If Making Sense for Normal People Was Mandatory; Boy, Would I Be in Trouble…Problem Is, It Makes Sense to Me

In what genre do you write? I’m not sure it’s even legal to ask that question any longer. It seems every day or two a new grouping surfaces giving you additional options to categorize your work.button quail The latest, by my reckoning to slide under the radar is “new adult.”

Hmm… Let’s see, we have “young adult, middle grade and adult.” I guess we needed something to span the chasm between young adult and adult. Of course then we have to ask ourselves, what about the older adults, the elderly adults and the expanses between them?

Think… Think… Think… That’s not it.… Think… Think… Think… Think… Think… See how this grabs you.

“Middle grade, young adult, new adult, adult adult, middle-aged adult, old adult, ancient adult and dusty adult.… Dare we go any further? I think not.

How about fantasy? We have fantasy, high fantasy, epic fantasy, urban fantasy…… Enough already, I think you get the idea. In fact, I’ll jump ship, yet stay in the same vein. Here is what I mean.

I’m working on a fantasy adventure novel with a menagerie of characters (young and old, human and not so human) one of my favorites being a young attractive pre-teen with a feisty disposition.

This brings about a veritable cornucopia of expressions, such as: Cute as a button. Wow! Can you say subjective with a capital S.U.B?

Firstly, what one would call cute another would refer to as: pretty, attractive, etc. and we’re going to put a stop to that mess right now and assume that cute is a given.

Now, the second part of this saying is the most difficult to wrap your noggin around. Since when is a button cute?

After some judicious legwork, I have determined that there are no less than a bazillion explanations of this precursor to the zipper.

When trying to determine the most likely candidate of any inquiry, I use three separate criteria.

1.) Have I seen the explanation in question in more than one publication?

2.) Are these publications reliable?

3.) And most importantly: which one strikes my fancy?

After weighing the facts along with my likes and dislikes, I have determined that an English quail, known as a button quail (see picture top of page) was the inspiration for the expression “cute as a button.”

Just when you thought it was finally over and the nasty man can no longer hurt you with his outrageous button lore, I continue to flog the dead horse.

Expression number two: Cute as she can be.

Talk about “screwed up as a chicken noodle soup sandwich.” Boy, this one has the potential to blow 37 different ways to last Monday on the backs of two words.

That first word being: as

First and foremost “as” is either an adverb, conjunction or preposition. Quite a lot for the little fella to hold up without adding more… Don’t you think…Hmm? Well so do I, on to the second word.

This is where it gets a little dicey. With “be” being the word, is it truly as she wants to be or can it now be how someone else feels that she should be? You see, “to be” is not necessarily related literary wise to “or not to be.” So one could say that as long as the cuteness is maintained, the state of being, whether “be” is for her or be is for he, he be, she be, we be, you be, they be are completely immaterial and have no business “being” anywhere.

On top of everything else I named my firstborn “As” which makes “As” a noun. Now if he takes off running, give me a minute and I’ll turn him into a verb.

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Location, Location, Location

When you set out to write a piece, it doesn’t matter if you use an outline to structure your story or fly by the seat of your pants.over yonder It’s a given that you must drop your cast of characters into a location, be it fact or fancy, in order to tell the story. Even the condition of the participants makes no difference as long as they’re where you put them and ready to do your bidding while being forced through the story as you weave your tale.

The location of that location can ultimately shake the credibility of your story. For argument’s sake, let’s say that chapter one takes place on a beautiful white sand beach somewhere in the Tropics. Coconut palms sway in the warm afternoon breeze. The smell of seafood cooking in banana leaves fills the air. Then, a throng of mercenaries clad in dirty underwear and headbands come frolicking from the jungle and play tag until sundown.

See what I mean? No continuity. This same linguistic problem can squeeze from between the pages of any novel and bleed over into everyday life.

Have you ever heard someone say:

We’re lost in the middle of nowhere. First, we must ask ourselves, is there really such a place as nowhere? Then, we must follow-up that question with a resounding, “no!” And to further back up this conclusion, we refer to the statement, “no matter where you go, there you are.” This phrase and this phrase alone proves without a doubt that if you are there then it is physically impossible to be nowhere.

Mayhap we should delve into this “location” quandary a bit deeper. Have you ever asked an individual the whereabouts of a particular landmark, only to receive a reply such as, “just over that hill a spell” or “down the road a piece?” Not that hard to decipher if you give it a little thought, but the real barnburner remains to be, “Over yonder.”

I was born and bred in the South, heard it all my life and just accepted it at face value. They used it in William Shakespear’s day (Hark, doth light thru yonder window break?) and even then they didn’t know what it meant. (Of course, they thought Juliet was the sun.) If someone were to ask me, “Where is over yonder and what exactly does it mean,” I would have to say, “Why, over yonder is anywhere other than here.” Its exact definition is anywhere other than here.

I want you to ponder something until we meet again. The next time you ask someone where they are going and they answer you with “nowhere,” suggest to them that since, “nowhere” is an impossibility (citing facts learned in this blog post) offer “yonder” as an alternative since you’re both already there.

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Are We There Yet?

Vacations! Aren’t they something? Once each year, you load your vehicle full of personal artifacts, drive hundreds of miles to a house that you have rented for the week, unpack your vehicle in which you have brought all of family vacationyour treasures from home, and fill your home away from home. Now that you have your home away from home just like your home, you can relax because you feel like you’re at home.

This year we had a house full (twelve in all); four generations together for an entire week. I know, it sounds like a lot, but I do believe it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had.

  • My dear mother (whom I was happy just watching enjoy her first vacation in years) was in attendance, along with my mother and father-in law. (Please allow me, for clarification purposes that amidst all the in-laws jokes that circle nowadays, I have been blessed with a pair that I consider my second set of parents.)
  • Next my sister and her husband (she oozes sweetness while my brother-in-law sweats hilarity).
  • From the loins of a proud father, my son in all his glory stretched across the couch doodling with his smart phone and his wife of two years, reading or better yet, playing with the little person.
  • My daughter, having pushed through difficult times and emerged victorious along with my son-in-law (he doesn’t have much hair, but he’s all right just the same.)
  •  My wonderful wife, who is just as lovely on the inside as she is on the outside.
  • And introducing, the one and only L’il Ed!! (His real name is Elijah and most everyone calls him Eli, but PaPa (that’s me). I call him L’il Ed. It’s a long story and one that bears telling; just not today. That’s fodder for another post.)

L’il Ed belongs to my daughter and her husband (You know the one without much hair, but even though he is follicley challenged, he really is a great guy.)

L’il Ed is two years old. Some folks would say that he’s twenty-six months. Since this is my blog, said blog is subject to my laws.

First law: no child over the age of twelve months may have present age stated in any other form than in one year increments. However, if applied for six months prior to next birthday and approved, parent may add (up until the age of four years) the suffix “and a half” to the child’s present age; i.e., 1 ½, 2 ½ etc.

I mean come on. Don’t you get tired of saying (for example) I’m 437 ½ months old when they ask your age? It’s either that or “none of your business.”

As for the rest of the vacation L’il Ed and PaPa swam in the pool; hit the waves and frolicked with the dolphins; caught several hundred fish and 30 pounds of crab in the surf; and built a sand castle 2 ½ miles long.

Second law: see law number one. Numbers are applicable when determining the proper distance for sandcastles.

Yep, me and my namesake had a great time. Have the same place reserved for 2015. The little fella doesn’t know it yet, but next year I’m gonna teach him wrangling and riding waterspouts 101…… Yee Haw!!

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Talk About Your Gruesome Twosome…I’m Just Glad There Ain’t Three Of’em

Are you the type of person who wouldn’t notice a giraffe riding a bicycle backward, waving a purple flag with the image of Sir Edmund Hillary’s right boot unlacing itself on it, all the while singing “Pop Goes the Weasel,” boys bike wreakreading a book (written by me on the subject of teaching giraffes to ride bicycles) and munching on a peanut butter and anchovy sandwich if it rolled in front of you at an intersection?

Or, are you more of the type who would sneak into the ape exhibit at your local zoological park, spend hours picking nits from your many monkey mates in order to pick smaller nits off the nits you’ve already picked?

Perhaps you find solace in measuring dust bunnies for an upcoming obstacle course you’ve been mulling around in your head for quite some time?

Whatever it is, do it with fervor because when you least expect it, they’re coming after you with a tranquilizer gun and a net.

Me? Well I’m somewhere in the middle. On this wonderful blue ball that God blessed us with as our home we have our fair share of good, bad, quirky and everything in between.

I tend to look at things and wonder why they are the way they are, when it would have been so much simpler and in some cases less painful to incorporate a small change in the planning phase of the particular object.

Case in point: the bicycle

First take a few moments to ponder anatomical differences between boys and girls giving the naughty bits special consideration.

Having done this, review in your mind the design and construction of the modern day bicycle keeping the differences of the so named “girls” or “boys” model firmly entrenched within your thought process.

Now, allow me to pose to you one of many situations that are quite likely to occur.

You’re pedaling down a dirt road. The day is warm. A slight southerly breeze instills within you a sense of well-being. Yes, this is one of the few perfect days we experience during the course of a year.  In a flash you catch a blur in your peripheral vision. It’s that lunatic giraffe on his backward bike crossing the road again.

Swerving to avoid a collision, you run off the road, down a slight embankment, and into a tree. Now, herein lies the problem as “physics” (a subject I never studied) comes into play in a very, very, big way.

Side note: The problem being, just because I didn’t study physics, doesn’t mean it does not exist.

When the bicycle you’re riding comes to a sudden, nay an instantaneous stop, your body continues its forward progression (here’s where we will learn our first physics term “inertia”) and once your bottom clears the seat gravity takes over (and there’s our second term, “gravity”). Considering you are a male and have just plowed into said tree, if you’re riding a girl’s bike your feet will hit the ground first–no harm no foul.  In the second scenario, you are a male riding a boy’s bike (here’s where the physics terms we learned earlier come into play).

Inertia: The force that must be overcome in order to stop an object in motion or to put a stagnant object into motion.

Gravity: …I sincerely hope that any explanation is unnecessary.

Once your bottom begins to move forward on the seat, inertia has been overcome and gravity becomes the enemy. Your feet are longer the first objects to come in contact with the ground, rather the steel bar that runs just inches below your seat becomes the second place where inertia goes to die, along with your boys, as they collide in a disfiguring, mutilated, mash of crushed manhood……Nuff said…… Correction…… Too much said!

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Good, Bad; Just Words? I Think Not.

When writing my blog, I normally try to take a piece from within the book I’m currently working on. I then fumble with that racingpiece until it fits nicely into our 21st-century world. Finally, I attempt to twist said piece into a humorous story that will bring a smile or maybe even a chuckle to my readers.

Lord knows we need it. I hold nothing but contempt for the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality we’ve allowed to rule our press for quite some time now. What would be so wrong with a little good news amongst the overabundance of bad? You don’t live your life that way; at least I hope you don’t.

Consider your last family reunion or get-together. You may have spoken with other family members of someone who passed or a particular unpleasant incident, but for the most part you sat and laughed and recounted silly stories of your past.

It’s like something very important that my mother told me when I was but a lad during one of our many beach vacations. I, my sister, and the matriarch of the family were all bouncing in the waves. A light shower passed overhead and my mother in all her wisdom uttered these words, “Let’s go in before we get wet.”

One thing you didn’t do is mess with one of mama’s children. Here is a story to illustrate that point.

It was the day of the big race. I was around four years old and fast as greased lawnmower clippings. My sister was seven and a two-to-one favored. It was a quick sprint from the magnolia tree to the back of our ‘59 Chevy.

My uncle was the official starter and would also determine the finishing order.

“Ready…set…go!!!”

I jumped to a quick lead but my sister overtook the scorching pace I had set. As she passed, I knew the race was lost, but I could see the arms of my loving uncle ready to embrace his nephew, consoling him in the midst of the worst loss in his young life.

Just a few more steps; Wayney, Wayney, his open arms imploring me come, come, and be comforted. I spread my arms to embrace my hero. Only one more step and my Wayney sidesteps my loving advance causing my poor wittle head to smash into the back of that ‘59 Chevy.

“Uh oh,” Wayney utters. “It appears as though my rear end is soon to be lawn clippings, for the screaming little banshee that just went inside to awaken “Big Momma” and we know ‘Big Momma’ don’t take no prisoners.” While events at the time were anything but comical (i.e., stitches in my head and a great fear for my uncle’s life) it is something we are able to laugh about today.

Humorous situations can be found locally, nationally, and globally. Of course, if you live in Texas and hear of a lighthearted event in Madagascar that would be an example of a global event for you. This same happening would be local if you lived in Madagascar. Now, if you resided in Africa, you could call this a national event. What it all boils down to is: Every incident is located close to some folks, further away from others, and far enough away from most folks that it’s getting close again.

Since I prefer the local, I’ll regale you with another childhood tale and one for the life of me I have never been able to understand. As I said, when I was a youngster, in the house in which I was raised and in my grandmother’s house (just to name two among the many at that time) there was a room that no one dared enter, the carpet and furnishings pristine. It was called, “the living room.”

It existed for one purpose and one purpose only and that purpose being to entertain visiting dignitaries. From the way the matriarchs maintained the “the living rooms,” I figured they were expecting the president, the Pope, and the like.

What this means to us: as much bad news as we have crammed down our throat, we need to look for the good, embrace what we find, and remember, there’s always something to laugh at. If you don’t believe me, look in the mirror. It always works for me.

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Get That Bug Out of Your Mouth! You Don’t Know Where That Bug’s Been

I’m near the middle of the novel I am presently working on. One of the participants is a small dome shaped creature with multiple legs. black widow spiderIt sounds similar to a spider even though I don’t use that term in the book.

It got me thinking…and we all know how dangerous that can be. I’ve written several blogs concerning pets that I’ve owned in my younger days that leaned more toward the exotic–an alligator, a boa constrictor, a ferret and an American chameleon (which was nothing more than a small green lizard) to name a few.

Now, I want to preface this next paragraph by saying that I’ve always been a little kooky but never into dark or dangerous activities. I feel I have to do this because of the next pet I’ll be describing…pet is probably an inaccurate word…let’s go with acquisition.

Just as today, there were two types of pets and/or acquisitions in those days–the kind you bought and the kind you caught. The acquisition in question was the latter, better known as the “latrodectus” or black widow spider.

What possessed me to cut a hole in a metal jar top, cover it with cloth, throw a little gravel in the bottom, place one upright stick into the jar and then capture a black widow is still a mystery to me.

Side note: ever notice when a kid catches something he’s going to stuff into a jar, that something always gets a rock and a stick. I guess it’s the first rule of animal ownership.

Anyway, that’s what I did. She immediately began to weave a web that utilized the complete interior of a twelve ounce mayonnaise jar.

Now if you just plop something (a spider) into a strange environment, (a jar complete with a rock and stick) cut off from the basics to sustain life, you must supply those basic items (plump juicy insets which might have otherwise enjoyed the new habitat had they not been on the menu.)

This was a big fat healthy spider so I decided to test her prowess of gathering food. I managed to capture a paper wasp. I tossed it into the jar expecting at least somewhat of a battle. The wasp jiggled around in the web until the spider nonchalantly sauntered over and bit the very tip of the wasp’s rear leg and backed off, waiting for its venom to take effect.

Some battle. Wasp hits web, spider bites wasp, spider wraps wasp in burial shroud and sucks meal at its leisure. Did I mention the obesity factor when I first acquired the arachnid? Well, it got fatter. One morning I awoke to a skinny spider and a huge egg case.

Cool, I thought, the circle of life taking place right before my very eyes. Elated, I rubbed my hands together. Now let’s see what you’ve really got.

Searching through a stack of bricks, I procured another black widow. Admittedly, she didn’t appear as healthy as my combatant, but what the hay.

I dropped the second spider into the web of death.

Expecting somewhat of a battle this time, the newcomer immediately adopted a subservient posture at the bottom of the jar. My champion yawned, bit the newcomer and voile’ another meal down the gullet.

After meal number three (a honey bee) she was once again fat and sleek, a champion in the spider world if there ever was one. I woke up the next morning to yet another neatly woven egg case.

I don’t know what I was thinking (obviously I wasn’t) allowing a jar full of death to set on my dresser, giving it no more thought than a picture set in a frame. Then one fateful morning I awoke to thousands of juvenile black widows pouring out of the egg case and spreading throughout the jar. Hmm, I thought to myself, maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.

A few short squirts of insect spray and I learned two very important lessons:

1.) I was very good at raising poisonous spiders.

2.) I was very, very good at arachnid genocide.

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Please Don’t Try This at Home

Have you ever written a short story, novel or even a grocery list? Odds are your answer would be yes.habenaro

Have you ever read a book, a bedtime story or the directions to put a bicycle together on Christmas Eve? Once again, the answer is most likely yes, although it is remotely possible that one of these may have required the use of a bail bondsman. As far as I know, most states frown upon repeatedly chucking a bicycle into on-coming traffic until there are more parts spread over the road than what you originally dumped from the box–and throwing up all over a police officer does not a good defense make.

The point I’m trying to make by using these analogies is that frequently it takes many small pieces to amass one large object which in turn is much more beneficial than the sum of its parts.

There is one possible exception, and that being the removal of vomit from a police officer’s buttons, badge and other intricate details of the soiled uniform. …Enough said about puke, less we digress.

Back to my point before we found ourselves sliding down Ralph’s road…oops, I said I wouldn’t go there again; please pardon.

When you’re writing a story, you’re bringing many bits of information, and let’s not forget characters, together to form a conclusion or bring about a startling revelation at the end of the book.

When you’re reading a story, even though you did not actually pen the words, you’re still pulling the points together to present an ending.

Now people, listen closely…I really need you to understand for if you don’t, who’s going to explain it to me?

For instance:

I’m at the grocery store picking up ingredients to make a basil pesto. Having plenty of basil in my garden at home, I continue to shop for the remaining necessities (lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts…I also like a touch of anchovy and a little Parmesan cheese).

As I carefully peruse my list, I notice much to my delight that all the ingredients required are already tucked safely away in my cupboards, pantry, and refrigerator at home. I toss the crumpled the list over my shoulder and skip home ready to concoct a culinary delight never before passing through the lips and across the taste buds of any human being.

I remove my food processor from the hardly ever used section of my kitchen cabinets, locate my shears, and walk out to the garden. Obviously, every herbivore on the planet has taken a nibble out of my basil leaving nothing but dead stems. Whatever shall I do? The plant beside the basil is full of pretty green leaves and loaded with a small round orange vegetable. This should do nicely. I uproot the entire plant and move back inside.

I snip off the roots and feed everything that remains into my food processor. As it grinds away, I retrieve the rest of the necessary ingredients. After a methodical search, it appears as though I may have been mistaken concerning a few items I claimed to already have in my possession. No bother, I’ll make substitutions just as I did for the basil. Instead of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts, I add to the light brown mixture still swirling in the processor, orange juice, shortening, horseradish and jelly beans, all perfectly acceptable substitutions.

Then in a stroke of genius, I replace the hint of anchovy and the smidge of Parmesan with a can of sardines (in olive oil, mind you) and a new product I found in the refrigerator, head cheese. I continue the blending process adding the additional ingredients. A strange word keeps popping into my head. Strange yes, but even more unusual this word seems menacingly close…like hot breath on the back of my neck.

Hob.…hobby. No, no that’s not it.….Hob-o-near….Hobanarow….I know!….Habanero…… Never heard of it. I wave my hand over my nose. Something burning…I can hardly breathe. Must be the motor in the food processor. I’ll pick up another one tomorrow.

I believe my heavenly pesto is ready. I scoop up a heaping tablespoon full.

Now do you see how simple ingredients (just as words and phrases) in the end, unite in perfect harmony.

I slide the spoon into my mouth, enjoying the silken texture. I swallow. My stomach begins to gurgle. Seconds later my head explodes. Fire shoots no less than 30 feet from my mouth. My stomach gurgles again this time signifying the ensuing geyser.

I know I promised not to say it again as I run down the hall toward the bathroom, but there’s no way around it, because here it comes.

Gravy and grits baby, gravy and grits!

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