A Writer’s Conference Interrupted this Blog

Greetings all. Forgive me for interrupting our regular posting schedule. I attended a writer’s conference this week during the time I normally write my posts.

A week will elapse before I finish processing all of what I learned. And catch up on sleep.

In the meantime, I’ll share a snippet from our Friday night key note speaker, author, James Rollins.

He still practices veterinary medicine. Once a month he is the volunteer vet at a local spay and neuter clinic where they call him Dr. Jim.

His voice filled with pride. He told us he could still neuter a cat in under thirty seconds. Everyone laughed.

All the men in the audience crossed their legs.

It’s a matter of perspective.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Ciao,

Fannie

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Peanut, Peanut, Who’s Got the Peanut?—Redux

Thank you for joining me for the summer redux series. I am re-posting stories you may not have read, in the fashion of a summer re-run. We’ll get back to our regular posting schedule in a few weeks.

The original “Peanut, Peanut, Who’s Got the Peanut?” posted back in December 2011. It’s been embellished a little since then.

*  *  *

The wind howled as it pulled a winter storm beneath the moonlit sky outside our Gig Harbor, Washington, home.

Waves of onion, garlic, coriander, curry, and fresh cilantro permeated the kitchen. Pork sizzled in the wok. Jasmine rice steamed on the back burner of the bright white stove. The matching overhead fan drew off the steam.

I peeled the foil seal from the can of peanuts and set in on the yellow linoleum counter next to the stove. I stirred the sizzling food.

When I picked up the can of peanuts, half the colonists vanished. I poured the stalwart survivors into the stir fry.

“Richard Cranium, would you come in here?” I asked, irritated.

Richard peaked his head around the corner, a sheepish grin enhanced his lean cheeks, which now dimpled over the hidden evidence.

“Where are the rest of the peanuts?” I asked, pointing to the can with a wooden spoon.

“What?” he asked, looking away from me. His voice reminiscent of a ten-year-old caught with his hand in the cookie jar. His jaw moved with clockwork precision.

“The peanuts that were in this can,” I asked, holding up the empty can.

He swallowed. “Where?” he asked, smiling, lowering his eyes to the floor. He ground a spot on the floor with his left foot.

“You’re not fooling me, Richard,” I said, working hard to keep an even tone. “Would you do me a favor? If I buy something for a recipe, wait until after I have finished the recipe before you wipe out the left over ingredients?”

“Anything you say, Fannie,” he said, wearing his devilish grin.

“I am going to hold you to that,” I said, giving him look number 22 from my mother’s effective arsenal−correcting errant husbands.

* * *

The next day, an arctic blast carpeted the neighborhood with a shag rug.

While making snow angels in the front yard, Richard asked, “Fannie, can we have Thai food again for dinner, I am having a craving for peanuts.”

Lifting my head, I asked, “You’re not pregnant are you?”

“Very funny.”

“Do we have any peanuts in the house?”

“Nope, I ate ‘em all,” he said, the twinkle in his eyes resembled Christmas lights.

I sat up and dusted snow from my green hat and scarf. “Then you get to drive me to the store.”  His snow angel stretched a foot and a half longer than mine. His red coat dusted in snow. “Should I be investing in Planter’s stock?”

“Ha, ha,” he said, crossing his blue eyes at me.

We purchased two cans of peanuts.

No other cars sat in the customer parking lot.

“Shall we have a little fun?” Richard asked. “Buckle up.”

Putting the Love Wagon, a red Ford F150 with queen futon and disco ball, in four wheel drive, he backed up making a quick circle in the snow.

“How about a figure eight?” he asked.

The grin on my face double stacked my dimples. I grabbed the overhead handle.

He drove over the fresh snow stepping on the accelerator as he cranked the wheel. The back end of the truck slid to the right.

The local gendarme drove into the parking lot. The officer smiled, waved, and shook his head.

We stopped the truck. Flashing our best what-did-we-do-officer smiles, we waved and headed for home.

The peanuts disappeared in the middle of the night.

December arrived. We decorated the house top to bottom for the upcoming holidays.

The next time we ventured to the grocery store, I purchased two cans of peanuts.

When we returned home, our neighbor, George Gutierrez, the Dallas Cowboy’s star emblazoned on the garage door behind him, stopped shoveling his driveway.

“Hey, George how’s it going?” Richard asked. Gripping George’s ham-sized hand.

“Good, good, how about this snow?” George asked, with his soft spoken Texas accent. A contrast to his lineman’s frame. A dark, pencil thin mustache and goatee framing his mouth.

“Hey you two, I’m going to get the groceries put away while you chat,” I said, carting three bags of groceries into the house.

While putting away the groceries, it occurred to me, hide one container of peanuts for future use.

In the dining room, Santa, dressed all in white, sat on a blue stool with blue decorations around him.  Placing one of the cans in the display, I stood back and admired. The blue can blent with the scene.

Richard searched the house for seven days looking for those peanuts, he tore the kitchen apart three times, cleaned out the refrigerator, moved all of the furniture in the living room twice, our bedroom once, even the bathroom and our office.

“Richard, thanks for reorganizing the pantry, it’s never looked so good,” I said, the wall, my defense against the heightened effect of gravity from the floor while shook from suppressed laughter.

“Very funny,” Richard said, thrusting his tongue out at me.

A few more days passed. We played “hot and cold”.

“You’re getting warmer,” I said, my voice warming up for the occasion.

He walked from the kitchen into the dining room. He searched behind the curtains and around the side board. He rounded the corner into the living room.

“You’re getting colder,” I said, wearing the I-know-something-you-don’t-know grin.

He faced me. And looked into the dining room.

“Warmer,” I said, the twinkle in my eyes reaching neon sign proportions.

Richard looked under the dining room table, feeling with his hands the areas he could not see.

“Any gum under there?” I asked, suppressing a snort.

“Very funny,” Richard said, exasperation filling his voice, “you are enjoying this way too much.”

He scanned the room again. Throwing his hands in the air, he marched out of the room.

“Richard, do you want me to tell you where they are?” I asked, rocking back and forth on my feet.

“No,” he said, grumbling something else under his breathe. Spreading his feet a littler wider than shoulder width and planting his fists on his hips, he said, “I’ll find them myself.”

On Christmas morning, Richard sat in the living room. While I prepped the turkey for our dinner, a string of profanity worked its way to the kitchen, a lid popped, silence.

We spent Boxing Day putting the Christmas decorations away.

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Napoleon Hill, A Pioneer for Personal Success

Fannie Cranium:

This month’s contribution to the Blog of Funny Names. Have you heard of Napoleon Hill? He pioneered the positive thinking personal success movement.

Originally posted on The Blog of Funny Names:

Recently on my own blog, I mentioned inspiration comes from the strangest places. I referred to the following quote:

“There are many things in life that you cannot control, but you can always control your attitude toward them. Defeat is never permanent unless you allow it to be so. When you have a positive attitude, you will recognize failure for the impostor that it is and realize that it is really a learning experience, a valuable lesson that will help you succeed with the next attempt.

Ask yourself: What could I have done differently that would have altered the outcome? What can I do in the future to minimize problems and mistakes? What did I learn from this experience that I can put to good use next time? If you approach obstacles and setbacks with a positive attitude, you will be surprised how quickly you can turn defeat into…

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Hottie or Hot Flash—Redux

Thank you for joining me for the summer redux series. I am re-posting stories you may not have read, in the fashion of a summer re-run. We’ll get back to our regular posting schedule in a few weeks.

The original “Hottie or Hot Flash” posted back in January 2012. It’s been embellished a little since then.

*  *  *

“Good lord, Fannie, you’re on fire. Are you sick?” Richard asked, throwing the blankets back.

“At this moment I wish I was sick, then I know it would be over in a few days,” I said, sweat soaking through my nightshirt. “Richard, I’ve reached the age where I’ve got night sweats.”

“Night sweats?”

“One of the joys of middle age you get to share with me as my biological clock winds down.”

“Oh,” Richard said, scratching his head. “How long is it supposed to last?”

“Anywhere from ten to twelve years. Sometimes more, sometimes less.”

“That long huh,” Richard said. “Can I get you anything?”

“How about a bag of ice wrapped in a towel.  We may as well treat it like a fever.”

Richard padded out of the bedroom. He ducked under the head of the doorway.  He returned with an ice filled ziplock, wrapped in a towel, and handed it to me.

“Thank you,” I said, resting the ice on the back of my neck.

“If this is going to last for ten years, I’m stocking up on freezer gel packs in the morning,” Richard said, crawling back into bed. He threw the blankets to the end of the bed. “Fannie, I’m sorry but you’re so warm, the only way I’m going to sleep is on the sofa.”

Richard left the bedroom, blanket over his right shoulder, pillow tucked under his left arm.

The phone rang in the kitchen. Opening one swollen eye, I scanned the wall for the clock—5:02 a.m.. Rolling over, I swapped the ice pack for a pillow to cover my ears.

The alarm rang at 6:15.

“Richard can you turn off the alarm? I just need 15 more minutes,” I said, through the fog of sleep. “Richard?”

The alarm continued. Running my hand along Richard’s side of the bed, no Richard.

My zombie avatar motored my short legs into the kitchen, the rest of me followed in protest. The voice mail light’s persistent blinking caught my attention. Pressing the play button, Aunt Verla’s voice erupted from the speaker.

“Fannie, Richard, it’s me. Bud called this morning, he’s in from the gulf for a few weeks because of some hurricanes, I want you to mail him a care package while he’s on shore. He mentioned you sent him some sort of cookie last time. Call me back when you get this. I have a list.” She drew a deep breath, “By the way, I hope I didn’t wake you . . . call me.”

An involuntary groan escaped my lips.

“Fannie, are you all right?” Richard asked, from the relative safety of the sofa.

“Sure, no problem here,” I said, pretending to be awake.

“Was that Aunt Verla?”

“Who else?”

“Let me guess, they’re going on a trip and they want to spend the night in the guest room?”

“No, Bud’s back on shore, and she wants us to send him a care package,” I said, running my fingers through my short brown hair.

“Does she have a list?”

“Oh yeah,” I said, shaking my head, “I’ll call her after breakfast.”

The fax machine blurted a shrill tone. It reached every corner of the house.

“I’ll get it,” Richard said, “It’s the purchase order I’ve been waiting for.” Richard wandered down to the office. Erratic laughter floated back toward the kitchen.

“Richard, what’s so funny?” I asked, shuffling into the office.

“Your aunt couldn’t wait, she faxed the list along with instructions for you to go to their house this afternoon and fix the computer. She’s available between 2 and 4 p.m..”

“Well that would be nice if I was the cable company,” I said.  “I am not calling until after breakfast.”

Yoga, a shower, breakfast, and two cups of tea later, I dialed my aunt.

“Hello,” Uncle Carl said.

“Hi, Uncle Carl, it’s Fannie.”

“Fannie, let me guess, you’re returning Verla’s call to confirm you received the list,” Uncle Carl said, laughing.

“Yes, I got the list. What’s wrong with the computer this time?”

“The same thing as last time.”

“Did you use the instructions I left you?”

“Verla threw them out saying we didn’t need them when you were only two miles down the road.”

“If you promise not to tell Aunt Verla,” I said, twisting the phone cord, “I stashed a back-up copy on your desk taped to the back of the blotter.  Are you in your office or the kitchen?”

“The kitchen.”

“Perfect. Get her on the phone with me. Then you can get the computer running while I distract her.  Send me an email if you get it to work. If I don’t see anything from you, I’ll stop by after work.”

“Let me get her, hang on a minute,” Uncle Carl said. His voice muffled, “Verla, Fannie’s on the phone for you.”

The email arrived before Aunt Verla and I hung up.

“So how did it go with your aunt?” Richard asked, smirking.

“Uncle Carl fixed the computer. Louisiana is only two hours ahead of us, I’ll be calling Bud this afternoon to find out if he actually wants anything.”

*  *  *

“Hello,” Bud said, his voice as slow as the summer air was thick in the south.

“Bud this is Fannie,” I said, to my closest cousin. “How long are you in town?”

“Hey, Fannie, good to hear your voice. We may be here up to two weeks the way the storms are lining up in the Atlantic,” Bud said. “I’m guessing my mom called you.”

“Yup. She also faxed over a list of supplies you’d need to weather the storm,” I said, laughing, scanning the 27 item list.

Bud groaned. “Fannie, you don’t have to send me anything,” Bud said, “although those chocolate mint cookies were to die for and I wouldn’t mind having another couple dozen of those if Richard would let them out of the house.”

“I see, a little mint decadence will help you weather the storm.”

“Couldn’t hurt,” Bud said. A knock on the door interrupted the conversation. “Come in,” Bud shouted.

I could hear a male voice drawl, “Hey Bud, brought some beer and steaks, thought we could hang out, and barbecue this evening.”

“Hand me one of those and put the rest in the fridge, I’m on the phone.”

“Who you talking to?” the male voice asked.

“My cousin?”

“Boy or girl?”

“Girl.”

“Is she hot?”

You could feel the ick factor travel faster than the speed of sound two-thousand miles through the phone lines repulsed by the thought.

“Bud, Bud,” I shouted, into the phone. “Tell him I’m not hot, I’m a hot flash.”

Silence. Glass shattered. A gulp of air. Bud burst into laughter. “She’s not . . . ha, ha, ha.” Bud gasped for air before he squealed like a teenage girl. I pulled the phone away from my ear. “She’s a ha,” Bud voice cracked. Laughter filled the phone. Bud drew a deep breath, he blew it out. “She’s not hot, she’s a hot flash.”

I sent him the cookies to help him recover.

 *  * *

If you want the recipe for the cookies, my friend and fellow blogger, Liz, over at Food for Fun posted the recipe.

 

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Holiday

I will be taking this week off to spend with family and friends.

For those of you in the United States, have a safe and happy 4th. For those of you elsewhere on our lovely planet, have a wonderful weekend.

Until next week!

Ciao,

Fannie

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A Special Edition: Inspiration Comes from the Strangest Places

Three chapters into the proposal, I sit at my desk wondering will this help others or is it just for me?

Then I look at a piece of paper taped above my monitor:

There are many things in life that you cannot control, but you can always control your attitude toward them. Defeat is never permanent unless you allow it to be so. When you have a positive attitude, you will recognize failure for the impostor that it is and realize that it is really a learning experience, a valuable lesson that will help you succeed with the next attempt.

Ask yourself: What could I have done differently that would have altered the outcome? What can I do in the future to minimize problems and mistakes? What did I learn from this experience that I can put to good use next time? If you approach obstacles and setbacks with a positive attitude, you will be surprised how quickly you can turn defeat into victory. ~ Napoleon Hill

He wrote those words about one hundred years ago.

And an e-mail from a friend arrives asking for help on the very thing I’m working on. I turn to my dictionary to make sure I’m using the right words.

Based on her response, they worked.

I relish my lifelong love affair with my dictionary—printed before I was born, and gifted to me because I used it more than anyone else in our home.

While concentrating on my book proposal, I’ve visited my friend, Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, searching for the right word or phrase. He’s never let me down.

There are others out there with the same passion for the dictionary. For the words.

Blogger, James Somers, recently posted a stirring discussion, “You’re Probably Using the Wrong Dictionary.”  It’s tagged under Longreads, but worth the time.

I may never look at my dictionary the same way again.

Special editions require a little something extra, in Louisiana they call it the lagniappe (lan-yap′), how about The Bangles with Eternal Flame. Somehow it seems fitting for a lifelong love affair. . . .

Who knows, maybe Napoleon Hill will show up in a post over at the Blog of Funny Names.—Inspiration comes from the strangest places.

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Blaise Pascal

Fannie Cranium:

This month’s contribution to the Blog of Funny Names. Blaise Pascal, blazing trails in math, science, philosophy, and gaming. . .

Originally posted on The Blog of Funny Names:

Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal

Not just a computer language, not just a measurement, not just a funny name . . . Blaise Pascal entered this world on June 19, 1623. Born in the middle, between two sisters, Gilberte and Jacqueline.

Educated at home by his father, Etienne Pascal, a tax collector.

By 1631, Blaise’s father experienced a falling out with Cardinal Richelieu, yes, that Cardinal Richelieu. (I promise not to make any Musketeers references. Other than Oliver Platt will always be my favorite Musketeer, except for that reference.)

Etienne was forced to flee Paris leaving his children in the care of a neighbor, Madame Sainctot, a woman of colorful repute, who kept one of the most sought after salons in all of France. When Jacqueline, the youngest of the Pascal children, performed well in a production at Madam Sainctot’s salon, did Richelieu pardon Etienne. Allowing him back into Paris, reuniting the family.

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