September 24, 2016

Fifties Music Cure for What Ails you

This is a blog I've revised from 2010. It's very relevant today. I've been on a search for 50s music, the music that I grew up to.

Recently I've ordered cd's and have had a great time listening to and dancing to the music. Remember Billy Joe Royal? Fats Domino? Sam Cooke? Well I remember them all and the words to their songs.
What songs did you grow up to? I'm always looking for new music to listen to. I'd love to have your suggestions, not just from the 50's but during the time you grew up. What strikes your fancy? What songs did you fall in love to?

I shop at one of those stores where you can buy everything from groceries, to the latest movie, to tires for the car.

I passed one of those machines that plays music. The ones where you punch the song you want to hear and it takes off. Mostly the machines offer Celtic tunes, or peaceful songs to lull one to sleep. Not this one. It had some great selections.

My choice was SODA SHOP CLASSICS and when it started playing, I was whisked back to the late fifties right there in the music/candles aisle of the super store. Back to when I was 12 or 13, just at the age when all of life seemed impossibly tragic and out of my reach.

WHY MUST I BE A TEEN AGER IN LOVE by Dion & The Belmonts sent chills up my spine because I remembered singing that to the Ricky Nelson and Elvis posters on my wall when my first boyfriend shunned me, pretend mike in my hand as I sprawled on my twin bed with the blond headboard. (Remember blond wood???)

Next came The Beach Boys singing, "Ba Ba Ba, Ba Ba Ba-A-RAN, Oh, BARBARA ANN," my own name. I sang along with the boys as I twirled around the room in my skirt with a dozen starched crinolines underneath, my blond pony tail bobbing against my shoulders. The ribbon from the pony tail flying around my head as I flew across the room.

Oh those were the days. And those were the songs that made my heart beat faster. Still make my heart beat faster.

Since I bought the cd's, I can whisk myself back to the fifties whenever I want with a turn of the knob on my cd player.

Blessings to you all and here's to you finding what makes your heart beat faster.

Please share the music you love with me. Thanks.

September 7, 2016

Robert Frost Poems that I love.....

Gathering Leaves

Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.

I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.

But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.

I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?

Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.

Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who's to say where
The harvest shall stop?

After Apple Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree 
Toward heaven still. 
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill 
Beside it, and there may be two or three 
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough. 
But I am done with apple-picking now. 
Essence of winter sleep is on the night, 
The scent of apples; I am drowsing off. 
I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight 
I got from looking through a pane of glass 
I skimmed this morning from the water-trough, 
And held against the world of hoary grass. 
It melted, and I let it fall and break. 
But I was well 
Upon my way to sleep before it fell, 
And I could tell 
What form my dreaming was about to take. 
Magnified apples appear and reappear, 
Stem end and blossom end, 
And every fleck of russet showing clear. 
My instep arch not only keeps the ache, 
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round. 
And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin 
That rumbling sound 
Of load on load of apples coming in. 
For I have had too much 
Of apple-picking; I am overtired 
Of the great harvest I myself desired. 
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch, 
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall, 
For all 
That struck the earth, 
No matter if not bruised, or spiked with stubble, 
Went surely to the cider-apple heap 
As of no worth. 
One can see what will trouble 
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is. 
Were he not gone, 
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his 
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on, 
Or just some human sleep. 

August 22, 2016

Happy Birthday!

 Sisters and Friends Forever!

Donna Sue and Bobbie
My birthday gift of a poem to her a few years ago

Today my sister Donna Sue Null Hoffman would be 77 years old. Three years without her has left a hole in my days. She called every day to check on me. She was like a second mother when we moved from our childhood home, I was five and she was eleven, and my mom remarried and worked full time. She took me under her wing and continued looking out for me until the day she died. One of the last things she told me when she was very ill in the hospital just before her death was she needed to take me shopping at Beall's (FL) and buy me clothes. She'd learned that I had bought some clothes at a local thrift store. (I love thrift stores. Her - not so much.) I asked her then what Beall's had that she liked so much. She said, "Pretty things." I asked her how she intended to get us to Beall's since she was in the hospital. She'll said I'll call a cab. I was surprised that she didn't say my father will take us. At the end she called my brother in law, Brownie, father. He was her second skin and gave her the very best all her life. His kindness extended to me as well and continues to extend to me. I know my Susie is in Heaven with mother and daddy and our siblings. Some day my earthly ache will be gone. RIP dear Sue. We'll meet again.

Brownie, Sue, and Bobbie Ann

James "Brownie" Hoffman, Donna Sue Null Hoffman

Donna’s Birthday Poem Oh, Donna Dear, your Birthday's here, Whatever shall I do? Dance without shoes? Sing you the Blues? But, ugh, those reviews! You're near to my heart, Sister. You gave me my start. So here's a poem-present and I hope your day's pleasant. I'll start with, “I love you,” but, will that do, For a sister who loaned me her white buck shoes, And her very last bottle of Halo Shampoo? You danced and twirled and my straight hair you curled. A black-eyed beauty, you took serious this sister-duty, While I spent my days in a summer haze You walked us through that sister-maze. Can you remember the smell of that sweet clover? "Red Rover, Red Rover, Send my sister, Donna, on over!" Oh, to spend one more day of my youth with you. We'd even invite cousin Anna and cousin Sue. For old times sake, fudge and popcorn we'd make. And, to the Boogie Man an iron skillet I'd take! Maybe we'll never make it to the moon, But can you come over real ... uh, ... how do you spell SOON? In memory of my aggravating ways And our letter-writing days. I love you still. I always will. Your Little Sister, Bobbie

When we were kids, we wrote letters to my sister Ella who was in London with her husband Paul who was in the Air Force. I couldn't spell and I drove Sue nuts asking her every few minutes how to spell something. Like D-E-A-R E-L-L-A. She threatened to quit writing altogeher if I was't quiet. I NEVER was. She loved me anyway.

Happy Birthday, Susie.

Sue, my granddaughter Mackenzie, Brownie

Special Family Members who share Sue's Birthday
Our Beloved Sister In Law, Eunice, RIP Eunice
Our Beloved cousin, Dencil, RIP Dencil
Niece Tracey. Happy Birthday, dear sweet Tracey - have a
great one!

July 20, 2016

Eyebrows: Help!

Those of you who still have your natural eyebrows, please hold up your hands.
Okay. Nice show of hands.
Now, let’s see the hands of those who have eyebrows that are not the greatest but still in place and serving you well. 
O-kay. Good count. Thanks!
All those who had your hands in the air are now dismissed. Sorry.
This class is going to discuss and dis-cuss (not really! well, maybe!) the lack of nice regular eyebrows.
When I was a kid like most of you girls in the audience, I had normal eyebrows. Nice shape, nice color.
It was in my teens, when I started to pay attention to them, that they began to let me down.
I first learned to pluck and tweeze the hairs above my eyes from watching my sister Sue do hers.  She had black brows in a perfect arch over big brown eyes. Nice. 
Nice wasn’t my experience. Far from it.
I either took off too many or too little. I never got the hang of tweezing or plucking so I gave that up.
For a few years I let my brows grow in a random patch over my eyes. They were light brown and didn’t call much attention to themselves. They were happy. I was happy.
It was when I discovered waxing that things got out of hand. 

I watched the beauty operator wax patrons a few times and I was so convinced I could follow suit I purchased a large container of eyebrow wax from her. A dab here and a dab there of that hot wax and ole. Pull those hot patches off and I’d have beautiful eyebrows like every one else in that little shop. Ha.
Outcome: eyebrows crooked and eyelids waxed and red.
About that time the industry came out with an eyebrow razor. It was meant to serve those who had a steady hand and a healthy set of eyebrows. I did not possess either. Sure, the pink razor was tiny. But, oh, the damage it could do. Plus, there was blood. For the first time in my eyebrow career. I had sores and blisters. Blood should not appear anywhere near one’s eyebrows. 
Tossing the can of eyebrow wax into the trash, I went back to having my eyebrows done by a professional.
I’m still not without eyebrow dilemmas. Should one color one’s eyebrows? Yes? No? Does one color brows the shade of her beauty shop tinted hair? Do you leave them the wide mixture that they have become with age? Salt, pepper, brown, yellow? Or should one use the aged eyebrow pencil in the make up bag that is closer to auburn than light brown? Color them black as my sister did? Or purple like the girl next door colors her hair?
Or just get rid of them permanently and paint on perfect ones.
Recently, I was told there is yet another option. Tattoo them on and they last forever, ending the dilemma of tweezing, razoring, coloring.
Nope. I swore when my husband came home from Hong Kong with tats I would never go that route. 

I cannot speak to the trend of threading one's eyebrows, as demonstrated above, as I know nothing about it and from the photos I've seen of the practice I'll just stay in the dark, thanks!

How about you? Do you have an eyebrow problem you want to share? Perhaps you've come up with the perfect solution. Please share! Or have you had any other beauty dilemma you can shed light on for us. Comments appreciated.

June 23, 2016

Information about writing stories...

Ezra and Other Stories
Copy and paste to go to Ezra on Amazon

I ran across this questionnaire from a few years ago. Probably when I was preparing Ezra and Other Stories for publication. The questions made me think and figure out exactly why I wanted to write the stories in the collection. Hope this will help you if you're writing a story of if you've read EZRA and want to know my process.

What is your book's tone, and how do you want readers to perceive your text?

Each story in this collection houses characters that are flawed humans dealing with both serious and humorous situations. My characters are humble people most living in West Virginia. They’re ordinary people going about their lives the best they can and in most cases succeeding in spite of the odds against them.

Provide a summary of the stories in this book of eleven short stories.
Each story is named after the main character.

Mabel and the Garage Sale is about Mabel finding hope after her home is sold when I-64 comes through Charleston, West Virginia.

Delphine and Rainelle finds Delphine trying to help her best friend, Rainelle, whose husband is a cheater.

In Hoot and Marla, Marla realizes the trip to Niagara Falls isn’t about getting engaged but about Hoot’s ego and his Elvis look-alike persona.

Joy Ruth and Minnie Hendrix find more than a burial plan when they visit the local funeral home.

Micro Wave finds acceptance only from his Pug dog after being at Kent State during the riots and shootings.

Wally and Bun are wed just as their old friend, Murphy Mohr, rekindles an old romance.

Eve and Marcus Welby leads Eve to the perfect romance with a man who is also a cat lover.

Twins, Darlene and Charlene, are as different as day and night. One is a book worm, the other “sees” things.

Vinnie asks the question: how long will money from Big Daddy’s chili fund last his two adult children who do not see eye to eye.

Macon for Georgia provides Macon with the best possible partner after an abusive relationship.

Ezra finds love and his soul mate at the end of his life.

Describe your book's theme(s). These stories give the message of hope. These characters are survivors in spite of coming from less than perfect circumstances.

What is your book's genre? Includes a mix of genres.
Romance. Humor. Appalachian.

Describe your target audience by factors such as age group, interests, education, gender, etc.
Stories appeal to adult male and females. Anyone who loves short stories, stories about hope and survival. The under dog succeeds.

What inspired you to write the book?

The characters themselves came to live in my head as I was writing slice of life pieces for newspapers and essays for college. Finally I gave them life by getting them down on paper. Most of the stories came just the way they now read. I am inspired by the stories of Raymond Carver, Lee Smith, Mark Twain, E.B. White, and others.

What distinguishes your book from others?

The humble characters and stories themselves. They are bits and pieces of people I’ve known. They come from deep inside me, inspired by the West Virginia Mountains and its people - sharing how these characters live, listening to what is important to them, believing in them as viable, important, good people.

Describe any specific design ideas for the cover of your book.

Ezra’s cover was made from a photo I bought online from one of the many online companies. I rejected hundreds before finding the right one. I knew it when I first saw it.

Comments welcome.

June 6, 2016

Who am I now?

Ray and I at his favorite restaurant, The Ridge Inn, in Laurelville. He's been gone two years and 7 months. Perhaps someday I'll figure out the question that haunts me.

Who am I now? 

I’ve thought about this a lot lately -

As I turn another year older this week.

I’ve lived my life taking care of others.

But that part of my journey is over.

What do I do now?

Who am I supposed to be?

The familiar is unfamiliar. 

I’m alone. No direction. No goals. No leader.

I walk in circles.

I aim for one place, end up in another.

I belong nowhere.

To no one.

The odd piece 

in a puzzle.

One person’s death

Took away my identity.

Who was I then?

Who am I now?


Thanks for reading.   Comments welcome.

April 23, 2016

Ah, Spring and all her glory.

I'm enjoying the spring weather that has finally arrived in Ohio bringing blooming pear trees, red buds and tulip trees. How about you? Do you love spring as much as I do?
I spent a day on the patio, putting out the table, chairs, umbrella. I painted a white wicker plant table and have decided it's too good for the patio. I plan to use it in the bathroom instead.
Just when I thought winter would last forever, spring arrived with temperatures in the 70's. I noted buds covering my rose bush and a robin building a nest in the crevice of my chimney. I wanted to let them stay but they managed to leave so much debris at my front door that I had no choice but to shoo them away. Hopefully they've moved on to one of the many trees and bushes in my community, a more cozy place for raising babies.
When I was a kid growing up in Putnam County, WV, I was outside at the first glimpse of the sun coming through my bedroom window. I ran through our yard, down through the orchard where we had six or eight apple trees in a row, picking up green apples to eat on the way. I'd play in the creek, which mother said was too dirty to touch, but I didn't agree. The water was clear as glass. It ran quickly over my feet standing on the rocks under the water. I'd check on Nellie my black and white pig in her pen nearby. I remember one time straddling her for a photo. She was quite large and I looked small on her back. 
I'd sometimes walk up the steep hill behind our house to the cemetery where I'd read the names on nearby stones and wonder what happened to cause the demise of  Harriet Bailey or Baby Allison or Pop Asbury. I daydreamed sitting on the ground among the tombstones with the scent of honeysuckle drifting around me.
I miss the days of helping mother spring clean. Mostly I complained at having to wash the baseboards because I'd encounter a spider or two and lots of dust - from months without doors or windows open.
Mother took spring cleaning to heart. She took beds apart and we had to clean the bed frames and slats. A senseless chore, it seemed to me, and one I never do.
I miss those leisure days of summer that stretched out before me as unfettered and carefree as the butterflies that pass through my flower garden. 
As I ponder the days ahead, I plan to spend more time in the great outdoors, soaking up sunshine - it's the best medicine in the world. 
Perhaps I'll even venture back to that little creek and the hillside cemetery and visit my old friends.

What do you like best about spring and summer?
Or do you live in a climate that is warm year round? I welcome your comments. 
Have a great spring whatever weather you are experiencing. We can always find something to like about each season.