Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Oh Carol!

Guess what I found!

Carol Burnett on youtube. And not just clips here and there, but entire Carol Burnett shows.

I'm a TV kid. I was part of the first generation of TV kids. My parents didn't have a tv growing up, but it was part of my childhood.

It started with Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Dressup, Mr. Rogers and the Friendly Giant. Then it moved on to Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie and the Brady Bunch.

One of my favorites was the Carol Burnett show. I wanted to be Carol Burnett only prettier. I thought she was hilarious. Even funnier than Lucy. In fact I've seen some Carol on the Lucy Show and she steals it from Lucy.

My mother liked Carol too but she didn't like the Family skits. I loved them.

I wanted to be on her show and do skits with her. I wanted her to be on my show - because I was going to have a variety show too.

Variety shows have since died, which is sad. They were huge from the 50's to the end of the 70's and then they just disappeared. Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell sisters were about the last. There is Saturday Night Live, but frankly other than a few brilliant moments every now and then, I never found it compared. Now instead we have people looking for love by sleeping with a half dozen prospective hoping they'll be picked.

At one point a few years after Carol called it quits on her show (she was never cancelled) they put together half hour shows called Carol and friends that took skits from her shows. It was chopped up and didn't have the continuity that a full show has.

It's hard to get variety shows on DVD because of the complexity of getting permission to showcase music. Everybody asks for outrageous prices. I would think they would just be happy to get noticed again.

I just watched Tim Conway torture Lyle Wagner with a Hitler puppet.

It doesn't get much better than that.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Maybe I Should Dress Up as a Phone

I've been to dinner with friends, or over to someone's house for a visit and been subjected to listening to them talk on the phone to someone else.

Not for an exciting time. It's even worse now that people are always texting someone.

"Hey, I'm here, right in front of your face. I made the effort to come. I put on something besides my pajamas, I combed by hair and brushed my teeth, I got in my car and I'm right here in person giving you my time because I want to, and you're there talking on your phone to someone else which leaves me completely out of the conversation and lets me know that I'm not important."

Remember when you were a kid and you were playing with someone until someone else came along that they thought was better to play with, and they would just leave you? Yeah, it's like that.

Why do adults insist on continuing on with that rude and self absorbed behavior? You would think they would know better.

Or how about those times you're in a store or on a bus and someone decides that they are so important that everyone should hear their conversation on the phone? They don't speak quietly. They don't even speak in a normal tone. They speak quite loudly as if to say "see, I have a friend on the phone who talks to me".

I don't care about your fight. I don't care what color the sweater you're wearing or thinking of buying is. I don't need to know where you're going for lunch or what movie you're going to see. What makes you possibly think that I care? If you're parents suck that's between you and your parents.

The other day there was a teenage girl having a fight with one of her parents on the phone. I was so tempted to say something to her but I figured she would just be rude and obnoxious to me too for butting in.

Maybe I should have said something anyway, because if you're going to force me to listen to your side of the conversation, then it seems to me I should have some input.

And now for your entertainment.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Great Cookie Depression

I got several suggestions for blog posts when I asked. One of them was cookies. I wrote about cookies a thousand years ago - give or take a few thousand. So here it is. You know I've got writers block when I resort to posting bad old poetry.

The Great Cookie Depression

My grandmother lives with us.
I love to hear the stories about her childhood.
You know, those old hardship stories
About those old days that were so good.
Anyways, she was telling me one of these stories.
It was late one rainy afternoon.
We were baking in the kitchen.
The smell of cookies and pine-sol filled the room.
Now I’d heard about the outhouse, and washing clothes by hand,
And chopping wood, and the big clincher one, you know,
The one about how she walked five miles to school each day,
Uphill each way
 And barefoot in the snow.
But that story she told that day brought home to me,
That her hardships were really real.
She said that when she was a child,
They had oatmeal cookies – with just oatmeal!
That’s right!  Just plain old oatmeal
With flour and sugar in them.
But nothing exciting,
Nothing you could really mention.
No walnuts, no peanuts, no almonds, no raisins,
No coconut, or chocolate chips,
No M&M’s.
Well I cried, “Life is so cruel!”
My tears conveyed how I did feel,
As I imagined my grandmother,
Eating oatmeal cookies with just oatmeal.
But that’s not the end of the story,
She had much more to say,
About The Great Cookie Depression
In those long ago days.
Chocolate chip cookies had no chocolate chips.
There were no coconut macaroons, not one.
No Oreos, or mallow bars,
She’d never heard of a fig newton.
(She thought it was the guy who sat under the tree and had an apple fall on his head)
Anyways, the picture she painted,
Well, that was pretty bleak,
And how much was real, how much was exaggeration,
I’ll leave up to you to think.
But as for me,
Well, it’s certainly changed the way that I feel,
And I can’t see a cookie, without thinking of my grandmother,
Who ate oatmeal cookies with just oatmeal.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

I Declare My Independence Day!

Did you know that everyday of the year is a special day?

You can find your special day here. Crazy National Day Just look up your birthday.

Mine is Start Your Own Country Day.

Which is pretty cool. For my birthday I can give myself my own country.

I'm going to have to find a place for it. One thing's for sure. It's not going to be here in Alberta where the snow goes up to the roofs and if you stand outside in one place too long you eventually become an ice sculpture.

My language would be English because that's what I know and I'm too lazy to create another.

The leaders would be all women. I know that sounds sexist, but I want to see if society would be better if women ran things. Men have had centuries to prove themselves and they've been screwing it up all along.

Making sure that everyone had a decent home and food to eat would be a priority. So would education, health and the arts.

It would be a capitalist/socialist society. Yes you can make money. Yes you can get ahead. No you don't get to stomp on the poor to do it. Yes, you have to help out your neighbor. Yes, we want you to have a mansion but can we get the homeless a place to live first?

Truck drivers would be banned on highways. Goods would be delivered by train and then truck drivers deliver goods from the train to the businesses. This would cut down on the "get out of my way, I'm a big truck" mentality.

Murderers and rapists would be sent to some island where they would have to fend for themselves. They want every man for himself, I'll give them every man for himself.

My country would be called Everything so that I can say that I'm

Artist - Mary Englebreit

Anyone have a problem with that?

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Dream Scheme Part 4: Show Me the Money

In one of the Facebook groups I'm in the subject of MLM's (multi level marketing businesses) came up.

Don't do it. If someone approaches you with one - run. Run far away.

I've posted before on this subject. If you look at the sidebar there's a whole section on it. Here, I won't make you go find it. I'll link you over.

The Dream Scheme Part 1: Want To Make a Fortune?
The Dream Scheme Part 2: Do the Math
The Dream Scheme Part 3: What's an MLM?

There's a fascinating book on it. The Merchants of Deception tells the true story of a guy who was a high ranking distributor in Amway. You can even read it for free!

Penn and Teller did a show about MLM's. The show with the name I don't like to put on my blog. But
if you go to Youtube and look up Penn and Teller Easy Money you'll find it. Warning: Unnecessary full frontal nudity and unnecessary bad language. Just letting you know before you head on over and then come back in tears saying "why didn't you tell me about the naked people, now I'll be scarred for life!" I have no idea what naked people have to do with MLM's. It's unlikely  you will come across an MLM that will require nakedness. Although the show focuses on an MLM that sells sex. Oh yeah, another warning. Now I know some of you are really intrigued and have headed over before reading to the end of this paragraph.

If you are approached by someone about an MLM they will show you how much money they or someone they know (know as in know of) have made.

The number will likely be impressive. This will be a number that the company has put on a cheque for them.

What they won't show you is how much they spent to get that cheque.

In order to get a cheque the company has to make money. So often the distributor has sent them a cheque not only from selling the product - if they sold any product - remember an MLM isn't about selling product - but also any difference that they have to make up between the sales and the quotas.

In order to maintain a level a distributor has to send in a minimum order. If they haven't made much for sales they still have to place the order. So that comes out of their pocket.

Distributors are strongly encouraged to invest in training supplies and go to conferences - which may be in distant cities.

And lets not forget basics to sell the product - like gas to get there, or other expenses. For instance if you're in a party MLM that sells cooking supplies, you have to buy the food to cook with. You may be required to provide free gifts to get bookings. You may have to dress a certain way. As you move up the ladder (if you do) you will be expected to live the lifestyle.

Debt awaits you my friend. So before you accept that income cheque as gospel, ask them how much goes out of the business. It's a fair question because every business has expenses.

I bet they won't know.

But remember, they'll tell you, it's not about the product. It's about the people. Focus on getting people not product and the money will come.

Yeah, from the people who are buying product just to stay in the business.

Frankly I've never been able to figure out how spending ten bucks on a tube of toothpaste to get fifty cents back makes you money.

Someone show me the money.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Space In Front of My House

I get it.

I really do.

That parking space in front of my house on a busy street - it's not really mine. It belongs to the world. I understand this mentally.

I do not understand it emotionally.

I get unreasonably perturbed when some idiot parks their monstrosity in front of my house where my car belongs.

Sure, I could park in the back in the alley way, except it's winter and I would have to shovel back there or else I would get stuck until summer time when the snow thaws. Especially this year with the snow up to my  neck.

So yes, I feel a little upset when someone takes my spot on the street. I mean, my front walk is right there. What happens if it dips really low in temperature and I have to plug in my car so I can start it the next day. I can't plug it in if I'm parked down the street. What if I have a buttload of groceries? What if the sidewalk isn't shoveled and I risk my life walking on the ice?
Maybe this is my solution.

Not only that, but because someone parked in my spot that is open to anyone, I have to park in front of someone else's house and take their spot. Now is that fair?

Yes, I know that it's not really my spot! That's not the point.

It's in front of my house which I pay rent for. Therefore I should get it. And by the way, just because I leave it for a few hours or a few minutes doesn't mean it should be up for grabs. I need it when I get back.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

National Hobby Month

Did you know that January is National Hobby Month?

Nope? Neither did I.

I've been a longtime crafter. I learned to knit at five and didn't make anything but a mess, but when I
Mirabilia - The Kiss
One of the many cross stitch projects
I'm working on.

was eighteen I picked up those needles and remembered everything. I was soon knitting and designing my own sweaters. Well, not exactly designing. Taking patterns and changing them so that the end result was unrecognizable and completely mine.

I taught myself to crochet soon after and then I discovered cross stitch.

That was the death knell for knitting and crochet It didn't help that I had a little one who decided to cut holes in a heavily cabled sweater I was making. She survived.

I became very good at cross stitch and was even paid to do it. DON'T DO THIS. There was one piece I did on 40 count over one thread. It was awful and I hated it and in the end all those hours and hours and hours and never ending hours and mind numbing hours of work gave me two hundred bucks.

You can't make money doing cross stitch. You make it by designing patterns or selling supplies. The hours required are too great. And for me it wasn't enough to do simple cross stitch. I had to learn the beading and the specialty stitches and hardanger which is cutting holes in fabric which can lead to hard anger.

Current knitting project.
Mine is in variegated
blues and greens.

This past year I took up knitting and crocheting again. I no longer had little ones to cut holes in sweaters (she cut holes in one of my cross stitch projects too and it wasn't hardanger. Yes, she survived.)

My yarn supply was fed by a part time job at a local craft store. Now just like my cross stitch (about twenty projects on the go) I have several yarn projects. happening.

Yarn takes up way more space than embroidery floss.

Knitting has changed a lot since my early days. Now I have interchangable wooden needles and there's techniques like entralac and new ways to cast on and bind off and knitting entire garments in one piece and top down sweaters and two socks at a time and...

It's a little overwhelming.

I've also just aquired a small table loom. It's so easy I'm told. Just setting it up has taken me days and days and I haven't even started making anything yet.

Included in my to do list - learning to quilt, learning to bead, scrapbooking (okay maybe not) and a desire but no talent to paint like Donna Dewberry.

The nice thing about crafting is that it doesn't require anyone else. It's not like another favorite hobby of mine, acting, that does need other people. In fact other people have to let you into their group and give you something to do. It requires initiations and the willingness to look like a fool in front of strangers and the distinct possibility that you will fall on your face. I love it.

I also have more books than I can read. I have started collecting Christmas movies. I collect favorite TV shows. My children tell me to turn down my music.

Hey, if it wasn't for the loud music I would be the stereotypical grandma. Except I rarely bake cookies and I don't have a rocking chair.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Little Writing Group That Can

There is a correlation between successful authors and good writing groups. For instance, C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien were friends. They even wrote their names the same with two first initials and a last name. They wrote the same type of literature although in different styles. They were both hugely successful and currently have Hollywood making blockbusters out of their works long after they are both gone.

Frankly I would rather Hollywood make blockbusters out of my works while I'm here but then I live in the age of blockbusters and none of their works would have been done justice if it had been made while they were alive.

I am blessed to be in a good writing group.

We are four women. All of us have been published both traditionally and self published. All of us respect each other. All of us write fiction but we have also written articles for other publications. One of us even has an agent - no it's not me.

In fact these women are more successful at their craft than I am and I am honored that they want me there.

When we get together we talk about our lives, our families, our jobs - or joblessness, our hurdles, and we talk about writing. How we write, where we write, what we write, writing retreats and conferences and how we market what we write. We complain about the writing industry and how awful it is and how none of us can imagine not being in it. We are willing to read each others work and offer positive but constructive critiques. We believe in building up, not tearing down.

These women are funny, caring, and supportive.

So I thought I would share the latest from all of these authors including me because it's my blog. I'll do this in alphabetical order like a library. Just so it's fair.

Oh, I guess I come first.

Thimble Fingers (The Orchards of Marina Colleen)             by Anna Maria Junus

When the woman first appears at Thimble Fingers, the needlework shop in The Orchards of Marina Colleen, owner Katherine is eager to aquire a new customer. After all, it's not unusual for women who know nothing about needlework to come in, take a lesson in the fine art of cross stitch, and walk out with a bag load of supplies, a head full of projects too numerous to accomplish, and a free cup of coffee. But as the owner/customer relationship quickly develops into friendship, questions arise. Why is this woman asking about Katherine's past behind her back? What is it about Pilar that makes everyone so suspicious? More importantly to the other store owners, what is Katherine hiding in her past? Could all those sharp scissors and needles be emblems of a darker psychotic history? Whatever it is, everyone is uncomfortable with the covert antics of this mysterious stranger. The answers start a series of events that threaten the peaceful life that Katherine had so carefully built for herself.

Travel to the Orchards, the outdoor mall on Vancouver Island where you'll meet Gary, the sixty something draft dodger hippy who owns the glass blowing shop. He'll most likely be protesting something and this time, he wears nothing but a diaper while doing it. There's Bettina, the quilt shop owner. She always has Katherine's back and will, if she has to, wield a pair of sewing shears to protect her. Chloe, the manager of the frame shop, has her own hidden agenda that hits Katherine in the face - literally. and Tony, the gorgeous owner of Java the Hut, is on a hunt to track down store owners giving away free cups of coffee. And then there's Kelsey who is...well, he's just serendipitous.


The Shore Girl  by Fran Kimmel

Rebee Shore's life is fragmented. She s forever on the move, ricocheting around Alberta, guided less than capably by her dysfunctional mother Elizabeth.

The Shore Girl follows Rebee from her toddler to her teen years as she grapples with her mother s fears and addictions, and her own desire for a normal life. Through a series of narrators family, friends, teachers, strangers, and Rebee herself her family s dark past, and the core of her mother s despair, are slowly revealed.
The Shore Girl is a mosaic of Rebee: of her origins, of her past and present; from darkness and grief, to understanding and hope for a brighter future.


Whiskey and Gumdrops: A Blueberry Springs Romance by Jean Oram

Mandy Mattson has always believed that what you want isn't what you need. But never in her life has she been more wrong.

As a small town waitress, Mandy has never felt as though she deserves the love of her best friend Frankie. But when she sees an ex-lover marry her rival she realizes her life is adding up to a big fat nothing and she needs to make a change. With every path in her new life leading back to Frankie, will she finally be able to reconcile that the one thing she's always wanted is the very thing she needs?

This best friend romance is a companion novel to Champagne and Lemon Drops: A Blueberry Springs Chick lit Contemporary Romance.

The Blueberry Springs series:
Champagne and Lemon Drops (book 1)
Whiskey and Gumdrops (book 2)
Rum and Raindrops (book 3 - coming Spring 2014!)


Love Letters of the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist

A breathtaking literary debut, Love Letters of the Angels of Death begins as a young couple discover the remains of his mother in her mobile home. The rest of the family fall back, leaving them to reckon with the messy, unexpected death. By the time the burial is over, they understand this will always be their role: to liaise with death on behalf of people they love. They are living angels of death. All the major events in their lives births, medical emergencies, a move to a northern boomtown, the theft of a veteran s headstone are viewed from this ambivalent angle. In this shadowy place, their lives unfold: fleeting moments, ordinary occasions, yet on the brink of otherworldliness. In spare, heart-stopping prose, the transient joys, fears, hopes and heartbreaks of love, marriage, and parenthood are revealed through the lens of the eternal, unfolding within the course of natural life. This is a novel for everyone who has ever been happily married -- and for everyone who would like to be.


So there you have it. The successful little writing group that I belong to. We will all be millionaires. In the meantime we will continue to meet at the local coffee shop and help each other along our rocky roads to fame.

Monday, January 6, 2014


It is 5:00 in the morning and although I went to bed a few hours ago - okay 2 and a half, I have not gone to sleep yet.

Since losing my job my days have been turned around. I am a natural night owl. I'm trying to get my days switched back. It's not easy.

I've always been this way. I remember when I was five, lying in bed and poking my head over the side of my bed to look out my door to see who was in the kitchen.

"What are you doing awake?" My mother or father would ask.

"Riding a spaceship," I could have said.

This is where I developed my imagination. If I had to be there I might as well do something. So I either read books or imagined I was somewhere else, doing something else.

Over the years I went on all kinds of adventures and got into all kinds of trouble that I had to get out of. I was rescued many times and fell in love over and over and was famous and was loved and was successful and rich.

Of course there was always the monsters under the bed that I had to deal with.

Still, it was way better than just lying there.

I wanted to get up in three hours and start my day.

Now, it looks as if I'll be going to bed in three hours instead.

So, I will write in my blog, work on my book, study my scriptures, read a book, and then I will feel as if I had accomplished something.

It's not as if I can exercise, do housework or practice the piano. People are sleeping around here. I don't think they want to be woken up to Richard Simmons, the vacuum cleaner, or badly played scales.

Or maybe I should go fight dragons instead because when I'm fighting dragons I'm young, thin, beautiful, have magic powers, and there is one hot guy who adores me fighting right beside me.

See how insomnia can work for a girl?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

This is Alberta

You should see the outside of my house.

I have to stay strictly to the sidewalk, otherwise I would get lost - and smothered.

And if isn't as if anyone can enjoy this stuff. It's like minus a hundred degrees out there. Okay, -20 but really does it matter?

I talk about moving back to my hometown of Victoria.

"But it rains all the time" someone who has never lived there inevitably says.

It rains a lot. The island is the largest rain forest in the world. But if it rained all the time it wouldn't have daffodils in February - I am not exaggerating - February!

You don't have to brush mountains of rain off your car.

You don't have to shovel rain.

You don't have to put on ice skates to go down your front walk.

You don't have to worry about getting lost in a blizzard on your way from the mall to the parking lot.

You don't have to wear so many layers you can't bend your arms.

You don't have to plug in your car. For those of you in warmer climates, we plug in our cars and they're not electric.

I really dislike people who say "put down that remote and go enjoy the outdoors."

The remote is where it's warm.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

From the Annamaniacs Files: Things That Make You Go Hmmm

I called out for help today for ideas to write about. One friend listed a whole bunch of things but the one that leaped out was "socks".

And then I remembered that I had written about socks back when I made oodles of money writing a humor column. And oodles means "enough for noodles".  So for my post today we are going into the deep recesses of the Annamaniacs Files, written who knows when,  and pulling out...

The Things that Make You Go Hmmm...

A friend asked me to write about socks.  So here it is.

I have two boxes of socks.  None of them match.  They’ve gone everywhere with me.  They’ve been in three different homes in Edmonton, another one in Calgary, another in Gleichen and still another in Lacombe.  They never go away.  They grow.  

It started off innocently enough.  Just a few socks that were waiting for their mates to show up.  Then the mix matched socks joined up together and multiplied.  Some of these offspring resemble their parents, but don’t quite match up. Sometimes I’ll make them match by stretching a dark blue sock to match a taller dark blue sock.  Sometimes I’ll tell the kids “it’s in fashion now to wear two different socks.

Of course I wonder what happens to the other socks.  Did they run away?  Did the sock monster eat them?  If socks have a sex, was it the male ones that left and the female ones that stayed?

Part of me tells me to just get it over with and throw these socks out.  But I know that when I do the matching ones will show up.  All those socks I lost years ago in Edmonton, will find their way to Lacombe, searching for their mates.

My friend told me how one day all the moms in her neighborhood got their sock baskets together and matched up socks.  They were amazed at how many matches they made.

Now I feel like singing the Matchmaker song from Fiddler on the Roof.

And no matter how hard I try, I can never wear socks more than once.  I’ve bought socks that look completely different from everyone else’s. I’ve even made announcements about it.  “You see these socks that have 10 different colors and my name written all over them?  They are mine!  You can’t wear them.  You can’t have them. Anybody caught wearing them will be forced to have their toenails pulled out by tweezers and their Smashing Pumpkin CD’s confiscated.”

Of course everyone ignores me.

I think we should all dispense with the theory that socks must match each other. 

Parents, start sending your children to school in mismatched socks.  It’s so much easier, less expensive and my kids won’t look so weird.

Socks started me wondering about the other things that make me go “Hmmm”.

Like “if two snakes start swallowing each other, will they both disappear?”

Or “if sea sponges multiply enough, could they eventually soak up the ocean?”

I asked my kids “What makes you go Hmmm?

“You do, Mom,” they answered.

I explained better what I was aiming for.

My thirteen-year-old son said “Why is it at school, fifteen girls go into the bathroom and another fifteen girls come out?  That door never closes.  What do they all do in there together?  Help each other aim?”

I looked him in the eye and said “Yes, my dear son, they all help each other aim.”

So the question is “What makes you go Hmmm?”  

And please, nothing about chickens and eggs or trees falling in a forest. 

Turns out, I also found an addition I wrote about socks. And I am psychic. I knew it was going to happen. Here's the addition written a while later... This is an excerpt from 

"Simplifying is Difficult for a Gypsy Pack Rat"

There is that knowledge that if I throw it out, I will need it the very next day. Even though I haven’t needed it in the past ten years the need will arise when the object is gone.

That is why I have held on to the same single socks for twenty years. Okay, although sometimes when I’m writing I am prone to exaggeration, this is not one of those times.  I guess I thought that when I moved to a new house the missing socks would magically appear there.

Now with this last move, I was good. I realized that belief was silly and I would never find those missing socks.  I actually threw out every sock that I couldn’t match up.

After I threw them out I found their matches.

But I did start off life in my new house with only matched socks.

It’s been two months now, and I have single socks all over the place.

So there you have it. The Sock post.