Thanks for checking into my blog!

As a "recovering" middle school teacher with a unique outlook on life, I stopped active teaching in 2010 and moved into another career path... writing! Here goes! In addition, I am a travel buff, forever baseball addict, movie fan, music fan, foodie extraordinaire, NCIS devotee, gardener, and more.

Just love writing for kids, travel writing and basic journalism. Pretty unusual, since I taught Home Economics! But there's a story here too - a non-fiction one or more...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Expression of Hope

   You probably have a desk that looks just like it, I bet. Piled high with a stack or two of papers, books, post-its all over, pens and pencils hidden by random sheets of paper, the library book I was looking forward to reading, my Phanatic doll. Don’t forget the Rolodex, to-do lists, and calendar. In the midst of this creative physics project (yes, some piles are that high), I found an assignment I did for Carol Smalley’s class at this time last year. She had us make a battle plan for writing, or set goals for writing in the new year. It was interesting to see what I thought about only 4 months into a writing career, what I thought was important at that time. It gave me time to see where I was, where I am, and to think about where I’m going. There’s something about the Christmas and New Year’s holidays that bring out the goal setter in all of us.

   On my list last year were items that got done and others that are still in the works. Yes, a few haven’t been “accomplished”. This is a good place to start for 2012.

   Reflect first. What have I done? Here it is:

  • Joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators -Without that group, I would not have met my critique group buddies. I’ve learned so much from them.

  • Went to a SCBWI sponsored conference – Yes, I went to an Author’s Book Club event where I met Carol Millward and read her debut novel Star in the Middle. I also went to the Tri-Regional Conference in Gettysburg, Pa. I got so much inspiration, met so many great people, sat in the presence of so many accomplished writers and illustrators. It was a great weekend. And the ghost tour Saturday night, marrying two loves – ghost hunting and history – well, what could be better?

  • I am wearing out my library card. No longer do I go to the kid’s section and get looked at as if I’m a stalker. They know I’m reading for research.

  • I’m reading more. This year I read the entire Captain Underpants series, finished up the last “Wimpy Kid” book Cabin Fever, read books in the Magic Schoolbus series, Step into reading series and more. All this I did as research for how and what I want to write.

  • I read for me too. I’m almost finished with Lisa Scottoline’s list of novels and just starting on Janet Evanovich’s and Julie Hyzy’s novels. I’ll work on that list after I finish Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism.

  • On my list was to get an agent and start submitting by July, 2011. Well, I don’t have the agent, but I did submit a picture book to the MeeGenius contest this past fall. I didn’t win, but right now the last of the finalists haven’t been selected. So who knows? At any rate, I put my work out there for all to see and I have gotten some positive feedback on it. Maybe it will make it to bookstores and PetSmarts around the country. It is a non-fiction picture book on dog safety for kids, after all.

  • On a personal note, I also got more involved in my parish activities. I helped more with our Bereavement ministry’s funeral luncheon group.  Got to use my Home Ec Teacher acquired knowledge in the catering field, too. Now I’ve got a connection with Julie Hyzy’s Ollie Paras character in the White House mysteries series. So maybe St. Joseph’s Church kitchen isn’t the White House, but a commercial kitchen is a commercial kitchen. And I found the giant iron skillet!

   I didn’t get some of the list done. On it were things like, lose 30 pounds (only got off about 15 so far), get healthier habits (yes, I’m eating better and exercising more – until I hurt my knee), complete a first draft of Esther Bunny Moves Away (only 3 chapters done so far). Guess you have to set high goals and see if you can meet them. Besides, if I did everything I set out to do when I wanted to do it, I’d be perfect. And perfect people are perfectly boring and nauseating. We all need something to shoot for in life. Now is the time to make my 2012 list of goals.

   Let’s see…professional goals for 2012:

  • Attend more Author Book Club events in my SCBWI region.

  • Attend more workshops and/or conferences.

  • Keep working on articles to the Arden Newsbuoy, my community newsletter. Thanks, Andrew, for giving me a by-line with my “View from the Passenger Seat” articles.

  • Keep on working on the parish newsletter as content and layout editor.

  • Finish Esther Bunny’s manuscript.

  • Finish the sequel to “Hi, Doggie!” my entry in the MeeGenius contest.

  • Get into the idea folder and get drafts of at least 3 more ideas.

  • Keep meeting my critique group!! They keep me on task with deadlines.

  • Get rid of the last 15 pounds – or more. This one is doctor’s orders.

  • Keep researching the 1st through 5th grade market. Focus on boy readers.

  • Start working on the travel bucket list with my husband. We have a list of historical sites with want to visit. We both want to get into the history of these towns.

  • Blog more often than just twice a month.

  • Get something published ??????

   I’m sure there are plenty more items to add to this list. Isn’t that what a goal setting exercise is supposed to be, a fluid document, subject to change? At any rate, here’s off to another year of adventure. This is the year we honor the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking and find out if the Mayan calendar is all it’s cracked up to be. And 2012 is another Presidential election year, too. The campaign already started! Should I start writing editorials?

   How about sharing your goals for the new year?

   Let’s celebrate the holidays first!

   Have a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and a very happy and safe New Year.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Interesting word, gratitude. It means being grateful or thankful for the things you have. It’s definitely an attitude, or a way of approaching your life events.

We recently celebrated Thanksgiving. It’s the one time we are supposed to stop and give thanks. Many families incorporate this into the pre-meal toast or grace.  Those present offer their reasons to be thankful on that one day. We didn’t do that as part of our celebration this past week, but I want to list some things now:

  • I’m glad I was born, when I was. It was a simpler time, but things became more complex as I grew older. I got to learn how to change with the times. Now when things change, I just say, “Oh, (insert cuss word of choice here)! Keep on moving.”
  • I’m grateful for my Catholic faith. It’s been under the microscope lately, as is the whole “church participation” thing.  I’m glad I continue to participate actively, and that I live in a country that allows me to choose my own path toward God.
  • I thank God each day for my family. I’d be nothing without my husband, my kids, in-laws, grandkid, siblings, etc. On second thought, I would be something - very lonely. Not good for anyone.
  • I am grateful for my ability to think for myself. I worked in a few “corporate America” positions. I’ve seen what that mindset does to creativity and how those who really do “think out of the box”, like they say they want you to do, are not appreciated. I’m glad and thankful that I’m not part of that any longer.
  • I thank heaven for the opportunities I’ve had, that I’ve taken, and those yet to come. No matter what the talking heads on TV may say, I believe the best is yet to come. Will there be speed bumps on this road of life? Sure, but they don’t have to break you down. Be ready.
  • I’m very grateful for my health. I’ve tried to take care of myself. It may not look like I’ve been successful on the surface, but I am in pretty good shape. No I don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model. Nor do I want to. I want to enjoy life, and I can’t do that if I have to conform to a misguided view of “normal”.
  • I’m thankful for my ability to trust. Yes, I watch the evening news and the garbage they lead off the broadcasts. Yet I still trust in the basic good of humanity. It’s there somewhere, under I-Pods, tablets, 6 inches of make-up, stiletto heels, Armani suits, bonuses, Occupy signs, and all that. You just have to dig for it. I’m still digging with a lot of people.

 If I continue to list, the items will begin to repeat. Let’s just suffice to say that I am grateful for everything in my life, even the negative stuff. Hey, if there wasn’t any negativity, how would we know when things are going well?

I hope this attitude of gratitude shows to all I meet. Life is a great gift. Thank you, Lord, for everything.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Say When!

     I remember so well when I was a younger kid….

     My grandmother would ask me what size slice of cake I wanted. I would say “big”. She would put the knife on the cake top, measuring a sliver, and say “This big?” I’d say “NO! Bigger”. The knife would move a bit more and she would say “Say when.” The knife would move almost all over the cake until I’d say “When.” It was usually the size piece she had in mind for me from the start. It was a little game we played that let me think I really did control the size of the piece of cake I got. “Say when” was used often in our house. Pouring coffee for my dad, refilling a glass of milk for my mom – the act would always start with “Say when” and end with them saying “When!” when the container was full enough.

     Maybe that’s the key. When is “enough”?

     This comes back to me each time I sit down to write an article or story. I’ll start out with what I call “cranial diarrhea” or “brain leakage”. I just let the thoughts spill out on the page without any personal editing filter. Then comes the hard part - the editing.  The questions that I ask myself start creeping in; such as, “What needs to go?”; “Did I make that clear?”; “What if it doesn’t make sense?”

     Yesterday, I sent my first picture book manuscript into a contest for authors, published and unpublished. Technically, I’m not a published author yet. Yes, I’ve written curriculum guides, lesson plans, articles for my community newsletter, and articles for my church newsletter, and other random writing. But I have never exchanged my written work for dead Presidents – gotten paid. So, I really am a true rookie at the writing business.

    I jumped all over this contest. I had the idea swirling in the recesses of the brain. I went through the “leakage” mode and wrote everything down. After each time I dealt with the manuscript, I put it away and looked at it later with fresh eyes. That trick I learned when writing research papers. But this contest presented me with a deadline. At some point, I’d have to say “when”.

     This bit of behavior is something all writers wrestle with, I am sure. How much editing needs to be completed before you pitch the idea to an agent or editor? How much writing has to happen before an editor sees your work? I always have wrestled with “saying when” even on essay questions in school. An author wants the work to be good, to reflect well on the author, and to be successful in the marketplace. But when is the right time to let the work stand on its own? To back off? To stop editing?

     I am still learning, even at my age.

So here is this list of rhetorical questions for pondering. I can’t answer them now. I truly think the “say when” point will be different for each project. Deadlines work for me now. What works for you? How about sharing?

     Talk about “saying when” – I’m going to post this with only 1 read-through, fragments, misspellings and all. This is a sample of leakage. It’s been on my mind for a while. So now it’s time to move it out of my brain, onto some paper, and make room for more ideas in the cranial cavity.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Carpe` Dirt!

     Why, when you receive an award, do you stop and wonder how you got to that point?  Is the surprise because of winning or the fact that you won, in spite of your past? I recently got that surprise at the Anne Arundel County Fair.

     You have to know something about my past before you can appreciate the situation. I was born in Philadelphia. Our first house had a 6 x 6 foot patch of lawn in the front with about 4 rose bushes that grew so large and fat, they became a hedge. And they also became a source of allergy pain during the spring. Our back yard was concrete. Visiting my extended family did not get me any more access to dirt or flowers. The most some family members had were houseplants or window boxes outside their houses. No lawn, no dirt, no “yard work”. In fact, yard work consisted of hosing down the driveway and steps.

     When I was 10 we moved to the ‘burbs in New Jersey. To some extended family members, we might as well have moved to a foreign country. New Yorkers joke about how no one wants to go to the Jersey side of the Hudson. It’s the same in Philly. Poor New Jersey has no identity of its own. It’s either West New York, East Philadelphia, or the oil-and-petrochemical-refinery-state. Atlantic City doesn’t count. Jersey is the jungle you have to go through to get to the Jersey shore.

     Our Jersey house had a big yard.  Lots of dirt and lawn - foreign items to a city kid. My dad planted a bunch of trees in our back yard when we moved in. Of course, they looked more like sticks, which he occasionally mowed over by accident. They eventually grew to shade the house and provide all 6 of us kids another opportunity to do yard work as we raked leaves in the fall.

     My dad grew up in a part of Philly that wasn’t totally built up and still had some open field areas. He remembered the fresh taste of veggies from the garden from his childhood. Each year he planned a veggie bed and some years got lucky with his harvest. He never planted food near the house, so I was allowed to try my hand at flowers. I got lucky too. With absolutely know idea what I was doing, I managed to plant marigolds, snapdragons and zinnias and have them come up and look good too. Maybe this was the seed planted for my love of gardening now.

     Fast forward to today. This city-bred kid now lives in a forest area. Our neighborhood is one of the environmentally protected areas in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. I’ve got more leaves to clean up than I can ever remember. And now, I’ve got a chance to do some design work on my own yard. Life comes with all kinds of surprises. Go figure.

     I’ve always almost enjoyed yard work. Heck, for years the yard work saved me bundles on gym memberships. I managed to reactivate and re-injure dormant muscle groups on a regular basis raking, mowing, and mulching.  It also preserved my sanity while I was teaching middle school age kids. I only had to choose between dead-heading flowers or dead-heading kids…which one would NOT land me in jail? Oh, so choose the flowers. Yard work relieved my stress and gave me a sense of accomplishment that teaching to standardized test scores never could.

     As a devotee of landscape TV shows on HGTV and DIY network, I always envisioned my yard as a lush area with lots of curb appeal. I’ve tried to landscape the yard with hidden treasures, or little surprises in various corners of the yard.  This year, however, was the absolute weirdest weather/ gardening year I’ve ever lived through. All gardeners got lots of surprises from Ma Nature. The mid-Atlantic region started out wet in the spring. Ok, that’s not so bad for the new seeds. Then it got brutally hot and dry through the high points of summer. Not good since you have to water plus some of the more tender plants will burn up in the super heat. Then came the late summer series of deluges. Lots of rain storms with high winds and driving rain hit close to every other day. Add in an earthquake, Hurricane Irene and the remnants (yeah, right!) of Hurricane Lee and we now have the overgrown garden, and heavy mold and mosquito situation that takes all the fun out of being outside.

     Yo, wait a minute! Didn’t this piece start with an award? Sure did. With all of this background information, I got the surprise of my life on September 17, when I picked up my trophy for Best in Show at the County Fair for my entry in the Flowers Division! I went nuts this year entering in different divisions and managed to collect a bunch of prizes. Cut flowers, plants in containers, even some of my herbs, all were entered and most won some type of prize money. I also entered some sewing projects in the Sewing division and some crocheted items in the Needle Arts division. Took home some prize money there too. But the cherry on the top of that Sunday was the Best in Show trophy for my potted caladium. Way to go, Self!!!! Not bad for someone who grew up in a city environment!

     Just goes to show that you never know what treasures life has in store for you. New discoveries around every corner.

     Carpe` deim!  Or in my case, carpe` dirt!

[Did this author just do a character analysis? Can I work this "fish out of water" idea into a storybook character?]

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Right in my own back yard - sort of

    On a cold, winter’s evening, we approached the manor house up the oyster-shelled drive. We were greeted at the door by the house valet and our informally dressed host, Mr. George Calvert. Inside, the warmth of Riversdale Mansion was evident through a flurry of activity of hospitality. Invited to make ourselves at home, we retired to the parlor where we were entertained by a harpist playing period music. Alas, the pianoforte in the corner was silent. We then moved to the dining area where we enjoyed our hostess’ favorite cake recipe – it happens to be Martha Washington’s recipe. Slices were served with hot, mulled cider, a perfect addition on this cold evening. Afterward, we were at liberty to move about the house, touring room to room at our leisure. My fellow guests and I visited Mr. Calvert in his sanctuary, his study. We admired the mural wallpaper depiction of the French fox hunt that covered the walls. Our party then moved to the ballroom, to admire the portraits of the six Lords Baltimore. Too quickly went two hours at Riversdale Mansion in Riverdale Park, Maryland and our holiday evening with George and Rosalie Calvert.

    The Riversdale Historical Society and Prince Georges County Parks and Recreation open up Riversdale House for house tours each Friday and Sunday to anyone wishing to experience life in the early 19th century. At the Visitor’s Center, which is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5, a visitor can examine the history of the plantation. A Terrapin Alumnus (like myself) can look into the home and life of Maryland Agricultural College (now known as University of Maryland, College Park) founder Charles Benedict Calvert. The budding Indiana Jones among us can learn of the archeological and historical research being used in the restoration of the site. Students of African American history can examine the life and work of Adam Francis Plummer, a slave who worked at Riversdale and kept a diary of daily life of the slaves on the plantation. Admission for this glimpse into life in 19th century Maryland is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors/groups, $1 for children 5 through 18, and children under 4 are free.

    Looking for something to do with the whole family? Look into one of the special events at Riversdale by visiting their website. Events such as “Tasting the Past: Heirloom Grains” allow guests the opportunity to learn about heirloom grains that were grown on the plantation, followed by a chance to taste historic recipes made from those grains. Gardeners may want to visit to tour the garden and orchard and enjoy demonstrations by the Kitchen Guild. Each season, the Kitchen Guild also hosts demonstrations of the foodways in the Dependency Kitchen. These demonstrations use the produce available in that season to 19th century farmers and show how these items were prepared “back in the day”. Plan on showing the children how food goes from ground to table by attending one of these demos.

    Need more information on Riversdale House Mansion? Check out their website through the Prince Georges County Parks and Recreation at www.pgpark.com/things to do/history. All events and costs are listed there. Take the slide show tour of the house. And I’ll see you there!

(Revision of the original article published in the Arden-on-the-Severn Newsbuoy, March 2011)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Annapolis in the Spring

     Did you ever see a closed gate for a tall, solid fence and wonder what was behind it? Did you ever see a row of tall hedge bushes and imagine what was beyond the green fence? Were you ever so curious that you snuck in to take a quick peek? And if the fences were locked up tight, did that pique your interest even more? Was that answer “constantly”?

     On June 4, 2011, I got a chance to look beyond hedges and past locked fences into some beautiful retreats for the soul during the annual Annapolis Secret Garden Tour, sponsored by the Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis. I was a true passenger on this trip, since I went with my very good friend and tour veteran. Both of us are devout Plantaholics and not ashamed to admit it. We both unabashedly look for ideas from others on how to jazz up our own gardens. I, especially, look for what survives under specific conditions, since I have a questionable ability to grow a variety of plants in my yard.

     We started the day at the First Presbyterian Church yard, where we picked up our tickets and maps, and completely absolved ourselves from going to the gym that day. We were in for some serious walking. The tour was totally self-guided and all you needed to do was follow the sunflower markers. Being a bit rebellious, we started at the end of the tour, with the garden at the Harbor View Inn on St. Mary’s Street.

     Local businesses and realtors took the opportunity to show off some of the houses as well as the gardens. Some gardens were professionally landscaped, and it was interesting to see the latest trends in landscaping. Some gardens have many gardeners collaborating into the look of the garden. St. Mary’s Church Meditation Garden was just such a location. Hidden well in this quiet haven is the Children’s Garden, filled with plants that are aromatic and tactilely stimulating to young curious minds. The gardens of the Charles Carroll House, on the same site as St. Mary’s Church, beckoned to brides and their photographers with lush, formal vistas that include the harbor. We were also able to tour the Charles Carroll House; to see how one of our country’s founding fathers lived.

     The tour also allowed us to peek into many private home gardens and experience the personal touches added by many Historic District residents. Several homeowners wanted every view in the garden to be peaceful and relaxing. Many also capitalized on their water views and worked their docks into their landscapes. One particular home focused on the children who either lived there or visited often. This landscape had several secret passages through and within the hedges, complete with guardian fairies, frogs and twinkle lights. Vistas in these homes were rich, so that a movie buff like me can imagine another time period and see Gatsby and Daisy strolling across the lawn, or Daniel Day Lewis’ character seeking Michelle Pfieffer’s at the docks, as in “The Age of Innocence”.

     The Secret Garden Tour is an annual event scheduled for the first full weekend in June. The gardens offered for viewing change each year, although I am assured that there are a few repeated gardens. The tour planners bring a wide variety of landscape styles from both public and private gardens into view. A passionate gardener can get so many ideas, from the types of plants to use in certain garden locations, to ways to personalize the space and make you home garden environmentally friendly. There is a charge for the tour and the proceeds are used by the Hammond-Harwood House Association Inc. The House itself is open for touring and gives a glimpse into the colonial Annapolis everyday life. Check for more information, costs, and special programs offered at www.HammondHarwoodHouse.org. This is a great place to visit for some experiential (and “stealth”) learning in American history and culture for students of our area. Not far from home, inexpensive, and educational – can’t beat that for a summer field trip!

Originally published in the Arden on the Severn NewsBuoy - July, 2011 as "A View from the Passenger Seat"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

From the Journal of a Baseball Fan

Date: August 21, 2011
Time: around 1 pm EDT

Check another item off the personal bucket list. I come from a family filled with pilgrims to all 32 Major League Baseball Parks. Some members of my family have been to ball parks that are long gone, myself included. Last weekend, I got the chance to see the newest “neighborhood” team in their new home in DC. But I was rooting for the visitors this trip. Yes, I became a pilgrim on hostile soil by attending the Nationals game as a Phillies fan.

I remember when the location for Nationals Stadium was announced. Anacostia had a bad reputation for safety in the District. How could putting a major tourist venue in a low rent, high crime area do the neighborhood any good? As we drove to the stadium, I noticed that the best building so far is the Nationals complex. It sits in an area on the Anacostia River with construction companies and other medium industrial enterprises. But the stadium is still new, and a novelty. Hopefully the surrounding real estate will upgrade in the very near future. There’s potential in that neighborhood. And there’s a growing feeling that it is a safe area.

We walked into the center field gate and were met by 4 presidents. Yes, the Presidential mascots and the official mascot, Screech, greet visitors and pose for pictures in a wide open media area. You are able to pose with George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson with no problem. Just try getting close to Teddy Roosevelt! Not happening! He is by far the most popular of the mascots. After the fourth inning, the mascots have a foot race from the right field corner down to first base. Teddy tries to win and comes close – oh, so close. The crowds in the stands, supporters of both teams, start the chant as the mascots take the warning track, “Let Teddy win! Let Teddy win!” Today was another disappointment for Teddy fans, however.

Nationals Stadium offers the usual baseball fare to eat and drink, plus some local favorites, such as a Five Guys, Ben’s Chili Bowl and Gifford’s Ice Cream, to name a few. But I was a guest of someone with club level tickets, complete with air conditioned concourse. There was one stand with a version of a Philadelphia cheese steak sandwich and sausage and peppers sandwiches. As a Philadelphia native, I was beginning to feel quite at home.

As we walked around the concourse, and took our seats, I was convinced I was “at home” in Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. We saw more Phillies “Phan” gear than we saw of the Nationals fan gear. Where were all the Nats fans? Why do you see Philadelphia so well represented in DC? When I posed this question to another Phillies fan, I was told that you can’t get tickets to the Phillies games in Philadelphia. It’s this thing called winning. The Phillies win, and win series and playoff games. This area hasn’t seen a winning team in a while – a long while. Then, something about that statement touched a long dormant memory for me as a die-hard Orioles fan. The O’s used to win and fill the stands. The Nats are starting to win and are filling the stands. The Phillies have a recent history of winning and always fill the stands. Oh, the feeling of hope for the embattled Orioles and their fans…

Along with the expectation that the Phillies will win comes a bit of rudeness from the fans that can border on abusive. It’s not just in Philadephia, either. Anyone going to Yankee Stadium for an O’s – Yankees game can tell you stories of rude fans as young as 8 years old. And a San Francisco Giants fan clings to life after being beaten by Dodgers fans after this year’s season opener. This day I witnessed fan rudeness on both sides of the scoreboard. What happened to just enjoying the game?

The dictionary defines a “fan” as “an enthusiastic devotee or follower [fan(atic)].” (Random House Dictionary, 1980)  The same volume defines “sportsmanship” as “a person who plays fair and is a good loser.” Somewhere along the line many fans of professional sports lost the concept of sportsmanship to team identity fanaticism. Our kids are watching us. What are we, as a community of fans, showing our kids? Are the kids beginning to think that this behavior is “normal”? Everyone has the freedom of choice and the right to support the team of their choice without fear of harassment.

In the interest of fairness – and so this will not become an obituary to the death of common courtesy – there are many ballparks in the country who welcome fans of opposing teams and are very hospitable. For the most part, Nationals Park was one of them. The staff ushers and food servers were the most polite people I’ve encountered in a long time. Oriole Park is renowned for it’s hospitality toward all fans. Both parks have enthusiastic staffs and local fans looking for a good game worth the price of the ticket. Now if this attitude of courtesy could spread all over… please!

For the record, I, a devoted Orioles fan, went to the Nationals game wearing my Phillies “Phanatic” shirt. I cheered for the Phillies and laughed when Jayson Werth was booed in Nationals Park by the Phillies fans (because it sounded so ridiculous). I explained the “Choooooooch” call to nearby Nationals fans when Carlos Ruiz came to bat (nicknamed, Chooch) and the Nats fans thought we were booing him too.  The Phillies lost the game and the world didn’t end. It was a great, tight game and went 10 innings. And after the fourth inning, I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Let Teddy win! Let Teddy win!” Ballpark baseball is the absolute best. It’s a must experience for all families, no matter where you live and no matter what team you support.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Observe Life

Try to imagine drums in the background.  

It was another typical mid-day and the harvest was bountiful for those seeking sustenance.  Many came seeking nourishment and comfort. Females brought their young, teaching them by example how to hunt and gather, whether they want to learn this skill or not. Some males accompanied their females, sometimes providing assistance. Some males accomplished this task in solitude.

You can witness many different methods for the acquisition process. There is the commando, who moves around with stealth and speed, zeroing in on their exact needs.  Movement is swift, exacting. Others in their path are merely speed bumps on the road toward accomplishing their goal. There are the dazed refugees from Zombieland, who move slowly as if overwhelmed by the abundance. Movement for them is relaxed, lazy. There is no hurry to complete the task.  They must stop and handle each item, as if to obtain an aura from it.  There are those focused on pleasing, who are in constant contact with other members of their party. They stop and start often, shifting locations in frantic search. There are many just focused on the procurement job of the moment, with little thought to future needs. Movement for these resembles a lightning strike, swift and accurate. 

You cannot tell by looking at them what drives this process. Was it the sight of the abundance? Was it the blend of smells? Was it truly the need for satiety? Was it the thrill of the hunt? Was it the satisfaction of mission accomplished?

Ah, yes, it was another typical mid-day at the food section of your local WalMart.

One may safely assume that I hate shopping. One former student reminded me that I “wasn’t a real woman, because” I don’t enjoy the shopping part of my life. I really don’t care. When I do have to go shopping, and if I am not on a personal procurement mission, I try to do some people-watching.  The job can then be palatable, humorous, and, yes, almost enjoyable. Notice I said almost.

Beware the commando shopper! Me!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Life with WiFi

     Where’s Rod Serling when you need him?

     You want to talk about adventures to the Twilight Zone?

     Vacationing at a mountain resort in Virginia last week, I ran into an unexpected problem. In the past, I’ve been able to take the ol’ laptop (aka, Bessie) and keep track of things at home via the local WiFi. The resort itself is a hot spot and I’ve had no problems signing on in past years. This year the WiFi gremlins got me. The first day there I signed on with no problem. Bessie is a bit slow and showing her age. But that’s cool, I’m patient. She isn’t too happy with WiFi either since it leaves her files available. She feels like she’s walking around naked in cyberspace. She doesn’t like being treated like a Blackberry or and IPad. She has more class
      The next day we were both thrown into the world of IP addresses and firewalls. Somewhere, somehow, we were blocked from accessing the internet. We got “time out” messages after we tried logging on. Once or twice ok, but for the next 24 hours?

     I remember looking at the log in instructions, rereading them, going through them step by step, over and over. Finally, I called the help desk. There I met Robomenu – you know those “Please select 1 if…” recordings. My current issue was not in Robomenu’s preprogrammed brain, so I hit the star key to talk to a humanoid, the first of many. Together the human and I went through steps to log Bessie onto the net. It wasn’t working. Somewhere in the ether, Bessie had a blockage. Both human and I worked to clear the blockage. This is where it got really weird – human could see what I was doing. Human was somewhere else and because of the local WiFi net connection, he could read the computer. He was a ghost in Bessie’s brain. He didn’t totally ghost. I mean I could still operate the controls and move the mouse. True total ghosting is beyond freaky, when someone else takes control of your unit and works it for you. But one good thing came of it… the blockage was not Bessie’s. She was beating her head against the wall of the resort site homepage. “Yes, we will report the problem and get it solved from here,” said human. “Give us at least 1 hour.” “No problem,” said I.

     Twelve hours later I was back with Robomenu trying to locate the human, since the problem still existed. Another different human came to our “rescue”… actually I think we interrupted his Dungeons and Dragons session. Again we were ghosted, and the same requests were made. Evidently, the IP address is supposed to reset every 24 hours and it didn’t. The problem was reported yet again. The resort experienced a power failure during the past 24 hours and they weren’t completely connected yet. They will take care of it, we were both assured.

     That was Monday and today is Friday. In between, we talked to Jermaine and Dave, got a work order number, and many more promises to have the blockage cleared. So far it still hasn’t worked. Bessie must be totally attached to this IP address, because she can’t get rid of it or won’t give it up. The only solution is to take her out of the hot spot and allow her to cool off and reset. But in the meantime……this human is experiencing withdrawal! I figured I was going 21st century and becoming addicted to the Instant Info of the Net. But this week, I’m like a junkie looking for another cyber connection. No, I haven’t gotten the shakes or anything like that. But I’ve lost the ability to communicate with people via the Net. I also have messages that need to go out for business purposes.
     What is the totally Twilight Zone thing for me is how frustrating this whole situation is! I can’t believe I’ve allowed myself to become dependent on nuts, bolts, and microchips. Where is my brain? Where is my own initiative? I used to be able to resort to Alternate Plan B when I would run into a roadblock. That’s what problem solvers do…. Come up with another solution strategy. This was the only wrinkle in an otherwise great vacation. I HAD to disconnect for a while! I have to keep reminding myself that this cybertechnology is a tool, and when it works, it’s great. The problem is our society is removing Alternate Plan B from the equation.

Mr. Serling! Help!!

Well today is actually Saturday and I'm posting this from the comfort of home.

Obviously..... :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Keep it real

They say that you should write from what you know and experience. I've done a lot but, as they say, I ain't done yet. Got lots more to do in this life...

A week in Virginia.... hmmmm.

Looks like I have do some serious work here... Lots of wineries... lots of things to do... lots of adventures this old lady hasn't had yet...

I get some quiet time here too. Let's see if any big work on Esther Bunny comes about...
To be continued...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

... and so it begins!

Another day... another career! Time to try something I love to do. I keep thinking of a speech by a character in Ron Howard's Parenthood. Grandma compared life to an amusement park. Some people liked the merry-go-round. It was safe, it went around and around, and you always knew what was going to happen. The only challenge was to not throw up. She liked the roller coaster. It goes up and down, and moves fast, and is scary, and is exhilarating at the same time.

Merry-go-rounds can be so boring, unless you ride them with kids.

I am a roller coaster fan. Now the big question is: Am I climbing a big hill now? Just love the "up" part!

Starting this blog is definitely an "up". Stay tuned....