Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meet My Friend Donna King

           Twice a year, my husband and I go to Rodeheaver Boys Ranch in Palatka, Florida to attend a great bluegrass festival. The ranch is beautiful and situated on 790 acres.  Created to build the self-esteem and confidence of boys who come from difficult living situations, the ranch provides guidance and the opportunity to build the necessary character foundation for them to eventually live a full and productive life.  Their motto is: “It is better to build boys than to mend men.”  I love that saying.

            It is so heartwarming to watch the boys go about their assigned tasks, talking and laughing with guests and other boys.  They truly appear well taken care of and happy.

            We have met some of the husband and wife teams who staff the cottages where the boys live in a safe and loving environment.  Jeff King, Development Director and his wife, Donna, live at the ranch.  Over the last few years, Richard and I have gotten to know them, and we feel blessed to call them friends.

            I think if you could look up the name Donna King in the dictionary, it would surely say “strong woman.”  In May, 2011, her mother became ill, and Donna spent time back home in Tennessee to be with her mother during her final days.  Donna is a registered nurse, and she keeps her license active in Florida and Tennessee. 

           Six months after her mother passed, Donna was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy with removal of several lymph nodes.  She underwent chemo therapy and is still facing more surgery. 

          Through it all, Donna has traveled to other bluegrass venues to sell raffle tickets for a once-a-year drawing for a guitar to help raise money for Rodeheaver Boys Ranch.  She also assembles a basket filled with things that represent the ranch (cookbooks, crafts, jellies and jams).  Each basket is different and is raffled off at each festival.

When I met up with Donna in Summersville, West Virginia for the annual summer bluegrass festival, she handed several of us a box, which held three embroidered linen napkins.  She told us that one represented the tears she’d cried for the loss of her mother.  The second was for the pain of the cancer.  And, the third was for the tears of joy she’d shed for the support she received from so many people.  I thought this was one of the most touching sentiments I’d ever seen, and it spoke volumes of Donna’s appreciation. 

Yes, I am blessed to call Donna my friend.

Check out the ranch’s web site www.RBR.org.  And, check my web site after the first of the year for contests.  One of the prizes I’ll be offering is a piece of wall art handmade by Donna.
Dolores J. Wilson


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

National Paste Up Day

Did you know that today is National Paste Up Day?  Well, I didn’t either.  I have pondered all day on what this could mean.  The Internet wasn’t much help.  All it said was, and I quote,

"This day honors people who paste up newspapers, magazines,

books, and other printed materials."

Really?  I’ve been doing that since I was old enough to use paste.  And I had no idea there was a special day set aside for that.  Does Hallmark have a card for that?

Easter Sunday, one of my stepsons was here for dinner.  Somehow the subject of paste and glue came up, and he reminded me of something I had him to do when he was 8 or 9 years old.  I gave him a couple of magazines and told him to cut out anything he saw that he liked.  It could be a ball or a landscape picture or anything he thought was cool.  He was to cut them out in different sizes and shapes.

We then pasted each one randomly over a large piece of cardboard.  Once that was done, he signed his name in the lower right-hand corner, and then covered the whole thing with a thick layer of creamy white Elmer’s glue.  Several hours later, when it was completely dry, the hazy layer had disappeared and had dried to a clear glaze.  We then made a black frame from a few sheets of construction paper and hung it on the wall in his bedroom. 

I was always doing things like that with the kids.  When they were young, they loved it, and I was their hero because we did fun stuff.  Unfortunately, they hit puberty and doing things like that with Mom was totally uncool and out of the question.

Now they are all grown and in their thirties and forties.  I love it when they mention something they remember doing years ago, and it had nothing to do with sneaking out of the house or things that no mother really wants to know about.  It is things we did as a family, or I did one-on-one with them. 

It is special to me that my stepson fondly remembered that particular project.
Until later,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How I Learned to Juggle

     While doing research yesterday, I discovered a web site that tells us that every day is some kind of holiday.  I found this very interesting and, of course, hysterical.  Granted, it doesn’t have to be too crazy for me to find it funny, but I think I may have hurt something laughing at these Bizarre American Holidays.

     First of all, April is, among other things, National Anxiety Month, National Humor Month and Uh-Huh Month.  My three favorite afflictions.  You take my anxiety and add a handful of my humor and it is bound to end in a Uh-huh moment.

     Today, April 18, is also (drum roll please) International Jugglers Day.  This is a perfect holiday for me.  My Grandpa Joe taught me to juggle at an early age.  He owned a neighborhood grocery store.  Between customers he would pull three apples, onions or potatoes from their bins and, using one hand, would toss one into the air and just before it landed in his hand, he threw the next one into the air.  He could keep the objects going all the while I’d be tugging had his shirt begging for my turn.

     Finally he’d give me my turn.   For the next hour, I would practice tossing apples, onions or potatoes up, try to catch them and then chase them across the floor.  Over and over I would repeat the process with results that would make most people run screaming into the road that passed in front of the store.  But not me.  I now know that I was driven by my OCD.  Of course, in those days, she nuts or she shouldn’t have eaten all that paste was the label I wore.  Today, they would have a fancy name for my actions, and I would probably be on medication.

     By the way, I mastered the art of juggling.  I did it perfectly about five times, and then I put the apples away and never tried it again.  I’m only partially OCD.  Once I master something, I move on.  If I remember right, I learned to put a 50-gallon drum on its side and walk for hours on top of it, rolling it what must have been ten miles a day.  Now that I think about it, it was as if I was in training for the circus.  Instead, I’m a wife, mother of five, grandmother of nine, and a fulltime writer.  What with the juggling and balancing I do in my everyday life, I guess that was what I trained for.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thirty-seven Years and Counting

Richard and I just celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary.  That was a bitter-sweet realization for me.  It was sweet to think that we’d held our marriage together (with the help of a lot of love and duct tape) for 37 years.  The bitter part was when I realized I’d been married for thirrrrrty-sevvvven years.  That’s a lonnnnng time.
But looking back over that many years, I would say our greatest accomplishments had to do with family.  Five adult children (2 from Richard’s previous marriage and 3 of our own), 9 grandchildren (ranging in ages from 22 months to 18 years).  Except for our oldest son and our oldest granddaughter (who live in California and Central Florida, respectfully,) we have our entire family within seven miles of our house.
I remember being a young mother and having a hard time finding a babysitter when I needed one.   It makes me very happy to have my little munchkins around me for two reasons:  I’m glad to know that their mom and/or dad can do something for themselves and not worry about their kids.  The second reason is I spend most of my time laughing at the antics these little people come up with.  They are so much smarter than me.  They give me a run for my money.
Granted, I collapse in my recliner as soon as they leave, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.
How about you?  How long have you been married or single?  What is the highlight of that marriage or the time you’ve been single?  Would you change any of it?
Later, Dolores

Monday, January 2, 2012

Where do I get my ideas from?

People are always asking me how I come up with some of my ________ ideas.  Please pick from one of the following to fill in the blank:  good, bad, crazy, off the wall.  Honestly, I do have strange ideas, and they seep into almost every aspect of my live. 
I’m a published author, and my writing spans from Southern Women’s Humor about a female tow truck driver in a small town in Georgia to a dark fiction about an abused woman who kills her husband.  In the middle of that mix are a few mysteries and even a paranormal romance.
I’ve been known to throw theme parties from elegant dinner affairs to an author/agent reception for my local romance writers’ chapter.  Every room in my house was decorated to represent a different romance genre—a Medieval Faire, Murder on the Orient Express, Little House on the Prairie.
I’ve also been known to feed full-scale meals for anywhere from 25 to 50 people out of the small kitchen in our recreational vehicle.  Or, 225 people in our barn when I celebrated my twenty-ninth annual twenty-ninth birthday.  I’ll do the math for you.  I was turning 58.
Those are the kinds of ideas people always want to know where in my brain they come from.  I think it is an affliction caused by the paste I ate in the first grade.  That’s about the only thing I haven’t heard named as cause for our health decline in later years.  But I’m thinking I might be on to something.  You be the judge.
How do you come up with your ideas?   
Dolores J. Wilson