Friday, September 12, 2014

When Butterflies Flutter By

Thought for the day:  Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes when he had the chance?

[courtesy of Perfectly Timed Photos]

I can't be too bad; mosquitoes certainly still find me attractive. Matter of fact, all bugs, both the creepy-crawlies and the airborne, have always had an impressive talent for picking me out of a crowd.


Without a doubt, though, mosquitoes have gotta be my biggest fans. If I'm outside with ten other people, only one of us will be attacked by a swarm of those blood-thirsty little... darlings. Me. Doesn't matter worth a flip if I'm wearing repellent, either, because the skeeters around here consider DEET to be nothing more than a finishing sauce.

I'm telling ya, when I go outside in the morning to get the paper, they're hunkered down waiting for me like a squadron of fighter jets with their engines running, and they immediately swoop after me like a bunch of hungry teenagers at the dinner table. I have found one way to get the upper hand... actually, upper foot... with them, though. When I pick tomatoes in the afternoon, the greedy little suckers gorge on my blood until they get so bloated, they can't even fly anymore. They just hover about six inches off the ground,  groaning and holding their bellies. So I... step on 'em. (While singing, Hit the road, Jack, and don't you come back no more, no more, no more...)

[credit: Muhammed Mahdi Karim]
Bees like to have their way with me, too. I've gotten lots of bee stings over the years, but the worst were the ones on my upper lip and between my eyes. The resultant swelling made me look like the cover picture for a monster magazine, which my big brother was only too happy to point out. (In his defense, we were young. If it happened now, I'm sure he'd try to stifle his guffaws.)

But at least bees serve a purpose, unlike those pesky mosquitoes. (Unless you call spreading disease a divine calling.) Isn't that picture of the bee absolutely phenomenal? Would you believe that little guy is carrying pollen?! What a shot!


Oh, look... that butterfly and bee are sharing the same bloom. Hmmm, could they be discussing.... me?

Perhaps the bee is agreeing not to sting me this time...?

Oh my goodness, just look at all the butterflies!

My thoughts are like butterflies. They are beautiful, but they fly away. [anonymous]

Oh, and lookie there. I think that one's a swallowtail.

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun and find your shoulder to rest upon, to bring you luck, happiness and riches, today, tomorrow, and beyond. [Irish blessing]

A new friend!

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. [Nathaniel Hawthorne]

This monarch is a real beauty, isn't it? And it posed so nicely for me...

Before it (gasp!) came closer...

Know what? That made up for every mosquito, bee, fire ant and spider who's ever been attracted to me.

What can I say? If you think about it, it's a lot like life. We have to put up with some painful bites and stings over the years, but beautiful blessings also have a delightful way of fluttering by and oh-so-gently... pooping on your head.

Wanta hear whose favorite old broad comment won a copy of Old Broads Waxing Poetic? Okay. (Insert drum roll here.) It's a pleasure to announce that (ta-DA!)  Stephen T. McCarthy takes the prize this time around with his expression of unabashed love and admiration for his mother. (sniff) Ya gotta love a guy who loves his ma. (If you'd like to read his comment, it's in the previous post.)

This old broad is gonna be flitting around here and there being a social butterfly for the next four days or so, but if all goes well, I'll be back to responding to your comments on Tuesday.

                                       Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, September 5, 2014

In Praise of Old Broads

Thought for the day: If you want a thing done well, get a couple old broads to do it.  [Bette Davis]

[Image courtesy of Wikipedia]
Some people might think it's an insult to call a woman a broad. Not me. Once upon a time, it was a derogatory term, but not any more. In fact, quite a few years ago, Ol' Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra insisted it was a term of affection. (But then again, he called most women broads, didn't he?)

Know when I accepted it as a term of affection? When I watched the 1984 movie Tank, in which James Garner tells his wife Shirley Jones, "You're a tough old broad." And believe you me, his words were dripping with love and admiration. (Terrific movie!)

In A Dictionary of Words About Women, written by Jane Mills, broad is defined as a woman who is liberal, tolerant, unconfined, and not limited or narrow in scope. Sounds good to me... and I should know. Because I am an old broad... and proud of it.

And I'm not alone. I've been working in cahoots with a group of really terrific old broads for quite a while now, and today, we are all happy to announce (ta-DA!) the publication of our book:

To celebrate its release, each old broad featured in this book is blogging about her favorite old broad today, and we invite each of you to tell us a little something about your favorite old broad in the comments. Oh, and if you're still offended by the term broad, I apologize. If you'd prefer, you can tell us about your favorite older lady... how's that? Oh yeah, and one of you who comments about your fave broad will be winning a free copy of our book. Cool, huh? (It really IS a cool book... not only is it filled with some fun poetry, but all proceeds from its sale are going to CARE International.)

Now then, let me introduce you to the other broads, so you can visit their blogs, too. (Like I said, they're ALL terrific.)

NOTE: Technically, Michael isn't a broad. He's a guy. A very nice guy who used that lovely image from Francesco Romoli to create our cover for us, so you could say, as an important member of our team, he's an honorary broad. With hairy legs.

Now then. My favorite old broad. Without a doubt, that would have to be my maternal grandmother.

Her given name was Catherine, but her kids all called her Mommy, and all of us grandchildren called her Nana. What can I say? She was an amazing woman. I'm not sure anyone would have had the chutzpah to call her a broad back then, but undoubtedly, she was tough. Had to be. She married young... reeeeeally young... had a passel of kids, and then her husband died, leaving the red-headed spitfire to raise all those kids by herself.

Ever know anyone who made you feel unconditionally loved? That's the way she was. She was no warm and fuzzy kind of grandmother or mother, though. Quite the contrary. She drank incredible quantities of coffee... with chicory... prepared in a nasty top-of-the-stove aluminum pot that no one had better ever wash... and chain-smoked Raleigh cigarettes. Because she was deaf, she spoke in a loud voice... a loud gravelly voice. (Courtesy of the cigarettes.) She had strong opinions and a quick temper, but even when she was yelling, we always knew... she loved us.

She hated to have her picture taken, which means I have very few. The one to the right is the only one I have in which she's laughing, which makes it even more precious.

Remember that cousins' reunion I went to in Baltimore a few weeks ago? One of our conversations there does a pretty terrific job of nailing my hard-as-nails grandmother. (I'm telling you, when she played Pinochle, woe to anyone who made a play she didn't like...) Anyhow, at the reunion, my older cousin Patty said she was the only grandchild who ever got to spend the night at Nana's. I said I'd spent the night with her... my cousins Diane and Phyllis said THEY'D spent the night with her... and I suspect if more cousins had been there, even more would have said the same. Know why? Even though she had a bazillion grandchildren, that tough old broad knew how to make each of us feel special. From the big mugs of sweetened milk-laden tea and rye bread slathered with grape jelly she fixed for us, to the neat things she let us make from her big ol' can of clothespins, she somehow managed to show each of us that she loved us unconditionally. She was our biggest advocate, and like I said, a truly amazing woman. It's almost inconceivable that she's been gone for more than fifty years, but trust me, that special lady will live on forever in our hearts.


Now, your turn. Tell me about your favorite old broad or older lady, if you prefer... could be a relative, friend, celebrity, whatever. Doesn't have to be long, but it can be if you wanta. Heck, you can even write a poem about that special lady if you'd like. This isn't exactly a blogfest, because we're busy technically deficient lazy keeping things low-key, but we can call it a broadfest. Let's have some fun with it, shall we? Don't forget... one of you who tells us about your favorite broad on any of our blogs is gonna win a free book. The rest of you can buy it... after all, it IS for a very good cause. Besides, you might actually LIKE our poems! (Link to Amazon in the image in the sidebar. Easy-peasy...) And if ya would? Please help us spread the word about our spiffy book.

                                                 Now, in praise of older ladies...

                                       Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Satisfaction Brought Him Back

Thought for the day:  The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. [Dorothy Parker]

I don't believe curiosity killed the cat, do you? (However, it might possibly have led him into some oopsie situations a time or two.)

How about you? Are you the curious sort? I am. Dorothy Parker was right. I'm rarely bored, and that's probably because I've been afflicted with a raging case of curiosity my entire life. What's more, the condition is still going as strong as ever. (Beats being bored...)

Curiosity was framed. Ignorance killed the cat.

Okay, before I share a current  curiosity with you... it's the last Friday of the month, and time for the monthly gathering of bibliophiles known as the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, hosted by the chief cephalopod himself,  the armchair squid. As usual, I'll post my bookish stuff near the end of this post, so those of you who don't give a good hoot what I've been reading can just read the first part of the post and ignore the rest. Those who wanta see even more of who's been reading what, pop over to the squid's blog and check out the linky link thing-a-ma-bob there.

Now then. Thing-a-ma-bob. That's what it is. Or possibly a doohickey. The truth is, we don't know what the heck it is. Smarticus found this thing... this very interesting thing...  in the bottom of a box of stuff he bought from a pawn shop before it went out of business. We don't know what it is. The other people we've asked don't know what it is, either.

Maybe one of you do. Ready to see it?

Here it is in profile. It's made of brass and has a sturdy feel to it. A fairly simple construction, but well-made.

Here it is, head on. (Or heck, maybe it's the back...) The black bulbous part is made of a rubber compound of some sort.

The other side features a shallow channel, which isn't as smooth as the rest of the... thing-a-ma-bob. 

When the handle is squeezed shut, the ends separate, as though it's intended to stretch something, maybe. Maybe not.

Whether this is part of something larger, or it's the whole deal, we don't know. Do you? Anybody know what this is?

(If not, any fun guesses...?)

Okay, moving on the the book part of this post. First up, my most recent book from
Unlike last month, I can't honestly say this was the best book I read this month, but it might be something y'all would enjoy...

 Before requesting Tantric Coconuts, I read the handful of reviews already written for it, and noted that they differed dramatically, with ratings ranging from one-star to five. Still, I was intrigued with the notion of a Nicholas Sparks-like novel with a spiritual element. Besides, the author has a "New York Times" bestselling track record. It HAD to be good, right?

Now then: reality. Say there are two Ferraris zipping down the road. Now imagine a head-on collision. Both are destroyed, and now neither is worth a plug nickel. That's kinda what I think happened to this book. On the one hand is a semi-sweet story laced with bits of humor, and on the other hand is the author's serious philosophy about life and spiritual growth. Either of these premises could have made a top-notch book, but when they're forced to collide and merge bumpers? Not so much. Then the book looses focus and identity, and in a well-meaning attempt to fulfill both roles, it fails to adequately fulfill either. Manufactured discussions between the characters as a means to teach the path to spiritual fulfillment came across as contrived and awkward. Stiff. The saddest part is that the message the author is trying to send is definitely one worth receiving. Unfortunately, I think most readers will give up on this book without finishing. I wish the author would write a straightforward non-fiction book about his thoughts on spiritual growth, rather than try to incorporate them artificially in a piece of fluff.

For more information about this book, please see here, and for more info about the author, this is the place right here. Just to make it clear, I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. If you're interested in following suit, just check out their website.

Now, then, I thought I'd mention a few books I read this month which I highly recommend:

  • Deadly Lies, by Chris Patchell. Part of my review from Amazon and Goodreads: How well do we really know the people we love? Police detective Alex Shannon thought he knew his wife Jill very well, but now he's not so sure. Something's changed. As a sexually abused teenager, Jill vowed to never be a victim again, so when abuse rears its ugly head again and threatens to destroy everything she holds dear, she has to do something to take control of her life again. The problem is, that "something" is far from legal. When the detective's investigation uncovers clues leading right to his bride, what will he do about it? Uphold the law, let his wife go... or something else?  
I really enjoyed this book, which could be classified as a thriller, I suppose. Much to my surprise, after I posted my review for it, the author sent me a really nice box of chocolates. (Which in no way influenced the five stars I'd already given it...)

  • The Graveyard Shift, by Brandon Meyers & Bryan Pedas. These talented guys, who blog at A Beer for the Shower,  have already proven themselves to be off-the-chart funny and witty. In this collection of short stories, they also prove themselves to be a little... creepy. (Of course, I mean that in the nicest way...) One of the best things about reading a collection of short stories is the reader can read one story now, set the book down, do something else, and come back to read another one later, right? Kinda like having a lovely box of mixed chocolates next to your easy chair to select from at leisure. HA! I dare ya! TRY to read just one. Me? I read every single story in one sitting. (Which comes pretty close to my approach to eating boxes of chocolates, too, now that I think of it...) Anyhow, these stories are worthy of raising a couple goose bumps, and verrrry well-written. Imagination out the wazoo. Loved 'em! (Brandon also recently published a novel called Lovely Death, which I just purchased, but haven't yet read. Looking forward to it, though.)

  • Bombs and Butterflies, by Jo Carroll. Anyone who's ever daydreamed about visiting exotic places around the world would love this author's books. This lovely blogging grandma from London doesn't just daydream about traveling... she DOES it. To wonderful places, where this intrepid traveler experiences wondrous (and sometimes scary) things, and meets wonderful (and sometimes scary) people. Then, she goes back home and writes about it, so we lucky readers can benefit from her insights and experiences. This book is about her trip to Laos, but all of her books are terrific. Seeing the world through her eyes may not be the same as seeing them first-hand, but it's the next best thing.
And there ya have it. Now... I want you to put on your thinking caps. I'd like you to think about your favorite old broad... could be someone in your family, a friend, celebrity, whatever. But don't tell me now. Next Friday, I'm gonna be writing about MY favorite old broad, and I'll be asking you then about yours. So think about it, so you're prepared to give an answer...

                                   Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.