Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Big and Now

My sister found a Prada purse for me at a Goodwill. It cost $5. It was monogrammed with a giant A. It is of good quality, well made and ugly. How do you get rid of a gift.
Get me otta here!

My dislike of designer items came to full flower as a teacher. A principal I worked for did not allow students to wear the new stylish torn at the knees jeans in the late 1980s. It was simple. The poor kids would cut up their pants.

I've been that person desiring the sparkle, the aspiration, the bit of luxury of designer items. Then, like all things it becomes jaded when you wish you had the money you had already spent to pay for something else you need. You chase a fallen star to find a bit rock instead.

Yesterday, I was in line at the car wash. There was two lanes. One for people like me who had a monthly plan for unlimited car washes and the other for pay as you go folks. Well this woman cuts me off in her brand new white Lexus. I don't know if it was a valuable one or just a new one of the lesser cost variety. What I thought was, I was not impressed with her pretty car.

And would you know it, the woman that followed her shoved ahead too. So I rolled down the window to the kid who was supposed to be monitoring the lanes and told him. You have got to help me out. When a space opens, these folks are gunning ahead of me.

The woman stops with a gap much too small for me to enter. Clearly she had been caught. I grit my teeth and just look at her. Resigned, she takes her coveted spot. The kid is awake enough to stop the third car.

This behavior worries me more about this country than the incredulous nuttiness of this year's presidential election. It's not that I was so concerned about getting in line and getting my car washed promptly. I had sat in the parking lot and ate a frozen yogurt in hopes the line would lessen.

The nastiness and twisted logic of political ads is not the real problem. It is the people who get so fired up to vote based on agreeing to them. You would think they were hollering about people breaking in the car wash line instead of unfriending folks.

When it comes to the woman in the Lexus and the woman behind her, they may have truly been desperate to move through the line quickly. Something in their worlds may end if their cars were not clean and they weren't on their way within the about two minutes they saved breaking ahead.

I slip in the grocery store to get a pack of bacon for deviled eggs. I decide to get another dozen of eggs for Easter. There is this woman hovering in front of the eggs. Undecided between the cage-free and the regular eggs, she grabs regular eggs and puts them in the buggy that hubby is pushing. I'm politely waiting. She is still in her universe which apparently is not a pleasant place by the look on her face and moves very slowly. She is still eyeing the cage-free eggs.

I wait for Hubby to move on. But he has watched me. He is going to wait until I get my eggs. I tell him the truth. I'm not in a hurry. I smile at him, he smiles at me and moves on. His child is walking beside him holding his arm. I get my eggs.

I stopped at the recycling center to unload the recyclables loaded in my trunk. A woman younger than me with a cane was getting her items out. I asked if she would like some help. She handed me carefully organized items in bags to carry to the different bins. She thanks me and says someone always helps her.

Meanwhile we got riots breaking out all over. Riots of spring flowers clamoring for their day in the sun. I hope there are enough bees, bugs, etc to do the job. We need more riots of flowers.

I'm on instagram now.   www.instagram.com/iamannbennett

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Moving along in Life

My first job teaching was at a predominately black school. I had three white students all day. I had never been in a room where I was the only white. The entire faculty was black except for three others. I remember just staring at them all. I had just turned twenty two and was incredibly thoughtless.

I had graduated college with no real direction. I had turned down a well paying job offer my senior year. I wanted to make more money than that. That teaching job payed considerably less. However, I had a great summer running around with my friends and boyfriend. Life was not something quite real.

I remember the job interview. The superintendent who interviewed me had a discussion with me that I would be working with black people. Sounds racist I know, but it was 1978, schools had integrated in Georgia between 1968 until 1970. We weren't that far from a huge cultural change in Georgia. I was a young idealist and so there was no problem.

This lizard was about 2 inches long and
on my purse that I had left on backseat
of the car.
He said, There are good people and there are bad people. My shallow self just wanted a payday and I did not think too hard. He was hiring me a week before school started, and I was applying for an emergency certificate.

Looking back, there is a part of me that wished I had stayed and grown with the system. I worked there one year. I went back to college and yeah picked up another full time professional job as a housing coordinator for the college I went to. Lots of time with my friends and delaying the growing up process. It was great.

In 1998, I had a bright, shining sixth grader from Pakistan. He was the youngest child of six and the only male. I remember his dad in a parent conference. He came here for his children. Having five girls, you had to have respect for him. His daughters mattered. They were the big reason they were in the United States.

His daughters wore scarves. His son was a very able and joyful learner with a bright, shiny personality. One teacher used to laugh that he would not shake her hand. Culturally that was not OK for him. At the end of the school year, the students were shaking my hand as they left my school room. He was in line. I understood the compliment.

What shamed me the most was the knowledge was the discrete distance I initially had. Where I got my prejudice I don't know. I grew up in a military town and had met people from all over the world. Sometimes you have to face your maker and acknowledge your sin.

Since then I have met other Muslims. A high school friend married a Muslim. They have a happy marriage and live in the Atlanta area. One of the better doctors my mother has gone to was Muslim. Mom had difficulty getting on the examination table. He lifted her. He has done things examining my mother that other doctors have not done. A big one is weighing the benefit of the test versus the ability of the knowledge to  help her. Other doctors order many tests regardless of how hard they are on my mother. There are a few we have refused for that reason.

Muslims have been dragged into the middle of American politics. We have a country that was founded on freedom of religion yet we are tolerating intolerance. Yeah, I know about jihad. I also know the average  American Muslim lives in the Twenty-First century and not the 1400's.

As a teacher, I get a laugh from American Muslims with children who dress in a hajib. They lament that they came to this country to get away from that. Isn't that like a teenager to take a high road just to aggravate their parents.

I wrote this before the suicide bombers in Brussels.  Daesch is essentially fighting a war with the West. Instead of fighting economically, they are fighting with terror. The more hatred they can create, the deeper the division. And for what, it is a fool's war with no winners.

Anyway, I like Muslims. I don't like warmongers.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Catch Me If You Can

One of my most, very favorite writers is Dr. Seuss. He had a story and title for almost everything. My high school and middle school students appreciated his verse more than any elementary student. His book, "Oh The Places You Will Go" sums up my sentiments of blogging.

I will admit, I began blogging to create a platform for a book. Unfortunately so much advice winds around selling a book you plan to write and not how to be a good writer. You would think my blog has been a waste since I have yet to produce a book.
Louise is a water dog. She wants to splatter in the puddles, and raindrops don't bother her. 

I've learned to write leaner and to write what people want to read. I will confess that my blog is more a reflection of what is going on around me.

What is the best thing about blogging? I've learned about things I never knew of or thought about. I knew I was a Canadaphile. What has been surprising is the volume of good books out of India. I am currently reading a dystopian romance, The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer, by Laxmi Hariharan.

Indirectly, I have met Australians on their own turf. I love it when they post a recipe. I try to think of what we make that is similar. I have always wanted to go to Australia but know that will probably not happen. Which is another unexpected benefit of my blog. I've met some great people and enjoyed writing and getting comments.

Comments were difficult for me at first. I never volunteered to answer questions in school. As an educator, I knew I had to win the hearts of my students to get the best from them. I also knew I had to avoid ruffling feathers of parents. So I avoided opinions at all costs. I shared a classroom with a teacher who shared fairly strong opinions. Some I agreed with. None were appropriate to preach to a captive audience.

So making comments was a hurdle. Then to make a relevant comment. I remember children running into me in the grocery store. I know they must have thought I stepped in a magic changing closet at the end of the school day until the next day for their class. My favorite comment was, "I like cherry soda too."  Good thing I had not stocked up on beer and cigs.

Anyway, my theme for the A to Z challenge will be My Favorite Stories, Jokes or Memes. I promise to keep everything short. Besides, I plan to try to catch all the blogs this year. Catch me if you can.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ready or not, spring is here. We really did not have a winter this year. When we have hard freezes, I have to hook up the heater in the well house to make sure the pump doesn't freeze. This entails 150 feet of an extension cord. I carefully thread the intersection of two cords into the holes of a large concrete block opening.  The only thing I did this winter was let an outside spigot drip one night.
Carolina Jessamine

I know, why would anyone complain. It is going to be a bumper crop of bugs this year. Fleas, ticks, you name it will come a calling. I want to buy some chickens and guineas this year. They are both good to keep insects at bay. I'm not much of a poisoner.

As a scientist, I know a much larger percentage of poison is needed per body mass to kill an insect. Secondly, it is a temporary fix. Plus, I love all the birds and visiting wildlife. Poison is not that great for them. It is not that great for humans either.

Such is the yin and yang of life.

What I think about is what my mother said to me as a kid. I would like to take a day off of school and her big quote was "A big part of life is showing up." which helps to keep the house clean too.

I've been catching up with my housework. I hope to have my head above water by the end of the month. My brother gets a ride for most of the distance to the workshop he attends which opens my day up big time. Hopefully, I can get back on schedule next week with daylight savings time.

What is your opinion on the time change. I hate it. I like the extra hour of daylight in the morning. But it is not bad in the morning too.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Use a screen capture to kill those ugly links.

About once a month I get a piece of mail with the enticement about my final expenses and a $100 Walmart gift card. They know how to tantalize a senior citizen. A discount or freebie reels them in.

I know why older folks have such strong opinions. I'm still busy with a lot of of hurry up and wait type of stuff going on. So I look at things I may not have bothered with at one time.

Like, who has left a foot print on my visitor's log with blogger. Mind you, most are vague. However, I have used the Russian search engine Yandex and read some of their newspapers translated to English via Google. However, look what they say about my blog. The first is the translation and the second is the Russian version. My blog is apparently being accused of phishing.

I know, I know, I shouldn't look at spam. However I got two of these at the same time. It is just funny. I'm a woman, there is nothing I want to look larger. But hey I have heard walnuts are good for what ails you.

This is a screen capture which I have cropped. When I cut and pasted, the links were still alive and I had to kill those suckers.  The funniest part was the link to remove yourself from their email list. I would never hit any of those links.

I probably should not have included that address on the bottom. You know the link probably has nothing to do with that address. One time I got a spam from the head of the UN with a yahoo email. Imagine, someone that important wanting to give me a truckload of money if I will send them a couple of thousand dollars.

The funniest line was Walnuts being called the "King of the Nuts" which can be interpreted several ways. I thought the King of the Nuts would use one of the links. Of course, It could be nuts as in male gonads. But I am sure someone who would write an email with the crude title meant walnuts only, sarcasm intended.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

In the Quiet

A great summer job when I was a teenager was working in the peach packing house. They were always hiring, you got plenty of hours and a paycheck. A nearby packing house has adults, mostly women working there.

Picking peaches could pay well but it is hot work. Today, many guest workers from Mexico do the work. I have always thought it would be a great job for college students. It does not last all summer and does pay well. You are paid at the rate you pick.

My mom occasionally will say she would love to pick peaches in the summer. She knows her body is too worn for the work; but, she is still a worker at heart. We drive by some errant grape vines that need trimming. We both have the urge to start wacking.

My first day working at the packing house produced wave after wave of nausea. The movement of the conveyor belt is a bit much. Today with headphones, you could boogie away the time. I remember the hum and monotony of the work. Lots of thinking filled the air.

I read a blog today about how to get writing insights and one suggestion was exercise. After water aerobics I write well. I have not started meditating. To slow down and collect thoughts is apparently difficult.

The memory of working in the peach packing house brought back a memory. In 1982, my teaching contract was not renewed. The principal told me to tell people that it was due to the layoff which was indeed happening. They reduced 88 positions in the county I worked in.

The truth was, I had a lot of difficulty with the students. Students were able to choose their teacher and it had become easier that year due to the other science teacher being someone the students could run over as easily as me. That teacher chose to not come back the next year.

The fact that I taught 36 to 38 students in five classes each day and was on the lowest rung of the pay scale should have discouraged me. My dad seemed actually happy I lost the job, and I could not understand why.

I did not teach particularly bad students. In later years, I would deal with much more difficult and "bad" students. I was just too young and dumb to handle the situation. I remember I thought it was horrible, and I was so very ashamed. My sister had started having symptoms of schizophrenia and my family was stressed with this unknown territory.

My principal knew I was planning to go to pharmacy school in time. He recommended that as a good opportunity. I was not cut out for teaching.

I needed to work about one more year to attend pharmacy school. My family was stressed. I was out of work. I took a job at the packing house to keep the money rolling in. I remember a young black teacher was so insulted that the teachers felt it was degrading that I worked in the packing house. She was and they said nothing.

At the time, I said nothing which was probably wise. They were saying the same thing about her too. She was a temporary teacher and not in my situation which was fear of the future and being a failure.  All I needed was to be in a big stink from repeating what I heard or saying something to those teachers.

One of my problems with the other teachers were my roots. I did not feel any shame working an honest job. I was not born to money and did not pretend to have genteel roots. Impoverished nobility was not something I related to.

That summer working, I had time to think. I was working in June and knew the job would fizzle in mid August. I had applied for several jobs.

Ronald Reagan made tax cuts for the wealthiest and started his "trickle down" economic stimulus which led to a huge recession in 1982. Congress and he quickly reversed course. In the meantime the area in which I lived had a boom or bust cycle. It was definitely bust.

My summer paycheck would be gone in August and I better find a better situation. I took the open day off and traveled to Atlanta and found a place to live. I had heard you could make $7 an hour working at McDonalds which was a good salary. Apparently, the apartment manager liked me. I took a lease beginning August 1st but she told me I could move in early for free.

I found a job. I would have worked anywhere and turned down three job offers. Not that I wanted to be a teacher but I liked the woman who interviewed me. So I became a teacher. I never intended to make a career of teaching. I had so much fun that year at the school, I signed on for the next year.

Inspiration comes in the quiet. I've always felt that something divine speaks to you and if you slow down you can hear it. I haven't started meditation. But I still plan to.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

When did writing conferences become vacations

   Somehow, something I started to make money is actually a hobby. I've never really had a hobby. I've read a lot my entire life. I put a lot of effort into my job. I've had many, many animals. I love to travel. I've traveled a bit.

Growing up in a military town, I have always loved people from different countries. I took cardboard, newspaper and magazines to be recycled. There was magazines for Indian-Americans. Of course I dragged them out to look over. They will travel around in the trunk of my car until I dump them out next time with the recycler. There is never enough time.

I am so ambitious with my writing. You would think I would write a bit more than I do. I have been a bit paralyzed writing some stories. I sing them in my head. Think of a bit more depth for each one. Write specific scenes. Disorganized is an apt description. I am organizing and actually finishing some projects. This year is my time to submit some of what I've been writing.

My first start is with a conference I'm going to in June. It is the Southeastern Writer's Conference at St. Simons, GA. I went last year but did not take advantage of their many opportunities. I wasn't ready and part of this deal is to relax and enjoy the process. There is a part of me that has a hard time coughing that out. I've always been so driven.

I've signed up for two more conferences. One is the Writer's Police Academy which is organized by Lee Lofland and Sisters in Crime. The other is Silverhart in Louisiana by husband and wife Scott Silverii and Lilian Hart. Meanwhile my writing is drifting from pantsing to plotting.

Now whether I attend any of them is of question. I have paid the conference fees. I have not bought an airline ticket for the Writer's Police Academy. I delay paying more than I have to. Last year, I did not know for sure whether I would get to attend any of them until the day before. My sister had a heart attack the week before the Southeastern Conference. Who knows what the year will bring.

Anyway, what conferences have any of you attended?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Big Changes

It seems like I went to school about a million years ago at times. Retirement is a mixed bag. I retired early to take care of family. I saw myself eventually going back to work. I now know, it is not going to happen. Besides, all of my references have or are retiring too.

Around 2000, I taught one child whose mother kept making references to playing basketball for Northside High School which was my Alma mater. When I was in high school, participation in any of the athletics made you popular, big time. But I didn't remember her. Such was my fascination with the basketball team.

My sister who was six years younger remembered her. Her memory is that the woman thought very big of herself back then. It is with a little snicker we had a laugh at her expense. Snobbery does not pay. It had been twenty years but membership on the basketball team apparently carried a lot of clout in adulthood.

I later witnessed the same woman having to eat a large piece of humble pie which was quite humbling to me. Braggadocio often masks a lack or a sheer unknowing that we all have feet of clay. I wanted to dislike her, but I couldn't after that. I knew she had been aggravating in school. A co-worker who had taught her maintained she was much older than me. The fact that I had gone on in school before she started did not stop the image. Beauty certainly is reflected in how people treat you.

Pride can make you do disastrous things to maintain appearances. Pretensions come across as being a phony. We buy items we can ill afford to keep up with the Jones.

What got me on this topic was a blog hop looking for what you would write your teenage self.

It was so long ago but the memory still lingers nearby. Moving back to my hometown, I meet former friends and enemies of my schooldays. I ran into one woman where I exercise. My first thought was to avoid her. We were frienemies in school.  Then I thought, that is silly.

Her mother would hold me as an example of how she would like her to be in junior high. Her mother died when she was a teenager. I always understood the hurt she felt from her mother.

I was the sort of kid that adults loved. If they only knew what a pain in the arse I could be to my own set of parents. I held a job, did chores for my parents, made high grades in school. I talked back to my mother at home. My dad would often talk to me about not aggravating my mother so badly.

I approached my former schoolmate, and she pretended not to recognize me at first. She had done some nasty school girl things to me before life moved us in different directions.  I know the laugh I felt inside had to explode from my eyes. Then the relaxation when she knew I came in peace.

Squabbles that occurred 40 years prior materialized in her mind the same way they were in mine. We weren't those teens anymore. If we could remember specifics, we would have had a good laugh.

What would I go back and tell my teenage self is nothing. Some of the worst things in my life have helped me grow as a person. You just can't really know what you haven't experience.

I had someone tell me I was not a good driver because of my complaint that a car with a manual transmission are bad to roll backwards on a hill when you go from a breaking position to moving forward. Several years later, they called me to move a truck they had allowed someone to park in their driveway. They could not drive a manual.

I feel very lucky to become a senior citizen. So many people did not get the opportunity. To say I have had disappointments in life in an understatement. Those experiences have allowed me to know that I have had a lot of good in my life. I would have never understood that paradox as a teenager.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Ten Big Things I learned while Blogging.

1. How to make a Button for people to put on their blogs to advertise your blog. I actually spent some
time learning to make myself a button. I had posted many other buttons on my blog. Sort of a
homemade vest covered with colorful patches. Then I learned. Unless there was something really big on your blog like a bloghop, you really did not need a button. So I took mine down along with about twenty from other blogs. My post sharing how to make a button is  How to Create a Blog Button to Share

2. If you find a good community of writers online, be supportive. I stumbled on trifecta.com and loved it. I did not always have time to write but it was the most rewarding opportunity. I never purchased any items. I never donated. They were just as gracious and supportive of this nobody as anyone else. I wish I had made a donation. There is another one that is similar with some familiar faces of trifecta. It is Grammar Ghoul Press

My favorite now is the A to Z Challenge.  There is really no money to donate except for donations to the education of the children of a former host who passed away. They do have a t-shirt. I plan to buy one even though I do not wear t-shirts.

3. Decide right away whether your blog is political or about writing. Everybody blogging is writing. I had a hard time moving away from this topic. However, my writing is better because of it. Politics is a prickly pear. If people agree with you, they do. Otherwise, you turn them off and rarely on to your ideas. Frankly, we all get enough memes about politics on Facebook. Write your feelings but don't hit that publish button unless you are sure you want your writing to revolve around politics.

4. Dark topics reduces readers. It is also true that your first few lines hook readers. Many stop if the post does not suit their taste.

5. Unless the topic is incredibly exciting like homemade sin, reduce, reduce, reduce what you write.

6. You will be surprised what people like. You will understand why some posts are barely read a year or two later.

7. Look over social media buttons, etc on your blog. I had always wondered why people looked at my Facebook page but never liked it. I had a button that said Like my Facebook page but only took people to my page. I've fixed it. Now I need to post something on that page periodically.

Another big one on blogger is the Google Plus button. Just because you are connected on Google Plus, it does not mean anyone gets updates of a new blog post. You need to post your blog on Google Plus. There is also a Google Friend Connect which allows your new blog posts to show up on folks blogger dashboard.

8. Be careful who you associate with. They will give you writing ideas. I hate vampires. I am from the South. I am a Baptist. We don't like the boogerman. I'm open minded. I don't believe in vampires. I still don't find anything sexy about them. I wrote a few vampire stories to take all the glitz and glamour out of these creatures of fiction. Well, you guessed it I have written a touching vampire screenplay.

I do like science fiction. I like literary fiction better. I want to write literary fiction. I've been reading fellow bloggers who write sci-fi. Yes, a sci-fi story is dancing in my head. I plan to call names on a later post. They will love the publicity, albeit small.

9. Visit blogs and carefully make comments. I have a policy of making comments. I see it as being sociable. I have made comments on blogs that I wish I had not. Even when you go back and put them in the trash, your name is still there. My biggie is talking about a hot topic and not really knowing how what I am writing will be perceived or misunderstanding the discussion. How embarrassing.

10. Don't write about specific people without their permission. You can discuss many a topic without giving specifics that can cause you problems. Write what you want. Then use that wonderful delete button on information that singles people out. You will be surprised how well your writing stands without that information. I know from experience. Be careful with the publish button. I have published a few things unwittingly. I no longer write directly to blogger but use a word document to write.


 Zephyr is a soft, peaceful breeze. And I thought it had to be an imaginary animal. For many of you, we will not meet again until the next A...