Tuesday, March 31, 2015


I have a blog called zippityzerns.blogspot.com. I write stuff for my zippityzern’s blog. Once in a while, I advertise a book, but I keep that greedy capitalism to a minimum. 

The stuff I write for my blog is funny stuff, because that’s what seems to come out of my head, like sneezes in the pollen soaked spring—the funny stuff that is, not the snot (that was just a metaphor). 

The hardest part of writing a blog is figuring out what code words you should list in the word code list so that people in Romania will be able to find your funny stuff in the haystack of blog stuff, funny and otherwise, that floats around the Internet like pollen looking for nostrils to torture.

Code words are key words or search words or label words with magic in them that capture the attention of readers, Romanians, also trolls.

On Mondays, I think code words work. On Thursdays, I’m sure they don’t. On Saturday, I suspect trolls of making my knuckles hurt. I don’t know why.

Based on my most “viewed” blog post (2995 page views) called “Hamster Infestation” with the key words—free wash machine, hamster, infestation, rat, and rodent removal—people seem attracted to the words free and infestation. 

I keep trying to figure it out. Is it the possibility that I might be giving away an infested wash machine that intrigues people or that the infestation is hamster-ish in nature?

I’m still working on the formula for attracting an infestation of blog followers, so that I can point to my blog follower infestation and say, “Look, I am funny and people do like me and that’s why the people clog my blog like an infestation of hamsters in a free wash machine on the curb of life. Don’t you want to give me some money?”

Linda (Word Puzzle) Zern 

Friday, March 27, 2015


OLD AGE UPDATE: Sitting in the yard circle at Zern World, I rubbed Aspercreme onto my "bad" elbow. Daughter #1 says, "Should you put that much on? Isn't there a limit?" I narrowed my eyes and said, "Yep." And then rubbed some more on, suddenly realizing. Now! Now, I get to be the obstinate one. And they get to be the ones worrying. God is good. Aspercreme for everyone!!!!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2015


My husband is brilliant and good. When he’s on the phone to Uganda he speaks a language neither English nor Ugandan. It’s binary. His father, my father-in-law, thinks that my husband is going straight to Heaven. I will not be joining him there—also according to my father-in-law.

What I can’t figure out is why, oh why, my husband, the brilliant computer geek angel, CANNOT remember to put the sprayer nozzle back on the end of the hose in the barn. 

(WARNING: POINT OF VIEW SHIFT) “Why,” she yelped, her voice echoing down through the corridors of endless time, despair coloring the consonants blue. “Why can’t he put the stinking nozzle back on?” 

A nozzle, gentle reader, is one of those garden hose attachments that allows a person, who might be watering the rabbits, to turn the water off at the end. You know! A sprayer nozzle. Twist to turn off. Twist to turn on. Easy. Peasy.

They’re handy.

Because when the hose doesn’t have a sprayer nozzle on the end it’s difficult to water the rabbits (located inside the chicken’s outdoor run) without splashing water into the chicken stuff under the rabbit cages. Chicken stuff is made of dirt and stuff that is not dirt and quickly liquefies when hit with water, turning to chicken mud sludge. Chicken mud sludge is disgusting. Chicken mud sludge has the consistency of poop pudding. And it splashes. 

Sure. Sure. You can crimp the hose with your hand (old school) but then the hose kinks, curls, twists, catches, or curves into a fetal position, so that you have to yank it—yank it hard—causing your crimping hand to slip. Water erupts—thus chicken mud sludge, splashing up, out, and over whatever you happen to be wearing. CHICKEN. MUD. SLUDGE.

All of which can be eliminated with a twist on, twist off sprayer nozzle.

My husband—the brilliant binary speaking, heaven bound angel man— never puts the nozzle back on the hose before flying off to Uganda or wherever angel men fly off to.

Granted, this is a second rate, first world problem, and I should be roundly ashamed for my carping, whining attitude, but since I’m not going to Heaven anyway, according to close relatives, I might as well make a public outcry of my nozzle frustration.

Excuse me. I have to go take a shower now.

Linda (Hell’s Bells and Cocker Shells) Zern

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Everyone is writing a book, has written a book, is planning to write a book, or has written a book that they are now trying to get someone/anyone to read.

It’s true. Even our bug man, who sprays vast amounts of poison on my house, attempting to control the mushrooming population of black and brown widows that live in every crack and gap of the exterior, is writing a book. Good grief, the spiders are probably writing books.

My bug man writes poetry.

Disclaimer: Please don’t misunderstand; I think everyone does have a story and should tell it, sing it, or write it. I do. I really do. A poetry writing bug man has a story. You can bet on it.

However, I am a little concerned over what I like to call craft and the practice of craft.

I was raised on great southern literature: “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” “The Yearling,” “Where the Red Fern Grows”, “As I Lay Dying,”” To Kill a Mockingbird” . . . I grew up wanting to write great southern literature or a wildly best selling porn novel, you know, whatever, and so I went to college to hone and grow and mold my craft at the feet of great writers of wordage and professors of word mongering.


I knew I was in trouble when one professor expressed wild enthusiasm and encouragement to a young man whose crazed character was having a discussion with himself over which animal he was most likely to have sex with, should he have sex with an animal. 

“You shocked me. You surprised me. You’ve written something shocking and surprising. I’m shocked and surprised.”

Ahhhh! I raised my hand. Secretly, I had thought the piece poorly written and hard to follow. But I can secretly think that kind of stuff. I’m old and crabby. I asked, “I’m struggling a bit with deep point of view. Could we talk about that, please? I mean when this character has sex with a panda, should the panda have an accent?”

Absently, the teacher nodded and flipped his hand dismissively, possibly at me. We never did talk about deep point of view.

I sighed, and bought a helpful little book off of the Internet for six bucks called “Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View” by Jill Nelson. My college writing class cost one thousand, six hundred dollars, plus parking.

After eighteen years, here’s what I know about the craft and art of writing.

1. Do it. Put pen to paper. Keys to screen. Charcoal to cave wall. Do it.

2. Don’t rely on the tired rubric of ‘shocking or cutting edge equates to value,’ unless you’re just looking to make enough money to buy a private jet full of money . . . then shock away . . . and hope you beat out all those other writers trying to shock their way to the top. Note: Bestiality has been done; see the Bible. 

3. Be your own teacher. No one wants you to get better the way you do. No one. Not even if you pay them.

4. Find your own way. In college you hear a lot of “panster” talk: write until it’s done, outlines are for panda lovers, you’ll know when it’s done, dream your way to the end. Bull. Note: Pansters are people who sit down and write by the seat of their pants or without any pants. I’m not quite sure. But they don’t plan much. 

5. Truth: Pick up a book you love; look at the last page; note the number of pages; multiply by 250 words per page. That equals the number of total words. The middle is somewhere at the center when you crack the book in half. The beginning had better have someone hunting a panda through the Everglades with a laser and the end needs to have a panda/people wedding or aliens repelled by bullets made of human teeth. There is a formula. Figure it out. Larry Brooks has some excellent resources on the subject. Google him.

6. Get tough and prepare to have everyone you know roll their eyes when you say that you’ve written a book because they’re afraid 1) you’ll insist they read it or 2) they’ll read it and it will be better than their book.

Either way, write your book and let the bug man write his and the fan fiction chick and the guy from Jamaica who painted the house and the teachers who really helped and the fellow students with something dazzling to say and the mail lady who wishes she was a spy and the panda man and . . .

Linda (Pass the Keyboard) Zern 

Monday, March 23, 2015


Make sure the paper doesn’t fit if you want to raise thinking, problem solvers.

Friday is YaYa’s Science Club day. Why? Well, it isn’t for a grade, or a public checklist, or to satisfy some arbitrary list of academic requirements, or the paycheck; that’s for sure.

Why? Because science is freaking awesome, that’s why.

Seriously, I don’t know what they’re teaching in public schools; because it isn’t science, not when so many public school graduates I talk to all say the same thing when you mention the subject. 

“I hate it. It’s so boring.”

Wrong. Science is the study of . . . well . . . everything! And nothing turns kids on to learning faster—in my experience! IF you do it right. If you start with the universe and follow the science down to quarks or start with quarks and follow the logic all the way out to the universe, never forgetting to honor “the unmoved mover” along the way.

In our science club we made ID badges. You can buy the sleeve at Walmart for $3.88. We took pictures and had to fill out our names and ID number. It took a lot of time. I didn’t make the badges for the team members. They had to make their own and the pictures were too big and the paper didn’t fit the slot.

“It’s too big.” 

“This doesn’t work.” 

“I can’t do it.”

Tears. Frustration. Furrowed brows. The impulse to quit. Time passing.

And then one team member piped up and said, “Well, you know, that light bulb guy, Edison, he failed about a million times.”

The team considered, reassessed, studied on the problem, and solved it. 

The badges are really cool. They’re on a stringer, so you can pull them out and pretend to scan your way into our lab. 

Do you know why glow sticks glow, or sodium acetate crystallizes so fast, or ping- pong balls float in the airstream of a blow dryer, or which planets are the gas giants, or how the sun probably works, or . . . 

We do.

Linda (Time to Teach) Zern

Saturday, March 21, 2015


“Who the Bleep Did I Marry,” “ Evil Kin”, “Swamp Murders”, and the list goes on and on. They’re television shows that showcase true crimes. I love them. I learn so much. Sometimes I take notes.

From the show, “Who the Bleep Did I Marry,” I’ve learned to be suspicious of slick talking guys who paw through my panty drawer looking for my bank statements. I don’t actually know any slick talking guys who paw through my panty drawer looking for my bank statements, but I remain suspicious of them.

Watching “Evil Kin” keeps me on my toes. I have a checklist. Do the neighbors resemble zombies? Do the neighbors resemble people who resemble zombies? Do my evil kin resemble the neighbors? Check for fresh graves in the neighbor’s backyard. Don’t get caught.

But it’s “Swamp Murder”s that has given me the biggest heads up. What I’ve learned from “Swamp Murder”s is that the body always floats—sooner or later it floats—always. This isn’t just true of dead bodies; this is also true of a lot of stuff you’d rather stayed down there in the muckity, muck bottom of the swamp . . . like sales receipts. 

Like sales receipts tucked away in the bottom of boxes, stacked in the garage, waiting for garbage day. Receipts for pointless, silly purchases that add little to no value to my life except that the purchase was pretty and I wanted it. 

Those sales receipts. 

They float. Like dead bodies thrown in a stinking swamp they bob right up to the top of the slimy water or the top of the box the hat came in.

I love hats. I love fancy hats you can’t wear in public, because the public who wore these fancy hats are all dead Victorians—not swamp murder dead—but still dead. 

My husband does not appreciate my fancy hat problem. So I try not to stress him with my fancy hat problem. It’s better that way. Luckily, he’s an engineer so he rarely notices when I’ve added another hat to my fancy hat collection. He rarely notices that we have rugs or furniture or walls. Unless . . . he finds the stinking receipts. 

My husband’s voice boomed from the garage.

“Hey, what’s this receipt for?”

“What receipt?”

“The receipt in this box, under these other boxes, under this stack of Goodwill stuff.”

I had a sinking feeling that I knew which receipt had floated to the surface of my fancy hat swamp.

“Receipt? What receipt?” 

Delay, deflect, deny—I watch modern day politics, I know how to stall the inevitable congressional hearing. 

“This receipt for a women’s white felt riding hat with lace veil.”

“I’m sorry what was that?”

His voice bounced and echoed a bit.


Do you have any idea how many boxes were out in that garage? A stinking swamp’s worth, that’s how many, and just like on that show where people are always trying to dump the evidence in the middle of the dankest swamp that stupid receipt bobbed straight to the top of the cardboard heap. 


Linda (Hats Off) Zern 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Becoming the YaYa

The smallest ones poop in their pants and try to stomp on the dog. They hate to get dressed. They pitch wild-eyed fits in public places. Often, they put rocks from the garden in their mouths and suck on them. They are immature, irresponsible, and self-centered.

When they feel like dancing, they dance. When they feel like yelling, they yell. When they want to eat, they want to eat now. Their names are Boone, Silas, Ever, Leidy, Hero, Scout, Griffin, Reagan, and Zachary.

The slightly older ones do all of the above, but they’re sneakier about it. They behave like spies ferreting out whacked out subversives, or they are subversives, ferreting out spies. We’ll see. They are Zoe, Emma, Conner, Kipling, and Sadie. 

When number one grandchild, Zoe, was newly created, she couldn’t make the g, r, n, or d, sounds; so she called me YaYa. One day, she toddled around a corner, threw her arms in the air, flashed a toothy smile like a sunburst, and yelled, “YaYa.” And that was that. It’s what Greek children call their grandmothers. I remember asking my daughter, “When did Zoe become Greek Orthodox?”

Zoe turned my husband into a person I no longer recognize. My husband, the father of our four children, raised them on the following retorts:

When the kids said, "Dad, we're thirsty."

He said, "Swallow your spit."

When the kids said, "Dad, buy us a toy."

He said, "Play with sticks."

When the kids said, "Dad, can we . . . . ?"

He said, "No."

Now we can't let him wander off at Disney World alone with Zoe or any of the other big-eyed babies, or they'll come back with enough stuffed animals to animate a feature film. They sit and eat Hershey Kisses until I worry about their blood sugar levels. He lets them play with machetes and debates whether he should take them away or not. 

I feel like shaking him and saying, "Just say no, man! Think of your legacy."

I don't say it of course, because I'm right there with him. I understand. There's time now and a little money. Time to stop doing everything and that other really important stuff and twirl around the living room to Shall We Dance from The King and I. There's time to sit in the grass and teach the grandchildren how to blow the seeds from a dandelion's face. There's money for the silly stuffed animals that don't do anything. And there's the wisdom to know that a few Hershey kisses won't kill anyone.

It makes me a little sad that when we were parents we had to be so official and on duty all the time. But then I think, no, it worked out. It's a good system. Mommies and Daddies are for the hard stuff. And Grandmas and Grandpas are for the hard candy. It's a great balance. I loved being a mommy, and I adore being the YaYa. 

A couple of the younger ones still can't blow the dandelion seeds off. They just spit on them. But when I show them how to gently blow the seeds and we watch them drift away on the breeze, they clap their hands and laugh, and I get to see the whole big world for the first time—again.

And for that, Heavenly Father, I am truly grateful.

Linda (The YaYa) Zern

Thursday, March 12, 2015


"Your "Collage" book is hilarious! I laughed out loud at some parts, and I don't usually do that. It takes a lot to make me laugh."  (Mary Laufer)

Thank you to Mary and all my friends who want to laugh. 

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:  amazon.com/author/lindazern (copy and paste)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

MOONCALF BOOK REVIEW: From Mary Laufer, Children's Short Story Writer and Contributor to the "Chicken Soup" Series

I finished MOONCALF today, and I just wanted to say WOW! I'm impressed. First, because it was such a big undertaking. Second, because the writing is so good. So good, in fact, that I wish you had submitted it to be considered for a Newbery Medal! Did you? It seems that historical fiction is most likely to win, and your book would have been a strong contender.

I loved your marvelous details, your fresh metaphors, your realistic dialogue. I loved how you presented new information and then made connections throughout the story. I loved how you wove the information on orange groves throughout the book. I never lost interest. The story got better and better. I wanted to find out what happened.

I was sure I knew what the ending would be---Granny Mac was going to save the calf, and Leah's parents would be so grateful that their prejudice would melt away. Ha. I never expected the story would end as it did. Even though the ending was tragic, I was pleasantly surprised that my prediction proved wrong.

Your theme was important, and to your credit, you never came out and stated it for the reader. The fact that skin color was not recognizable after the fire, and that "Underneath it's all the same" said it all.

I wonder if you could get this book on the SUNSHINE STATE BOOK LIST that is used in Florida schools. I don't know a lot about it, except that all the kids want to read those books when I take classes to the library. Then there are AR books. Accelerated reader books. That's another list to get on. Kids take AR quizzes on computers at school after they read AR books. I have no idea who makes those lists. Big wigs sitting behind a desk somewhere? Librarians?

Again, I'm in awe of your accomplishment.

Have a nice Thanksgiving!

Mary Laufer

P.S. I hope you didn't really run behind a truck spraying DDT when you were little!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Words have power, not as much power as sticks and stones but still . . .

When I was a little person and my brother would call me a stupid poo-poo head my mother always said, “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” Which was my signal to pick up a stick or a stone and try to break my brother’s bones.

The closest I ever came to actual fratricide was trying to stab my brother, the pest, was with a butter knife loaded with peanut butter. I missed. The peanut butter flew off. Shocked, we stopped fighting long enough to look for an errant glob of peanut butter. We failed. Six months later, our mom found the peanut butter—petrified and frozen to the open beamed ceiling of our kitchen.

I believe she called us, “Stupid poo-poo heads.”

My grandsons understand the punch words can have. Unfortunately, they don’t understand the concept of TOO MUCH.

Rare is special. A dash is spicy. Occasionally can be funny. But too much is . . . 

“Poo-poo YaYa,” Griffin (age 3) told me. I’d said something hideous to him like no.

“I will punch your poo-poo head.” I heard an anonymous someone mutter to another anonymous someone.

“My eyes are burning poo-poo.” I don’t know who said that; who can keep track? It doesn’t even make sense.

And on it goes.

Until finally, you hear yourself yelling, “Okay, that’s it. The next person who uses the word poo-poo in a sentence is going to get time-out in the poo-poo poop chair of poo-poo pain.” 


Using the exact same word excessively is excessive. The words loose their punch. The message comes out muddled. People quit listening. Communication becomes a monotonous pile of . . . sameness. 

It’s how I feel about the F word and the phrase “the fact of the matter is” or “having said that” or “everyone does it” or “those conservatives are poo-poo heads or "liberals are poo-poo babies.”

Time to elevate the conversation, folks, otherwise everyone sounds like a three-year old, or we can just go at each other with sticks and stones.

Linda (Pithy Patter) Zern 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Culture Over Easy - Repeat Monday

The tree trunks here in Melbourne, Australia are wrapped with metal guards. This is the kind of thing that gets my husband and I curious when we travel. Forget the museums, forget the art galleries, forget the fireworks display every Friday night over the River Yarra. What’s with the tree tin? That’s the real Australia. You can just feel it.

As we ride around the city we develop theories. 

“They’re to keep the squirrels out of the trees,” I speculate.

“But where else are the squirrels going to live if they don’t live in trees? Telephone poles?”

“Good point,” I conceded. “How about it’s to keep crazy crap out of the trees. You know like those bear things.”

“Koala bears? No way. You’d think they’d want a koala hanging off of every tree branch. Think of the tourist dollars.”

“Good point.” We continued to scratch our American heads.

Finally, Sherwood asks the cab driver, “What’s with the tree tin?” 

Cabbie tells Sherwood, "That's to keep the possums out of the trees." 

"Why don't you just shoot them?" asks Sherwood (Dead Eye) Zern, of Saint Cloud, Florida, near Kissimmee, home of the Silver Spurs Rodeo. 

"Because the government took our guns, and we'd get in trouble with the animal people," cabbie says. 

"In America, we'd just shoot them."

"In America, you shoot everything."

It’s hard to know where to go from this point in the cultural exchange: to be more curious about the enormity of the problem Australians are facing with pesky possums colonizing city trees, or offended at the gross ignorance and prejudice on the part of the cabbie about our American way of life. I’ll address both.

One) How big are these possums? How mean? What happens if they climb up in those trees? What are the possums tossing at people from up there that makes the citizens of Melbourne have to take such drastic tree trunk wrapping action? Where do the possums go if they don’t go up those trees? Telephone poles? 

Two) It is simply not true that Americans “shoot everything.” We don’t shoot roaches. That would be counter-intuitive. We pour gallons of poison over them as if basting tiny turkeys. We don’t shoot the mailperson. We give the mailperson twenty bucks at Christmas and thank her for not throwing our mail in ditches. We don’t shoot the computer. We want to. We want to real bad, especially when it seizes up and threatens to meltdown IN CHINESE. 

Possums? Possums we shoot. Especially, when they climb in the chicken coop looking to rape and pillage and thieve eggs. Then possums are going down—American style. Come to think of it, that’s why we wrap sheet metal around the bottom of our chicken coops to help keep nasty possum types out. 

Hey! We’re not so different after all.

It’s a small, possum troubled, world after all.

Linda (Foreign Exchange) Zern

PS Australian possums look like something you win for your kid at a carnival. Adorable. Florida possums look like something in the freak show at the carnival. Prehistoric and toothy. Very toothy.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


We don’t buy toys for our grandchildren. We buy dirt. Once or twice a year, we call the dump truck man and have him bring his giant belching, clanking dump truck full of white sand to our back yard, where he dumps it—as high and as deep as he can make it. We call it the Mountain, and then we unleash the grandkids on it.

“Go play on the Mountain,” we say.

“Don’t dig in that nasty horse poop. Go dig up the Mountain,” we instruct.

“Of course you can make a tiger pit on the Mountain,” we encourage.

The Mountain is worth its weight in cash, check, or charge.

The Mountain is a kid-friendly, adult-free zone. There is only one rule that governs the hill of white sand community.

“Thou shalt not throw sand.”  That’s it.

We don’t tell them how deep to dig, or what size shovel they should use, or whether they should build a sand castle or a wombat nest. We don’t care if they cart sand around in buckets or build a sand fort or bury each other up to their neck bones.

“Thou shalt not throw sand.”

That single mountain commandment is specific and limited in scope. It is patterned after the Ten Commandments, “the [Mosaic] law has a modest function; the law is limited, and therefore the state is limited. The state, as the enforcing agency, is limited to dealing with evil, not controlling all men.” (Old Testament Student Manual; the page after 137; the part about rules we should all follow.)

As the official representative of “the state” in our backyard, I like the whole setup. I can sit in the sun, read a book, drift off to sleep, dream about Aruba, and eat grilled cheese sandwiches—most of the time, until someone throws sand, until someone EVIL throws sand.

Then the State steps in . . .

It always starts with a grubby kid on The Mountain standing up straight as a stick, hands clenched to fists, eyes squeezed to sandy slits, and mouth open—howling. One hand slowly extends like a ghost newly crawled from an open grave, finger pointing, “He/She/They threw sand,” the howling mouth howls. Inherent in the howl is the demand for justice.

Shading my eyes with my paperback, I say, “Wipe your eyes with your shirt tail.”

The howler tries to comply. Sand is ground deeper into sockets.

The howler screams, “Arrrrrrrrrrrrgggggg!”

Denials fly.  “I didn’t do it. He did it. The dog did it. Mavis the Goat did it. A chicken did it. No one did it. It just happened.”

The howler, now the screamer, continues to wipe and wail.

At this point, the State is forced to put down her lemonade, egg salad, paperback, bonbons, umbrella, and intervene.

Evil is a pain in the eye sockets. It takes time and energy and attention to control “all men” also women. It costs money. It’s a drain on leisure activities. It’s depressing. It’s exhausting.

The Ten Commandments have gotten a bad rap over the years. (I blame wicked people.) It’s too sad really; because they are not a bad deal. Thou shalt not steal. Doesn’t tell you how to spend your money or how to earn it or how to use it or donate it or squirrel it away—all it says is that you shouldn’t take my money or your neighbor’s money with the great looking ass (as in donkey.)

That’s it. Thou. Shalt. Not.

Not a single thou shalt. People want to tell you that the Ten Commandments are repressive. They are wrong and probably are all about coveting your ass (as in donkey.)

Thou shalt pay income taxes to the federal government to be doled out by liars, cheaters, and thieves in a district hundreds of miles away from your front door or thou shalt go to big, fat jail; that’s repressive.

Or as I like to say, “You let me know which one of those Ten Commandments you most object to, and I’ll know whether to hide my purse or my husband.”

Other than that, here’s your sand pail; the Mountain is out back.

Linda (Sand Storm) Zern


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Book Trailer: Mooncalf

Here is a wonderful new trailer for my book, Mooncalf.  It's a return to classic Southern Literature; hopefully Harper Lee and Zora Neale Hurston would be proud.  (Mooncalf is set in Florida after all).

Expertly produced by the one and only Nathan Schmoe.  Make sure to visit his website and check out the rest of his work.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...