Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Val's Tasty Treats: Crusty Braided Carpet

It's the weekend, and time for another installment of my WIP.  This is part of the chapter entitled, "Flotsam and Rugsam."

I purchased my first house for $17,900. Granted, this is Missouri, and I do appreciated a good bargain. The price is deceptive. It's not like I cheated anyone out of a valuable abode. I'm not as bad as my friend Bo, who bought ten acres and a trailer for a song, right out from under a single mom with three kids running around the yard in just their underpants, eating raw hot dogs out of the fridge. My seller was happy with the price. Or perhaps just pleased to unload her albatross. 

The house needed a little bit of work. Hick, my future husband, decided the first order of business was a new subfloor. That meant the floor joists had to be replaced, which led to the purchase and nailing of more wood products, eventually resulting in cushy new carpet in my living room. Which sounds deceptively simple, if you forget that repairs always take more time than expected. Especially when your master carpenter doesn't show up because he was incarcerated over the weekend for a bar fight.

Somewhere between the time half my house was up on jacks, and the time the last nail was driven into the subfloor, Hick became my full-fledged husband. So like him to hitch his wagon to a star. A star with a $17,900 house.

While we walked around on three-quarter-inch plywood, waiting for Master C to make bail so he could add a computer nook to the front of the house (where a blue tarpaulin flapped over a six-foot span), and thus allow us to make final arrangements for the carpet...my grandma gave us a rug. 

The rug's previous residence was in front of Grandma's fireplace. His job was to soak up burning embers that popped out through the black mesh screen, keeping them from setting her carpet on fire. He performed admirably, as evidenced by the myriad of crunchy, charred craters in his braiding. He was a stately oval fellow, some twelve feet by eight feet in dimension.  His rounds of green and brown and black foiled the gusts of cold air which were wont to gush upwards through the cracks between the plywood sheeting.

On the chilly evening we laid the Grandma rug, as I plopped myself onto the couch to watch television, sound turned up to fight the flapping of the tarp, my socked foot snagged on something sharp. I commanded Hitch to get down on the floor and see if there might be a staple or paperclip caught in the rug. Hitch crawled over and felt under my feet. "Here it is!" He jumped up, holding the culprit over his head, much like a nerd clutching his "Best Technical Lighting in a Documentary" Oscar.

It was a toenail. 

Specifically, it was a giant, ragged, man's toenail. My 5' 2" humpbacked little old grandma could never in a million years have cultivated a toenail of such proportions. I gagged. Not only a toenail, but a mystery toenail.

The next day, Hitch flung the braided rug over the clothesline, and beat it within an inch of its non-life. Even after the carpet was installed, we couldn't throw away the rug. It was, after all, an heirloom of sorts. After we had kids and built a new home, we unrolled it to use on the basement tile, in front of the television and gaming system. When the kids were old enough, we told them the story. We had to.

I named it the Toenail Rug.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Remember the Drive-In Movies?

Barb and Sioux from my blog list posted this week about things they remember. Which of course got me to thinking about things I remember. Not so much things, as thing.

I remember a family night at the drive-in. Yes. I'm that old. Drive-ins were a booming business. I'm talking movie drive-ins, not dining establishments.

All day long, my sister and I looked forward to going to the Corral Drive-In, which has since been torn down and made into storage sheds and a veterinarian's office. Every time I drive by, I remember driving in.

The most exciting part about the drive-in movie was staying up late. That was closely followed by the snacks. We didn't buy our snacks at the drive-in. My family had just built our first-ever house, after years of living in a 50-foot, single-wide trailer. Mom went to school at night, got a teaching degree, and went to work. All that saving made us reluctant to spend money on movie snacks.

While we waited in the kitchen for Dad to get home from work, Mom popped popcorn on the harvest gold stovetop. It was the white popcorn, not yellow. The small tender kernels. Mom popped them in vegetable oil in a copper-bottomed saucepan. When the pan was done, she dumped the popcorn into a paper grocery sack. Then she popped another. The standard drive-in fare was four pans of popcorn in the brown paper bag. Oil seeped through in spots near the bottom, which made it even more enticing.

Of course, with all that popcorn, drinks were in order. A brown metal cooler held tall, thin, glass bottles of Pepsi, bottles with twisty little grooves up the side, and metal caps that needed a bottle opener. We used ice cubes from our harvest gold side-by-side refrigerator-freezer to cool the soda. The only improvement on that would have been a stop at the ice company next to the laudromat where the Hell's Angels once washed their clothes while standing around naked waiting for them to dry. Not that I saw it with my own eyes. It was, perhaps, an urban legend. We only used the ice company when we went camping, to get big blocks of ice that slid down a metal chute, and had to be hacked into chunks with an ice pick. Or when we had a big family party like a hog-slaughter at my mom's parents' house, and made ice cream in the crank freezer. Isn't that what everybody did at a hog slaughter?

My sister and I had to wear our pajamas to the drive-in. We saw nothing wrong with that. Dad loaded the cooler into our black Olds 98, and Mom put the popcorn on her lap. No sooner had we parked at the drive-in and hooked the speaker on the window than we clamored for that popcorn. We were not allowed to join other kids in their pajamas playing on the merry-go-round and riding springy chickens and bears. Soon after the cartoon and dancing snack food, Sis climbed up in the back windshield and sacked out, in all her pajama-ed glory. I perched on the edge of the seat, watching the movies.

Barely after the first feature ended, perhaps The War Wagon, or Support Your Local Sheriff, Mom and Dad nodded off. I didn't see any reason to wake them. I still had popcorn, and another movie to watch. The one that comes to mind was Twisted Nerve, with Hayley Mills. I suppose Mom and Dad saw "Hayley Mills," and thought it would be suitable for children. It wasn't.

Once the credits rolled on the second feature, I woke Mom, who woke Dad. Then I stretched out on the back seat and promptly fell asleep. It was plenty roomy, with Sis in the back window. Nobody saw anything improper back then about such passenger arrangements. Or about kids riding on the tailgate of a pick-up truck, dangling their legs over the edge at 70 mph down the interstate.

But that's a story for another day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Curse of the Magi

My husband, Hick, is always getting us into situations with an O. Henry Magi twist.

This evening, after a torrential daylong downpour, I was driving home along overflowing drainage ditches and partially-submerged pavement when my phone rang. I was in a quandary. I dodged an oncoming car. Should I keep both hands on the wheel so the standing water did not pull me off the road? Should I answer the phone in case it was my husband or just-licensed son, perhaps needing assistance?

A particularly treacherous section lay just ahead. The two-lane blacktop is about one-and-a-half lanes on a dry day. It takes attention and catlike reflexes to pass a car at this spot, because the blacktop is warped and buckled, and there's no shoulder to excuse an error in judgment. Now, it was flooded across the entire width. Not enough to wash me away, but enough to pull me off the road into some barbed wire.

I glanced at the phone in my purse. It was Hick. I had about an eighth of a mile to the tricky part. But Hick might have run into trouble on the way to his bowling league. I answered. "Skterek skiti skjje sxocol scrlrr." That was perplexing. I told Hick that I did not understand. "Skterek skiti skjje sxocol scrlrr." I said that I could not hear. "Skterek skiti skjje sxocol scrlrr!"

By this time, I was in the puddle. I wrestled the steering wheel with one hand. A car approached. I hung up, and tossed my phone to my 13-year-old, the boy we call The Pony. "Here. See what your dad wants. Tell him I needed two hands to drive through this water."

The Pony relayed the information. He listened for a minute. He said, "Hmm...call ended. I guess Dad was done talking. He said it didn't matter."

Two roads and three miles later, I called Hick myself.

"What did you want when you called? All I could hear was static."

"To tell you that you were coming up on a big puddle."

Only Hick would call me when I needed two hands to negotiate a puddle, in order to tell me that I was approaching a big puddle.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Master Sweaver

I am a master sweaver.

I don't mean to brag. But it's true. Sweaving is a lost art. Today's sweavers do not strive for perfection. They are content to sweave as the mood strikes them, low-quality/high-quantity sweaving, a generic, ho-hum, collective sweave for the masses.

My sweaving powers are reserved for good, not evil. I only sweave when necessary, to avoid calamity, or when masterminding a game of revenge against tailgaters.

Perhaps I should clarify my stance, in case some of you are not privy to the sweaving culture. Sweaving is the art of swerving and weaving at the same time, while piloting a moving vehicle on a public motorway.

My husband, Hick, thinks he is a model driver. Well, more like he thinks he is driving in a perfectly normal manner, hands at 10:00 and 2:00, straight down the road. In reality, he sweaves. We travel from center line to wake-up bumps. Back and forth. To and fro. Left and right. Now and again. We should be required to pay double taxes because we inflict twice as much wear-and-tear on the pavement. Our tires last half the listed life. The mileage on our autos is outrageously low. Because we need twice the gas to go half the distance. Our travels are as much lateral as forward.

I, on the other hand, save my sweaving for dire circumstances. Like when a rock-hauling truck pulling a pup comes barreling down the center line at 70 mph on two-lane blacktop, and I sweave to the right, drive a few hundred feet on the grassy shoulder, and return to my designated lane. Unscathed. Been there. Done that.

The other way to utilize the sweave is when you want revenge without confrontation. No road-rage brouhaha is necessary. I gladly endure the remora feeding frenziedly on my rear bumper. One mile. Two. Three-and-a-half. Then I make my move. A turn onto my gravel road lays the groundwork for my evil plot. All the tailgater has to do is follow me, and I do the rest. Do you know how much dust flies behind tires with no mudflaps on a gravel road? Apparently, the tailgaters don't know either. Until I educate them.

Maybe you're heard the expression, "eat my dust." Indeed. I am the feeder. The tailgater is the eater. And I sweave up a mean smorgasbord of dust. Fine particles like powder, chat, pea gravel, inch-minus, and perhaps one day, rip-rap. My kids love it when they can't even see the tailgater through the dust. "You're feeding him really good, Mom!" Of course I am. I sweave from the left to the right, seeking out the loosest of the gravel. That's where all the dust is, where the particles launch most readily.

I am a master sweaver.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Val's Tasty Treats: Fresh, Steaming Hot Tub

Time for another taste of my work-in-progress.  It's an excerpt from The Free Hairwad Hot Tub. But we don't have time to address the hairwad part.

Several years ago, my husband, Hick, scored a free hot tub. Granted, it was a 1991 model, worth $3000 new. By Hick's account, it had somehow appreciated to $4600 after fifteen years of use. Hick was happier than Paula Deen after dinner with the Buttertons. He made plans to install his new treasure.

The boys tipped me off that something was rotten in the state of Hot Tub. "Dad is going to put the hot tub in the garage." Quite a change from the original plan of placing it under the deck, next to the above-ground pool. A location that would be optimal for stepping out the basement door in the winter, or hopping back and forth from the pool to the hot tub in the summer. A soothing view of forest, and frolicking woodland creatures, seemed to seal the deal on proper hot tub placement.

The garage is not attached to the house. Summertime temperatures in Outer Garagia regularly reach 120 degrees. During winter months, the trek to the hot tub would require a parka and snowshoes. Nature's vista? Gone. Replaced by two metal doors to the left, three shelves of hoarded booty on the right, and straight ahead, a bevy of fishing poles hanging on nails hammered into the two-by-four studs. Instead of fluffy clouds, or sparkling stars overhead, a patchwork of plywood sheets laid willy-nilly over the rafters would greet a hot-tubber who laid his head back to relax. And perhaps the added bonus of a cat tail twitching over the edge.

The five cats living in the rafters, earning their keep by knocking down Christmas ornaments, would no doubt welcome a hot tub. No more slinking to the pool for their chlorinated beverage. The beverage would come to them. They would gladly donate the hair off their backs for the privilege of a hot tub in their quarters.

When confronted about the flies in his hot tub ointment, Hick declared that he would build a wall to keep the cat hair out of the hot tub. A miracle wall which he should patent, to sell to my friends with house cats, who along with giving me both cookies and a candle caked with cat hair, have also been observed to harbor cat hair in the freezer. Hick would add garage windows for a view. Because apparently windows grow on trees, right beside the money. Hick explained that we would only be hot-tubbing in the winter, not the summer. Though he did not explain how a hot tub in a garage was different from a big triangular bathtub full of jets in the master bathroom. So there. No mention of where we would park the cars.

After a lively week of teeth-gnashing and brow-beating, Hick and I reached a compromise: the hot tub would be installed under the deck. The beauty of it was...he really thought that was a compromise.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Island Vacation Subdues Teens

I spent the day basking on Study Island. That's a site where students can practice the type of questions that will be used on state-sanctioned evaluations for specific grade levels and subject matter.

You would think a learned educator such as myself would be prepared for a voyage to Study Island. Perhaps a hamper of cool beverages was in order. As well as an Igloo Playmate filled with refreshing cucumber finger-sandwiches. Round that out with a tube of sunscreen, a good book (Bright Lights, Big Ass), a visor to keep Val's lovely lady-mullet out of her eyes, a large beach towel suited for lolling...and you've got a relaxing field trip to a tropical paradise.

Or not.

Did I mention that I had 21 students as my companions? Their company was quite enjoyable. But I, as Val, their fearless leader, was there to rescue those who swam out toward the rip tide. To apply sunscreen. Swab Neosporin on sliced toes. Minister to the nauseous. Mend broken hearts. Send up the signal flare when our rowboat drifted away. It was a working vacation. Of 50 minutes.

Forget the beverages and sandwiches. No food or drink allowed in the computer lab. The sunscreen was needed only when the large swaths of maroon fabric draped over the two tall windows fell down, setting the stage for a focused beam of sunshine from God's magnifying glass. Since the student handbook requires shoes to be on feet at all times throughout the school day, no Neosporin was needed. Seasickness was not a problem in our  lab built on bedrock. The only couple present had managed to survive the full moon unscathed, with intact hearts. And a land bridge back to the main hallway put the kibosh on any signal flare ideas.

Oh, but it was hot! Those computer technology instructors must have lizards in their family trees. My class needed an excursion to a sweatshop to cool off. If only someone had brought along beef from yesterday's lunch, we could have made jerky. And had 30 minutes left to practice the forgotten art of mummification. Several texts came in from hell, pledging ice water as soon as their shipment arrived. My face turned flaming, fire-engine red. It emitted enough heat that the girl at the computer next to me said, "I stink. I can smell myself."

Around the room, students lay draped over the backs of chairs, like so many Salvador Dali timepieces. Their listless, languid limbs waved feebly, like sea anemone arms slyly beckoning prey. Discipline was not an issue. Survival was. I circumnambulated the room, restoring passwords, leading my scholars to knowledge, unwittingly scorching them with my blazing solar countenance.

Mercifully, the bell rang. My charges peeled themselves from brown plastic chairs. They shuffled over the carpeted shore, eager to escape the broiling ambiance of Study Island.

We set sail again next Friday.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book to Movie

Last weekend, I bought myself a new copy of True Grit. I have an old paperback, not a movie tie-in, in rough shape. You can never have too many copies of True Grit.

I first read a part of the book when I was a wee lass, before the John Wayne movie came out. Or at least before the movie made it to my podunk town. Being so young, I don't remember too many details about my initial reading. But I do know that the part I read was the rattlesnake scene. I was sneak-reading, it seems, from a magazine I found hidden in the bathroom closet that was not for kids. Instead of dwelling on the inappropriate stuff, I read the True Grit excerpt. NERD! I don't know the magazine, and have since discovered that parts of True Grit were published in The Saturday Evening Post. That was no Post I was reading.

My mom and dad took me to see the movie. I didn't have enough sense to know that the acting was terrible. I loved that movie. So much, in fact, that I finagled a second viewing in the company of my grandma. It didn't take me long to memorize the lines. As a proud DVD owner, I shout them at the screen whenever I can persuade somebody to watch it with me. True Grit is my personal Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Here is the part where I inflict my favorite quotes upon you:

You can still throw a cat through the south wall.

Now don't you worry about Grandma Turner. She's used to doubling up.

Look out for the chicken and dumplings. They'll hurt your eyes.
How's that.
They'll hurt your eyes looking for the chicken.
Squirrel-headed bastard!

I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains.
She reminds me of me.

I also notice that the men of Texas gouge their mounts with great brutal spurs and cultivate their hair like lettuce.

A clumsier child you'll never see than Horace. He must have broke forty cup.

Everything happens to me. And now I am shot by a child.

Lawyer Daggett again.
She draws him like a gun.

I would quote Strother Martin as Colonel Stonehill, but short snippets cannot do him justice.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's On My Mind Wednesday, 2-16-11

Have you heard of the animal cruelty case of Seth Foster, of Spring Arbor, Michigan? He's in hot water for letting his dog kill the raccoon that wrecked his garage. It's not like Seth trapped that feisty, procyonine perp, then taunted his dog by dangling it to and fro by the ringed tail. No. He sent his dog into the garage. The dog returned with the raccoon, and did what dogs do to raccoons: killed it.

But woe was Seth Foster, because two teenage neighbors recorded the timely dispatch of Mr. Coon with their cell phones. And now Seth Foster faces ninety days in jail, and a $500 fine if convicted.

Here's my problem with this ridiculous waste of county resources...what was Seth supposed to do with that raccoon? Take it out of the dog's mouth? Allegedly, he did just that. But the dog got it back. Assuming the dog was agreeable to letting go of his prey, the question remains as to how agreeable a punctured, sodden Mr. Coon might have been with this scenario.

Sometimes, man should not intervene with nature. Take it from Val, who once tried to rescue a chipmunk from a cat.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ten Again and Again


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn...Betty Smith

The Great Santini...Pat Conroy

The Stand...Stephen King

My Friend Flicka+Thunderhead+Green Grass of Wyoming...Mary O'Hara

Gone With the Wind...Margaret Mitchell

National Velvet...Enid Bagnold

On the Beach...Nevil Shute

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer...Mark Twain

The Right Stuff...Tom Wolfe

The Thorn Birds...Colleen McCullough

Monday, February 14, 2011

Would You Rather

Why do you sit down to write? Is your goal to let the crazy out, inform friends of your activities, garner comments and communicate with fellow bloggers, record your thoughts for posterity, earn money, or type away at your current work-in-progress? Or is it something completely different?

Would you rather write a piece that makes you laugh or cry, or one that is sanitized and commercialized, easily consumed by the public?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Surveying Blogdom From My High Horse

I don't mean to be snooty, looking down from my high horse at the commoners milling about. My goal is not to pass judgment, but to air some less-than-pristine laundry that has been flapping itself to tatters in Commentland, of Blogdom. My world is on an express elevator to H. E. Doublehockeysticks in a jet-powered handbasket. Why must people be so determined to destroy the English language?

I love words. Sometimes, I even create my own. I twist them, and turn them, slide them to and fro, then build a sentence that mirrors my mind's image of the point I am trying to get across. Too bad, so sad, if I annoy people who don't approve of my preposition placement. They can get their own handbaskets.

While I may stack my words in an unconventional manner, I usually manage to build a sound structure. That is to say, when I am not fiddling about making up words to tickle my fancy, I use bona fide words in their proper context. My architecture is built of actual bricks, not of mostly bricks, with an odd pillow here and an ice cream cone there.That would be a disaster in the making.

I am not referring to commenters on my blogs, or regular, everyday blogs that mellow folks use for entertainment and relaxation, or simple typos that occur when one thinks faster than one can type. I am talking about comments left on national blogs of the newsy or political bent. Comments where the writing conjures up an over-caffeinated blow-hard, frothing at the fingers. Or a college student fraught with emotion. For those subgroups, I must offer my unsolicited advice: Google is your friend!

If you do not know for certain how a word is spelled, or the subtle differences in usage, please, for the love of civilized communication, look it up! I'm not telling you to find a word in the dictionary if you don't know how to spell it. That is just ridiculous advice from childhood. You are on your electronic device posting the comment. So type in a reasonable facsimile of the questionable word for Google, and voila! Your word will pop up. Did you see that? I typed voila. Not wala. Not viola. Voila. If you want to use the dictionary of slang to look up your words, you should stick to your own personal blog. Or those of your friends. Don't go showing your butt for the whole world to see.

Is anybody else tired of reading how something extra was just icy on the cake, how someone waited to see what was coming down the pipe next, or bemoaned surveys that were not accurate because surveyors only called people on lanlines. I had to chastise my own son for declaring something deader than a doorknob. I try to tell myself that it's kids, just kids, who don't read books anymore, and spend their waking hours texting and reading bad abbreviations. But I fear that the problem is more insidious.

Only last week, I was accosted by little own, buku, twittle, and maylay. It's hard enough to figure out what people are trying to say, little own decipher their creative spellings gleaned from buku I'm-okay-you're-okay-everyone's-a-winner years of creative phonics lessons, while teachers twittled their thumbs instead of teaching the three Rs, resulting in a maylay in the academic community as standardized tests scores fall year after year.

Yeah. Let's hear it for let alone, beaucoup, twiddle, and melee. My friend Google introduced us.

The Sadly Misinformed

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Getting to Know Me

For my new guests who might be stopping by, I feel that it is only fair to warn you that I normally blog here. I've got years and years of livin' tucked up underneath my arms. Oops! Those are the lyrics for Lacy J. Dalton's 16th Avenue. What I meant to say is that I'm no spring chicken when it comes to blogging. Please bear with me while I whip this new site into shape.

Here are a few facts about me:

 *I love to write in cliches. Why think up new ways to use words when somebody else has already done the work for you?

*I am a bit high-strung. Thus, my disturbing cat icon.

*My name is not really Val. But I was valedictorian of my high school class. (Just in case there's some special award like a Christmas Story leg-lamp in it for me).

*There's nothing I like better than using prepositions to end sentences with.

*I visit a lot of blogs, but I'm mostly a lurker. No need to open my fingers and reveal myself a fool when I can keep my fingers closed, as the updated saying goes.

*In case you haven't noticed, I love to talk about me. ME, ME, ME! Me on a plate with me sauce, served up at a dinner honoring ME!

*Some people find me hard to take. My husband, for instance. He once told me that I could drive a sane man crazy. I told him one thing was for sure: I could drive the SAME man crazy. Blindfolded, with one hand tied behind my back.

*I love to write. Sometimes, it's just to entertain moi. I crack myself up. Preposition alert! I thought about trying to correct my little problem, but, "Up, I crack myself," does not have the same ring to it.

I hope I haven't frightened you away. I feel like Christopher Walken as The Continental on SNL, but without the creepy sexual overtones. I've lured you in, but you keep trying to escape. I'm harmless. Really.

Just a Little Taste

Here's a pinch of what's brewing in my work-in-progress stew:

I received a shot of Benadryl in an emergency room many years ago, due to an allergic response to a member of the -cillin family. The last thing I remember, I sat down on the passenger seat of the red Ford Escort, and my head toppled out. It felt like a balloon, but without the helium. It didn't want to float. It wanted to roll down my right shoulder, pause for dramatic effect at my elbow, which was hanging out the car window, shout, "Look at MEEEE, everybody!" and then execute a swan dive (as good a swan dive as a balloon head with no arms or legs could execute), and skim like a skipping stone along the weedy U. S. Highway 60 right-of-way that the MODOT crews had neglected to mow. Benadryl was not my friend.

If that makes you hungry for more, stick around. I plan to post a little taste every week. If it doesn't please your palate, then perhaps something along the sidebar will stimulate your taste buds.

Bon appetit!

Friday, February 11, 2011

You Can Call Me Val

Come join me on my voyage into the literary world. Bring your trunk of B-movie actress costumes, because it's sure to be more than a three-hour tour.

I am a teacher moonlighting as a writer. I am both a neophyte and a veteran. I have never been published, which tends to happen if you never submit. For five years, I have posted daily on my anonymous blog, which puts a little writing experience under my belt.

I am fairly proficient in the mechanics of writing. In my distant past, I was valedictorian of my high school class. This honor was lost on my students, who, on a last-day-of-school time-filling quiz on how well they knew me, professed that I was Val the victorian at my high school.

I am writing a book. Isn't everybody? Of course, I have been writing books since I was a child. All were abandoned, pencil-and-paper orphans stuffed into a trunk, folded into little-read books, or concealed in the middle pages of spiral notebooks. Or, more modernly, left to fade away on 3.5 inch floppies. I did not love them enough to leave them on a doorstep in a giant basket like the one that held that red-headed kid in Problem Child. The one who wrote fan letters to the Bow Tie Killer, who was actually Kramer from Seinfeld.

Last year, it hit me like a semi smashing a green bean on the interstate: I was never meant to write fiction! My strength lies in the comedic turn of phrase immortalized by the late, great Erma Bombeck. I first started reading her column when I was in elementary school. It never entered my mind to write something like that. I just did it, without making the connection. In notes, in letters, in emails, in my old blog for the past five years. It's what I do. And that's what will make my book. I'm culling the greatest hits from five years of blog posts, polishing them to a high sheen, and tying them together with a common theme. Once that little task is finished, I will go about the business of querying agents.

As you can see, this blog is just getting underway. It will undergo some fine-tuning as time allows. Some links on my sidebar are purely for entertainment. Others may help those of you who have been bitten by the writing bug. Don't expect me to teach you anything!

But I will leave you with a joke to explain the green bean reference. Because I'm a sucker for jokes told by elementary students.

A green bean and his best friend stood by the interstate, waiting to cross to get to the playground. Best Friend darted through the traffic and reached the other side. He shouted for Green Bean to join him. Green Bean ran onto the highway, and was flattened by a semi truck. At the hospital, the doctor called Best Friend aside. "I have good news, and bad news. The good news is, your little friend is going to live. The bad news is, he's going to be a vegetable for the rest of his life."