Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mater Sammiches

I don't know when I've ever been as excited about a change of season. It's been a COLD winter in the deep south, and I'm tired of coats, scarves and having Popsicle toes all the time.

The pear trees have been blooming for over a week now, and beautiful daffodils are spotting the roadside just about everywhere I drive.

Yet just this week, we had a frigid day (by my standards) with highs in the 40's. Today we'll be hitting  70. I'm not complaining, though. I saw footage of some serious snow in Chicago this morning. 

I'm ready to get out in the yard and dig in the dirt. This will be year three of my attempt at organic gardening. I've been really successful with herbs, Japanese eggplants, okra and peppers, but I've yet to reap a good harvest of tomatoes.

I dream of the day this summer when I'll be able to bite into a juicy tomato sandwich. Gluten-free diets be damned! Eating a "mater sammich" is a rite of summer! 

My first job out of college was working as a copywriter at WDAM-TV in Hattiesburg. Every summer we looked forward to "Mater Sammich Day," the day when Dubbie White would bring a mess of his succulent red, ripe, juicy 'maters to the TV station and treat everyone to 'mater sammiches. 

I haven't seen Dubbie in well over 25 years, but as with so many of us, we've reconnected through Facebook. 

He's retired from the TV station now, but he's still gardening. This morning I got a Facebook message asking me to call him. I was worried something was wrong. In addition to not seeing him in over 25 years, I haven't even heard his voice. I called him and he exclaimed "Hey Red! How ya doin'?" He then said he wanted to host the Grand Finale of All Mater Sammich Days this summer, and wanted to know if I'd drive down to have a 'mater sammich. He's inviting all the old anchors and reporters and "a few of you copywriters just for fun." 

Are you kidding me? I'll be there with bells on...and maybe even a 'mater bib. 

The perfect tomato sandwich is made with white bread, a smear of good mayonnaise,slices of perfectly ripened tomatoes and perhaps a sprinkling of pepper. Nothing more.

Dubbie couldn't give me a date for the event. He said the tomatoes decide when that will happen, but it will most likely be sometime in July. I don't care if the Queen of England comes to town. I'll be hitting 49 South to Hattiesburg for a bite of heaven on white bread. 

Blessings to all who read this!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wrestling Wednesdays

I was asked to do a guest post today for blogger Karissa Knox Sorrell's Lenten series, "Wrestling Wednesdays."

We've all had to wrestle with something, at some point in our lives. Whether it's faith, family, friends, or something else, we are sometimes challenged in ways that can often catch us by surprise.

It happened to me on a sunny Sunday morning at 30,000 feet. I was absolutely blindsided.

If you've ever felt the same way, you will most likely relate to my guest blog post. Enjoy!

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ain't Nobody Got Time for That!

I had eight hours of sleep last night. I should be not only well rested, but bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as well. But I'm not. I'm looking at the clock on the stove--the clock that has not yet "sprung ahead" and realized no matter how you try to spin it, it's still 5:30am. I'm sleepy, and I could easily crawl back under the covers.

Ain't nobody got time for that!

I've got things to do! I have a busy week! Plus, I have a book to write! 

Finding the time to write a book is probably one of the biggest challenges for me. I've about decided I need to work on it first thing every day, before anyone else wakes up. Which means I need to get up early and get working. Of course, I decided that about the same time we lose an hour for daylight savings time. 

Even though I had a full eight hours of sleep, I still long for that extra hour. 

Why is it we always seem to want what we can't have? 

And why am I writing a blog instead of my book? I'm easing into it...this has been made a bit harder due to the fact that I'm also on a two-week cleanse that does not allow coffee. 

I know.

Ain't nobody got time for that!

Blessings to all who read this!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Celebrate Write!

Today is just one of those special days. It's a day to CELEBRATE!

For may of you, today is a day of partying and revelry before the solemn observance of Lent.

It's Mardi Gras, y'all! 

Parades, king cakes, beads and booze...been there, done that, had the t-shirt and gave it to Goodwill. 

In addition to being Fat Tuesday, today is also National Grammar Day. I'm not making this up! National Grammar Day was established in 2008 by Martha Brockenbrough, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar. I didn't make that up, either...they have their own little blog. And I'm one to believe there is a need for this in our world today. 

Katherine Dillinger is a copy editor at CNN, and there is a fun interview with her today on the CNN Living website. Her two biggest pet peeves? Writers who use dashes instead of colons, and the use of the word "probe." Hmmm....colons and probe? Maybe she's overdue for a colonoscopy? (Sorry.)

I've had the pleasure of proofreading two books recently, both by good friends, and both excellent writers and grammarians. The first is by Diane Williams, professional storyteller and gifted fiber artist. 

This is a fun, fun read no matter who you are! I strongly suggest you order your copy today! 

The other is a work in progress, soon to be released on Written by Belinda Stevens, it's a spoof of the infamous "Fifty Shades of Grey," but this particular story features the main character "Humphrey B" and his pals at the Doggie Bath. There's a lot of licking, sniffing, panting and growling in the book. More about that when it's released. Here's a photo of Belinda and "Hump."

On National Grammar Day, I feel free to say I'm a spelling, punctuation and overall grammar snob. I was fortunate to have some wonderful teachers in high school who stressed the importance of proper grammar and they taught me well. (I have to admit, however, that I hated every minute of it!)

Last year I had the pleasure of developing a curriculum for business writing with Tom Wagner of Wagner Consulting Group. We launched it in the fall for a group of electricians in Flowood, MS. I taught six men, ranging in age from 30 to 65, how to write more effective letters to clients. The first step was for them to identify their reason for writing the letter. What did they want to accomplish? They learned how to cut out the "fluff" and focus on the message. There was a strong emphasis on grammar. They had to write sample letters as homework between the three classes I taught (in three successive weeks). I watched with great pleasure as their confidence rose along with their writing skills.

There is power in the pen. When you have a bad customer service experience with a company, a carefully worded letter to the company president goes much further than a call to the black hole they call a customer service hotline. When someone does something worth noting, nothing means as much as a hand-written note telling them so. (Please note the use of the word "further" in this paragraph. Should it have been "farther" instead? I feel good about my word choice based on this explanation by Mignon Fogerty of the Grammar Girls.)

I am fortunate to be a member of a newly-formed writers group. We are all working on various forms of Creative Nonfiction, and in the coming months, we will read and critique each other's work. We call ourselves the Easy Writers, and we hijacked a logo from another group that we have adopted (there are only seven of us, so we probably won't print it up on t-shirts or anything...)
Before potentially thousands of readers read the works we've written, six sets of eyes will be scanning the copy for spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes. Knowing that, I believe, will make my writing better.

So today, in celebration of National Grammar Day, please mind your spelling. Choose carefully when using they're/their/there and consider kindly the use of apostrophes when writing its/it's. The obsessive-compulsive editing freak in me will thank you.

As if Mardi Gras and National Grammar Day don't make for enough celebrating in one day, I have a special treat for you all! Today is also National Pancake Day, and the folks at IHOP are giving away FREE PANCAKES until 10pm tonight! The only thing they ask in return is that you make a donation to the Children's Miracle Network.

Blessings to all who read this!