Sunday, April 29, 2012

Z is for ZZZZ...and my 26 favorite blogs

I can't believe it:  A to Z Blogging Challenge month has come to an end.  And hooray for me!  I visited every single blog on the list. 

Here are my 26 favorite, not in any special order.  These are blogs that made me think, made me laugh, made me cry, taught me something new, inspired me.  Take a look at them:

A    Writing exercises, tips.

B.   Crime information.  I loved this blog!

C   This blogger muses on mmany topic of interest.

D   Her theme this month was travel to England,  Scotland
         and Wales.  Quotes, interesting sites.  Fun.

E  Death by-----   She gives a description, you guess the event.
F   Photos, cards.  Lovely.

G  This is the blog of a Texan, like me.  And of course
        everyone should learn about Texas.

H  Writing quotes, facts, tips.

I  For each letter, a top ten.  Fun.

J   Miscellaneous.  Interesting.

K  Another miscellaneous one.  Interesting.

L  Haikus for each letter.

M   Fun and interesting posts about various topics.

N  Writer/editor/jack of all trades.  Blog for writers.

O  Movie favorites in 26 categories.

P  Hasn't finished all the letters but what she has is great.
        Anything you want to know about English grammar and vocabulary is here.

Q  Marvelous pictures.

R   Tips for bloggers.

S  Various topics.

T  Posts about Cairo, Greece.  Fascinating information.

U  A whole blog about death!  I think this was my favorite
        (Okay, I'm strange)

V  Various topics.  Very good!

W  Mom posts.

X   Recipes, pictures.  Yum !

Y  Various topics.

Z   Animals

Thanks to all the committed bloggers who posted all through April.  Thanks to those who visited me and especially those who signed up to follow.  Thanks to the great A to Z group who puts this together every year.  And now, after a month of nothing but blog-related activities, I'm nodding off......

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yellow

Hailstones and Halibut Bones:  Adventures in Color by Mary O'Neill is a book I've had for many years.  She's written a poem about each color.  Here's yellow:

Yellow is the color of the sun,
The feeling of fun,
The yolk of an egg,
A duck's bill,
A canary bird
And a daffodil

Yellow's sweet corn,
Ripe oats,
Little throats

Summer squash and
Chinese silk,
The cream on top
Of Jersey milk,
Dandelions and
Daisy hearts,
Custard pies and
Lemon tarts

Yellow blinks
On summer nights
In the off and on
Of firefly lights
Yellow's a topaz,
A candle flame.
Felicity is a
Yellow name.

Yellow's mimosa,
And I guess
Yellow's the color of

Thursday, April 26, 2012

X is for X-Rated Words

It's official.  The New York City Department of Education has sent book publishers a list of objectionable words that should not be included in their books.  You're guessing 4-letter words, aren't you?  Wrong.  Apparently the Department trusts publishers to omit these kinds of words on their own.  There are other words which should be deleted, words that would make children uncomfortable, or, some would say, words which are politically incorrect.  You're guessing racist words, sexist words, ethnic slurs.  Wrong again.

Here's a partial list and the reasons why each word was censored:

Dinosaur:  Not everyone believes in the theory of evolution.  We don't want a classroom religious war.

Birthday:   Another religiously unacceptable word.  Not celebrated by Jehovah's Witnesses. 

Pepperoni:  Are you kidding?  It's junk food.  Let's not reinforce that.  Also insensitive to vegans.

Divorce:  Too upsetting for kids whose parents have split.

Home computers:  Not every family can afford one.

Disease:  Scary

Terrorism:  Also scary.

I'm sure the list contains other words, equally dangerous, that were not mentioned in the article I read.  Isn't it comforting to know that children in New York are being shielded from such subversive concepts?  Perhaps you have suggestions for additonal words for the list.  If so, mention them in the comment section.  Or just send them to the New York City Board of Education.  I'm sure they'll appreciate your concern.

W is for What I Read in April

This month I read three books. 

Dodie Smith, author of 101 Dalmations wrote this charming story of a slightly quirky English family living in an old castle.  Written in the voice of 17-year-old Cassandra, it's a coming-of-age-and-falling-in-love story.  Fun to read.

A best-seller in its day, this story of a serial killer with an enhanced sense of smell absolutely grossed me out.  I finished it because it was a book club read but I don't recommend it.

This fairly new release was a page-turner.  The story of an assistant DA whose son is accused of murdering his classmate has all the ingredients of a best seller--a crime, a trial, twists and turns.  Highly recommended.

If you've read any books you'd like to recommend, please add them in the Comment section.  I'm always on the lookout for new reads.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vegetables

I love vegetables.  I eat raw veggies for lunch along with cheese and crackers and at least one serving, sometimes two, of vegetables for dinner.  Today I'm sharing 2 of my favorite veggie recipes.

Warning: These aren't heart healthy. More on the order of "guilty pleasures."

Minted Glazed Carrots

12 fresh carrots
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 T. chopped mint or dried mint flakes
Peel and cook carrots in boiling water.  Drain, and while hot, pour sugar and butter over them.  Cook slowly until carrots are glazed but not browned.  When ready to serve, sprinkle with mint.
Spinach Casserole
2 pkgs. frozen chopped spinach
1/2 pint sour cream
1 medium can mushrooms stems and pieces
1 can artichoke hearts
Cook and drain spinach.  Add sour cream and mushrooms.  Put half of mixture into a buttered casserole.  Slice artichoke hearts and layer on top of spinach mixture.  Top with rest of spinach mixture.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

U is for Urban Dictionary

Want to understand street slang, current pop terms?  Check out  to learn the meanings of words and phrases you don't know (or may not want to know).  Anyway, here's a sample:

Apple Year:  The amount of time it takes an Apple product to get old, from the day it is purchased. An Apple Year is usually less than one month, although it depends based on the product

I can't believe this! I bought the iPad just an Apple Year ago, and now they're coming out with a new one!

Google tic:  The uncontrollable urge to conduct a Google search on any and every question, thought, concept, word or name that comes to mind, including new acquaintances, products and companies.

You haven't Googled him, but you went out with him?! I could never get in someone's car without Googling their name, but then again, I have a Google tic.

Phone-yawn:  The act of taking out a cell phone from one's pocket or purse, resulting in other people in the vicinity taking out and checking their phones as well.

As Harriet pulled her cell from her pocket to check for new text messages, her circle of friends phone-yawned, pulling out and checking their phones too. Not Becky; she lost her phone at the club the night before.

IJS:  I'm Just Saying: Used to add emphasis, or express irony. Can also be used to express sarcasm. Can be used on the back of almost any sentence, IJS.

Egg Salad Monday:  The day after Easter Sunday when everyone has a surplus of hardboiled eggs. These eggs are often used up by making egg salad.

"I'm suffering the adverse effects of Egg Salad Monday".

"I'm out of town on Easter Weekend, but I think I can come by on Egg Salad Monday.

Airport Effect:  The temporary increase in self importance that individuals assign to themselves while waiting at airports.  Future passengers suffering from the airport effect often portray more serious facial expressions, increase their cell phone speaking volume if discussing business matters, and perform fake work on their laptop near heavily populated areas.

totes:  (abbreviation) stands for totally.

-Do you agree with me?


T is for Trapeze

Moving from one stage of life to another is like being a trapeze artist.  Marriage, parenthood, career, new job, retirement--they're all scary.  We want to cling to the old life, even though the new holds possibilities we can't yet imagine.  But, like a trapeze artist, you have to climb to the  top, walk to the very edge look across the abyss, set your eyes on the goal, and let go.  Only then can you fly.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

S is for Shoes

With Mother's Day approaching, S is an essay I wrote some years ago about my mother's shoes: I remember my mother's shoes--high heels, all of them. Sandals with platforms, black patent leather heels with open lacing at the toes, spectator pumps, solid ones. My mother wore heels to make her look taller than her five feet. Shes were her obsession, her one indulgence, though she could have afforded others. Her feet were tiny, beautiful. When she was a young girl in Omaha, a shoe manufacturer asked her to model for him. Her mother said no. Model, postitute--same thing in her opinion. MoShoes and her vanity over them were her downfall. Though she was wobbly, though the doctor said she shouldn't wear heels any more, she wouldn't listen. She fell going upstairs and lost her good eye when the earpiece of her glasses pierced it. I prayed she'd die in surgery that night. I couldn't stnad the thought of her living nearly blind. But she didn't die. When I wrote this piece, she was still alive. She wore ugly shoes. She hated them. Black with shoe laces and sensible rubber soles that kept her stady but reminded her she was an old lady. The remains of her youth were tied upin her shoes, and they were gone forever. When my sister and I cleaned out her house after she moved to the nursing home, we found dozens of pairs of shoes, some hardly worn. Memories of my mother's life, lined up two by two on the closet floor.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

R is for Reunion

This weekend I will be attending my high school reunion. I won't say what number this is; let's just say it's more than 20, and there will probably be a lot of old people attending. Not me, of course; I've hardly changed since high school.
Anyway, since I haven't been yet, I am posting my favorite reunion cartoons. Hope you enjoy them.

Q is for Quilt

I fell in love with this beautiful quilt when I saw an exhibit of the work of Israeli artist Maya Chaimovich. I knew I had to have it. Here it is in my living room, hanging above two chairs I inherited from my mother. Leave a comment if you're interested in contacting Maya and I'll send you her email.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

P is for The Possum in the Bathroom

My first close acquaintance with possums came when I returned from a professional conference. On the way home from the airport my husband announced that a mother possum had abandoned her babies in our recyling bin. Sure enough, when I got home, eight little pairs of eyes stared up at me from the bottom of the bin. When I bent to get a closer look, a chorus of hisses ensued along with a baring of teeth. I moved back. We kept the babies until we thought they were old enough to fend for themselves, then gave them to our son-in-law to let go in the wild. I thought that was the end of my possum experience.

But no. A year after my husband died I awoke one night to the sound of breaking glass. The cats, I thought. No, Toby was asleep in the living room. I glanced into the master bath and there was Tiki, standing in the middle of the floor, swishing her tail madly back and forth and looking up at the counter where an enormous possum was seated as if he owned the place. How did he get in? More importantly, how would I get him out?

Unable to come up with a solution, I grabbed the cat, slammed the bathroom door and went back to bed. And yes, I fell asleep. I got up at 6 a.m., called the city's animal control office and learned they were closed for Labor Day weekend. Of course, it was a holiday weekend. What better time for a wild animal to invade my bathroom? Finally, I found a private company. When they arrived, the possum was no where to be found. "I know he's here," I insisted. "I saw him at night." The men nodded. I'm sure they thought I'd had a nightmare. But they did find him in the closet, got him into a cage and took him away, assuring me they weren't going to kill him, just let him go in the woods. Later I discovered that he'd gotten in through a hole in the roof (I had it fixed a few days later), pushed down the attic stairs and made himself at home.

I hope I never have another wild visitor, but something good did come of my possum encounter. I have published three articles about the possum, the latest in an anthology called Coping with Transition: Men, Motherhood, Money and Magic, edited by Susan Briggs Wright, available on Amazon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

O is for One Serving (or more) 3 2 1 Cake

Disclaimer: I haven't actually made this cake, but I saw the recipe in last week's food section and it sounded great. And unbelievably easy.

1 box angel food cake mix
1 box any other flavor cake mix

Combine the two mixes in a gallon-size self-sealing plastic bag. Place 3 tablespoons mix in a microwave-safe one-serving bowl or cup. Add 2 tablespoons water; mix. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Top with frosting, powdered sugar or chocolate chips. You have enough mix to make as many servings as you like.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

N is for Nine

The number 9 doesn't show up as frequently in symbolism as 3 or 7, or so I thought until I googled it. In fact, it's used a lot. Here are some 9's in mythology, religion, sports, history, math, and some miscellaneous places:

The Bahai religion has a nine-pointed star.

Paul listed 9 spiritual gifts.

Jesus died at the 9th hour.

Because it's the highest single digit number, 9 symbolizes completion and fulfillment.

9 is a perfect square.

The digits of any number multiplied by 9 equal 9.

0 x 9 + 1 =1
1 x 9 + 2 =11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 X 9 + 4 = 1111 and so on

There are 9 worlds in Norse mythology.

In Greek myth, Demeter and Persephone are together for 9 months of the year.

After being impregnated by Zeus, Leto labored for 9 days giving birth to Artemis and Apollo.

There were 9 muses in Greek mythology.

The Aztecs believed that after death they passed through 9 stages before reaching eternal rest.

Among the Vikings, 9 day old babies were held on their fathers' laps and sprinkled with water and this made them legal members of the community

In England, Lady Jane Grey was called the 9 Days Queen. She ruled for 9 days before being executed.

William Henry Harrison, the 9th President, was the first to die in office.

Beethoven wrote 9 symphonies.

The final movement of the 9th symphony is now the national anthem of the European Union.

Gestation for humans is 9 months.

Sperm have 9 twisted threads. After a sperm unites with an egg, a centriole, a cricle of 9 parallel tubes is formed.

Parsley is said to go back and forth to the devil 9 times before it sprouts, so giving a gift containing parsley is bad luck.

Cats are said to have 9 lives.

Baseball is played with 9 players for 9 innings.

And last but not least, Herman Cain's 999 plan.

Friday, April 13, 2012

M is for Misplaced Modifiers

Woe to the writer who has a misplaced modifier. My critique group will find it. In fact, that's one of our favorite things to do.

So what are misplaced modifiers? They are clauses and phrases placed so they modify the wrong noun in the sentence.

Here are some examples: Can you fix them?
For sale: antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.

Wanted: man to take care of cow that does not smoke or drink.

Three-year-old teacher needed for preschool.

The patient was referred to a psychologist with severe emotional problems.

She died in the home where she was born at the age of 88.

Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address while traveling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope.

Sitting up and begging, I gave my dog a dog biscuit.

Laughing uncontrollably, my panties got wet.

L is for Left-Handed

The Latin word for "left" was sinistra, which eventually took on the meaning of "evil." Left-handedness, because it was different, took on these meanings as well. In fact, if your child appeared to be favoring the left hand over the right, you did everything you could to make him change.

I'm left-handed, and, hey, I'm proud of it. We lefties have our own calendar, our own scissors, our own stores such as

Did you know...
10% of the population is left-handed.
5 of our last 7 presidents have been left-handed.
In left-handed scissors, the left blade is on top, allowing the cutting action of the left hand to push the blades together rather than apart.
Michelangelo, a lefty, is the only artist whose biography was published while he was still alive.

Here are some famous left-handed people:
Albert Einstein
Da Vinci
Babe Ruth
John McEnroe
Bob Dylan
Jim Henson
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jerry Seinfeld
Pablo Picasso
Greta Garbo
Angelina Jolie
Brad Pitt

And a quote for a famous lefty:
"Doubt, of whatever kind, can be ended by action alone."
Thomas Carlyle

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

K is for Katmiss Everdeen

Anyone out there who doesn't know Katmiss Everdeen? Then you've been asleep for the last couple of years.

What makes Katmiss, the heroine of The Hunger Games, so special? My book club discussed this--yes, we often read Young Adult novels if they look interesting--and we decided it's because she's not a ditzy high school girl who falls for the first vampire she encounters, nor is she even searching for a boyfriend. She's too busy making a life for herself and her family in the most difficult circumstances. strong and tough, loyal and noble, sacrificing herself for her little sister. What's not to like?

She's a heroine young girls (and even boys) want to emulate. Okay, she kills a few people, but she has to in order to survive the Games. Jennifer Lawrence plays her to perfection in the movie.

I think Katmiss is a character who will remain an icon of YA literature for many years to come. What do you think?

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