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,