Dressed For Success, WAG #13

“WAG #13:Dress for Success” Thanks to Peter Spalton for the topic idea! For this week, find yourself a stranger (Yes, we’re all turning into a bunch of WAG stalkers!) Notice what the person is wearing, and then imagine the process they went through getting dressed. Peter suggests: Add lots of detail so we understand what sort of person they are and where they’re going after they’re ready.

When a guy lives in such a small town, he knows everyone. Everyone knows him. Everybody knows him, his brothers, his mother, father, grandparents on both sides... hell, they even knew who his dad was screwing before Dad married Mom.

They also know Melinda. Sweet, luscious Melinda with the to-die-for figure and the big brown eyes. When they see him walking hand-in-hand down the street with her, they'd know she is his girl.

He glanced around for his alarm clock and growled at the realization it was buried under his dirty tee shirts and four Good Times soda pop cups. Angrily brushing aside black bangs still wet from his shower, he shoved the crap off his nightstand and read the time. With a yelp, he dashed to his chest of drawers where his mom stacked his cleaned laundry. Up there it was less likely to get dirtied by his other 'stuff', she said. A quick rifle through the pile of black tee shirts located the one with missing sleeves which he tossed onto the bed while shoving dirty laundry around the floor with his bare foot to locate his jeans. They were his favorite black denims, with the rhinestones outlining an arrow over the zipper fly and with chrome buckles up the outside leg seams. The pants were starting to look a bit battered from repeated wearings; he was pleased. If he was lucky, Melinda would be wearing her super-tight striped knit top and her satin slacks that showed every curve, and maybe people would notice his arms toned from hours of drumming practice. Yeah, he and Melinda would look good together.

His phone rang in his school bag. With another growl of frustration, he whipped his head around the room to find where he'd dropped his books, but the phone stopped ringing before he got to it. The screen said "Mellie", and he looked towards the roof in frustration. Damn, that girl's impatient!

He whipped his hair violently to shake off the extra water before pulling the tee shirt over his head. Two strides brought him to the mirror to make certain all the lettering was still there. Backwards he read "UNITED ROCKERS". The skull was just as dark front or back. Quickly he put on some wool socks and his dad's old Desert Storm Army boots, tying the laces tightly before covering it all with the over-long pant cuffs. Rummaging through the top dresser drawer, he found his three-inch wide leather wrist band, the one earring with a cross and a skull, and a simple silver nose ring. He donned these and checked the mirror one last time. He stared for nearly a minute and suddenly tore the collar of his tee shirt, rending it straight down three inches.



Now to call the Sweet Mellie back. Gaughth was ready to go out.


This was an exercise of the Writing Adventure Group. The criteria for the exercise is listed above. The info about the group and how to participate is below.

Writing Adventure Group

This is an open, online writers’ group. Anyone may participate. It’s helpful if you have a blog, but if you don’t have one, you can always get a free blog from wordpress.com.

Our purpose is to build a community of writers who help and support each other, and to hone our observational and writing skills by interacting with each other and the world around us.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Adventures should take you 5-10 minutes to complete! We’re going for short and easy. This should not be like having a part time job. You may post your results as a few lines, or a few paragraphs. This does not have to be polished, but is an exercise only! See previous WAG posts here.
  2. You will typically have one week to do the assignment and post the results on your blog. Deadline given at the bottom of the instruction post.
  3. After you post your results, email THE LINK TO YOUR POST (not just your blog) to NixyValentine AT gmail DOT com. This way I can link back to you in the next post! Please include the word WAG in your subject heading. Please include the title of the post (if any) and your name as you want it to appear on the listing. If you do not do this, I will use the name as it appears on your email.
  4. To get more people involved, please use Twitter, FB status, myspace, your blog, etc to tell your writer friends about the group and talk about your own writing adventure!


Well, there really aren’t any. This is an experience, not a classroom. There is no wrong way to do this!

To get the most out of this, I would suggest visiting the other participants’ blogs and linking to them from yours to build the writing community.

If you have an idea for an adventure or have questions or comments about the group, write to nixyvalentine AT gmail DOT com.



Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day... Originally a celebration to bring to mind the veterans of the Civil War as their numbers grew fewer and fewer. It was originally known as Remembrance Day, and people used to sit around with Grandma and Grandpa listening to stories about those hard times, North or South, when men slept 10-12 to a tent, nested like spoons, trying to survive the winter cold and wondering which comrade would not be there for the bread breaking at dinner. At a time when life expectancy was in the low sixties, veterans in their seventies would send each other postcards depicting wreaths of red white and blue or of cherub-cheeked children handing old soldiers bright red poppies of remembrance, wishing each other well and expressing gratitude that they knew one another. They all thought of life and death and how important it was to recognize the power of both.

Now, Memorial Day is a way to make a weekend three days long, to gather with friends to drink beer and grill out in the backyard. Stores have sales commemorating their burgeoning stock of furniture. People rummage around the back of the closet, looking for that dusty flag to replace the cheap "Welcome Spring!" banner currently posted in the flag holder. Come Tuesday, the dusty flag gets tossed back in the corner of a dark closet and a brand new, cheap "Welcome Summer!" banner goes up.

I'd like to 'go retro' this weekend. No, I'm not talking postcards or giving money to some guy on the corner in order to get a cheap fabric poppy. I'd like to remember our Veterans now in their seventies. Since our interval between wars seems shorter nowadays, please remember those in their fifties and sixties as well. Just because the weapons are easier to manage and maybe men weren't forced to sleep a dozen to a tent to keep from freezing to death, it doesn't mean that the personal loss of a loved one or a comrade or even an acquaintance is that much easier to bear. Or the sacrifice of those at home, wondering if that loved one was returning - I want to remember their selflessness too. I feel it's time to once more recognize the awesome power of both life and death, and remember those who had to face the loss of it without choice or regret, simply because they were proud to do their duty.

Thank you, Veterans. Your sacrifices are never trivial, even if our thoughts aren't always noble.

Cave Wedding Photo - Official ;-)

Still haven't found my wedding album, but as I was going through a box, I found a photo album with this photo in it. It's a picture of my husband and me posing in front of our favorite formation in Illinois Caverns, so I feel like this is our 'official' wedding photo, even though it's not exactly where we wanted to have the ceremony.

Hope this is viewable. I hate scanning prints.

Photo by Ralph Earlandson.


Cave Wedding closeup

I kinda messed up the posting of the photo. Here's a closer, cleaner crop of that same photo. Hope it makes things a little clearer.
FYI: my husband and I wore our Sunday Best caving gear, including coveralls, helmets and lights. Normally we'd also have caving packs, kneepads, and gloves, but we broke our own rules regarding safe caving regalia.


Cave Wedding Photo, As Promised!

I still can't find the photo album containing the pictures of our wedding, but while I was looking for the backpacking hammock, I stumbled upon the photo printed in the local newspaper. It was part of an article set right above the photos from the watermelon seed spitting contest (I think a boy scout won).

The cave was Illinois Caverns. The newspaper was the Waterloo Republic-Times. The year was 1990.


For the most part, I love The Onion.

I also respect their humor, although they have begun to 'pick' on Obama. To be expected, of course, because that's their job!

They also post some hilarious spoof newscasts...



I'm So Inspired By HGTV

My husband and I were watching "House Hunters" on HGTV the other night. If you not familiar with the show, it's a reality show that takes you along as one or two house hunters tour possible homes to buy. I'm not entirely certain why David watches (although I suspect it's mostly to humor me), but I like watching it primarily because I like seeing layouts, furnishings and design of homes across the country.

There was one house with some pretty atrocious decor but the bedroom was awful because it had shag carpeting, chrome furniture and fixtures, and worst of all, gold lame fabric as window treatments.

Without thinking, I said to David "Elvis has decorated the building!"

Okay, not hilarious, but I certainly felt inspired to humor by the vision of this room!

Lewis and Clark

I received my daily email from The History Channel with the "This Day In History" information and was delighted to see acknowledgment of the great voyage of The Corps of Discovery.


However, upon reading the text accompanying the video, I was disappointed to realize it was so incomplete and actually misleading. One example: "On May 14, the "Corps of Discovery"--featuring approximately 45 men (although only an approximate 33 men would make the full journey)--left St. Louis for the American interior." They never explain that 33 men made the journey (not 45) because at the Mandan Village in North Dakota, there were men sent back to take one of the big boats (along with some of the found specimens and new maps) back to Saint Louis in order to start the process of populating the newly acquired territory. Also, that beginning leg of the journey was a bit of a 'shakedown' run, intended to test the men to find out who would make the grade. The men sent back to St Louis either didn't want to or couldn't handle the trip. The History.com site could leave you open to assume these guys died. The truth of the matter is that only one of the expedition members died, Sergeant Charles Floyd, and it is suspected that it was from a ruptured appendix, something he would not have survived even if he had been a guest of the home of Dr Benjamin Rush, a leading physician at the time.

Can you tell I'm a big fan of Lewis and Clark?


I Love The Library

The local county library system is opening a new facility in the town that's a few miles south of us. Now, I liked the old facility just fine, but it sounded like they were outgrowing things pretty quickly, and like an indulging grandparent with a favorite grandchild, I can't deny pleading demands.

I just received an email from the library telling me that the new 'digs' will be opening on May 30th. Cool beans, in and of itself, but the email went on to say "will include the official ribbon-cutting, square dancing, a Western-style BBQ supper and ice cream social, trick-rope lessons for kids, storytelling, performances and more." The performances include "an acoustic jam session. Musicians from all around are invited to bring their fiddles, guitars and banjos to join in and play for fun."

Now does that sound like a great way to launch a library or what? I may even go and take pictures.


Strange Pearls of Wisdom and Other Observations

You can't have everything. Where would you put it?

It was recently discovered that research causes cancer in rats.

A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.

Crime wouldn't pay if the government ran it.

Is there life before coffee?

It is as bad as you think and they are out to get you.

Thank God for the IRS. Without them, I'd be stinking RICH!


I Love Bouncing!

No, trampolines are not involved...

While I was looking around the web, trying to confirm my memories of visiting The Golden Spike Historic Site, I came upon an interesting and well-run website that would be of great interest to rail/train buffs. Or 19th century history buffs. Or Old West buffs. Or Utah history buffs. Oh, all sorts of people would like this site!

The Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum has a slew of information about not just the Wedding of the Rails (as the Transcontinental Railroad joining ceremony is often called) but lots of resources about train and US commerce history. I was especially impressed with the links offered to school kids who may be doing reports about the subject. Check it out!


This Day in History-Transcontinental Railroad

Short explanation of the Transcontinental Railroad courtesy of History.com


Been There, Done That, Got The Soot

On this day in history in 1869, the Golden Spike was driven, completing the Transcontinental Railroad.

Okay, so in reality it was four ceremonial spikes and only the last one was gold. Well, really it wasn't pure gold; if you hit a small rod of gold with a sledgehammer, it would become the small pancake of gold in very short order.

How do I know this stuff? Because of my great education in the Chicago Public School system, of course! Didn't everyone get taught this stuff? Why would I need to travel to the middle of a God-forsaken desert in Utah to find out something that my grammar school teachers had already drummed into my head?

Because my teachers hadn't given me the whole story, that's why! Did you know that the president of the Union Pacific Railroad was so reviled, his trip to the ceremony site at Promontory Point was sabotaged by his own employees! And he (along with many of other celebrants) was drunk during the driving of the spike. On top of that, he missed!

David and I really enjoyed our visit to the National Historic Site. Apart from the titillating little scandals that make life interesting, it was simply a wonderfully alive park in the middle of complete desolation, with great displays (including reproduction, live operating steam engines), and very caring and knowledgeable park staff and volunteers. We can't wait to go back!


Okay, I Must Be Insane...

Yes, I'm pretty sure that's what's going on...

I started another blog. It's called "How inTents" and it's an ideas exchange site for tent camping enthusiasts.

Yes, I was insane enough to use a very bad pun for the name, but I couldn't help it! I was certain "Tents R Us" was taken.

So, if you have a minute, go over and check it out. At the moment, it's just starting so you won't find much except for a pretty nice picture of our tent in Canyonlands NP, Utah.


Yep, yep, yep... I'm insane.


Oh boy, I'm going to hell, now!

While in Utah, we stopped for a picnic lunch in the town of Lyman. We pulled into the parking space and made our tortilla/honeymustard/lunchmeat sandwiches on the tailgate of the truck. As we were tossing away our trash, I spotted this sign and remembered that we were in Mormon country. After shooting this photo, we got back into the truck, closed the door, and I promptly spilled a small remnant of my soda on the floor.

Glad the windows were rolled up because I thoughtlessly dropped the "F" bomb...

Well, I'll be dog gone...

I was not aware that you could post photos directly to your articles. This changes everything!


Another Limerick

There once was a woman named Sue
Who wanted to be a size two
Intentions are good
But she did not what she should
And now she is the size OF two.


The Professional

“WAG #10: The Professional” As we go through our days, we’re surrounded by people doing everyday jobs: the guy that reads the gas meter, cashiers, bank tellers, security guards, doctors, circus clowns… This week, your assignment is to observe someone doing a job (their profession should be one you don’t know that much about). Describe him/her and also what they’re doing, why they’re doing it (as best you can tell), and how. Feel free to use your imagination, but don’t forget the concrete observation! Special thanks to Lulu for this week’s topic idea!

The Professional

Another box of mail. It was heavy, of course. Paper is an amazingly dense material, and when concentrated into 18 gallon plastic tubs with torn handles, it gets a bit difficult to heft those tubs into the small delivery truck, but she did it without complaint. After all, the mail must get through!

Gently, she rubbed her hands together to ease the stinging scratches on her palms. Of course, the handles were torn; it was quasi-Government equipment! She’d been around long enough to remember the old canvas bags, to recall how damaged the mail could get when those bags weren’t handled right, and they usually weren't! She was also senior enough to remember having to walk the route pushing that silly cart around. No, she didn’t want the old days back. She preferred things exactly as they had become.

Especially that day! Okay, so the next day was Mother’s Day and maybe her son or her daughters would break away from celebrating the holiday with their own children, but even if they didn’t, she would be perfectly satisfied with herself for being a mom.

With a small shove of the overfilled baskets already there, she made a little extra room for a few empty baskets. Last year, her route had done her proud, and although she’d put their generous contributions in her buckets emptied of their delivered mail, she still had loose boxes and cans in her truck. This year she wanted to be prepared.

A satisfied sigh escaped her as she pulled the cord that lowered her rear door. Carrying mail was a job, and she was still glad she had one. Participating in the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger National Food Drive made that job just a little bit more special. Okay, so maybe it took her nearly twice as long to service her route, but she couldn’t think of a better way to spend that afternoon than to help relieve the angst of a mother who had perhaps lost her job and could no longer feed her children. It just made Mother’s Day that much more wonderful.

This Saturday May 9th is the annual food drive sponsored by the US Postal Service, the National Association of Letter Carriers, and Campbell Soup. If you remember, please search your pantry for a few canned items that you can contribute to this very worthy cause.

The Twelfth Rose for Mother

This coming Saturday the United States Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) are hosting their annual food drive. I've always been impressed with how clever and effective this effort has been year after year. As giving and generous as I try to be, my good intentions are often stymied by how convenient (or rather INconvenient) something may be to me. With this food drive, all you need to do is set your item(s) out by your mailbox and the Letter Carriers do the rest.

And how poignant this is taking place right before Mother's Day! How painful can it be for a mother to see her child go hungry for want of food? Maybe this year you can give your mom one less rose and spend that saved three dollars on a couple of cans of soup or healthful vegetables. When/if Mom points out that the florist miscounted, you can explained that you gave that twelfth "rose" to a mother whose child needed a nutritious meal. I can guarantee your mom won't hold it against you!

Bless you all!

For more information about the USPS/NALC drive, please see:


Interesting Example of Governmental Idiocracy

I don't know if you've heard of an ancient piece of rock art in Utah called The Harvest Scene in Nine Mile Canyon, but if you have, you've probably heard that there's been some difficulty lately in preserving this panel particularly but the whole area generally. The problem specifically is that the 800 year old artwork is being covered with dust stirred up from the commercial oil/gas trucks driving through the area.

The local county's solution to the concern about the dust? Yes, you guessed. They sent a crew out to wash the panel. With soap and water, you guess? No. Try guessing "a pressure washer".

I wonder if they'd have been allowed to wash The Last Supper with a pressure washer because it was starting to look a little soiled? Heck, it's a newer piece of art by at least 300 years; it can stand it.

New Photo!

No, the title is not a typo. Claret Cup cactus are starting to bloom throughout Utah, and not only do they produce the loveliest flowers but also some of the most ferocious needles! I took a couple of scratches when I set my lens cap next to the plant for personal "scale cues" snapshots. That's the price extracted for the reward, I guess.

There truly is beauty in the beast!

Hello! We're back!

Hello, everyone/anyone! We had a short trip to Utah to get a Rock Art fix, courtesy of the ancient peoples of this continent. I'm certain I shot almost four hundred frames in three days, so I have a bit of sorting to do before I can post to Photo of the Week or put up a link connecting to my photos on Picasa.

Oh, and for those who don't know about me and my photographic habits: four hundred frames will easily get pared down to twenty that I feel are presentable.

Please stay tuned!