Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dreams are weird.

Not the kind of dreams that you build goals from.

The kind of dreams I’m talking about are the ones you have when sleeping.

This is my sis. She's the one driving
in my dream.

Just the other night I had a dream that I was riding in a car, with my sister at the wheel. It was night-time and she was going up the long driveway toward well-lit large, white mansion. There was a curve in the drive and she was going too fast. She put on the brakes and was able to almost stop just before hitting an ornate cement railing. 
The car bumper barely tapped the railing, yet a big section broke off and tipped over.

That was it. What in the world? Weird.

So, like any normal, sane person I decide to look up what things in dreams symbolize. And here goes…

Sisters in a dream are generally considered a positive vibe, unless something bad is happening to her/because of her. I don’t consider driving too fast as necessarly a bad thing, so I’m taking my sis in the dream as a positive.

Courtesy of Google Images
A mansion in a dream can mean that you’re opening yourself to “greater levels of abundance.” What?  Um, well, maybe it’s that a few months ago I started volunteering at a woman’s health center and I’m learning a lot about serving others in need. 

Or maybe it’s a symbol of my abundance in taking a vacation to Florida soon…

Riding in a car that’s being driven too fast could be about – and get this- “an illness or injury has or will occur.” 
Did I mention that I have a bum knee? An MRI is scheduled. My Florida trip is coming up fast and I have a knee injury that may throw a big nasty kink in the trip….

If you dream about driving at night it might be that you feel something is not a good as it used to be.

Yeah, my knee. It’s not what it used to be.

If you’re a passenger in a dream it may mean that you’re following the crowd. Again, my volunteer opportunity has changed how I look at things… how I serve God and others… and it makes me think about my relationships.

GAA! I think my head might explode! According to the dream symbolism websites, my dream says I’m worried about my knee and my vacation being on a collision course (pun intended.) And that my ideals are evolving. Oh, and of course, that I love my sister (or she gets us into trouble...)

Yeah. That.

Or maybe it’s just that I saw a friend the other day who is steadily healing from a bad car accident.

Or maybe I just ate too late. Or think too much.

Any who, this has to be my weirdest blog post to date.

(I blame my bum knee.)

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


P.S. I prefer goal-building dreams.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Nashville Predators: Dream the Dream

Bridgestone Arena. Photo by me.
It was Saturday, May 6th. We were in Nashville, Tennessee enjoying great music in the atmosphere of Hopes and Dreams.  We heard that the hockey team was to play a home game on Sunday night at the huge Bridgestone Arena right next to “Honky-Tonk Row” on Broadway. No problem. No big deal. Nashville’s not a hockey town; Nashville is a music town. The downtown won’t be any more busy or crowed than usual. Nobody cares about sports here.


Sunday, May 7th and we head downtown for another entertaining day of watching great musicians do what they do best. The streets of Nashville were hopping with people and we’re part of the crowd. Except, as the day grew so did the number of hockey jerseys. Yellow Nashville Predator’s jerseys popped up like dandelions in a field on a hot summer day.

Everyone was a Predators fan and we suddenly found ourselves swept up in the excitement of the Nashville fans. They were so close we found out, only 2 games stood between them and the possibility of playing for the Stanley Cup!

When we got back home from Nashville, we continued to watch the Predators. And they made it! They made it to the Big Show- the Stanley Cup series! For a month we watched the Preds. We got a chuckle out of big country stars jockey for a chance to sing the national anthem and grab a piece of the spotlight and we got to know the team’s players a bit too. We felt like the Predators were our Home Team.

Fast forward to June 11th. Stanley Cup Series game number six was about to happen at Bridgestone Arena. We turn on the TV and what do we see? Country super-star Luke Bryan giving a concert in THE EXACT SPOT WE STOOD only a month earlier!- The third floor of balcony of Tootsies Orchid Lounge. 

Courtesy of Google. Broadway screening of Game 6
The Preds are playing at the arena in the back center of photo.

It’s surreal to see a place on TV and know you were just there! Only this time Broadway was a sea of yellow jerseys that rolled on for several blocks.

I think Tim and I have adopted Nashville and the Predators as our home-away-from-home home town and home team.

The Predators did not win the Stanley Cup this year. But that’s o.k. They gave the Penguins a run for their money. The Stanley Cup is in the Pred’s future. They’re closer to it today than they have ever been in all their 18 years prior.

Nashville is a town of dreams. That’s what I love about the place. Follow your dreams. Dreams can come true.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

That AHA Moment

I’ve always had this niggling problem with my novel, THE INK OF TIME. Otto, who clearly is the main character of this story, does not confront his issues, but instead helps Hazel get her life together.  

I’ve struggled with this problem for quite a while, thinking that maybe I have two main characters – and that Otto can be a helper to someone else but not him self- but that doesn’t work for me, either. Otto is definitely the main character and as that, I’ve come to realize, this story should focus on and resolve his problems first.


My beta readers have commented to me in the past about not knowing much about Otto’s life and background. I intentionally wrote him that way- I was going for “mysterious, untouchable, guarded, aloof" in his persona. And that was all wrong.

I’ve been reading, studying, and applying all the information I have learned from Story Genius, by Lisa Cron, to THE INK OF TIME. 

If this story is gonna work, I’ve got to lay everything Otto feels and everything that’s happened to him in his life, on the line. Otherwise, who cares what happens to this guy? Who cares if he gets the girl or pathetically wanders the earth for the rest of his life? Nobody. That’s who.

I love my beta readers for sticking with my half-baked story, but now it’s time for me to get back at that manuscript and make everyone love and empathize with Otto as much as I do.

Through the exercises in Story Genius I am learning that novels do not start at the beginning. It’s true. They do not start at the beginning. Every novel we read starts when something is about to happen. And every character has a life before the story begins. Learning about the characters’ lives and how they handle situations makes us love a good story.

Think about it: What makes The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, such a great story? It’s not because the story started when the boys were babies and told of their lives growing up to their teen years, no. The Outsiders were tough boys who didn’t have many (if any) opportunities to improve their lives. They had no adult/parental support. They were on their own and lived life the way they thought was correct. Lots of shit happened to those boys before the story even started on page one with a fight between a Soc and a Greaser.

And in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, Claire fell through a circle of ancient stones and was transported back over two hundred years in time, landing in 1743 Scotland. Had she not been a child raised by her uncle who traveled the world, and a World War II combat nurse before the story ever started, her chances of living through the events that took place would have been dramatically different.

So, I’m learning more and more about what makes my main man Otto tick. And you, dear reader, will learn it too.

It was a big struggle, but I believe I’ve figured out a way to change the story for the better so that Otto gets all the angst and triumph a main character deserves.(While helping Hazel, too.) I hope it all pans out realistically!

But now it’s time to get back to work. I’m on page 225 of 270. When I’m done with Story Genius I’ll be finding where and how to fit in all of my new information into my existing manuscript (aka story.)  

So I’ll be sitting here until next week when I take a break to write another blog post. I’ll keep you informed on my progress!

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself!


*All images Courtesy of Google

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Playing Cards and Other Sports

Courtesy of Google Images

How many of us have watched, LIVE from Los Vegas, The World Series of Poker? I see a lot of smiles out there- all of us have, right?

Courtesy of Wikipedia
Playing cards have been around for nearly as long as paper, literally. The Chinese invented paper around 100 BC. And with that done, they invented playing cards somewhere between the fourth and nineteenth centuries. Playing cards, in various forms, have been around for many centuries.

The cards we’re familiar with are the English version with clubs, spades, hearts, and diamonds as suit names. Other countries have named their suits differently, but they all work in the same way during a game.

THE perfect Eucre hand!
Our family has always played cards. My favorite card game is Eucre. Even within that game, I know several playing variations and score-keeping variations. I learned how to play Eucre a long time ago.

Before my husband and I were married, we’d get together with a bunch of his relatives and play. For a couple of years I considered myself a “dummy hand” or a “space filler.” But the more I played the better I got.
Now, in my extended family, asking, ‘Would anyone like to play cards?’ everyone of them would be able to produce a deck from their purse, pocket, suitcase, or car.
Have cards, will play.

Image courtesy of Google.
When we went to Disney in Florida, we played a game called Pass the Ace while waiting in line. If you’ve been to DisneyWorld, you know the lines are long and the waits are forever. 

The cool thing about Pass the Ace in particular, is that any number of people can play anywhere they happen to be. No table or scorecard required. I have a link right here with directions on how to play Pass the Ace.

We play Poker when we go bowling too. For each spare you’re allowed to draw one card from the deck, for each strike, you draw two. The person (or team) with the best poker hand at the end of the game wins! It makes bowling just that much more fun.

The youngest children in the family play cards too. From the time they’re babies they sit on laps and watch. As they grow older, they’re encouraged to throw a card out into play for the person they’re sitting with. When they can hold cards on their own, they learn Go Fish and Kings in the Corner.

                 My little card helper, Erin's daughter,Adalyn.

Adalyn on her own!

Google Images
We play cards in airports. It passes the time and a lot of people stop to watch or ask what we’re playing.
Just recently our daughter and her husband went away for a long weekend. As she was jumping into the car for the airport I said, “I know this is a dumb question, but did you pack cards?” She said, “Got ‘em in my purse!”
Way to go, Erin, keeping with the family traditions.
What family traditions do you carry on?
Until next time,
Be Good to Yourself!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Boji Ghost Train

There’s an abandoned railroad track in northwest Iowa that runs parallel to state highway 9/ U.S. 71. Abandoned railways are fairly common, but what make this stretch unusual is that there’s a train still sitting on the tracks. A full passenger train, sans engine. Oddly enough a caboose is trapped in the middle of the coach cars.

It’s creepy and fascinating.

Apparently, back in the day, the train ran between Estherville, Iowa and the Lakes Region of Okoboji, Spirit Lake, and West Okoboji, (and more than likely farther.)  Its final resting place is on private property just west of Superior, Iowa; a dot on the map between its two destinations. How it got there, I don’t know. (I’ve even tried to do a bit of on-line research but have had little luck.)

The train appears to me to have been going east when it came to a stop. The front section of the train is surrounded by trees and creates a backdrop for a farm place. Farm house and out buildings bravely stand between the train and the highway.  

This part of the train seems to have weathered better than the back half of the train. It still has some glass in the windows, stubborn white and green paint hold on to the exterior and it is less rusty than the back half.

Out in the wide open, the wide FLAT open, where ions ago glaciers pulverized the land, the back section of the train withers. Northwest Iowa is wide open and windy. Northwest Iowa is cold and snowy in the winter. Winter with a capital W. (Sometimes even more wintery than Fairbanks, Alaska.)

This part of the train is Armageddon-like. Zombie Train. The Walking Dead would kill for a train like this one. All of the windows have been busted out, either by man or nature. Rust presides over paint.

I’ve heard it glows at night.  When the wind howls from the north locals report hearing the metal-on-metal scream of breaks grabbing tracks. Specters try to break free of the train but cannot leave.  *Not really. I just made this part up. (Baazinga!)*

My imagination kind of goes Stephen King on me when I see abandoned crap like this train. Iowa is full of creepy rundown, forgotten junk. We’re still rural enough to have room for rot. 

Old corrugated tin silos stand watch over weedy overgrown farmsteads, shuttered three-story brick school buildings loom over small towns, acres of barren factories hang their once productive heads.  And there are barns. So many barns. 

I love going places and taking a look around, even in my own state. I don’t have to go far to find fodder for my imagination.

And if you know me, you know I’ll file this train in my memory for future use in a story. Everything I write has a bit of truth, a bit of real events, and real places entwined within the invented. That’s what it means to “write what you know,” I think.

Until next time, explore!

Be Good to Yourself.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

One Piece at a Time

I grew up on the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, and the great Johnny Cash. From the time I was a bitty kid, I would sing “Bye, Bye, Love,” “Crying (over you)” and “Ring of Fire."(I still do.) But the best of them all was Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash was a hero in our house.

Recently I was lucky enough to tour the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville!!!

Let me tell you a little bit about my tour.
First row, third person: JR Cash

In all of his pictures, even the childhood ones, he appeared to be a somber, serious person. When Johnny was growing up, he was called J.R. Cash.  As he got older, he was John.  Then he became Johnny Cash.

I was impressed and a little overwhelmed by all the stuff in his collection. What I liked most is that he was a writer. He wrote letters to friends and fans. He wrote love notes to his wives (he had two- but not at the same time!), and he wrote MUSIC. I mean he wrote a lot of music.

Those hand written pages pulled me in through the whole museum. I know I missed some other cool stuff because I spent all my time, nose-to-glass, reading his work.

Definition of 'caret', courtesy of Google Images
I really began to understand his genius because it seemed like the words must have just poured out of him- most of the creative works on display had very few crossed out/deleted words or sections – conversely, there were also very few caret insertions as well.

Photo by ME!
I took only one picture (to my deep regret) while in the museum. It is of a “Writing Exercise” from 1999. I love it because even great talents need to work at keeping the muse alive. It says: 
Dec. 8, 1999
I'm going to try to write now. I'm not sure I can, but I'm going to try. I'll write: Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. I'm writing better now than I have in a quite awhile. See how I'm not skipping a line but am writing on every line. I'm much steadier than I've been in months.

A bit of the lyrics to One Piece at a Time, by
Johnny Cash
The song One Piece at a Time is a favorite of mine. It’s a silly fun song, the type Johnny Cash rarely did. It’s about an auto worker who steals parts from the factory over a twenty or so year period and builds his own car from all the parts he’s yanked over the years. I’ve linked a You Tube video of the song here.

Like Johnny Cash’s creative process, we all have to take it one piece at a time. Just one. I can do just one. You can do just one, too. Right? Then keep adding to that one. That’s how to get IT done. What ever your IT may be...
One piece at a time.

Rest in peace, Johnny Cash.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My One Hundredth Blog Post!

This, friends, is my ONE HUNDREDTH post!

One hundred weeks of blogging. One hundred ideas. One hundred. Wow!

When I taught first grade, we celebrated the hundredth day of school in a big way. The kids went to different stations or centers for an allotted time and created / worked on an activity that focused on the numeric value of one hundred items.

Some of the activities included dressing up like a 100 year old person and getting your picture taken, writing 100 words down from around the classroom, use 100 wooden blocks or Legos to build something, and put together 100 piece puzzles.

But the favorite activities for the kids involved using food.  They made Froot Loop necklaces where every tenth one was a Cheerio. Upon completion of their necklace, they were required to count by tens for the teacher helper before they put their necklace on. (By the end of the day, most of the kids had a circle of soggy yarn around their neck, having eaten all off all of the cereal.) The kids also loved the 100 Snack table. We provided 10 different finger foods, like marshmallows, raisins, and M&M’s and the kids counted out ten of each, put them in a zip lock baggie, creating a 100 piece snack.

The whole day promoted mathematical language and concept knowledge of exactly just how much one hundred really is.

I’ve decided to carry on that creative tradition from first grade right here. Below you’ll find a list of one hundred things I like- in no particular order- I’ll list them as they pop into my brain.

My Favorite Things
1.    Wearing my socks inside out
2.    Calling boogers “moejies”
3.    Calling fingers “weemoes”
4.    Coffee my husband makes
5.    Coffee in bed in the morning
6.    Good hair days
7.    Finding notes from loved ones on my kitchen counter
8.    Walking in the woods
9.    Riding my bike
10. Planting my flower boxes
11. Tilling and raking the garden
12. My writing desk, built by my son
13. Quoting movies
14. Reading, reading, reading
15. Getting in the zone when writing
16. My dog(s – over the years)
17. Outfits that make me look thinner
18. Bracelets
19. Shopping for bargains
20. A full pantry and ‘fridge
21. The sound of children playing outside
22. Listening to children read
23. Eagles flying over the lock & dam on the Mississippi River
24. Spiritual reading and note taking
25. Talking with writers about writing
26. That cornflower blue of the sky in July in Iowa
27. Crafting with friends
28. Cape Cod drink mixed by my husband
29. Hershey’s Kisses
#66, #99
30. Re-sale shopping
31. New tennis shoes
32. Fuzzy blankets
33. Ticonderoga # 2 soft pencils
34. The ocean
35. Batman
36. Smell of freshly mown grass
37. Giant Oak trees
38.  The color indigo
39. Quiet
40. Teva brand sandals
41. Bread
42. Well-defined leg muscles
43. The Chicago Cubs
44. Traveling by plane
45. Paper and journals and markers and pencils and pens(Staples is a slice of heaven for me)
#34, #60 
46. Reading to my grandchildren
47. Teaching myself a new skill like quilting or knitting
48. Thunder
49. Astronomy
50. Libraries
51. “Classic” Rock
52. Country Music
53. Johnny Cash
54. Adam Levine
#55, #99
55. The Eagles
56. Livestock barns at the fair
57. Clydesdale Horses
58. Campfires 
59. Seeing the deep layers of stars, so far out there, on a dark night
60. Painted toenails
61. Hoodies
62. Watching my daughter be a mom
63. The Breakfast Club
64. Shawshank Redemption
65. Juno
66. Book club
67. Jake Gyllenhaal
68. Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler
69. Alien Abduction skit  on SNL, December 18, 2016 (find it on YouTube)
70. The Outlander Series- books and HBO - by Diana Gabaldon
71. Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser
72. Post-it-notes
73. Mexican food
74. Face Time
75. When I remember to be thankful, grateful-  and not take God’s graces for granted
#75 I took this while in the car wash. The words on the door
say, " Doors Open Automatically"

76.  Being patriotic- this is the best country in the world!
77. That sound of fingers sliding down the guitar strings of a fretboard =vvvurp!
78. A  clean bath towel EVERY DAY – no ‘hang and re-use’ for this girl!
79. Dancing around the house to songs on the radio
80. Quote by Herbert Hoover, 31st POTUS, from West Branch, IOWA: “My country owes me nothing. It gave me, as it gives every boy and girl, a chance. It gave me schooling, independence of action, opportunity for service and honor. In no other land could a boy from a country village, without inheritance or influential friends, look forward with unbounded hope.”
#27, #92
81. Air conditioning
82. Weaving baskets
83. A fan blowing on me as I sleep
84. Origami
85. Crickets chirping
86. Time-travel themed novels
87. Birds singing their wake-up songs
88. Author Stephen King
89. Yellowstone National Park
90. Battle Hymn of the Republic
91.  The new, sweet smell of infants
# 95
92. Sea turtles
93. Kid President (find him on You Tube)
94. Glitter on kid’s crafts
95. My three granddaughters wearing matching outfits
96. Red hair. Love the gingers!
97. Red and Rover comic strip by Brian Basset
98. Crossword puzzles
99. Great friends who, even after not seeing them for a while, are right there
100.      And last but not least, my loving, hard-working, goofy, crazy family!

When I first started this list, I thought I’d never make it to one hundred, but after I got going it was a revitalizing exercise. It took me a couple of days to complete, but that’s ok. I challenge you to create your own list. 

Take a look around. Open your heart to recognize the simple things that give you joy. It will be fun!

Until next time,
Be Good to Yourself,