Monday, September 29, 2014

The Allure of Sleepy Hollow

                                                          Sleepy Hollow Access
                                                              Lake Maumelle

It's the brink of October and fall is in the air.  With the hint of Halloween lingering close by, the changing of the colors in the trees, the shorter days of autumn, it is easy to remember Washington Irving's story:  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Arkansas is 1260 miles from Tarrytown, New York, which is where Irving and his family moved in 1798 to escape an epidemic of yellow fever.  Autumn there is no doubt cooler than here.  But even here we enjoy hearing a good ghost story every now and then.  Irving tapped into portion of the brain we all secretly wonder about.

People are intrigued by this story, even down to today.  Published in 1819 it still captures the imagination of so many of us on those closed in dark days of fall.  This interest is evident in many places around the country, and yes, even here in Arkansas.

Sleepy Hollow Access is a park approximately 30 miles west of Little Rock.  As seen on a beautiful day it is a peaceful place giving access to Lake Maumelle.  The lake is very popular with the local fishermen.  My husband and I once camped there overnight, oh so many years ago.  We had fun, but when you awake on a cool morning and the fog has rolled in off the water and the visibility is almost nil with civilization not so close by, you can almost imagine what Irving's character, Ichabod Crane, experienced on that fateful night when he rode out to meet the Headless Horseman.

I don't know who suggested the name for this park, but I like it.  And I enjoy stopping by every now and then for a quiet peaceful reverie.  If you're ever in the area, look it up.  See if you are captured by the beautiful trees and quiet river.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kids and False Alarms

People have always needed a way to transmit information about disasters, especially fires.  For a long time they were limited to using bells, whistles, gun shots and watchmen in towers.  In the 1850's a Massachusetts physician came up with an alarm system using electromagnetics and the telegraph to send a coded message to a central fire station.  There were various improvements made and the Gamewell became very popular.

However, civilization progresses in many directions.  Such was the case with sending in a fire alarm.  There came a time when telephones were saturating neighborhoods and the fire alarm box was becoming obsolete.  That was when they became  a focal point for neighborhood kids.  They discovered that pulling the hook would bring firemen with their trucks rushing into the area.  It was fun for them, especially on those long hot summer days.  It reached a point where the majority of calls coming over the system were false alarms.

My husband was a fireman in Little Rock, Arkansas, for many years.  When an alarm from a box came in they would arrive to see all the neighborhood kids waiting for them.  They would lecture the kids and go back to the station only to have the process repeated.

One time they got there to find a five year old boy standing on a box he had used to get him up high enough to pull the alarm.  He was grinning with pride at doing the call successfully.  The police also made the run and the policeman asked the boy for his name and address.  He quickly gave the info to the cop.  My husband interjected, saying that's not a good address; they don't run that high in this area.

The policeman asked again.  The boy immediately provided a different name and address to the cop.  My husband again said, no way, it's not a good address.  By talking to the other kids it was eventually ascertained the address where the boy was said to live.  It was close by.  The cop and the firemen accompanied the boy to the home and a man soon answered their knock.

The cop explained what had happened and the boy must not do this again.  The man said he would take care of it.  When asked if he was the father, he replied, "No, but I'm closely associated with his mama."

Needless to say, this became one of the stories that circulated through the company.  And the phrase enjoyed a period of time when it was often used with their own kids when talking about discipline that could occur when something was reported back to their child's own mother.  "You better watch it, kid.  I'm closely associated with your mother and she'll help me get to the bottom of this situation."

In the early 1980's the boxes were deemed no longer necessary and were removed.  There was a resultant decline in the number of false alarms.  The neighborhood kids had to find something else to occupy their summer days of boredom.

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.