I went home and researched them and it seems they might be ties for camping, fishing, boating, but I figured at that price I will find a use for them….

And if I have to keep it for awhile as an investment, I have the time and it looks as if the world is all in knots right now, so I will figure it out! Give us until the next 4 years and most of us will have it all figured out.

Have a great week everyone!

I admire Kayleigh McEnany. I see glimpses of her, her husband and her baby at press conferences. I like how her husband is supportive of her and how they are a team and how the crowd respects her.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds her first press conference Friday in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House.

I like how she gets down to living calmly taking the questions posed by the rabid reporters, often hostile, and then leaves the stage. In particular, I like how she took her baby from her husband, hugged the child and left the stage. She is a cool customer getting on with living.

I was more amazed to know that she is from Tampa. Answering questions from the press and communicating the president’s decisions to the public is a job she embraces. I was not surprised to learn that she has a degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from Harvard. She attended the Academy of Holy Names, a private Catholic preparatory school in Tampa. Many of us are familiar with the beautiful campus located near Bayshore Boulevard. After graduating, she majored in international politics at Georgetown’s University School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 2016.

As you watch her on camera answering questions, one would assume that anyone who has the ability to think so quickly on her feet and retain information quickly has an impressive background. She is married to Sean Gilmartin, a pitcher in major league baseball. He joined the Tampa Bay Rays in February 2020 as a relief pitcher.

Tampa is still her home and they own a house on Davis Island. I am proud to know that she is a Tampa Bay native. Thanks for listening.

What do I read after long days at a middle school?

Interesting question.

The Art of War-because I can and it gives me strategies dealing with new things and a whole slew of new attitudes. How to confuse someone entirely does not escape me easily.

Walk in the path defined by rule, and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle.

My interpretation: these students know their school well and how to get around a few rules. Observe carefully until you can plan best how to intercede and get the work done.

I have found a new author I enjoy: Linwood Barclay: Fear the Worst and Never Look Away.

Good intrigue and pure escapism. My favorite show last season was not renewed: Bless this Mess! I do enjoy The Neighborhood!

There was a waiting list for a book about MS-13 and I am reading this now. It is interesting. I am not sure why they keep blaming the politics of the United States for gang activity but I will keep reading and forgive their bias.

Sometimes you just observe, stay quiet, and move on. Thanks for listening. Enjoy your weekend!

One of my lesson plans from the book was about “Lincoln’s Funeral.” Although I realize everything has its place, I have a few challenges getting the attention of 8th graders, so I read over the sample in the book, researched a few things on google and decided to go with something else. I found a lesson plan about social media and decided that with a few PowerPoints I had from teaching in the past that I would be able to use this article and perhaps interest the class more with this lesson.

I realized that when you have challenges being interested in the funeral sermon for Abraham Lincoln that it is a good indicator to look deeper. “Self-Driving Cars”and an excerpt from Fahrenheit 451 along with a few lessons about using the active vs. passive might be something we can take on.

In between, I gave them a fortune cookie to open and read aloud. Sometimes you just have to look for inspiration outside of the book.

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Pablo Neruda is a Chilean poet, who started writings poems at the age of 13. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971.

No, I am not calling men “simple” and by including “men” in my blog title, I know a few I will interest immediately. We like to complain to the men, about the men, and sometimes for the men but sometimes men have it right.

Simplicity. Women like order or to be completely unbiased, someone like myself likes order. So I plan my clothes for the week, my lesson plans, a menu if I am cooking, what to get at the store, etc. I freaked out the end of the week when I was having a few classroom issues with one class and I went to the principal and he suggested a lesson plan and he would pop in on this class. I was grateful for the intervention but then realized my plans are mostly distinguishable to me. I write shorthand and sometimes “go with the flow” since I am so new to teaching middle school children, all students whose first language is not English.

So this past weekend, I woke up and it was a beautiful fall day in the 70’s temperature. I started to do a few gardening things, the husband joined me, and it was nice. Then I came in, made a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast, with a little bit of chocolate/coffee mixed together. Not very keto, but a good energy builder and steeled myself for the task.

I was grateful to my husband for coming in and dumping the little Hershey chocolates in my beautiful steel pot and saying, “We are ready for trick o treaters.” Then, I spend the next two hours or so putting together lesson plans for the week for four different classes. I kept it simple respecting my way of doing the lesson plans and along the way realized the principal is so busy but he most likely appreciates that I came in, took charge, and am doing the best I can. I was hired a week after school began and not given many directions except, “You are the expert.”

He is a man. He thinks and speaks most directly and sometimes when I feel overwhelmed I need to remember this with many things. Sometimes the chocolate for Halloween just needs to be given out and we move forward. There are no discussions.

Thanks for listening. I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

The garden. Michael built a side entrance into the side, so now we can also access this area easier.

How do make a new keto dessert?

How to quiet a noisy classroom without yelling?

How to find beta readers?

How old was Amy Winehouse when she passed away?

Will there be a Halloween this years?

What other books has Michael Koryta written?

Who is Chad Zunker?

How is bubble tea made?

Okay, I admit it…I have recently googled these items and they come up on my history of computer. If you really want a peek inside someone’s character, look at their history on the internet. It will tell you a few things. If I looked at yours, what might I see? Just to make you feel okay, you gave me permission because you like and trust me and having nothing to hide.

Now, I feel like we are playing 2 truths and a lie through social networks. Join in at your own discretion.


Quiche Lorraine

HAYT? Acronym-How are you today? Add a number.



What am I? old passwords for old jobsites, applying for jobs, sites for media etc.

How do I forget you? Like the keys, I am afraid of I get rid of you, I may need you one day..

Is this a familiar feeling to anyone else? What is very scary is if your computer seems to read your mind and show you advertisements for favorite foods like Quiche Lorraine, old home numbers, acronyms become favorite tv shows, hmmm…

It happens when I am cruising social media or the news and I see notice that someone won 1.2 million on a scratch off ticket. I think, “Why not me?” or “Why not I?”

Am I not just as lucky but they don’t tell you how many rolls or tickets someone might have bought to get lucky. Are some of us luckier than others with choice of our mates, spouse, significant others, etc. and with the choice of our career or do we just make better choices?

Do the stars rule by fate and fortune or can we significantly turn the odds in our favor? Luck rules that if we buy many tickets, we will win, eventually and as for our mate, if we marry more than once, do we get better at our choices if the first one or two don’t work out….

I don’t know. The same goes for jobs. The more we try, the more we know which we like and which we don’t. Unfortunately, I do believe that the luck of the scratch off is significantly luck…the right time and the right place, as it turns out many of life’s more significant and influential choices are made.

What about you? Is or was there a time in your life when luck definitely dealt a winning hand or was it a combination of a few factors, some of which included making a good choice? Not sure if that will be a question or a definitive declarative statement from some of us.

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on

And as for the winning lottery scratch off for me today, it was a no-go, so will keep reading the media news and wishing. Thanks for listening. Have a wonderful week! Some days you feel luckier than others, but your feelings are not always valid….so sometimes the truth is in the numbers or just luck.

Sometimes the small things like staying hydrated turn out to be the most important in a long week. Ice tea, propel, H20, Lipton ice tea. The best ice tea seems to be from Aldi’s for me without sweetener. Then I add stevia and a drop of fruit squirt and my morning is ready. I carry a beautiful thermos of ice cold water. The thermos sells for $15 but was garnered at a sale at Walgreens for .99 cents one weekend. It was an ambush sale, surprise and my husband found it for me. Sometimes those little things are the most important. Have a great weekend everyone! Need to replenish liquids this morning.

Jim’s blog reads “Walks to the Coffee maker” and that is my mini vacation today. A walk to the Coffee maker. I put her in caps because of the importance this morning after a rough week. Thanks for listening.

The truth is I have been wanting a French manicure for some time now. I was reminded of the manicure by another blogger who would show off her husband’s work on their barn with her beautifully crafted hands. So, I have a few extra dollars from work, so I treated myself to a French manicure.

I did not even know what it was called. Now as a lady, I tell you we meet all types of women getting pedicures and manicures. Some of them scare me with their long nails painted bloody red, black, green, rainbow, etc. I wonder how they get work done but I try to keep quiet and go with the flow. You know.

So, I finally find a neighborhood place where the ladies don’t seem to laugh at my naivety and they help me out as I keep saying to the owner of the store, “You know it is the clean manicure. It has white tips painted on and it looks so clean.” One giggled and said, “You mean a French manicure.” I shrugged as if part of the in group. “That’s it.”

Well, let me tell you. First, I locked in the price $33, thought about the tip and then sat down as two people worked on my nails. I tried to start a conversation with the lady next to me but she just stared at me as if sizing me up for something. I took off my wedding ring, so he could massage my fingers. I immediately checked to see if my gold ring was still where I put in. Okay, I did get a little paranoid. I tried not to be intimidated and watched my reflection in the mirror with my mask on. I was looking good, I thought. My new haircut looked cute, the owner was massaging and stretching my weary hands and I felt okay.

I think I could get used to this, I thought. I was surprised that there were a few young ladies in their late teens getting a manicure. I wondered why I was a latecomer to this. Then today, I made some keto treats and as I tried to open the different ingredients I found myself worrying about ruining my nails. I thought about all the typing I do on my computer and the cleaning, going to the gym, watering and working in the garden, etc. Would I have to curb my activities?

I found myself wondering how long the French manicure will last. Then I began to tabulate: $33 every other week or do you pay just for the tips, so I went to the website and I found I could not understand the language. There were like 18 different types of manicures. One was only $12, so I said to the husband, “I wondered if I paid too much for the manicure.” For me, it was definitely “manicure as a second language.” I thought about it once a month $40 including the tip for 12 months =$480. Whew. As a treat, it is nice but then as a writer behind the scene I began thinking of those who have a French manicure each month and I wondered how some of them could afford it. I think hmm, and my mind began thinking of mysteries and reading a good book or maybe writing one.

He laughed, and said, “But you like it. So it is worth it.”

Yeah, but some of those ladies still scare me a little with their long daggers and I find myself wondering if they can understand the menu and the cost, are they ahead of me in this game? Thanks for listening. We will see how long the manicure lasts in this working girl’s life. For the second language, I enjoyed learning about the rewards today. Thanks for listening!

Is it a safe?

A box for keys.

There were so many keys hanging around with no owner nearby. It just felt unsafe. What if we needed a key? Could we find the key? Which key belonged to this lock and that lock? Have you ever gone slightly wacko trying to find what a key unlocked? Was it to a storage unit or maybe the previous house owner before we changed the locks; was this his key? Front door, back door, old office (Adjunct Offices), business, church key at one time….husband accepted the challenge and found the key box for $19.99 on Amazon.

Thank you. Now the keys have a place in the key of life, and if the key of life changes, we can find the keys or so we are keyed in. Have a great week!

And if you open the door, there is another door where you can post the key locations. Wow! Organization. Now, I feel we have too many keys. Time to pare down. You can lock it also but then you have 4 numbers to remember. So chose, which is your poison? Is it easier to remember a number or where the key is or if you are anal, both….which will you remember?

What to eat for following diet for low carbs?

Coffee, black coffee, ice coffee, coffee with cream and stevia, Coffee.

Eggs and more eggs, including Jimmy Dean Delights-Egg’wich with 8 carbs and minus dietary fiber 2 so that equals 6 net carbs.

Turkey bacon, pork bacon, any bacon, yay!!

Light & Fit original Greek yogurt=plain for 7g total carbs. Tablespoon of frozen fruit including blueberries or strawberries. Sometimes as an extra treat a teaspoon of coconut cream. Heavy on the carbs, so tread lightly but delicious!

Did I say coffee?

Xtreme Wellness! High Fiber spinach & herbs carb tortilla wraps. Total carbs are 15 g -dietary fiber 11g=net carbs 4.

Cheese-yellow cheese, muenster cheese, swiss cheese, brie, blue cheese but no processed cheese.

Condiments-sugar free ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, horseradish, salt & pepper, etc.

Kefir-Love it from Aldi’s but there are many carbs so stay with one cup once a week which is 20 grams.

Did I mention tea? Ice tea, homemade…Lipton tea…Aldi’s tea without sugar and add stevia.

A glass of milk allowed but not too many. Cream or creamers is good as is fat so cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, etc. Butter is allowed in coffee to give extra fat and energy.

Without carbs, your body must adjust to the new diet. You can do it but it will take time, discipline, and a little scouting to find recipes best for a low carb diet. They are out there and I will share some of my finds. If you eat some of your favorite foods sparingly, it is possible to succeed with a low carb diet. You might not see the weight loss on the scale but you will notice in your clothes as with time you can take off your pants without unbuttoning them. You will notice changes with your body. Keep the faith and thanks for listening. Your energy level will also rise with adjustment to the new diet.

Would you care to add any advice?

For the coming week: I will leave you with this video. This is my favorite example of plagiarism which comes in many forms. It comes to a point: is anything really ours or sacred or should we just keep dessert for ourself? And for me, the questions remains why do I prefer Coldplay to Mr. Satriani because I can identify this as Joe Satriani’s work. Why in the gym, do I prefer listening to Coldplay instead of Satriani while running?

Coldplay and Joe Satrini settled the lawsuit but it remains for me one of the best examples of plagiarism in many forms bringing to light a new term “Subliminal Plagiarism.”

So, what can we do as some people don’t respect copyrights? Keep it to yourself for a rainy day or be discovered posthumously after death like the first volume of Emily Dickinson’s book of poems.

What do you think? Any thoughts on this matter? How do you give credit to those who deserve or do you swallow those words? Thanks for listening! Have a great week!!

Note to self: I discovered I repeated myself in an earlier post about this same subject two years ago. Does this mean “I plagiarized myself?” or am “I like a running record playing my same old favorites?”

Unfortunately, my likes of music and artists rarely change, so I am like a book easily read. I do have a few poems I want discovered before my death…

“I am an open book but I don’t show my footnotes.”

Source: husband when I mentioned some things you can say and some you shouldn’t.

I was talking about Bugsy Malone the other day regarding appearances can be deceiving. Then someone brought up Spud Webb, a retired professional basketball player known for winning a slam dunk contest despite being one of the shortest players in NBA history. Then I realized looking up a few facts that the person being spoken about was Muggsy Bogues and my memory deceived me as it was not Bugsy Malone. An American former basketball player who at 5 feet 3 inches was the shortest player ever to play in the National Basketball Association.

There is a lot of information about his stats, his background, net worth, film and movies appearances of which I will let you do the work. However, why am I writing about him?

I think I was referencing “The Art of War” (Sun Tsu).

In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack: the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers. Consider the timing of what you do….how can this lesson apply to us? We might not understand the mechanics of basketball but we can appreciate the grace and beauty of the basketball player knowing when to take his or her shots.

Knowing that height does not matter as where there is a will, there is a way. Final thoughts: I will always appreciate basketball because to me it seems you only have to dunk the ball in the basket. Although there may be many rules, the end result is the same. And as for Bugsy Malone, I do like his movies but now I know a little about the other Muggsy and Spud. One can never know too many basketball players defying the odds or too few readings of “The Art of War.” Those are my final thoughts before Monday.

Thanks for listening! Have a great week.

Rain and no barbecue today.
Rain bands pour down on granddaughter’s plants.
No water needed for bird bath.
This plant produced some white flowers.
As the sunflower kneels down to the rain….
The concrete frog rules the roost seen on the stump of the fallen oak. We need not fear tree falling as the wind picks up and the banners of rain fall down.

‘If loving shoes is a crime . . . I’m looking at life without parole.’ Brian Atwood.

Photo by jan valle on

Sometimes the biggest worry is “What shoes should I wear?”

Photo by Alexandra Maria on

It is not abstract but concrete. It comes in more than one color composed of some height and can be described by adjectives, sometimes nouns and mostly it is something we all need. Depending on our differences in climate, disposition, needs or cultural or just a need for comfort, we may park at the door instead of wearing inside the home.

Photo by Wellington Cunha on

Sometimes we have to accept that not all shoes will be the same on a person. How we wear them depends often on where our shoes have tread or where others have tread on us wearing them shoes….so,

Photo by Burst on

Wherever you find them shoes, remember you might outgrow, outwear, or just sometime need a new pair of shoes…and to that, congrats as that means you are growing and needing a new pair.

Photo by Bess Hamiti on

So you may find a new shoe store, new books, new friends and you talk about new things because you are no longer at the same shoe store finding the same old shoes, reading the same old papers or books, or talking about the same old things.

Photo by wendel moretti on

You have taken off the old shoes, the old stuffiness, the heat index and put on some new shoes.

Keep on trying on shoes….enjoy your weekend!

Around the same time the sunflowers bloomed, I found out that I passed my English 6-12 exam for re-certification. This is always a challenge as one never knows what to expect from the questions and the essay. I have been out of school for awhile but I passed and now will study for the Reading test which is in October. Hopefully, I will be able to add this certification to my certificate also! This will be the last time for re-certification before I turn in the hat.

As for the sunflowers, I planted a few tiny ones also to the immediate right near the blackberry bush I planted. I went to the same vendor and for $12 he gave me 4 more + 2=6 including a beautiful cactus plant which I planted in a pot. He told me that if he is there next summer, he will have more for me. I showed him pictures of the sunflowers. He told me that I was one of the few who said they were coming and showed up.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all you need to do in life is show up on time? Although half of the battle might be won by doing this…..

A poetry which tells a story is called slam poetry and one of the more recognized slam poets is George “G” Yamazawa from Durham, Carolina. He was born in 1990 and raised in a Buddhist family. When I look at some of his poems, I am reminded of Blondie and her hit “Rapture.”

I found this today going through some of my old papers and writing. I had written this piece for a young man about five years ago. He wanted this for some educational enterprise he was working for and paid me for the writing. As I was reviewing this, some old memories returned of me telling my freshmen students that the first rapper was Blondie. Most did not know of her, so I found a video of her. Then there was the usual, “No,” and the shaking of heads and the giggles.

I continue reading, “Similar to the way “G’ is reaching mainstream audience, as did Blondie with the introduction of the song “Rapture” in 1980. Blondie brought rap and the song “Rapture” to number 1 in 1980. The song was not about fitting in with the mainstream but instead breaking barriers. The song was inspired by events in the African American communities at the time.

You go out at night, eatin’ cars

You eat Cadillacs, Lincolns too

Mercuries and Subarus….

Different interpretations for everyone but both genres of songs are about breaking barriers. Slam poetry and the music of Blondie reach different audiences with similar results.

And that is all I have to say….still the music I listen to at the Health Club pounding away on the running machine. As for Yamazawa…who? My students might laugh but she was the forerunner and still going strong. We forget him but Blondie we still google or ask Alexa, “play Rapture.”

Thanks for listening. And I just sampled the new WordPress format. That was interesting.

Nice after the rain to see growth. Reading an old journal from my time in South Korea: Sept. 28 The rain falls softly outside my window once again. Tomorrow Chusok season will begin. Everyone who is Korean seems to be shopping.

From a couple of day prior: They caught the other spies in South Korea. It was fascinating to watch all the guerrilla tactics that went on. I wonder if I have ever taught any North Korean spies. What a marvelous cover, to be a University student studying English at Jeonju University!
(I remember the tanks, tear gas…the Koreans don’t mess around with rioters or dissenters).
October 9th-Went with two Korean teachers, Ms Ko and Mr. Hun to the country. He mentioned the teacher’s union and called Mr. Chung, VP-a dictator. A Canadian teacher tells me K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple). I feel flustered about his crass thinking of Koreans.He tells me “they don’t look further than their armpit.” I don’t know what to say to him. I don’t think this way. I notice the country has developed very quickly. I went to the acupuncturist and was stuck with 6 needles in my back. Today when I came home, one of the locks on the door was unlocked as if someone had tried to enter. Going to sleep. Tired.

Note to self-Nice to be an armchair traveler and remember those days.

I am going to write about the lost art of phone book directories. I am a phone book person I realized today. I grew up using phone books to find names, restaurants, location of school, employment agencies, and everything else now covered by Google.

Phone books were an important part of my past and controlled some chaos for me as I like order. I read everything including phone books. The phone book enabled an old friend and her husband visiting the states from London to find me in 2008. I love phone books. I even taught a remedial reading class in the early 2000’s using a phone book. They didn’t like to read anything, so I made a game of it using the library, nearby locations, the parking lot of the teacher’s car including license plates (which did not endear me to the Assistant Principal) and a few phone books.

The art of controlling chaos: now we have Google but a google search can get like 123,456 hits. I like the small numbers in the phone book and how the names are lined up alphabetically, so even a non-native speaker of English can find the name or location. So in the yellow pages known as “the original search machine” I can find burglar alarms-monitoring & system; coupons for dentists; to tax return preparation. For someone who craves order, I hesitate to throw away a phone book from 2018. We haven’t received any on our doorstep lately and what if I need the location of the nearest private school or a restaurant.

I like it. I like the old-fashioned way of looking things up and no device is listening to me or monitoring my activity. The art of controlling chaos means simplified, doesn’t it? My mind craves simplicity like the water rolling off the duck’s back. Sometimes you can’t improve on this but I guess I need to get rid of this phone book. We are in a disposable society and my google just replaced any phone book you have.

So there….

Yesterday my meter of wanting to be in the truck hit negative much like the temperatures of late. It will be good to get home. But it will be a short weekend from the sounds of it. We may be going back to being home every weekend for the next few weeks. I was awake […]

What’s next — mrswrangler

“Trump Does the Unthinkable” by Liz Crokin can be found under Post Scripts posted Monday August 27, 2018. Post Scripts is a blogger on WordPress. I tried to re-post but I was unable to.

I have to say that when I read this I thought of my husband, my father and many who have rubbed me the wrong way but I realized that despite their flaws, the enemies they make at times, and the people on social media who drop them because of their ‘in your face’ comments that their friends are faithful, strong, and stalwart. I am more polite and don’t lose as many bloggers although I have lost a few including one from New York and a few from Canada. Were they ever really interested in what I had to say? I am a little more politically correct than the husband is and most of the time keep my views in the middle. However, yesterday I read some “hate” spewing from a blogger’s comments about the former President Trump and it did seem like a cold slap in the face.

This morning Mike went for a walk with the pug and came in early because it began to storm. He was talking with our neighbor about his boat and his cancer operation coming up. The neighbor related a story about the relative-a cousin of a cousin or whatever-committing suicide when they discovered more that was wrong with him.

Exasperated, I said, “Why would he tell you something like that?”

My husband said, “I am not going to commit suicide. I want to be around a long time for you. Suicide is weak. But I can understand his position.”

I was angry at waking up on a Saturday morning to this conversation, so I took to my respite-social media and found this old but favorite article under the small enclave community I follow nearby. I had to repost. I thought of all the times I was furious at some of the men in my life but I can truly appreciate they are who they say they be. Thanks for listening.

I wish more readers would take the time to read and form and their own opinions. If you desire to drop me, so be it. I know I am not with the crowd or hip but it is a long rainy day out there and if you have a minute, read this.