Celebrating my husband

Dinner the evening he retired: April 28, 2016

Dinner the evening he retired: April 28, 2016

This is what retirement looks like on my extraordinary husband. Retirement day was April 28th, 2016.

We spent the night at a local resort, dining for 2.25 hours on a meal deserving of a king because that’s how I view my husband.

 

 

 

 

 

Holding up his lanyard that no longer includes his security badge

Holding up his lanyard that no longer includes his security badge

Just a few hours earlier, Jerry arrived home from his very last commute from work and I greeted him with a custom made sign that I designed and had made at my local Kinkos location.

And guess what, folks?! Today’s Monday and quite frankly my dear, he doesn’t give a damn.

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280A lawyer runs a stop sign and gets pulled over by a sheriff. He thinks he’s smarter being a big-shot New York lawyer and has a better education than a sheriff from West Virginia.

The sheriff asks for license and registration. The lawyer asks, “What for?”

The sheriff responds, “You didn’t come to a complete stop at the stop sign.”

The lawyer says, “I slowed down and no one was coming.”

“You still didn’t come to a complete stop. License and registration please,” says the sheriff impatiently.

The lawyer says, “If you can show me the legal difference between a slow down and a stop, I’ll give you my license and registration and you can give me the ticket. If not, you let me go and don’t give me the ticket.”

The sheriff says, “That sounds fair, please exit your vehicle.”

The lawyer steps out and the sheriff takes out his nightstick and starts beating the lawyer with it.

The sheriff then says, “Do you want me to stop, or just slow down?”

 

Thanks, Mom, for not outing me

Novelist in the making

Novelist in the making

My writing journey began at the age of four. My brother and sister had already started their school careers but being the youngest, I was stuck at home, resentful that I wasn’t old enough to join their ranks.

My mother was the fastest typist I had ever seen in all my four years. One day, fully mesmerized by my mother’s rapid-fire key pushing, I asked if I could try it out because I had nothing to do but had something to say. I lacked the prose skills to attack such an endeavor but truth be told, I was more interested in pounding on the keys than I was in making any sense. Two pages and numerous typewriter ribbon and key jams later, I completed my first manuscript.

In those days, my entire family sat at the dinner table to consume the evening repast. This was an opportunity for each of us to share what transpired during our day. With much frustration and boredom, I waited for my siblings to finish relaying the drivel of their scholastic school days so that I could read the magnum opus that I managed to produce in one sitting at the typewriter. Mom sat next to me, and looking over my should said, “Irene, it’s your turn. I see you have lots written on those pages so you better get started.”

Mom and dad on their wedding day

Mom and dad on their wedding day

So I did. I launched into a magnificent story – the gist of which I fail to remember decades later – but I delivered this story with great conviction and a feeling of growing self-importance. My  mother silently read along with me, nodding her head as I read each paragraph, encouraging me with a smile now and then. A good ten minutes later I reached the end of my manuscript and with great flourish, I folded the pages in half and placed them on my lap. Mom and Dad were impressed; my big brother and sister dubious; I was in heaven.

Here’s a brief example of what my first manuscript looked like:

ashepigu  a;lskhg  iwyhasi8tq  cmiuqtgpigub  1tpdp

For ten minutes and two pages I read typed gibberish with bravado and my mother never gave away my secret. She didn’t out me. I am certain that Mom’s encouragement and acceptance of my efforts contributed to my infatuation with all things reading and writing.

For the past four years I’ve been in the ranks of writers who submit, get rejected, and submit again. I’ve written two novels, the first of which I queried (seeking literary agency representation) for a year – thus far with no success – and the second of which I’ve just started querying.

I can’t foresee the future, but I do see my mother looking over an agent’s shoulder, nodding and accepting every word I’ve written.

All gibberish aside, I can’t lose with her ongoing support.

 

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280This week is retirement week in my household (husband retires Thursday the 28th) so it’s only fitting that this week’s funny celebrates the working class where we’ve all been most of our lives.

No man goes before his time – unless the boss leaves early. – Groucho Marx

A consultant is a man who knows 157 ways to make love but doesn’t know any women. – Anonymous

Reheating leftover fish in the office microwave should be a fireable offense. – Anonymous

Guys with neck tattoos love asking, “Are ya’ll hirin’?” – Rock @The MichaelRock

The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one. – Oscar Wilde

I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else. – Lily Tomlin

Whenever I call a company and get put on hold, I never really feel like I’m being held. – Randy Glasbergen

And finally …

It’s true that hard work never killed anybody but I figure, why take the chance? – Ronald Reagan

 

 

Retirement with an awesome person

No, my husband isn’t retired quite yet but as of today there are only eight more work days until he is retired. He is certainly excited, but his excitement is tempered with the realization that after 38 years with Boeing as a trusted, well-respected, structures engineer, those skills will no longer be needed from him. Others at the company will have to take over his work, and let me tell you, that’ll be a difficult task for them to accomplish.

airplane-422280_640Guess what? You can’t take off or land without the airplane part that my husband was responsible for. Oh sure, there are many planes in the Boeing system but Jerry was intimately involved with several generations of those planes.

 

air-force-one-658419_640

Even the President of the United States relies on landing gear to get from point A to B and back again. That’s right, the current President and several before him should be thanking Jerry for having the skill level my husband has, I mean, just think about it, the entire weight of an airplane is on the nose and main landing gears … you really, really want them to be structurally sound.

This same extraordinary engineer is also my husband and has been since February of 2000. And guess what? I get to be a part of his retirement experience and I am privileged to be able to grow old (older) with him for many years to come.

The Boeing Company was honored to have my husband in their employ for thirty-eight 38!!!!! years.

Now I get to have him all to myself.

Irene & Jerry cocktail timeAnd that makes me extremely happy.

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Friday the 22nd is Earth Day. Here are some amusing comments about the day. The first four entries are from Jimmy Kimmel:

I never know what to get the Earth for Earth Day so I just bought it an iTunes gift card and buried it.”

Yesterday was Earth Day and today we went right back to throwing our Jamba Juice cups in the rainforest.

Happy Earth Day. Earth Day was founded in 1970. It’s the one day of the year we tell the Earth we love it. With the other 364 days we try to kill it.

They estimate that a billion people participated in Earth Day activities. Then they all went back to driving their SUVs to the gym.

At the Copenhagen climate summit – where they talk about the environment, you know, saving the environment – the delegates had 1200 limousines and 140 private jets – or as they call that in Malibu, Earth Day. – Jay Leno

In honor of Earth Day, Apple announced that it will recycle all of its used products for free. That’s right, they’re recycling Apple products. And then Samsung said, “Beat you to it.” – Jimmy Fallon

 

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Depending on where you live, you’re either enjoying a warm and sunny spring season or you’re concerned about an unseasonal snow storm. Either way, you’ll appreciate these weather-related jokes:

We use a really strong sun block when we go to the beach with the kids. It’s SPF 80: you squeeze the tube and a sweater comes out.

As we waited for the bus in the frosty weather, the woman next to me mentioned that she makes a lot of mistakes when texting in the cold. I nodded knowingly, “It’s early signs of typothermia.”

Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation.

Why does moisture destroy leather? When it’s raining, cows don’t go up to the farmhouse yelling, “Let us in! We’re all wearing leather! We’re going to ruin the whole outfit here!”

…and mercifully, the last joke:

Electricity is just organized lightning.

 

 

The Overnight Success Myth

A blog I follow, Story Fix 2.0, hosted by Larry Brooks, featured a guest piece written by Art Holcomb on The Nature of Talent. (Excerpts of his article are in italics, indented below.)

Someone, please help me be creative!

Someone, please help me be creative!

Even a writer as talented as Mr. Holcomb has dry spells; dry spells that can even last  for eleven years, as was the case for him. He was so desperate to write himself out of the desert and into the lush forest, he drove 120 miles once a week to attend a writing class with science fiction writer, David Gerrold. That writer had Art doing the really hard work to where eventually Art’s productivity and quality came back.

… I got back in touch with my abilities once I realized that creativity works best in harness and under the thumb of a good work ethic.

Writing takes skill, but even more so, it takes talent. Writers are artists whose tools are not paints or charcoal pencils, but whose tools are the written word. Whether art is appreciated on a canvas or the pages of a paperback book, the receiver of that craft has a choice to walk on past the canvas/put down the book, or absorb it for all it is worth.

…for each person willing to do the work, there is a fire that can live forever inside of you. A fire to create, which warms the soul and ignites the imagination. My life would be hollow without it and I am grateful every day that I get to write and create and weave stories that can move friends and strangers alike.

Office worker overworkedI learned what being a disciplined writer is by participating in the 2015 NaNoWriMo event. I had to write every day in order to complete a novel in just one month’s time, and I did. In less than 30 days, I learned what Art Holcomb learned, if I’m willing to fight for it, my talent will emerge and create a piece of art at which others will want to pause so they can fully appreciate what has been crafted.

After input from my Beta readers and numerous edits, I am on the verge of querying that novel – my second – in an effort to secure agent representation and eventual publication so that the byproduct of my craft can be enjoyed by the masses.

There is no such thing as overnight success.

True, the passage of time and an extraordinary amount of hard work don’t guarantee success, but it’s a damn good place to start. That applies to whatever you’re doing.

You’ve got to put in the time to earn the dime.

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280An elderly man lay dying in his bed. In death’s agony, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite chocolate chip cookies wafting up the stairs. He gathered his remaining strength and lifted himself from the bed.

Leaning against the wall he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort, forced himself down the stairs, gripping the railing with both hands.

With labored breath, he leaned against the doorframe of the kitchen and gazed at the delightful site before him. Were it not for death’s agony he would have thought himself already in heaven: there spread out upon racks on the kitchen table and counters were literally hundreds of his favorite cookie! Was it heaven or was it one final act of heroic love from his devoted wife, seeing to it that he left his world a happy man?

Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself toward the table, landing on his knees in a rumpled posture. His parched lips parted, imagining the wondrous taste of the cookie as though it was already in his mouth. He knew he could die a happy man if he could taste just one of those warm, gooey cookies.

“Stay out of those,” his wife said, “they’re for the funeral.”

Last things

april-2016-1148261_640My husband is retiring the end of April at the age of 59, the same age as did my father. I can’t recall the reason why Dad chose 59 as his retirement age. Maybe he felt the same way my husband does:

It was time.

Yes, it’s time, and my husband and I have been very diligent throughout our marriage – and before – making prudent financial decisions that will enable a somewhat early retirement compared to others. But did Jerry and I ever feel we robbed ourselves of enjoyment while being frugal? Not at all.

Between us, we financially assisted three daughters through college, still managing to travel to Hawaii every few years and other low-budget trips in-between. We’ve had our fair share of vehicles, not fancy ones, but safe metal encasements with four wheels each.:-)

But this post isn’t about that, it’s about marking “lasts” while remembering the “firsts.” Here are some of the lasts that have already occurred and that are yet to occur:

  • Voting one last time for – or against – the SPEEA engineering union contract that comes up for negotiation every few years. Done;
  • Last at-work employee Holiday potluck. Done;
  • Last Boeing Holiday break that gives employees a week or so off during Christmas/New Years (who needs it when every day during retirement is a break from work?) Done;
  • Last employee performance review. Done;
  • Jerry’s last Boeing paycheck will be received in May of this year. The first one was in June 1978;
  • On Thursday, April 28th: he’ll shut off the last 3:45 am wake-up alarm, he’ll drive the last commute to/from Everett, when he walks through the door later that day, I’ll say my last, “Yay, you!” which I have said to him pretty much every day he comes home from work.

Wow. Looking forward to creating some new firsts once he’s retired, starting with:  Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Okay, these three very brief jokes might make you groan rather than laugh, but I’m providing them for you anyway:

I was walking along the ocean – that’s generally where you’ll find the beach – looking for ashtrays in their wild state.

*****

I have a large seashell collection. It’s so large, I keep it on beaches all over the world.

*****

Adam to Eve: “Hey! I wear the plants in this family!”

Thanks for putting up with my lameness. I hope your week is far better than my jokes!

I Stopped and Picked up a Man and His pregnant Wife on a Rainy Night in Seattle in 1977

Sharing this post since I’m in the Puget Sound area of Washington state, hoping that if this story applies to you, you’ll contact the 70-year old, original blogger of this post.

Kindness Blog

I just figured out that I may be able to find out how this story ended after all these years.

I was southbound on I5 on a week night in the early autumn of 1977. Rain was pouring down and the interstate was awash. I was driving an orange, 1973 BMW tii when I saw a crazy man in the MIDDLE of I5 jumping up and down and waving his arms. I slowed down and stopped about 300 yards away from his stalled car.

He ran up to my window and shouted;

“my wife and I were going to the hospital, she is in labor and I ran out of gas can you take us the rest of the way!!!?”

He jumped in the back seat and I BACKED up along I5 in the DARK, in the RAIN about 300 yards. I got out and helped his wife into the…

View original post 199 more words

The man in the tree – Seattle, Washington

city-skyline-693502_640It seems we’re so trained to treat the world as our own personal entertainment venue that when it comes to a mentally challenged man’s fate, we don’t give a shit what happens to him. We the inconvenienced public stand at the base of an 80 foot tree into which he’s climbed in one of the busiest sections of downtown Seattle, Washington and we shout:

“Shoot him!”

Jump!”

What the hell is wrong with us that we so carelessly thrust our complete lack of empathy at this man with words that could very well have ended his life right before our eyes?

Frack you

those who treated this human being’s frailty with such callousness!

Frack you!

 

The mid-life crisis myth

porsche-826385_640The Middle-Age Surge written by columnist, David Brooks, is a fabulous expose on what it really means to be living in ones “middle ages.” He reviews the book, Life Reimagined, by Barbara Bradley Hagerty while also proposing that the idea of mid-life crisis is truly a myth that many don’t see as being applicable to them. I mean seriously, people, how many friends or coworkers of yours purchased a zippy sports car when they hit their mid-40s or later?

Many years ago I briefly dated a guy who drove a gold-colored early model Porsche. On my third date with him, I said, “You know what they say about guys who drive Porsches, don’t you?” His response was nowhere near the statement I was going to provide that centered around over-compensation for short-comings. He said, “Yeah,  they have lots of money.”

Not even close.

Anyway, Mr. Brooks quotes theologian Karl Barth who described midlife in this manner:

The sowing is behind; now is the time to reap. The run has been taken; now is the time to leap. Preparation has been made; now is the time for the venture of the work itself.

Two old ladies causing troubleI can unabashedly declare that I can look back on my life with a more refined foundation of wisdom;  I can move forward, not haphazardly, but with focus and intent. I know what’s important to accomplish before my time on this earth comes to an end, and I’m not going to let anything get in the way of my doing so. (So watch out publishers, I’m knocking on your doors!)

The people who find meaning at this stage often realize the way up is down. They get off that supervisor’s perch and put themselves in direct contact with the people they can help the most. They accept that certain glorious youthful dreams won’t be realized, but other, more relational jobs turn out to be more fulfilling.

One of the conclusions the columnist comes to is that the mature mid-life folks “are less likely, given all the judgments that have been made, to care about what other people think.”

And that describes me to a T.

See also:

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280A dose of spring fever:

Four high school boys afflicted with spring fever skipped morning classes.

When they arrived at the school some time after lunch period, they reported to the teacher that they had a flat tire on the way to school.

Much to their relief, she smiled and said, “Well, you missed a test today.” But then she said, “Take seats apart from one another and get out a piece of paper and a pencil.”

Still smiling, she waited for the boys to sit down, then she said,

“First question, which tire was flat?”

Blind faith

angry-32268_640Last year I wrote an article, I am not Donald Trump, to separate myself from a presidential candidate who has no social and moral filters in which to make appropriate decisions and who is not able to talk in a manner that does not alienate the masses.

Today’s article is being posted to separate myself from all those who have crawled out of their hiding places in support of Trump. Where did these people come from?

Oh my gosh. I want to discover the formula that will get them to go back under their rocks or into their caves until they learn how to discern truth from lies, acceptance from bigotry, and love from hate.

Test someone’s character before you side with them.

The definition of blind faith: belief without true understanding, perception or discrimination

Many Americans seem to be too readily embracing rhetoric that – quite frankly and descriptively – appears to be coming out of a person’s ass; rhetoric that these Americans must not be vetting because for them to swallow it hook, line, and sinker, one must conclude that they’ve not checked the ingredients on the box before ingesting it.

I would like to assume that when considering the best candidate for the highest office in the United States, one would make sure that the behavior and statements from said candidate will represent the whole of the United States in the best way possible. That the chosen candidate will be able to work with, not against, our allies and those who might some day become our allies, so that world peace becomes a reality in our lifetime, not just a fantasy held back because of ignorance, short sightedness, and intolerance.

See also: Blind fanaticism

Lighten up Mondays

This Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day so I thought I’d post a bit of Irish humor to start the week.

landscape-536173_1280A young Irishman sat at a pub in the New World, drinking beer and conversing with the barkeep. Another comes in and sits beside him.

He says how you do and hears the lilt and says you be Irish?

Yes I am.

The first man yells barkeep, give us another round and one for my friend here. He’s from the mother country as well.

The second man asks, so where in the old country ye from?

Dublin responds the first. Dublin you say, so am I, and the second man hollers barkeep, bring us another round and a shot of your best Irish Whiskey for me and my friend here.

Afterwards, the first man asks from where in Dublin and the second man responds with the street and the first man says well I’ll be, so am I, and yells, barkeep, another pair of beers and Irish Whiskey for the pair of us.

The phone behind the bar rings and the barkeep answers it. The owner of the pub asks how’s business. The barkeep responds, not too bad, the O’Malley twins are here getting drunk again.

I still have something to say, 700 posts later

Typist caricatureI started this Blog site in September 2011. Five and a half years later I’ve reached a milestone with this entry: my 700th post.

I don’t know what is the average survival rate of a Blog. I guess as long as the host has something to say and is willing to be consistent in her/his efforts, it can last quite some time.

Four years after the death of my father to Alzheimer’s disease I started looking into what all this blogging crapola was about. I felt my experience as a caregiver, coupled with my work as a long-term care ombudsman for the State of Washington (now retired), gave me ample ammunition for subject matters that relate to our aging population … but not just to our aging population, to all of you who are faced with the struggles inherent from having aging loved ones.

About half way through my Blogging experience I changed the “About this Blog” portion of my website to reflect that there is a commonality among those problems experienced by young and old alike. Those problems may look somewhat different on the outside but all of them involve the following sentiment:

Life sometimes throws curve balls at us for which none of us are prepared.

I guess I still maintain this Blog because I still have something to say, and some people out there still need to hear it.

basket-161577_640I witnessed a sad occurrence at my local grocery store the other day. Continue reading

Celebrating small comforts

Every year, a “married” pair of Mallard ducks arrives in my neighborhood and quite frequently, they paddle around in the drainage ditch in front of our home. Now I’m not so naive as to think that it’s the same pair that arrive each year, but I pretend that is the case and I’ve named them Fred and Ethel.

Meet my spring time visitors. I love the constancy of seeing them each spring, or thereabouts. When I came home from an early appointment this morning, they were waiting for me. The delight I felt, and expressed, would have surprised most people … but then again, they probably don’t know how much comfort I find in the predictable and expected. But I’m certain I’m not the only one who doesn’t mind a bit of same-o, same-o now and again. Right?20160309_094908

20160309_094847

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Since tomorrow is International Women’s Day, I’ve decided to post a couple jokes that poke fun at the opposite sex.

A woman’s husband dies. He had $20,000 to his name. After everything is done at the funeral home and cemetery, she tells her closest friend that there is no money left.

“How can that be? You told me he had 20 grand a few days before he died. How could you possibly be broke?”

“Well, the funeral cost $6,500, and of course I had to make the obligatory donation for the church and the organist and all. That was $500 and I spent another $500 for the wake, food and drinks, you know. The rest went for the memorial stone.”

“$12,500 for the memorial stone? My God, how big was it?”

“Three carats.”

The next one’s a real doozy … Continue reading

Blind fanaticism

We get excited when someone says something we want to hear.

Whether it’s a compliment after getting a radically different, maybe ill-advised, new haircut, or someone feels or thinks the way we do –  when the haircut compliment is delivered or someone says something to confirm what we believe or think, we are over the moon with excitement.

Looking back, I bet your best friend’s compliment about your haircut, clothing choice, or even boyfriend choice made you feel absolutely fabulous. Why? Because she said what you wanted to hear regardless of the reality of the situation.

Fifteen years later you see photos of yourself with the after effects of the aforementioned choices and you come to the instant realization that your BFF was lying just to make you feel good. She wanted you to be on her side so she said what you wanted to hear.

fans-867557_640That’s what Donald Trump is doing. He’s not the only one doing it, but he’s doing it beautifully.

Evidently he’s saying what some people want to hear about our economy, our border neighbors, or other-than-mainstream religions, and they’re buying Trump for President t-shirts faster than a stampede of people can respond to a Kmart blue light special.

By all means, be encouraged by what your possible choice for candidate says, but use your brain and apply the reality test to the statements they make. I’ll make it easy for you: after every political debate, newspapers and other media post fact checker comments in response to what candidates vomit during the course of their narcissistic diatribes. Read them.

Not only will you be astonished at the amount of lies and/or over exaggerations spewing from the mouths of current candidates running for the President of the United States, but you’ll also challenge the whole electoral process, maybe you’ll even throw up your hands and decide that it’s all a sham and nothing good can come of it so why vote?

That’s not a good course of action, and I’ll tell you why. Continue reading

An Artist’s Paranoia

I’m one of countless artists in the world who work in solitude and hope for public acknowledgement some day down the line.

signs-1172211_640I happen to be a writer, fiction primarily, but there are many other artistic crafts: painting, drawing, sculpting, metal work, woodworking, stained glass, and on and on and on. Bottom line, artists create and hope beyond all hope that what they create is liked by the masses … or at least one person who is not related to them, or financially obligated to them, or otherwise committed to the person doing the artistry.

I belong to several writing groups on social media. A day doesn’t go by that one of us writer’s doesn’t post a rant or a tear-filled comment such as:

Okay everyone,  an agent requested my manuscript last week and said she’d have a look-see over the weekend … it’s now Thursday and I haven’t heard from her … Did she hate my manuscript? Did she even read it? Should I give up as a writer? What in God’s name should I do?

Sound exaggerated? It’s not. Continue reading

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Why leap years? The reason for this extra day is because most calendars are based on the assumption that there are 365 days in a year, when in fact, there are actually 365 and one-quarter days. To keep our modern Gregorian calendar in sync with the tropical calendar, every four years we add an extra day to February. Although the chances of a leap birthday are one in 1,461, imagine waiting four years for your real birthday and hearing endless jokes about being three when you’re really 12.

So what does this mean to those born on February 29th?

  1. Having people respond with “that sucks” when you tell them your birth date;
  2. And being asked if it’s like the movie Leap Year;
  3. Which it’s not, so you inevitably have to explain how it actually works;
  4. And even after explaining that it is once every four years, they still want to guess how old you are;
  5. Which is inevitably always wrong;
  6. So you correct them and put up with their jokes about being SUPER young;
  7. And for some reason, people think you’re lying when you tell them you were born on leap year;
  8. So you have to show them your ID;
  9. And then they make another remark about how you don’t look your leap year age;
  10. During non-leap years, people always want to remind you that it’s not your real birthday;
  11. So you end up with less presents;
  12. And most of the milestone birthdays, like 18 and 21, don’t fall on leap years;
  13. So you have to go to the bar on March 1st, even though you’ve been celebrating February 28 as your birthday most of your life;
  14. Which is only one day, but it’s a frustration that nobody else understands.Angry woman

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Presidents’ Day was last Monday, but today is George Washington’s birthday so I’m sticking with the presidential theme with the following:

Dick Cheney walks into the Oval Office and sees the President whooping and hollering.

“What’s the matter, Mr. President?” the Vice President inquired.

“Nothing at all. I just done finished a jigsaw puzzle in record time!”

“How long did it take you?”

“Well, the box said 3 to 5 years but I did it in a month.”

And here’s another joke:

Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Bill Gates all died in a plane crash and went to meet their Maker.

The supreme deity turned to Al and asked, “Tell what is important about yourself.” Al responded that he felt the earth was of the ultimate importance and that it was crucial to protect the earth’s ecological system.

God looked to Al and said, “I like the way you think, come sit at my left hand.”

God then asked Bill Clinton what he revered most. Bill Clinton responded that he felt people and their personal choices were most important. God said, “I like the way you think, come sit at my right hand.”

God then turned to Bill Gates who was staring at him indignantly. God asked, “What is your problem, Mr. Gates?”

Bill Gates responded, “I think you’re sitting in my chair!”

Small acts of kindness, huge benefit

Sick woman in bedThe other day I showed up ten minutes before my local pharmacy opened, wanting to be sure to get immediate assistance when I brought in a prescription to be filled.

Three extraordinary – yet small – things happened at that early hour when I was feeling less than able to even stand while I waited for the pharmacy gate to open.

  1. A store clerk that was doing some pricing procedures in the main part of the store in front of the pharmacy greeted me, asked how I was doing, and when I responded, “Not so great, actually” offered to help me to the pharmacy bench.
  2. Then the pharmacist opened the pharmacy early, 8:55 am, and told me my prescription would be ready in 10 minutes. I then left the pharmacy to go to the women’s room and as I was walking back, the third kindness occurred.
  3. The store clerk who had greeted me upon my arrival in the pharmacy area took the time to find me at a different area of the store to let me know my prescription was ready.

Big deal, such small courtesies are hardly worth writing a blog piece about, right?

Wrong, they lightened my burden and jump-started my day.

Don’t ever feel your efforts won’t make a difference.

They do, and they have.

 

Positive input from an agent: a welcome gift

idea-152213_640As I’ve mentioned before, positive input about ones writing from someone other than your loved ones or friends is a veritable gift, presented on a silver platter.

Literary agent, Janet Reid, has once again singled out my entry as one that pleased her. She holds almost weekly 100-word writing contests on her blog which I enter in the hopes of being named a winner. That hasn’t happened yet but I’m almost as pleased with being told that my contest submission stood out.

The first time this happened, I posted my entry and her comments, here. What follows is my most recent complimented entry. I’ve underlined the required 10 words that must be included in each submission, and I’ve put in bold the sentence she liked most, which happens to be the last sentence. Her comment about my entry: “This entry cracked me up completely, especially this punch line.”

Here’s my submission:

The high school teacher sat with his student to go over her research paper.

“It’s Switzerland, not Switserland.”

“Before you criticize me, you know that’s the way it sounds.”

“Tell that to the originators of the exceptional country that’s served as a safe, neutral world-entity for many years.”

“How many years?”

“Look, I’m the teacher, not you. It’s your paper we’re correcting, not mine.”

“Sorry.”

Mr. Carmichael turned the page and shook his head.

“It’s Oxfam, not Oxfan.”

“Says who?”

“Says everyone. Why the errors, Jennifer?”

“That’s how it arrived.”

“Excuse me?”

“I bought it, not my fault.”

Female writer with streak of gray hairI’ll keep on submitting to Janet Reid in the hopes she’ll fall in love with my entry and say something affirmative about it once again. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

 

 

 

 

 

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280When Will Rogers was being taken to the White House to meet President Calvin Coolidge, Vice President Dawes cautioned him not to try to be funny because the President had no sense of humor whatsoever.

Undaunted, Rogers bet the Vice-President that he could have Coolidge laughing within 20 seconds.

When the formal introduction was made, Dawes began by saying, “Mr. President, may I introduce my friend, Mr. Will Rogers.”

Rogers held out his hand and with a questioning look said, “Pardon me, I didn’t quite get the name.”

Coolidge roared with laughter; Rogers won the wager.

Lighten up Mondays

landscape-536173_1280Two Generals of the Napoleonic era were watching a battle from a nearby bluff. Suddenly a stray bullet struck one of them in the shoulder. Without a moment’s pause, the General turned to his aide and said, “Fetch me my red jacket.”

As the aide rushed to comply, the wounded General turned to the other General and explained that he didn’t want the men to be demoralized by knowing he was wounded, thus the reason for the red jacket.

The other General was clearly impressed. At that very moment, a cannonball shrieked between the two men, the wind from its passing, rocking them both back on their heels.

After a moment, the second General turned to his aide and commanded, “Fetch me my brown trousers, will you?”

In between novels: magazine publication

I’ve just recently distributed my second novel to my Beta readers after three extensive edits on my part. I’ve been keeping busy while waiting for their input. A writer needs to write – or at the very least, a writer needs to do writer stuff.

This week I submitted two different short stories to publications.

wooden-figures-1007134_640I submitted my short story BAD TEACHERS to Agni Magazine, published at Boston University. Agni Magazine sees literature and the arts as part of a broad, ongoing cultural conversation that every society needs to remain vibrant and alive. Their writers and artists hold a mirror up to nature, mankind, the world; they courageously reflect their age, for better or worse; and their work provokes perceptions and thoughts that help us understand and respond to our age. Bad Teachers reflects modern man’s tendency to interpret the Hammurabi Code (an eye for an eye) to what suits their intended actions best, regardless of how incorrect the interpretation.

holzfigur-980784_640I also mailed (no online submissions accepted) my short story AN UNJUST PENANCE to The Sun in Chapel Hill, NC. The Sun is an independent, ad-free magazine that for more than forty years has used words and photographs to evoke the splendor and heartache of being human. Knowing that to be the publication’s focus, AN UNJUST PENANCE is just the piece they might be looking for. When young Hugh Nabours discovers his gamma on the floor of the family’s kitchen, he assumes responsibility for the stroke that forever changed his grandmother’s life. Hugh’s struggle to let go of his mantle of guilt is a poignant one.

 

The split personalities of a caregiver

Source: ON LABELS, ROLES AND MARRIAGE WITH ALZHEIMER’S This linked article does a fabulous job of putting a spotlight on the roles we take on when we become caregivers. Does our original role as: wife, husband, son, daughter, brother, sister, disappear when that role-shift takes place?

I’ve known numerous caregivers in my life. I was one.

A younger me with my dapper dad

A younger me with my dapper dad

Before I became a caregiver, I was a daughter. Was I still a daughter once my role as a caregiver became a 24/7 occupation?

It didn’t feel like it when:

  • I had to cut up my father’s food for him
  • I had to pack adult protective underwear when I took him on a walk in the park … just in case
  • I had to correct him for behavior unbecoming of an adult
  • I took him to a doctor appointment and spoke to the doctor on my father’s behalf
  • I tucked him in for a nap so I could get things accomplished without him being tethered to me wherever I went …

Was I his parent? Was I his caregiver?

No. I was his daughter. I took on a variety of roles during the years of my father’s decline with Alzheimer’s, but I was always his daughter. As a matter of fact, never had I felt more like a daughter than during the five years of his illness.

During one of my walks in the park with dad, on his last Father’s Day as it turned out to be, two young men rode their bikes toward us and as they got right up to us, one of the men said, “Happy Father’s Day, Sir.”

That young man saw a daughter and a father, not a caregiver and an old man.

Dad took his parenting role very seriously. By the time I was on my own, he had been actively mentoring and caring for me for twenty-one years.

What’s five years in the grand scheme of things?

A privilege.

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