Monthly Archives: September 2013

I am the grammar cop, judge and jury

Keep calmStep away from the keyboard now!  Put down the mouse.  You are guilty of bad grammar and your computer privileges have been suspended   until you learn how to use apostrophes.   I have the power to pass this sentence on you because I am not only part of the grammar police, I am a grammar judge.

Oh, I wish I could punished people for bad grammar but it doesn’t work.  Over and over people misuse adverbs, have no idea the difference between the objective and the subjective pronouns, and have to be told over and over to set  off  a noun of direct address with commas.    And they use hopefully  when they really mean I hope. 

I hate to admit it but when I was a teacher, I roamed the hallways with a huge marker and correct the signs students made  about football games and meetings and whatever.  I did this because I could not stand to walk by the same poster over and over that misused commas.

But reality has balanced out that addiction to correct bad grammar. sort of, but it still bothers me.    I have learned to ignore, “My mother made a blanket for my daughter and I.”   Oh, inside I scream, “She didn’t make the blanket for I!  She made it for ME!  For my daughter and ME.”   But, outside, I’m serene and accepting.    I hate it when someone states, “You need to speaker louder.”  No!  An adverb modifies a verb.  How do you need to speak?  More loudly!  More loudly!  More loudly .”   Excuse me while I breathe deepLY and calm down.

Don’t get me started on “hopefully”.   As an adverb, it modifies a verb (as mentioned before) noun and means “with hope” as inhopefully“The dog gazed hopefully at the treat in my hand.”   WITH HOPE that he’d get the snack.    “Hopefully, we will all sleep late.”   No, we do NOT sleep hopefully!   Correct:  We hope we’ll sleep late.”

For my peace of mind, I’ve had to give up.  Language changes.  I remember back when I was in seventh grade and taught “I shall” was correct.

Yes, I have to accept, but I don’t like it and I’m going to keep my marker handy.  Watch out and speak correctly!



woman reading newspaperI spent all morning putting together odds and ends:  rolling over a retirement account, setting up new healthcare coverage at a lower price, and, of course, petting Maggie who believes one of our times is “all morning.”  But the oddest part was attempting to change my newspaper subscription.  

A few months ago, the apartment maintenance man noticed the newspaper at my front door and commented, “You’re the only person in the complex that takes the paper.”  I said, “I believe in supporting my local paper.”  And I do.   But I don’t read that huge Sunday paper because I go to church and don’t have the time that morning.  What I hated was putting it in the recycle bin, unopened, on Sunday evening and I was paying for the paper I wasn’t reading.   Then it hit me:  I’ll cancel the Sunday morning paper and just get it the six morning I read it.   But I couldn’t.  I called customer service and discovered the Sunday morning edition MUST be part of the package.  I could order Wednesday and Sunday or Sunday only, but not NOT Sunday (if you know what I mean).    For that reason, I canceled the entire subscription.  I hated that because I really need the sports schedule and the carrier is so good.  I always give him a present for Christmas.  Sorry, Alberto.

Oh, I understand that  the Austin American-Statesman probably makes their money on the Sunday ads and needs me to subscribe to increase the numbers so they can sell the ads for more.  Yes, I understand that.  But when the decision is to have a subscriber six days a week or NO days a week, isn’t that a fairly obvious choice?   

(For those of you who may suggest this, I did get an e-version for $10 less a month and no recycling needed.)

How are you?

cat how are youWhen the nurse is taking me back to the cubicle where I will be imprisoned until the doctor drops by, he or she always asks. “How are you today?”  That question always stumps me.  My first thought is to scream, “I’m at the doctor’s office.  How do you think I feel?”  However, I do possess a thin veneer of courtesy and say, “Fine, thank you.  How are you?”

Then I sit in the little room and ponder that question.    Finally I decide the nurse is not really  asking for a health report. “How are you?” is a  polite social convention which really doesn’t demand an honest answer, only recognition that the rules have been applied and accepted.   Yes, I may be throwing up on the nurse’s feet, but I answer, “Fine.”  I may be doubled over in pain or spouting blood from every orifice, but that’s not what the nurse is asking.   The nurse is simply recognizing that I’m there and my answer merely says, “Thank you.”

But the question came up again six months ago  and again I had to work out what others were saying,  Only minutes after George died, one of our ministers asked, “How are you doing?”  My mouth dropped open.  I wanted to shout, “How do you think I feel?  They joy of my life is gone.”  I didn’t of course but had no good answer.  People asked that over and over in the months after George’s death and, every time, I thought, “You have to know how I feel.”  But I didn’t say that.  “As well as can be expected,” I’d say and that was the truth.  But why did they ask?  comforting friendsDidn’t they know?

Again I realized that, yes they all knew I hurt.  That question meant, “I care about you but I don’t know what to say.”  It meant, “He was my friend and I hurt.  How are you doing?”  It meant so many things my friends and George’s didn’t know how to ask, what words to use.  And thanks to all those friends and ministers and family members, I’m doing fine, sort of.  Thank you for asking.






What’s in your drawers?

 I can never find batteries.  I buy them, I bring them home and I never see them again.  I have a number of batteriestheories on that.  First, the Energizer  bunny sweeps through the apartment at night and gathers them up, for what reason I don’t know.    Second, I’ve used them all and just don’t realize it.  But my main theory is this:  I put them away in many different places, each time thinking, “I’ll remember where they are when I need them,” but I never do.   I also believe  one day I’ll open a drawer and find thousands of them huddled together..

What do you keep buying  because you can’t find where you put them the last time you made that purchase?  I’d love to know.  It always makes me feel better when you confess and I know I’m not alone.

Who cares how the game ends?


As I watched the end of the NFL game last night–Houston won on a field goal as time ran out–I saw something that made me laugh.  As soon as the ball went through the goal posts, a San Diego fan   grabbed the hand of a child and ran up the stairs toward the exit.  I know exactly what the man was thinking.  “We have to get out ahead of the crowd.”   I know that because that’s what my father would have said.  Actually, my father and I wouldn’t have been there that late in the game.  We would have left sometime in the middle of the fourth quarter,  to beat the traffic.

Dad was a very busy doctor.  He practiced in the fifties and actually made housecalls.   He was not a patient man.  I’ve inherited that trait from him but he had a better reason to be impatient.   He had gazillions of patients and the idea of sitting in a traffic jam when he should be at the hospital or on the phone (no cells back then) bothered him greatly.

So, we never saw the end of any athletic event.  I remember once sitting in Roys and Rays, a Kansas City hamburger place, listening to the A’s coming from behind and winning in the bottom of the ninth. 

We did see the end of plays or musicals but as soon as the plot was all tied up and with only a few notes of the final song being reprised, we were on our feet, long gone by the time the curtain fell and the curtain calls began.   imagesCAI0E38T

But the important part is that he was there.  The family went together to football in Lawrence, KS.  He took me to Kansas City Blues baseball games before Kansas City had a major league team and to basketball at KU.   So what if we left early?  We were there, together.  Thanks, Dad! 







Cover reveal: Dance Away, Danger (What a great title!)

Alexa Bourne, my friend and also member of Austin RWA, is revealing the cover of her first FULL-LENGTH suspense novel!    Dance Away, Danger  is the first book in Alexa’s Hanover Haven Series.


Here’s a little about the story:  Danger!  Conflict!   Sensible heroine and careful carpenter!  Courage and LOVE!  

  Dance Away, Danger is coming soon from Fated Desires Publishing (

Leave a comment on either the story or the cover and you’ll be in the running for winning a prize from Alexa! The contest will run throughout the weekend and winner(s) will be chosen from all commenters during the “cover reveal” party.

Cats do NOT understand NPO

check up 2Yesterday, I took the cats to the vet in the middle of the night.  Actually, it was seven-fifteen but when one is retired, one forgets  anything happens that early.   They went in to get their teeth cleaned and have  a locating  chip implanted.  Because this is done under anesthesia–who’d want to clean the tiny but sharp teeth of an awake cat?–the kitties couldn’t eat after midnight.  And their not eating wasn’t really NPO–they had a bowl of water–but really fasting.  They did not like this whatever I called it because THE FOOD BOWL WAS GONE!

When the veterinarian said a year ago that  Scooter was getting fat and I should take his food away at night and not allow him to graze, I thought, “Has she ever had a cat?”  Oh, she’s a wonderful doctor but if Mr. Scootter, who considers himself the king of the word, doesn’t have food at night, he makes sure no one (meaning ME)  has a minute of sleep.  So, normally, I feed the cats in the evening and take the bowl away in the afternoon.  But last night after I took away the food bowl, the entire night was motion and noise–nudge, nudge, nudge–purr, cuddle, cuddle,  and ME-OW!  Finally in what I could tell was deep frustration,  he placed his soft little paw on my cheek, stared mounrfully into my puffy, blood-shot eyes and said, “Why are you starving the Scooter?”empty food bowl

Because I foresaw this problem, yesterday after dinner I explained to Maggie and Scooter that they wouldn’t have food after midnight.  They didn’t listen and they don’t have watches.  I know they didn’t listen because they never do and because Scooter ignored all the  explanations I reminded him about after every one of the fifty times he woke me up.   Now Maggie may be hungry but she allows Scooter to approach me about that prolblem.  She saves all her nagging for telling where I should sit so I can scratch her tummy.

No, cat do not understand NPO but they are so worth a little lack of sleep.   They’d just better leave me alone tonight.

Do your research!

schizoHave you watched the program Perception?  It’s about a schizophrenic who teaches in college and solves crimes on the side.  I really like it.  The actors are good and the production very well done.   However, a few weeks ago, the hero–Dr. Daniel Pierce played by Eric McCormack–decided to go undercover in a mental hospital to solve a murder.   Here’s the problem:  I worked in a state hospital and the errors  made me nuts.     Pierce pretended to be going through an episode, was picked up by cops who took him to a mental hospital.  Shortly after he entered, he was given his meds.     Mental hospitals are the same as medical hospitals:  no one gets treated before a doctor sees the patient and prescribes medications and care.   Then, he’s placed in group therapy with patients who are  catatonic and others who are violent.  Again, no orders for this from a doctor and someone as high function as Pierce would never be in a mixed group and how in the world would a catatonic patient be helped in group therapy? 

med doctor babyWhen I was a child, Friday night was family movie  night.   My brother Mike and I had to be careful about what movie we allowed our father to see.  Dad was a medical doctor.  We learned young not to allow him near a movie about a doctor or a hospital because he would–loudly–point out every error made on the screen.   However, some movies sneak medical stuff in unexpectedly.  In many Westerns, a woman goes into labor.  As soon as that happens, one of the actors shouts, “Boil some water.”  My father would break out into laughter and shout, “What are they going to do?  Boil the baby?”

Mortifying in so many ways.  As a writer, I’m embarrassed because the person who wrote the screen play didn’t do basic research who after  watching many Westerns, believed that boiling water when a woman went into labor was a scientific fact.

As a teacher, I hated it when the teacher heroine would slip out to met her fiance for an hour-long lunch or when class size was seven students or that they work only four hours a day.

What bugs you when a writer makers a mistake?  I once threw a book at the wall because the story couldn’t overcome the errors for me.  Have you ever done that?