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2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 900 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 15 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


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Tara Turned 18 Today

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare

Today is my daughter’s 18th birthday. My only daughter, the middle child surrounded by brothers. My beautiful baby girl with the most amazing mesmerizing, deep sky blue eyes that reveal her sugary sweet soul. When I look at her, I can’t believe I’ve been a part of making this wonderful human being, so full of goodness, kindness and love – her outside beauty is remarkable, but no match for her inner beauty. And I am lucky enough to call this real life angel my daughter. Mere words cannot express the emotion I feel for this child of mine.

I remember her birth – she was a week past her due date so Dr. McFarland scheduled me to be at the hospital at 7 am to have my labor induced. I was becoming about as wide as I was tall and my small frame isn’t conducive to birthing large babies. All day long we sat in my room waiting for the inducement to work, all to no avail. At 5pm the medical staff had decided that it wasn’t going to work and said that maybe I should just go back home.

My husband had been helping me pace up and down the hallway in hopes that the movement would encourage labor. I was exhausted. I was also huge and miserable. We lived a good 45 minute drive away from the hospital and I definitely didn’t want to take a chance of going back home to accidentally go into labor then. I stopped walking, stood my ground stubbornly, looked back at the staff and said, “No. I am not leaving here until this baby comes out!” Then I waddled slowly back into the room.

Twenty minutes later a nurse entered and was saying something about they might have to give my room to someone else since I hadn’t gone into labor yet. At about that time I began to feel the strange sensation of liquid leaving my body out of my control. “Uhm, either my water just broke or I’m peeing and I can’t stop,” I told the nurse. She checked me and laughed. “Looks like you’ll get to keep this room after all!

More than 4 hours later (at 9:50pm) my baby girl made her 1st appearance into the world. At 8 lbs. 1oz., she was big and healthy. After the nurses checked her and cleaned her up they handed me my adorable little bundle of joy. Taking her into my arms, I couldn’t help but think whenever I looked at her, “She looks just like she came straight from the Beauty Salon!” Her hair was dark brown all over except for the big blonde curl sitting on top of her head.

Kind of ironic that she is now working towards getting her cosmetology license, heh? The girl was born for beauty. My husband and I stuck to our guns and refused to learn the sex of the baby before birth, but I knew I was going to have a girl because of the dreams I’d been having. Dreams of girl stuff and LOTS of shopping. My pregnancy with Tara had me craving sweet iced tea and Mexican food on a regular basis. Which perhaps wasn’t a good mix because she became colicky after birth and cried for most of the first four months of her life. We tried everything from Doctors advice to Old Wives Tales, but nothing worked to ease her colic. I guess she just outgrew it. Once she stopped crying she started flashing those baby blue eyes at everyone and began melting hearts. There wasn’t a man around who could resist her charm. She had her Daddy wrapped around her little pinkie. She is still a charmer and I laugh at her little brother because he gets angry at his friends who are always asking about his “hot sister.”

Come to think of it, she started practicing her cosmetology skills early by cutting her own hair when she was about three years old. Her hair had grown long and she didn’t like wearing it in barrettes or pony tails. One day she decided it was getting in her way, so she took the scissors from the drawer, went and stood over the trash can looking down, and cut off the offending pieces of hair. I caught her just at the end. “Baby – what are you doing?” I asked, shocked.

She turned to me with a satisfied smile and said, “I fixed my hair Mommy. Now it won’t get in my way anymore!”

She didn’t stop there though. She was spending a weekend with her grandparents when her Daddy received a phone call from his Mom. He was speaking in a serious tone so I became worried and questioned him as soon as he ended the call. Before he could say anything I saw his upper body shaking and burst out laughing. He laughed so hard he couldn’t speak and tears were streaming down his face. When he finally caught a breath, he looked at me and said, “Do you know what Tara did to my Mom’s dog? She cut it’s hair!” He leaned over the counter and started laughing again.

The Chihuahua? She cut the Chihuahua’s hair?” I asked, disbelief in my voice.

Yes!” In between spurts of laughter, he said, “Mom said it looks like it has the mange now!” More laughter.

Later, I asked Tara why and wondered out loud how in the world she was able to get the dog to sit still for a hair cut. She said, “Grammy was talking on the phone a long time and I got bored. I took the dog upstairs and just sat down and sang to it, Mama. It didn’t mind me cutting its hair!”

Fifteen years later, she is learning skills in Cosmetology classes and I get her to cut my hair. Times have changed.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is my love for her. My heart warms with joy to be able to spend time with her, being not just a parent, but also a friend, sharing laughter and jokes, shopping or hanging out. She’s my girl. And like I always tell her, “Us girls gotta stick together.”



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Like a redheaded biological child

Spot on about redheads….

Chick Writes Stuff

“Look at that red hair!”

That sentence, those five words, are my very first memory of my son. Well, that and a giant blue screen pressed up against my face and the sensation that on the other side of the screen a hyena was burrowing through my lower intestines.

A drunk hyena.

Who hated me.



Ah, the miracle of birth.

But back to my point. Those words were said by my doctor, the wielder of the C-section knife, the very first person to see my child in the flesh. And he said it for a very good reason. That hair was indeed just screaming to be looked at. Screaming as loudly as the little, angry, bunched-up person it was attached to.

From day one…hell, minute one, my child was a bright, flaming redhead. If a pumpkin spice latte mated with a standard red fire engine, the resulting offspring would…

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New Writing Assignment – Wanna See My Homework?

I’ve been busy doing some of the writing exercises from my class and forgot that I still needed to post something on here, oops.  So, I am going to share with you my 2nd assignment today (before I get started on the 4th.)  This one is all fiction, so ya’ll will have to tell me what you think about my fiction as opposed to my true life pieces.

The assignment was rewriting the following episode, showing what happens.  We were supposed to turn it into a scene that unfolds moment by moment, including some diagogue and descriptions that are specific and sensory.  And keep it as close to 500 words as possible.  (That’s the biggest challenge for this little wordy girl, lol.)

Loretta and Mick were driving down a lonely highway one winter night.  The car hit something, making a loud noise.  Loretta and Mick bickered about whether he was driving drunk or not, then they got out to see what was hit.  They peered into the darkness, seeing nothing.

Just for the sake of clarity, I will call my rewrite “Down the Dark Road” and here it is:

     The truck’s headlights cut a small path on the narrow highway as they sped into a tunnel of black.  No other cars were present.  Normally, Loretta enjoyed living out in the country where she had room to ride her horses in the wide open spaces surrounding their small ranch house.  During the daytime with the sunshine beaming down, the land boasted bright colored flowers and butterflies flittering about.  But at night, especially nights like this one where even the moonlight was absent, there seemed to be an air of loneliness and an eerie feeling of evil lurking in the shadows.

     “Mick,  don’t you think you should slow down?  What if a deer runs into the road?  Reflexes are slower after you’ve been drinking.”

     “Damn it, Loretta.  I didn’t drink that much and there ain’t no damn deer going to come out running tonight.  It’s colder than a witch’s tit outside and that solid black starless sky above says it’s going to rain soon.  All of them deer are going to be hunkered down somewhere safe and warm,” said Mick.

     “You had more to drink than usual.  I saw you taking shots with the guys.  And you drank an entire 6-pack of beer.  If a policeman pulled you over right now I bet you’d fail the breathalyzer!”  Loretta knew from years of experience that once Mick switched from beer to liquor that his personality and equilibrium grew off kilter.

     “Well there ain’t no damned policeman out here now is there?  Drop it Loretta.  We had a good time at the party tonight.  Don’t pick a fight on the way home and ruin our evening,” Mick said.

     Mick took a long deep breath.  He noted his speed (over the limit) and slowed down a bit hoping that would stop his wife’s nagging.  She’d been complaining about his drinking and driving for awhile.  Seems like every time they went out anymore they had this same argument on the way home.  He imagined pulling off his glove and shoving it into Loretta’s mouth.  He smiled to himself knowing that would shut her up.

     “What are you smiling about Mick?”  Loretta looked at him curiously.

     He turned his head to look at her, “Just thinking happy thoughts, Loretta.”  When he looked into her ocean blue eyes, his heart immediately melted.  He reached across and placed his hand gently on Loretta’s head, loving the feel of her soft, silky red curls springing out in long spirals.

     Before he could turn his head back, the steering wheel jerked, there was a loud thump and it felt as if the truck ran over a large animal.  Loretta screamed while Mick slammed on the breaks and the truck slid sideways half off the road.

     “Did you see what that was?”

     “No, I was looking at you, Mick.  We better check it out.  I think it might’ve been an animal.”

     Mick reached inside his glove box and grabbed his flashlight and pistol, quickly loading some ammo into it.  He didn’t want to leave an animal suffering if it wasn’t dead.  He also didn’t want to get attacked by it either.  “Let’s go see,” said Mick.

     Stepping outside, Loretta could smell the hint of rain in the air along with another musky odor.  She scrunched her nose as another scent, a sour moldy smell, invaded her nostrils.  She quickly got behind Mick while they walked slowly away from their vehicle.  As Mick used the flashlight to try to see what they hit, the light on it flickered and died, leaving the couple standing in the road peering into a thick darkness where nothing could be seen.


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I’m back Jack!

After taking the summer off from my blogging adventures, I have decided to jump back on that blog wagon with trumpets blasting, guns blazing and natives screaming obscure language.  Okay, I exaggerate.  But I am writing again.

Why did I stop, you ask?  Because I was a busy Mama with 3 kids out of school, one of which needed extra attention and help preparing all the paperwork necessary of graduating high school and going on to attend college (a 3 hour drive away from home no less.)  Additionally, we were having a pool put into our back yard.  Construction distractions such as workers constantly snipping cable and internet lines do tend to cause interruptions.

Oh yeah, then I had a little operation called a ‘hysterectomy’ that required me to basically do nothing but read & watch TV while spacing out on painkillers for a few weeks.  (It was’t so bad at first, since I LOVE reading.  But once I read so much I strained my eyes and started getting headaches, well, then I was forced to flip through the TV channels in a fruitless endeavor to find something worth watching.  More on that later…)

To that end, Ms. Teacher, my essay about how I spent my summer can be summarized as follows:     I helped send my oldest son off to college, had a swimming pool/hot tub put into the back yard, had a hysterectomy and recovered from surgery.  Somewhere in there I had a birthday and turned 43.  

So continues the blog of this middle-aged mother/wife/writer…stay tuned for more episodes.  Feel free to share your summer’s highlights.  But who can beat a kid to college/new pool/hysterectomy combo? I dare you.



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Short Story Contest in Small Town

Our small town newspaper recently held a short story contest in conjunction with a visiting writer’s speaking engagement at our Fine Art’s Center.  The theme of said contest was “Laughter as Medicine” and the story had to be between 500-700 words.  I thought it would be a good writing exercise so I wrote two stories and submitted them.  I never heard anything back so I assumed the competition was fierce.  The third place winner was published in the newspaper today and I found myself flabbergasted by their choice.  Not only was the story not humorous, it did not seem to have any connection to their theme of laughter as medicine.  I hate to be critical of other writers so I will not go into detail here, suffice it to say – I found myself wondering exactly who was judging and what they used to base their decisions on.  Whatever.  I have my own Blog so I’ll publish my own stinking short stories.  Ha!  Take that Advocate!

The following is my submission that I thought was an appropriate example of “Laughter as Medicine”.  Please share your thoughts and/or critiques at the end.  (P.S. It it extremely hard to write a story in 500-700 words and I found this a hard, challenging task.)

Of Cherubs and Children

     Awakening to morning light creeping through the window, I climbed from underneath the warm covers with reluctance.  I splashed cold water onto my face to help me wake up but it didn’t wash away the feeling of dread inside me.  Coffee next and while pouring my first cup I began that day’s ‘to do’ list inside my mind.  I stirred in the sugar and creamer, then took a large gulp.  “Ugh!  That’s awful!”  I looked at the counter-top and instead of creamer I saw orange juice.  I shook my head at my goofiness.  This was going to be a bad day.

   The phone rang confirming those suspicions.  Dad had to be rushed to the hospital.  He had a heart attack in his sleep.  Instead of getting my young kids ready for school, I prepared them for a hospital visit.  We needed to comfort my mother in the waiting room.  After surgery, the doctors came out and spoke in a medical language using terms foreign to me.  My mother translated, “He’s going to be in recovery for awhile.  We’ll know more when he wakes up.”

     “Since we can’t do anything, maybe we should take the kids for a late breakfast,” I suggested, thinking that my mother needed to do something besides worry.  She agreed.

     We found an elevator.  Before the doors closed, my five year old son Chris began to whine that his year older sister always pushed the buttons first.  We were on the top floor and I didn’t want the long ride down to be full of arguing so I attempted to change the subject by pointing at the mural painting on the elevator wall.  It was an elegant design full of cherubs floating around gardens of trees and colorful flowers.  Christ pointed and laughed, “Look at all the butt-naked babies!”  We were all giggling as we left the elevator.

     My mother thought this was  a good time to start talking religion.  Even though I attended a different church now she still had ideals of turning my kids into good little Catholics.  I had allowed her to take my daughter to church with her a few weeks ago.  “Cecilia, tell your brother what you thought about my church.”

     Cecilia said, “Oh, it was okay.  I learned ‘the Rosemary.'”

     “What’s that,” asked Chris.

     “That’s where you play with these beads and say the same thing over and over again.”

     I laughed and glanced at my mother.  Her eyes twinkled, “I guess I still have some more teaching to do.”

     We cut across an empty lot next to the hospital to get to the restaurant.  It was full of loose gravel with some weeds sprouting through.  As we trudged across Cecilia said, “This gravel is loud.  We sound like a monster crunching on croutons!”

     Mom laughed, “Oh girl, I do love how your mind works.”

     Angel’s Cafe was crowded.  The sounds of voices and dishes clanging and the smells of breakfast permeated the air.  The kids filled their tummies with pancakes while Mom and I continually poured coffee down our throats.  Mom sat down her mug and looked at me with tears in her eyes, “I just don’t know what I’ll do if your father doesn’t survive!”

     Marie, my little three year old, stood up on the booth seat and hugged her arms around Mom’s neck saying, “It’s okay Granny.  Pa-Pa will be okay.”

     Chris cut in, “Yeah Granny!  Pa-Pa always says he’s lucky he married a damn stubborn mule because it makes him have to be tougher and there ain’t nothing that can keep him down!”

     Mom bust out laughing while I scolded, “No what have I told you about repeating bad language?”  I heard a noise from my Mom and glanced her way.  Now tears of laughter were streaming down her face and she said, “Leave the boy alone, he’s right.  That mean old coot still has a lot of life left in him, if for no other reason than to frustrate me!”  She started to rise from the booth.  “Come on, let’s go wake up that old man and tell him it’s time to go home.”  She smiled the entire walk back.


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Delusional Demons of Knowledge (aka: the Know-It-All)

I find people who think they ‘know-it-all‘ some of the most annoying inhabitants on earth.  Like those who, without being asked, offer their advice and order you to take it, like they are some Life Coach Drill Sargent.  It’s impossible to argue with them because they are so closed minded to the possibility that they do not already know everything. And they never think they are wrong.   There are days when it seems these people even purposely choose to disagree with you simply because you made an innocent statement.  For instance, if I were to say “I think a salad would be nice for lunch today.”  This other person would say, “Oh No!  Live a little already!  Eat a hamburger!”  Five minutes later I could say, “Ya know, I think I’ll eat a hamburger,” then the imbecile would immediately say, “You should really eat healthier, you need to eat the salad.”


I simply choose to avoid people like this as much as possible but when ‘they‘ are a family member there is no choice but to have to listen to their nonsense.  When this happens I try to think of positive affirmations such as:

Do not strangle this person.  No, do not strangle this person!” or

If I keep my mouth shut, will they shut theirs?” or

This person is a blubbering idiot who doesn’t know what in the hell they are talking about.  Look away, think about baby bunnies and puppies – little people on tricycles, have they stopped talking yet?”

In my youth I would attempt to enlighten these people thinking that I might shed some insight into their little minds of the possibility that someone else might be right or that it is okay to agree to disagree.  Then, I matured and learned the futility of it.  Now I no longer waste my breath on closed minded morons.  Nor do I waste my breath on people who really don’t care about what others think because they are too self absorbed to comprehend anyone else’s emotions.  Or the people who have the tendency to turn every conversation back to their own life.  Or the people that  consistently blame others or issue judgments on others.  Or the people insistent on ‘tooting their own horn’, bragging constantly about themselves (or their kids, ick).

(Funny, I don’t seem to have many spoken conversations with people anymore!  ha ha.)

But it’s the people that spew their ideas out as if they were anointed leader of all humanity, the ones who have the innate need to vomit their egocentric opinions into society without using any brainpower to contemplate their thoughts before exiting their mouth, those people irritate and aggravate my otherwise peaceful mind when I get stuck listening to them.

Is there a way to stop this senseless barrage before the words become so unbearable you have knots in your neck and an overwhelming desire for a shot of alcohol?  Is there some advice out there that can help me out of these frustrating situations before my head explodes into tiny letters that spell out aaaahhhhgggggggggggg!!!!!  ?

I am sure we’ve all encountered those busy body exasperating know-it-alls – how do you handle them?


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