Saturday, January 31, 2015

BOOKS AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEM


A Symposium for Book Lovers at the Saint Cloud Veteran's Library! 






Wednesday, January 28, 2015

THE THEORY OF WOW

We’re about to welcome our twelfth grandchild to the world and into our family, thus making it official. We’re a tribe. Which is a shocking development when it becomes evident how incredibly young and adorable my husband and I are. But what can you do? He’s crazy about me, and we’re crazy about our kids, and they’re crazy about their spouses, and we’re all crazy about those kids.

The crazy escalates when I tell you that our oldest grandchild is eleven. Do the math. Sunday dinners at our house are a raucous, lively affair resembling a frat house party without the alcohol poisoning. 

Or as my husband once remarked after an evening of visiting with our daughter’s rowdy five, “There’s nudity, sword fighting, jousting, and mud wrestling. It’s like visiting a medieval bar.”

Fun. That’s what it is. But we’re not a bunch of whiny, prissy, don’t-be-too-loud, or mess-up-the-house types. We like jousting.

We find jousting fun and . . . joyous. 

As grandparents we bring love and applause to the table. And Zoe, Emma, Conner, Kipling, Sadie, Zachary, Reagan, Griffin, Hero, Scout, Leidy, and the newest of the new in August bring a sense of wonder back into our lives that we weren’t even aware had slipped away a bit over the course of our serious, sensible, self-absorbed adulthoods. 

When Zoe, our first grandchild, was newly hatched and still dazzled by . . . well . . . everything, her father carried her to their car one evening after a visit. She was so young she didn’t even have serious hair. It stuck out in spikes and whirls. Her vocabulary consisted of a handful of single word commands: drink, more, please. She was little. 

That night, she looked up at the glittering night sky and added another word to her childish vocabulary. 

She pointed up and said in a breathless whisper, “Wow.”

Everyone stopped. We looked up and saw again for the first time in a long time what she saw. She was pointing to the whistling wind in the thrashing treetops, under a sky dripping with star shine and moon glow, and it was completely and totally—wow.

And we were reminded to be dazzled.

That’s what they bring to the table: wonder, delight, and wow—also sword fighting. 

How sad that so many grownups these days have been told to be afraid to share their lives with the next generation, worried, perhaps, that all the jousting might knock over the crystal or muss the table settings. 

Linda (Dazzle Me) Zern 

The Latest From the Desk of Linda Zern


Friday, January 23, 2015

CRYSTAL BALL

From the top of the “mountain” in our backyard, a dump truck load of lovely white sand, the grand boys asked, “Can we get water in buckets and make cement, YaYa?”

I sighed, seeing into the future as surely as any prophetess of future doom.

Knowing the end from the beginning, I said, “Yes . . but . . . if you turn on the water to make cement, don’t be shocked when your clothes get all wet.”

Denials poured out of their grubby heads. “No. No. We won’t get wet. We won’t. We won’t. We can’t.”

I cut them off.

“Tut. Tut. Tut. And when your clothes get all wet and icky, and they will, you will be cold.”

I held up one finger, stopping any more silly protests.

“And when you get cold you will be tempted to take off your wet, nasty, gross clothes. Eventually, you will, in face, strip down. You will then be naked. When you strip down, please be advised that I do not have a sufficient amount of backup super hero underwear to cover your nakedness.”

They looked like they wanted to say something stupid. I continued.

“Furthermore when you turn up cold, wet, and naked—and you will—other people (i.e. everyone) will point and remark on your lack of clothing and common sense. This will hurt your feelings, depress your spirits, and possibly tumble you into a cycle of low self-esteem and despair, leaving you vulnerable to becoming a basement dwelling liberal arts major.”

“Can we make cement?” they chorused. 

“Sure,” I said.

I went back to reading my book, sitting in the sun, and being right all the time.

Linda (Seer Stone) Zern


Monday, January 19, 2015

NIGHT GALLERY

Sometimes I feel like I was raised in the Twilight Zone and graduated to the Night Gallery. It’s a writer’s curse, living with an excess of imagination.

All trouble is big trouble, or what’s the point?

Like last Wednesday or was it Monday or . . .

You remember. It was a dark and stormy night.

Because I am not quite eighty years old and my insides are starting to quite possibly, liquefy, I get up in the dark of the night to visit parts of the house that are not my bedroom to dispense liquids. Okay, I had to wee.

On the dark and stormy night in question, I had just toddled back to bed, tucked myself away, and started to drift off when I heard something—something other than the moan of raccoons as they arm-wrestle each other over leftover gristle in the trashcans. Instead, it sounded like raccoons using a walkie-talkie, and it was weird.

Under the covers I tensed. Had I heard a raccoon walkie-talkie? Or was hearing walkie-talkie noises a symptom of my liquefying brain? I bolted upright in bed and cocked my head to the side like a curious poodle. I listened harder. 

Dark wind whipped. Stormy rain slashed. I heard another new sound. It was eerie, mechanical, and tinny. Honestly, it made me think of the Star Ship Enterprise transporter or a trash compactor. I scrabbled through my sheets for my cell phone.

Flinging myself from the bed, I jammed into the corner next to the open window. Branches scraped against glass. Greasy raccoon fingerprints glinted on the window in a flash of lightning. Wind banged the hedge that needed trimming. 

Clutching my cell phone, I crouched—smaller, tighter, more.

Outside, a radio voice crackled in the night: thieves or space aliens or creeper bandits mumbled. It was impossible to make out their evil plot.

Whispering, I said to no one, “Man oh man, the thieves are getting sophisticated if they’re using walkie-talkies.”

The weirdo space noise came again. I wedged harder into the corner. My finger hovered over the nine on my phone. I muttered, “This is it, killed by walkie-talkie toting super alien creeper villains or raccoons.”

Suddenly, softly, another possibility came to me. Chagrined, I stood up, turned off the phone, shut the window, and crawled back into bed.

In the morning, I wandered outside to where my two-year old grandson’s “Mighty Midget Spider Man’s Ride and Push” was parked and turned it off.

Spider Man’s tinny voice chirped and faded.

What? 

It could have been walkie-talkie toting super alien creeper villains—any writer with half an imagination knows that. 

Linda (Big Ears) Zern 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

ONE TO MAKE YOU LAUGH. ONE TO MAKE YOU THINK. ONE TO MAKE YOU CRY.



Come see me at the Symposium, January 31st from noon to 4pm, at the Saint Cloud library. Books for sale. Authors to see. Signatures to get. Fun to have.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Brief History of my Time on the Internet

We moved to a state I hated some years ago. It had north in the title for a reason. I survived the snow and ice by floating in a steaming garden tub like a lily pad and writing emails describing my garden tub lifestyle. In the beginning, I sent my emails to a couple of friends and some relatives.

One of those relatives sent an email back and said, “Quit sending me these damn silly emails.” That’s when I knew I was on to something.

My mission statement became: Block This! 

Over the years the email list grew and grew. Then MySpace was invented and someone said that I should get hip and get a Space that was mine, but I heard that MySpace was just a bunch of teenagers hiding out from their parents and complaining. 

Sure. Sure. I complained a lot in my emails, but I tried to keep it highbrow grousing and not ‘he said, she said’ whining. I mean . . . I wrote about real problems like Japanese beetle infestations and cabin fever crimes of passion. 

Then someone said that I should have a website, write a book, run some ads, and cash in. “Even the terrorists have websites,” they said. 

I looked at my computer, flipped it on and then flipped it off and thought, “I need to find some terrorists to help me get a website.” Three years later, I fired my IT staff (my computer analyzing husband) and tracked down a do-it-yourself website for making websites.

Then I was told that I should have a blog, since weekly emails sent to a trillion people really qualified as spam. Groaning, I went into blog mode. Too late. By the time I was blogging the mere mention of the words blog or blogging made people hunker down inside their hoodies and pretend to be reading their texts or looking at Bonsai kittens grown in bottles.

Okay. Now it’s Twitter and Instagramming and Linked In and Createspace and Smashwords and . . . everything needs to be connected to your dazzling hand held Fancy Phone and . . .

I traded in my old obsolete phone for a new dazzle phone and the lovely young man at the Fancy Phone Hut checked my data and said, “Well, you have ten catrillion super bytes available to you, and you’re using ONE.” He snickered. My IT staff (my computer analyzing husband) laughed right out loud. I fired him again. 

But I keep right on writing those “damn silly emails,” once and twice a week for sixteen years, and navigating every single learning curve thrown at me by technology and the Internet. Why?

Because talking to myself gets old; that’s why.

Linda (Block On) Zern 

A COLLECTION, A GROUPING, A COLLAGE






It's funny. A lot of people (who are not the author) say so . . . even those folks at Humorpress.com, and they sent money.








www.amazon.com/ZippityZerns-Collage-Linda-L-Zern/dp/1502932261/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421072481&sr=8-1&keywords=zippityzern

Saturday, January 3, 2015

One Muppet and a Curmudgeon




“What’s happened to The Globe Trotters, allowing women to play?”

I looked over at the man in the bed next to me, wondering if he was aware that it was fifteen years into the 21st century, and decided to look up the meaning of the word curmudgeon.

I don’t remember everything the online dictionary said, but I do remember the words grouchy, negative, and man.

He shouted, “There’s no way one pill can do all that!” He shook his fist at the television.

“You know that yelling at the television is a sign, right?” I said to my husband of thirty-plus years.

He popped a fistful of Vienna fingers into his mouth.

“A sign of what?”

“Being a curmudgeon: negative, grumpy, excessively critical of stuff, old.”

“Harrrumph!”

I snuggled into the ten to twenty pillows propping me up in our bed as a voice-over declared that the Eggstracker egg peeling machine would CHANGE MY LIFE, freeing me from the horrors of having to peel eggs by hand.

I shot straight up in bed, as alert as a coonhound spotting a treed raccoon and shouted, “That is bull bark! Seriously, I don’t think my egg peeling woes are keeping the world from turning for me. What freaking nonsense.” I pointed an arthritic finger at the smiling woman happily pumping out perfectly peeled eggs with her Eggstracker.

“Darn straight,” my husband said as crumbs tumbled onto his chest.

That’s when I knew. We’d become Waldorf and Statler—two curmudgeonly old puppets from the Muppet Show. When had it happened? How had it happened?  And why had we sunk to the level of grumpy puppets?

It’s the bed.

After watching John Adams, the HBO mini-series, I felt inspired to drape our four-poster bed with curtains that can be drawn closed, effectively shutting out light, air, drafts, and the world. Then I bought a pillow top mattress that at full price cost as much as a used golf cart. We got the mattress on sale, after a markdown, on closeout.  It was almost free, but dang, it’s a good mattress. And finally I bought a night-light that I ridged up to a pocket that holds the remotes, phones, tablets, and chewable fiber meds.

Or as Zoe (age 10) said, “Wow, if I had that light and stuff on my bed I’d read all night.”    

That’s when I knew. We’d become puppets, unable to move without sticks up our . . . fluffy stuffed puppet hands and stuck in the cushion of our pillow topped Muppet stage.

What? Grumpy shouting at television personalities that can’t hear us is our culture. It’s our way. And if you don’t respect it, it’s because you’re a diversity hating, ethnocentric, culture crushing prig. And you probably hate puppets and puppies and John Adams.

So remember, curmudgeons are people too—old man people, possibly their wives also.

Linda (The One on the Right) Zern


 



Friday, January 2, 2015

INSPIRATION!



A Zern family book club favorite and an inspiration for my next novel:  Beyond the Strandline (Coming 2015)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Buggy, Cart, Trolley

When the cashier asked me, “Did you find everything okay?”

I said, “Sure, yeah, great! I found the toilet seat, dog dip, fire ant killer, and gas can—just great. I would be beside myself with shopping joy IF IT WASN’T FOR YOUR DERANGED BUGGIES!”

Then she called security.

Here in the south we call them buggies. If you’re a Yankee you may call them carts, and if you’re from England, you call them trolleys—which is just bizarre.

There are three types of buggies at Walmart: the ones that pull—to the left or the right, the ones that vibrate like the Space Shuttle during liftoff, and the ones that seize up on you, because it suspects that you are homeless and looking for a spare bedroom.

I watched my husband yank, pull, push, sway, and rock a Walmart buggy for seventeen minutes one day when we crossed the invisible buggy alert line. It froze up. He went berserk.

“It’s frozen,” I said. He yanked.

“The buggy thinks that you’re homeless,” I explained. He tipped, then rocked, and then shook--all over.

“Face it; we’re going to have to carry eighty pounds of groceries from here to way out there.” I pointed. It was hard to see our vehicle. It was Christmas time. He growled.

The vibrator buggies are often easy to spot. These buggies are often abandoned at various points around the mega-store, due to the hideous clank, clank, clank noise they emit, and the tremors that travel up through the one wheel that is flapping free. That clanking noise travels through the handle, into the bones of your forearm, and finally into your temples—like an ice pick.

Occasionally, a small child will also be abandoned with the buggy. It’s a decoy. Don’t fall for it. When you go to assist the child, its mother will attempt to steal your buggy and collect the kid later at the lost and found.

The pullers are the worst. Hard to spot and apparently impossible to fix these buggies appear serviceable, but by the time you reach the detergent you will be nearing a state of exhaustion. The exhaustion stems from the constant over compensating you will be forced to do to keep your buggy from drifting into the buggy with the infant in it on your left or the woman in the hover-round on your right.

Tip: The more groceries in a puller the worse it pulls, and if a puller buggy gets away from you in the parking lot there may be no stopping it. Like a suicide bomber it will throw itself into the nearest and newest car in the parking lot.

Chasing after a runaway cart, screaming, is highly ineffective. Trust me on this.

Then there are the perfect buggies. The ones that neither pull, nor drift, nor rattle, nor seize up. A pleasure to push and a joy to load up, these buggies just roll along like a corny song, until you hit a bump and your eggs fall out onto the parking lot, but don’t break, and they (the eggs) go rolling—but not in a straight line, because unbroken eggs can’t roll in a straight line—every where, they roll just every where, and because the eggs didn’t break you feel that you should catch them, because they’re still good. Right?

I mean you could still make brownies with them (if you cooked that is) and so you go running wildly through the parking lot chasing eggs, trying to get all your eggs in one basket, but in the end there’s no way that you’re going to crawl underneath that van dripping bio-hazards where three of your eggs have rolled, because there are things that you’ll do for brownies and then there are things that you won’t do, and that’s life.

Sometimes life pulls to the right or left, leaving you exhausted and sometimes it vibrates and shatters your eardrums. Sometimes life locks up on you, thinking that you’re someone else entirely, and sometimes life is just right--then the eggs fall out and roll away under a van.

Linda (Trolley Girl) Zern
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