Successful Self-Publishing: Assignment #5

Assignment #5 was called A Self-Publisher is a Small Businessperson. This is where the rubber meets the road for the writer. Most things I’ve read about self-publishing say the challenge for the writer is the business part of self-publishing. I can’t say for myself. Right now I’m feeling pretty challenged about a lot of aspects of self-publishing including editing, copyrights and permissions. In these areas, I suspect an  editor at a traditional publishing house would likely have your back.

We read a handout for this session that covered setting up your small business, identifying and complying with legal and regulatory requirements, record keeping and tax reporting, and contingency planning.

As with the other assignments, we had two worksheets to fill out: a business entity worksheet and a small business startup compliance checklist. Here is my response:

Okay, this is a little intimidating. But I suppose that may be the point — a reality check.

The reading materials were quite helpful. I’m not sure how I would have even known that I needed this information and these forms without them.

I believe my best plan is to start a LLC, primarily for liability concerns, but also for the tax benefits. My husband has an S-corp and I will consult with the accountant and lawyer we used to help us set it up.

I’m a little uncertain about some of the licensing steps because I live in West Chester, Ohio, which is a township. I’m not sure what city hall I need to go to. I did find a site online about licensing a business in West Chester, but it listed a variety of businesses, none of which applied.

Would I need a vendor’s license? They also had a miscellaneous permit, so I’m not sure what to do.

I went to the Ohio small business site and found that there are small business development centers, SBDCs, here. I plan to contact one located in the county in which I reside. Hopefully they will have good information for me there.

I downloaded all the recommended publications from the IRS site, but haven’t read them yet. I also visited the SBA (small business association) site and bookmarked it for later reference.

In summary, I understand there are licenses I need to acquire and tax responsibilities I need to understand. I have some resources to get started with.

Regarding a contingency plan, I have an external hard drive that automatically backs up my computer on a regular basis. That will not help if I have a fire or a natural disaster, like a tornado for instance. I might look into an online backup service, or consider backing up important files to my daughter’s computer and external hard drive. I also keep hard copies of everything.

I have an office set up with a good workspace and filing system.

I’m not sure about virus or malware protection because I use a Mac. This is something I will need to investigate.

So, this was an intimidating session, but helpful.

 Our instructor offered to look over an excerpt of our manuscript. And by good fortune, I chose an excerpt that contained lyrics to a song and was promptly informed by the instructor that I could not included the copyrighted lyrics without permission. I should have known. That sent me into a panic of what other things might be in my memoir for which I need permission. I have now changed the names of every doctor, nurse and priest I write about. The only people who are named are family members. I will need written permission to publish what I’ve written about them. I will also need written permission for everyone who is included in a photograph.

I think I’d better learn how to write fiction.

Here is a short excerpt from my memoir (minus the lyrics). I have set the chapters up so that each one begins with a journal-type entry of the days when Annie was sick, diagnosed, and under the care of hospice, until her death. The second part of each chapter contains a vignette, or explanation of some aspect of Annie’s life or my relationship with her. Annie was born with severe brain damage. She couldn’t walk or talk and required the care of an infant, but she knew who we were, and she enjoyed our company. This excerpt is a vignette from the end of the 23rd out of 26 chapters.

late 1960s

I was at home babysitting Annie, and we were listening to the radio when her favorite song, Windy by the Association, came on.

“Annie! It’s our favorite song,” I yelled as I jumped up, grabbed an imaginary microphone, and started singing out loud along with the radio, in front of her chair. I replaced the name “Windy” with “Annie.”

“Everyone knows it’s Annie. . .

I started marching to the beat of the words, “ Da da, bum bum bum bum.”

Annie got excited and started waving her right arm up and down. She had a big grin on her face. I had a captivated audience, and now I was in full swing. I ran over and jumped onto the sofa, still holding my imaginary microphone in my right hand and using big dramatic arm motions with my left. I was singing out loud. Emphasis on the loud.

I jumped back off the sofa, got behind Annie’s chair, and twirled her in a circle as I sang. Annie was laughing all the while. By the time the song was over I was short of breath, and I had worked Annie into a state of utter excitement. She was hollering and laughing and swinging her arm up and down with fervor.

“We love that song, don’t we Annie?” I said. “ Whew!” I collapsed to the floor, arms and legs flaying out from my sides in an exhausted position, going for one more chuckle from Annie.

She complied.
Read Assignment #6

Start at the beginning with Successful Self-Publishing Workshop

A Time Capsule in the Driveway

It would have been a good day if I hadn’t decided to clean out my parents’ van—a time capsule from two years ago

The van with the electric lift for my sister Annie, sits in my parents’ drive, its tire flat and battery dead. I don’t think it’s been driven except for a handful of times since Annie died. It really was her vehicle. They got it in 1993 to be able to take her places in her wheelchair once the electric lift was installed.

And they did go places. They went to their cottage on a lake. My dad spent lazy afternoons on his pontoon boat, fishing, and my mom enjoyed the change of scene with the view of the lake from the windows of the cottage, where she kept Annie company and read books, or worked crossword puzzles.

My parents, with Annie, drove the hour to our house when we were celebrating our children’s graduations or a bridal shower for my daughter-in-law.

They drove to my sister’s when she held a birthday party or mother’s day celebration.

They drove to church every Sunday, with Annie in her chair, it securely fastened to the floor of the van.

I opened the door of the van today, climbed into the driver’s seat, and felt like I had entered a time capsule. I was assaulted by the pent-up, locked away mementos of the time before, like a blast of too strong and too heavy perfume. Overdone. Stifling. Nearly suffocating.

A half-full plastic bag contained trash—an empty French-fries carton, a few discarded receipts, one from Arby’s a year ago June. Probably one of the last times they drove with Annie anywhere, before she got sick.

I think the eighteen dimes in the spring-loaded coin holder on the sun visor was the first thing that got to me. I imagined my dad patiently putting his coins away when he was still able to drive, when he was still able to buy thing for himself and get change.

I found a half-empty 15-stick package of Wrigley’s Doublemint gum in the glove compartment. Does Dad even chew gum anymore? I haven’t seen him. Maybe no one has thought to ask, and he can no longer can help himself to it. Or maybe like knives, he can’t be trusted with gum. So many things are dangerous, or just messy, now that his Alzheimer’s is progressing.

By now, nearly two years after Annie’s death, Mom has cleared away from Annie’s room most of the reminders left behind, but not so for the van. A little electric bottle warmer lay discarded on the floor, behind the driver’s seat. They must have used it to warm Annie’s baby food when they were away from home.

At first, I put the audiotapes of Disney songs about princesses, and the country music that Annie loved, in the “save” bag. But after thinking it through, I moved them to the trash bag. These tapes are not going to make anybody in this house happy to hear.

I tried to remain detached, as my pragmatic sister Kathy would. In my mind I could hear her say, “Just do what you have to do, Christine.” And if we’re going to sell this van, this is what we have to do.

I know if I stop to hold onto the items I’m finding in the pouches behind the seats or in the doors, if I stop to dwell on who put them there, or why they landed in this abandoned time capsule, I might just crumble.

And I won’t crumble.

I put the yellow rubber rain suit with overalls and jacket into the “save” bag. I leave the fishing rods where they are, leaned at an angle against the wall of the van where Dad loaded them on his last fishing trip. I’ll have to do this later.

I’ve done enough for now.

We’ll change the tire, and charge the battery, and sell the van. No one needs a two-year time-capsule sitting in their drive, reminding them of yesterdays.

My dad and nephew JD are fishing at the cottage on Lake Loramie, in Ohio. Circa 1988.

You can read more stories about my father under the category My father’s story, and about my sister at the Annie category.

Waiting ’round the bend

Moon River, wider than a mile,
I’m crossing you in style some day.

Although it’s been played many times in many ways, Moon River is originally from the 1961 movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, based on Truman Capote’s 1958 novella. It is the story of a woman, Holly Golightly, played by Audrey Hepburn, making her way in the big city. According to, this character has become Audrey Hepburn’s most memorable screen persona.

The DJ played Moon River at a wedding reception last night while the wedding party danced, and a wave of nostalgia swept over me. Maybe it is because it elicited childhood memories—my parents undoubtedly played it on the stereo when I was young.

Or maybe its poignancy lies in the vanishing dream of youth that it portrays.

 Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
Wherever you’re going I’m going your way.

In some ways it should be a joyful, uplifting song. It is about standing on a threshold, with the whole world before you.

Two drifters off to see the world,
There’s such a lot of world to see.

But the tune is not upbeat and joyful. It is a bit contemplative, reminiscent, or perhaps even mournful. Certainly full of yearning.

We’re after the same rainbow’s end—
Waiting ‘round the bend,
My huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.

Now that I’m in the middle of my life, this song takes me back to the day when the whole world lay at my feet. Life was full of possibilities and promise.  Maybe I would start a career, find a spouse, have a family. All my own choices to make. And make them I did. Past tense.

When we’re in the middle of our life, we’ve had our children if we’re going to; we’ve made our careers and have either already retired from them, or are planning to as soon as possible.

At this point in my life, I am acutely aware of the passage of time. I don’t recall thinking about that when I was younger. Sure, I watched the clock in high school history class waiting for the minutes to pass when 45 minutes seemed like an eternity. I watched the years pass as we celebrated our childrens’ birthdays year after year. But I don’t think I contemplated the big scheme of things with regard to time. There was always another year, another party, another chance.

Now I know different. Everything is finite. We have a limited number of birthdays to celebrate; a limited number of visits with grandparents, parents, our children; a limited number of days. We’ve already done a lot of the things we set out to do.

We may have a beautiful journey still ahead of us, but we are no longer standing on the banks of Moon River.

We can only hope we’ve lived our life in a way that we will find that rainbow’s end we were after, waiting ‘round the bend.

Moon River, music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, sung by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

She made me

My mom was a mother from a very young age.  When her own mother was ill with a blood clot that migrated to her heart leaving a hole, and leaving my grandmother in a permanent weakened condition, my mom took care of her two younger siblings.

My mom's family. She is on the right in the front.

My mom became a mother in her own right when she was 20 with a husband an ocean away on a military base in Germany. Mom lived on her own in a small apartment taking care of my oldest sister and waiting for my dad to come home.

Mom with my oldest sister, 1954.

In the 50s my mom became a mother five times over in little more than six years. She changed diapers and fed babies for 55 years as my younger sister Annie was born disabled and required the care of an infant until she died at the age of 51 in 2009.

My family, 1959.

When her own mother aged and began to suffer from dementia, my mom mothered her, visiting her 40 minutes away weekly and seeing to her every need until she died early in 2010.

My mother helping my grandmother blow out the candles on her 90th birthday cake.

Now my mom mothers my father who has Alzheimer’s.

Mom and Dad with his new wheelchair. April 27, 2011

My mom is a courageous, intelligent, strong, indomitable at times, creative and loving woman who has been called upon all her life to use her many gifts and talents time and time again.

She made me clothes when I was young.

She made me toast when I was sick.

She made me custom drapes for my first house.

She made me baby quilts for my children.

She made go the the park to meet other children after we’d moved when I was in grade school and was too shy to go on my own.

She made me see the reason behind going to college when I hesitated, not wanting to part with my boyfriend in my infinite wisdom as a teenager.

She made me believe in myself because she always believed in me.

She made me into a mother.

She made me courageous.

She made me strong.

She made me.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone reading. I hope you are able to celebrate with or remember your own mother today with happiness.

Happy Mother’s Day to the other mothers reading this. Well done.

Remembering Grandma—Anna Matilda Adams 1915 – 2010

Circa 1917—Katherine Roecker Adams holding my grandmother Anna behind Raymond, Harold, and Florence and beside Harrison Myron Adams and two horses.

The Life of Anna Adams Lemmon

As I Remember It

Monday, April 30, 1996

Part 1 

I was born August 3 – 1915 in a log house in the country between Piqua Ohio and Covington Ohio back a lane off of the Rake straw road.  The house that I was born in is still there.  Our house was the first house on the lane and farther east was another house on the same lane.  The people that lived in that house by the name of Franks. 

The house we lived in had only 3 rooms down stairs and one room up stairs.  The kitchen was big and we used it for not only a kitchen but a bed room where my mother & dad slept.  There were four of us kids and we slept up stairs in the one room. 

The kitchen was the only room that had a cook stove in.  And in the winter the other rooms was shut off so that the kitchen could stay warm.  We had a pump where we got our water and an out side toilet.  I can remember the winters back then were a lot colder and a lot more snow then we have today.  We also had a pretty big apple orchard so we always had plenty of apples in the fall when apples were ripe. (Anna Adams Lemmon)

At my mother’s urgings, my grandmother wrote the story of her life in 1996 when she was 80 years old. She wrote it by hand on lined notebook paper and requested that no grammatical edits or corrections be made.

 I started to school when we lived there when I was 5 or 6 years old. The school house was and the building is still there on Route 36.  A one room school house.  It had eight grades not to many children.  We would walk to school every day but it wasn’t very far from were we lived.  It was heated with a big pot belly stove so they called it then.  My mother would buy us one pair of shoes at the beginning of the school term and they had to last us all year.  I remember mine wore out before school was out and I walked barefooted to school.  One day I can remember it snowed and we walked home bare-footed in the snow.  Our teacher in that school was Miss Strenrod.  She was a good teacher, she was pretty stricked with the boys. . .

My grandmother on the left with some of her younger siblings and maybe cousins.

Each one of us kids had chores to do it wasn’t very easy living on the farm.  We didn’t have much time to play.  We had to pump water to the barn for the cows and horses to drink.  We would take turns about pumping the water.  There was a big tank down at the barn and the pump house was up at the house which was a pretty long ways.  Of course we kids would get into some pretty big arguments about who pumped the most.  But Dad always settled that in a a hurry. . .

In the summer when the rasberries and strawberries were ripe Florence my sister and I would pick berries for a neigbor who had a berrie patch and sold his berries.  We would get a penny a qt. We would work almost all day for .25 and we thought we was rich.  That was not an easy job, we had to wear old socks on are arms so we wouldn’t get all scratched up.  And a big straw hat because the sun would be awful hot.  (Anna Adams Lemmon)

I typed my grandmother’s hand-written story honoring her request not to edit. It is 20 double-spaced typed pages and largely portays details of her childhood and life on the farm with her family. It is one of my most-valued treasures.

My grandmother died in a nursing home at the age of 94 early in 2010. She no longer could see or hear very well. She suffered from dementia and often didn’t know who my mom was. She died less than a year after my sister Annie, and my parents were still reeling from the loss of their precious daughter.

As my Grandma slowly deteriorated with dementia my mom tried desperately to find things that Grandma could do to occupy her time, to be able to make and receive phone calls, to maintain some amount of independence and quality of life.

A couple of weeks after Annie died I took my parents to visit my grandma 40 minutes away. Grandma was eating lunch when we got there. Grandma seemed pleased to see us although it also was apparent she didn’t have a clue who we were. Mom kept trying to explain to her that she was her daughter Mary, and Grandma smiled but without recognition. She was just passing the time with three convivial people.

When she was finished eating we returned to her room, my mom pushing her wheelchair and Dad and I walking beside her. I tried to tell her who I was.

“Grandma,” I said, “do you know who I am? I’m Christine.”

She just looked at me blankly.

“I’m Annie’s sister. You remember Annie don’t you?”

My grandmother and my sister Annie at Grandma's 90th birthday party.

That sparked a recognition for my grandma who had been told about Annie’s death, and to my surprise and distress she became not only fully aware of who I was but also quite angry.

“What kind of daughter are you?” she demanded, “Leaving your mother alone when she has just lost her daughter?”

“Mom is right here,” I told her. “She is right here with me.”

“I’m here, Mom” my mother said. “This is Mary.”

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Grandma continued to me. “Your mother needs you.”

Mom was not getting through to Grandma. By the time we got back to Grandma’s room I was in tears, not because she had been yelling at me, but because of her fierce defense of my mother and her tragic loss. Mom was desperately trying to get Grandma to recognize her. My dad got involved because at times in the past Grandma recognized him and he was able to lead the way to her seeing my mom for who she was.

“Ann,” he said, “do you know who I am?”

Grandma calmed down and got kind of quiet. “I’m sorry about Annie,” she said.

My mom leaned in towards her and said, “This is Mary. Do you know who I am?”

My grandma reached her arms out to Mom and leaned forward out of her wheelchair. Mom grasped both of her hands in her own.

“I’m so sorry, Mary,” Grandma said as she started to cry. “How are you doing? Are you doing okay?”

Mom told her about Hospice and how we were all with Annie and that Annie was an angel now with Grandpa. “But I won’t get to see her anymore,” Grandma said through her tears.

I took my mom back to see my grandma two more times before she died in February. The first time I waited in the car with my dad. Grandma was sleeping and my mom did not stay long. The second time Grandma was in a coma. When we visited Grandma we knew it would be the last time we saw her. She was lying on her back on the bed. Her frail and tiny body was still. Her motionless hands resting on her stomach looked like older perfect replicas of Annie’s right hand. We stayed for a little over an hour.

About two hours after we got back home Mom answered the phone call telling her that Grandma had died.

My grandmother and grandfather, probably in the 60s or early 70s.

The last years of my grandma’s life were difficult ones for her and for those who loved her. But today I want to celebrate the way I remember my grandma.

When we were young, she had a large corrugated box in her laundry area beside the kitchen that she would pull out when we visited. It contained the items she had collected for us to play with—a plastic horse, small plastic toy soldiers, an empty metal donut-shaped adhesive tape container, and tons and tons of empty thread spools.

Every year until she was 80 my grandma held a Christmas party on a Saturday in December where she gathered all her children, grand-children and even great-grandchildren for a meal of Kentucky Fried chicken, potato salad and home made cake to celebrate the birth of Jesus. She had presents for each and every one of us that she had bought throughout the entire year.  She used to give us each an orange and a candy cane. Then we would play BINGO for prizes.

1958 - My sisters and me in dresses Grandma made for us.

My grandma was a prolific crocheter. I am the lucky recipient of four of her afghans. She made us little crocheted dresses when we were small and another for my daughter. On Grandma’s 90th birthday my mom and her two siblings held a big celebration for her where we displayed many of the items she had made with her own hands.

1988 - My daughter Anna, named for my grandmother, models the dress Grandma made.

I miss my grandma, and I suspect my mom misses her mother. But we’ll always have the memories, and an afghan or two.

Anna Matilda Adams 1915 - 2010

A return to LegoLand

My dad has taken to making repetitive motions. He rubs his hand back and forth across the top and around the edge of the kitchen table. So Mom gives him a dishcloth and tells him to wipe the table off for her. Sometimes he slaps his leg incessantly. Recently a home health aide witnessing this said to  my mom, “He needs something to do with his hands. Try getting a remote-control car or Legos.”

Legos I can do. I have two huge plastic-lidded tubs of Legos and Lego sets in my basement.

I love Legos.

When I was young my brother got Legos one year for Christmas. They were the simple primary colored ones; I’m not even sure they had white or black ones then. They came only in rectangular shapes—the fours, sixes and eights named by the number of little nibs they had on the top. My brother’s Legos also came with a book of instructions to build various models. I loved that Lego set. I systematically built all the models in the book. I played with that Lego set more than my brother did.

When my children were young I started them out on Duplo blocks (the large Legos for toddlers). Then we moved to tubs of regular Legos not unlike what I played with as a child but with the modern additions of doors, windows and wheels. From here we graduated to Lego sets of all kinds—small $3.00 ones of a vehicle or building to large complex sets of pirates, castles, and space craft that contained all kinds of intricate parts and cost a small fortune.

Yesterday I dug out the plain rectangular, primary-colored Lego blocks and took them to Dayton when I visited my parents. After lunch I brought them to the kitchen table where Dad and I worked separately and silently, side-by-side building with the Legos. As I picked up the colorful little blocks, in my mind, I could see the small fingers of my sons handling the Legos, snapping them together.

Dad did pretty good with the Legos, but occasionally tried to connect the wrong sides of two blocks together.

I built a simple rectangular building with a door, window, and roof. Dad built a top or roof onto a boat form and two simple vehicles using a few of the wheels. My building was neat and conventional. Dad’s constructions were unorthodox and unconventional. But he seemed content and pleasantly occupied while working with the Legos. It was a pleasant way to pass some time.

I love Legos.

1958—Dad working at NCR as a model-maker. He is standing up on the left side of the room and is using what looks like a drill press.

Good Friday

Bernard Joseph Grote

Today Christians commemorate Good Friday and tomorrow they will celebrate Holy Saturday, the night before Easter. Although my father-in-law actually died three years ago on March 22nd, on the religious calendar that year it was Holy Saturday.

Three years ago on Good Friday, my husband Mark and I drove over to my mother-in-laws’ house to pick her up and take her to the hospital where my father-in-law had spent the last two nights for tests and observation after suffering heart symptoms. He had undergone open-heart surgery maybe 10 to 15 years prior and had been having more heart trouble recently. His health was not good as his body was ravaged by the effects of a lot of years of sugar diabetes, but his mind was still sharp and alert. On that day he was going to be moved from the local hospital to a more specialized hospital about 20 minutes away to have an angiogram. Although he would travel in an ambulance, we wanted to help Mark’s mom with moving his personal items.

I remember the events of this day with crystal clarity.

We drove to the hospital where Mark’s dad waited. He was in good spirits and was talking and joking with us. We packed his clothes, books, and personal items into a black overnight bag and followed his ambulance in our car. We were able to park and get to the ambulance before they moved Dad indoors. He joked with Mark about borrowing a five to give the drivers a tip, his blue eyes sparkling and his charming smile flashing.

Dad G. was prepped for the test, but then had to wait because something wasn’t right with his blood factors. (I think it had something to do with the clotting factors hadn’t recovered enough from having been on blood thinners). We spent most of the day in the waiting room alternately going back to check on Mark’s dad and mom who was waiting in a small room with him. Mark’s brother David had arrived to wait with us through the angiogram.

Finally Dad had the test, which requires mild sedation, and we all crowded into the recovery room with him afterwards to hear what the doctor had to say. The news was not good. He needed to have a procedure done on a valve of his heart, but his heart was functioning at a low level and the procedure would be extremely risky. If he didn’t have the procedure, his heart wouldn’t last long. If he did have the procedure, it might kill him. We were stuck in doom and gloom between a rock and a hard place. The doctor suggested we might try to wait a while and hope his heart healed and got stronger and then have the procedure.

Dad was still groggy from the sedation. Mark’s brother David waited with Mark’s mom until Dad was settled into a room. Mark and I had been there the entire day and into the early evening. We told Dad we would be back in the morning and left. We never saw him alive again.

Saturday morning was chaos. Mark left to go to the grocery. I hurt my back trying to move a recliner to clean under it. Mark’s mom called. “Dad just called me,” she said. “He is having trouble breathing and he wants me to come right away.” I was afraid to take her because I was struggling to walk due to my back, so I called my brother-in-law Tom who agreed to go get her. This caused a delay. By the time Tom got ready to go, drove to Mom’s and got to the hospital, they weren’t allowed entry into Dad’s room and had to wait in a small waiting room outside the floor.

I called Mark and told him I thought he should ditch his grocery cart and go straight to the hospital. He didn’t feel the urgency and was almost done shopping. He got home with the groceries and then left right away for the hospital.

A few minutes later Tom’s wife and Mark’s sister Kathy called. “Dad died,” she said.

I called Mark. He was at the hospital but was disoriented and having trouble finding his dad’s room in the large complex. “You need to stop at a desk and ask someone,” I said. And then I told him his father was dead.

Even though he died on March 22, we’ll always remember on Good Friday.

In some ways Mark’s dad emulated his favorite actor, John Wayne. He was a bigger-than-life kind of person.  He never let anything get him down for long. On the day we picked Mark’s mom up to go to the hospital I noticed the cards that were hung up on walls in the kitchen. “Exercise,” they said. When he was younger, Mark’s dad had a deli and produce store. He suffered a financial setback when his store went bankrupt. He had a wife and six children at home. He got right back up on his feet and learned the insurance trade, eventually becoming one of the top agents for Metropolitan. He was so good at what he did that the company asked him to give a motivational speech to the other agents at a banquet.

He was a warm and loving grandfather and used to take fussy infants from our arms at dinner and walk with them.

I have never known a more optimistic person than Mark’s dad. If something was wrong, he made you feel like you could handle it and it would be fine again.

I can’t believe it’s been three years since I last saw him. I still miss him. Probably I always will.

Mark's mom and dad and our first son Michael, 1982

Recurrent dreams that frustrate—why?

I had a recurrent dream last night. I was near the end of my third year of college working on my chemical engineering degree when I realized I had not attended any of my math classes, done any of the work or taken any of the tests.  Apparently I just forgot that I had signed up for the class that I needed as a pre-requisite for senior-year courses. I was in a state of panic over how I was ever going to recover from this lapse of memory.

The dream didn’t just affect my head; it affected my whole body. When I woke I felt as if I had been under a lot of stress.

In real life, I did earn my ChemE degree and now that I think about it, I don’t recall  that I even needed math courses by my junior year. I think I may have finished those requirements with the Calculus and Differential Equations classes I completed by the end of my second year. Dreams don’t have to be real to cause you distress.

Here’s an interesting aside about my ChemE degree. I once received  a certificate, it may have been from the Engineer-in-Training exam, or one of the engineering societies I was a member of in college. The certificate contained the standard language with a blank line where my name was written in. Below my name, the certificate read, “on his achievement.” You can be sure I brought this lapse to the attention of the appropriate authority. Before the late seventies when I studied engineering, there weren’t many women in the field. The isolated individuals who charted this course before that time were true pioneers indeed. I think there were five or six women in my class of about 30 chemical engineering students. We had largest representation. Electrical, mechanical and civil engineering had one or two women per class.

When I got my second bachelor’s degree about five years ago, an English degree with a written communications minor, a female student made a derogatory comment on our online classroom discussion board. She used the term “femi-nazis.” I was in classes with primarily traditional students in their early 20s and I was shocked at how little they knew about the women’s struggles and movement over the years. Maybe they should have been better taught. Maybe it’s like calculators, you have to learn to add so you understand the principles behind the calculations.

Anyway, I digress.

I used to have a similar recurrent dream in high school where I showed up to school and found out I had a test that I hadn’t studied for.

Once in a while I even had the standard dream of showing up somewhere and realizing I was in my underwear. Why do our brains do this to us?

When I was small I used to have a dream that my sister Kathy was driving me and my siblings somewhere. It was a big, kind of bubble-top car. I think it may have been  an early Chevy. In my dream it looked something like this, that I got from a Cuban taxis page on somebody’s blog, only it was black. Kathy was only 2-1/2 years older than me and could hardly see over the steering wheel, but she was driving fast and careening around corners. We didn’t know where we were or how to get where we were going. I thought I would never get home again.

I don’t know why I am occasionally harassed by dreams in my sleep.  My dreams should be filled with peaceful waterfall, quiet sun-dappled forest or gently lapping waves scenes. Isn’t real life full enough of frustration, fear and sorrow?

Cranes for kids

From now until April 25th Osh Kosh B’Gosh will send an article of clothing to the children of Japan for every origami crane you make. See the details here.

Not bad for a first try after many, many years. I'll get better with practice.

The Origami Crane

Revised 04.26.04

Waiting for the science show
in the room down the hall,
lights off, door

closed and pulled window shades,
the single black and white T.V.
perched high in the left front corner,

the origami crane
couldn’t fly.   “Let me see it,”
he whispered right before it

crashed to the floor
on the gray speckled  tile
between our desks

lined into neat rows and columns.
Mrs. Huff’s perfect 5th grade class
was silent and still

except for the fallen crane
poised beside my desk
like a monumental asteroid from outer space

shouting “Here I am!”
The steel cold voice,
like a doomsday toll,

barked “Who’s is this?”
Guilty, accused and sentenced, I trudged to the back of the room,
and stood with arms

limp at my sides
and forehead
pressed into the corner

of painted concrete
block walls,
tears crawling down my face,

splashing onto the floor,
the science show
murmuring in the background.


Post Addendum — You may also be able to help here – A Thousand Cranes

Rapunzel speaks and gives out awards

I feel like Rapunzel sitting here looking out my 11th floor window from my room in this hotel tower. I have a great view of two towers, the roof of a large entertainment complex that connects the tower I’m in with the two I see, and a small cemetery in the distance which you cannot really make out in this photo.

We combined a family moving trip with a business trip for Mark who has gone to work today here in Morristown, N.J. while I wait here without a car, although he assures me there are plenty of restaurants within easy walking distance. Whew! That’s a relief.

I have a full ice bucket, two bottles of Dasani, a couple bottles of caffeine free Diet Coke, and a to-go cup of hot tea from the Starbucks downstairs. Fortunately I also have a full bathroom at my disposal within a few steps of where I sit.

I’ve plenty to occupy myself. I have my computer upon which I type, and my i-Pad currently playing a selection of  music from my “instrumentals”  playlist. I have my Kindle with Jane Eyre and a variety of other classics that I downloaded for free or for a nominal fee of $0.99. I have a rather nice flat screen T.V. with a remote and a quite comfortable bed for a nap if all else fails. Not to worry.

News flash!

I have been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award by Danny (Danielle) C. who, in a manner not unlike chain letters, was awarded it by Tien. (Who I already like because if you move the “n” back one letter you end up with the name “Tine” which was my childhood nickname—Random Factoid #1.

So, thank you, Danielle, for those of us blogging our hearts away day after day know that any exposure we can get that might gain us a new subscriber or two is like finding a gold nugget.

Danielle, or Danny C.’s blog is called A Happy Peach. She knits and crochets, and so do I (Factoid #2), so I like that about her already. She is a novice photographer, loves modern design, food and shopping. Here’s something a bit unexpected, she is a self-proclaimed computer geek, so I like that about her too. And I don’t know what an Otaku is, (Factoid #3), but she apparently does, so you might want to check it out.

My obligations in accepting this award are to

  • Thank the person who awarded it to me as well as accept the award.
  • List seven random things about myself.
  • Pass it on to 15 new blogs which I love and recently found and notify them of their award.

I only get to give you four more facts—hmmm, what should they be?

Factoid #4 I broke my foot when I was in the second grade while playing “You can’t step on the grass” with my sister Carol who  jumped on a corner piece of rod-iron railing sitting in our yard while my dad was enlarging our front porch. It went sort of like this. She jumped on. I jumped on. It started to tip forward. She jumped off and got away. I jumped off and got just far enough away that the top corner of the railing slammed down on the arch of my foot breaking every bone in it. The cast slowed me down, but didn’t stop me, as I later was caught, nearly giving my mother a heart attack or so she says, climbing a tree with the aid of my crutch which doubled as a ladder.

Factoid #5 I was a cheerleader in high school. Enough said.

Factoid #6 I once lost the diamond out of my engagement ring while cleaning windows in our first home. I didn’t know it until my ring caught on my clothing that evening. After a few moments of pure panic, I calmly retraced my activities for the day and remembered I had struggled with one particular window. With the aid of a flashlight, a few minutes later I was able to spot a perfect little black circle in the window sill (for diamonds look black when they are upside down). I’ll think twice before ever cleaning any windows again. I can tell you that.

Oh no, I only get one more chance. What should it be?

Factoid #7 I have been a chemical engineer, an English major, and a mother—and the greatest of these is mother.

Here are my shout-outs. These blogs are worth a look. Some are funny, some are inspiring, others are heart-felt. Some of them I loyally read every day and others I try to check in on every now and then.

I’m not big on following rules, so I don’t know if these blogs have already been recipients of the Versatile Blogger Award, or if you have to be on a particular blog-site like WordPress for example, or if you can receive the award more than once, but you can win Academy Awards twice, so why not? (I’ll just have to take my chances with the blogging police). Consider yourselves awarded the Versatile Blogger Award — if you choose to accept this honor, the above three bullet-points apply. Congratulations.

1. Hot Dogs and Marmalade – I sometimes think this author is leading a parallel life with me. Her blog is devoted to her family’s journey through Alzheimer’s with her mother. Her writing is heartfelt.

2.Rudolf Vicek Photography – Amateur photographer from the Czech Republic. His photos are stunning and expressive. He writes very little, so it can be a quick in and quick out. You’ll want to subscribe or at least bookmark this one.

3. Spirit Lights the Way – With the motto, “Be here now,” the author reminds me of my sister Carol who believes in the power of the mind to create our reality. It’s a little new age. Being something of a pessimist and realist, I sometimes struggle and argue with these posts, but they challenge my assumptions and sharpen my wits. She appears to have a lot of loyal followers of the same mindset—perhaps you’re one.

4.Woman Wielding Words – I think of Lisa as the first person to befriend me here on the faceless world of the web. She teaches drama, writes, and is an artist struggling with life. She has a big heart.

5. Figments of a Dutchess – The Dutchess, Marion Driessen lives in the south of Holland. She shares her culture, interests and concerns, most of which I find fascinating. Mostly I like her because she is an avid reader of fantasy, plays RPGames and is roleplayer in Dungeons & Dragons campaigns—all of which she has in common with my oldest son who introduced me to the world of Robert Jordan.

6.IME Photography – A novice photographer who continues to learn and has taken some nice shots in the process.

7. The Idiot Speaketh and Pedaleth – A disabled, ex-military intelligence analyst who is pedaling his way across America on his stationary bike. It’s true. Could I make this up? He’s sometimes crass, but always funny, even when he occasionally rants.

8. My Parents are Crazier than Yours – A relatively new find. She is NY City hilarious. You don’t want to miss it.

9. Life in the Bogs –  The author lives in a boggy area in northeast Ohio. She often walks with her camera and takes lovely shots of nature as the seasons change.

10. Perpetual Learner – Musings from Fr Matthew Green, the parochial vicar of St Patrick’s Parish in Newburgh, NY. I found this blog through the Weekly Photo Challenge, because Fr. Green also enjoys photography. He posts his sermons daily which I always scan and often read. Those who know me and my rocky relationship with the Catholic Church may be surprised, but I believe in signs. I found his blog so I’m reading it. Besides, he seems like a nice enough guy trying to get us to think about the things that really matter. It’s the least I can do.

11. Aaron D. Graham – Funny man. Good for a laugh.

12. Yarp News – Very off-the-wall humor. Sometimes gross. I don’t think they would be offended by that.

13. Inspired by Caffeine and Nicotine – Hilarious. Also sometimes gross and/or off-color. He does it on purpose to get your attention. You’ll laugh if he does.

14. (Not) Just Another Writer – E.D. is an excellent writer who has shared some of her fiction work-in-progress with me and has also read some of my memoir-in-progress. She’s good, especially with description. She usually keeps it short.  I enjoy reading what she writes.

15. Challenging  the Gnome – Come on. It’s gnomes. Need I say more?

If you made it this far through this long-on-words, short-on-pictures blog, you are a true friend indeed.