Presented For Your Consideration: 7 Writing Prompts + 1 Photo Challenge

Another busy week here so I’m going to do something fun & different. I’m using the following back-to-school writing prompts AND I’m snapping my first #bumblebeebookstack photo. Tell me what you think…

Teacher Turned Mommy is hosting a blog hop in which she has provided these 7 prompts. Click HERE to be magically taken to her blog where you can learn more about it.

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ONE

My memories of the first day of school involve two things: ANXIETY about what my new teachers would be like & CURIOSITY about who I’d be sitting by.  People, figuring them out & getting used to them– that’s what I remember from my first days of school.

TWO

My favorite school supply was paper.  Whether it was lined or with grids, plain white or a beautiful color, small size or large, loose or in a spiral notebook– I LIKED PAPER.  [Still do.]

THREE

The teacher who made a difference for me was my freshman high school English teacher, Mrs. L——-,  who believed everyone could be a writer if they followed one simple rule: BE SPECIFIC. [Years ago in response to a prompt I wrote about Mrs. L——- here: The One About My Favorite Public School Teacher.]

FOUR

Here’s the thing about apples, they are my favorite fruit.  I LOVE APPLES, all varieties.  Cooked, baked, raw. In salads. Turned into juice or cider. With peanut butter on each slice. With chunks of cheddar cheese to go with.  With popcorn, even.

FIVE 

Getting a new box of crayons was [and is] a treat.  My mother, who had strong opinions on this topic, felt that one child with 64 crayons was excessive and unnecessary, so I MADE DO WITH 48.  Periwinkle and Cornflower Blue were my favorite colors.  I did not like Raw Umber.

SIX

When I think about new friends I’m reminded that I went to three elementary schools in four years.  I walked into the first two schools only knowing a few kids from church, but the third school was different.

It was a new school with a new building that combined about half the kids from each of the first two schools I went to;  therefore, for the first time, I KNEW ALMOST EVERYONE.  And this made me happy.

SEVEN

Answering what’s in your lunchbox is difficult for me because my mother didn’t believe in packing lunches.  She was all about a HOT MEAL so she made me buy my lunch every stinking day until I got to high school when I was allowed to pack my own lunch, that I put in a brown paper bag.

Some of the cafeteria food wasn’t so bad.  I liked the fish sandwiches and the Spanish rice and the baked beans and the no-bake cookies– but the salmon loaf was beyond bleech.  Subjecting innocent children with their tender taste buds to it was cruel.

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I got this idea from Instagram. This is what is called a Bumblebee Book Stack. Finding the books was easy, but photographing them was more difficult than I thought it’d be. Go figure. 

High Hopes: Growing A Houseplant, Sharing A Mother’s Day Memory

“Just what makes that little old ant, Think he can move that rubber tree plant…”

Over the weekend Zen-Den informed me that the houseplant I think is a rubber tree plant is, in fact, a jade plant.

Apparently I do not know my houseplants, even if I can grow them.

“Anyone knows an ant, can’t, Move a rubber tree plant…”

Z-D became aware of my botanical ignorance when I was happily watering and singing to what I believed to be a rubber tree plant.

I’ve mothered and nurtured this NOT rubber tree plant for the last few years, channeling Shirley Feeney every time I am near it.

“But he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes, He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes…”

My efforts have resulted in a healthy houseplant that I feel adds a certain joie de vivre to our family room.

It, the plant, being so healthy and all. Me, the plant mama, being so loving and all.

“So anytime you’re gettin’ low, ‘Stead of letting go, Just remember that ant…”

But there’s more to this story than my confusion about a houseplant.

Yes, this is a hat tip to my mother who adored Shirley Feeney’s spunk and who had me singing in the Cherub Choir at the First Presbyterian Church when I was but a little sprig.

“Oops there goes another rubber tree plant, Oops there goes another rubber tree plant, Oops there goes another rubber tree plant.”

It was there at a luncheon dedicated to mothers that we little cherubs, standing in three rows on risers, sang “High Hopes” to our mothers. Thus to this day whenever I sing this song, I think fondly of my mother.

Regardless of the kind of plant I’m watering while I am singing the song. 🙄

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Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who is celebrating it this weekend

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Don’t Harsh My Mellow, I’m Only Doing What Mom Taught Me To Do

Mom was a proponent of a good lollygag and fritter.

To be clear she accomplished things in her life, but she also took the time to not be focused on her To Do List, allowing herself to let go of the need to accomplish things all hours of the day.

To wit, yesterday afternoon her daughter, moi, was out running important errands when it dawned on moi that spring had finally arrived.

The sky was medium blue with gorgeous white clouds floating across the it.  The trees were sporting bright green leaves again.  The temps were in the 70s so that I was wearing capris + sandals.

Thus, channeling my mother + remembering her admonishment to lollygag and fritter, I decided to toss my To Do List aside and stop at Home Depot to wander aimlessly through their garden nursery department.

I half-filled a shopping cart with herbs and annuals.  Nothing exotic, just tasty and pretty plants.  Then I went to pay for them at the checkout counter where the sales clerk, dispensing with your traditional “hello,” asked me:

Are you having a productive day?

And you know what, my gentle readers?  Her question about productivity, asked in that moment, peeved me in a way that surprised me.

She was, I believe, harshing my mellow.

Was I not, I ask you, paying tribute to my mother’s memory by lollygaging and frittering in the garden nursery department, not bothering a soul with my mellowness?

Why yes, Ally Bean, you were paying tribute to your mother’s memory by doing that which she taught you to do.

However, putting my snitification aside, I also believe that, knowing Mom’s sense of humor, she was laughing from heaven above about my irritation over a small thing in life on earth.

Yep, she was probably lollygaging and frittering on a beautiful white fluffy cloud– like the ones I could see floating overhead while I mumbled something to the sales clerk about being productive enough… for today.

Share Your World | Going To The Turtles

Once a week Cee asks the questions on her blog, and I answer them here on my blog.  It’s a good thing, ‘ya know?

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• What is something that people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?

Basketball.

*yawn*

Here’s my take on it: a bunch of people, who call themselves a team and wear matching culottes, make a big deal about bouncing a ball while running to one end of a wooden court where they make squeaky noises with their shoes as they toss the ball among the team members.  Eventually, someone attempts to throw the ball into an overhead small circular net.

Why?  No one knows.

Then, the whole nonsensical show repeats at the other end of the court allowing the other team to do the same thing.  And then it happens again.

Ad infinitum. đź‘Ž

• What quirky things do people do where you are from?

No one does this where I live now but…

I grew up in a small town where the word “mango” meant green pepper.  Yep, no one called green peppers what they were, except my mother who knew that a mango was a tropical fruit, not a vegetable.

She never tried to correct anyone in town on this point, but she did make it clear to me that what everyone in this small town believed to be true, was in fact objectively false in the rest of the world.

It was a life lesson, I suppose, on the dangers of groupthink.  And of putting the wrong ingredients into your recipes.

 • What are some things you wish you could unlearn?

What it is like to be inside a MRI.  All of them, any style.  It’s a feeling too horrible for words.

• Who is someone that you miss having in your life? 

I used to go to yoga classes at the wellness center in a local hospital. Carol, a RN, taught the classes.

These classes were the most safe and satisfying yoga experiences I ever had.  However, Carol retired, the hospital closed the wellness center, and I’ve been left ever since trying to find [unsuccessfully] anyone as fun and centered as Carol was.

I miss Carol.

• Optional Bonus Question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week’s gratitude award goes to Fredrik Backman for writing the darkly humorous novel, A Man Called Ove.  This book kept me entertained/distracted for hours so that the remodeling noise and the various people traipsing around inside our house did not bother me.  No better review, eh?

This week’s looking forward to something goes to meeting some friends to go see a professional baseball game.  We do this once a year and it’s always a good time, regardless of who wins the game.

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This post is part of Cee’s Share Your World Weekly Writing Challenge.

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Be The Light: Five Links That Sparked My Interest

INTRODUCTION

As you may remember I’ve joined a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest.  

The purpose of this event is to highlight positive news stories, presenting them on your blog on the last Friday of the month.

This being the last Friday of May, I have a story, or five, to share with you, my gentle readers.

THE NEWS STORIES  

• A lonely snail almost gets the girlfriend of his dreams. If only.

• Newly discovered shade of blue is getting a name. Cool.

• Saving 7th century architectural history in a 20th century modern way. Smart.

• A baby otter has a lucky rescue. Cuteness.

• Mom gets honorary MBA doing what Mom’s do best. Huzzah!

MY COMMENTARY

I had a difficult time this month finding one positive news story, with a bit of depth, that fits the criteria set out for this event. With The Donald hogging the news cycle 24/7, non-political + inspirational stories disappeared.

Did you notice that, too?

Re-thinking how I could keep true to the spirit of We Are The World Blogfest, I decided to bend the rules and share the foregoing list of some fun news stories that are positive– in their own small ways.

Because, I believe, every little bit of light helps.

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{ If you’re on Facebook, there’s a Blogfest Community – We Are The World page there with connections to other people who are writing posts for this event.  I don’t do FB, but thought you, my gentle readers who like FB, and enjoy positivity, might be interested in knowing this. }

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How To Turn A Bully Into A Fool [Part 1 of 2]

Watching The Donald make an ass of himself while attempting to intimidate Hillary reminded me of this story from my childhood.

My father, a genius, did not suffer fools easily.

He had zero patience for stupidity combined with malice.  It’s from him that I learned how to shut down anyone who gets out of hand by flaunting his or her willful ignorance &/or bad manners in my face.

Be forewarned.

However, as a kid I was not naturally inclined to defend myself.  You see, I was a shy, bookish child with poor coordination, no siblings, and thick eyeglasses.

Bullies used me for target practice, because I was physically weak and because I was a girl and because of my legal first name.

In the first few weeks of kindergarten one bully, Karl, an oversized-oaf with pale blond hair and a need to be noticed [sound like anyone in particular?], started bugging me on the playground and in the classroom.

I was upset and didn’t know what to do.

When I told my mother, an introvert, about what was going on she gave me her general advice about people: “just ignore ’em.”  This, as you can imagine, was of no help to me in this situation.

Kindergarten is not the time for taking the high road.

So I turned to my father.

He listened to my problem then told me exactly what to do.  I didn’t understand what he wanted me to do, but I knew, even at a young age, that this guy had a way of dealing with people, so I did exactly what he said.

[Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.]

G Is For Gravy, Good Golly

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 10.43.31 AMIt’s all gravy

… is a wonderful way to say that everything is going well in your life.  The logic behind it can be explained thusly:

“This phrase originated from an Old English saying. Life, it explained, is meat and potatoes, and the luxuries are gravy.”

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Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.07.17 AM
{ Image Source: Graphics Fairy }

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That being said, for me, this phrase was one that I never heard growing up.  My mother, Skinny Ginny, had an aversion to all things sauce.  Including, but not limited to, gravy.

There was no gravy in my life, so when I first heard this saying, while in college studying English Literature, it confused me.

To me, gravy was something bad.  Empty calories, you know?

When I finally figured out what the saying meant to the rest of the world, I had to laugh.  Despite my mother’s good intentions when it came to healthful dining, she did a really good job of screwing with my mind, and inadvertently baffling me.

Which just goes to show, it ain’t always what it seems.