Monday, June 30, 2014

Nibbles

DISCLAIMER: IF YOU READ THIS WITH YOUR LITERATE CHILDREN BEHIND YOU, THERE MIGHT BE SOME EXPLAINING TO DO.

Around this house, we seem to be overly concerned with the mammary glands. I'm not sure if it's because I nursed all the kids and we're very open with our bodies around here or what. But boobs come up in conversation often, at least as of late.

Just today, the girls asked a very important question.
Zoe: Mom, what are stripper boobs?
Me: Well, they are breasts that are very large in size.
Talia: You mean like Aunt Tara?
Me: [snorting] Well yes, like those.
I looked at Zoe and Talia and then down at my chest.
Me: I do not have stripper boobs.
Zoe: [Eyeroll, as in I just stated the obvious.] No, you do not.
And we had another discussion about breasts, forged this time by Aaron of all people.
Aaron: Girls have breasts but only boys have nipples.
Me: What?!
Melina: I have nibbles.
Me: Nipples, Melina, although I like your term better. But everyone has nipples.
Aaron: No, only boys have nipples.
Me: Do you mean that they only have nipples and nothing else?
Aaron: No, only boys have nipples.
Melina: You mean nibbles.
Me: [snorting] I can't win.
I'm done talking about the body for the day. For the summer, in fact.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mother vs Father

A mother: A woman who, after driving four hours with three of her children on the way home from a weekend with a best friend, manages to stop at the grocery store, buy fresh food, and proceeds to cook dinner, despite the fact that her legs and back hurt from driving, and because her period has arrived.

A father: A man who eats said dinner.

P.S. In all fairness, Tim kept Aaron here and they had a guys weekend. Which apparently didn't involve thinking about what they would make for dinner on Sunday night.

P.P.S. I anticipated this happening, especially because Tim had a baseball game and wouldn't be home until 5:30 or later. So really, as long as I don't have to dishes, I'll be fine.

P.P.P.S. I will probably have to do dishes, since Tim is old and baseball on a hot day will wipe Tim out. We'll use paper plates.

Friday, June 27, 2014

One Month In

One month ago today, the kids walked out the doors of their schools for summer break. I remember thinking to myself that I wasn't ready for them to be home, that I needed more time, and I wondered how everything would get done over the course of the day. I knew how food would be prepared, laundry would be accomplished, and grocery shopping would be done. What I didn't know was how I'd ever get to my things: writing, running, reading, and generally taking care of myself and my psyche.

But I'm pleased to say that, despite already having been on three trips over the last month (one that included a week-long stay), I'm finding some time for me. I still find some moments to read, a little time to write, and I've been sure to get some good summer running in. I've even managed to carve out a block of hours to clean -- thanks to Tim and his willingness to take the kids out of the house -- because I find cleaning satisfying and therapeutic, and I prefer to do it alone.

We've got six weeks left in this summer vacation. That time includes three more weekend trips, playing with friends, days at the pool, and Melina's sixth birthday. And I'm guessing that by the end of it, the summer will have gone quickly, too quickly as they say, and I won't be ready for the kids to go back to school. 


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Changes

I broke my FB hiatus. Willingly. Because I was alerted to a message that would be sitting in my inbox. I probably should have just left it there, waiting for me to open it, but I couldn't. Curiosity got the best of me.

And while that message wasn't worth the time, while I was there, lurking around FB but not commenting on anything, I was pleasantly surprised by a post. That a friend of mine, Jon (a guy I became friends with when I was twenty-two), and his wife, are expecting baby number three. They are adding a little boy to their two little girls. It's the best news I've had in a few days.

On the other side of the coin, though, Jon and his family are moving. We haven't seen them in years, but knowing they were only three hours away gave us possibilities to get together. Now, they will be almost twelve hours away by car, one by plane. But who gets six people in a plane these days, simply to head south, into a region accessible easily by car? Not this family. But here's the thing. Now that Jon and his family will be farther away, I think I need to take it upon myself to see them and that area of the country that my children haven't seen yet.

So Jon, we're inviting ourselves over. We'll give you time to settle, give Kara time to have the baby, give everyone time to adjust to a third child. And then, we'll swoop in and visit. And if you're lucky, which you so totally are, we'll offer to babysit while you and Kara head out for some much needed time to yourselves.

We're looking forward to the new changes in your life!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Play List

I admit it: I'm a fan of Taylor Swift. But I haven't listened to that many songs of hers besides those that are on her Red album. (Can we still call it an album? Or it is only a CD? Ah, no matter.) Today, as I cleaned the first level of our house, I heard her song, Enchanted, which is several years old. In fact, it comes from her Speak Now album which was released in 2010. (So I'm a little behind. What can I say?)

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. I stopped in my tracks when I actually started listening to the lyrics. I'd use it for my novel, Beyond the Trees, if I were to make it into a movie.Of course, it needs to be published as a novel, first.

Details. Minor details. See for yourself:

"Enchanted"

There I was again tonight
Forcing laughter, faking smiles
Same old tired lonely place

Walls of insincerity,
Shifting eyes and vacancy
Vanished when I saw your face

All I can say is it was enchanting to meet you

Your eyes whispered, "Have we met?"
Across the room your silhouette
Starts to make its way to me
The playful conversation starts
Counter all your quick remarks
Like passing notes in secrecy

And it was enchanting to meet you
All I can say is I was enchanted to meet you

This night is sparkling, don't you let it go
I'm wonderstruck, blushing all the way home
I'll spend forever wondering if you knew
I was enchanted to meet you

The lingering question kept me up
2 AM, who do you love?
I wonder 'til I'm wide awake
And now I'm pacing back and forth
Wishing you were at my door
I'd open up and you would say, "Hey,
It was enchanting to meet you,
All I know is I was enchanted to meet you."

This night is sparkling, don't you let it go
I'm wonderstruck, blushing all the way home
I'll spend forever wondering if you knew
This night is flawless, don't you let it go
I'm wonderstruck, dancing around all alone
I'll spend forever wondering if you knew
I was enchanted to meet you

This is me praying that
This was the very first page
Not where the story line ends
My thoughts will echo your name
Until I see you again
These are the words I held back
As I was leaving too soon
I was enchanted to meet you

Please don't be in love with someone else
Please don't have somebody waiting on you
Please don't be in love with someone else
Please don't have somebody waiting on you

This night is sparkling, don't you let it go
I'm wonderstruck, blushing all the way home
I'll spend forever wondering if you knew
This night is flawless, don't you let it go
I'm wonderstruck, dancing around all alone
I'll spend forever wondering if you knew
I was enchanted to meet you

Please don't be in love with someone else
Please don't have somebody waiting on you

Saturday, June 21, 2014

the right story

thoughts spin
like a whirling dervish,
an analogy so overused,
yet so appropriate.
i sit and try to collect the thoughts
into some semblance of order.
lined up like soldiers,
or cereal boxes,
or cans of tomato soup.
it's hard, though,
when the story i want to write
is so close to my heart.
too close, really.
i need more space between it and me
before it can come out.
so the three hundred words
i started last week
will need to sit and stew,
brew, percolate, just wait.
until i can step back
and look at it with clear eyes.
then, i hope,
i'll find the right story.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Heading Home

I thought about the best way to summarize this vacation. But because I ran long and hard today, up and down several hills, I'm too fatigued to write anything worth anything. Instead, I did a quick check on some quotes that might be appropriate. I found these three that adequately speak to our experience this trip.

We hit the sunny beaches where we occupy ourselves keeping the sun off our skin, the saltwater off our bodies, and the sand out of our belongings.
~ Erma Bombeck

Those that say you can't take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip.
~ Unknown

By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

We had a great time; we hope to be back next year.





Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ivy Update

Many of you have asked for an update on the Great Dane rescue mission we embarked upon. And thanks for asking, by the way. It's good to know that you all care.

But I'm sorry to say that even though we were approved to be a home to a Great Dane rescue dog, the organization doesn't have one right now that would be a good match. Apparently, Ivy went to another good home and the rest of the dogs need to be an only dog.

I have mixed feelings about not getting what I want this time. I'm glad that we are approved to be a home for a future dog, but the fact that we couldn't be placed with one right now feels like another NO in a long string of NOs in my life right now.

But instead of concentrating on that NO, I'm going to hope that the tides will turn and, in a few months or even a year, I'll experience a longer string of YESes. I guess we'll have to see.

In the meantime, cross your fingers for me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Attachments

We all went to the beach yesterday. As much as I enjoy the warmth, I'm not one for sitting in the sun. But I like a cold lake even less, and I was tired, so I spread out a towel and lay on my stomach for a few minutes, until Tim came up behind me.

"You're legs are pretty pale," he said. As most of you know, that's the understatement of the century. Pale doesn't cover what my legs are -- cadaverous would be a better adjective to use.

"Yeah, I know," I replied.

"And then there's this." He picked up, between his nails, a hair on the back of my thighs. AND THEN PULLED IT OUT. "Oh," he continued. "I guess it's still attached."

You guess it's still attached? Shouldn't you have thought of that before you pulled on the doggone thing? 

There are a lot of things my husband has, but clearly, common sense is not one of them. Before I explained that my razor is dull and that any attempts to get rid of hair from my thighs would be in vain, I slapped him. On the arm. Without warning. He looked as surprised as I had been when he plucked the errant hair from my thigh.

Served him right, don't you think?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Musings on a Microwave

Back when we started the kitchen renovation (Which, may I remind you, is done...it finished up in October of last year, and we've been enjoying the result ever since.), the contractor asked me where I wanted to put everything. The room is small, only 12' x 10', so space couldn't be wasted. And we weren't actually moving any appliances other than the refrigerator, which had been tucked into a bad corner. Everything else either stayed in the same place or was taken out entirely.

"What do you mean?" I asked. "Everything has it's place now, doesn't it?"

"I mean things like the garbage can or the microwave," Bill said.

I didn't have to think about an answer. The one that came to the forefront of my head was almost as quick as a reflex. "I want the garbage to be in the same place it is now, and I'd like for the microwave to be on a shelf, not above the stove."

Bill's eyebrows furrowed and Josh squinted at me. "Okay about the garbage...it makes sense to keep it as it is -- a pull-out, hidden receptacle. But are you sure about the microwave? Most people put their microwaves over the stove."

When we moved into the house, there was room in the kitchen for a microwave. But that space was not over the stove. It was on a high shelf that sat beneath a set of cabinets. It was an eyesore, but I'd gotten used to not having my microwave over the stove, and to be honest, I preferred it that way.

"Nope," I said. "I don't want it over the stove. I don't even care if it's on the countertop."

Bill stepped in. "Don't do that, you'll need the space. But I think we can make a more attractive shelf for the microwave, right here next to the refrigerator."

"Sounds good," I replied.

And here we are, months later, and I'm still glad that I stuck with my original idea. I love my kitchen, I like the choices we made, and I'm happy that my short children can use the microwave without having to stretch over a stove, one that might possibly be hot from time to time.

You might wonder why the hell I'm posting this right now. Did I just feel like telling you that I prefer my microwave in a place other than over the stove? How important is that for you to know? It's not. But I'll tell you this. Sometimes it is a simple decision that can make a difference. Especially when it is a decision you make because you stick to your principles. You listen to yourself and that inner voice. You know what is best for you or for your family, and you don't let other people sway your thoughts. You stay authentic.

It's not easy, but it's doable.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lake Living

A long time ago -- so long ago now, I can barely remember when -- I fell in love. With a place called Walloon Lake. If you're a faithful reader, you've heard me mention the place before, so bear with me. If you're new here, then this might the first time you hear its name. But believe me, it won't be the last.

Walloon Lake sits in the northwestern part of Michigan's lower peninsula. It spans two counties and is really just one of many freshwater lakes that Michigan has to offer. It is at least a seven hour drive from our home. But to me, Walloon Lake offers a piece of secluded heaven that I love so much. Had I any opportunity to purchase a home here, I would.

I won't go on and bore you. Instead, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves (Google "Walloon Lake" and search for images. You won't be disappointed.)

I hope to get some of my own very soon...




Saturday, June 14, 2014

An Honest Review

I just finished reading The Only Boy, by Jordan Locke. Locke is a Twitter follower of mine. I'm not sure how or why Locke found me -- I'm not that popular, really, partially because I'm not that active on Twitter (a fact that I'm sure shocks you, knowing that I don't even have a cell phone with text capability) and partially because I don't spend time on it, trying to find my niche. And, I'm not funny. Or interesting. (Although I hope my characters are.) In any case, I thought, let's see who this person is. So I looked up the website, and actually sent an email to Jordan Locke. And here's the short story:

Jordan wrote a book. Jordan found an agent. Jordan's agent couldn't sell the manuscript to an editor. Jordan decided to self-publish.

So I know you want to know, how was the book? In case you don't feel like Googling anything or jumping to a link, here's the description of the book, taken from the back cover:
Mary is stuck in Section One, living with three hundred women in a crumbling hospital. She wonders what life was like two centuries ago, before the Cleansing wiped out all the men. But the rules -- the Matriarch's senseless rules -- prevent her from exploring the vacant city to find out.

Taylor's got a dangerous secret: he's a boy. His compound's been destroyed, and he's been relocated to Section One. Living under the Matriarch means giving up possessions, eating canned food and avoiding all physical contact. Baggy clothes hide his flat chest and skinny legs, but if anyone discovers what lies beneath, he'll be exiles. Maybe even executed.

Mary's never seen a boy -- the Matriarch cut the picture of men from the textbooks -- and she doesn't suspect Taylor's secret. If she knew, she might understand the need to stop the girls from teasing him. If she knew, she might realize why she breaks the rules, just to be near him. Then again, she might be frightened to death of him.
Taylor should go. The Matriarch is watching his every move. But running means leaving Mary -- and braving the land beyond the compound's boundaries.

From that, you can see 1. this is a YA novel, and 2. it is, of course, a dystopian YA novel.

Don't let any of that turn you off, though. I enjoyed the book. It has short chapters (something I love) that keep the plot moving forward and the story is told from the point of view of both Mary and Taylor. Novels told from various points of view help me, as a reader, get into the characters in a way that I cannot from a singular first person point of view. Locke also does a fine job of world building and throws in some complications from time to time. I found the book on Amazon for $10. It was worth the read (and I enjoyed it more than Divergent.)

But what did I learn from this book? Nothing that Locke intended. As I read it, I looked at the novel from a writer's perspective. I critiqued the language, the style, and the characters. And overall, I was still pretty happy with the book. It did get me thinking, though. What if the agent had been able to sell the book to an editor? Would it have been better?

I think so. I found spots where I would have liked more information, on the characters, the world, the back story. I think an agent and editor working in concert with Locke would have addressed those issues. I think this story, while good coming out of the writer's hands, if it had been published in the traditional manner, could have been fantastic.

So even though I liked The Only Boy and I will let my girls read it, I'm sad that Jordan Locke's agent wasn't able to sell it. For Jordan's sake, really. Locke is a good writer, and hopefully, any further books will find a home with an editor who can help push forward the career of the author. In the meantime, I'm doing what I can to help out a fellow writer.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lemony Goodness

Sometimes, a recipe sounds so good to me, I then have to try it -- an action that usually leads me to post the recipe here. But I don't have time today to make these tasty morsels. And in an effort to remind myself to make these, soon, I'm posting the recipe before I try them. I mean, what difference does it really make? If I bake them and then despise them, I can update the post or (gasp!) delete it, right?

And I can't take credit for these. I found the recipe at People of all places, where Angie Dudley (a.k.a. Bakerella) is a guest each Friday.

Lemon Sugar Cookies
2½ cups all purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1½ cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tbsp. lemon zest
½ tbsp. vanilla
Sugar for rolling cookie dough, optional
Lemon cream frosting (optional, recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl with a wire whisk. Set aside.
3. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add egg, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. Mix until combined.
5. Add flour mixture and mix slowly until completely combined.
6. Scoop out dough with a 1½ inch scoop and roll dough in sugar to coat.
7. Place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes and let cool.
8. Optional:  Spread a layer of lemon cream frosting on one cookie and sandwich with another. Repeat for as many cookie sandwiches as desired.

Lemon Cream Frosting
½ cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, cream butter, then mix in sugar and lemon juice. Add a couple of drops of yellow food coloring if you want to hint to recipients what the flavor is at first sight.

If you beat me to making these, please be sure to let me know if you like them!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Waffle House

My family likes having breakfast for dinner. In fact, we have it probably every week and a half or so. The menu will vary: sometimes I'll make scrambled eggs and toast, other times, pancakes, sausage and fried eggs. We've had french toast, roasted potatoes, and fruit. Nothing too creative or fancy, just good, filling, food. The one thing I haven't made is homemade waffles. Not because I don't like them, but simply because I didn't have a waffle iron.

So last week, on a trip to my parent's house, I thought about the fact that my mom had a waffle iron. If I borrowed said iron, I would be able to gauge 1. if I liked the contraption and 2. if I would use it. There's no point to getting an appliance and not using it. (Those of you who know my parents will find such humor in that simple statement. Read on.)

Well here's how the whole thing went down.
Me: Mom. Do you know where your waffle iron is?
Mom: It should be in the closet.
The closet is this place in their upstairs hallway that houses a billion and one items that my parents rarely use. Wait, I'm lying. They use and replace the toilet paper, the toothpaste, and the batteries. But the cake pans shaped like easter eggs? I'm betting mom hasn't used those since about 1990, if not before. And the old leather suitcase? Don't even get me started. (They used to also have a rowing machine and an IBM typewriter, only one of which fit into the closet.)
Me: Can I borrow it? I'm thinking on getting one, but I want to make sure I'll use it before I buy one.
Mom: Yes, if we can find it. But make sure I get it back!
The look in her eyes bothered me. Because, of course, she has plans to make waffles next week? (Can you sense the snark in that statement?) Because I'm not trustworthy? Because she doesn't already have enough junk in that closet that isn't used and could be donated to a worthy cause?
Me: Don't worry, Mom. I'll get it back to you.
Mom: I used to use that a lot, you know.
If by a lot, she means once every 10 years, then I guess I can't argue with her. And now, she lives with a diabetic husband, one who shouldn't eat any waffles she might make. Which is why she buys the frozen kind that resemble cardboard.

I made waffles last night. They were tasty, but they stuck horribly to the upper lid of the waffle iron. So there's no threat, Mom, of me confiscating that waffle iron. You can have the damn thing back. I'll even pay postage to get it to you if necessary.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Battle

I try not to go on about my kids. It's not that I'm not proud of them, it just that no one should brag about anything anytime, at least in my opinion. But it is okay to state a fact and that's what I'm doing here. I'm stating a fact that Aaron is good at math. Really good. So I also have to state the fact that for the last couple of years, since first grade actually, I've wanted him to be pushed ahead a year in math.

The first grade teacher said, "We don't normally accelerate first graders, but I'll try to challenge him." And she did. The second grade teacher said, "The school won't bump him yet, but I'll challenge him." And she did. The third grade teacher said, "I'm not sure I can challenge him in the way you want me to, but I'll try." And he did try. But it still wasn't enough.

So I went to the principal, a nice fellow who has ushered 21st century learning techniques into the school and has seemingly proven to be a worthy advocate for the children. "He needs more," I said to the principal. " Much more."

His response? "Then the teacher should provide it. The school district isn't accelerating kids right now, even though we have some that were grandfathered in years before." His face told me that it was the end of the discussion.

But I didn't let the issue go and back and forth I went. I spoke with the teacher and tried to get more challenges in place. Then I went back to the principal in an effort to see some changes implemented in the curriculum. I asked again for acceleration and was denied. At one point, I was even in the classroom, teaching a short math lesson to a group of high learners. Me. A parent with a mission. (And we know how that turned out now, don't we?)

In my mind, though, it still wasn't enough for Aaron. If the kid could perform math functions that the girls were bringing home, then he needed to be somewhere else. By May, I'd had it. So I asked his teacher if I should contact the Gifted Education Coordinator and set up a meeting. The teacher was all for it. And so I did.

I was prepared to wage a serious battle. I had letters of support in hand and my bad-ass attitude in place. But at the end of the meeting, we had a decision: Aaron is to be accelerated by a year in math come the fall. If that proves too easy (and we'll access with the data that comes in), he could be pushed ahead another year. And how long did the meeting last? Five minutes? Five! I kid you not. No more, no less.

I sat there, in front of the coordinator, dumbfounded. I'd wasted time and energy all year, for what? I wanted to shout, "Was the principal lying? Because he said there was to be no accelerating!" But I have manners, and so I extended my hand and thanked her for her time. Plus, I'd gotten what I wanted, hadn't I? So what did I have to complain about?

But I still wonder what the problem was this entire year. For a letter arrived this week that states, "It is the Board's intent that each student be moved forward in a continuous pattern of achievement and growth that is in harmony with his/her own development." And for Aaron, that means acceleration in math. The Board doesn't have a problem. The district doesn't have a problem. Did the principal have a problem? I'll never know. He's moving on to different, possibly greener, pastures as of the fall.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

You

My wish for you,
my friends,
is but one thing:
To find yourself.
The who, what, when, where, and why
of you.
Not me,
not her,
not the people who raised you or those with whom you work.
Not the you who hides beneath the blanket of family
or behind a wall of friends.
You.
The one that sits up and shouts at the television.
The one who wants to wear pinstripe jeans
(even though they went out of style,
decades ago).
The one who prefers chocolate milk to red wine
and Velveeta to aged cheddar.
There is no way for me
to help you cross the void
and get you there.
Wherever there is.
I can cheer and clap and support you,
hope that your feet will alight
on the correct path.
But only you can take the steps
to scale the bridge
and find the person
who is ready,
and waiting.
You.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Hot Oil

Did you know that olive oil can ignite inside a high temperature oven? In fact, it has a very low smoke point of 325 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Which means, if you roast vegetables at a temperature higher than that, say 500 degrees, and you decide to put your oil in first to heat it because you might have been told by a trusted folk to do so, that you will, in fact, eventually see a flame. Right inside your oven. A very lovely, blue-yellow flame, arising from the hot pan.

I might also add that baking soda does indeed put out a fire produced by the high heat and olive oil combination. I'd always heard this was the case, but I'd never had the opportunity to find out if it was true. Of course, it's always good to test the theory out on your own, you know. Because you can't trust everyone (see the folk who said to heat the olive oil to 500 degrees, above).

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Missing You

I'm a lucky girl. A very lucky girl.

Besides having a husband who planted two bushes while I was away for a few days (and hopefully got around to washing all the bedsheets in the house), I have a friend who misses me. Enough that she emailed me to tell me so. Unprompted by me.

Thanks for missing me. It's always good to be loved.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Wisest

Older sisters can be so, so wise sometimes.

"I wouldn't want to live with someone like myself," Gina said today. She had no idea when she said it, how powerful a statement she had made.

And of course, the statement got me thinking. Would I want to live with someone like myself? Would you?

It's too late to answer that now. Perhaps I'll keep it for another day.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Math Prompts

Aaron has been taking part in a summer program through the school that, truthfully, has been quite a bit of work. Had I known this when I signed him up for it, I might not have done so. But, you live and learn, right?

Anyway, part of the program is to send an answer in, each day, to three prompts: one that is creative, one that is geared toward English/Language Arts, and one that deals with math. Yes, Aaron has loved the math prompts, mostly because they are logic problems. Funny thing is, as logical as I am, I cannot always solve these little things myself. However, Aaron can. 

So just for fun, I'm posting a few of these questions. If you want to give yourself a headache -- or prove that you are smarter than a soon-to-be fourth grader (which apparently, I am not ) -- go ahead and take a gander at these. They're good.

Math Prompt #1: 
Jim tells lies on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  He tells the truth on all other days.  Freda tells lies on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  She tells the truth on all other days. If both of them say, “Yesterday I lied,” then what day is it today?

By the way, I could do this one.

Math Prompt #2:
You are visiting an island with two types of people: knights who always tell the truth; and knaves who always lie.  In each of the scenarios that follow, you are approached by two people, each of whom tells you something that may be honest or not.  Your job is to decide who are knights and who are knaves, and then be able to defend your claims.


1. Angela and Bernard walk up to you.  

Angela says, “Bernard is a knight.”

Bernard says, “Angela and I are of opposite type.”


2. Charles and Denise approach you.  

Charles says, “Both of us are knights.”

Denise says, “Charles is knave.”


3. Edward and Francis walk up to you.  

Edward says nothing.  

Francis says, “Both of us are knaves.”


4. Grace and Henry walk up to you.

Grace says, “Henry is a knave.”

Henry says, “Grace is a knave.”

Got this one, too, although my head hurt.

Math Prompt #3:
Tom, John, Fred, and Bill are friends whose occupations are (in no particular order) nurse, secretary, teacher, and pilot.  They attended a picnic recently, and each one brought his favorite meat (hamburger, chicken, steak, and hot dogs) to barbecue.  From the clues below, determine each man’s occupation and favorite meat.


Clue # 1:  Tom is neither the nurse nor the teacher.


Clue # 2: Fred and the pilot play in a jazz band together.


Clue # 3: The burger lover and the teacher are not musically inclined.  


Clue # 4: Tom brought the hot dogs.


Clue # 5: Bill sat next to the burger fan and across from the steak lover.

Clue # 6:  The secretary does not play an instrument or sing.

I'm still in the game, hanging by a thread...

Math Prompt #4:  
Tyler, Raymod, Chris, Dirk, and Kevin were starters on the 2008 AAU All-Star Basketball Team.  Two of them shot with their left hand, and three shot with their right hand.  Two of them were 6’9’’ tall.  Chris and Tyler shot with the same hand; Dirk and Kevin used different hands to shoot.  Raymod and Kevin were in the same height range, while Chris and Dirk were in different height ranges.  The player who played center was over 6’9’ and was left-handed.  Who was he and who is everyone else?

Frickin' question! Scratching my head and reeling over this one.  A day later.

Math Prompt #5:
The police department arrested four suspects-two men and two women-on suspicion of petty left.  The sergeant on duty who processed the suspects was having a bad day.  He produced this list of suspects and descriptions:


Robin Wilde: scar on left cheek

Cary Steele:  purple hair

Pat Fleece:  tall and blonde

Connie Theeves:  birthmark on left wrist


When the list landed on the arresting detective’s desk, he was furious.  He went to the sergeant and said, “Paul, you might be having a bad day, but this list is full of mistakes.  The first and last names are all mismatched, and none of the descriptions matches either the first or last name it is listed with.  Do you think you can fix this?


The sergeant replied, Sorry Tom.  I am having a bad day, but I think I need a little bit more information.


The detective answered, Okay, Paul.  Here’s some more info.  Connie has purple hair to match her purple high tops.  The men are Steele and Fleece.  A woman has a scar.  Do you think you can straighten this mess out now?


The sergeant was now able to determine the first and last name of each suspect, as well as their descriptions.  You work it out, too.

Eureka! I figured it out!!! I'm stopping now, before this program ends, and leaving on a high note. Thank goodness this program isn't actually for me!
 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

New

A whisper,
a conversation,
and eight white shirts --
all hanging
in a small closet --
lead me to
another story question,
a premise,
a world to unfold and discover.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Unlawful

I didn't want to be that woman. The one who always follows the rules; the one that always takes on the law herself and reports a neighborhood incident to the police. Especially because it wasn't even my neighborhood -- I was cruising down the street one town over from mine. But as you know, I'm the neighborhood vigilante. The one that keeps an eye out for those lawless sorts that seem to permeate society these days.

Except this time, the rule being broken was a useless and horribly insane law. And was it really a law, or was it simply an urban myth that I had heard? As I watched the man run down the street, shirtless, I thought to myself, I could call the police and report him, but why? Would that serve a purpose? Maybe it would be better to simply call out the window that I'd heard it was unlawful to run through the streets without a shirt and that he better be careful. Of course, I did neither.

Instead, I sat back and watched the fine specimen of a man make his way up the street. The muscles of his back languidly contracted in the sun and beads of sweat popped up on his forehead. He had no idea that a car full of women was watching him, as his feet struck the pavement and his green shorts flapped in the wind.

And as sat there, looking out the window, I realized that it wasn't the lack of a shirt that broke the law. It was the shorts. For even on a runner such as this guy -- a man with beautifully sculpted quadriceps and divine hamstrings -- there are shorts that can be just a tad too short. And his green ones were just that.

I still didn't call the cops.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Speak to Me

Things speak to me, often. And by things, I can mean anything: commercials, quotes, stories, people, signs, nature, just about anything. Want a great example? Go find a Pure Michigan commercial, blast it in my ears, and watch me weep. The voice of Tim Allen and his (albeit scripted) description of days gone past and summer in Michigan gets me -- every time.

What is it today? Doctor Who quotes. Yep, the good old Doctor, a person my family loves and sometimes impersonates, is speaking to me. His words, at times, bring tears to my eyes. I found these quotes here, but I have Googled a number of other ones that might come up in future posts. Somehow, my family members have a soft spot in their hearts for Matt Smith, so these come from his stint as The Doctor.

"The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.”
~ The Doctor, Season 5, Episode 12

“I am and always will be the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams.”
~ The Doctor, Season 6, Episode 6

“Letting it get to you. You know what that’s called? Being alive. Best thing there is. Being alive right now is all that counts.”
~ The Doctor, Season 6, Episode 4

“There’s a lot of things you need to get across this universe. Warp drive… wormhole refractors… You know the thing you need most of all? You need a hand to hold.”
~ The Doctor, Season 6, Episode 6

We all need a hand to hold now, don't we?

What is The Doctor saying to you?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hob-nobbing

Around these parts, we're lucky enough to be close to the Antioch Writers' Workshop. Because that workshop takes place in July --  when the kids are home and during the time when we celebrate Melina's birthday -- I've never been able to take part in it. But the AWW branches out and as of last fall, they've held what they call a LitSalon. According to their website a LitSalon is "a fun way to enjoy an afternoon with fellow literature lovers, hob-nob with a celebrated author, and support Antioch Writers' Workshop." I've gone to all three LitSalons and have had the opportunity to meet authors Martha Moody, Donna MacMeans, and tonight, Erin Flanagan.

Each LitSalon has been fun and informative, and I've come away from them with a better appreciation of the writing process and how it is completely different for different writers. But something about Erin -- her persona, her humor, her I don't know what -- really resonated with me. I sat there, in the cool air of the venue, listening to Erin speak about her background and writing, where she came from and where she planned to go. And I was hit in the gut by her authenticity. She admitted that writing isn't easy, that her process can be messy, and that finding the time to get writing in every day is hard. She spoke about her parents and her children, her students and her writing group. She revealed quite a bit to a group of people she didn't know and would have revealed more, had we asked. It was an honor to meet her, and I'm glad that I signed up to go.

If you have the chance, go ahead and pick up her collections of short stories. She's got two: The Usual Mistakes, and It's Not Going to Kill You and Other Stories. Maybe your local library has them; if not, I bought them and you can borrow them from me.

And, as usual, I wasn't paid to write this.