WHEREFORE ART THOU, BOOK #3 ?

I have been hard at work.

Define hard . . .

Well, I’ve been writing Book #5 while sitting in a comfy chair, drinking coffee, and eating carbs. Every once in a while I come back into my body, realize that I’ve had to pee for the last two hours, and get up to go to the bathroom. After which I pour a fresh cup of coffee.

I am nothing if not a funnel.

For those who have been asking me, “When is your third book going to be out?”, my answer is, “I don’t know.” I had submitted it to a Publishing House (should that be capitalized? Probably not . . . I’m confusing them with Publishers Clearinghouse, NOT the same people. One promises money, the other actually brings it.) I had submitted my manuscript to a publisher whose home offices are located in the extremely glamorous state of Ohio. I was aiming for New York just so I could visit my brother and eat macarons as a tax deduction, but, oh, well . . . I got sidetracked.

I had submitted my manuscript in the middle of November of last year. Their average rejection/acceptance time is 90 – 120 days . . . three to four months. BUT IT HAS BEEN OVER 8 MONTHS. That is roughly 240 days. But I am not complaining. Unless they have lost my manuscript. Or had rejected it ages ago and their ‘leave us alone’ email is wandering in cyberspace.

So I wrote and asked. Three times. The only answer I have received from the submissions team so far is, “We will notify you once a final decision is reached.”

Hmmmm . . . That is a good sign. Also? A bad one. I know what the problem is. I exceeded their preferred word limit by over 17,000. They must want it . . . But how badly? That is the question they are pondering. I feel like I should throw in a free paring knife should they accept me.

Recently a friend of mine asked what I’m made of . . . Titanium? He is a writer as well and prefers to avoid rejections. Which is why he has gone a different route than I have. He pitches his manuscript on a website sponsored by Harper Collins UK. Twice he has been voted the readers’ favorite and has made it up the ladder to the editor’s desk.

Truth is, rejection can depress and discourage a writer if they aren’t careful. Me? After a rejection I usually eat like a lumberjack for a day or two then get back up and look for another editor to terrorize. No, I am not made out of titanium, but if the adage, ‘You are what you eat’ is true, I am a hotdog-pizza-French fry. Or used to be. Now that I’m on a diet, I am a giant grain-free muffin wedged in a chunk of grass fed, grass finished beef topped by a xanthan gum-free olive.

Another truth? I don’t plan to pitch my manuscript to other publishers while I’m waiting on the final decision from this one. Because I really, really, really do not want to format my manuscript again. Formatting is what authors do to please editors. They do not want your manuscript a typed mess, making it difficult to read.

One submission team says, “One inch margins all around, with page numbers and title on top left corner, along with a pint of blood and your firstborn.” Another says, “One and a half margins all around, hard copy with return envelope and postage, along with your bank account password.”

I can barely work the indent on my computer. I know the day is rapidly nearing when I will format one too many times and accidentally erase the whole book. Besides, I seem to have contaminated my own word program. It now spell-checks in French and does the Thesaurus in Italian. I have to go in and manually change it every time I need to use either tool.

No, I’m not going to fiddle with my present format. Or submit book #3 to another publishing company until I hear back from the first one . . . Even though the chances are excellent that one of us will die first.

Besides, I’m too busy writing the sequels. So when someone wants my work, I can dump the whole series on them. And then run. Also? I would have to be dead to miss deadlines with that much of a head start.

Do you have any of your own waiting-forever nightmares?  You could even tell us about the woman in Wal-Mart’s express line with 21 items.

Remember – to leave a comment click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog and type away in the correct slot.

And don’t forget to check out the latest Photo-blog on the right. Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.

Have fun!

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THIS BLOG SHOULD BE TAKEN AWAY AND ADOPTED

I have been neglecting my blog site. Not because I have forgotten it existed, kind of like the time I’d left my car at a friend’s house and made her drive me home after the movie. But because so much has been happening.

Least of all my mother’s operation.

My mother is in her 80th decade, bionic, and German. Germans started the first World War. And after having lost it, they got back up and started another one. Germans invented the ring binder, probably because they were unable to take the chaos of a loose sheet of paper. They also invented the nutcracker, probably because they got tired of crushing walnuts with their thighs. And last, but not least, they invented Gummi Bears, probably because raw meat was not chewy enough for them.

I know it sounds as if I dislike Germans, but that is not the case. I’m half German myself. But the truth is, I have no illusions about their culture. If it is bent, straighten it. If it floats, nail it down. If it giggles, shoot it.

And in my mother’s case, if it’s life-saving surgery, defy the doctor’s orders on principle because NO ONE will tell you what to do.

Which is why she ended up with Sundowners, a temporary condition known medically as ICU Psychosis. I had never heard of it until it happened to my mother. I give you the official definition:

A disorder in which patients in an intensive  care unit (ICU) or a similar hospital setting may experience anxiety,  become paranoid, hear voices, see things that are not there, become  severely disoriented in time and place, become very agitated, even  violent, etc. Organic  factors including dehydration, hypoxia (low blood oxygen), heart  failure (inadequate cardiac output), infection and drugs can cause or  contribute to delirium.

Here is mine:

A TEMPORARY mental disorder.

Thank, god.

Literally.

We got the first clue that something was not right with Mom when she asked us why the ceiling was so close to her face. It progressed from there over the course of a couple of days. It went from seeing strange gnome-like visitors bearing bouquets, to eventual respiratory failure (Thanks to a reaction to the sedative Ativan.) The nurses were quick to counteract it, and they revived her. No thanks to the doctor who prescribed it even though Ativan has been known to be cruel to old people. (Which is another reason why I will never take it. I’m old enough to make it a round of Russian roulette. I might be sedated, I might die . . . Let’s see and keep a syringe ready.)

Hey, I have a riddle for you. How many nurses does it take to pull the dentures out of an eighty-one-year-old German woman’s mouth when she doesn’t want you to have them?

Answer: They can’t.

Okay. . . The official answer? Six. Three to hold her down, one to hold her head, one to pull them free, and one to administer first aid to the one with the bite marks. And that was WITH restraints.

GO TEAM MOM!

Just shoot me next time we have to go through that again.

Other things have been happening as well, but none so dramatic as my mother taking on the whole ICU nursing staff of Washington Regional Medical Center and nearly winning.

I wish I had half her spirit.

No, I take that back. I don’t think the world can handle two of her.

Besides, we’d probably kill each other like two praying mantises in a jar.

Do you have any of your own nightmares you would like to share?  You could even tell us about the time you went to the doctor and he actually cured you.

Remember – to leave a comment click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog and type away in the correct slot.

And don’t forget to check out the latest Photo-blog on the right. Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.

Have fun!

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GOURMET GERDE – Grape jelly vs. Country Boys

It’s time for another Gourmet Gerde!

My husband loves jelly. Jelly, jam, whatever. It doesn’t matter what it’s made out of,  just as long as it’s jelled. He would probably eat cat toots as long as they had pectin and came in a squat jar. And being a country boy, he grew up with plenty of sugary preserves. They were NEVER without . . . When the end of the world apocalypse hits and there is no more food, I’m going to Margaret’s. I am confident that his mom will have enough jam to keep me in the sugar low to which I have become accustomed . . . But to get back on topic . . . If his mother, grandmothers, and aunts did not have a homemade kegger of jelly or jam handy, his mom would buy jars of it at Allie’s, their local Mom and Pop store.

Allie’s Store was run by Allie. Obviously. But Allie was very, very old. The contents of her store were also old. Probably older than Allie. Allie sold peanut butter in cans. Cans, not jars. I think the last time they made canned peanut butter was before Germany invaded Poland.  And the candy? The M&M’s were so faded, my husband grew up convinced they came in five shades of brown. The swirly ochre ones were his favorite. If I saw something swirly, ochre, and pellet shaped, I would not eat it. I would bury it.

But to get back on topic . . . My husband Randy has never met a jelly he didn’t like. Too bad he’d never met the grape jelly I grew up with.

In some ways, it fit his criteria: pectin, squat jar . . . And here is a bonus: It was homemade. Homemade from concord grapes handpicked by bored children. Yes, in the fall my brothers and I enjoyed tire swings, riding our bikes, and sharecropping.

This is how it happened:

Mom talked to old people.

The old people told her about a farmer who sold his grapes at a reduced price if you picked them yourself.

So Mom loaded us in her pink Rambler, drove us there, and turned us loose with the instructions to fill the boxes with grapes.

Being the youngest, I was the slowest picker. All I can remember about the event is that I couldn’t bring myself to touch the clusters covered in spider webs and dead flies. That, and I had to go to the bathroom and couldn’t find a toilet. I couldn’t even find an adult to ask about the toilet. So I fertilized one of the grape vines. Abundantly. I did not pick from that vine. You’re welcome, Mom.

Here is another bonus that made our grape jelly different than all the others. It came with seeds. I don’t know why. It wasn’t as if we didn’t have a sieve in the house. I can still remember crunching my way through my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at school. There is nothing like the taste of a canned grape seed. When you crack the shell it explodes on your taste buds. And then it takes hours to get that burned rubber taste out of the back of your throat.

But to get to the point . . .

Our home made grape jelly would have defeated my husband.

“That’s some mighty fine jelly, Mizz Barnes . . .”

“Was that a grape seed?!”

Now strawberry jam? My mom made awesome strawberry jam. But not very much of it . . .

Here is my recipe for really good concord grape jelly:

1) Go to Wal-Mart.

2) Buy a jar of Smuckers.

Do you have any of your own food stories you want to share?  You could even tell us about the time you accidentally stabbed yourself trying to make a ham sandwich for your dad. (That will be in another blog.)  All memories are comment fodder.

Remember – to leave a comment click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog and type away in the correct slot.

And don’t forget to check out the latest Photo-blog on the right about lies. Filthy grape lies. Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.

Have fun!

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PAIN IN THE ABSCESS

Since I do not have children, it naturally follows that I have never given birth. Unless one counts constipation, and I don’t.

One hears about the pain of childbirth. That it is a pain like no other. Unless you talk to a middle-aged man who has passed kidney stones. But how would he know? He’s never given birth. To validate that statement, we would need to talk to a woman who has done both.

But to get back to the subject of pain . . . as a childless woman, I truly believe that I have come as close to the pain of childbirth as I am likely to do without involving pointed nuggets and urine.

I have had the root canal from Hades.

I did not know what a “hot tooth” was until this last dental visit. A hot tooth is a tooth that refuses to be deadened. Mine was a premolar. My dentist – a very good dentist – shot so much novocaine into my gums it shot back out and squirted both of us in the face. The right side of my face numbed, even my eyeball, but not the nerve in the tooth. Oh no, not the nerve. That nerve was a very long nerve. It encircled my ear and ended up somewhere around my pituitary.

How did I get in that state? I had a pain in my tooth that wouldn’t go away. I went to the dentist. He diagnosed an abscess. He prescribed antibiotics. I took the antibiotics. I threw up the antibiotics. I returned. He said . . . and run if any dentist tells you this . . . “I will just open it up and irrigate.”

Irrigate is a misnomer. Irrigate, to a non-dentist, means to flush with water.  To a dentist it means “take a pointed object, pick, scrape, and gouge the temporary cap off, stick a syringe into the cavity created, and suck out what you can. And if you accidentally pull out bone shards and organs, so be it.” Also, if the patient’s jaw is swollen, squeeze it hard. And if you don’t unseat the patient using only the pressure of your thumb, you aren’t pushing hard enough. And all this is to be done without the benefits of euthanasia. And that is not a typo.

After it was over – the first time – he said, “Let me do it again.”

I said, “Crap.”

They laughed.

I asked for permission to cry.

But they didn’t understand me since my words were garbled. I had four hands in my mouth at the time and I couldn’t feel my tongue. I did manage to make some noise, though. A sort of inner screaming that came out through my nose.

And then I was freed. I stumbled out into the reception area, wild eyed. People stared. Unable to talk, I motioned to my husband for some Ibuprophen. He gave me three. Three, sadly, wasn’t enough to kill me. So while he made arrangements for my next torture session, I ran out to the car so that I could lie down. I didn’t want to pass out in public. However, there was a very real danger that I would aspirate in my own vomit, but I didn’t mind. I welcomed it. But it didn’t happen.

We left the dentist and drove to Wal-mart to fill my prescription. A prescription for the same antibiotics I couldn’t keep down the first time. But this time we bought peanut butter. I hate peanut butter. I am possibly the only human who does hate it. It tastes the way socks smell and gets under my tongue so that I end up licking the air and drooling like a dog trying to swallow hair. But I’d found out that peanut butter on toast helped my brother keep antibiotics down, so peanut butter it was.

Unfortunately, I had to take four doses a day of the antibiotics. That meant four meals with great wodges of peanut butter slathered on edible objects. Twenty days of antibiotics. That means 80 meals full of peanut butter. Of course I had to follow it up with great mounds of comfort food. I have gained much weight, another plus that has made this experience memorable.

However, one course of antibiotics was not enough. I had to ask him to phone in another prescription. I finished my last round yesterday. I celebrated by buying a new dining table.

In three weeks I get my temporary crown. But only if my tooth looks good. Only if my body hasn’t rejected the root canal like it would a liver transplant. If it has, then the tooth gets pulled. And if it does, I will look like a jack-o-lantern.

Whatever.

Do you have any of your own dental stories you want to share?  You could even tell us about the first time you’d lost one of your baby teeth. It’s all blog comment fodder.

Remember – to leave a comment click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog and type away in the correct slot. And don’t forget to check out the latest Photo-blog on the right.  Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.

Have fun!

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GET YOUR KICKS ON ROUTE 66

Route 66 – a famous highway  running from Chicago to Los Angeles.

This last week we traveled a small part of it. In the snow and ice . . .

While I wondered if Wal-mart sold adult diapers large enough, my husband decided it was imperative to pass every semi-truck carrying flammable liquids. . .

Why did we risk our lives, you ask? My husband had to go to Springfield, Missouri, for a long work weekend. So we decided we should make the best of it. We had so many plans. We were going to visit the zoo. We were going to visit friends of ours, the Verdi’s . . . though they do not live in the zoo, but in Nixa. We were going to get a room with a Jacuzzi for two.

But the snow and ice changed everything. That and the temperatures cold enough to make your lungs bleed. So no zoo, no friends, no museums. Work and hibernation became Plan B. We decided to make the most of it after getting online to check out possible hotels for our 4-day stay. We were nothing if not stoic.

Then we found the Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven.

In 1936, Elwyn and Lawrence Lippman built the Rail Haven Hotel on what had been their grandfather’s apple orchard. (I can only imagine a common outhouse and shaved bark at this point.) But progress marched on, and in time, this location bordered Route 66. And in 1951, the Rail Haven was sucked into the Best Western vortex. Then, in 1994, the Rail Haven received its latest remodel.

But it still retained it’s vintage fun.

Yes, that is a 1955 Ford  behind Randy as he makes a fake phone call to his mother. I think he is receiving fake good news. The manager inside the hotel watching us would have probably been more impressed with our idiocy if we’d had children, but no, it was for our own amusement. We went in to claim our room key and pay up. Even the Reception area was fun.

Now ready to move in for our stay, we were given Hollywood Legends, one of their Theme Rooms. And when I went into our room and saw their choice of Hollywood legends to honor . . .

 . . . I knew we were going to be happy.

So we started unloading.

Yes, that is a cool vintage radio beside the door. And yes, Randy is carrying in a box that says, ‘Duraflame logs’ on the front. And no, it isn’t for committing arson, but used for ferrying food from home. It was either the log box or a trash bag. (We have one piece of luggage between us and it was full of Randy’s clothes.) And since we are by necessity on the GAPS diet, we had to bring all our food. The log box was about one fifth of our provisions. And unlike most hotels, the Route 66 Rail Haven had an in-room fridge large enough to hold everything. Yay! No botulism for us! (And I have no idea why Randy is a blur in this photo. He wasn’t moving all that fast.)

Here is a picture of our home for the next 4 days (before we cluttered it up) :

Notice the huge Jacuzzi in the corner? And the comfortable sofa? And the John Wayne bar? A bar! We made ourselves comfortable, bellied up to it . . .

. . . and covered it in supplements. Because we are over 50 and in denial. Then we went to the International Wine Shop and bought a bottle of single malt Irish Whiskey – because even though we are over 50, but we weren’t dead yet.

No, we aren’t dead yet. That came after Randy’s jobs. When he agreed to clean the Bakery floors, he didn’t know he was going to have to hand gouge the crap from the grout until 2 every morning. Thank goodness for the single malt, Ibuprophen, Jacuzzi and comfortable bed.

Meanwhile – while he worked – I did hard labor on my computer, writing Book #4. While he was on his hands and knees wearing out blade after blade, I was in George’s, the diner next door to the Route 66 Rail Haven, eating prime rib and walking my protagonist, Bella, through Florence, Italy. Oh, well. It all evens out when I do Randy’s mountains of work laundry. The used cleaning rags alone can gag a buzzard. I use a stick to get them into the Kenmore. . .

And speaking of eating, here is a picture of George’s Diner:

Yes, by the time this picture was taken the ice and snow had melted, which is a good thing since every time I would walk to George’s I would fall down. A pratfall beside the highway. And with every electronic device I own in the knapsack on my back, getting back up was dicey at best. But the food at George’s was so good, I would have happily crawled the rest of the way. And yes, that is my purse in Randy’s hand, and our food bag on his shoulder.

Did you know that in Springfield, Missouri, it is against the law to bring outside food into a restaurant? Whatever. . . It was either bringing our dressing, salt, honey, and coconut milk into George’s or a couple of Epi-pens. We were between a rock and a hard place. Besides, it isn’t much of a treat to bring your food with you wherever you go. Especially since I bring my lumpy coconut milk in a mason jar. Randy says it looks like I’m pouring curdled mother’s milk in my coffee. Several servers have gagged.

Here we are, not arrested for bringing cheese in a baggie. (George’s employees were all troupers. Even the guy with the handsome pelt of synthetic hair . . . Made me homesick for Mom.)

Even though it was freezing outside, even though it was a work weekend, Randy and I really enjoyed our stay at The Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven. Even when we forgot to put the Do Not Disturb sign out and someone tried to walk into our room. Even then. We heard the door open and a woman’s strangled scream of, “OH MY GOD!” – Randy was in nothing but black socks and underwear – before we heard it slam shut. We never found out who it was. The hotel maid, not speaking English, would have screamed, “OH MIO DIOS!” But as it was, the only employee we had spoken to was Billy Bise (one of the General Managers), a young man I kept thinking of as ‘Josh’ – don’t ask me why – and Billy would have never screamed like a woman. Maybe it was Brandy, the other General Manager. . . Poor thing. . .

The staff – especially Billy Bise – was welcoming, helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable, and the hotel was great fun. We are coming back in the Spring, and we have already made our reservations at the Route 66 Rail Haven hotel. But next time? The Elvis Room!

 Here is a shot of Billy getting ready to turn on the Cadillac’s tail lights.

Do you have any of your own travel stories you want to share?  You could even tell us about your worst hotel stay. It’s all blog comment fodder.

Remember to leave a comment click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog, and don’t forget to check out the latest Photo-blog on the right.  Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.

Have fun!

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GOURMET GERDE – Awful Offal vs. Ron’s Pie

It’s time for another Gourmet Gerde!

Let’s talk about saving money. When I was five my father retired from the Air Force. He went from a Master Sergeant’s pay to going to the University of Arkansas to earn his degree in Journalism. My mom is the thriftiest person I know. We, like those third world children in the Unicef commercials, lived on pennies a day. We, like those third world children in the Unicef commercials, ate food ladeled from a community pot. We, like those third world children, had distended bellies. But that wasn’t from malnutrition. It was mainly because, at a young age, we ate like truckers. Mom was hard pressed to come up with an affordable menu that wasn’t just beans, beans, and more beans.

We did the endless peanut butter sandwiches. We did the poke salat picked from a roadside ditch. We shopped at roadside stands. We canned. We did A LOT of soups. Most adults growing up under such restrictions would thoroughly enjoy an eating disorder or two. Not us. Not me or my two brothers. Unless you count our aversion to Velveeta and our tendency to gravitate toward buffets a disorder.

All was generally well until Mom got the idea to educate us on the delicacies of the world. Belgium, Spain, Mexico, Romania, Germany, Portugal, Persia, Canada, and Albania enjoy eating cow tongues. Americans, for the most part, do not. (Except when it’s disguised in McFood.) That is why most butchers in this country give it away for free. My mother zeroed in on the free and had one wrapped up to take home.

I was seven-years-old when I first ate cow’s tongue. I came home from school, passed the kitchen, and was struck by a smell. It was a cross between old sofa cushion and acid. Deciding to investigate, I tiptoed toward the massive pot on the burner, listened to the thunking noise of something bobbling inside, and lifted the lid. I did not have to ask what it was. It was obvious. And it looked torn from the cow, roots and all. I was especially enamored with the grey froth building like bubble bath on the water’s surface.

It never dawned on me that we were going to have to EAT it in mustard sandwiches. I didn’t even like mustard. When we started crying, Mom informed us that it was a delicacy. It took us over an hour and a half to finish our individual sandwiches. Mainly because we couldn’t think of a way to dispose of it without being caught. The toilet wasn’t going to work since the septic tank backed up during every rain storm. We envisioned slices of tongue surfing the poop into the hallway. The trash wasn’t a viable dumping place either. Even though my brothers were the ones to take out the trash, we knew our mother was omniscient. She would discover it even if we buried it under the potato peelings. Besides, she kept popping into the kitchen, expecting to catch us in such a maneuver.

I will now share my recipe for tongue sandwiches.

1) Visit a butcher. Ask for offal. Chances are you will get a free tongue.

2) Boil it in a pot. You do not have to peel it. The boiling water will kill the germs.

3) When it is tender enough to bend, but not tender enough to chew quickly, sharpen a knife on a steel rasp, and slice, starting at the tip. Leave the roots and gray froth for soup.

4) Spread yellow mustard on slices of Roman Meal bread and cover half of the slices with tongue. Make sure that every part of the bread is covered. Under no circumstances are you to leave a sliver of bread untouched. It is perfectly acceptable if swirls of tongue hang out. It will only add to the dining experience.

5) Put on paper plates and summon the family.

Do not worry if your children take days to eat it. It only means they are unappreciative. Or they come from inferior stock, probably from your mate’s side.

And now for another recipe, donated by a Ron Dyer, a bachelor who watches a lot of TV.

RON’S  PIE:

(One average-sized graham cracker pie crust)

1  8oz package of cream cheese

One-third cup of lemon juice, reconstituted or fresh squeezed

1 tablespoon of vanilla flavoring

1 can of condensed, sweetened milk

1 ripe banana, sliced

1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped

Put the first four ingredients (not the pie crust, of course) in a blender and blend until smooth. Spread the banana slices on the bottom of the crust, spread half of the blender mixture on top, spread the chopped strawberries on top of that, then finish with the rest of the blender mixture. Cover and chill in the fridge for 3 hours.

Bon Appetit!

Do you have any of your own food stories you want to share?  You could even tell us about your favorite food.  It’s all good.

Remember to leave a comment click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog, and don’t forget to check out the latest Photo-blog on the right.  Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.

Have fun!

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WHAT HAPPENED WHILE I WAS GONE?

This has been a busy week. Okay, two weeks. So busy, I just now got around to approving the last comment on my last blog. Thank you Judith. . . :)

What have I been doing? Many things. And most of it very, very slowly. Apparently, it is possible to get the bronchitis virus in your knee. That, or I am truly a freak, as people who play online games with me will claim.

Since the Spring of this year I have had various joints stop maneuvering. Overnight. And one joint at a time. First it was my right ankle. It dislocated while I was sleeping. Unless I have multiple personalities and one of them is a flamenco dancer, there was no rational explanation for that. Then, overnight again, it popped back in and my left wrist stopped working. I became lobster woman with pincers instead of fingers. And they didn’t quite meet. You should have seen the cashiers at Wal-Mart eyeing me as I counted out my change.

On it went, leaving one joint to set up in another. Why didn’t I go to a chiropractor, you ask? Money. Okay, we’ll visit that topic again, later.

Then finally, it set up in my right knee. I envisioned some sort of rotating arthritis that would eventually result in a knee replacement. I’ve had two members of my family go through that. First my older brother, whose stories of how they tape your eyes shut during surgery gave me nightmares, to my eighty-year-old mother who now waddles like Baby Huey on tranquilizers. I couldn’t see myself go through that. The dentist has trouble deadening my gums before a procedure. I can only imagine how successful the anesthesiologist would be in getting me to go under. He would have to kill me, which would make the surgery pointless.

Then, overnight again, my knee became functional. But now I had bronchitis. Horrible, gasping, feverish bronchitis. The kind that stops sleep because you have to sit bolt upright and concentrate on not dying. I ran out of tissue. I had rolls of toilet paper on every available surface. I stopped eating everything except Jello. Now there is some great nutrition to help your immune system.

It lasted exactly two weeks. Then, surprise of surprises, after the bronchitis subsided, my knee was messed up again. And it has been ever since. I would have my good days, where I could walk anywhere I wanted to. Granted, I couldn’t go up and down stairs, or walk quickly, or refrain from complaining every 10 seconds that my knee hurts, but I could walk. Then I would have my bad days where my knee would click and whistle like an African bushman every time I stood up to go to the bathroom.

Then, suddenly, I went from a being a human to being a wounded kangaroo. Hop, nearly fall down, rest a few seconds, hop, nearly fall down, rest a few seconds . . .

Time for a chiropractor. Not only could I tell my knee was out of joint, so was the rest of me from the waist down. My butt was pretty much facing the same way I was.

So Randy made an appointment for me at Arkansas Health and Physical Rehab. (http://www.bestfayettevillechiropractor.com/)

First, before I say anything more, let me tell you that Dr. Blair Masters is good. Freakishly good. And his clinic is people friendly. Do not take my delusions and delirium seriously. You will understand as you read on. . .

When I was growing up, my mom took all three of us kids to the chiropractor. Why? I don’t know. We were healthy, with nothing maladjusted except our personalities. The chiropractor would put us on the slab and pop everything that didn’t rip free.

I’ve been to other chiropractors since then. My favorite was an Osteopath my husband and I would see when we were in our twenties. She would pop our backs with every appointment, even if we were there just to give the lab a urine sample. It was like a free air freshener with every lube job. She was tiny, about 5 feet tall, and as strong as a Sumo. Being short, she would have to climb onto the table with us. She would then tell us to take a deep breath, relax, and exhale. We could do everything but the ‘relax’ bit. We knew what was coming. As soon as we exhaled, she would rhythmically shove each vertebrae into the table with the force and speed of a jackhammer.

But to get back to Dr. Masters. . . When I had first walked into Arkansas Physical Health and Rehab – and this is where the hallucinations come in – I found myself slightly unnerved. There was no waiting room, just a counter, a table, rubber mats, therapy equipment, and scads of silent people going about their own therapy. No music, no talking. It wasn’t until I saw the young woman holding her arm out in front of her while gently bouncing her head off the wall (or so it looked to me) that I realized the source of my unease. This wasn’t a chiropractor’s establishment. This was an insane asylum. I expected to see one of the patients turn around and show me the poo stripe on their pajamas.

Now I can rightly blame my reaction and skewed perception on my lack of sleep, not Dr. Masters’ establishment. The pain had kept me up for two nights running. I was slap happy. Which was a good thing. I kept envisioning the good doctor having to twist my swollen knee like a screw to get it to go back in, and the thought made me slightly nauseous. Being sleep deprived lent an unreality that made the anxiety bearable. Kind of like being under morphine.

So I sat there in my seat by the door, watching all these silent people going about their business. The only thing missing, according to my sleep deprived brain, were the unearthly howls of schizophrenics in the basement.

Then it was my turn. I was questioned, tested, then sent to the next room to get 6 x-rays done. Very thorough. Then sent back to Dr. Masters to talk about treatment. There is something disconcerting about looking at your own spine and kneecaps without skin. To my untrained eye I saw nothing but scoliosis. Also? My kneecaps are much smaller on the inside than the outside. Other than that, I was coming up empty. It was a good thing I had Dr. Masters there.

He muscle-tested me, told me that it was a virus in my knee causing the problem, and popped everything back in. The adjustment to my knee was surprisingly painless. A gentle poke there, a gentle tug here . . . all except for that one last tug that dragged all ample poundage of me down the length of the table. But he stopped before I could slide onto the floor. He may be slim, but he’s as strong as a Russian housewife and as controlled as a ballet dancer.

Adjusting my back was a different story. Two of my vertebras were torqued in opposite directions. Randy said that on that last twist and pop, the whites of my eyeballs turned red.

But I could walk.

I was so grateful.

And sore. Not from the adjustments, but from the still-present virus. My glutes and calf muscles felt like they were about 6 inches too short. I was given concentrated oregano oil to take for the virus, and sent home, with a follow-up appointment to be experienced this coming Monday.

It’s been only two days, but already the virus is on the run. And I no longer have to scoot around like a gigged frog that’s still alive. I can walk. I can walk!

It was the best and most productive chiropractic visit I’d ever had. And that’s counting the time I got a free message before my adjustment.

Do you have any of your own chiropractic stories, both good or bad, you would like to share? Even if its the time you dislocated your brother’s finger because he pointed at you…

Remember, to leave a comment click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog, and don’t forget to check out the latest Photoblog on the right.  Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.

Have fun!

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PUT A LITTLE GARLIC ON THAT CARDBOARD

Randy and I started a new diet. Even though my backside looks like two VW’s trying to pass each other when I walk, this diet wasn’t to lose weight. It was to feel better. Not only are we old enough to get spam mail from funeral homes, we have spent the first half of our life absorbing toxic substances. And no, I do not mean drugs or tobacco, but sodas, pollution, and various deep fried McFoods. Not to mention ill-prescribed antibiotics that have stripped our insides of everything except latent tomato seeds and the wads of gum we’d swallowed in grade school. Added to that is the fact that my husband was born allergic to everything. EVERYTHING. His first word wasn’t “Mama,” it was “itch.”  In fact, our health became so bad, we saw the grim reaper every time we ate a pizza.

Then a friend happened on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is a medical diet formulated for people who are victims of intestinal diseases. I know. Intestines. . . a special topic for the dinner table, right? Don’t worry, I won’t go into details. I will not tell you about how John Wayne’s colon was the size of the Oak Mountain Tunnel. I will not tell you how it was so impacted with . . . shall we say, “debris” . . . that the coroner found his wife’s lost earring somewhere between the ileocecal valve and the first U-bend. I will not post pictures. But I will say this, there are NO healthy guts out there. I don’t care if you were raised eating yogurt made out of the milk expressed from blind Parisian nuns. By the time we pass the half century mark, our intestines are far from perfect. So far from perfect, our colons make balloon animals every time we eat bran. I don’t know about you, but I’m too old to make poodles without breaking into an unbecoming sweat.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is supposed to heal all that. It is supposed to kill all the bad bacteria in the gut, help the lovely bacteria to flourish, and generally cure cancer, establish peace in the universe, and allow you to wear non-elastic pants. Well, we went on the diet, and surprise of surprises, Randy’s allergies disappeared. This will be the first Fall that he’s had skin and a brain.

That is obviously a good thing, but in a way, it is also a bad thing. It is good in that we are able to actually, well, be alive. And it is a bad thing in that now I will be on this blasted diet until I die. No sugar – unless it’s honey or fruit. No starches. That means no potatoes, corn, or grains. And no okra and eggplant. That part was okay. I never ate enough of either to miss it. If I never saw another eggplant again, I don’t think I would even be aware of that fact.

No bread. Well, we can have bread, but it has to be made from almond flour, or coconut flour. Coconut flour is natural cement. In fact, you don’t even have to add water. It clumps together in rock hard clods when it’s stored. And when it enters your mouth it sucks every bit of moisture from your saliva glands, flesh, and kidneys. And when you swallow it, have a glass of water handy so you don’t choke on the dust coming out of your nose. I’ve had to drop my Tupperware container of coconut flour on the concrete floor of our garage just to break it up for sifting.

Almond flour is okay. It bakes nicely, but it pretty much comes out the same way it went in.

You can buy bread, but it is expensive and sold in only one place within a 300 mile radius. I took out a loan and bought a loaf. It is made from almond flour, coconut flour, and psyllium husks. Psyllium is in Metamucil. I won’t swear to it, but I think psyllium is also used in steel wool. And the taste? Have you ever been to a sale barn? Just stick your head in a feed sack and you will get an idea.

We had some of the bread last night. I have abrasions on my gums. Who knows . . . maybe by tonight we will finally find the coroner’s other earring. And I now know why that bread is so expensive. Because you can only eat one loaf a year. Randy is already bleeding.

Experts say that you can get off this diet after two years, totally healed, and ready to eat gluten, Snickers, anything you want. But Randy and I have our doubts. We don’t see ourselves getting off it any time soon.

Two weeks ago we accidentally ate starch. (Apparently starch is on roasted nuts even if it isn’t listed on the ingredients.) And it didn’t take us long to wish we were dead. Mood swings, arthritis, insomnia, dislocated knees, rashes, paranoia, anxiety, weight gain, bloating, food cravings, gas that could rival the last trumpet . . . you name it, we had it. The only thing we didn’t have was leprosy and full blown visual hallucinations. Unless you count that time I saw Elvis and Jackie Onassis in my pocket.

Even though, as I’d stated at the outset, this diet isn’t for weight loss, it is an added perk. Some people who start this diet do not want to lose weight. By the time they are diagnosed with an intestinal disease, they are already concentration camp weight. But once it fixes their digestion, they gain. But for those of us who are round and squishy, the weight actually comes off fairly quickly. Randy and I have been on this diet for a little over two months and already we are finding bones in our bodies. Just yesterday I discovered a hip bone that I thought had long since dissolved in 1999.

And now, my eighty-year-old mom is on this diet with us. My mom is German. She lived through WWII. She has eaten sticks, boiled nettle, grub worms, and animals you cannot find in the meat section in Wal-Mart, even in China, and has come out unscathed. But she swears this diet is the best thing that has happened to her digestion. Well, yeah . . .

Do you have any diet horror stories you want to share? A diet success story? Or just want to tell us your favorite food?

Remember, to leave a comment click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog, and don’t forget to check out the latest Photoblog on the right.  Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.

Have fun!

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RECYCLING SPAM

I have recently been going through my spam. Not that nasty pink stuff in a peel-can that thrills Hawaiians. But the junk mail. Specifically the stuff posted as ‘comments’ on this blog.

Thank goodness I have a good filter in place.

On my last website, the webmaster – not my current one – got a cheap host. Not necessarily inexpensive. Just cheap. It had virtually NO spam filter. I spent every afternoon deleting massive amounts of Russian porn from my blog.

Then I got a new site. The bots are still trying to infiltrate, but my filter has kept every one of them out. However, I still have to go in from time to time to flush my spam folder like a toilet.

Here are some of the ads masquerading as comments:

“Yes! Finally! Someone who has written about Tempurpedic mattresses!”

Obviously from someone not paying attention.

And this:

“I had to deal with how my clothing have been acquiring looser and just how my cardio and power exercise sessions were being improving upon and took the dimensions going down to be a reward.  I understand it is really tricky.  Think me.  I have been there.  It took me ten months to lose 60 pounds and the %anchor% arrived off when it desired to.  I trapped to logging and performing exercises and customarily ate among 1500-1600 energy daily.  I stored the faith and it worked.”

I’m not sure what “trapped to logging” means, and eating energy, but, hey, it helped him store the faith. We should be so fortunate.

Then there are those who don’t bother to translate. I keep getting a 30-line comment in Chinese which will remain hidden until deleted.

And here is my favorite in this week’s batch:

“Now, I’m going to give you a bunch of lame advice that tells you that you just need to sit and wait on your girlfriend to come back to you.”

Fair enough.

Then there are ones who try to make it look like they are from readers. They tell me how informative my blog is and how it gives them good advice.

Yeah, right . . . Pull the other one.

Remember, to leave a comment click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog – NOT YOU, BOTS – and don’t forget to check out the latest Photoblog on the right.  Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.

Have fun!

 

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OH, THE HUMANITY!!

For the last month I have been glued to my computer, looking for an agent to represent my third book, SLIPPING IN GREECE. To get an agent, I have to submit my manuscript for their approval. And to do that, I have to approach them with a query letter. And in that letter I am supposed to begin with a pitch. A pitch is this: 

A handful of sentences that describes your novel. Think no more than seven? Eight? Nine sentences? It should be concise, well-written, and make them WANT it. I cannot describe how difficult it is to write a 95K story, then deconstruct it, compress it, decorate it, and present it. To what can I liken that process?

Imagine giving birth without any kind of pain management.

Imagine putting a fluffy pink bow on it.

Then imagine stuffing it back when you are done.

I have written more than one pitch since it is, apparently, impossible to get it right the first time. And the only way you know you have failed? You get a rejection letter. I have only had a few of those, ranging from a polite ‘not for us,’ to a ‘please, keep looking for an agent. You have talent.’

But not for writing a pitch, apparently. . .

So while waiting for a response from the other agents who have either a) lost it in a spam filter, or b) been buried alive under an avalanche of query letters, I have turned my efforts to researching publishing companies that do not require that you sell through an agent.

Allow me to share the experience. (Kind of like a friend of mine who bought a non-refundable tattoo service for her sister. She wanted her to get permanent eyebrows. Just so she can see how badly it hurt.)

First, I went to Barnes & Noble and looked through their books, specifically, the 2013, and 2014 WRITER’S MARKET. I made a quick list of the publishing companies that accept un-agented submissions. Then I went home and looked at the companies’ websites.

Several of these publishing companies are owned by religious organizations. Not only does the writer have to be a member of their Church, they have to write about people belonging to that religion. Is this profitable? How many people go online to search for mysteries involving Episcopalians? Or Mormons? And is that the protagonist, victim, murderer, or all three? Or can they make the villain a Baptist? One publisher’s website had a tab you could click on to get a free prayer. I had no idea they were supposed to cost money. Do they usually charge by the word? And is it like a pitch in a query letter?

One of my favorite websites belongs to Stoneslide Books. (http://stoneslidecorrective.com) And I am not being sarcastic, here. I really love it, especially their explanation of how they chose their name. Let me give you a taste of their site.

This is the bio of one of the founders, Jonathan Weisberg:

“Jonathan is a recipient of a silver shovel award, a ten-year service recognition certificate, and many confused glances. He lives in Connecticut with a wife who is much smarter than him, as well as two children who are also smarter than him.”

This is the bio of Mark Emile Boutin, one of their contributing Editors:

“Mark Boutin has learned to hold popular opinion in low esteem. He likes scotch with scotch in it, he votes, and favorite movies include Tango and Cash, Some Kind of Monster, The Inescapable Quest of the Venture Capitalist’s Road Show: First Tranche, and Scarface. He only wishes that the fence around his land were higher.”

And contributing Editor Erica Gingerich:

“. . . She writes. She edits. She translates. She occasionally does some radio and DJing. She does voice-overs and dubbing for German films, commercials, and documentaries. Sometimes she puts on her Propaganda Queen tiara and does PR.  For a good cause, of course. She takes long walks in Alpine meadows with her husband, Tom, where they spend crisp, sunny afternoons in autumn, Erica spinning circles, pretending she is Julie Andrews. The hills are alive….”

But my favorite is their Rejection Generator:

“End the Pain of Rejection.

Rejection is a necessary and often painful part of the writing life. But your expectations can greatly affect your eventual experience.

We at The Stoneslide Corrective have generously developed an online Rejection Generator, through which you can send yourself some of the nastiest, dream-crushing rejection letters imaginable. After that, real rejection will be no more stinging than a glass of lemonade. Who else would do this for you?

Try the Rejection Generator.”

So I did. You get to chose your options: The Thumper, Tantalus’ Apple, Ego Shredder, The Southern Gentleman, Big Chakra Dosing Agent, and The Civil Gesture. Then you submit your email. In seconds you get a rejection letter in your inbox. I did all six of them. More than once.

Here is one of my favorites:

“Dear Writer,
We regret that we cannot use your piece. We want to reassure you that we are respectful of all writers who take a chance and submit work. We have given the piece our utmost attention and read it carefully from beginning to end. That’s why we’re rejecting it.
Regards,

The Editors”

Another:

“Dear Writer,
I regret to say that we cannot use the piece you have submitted. There are many potential reasons for this: we are looking for very particular subject matter; we are overstocked right now; we were drunk when we read it. This is not a judgment of you. It does not mean you are a bad writer.
Of course, you probably are a bad writer. You’re probably so bad you can’t finish this sentence: “My mama wears _____.” The vast majority of people who think of themselves as writers are actually bad writers. They just don’t know it. Nonetheless, this one rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that you are bad. But you probably are.

And the odds are that you are immoral and lazy as well. We don’t mean to be harsh. We’re talking about the percentages here.
Best,

The Editors”

Of course, I will submit SLIPPING IN GREECE to them. Just for the privilege of getting another email.

Then there is Medallion Press who will be receiving a submission as well. (http://medallionmediagroup.com)

Here is an excerpt from the bio from Administrative Assistant Jeanne Chybik:

“(Read with an Irish accent) . . . This winter me hope is to finish decorating our Tudor bedroom addition, which includes a secret fireplace escape route leading down to an underground labyrinth guarded by David Bowie, that me intends to curl up next to and begin reading some great Medallion books.”

But my favorite, my FAVORITE, is Ali DeGray, the President of Medallion Media Group. Does her bio remind you of anyone?

“I believe that my interpretive dance at the local grocery store improves the lives of the strangers there. I also believe that Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis have never died, and will never die. When people question my irrational behavior, they are satisfied with the explanation, “Oh, I’m an artist.” Being vice president of Medallion Media has allowed me an avenue to boost other people’s goals while remaining unashamed of how weird I really am.”

YES! Rayvyn is the president of Medallion Media Group!

I just wish I could find the website that stated they enjoy pushing drunk friends into bonfires. Or something like that. Stoneslide Corrective? Probably.

Well, I will keep you apprised of my journey. . .

And just a thought before I go.  I have had three offers from other publishing companies for me to submit my manuscript. Yes, its a journey, but I should arrive.

Just not sure where or in what. . .

Remember, to leave a comment click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog, and don’t forget to check out the latest Photoblog on the right.  Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.

Have fun!

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