Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Some Critters in the Yard

Dear Mom,

The weather had been hot, like dripping wet hot. I'd step outside, stand there for about five minutes and I'm drenched. So I stayed inside and watched the wildlife from my window.

The animals were apparently really hot too and came to drink from our pond. Two new fawns played in the water. Momma stood close by.
There's two fawn in the water

Momma joined the babies

Here they are again

A big ole buck enjoyed the water too! He must have drank about 10 gallons of water!

Here's a buck getting a drink, and then leaving
Mr. Groundhog... oh that's Mrs. Groundhog must have had a baby because I saw a smaller one nibbling on all my black-eyed Susan's that were coming up. Where I had tons of black-eye Susan's you now just see one or two, here and there. All the hosta are chewed to the nubs. But I don't care as long as the critters are getting what they need. Why not?

We don't have koi in our pond any more because I'm guessing this guy was the one who kept eating them. If koi were a little cheaper, maybe it wouldn't be so bad, but...

One day something caught my eye and I couldn't figure out what it was so I had to step out into the heat (wah, wah) and wow, the most beautiful frog I've ever seen. Wouldn't you agree?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Floating on the Meramec River

Dear Mom,

I’m not sure whose brainy brilliant idea it was to do a float trip, but my friends somehow bribed convinced me to go. I hadn’t been on a float trip in over 15 years when I went with my brother, his son, and my three kids… when my daughter and I got knocked off the raft by a branch. Unexpectedly. We nearly drowned. Prior to that, as a teenager, I floated. The couple we were with argued. He took his oar and threw it at her back. Oh, and I forgot, my two sisters and brother and I went on a float trip for one of our annual “SiblingDays.” Mid-August and it was so cold our fingers were blue and our lips purple. After we got out of the raft and waited for our pick-up, we started a fire so we wouldn’t freeze to death.

Umm, yeah, floating brings up such fond memories… I couldn’t wait.

But always giving people the benefit of the doubt, I give my experiences that same courtesy.

Mom, I told you earlier how boats and water are not my thing. This summer I’ve had the excruciating pain pleasure to experience it four times. I joke about excruciating pain. All the trips this year have nearly changed my outlook on water and boats… as long as they are pontoon boats. You can still have the kind of boat that reaches speeds in excess of 10 miles an hour.

I believe the idea to go floating was Eddie’s. He wanted Susan, my best friend, to experience floating. If anyone knows Susan, you know she’s not outdoorsy. I may not be fond of boats/water, but I’m not a wimp to the outdoors. I told Eddie I’d help paddle the raft since Susan and Cindy (Susan’s other bff) couldn’t. No, not wouldn’t. Couldn’t. Incapable. Oh, I guess if they were shown, and promised they wouldn’t break a nail they might consider it—IF they were the only two in the raft and needed to reach the shore.

I suppose I will confess when we started out, I’m sure Eddie had his doubts about my paddling capabilities when I kept paddling towards the bridge. He kept paddling the opposite way and I worried that he didn't know what he was doing. Exasperated I crabbed asked Eddie, “What are you doing?” He shot me a look. Clearly he was confused. I asked again, “What part of the bridge are you wanting to go through? I'm aiming for the middle. Are you trying to go to the right?”

“Lynn, do you really want to paddle upstream?”


Hey, the current was slow people… as in slow as Susan learning how to skip rocks. More about that later.

I swore the guy who dumped the raft in had pointed that way—towards the bridge. Apparently I’m just as directionally challenged in the water as I am on land.

However, I surprised myself being the most obnoxious adventurous one. I paddled like crazy to get the raft to spin in circles. No one else wanted to have fun in that way… “I’m getting dizzy.” Wasn’t that the point? Remember the merry-go-round on the playgrounds? Not the carnival kind. The type you spin your self. They were my favorite. Or when you were a kid and you kept twirling yourself around, you'd fall to the ground, and the world would continue to spin?

Okay, back to the float trip. 

The current flowed like the turtles we spotted… as Cindy so brilliantly observed, “They look like little German soldiers.” They sat stiff on branches half sunken in water. Their little heads jutted out of their armor. Hearing the enemy, they disappeared into the murky water.

A skinny blue heron perched on a limb stood so still that Eddie thought it was a statue. Who does that—puts a statue on a branch at the edge of the Meramec River? Geez Eddie, get out much?

We were trying to keep a look out for our half way point to gage how long we’d need to get us to our destination on time. We all missed it… something about a cliff, but there were cliffs around every turn.

We pulled off to have a little swim. Okay, I swam. Me, the water person. The one who doesn’t know how to swim. The dog paddler. Susan, Cindy and Eddie stood in the water. At 62 degrees, plunging (yes, I plunged) into the water was shocking refreshing... if you’re a penguin. I’m pretty sure I left a few brain cells at home that morning being all Paul-a Bunyan like.

Stomachs growling, we spotted a shady spot to eat our lunch. Susan and Eddie packed enough goodies in the event we became stranded like those on Gilligan’s Island. I think we sang that song as we floated down the river.

Nearing the bridge—our “take out” point—yes, Susan, those are the places where you take out the raft, not where you can order food—we realized we missed the halfway point and we were two hours early. The bridge was now two minutes away, so we pulled off again. Here’s where we taught Susan how to skip rocks.

When Susan threw the rock in the water, like a “girl” (there really is meaning to that saying), I was glad we had two hours because I had hope she’d master it by then. She did, long before the two hours. But picture a lefty, who throws like a girl, skipping a rock. Where’s a camera when you need one.

You all might think I’m being a little mean talking about my bff this way. The thing is, we’ve been friends for over 45 years. She knows I love her and all my “meanness” is in jest. I laughed a lot that day observing her…

At the reservation desk when she asked the clerk, “So where are the bathrooms as you float down the river?”  The message on the face of the clerk: is she for real or is this a joke? I shrugged and rolled my eyes. The clerk looked at Susan with a little smirk smile and said, “Anywhere you want.” Poor Susan, thought she was going to lose those big blue eyes. I could see me chasing her eye balls as they rolled on the floor. At that point I wondered if this float trip was going to be as disastrous fun as all the rest.

I laughed watching Susan inch her way into the shocking cold brisk water, her face scrunched up, arms hugging herself, her high pitched tone, “I hate feeling sand in my shoes.” I mocked her. Then Eddie, who's not always on the ball, commented, “Lynn, you use the same whiney tone no matter who you mimic.”

“It’s the only one I know.” Wasn't it clear that I'm not making millions as a professional comedian doing impressions of people?

Back in the raft. “Oh, I don’t like how my feet feel in wet shoes, it’s gross.” (Who am I?)

Despite my paddling the wrong way on several occasions, (thank you Cindy, as I’d eye her whenever I was confused and she would shake her head yes or no to tell me if I was paddling the correct way… didn’t want to be yelled at by Captain Eddie) and wanting to create a merry-go-round-raft, I, the Skipper, did okay. 

It's been the year of water for me, and I've changed my mind a bit. What about you—is there something you’re not fond of doing, but then you had an experience that changed it? Or what about your own experience with float trips?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Writers Mark the Date

Writers In The Park
The 3rd annual writers festival  
Saturday, August 25, 2012
10am - 2pm
at Kirkwood Park
Free and open to all writers!

Two years ago, in celebration of its 90th Anniversary St. Louis Writers Guild created a festival - Writers in the Park. A free mini-conference that is open to all writers. There will be multiple breakout sessions each hour for adults, plus books for sale and great food. It's a festival to celebrate writing. This year St. Louis Writers Guild has brought together many of this city's literary organizations as well as great authors to provide workshops covering a wide variety of topics for writers of every level. The day begins at 9:30am for announcements at Lions Amphitheater in Kirkwood Park and the program starting at 10:00am.

This year Writers in the Park has expanded to include writing workshops for kids in grades 4th - 8th. There will before four hours of workshops for kids, starting at 10am and ending at 2pm. Participants may show up at anytime during the festival.

There will be indoor facilities if it is raining or if temperatures remain in the triple digits, so the day will go on, regardless of the weather!

No pre-registration required.

A full schedule can be viewed at stlwritersguild.org

Shawntelle Madison & Jeannie Lin
W.E. Muller & Kelly Cochran of Sisters in Crime
Bob Baker of St. Louis Publisher's Association
Margo L. Dill of Saturday Writers
Ben Moeller-Gaa of St. Louis Poetry Center
Niki Nymark, Gail Marshall, Liz Levy, and Lauren Wilding of Loosely Identified
T.W. Fendley, David Lucas, & Jennifer Stolzer of St. Louis Writers Guild

and for the kids,
Award-winning children's author Kate Klise
Middle grade author Jody Feldman
Faye Adams of Writers Society of Jefferson County

Sponsored by Missouri Writers' Guild and many contributors through Kickstarter.com

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

RitaBook’s Birthday and More on Greed and Lies

Dear Mom,

In my last letter to you, I told you the saga of the sign post. Seems the subdivision wasn’t too happy with the judge’s decision—even though prior to going to court, they wrote Norm and returned his check, stating we’ll let a judge decide. They obviously thought they were going to win. Norm goes back to court later this month, again. It’ll be interesting to see what new lies they come up with…

Now on to happier news. A quarter of a century ago, I gave birth to my youngest daughter, Rita. She nicknamed herself RitaBook. Some people don’t get it and she has to explain: Read A Book. She’s the crafty/artsy one of Egabrag Crafts. And the short film maker – "Maison Des Rêveurs." The one with four doggies. I babysat for two of them this weekend. She rescued these two little stinkers.

Gramma (red collar) Doc (smaller one)

Gramma and Doc sleeping

Rita was due on 8/8. A week or two before my due date, her father decided he needed to go see his sister and planned to be gone a week. It wasn’t like his sister was dying or anything. He just decided. What? Jessica was 2 and Casey was 4. It wasn’t like I couldn’t handle them without him, because… ahem… he wasn’t around much, but to leave before I’m going to give birth? Yeah, let me just pack a few extra bags and stuff the children in them.

Needless to say I was aggravated. We had an agreement that if I gave birth to a boy, he’d name the baby. If it was a girl, I’d name her. A part of me wished I had gone into labor while he was gone and that I’d give birth to a boy… because then I’d name him. That was going to be my revenge. He would have been named after his Uncle Russ.

But I was late, as the case with all my children, and Rita was born a week after my due date. Rita was this happy, shining bundle of pure joy. She has a heart as big as the moon. She’s funny, smart, creative, sweet, hard working, beautiful, loving, respectful, and the list goes on. My miracle baby and I love her so. Happy Birthday Rita! xxxo


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Greed and Lies

Dear Mom,

Oh, it’s been over six months now—my husband, Norm went to work one foggy morning and noticed a big metal post in the middle of the street. It’s about a block from our house to his business. He got out of his car, and moved the post across the street onto the shoulder. Construction had just been finished on the street, and we looked up and down to see if anyone was missing a post in the neighboring subdivisions, but didn’t notice anything. The other newer signs looked different and Norm figured it was an old one that fell off the truck, and eventually they'd come back to pick it up. 

The post sat there for months. Norm figured no one was going to claim it, didn’t want to see it waste away and brought it to his studio. He sanded and repainted it. He ordered a personalized sign to hang from the post. The post sat in his studio for several more months until the weather was warm enough to dig a hole and cement the post in the ground.

Norm had the post sitting out in the drive when one of the neighbors from the adjoining subdivision came over. He told Norm he thought that post might be their subdivision’s old sign. No one seemed to care about it for the past six months.

A day or two after the sign was concreted in our yard, there was a slip of paper on our back door… from the police. Norm called, but the officer that had signed the paper was off his shift and no one else knew what it was about. I figured a burglar was hovering around the area and we were going to be notified to be on alert.

Little did we know that we were the burglars… according to the police officer, “The neighborhood claims you stole their subdivision sign.”

“Are you serious?”

Norm explained the entire story. The officer laughed. After the officer spoke with someone from the subdivision, he told Norm that if he paid $250 for the post, they'd drop the matter. Norm agreed to pay even though he thought it was ridiculous.

Matter closed.

Or so we thought.

The subdivision had a meeting and decided they wanted more money. Seems a member of the subdivision is a lawyer. He wrote Norm a letter requesting $550. Norm wrote back, enclosed a $250 check, and explained that was the amount agreed upon via the police officer.

They sent the check back and told Norm they’d see him court and they’d let a judge decide.

Court date set. Norm went to court. Both sides gave their story, but now the subdivision wanted $1,100. The judge advised he’d make a decision and send both parties a letter.

I told Norm that I’d really be disappointed in the judicial system if he didn’t win. He said he would be too.

This past weekend Norm received the judge’s decision. It was a form with boxes checked… Norm being the defendant.

Decision: in favor of the defendant, no fees, no fine.

YA-HOO! My faith has been restored in the judicial system.

Greed and lies do not pay… that’s what I can say about this whole ordeal. And the judge—he’ll get my vote for re-election.