Category Archives: Musings

My life by tote bags

toteIn an earlier blog, I mentioned my problems with organization, how I use baskets and notebooks and colors to keep track of all my stuff and what I should be doing.   In THE MATCHMAKERS OF BUTTERNUT CREEK, Gussie uses different totes for the various sections of her life.  Yes, I took that from my life.  I had one tote for school–a very large one–another for church, and many others for volunteer activities.

Today, I mostly use my totes for shopping and realize anyone looking at them would learn a great deal about my life.   One is from an anniversary of the founding of my college sorority at Kansas State.  Whenever I carry that, I make sure my hair looks good, my shirt is clean, and my shoes don’t look too ugly.  I do that because living here in Austin, I fear a young collegiate Theta will see me and think, “I didn’t think alums looked that bad.”

I have another with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) logo on it.  This is a communion chalice on a St. Andrews Cross.  That cross is on its side and looks like the letter X which causes people to ask me if I’m a member of the temperance league.

Another tote has this written on it:  “My  hero can kick your hero’s . . .”  Well, I’ll allow you to fill that in so I won’t insult any readers.   I have totes with Romance Writers of America conference themes and one with the symbol of one of my publishers, all of which might tip people off that I’m a writer.

Many years ago, my dear mother-in-law gave me a tote with “Cats and Books” on it.  That pretty well fills in my other interests:  pets and reading.

What’s your favorite tote?  What does it tell people about you?

Lessons I haven’t learned

About twenty years ago, I hurt my foot somehow.  When I went to the doctor’s office to have it checked, the receptionist who sat behind an open counter that was at least four feet high asked me, “Where’s the injury.”

To the amazement of the office staff,  I swung my foot up, rested it on the counter, pointed, and said, “My right foot.”

You know, that counter may have ben higher.  Maybe even five or six feet.

When I broke my toe a week ago, I discovered I can’t do that anymore.   Knowing I had to soak my foot, I put ice and water in the bathroom sink and attempted the same move at a much lower level.   I’m lucky I didn’t cause myself serious injury.   To the accompaniment of  many creaking joints and a fet grunts and screams, I was able to shove my foot into the water but worried the entire time I’d never be able to get it out again.

Lesson:   One cannot do everything one did twenty years ago.  However, I also know that one can do things that one couldn’t do twenty years ago such as publishing ten books.

This morning, I stubbed my broken toe.   Ouch!

Lesson:   people with broken toes should wear shoes.  However, I don’t like shoes and love to go barefoot which suggests more pain.

What lessons have you been taught that you refuse to accept?

Why in the world did I ever keep that?

imagesAs I sort and toss and pack, I wonder, “Has that always looked so bad?”   Yesterday, this thought came because of the breadbox which I’ve had for probably twenty years.    It’s dirty and just plain ugly.  Yes, I could wash it but ugly can’t be fixed.    Also, I no longer eat much bread, certainly not enough to take up a few feet of counter space.   George did.  He liked different flavors of bread.  But not me.  It’s in the back of the car to take to Goodwill in case they believe it’s salvageable.

Perhaps finding old stuff that has gradually become unsightly is a way of telling us, “Hey, you’re getting old” or nagging us, “Time to move on.”

Many years ago, we were attempting to sell our house.  We’d had the sofa for a long time and knew the fabric underneath and concealing the springs had torn and brushed against the carpet.  Probably a cat had enjoyed pulling herself along with that.   For whatever reason, the dangling cloth didn’t bother us.   It DID bother the real estate agent.  As soon as he walked in, he said, “Get rid of that sofa.”   I asked, “Won’t the room look odd without it?”  He said, “Not as bad as it does now.”

And perhaps that’s a positive outcome of a move: we can get rid of the stuff that shows wear, that reminds us time is passing but also reminds us for a few minutes of good memories.

Writers of the world. . . meet me in San Antonio

toenailsI got a pedicure Thursday and now look down at bright coral toenails that don’t look a bit like mine.   During that hour of pampering, I discovered my feet are a great deal more ticklish than I’d realized.   Everyone in the shop was laughing with me because–for a few minutes–I couldn’t stop.

Why did I have this, only my second pedicure?  Because I’m leaving for RWA  2014the national conference of Romance Writers of America today where I’ll join 2,000 of my best friends in San Antonio.  Probably half the writers in Texas and many from the rest of the US plus members from Canada and Europe and Australia and other places will gather there for days of networking, workshops, greeting old friends and making more.  I’ll be participating in two signings, several parties and will be “doing” breakfast and dinners with friends I’ve known through RWA for fifteen years or more.  What rwa book signingfun!

When I went to my first RWA conference in 1995, I entered the ballroom for the book signing.  Saw rows of tables, hundreds of writer with their books stacked in front of them  and hoards of readers  wandering through.  At that time, I vowed, “I’m going to be here someday.”  Six years later, I was.   After ten books, it’s still fun.

I’ve rested up for this and have nap time scheduled so I won’t wear out before I have to drive home, but I’m ready!   Just have to pack, take the kitties to the spa, and take off!

Hope you all have a wonderful week.  Hope to see some of you in San Antonio.


Odd things people believe

red houseI watch HGTV shows a lot, especially programs about people looking for a new house.   Several things people have said amaze me because I never realized people thought this way.

1)  THE BATHROOM  In a few shows, people looking through oddly flipped homes find a bathroom next to the kitchen and say with great disgust, “A bathroom next to the kitchen.  That’s horrible.”   Now, I’m not the greatest housekeeper in the world but there is nothing in my bathroom–other than the litter box which I keep very clean–that has disgusting stuff in it.  According to these people, disease emanates from a bathroom and will infect anything prepared in the kitchen, leaving venom and disease on every dish of food.   If that is so, why would having it down the hall from the kitchen make any bathroomdifference?  That miasma of infection would just drift down the hall and–bammo–right into the kitchen and the food.  Might even attack whoever is in the living room and whatever is on the dining room table first.

In another show, a woman said, “I don’t like the toilet next to the shower.” Does she not know which is which?   Did no one teach her how to use a toilet properly or how to get into the shower?

Perhaps there should be no toilets in houses because they’re obviously the source of every illness known to a family.

In addition, I’m very proud of myself.    As mentioned earlier, I’ve never considered myself to be a great housekeeper but my bathrooms are so clean I have no worries about a plague.

2.    A woman looked around the master bedroom of a house she was touring and said, “There’s no place to get dressed.  I don’t like to dress get dressedin the same place I sleep.”   What?   I’ve never lived any place where I didn’t dress where we slept unless it was in of those houses where I kept my clothes in a closet in the guest room.

Which brings me to the reason for this blog:  we aren’t all alike.  We have different outlooks and backgrounds and educations and lifestyles and . . . pretty much everythings.    Yes, there are many beliefs and feelings that united us but we’ve approached those through different paths.  Can’t we accept that people and cultures are different and start from there?  I’d never force anyone to live in a house that has a bathroom off the kitchen although I’ve known friends who’ve survived that okay.   But shouldn’t we be able to start with a fact–people like indoor plumbing–and go from there?    We can discuss topics like why people like having bathrooms and where they should be and what’s the problem with a bathroom near the kitchen without calling each other unclean or doo-doo heads.   We learn from each other.  We hear different ideas and can bounce them around in our brains and toss the conversation back and forth without infuriating each other.

The fact that we don’t all think the same is a joy of diversity. I learn from you.   I hope you learn from me and we accept and change or understand why our opinion is the right one for me but not for you.  Sadly, we don’t.  The fact that we refuse to listen to the other person is a loss to all.  The fact that instead of discussing, we call each other names must make George and Ben and John and those who faced great danger to start this nation to sob.

My obsession with words

POWer of words aI love words.   I roll them around in my mouth and taste each.    When I hear a new word, it tickles my ears and delights me.   Words carry history with them and emotion.   They are not formed only of letters but of  feelings and experience and much more.

My obsession began when I was in eighth grade.  In English class, the dictionary 2teacher would leave a dictionary on the desk in front of each row so we could look up a word and check spelling while we wrote a theme.   I usually finished my theme early and would spend those extra minutes in that front desk, reading the dictionary, learning new words, savoring them.

No wonder I majored in English and Spanish in college:  new words in two languages.    I loved the study of language, the history of words.  I could go on forever talking about root word, about how, in Spanish, words that began in F centuries ago changed to the letter H.  Consider yourselves lucky that I’m not going to discuss the verb satisfacer and how it’s conjugated.

My favorite word is from Spanish:  carcajada which means a deep belly laugh.    It sounds like what it means and has such beautiful rhythm.

words I loveI understand not all people love words as I do.  When I got excited about a word in Spanish and attempted to explain its origen or uses or something equally fascinating to my classes,  students looked at me as if I were absolutely nuts.   And, yes, I may be.

Do you have a word you like?  Perhaps because of meaning or sound?  Please share that.  I’d love to know and I won’t feel so alone.





Blog closed due to the writer’s allergies

child with runny nose 2Last week, I asked on Facebook if people  could stand reading a blog about my lifetime with allergy problems.   There was a fairly strong sentiment against that–a running nose is just too yucky a topic, I imagine.running nose

But before I even came up with an idea for my Tuesday blog, allergies knocked me down.   No one gives people with allergies any sympathy because everyone has them and they are not, for the most runny nose does it ever endpart, terminal conditions.

So I missed blogging this week.  I’ll be back next week.

John Lennon and Long Underwear

bossyI taught high school and college Spanish for thirty years.    For the most part, I really enjoyed my students.  The only way to keep teaching is to love your subject and enjoy the age you teach.  And to retire before you lose your mind or hurt someone.

Often my students were funny.  One October day when I was teaching in Fort Bend County outside Houston, I noticed  one of the guys in class sweating manhad sweat pouring down his face.   His hair was wet with perspiration and he was gasping for breath. Concerned,  I leaned over his desk and asked what was going on, was he sick?  He said, “Mrs. Perrine, may I go to the restroom.  It was cold this morning so I put on my long underwear but it’s really hot now.”  What I love about people in the South is they don’t understand they never have a reason to wear long underwear.

LeninAnother time I was talking to an upper-level Spanish class about Diego Rivera, the Mexican muralist who paint a controversial mural of Lenin in Rockefeller Center.  I asked, “Does anyone know who Lenin was?”  One young lady raised her hand, so excited she waved her arm  and said,  “I know.  I know.  He John Lennonwas one of the Beatles.”

I always attempt to be polite and not laugh when a student says something funny.  I don’t want to hurt their egos but I did chuckle a little–okay, I chortled- when she said that.  They are young and she was sort of close.

One student I taught, Billy,  could make me laugh any time.  There are some students who believe they are funny but usually aren’t.  He   didn’t try to be funny.  He just was.  He’d say seriously  in a voice filled with concern, “Mrs. Perrine, I have a lot of trouble with irregular preterit tense verbs.”  I know that doesn’t sound funny, but I would laugh so hard I nearly fell off my desk.

Do you have a story about something funny that happened in a classroom?  I’d love to read it.

Editing just because I can

editA few weeks back, I asked on Facebook if anyone else edited the books they were reading as they read.   Many people commented that they did.  Some said they didn’t edit if the sentence didn’t interrupt the story.    For me, if I have to stop to figure out the meaning, I quickly edit and move on, feeling better.

There’s a sentence in a television commercial for a medication that always made George laugh, a warning for “those who take aspirin or the boots in closet2elderly.”   As he explained, the sentence contained a warning for “those who take the elderly” although it didn’t seem to bother anyone else.  What an easy fix to write, “the elderly and those who take aspirin.”

A sentence I read the other day.  “He found a pair of boots that would fit him hanging in the closet.”  Truly, my first thought was that he could wear these boots as he hung in the closet.”  Logic took over.  Of course, the BOOTS were hanging in the closet.  The sentence wouldn’t have stopped me–the incredibly picky and easily confused reader–if written like this:  “Hanging in the closet was a pair of boots that would fit him.”

intruder in the dustAnd over and over, run on sentence beg me–simply implore me–to edit them, to cut them up into comprehensible units.   In fact, that’s one of the reasons I cannot read Faulkner.   He had one sentence that was a page and a half long.  I could not handle it.  I rush to add that Faulkner is one of the best novelists in the country and I’m not, but I still believe he’d profit from a little editing.

Do you ever edit as you read?   Please share.  It always makes me feel better to know I’m not alone.

Hoarding for fun but little profit

blanketI just got rid of the blanket George and I shared for ten years.  It was soft and warm and lasted a long time.  What more can one ask of a blanket?   However, I noticed when I put it on the bed in October, it had what looked like many little tears in the surface.  One more winter, I thought.  Surely I can use it one more winter. because I’m too cheap to buy another.   I blogged on this a year ago so you don’t remember this confession:  I’m cheap.   Really, really cheap, extraordinarily frugal.frugality

Every time I changed the sheets, I noticed that the slits had turned into small holes.  In those places, mesh showed through.   This is a Vellux blanket in which fabric is sprayed onto mesh.    LIttle by little, the cover wears off.  I also found small pieces of soft, maroon fabric on the sheets last week.

My plan was to give the old blanket to the veterinarian hospital that takes such good care of my pets, but, when I pulled it out of the dryer this morning, I noted huge chunks of fabric inside the dryer, a mess in dog in blanket cutethe lint filter, and huge holes in the blanket.  I’m not sure even the dogs want this. I wanted to take a picture for this blog, but the old thing was shedding too much to carry it the picture taking site.

The good news:  I made it through winter without having to buy another blanket.  Who knows what may happen before next fall when I need to buy a new blanket?  I could decide to use the quilt my grandmother made or move to a warmer place or, well, who knows?

What have you kept for too long?    What can’t you part with and why not?   Do you hold onto possessions for sentimental reasons?   Because they are pretty or useful?  Are you a collector or someone who hopes they’ll be worth a lot in a few years?  Or, are you cheap like me?    I’d love to know.