Category Archives: writing101
Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.
Summer time always called for a change in menu at our house when I was a little girl. Stews and roast beef and casseroles were for cold winter nights, bratwurst and hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill were summertime treats.
Dinner planning started early. Mom set a huge jar filled with water, tea bags and sugar. Lots of sugar. Sweet tea isn’t the bitter brew from up north were we lived by Chicago, but the tea of my father’s youth down south. Often compared to Kool-aid by our northern neighbors, sweet tea was a mainstay of our suppers on hot summer nights. I was allowed one small glass each night, poured from the nubby milk glass pitcher that sat in the middle of our table.
The warm tea flowed over the ice cubes in my blue metal cup, popping them with the sound of splintering glass. If I sipped it quickly enough, the tea would still be warm from the hot sun with wintry slivers of ice cooling my lips. Too soon my cup was empty, leaving bits of ice perfect for crunching up with my small, white teeth.
Dad would bring the burgers or dogs in off of the charcoal grill, lines from the grate making hash marks on each one. Mom pull out the big bowl of potato salad she made that morning from the fridge. The mixture of potatoes, onions, hard-boiled eggs, celery and just a bit of pickle relish was mixed with Miracle Whip (we never had mayo in our house), French’s Yellow Mustard, salt and pepper.
I sat at the gray and white flecked metal table. Swinging sandaled feet that didn’t come near the floor, peeling my sweaty legs off of the yellow plastic seat of our kitchen set, waiting for Mom and Dad to sit down so we could eat.
If I ate all my supper – dinner was the name of our noontime meal – I could have dessert. Sweet slices of ruby red watermelon waited for me in the fridge. After finishing the food on my plate, I could take an ice cold smile of fruit to the back yard. My little brother and I would have contests to see who could spit the watermelon seeds the furthest.
These meals were simple and delicious. We had fancier meals on holidays, but the sticky summer nights with our small family chatting and laughing over simple, delicious homemade food were the ones I loved best.
A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.
“Gran,” he whispered through his tears. “I haven’t seen you in so long, why did you hide from me?”
Dropping his wife’s hand, he knelt in front of the old woman. Gently, he grasped both of her gnarled hands in his, stilling them. He drew them to his face, the scent of wool and Evening in Paris filled his nose with memories of the woman who raised him.
“I can’t believe it is you,” he said. “Everyone told me you were dead years ago. I missed you so much!”
The old woman gently dried his tears with the red wool that hung limp on her circular needles.
“Sweetheart, I never really left you,” she said with a sweet smile. “Come, sit by me while I knit.”
He stood, brushing the dust from his knees. Releasing her hands he sat next to her as she slowing continued her handywork. A quick glance at his wife earned him a smile as she watched their reunion. She waited patiently while a faint frown played across her face.
“Evan,” she spoke after a quarter of an hour pasted. “Come on honey, we have to get home for dinner.”
The old woman patted him on the knee as rose from her side.
“You are a good boy Evan, it was nice to see you today,” she said.
She smiled up at his wife, her needles clicking as she continued working on the ribbing at the bottom of the tiny red sweater.
“Alzheimer’s?” she asked his wife.
His wife nodded. She was the one softly crying as they walked away.
Today’s assignment: Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.
Driving home tonight after a typical day of crazy meetings, broken printer and endless paper work I realized there was no way a local public place was going to be included in my evening. So I did the next best thing: inprovised.
I glanced at the little individual worlds orbiting around my silvery gray Ford Focus. A shiny new BMW with MIKEE 23 plates idled to my right as brake lights reflected red on the wet pavement. The driver must be a “three-peat” Bull’s fan from the 90’s or maybe just a Jordan groupie. The lights flashed from red to green allowing us to continue on our journeys. Strip malls filled with same stores as the last town dot the sides of the four-lane well-traveled road. Dunkin Donuts slips past again – I pass four of them on my way each day. Shell, Kohl’s. Home Run Inn Pizza all flash past my car.
Twists, turns and stop lights later, I burst into my favorite part of my ride. Buildings drop away as single family homes sprout up along my path. I nudge the sound up a bit on my radio, the guys on my favorite radio station are talking about a new documentary on the Manson Family Murders from the 60’s. The details they share take me back to my childhood, then my teen years when I read Helter Skelter. Scary stuff.
The two-story homes in various stages of completion drop behind me, giving way to corn fields and soy beans just starting their summer’s journey to our tables and gas tanks. The sea of deep green of the corn stalks bow and wave to me as the fingers of the wind lifts them in unison. Taking an easy curve before a rainwater filled creak, a mangy coyote lopes across the road as I approach. He disappears in the tangle of tall grasses dancing at the edge of the gravel shoulder. Tiny silver raindrops began falling, the automatic wipers became a slow motion metronome keeping time with the shush of my tires splashing me closer to home. The sweet smell of damp earth wafts in the vents as I roll past the farms and back into the concrete jungle of our town.
The rain has stopped, leaving a shimmering coat on the trees in our neighborhood. The garage door opens with a creek and groan when I poke the blue button above my visor. As I roll into the darkened garage, the satellite radio drops the discussion and my headlights pop on lighting my entrance. I grab my purse and shoes that have been my silent passengers, exiting my capsule I reenter the world.
Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.
She slowly rose from the low bed, grumbling and grousing without opening her mouth. Her hair used to be as black as onyx, but somehow turned white practically over night. Blue eyes, once clear enough to see even when the dusk of the evening claimed the sky, have gone milky with cataracts, making them water in the morning sun.
Her breakfast, the usual stuff with a pill chaser was waiting patiently while her arthritic legs carried her to the kitchen. Just as she bent her head to begin her meal the young one grabbed it instead.
Jumping, hoping, sassy mouth yapping the young one boldly grabbed part of her meal. Why even snap or snarl at her when she didn’t listen anyway? The young one had bright eyes and enough energy for both of them, she was always ready to run, play and bother anyone that couldn’t keep up with the antics only youth can pull off without breaking a bone. Or two.
Moving to the yard, the young one chases birds and squirrels and toads. The old one saunters over to the shade for a nap.
“How is my favorite girl?” the woman asks, giving the old one a hug.
The young one runs over to steal some attention, as if to say, “Me! me! Look at ME!”
“I love you both,” says the woman. “My best old girl, you have to teach this one some manners.”
The old one sighs with contentment, basking in the love she feels from hand smoothing down her hair. She allows the young one to snuggle by her side. The woman is right, the young one could learn a trick or two from her, and wasn’t only it yesterday she was the young one?
(Note to anyone that might be wondering about the 3rd and last installment in the trilogy – I was sadly mistaken, the subject will be forthcoming, at which time I will add a second, second part and carry on).
This is today’s subject:
Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?
Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us).
Today, write a post focusing on one — or more — of the people that have recently entered your life, and tell us how your narratives intersected. It can be your new partner, your newborn child, or the friendly barista whose real story you’d love to learn (or imagine), or any other person you’ve met for the first time in the past year.
He sauntered across the gravel road to stand in the sparse grass of my father-in-law’s front yard. An empty beer bottle in one hand, a wad of chew in his jaw and a shy smile on his young face.
“I had to get away from that wedding,” he answered the question as to what brought him to his family’s summer cabin alone this hot June night. Never explaining whose wedding he escaped, he asked to borrow something from the garage to make a small home repair on the aging structure behind him.
Easily six-foot tall, he wore the muscles and calloused hands of a working man, but his face betrayed his age. When he stopped back later to visit, we discovered he was a high school junior, out for the summer. Currently a football player that hates school, loves working on cars in his family’s auto shop business, he tells of the busy summer ahead of him as the maintenance man for some properties his family owns. The soft lines of his face harden as he talks of the heavy burden on his mind.
His family would love to groom him to take over the family business one day. He would be the fourth generation of the well respected shop. Some young men would jump at the chance, but his one isn’t convinced. He loves his family and the job, but he is leaning toward joining the military instead of taking the easy road to adulthood.
Tilting the bill of his baseball cap, he conversed easily with us, no matter the 50 & 70 year age differences. His quiet, yet earnest voice shared his dislike of school in general, his love of sports and a fondness for the Dukes of Hazzard (the old TV series from the 80’s, not the new movie).
I spent about three hours with this young man, but immediately liked him. I’ve thought of him often since our paths crossed. I hope his family supports him no matter what decision or direction he decides to take. Success and happiness in an uncertain world is all I can hope for the next generation, and this nice young man I met. I bet this is the same thing my father-in-law’s generation thought as they looked at us 50 years ago.
Below are the ‘rules’ that go along with being a nominee. I’ve shared them (along with my answers) below.
1. Thank and link the amazing person(s) who nominated you. (Done)
2. List the rules and display the award. (Done)
3. Share seven facts about yourself.
1) I married my high school sweetheart the year after we graduated from high school. Thirty-eight years later I can honestly say I love him more with each passing year. That doesn’t mean we never disagree or argue, but at the end of the day, I can’t imagine life without him.
2) Our three sons are grown and on their own and I have a wonderful daughter-in-law. It seems like only yesterday they were little and our house was full of boys, toys and noise. I miss those days, but am very proud of the men they have all become.
3) I write in my head much more often than on paper. Doesn’t everyone? Driving in the car, I used to make up stories about the people and places we passed, entertaining the kids and hubby with the outrageous fun lives I imagined the strangers along or path lived then shared with my family.
4) I graduated from Aurora University Summa Cum Laude in 4 years while working full-time. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with minors in Sociology and English. I wanted to major in English, but the University wouldn’t allow me to because the classes were mostly during the day and I had to get special permission from them to take each class (and make up the hours for my job accordingly). OH, I graduated the same year my youngest son graduated from high school; 2003.
5) I have short stories published in 2 Anthologies available on Amazon and Untreed Reads. A Woman’s Touch and The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping. Check them out – both are great collections that I am honored to be a part of.
6) I love to travel. Trains, planes and automobiles are all great ways to explore our world. We have been in every state in the U.S. except Louisiana and Alaska. Soon to be only Alaska because we are going to New Orleans in fall. We’ve also been to Canada (my grandma was born in Toronto). I am trying to convince the hubby to travel to Europe. I’d like to see the UK, France, Germany, Italy….so many places so little time 🙂
7) lastly, I hate talking about myself. It is hard to pick 7 facts that someone might use to define me. So I’ll leave you with a few fast facts:
I am a loyal friend, a hard worker and adore going to the movies. I will forgive almost anything or anyone unless they hurt my family or friends. I have a tatoo (my college graduation gift from me to me). I sleep little, read a lot, eat too much and should exercise more. I love writing – ‘nough said.
4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
11. Knitted Notes
13. millie anne lowe
5. Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you. (Will be done as soon as I figure out the widgets! and done)
Here is today’s challenge: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.
Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.
Part II of The Greatest Loss
Charlie rather enjoyed watching the spectacle going on around him. Until Katie grabbed Amanda’s purse upending it all over the table and his lap. Bits of gum, pens and papers surrounded their table like shrapnel.
“Dad, I’ll be right back, Katie and I need to go outside and discuss proper behavior,” said Amanda as she steered the contrite young girl towards the door.
Charlie began picking up the papers he could easily reach, when he flipped over an envelope with his name on it. Frowning he looked inside and realized it was from a mortgage company. His house was paid for, why would they send a bill with his name on it to Amanda’s address?
Stay tuned until Monday for the third and final installment. Thanks for stopping by.
Day 4 we are assigned to write about a loss. Our musings can or cannot be part of a trilogy of posts based upon our chosing. I decided to roll with the idea of three connected posts, so come back tomorrow and Monday for the next installments. I’ve also made the choice of writing a work of fiction this time to give me more liberties.
The Greatest Loss (working title until something else replaces it)
“Time is of the essence!” declares Charlie as he slowing moves across the crowded restaurant using his hated walker.
It was nice to be able to get around without falling over, but honestly, did his grandkids really need to put those neon yellow tennis balls on the front legs of the thing? He was steady enough to pick it up each time he moved forward. Most of the time anyway.
“Mom, mom, mom,” chanted his six-year-old great-granddaughter. She didn’t really want anything other than being the center of attention. Hopping around like a kangaroo on crack, she banged into the back of at least three people on the way to their table. One lady dropped pasta down the front of a previously lovely white sweater when her lunch was disrupted by the girl.
“Katie, come back here,” hissed Charlie’s newly divorced daughter Amanda. “Dad, we’ll just meet you at the table, don’t hurry.”
Amanda may have told him not to hurry, but Charlie heard the impatience in her voice. She was irritated with her granddaughter and her father. He tried to step it up a bit, but his hip was really sore from a fall the night before. Of course he didn’t say anything about it to Amanda, she’d be one step closer to moving him to a nursing home and herself in his house.
Finally arriving at the table, he thumped down in the chair with an audible sigh of relief for having made the journey from the car safely. Gone were the days when he could hop out of the car without even thinking about it, jog to the stairs and take them two at a time. Sitting quietly collecting himself while the women in his life chatter over their lunch choices, he wondered how he slipped unnoticed from a vibrant young man to the old codger he’d become.
End part 1 – hope to see you tomorrow 🙂
Today we were asked to think about, write about, describe and define the three (seriously, only 3??) songs that are the most important in our lives.
I’ve was thinking about this on and off while working the day job today. The song that immediately came mind was “Do You Feel Like We Do” by Peter Frampton. It has to be the live version on the “Frampton Comes Alive” album. Yes, album. Released in 1976, this two album set became the soundtrack of my newly married life. We played it on the new stereo in our first apartment. Young, without much money, we could easily afford to stay home and listen to Frampton. Three years later I was still totally into his music. In 1979 I rocked our new son singing Frampton instead of lullabies. “Do You Feel Like We Do” is still one of my all time favorites. Possibly even more so now that we have seen Frampton perform it live. Twice. Wooooooooo!!! 🙂
The next two songs are not as clear in my mind. I’m a Beatles fan, love the Rolling Stones and listen to Big Band tunes from the 40s when driving on the snowy, ice covered streets of Chicago’s winters. I mentioned yesterday singing the Kookaburra Song to my sons when they were little, it brings the fondest memories of my Grandma, mom and aunts singing to me when I was little.
If I absolutely have to narrow my soundtrack to three, the second would probably be “Still the One” by Orleans. Also a pop song from the early days of dating my husband, it can take me back to the 70’s but also remind me that “…I want you to know, after all these years, you’re still the one I want whisperin’ in my ear…” Corny but true, I can’t imagine life without him even after 40 years. This song makes me happy.
“What a Wonderful World” by no one other than Louis Armstrong will round out my favorite songs. This song is so beautiful it makes me cry most times when I hear it. It is the song I picked for the mother/son dance at my son’s wedding. I chose it because no matter what sadness or sorrow touches your life, there are things of beauty all around us if we just open our eyes to see them.