Where are Walter, Chet & Peter?

Peter Jennings

I grew up watching the nightly news with Walter Cronkite and Huntley-Brinkley. ABC introduced a new guy on the block, Peter Jennings who I fell in love with. He was so handsome, and I loved his voice as he spoke about World News Tonight. Back in the good ol’ days news casters were professional. Sorry to say this is not the case today. Today I don’t watch the news. Why? Gloom and Doom, sarcasm, argumentative, judgmental, prejudiced, egotistical reporting. (Just to name a few) I bet Walter, Chet & Peter are rolling in their graves.

Cronkite, Huntley-Brinkley and Jennings reported the news. Period. They didn’t interject their feelings into their reporting. Well there was that time when President Kennedy got assassinated when Cronkite broke down but the whole country was in tears that day. They didn’t badger presidential candidates. They didn’t ask questions only to argue or interrupt, not giving the candidates a chance to answer or explain. They didn’t dwell on a story beating the life out of it either. And they sure as hell didn’t spin the news to their liking.

I’m sorry for the little boy who was killed by the alligator. BUT. The alligator was not at fault. What the hell where the parents thinking? The sign said “danger alligators, don’t play by the water.” I mean WTF? What did they expect? Now Disney is closed, and they want to kill all the alligators for doing what gators do. And what about the gorilla they killed because the kid jumped in the pit? Again, where were the parents? The news reporters won’t let these stories die. They replay all the footage, they analyze, and offer opinions. Like dad used to say, “opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.” The networks aren’t blameless in this either. Ratings. That’s what it’s all about which translates into money. Since human beings seem to have a love affair going on with gloom and doom, death and destruction, that is what the networks focus on.

Wait a minute. Maybe we aren’t hooked on the bad. Maybe it just seems that way because that’s all the media shows us.

The Media is controlling us. The Media is feeding the hate, stirring up controversy when there is none, concentrating on the bad instead of the good. So, I challenge the networks and the media. For one week, give us 55 minutes of good and only 5 minutes of bad instead of the other way around. Reporters, be professional. Study Walter, Chet, and Peter if you can’t figure it out. One week of concentrating on happiness and peace. I dare ya!

And that’s the way it is. Good night, David. Good night, Chet.

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LIFE WITH WEEBLES-Take 3: Gymnastics with Dogs

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Weebles has two dogs, a boxer named Mazie and a little something or other named Daisy. Now, I am a dog person. Had dogs all my life, and I enjoy them. I’ve been known to walk up and pet a stray just because he has a smiling face and wagging tail. However, for the last decade I’ve been living with cats. Sorry to say, this has ruined me for most dogs. Cats rule. Period. So you can imagine the adjustment I had to make moving in and living in a dog-dominated environment.

My cat, Pan made the switch better than I did. I was so worried about her reactions that I gave no thought to mine. As a result, these dogs drive me nuts. They eat cat food like candy. I have never seen dogs scoff down a bowl of Nine Lives faster and more ravenous than these two canines. I’m not lying. Every morning they wait at my bedroom door working themselves up into a frenzy for the off-chance I might drop the bowl or in a moment of pity, I let them lick the remains. I can no longer feed the cat on the floor but rather put her dish on top of a table so that the dogs won’t steal her dinner. Then there is the litter box. I’m not going into a lot of detail here, but I will never know why dogs insist on raiding the cat box. It’s disgusting. Is it any wonder why I think cats are more superior than dogs?

Weebles, however loves these two as much as I love Pan, and apparently they love Greg just as much as they follow his every footstep. Literally. He can’t make a move without the boxer tagging along. When he goes outside, both of them cry, whine, and bark. Oh let’s talk about barking for a minute. Bark. Bark. Bark. Drives me insane! The boxer, Mazie is quite verbal. At times she talks back to Greg which is quite comical and I like hearing, but it always morphs into the loudest barking I’ve ever heard. And she won’t shut up! Enough said about this.

As I have mentioned before, Greg can trip over dust and his balance is fragile to say the least so it only makes sense he would have dogs. Every person who has ataxia should have dogs that lay directly in their path and sit behind them. Why? Because it provides exercise. In Greg’s case this exercise is gymnastics. Here is an example of what I’m talking about written by Weebles himself:
” My acrobatic skills came into play again tonight. I am baking chicken and putting BBQ sauce on it. I drained the grease in a bowl and as I turned to put the chicken back in the oven, my foot stuck and down I started. As I was going down with a cookie sheet full of chicken and the dog in my way to hit the floor, I was able to put the pan on the stove top without knocking over the pan of carrots or the pan of corn, BUT, as I came closer to the dog on the floor, all I could think about was landing on her and breaking her hip. I stuck my elbow out to block my full weight from landing on her. So, I did landed on the dog but she is ok, I laid on the floor, perhaps 4 or 5 minutes and then was able to get up. My ankle/leg is fine but my elbow hurts like hell. I am just glad the grease or chicken OR myself didn’t land on the dog.”

I witnessed this performance. I gave it a 10.

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LIFE WITH WEEBLES-TAKE 2- Steps of Death

attic

Like I mentioned before, Greg has Ataxia which means he can trip over a line drawn on the floor. This makes a nervous wreck out of me. I have no idea when a dust bunny, or a crack, or a piece dog hair will trip him and land him on his butt. Well, usually he lands on his belly and flops around like a fish out of water. Scares the be-jesus out of me. I know he hates it. It isn’t something he can control, which for a control freak, is unacceptable. Oh, yes, I failed to mention before that in addition to Greg being a neat-nut and having OCD, he is a control freak as well. I think most men are to a certain degree. Of course Greg is a LEO and they are very independent creatures. I’ll give him credit, however, he’s mellowed quite a bit, but the gene still lurks in the shadows.

Daddy was the same way. However, Ol’ Dad was a Scorpio which is tons worse than a Leo. When a stoke took him down, not being able to control the situation or do simple things like tie his shoes was hell of earth. So I understand Greg’s frustration at not be able to do the things he did before,like cleaning the ceiling fan. Here is one of Weeble’s FaceBook post that pretty well tells the story:

“Boy, Ruth pissed me off this morning. I said I need to clean the ceiling fan over my bed. She asked how I was going to do that. I told her I was going to use the vacuum cleaner and one of those Swiffer things. I said, If I can’t reach the top, I’ll just stand on the bed. She said, “That’s the dumbest think you’ve ever done”. Boy howdy, I jumped right back and said, “I have done many dumber things than this.”

Weebes used humor but if you’re skilled at reading between the lines, frustration stands out.

When I moved in I had a ton of stuff. I refuse to call it crap as I paid darn good money for some of it. Nevertheless, I had a lot of it. Greg’s solution was to put it in the attic. I flipping hate that attic! When we bought the house there were no attic stairs so we bought a set of pull-down steps and had them installed. Steps of Death! The stairs are narrow, steep, and the rungs were made for a kid’s shoe size two to step on. My shoe size is 5 1/2, and I have to really watch where I place my foot. Now imagine Greg who has a shoe of 9 or 10 trying to maneuver the rungs. Even when he didn’t have Ataxia it wasn’t easy. I avoid the attic like the plague. As a result, I stuffed all my treasures into two closets. I did wrestle a few boxes up those steeled rungs of hell but only a few. As life would have it, I sometimes need things I stuffed into those closets, but when I go to get them, I can’t find them. Oh man, that pisses me off no end. In my mind’s eye I can see it in the exact box I put it in, but the box is nowhere to be found. Greg’s answer to all of this: “It must be in the attic.”

I swear if I put all the stuff I can’t find in the attic, the ceiling would cave in. I know damn well it is not upstairs and I will not tempt the hand of fate and crawl up those steps of death to prove my point. Greg’s answer to this, “I wish I could get up there. I’d find it.”

Oh, holy hell.

No way. Weebles can’t feel his feet. He’d have no idea if his foot was on the rung or if it was flopping off the side. This statement made me come unglued and I yelled, “No flipping way are you to ever try climbing in the attic!” Actually “flipping” was not the word I used but you get the idea. I continued my rant, “If I ever come home, hit the garage-door opener and see you laying flat-out on the cement garage floor with the attic steps looming over you, I will kill you!”

Greg’s answer to all of this, “I’d be dead. You couldn’t kill me.”

Good point. But because I’m a stubborn Taurus I just had to have the last word, which was, “I don’t flipping care. I’d resurrect you then kill you all over again.”

I’m really not complaining about Greg even if it sounds like it. He’s a good man, and I’m not a peach to live with either. I’d much rather co-habituate with a neat-freak than a flabby beer-bellied, billy-goat-stinking slob. I do stupid stuff too. Not a whole lot, but some.

But I swear to God if I ever find out Weebles has been up in the attic, I will be wanted for Murder in the first degree.

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LIFE WITH WEEBLES-TAKE : The Art of Compromise

greg

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my life is: Never say Never.
Seventeen years ago I divorced only to find myself sixteen years later, moving back in with my ex-husband. The arrangement is strictly a roommate situation. I pay him rent. I live in my half of the house, he lives in his half. I have my own living room, bedroom, bathroom, and office. The kitchen is common ground. He does most of the cooking because I can’t boil water. Never have been a good cook, never will. We usually eat supper together but as he likes different TV programs, we split after supper and go to our separate corners.

You may be thinking, why did I move back? First and foremost, MONEY. While I could pay my mortgage and all the bills, I had no money to live on. Same with him. We were discussing this problem one day and I mentioned I was going to sell my place and move into an apartment. He said, “why not move in with me?” We could both save. A win-win situation.

The second reason for moving back concerns health and safety. Greg was diagnosed with something called, Ataxia. What is that? It is a lack of muscle coordination which affects, speech, eye movement, walking, picking up things, and other voluntary movements. Walking is Greg’s biggest challenge. He can’t feel his feet. They hurt all the time. This is difficult for me to understand. If you can’t feel your piggies, how do you know they hurt? He can’t stand still. He wobbles back and forth like a drunk which gave birth to his nick-name. Greg belongs to the Patriot Guard Riders whose members nick-named him Weebles. “Weebles wobbles but don’t fall down.” Except this Weeble falls down a lot! As he lived alone you can imagine how scary that was for him. What if he fell and couldn’t get up? Having someone in the house who could help would be a great comfort. This works in reverse as well. It is also nice knowing if I ever needed help, someone would be there for me too.

So, last September I moved in.

Thus begins the saga of, Life with Weebles.

Greg is a neat-freak. He’ll argue that he isn’t. But he is. Me? Not so much. I’m not a slob by any means. Well, ok, I do carry the gene, but I keep things picked up. Greg would again disagree. So I will compromise and say I keep things picked up in my own timeline which usually conflicts with his time. Case in point: I will get around to doing those few dishes in the sink but not when I’m trying to get out the door for work at 7:30 in the morning.

The first week I moved in I volunteered to mop the kitchen floor. Bad idea. He ‘Swiffers” the floor as all the floors in the house are hardwood. Another minor irritation for me. I do not like hardwood floors. Carpeting was created for a reason, ya know. Weebles has allergies and Co Pd. He claims rugs hold the dust, pollen, and dog hair too securely and he can’t breathe, thus the hardwood. Hmm . . . my bedroom has three area rugs, my living room has a large one as well. Compromise. Anyway, back to the kitchen. I thought I knew how to mop. Apparently, I was mistaken. There is a certain pattern he uses when he mops. Who knew? What difference does it make? Isn’t a clean floor the objective here? Guess not. After a heated discussion on this pattern on his, I comprised. I do not swiffer the floors anymore. Period. Well, when he’s not around I will. This constant compulsion of his for neatness drives me up the wall. My lack of it drives him up a wall.

Making ice-tea was another thing that I apparently have no notion of. Did I mention that in addition to his neat-freakishness he is also OCD? Things must be done in a certain order. Again, he will deny this. But. When the blue ice-tray has to be in the middle of all the red ones, six on each side of the freezer, and the sugar goes in first before the ice, that trumps his denial. Again, comprise. I don’t make the ice tea when he is around.

As I said before, walking is Greg’s greatest challenge. He can literally trip over a dust bunny. He never knows when this will happen. One minute, upright, the next, flat on the ground or floor. It makes a nervous wreak out of him and turned me into a praying deva. Every morning before going to work, I say a prayer for the angels to keep him upright and balanced. I wrap him in a suit a bubble wrap as well. Greg often posts his falls on Facebook: Here is an example.

“Well, Ruth has been here one week. Today, she got to meet some of the neighbors. They came to the front door and at first, she thought they were selling something but she answered it anyway. They told her that there was a guy lying on the ground in the back yard. They came out to look and sure enough, there was. ME!!!!!!!!! I rolled my ankle and down I went THUD. I think I was down there for 5 minutes or so. She brought be a chair and I was able to help myself up. I would have eventually have gotten up but it was nice of the neighbors, they live a few houses down and just happened to be in the back yard when they heard and saw me go down. Well, Ruth, glad you moved in? lol

As I’m an author of three books, Greg suggested I write one titled, Life with Weebles.” I wanted him to start his own blog and write himself, but he wasn’t too enthused about the idea. So. Comprise. I am writing the blog entries.

Stay tuned for more Life with Weebles. The stories are not to make fun of Greg or anyone who suffers with Ataxia. But, hopefully the light-hearted spin on this disease will bring a chuckle or two. And as we all know: laughter is the best medicine.

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Demon Fighters

arch angel

In my book, Daughter of the Howling Moon, my hero, Bethany Ann is half mortal, half spirit. She is a demon fighter for God. In case you haven’t figured it out, the heroes in my books, be they from a previous life time, from another dimension, or wishful thinking on my part, are extensions of me. So does that mean I consider myself a demon fighter? Yes.

Pretty bold statement, isn’t it? Here’s another one: You are too.

The first thing a demon fighter must learn is how to recognize the enemy. Webster defines demon as an evil spirit. Mental pictures of ugly, devil-like creatures spring to mind. But I really doubt Webster was a demon fighter. Bethany Ann is. She says, “evil can twist and turn and slip through cracks and never plays fair.” Demons, therefore, take many shapes and can attack in the most deceiving, innocent ways. They’re sneaky little devils to say the least. The physical demons are easy to detect, to fight, to defeat. It’s the ones who don’t take physical shape that are the worst: hate, fear, judgment, ridicule, panic, terror, jealously, greed, basically any negative thought or action is a demon. So how does a demon fighter destroy those? By being aware. By paying attention to every thought, emotion, and reaction.

Every day demons attack us. Social media is their breeding ground. How many times have I read a post on Face Book that instantly stirs up emotions of hate? I fire off a response before my brain has time to yell, “Stop!” I am so pissed at the stupidity. Oh crap. I just birthed a demon.

Fear is hate’s first cousin. The favorite food of a demon, by the way, is fear. They gobble it up like cotton candy. Terrorism is a first class demon. Just the word, Isis chills the heart. The media plasters pictures all over the television and newspapers of the worst man’s inhumanity to man ever conceived. Fear brings us to our knees. We fold. Knuckle under. Confuses us leading to make hasty, wrong decisions. The demon wins. Marches on. How do we fight him? By not giving fear power.

How do we not give fear power? We stand in our own truth.

As Bethany Ann says, “good always destroys evil.” I believe this 100%. Evil may win a battle or two but never, ever will it win the war. This is my truth. Make it yours. Every morning put on your armor. Declare with conviction: God, Universe, The Force, whatever name you give to Good is the only true, absolute power and it will defeat evil every time.

Watch your thoughts. I struggle at work. Feelings of hate and irritation bombard me.Yes, sometimes those demons win. More often than not, however, I kill them. I replace those negative thoughts with positive ones even if that means I have to find pictures of kittens and puppies to put as a screen saver. My little ice-cube of an office is full of pictures of my books, fairy ornaments, magnets received as gifts from my Sisters, anything and everything positive. I’ve even been known to shoot a SOS email to my Sisters who never fail to respond with something that makes me laugh.

Oh by the way . . . demons HATE laughter. Melts them like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Anger is a good demon killer as well. You may think that anger in itself is a demon. True. But my anger has right and good behind it. Remember when Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan!?” He was pissed, no doubt about it. Satan turned tail and ran.

All of this is easier said than done. But not impossible. Do not ignore the demon but don’t feed him either.

Stand in your own truth. Take back your power. Watch your thoughts. And know without a doubt, Good always destroys evil.

Become a demon fighter!

I could use the help.

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PLAY DOES A BODY GOOD

cat playiing

This past weekend I attended the annual Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc (OWFI) writing conference in Oklahoma City. For three days writers from all over the country gathered together to share their experiences and writing expertise. Starting at 9:00 in the morning through 4:00 in the afternoon, every hour on the hour, presentations and workshops were given by authors, agents, editors, and publishers to help guide and instruct all level of writers toward better writing, speaking, and publication. A famous author banquet held on Friday night acknowledged member’s books that were published in 2015. In addition, a costume contest was held where associates came dressed as their favorite characters in either books, film, or television. Steven James, our keynote speaker stressed the importance of the small moments in life we often rush by. On Saturday night, awards were presented for various contest categories.

While the conference is geared toward education and instruction, having a good time is stressed and encouraged. I considered the meeting as a grown-up playground. Over two hundred participants gathered together in one place with the same goal in mind. Energy was high. Joy and laughter filled the hotel to overflowing. Old friends hugged and kissed. New friends were embraced and welcomed. People smiled, said hello, held elevator doors open, please and thank you echoed through the halls. All of us were united as one collective consciousness of creativity.

I left the pressures of my day job in the parking lot. The stress of home and family was stuffed in the trunk to keep the spare tire company. I didn’t turn on the TV. Didn’t fret over transgender bathrooms, Donald or Hillary, Isis, whites, blacks, oranges or purples. My cell phone was only used to find out when the next meeting was or whose room was the designated after hours gathering place.

On the way home, however, I could actually feel the weight of the real world pulling on me. Old familiar feelings of irritation, depression, hopelessness, agitation, and boredom became stronger every mile I got closer to my own bed. Inspiration and motivation that dazzled so bright for days started to tarnish. Individuality, whimsy, and humor that were embraced just hours before morphed into judgement and ridicule. My high-pro glow dulled.

All of this made me realize the importance of play.

I would rather play and laugh then work any day. Who wouldn’t? But. Why can’t we do both at the same time? Why does work have to be boring and stressful? Why can’t I wear a black dress with green tights and an orange cowboy hat? Why isn’t laughter and creativity encouraged and acknowledged instead of squashed flat? What’s wrong with thinking outside of the box? Or the circle?

I suppose all the enlightened gurus would shake their heads and remind me, “A person makes their own happiness.” Since I strive to walk with the great masters and teachers, I’m being a big ol’ hypocrite for not following their advice; for allowing those negative feelings to affect me. So, I think I’ll put on my big yellow raincoat and boots, go outside and dance in the rain, pet a dog, smile at a perfect stranger, smell a rose or two, laugh and recapture my sanity.

Never underestimate the importance of play.

It does a body good.

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The Importance of Hope

hope</

Ever read a book and hate it?

I have.
Chapter 1: I’m pretty sure the story isn’t one I want to hear. But. I stick with it. Hoping it will get better.
Chapter 2: Not much better. Kinda interested in where this is going, however. I’ll hang in there.
Chapter 3: Holy cow how much pain and suffering can one character endure? Maybe some happiness will come his way.
Chapter 4: Is there no plot here? Just eat, drink, have kids, suffer, and die? Keep an open mind, trudge on.
And so on and so on.
Last chapter: This ending sucks! No happy-ever-after. No lesson learned. NO HOPE!

As a beginning writer, and for all levels of writers for that matter, a good critique group is essential. By good, I mean a group that will give honest feedback. Not mean critique. Not ripping- the-heart-out-of-the-writer critique. Just honest feedback aimed at making both the writer and the story better. This group should not only teach a beginner the mechanics of writing such as, point-of view, sense of place, internalization, grammar and such, but should also guide the new author in what makes a good story. What does a reader want? What will hold his interest? What will destroy it?

I don’t consider myself a perfect writer. I am not the begin-all/end-all author. I don’t know it all. But I do have three published books and am working on my fourth. Also, I am a reader. An excellent reader. I know what I like. Therefore, if I were the leader of a critique group, I would stress the importance of hope. In my opinion, hope is a major ingredient in any story.

I’ve read books where the main characters have all died. Books full of pain and suffering. Stories teaming with negativity. But the author saves the essence of the story by giving the reader hope in the end.

Hope neutralizes sorrow. It may be one tortured step after another, but hope keeps us plodding along. Without hope Apollo 13 astronauts would’ve never made it home. Without hope the miners would never have gotten out of that hole in Chile. Without hope mankind would be lost. Hope gets us out of bed in the morning.

Hope makes the impossible, possible.

So, to all writers out there from the beginners to the experienced, always, always put a ray of hope in your story.

Hope keeps a reader hooked and keeps him reading.

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