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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How I got hooked on giving blood

I gave blood again yesterday. Dang, it felt good.

Nope, I don’t like getting stuck with a needle. I’m not nuts. But I am hooked on donating….

Friday, July 27, 2012

Job Patrols at Family Reunions

Terre Woodward, my genius friend, is having about 40 people to her house next weekend for a family reunion. I told her she’s a better woman than I am. I burned out from having family reunions at my house. Too much cleaning. Now we rent a little park building.

Terre liked my Family Reunion Bingo blog, and she gave me a great idea after I told her that the older I get, the tireder I am after a reunion. Terre’s family divides the labor. Workers receive honorary titles and wear nametags to bugle their importance. Terre’s workers include:

-   Garbage liaison (pronounced with a French accent, like gar-BAJE)
- Coffee boss
- Mosquito whisperer
- Snack patrol
- Beer tender

Terre’s family members enjoy a big potluck meal, as mine do. Like us, they don’t worry about assigning dishes. As Terre says, “If there are six pots of baked beans… YUM!” However, she noted that individuals tend to bring the same (favorite) dishes every year. Same goes in my family.

I like the idea of family members taking titles. Maybe I’ll set out job nametags next year so folks can pick ‘em up and work the chore they choose. Perhaps I should add "Shoulder massager for all grandparents."

‘Stedda Bacon Recipe – for BLTs and ?

Today I had lunch with Terre, my friend who is a genius at invention. She invented basket containers on strollers before you could buy strollers with containers for stuff. Today, as we all know, strollers hold a lot more than just babies.

At lunch, Terre told me about her invention for a BLT without the B. It makes the use of toasted sesame seeds. Like many inventions, this one was tripped over by accident. Terre was just trying to toast sesame seeds one day when she discovered that they taste like BACON! So if you love BLTs like I do but want something insteada’ the bacon, try this:

Dog Woman available in paperback!

I'm thrilled to announce that my first novel, Dog Woman, is available in paperback. The price through is $9.97. I can offer a discount to book clubs, teachers, friends and family - $8.00, Wisconsin sales tax included; shipping is extra. Those who prefer electronic reading can get an even better deal through Kindle and Nook - $2.99.

Dog Woman takes place in 1989 and tells about George, a lonely 11-year-old boy who befriends an artistic recluse who changes his life. It’s ultimately an uplifting tale that shows how good can grow out of tragedy.

If you remember being a kid... if you love animals… if you like venturing a peek into the lives of folks who don’t quite “fit in”… if you enjoy seeing the underdog prevail… you’ll like Dog Woman.

The book is inspired by the life of a woman I wrote about for the Menomonee Falls News in 1990. For 20 years, I couldn't get her story out of  my head. Finally I had to write it down in more than a newspaper article. I felt somehow that I owed it to her. Readers familiar with Greater Milwaukee will recognize many places and references.

I wrote the book for adults, but it’s also appropriate for young readers (middle school age and older), with engaging looks at bullies, grieving, baseball, the power of the individual and the magic of friendship.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The head of a writer

After 32 years in a writers’ critique group and nearly 20 years teaching creative writing at Waukesha County Technical College in Wisconsin, I’ve grown to appreciate the writer’s mind. The writer’s mind is different from the non-writer’s mind. It doesn’t matter if we’re writing fiction, poetry, or nonfiction. We have to get it right. I mean just right. This leads to some pretty hilarious discussions.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kick-Cancer Smoothies

I could never hop on the smoothie fad. Why would anyone want to blend fruit? As a fruit addict, I’d rather just pop it into my boca straight up.

Naked Lady Parties

My daughter-in-law, Katie, goes to naked lady parties.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Trying to figure out my blog

I finally found the “statistics” feature of my blog. I’ve written blog posts for a year, but I’m a little slow on the uptake when it comes to technology. Maybe that’s because I’m 61 years old and for me, “high tech” used to be a manual typewriter.

I have so many questions....

Two dozen tips I wish I had heard when my kids were teens

[image of teen from Internet]
I have always loved my kids, but we had some rough-going when they were teens. At times, I fantasized about having an ex-husband I could send them to. Once I called every older parent I knew to ask for advice. My dad’s best friend, who had five grown children, said, “Every kid gets into some kind of trouble, but in different ways.” There was some cold comfort there.

Last night I was at a party and sat with two friends, each of whom is the father of a 15-year-old. One is the dad of a girl; the other is the dad of a boy. The pain on their faces was palpable when they talked about their children.

I’ve buried the parent-of-teen pain for so long that I had to reach back pretty far to recall it. But I found it. "I remember how it hurt," I said to my friends, "to feel that they don't love you."

"And to feel that they don't respect you," one of the fathers added.

Here’s what I wish someone had told me when I was suffering (stuff I picked up from wise people - ideas that helped me keep my sanity and some family harmony).

Friday, July 20, 2012

Neil Young and a Friend who Left

My friend Sharon Roznik wrote this, posted By Blogger to RustnevrSleeps at 7/20/2012 10:05:00 PM

"No More" by Neil Young, live acoustic
concert filmed in Jones Beach, New York
Sept, 5, 1989, from the album "Freedom."

It must be the return of a long-lost friend that has me turning to Neil Young (AGAIN).

How to tell if you’re a nature nut

In 2009, my husband and I were fortunate to purchase a seasonal house trailer on Little Green Lake in Markesan, Wisconsin. We try to spend every weekend there during the warm months. The trip between the trailer and our home in Menomonee Falls takes an hour and a half.

The high point of every commute is driving on a highway right through the mighty Horicon marsh. While traveling through the marsh, we watch for egrets, herons and geese. The occasional white pelican is a treat.

I’m sure glad I had my eyes open last Sunday. Five sandhill cranes were walking leisurely along the shoulder of the road. La la la, so casual. Long spindly legs like an anorexic basketball player’s. Elegant necks, nosy beaks.

My eyes immediately started to burn from unexpected tears. Too much beauty to bear.

Family Reunion Bingo

We had a reunion for my mother’s family last weekend - an all-weekend camp for some, a Saturday picnic for most. Either way, it was great, in spite of the 90-degree weather, or maybe because of it because we had so much fun attacking each other with water balloons and squirt guns.

Forty-four people represented three generations. We enjoyed tons of awesome homemade potluck food including an incredibly moist banana birthday cake, a fish pond and piñata for the kids, and lots of relaxation under giant trees at Soldiers and Sailors Park in Markesan,Wisconsin on the shore of Little Green Lake.

I love to see my family. After a reunion, I always feel like I didn’t talk enough to folks. Last year, my cousin suggested including a mixer game, so I created a family bingo “card” modeled on an ice breaker I remembered enjoying at a party long ago.

I wrote some generic clues (i.e. “Do you love the color red?” “Are you wearing colorful undies?” “Can you roll your tongue?”) and loaded the game with as many fun facts as I could think up about the rellies who had said they were coming to the gathering.

For instance, I knew my Uncle Jerry was turning 84 on the day of the picnic. There was a clue. I knew my niece Danielle was born and raised in Florida. There was another one. Lots of us like to dance, go fishing, and ride motorcycles. Quite a few served in the armed forces. And um, many Hoerigs have a last name starting with “H.” I figured everyone “fit” at least one clue.

I bought some little golf pencils and printed the game on 8 ½ x 11 inch index stock. Here’s how the cards looked:

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Fruit Basket Upset of Summer Videos & Movies


 My name is Gail & I’m a movie addict. I’ll watch just about anything; my recently-viewed videos have included “Charade” with Audrey Hepburn & Cary Grant; “Zombieland” (on the recommendation of my 15-year-old nephew); and “The Cherry Orchard” with Charlotte Rampling and Alan Bates.

Quickie reviews of those three:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Be Here Now

So. I was walking along the lake, smelling the lake, and looking at the tunnel the trees made over the road, and I was perfectly happy.

It was a “Be here now” moment.

Recently I was with someone who pulled out her phone and started fiddling with it. I looked her in the eye and said, “Be here now.”

She didn’t know what I was talking about.