Monday, October 17, 2016


My sister-in-law collects Christmas ornaments from all the places she and her family have visited.  She keeps all these beautiful items in a chest of drawers she chose specially for them.  It resembles the cabinets libraries use to keep maps, long deep drawers that run the length of the width of the cabinet.  At Christmas she decorates her tree with these exquisite pieces and can tell the story behind each ornament.
A good friend collects tea cups, not sets of teacups but single cups and saucers in beautiful colors and designs.  She keeps hers in a glass étagère that keeps them dust free and easily visible.
I collect a variety of things.  My favorite are my Willow Tree angels, the original beauties that started the trend.  My husband made me a corner cabinet where I can display them, but I know my limits.  I prefer to collect and not hoard.
A collection is controlled by the owner; hoarding controls the owner. To own something or hold on to it just because of obsession is hoarding, and it becomes a collection of stuff instead of a discreet collection of something valuable.
I have had to teach myself to get rid of things, things I value like books, stuffed animals, kitchen gadgets. Whenever I feel these things are taking up too much of my time and space, I force myself to reduce them by half. For every item I keep, I get rid of one. It hurts and it takes discipline and I am weak but I do it anyway, so I can stand back and value the results. 
Is it a collection or is it just a mass of “things?” Is the result pleasing and enjoyable?  Do I control it or does it control me?

Before you marvel at my self-control, know this:  I secretly covet my sister-in-law’s collection of Christmas ornaments from all over the world, but she has promised them to her only daughter.  The same goes for the collection of colorful tea cups at my friend’s house, but I know those too have been bequeathed to a family member, still it does not keep me from picturing what I would do with them if they were mine. They would go well with my Willow Tree angels. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Finding Time to Write

          Saturday mornings was my writing time.  I would stay in my jammies, make a huge pot of coffee, and sit at the computer until I came up with a weekly blog.  Some days were more successful than others and I would store two or three blogs for future use. 
          Throughout the week I would fit time to write on my latest manuscript. My study, my desktop, and my flash drive are full of unfinished work, all waiting for me to get back to them.
          But life has interfered.
          I have been told that is not a valid excuse, but then what the naysayers say does not count.  
          My husband needs me.
          It is not something drastic or dramatic; he has started a new venture in his life and needs my help. Since he has always been supportive of my needs and wants, I have to reciprocate in kind. In the last few years before he retires, he wants to transition into a new career.  He owns a carpentry shop, making kindergarten furniture for huge school districts.  It was a lucrative but very demanding career and now wants to use his amazing skill to create individual, heirloom quality and fun pieces.
          I do not blame him.  He has built the same patterns over and over for the last thirty-plus years and would like to create something else with the beautiful woods he buys by the truckload.
          I know nothing about wood, hammers, or table saws, but I do know how to organize, decorate, and manage.  I book craft and trade shows.  I talk to the people, get the permits, and make sure we have everything we need when we travel from one show to the other. I order things, write the checks, and make sure he has everything he needs.  I carry THE CLIP BOARD.
          I spend the majority of my Saturdays at craft shows, setting up and making sure everything is priced and ready to go.  Some craft shows start on Thursdays and end on Mondays, so my life is a whirlwind.  I find my days before the shows are also taken running errands, buying things, and making phone calls.

          So when someone tells me I need to get back to my writing, I agree, but life with my husband is more important and more immediate than writing a blog or finishing Chapter Eight of my latest novel. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hobby Fun

Remember that pesky section on the college application that asked you to “list” your hobbies?  The humiliating bullet on the job resume form you have to fill with the “many ways” you fill your leisure time?  How about the moment Tall, Dark, and Handsome at the company get-together wants you to share “what you do for fun?”

And you realize your answer will be as interesting as how you organize your separates on wash day.  Whites here.  Delicates there. 

I read fiction.  I write a weekly blog.  I love crosswords and Family Feud.

So you embellish, embroider, exaggerate.  You lie.

I hike the countryside on weekends.  I love nature.

Hey, I own a pair of hiking boots.  I wore them once and I plan to wear them again one day as soon as my bunion heals. I do love nature even though I have to take allergy meds before I venture outside my house.

I go to the gym three times a week. 

Once again the truth.  I dress, show up for thirty minutes (just long enough to be seen by a few regulars), then I clock out and head home.  It is not my fault my car autopilots to the nearest Starbucks or the one Dairy Queen in my neighborhood on the way home.  I totally believe in shopping local and supporting small business. 

I volunteer with little ones.  I love children.

The truth once again.  I do love children.  I have nine grandchildren and on occasion, I have had to sit them while Mom and Dad needed me.  And it was all volunteer.  No one has ever offered to pay me for the service.

I shouldn’t lie, you say.  I should find an interesting hobby.  One that I really do.  Well, embellishment is not lie.  It is omission of a few facts and exaggerating a few others.  It makes me mysterious. Interesting.  Enchanting. 

It beats telling others that I read fiction, write a weekly blog, and do crosswords and watch Steve Harvey and Family Feud. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

September 11th – In Retrospect

Even after thirty years in a dysfunctional relationship, I missed being married.
I was sad, lonely, and lost.
My kids were all grown and gone, and even the family dog had died.        
I was in the middle of teaching a poetry lesson to a group of high school juniors when the teacher next door came running into my classroom, yelling for me to turn on my TV.  A plane had just crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City.
Our country was being attacked by terrorists.
For the rest of the school day the whole school, the whole nation, watched as all hell broke loose on our safe, complacent world.  It was Pearl Harbor, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Purgatory all rolled into one.
I don’t remember getting home, but I do remember assuring my three kids (all in their early twenties back then) that if worse came to worst, we would all gather at my house, we would all live under one roof, and we would all look out for and protect each other.
I remember checking on the two useless “rifles” we kept in the back closet and registering the kind of ammo I needed to go out and buy.
I called my estranged husband (our divorce would not become final for another three months) and asked him to come home and help me comfort and protect our kids, but he told me I was more than capable of taking care of them and myself.  He was where he needed to be.
If it’s true that we acquire wisdom with age, I learned that day that when the moment of greatest need presents itself in your life, you will learn the true heft of your character and of those around you.  You will clearly see what is important and what isn’t, who you love and to what extent you will go to protect them, and how determined and unselfish you truly are. 

On September 11th, I sing the praises of the heroes that died that day.  They showed us how heroes live and how heroes die.  

Monday, September 5, 2016

Do Unto Others

My husband and his sons rented a salt water fishing boat for the day off the Texas coast.  The captain took their money but griped about the cold, rainy weather the whole time they were out fishing.  He wanted to cut the fishing trip short and said so. My men ignored him and enjoyed their day, returning with stories about the grumpy captain, the fish they almost caught, and how their dad kept tossing his cookies over the side of the boat for the majority of the time.
          Why do people work at jobs where they do not like what they do and do not like their clients?
          I have known teachers who hate children, doctors who turn their noses at their sick patients, and sales clerks who get upset when a customer asks for help.
          My advice to all these unhappy people:  quit your job and go find one that fits your personality. And good luck.
          Captain Ahab took the money when my men went fishing.  At the price they paid for his service, it should have come with a smile.  All those teachers who emulate Professor Umbridge as their patron saint should return their teacher retirement checks, and any medical professional with a Dr. Jekyll bedside manner should worry about the day the tables turn and they need the service their clients provide.
          Moral of the story/blog:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.