Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Today I exercised my right to free speech. 
I signed the recall petition for Governor Scott Walker. 
Never in my life have I supported recall efforts in the past;  in general, I think they're a waste of taxpayer dollars.  Not this time.
Central Wisconsin is reeling after the elimination of more than 1,000 well-paying jobs announced within the past week alone.  Naysayers mention the 1,000 jobs on RelyLocal Wausau that are available.  It's easy to point to those low paying jobs when you're employed, or have never been subject to layoff, as I have been.  I spent over a year without work, and went from making $50K a year to less than half that.  These workers will be forced to make the same sacrifices, which all trickles down to even the smallest shops and businesses when there are less dollars to spend in the community.
So, Governor Walker, it would be nice if you'd deliver on that campaign promise you made of creating 250,000 new jobs, just in time for Christmas. 
Really.  We've been good all year.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jimmy Galway

This morning, I've tuned in XM's Symphony Hall as I begin my work day;  I find the music both satisfying and calming.  Famed flutist James Galway is on, my second favorite flute player of all time (you just can't beat Jean Pierre Rampal....sorry, Jimmy!) 
As I listen to Devienne's Flute Concerto #8, my fingers mimic his, patterns becoming familiar as I hear it once again.  I played this as as state contest piece more than 25 years ago, back when I practiced 3 hours a day - every day - and no, I'm not kidding.
I aced it then.  Now, anxiety grips my heart when I play, struggling through what once would have been effortless passages as a flutist with the Wausau Symphony Orchestra.  What happened to me?  What changed?
I once dreamed only of playing....now that dream is just a wisp of smoke.   I wipe away tears as I mourn what I once was, and try to find contentment in what I have become.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

My Worst Fear......

It all started when the coffee pot refused to brew.  Never a good sign.  Even the dogs know not to speak to me until I’ve had my first cup, and today is a big day that’s starting earlier than usual.  The flooring guys are coming and I need everyone up, showered, and out of the house by 7, when Bill should get here to remove the toilet.  Flooring guys will move your appliances, I’m told, but they don’t do toilets.
I’m a voice girl.  I do commercials, training videos, and the occasional documentary.  Sometimes clients, especially small businesses, like to pay in trade instead of cash.  I love trade deals.  So far, trade has landed me a mountain bike, a ridiculously expensive gas grill, some haircuts, new windows, and one of my two dogs (long story).  My latest client signed on for a year of radio ads in exchange for updating my 1950’s style flooring in the kitchen and bathroom.  This is about 50 years overdue.  I feel like I’m getting the better end of the deal, since it takes me about two minutes to record an ad for them every month.  I almost feel guilty about it.
The toilet thing goes fine;  Bill, my stepdad, is a whiz at that kind of thing.  I’m just a little worried, since that’s the only toilet in the house. 
“Maybe the coffee thing is for the best,” he says, “with no toilet, and all.”
He’s got a point.
In real life, I’m a copy editor, since the voice work comes in fits and spurts.  My home office is small, but I love my ancient desk and well-worn chair, and my giant windows overlooking the river.  When I sit at my desk with the doors and windows shut, it’s peaceful;  I can hardly hear the whir of the saw in the next room.
Booting up my MacBook, I see I have 82 articles waiting in my queue to be edited.  “You’ve gotta be kidding me,” I whisper, crinkling my nose and resisting the urge to curse.  I average about 50 a day, so this is going to be a long one.  And 20 from my least favorite writer, though we’re not supposed to single people out like that.  I can’t help it.
What I wouldn’t give for a coffee.
With a sigh, I open my first article, just as one of the flooring guys pokes his head through the doorway.
“Gotta problem,” he says.  “Your bathroom floor is a mess.”
I go to look, and sure enough.  My bathroom floor is a mess.  Underneath the old linoleum, there’s loads of thick, black rot next to the tub, and even more where the toilet used to be.
“Wow,” is all I can muster.
“Good thing we found it,” he says.  “You could have fallen through the floor on that toilet, see?”
I see.
They can’t lay the tile until someone comes and fixes it, but they know someone and he’s on his way.  At least they can do the kitchen, where the dead coffee maker still sits on the countertop.
Back in my office, my Yahoo messenger buzzes;  it’s a message from Dana. 
“Flooring guys there?” she asks.
I explain about the rot.
“My worst fear,” she says, “is dying on the toilet.”
I’ve got plenty of phobias, but that wasn’t one of them.  Until today, anyway.
My phone is ringing in my office, and it’s the school calling.  My son forgot his asthma inhaler.  Could I bring it?
“My son hasn’t had an asthma attack in two years,” I wanted to say, but I shut my mouth just in time.  Bad mom for even thinking it, I know.
I grab the inhaler along with the car keys, mumble an apology to the flooring guys and take off.  Those 82 articles are just going to have to wait.
At least I can stop for coffee along the way.

The Secret Is In The Lard

“If we’re ever going to make it right,” my mother said to me, “I think we’re going to have to take a road trip.”
Though we’ve often tried, my mother and I have never been able to duplicate my great-grandmother’s lefse.  No fancy roller, special griddle, or hotsy-totsy organic flour has ever helped us recreate this Norwegian specialty, a staple in my mother’s household when she was a child.  Still, we remain determined.
“There has to be a secret,” she added.  “Something I missed.”
This was hardly a surprise. Though we come from a long line of Norwegian chefs, my mother was not so hot in the kitchen.  We think it skipped a generation.
Still, after years spent in her grandmother’s kitchen, which doubled as a bakery for a hotel and boarding house in Iola, Wisconsin, you’d think she could have figured it out.
“All right,” I said, resigned to spending two hours in the car with my mother.  “A road trip, then.”
Traditional Norwegian fare, lefse is a soft flatbread made from potato, cream, and butter.  Not exactly healthy, see?  But oh - the taste!  My mouth waters just to think of it, served with butter, sugar, and cinnamon sprinkles.  Heaven.
We set out on a crisp, fall morning.  The maple leaves had just turned to shades of red and gold, and the bright sun cut through the chill in the air - just enough to put the top down on my vintage convertible.  Well, if you cranked the heat and put the windows up.
“What’s the point of putting the top down if you’re just going to have to have the windows up?” my mother grumbled.  “We look ridiculous.”  I didn’t care.
Iola is a small town about an hour’s drive from Wausau, Wisconsin, where we both live now.  Time flew as the car twisted through the country roads.
“If you’re going to make the lefse, it’s important that you understand it,” she said.  “Not everyone makes it right.”
“Obviously,” I said, giving her a pointed look.  She ignored me.
We arrived at the Iola Bakery & Cafe, owned by my mother’s cousin Vi, well before the lunch crowd.  Downtown Iola is a lesson in history; the red brick buildings have been there for a century or more.  A fire took out the hotel years ago, but the rest of the downtown remains much the same as it was in my mother’s day.  I could picture her giggling with her sister at the corner ice cream shop, or going to see a movie at the ancient theater, now shuttered and empty.  I wondered when the last film graced its screen.
A small woman dressed in purple from head to toe, Viola greeted us warmly as we walked through the door.  She hugged me fiercely, while eying her cousin critically.
“Too thin,” she said.  “Don’t you eat?”
“There’s no lefse in Wausau,” my mother replied.
“It’s not rocket science,” said Vi.  “You should have helped out in the bakery when we were kids.”  She turned to me.  “Your mother was too busy chasing boys,” she added.  My mother pretended not to hear.
“She still does that,” I said.
Vi led us to the back of the bakery.  Among the ovens was an enormous griddle, next to which she had put out the supplies we’d need for our lesson in Norwegian cooking.  She explained each step in the process, patiently taking us through boiling and ricing the potatoes, melting the lard, and mixing in the sugar, milk, and salt. 
“Okay,” I said.  “Lard is just gross.  Nobody uses lard anymore.”
“We used melted butter,” my mother explained.
“There’s your trouble,” said Vi.  “It’s gotta be lard.  And don’t turn up your nose, young lady,” she warned, shaking her finger at me.  My mother had obviously warned her about my health-nut tendencies.
We shrugged.  Vi knew what to do.
After the flour was added, the dough was formed into balls, rolled out with a special rolling pin, and placed on a dry, hot griddle.  We worked as a team, rolling one ball while the other one cooked, and quickly, it all came together.  In under an hour, we had over a pound of lefse to take home and share.  Amazing!
“You can freeze it for later,” our teacher explained.
On the way home, our package tucked carefully in the back seat, my mother smiled at me and grasped my hands in hers. 
“Success!” she exclaimed.  Suddenly, she wrinkled her nose.  “You know,” she added, ”Vi was right.  I should have paid better attention when we were kids.”
I laughed. 
“At least now we know,” I said.  “The secret is in the lard.”

The River

There are too many waterfalls here, too many rocks in the river
and too many years have passed.
There was a time when you made my heart bleed
and oh, how I loved you and wanted you.
Not so long ago I kissed you good-bye.
You waited, you say. 
Still waiting, I know.
I long ago tired of all of your rules
I’d lost the match, had enough of your schemes
My chess men have been pulled from the now empty board
Each lured into playing another man’s game
You can’t understand why I’ve left you
and still don’t believe that I’ve gone
I turn away from the jagged rocks in the water
And when my anchor drops, past the chaos
I furtively sneak a quick look behind
It’s you I see in the distance
still watching,
still waiting for me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 20

What is success, and how do we measure it?  Is it measured by the happiness we feel?  The money we make?  The prestige of a job, a position, a label? 

Lately, I'm not so sure.  I work, but my work is at home.  That doesn't seem to cut it with everyone.  My doorbell constantly rings, my phone is always buzzing.  My mother simply walks in my door, unannounced, and starts talking.  When I let her know politely that I'm in the middle of an article, she says, "Oh, that's okay!" and loudly starts fawning over the cats. 

I just don't get it.

Even now, at this very moment, my daughter won't stop talking to me, even though she can see that I'm typing.  (Blogging isn't working, I know - but she doesn't know that.)

How do you deal with it - the constant interruptions?  Battling the constant perception that writers "don't work"?  Because I'd sure love to hear your ideas.

In the meantime, I'll sign off - since the doorbell is ringing once again and it's time to run errands with my son.  (*sigh*).......
Happy Friday.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Monday, Monday

Tra la, tra la la la....
The boys come home today. It feels as though the older they get, the less time they have for their mama. Isn't that the truth? Of course, being divorced means sharing them much more than I'd like to as it is, but now that they're teenagers they have so many interests and friends.
Mondays are always busy days around the house - the boys have their lessons at the Conservatory - but I hope that tonight we can curl up by the fireplace and talk a little bit.....just like we used to.
One can dream, yes?
On another note, I have been having a lot of fun with the 6S Network, which I mentioned on an earlier post. It's a website in which you are encouraged to blog your own 6-sentence story. You'd be surprised how much you can say in just six sentences - curiously addicting! Check it out here: Six Sentences. Very cool.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Clearing the Cobwebs

I receive Writer's Digest monthly, and it never fails to stimulate the writer within me. This month featured a list of great websites for writers, several of which are now bookmarked and visited daily.
Once in a while, the magazine sends facebook fans a Friday prompt, with the start of a story for anyone to continue with a sentence or two. I look forward to those, and this morning got the idea that perhaps a little jolt is all you really need to get writing.
For my fellow writers, and you know who you are.....please check out my new blog, named "A Writer's Daily Prompt", that I'll update daily with a starter sentence. You decide where the story goes next. I hope to help clear your cobwebs while at the same time clearing my own. Have fun!

A Writer's Daily Prompt: April 18

A Writer's Daily Prompt: April 18: "Okay writers.....here's your first prompt. In the comments section, post the next sentence to the story that begins here: 'When the tail l..."

A Writer's Daily Prompt: April 18

A Writer's Daily Prompt: April 18: "When the tail lights vanished around the bend, leaving Sam in total darkness, a shiver ran down her spine."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Six Sentences

How's this for a good creativity starter?  Write six sentences and see what you have to say.  Submit and you might have your work published with the top entries.

Click here: Formatting