Tuesday, September 23, 2014

the Rocking Chair : A LITTLE BLONDE

the Rocking Chair : A LITTLE BLONDE: Woof, woof. Something has happened that’s worse than cats, or coons—a skinny little blonde has moved in. Well, maybe she isn’t exactly ...

A LITTLE BLONDE

Woof, woof.

Something has happened that’s worse than cats, or coons—a skinny little blonde has moved in. Well, maybe she isn’t exactly a blonde. Her hair is as white as my lady’s,

My lady and I got dizzy watching her galloping all over the house.

She went to my bowl and took a few bites and lapped up a little water, so I decided she wouldn’t be a threat to my livelihood and left her alone. That was a big mistake. Now that she feels more at home here, she empties that food bowl every thirty minutes. Now you ladies out there know what that means!





 Of course in my opinion, she could use a little more covering over those bones, and I expect my lady will tend to that.  She’s already taught her to stand back and not crowd when she putting food in our bowl. Did I jAust say ‘our’ bowl?
 I feel a little sorry for her—she’s just a youngster not even a year old yet, and got dumped out on her own. Well she’s got a lot to learn about this old world, and she could start by learning a few rules about living with my lady.  Yep, she got in bad trouble, and has temporary quarters on the front porch —with her own food bowl, I’m happy to see. I hated to hear her cry but she'll have to learn, so I just put my head under a thick pillow. The first night she was here, I shared a couple of my pillows, and I didn’t mind—it was a relief to have the wiggly little thing still.  But the next morning when I was settling down for my morning nap, she jumped up in my face, and I had to discipline her. She learns quick—she hasn’t tried to share my bed since. Maybe I spoke to harshly, but an old fellow like me needs his naps.
Today she had her first lesson in behavior. A friend of mine took her walking with a lease. At first she fought and struggled like a fish on a line. Didn't do her any good. I tried to tell her.  I think she kind of enjoyed it, but she didn't want to leave my lady.

My friend thinks this is what she does when she tells her to sit! Huh! That is what she does when you so much as look at her.  Say 'roll over'  and you can be sure she'll roll over, Of course if you don't say anything  she'l still roll over. I get exhausted just watching her.Did I tell you that she has pretty wavy hair.? Surely some of you knows some one who need a smart little girl like this. She'll grow up to be a nice loving companion just like me. Send me an email. Having around doesn't bother me, but she's too feisty for my lady, and I gotta take car of her.

Woof,
Dandy

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11

Remembering


The first thing I saw this this morning when I opened the blinds, was our flag flying at half-staff at the DPS office across the street.  9/11!!  

 I immediately broke out in chill bumps
 The magnitude of that attack was unbelievable; so was the fact that it was happening as I sat glued to the TV screen.


on piles of rubble
now a peaceful memorial







Until that day heroism was just a word—September 11 was filled with it: firefighters, police, medical personnel, and volunteers, all risking their lives to save the victims. Hundreds of others worked ‘til they dropped in support services.







Then there was a fourth plane—Flight 93.  Its passengers did not sit placidly waiting for death. They chose to fight. They lost their lives, but succeeded in
diverting the terrorists from their goal, and left us with young Todd Beamer’s rallying call: “Let’s roll.”

          
Todd Beamer

Those words, in modern slang, reflect our nation's attitude 
throughout it's history.  Today  memorials were held for those who lost their lives and to those who saved 
many others. It should also be a day to remember that we were slack in our diligence, waning signs were ignored, and we were not prepared. An old saying comes to mind:
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

"Never Forget."

Dannie

Get on Board

A Blog Tour




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 I opened my email last week and found an invitation to join a Blog Tour. Now, since I don’t get out much, I didn’t see how I could participate in any sort of a tour—then it hit me—a BLOG tour.  I can do that! Maybe.

So I went to http://gcsalamon@blogspot.com to see what this is all about.  

Well, I found my answer—it’s about writing, and that’s the main thing I’m doing these days. And it’s a blog post, which I may remember how to do—and there are only four questions!

Question 1:  What Are You Working on Now?

I’m nearing the end of editing The Burying Ground, a story of greed and chicanery involving an old cemetery and it’s secrets. Occasionally, I review a few chapters of Sarah, a historical novel that sets the stage for the happenings in The Burying Ground, 140 years later. Maggie, the third and final story in this series, is only a draft, and needs a great amount of thought. Occasionally, I try my hand at writing a query, a troublesome little one-page piece of writing that is the first step in submitting anything to publishers for consideration. Although I’ve been urged to self publish, I ‘m not sure I want all the responsibility that involves. August Heat, a third novel, has been has been sitting in a file for over a year, waiting for me to take time to take this final step.

Question 2:  How Does My Work Differ from Others of its Genre?

I find it difficult to fit The Burying Ground into any genre I’m familiar with. It moves between mystery, danger, romance and a fight to save a primeval forest, while touching the lives of people similar to those we all have known.  Today I found my niche—realistic fiction Sarah, set in the post-Civil war period, fits into the historical genre, but has an unexpected twist as our heroine struggles to break loose from the Victorian role for women. I had hoped August Heat would fall into a specific genre; after all, it’s setting is a Texas ranch, and that should mean “Western,” right? Well it seems that title belongs to stories of the Old West, and August Heat is thoroughly modern, although it does have a fair maiden in distress (actually, she’s a brunette).

Question 3:  Why Do I Write What I do?

I’ve written non-fiction for years, and enjoyed collecting information and creating articles about anything that caught my attention. Never, never did I plan to write fiction—but it happened, and I’m hooked. I enjoy weaving in memories of the places I’ve visited, and the people I’ve known. I enjoy the unplanned twists my stories take when my sub-conscious takes over and take me to unexpected places. And I love to write about Texas—its history, its people, and its scenery.



Question 4:  How Does My Writing Process Work?

 I start with an idea and one character. As I move on, more characters get on board, and all begin to work at carrying out my idea. At times they differ with me, and do as they wish, often leading me into predicaments I don’t know how to solve. Although I visualize the setting as clearly as if I were actually there, my characters’ personality and appearance develop as the story progresses.  

 I had reached the end of three novels before I faced the consequences of writing without an outline.  

Will I change? Probably not.


_________________________________________________________________________________________


That’s my stop-over on this Blog Tour. Be sure to visit  Gina at 


It's a great spot for readers.

I hope to see you soon for a bit of  Rocking with Dannie, and  another visit to the farm.

 Dannie
                                                                                                                                                                         
Watch for next week’s Blog Tour contribution from my friend, blogger and  author, Kathryn Reid at
https://katereid5.wordpress.com





Friday, September 5, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

the Rocking Chair : Something to Think About

the Rocking Chair : Something to Think About: Although I doubt you start each day wondering about the origin of the symbols we use daily, I thought this was worth passing along. After...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring on the Farm


Spring is here––I know it is, for the calendar says so. Some flowers may be reluctant to venture out again, because of their bad experience a few weeks ago, but the trees are greening and the birds are singing.

As a child, I loved the first tiny flowers of spring–tiny lavender ones, half hidden in dead grass. Spring opens a season of renewal and promise, as fruit trees blossom, and sprouting seeds crack the ground with tender leaves.

 On the farm, in bygone years, spring heralded the beginning of months of hard work that did not end until late August when the crops were "laid by," and there was a brief breather from harvesting vegetables, and no more plowing or hoeing was needed. 

After Dad prepared the ground for a garden, he helped with the back-breaking job of setting out onions; then my mother took over, planting seeds at their appropriate times. Irish potatoes needed to be planted early. Dad preferred a red variety. He paid no attention to planting according to signs of the moon or old superstitions. He planted when he felt the time was right. After preparing the deep furrows and adding barnyard manure, he bought a sack of seed potatoes to cut into hefty pieces holding several sprouts. These were spread out for a day of drying the cut area before planting. I am convinced this was timed to fall on a Saturday, when I was not in school.

My dad saved our sweet potato crop outside in an igloo made of straw covered with tin. Protected from rain and freezing weather, they lasted throughout the winter. Small ones not suitable for cooking, were pushed aside and saved to provide plants for the nest years crop. Long before the average date for a late freeze, Dad buried these set-aside potatoes in long seed beds in order for them to send up sprouts that would grow into 4 o4 5 inch long plants ready to be transplanted into the field. In an adjoining bed he planted tomato seed. The beds had canvas covers attached to a narrow board, and were easily unrolled when a freeze threatened,  but left rolled during sunny days and mild temperatures.

With a hoe we dug holes for acres of tomatoes.In order to take advantage of better prices for an early crop, we often set out plants in holes with little moisture. These had to be watered by hand until it rained. There was also a risk of a late freeze. That was when paper bonnets were made from old magazines pages, and carefully  placed around each plant for protection. 

Occasionally, during a long dry spell, the plants had to be saved by hand watering. My dad would fill a barrel with water and haul it to the field on a sled. There, we followed the sled, using a small syrup bucket to water each plant––a ribbon cane syrup bucket, to be exact. In those  days, syrup came in tin buckets, and saved for other purposes. Saving was a way of life, and I'm not certain the word "recycle" existed in those days.

When the sweet potato slips were the right size, old broken broom or hoe handles were used to punch holes for each one. After a rain, my dad went down each row. with his stick––step. punch––step, punch. That done, he joined my mother and me as we dropped a plant in each hole and pressed dirt around its roots.





This was spring on the farm in the good ole days. But the roses were in bloom,  the old-fashioned lilac sent out its sweet scent, and Mother made wilted salads from her garden.










Reading and Writing…

Stories of days gone by have always been popular. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell sold millions of copies during the Great Depression, and at over 30 million copies sold, is one of the world's best selling novels.



Grapes of Wrath,  John Steinbeck's powerful novel, was not of another period when written, but now, seventy-five years later, sells over 100,000 copies annually, taking readers back to what is, in my opinion, the most tragic time in our nation's history.

In the 1930s, stories of the Old West became popular due to the writings of Zane Grey. His career was impressive despite criticism of his writing skills and melodramatic writing style. He became one of the first millionaire writers of fiction and had over ninety books published in addition to being a regular contributor to Outdoor Life.

Years later, Louis L’Amour captured a fresh audience wanting a few hours of entertainment with more westerns. After years of writing and submitting stories to pulp magazines, using the name of Jim Mayo, L’Amour’s westerns gained popularity and he wrote 100 novels and more than 250 short stories. All of his work is still in print, and sales continue to climb, after reaching a total of 320 million copies in 2010.
                                                                                                          
The works of three of these authors have been criticized for presenting an unrealistic view of life in the time frame they choose, but the readers didn’t care then…or now. Undoubtedly, the way readers in other countries thought of these periods in our nation’s development was influenced.

On the other hand, Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath was banned in some places, burned in others, and loved and appreciated by many readers.  It created such an uproar that Eleanor Roosevelt took notice, and asked for a congressional investigation into the migrant camps Steinbeck had written about. As a result, labor laws were changed. Few books can make such a claim.

I am so appreciative for the many sites on the internet giving information about almost anything, including the lives of these authors. The details I uncovered were so interesting I spent hours reading about each. I fell into the same trap when writing Sarah, my second manuscript. I found that although I knew about  a lot of things, I didn't know if it fitted into Sarah's  timeframe. So I researched. . .and researched. 

I treasure this remark from a person who has followed my stories chapter by chapter:

". . .I for one have enjoyed your stories a great deal. I think what I like best is that while reading them, I am not just entertained, but I learn something about history as well. In fact, I would strongly encourage any teacher to use your stories as tools for their students. We can never have enough good books, and there are never enough like yours where students can learn and not be bored while doing so. 

Another great thing about your stories is that they would appeal to such a wide variety of readers. From middle school age, right on up to seniors of any age.

Don't stop writing. And for goodness sake, get them in print so others can enjoy all your hard work!"

Dannie


















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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Real Me

Want to meet the real me? So did I, so for an hour or so I took a break from figuring income tax, and learned my spirit animal was a bear. Now don’t ya’ll start worrying about dropping in to visit. I’m tough but rather nice. My yellow personality analysis says so.

Now, the results of this next flight of fancy may not surprise you, but it did me. If I were living in medieval times, I would have been a witch doctor. Not witch, witch doctor! I assume that means I studied and learned lots of stuff and used my skills to help others.
I’m afraid to lookup the exact description.

 All these imaginable situations were getting interesting, so I moved on and investigated my super power, and learned it gives me the ability to from any place on the globe to another…without taking a step. This is going to take some practice. I tried going from my chair to the refrigerator for a snack, but no matter how hard I concentrated, I had to walk. Just think how nice it’ll be to put that clumsy walker and cane in a closet.

 My next venture took me back to the days of the Roman Empire and there, I was a Greek philosopher. Perhaps that side of me can figure out this 'traveling without taking a step problem'. On the other hand, I’m a little dubious about all these answers, since learning my best choice for a pet was a lizard…a vicious, green, dragon-like lizard that would take naps on my shoulder.  

Whoa! That isn’t going to work out. No way.

Still, a thread of truth ran through all these imaginary lives…like being tenacious and determined… and explained my stubborn streak was only a matter of knowing what I want.…Sounds a lot nicer than 'hard-headed' or obstinate.

Tenacious fits this little cluster of flowers by my driveway. They're hanging on in spite of whatever happens and they're gradually spreading.  That's the real world. 




In the Writing World…

Call it tenacious, persistent, or extremely determined, but in the case of Kathryn Stockett, those traits brought success. Her first novel, The Help took five years to write, and was rejected by sixty agents, before agent Susan Ramer agreed to represent Stockett. After all those reject, The Help spent 100 weeks on  The New York Times Best Seller list, and as of last August sold ten million copies. For success like that, I wouldn't object to being  called hard-headed.


Dannie Woodard,
Bear, Witch Doctor, Philosopher, and person who will not be choosing a lizard for a pet

Friday, March 21, 2014

Gardening, Deer, and Writing

Once we had a beautiful little garden. It produced more tomatoes than we could eat; I canned enough beans to feed us until the next crop, and the cucumbers and okra grew faster than we could pick.

We had poor luck with black-eyed peas, but finally managed to have a nice crop almost ready to pick. Baskets in hand, we went out early one morning, ready to pick and freeze our first successful crop.
They were gone––all that remained were deer tracks and a crushed fence.
We were not strangers to the habits of deer. They had found a garden, and would be constant visitors forever more. We ate the tomatoes they left for us and although they stripped the leaves from the okra stalks, the pods were left for us. The garden turned to grass, the deer continued to feast on what had become their favorite neighborhood hangout, and we visited the farmers' market.

Last year, the pictures of container gardening featured in every magazine, called forth my love of fresh veggies.What great idea. Grow a garden on  your patio; no weeds, convenient, and decorative. It was  too late in the growing season to start from scratch and really develop this container gardening, so I was happy with a gift of three large plants already in bloom. Soon the blooms became vegetables, and I had a producing garden. No prize winning beauties, but tasty, nevertheless. One morning I looked out, and my garden was nothing but bare stalks. A nearby summer-blooming phlox had suffered the same fate. Deer had visited during the night.

It's spring again, and again I want to grow something. Hanging baskets of veggies? Nope. Anything I can reach, the deer can. Thoughts of growing herbs and a bit of leafy lettuce inside, by a sunny window, crossed my mind. Visions of a broken window and frightened deer leaping over my furniture trying to escape from a yapping dog, nixed that idea.

Maybe a cage––I'll think about it.

Writing fiction……How it started:

 Years ago, a friend had an idea for a wonderful story ––but she wanted me to write it. My reaction was   quick and positive. No way was I going to write a story. Absolutely not. The thought of turning my imagination loose was petrifying. Although, I'd been writing and publishing newsletter for over twenty years, it was based on facts gleaned from research.

The idea  nagged at me until I finally gave in, and had my first experience with fictitious characters going their way instead of mine. I became a follower––my characters took me to unfamiliar places and dicy situations. The original idea changed course and became the Burying Ground, a 80,000 word into manuscript with  a mixture of crime, adventure, and romance. Writing this was so much fun, I wrote another novel––and another. Plus a few short stories and a history of the first 140 years of life in Parker County. No thoughts of publishing, just writing, day after day

If you're going to do something, you should do it well, so writing classes seemed to be a good idea. Through these, groups of writers learn the difference between writing and skilled writing, and  the value of having others critique your work. I took part in several large critique groups that were helpful but very time consuming. When Gina Salamon, a writer from Colorado, invited me to join her and Kate Reid, from Canada, as a threesome to critique our writing, I found my niche.

Kate has just published her first book, Lost in Time, set in a little Scottish village with several inhabitants older than they appeared––two hundred older, in fact. A second in a series of life in Loch na Rhune, is complete, and a third is well on its way. More details later. Find her book on Kobo,

I read the first example if Gina's writing in a long-ago class. After months of work and  many changes it has been developed into an attention holding  romantic mystery, Heaven Help Me, with an unique twist on guardian angels. This has been followed by an even more exciting one, Sleepless, the first in her Cold Case Series. As romantic chillers, they are indeed chilling, especially, when reading only a few completed chapters at a time, and having to wait weeks to learn what came next!

We three are different in subject matter and style: Kate's a bit of time travel and Scottish lore, Gina's set in Colorado, slightly paranormal, and full of chilling suspense––then mine, a trilogy starting with Sarah, a historical novel of the 1870s, followed by the Burying Ground, and the half finished Maggie. All set in the piney woods of East Texas.

For several years, I have enjoyed Karen Rutherford's occasional posts. Her recently published book, Diary of s Post-single Mom, shares her thoughts and experiences in finding a new purpose in life after the one of child raising is finished, The book is obviously directed toward a specific group of readers, but could become a little classic for others facing the same situation. Her occasional flashes of humor are an added bonus.

Updates on all these writings…and writers…will continue in this space, along with notes on recently read books, publishing problems––and successes, and remarks from other writers are welcome. Familiar names of several aspiring writers appear regularly on FaceBook, and I often wonder how their writing is proceeding.Writers and readers, join in.

Hoping to hear from you,

Dannie

PS: this blog is a hurried replacement for the one Blogger and/or Google caused to disappear yesterday.
Maybe a glitch in the Word program as I closed down the computer caused the problem. It's disconcerting to find the blog site and be told the contents do not exist.



Monday, March 3, 2014

Bright Spots in a Dreary Day










.






I love both color and flowers.
These photos were forwarded to me and made my  day. I expect many of these strangers on this page belong to species we are familiar with…such as orchids, roses and lilies.


It looks like spring with its delicate cream and pink spiky petals
This isn't colorful, but it's certainly an attention getter.

Amazing perfection in each layer of  petals as they increase from the small center petals to the largest. 


                                                       
                                                             Speaking of perfection, these white
                                                           outlined petals are rather neat.












This combination of colors is rather 
unusual. So is the arrangement of
petaled flowers in a perfect ball.








    The colorful balls below, left remind me of the 'pop balls'  we some time see on trees. Remember those tiny colored balls we used to pop.They grew on the leaves of oak trees.But a closer view shows they are spiky.The purple balls on the right consist of hundreds of tiny flowers…or appear to… and  may grow from bulbs. They''d sure brighten a dreary yard. 
                                                   



                
Would these be from our own west? Probably not. A close look
shows they pop up on leafless stems, and appear to prefer
a rocky mountainous rocky terrain.

A tree like this would be nice and so would a flower pot  of these beauties   below.                                  



.
These appears to be a nice floral arrangement but since all these pictures are of seldom seen flowers, these must all be on the same plant. 



To have one bright red petal is a little unusual and makes these flowers appear to be laughing.
 

Take a second look at this one… those red petals below this 'basket' appearing center?  This the most unusual center ( I have no idea what something like this should be called)  I've ever seen.





Should these be thought of as
exotic blue bells or do you
see them as an open mouth?
These are some colorful
twists…all growing from
the same stem.
This reminds me of our Fourth
of July fireworks.










I wouldn't mind having a rose bush filled with these.
This is no beauty, that's for sure, but fascinating all the same.
If a person was walking through the grass and came across one of these would they jump? They don't appear to be very large but I think it would be startling..It certainly looks like an animal sticking its head out of the foliage.


Fluffy white centered in green petal-appearing leaves  appear at first glance, to be girls in fluffy white skirts. A closer look destroys that imaginary image, for the smaller part of the flower resembles a bird's head…not a girl's.











The flower resembles those of the spider wort in both color and shape, but these appear to grow on a tall stem.


A stem of white and coral  flowers  and  buds


A beautiful flower with a twist.






Can this be real? It is! Unbelievable
and charming.
White birds or angel figures? 
                                                           










                              
This looks almost 
poisonous…really unusual
to be blue totally blue…
flour, stem and leaves.


e of Fuchsias.

  









Unusual shape> for a flower.
Dancing girls?



chandelier?













                                                           

   


                
Is this an iris? It appears to  be
closely related with blooms that
are  half and half  blue and white.




                     
A few statistics about this blog:

First established……………….June, 2010  
Posts published………………..138
 Page views by  reader ………..61,891
Signed on followers/members…14

Approximate number of  readers  who read the Aluminist:  unknown, but I betcha those 14 followers don't make 61,891 log-ins!

It would please me greatly, if  more of you readers would take a moment and go  to  the right side of the page, just below my photo, and find the "Click on this site" strip.  Click it,  and a pop-up sign in form  appears. There, you may click on either the Google or Yahoo button and you're finished…now have become a follower of this  blog…and when I see that  number of followers  go from 14 to 15, I will be so-o-o pleased.


If you have neither a Google or Yahoo ID, use the button that is for that situation; click and fill out the new form that pops up. All it asks for is your name and password. Those  are only for Google or Blogger's benefit. This  appears  to be much simpler  than it was years  ago.

Dannie