VIGNETTES FROM CHILDHOOD

THE ADOPTION

I’m being adopted, but I don’t know that. I’m walking around the table behind the chairs where six big people are sitting. I don’t recognize a very big man. Years later, I find out that he is the attorney. I know something is not right. No one is laughing and it’s quiet except for the sounds coming from the big man I don’t know. Somehow I understand that I always sit at the table when the big people sit there except for now. I get to eat good things that mommy puts on the table. I don’t understand why I’m not sitting at the table or on anyone’s lap. I go get my teddy bear and sit on the floor until my daddy finally comes over and picks me up. Now everyone is laughing and talking.

THE CHOCOLATE CAKE

I’m in the kitchen with the aunt I adore. She’s going to give me a slice of the chocolate cake I’ve been craving all morning–the cake she bakes just for me because she knows it is my favorite. Then I watch as she picks up the whole cake, runs to the door that goes out to the yard, throws the cake and it smashes into the grass. I don’t understand. “I hate those goddam ants,” she yells, but I’m crying too hard to understand why she has thrown my beautiful cake away. I look at her and she’s crying, too. I can’t remember what happened next. I was only five.

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MY DOLL

Susanne-doll-baby-doll was a large, soft-body doll with big, round, black eyes that rolled around. She looked the way she was–loved almost to destruction. Susanne-doll-baby-doll, my always-used, complete name for her, was my companion and quite alive to me at the age of four.

My sweet, shy, tiny grandmother lived in another state from mine and once when I was visiting her, she asked me to come with her into her bedroom–the only time I was ever in there, and so it was a little scary to wonder why.

Grandma picked up Susanne-doll-baby-doll’s twin (except for being entirely unmolested) and said she’d take my doll and give me hers. I was horrified. I squeezed Susanne-doll-baby-doll and shook my head, “no,” but I was afraid to move.

Grandma put her doll back on the bed, took my hand and led me to her other private domain, the kitchen, where she gave me two cookies. “One cookie,” she said, “is for Susanne-doll-baby-doll, who is special because you love her so much.” I didn’t understand what she meant, but I knew that for some happy reason, I was getting two cookies and Susanne-doll-baby-doll still belonged to me.

I just realized that i have an anniversary. My book, “Ticked Off And Tickled About It,” was published one year ago today. Good thing I don’t have to quit my day job to celebrate, since I’m retired. I have to be happy that all five people who have read the book gave it a good review.

Well, I’m sitting here with my iced tea (it is really hot in Santa Fe today.) and my half-frozen chocolate chip cookie* and thinking about anniversaries other than for my book. Our 59th wedding anniversary will be in November. Both my parents and my in-laws were married over 50 years. People used to stay married that long. It’s true.

I was going to list some of the wackier anniversaries, at the end of this one-way conversation with you, but in researching, I found that the word anniversary seems to be reserved for only things like weddings and deaths. I found that there are hundreds of “Days” we celebrate, or at least could celebrate.

I’ve listed a few of the special Days below that I found on http://www.holidayinsights.com. It’s a fun site to read. There is a day for most everything, including a Day for you to name a Day
yourself. Mine can be found at the end of this blog.

Fruitcake Toss Day in January (covers my thoughts about fruitcake)
National Nothing Day in January (good for my book, “How To Do Nothin'”)
If Pets Had Thumbs Day in March ( then wouldn’t they be human?)
Rubber Eraser Day in April (must have been invented before computers)
Blah, Blah, Blah Day in April (I can relate to that)
Lumpy Rug Day in April (I’ve got to look this one up)
Ratcatcher’s Day in July (a pest control company???)
Wiggle Your toes Day in August (in other words, go to the beach?)
Moldy Cheese Day (did someone look into my refrigerator?)
AND
Drum roll here, please for the winner, which is:
NATIONAL CHOCOLATE COVERED ANYTHING DAY in December

I am naming a day National Eat A Cookie Everyday (and it is to be celebrated daily.)

* Why is her cookie “half frozen”? The answer is that I have to wrap cookies separately and freeze them so that I don’t eat the whole bag at once. I usually fully defrost them in the microwave before eating, but I thought a cold cookie would be nice on this hot day. And,
it was.

COMING NEXT: I haven’t a clue what will be next. I hope you like surprises.

HOW TO SELL A BOOK?

How to sell a book? That is my question. I admit it’s not quite in the same realm with Shakespeare’s “To be, or not to be…,” but then, as a writer, I’m more in the rank of the king’s jester.

It’s summer and I’ve munched on my oh-so healthy oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and drank some soothing mint tea. Although the tea doesn’t seem to be making me any more mellow.

The other day, a friend, who is starting her own business out of her home, sent me her first blog. It was very well done but I hope she understands that she’s going to have find readers outside of her best friends and family. Therein lies the problem. That’s the “how to sell a…” question. Hence (very Shakespeare) my question and this blog, which will be read only by my stalwart friends.

That’s not the whole truth. My blog is read by other bloggers who are not interested in buying my books, but in trying to sell something to me. It is exciting to get emails from places like Australia and England, however.

When I decided to self-publish “How To Do Nothin’,” I began researching about what I would need to do to sell without a “real” publisher. Blog! That was the magic word along with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Just join. Get a website and for goodness (and sales) sake, BLOG. So I did. Then I discovered that no one had provided a magic wand that would abracadabra the appearance of readers.

The successful bloggers are those who explain how to blog. Many of those same bloggers are successful authors–of books telling how to sell books by blogging. Their readers are self-published writers.

Some writers worry that “regular” publishers are going belly up. I very much doubt that because their writers get onto shelves in bookstores and into airport gift shops. What authors need to worry about is how to get an agent. They hold the key to the kingdom of the publisher. And if you think Hamlet and Macbeth knew how to get rid of people, you aint seen nothin’ yet! Drop that manuscript into the mailbox and it comes out the other end like a trash shoot.

Self-publishing has given thousands of people the opportunity to put out a book that would never see the light of day otherwise, but it is just a shame that so many of the worthy ones may never have a shot at selling more than a few hundred books, if that. I’ve read that if you sell 200 books on your own you are way ahead of most authors. That’s hardly going to let anyone quit a regular job to become a full-time author.

Of course, there are exceptions and there have been some successful books published without the help of a “regular” publisher. Few of them are fiction.

I’m retired so I don’t need a new career, but I wish I could magically help more self-published authors get their worthy work into bookstores and places like airports I read $2.99 fiction books on Kindle and find that many of the self-published ones are as good as those by better-known authors.

Another question: Would Shakespeare need a literary agent if he was alive today?

COMING NEXT: ?? a blog to be, or maybe not to be…

I went gallery hopping this morning after my tea and chocolate chip cookie treat time. Well, actually I went strolling through some art galleries since I’m way past hopping. Anyway, it was a gorgeous day so I decided to do my walk on Canyon Road here in Santa where we have lots and lots of wonderful art.

Besides enjoying my hour of leisurely looking, I wondered how so many artists could turn out work worthy of being in a gallery and then I thought that it is amazing so many of the galleries can stay in business during this poor economy, but the majority of them seem to have hung in there.

I had an art gallery in Sherman Oaks, Brentwood Village and on Montana Avenue in the Los Angeles area (not all at the same time). This was in the 1980’s when Santa Fe and American Indian arts and crafts were all the rage. I sold jewelry, sculptures, wall art, pottery and many other beautiful things made by Native Americans. I had the business for twelve years and then there was a big earthquake and then my husband retired and then I sold my business, so we moved to Santa Fe.

I think it’s fun to find out how people’s lives have evolved. Sometimes you just end up doing something you had no intention of doing. When I was working at my husband’s advertising agency, he and his partner sold to a big firm. The wife was not part of the deal. I was out of work. At almost the same moment, I met someone socially who was selling real estate. She convinced me to give it a try. I ended up doing that for seven years until I was sick of it. I quit. Almost immediately, I saw story in the newspaper about Indian market in Santa Fe that is a huge fair-like event held every August in the Plaza. Off we went for a weekend that changed our lives.

In November of that year, we drove all over the Navajo Reservation in Arizona and visited trading posts. By the following January, I had a booth at an American Indian Show and Sale in Pasadena, California. That was the start of my business. It sort of built itself from there since I had no idea what I was doing. I named it Two Bears.

We made many visits to Santa Fe on buying trips, finally deciding that when we retired, we’d move here. Anyway, this is the long road we took to a life in this great little city where we have lived since 1995.

I met three women today in a gallery who were visiting here for the first time and when I told them that I live here, they were very envious. If you have never been here, you should make it a point to visit. I know of no one who has ever regretted seeing the country’s oldest continually occupied city.

By the way, Santa Fe is in New (new) Mexico. No USA passport needed.

You can get a great 2013 Summer Guide to Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico with the title “Bienvenidos” from The New Mexican newspaper. http://www.santafenewmexican.com

There is no COMING NEXT. I’ve had a long fun run here but I’m off to do other things.
Thanks for dropping by from time to time.

TONGUE IN CHEEK

I thought of something this morning while drinking my new healthy tea and eating my more healthy chocolate chip cookie. So? you may think. She always says she thinks about something while enjoying her morning beverage and sweet. Well, the thing this morning is that I wondered if everyone “gets” what I write since so much of it is tongue in cheek and may require that you see me wink or put an elbow in your ribs.

I grew up in a family that teased and told jokes a lot. My mom was funny without really meaning to be. My godmother was a huge tease (not mean). My dad brought home jokes all the time from the place where he worked. Many were X-rated. My grandpa lived with us and he loved a good joke, too.

I’ve carried out the joking tradition to the point that when my son was in nursery school, the teacher told me that he got along very well with the other children except that his sense of humor was so sophisticated, the other kids often didn’t get it.

Humor is a really general term. All kinds of activities and moods fall under that word, but to me it is when something is funny or at least amusing. Getting to that place can involve something that might seem mean–like a person falling. See how complicated it is? It’s one thing to see someone fall when they intend to amuse and quite another when someone falls by accident. If she gets up and winks, you can feel free to laugh.

Humor usually involves exaggeration. Think about things that amuse you. Aren’t they usually over the top? My grandpa used to drop out his false teeth in front of my boyfriends. It was very embarrassing to me, but also “cracked us up.”

Humor can make you hysterical or you may just smile. The great thing about humor is that it makes us feel better. It’s not only fun to laugh; it is a healthy activity. (I’ve already done a blog about laughter being the best medicine.)

I try to use humor a lot when working with the young children in my reading program. Early on, I realized that children need to be exposed to humor as much as to any other subject that helps them live happily in this world. They do understand their own kind of humor, which sometimes baffles me. Farting, of course, is a sure hysterical moment. Someone wrote a children’s book about a farting dog. I think it made the New York Times bestseller list once. Anyway, I love hearing laughter in my classroom.

Okay, so I got a little serious today about being funny. Then how’s this for a sign off–remember the one about the three old guys in a bar who…..

COMING NEXT: On Becoming Cranky

Give yourself a pat on the back if you recognize that the title of this blog also appears in my book “Ticked Off And Tickled About It.” Well, people say that if you’re going to steal words, take it from the best! Okay, so humility is not one of my virtues.

I’ve already enjoyed my green tea and oatmeal cookie this morning. Pick yourself up off the floor, of course I added apple cinnamon tea, and chocolate chunks to the cookies. I want to be healthy not crazy.

Yesterday, I had my hair cut by a new-to-me beautician. This man had cut my hair a month ago but at that time I didn’t notice anything he did because I was holding my breath and keeping my eyes shut. I’ve been to too many beauticians over the years to trust that my hair will turn out the way I want it.

Since he did a good job, I not only returned, I studied his technique. He works in a completely different way than the last person did, but the cut turns out looking just the same. I can’t figure out how that happens.

I’ve been using hair growing stuff because in my opinion, after a certain age, about all you’ve got going for you is your hair. Try as you may, your hair is not going to look as it did when you’d not yet reached age 50, and unless you received incredible genes, your skin is going to develop things you never wanted, such as wrinkles. Never mind that your body has a mind of its own and Pilates can help but it’s not a miracle.

Hair is such funny stuff. When I was a kid, I was technically a redhead, but my childhood friends have said that along the way, my hair was once pink, then orange, then really red, then auburn. Also somewhere along the line, the curls turned into straight as a string. And I should mention that my hair is now snow white.

We don’t have much control over what our hair does except to feed it vitamins, color it and cut it or let it grow long. Oh, yes, people used to curl their hair, but not much any more. People also used to comb their hair, but not much any more. For young women, it seems that quite long, very straight and messy is the style. Also they often have hair dangling over the eyes. I have first grade girls in my class who deliberately want the hair to hang down in their eyes, just like their mother’s.

Sorry, I forgot to mention braids, pony tails, and other ways to change the look with hair. Braids were called pig tails when I was a little girl and my mom loved to fix my hair that way sometimes. I liked the pretty ribbons she tied on the bottom.

Here’s something worth mentioning– the current major mystery in the world of hair is on the head of The Donald (Trump). Vanity Fair and Time each have an article about this important comb-over situation and you can find it solved in their articles on the internet. This so valuable information has been provided as a public service from your Tea With The Tickled Lady blog.

COMING NEXT: Tongue In Cheek

COMING

SALUTE TO THE HEROES

Only a hermit could not know that there was a bombing at the Marathon in Boston this month so I’m not going to say anything about the details of what happened. However, I obviously have something to say or there would not be this blog.

As I’m drinking my tea and eating my chocolate chip cookie this morning, I was thinking about what happened in Massachusetts and about what some people have already said regarding the amazing number of heroes that jumped in to help.

I became curious about what defines a hero.

Right around the time of the bombing, there was the Masters Golf Tournament. The announcers said at one point, “There will be many heroes at the event”–meaning, of course, the pro golfers who would successfully hit out of the rough, for example. At the time, I thought, isn’t that a bit over the top? I mean, really, how can you call those men heroes?

I immediately thought not of Greek heroes of legends, but rather of the many people we called heroes after the Twin Towers in New York City were bombed. There were police and firemen but also just civilians who rescued people from the building. For the professionals, it was their assigned job. Does that mean that we still use the name “heroes”? Well, of course we do as they are heroes to just take on those hazardous jobs.

But the more I thought about all of this, the more I wondered about what the “experts” had to say on the subject of heroes. I found a lot of sites on the internet, naturally, and many different things were written. However, one word kept recurring–“Selflessness.” That pretty well sums it up for me, too.

I thought about what it takes to be a hero. Many of those at the Boston Marathon were not people who do dare devil things like jumping out of an airplane and opening the chute at the last minute. Many of them also had no family or friends nearby who required immediate help. They were just spectators who went to view a world famous marathon and have fun.

While we mourn the tragedy that so many are still experiencing and will have memorials next year to remember the victims, I hope that we will not forget the many selfless people who ran towards the injured, helping and consoling them.

In the midst of all this unhappiness, we should be filled with joy that the perpetrators are
punished, and even more that there are so many wonderful people in this country. The true heroes. I salute them all.

COMING IN TWO WEEKS: Babies Are Eager To Walk

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