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Archive for November, 2013

I’m a little early, but every year as Christmas draws near, I post the link for a wonderful website:  www.northpole.com  This site has been around for many years and is a delight for kids and adults.  Kids can do all sorts of interactive things, coloring, toy shopping, games, puzzles, write to Santa and so many more fun things.  Mrs. Claus has hundreds of recipes for cookies and other Christmas goodies.  Visit the toy shop, the reindeer barn and Santa.  The kids will love this site.  You can also track Santa’s trip on Christmas Eve via NORAD.  Check it out and get in the spirit.

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Tree Love

I watched the two lone trees across the road caught up in a game of touch me and I’ll touch you.  The wind was gusting and a brewing storm was tossing the branches back and forth into frantic embraces that could not be sustained.  In fine weather, they stood solitary and forlorn.  Now they reached out for each other like lovers grasping to secure a long-sought and permanent coupling.  Leaves intertwined and held each other, briefly but fiercely.  It was a fine dance resembling a torrid tango where both partners knew they would eventually be left exhausted and changed.    As I continued to watch, I envied their arboreal passion and longed for arms to reach out for me.

 

 

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I inherited my love of mice from my mother.  When you live in a hundred year old house, you have to expect to share it with these downy little guys who come in from the cold in the fall.  We coexisted quite well.  They never fazed my mother, not even when she woke up one night to find one standing up on her chest chittering away in the dark at her, as if he had some complaint about his own accommodations.  She threw him off the blanket and went back to sleep.

If she wasn’t afraid of them, why would I be?

Once when my step-father was showering, she opened the shower curtain and said, “Guess what I have in here?”  She was holding an empty toilet paper roll between her palms.  I don’t know why she did this.  She had to have anticipated the outcome.  When he couldn’t begin to guess, she said, “A mouse.”  He said, “You’re lying.”  He doubted my mother?  Bad idea.  She removed one hand so he could see inside.  The mouse made his getaway by jumping on a naked man and landing soaking wet in the tub.  There ensued another pursuit of this little guy who was later dried off and put outside.

Years ago, I was invited for dinner at her new house which was a ranch…lots of space for running amok.  I was thrilled to see she had a mouse in a cardboard box in the kitchen.  She had a screen over the box and planned to put the mouse outside when the cat was not around.  It was just the two of us that night.  I got the mouse out of the box and sat down at the kitchen table, playing with the mouse and talking to my mother as she cooked.  She finally looked at me and said sternly,  “Don’t you dare let that mouse loose.”  I told her, “I won’t.  I’m holding him. He’s fine.”  Well, he was quite fine because less than a minute later, after he had lulled me into thinking he really like being held by a giant, he took a flying leap onto the floor…which my mother noticed immediately and started yelling at me.  She turned off the stove and we chased him for ten minutes through several rooms before he wound up in her guest room.  We closed the door and thought we had him.   My mother had a queen-sized bed in there.  If any mouse had run under my queen-sized bed, he would have been lost forever in a maze of books, shoes, gift wrap, plastic containers, empty gift boxes and other necessary paraphernalia a person might need close at hand.   Under my mother’s guest bed, there was nothing.  Nothing but a very irritated mouse who stood up in the middle and loudly vocalized his displeasure.  She and I were on opposite sides of the bed, and try as we might, neither of us could quite reach him.  My mother had finally stopped yelling at me, and we lay on the floor and laughed.

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My daughter has her own mouse story, involving me, of course.  She was visiting overnight.  I was downstairs making breakfast the next morning when she appeared, held out her hand and said, “Mother, would you like to explain this, please?”  I saw nothing but a tissue.  She said, “I was looking for something in the medicine cabinet and found this.”  Then I remembered.   She was continuing to frown at me, saying, “For the love of God, mother, is there something wrong with you?”

I told her, “I can explain.”  And, this is what happened.  Several nights before, in the middle of the night when I was sound asleep, my cat, Annie, brought me a mouse present.  I was able to retrieve him, this one already lifeless, but I was exhausted and in my nightgown.  My options were to take the dead mouse downstairs to the cold garage and put him in the trash, or hide him somewhere so Annie couldn’t get him.  If he wasn’t securely contained, she would have gotten to him and started chewing, an idea I did not find appealing at 3:00 am.  I didn’t want to put him inside a drawer, and finally opted to put him inside a tissue and lay him inside the medicine cabinet.  It was the safest choice.  I crawled back into bed, fully intending to discard him in the morning, but I totally forgot the mouse.  Ergo, Jess was searching the medicine cabinet and found a dead and dried-up mouse in a tissue.  I don’t know why she was so surprised…

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The Three Kathy’s

We live side by side by side.  Our names are Kathy, Kathy and Kathy…not even a spelling differential.  We are all widowed.   Listen to me…even I can’t make this stuff up.

I live on a perfectly lovely street with perfectly lovely neighbors.  I reside in a house on the north side of the street.  Kathy lives beside me, and the other Kathy lives beside her.  Some years ago, within a relatively short span of time, all three of us had husbands who decided, in one fashion or another, that a trip to the great beyond was in order, and they all boarded that little boat to heaven…like in Guys and Dolls, but without the singing.  We miss them, but that’s not the point of the story.

We have many friends on our street, wonderful women all, and we get together at Perkins for breakfast on a fairly regular basis.  It’s been a tradition for years.  We usually fill a table for eight.  When you get eight women together, there is much chatting and swapping of updates on the knee replacements, operations, the kids and grandkids, stories about friends of friends, retirements, babysitting, vacations, etc.

And, then they ask me what I’m writing.  On this particular occasion, I was excited to tell them about a new story idea.  Animated, I began:  “This may sound familiar.  The story goes like this…  There are three widows, all with the same name,  living side by side by side, and they have grown lonely over time.  Suddenly a wife dies…taken…just like that…on the opposite side of the street, leaving behind the first eligible man they have known in nearly a decade.  And – he is only across the street.  They mourn his wife, but immediately begin to dote on him, stopping by, doing his laundry, cleaning, delivering to him all manner of casseroles and baked goods.  They begin to feud among themselves and things get nasty as they strive to outdo one another and garner his affection.  He seems oblivious to what is going on between them…you might say he is clueless, which only spurs them on to greater groveling and desperation.”   I stop and tell them, “That’s as far as I’ve gotten.  I haven’t decided how it’s all going to end.”  They laugh, of course, because they know where the idea of the three widows came from.  All three of us are sitting there at the table.  Then my friends from the other side of the street ask, “Which one of us are you killing off?”

I haven’t told them yet.  They are on a need to know basis.  I’m still tossing it around in my head.  I love being a writer. Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee.

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Once upon an excruciatingly hot day in July, the plan was to go hiking with my daughter, Jess, at Great Falls Park in Washington, D.C.  This ill-conceived plan included taking the dogs with us…my daughter’s Scottie, Mac, and my Aussie, Oliver, 85 pounds of immoveable dog flesh when he chose.   Jess often took little Mac to Great Falls, a 800 acre national park that runs along the banks of the Potomac River.  I am old and forgetful…not remembering that Jess had taken Mac to the vet for blisters on his feet after his first excursion there.

It was a scorching, oven-like day, and I tried my best to talk Jess into a change of plans, like maybe a quick walk around the neighborhood and then shopping in a air-conditioned mall, but she wouldn’t go for it.  Her roommate, Sue, joined us, and we all set off for the park, reservations clouding my brain.  After more than an hour of reasonable hiking, we made it to a divergence of various options.  One of these was the Billy Goat Trail.  Sue (wisely) suggested taking a less strenuous trail which headed back to the canal and parking lot.  Jess again prevailed and nixed that idea.  I, being the innocent and ignorant party, said nothing.  The beginning was pleasant enough, but we began to run into other hikers who looked at us dubiously and more or less questioned our intelligence (sanity?) in taking these two dogs on the Goat Trail.  This was making me nervous.

Well, the Billy Goat Trail is a bit of a misnomer.  It should be called the Mountain Goat Trail.  Eventually, there was nothing but the Potomac and a lot of rock…very high rock.  Scratch that – what I really mean to say is BOULDERS.  After about fifteen minutes of this, we came to an area where it was difficult for even Mac to progress – but, duh, he was a little dog and I didn’t realize that they would simply pick him up and move him manually across crags and crevices.  Oliver weighed 85 pounds dry, and he was soaking wet from an earlier foray into the Potomac.  Sue and Mac got tired of waiting for us and went ahead.  Jess and I couldn’t go back (it was too late in the day for that), and Oliver was very determined not to go forward.  His adventuresome spirit had deflated by now.  If he could have spoken, I imagined him saying, “I’m pissed.”  This was how I was to soon feel as well.  It was beginning to get dark, and I imagined the three of us spending the night sleeping on these same formidable rocks.  It took Jess and me about twenty minutes to coax and pull Oliver down to where we were then, and now we had to get him almost straight up a seven foot high rock surface.  To truly comprehend the situation, I must tell you, the only way you know which way to go are painted arrows on the rocks…which jokingly designate “the trail”.

For about thirty minutes we pushed, pulled, begged, sweated, and cursed (not always at the dog).  Picture Jess at the top of this rock face, on her butt, legs braced, pulling for all she was worth on Oliver’s leash.  Picture Oliver pulling the other direction, namely down (I believe out of fear she was trying to hang him).  Picture me at the bottom, attempting to push an 85 pound plus, wet dog, by his butt, straight up.  I don’t recall how I was lucky enough to have the bottom end, but I had dog butt in my face and don’t wish to ever again.

That is finally how we got out of the park.  Plan B was to use Jess’s cell phone to call for help and have us all air-lifted.

I have not been back to Great Falls, but, by all means, go.  It’s beautiful and there are much easier hiking trails.

The next morning I got up to take Oliver out to “do his business”.  I was wondering why he had let me sleep in.  There was a simple explanation – he couldn’t walk!  It took me ten minutes to get him on his feet and out the back door.  I was so very happy he stood to “go”.  We repeated this routine for three days.  I did feel sorry for him, but there’s always a price to be paid for having too much fun.

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The view from the Hauser Estate Winery…where I had a great tour and awesome time.  For some strange reason, this web site will not let me enlarge photo for posting as I normally do.  Click on photo to see larger image.

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Well, apologies to all for my hiatus.  I have been writing, but working on short stories to submit to literary magazines.  I can’t publish them here until, and if, they reject my efforts.  I’m in limbo.  However, I can post anything else I want and I did promise a couple of stories…shorter, but no less entertaining I hope.

What else have I been doing?  Well…reading and writing Amazon reviews, roaming the county for new photographs, trivia once a week, wine-tasting, trying out new bread recipes, creating new note cards for Man In The Moon, and, of course, my job.

Today is a beautiful day in Gettysburg and Adams County.  I’m going to start by posting a photograph.  Give me a minute.

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