Day to day stuff....a memoir without order.
Imagination is described by Webster as...The act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses in reality. Albert Einstein said "Logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will take you everywhere."
I never realized it until I read it somewhere but there are ways to boost one's imagination:
Create a visual journal
Draw whatever you see for 15 minutes a day. You don't need to be an artist.
Think like an artist
Cut out pictures from magazines & piece them together to create an original image.
Listen to Bach
Close your eyes while playing your favorite music. Or listen to the sounds of nature on a CD or in the great outdoors.
Play word games
Try thinking of as many words as you can that begin with MAR...or you pick.
Let your mind wander, or focus on a single object & study its characteristics.
Everyone has a story....here's mine.....c
|I realize that as soon as I start praising my reliable internet it is very likely to mess up, but.... After setting up a new router yesterday, I am elated with my smooth flowing wifi! I have been putting up and putting up with drops and interruptions so long, I had forgotten what it was like to be on the web and not worry about getting cut off.
And when I tell you how ancient my old router was, you will shake your head and say what's the matter with you? Well, can I say that with all the charlatans out there, I have a hard time believing anything, even if it make perfect sense? I bought my old Linksys in 2007 and when Cox Cable said that was why I was getting dropped, should I have believed them? Apparently, yes.
|Like many others, I’ve made my share of writing mistakes, and luckily, most of them I have found and corrected before publication. Once your work is published, your mistakes are there for all the world to see, and unless you self-published, there’s not much chance of a correction. I say this because I have a secret. And it’s a real secret, one that only I know…I think. And now I’m going to share it with you to show you how easily it can happen.
Several years ago I attended a writers’ workshop sponsored by my writing group and held at a beautiful setting in the Florida countryside. The day was split into two sessions, morning and afternoon, with a catered lunch. Some of our own members made presentations about their writing and publishing experiences, and one in particular resonated with me.
This particular member related her experience with getting stories accepted for publication in the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Although I had only been published in virtual magazines up to that point, she made it sound so easy, I thought, yes, I need to try that. I took her handouts, made my way to the Chicken Soup site online, read all the submission instructions, looked over the story topics they were looking for and got to work on a submission of my own.
It seemed like they were just waiting for me personally because the topic I had chosen, which would also be the title of the book, was “The Cat Really Did That?”. I had an unlimited number of cat stories. I’m a cat lover and have had many cats over the years so I dug out what I thought was my most likely story to be accepted and started polishing it up. I was excited! It seemed in no time I was ready to submit, and wonder of wonders, it was accepted for publication. Could life be more perfect?
From acceptance to publication took about six months, and when the book was actually in my hands, I was on cloud nine. I shared it with relatives and friends, did a reading at a local writing program, and couldn’t have been happier. And then one day when I was reading it for about the thousandth time, I noticed something, something I had added to “polish” it up and make it funny and interesting.
Let me say here that I began my story with these words, “When we moved from Delaware to Florida in the late 1970s, our first order of business was to find a building lot and get started on our house.” The story goes on to talk about how a stray that someone must have dropped joined our family and became a very special pet who we named Fetcher. But Fetcher was not like every other cat on the planet. He was not a mouser. After one of the little devils invaded our piano, we did everything under the sun to get Fetcher interested, but nothing worked.
The following is how I ended the story:
“It got to the point we considered “adopting” another cat, one who could earn his keep. Or, I thought, maybe we could borrow one from a neighbor. Should we post something at the front of our development? Feline mouse catcher wanted for the night. Must be well-trained with a high success rate. Urgent. Reply to this number as soon as possible. Or maybe I should post a similar ad in Craig’s List. Nothing would appear weird there. I was beginning to think our mouse would have to commit suicide for us to be rid of it.
Finally the mouse did succumb to the trap and fortunately we found no damage inside the piano. Fetcher never showed any interest in the rodent, and wouldn't even get near it when we tried to show it to him. Later we found out that female cats were the best mousers. Fetcher was a retriever extraordinaire. He always ran after sliding pecans, and one other thing, the grinding sound of the can opener.”
Did you find the secret? In my haste to make the story funny and interesting, I forgot to verify something. My time period was the late 70s. Craig’s List did not appear on the scene until 1995. Until now, I am the only one who has noticed this inconsistency. Can you keep a secret?
|I had a great life history group meeting today. Every story shared was a treat. If you're looking for a prompt, here are the topics of those stories.
1. A Catholic second grader's first confession.
2. How I became an agnostic.
3. Teaching our daughters to drive.
4. What I miss most about being a kid.
5. My two grandmothers.
6. War of the wasps (my wasp story, previous blog post).
7. Local concert group in Prague.
We had a smaller than normal group today but they made up for it in quality. The driving story and the first confession were hilarious. Did you ever think rye bread might blacken your character? My group's ages range from the 60s to the 90s, and even though our backgrounds are diverse, we always relate to each other's stories.
|At the beginning of spring back in March, I started seeing 1 or 2 or 3 wasps buzzing around up high near the ceiling of my back porch. Since I am a nature lover I thought that I could live with them with that old rule, “you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you.”
For a few weeks this worked even though the numbers increased some. They never tried to sting me and at nightfall, they disappeared. But as the weather warmed more, the numbers increased and suddenly, it seemed, there were a dozen or more congregating just above the screen door exiting the porch.
Had they been anywhere else, I may have continued a while longer trying to ignore them, but now I had to race out the door while worrying what they were going to do. Time for Googling how to get rid of the wasps naturally. They had been tolerable but this was getting annoying.
Google said I could deter the wasps with many different much hated wasp scents, number one being peppermint. Bingo! I already had peppermint oil. I mixed up some according to Google’s directions and sprayed around the ceiling and doorway. And I bought two peppermint plants at Publix and positioned them outside the porch door, ready to make them permanent additions to my landscaping if they worked. And yes, the smell of the spray did seem to deter them for a while although a few were stupid and did not know they were supposed to hate it. The smell wore off. The wasps came back. Persistent little buggers. The plants outside were completely ignored.
But I did as Google said and continued to respray, and after around two months, they got the message that they were not wanted and completely disappeared. Although it was labor intensive and somewhat expensive, I was satisfied and relieved that I had not had to kill them with a pesticide. My back porch was wasp-free. And the mint plants outside were thriving so, who knows, maybe that helped, too.
But then they, or their cousins, showed up again, this time on my front porch and not on the ceiling but in the dirt around one of my potted lilies beside the front door. The lilies were blooming profusely. Obviously, these were a different kind of wasp. I found their nest the hard way. Reaching into one of the plants to trim off some dead leaves, I was attacked. I dropped my scissors, yanked my hand back, and unbelievably stared at a wasp glued to my thumb even though I was shaking my hand like a maniac. I had to literally knock it off with my other hand. It did not want to turn loose and I had not done anything to it!
More were buzzing around me now so I raced inside, slamming the door behind me. I held my rapidly swelling thumb under the cold water faucet and piled on some baking soda that I grabbed from the fridge, but if it helped, it was minuscule. That sucker throbbed like a jackhammer. My poor thumb quickly swelled up to Paul Bunyan size.
Now I had a real dilemma. The more I looked at my thumb and suffered with the pain, the idea of live and let live quickly disappeared from my train of thought. But if there was a way to get rid of them without the dreaded bug spray, I would find it so off I went to Tractor Supply and on one of the shelves I found Terro Wasp and Fly Trap, attracts and traps wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and flies. I mixed the bait (guaranteed not to attract pollinating insects) and hung it at the required height in a sunny area and waited. And waited. And waited. And in the meantime, my lily was kicking the bucket because I was afraid to water it. So I watched the blooms and leaves turn brown and waited some more. And, of course, I warned all visitors to come in by the back door.
I checked the Terro Trap often but noted only ants floating around in the nasty-looking liquid. I thought it might be too far away so I took it off its hook and set it on the concrete about two feet from the lily but still no captured wasps appeared. I saw them buzzing around and giving me the evil eye but they went nowhere near that trap.
Giving up on Terro, I went back to Google and was directed to Angi, formerly Angie’s List, who had a wealth of information on pros who could do anything you required, specifically pest control of wasps for me. I filled out the requested information and hit send. I waited and waited and I’m still waiting to hear from a pro. I guess there are no wasp killer pros.
I was tired of fooling around so this time I went to Publix to the pest control section and grabbed the biggest ugliest looking spray can of Raid Wasp and Hornet Killer I could find. It stated on the can that it “kills on contact and sprays up to 22 feet!” Yes! Exactly what I needed. As soon as I got back home, I cracked open the front door just enough to reach through with the can in hand, and I soaked that poor little lily and all the dirt below it. I never saw a wasp but felt certain that it had worked.
No, it didn’t. The next day I jiggled the lily with Jim’s old cane and a couple of wasps flew out to my amazement. I went to the garage and got my ammunition and sprayed again. This stuff had to work because I did not know anything else to do. I kept this up for four or five days and finally all the wasps seem to be gone or dead. Several were lying belly up on lily leaves.
It has been about a week now and all seems well. I’ve watered and trimmed the lily and it may come back to be a healthy plant again. I do not know why the wasps, probably yellow jackets, were attracted to it, but I hope none are left to show them the way back. If that happens, I’ll be investing in some fake plants, the kinds that don’t die. Maybe that is the better idea anyway.
|I had a very quiet weekend, the kind I like best. No company and just catching up on odds and ends. Next weekend will be different as my daughter stays overnight so that on Saturday we can go to a baby shower for my granddaughter...a ways out of town. I am looking forward to it though, already have her gift, just need to wrap and write the card.
This week on Thursday I meet with my life history group which I have been doing on the first Thursday of each month for over 8 years now. We used to be a group of 12 or 13 but now we average around 9 or 10, still a pretty good group. We each read a newly written story with the only requirement that it be historical which to me includes the minute before I write these words...lol. Yes, it can be just about on anything. I always look forward to it. We hold the meeting at one of our branch libraries. I am so lucky to have 12 libraries in my county.
Have any of you heard or written for Kindle Vella? It's been out about a year now but I just started a story in March 2022 and the story actually began right here on writing.com. I have it hidden from view now to comply with KDP's requirements but it is amazing to me that a story I wrote way back in 2014 (or earlier) and one on which I got many many helpful reviews on wdc has now made its way to publication on Amazon. If you're interested, you can find it on the Amazon site by searching "Kindle" and Anna's Journey by Connie Biddle Morrison. The Vella stories are episodic which Anna's Journey already was, I just kept on writing more episodes. It has been more fun than I ever imagined. I normally write the episodes on my back porch and it seems like they write themselves.
If you're looking for something fun and interesting, try it out. Go to YouTube and search Kindle Vella. You will find more information than you will ever need. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy.
|I was a sort of nerdy girl in high school, but I wouldn’t say I was especially smart. Good grades came easily due to my ability to memorize facts until test time. Then, most of everything I should have learned somehow evaporated out of my brain after the test was finished and the grade was secured.
Because of good grades, I was nominated to positions in the Student Council and actually served in all of them, but I can’t remember doing anything momentous. The thing I remember most was the campaigning and making signs to post around school imploring kids to vote for me. I loved to draw. One sign I made for treasurer, an acronym on the word, I can almost see right now. T is for trustworthy, R is for reliability, E is for exactness and so forth and so on. I was selected valedictorian of my class, gave a high-flung speech at my graduation ceremony, and I suspect I felt a little too proud of myself. Even now, on a bookcase in my living room, I display that President’s Student Council gavel in the hope it will bring some credence to my current brain power which seems to be shrinking as I age.
I was never very good at anything athletic. During PE if a ball came toward me when I was in the outfield, my first response was to put both hands in front of my face. I had fear of the ball syndrome. Field hockey was the same. Instead of trying to stop the puck that was flying toward me, I jumped over it. And getting that close to guard someone in basketball? I always kept my distance. So if I was chosen to be on a team, it was because of my brain not my brawn. The one athletic thing I did go out and received a letter for was cheerleading and that was only in my junior year of high school. I quickly decided the popularity aspect did not outweigh the physical activity required.
I went to our senior prom with the class president and remember being so sunburned from the previous day’s class trip to the beach that I could barely bend my ankles to walk let alone dance, but somehow I managed and the evening is a very fond memory. My date was nothing serious but of course when you’re seventeen, you think it is. A few years ago I had a catch-up email with Donnie (now married with children and grandchildren of his own) and he proclaimed that he would not change one thing about his school days…which made me sort of happy to hear as I was part of them. Shortly after graduation, he left for naval training in the Great Lakes and in the fall, I left for the U of Delaware in Newark (not Newark, N.J.). He visited a few times while on leave, but we were all different then with the passing of time and circumstances.
At Delaware, being on my own, I became somewhat irresponsible. I left assignments to the last minute, barely studied for tests until the night before, loved Friday night dances, concerts, and pep rallies, and according to my waist size spent a little too much time eating chocolate fudge sundaes at the Student Center’s food court. I think we called it the Scrounge back then, and maybe they still call it that. My grades reflected my behavior. I realized my newfound liberty would soon be a thing of the past if I didn’t change my ways. So with the guidance of my upperclassman roommate, I changed my behavior, but I never really got in sync with higher education requirements.
I was enrolled in a secondary education program, a goal set by my high school guidance counselor, and my lackluster attitude may have resulted from this. Teaching a high school class was not my passion. In fact, I didn’t have a passion. But I managed to successfully struggle through my first year with mediocre grades.
Four of us in my dorm, Harrington D (just a coincidence that it was my hometown’s name) became fast friends almost immediately. My roommate, Ellen Massaglia, was from Wilmington and in her second year majoring in statistics. Funny, but I don’t remember where Gerry Finan was from or her area of study, but her roommate, Dale Coe, was from Evinston, Illinois. Delaware was her second choice after she didn’t get into Northwestern. Dale had a boyfriend at Dartmouth, and she never stopped talking about Winter Carnival and the snow sculptures. I listened in awe and never tired of her stories.
In 2010 I read of Dale’s passing…"Dale Schultz, nee Coe, 65, of Kenilworth, passed away May 2. She was born Oct. 30, 1944, in Evanston and was a former resident of Libertyville. Surviving are her three children, Craig Schultz, Courtney Schultz, and Tim Schultz; her grandson, Logan Schultz; sisters, Debbie (Doug) Reed and Sally (George) Bay. A Memorial Service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, 700 N. Sheridan Rd., Lake Forest on Friday, May 14, at 4 p.m. Info: 847-362-3009."
I had not spoken with her since my freshman year and wondered if Schultz was the Dartmouth boyfriend’s name. 65 - that was young. At school she could have stood in for the all-American girl, looking healthy as the proverbial horse and I never remember her being sick or missing any classes.
I keep in touch with Ellen (my former roommate) on Facebook. She lives in Naples and is a watercolor artist, married with children and grandchildren, and she still looks like Ellen. I think I would recognize her anywhere.
I tried to look up Gerry on Google but found nothing, funny that I don’t remember anything about her after hanging out together for a year. I do remember that she was the most studious of all of us.
Growing up, we think school is where we will learn everything we need to get through life successfully, but that is so not true. Learning never stops. I’m learning things right now at this very moment, today. In fact, I could be learning something that might turn out to be the most important thing in my life, so I will pay attention. I wouldn’t want to miss it.
|The past weekend, I had the good fortune to go to the beach, invited by some friends. We had an extra wonderful day at a not so crowded strip of sand just south of Marineland (Florida), although it had become quite crowded when we left around 3 P.M. I surmised the thinner crowd due to the sand being peppered with coquina rock. If you've never heard of this sedimentary formation, read all about it here . This stretch of beach, though, had lots of sandy spots for our umbrella, chairs, and blanket since we arrived early.
It had been several years since my last beach visit so I was eager to get my feet wet in the not so cool as expected Atlantic Ocean. Shells were plentiful for the picking and as the sea drew back its salty mix, my feet sank into saturated silica prompting memories of long ago Saturday visits to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, my home State. What I didn't remember was the slight dizziness I felt as the surf reclaimed its watery mass...old age creeping up on me, again. But I stood still, looked up and the feeling passed so that I could walk a bit southward along the shoreline. A natural jetty of rocks prohibited much of a northward stroll. The sand was hard packed and felt good to the soles of my feet.
Children of all ages and a couple of tiny dogs were enjoying the sea even though the waves were crashing close to shore and farther out, much rougher than I ever remember Rehoboth being, although Rehoboth is part of the southern-most Delaware Bay and somewhat sheltered by the tip of New Jersey. Parents hovered and were especially watchful accompanying young sons into the breakers.
Carefully walking around the coquina formations, I returned to our spot in the sand and settled into an umbrella-shaded chair to people-watch. A couple of men were surf-fishing, but I never observed any catching. Pelicans were looking for lunch and several V formations flew directly overhead (no accidents, thankfully). Once in a while straggler birds would seem to float just above the waves searching for that elusive fish to scoop up, but the white caps seemed too much for fish and fowl. Like the would be fishermen, the pelicans were striking out, too. But photo opportunities were abundant and my friends were busy with their iPhones, capturing the moment.
Between the boardwalk (reached by two sets of steps on each side) and the line of coquina rocks was a slightly angled incline of white sand, good for a leisurely stroll and improving your leg muscles. So one of my friends and I took off for a short walk on that dry stretch of beach. Many pelicans flew over and we saw some kite-flyers,not the bird kind but the people kind. Later, we saw one of the bird kind, too. It was quite windy, and birds and kites had some difficulty with their airborne maneuvers. Back to the umbrella and chairs and a long drink of water.
After a few hours of repeat performances and chair napping, simultaneously, our brains recalled that it might be lunchtime so the iPhone search for a nearby restaurant ensued, and soon it was decided. Enticed by the promise of crab cakes and grilled mahi-mahi, we grabbed our belongings and trekked back to our vehicle to begin our southward search for the Turtle Shack Cafe . It didn't take long until we pulled into a parking spot that seemed to have been waiting just for us. The odd time of day, a little after 3, meant no waiting and we were soon seated outside at a picnic table. After looking at the mouth-watering menu, my original choice of a crab cake sandwich turned into a portabella mushroom sandwich. And after tasting it, I loudly proclaimed more than once that it could easily have passed for a Philly cheese steak! No kidding! A creme brulee was ordered for dessert, shared by all, and the perfect ending to a perfect late lunch.
Anyone who has been to the beach has no trouble remembering how tired a beach day makes you so the ride home was a welcome rest up. Remarkable scenery flying by and an iPhone trivia game kept me awake most of the time but I may have taken some one or two-minute naps unintentionally. A wonderful day with kind and generous friends.
|I have been in repair mode today. Recaulked around the bathtub, replaced the tub drain stopper thingamajiggy, repainted the walls above the tub tiles, climbed my ladder and replaced the bulb in the hallway light, and replaced the non-working end of my outside electric cord. Whew! Now I'm ready for a nap but seem to be a little wired! So...going to work on my taxes which should take about a half hour since I have had everything setting there waiting for me for a few days now. High time since they're do on Monday.
Happy Easter, everyone!
|I've been preparing for the Sunshine State Book Festival! It is sponsored by my writing group, Writers Alliance of Gainesville, and will be held this Saturday (April 9th) at the Oaks Mall in Gainesville, Florida. If any of you are nearby, I will be at table #56 and would love to meet you. Maybe you know another author who will be there...check here, https://www.sunshinestatebookfestival.com/2022AuPage/ssbf-authors.html