Showing posts from 2017

Snippets: Holiday Sappiness Edition

*music swells* MAN: *sniffle* ME: ... seriously? MAN: Oh shush. ME: Hon. MAN: *wipes eyes* ME: You are such a marshmallow. MAN: I am not. I'm *sniffle* mean. ME: Love, you are not going to make it through It's a Wonderful Life  if you cry at the end of Grinch. ***** And A Charlie Brown Christmas. ***** And during Scrooge (1935). ***** FLICK: Stuck! Stuuuuck stuuuck stuuuuuuuuuck! MAN: I've done that. ME: *look* MAN: They said I was a scaredycat. I said, "I'm not a scaredycat!" ME: Thus the problems of the world are caused by male dick-measuring contests. MAN: ... it hurt. ***** And while walking down St. Charles Main Street with me. ***** And at "Everything I've Always Wanted" in  Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas in July. * Along with "I See Rainbows When I Look at You." ME: I see why you like this one. MAN: I didn't remember these. ME: Uh huh. ***** And on seeing the Christmas Eve

The Richest Man in Town

It's hard to admit it, but I cry like a child every time. Admit it: so do you. Of course, I'm talking about the end of It's a Wonderful Life.  We've all seen it so many times that it's a movie-length cliche. It's the hokey ending that solves all the problems in one beautiful bow, the sort of thing that never happens in real life. From his barstool on Cheers,  Norm even grouses that during the many times in his life that he's been in trouble, no one ever came to his door with a sackful of cash to bail him out. It's a Wonderful Life  is certainly dated, if that is a crime. It has its flaws of logic and characterization - for all of Mary's strength and self-assuredness in the original timeline, where is it in the alternate timeline? Are we to assume that her strength came only from her relationship with her husband, when she certainly showed it long before she became Mrs. George Bailey? Is it entirely logical that all the good people of Bedford Fa

Snippets: Holiday stress edition

MAN: Ooh, the tree light timer. I need to set it - what time is it? BOY: Hold on. MAN: You got your phone? BOY: Yes, just a second.... *fiddles with phone* MAN: *waits* BOY: It's... hmm. ME: Boys. There is a clock on the wall. BOY: But... we've got our phones. ME: Taking orders for cookies. BOY: What are our options? ME: Chocolate chip, death by chocolate cookies, gingersnaps, sugar cookies or snickerdoodles. I don't think I have the stuff for turtle cookies. MAN: Chocolate chip or death by chocolate. BOY: Sugar cookies or gingersnaps. ME: ... ME: I don't suppose I can get you two to agree on a cookie, can I? Jim is cramming for a final on ancient Greek philosophy. Because hurriedly zooming through material the morning of the exam is the best way to insure retention, as we all know. ME: *nibbles on neck* MAN: Hey! Stop that, now! Aristotle! ME: Ooooh, I love it when you say Aristotle. It makes me sooo hot. Say it again! MAN: Aristotle. ME: Oooh!

A man with no statue: Rudy Wilson

He called me his daughter. It was half-affection, half-running joke, because we couldn't have looked more different. But there was no doubt that Rudy Wilson was everyone's dad, complete with dad jokes, and his death this week is a blow to the entire community. He was a quiet groundbreaker, a man dedicated to education throughout his life. He was one of the first black faculty members at SIUE when it was a fledgling campus in 1970. He had already broken ground as the first black teacher at a California college, and when he came here, he taught in the school of education and became the assistant provost for cultural and social diversity. Part of his job was to mentor student teachers, including visiting them as they worked in area high schools. This became a problem at a local high school and its all-white faculty, according to multiple sources. It was indicated that he was not wanted, and therefore, the university informed them that they would get no more student teache

Thanksgiving Feast

I had multiple requests for recipes to my Thanksgiving menu, so here they are, attributed when I can remember where I got them... Eggs Benedict from Patrice Stribling Nelson (with modifications) This is a heart attack on a plate, but it's so worth it. We usually double the recipe, because we usually want it two days in a row. You can also make the sauce alone to drizzle over steamed vegetables like asparagus or broccoli. 1/2 c. butter 4 egg yolks 1/8 tsp. salt 2 tbsp. lemon juice dash white pepper English muffins all the eggs in the world Canadian bacon etc. (opt.) Begin by toasting the English muffins: two halves for each person if you are serving anything else, four if this is all you plan to serve or your family are gluttons like mine. Meanwhile, start frying eggs - one egg for each muffin half. Traditionally the egg is supposed to be over easy or poached, but I cannot stand runny eggs, so I make them over hard. Your mileage may vary. If you're doi

Giving Thanks

I've never been all that good at the traditional Thanksgiving toast, where we go around the table and say what we're giving thanks for this year. Partly because my answer is always the same: my family. I am blessed with a wonderful family that loves me and that I love, and we all mostly get along, too. I am blessed with a husband and son whom I adore and for whom I cook bountiful meals, and they seem to like me okay. My favorite part of any holiday... or weekend, or spare few hours... is snuggling in with my menfolk to watch movies and laugh together. Our family "adventures" (as I always called them when Boy was small) are the highlights of my life. This year the family circle is a little smaller. We've faced that before, of course; I've lost several family members, as has Jim. This year has been tougher than most, however. I've not written in this blog for quite a while because it didn't feel right to post anything until I could write about Gram

A literal sucker punch

Yesterday I messaged a friend that I had been sucker-punched in the head. He said, "I saw, I'm so sorry." He thought I was talking in metaphor, because my grandmother passed away Friday morning and there has been much reminiscing on Facebook. Grammy's death is too big a thing for me to wrap my head around yet. I thought I'd be able to write about it by now, but it's going to have to wait until my heart and my head get in sync. There are too many moments, too many scenes, too many memories that don't connect with each other to write about her yet. I keep mentally stumbling across things, like the way she called me "My Elizabeth" since I was a toddler, or the alternate lyrics she taught me to John Phillip Sousa, or her funny sweaters, or the time I told her the sky was a different color blue where she was, and dubbed it "California blue," which she said always came to mind afterward when the sky was clear over her house in the San Joaqu


MAN: *excitedly hands me box of new electronic toy* ME: Yes dear. I will be setting it up shortly. MAN: *crestfallen* Shortly? Not now? ME: I am reading the directions. MAN: *puzzled look* ME: Yes, reading the directions. That's what we grownups do with complicated new devices. We read through the directions before we open the box. MAN: Pish tosh. ME: Go sit till I need you to help me with the cords. MAN: It may not take the same cables as the old one - ME: That's why I'm reading the directions. Shush. ------ Watching Alien 3 ... (quasi-spoilerrific) First two minutes. BOY: What the [bleep]! They killed them? (We're all with you, kiddo.) Halfway through. BOY: Wait, how you gonna get out of this one, Ripley? Ending. BOY: What! There's another movie to get through! ---- ME: Do you need a ride home tonight? BOY: Nah, I got a ride. We're going to stay for a while and help the girls' volleyball team. ME: *sporfle* How exactly are you

Fall Deathmarch Stalking Guide

In case you hadn't noticed, this blog is on semi-hiatus. Not that I don't enjoy sharing the menfolk's shenanigans and my latest rants, but there's a lot of things up in the air right now and I need to focus for a bit. However, the Fall Deathmarch must stomp on! Each year I say I'm not going to do this to myself, and each year I give in. Coming up: • St. Louis SPJ Student Boot Camp, Edwardsville, Ill. Sept. 23 (journalism) • Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Sept. 29-Oct. 1 (books and art/Literary Underworld) • Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. Oct. 6-8  (books and art/Literary Underworld) • Leclaire Parkfest, Edwardsville, Ill. Oct. 15 (books and art) • journalismSTL, St. Louis, Mo. Oct. 23 (journalism) • Heartland Book Festival, Cape Girardeau, Mo. Oct. 28 (tent. - books) • St. Louis Indie Book Fair, St. Louis, Mo. Nov. 3-4 (books) • Contraception, Kansas City, Mo. Nov. 10-12  (books and art/Literary Underworld) • Edwardsville (Ill.) Winter Market, Dec. 2 (

Return of the Living Snippets

As the hour slips on past midnight.... ME: *yawn* I have to get up stupid early. Tell me to go to bed. MAN: Go to bed. ME: Don't tell me what to do. MAN: See, I knew that's what was going to happen. ME: WHY is there a phone charger in the bathroom? BOY: Uh... ME: With a cord IN the sink, because that's a great idea! BOY: Let me try a toaster next! ME: Smartass. MAN: Ow! ME: (without looking up) Stop using the hand. MAN: I forgot! ME: Learn! BOY: What did the doctor say? ME: He said I should rest more. BOY: Well, then you should rest more. ME: Oh really? Which of my jobs should I quit? BOY: All of them! ME: Sure, no problem! Then you will support me? BOY: ... ME: Ian, please put the DVD away. BOY: Yes mom. ME: And see if you can't put it away where it belongs? In alphabetical order? BOY: I do! ME: That's funny, because I spent twenty minutes having to reorder the DVDs because somebody in this house managed to graduate high school without


Yes, sometimes even reporters get a little time off. I won't be on Facebook while we're on vacation, but I'll likely be Tweeting on the personal account at @edonald if I see something amusing. I'll switch off the automatic feed so the Facebook crew won't be deluged with my blather, but if you actually want to see what we're up to, follow me there. I will blog if I feel like it. If you all have news, contact my bosses at Ye Olde Newspaper. Public officials, please remember you are still under adult supervision. No scandals or exciting chases, please. If you're planning crime, please hold off until I get back. [Redacted] is certainly not allowed to resolve itself without me. In fact, no news is allowed to take place for the next two weeks. We are going to have fun as a family and hang out with good friends. And I'll have the joy of changing Boy's bandages three times a day, so that should be fun. (He's going to be fine.) See y'al


The good news: Boy is home early! Yay for boyhugs. The bad news: He is home early due to injury. Of course. About a week to ten days ago, he was nicked by an arrow in the leg. (Long story.) Tonight they called me to tell me the wound had gotten badly infected, and he needed immediate medical attention. So I drove out to collect him and his things (made record time to camp); he was due to leave Sunday, so this basically cuts his time short. He greeted me, "Hello momperson." So tonight was a pile of fun, with attempting to clean out the wound and bandage it properly. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I worked as a medical assistant in my youth, and Jim was an Air Force medic. (Of course, that was in 1985, so our arguments over the advisability of using hydrogen peroxide in wounds will continue as long as we argue over macaroni and cheese as a side dish.) We drove by Jim's work on the way back from camp so Jim could look at the leg. We debated taking h

Mail Fraud, or How to Ask Rude Questions in Public

So, did anybody send us money recently? There's no polite way to ask that question, but I have to ask, because it looks like someone may have been swiping our mail. We have had three pieces of mail go missing en route to us in the last month, and each of them was related to money: a check for a Relay fundraiser, a graduation card for Boy with check enclosed, and a replacement debit card for my business account. We are getting the card replaced and the others have been informed. But the complicating factor is that Boy received a metric ton of wonderful cards, letters and other mail from kind family and friends congratulating him on his graduation. And in the time-honored tradition of the starving student, most of them sent cash or checks. Boy diligently wrote thank-you cards for gifts received before he went off to camp. There were a few that came in after he left, so those have not been properly thanked yet. (He's getting to them as soon as he comes home, he swears.) Bu


A random thought occurred to me tonight: This month marks 17 years with the News-Democrat, and simultaneously marks 20 years in journalism. I suppose I could count my career from my occasional dabblings in junior high or high school newspapers, or from the point where I switched majors to news editorial and started working for the University of Tennessee student paper. But for my own purposes, I count from my internship at the Union City (Tenn.) Daily Messenger, which began this month in the sunny year of 1997. It doesn't feel like 20 years ago, and sometimes I feel like I catch glimpses of the greenest cub reporter to step into an old-fashioned newsroom. Many of the tales I could tell from those days belong over drinks in a bar, not in this blog. But I can tell this one: I learned more from the editor of the Daily Messenger in six months than I could have learned in years of study. His name was David Critchlow, and last I heard, he's still running the show. They had neve

On how I damn near killed my fool self

I haven't blogged in a while, because May was a hell of a month. There was the Kentucky signing, the 175th anniversary of my church, a health issue that turned out okay, Jim's 50th birthday, Ian's graduation, the big barbecue celebration, Relay for Life, Ian's orchestra trip to Florida and now off to be a camp staffer for the Boy Scouts this summer. Frankly, I was too damn busy to blog. So I planned to come back to blogging with some profound statements about the big milestones we achieved in the last month. Emotions surrounding the graduation of my son, something profound about Jim's birthday, my elation at actually meeting our Relay goal despite my minimal effort this year, pictures from the family gatherings. Instead, I damn near killed my fool self today, so you get that instead. Our refrigerator door rail pops free all the time, and when it does, it spills condiments and bottles all over the floor. I did a grocery run after work, and I was putting away th

Bakeapalooza completed

In the last three weeks, I have successfully: • Planned and executed Easter dinner; • Planned, promoted and baked a smorgasbord for a pottery-painting fundraiser (cookies, brownies, strawberry cake, fruit punch) to benefit Relay for Life ; • Done a writing/photography/signing trip to Louisville; • Planned, promoted and coordinated an author fair; • Prepared and served a fundraiser chili supper with chili, hot dogs, chips, fruit cups, cupcakes, cookies, key lime pie, candybars and more for Relay; • Prepared and served a dessert buffet for the church (chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, cheese and crackers, cheese dip, bagels and cream cheese); • Prepared and served the remains of the chili supper for the church. I'm... tired. No rest for the wicked; next comes preparation for Jim's 50th birthday and Ian's high school graduation, which take place the same weekend. I am in search of the little elves and forest creatures that are supposed to appear out of

Hello Kentucky/Indiana

Oh, just pick a state, willya... I greet you from a lovely bed and breakfast in Charlestown, Indiana. It's a charming mansion with many rooms decorated in a comfortable, Victorian-inspired style, a billiards and music room downstairs and lovely gardens, at least what I could see when I arrived after dark. So far I approve. The only downside of the room: No desk, and I neglected to charge the laptop, so I can't work at the nifty writing-desk in the hall. Therefore I have the laptop balanced on my knees in the Victorian contour chair so I can write this blog. The things I do for you people. Today was supposed to be a leisurely drive to the Louisville, Ky. area to explore the area before the marketing symposium for writers at Karen's Book Barn , the store hosting me and many other authors this weekend. Of course, I got hit with about five errands to run "on my way out of town," no less than two minor crises, and got twenty minutes away from home before

Bakery Math and the Spring Whirlygig

So let's recap, friends and neighbors: This weekend: • I have a signing at Maeva's in Alton on Friday night - " Writers of the Riverbend ." • On Saturday, I work for Ye Olde Newspaper. • On Sunday, I am running a fundraiser at Pottery Hollow for the Relay for Life team. This requires baked goods, as treats were promised to the people coming to paint things. I might be able to get away with cookies and punch. • Meanwhile Boy goes through his Ordeal for the Order of the Arrow. Next weekend: • I am doing a signing in Louisville, Ky. I am leaving on Thursday so I can do some photography on Friday before the signing on Saturday. • But as soon as the signing is over Saturday, I have to book it back to Illinois. Because... • Sunday is the 175th anniversary of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church . I am responsible for the coffee hour baked goods. And coffee hour is, as we all know, the eighth sacrament of the Episcopal Church. • Therefore all baking must be done

Peace which the world cannot give, I give to you

I give you a new commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you. By this the world shall know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another. Yeah, brace yourself. It's church talk. Maundy Thursday is the beginning of the three-night observance leading up to Easter, known as the Great Triduum. I had to go check the spelling. Not everyone knows (or cares) that Easter is not a day or a holiday, it is a season. There are three nights of preparation leading up to Easter Sunday, and then forty days of celebration thereafter. More chocolate for everyone! Maundy Thursday is my favorite service of the entire year. Alas, this year I could not sing, because after five weeks of illness my voice is destroyed. It remains to be seen whether I can stand with my fellow choir members and my son to sing the Hallelujah Chorus on Sunday. My voice is my offering, and without it, I feel as though part of me is missing. Of course, we would be singing my favorite anth

Snippets: Catchup Edition with bonus HAMILTON!

For some reason, the Illness Edition(s) didn't run when I was sick. I was already on an antibiotic for another ailment when the Mysterious Fever of March struck. It went as high as 103, and stuck around for six days. Flu test was negative, other symptoms were all fever-related, including lower white cell count. Then it went away, shortly after I stopped taking the medicine. All that remained was pain in my hand and finger joints and a weird, painful swelling at the back of my head, which later turned out to be an infected lymph node. Two days later, my lips suddenly swelled up like Mick Jagger and my arms and legs itched so terribly I had to smear myself with lidocaine gel just to be able to sleep. A few days of antihistimines made it go away. Methinks I'm allergic to something. WebMD said I had dengue fever or meningitis. Never put your symptoms into WebMD. You're either dying of an obscure tropical virus or having a panic attack. A few weeks later, and suddenly I ha

Snippets: Deskbound Edition

Two things you must know about this Snippet: I am currently in the process of sorting, filing, and reorganizing my office for greater efficiency and less clutter. This is a work in progress. Also, we are still a one-car family, so Jim is heavily dependent on the bus system for his transportation to and from work. And he is still on the night shift while I'm on the day shift, which means texting is our primary form of marital communication. On this particular day, I had assignments in Collinsville and Belleville. MAN: Where is your stapler? ME: My stapler is on my desk. MAN: ...where? ME: In plain sight. On the desk. MAN: Your desk is a war zone. ME: My desk is not a war zone. I know exactly where everything is on my desk. MAN: Your desk is a disaster. Your desk looks like a kaiju stomped through it. ME: My desk is in a state of transition. MAN: Your desk is in a state of chaos. ME: Just use the stapler and stop messing up my desk. MAN: I couldn't possibly mess up

Snippets: Writers' Group Edition

My writers' group meets biweekly to work on our books and share our progress. And sometimes our conversations are more fun than the work we're allegedly doing. ME: So, I have three people down for the May group signing.... who's down for the one in March? Sela? SELA: Nope. ME: Is that because it's at oh-my-god-thirty in the morning? SELA: Yup. ME: *bawk bawk bawk bawk* SELA: I don't believe in mornings. HUNTER: Mornings are for making sure the coffeepot lid is on tight. ME: I have a man who makes the coffee. He is required to do so. SELA: Oh really. ME: Yes, it's in the Bible, man makes coffee. It's in the Book of Hebrews. WRITERS: *crickets* DIANE: That was bad. ME: See, I make that joke a lot at home and nobody ever laughs. SELA: That's hard to imagine. ME: I'm unappreciated in my house. At least ten minutes later... ME: So I'll be passing along the names to the other organizers, and I will let you know if we get any progres