Monday, August 29, 2016


Each time I begin a new writing project, I remind myself of a writing policy I have: every story is a gift, no matter if it blooms, wilts, or towers over all others like a giant redwood. 

Grant Faulkner

Today, I selected three short and sweet book reviews I created for Springtime in Magnolia over the past year. There's no writing without great reading...

“A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”
Ruth Ozeki

I know I'll never forget this book. It inspired and enchanted with equal measure. I kept using its more humorous quotes, over and over on my creative writing blog. It spurred so much creativity. It just kept giving. 

There's something in it for everyone. Your time will be well spent.  First we meet the distinctive voice of Nao, a Tokyo teen struggling with serious issues. She was forced to leave her life in America behind and return home. But, it's not really home anymore. Her peers tell her she stinks of hamburgers and bully her relentlessly. At her ramshackle new apartment, her world is crumbling like a sandcastle at high tide. Her dad has lost his way. And so has Nao. Until a summer with her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun, makes her time on earth a little more beautiful. This was my favorite part of the book.

We also meet Ruth. A writer struggling with life on an isolated island.  Ruth finds a Hello Kitty lunch box washed ashore after a storm. The plastic wrapped contents become the central mystery of the story. 

It's an inventive read.

I picked up this book at one of our cute little neighborhood lending libraries this Fall. It spoke to me. "You know you like the cover. Take it. Just take it!" yelled the book. So I did.

 Where'd You Go, Bernadette turned out to be an unusual and charming read. The story is told through the unique voice of emails, messages and letters. The central character Bernadette is a fiercely intelligent and reluctant Seattle Mother. She goes missing. And her super smart daughter Bee back tracks through all the above mentioned correspondence to locate her beloved and wayward Mother. Then there's the husband. Another techie smartie pants. Everybody is as smart as a whip! You'll like these characters.

 I get the feeling that the author, Maria Semple, is a real life Mensa wannabe herself. Because she weaved together such a complex and intriguing tale. It was a great book for an aspiring writer (like me) to read. Ultimately, the characters end up in Antarctica. She sounded like an expert.  Now that's research. 

It was such a joy to read Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. I was too young to appreciate the period details and historical significance of the Little House series when I was a kid. I just loved the books for what they were. Entertaining! Now, editor Pamela Smith Hill includes Wilder's original, unpublished manuscript for the Little House series, along with an overwhelming amount of insider information, census data, annotations, diaries, manuscripts, letters, and photographs. 

The beginning of the book follows Wilder's journey to publication. It is always a shock to discover that a series of books that is so beloved by millions, could have had a difficult time getting published. But it did! Wilder and her daughter Rose worked for years to bring the novels to fruition. But, as we all know, they were used to hard work. 

Then, when you start reading the original manuscript, you'll be charmed and educated all over again. I loved reading Wilder's personal notes to her daughter and editor Rose Wilder Lane. They're written here and there through out the original manuscript. I'll let you discover those hidden gems on your own. And the conflicts of frontier life will shock and amaze all over again. Note to settlers of the past...if you find a mummified baby hanging in a tree... leave it there! You'll have to read the book to find out the rest of that haunting story.

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dear Friend...

Uff da Lutefisk.

My favorite saying when I'm exasperated.

I've been inundated with a boat load of spam mail lately. It's like I grew a trendy white beard, decided to wear red fat pants and moved to the north pole. In December. Do I look stupid? Or fat. Don't answer that. Now, the bottom feeders are even sending me google + requests. Like this...

Google+ (Stephen James)

Aug 13 (9 days ago)
to jon.snow.conor

How did they know I'm a Game of Thrones Fan? You know nothing Jon Snow... Sigh. But for the most part, they're still following the typical scammer bank transfer handbook. This one has a lot of humorous touches. I enlarged the best parts in case you want to skim. But remember, after you read this, it will self destruct in 6 seconds...

Dear Friend

Greetings, my name is Mr. Yusuf Fatau, the account manager in charge of audit Foreign Remittance Unit, (BOA) Bank of Africa in Burkina Faso, It is true that we have not meet each other in person, but I strongly believe in trust and friendship in every business. As I am contacting you independently of my investigation and no one is informed of this communication. My reason for contacting you is to transfer an abandoned sum of $6 Million dollars immediately to your private account. The money has been here in our Bank lying dormant for years now without anybody coming for the claim of it.

The funds belong to our deceased Customer Mrs.Shannel Lake who perished along with her family since 9 years ago The Banking laws here does not allow such money to stay more than 10 years, that is the reason why I need your Cooperation in transferring the money to your bank account so that we can use it to secure the future of our both families because I don't want the money to be recalled to the bank treasury as unclaimed fund.

By indicating your interest I will send you the full details on how the business will be executed. Please keep this proposal as a top secret and delete if you are not interested.

My best regards.

Mr. Yusuf Fatau

But other spam pen pals try to pull at my heart strings. Grab your kleenex box and read this...

I need your help. 

I am writing this mail to you with heavy tears In my eyes and great sorrow in my heart, My Name is mrs catherine.thomas and I am contacting you from my country Tunisia I want to tell you this because I don't have any other option than to tell you as I was touched to open up to you, I married to Mr.ouedrago Brown who worked with Tunisia embassy in Burkina Faso for nine years before he died in the year 2009.We were married for eleven years without a child.

He died after a brief illness that lasted for only five days. Since his death I decided not to remarry, When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of US$ 8.5m (Eight Million Five hundred Thousand Dollars) in a bank in Ouagadougou the capital city of Burkina Faso in west Africa Presently this money is still in bank. He made this money available for exportation of Gold from Burkina Faso mining.

Recently, My Doctor told me that I would not last for the period of seven months due to cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness. Having known my condition I decided to hand you over this money to take care of the less-privileged people, you will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct here

I want you to take 30 Percent of the total money for your personal use While 70% of the money will go to charity, people in the street and helping the orphanage. I grew up as an Orphan and I don't have any body as my family member, just to end endeavor that the house of God is maintained. Am doing this so that God will forgive my sins and accept my soul because these sicknesses have suffered me so much.

As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the bank in Burkina Faso and I will also instruct the Bank Manger to issue you an authority letter that will prove you the present beneficiary of the money in the bank that is if you assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein.

Always reply to my alternative for security purposes ( )

Hoping to receive your reply:
From mrs catherine.thomas

And don't even get me started on all the E.D. problems striking mankind. Or do. I need something to write about. Every darn day I get Erect on Demand mail with a curious vertical cucumber shouting hello. Hmmmm. Guess what I think about that?

Uff da Lutefisk!

Monday, August 15, 2016

"The cat, you idiot!"

The Internet Cat Video Festival lived on after the Walker Art Center bundled it up in a burlap sack, weighed it down with rocks and threw it over the Stone Arch Bridge. This year it was hosted by myTalk 107.1. Thanks guys. I'm so glad the festival didn't die after four lives. I'm hoping for at least the proper nine. Besides, I told my husband that next year, we're getting VIP tickets so I don't have to eat the canned and congealed slop offered up from every vendor at CHS field. Even my cat Hana, who licks up pepper flakes like glorified fish scales, would turn up her whiskers at that crap. But that being said, the home of the St. Paul Saints is a pawsome place for the great Minnesota cat-together. This year, over 10,000 humans in cat t-shirts attended. Although, there must be a dog t-shirt in there somewhere.

The mostly local videos were good for some furry belly laughs. But my favorite, paws down, was the prank pulled by Cabot Phillips. He convinced his sister, who was still groggy form having her wisdom teeth pulled, that the world was on the verge of a zombie apocalypse. I remember her questioning him with an almost inaudible fat tongue, as to why he was putting gardening equipment in the back of their car if they needed to defend themselves against zombies. Ha! And then he told her, gulp, that she had to choose between the life of their cat or the life of their dog. Only one could survive! 

Millicent Phillips yells, "The cat, you idiot!" 

Purrfect YouTube fodder for a cat fest.

This is the photo I sent in for the pre-kitten bowl slide show. My thirsty cat Akua aired while we were choking down a mac and cheese hot dog. AAACCCCKKK. I'd prefer a hair ball.

Oh, and after every thing was meowed and done, fireworks lit up the night. 

Not too tabby for a cat fest. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

For whom the bell tolls...

Bell Rock. A vortex site.

"The ancient Greeks believed that when you read aloud, it was actually the dead, borrowing your tongue, in order to speak again"

Ruth L. Ozeki from A Tale For The Time Being

The world is rife with the unexplained. Do you remember the T.V. show Unsolved Mysteries? I loved it. Of course, there weren't many channels back then. Ha! Now, I have countless channels to choose from. But still, curiously, there are times when I can't find a darn thing to watch. These days, when I'm surfing and fail to catch a big wave like Homeland or The Affair, I almost always drift to the ripple Ancient Aliens. My husband laughs at me. But heck, I still love a good mystery. I'd rather be a curious nerd, interested in strange things like spirits (both kinds), aliens, the Bermuda triangle, big foot, sink holes, vortexes, and of course, the weirdest of all, Donald Trump. 

The mysterious energy of Sedona:

There are several energy centers, or vortexes of subtle energy, located in the Sedona area. (In Sedona, the energy centers are referred to as vortexes rather than vortices.)  The energy from these vortexes saturates the whole area in and around Sedona, and can be noticed in a subtle but general way anywhere around town.  If you actually go to one of the vortex sites, which is where the energy is strongest, it can be a very uplifting experience.  The energy you take in at one of these energy centers can stay with you and affect you positively for days afterwards.

I didn't feel the earth moving at Bell Rock. One of the major vortex centers. I didn't really feel anything at all. But, when I sat on the smooth red stone, soaking in the sun's warmth and meditating, the tornado of energy I was conjuring seemed very real in my mind's eye. It seemed like an easy place to reflect and find peace. Upon my return home, I felt a renewed energy and an unexplained burst of creativity for my book project. Weird? Maybe. It's hard to say.

To complete the circle, just like the barbed wire that symbolizes my book, I also experienced something dark and profound in Sedona. What I'm about to tell you I experienced only in my dreams. Thank goodness. If you are easily scared, proceed with caution...

The first dream I had unsettled me. I was experiencing something so terrifying, that in my dream, I started levitating. The terror building, escalating, until my dream ended with a complete power outage. I woke up immediately. But this dream was nothing compared with what was to come...

The next night I watched this dream like a twisted horror movie. There was a whole cast of unlucky characters and thank God, I wasn't among them. I was just watching the most disturbing dream I've ever had in my life. Trapped in R.E.M. Unable to wake up. It was Armageddon. The world was crumbling before my eyes. Burning savagely. Total devastation. And the characters were slowly being consumed by a primordial ooze. The worst part of all, was that the ooze was us. It was humanity, melting into an ocean of bubbling flesh. And then the last person, trapped in their car, slipped beneath the surface and all was lost.

I woke up to the sound of a bell.

The next night I was afraid to got to sleep. 

P.S. I have a new book review over at Springtime in Magnolia You've read the humorous quotes, now read the book. A Tale For The Time Being

Monday, August 1, 2016


"Oliver, will you please come get your cat and close the door on your way out?"
"That's his superpower," Oliver said, as he scooped him up. "He knows how to be annoying."

Ruth L. Ozeki from A Tale For The Time Being

What's your superpower? According to my dream last night, it's flying. I looked like Katy Perry in a wonder woman costume, flying around like a drunk barn swallow.

If I was lucky enough to have a real life super power, it probably wouldn't be flying. Although, I wouldn't turn it down. But I'd be somewhat afraid they'd send a hawk after me like the ones trained to take down drones. 

Here's my top 5 superpower list:

1) I would love to be able to telepathically communicate with my cats.  You are getting very sleepy Hana. You want to stay off the kitchen counter Hana. You never, ever want to chew on my hair again....Hana. And so on.

2) Ditto above. Except this time, insert my husband's name. You Want to give me an hour long massage every night Dean. You will always leave the remote in the middle of the sofa where we both can reach it Dean. You will actually listen and remember everything I just said Dean. And so on. 

3) Ditto above. Except this time, I'd use my telepathic power on a literary agent and publisher! 

4) I would love to be strong like the bionic woman Jamie Sommers. A.K.A. Lindsey Wagner. My hero.

5) But the bionic woman was my childhood hero. Now, it's Kalhesi, mother of dragons. Oh my God. Daenerys Targaryen is one bad ass mother, standing as still as stone, while her 8 ton adopted child lands behind her in a cloud of dust. She's a literary Goddess. And she literally flies around on dragons. She never complains like Oprah did, of her Va-j-j paining, as she bravely straddles Drogen's leathery skin, on an epic desert fly by.

But straddling dragons isn't her superpower. No. It's being fire proof. Otherwise, her dragons might accidentally incinerate her. If I was fire retardant, I would no longer need a fire extinguisher safely nestled by my bedside. Except to save my husband I suppose.

This is my promise to the world, if you crown me Kahlesi, mother of dragons. Drogen and possibly me, if I'm feeling adventurous, will only spray fire on a few terrorists. And then maybe squash them like a bug.