I knew it would happen.

When I signed up to the challenge of NaBloPoMo, I already anticipated the end of the month payroll and bookkeeping tasks, Thanksgiving, and a visit from the grandchildren.  Throw in all the cleaning, cooking, Christmas decorating, cookie making, and planning time for the next holiday and you have NoMo NaBloPoMo.

It’s all good though.  I did manage to write for most of the month.  I had neglected my blog for months and needed to get back to writing.  It’s just like everything else.  Once you start to neglect a skill or a talent or an activity that you really enjoy, it can fall by the way side and sometimes disappear from your schedule.

Here are some ideas I almost wrote about.

Hiding the evidence.  I may use this one for Christmas.


Cooking Injuries. and how to avoid them.


I See Faces.   No illustration available yet.

If I complete one more post tomorrow, I will have blogged 22 days out of 30, roughly 2/3.   I may not have reached my goal, but I did show improvement!


Perfectly unclear

“This is (name garbled) and could R please call me at (number garbled)?  We have a (garbled) (garbled) break and I need to talk to R right away.”  Click.

answer machine

So is this…. a water main break, an equipment break, are you taking a break from work?  There was certainly not enough clear information to even know what the message was about.

At least once a day I receive messages on our business answering machine that just can’t be deciphered.  I blame cell phones for some of the issues.   People who call using their cell phones may be surrounded by background noise from wherever they happen to be when they are calling. Sometimes they are distracted and are actually talking to another person while leaving a message.  Some cell phones are just not clear sounding. And remember, most people cannot write as fast as you can speak.

I have some common sense suggestions for leaving a phone message.

  • State your name slowly and clearly.  Better yet, spell it.  Andy can sound like Randy or Sandy or Lannie or Brandy.  Last names are even more diverse.  Spelling helps.
  • State what you want.  Do you want to talk to a certain person?  Do you have an emergency? Do you want me to call you back?  Be clear and specific.  I don’t need all the details but give me enough that I know what you want.
  • Tell us how to reach you.  If you give your phone number give it slowly.  For example,  123 (pause) 456 (pause) 7890.  If there are certain hours to call, let me know.  If you are leaving an email address be very clear.
  • If you are calling for someone else, please know all the information about that person.  “Uh, I am calling for John Doe.  Please call him back at …..hey Mom, what’s John’s phone number again?”
  • Eliminate background noise.  The radio, the computer, your TV, others talking or working in the same room, traffic, sirens.   Find a quiet spot to make your calls.
  • End your message politely.  A simple thank you is fine.  Or something like “Looking forward to hearing from you soon.”
  • Repeat anything that you think may need repeated.  Maybe its just your name or your phone number.  Be clear and make sure the receiver knows the important information.


If your message is important enough to leave on the answering machine, then it’s important enough to take the time to do it right.

Thanks.  This was Retired Ruth from  Looking forward to reading your comments.   No need to call me back.




Dressing Up the Angel

senior night football 001

Kissing autumn goodbye.

I know it’s still officially autumn until the winter solstice arrives, but the weather has finally and suddenly turned colder and snow flurries are in the forecast.  My little cherub sits in my kitchen window and blows a kiss to the fiery red and orange leaves I stuck behind her wings.  I think I will decorate her with some greenery or tinsel when Thanksgiving is over.

My little angel (not totally certain of my cherub’s gender) is about six inches long and cost me a whopping fifty cents.  I found her (?) at The Lincoln Highway Buy Way Yard sale which is a HUGE yard sale scanning hundreds of miles of country roads and highlighting the historic Lincoln Highway which crosses our state and many others.  

She was sitting next to the tiny ceramic pig with one missing foot which I also purchased for five cents.  He looks good in my summer fairy garden.  On my way to the car, I spotted a grapevine deer about five feet long and three feet high.  He is in a permanent state of repose after spending too many years outside in the elements.   His former owner mentioned that I could probably hose him down and stretch him out so that he can stand again, but I kind of like they way he looks.  I got a pretty good deal on the deer, too.


It was a fun day with two of my best friends.  We found books, scrapbooking items, pots and pans, rugs, furniture, movies, and a Vera Bradley change purse on a chain.  A very successful shopping day.  Not much money was spent.  Lunch at Beaverdam and delicious ice cream in Delphos.  

You can read more about the Lincoln Highway BuyWay Sale here:

Hello…. Audience, are you there?

HCI confessed in my last post that I didn’t always follow the rules of blogging.  I must have hit a nerve with other bloggers because that was my highest viewed post since I began the NaBloPoMo journey.

I was totally shocked at the response.  Well, not THAT shocked.  I got a whopping 70 views that day, but that’s pretty good for my meager little blog.  That response leads me to another confession and involves a rule I didnt mention yesterday.  

Know your audience.   All the great writers and filmmakers and authors and presenters make a point of knowing their audience.  Know what they want to read, what they want to see, what they want to hear.   So I guess that fact that I was shocked in the responses to my post leads me to one conclusion.  I don’t have a clue what my audience likes!  

This is not the first time I have been surprised.  One of my most viewed posts is simply called The Old Brick House.  Somebody looks at that simple story every week!  I do not know why.

But my top post of all times, at least since I started blogging in May 2012, was called  Can you stand just one more Moonflower update?  It was posted on a Friday in January and received 204 views! 

Why?   I don’t know.   Was there a huge snowstorm that day and everyone was trapped inside and wanted to read about something green and growing?  Did cell phone service and cable TV crash that day, leaving only WordPress to occupy our time? Is there an unusually high percentage of gardeners in my viewing audience?    Was it “feel sorry for Retired Ruth Day”?    Maybe it was the scientific name for Moonflower that I used as a tag?  Maybe it was the Neil Armstrong tag that attracted attention?  Yeah, I know, it was a stretch… but hey… Neil Armstrong… first man to walk on the moon… Moonflowers growing on the patio.  Yeah.  It connected in my brain.

Nevertheless, I guess I just don’t know what readers are going to like. Some of my favorite, most well-written (in my opinion) posts just fizzled out and no one seemed interested.  

For those of you who have made it through reading this far I will ask for your comments.  Tell me about a time when you were surprised at your views, either in a good way or a bad way.   And here are the links to my most viewed posts, in case you want to help me figure out why people are reading them…..




Do you follow the rules?

I’m not a good blogger.  In fact, when I became a blogger I didn’t even know you could be a good one or a not so good one.  I just wanted to get my thoughts in written form before I forgot them.  I did not have dreams of having hundreds or thousands of followers.  I didn’t even know there were followers.  I guess you might say I jumped in with little preparation.  I’m good at that.

I don’t follow the blogging rules. I’ve read a gazillion articles on how to have a successful blog and I have even tried some of the suggestions.  But I’m just not consistent enough.  You are supposed to have a point when you write a blog.  I do not always have a point.  My point is, I am writing this stuff down so I don’t forget it.   And I guess that’s not really a point.

Images are important for a blog to be successful.  For awhile I always put some type of image into my blog.  It does make it look pretty.  Then I read that you can’t just use any old image that you find on the internet.  (That’s where I found most of mine.)  If the image belongs to someone else, you have to have their permission to use it and then give them credit for the image.  Guess what?  That’s a lot of work!  So during my second year of blogging, I went back through all of my blogs and deleted images that I shouldn’t have used.  That was really productive.  Again, I jumped in without doing my homework.

Successful blogs, I am told, are usually between 1000 and 1500 words.  Epic fail on that one.  My best blogs are the 100 word fiction posts.

Links can help you get more exposure and more followers.  I still have trouble linking to NaBloPoMo and Friday Fictioneers.  Mr. Linky and I do not see eye to eye.

Spelling and grammar I am good at.  See how I ended that sentence with a preposition?    Really, if you are on WordPress, there, their, they’re  is a spelling and grammar check always available for your use.

Most writers tell you to write your blog, then let it sit for a few hours, or a couple of days, or even longer.  Then go back and edit the heck out of it.  This does work.  But who has time for that?  I usually write and publish immediately and then several days later read it again and go back and update, all the while thinking… how could I have written that and sent it out to the world.

There is one rule that I follow.  I have found that it really has helped me do a better job of writing in general.  Read your blog out loud.  I have been surprised at the mistakes and awkward sentence structures I have discovered just by listening to what I have written.  It works for me.

What are some rules you follow when you write?




Maybe a Steel-Toed Boot Would be Better.

FF 11 18

“Mom, I’m hungry!”

“Mom, Connor took my book!”

“Mom, I can’t find my homework.”

“Mom, can you fix my ponytail!”

Mildred sighed.  Where was that good-for-nothing husband, father to all of these children?  She didn’t know what to do.  Last count there were 9 of them and they all needed her attention all the time.  It was more than an old lady could take.  

She slowly stirred the large soup pot on the stove and dreamed of peace and quiet.  She didn’t know what Children’s Services meant by discipline.  A good swat never hurt any of them.  It wouldn’t hurt to have a bigger shoe, either.


photo credit:  C.E. Ayr


To read more 100 word fiction travel to this site.  Thanks again, Rochelle!



Deliver De Letter De Sooner De Better

Send me a postcard, drop me a line, stating point of view, Indicate precisely what you mean to say, Yours sincerely wasting away…


Even before I fell in love with the Beatles and their incredible lyrics, I wrote letters.   I wrote letters because I received letters. It was the only way to communicate other than telephone and telegram.  My Grandmother and her twin sister sent me letters on a regular basis.  They were handwritten  on pastel colored stationery with matching envelopes. Grandma and Aunt Martha’s handwriting styles were surprisingly similar as were their messages.  They would tell me what they had done that day; things like picking flowers, what they cooked for lunch, what funny antics their kittens were up to.  Sometimes they would tell me about something that happened to the neighbors or they would talk about the weather.  Sometimes I would open the envelope and a four-leaf clover would spill out or maybe a small pressed flower.  Sometimes a stick of gum would be carefully folded into the letter.

Grandma and Aunt Martha would always ask me questions.  What have you been doing?  What are you learning about in school?  What new song have you learned at your piano lesson?  When do you think you will come for a visit?  Really important questions that required an answer.  It would have been impolite to not acknowledge and respond to a letter.  So I learned to be a letter writer as well.

I wrote letters to my cousin, who lived a couple of hours away.  She always answered me.  In junior high school,  several close girlfriends and I  would write long letters to each other in study hall and pass them down the row to each other.  One friend and I created alter-egos and wrote letters to each other as Herman and Gretel.  It was fun, we were being creative, and it was more enjoyable than memorizing the Presidents of the United States and the years they were in office.  In high school, I wrote to a friend who had moved to Chicago to live with her sister while finishing high school.    For awhile, I had a pen pal from the Virgin Islands that I had signed up for in an English class.  In college, my fiance (now my husband)  and I wrote letters to each other, especially when he was in basic training far away.  I once wrote him a letter on a roll of toilet paper.  I didn’t use the entire roll, but it was pretty lengthy.  As I recall I recruited my roommate and other hallmates to add a few lines to make it longer.  If I had known how much my future husband hated to write, I would have known a lot sooner that it was true love.  Most of my college-years letters were written by hand, but a few were typed.  On a typewriter.  Yeah.  And during the 60’s sealing wax became popular again.    We all carefully sealed our letters with wax and a small metal seal with our initial.


I continued to write letters to people who were important to me.  As a second grade teacher, I signed up for classroom pen pals through a Weekly Reader pen pal program. We met a great class from California and shared stories about our lives at school and at home.  I hope some of those students remember their pen pals and continue to write letters as well.

And then came the arrival of email.  It has certainly changed the way we communicate.  And led to even faster ways of communicating.  I can remember as a student, hearing a teacher tell us that someday we would be able to call each other on the telephone and see each other as well.  We were amazed  and often dreamed of the futuristic ideas.

sealing wax

I still have a pen pal.  We have written to each other for over ten years.  She and her family came to visit me a few years ago and this summer we met at the Grand Canyon.  She has several pen pals from various countries.  We still write real letters but for the most part, we email each other.  I must admit, I am thankful for email in communicating with my youngest child who is thousands of miles away.  And even though I once said “I will never text message anyone, ”  I finally broke down.  It was the best way to communicate with my granddaughter and now my grandson.

I still try to write letters to far away friends.  I use a word processor to create my letters now since my arthritis makes my handwriting difficult to read and painful as well.  Email is wonderful.  I would hate to live without it.  But there is something special about a handwritten or even typed letter.  You know the person who sent you the letter really cares about you because they took the time to write their thoughts for you.  I felt my grandmother and my aunt’s love those many years ago, from the letters they sent me.