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Yesterday, Charlie and I went to Marengo to help celebrate his Aunt Marion’s 90th birthday. She looked beautiful, and was as sweet and sharp and sassy as ever, even though she had broken her wrist a few days earlier and just came home from the hospital that morning. All her children, stepchildren, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren were there, and lots of her nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. They put out quite a spread, including fresh lemonade.

I did not spill my lemonade. Charlie spilled his lemonade… on my side of the table and into my plate. So I was not the schlemiel this time; I was the schlemazle. It made a nice change.

Marengo was hit by a tornado a few years ago, and by a flood, but you would never know it to look at it now. Everything is so fresh and green and lush and beautiful. I wish people could recover so well from the devastation we visit on ourselves. I mean, I’m pretty resilient, but a lot of people aren’t. They keep hurting themselves and can’t seem to get over the damage and can’t seem to stop doing it.

I’m still messing around with making my pro site into a blog-based site. This will happen Real Soon Now.


writing prompt: Write a character who really is his/her worst enemy. Try to think of five things she/he could do or that could happen that might break the cycle.

Some people accuse me of insulting myself when I say I’m fat. I’m not insulting myself; I’m describing myself. I don’t consider it an insult.

I would like to be less fat for several reasons:

  1. I can’t fit into the pants I bought when I was less fat, and I’m too cheap to buy new ones
  2. It’s hard to get up out of a deep chair
  3. Sometimes my feet hurt from squishing them with my rotundity
  4. If I fall, I fall HARD
  5. My husband can’t help me up–he’s strong, but he isn’t Superman

Still, there are benefits. For example, I was in the woods hunting for morel mushrooms and, when I came in, I found a baby tick on me. …A baby tick, in the sense that the tick was a baby one, not like dog tick–deer tick–baby tick. Anyway, there the poor little thing was, trying its best to dig in, but it just couldn’t get its choppers around my all-too-visible protective shield.

I’ve been hearing all this jibber-jabber this week about “brown fat”, and how it makes you LOSE weight, and I’m like, yeah, right. And HOW much money do you want me to wire you so you can send me 26 million dollars?

Tomorrow is my #4 daughter’s birthday. She’ll be (mumble mumble) years old. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HONEY! Poor thing, she has no fatulosity at all, but she has her own protection. Ticks bounce off her bones and sinews This is a girl who BENT the doctor’s needle when she went in for her booster shots just by flexing her muscle. And she sparkles in the sunlight, too, I kid you not.

So happy Friday, world, and send happy thoughts to help me finish my story before submissions are closed. And stop me before I Twitter again….


Writing prompt: What body image does your character have of him/herself? Is it reasonable or not? Is he/she trying to change the body or the image or not? If so, how’s that working out?

Getting ready to go to Context for the weekend. Got to dress, pack, meet, carpool…. Happy birfday to me!

I’m taking my laptop and my camera, so I might be able to indulge myself by posting while I’m there.


writing exercise: You go on a business trip on your birthday and get an unexpected present.

Okay, so we had this party Sunday. Charlie’s birthday was last Thursday, S-I-L’s birthday was last Friday, and mine is coming up, so we bundled all three together. We had apple crisp, brownies, Sock-it-to-me Cake (I meant to post the recipe, which is a little different from most, but I forgot to bring the recipe to town with me–duh!) and the leftovers of my vegetarian Mexican casserole from earlier in the day.

What I was given: My Mom gives me stuff all year and, when I object to her spoiling me, she says, “This is for your birthday.” But OF COURSE she also gave me something for my birthday. She bought be a GORGEOUS green glass bead necklace with a green shell pendant. When I can get to my scanner again, I’ll post a picture of it.  I’ve been mad (in the sense of obsessed) about green glass beads ever since I read this poem:

'Overheard on a Saltmarsh'

Nymph, nymph, what are your beads?

Green glass, goblin. Why do you stare at them?

Give them me.

Give them me. Give them me.

Then I will howl all night in the reeds,
Lie in the mud and howl for them.

Goblin, why do you love them so?

They are better than stars or water,
Better than voices of winds that sing,
Better than any man's fair daughter,
Your green glass beads on a silver ring.

Hush, I stole them out of the moon.

Give me your beads, I want them.

I will howl in the deep lagoon
For your green glass beads, I love them so.
Give them me. Give them.

 	-- Harold Monro

I used to have a wonderful string, but they fell apart and I used them to make bracelets and earrings. Now I have a new necklace–tra-la!

–Oh, I just popped out the door. Leah was passing, and I had to talk to her about some projects. More about them anon (cool word meaning “later”, in case you’re not a Shakespeare fan). —

Okay, so I also was given a little ceramic turtle with ceramic tail, legs and head suspended from the shell by wires, so that they wiggle and clink. My 4-yr-old grandson promptly grabbed it and, just as I said, “Please be careful with that and don’t pull on his–” he pulled the head off. <sigh> He likes to test his limits. I got frustrated with him a couple of weeks ago and smacked his little paw, and he’ll never let me forget it. I don’t want to teach him violence, so I apologized to him and told him I was wrong, that this is NOT how we should treat each other and I offered to go into time out. So now he wants to see what I’ll do if he does things I don’t like. This time, we just put the breakables out of his reach, but when there isn’t such a crowd to show off for, he and I will have a quiet conversation about it and I’ll lay out the rules, which will include Time Out. I took the turtle home and used my jewelry-making needle-nose pliers to fix the head.

I also got a gorgeous desk lamp, a cork/magnet board and a padded push-pin board for my office wall. My precious husband is finishing my office and painting the walls and trim, and he’s worried that I’ll ruin his work because I pin things on the wall. So the daughters gave me stuff to “incentivize” me to do otherwise. I already promised him I wouldn’t stick pins in his pretty wall–I appreciate his work and like the new environment and know the difference between an unfinished room and a finished one and wouldn’t dream of spoiling it–but I don’t mind them thinking badly of me if it means I get pretties for my new space. –Grin–

Got a book on herbs and spices and one on the history of salt for use in writing my Culinary Chronicles. Got a book on story structure for use at writing workshops–Oh, that reminds me, I’m here at the library today, and the Adult Outreach Coordinator said that a former member of the Library Board asked her to look into setting up a creative writing class, so I’m going to get with the member and we’ll work out when and exactly what and I’m going to do it. Wheeee! Volunteer (like I need another thing on my schedule), but it’ll be doing something I love. 🙂

Our #2 daughter said she had bought me my presents, but then she found something else she KNEW I wanted, so she bought that and gave it to me “from the chickens”–she keeps chickens for the eggs and I love the little peepers. It was a bottle of my favorite perfume; I was totally out, and I don’t feel right without it. I only use a little bit, so nobody can smell it except people I hug. I like it that nobody knows I wear perfume except people I like.

Another daughter gave me a lap desk for my laptop, so I don’t roast my legs every time I work and a blank journal. I’ve never used a journal (except for this and LJ), so I don’t know what I’ll do with it. Oh, I tell a lie–I kept two journals after my depression hit me: one about my pain and sorrow and another one about my joys and delights. Both were equally effective in different ways. If anybody wants to leave a comment with suggestions about what to use my blank book for, I would appreciate it.

Well, that’s enough for one day. Hope I remember to hit Publish instead of Save this time!


Writing exercise: (I make these up myself; I don’t take them from my exercise books) You (when I say “you” it could also be one of your characters) have a birthday party. Let your presents from various people imply how they view you or feel about you. What would characters give each other? What would you give various characters? What would they give you?


This was SUPPOSED to go up yesterday, but I zigged when I should have zagged and saved it instead of publishing it. Bah.

We had two celebrations at church today, one dedicating a cross in the name of Sheila Bezy. Sheila passed away unexpectedly but peacefully at home earlier this year, and her former employer, his family and his other employees honored her by buying a brass altar cross for our church, to which none of them belong. It was a sweet and generous gift, but Sheila would not have been best pleased. I think she would have shook her head and said, “I don’t NEED a brass cross, but folks need food for their kids. Give the money to Community Services.” Still, it was truly a kind deed, and showed the strength of Sheila’s impact on people. She was always willing to step up and “speak truth to power”, but always with love and always with other people in mind, never her own ego.

The other friend was Daniel Suddarth, who has been our choir director for about eight years but is now leaving to dedicate more time to the church he and his family actually attend. He, and the dedicated folks of the choir, have given us some excellent and uplifting music over the years, including today, when the choir, in the absence of our organist, sang acapella.

We had a pitch-in lunch after church. Our interim minister is a vegetarian, so I made one of the vegetarian dishes I learned to make for the vegetarians in our family and like so much I make it for myself.

Mexican Casserole (Vegetarian version)

  • 6 small flour tortillas
  • 1/2 jar mild salsa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 package Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1 can Ranch style black beans
  • 1 can vegetarian (fat free) refried beans
  • 4 Tbs butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin

Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour and spices and stir until the spices are toasted. Add broth and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add beans and salsa. Grease a casserole dish. Tear up 3 of the tortillas and spread the pieces on the bottom of the casserole. Layer with half the bean mixture and half the cheese. Tear the other 3 tortillas up and scatter them over the cheese, then finish with the rest of the bean mixture and the rest of the cheese. Sprinkle with green onions, if you like. Cover and bake for about half and hour, uncover and bake for another fifteen minutes. Or you can cook it in a slow cooker (crock pot).

After the lunch, I came home and we had a birthday party for me, my husband and one of our sons-in-law. Tomorrow I’ll tell you what I got. It was a full day, and it’s time to sign off.


Writing exercise: Do your characters go to church? If not, why not? If so, where do they go? If you’re having trouble getting a handle on one of them, go to church with him/her; what does he/she look at, think about, like or dislike about the building, sermon, pastor, music, dogma/doctrine, fellow parishioners?


Here is where I ramble on about whatever happens to fall through my mind. I also have a professional site, where I post about my books, stories, news and appearances. Every month, I post a “Hot Flash” there–a story or prose poem of about 50 words. I hope you enjoy your visit. –Marian Allen

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