Friday, July 29, 2011

Fish Tales

At the moment, Babble is coming to you live from the shores of Lake Sebago, ME. Not just any lakeside perch, but a smack-dab-toes-in-the water view of one of the most beautiful places on earth. (Hmm? Random thought; should I have my toes in the water while on a laptop? I’ll err on the side of caution and pull them out for a minute; hate to end a vacation with accidental electrocution.)
From my seat on the porch, I can see my children fishing on the dock as our Labrador, Maggie, enthusiastically leaps in the water – killing all chances of catching a blessed thing. My husband, God love him, is trying to round her up – but let’s face it, 18 month old Lab, 43 year old man – he hasn’t got a chance.
Fishing is new to my brood, and as it happens, an activity they have come to enjoy – Grandpa will be proud.  But this appreciation for the aquatic did not come naturally; in fact, it took plotted maternal deception. Prior to our home departure I allowed Frick and Frack to pack a plethora of electronic toys– but my failing mind (wink, wink) must have forgotten the chargers – thus we had 8 hours of electronic mindlessness and then, zap, no juice.
Whoops, my bad – but through the unplugged time – a new love is born. Look out trout, the Elliott boys' are comin’ for ya!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Ugly Truth

When I was young, and Mastodons roamed the Earth, I had a cat, Snooky. Yes, that was her name – and it was a perfectly good name until a certain Jersey Shore cast member tarnished it forever. A stray, Snooky arrived on our doorstep hungry, dirty and knocked up – the last was a little bonus discovery my father made in the garage one morning before work; nothing says commuting delay like kittens in the Buick.
I think Snooky was the beginning of my love for all things damaged. Maybe damaged is too harsh, perhaps slightly imperfect is a better term.  People, places and things with hard earned scars of character; a story for each dent and scratch life’s brought their way.
Take pumpkins for instance. I drive my kids nuts at the neighborhood patch every year; searching high and low for the most homely, misshapen, stumpy stemmed gourd with absolutely no hope of Halloween adoption –and BAM – it’s mine! Pumpkin Guy (I’m sure he has a name, but in 15 years I’ve never asked) looks forward to my annual visit; grinning from his perch on the front porch, he routinely greets me with some variation of, “Welcome back - I got some real ugly ones for ya’ this year.” Not the best sales pitch for the general public, but it works for me.
This lifelong obsession with the less than ideal isn’t some grand attempt to subliminally sway my boys into appreciating inner beauty, get real, they’re adolescents, I’m lucky I can convince them to wear clean underpants and refrain from armpit noises in public. All I really hope is that someday, when I’m not around to badger them into making good choices, they have the strength of character to maintain an open, accepting perspective - and are strong enough to surround themselves with the people, places and things in life that shine from within.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lit Laughter

Writing a book is like giving birth to a reluctant porcupine; the little bugger ‘s content  up there in creative-womb land, and plans to give you a Hell of a lot of pain making his way into the world.  And once that chord is cut – the pain has just begun.
And yet – I did it anyway; God help me.
Yes, my writer friends – I know outing a new work on your blog is frowned upon, (see previous Lunch with a legend blog post for the details). But my very creative sister forwarded this link today and I had to share. Warning: If you have a full bladder – empty it now – the laughter will consume you. Please watch before reading on (and yes – I checked it over for cyber bugs and spam-ola:
OK literary kin; who knows this guy? (Some of us ARE this guy!) Hope this little gem brightened your day – and keep writing!

Lunch with a legend; and the lessons that follow (aka - Why I wrote a book!)

“It’s so good to see you, Kathryn – tell me what you have been doing the last 20 years?”
“Well Professor, I’m married, have two rambunctious sons and write for two of our local newspapers.”
Dead silence.
“I have to say, and I mean this with the utmost respect for your life choices, I expected much more from you.”
I am speechless - an unheard of phenomena.
“You showed great promise once; where is the book you so often spoke of writing? Have you abandoned that dream?”

So that’s what it feels like to be run over by a bus, I always wondered; nothing like having your role model sum up your professional life as slightly more than adequate. And yet – it was the kick in the rump I needed.

Here’s how it started.

I talked to people – not emailed, text or IM – talked! People, like me, who write for a living. Not just those who dabble, but individuals who file 1099’s under the category of creative – in other words, poor. Although contracted, I still garner most my income as a freelancer, thus my circle of contacts within the writing realm was wide.

Lesson One: From my weekly editor: “For the love of God – Blog! I am so sick of you trying to interject humor into the police blotter! Get it out in cyber space and cut down on my red line time! And by the way – I need you to cover the senior art fair – make it sound exciting.”


Lesson Two: From local children’s book author: “Join a writers group. Try and find one more suited for your professional experience. Trust me, there are a lot of them out there full of people pushing their books with absolutely no writing experience; a lot of them still live in their parent’s basement and collect action figures. Choose wisely.”


Lesson Three: From my college professor: “Go back to school; education is a tool only sharpened when kept active.”


Lesson Four: From a fellow almost author: “Be prepared to fail, and fail often; no way to sugar coat it. This is not a career for the weak. Do you drink – if not – start.”

Done. (In spades.)

Lesson Five: From a helpful, but rightfully harsh literary agent. “Get some Beta readers to rip this thing to shreds, I don’t have time for this much work. Don’t ask your Mom, sister or anyone who even likes you, in fact, get people who hate you. Do you have people who hate you? Don’t worry, if you write - you will.”

Done. (And may I say, ouch!)

Lesson Six: From my ten year old: “Keep at it Mom, somebody will buy it.” Pause. “Do we have any Oreos?”


Lesson Seven: From the mirror. “Dust off the dream and hit that bucket list running! (and buy Oreos.)”

Stay tuned…..

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wisdom from the NJ Turnpike

I’m baaaaack! And not only was our family vacation a rousing success, but I picked up some valuable travel tools I’d like to share. Let’s do this in Top 10 style!

  1. Before leaving outlaw any version of Punch Buggy; hand to hand combat should never be a travel game.
  2. Jet skis: If you ride with a friend, make sure that friend knows the difference between fun on the water and unexpected enema; wake and backsplash can be brutal.
  3. Bungee cords: Good for luggage racks and binding feuding siblings to their respective car seats.
  4. TUMS: Five words – New Jersey Rest Stop food.
  5. Donuts: Must be consumed on every vacation! Local Mom & Pop bakeries are the best. Duck Donuts, NC – I love you! If it were legal to marry a donut – I would be Mrs. Maple Glazed.
  6. Beach Bathrooms: Hold it – you’ll thank me.
  7. Sea Shells: Smell 6 hours into a 14 hour ride; think Ziploc.
  8. Farm Stands: STOP! Local produce is the absolute best part of road trips! Stock up.
  9. Pets: If Fido is coming along – DO NOT let your children slip him/her a chicken nugget from above mentioned Rest Stop; Labrador flatulence has a long shelf life.
  10. Baby Wipes: Even if you do not have little ones anymore, from car messes to sand in “bad” places – they do the trick! 
Happy summer! Stay safe, make memories and always have a chilled Pinot in the fridge!