Monday, October 12, 2020

Pelican Pouch or Dewlap?

 I am getting older and no part of me is getting younger.


Just ask Conner. He is nine years old and my grandson. His skin is pristine and without wrinkle. His eyes are keen. His powers of observation are laser-like.

I have forbidden him to look at me—for the rest of my natural life.

This weekend I caught him staring. I always know when he’s going to comment on some unfortunate aspect of my advancing decrepitude. He shuts his mouth. And he quits blinking. 

Sure enough.

“YaYa,” he began. 

“What, Conner?” I said, girding up my wrinkled forehead.

“You know what you could be for Halloween?”

No good could come of this, but I asked anyway. “Oh good grief! What? What could I be for Halloween?”

He leaned over, pinched the fat under my chin and said, “You could be a frog or a lizard. You know, one of those lizards with that flapping thing under their chin.”

“A dewlap? Are you saying that I could be a lizard with a dewlap for Halloween?”

He smiled a cherubic smile. “Yes.”

I sighed. “I was thinking more of a pelican with a pouch.”

His smile widened; his dimples flashed; his eyes twinkled. I searched his profile for a hint of a gene-induced double chin. Nothing.

Getting old is making me crazy. I thought I would be better at it or not care so much! But wow! It’s the worst and not because it limits your Halloween costume choices.

Stuff is starting to break, hang, and quit outright, all over the place. 

And if Conner isn’t happily reminding me about my dewlap trouble, it’s the television telling me that my ears are shot. 

Tinnitus. Ringing in my ears. I have it. I don’t know when I got it, but now I have it. The television commercial said that I might get tinnitus, and then I got it, which means that I got it from the television . . . or from Conner, telling me that I should be a frog for Halloween. Either way, it stinks.

Linda (Croak-Croak) Zern 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Write On and On and On



When I proudly handed a copy of my first children’s chapter book to my sister-in-law, she took it, looked at it, and said, “That’s a lot of writing.”

She was not overly enthusiastic. 

When I started sending funny, little, quirky emails to friends and family sixteen years ago (before blogging, before vlogging, before posting) another close relative said, “And stop sending me those damn silly emails.”

He was less than encouraging.

Rejection comes in all flavors. Yet . . . I write on and on and on.

Sixteen hundred words a day or as much as my line editor can safely edit without losing her mind. Over the years, I have learned a couple of tricks and tips and techniques. Here are five.

1) For Women Only or Overly Meaty Men: Write braless: There is nothing worse than writing for sixteen hundred words worth and then realizing that your boobs have turned blue from lack of oxygenated blood. It’ll throw you off. Trust me.

2) Thesaurus – Yes or No: That’s a big yes. My professor said to throw the thesaurus out. Whatever. I’m pretty sure that no one knows all the synonyms for the word “heave.” Editors get testy when you use the same word for stuff over and over again. So, if you need another word for heaved in the following sentence, “Her bosom heaved,” with a thesaurus you could write: Her bosom surged. Her bosom billowed. Her bosom huffed. See? How handy is that? 

3) Snack With Caution: Writers live at their keyboards. Potato grease in sour cream & onion chip dust can make the computer keys slick. Bad things can happen when your fingers slide around. Words like shoot and shot can come out in the wrong spots. That’s my theory. Poorly executed grammar, creepy spelling errors, upside down word choices, and dazzling typos are ALL due to slippery chip grease fingertip trouble. True story. True chronicle. True fiction.

4) Handling Massive Rejection: Eat more chips. Type more words. Tell more stories. 

5) Why Write? Because one day your ten-year-old granddaughter will hand you a story she’s written just for you about pumpkin seed fairies, and she’ll say, “When I grow up, I want to be a writer just like you, YaYa.” 


What I like best about being a writer and dreaming of having a wildly successful book, novel, tome, or opus (thesaurus alert) is that there can never be too many good ones. 

Good books are like potato chips; you can never stop with just one.

Linda (Keyboard) Zern 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Best ER Visit - Ever!

Born in 1958 and raised under a billboard of the cute Coppertone girl getting her swimsuit pulled down by that cute puppy—which wasn’t at all pervy back then—my husband and I didn’t discover sunscreen until the mid-seventies.

The result of which is that Sherwood and I have more scars than professional pirates. We basically lived outside, in the sun, unprotected from the searing elements like nomadic warthog ranchers throughout our teen and young adult years.

Standing at the reception desk at our dermatologist, my chest covered with an enormous surgical bandage, I pointed at my husband. His ear was covered with an enormous surgical bandage. We looked like survivors of a “peaceful protest” in a big city.

“We were born in 1958. Can you tell?” I joked to the receptionist.

The receptionist, young and unscarred, did not laugh. I find many young people sluggish in their ability to understand irony or satire. Okay, they’re dolts.

Recently, my husband complained about yet another pre-funky spot on his ear. At our house, funk is skin cancer, so pre-funk . . . well . . . you get it.

I was thrilled when he came to me pointing at his ear. I’d been using frankincense, a natural oil, with a great deal of success on a few of my pre-funk spots. But you have to use a lot and often. I told him that. A lot and often.

“Lay down,” I commanded. I tipped the tiny bottle up to apply the miracle oil to his pre-funk ear spot. A tiny drop of oil trembled on the curve of his ear, then ran straight down inside, hit his eardrum, and killed him.

Okay . . . maybe it didn’t kill him, but he sure gave a great impression of someone dying. He writhed in pain. Writhed. Was writhing. Did writhe around.

Wrapped in a towel, fresh from my bath, I called my daughter and demanded, “Does Phillip have clothes on?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Your father is dying. I may need him to take your father to the hospital.” I hung up.

“Do you want to go to the hospital?” I asked.

“No!” my husband said, while writhing in pain.

“Get in the car. Put on a mask. We’re going to the hospital.” I pulled on a darling little dress and a coordinating Covid mask.

It was our finest trip to the ER. It was empty of Covid corpses or victims. It was clean to the point of gleaming. They triaged us in the parking lot. We waited five minutes in the sit-there seats, saw a PA, RN, and doctor in ten minutes. They flushed the man’s ear, diagnosed a hitherto unknown ear infection (thus the bizarre death pain) and gave me a stern, condescending glance.

“Let’s not do that again,” the doctor said, after I explained the frankincense treatment/accident.

I stuck my tongue out at him, but because I was wearing a Covid mask he had no idea.

Best emergency room visit EVER.

Linda (Skin Walker) Zern

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