A sherlock reader

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Today I am grateful for determination.  We who attend the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference are a conglomeration of all that is good about the United States of America.  Boy, that sounds a little smug and self-righteous but I don’t care, because it’s true.


To me people helping people is the core of what makes our nation great.  Also at that core is the many different cultures, ethnicities, ages, various stages of disability and also ability.  The range is vast at the writer’s conference.


I spoke with a Native American, someone from India, England, Australia and even those sometimes strange and different lands of New Jersey and the Great Northeast of Philly.  There were those whom I know have opposing political viewpoints, yet the topic did not come up once.  How refreshing.  Some were  coping with paralyzed spouses, the recent death of family members by illness, others by suicide.  Some have dealt with their own life-threatening illness.  Yet they were there.  Bonding over a topic they love.  Writing.


After a few days I can’t help but describe the “characters”.  Mostly because I am one of them. . . he big babe with the spikey hair, jewelry and scarfs.  If others are still having trouble finding characters for their novel or story, then they need to be more observant.  There is long skirt lady; sport coat guy; lady with a flower headband; guy with the plaid shirts; lady with the walker; young woman with the ponytail; big man with the bigger heart; taller than tall young black man; a few bushy haired ones; lady with mukluk boots; and model man with the kindness of Gandhi.  And they are all wonderful!


But for me the bravest most determined attendee was the Sherlock Holmes look-a-like who read at the Saturday open mic session.  Open mic is one of my favorite features of the conference.  Writing is isolating.  To me the work doesn’t come alive until someone else reads it and/or comments.  Or I read it publicly.  That’s just the best.  Plus I am an audible learner so to hear someone read their “baby” makes it sink in better.  If the words are correctly configured, the emotions soar off the page with the intensity of a pole jumper at the Olympics.  And they did.


I was sitting in one of the last rows when “Sherlock Holmes” read, so it took me a minute to figure out what was going on.  He put on thick glasses and hauled out a magnifying glass big enough to find the murder weapon in a pile of sand.  And he read beautifully.

I told him so when he was done and mentioned my mom who has macular degeneration.  “Her, too?” he asked.  Aha, I was correct in my diagnosis.


When I asked permission to use his picture in my blog and told him how brave I thought he was to stand in front of a crowd and read, even though he might miss a few words, he said, “Oh, that doesn’t bother me.  It’s not being able to drive that makes me crazy.”


We all have something.  Some disability inside or out, that could keep us from doing what we love or what we want to do, however  insignificant or grandiose, but it’s our determination that keeps us moving forward.

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Brown Hair

a me at matt's house pwc

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Today I am grateful for brown hair.  And what in the hell happened to mine?  I took a picture at the Writer’s Conference yesterday and posted it on Facebook.  It wasn’t until later that I looked at it.


How did my mom get to the writer’s conference?  I was shocked at how “light” my hair was.  It threw me so much that at dinner I asked the lady next to me to look at the picture and compare it to the actual hair on my head.  “No, It’s darker than that.  A little.  More salt & pepper.”  She’s dead now!


So this morning, just before I left my sons house I took a day two selfie.  Guess what?  It’s back lit.  It’s brown.  Shut up.

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Being Busy

a frantic woman

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Today I am grateful for being busy.  Oh wow!  It all comes at once.  We watched the baby on Monday and Tuesday, Water aerobics and a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday, and gathering stuff to pack for the weekend.

Then last night they decided to pave the road right outside our bedroom window.  All night.  Still going strong at 3 a.m.!  Am I in New York?  What’s next, Jack-hammers?  And  I got asked to TEACH the water aerobics class (faked it with friends) today and still do the two kid classes after.  Twenty kids in the first class and a kid who screamed bloody murder for the entire half hour in the other class.  I have a headache.  Small wonder. Whew. I’m beat.  It’s going to feel good getting on a train and resting a little.


My son and his wife have invited me to stay with them so I can save on hotel costs this time and he’s even making dinner tonight.  I’m so glad my boys are kitchen qualified!  Teach your boys to cook ladies. . .their wives will thank you some day!


I know so many people at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference that I was looking forward to dialing down the wardrobe and makeup sometimes.  Then this year they’ve warned us that some sessions will be videotaped.  You can opt to be seated so you will not appear on camera.  Yeah right.  Me?  So it’s a trick putting together camera-ready clothes and I’ll be in full makeup every day.  Vanity, thy name is Mary Mooney!  Bring on the camera!


Be aware that there may be very sporadic posts for the next three days, or none at all.  It just depends on how things are going, how good internet connections are and how exhausted I am from learning stuff.  My brain is resistant no matter how busy I am.

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Catching up on Reading – Adventures in Grocery Shopping, by Dan May Review

a dan may and me pic

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Today I am grateful for catching up on my reading.  I seem to be writing a lot these days and don’t always have a lot of time to read the great books I’ve purchased through the years.


If you have not ordered “Adventures in Grocery Shopping”, by my friend, Dan May, then you need to get it immediately.  Talk about a great Father’s Day gift!


As a writer myself, I always find it interesting which of my stories touch someone and why.  It’s an honor that you cannot think about when writing or you would censor yourself or twist the story out of recognition from your intent.  No worries for Dan.  Each and every story hits its mark and touches you in a different way.  Bullseye!


Did I have my favorites from this collection of anecdotes?  You bet.  “Imperfection” spoke to me at my core.  The section on the grocery store had me rolling on the floor and bawling simultaneously.  “My New Thing”, which in Dan’s case happens to be Fruity Pebbles, is brilliant.


When Dan May tells a story you don’t just read the words because he does more than write them.  He takes you there as if he picked up himself.  You smell the place he’s talking about; you feel the air of each location; you see the lighting; you hear the music; you feel the touch of your mom’s hand; and you taste those Fruity Pebbles, like them or not.


Buy this book.  Don’t wait.  If you don’t think your dad, husband, brother, or uncle will read it, then put it in the bathroom!  I guarantee you will know when they’ve picked it up because you’ll hear way better sounds coming from that room.   I promise.


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a consequences comic

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Today I am grateful I learned about consequences when I was young.  Apparently this is a lesson that escapes many people.  These days people in the public and even private sector are making some very questionable choices and then crying “foul” when the consequences jump up to bite them in the ass.  Too bad for you.  Shoulda learned this reality lesson a long, long time ago.


When my kids were much younger. . .in fact I don’t even know how young, maybe from the high chair. . .I started teaching them about consequences.  Throw the bottle at me once, or twice and I’ll give it back.  Three times, no more bottle right now.  Consequences.


In elementary school you forget your lunch or homework and call me to bring it.  If you exhibited a true effort and this is a fluke, I might do it once, or maybe twice.   But if you’re in middle school or high school and you’ve been watching TV all night (or these days texting) and sassing back when I ask if your homework is done, then just try to see if I’ll jump through hoops for you.  Nope.  Consequences.


The same goes with missing the bus in the morning.  You can ask our oldest son about this one.  Every single day it was a battle to get him up and out. . .well into high school.  Then I got therapy and the therapist asked me why I was making HIS problem MY problem.  Very good question.  So I stopped.  “If you can’t get your ass out of bed and you miss the bus it’s not my problem.  You’re walking,” I warned him.  For a few days his brothers had the bus wait.  Then the driver must have gotten therapy, too, because he got a clue and stopped waiting.


I’ll never forget the day said son came back inside and said, “I missed the bus.  Driver was early and left without me.”  Really?  It’s the bus drivers fault?

“Well I hope you have on good shoes because you’re walking,” I said.

“But it’s five miles!”  He pleaded his case.

“Then you better get started,” I said, handing him a tardy note to turn in.  I didn’t tell him until many years later that I wasted my entire morning following with the car, a half mile behind him just to make sure he really walked to school and didn’t try to skip. He did.  He lived.  I don’t think he ever missed the bus again.  Consequences for him. . .and me for sticking to my guns.


Now a comedian makes a bad choice and is incredulous when no one is cutting her a break.  Should her entire career be ruined.  I doubt it, because then we’d have to pull the plug on so many others who’ve made tasteless, bad choices.  But should there be consequences?  You bet.


A bunch of kids get into Harvard and then post questionable stuff on social media.  Do they have that right?  You bet they do.  First amendment, baby.  I will defend that right to my death.  But will there be consequences for that choice.? Yes, indeed there will.  And I defend that decision, too.


I hear that some of their mommies and daddies are pleading the kids cases with a “kids-will-be-kids” defense.  Therein lies the problem.  I bet they always brought the bottle back, always took the homework or lunch in, always schlepped the kid if they missed the bus.   In my opinion they did their kids a huge disservice by not teaching them consequences early on.


When my kids would yammer at me about how they wanted to do this or that questionable thing and why couldn’t they do it, I would say, “You can.  You can do absolutely anything in this world that you want to do. . .as long as you are prepared for the consequences.”


Throw your bottle.  No more bottle.  Consequences.

Forget your homework.  Take a hit on your grade.  Consequences.

Forget your lunch.  Go hungry or eat what they give you.  Consequences.

Miss the bus.  Walk to school.  Consequences

Rob a bank.  Go to jail.  Consequences.

Hold up a fake bloody head.  Lose your job.  Consequences

Post garbage on Social Media.  Get booted out of Harvard.  Consequences.


This is nothing new to some of us who have felt the sting of consequences many, many times.  It sure is an old lesson, but it seems a lot of people need to revisit this.

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Wasting Time

a stunning sky

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Today I am grateful for wasting time.  Yes, actually wasting time.  But is time ever wasted?  Maybe not.  Maybe when we think we are wasting time we are really doing exactly what we should be doing.  Now there’s a thought.  It takes all the guilt away and gives permission to just be.  Like staring at the sky.


I did a bit of house cleaning yesterday, shock of shocks, then had a friend over for a church bought chicken dinner and a movie, “The Shoes of the Fisherman”.  If you haven’t seen this old Anthony Quinn movie, I highly recommend it.  It sounds like we wasted time, but it was a fun waste of time and with “pause” you can go pee, or carry on a mid-movie pertinent conversation and not lose the story line.  I’ll waste time like this any day.


This morning I got up and wasted time while eating my breakfast, watching more news than I needed and a couple of House Hunter Internationals.  I visited Mexico and New Zealand, both on my bucket list.  What a terrific waste of time.  Especially the switch over from the news.


I have a pile of newspapers I want to read, but made the huge mistake, aka/correct decision to finally go on Facebook after being off of it since yesterday morning, which is a long time for me.  I didn’t even post yesterday, shock of all shocks.  Never touched the paper.  Didn’t even clip a coupon.  I sorted out the crap but it’s still there waiting for me to open it up.  Because I wasted my time on Facebook instead.


And I had another wonderful trip to the home towns of many, many people who were commenting on a post someone made about how she lives in Manhattan and would like to hear where and how others are living.  I read every single word people wrote and felt like I had a bunch of mini vacations to their towns.  Some I had been to physically, some not.  But I am emotionally and physically exhausted from all of the travel.  And it didn’t cost me a dime.


So today I totally wasted my time and had a blast.  I highly recommend it and can’t wait to do it again soon!  There is always another sky.

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Pollyanna Movie

prism rainbow 001

Friday, June 02, 2017

Today I am grateful for the movie Pollyanna, with Hayley Mills, Jane Wyman and Karl Malden and I think Agnes Moorehead.  It’s a 1960 feel good movie that is on tonight at 10 p.m. on the east coast on Turner Classic Movies.  I’m recording it.


Some of you might remember the prisms and Pollyanna running around being “glad” all the time.  Me, too.  I need some glad right now.  I need prisms splashing different colors of light all over my walls.  I need any kind of distraction I can get.


I simply refuse to walk around every single day in the throes of distress because of what is happening in my country.  Before someone starts typing about how I’m looking to go back to the way things were in 1960, fugetaboutit.  I was ten and while I remember being ten, I don’t want to go through the rest again.  I’m too tired for all of that nonsense and I prefer forward movement.


But I’m not too tired to watch Pollyanna again.  And I hope you do, too.  Let’s be “glad” together.

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