Monthly Archives: October 2013

Do you know the difference between a clarinet and a trombone?

A friend  of mine plays an instrument in a brass ensemble.  I have no lots of musical instrumentsidea what she plays but she does it very well.    Due to the efforts of my fifth grade teacher to have us learn the differences between musical instruments, I can recognize many:  all percussions and strings.  It helped  that  I played the viola for two really uncomfortable years during which I never one got the rhythm correct and usually played violawhen everyone else observed a rest.  

But while that teacher struggled to show us how they looked she didn’t do anything  to teach us how they sounded.  That would have been hard way back when she would have had to use 78 records and a record player.  Hard to pause those.

So, yes, I can tell you when a cello is being played and differentiate that from other strings.  I recognize various drums, a triangle, the glockenspiel and a piano.  But the  horns—woodwinds or brass, well, I don’t have the slightest idea.  I can listen to and enjoy a piece but don’t expect me to know what section carried the melody.  I don’t know. 

My friend plays in a musical ensemble at church—I’m thankful that we have very talented musicians who share their gifts with us.  music in church After their lovely special music one Sunday, I thanked the musicians, then said to my friend, “What instrument do you play?”  She laughed and laughed and said, “Oh, Jane, you’re so funny.”

I hadn’t realized my remark had been amusing.   Embarrassed, I asked no more, just laughed and pretended I knew exactly what instrument she was playing and how it sounded. 

The point is that  people who know stuff believe other people know bankthe same stuff.   This leads to great miscommunication.  When I attempted to take over the automatic pay at the bank after George died, I was talking with a customer service rep who was talking to an IT person,  After three hours, the IT person realized I didn’t know anything about automatic bill paying and neither did the really nice customer service guy.  What I needed to know was that the information on the auto-pay couldn’t be switched from George’s account to mine, that I had to start all over.  He told the customer service guy who didn’t understand this.  Then the customer service guy told me but we both thought this sounded stupid and duplicated payments.  It wasn’t until I went to the bank and threatened to close all my accounts (one checking, one money market, and three CDs.  They didn’t want to lose me), did we put all of our misunderstanding together so that I could finally stop $750 from disappearing from the account each month to pay bills I wanted to change. 

And oh my, do I know that this is happening in our country.  We talk past each other.  We may agree on more than we think—we just don’t know that.   Or we believe the other people hold our same beliefs.  I just learned that a conservative didn’t realize that having a mortgage means he has borrowed money and live in debt.  If we come to a debt or deficit discussion with such different understandings, how can we ever hope to find that common ground?  How can people discuss if one groups believes abortion is murder and the other believes women have the right to chose what is best for her?  Again, we talk past each other.  We assume.   We know what we know but may not know that YOU don’t know what I know.  

Which leads us to the problems caused by not knowing the difference between a clarinet and a trombone. 

Do good people ever use bad words?

two legs gone marineIn emails and reviews, I’ve been excoriated because one of my characters uses “bad words”   Sam’s an alcoholic Marine amputee suffering from PTSD and mourning the death of his best friend in combat.   At the beginning of THE WELCOME COMMITTEE OF BUTTERNUT CREEK, Sam’s having a bad time.  First, he’s under fire in Afghanistan and shouts, “Where the hell are the  . .”  I’m going to confess, if I’m taking fire and there isn’t any suppressing fire coming in, I’d get a little anxious.  I may be tempted to curse.  Tempted, nothing, I’d probably let go with a string of  words I never use normally.  I thought Sam showed great patience.   However, several of my readers didn’t.  One lady wrote me a long email about how Christians never used potty mouth girlthose terrible words.  Then she pointed out the words that Sam used on page. 28 and page 49 and page 126.   I got the feeling she didn’t read the book.  She just looked for the bad words.  That breaks my heart because I think she’d have enjoyed the material that came between the three really not horrible words. I think she might have been inspired if she’d read the book.

Look at the reviews of my Butternut Creek series on  According to some reviewers, I’m the most potty-mouthed writer in the history of the world.    My feeling is that we are not perfect.  That in moments of stress and fear and sorrow God understands we may say words we wouldn’t use in front of our grandmothers–and I believe God looks at our situation and says, “I understand.  Just don’t use the F-bomb.” 

Although I’d never use the F-bomb in any of my books, surely there are characters who would.  I mean, a serial murder probably isn’t going so say, “Oh, shaving cream” when the man he’s supposed to kill get the drop on him.   There are characters like Al Capone and Scarface that probably used words I’d never think of saying or writing because they ran with a pretty tough set.  My only big problem is when the worst of the four-letter words are used in place of good writing, that’s just laziness.

So, what’s your opinion.   Sam’s not a Christian yet.  Should he be judged for using an occasional curse?   Do Christians sometimes say “heck” or “darn” or even worse words? Is that all right or not?    If you’ve read my novels have you been ashamed that I used a few curses?   I’d love to know your opinion.


Commercials–a necessary evil

popcornTelevision isn’t free.  We have to pay for what we watch, either through ads, cable  or contributions.   If the production companies don’t make money, they won’t produce episodes.  This is parallel to the fact writers know.  I want people to buy my books so my publisher and I make money and I can afford to write and my  publisher can affort to print and distribute them.   Even knowing that,  I’m not much of a commercial fan.   Like you, I can usually think of something to do during those breaks–fix popcorn, get a Coke, fold the wash, go to the bathroom, take a shower, and so on.   But when I DO watch them, I love some, hate others, and  just wonder about a few.  Here are my categories.  Please add your own.

Commercials that make me laugh or smile:   I love many of the Geiko ads:   hump day and this little piggy  are special favors.   I loved the pig shouting, “This little piggy went wee-wee-wee all the way home” and cannot understand how this little pigthat woman driving can be such a grump.

You probably have figured I like any commercial with an animal in it.  My favorite comes from the Superbowl of many years ago, Herding Cats.  If you haven’t seen it, try this.     I have to admit, I don’t know what company it’s for but I love it.

Commercials that make me cry:     Do you remember the Folger’s commercial  where the kids comes home early from college and puts a potorigami of coffee on?   Hallmark card commmercials can make me choke up.   A new favorite is a chewing gum commercial in which the father makes an origami swan every time his daughter is sad.  

Commercials that frustrate me:    Those with no words, just music.  I spend much of my time preparing meals, cleaning the kitchen orwashing cloths.  If I’m lucky, I can glance at the screen for a few seconds.  Many years ago there was a commerical for a winery  The scene was a wedding, beautiful people on a beauitful green lawn with beautiful music in the background.  All I’m aware of is the music.  At some time during that ad, an announcer should say, “Flowers Sisters Wine presents this weeding,” so I kow what company is spending all that  money to influence me. 

Commercials I hate:  Anything with a Zombie in it.  Not wanting to sound bigoted, but zombies are gross.  I don’t want anything that zombies buy.  

Beer commercial which lead college guys to believe if they only drink enough beer, they will be in with the cool guys and women will crowd around him for attention.  Yes, gorgeous and worldly women are always impressed by the clever conversation from a drunk college boy who vomits on their shoes.

What about you?  What do you like to watch or what commericals make you leave the room?


This is my usual day to post a short blog–major blog on Tuesday, a few lines on Friday.  Unfortunately, the last two weeks have been spent cat logic  between bedsattempting to get the blog and website up again and doing paperwork on financial matters which I am not at all good with.  I’ll start up again with my regular blog on Tuesday  In the mean time here’s a funny cat picture. . .

wedding_plannersAND here’s the cover of my book THE WEDDING PLANNERS OF BUTTERNUT CREEK which will be available November 5!

This stuff doesn’t happen in real life

On a television program I watched recently, a cop, a veteran of many years, made a few mistakes.  Luckily, he survived them all.

First, he went in to unknown but potentially dangerous situation without his partner or backup

Second, he holstered his weapon when the resident–the bad guy’s girl friend–told him the baddie wasn’t there   The cop believed her because why would the murderer’s girl friend lie to the police?

Third, when the murderer came out of the bedroom (and I kind of wonder about that too because, after all, the cop had believed his sweetie so why didn’t the criminal stay hidden?  But that’s the stupidity of the criminal not the cop) the two men engaged in a fearsome gun fight.   The cop hid in the dining room with only a double layer of wallboard between him and the automatic weapon the bad guy had.  NONE OF THE BULLETS PIERCED THE WALL TO KILL THE COP!  None.  I’ve  read sad stories in which young children are killed because guns have been discharged outside their homes and the bullets have pierced brick walls.  However, in this program, they did not penetrate wall board.

Finally, after a sustained period of shooting at each other so many times that I would think that dining room wall would have been blown to tiny bits, the cop kills the bad guy with his service revolver.  Thank goodness the bad guy is always a terrible shot.

I’m picky.  I know that.  I’ve also mentioned it before because it’s a constant in my reading.   Although I don’t see problems in my own writing, errors in the novels of other or in movies or on television really jar me.  If it’s a really well-done presentation, I can forgive a lot.  But if it’s well written, why hasn’t the writer taken the time to do basic research?  And if it isn’t well written, I’ll probably never watch the show or read that author again.

Is there anything of television, in movies or that you’ve read that bothers you?  I’d love to know I’m not the only picky person around.

Things people say I’d just as soon never hear

screaming-2        Things I wish people wouldn’t say to me

“Oh, you got a haircut.”  This always means “I notice you got a haircut.  It’s not a good one.”  Always.   Sometimes, “Well, look at that,” precedes the remark and also is never good.

“How could you possibly think that was a good idea?”

“Are you wearing a new lipstick?”   Understood meaning:  “It makes you look like you have jaundice.”

From my doctor, “You know, you’re not getting any younger.”

From a male teacher with whom I was discussing a verse from Matthew, “Why don’t you go home and have your husband explain that to you?”


Things I do not understand

imagesMy blog was down for a few days until Cheryl Rae, who does such a great job taking care of technical stuff I can’t figure out, got me back on.   This morning, when I sat down to write this blog, I couldn’t get on again.   So I restarted.  When the screen came back up, there was my WordPress login box and here I am.  I guess I’m going to have to restart every time I want to blog which seems unhandy, to say the least.  I don’t understand this at all.

However, because I logged on this morning with absolutely no idea what to blog about, I’m thankful for that glitch.  

I have an iMac which I like although there are some oddity which still confuse me.  That’s why I’m getting another training session this week.  As I type this, a large white arrow pointing to the top of the screen flashes on and off with some key strokes.  I don’t understand that either.  [Wow!  I figured it out.  That means my cap lock is on!  Now I understand something!]  There’s also a symbol like a cloverleaf ramp on an interstate that comes on and makes everything go crazy (I know that’s not exact but I can’t explain it any better) and I cannot type.  Yet one more thing I do not comprehend.images1

And my bank.  I left our automatic bill pay in the system George set up.  Now I need to change some of those.  One is  $56.89 payment which is deducted every month.  The next month I get a check for this exact amount which I deposit.  I’ve called the company and they have no record of either receiving the money or sending me the check.   Seems like sloppy bookkeeping but I can’t do anything about that.  What I CAN do is take that item off the bill pay.  But I can’t.  Although George is no longer on any accounts, this one keeps running along, paying bills and not letting anyone into it.   I’ve used his codes and get an “account closed” message.   I’ve spent hours on the phone with the national tech people for the bank.   The only suggestion they have was that I set up an account of my own and enter the bills to be paid.  This means, of course, that everyone except the $56.89 guy will be paid twice.    They offered to make the changes for me but, you know, I think I should be able to get into my account.    I don’t understand why a bank cannot delete that but they can’t so I’m going to have to withdraw my funds and go to another bank.

This is why I think it would be easier to dig a hole in the yard and bury all the money there.  However, the apartment managers have told me not to do that anymore.

What don’t you understand?  I always feel better to know I’m not alone.    And if you know what the cloverleaf symbol means, please let me know.