Monday, September 22, 2014

Clickety Clack

                                                (train depot in Morrilton, Arkansas)

When my granddaughter was quite young, doing some walking and definitely some talking, she loved for me to make up songs about her.  She wanted to learn them, every word of them.

One day in Little Rock her folks were checking out an antique shop in the old train depot.  She got restless, so we went outside and sat on a bench, hoping to see a train come by.  To pass the time, I made up a song for her, which she loved.  She would watch my face intently as I sang to her.  When I was finished she would say "Again" which she produced with the initial sound. 

A few days later I was in the car with her and her folks and we stopped at a railroad track.  She asked me to sing.  So I did her train song.  It wasn't long until she had it down pat.  She was pleased, though her parents were not prone to thank me for this attribute.  For a very long time she would sing it anytime they were in the car and stopped at a track, over and over until the train was gone and they were again on their merry way.  I thought I'd share the song with you.

                    Sitting on a bench by the railroad track
                    Waiting for a train to go clickety clack
                    When that train comes whistling by
                    S________ M____ is going to say bye-bye.

                    Bye-bye train, when you come by
                    S________ M____ is going to say bye-bye.

I miss those days of creating simple songs for her enjoyment.

Do you have a grandchild event to share?  I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Love Bowl

I have always been interested in trying something new every now and then.  To me it does get boring if you stay with one thing all the time.  Several years ago I became interested in papier mache.  I decided I needed a couple of bowls.

My middle sister was not overly impressed.  "Oh, yes," she remarked, "everybody needs a paper bowl."  But art is not always functional.  This is for looking, not for filling with soup or ice cream.

I used a bowl from the cupboard for an armature, covered it with cling wrap and a little Dawn dish washing soap.  Then I covered that with papier mache formed from a packaged mix with water and blue acrylic paint mixed into the wet mess.  This was spread over the bowl and left to dry.  I then removed it from the household bowl and continued with the red for the inside.

At one time I had gotten into making fancy candies using molds.  I used the candy molds to make the little white hearts.  When dry, I added a little more blue to the bowl and mashed the hearts into that.  It was allowed to dry until cured. 

It may not be museum quality, but I had fun doing it and managed to make a few more things over those years.  I don't know it I'll ever get back to the craft, but I have learned over the years to never say "Never!"  If the mood strikes, there's no telling what I'll wind up making.

I do hope you have something that gives you satisfaction in the creating and joy in seeing it later.  Art is for everyone, and you don't have to be a master to get pleasure from the process.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Shades of Revenge

I am proud to announce the availability of my new book, Shades of Revenge.  It's the paranormal fiction tale of two female ghosts haunting the same house.

Mandy Furman and Nora Peltzer haunt the Peltzer mansion.  Shades of their former selves, they must adjust to being dead as well as to the fact they were both murdered by the same person.

Jealousy, anger and exasperation mar their relationship and adjustment.  Mandy must find her hidden physical body before she can move on to the next realm.  Nora must understand her death was not an accident and also must accept who brought about her untimely death.

Mandy's cousin, Chester, joins forces with Nora's friends, Babs and Calista, to search for evidence to bring their killer to justice.

Will the two female haints and the others succeed, or will the list of victims become longer?  Will the two ghosts be able to overcome their ties to the Peltzer mansion, or will they continue in their tiresome earth-bound state?

The book is available at  And if you read it and enjoy the book, it would be wonderful if you would post a review on the site.  Thank you.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Laughter Through Time

The world learned of the death of Joan Rivers this past week and we have seen reruns of her humor and recalled times of her life when she spoke in a voice that changed the view of women comediennes forever.

She's not the first to come to the public attention through the universal medium of television.  One of the first that I recall was Erma Bombeck (1927-1996).  She wrote articles for newspapers and magazines, wrote books, and appeared on Good Morning America for years.  Her style brought out in the open the trials and triumphs of motherhood and housekeeping. 

It's not that people had not experienced her same difficulties.  It's just that before the public arena of television it was not generally talked about.  She gave people permission to laugh out loud at the commonplace daily life of raising kids and keeping house.  As she wrote:  Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.

Another early funny lady was Totie Fields (1937-1978).  Totie made fun of herself.  A truly great singer, she used her music to lead into her comedy.  She made fun of herself in a way we could all relate to.  In one bit she mentioned meeting Princess Grace Kelly who complemented Totie's work.  To return the complement, Totie replied, "I use your phones all over my house."  And I really enjoyed her singing "Perfect."

Joan (1933-2014) had an acerbic approach.  She made caustic remarks about life and the people she met as she traveled the world, with many celebrities the brunt of her barbs.  She had no qualms in entering the realm of vulgarity, but she could, and often did, speak "words of wisdom" about the ways of humanity.

One time she mentioned a celebrity on the Johnny Carson show who was proof that "peroxide causes brain damage."  When Johnny asked didn't she think men actually preferred intelligent women, she replied, "No man ever put his hand up a woman's dress looking for a library card."

Three very different women, each with her own distinct style of comedy, yet also each showing a unique view of life, each opening the door just a bit wider for those who wanted to carve their own way in the world.  Love them or not, they all helped women to progress in realizing we really can live life on our own terms.  We don't have to be cookie cutters, doing the Stepford Wife waltz through life.

Thanks, Ladies.  I have laughed with and because of each of you.  I have been enriched with the various and nefarious ways learned at your feet.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Trashy Days

It's almost a daily ritual.  We bring sacks and sacks of stuff into our house to use in every part of our lives.  And everything that comes in must, at some point and in some way, go out.

Where does all that garbage go?  Ever since man appeared on this earth, we have had a problem of trash disposal.  Of course, I doubt it bothered early man as much as it does our modern world.  For one thing, there were a lot less people then.  And, for another, they didn't have the means to accumulate as much stuff.

I hadn't given it a lot of thought, to tell you the truth.  Oh, I do my share of recycling and trying to reuse as much as possible.  But I recently heard of a place I'd like to visit.  It's the Trash Museum in Hartford, Connecticut.  (They even have a Facebook page, if you'd like to check them out.)

It's managed by the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, and is geared to educate the public about the importance of proper disposal and recycling.  You can watch the process of sorting from a mezzanine area as they discuss problems and solutions to waste. 

They also have a 12'x36' mural by Ted Esselstyn of Higganum, depicting trash disposal from prehistoric times up to modern days.  And there is a gift shop with a line of souvenirs related to their themes.

Museums of various kinds attract my attention.  I love to visit them, wherever I go, whenever I get the chance.  If I ever make it up to that part of the country, I'll have to check them out.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dancing Down Memory Lane

It's late August and September is nipping at our heels.  Heat is still hanging around, making sure we really appreciate the coolness when it comes.  School is back in session, and class reunions are being planned and discussed.

Radio was a necessity in our lives back then.  What I miss most about those radio days is that we could listen and get such a variety of musical styles then.  Now it all seems segmented.  If you want a genre, you turn to that on the dial (or however you're listening now) and that's all you get.

Does anyone else miss the musical mixings that used to be so common.  I remember listening in one afternoon to songs from the Everly Brothers (Bye Bye Love) and the Platters (The Great Pretenders); Pat Boone (Love Letters in the Sand) and Chuck Berry (Maybellene) or Little Richard (Tutti Frutti).

One moment you could be listening to the Kingston Trio (Tom Dooley), then maybe hear Bobby Darin (Mack the Knife) followed by Carl Perkins (Blue Suede Shoes) with a follow-up from Johnny Cash (Folsom Prison Blues).

People liked humor in their songs then, for sure.  Remember David Seville (Witch Doctor) and Sheb Wooley (Purple People Eater)?  And of course Del Reeves had a popular song (Girl on the Billboard).

Looking back, I think what I most appreciate about our radio days is the lack of vulgarity.  Oh yes, we had suggestive lyrics and aggressive love songs, but the writers knew then they could not get by with graphic semi-porn.  They had to rely on talent, and they had to appeal to a sense of humor a bit (okay, maybe not too much, but at least a little) higher than early adolescence.  Sure we had the Everly Brothers singing about "Wake Up Little Susie," but at least they put limits on where the story line went.  (Sorry about that.  Just had a I've Got to Rant moment.  But it has now passed.)

Enjoy the rest of summer.  Sit back, relax and take a sip of some good sweet iced tea.

Monday, August 18, 2014

One Cool-Thinking Kid

Hot summer days have often left us wanting something to partake of that would cool us off and slow us down to enjoy the lazy passing of time.  That's not something new to us or our generations.  It's been going on since the beginning of time, I'm sure.

Wealthy Romans would have ice carted from the mountains down to the villages, and the ice would be mixed with fruit bits and fruit juice to give them a form of snow cone.  History tells us they weren't alone.  Similar practices were showing up in China, India, and the Arabian peninsula.  And as we can all attest, these shaved ice confections can sure hit the spot.

But it wasn't until 1905 in San Francisco, California, that an accidental discovery lead to a treat still popular today with kids of all ages.  Eleven year old Frank Epperson had some powdered soda mixed up, using a wooden stick to stir the concoction.  He left some of the stuff out on the porch overnight.  When he arose the next morning, there was his treat, still there, but now frozen onto the stick. 

Now Frank wasn't a dense lad.  The next summer he was selling his treat to the neighborhood kids.  But it wasn't until 1923 at the Neptune Beach amusement park in Alameda, California, that he had a good commercial business going.  The next year he applied for and got a patent for his Episicle, which soon were a big hit.  He soon changed the name of the treat to "Popsicle," and it is still widely eaten by folks everywhere.

Frank didn't enjoy the profits from his "invention" long, however.  In 1925 he sold his patent to another company to pay off creditors.  The Popsicle today is still the Popsicle, although the varieties have grown in number and taste.  But it still hits the spot on a hot summer day when you need something light and refreshing to consume while relaxing, indoors or out.  I don't know that Frank invented anything else,, but he did leave us all a cool taste treat we can eat just about any time of year, 

Thanks, Frank.