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The fire rages on….


Happy Friday, my friends!

Stealing content from my photography site for today’s post.
Enjoy the fire, stay safe and don’t play with matches.

Leave that up to me ;-)

xo Pyro-Mama

Originally posted on Ps and Qs: Photography, Poetry and Quiet:

What is it about a fire that draws, sucks, lures and beckons us toward the fatal flames? The desire to feed the source coupled with the sensibility to douse it out once it’s served it’s purpose or delivered its destruction.

I have no poignant answers.

Just a torch and a camera.


“You kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire. He had wondered once why love was always phrased in terms of burning. The conflagration in his own veins, now, gave the answer.”
Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Princess


“They say a good love is one that sits you down, gives you a drink of water, and pats you on top of the head. But I say a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix; the kind that…

View original 41 more words

Alive and Kicking! (Music while you wait Vol. 3)

Alive, kicking and barely breathing these days. But smiling and grateful (or is that code for clueless and punchy?)

Just a note to check in and provide music while you wait. I’m only through half of the blog reading I wanted to get caught up on in April, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Even if it’s a train, at least it’ll be an adventure, right?

Today’s playlist is dedicated to my sweet hubby who’s been keeping the home fires burning while I do whatever it is I do to stay gainfully employed. A little P!nk and Katy Perry (his favorites) to give him some eye candy to watch on his iPad this evening while I’m snoring like a banshee beside him. Closing out with Luke Bryan so he can make fun of me one more time:


On another note, I did a little writing this morning and paired it with some photography, too! If you’re game, check out the post “This kind of fire” on the Ps and Qs page.


Without further delay, here’s Big Daddy’s playlist.

Pending for May:

  • Travel series to debut May 5
  • Waiting to hear back from the #Amtrak writer’s residency!
  • More you, less me








Directionally Challenged and Forever Awkward

“If I were a magician, I’d hand out broken compasses. It’s all about misdirection.
Jarod Kintz



I put myself through college, can whip out a mean algebraic equation and have held my own with Alex on Jeopardy.

All of the education and a fancy job still doesn’t fix the fact that on most days I can’t find my way out of paper bag even with openings on both ends.

Let me elaborate.

It’s 1:26 on Friday afternoon and I’m tucked in a corner somewhere in the middle of the gorgeous Gaylord Texan Hotel and Resort. I’m here with about 2000 other professionals strangers getting the inside scoop on this country’s healthcare landscape (Hint: it’s not pretty!)

I could say that I’m hiding from the hoards of strangers and you’d believe it because I’ve hinted at my introverted tendencies before. Even though proactively making small talk with people I don’t know makes my tummy do somersaults, it’s not why I’m sitting in the corner. 

The real reason I’m tucked in here is because, for the 7th time since arriving yesterday, I’m lost. AGAIN!


With seas of rooms that boast big Texas names like Grapevine, Lonestar and Restroom, I find myself lost and swimming in a sea of awkward with not a thing to wear (Gremlins apparently got into my suitcase and packed clothing from the much coveted HoboWear line.)

Don’t worry. I’ll find my way soon–I have a map and a big mark that says “You are here.” How difficult could it be?


 Apparently, harder for me than most.

I wish that this was the first time I was completely clueless in a new place, but it’s the norm rather than the exception. When we travel together, my husband lets me exit the hotel room first. Not cuz he’s a gentleman, but because he can’t wait to see which way I’m going to turn to get to the elevator we’ve already been on a bazillion times. I tend to zig instead of zag and tuck when I should have rolled.

I’m easily flustered, directionally challenged and there’s no known cure. It wouldn’t be so bad except that my job requires me to be in dozens of different cities, hotels, convention centers and airports. In fact, I have to park in the same spot (row 22 tower 2 on level 2) when I fly out of KC because I get the trips mixed up and have spent way too much time looking for my car. I’ve gotten lost running in downtown Dallas and led my own daughter underneath a scary bridge in Chicago because I picked the wrong landmark building on the  walk back from Lakeshore Drive.

How can a person always be so lost?!

I get my rights and lefts mixed up and North and South only make sense after I’ve calibrated the surroundings with my childhood home (hills to the East and plains to the West). Once, while working in Denver, I drove over an hour looking for I-70 West amidst a bucket of frustrated tears and exhaustion.

I called my husband and said, “I know you can’t help me, but just talk to me. I need to go West, I don’t know where I’m at and it’s too dark to see the mountains. If I could find the mountains, I could find the interstate.”  After making fun of me, he comforted me and said, “You need to keep a compass with you.”

He was so right! I knew where I wanted to go, I just didn’t know how to get there. Surely there’s a good metaphor for life here, right?

Ah…you know me too well. Of COURSE there is! Lots of them.

First of all, I’ve accepted and embraced the fact that I’m directionally challenged and awkward–in travel AND life. I don’t freak out anymore when I get lost because I’ve learned to leave early, drop breadcrumbs and appreciate the detours and wrong turns that have led me to adventures I would have never discovered had I arrived as originally planned.


Landmarks guide me back to where I started and a compass takes me to the right spot to begin with.

However, a compass only works if it’s calibrated. In life, do we use our heart or head as the calibration marker? That’s the mechanical question I’ve toyed with ever since I was younger.

As someone with the soul of writer, you’d automatically assume that I follow my heart, right? Fortunately, my lack of direction didn’t trump common sense. Had I made every decision with my heart, I would have ended up in a cute VW bus with big daisies painted on the side selling produce and patchouli on the side of road. Romantic, but not practical.

In truth, daily decisions are made with my head and bigger decisions are made with my heart.

My head chose science over journalism and my heart led me down the highway (literally) to my future husband. Both good decisions, but made with completely different perspectives and compasses.


We all have that internal dial that leads us to our core values, directs life decisions and sets priorities.

This is just a preamble to communicate what you’ll be seeing (or not seeing) on the MamaMick pages to come in the next few weeks. Day job has me working an insane amount of hours and it looks like more states are being added in addition to the seven I already cover.

I won’t unpack my suitcase until May.

My sensible compass tells me to walk away for a bit, go on a blogging vacay and come back when life isn’t so busy. My heart arrow says life will always be busy and writing is what I love to do so just keep doing it.

Whenever I get jumbly and overwhelmed on the inside, I find that slowing down, focusing on others rather than whining about myself gives me renewed energy and focus. For my blogger buds: I’ll be spending the next month reading and commenting on YOUR blogs rather than writing in my own. I want to read your words, get to know you better all while being inspired. As I’m collecting and learning, I’ll continue to hang out with Christy and Jennie at RoS and help with the Six Songs series and Braveheart Chronicles. 

For the friends and family who read my ramblings, when I’m home, I’ll spend more time with you than my laptop. I’ll cook meals, bake cookies, help with homework, plant the garden and give away my tomato plants (uh, there are 60 seedlings and I only have room for 8!)


I’ll also be working on a travel series planned to span a period of 4-5 weeks in a row that will use music, photos and words to illustrate the Heartland like you’ve never seen it. Here are the five proposed chapters–my head is already full of the photos that I’m going to take and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Life is a Highway
Flyover States
My Hometown
Every day is a winding road
Long Trip Alone

Please don’t worry if you don’t see me as often in the next few weeks. I’m happy, blessed and staying out of trouble. I may pop in to drop a video, a few pics on my photography site and provide music while you wait. Unless life drastically changes and provides me with a clone, you’ll not be hearing much until my series is ready to launch next month.

Until then, I’ll still see you around. I’ll be reading and engaging on your sites and favoriting your tweets. I know the map, I have the landmarks and even if I get lost, I’ll have fun finding my way back.



 Compass by Lady Antebellum




The Church of Baseball


Even though a faint dusting of snow still lies on the ground, the 2013 USAAA 13-and-under state champion Rebels will be packing up cleats, adjusting cups and heading down the road for the first game of the season on Saturday.


I’ve missed the baseball mamas (dads, too!) and we sisters from other misters have spent many weekends huddled together in blankets or sweating in lawn chairs on the sauna-like concrete in mid-July.

Game in December? Nope!This was mid-April!
Game in December? Nope!This was mid-April!

It’s time to reinstate the superstitious practices where white jerseys are worn on Championship Sunday, Wendy stays in the bathroom when we are at bat and Melinda walks down the road when it’s rally time. It’s also time to speak the lingo that belongs solely to baseball and the disciples who watch it.


A Mama’s Baseball Poem

You got this bud!
That wasn’t yours
Now you’ve seen it

Atta Kid!

Need a golf club for those, Ump!
Be good with two!
Deep breath
Ducks on a pond

Atta Kid!

Strikes here, kid
He’s going!
Can of corn
Turn two!

Atta Kid!

My beloved Kansas City Royals also have their home opener in Detroit on Monday and hopes are high for them to be World Series contenders.

I’d also like you to meet my second favorite third baseman:

My most favorite third baseman:

My favorite baseball player of all time:


Instead of further poetic pontification, I’ve left you with a video playlist that highlights the sounds of the announcers, the clink of a bat, the whooomph of 108 stitches into a leather glove and the Church of Baseball.

Even if you don’t love the game, I’m sure you can appreciate the calm that baseball, apple pie and boyhood camaraderie provide as the run around bases chases the last bit of winter out of our souls.

Let’s play ball!






Is it Airborne??!?




Ewww!  What the….? I didn’t know stuff could even ooze out of there. Is that even a real color?

Oh, hey! How long have you been standing there?  I didn’t know I left the door open. Sorry about that gross display. Just have a minor case of Writer’s Block today and…



Come back! It’s not contagious. And even if it were, I’m pretty sure it’s not airborne. At least, not like the Walking-Dead-I’m-gonna-infect-everyone-airborne.

Gratuitous picture of Daryl Dixon

Actually, this mini-disease gives me an excuse to fill you in on what’s up.

Like yours, my life is a little nutty right now.  Deadlines (real ones–day job stuff) are crashing down on me and I’ll be getting caught up on those in between flights to Denver, Dallas and Fargo.

Part of my writer’s block might also be because I’ve been bleeding my words onto other people’s pages (yikes, more contagious body fluids?) I’m a regular contributor for MyEmpoweredWorld.com and having a pretend writing job is just as busy as a real one. Additionally, this week, Christy is gracious enough to let me hang out at her house at RoS while she unplugs for a bit after losing her beloved pooch, Spot last week. Hugs and love to our friend…it’s been a rough week for her.

Check out RoS on Monday to see Aussa and Nicole Marie’s Life in 6 Songs” and then look for my second installment of the Braveheart Chronicles slated for Thursday. I won’t be re-running that piece over here because I’m too chicken. (tee! hee! I can feel irony running down the back of my throat!)

And speaking of running.  I ran the first 5K of the season yesterday in sub-freezing temps and a 25 mph North head-wind. Despite the elements, I placed 7th overall, 4th in the women’s division and first in my age group. So what if there were only two of us running in that age category and that I was probably just hungrier for the free pancakes than the rest of the clan.  I was expecting a tiara for even showing up for the blasted race but the shiny medal (and pancakes) will do!


FINALLY, I need your help. My beautiful cousin Ruth sent me a link to apply for the Amtrak writer’s residency where 24 lucky folks ride the rails and write  across America. Amtrak already has 9000 entries so it’s a long shot, but I think I’m gonna apply!

One of the requirements is to submit a writing sample. I am my own worst critic and really don’t know what I should submit. Humor? Satire? Serious? Argh! It freaks me out a little, so can you help?

Here are your favorites according to “likes” and comments. Vote for which one you think would resonate best with a judge. A judge that might be wearing a cool conductor’s hat.

Well…I guess that’s it. Thanks for stopping by and reading this mindless nonsense. One of the remedies to cure Writer’s Block is to, er, WRITE about it. Looks like I’m on the road back to recovery.


*Credit to images 1/2 are embedded in file. Images 3/4 are mine.


Storm Chaser

I can hear your whisper and distant mutter.

I can smell your damp on the breeze and in the sky I see the halo of your violence.

Storm I know you are coming.

Robert Fanney


I noticed the weary smile tugging at the corners of your chapped lips. The fever on your brow is evident and brought on by too many months inside your cabin. You’ve gotten tangled up in the blanket of a winter that has managed to smother the entire country in a year where even the warm climates couldn’t escape the ultimate rule of Mother Nature.

You’re not alone, my friend.

January 2014
January 2014

This winter has managed to wrestle me to the ground a few times, too and I’ve even seen happy, typically grateful folks flip the bird at fourteen inches of snow and feed gratitude to the wood chipper.

Where are my beloved Spring thunderstorms? The kind of storms that fill the sky with brooding clouds and the air with an electricity that’s palpable.  Brutal months of January and February make me crave the April landscapes of citrine green and neon blue that only a thunderboomer can produce and a camera can’t capture.

Time spent with my dad learning about weather patterns and forecasting were also hours spent learning about the man who built his life and made a living in spite of the forces he would never be able to control.

“That wind just switched. Been blowing out of the south all day.”

The strain in his eyes mirrored the stormy skies, so I asked him, “Is that good?”

Just depends. We need rain, but this feels like hail.”

“How do you know that, Daddy?”

“Because I have to know. Our livelihood depends on it.”

Midsummer Kansas sky 2004

That day’s storm-soaked smell and the conversation with my dad started an involuntary and sometimes extreme journey that hovered around a love-hate relationship with the weather and life’s associated symbols.

As Dad had predicted, the storm brought wind and hail and shredded most of the wheat crop two weeks before it was to be harvested. It was one of many storms that changed harvest plans, landscapes and lives.

As I watched he and Mom pace in what I called the “worry porch,” I wondered how they would take care of us. The stress bounced off their shoulders straight into my little brain. Booming, boisterous thunderstorms used to terrify me as a child and the ultimate fear was nights without electricity as the seven of us hovered in the damp cellar around a lone hurricane lamp. Even after power was restored, the lingering smell of musty kerosene and the visual of Daddy’s worried eyes stayed long after sleep should have come.

Back up a few years to when my parents were on their honeymoon in Arizona and New Mexico. It was during that time that they received the news that Topeka, KS had been partially flattened by an F5 tornado–they often tell me that I was conceived that same weekend. The seed was planted and fate determined that I would always be a child/girl/woman fascinated with weather and gravely respectful of natural disasters.

Once I gained the experience that comes with living in Tornado Alley, terror was replaced by fascination and I became the less-than-wise girl sitting on the rooftop trying to get a good view (or photograph) of the funnels. During one extra active storm,  hubby finally had to drag me down into the basement reminding me that those tails drop without notice and that it’d snatch me out the door given the chance.

Little did I know that the funnel cloud I was chasing was also being photographed by my good friend about two miles away. Her photos below show the tail right over our home–this same storm continued on its path and flattened Joplin, MO a few hours later.

It’s not without guilt when I remember how giddy with excitement I was finally having caught a twister on my camera. I knew people who lost their homes that day and it was the shame that made me delete the pics and then borrow the images above from my friend.

Something broken inside me craves the storm. A deep, sensual, irrational desire to be within the vortex, feel the power at its source and live to take pictures and tell the story with my whole heart.

For me, tornadoes are an allegory for temptation–the lure of the unknown something on the other side. A cyclone wild and unharnessed that urges me to come in.  A seduction that excites and entices only to wreck or change a person if  the obvious warning signs of destruction and calamity are disregarded.

Which brings me to the day I completely ignored a blatant forewarning I should have been smart enough to recognize. On July 20, 2004 I was struck by lightning while walking into a hospital next to Kansas State University campus. Fortunately for me, the direct strike was to the crane I was standing under. The amperage of the strike knocked out power to the ICU and me on my ass.

I took this picture (one of many) about two years before “the incident.”

I was indirectly hit just a few feet away from the same spot where a woman had lost her life just five years before. A woman who died while jogging in a lightning storm. She perished and I escaped with barely a scratch.  Nurses who witnessed the whole thing ushered me inside, checked for burns and diagnosed me with good health even though my burnt hair smell horrendous and my short-term memory was a little suspect.

The woman and I were presented with the same environment, five years apart with decidedly different results even though we both made poor decisions to “weather the storm” in the first place.  I couldn’t be late for my meeting and she needed to do her training run.  Alike in that she could have been going to a meeting and I could have been the one running. Alike in that we both had children, spouses and people who loved us.

Different in that I lived and she didn’t.

It triggers a bigger question around why God takes some people and leaves others? Why did I get to stay instead of her? Is life really that random or did it mean something?  My family (and co-workers who saw it) still laugh about it today, but everyone knows without voicing it that I was damn lucky…or blessed.

A person could run out of fingers and toes when counting the weather metaphors we use as second language:

  • Into each life, some rain must fall
  • You are the sunshine of my life
  • The winds of change are upon us
  • Grey skies are gonna clear up

Old age Experience has taught me that the inducement to be swept up by the gusts should be tempered or trumped by the reliable storm warnings. The smart woman tells me my beautiful life is mine because of weather-wise decisions. The rebellious girl pushes me to go out in the rain without an umbrella and ride the monsoon in fancy cowboy boots.

The two fight incessantly.

To me, weathering storms is all about appreciating the oxymoron and irony life brings us and using our inner voice to make wise decisions. Knowing when to take cover as well as determining when to stick it out.

There are the times we need DO to sit on the rooftops. That tail doesn’t always drop and the storm might be just a little squall that washes off the streets and puts the smell of Spring in the air or renews your spirit. Think of the calm peace and blue skies that appear only moments after a tornado leaves its mark.

Those blue skies always come. Always.


Posted in parallel to The Storm on Ps and Qs.


Time for some Kitchen Dancing!

Say what you think
Love who you love
‘Cause you just get
So many trips ’round the sun

~Kasey Musgraves, Follow your Arrow

This month marks my 47th trip around the sun.

While age is not something a woman wants to talk about, you caught me at a “peace with myself” moment and I thought, “What the heck! Send in the cake!!”


It helps that it’s been one of those really good weeks a person relies on when days we’ve passed or those to come might not be so great. Golden rays have finally found their way to the tulips and our poor pent-up pooches have run of the yard again. The snow is almost melted and my heart is full of love and gratitude for the many special people in my life.

In addition to being productive at work, I played with the camera on my photography site and read fairy tales all while enjoying having a newly retired hubby to supervise keep me company during my day job activities. There are 60 healthy tomato plants renting basement space under the grow lights, Dane is starting to drive and Tanna Banana will be coming home for the weekend.

Life is soooo good and I feel like dancing!


I also have a fancy new skill that I’m dying to show off. Christy gave Jennie and I a YouTube assignment this week where I learned how to put together a playlist. I have been messing with this new obsession for the last couple of days, so stay tuned and check over on RoS soon to see what she did.

In the meantime, here’s my Friday happy song playlist for you. These three tunes are intended to make you:

  1. Smile
  2. Hug someone you love
  3. DANCE!

(note: since I’ve been around the sun so many times, I just happen to remember seeing #3 when it first happened on American Bandstand back in the days of green polyester and sequins)

Always a fan of dancing in the kitchen, I hope you’ll ditch your inhibitions for a little bit and whirl someone you love around the table a few times. Don’t worry about style points or looking silly. Hubby was knee-deep in his third episode of Duck Dynasty when I interrupted him with some spontaneous, interpretive dance. He just worries I’m gonna hurt myself.


For Nancy, a fellow soul sister/Pisces who also celebrates another time around the sun this month and for Victoria who follows her arrow better than anyone I know.

Much love and muchness to you all!



Through the Looking Glass

Do you remember reading books as a child? Can you recall the hours spent with your nose buried between pages that swirled with wild adventures?

I do!

I remember the precious moments mama read to me while tucked up under the nook of her arm and the sweet scent of her breath as she gave the characters life with her voice.  Memories of scenes, stories and emotions that made passage of time irrelevant and surroundings forgotten.

Then, life happened, things got busy and books were abandoned in corners and on dusty book shelves.

026Fast forward to babies and constant reading to my kiddos. We discovered Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein together and I read everything with a fresh perspective.

These stories were magnificent!! How did I miss this the first time around?

For me, reading the classics with an adult eye was like discovering chocolate kisses in every corner and I’ve been gorging myself ever since. Thankfully, the Grimm Brothers and Carroll are calorie-free.

This post is a preamble to what I’m doing on my photography site this week. If you feel like escaping, read the short piece below and visit there as often as you like.


Through the Looking Glass

f7969d646e66e054ff0d2ed6dce8414fThis week is going to be spent in Wonderland.

Drinking tea, chasing white rabbits and escaping from reality. If Mad Hatters are your reality, well, you’ll fit right in. The lines between fact and fiction are often blurred and fun will be had by anyone who rests under the mushroom for a bit.

Since this feels a bit like falling down a hole, I hope you’ll keep me company. Check back daily to see who’s late, what doors we can fit through and if we keep our heads.

If it all comes together, it’ll be a week full of muchness.

~For Jennie



Alice came to a fork in the road. “Which road do I take?” she asked.  “Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire Cat.  “I don’t know,” Alice answered.  “Then,” said the Cat, “it doesn’t matter.” Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

photo 2


Eliminating Husbands and other Garden Variety Pests

 On every stem, on every leaf … and  at the root of everything that grew, was a professional specialist in the shape  of grub, caterpillar, aphis, or other expert, whose business it was to devour  that particular part.

Oliver Wendell  Holmes



It was an innocent mistake, but I was pissed.

On a day over 18 years ago, my husband demolished beds of marigolds, Impatiens and petunias with one swoop of a poisonous wand.  Despite his best intentions, the 40 mph Kansas gusts skipped over the weeds and carried Roundup to every little petaled friend I’d planted in the last 3 months.

I was livid…and 6 months pregnant.

Even in my angered state, I knew there had to be something more constructive than to hunt him down with a garden hoe and rat poison.  After I lowered my weapons,  I push-mowed the entire three acres with a scowl on my face and penned an article in my head.

I felt better once it was down on paper and buried in a drawer along with the Irish-German temper that has gotten me in trouble before.  It was a first lesson in Midwest wind-carry as well as one in channeling unproductive and undeserved blame. Thus began the rich, compost cultivation toward a long, happy and *floriferous marriage.

pic1My husband has endured 23 years of gardening whims, projects and pouting during late May frosts. I would never consider eliminating my beloved BD because he’s the only one who can move the big boulders, chase away wasps and endure the twice daily inspections I make him take with me during harvest and blooming season.

I rewrote the draft last week (from the wrinkled paper still buried in a drawer) and decided to scrap everything midway through.  I had composed the original story with a voice that was sarcastic, immature and not very funny. The rewrite of this article comes from a gentler, kinder more grateful place with the sole intent of providing you chuckles and a reminder that the beauty of gardening is not just in the petals but of the people who live among them.



Eliminating Husbands and Other Garden Variety Pests

A gardener’s flower beds and vegetable rows bear a tribute to hours of hard labor, careful planning and dedication required to build a beautiful conservatory or plush hiding place from the world.

For years, I struggled to get anything to grow. Most of my gardening blunders were due to lack of experience and clumsy, novice mistakes.  After a few years of practice, I got better and actually had a handful of leaves and tendrils of bloom to prove that my black thumb was turning a pale green. These humble trophies represented the hardy few who were triumphant enough to thrive in spite of ignorance, extreme weather and a helpful husband.

It’s the latter of the three that may prove your biggest “pest”control problem as well.  Gardeners can spray bugs, pick off beetles and prevent fungus but there are not many legal options when it comes to exterminating a spouse who might also be the father of your children and love of your life.

These husband creatures are unassuming, devious and sometimes downright cute or handsome (dependent upon the level of maturity and/or stage of life).  Some even lure you into producing offspring and can mount entire armies that will trample gardens for generations to come. In situations like these, science provides the most objective and factual entertaining piece of information for pest control.

Genus: Homo
Species: sapiens
Order: Husband
Cultivar: Sam, Rick, Honey, BD

Characteristics: Even with the most advanced removal techniques, this guy lives right under your nose and shares your bed. Natural habitats include: greasy garages, dark man caves and bathrooms.

MO: These inconspicuous giants start subtly by tossing Spring seed and shrubbery catalogs or unobtrusively picking a “weed” that resembles the Clematis you planted last Fall. Don’t be fooled by their seemingly innocent and humble ploys to assuage your anger. After a few lectures, they tend to back off and may even warn their friends about the “wife’s flowers.”

This quiet lull is almost always a planning period. A trained eye will notice them in the shed sharpening lawn mower blades, replacing weed whacker string and filling gallon jugs with toxic concoctions meant to kill weeds along with your herbivorous dreams. In one short afternoon, this monster can mow down an entire orchard of newly planted peach trees, demolish forsythia with a “little trim” and annihilate fledgling roses.

They never admit, own up or disclose that they were even in the vicinity. Instead, they’ll hang their head, mumble and hide in the shed until it’s time for dinner.

Plants at risk: Anything grown in the shade or sun. Basic or acidic soil beds are especially at risk along with those plants that are drought-tolerant or water-loving varieties. Particularly watch those plants that impede the path of a 500-horse lawn mower or itty bitty tiller.

photo 11

Control methods:

  • Limit food supply
  • Threaten to hide the remote
  • Sell anything with a motor or blades
  • Employ fellow gardeners who won’t talk and will help hide the evidence

Note: I’m happy to inform you that I successfully used a lesser known technique called ‘reverse psychology.’ Better known as letting him think that anything he’s doing outside is his idea and not yours. Shhhh….it’s still working and the efficacy will weaken if he finds out before I talk him into a flock of chickens.

That said, I don’t have him fully trained (note the expert placement among my seedlings):


If you can address the spousal issue of pest control, half the battle is won. However, there is one often overlooked varmint which can prove to be the most complicated and destructive destroyer of all. The techniques above pale in comparison to the mind and soul control tactics innocently employed by the following culprit.

Genus: Homo
Species: sapiens
Order: Child
Cultivar: Tanna, Dane, Mitch, Cade

MO: This cute little organism picks every flower, bud, or rose within in reach of their chubby little hands and will lay the specimen like a prize at your feet. They trample through freshly planted corn rows, dig trenches with heavy metal yellow toys and pee on the tender plants when the bathroom isn’t close enough. Often times they employ assistance from four-legged furry creatures making the duos virtually indestructible.

Control Methods: There are no methods proven to effectively prevent these little bugs from invading your garden scape. Diversion with food or soap bubbles may provide brief reprieve, but it won’t be long before they find another corner of the yard needing extra TLC in the form of flower and fruit plucking.

However, there is good news and a silver lining coloring your gardening woes.

Like beneficial snakes and spiders, you find organic ways to cohabitate with a husband, children and pets within the outdoor rooms made up of ivy, blooms and vegetation. In fact, you might even find ways to appreciate the landscape they lovingly infuse into your garden surroundings. My garden might not win any contests, but the people (and creatures) in it make it the most beautiful place on earth.


*floriferous: to flower profusely. Master Gardeners  use this term when they want to sound smart.

Courtesy of Sharna Crow

Courageous vs Brave (Guest Post on The Braveheart Chronicles)

What lies below is a sample of the guest post I was asked to do for Christy at Running on Sober. She’s been kind enough to let me into her friendly blog space for a monthly discussion on bravery and courage. I’d be honored if you read the sample below and then finished the rest of the article by clicking here or the link below.

For those of you who are already RoS fans, thanks so much for reading, commenting and sending gifts of chocolate!

And, since I want/need content for future articles, please share your own brushes with bravery and courageous conquests. Leave a comment below or a private e-mail at mt_rd@hotmail.com I know I’m not the only courageous scaredy cat!


Courageous vs Brave from The Braveheart Chronicles

Is there a difference between being brave and being courageous? If so, what does that difference look like? Would bravery and courageousness fight on the same side of the battlefield or face off as equal, but opposing adversaries?

When I think of brave, pictures of soldiers defending their country, lion-hearted gladiators wielding swords, and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games color my thoughts.

Nothing says brave like Russell Crowe in Gladiator. (via)

But when I envision courage, I see common people fighting injustice, speaking out and letting the world see who they really are all while waging internal battles played out within the private spaces of their souls.


Exactly the same only different, right?

My first encounter with bravery came when I was five during the first day of swim lessons. Mom had bought me a pretty white bathing suit decorated with bright, red strawberries and spotted lady bugs. I had been so excited to finally learn to swim and refused to take the suit off for the entire six days leading up the first lesson.


Come Monday, I was splashing happily, making new friends and couldn’t imagine anyone happier than I was that day. At least not until the diving board entered into the equation.

Big, scary and . . . high.

I climbed the ladder only to drop immediately to my knees once I was far enough out to be suspended over the water. I crawled to the edge never moving my eyes from the plank in front of me. Once there, my legs somehow found their way to a vertical position as I stared into the chlorine-blue abyss dotted with outreached hands and encouraging voices below.

“Jump, Michelle! You can do it!”

Why did my belly feel funny? Was my heart beating outside my body? Why was I so scared?

The next fifteen minutes were spent in a delicate dance between almost leaping and tummy tingling paralysis. The only thoughts in my head were the fear of drowning and the horror of disappointing my watchful mother. Like the flimsy board, five-year-old me was teetering with indecision and angst.

Somehow I managed to look over at my mom perched at water’s edge. Her eyes were locked on mine with an unmistakable seriousness typically reserved for spilled milk and sibling discord. Her words were deliberate, forceful and non-negotiable:

“You need to jump. That is your only choice and people are waiting on you.”

The physical fear of drowning was trumped 100 times over by the fear of disappointing her.

So I jumped.

Once my little head bobbed above rescuing arms, I was able to catch my mom’s look of simultaneous relief and pride. She told me later, “You were so brave! I love my brave girl!”

Most of my life has been a pilgrimage of seeking quests to show others that I’m courageous, noble and brave. Looking back, I can see that the jump off the diving board was the first in a series of many events meant to demonstrate false bravado all while covering up the many things I was (am) truly afraid of.

I’m a chicken-shit in a brave girl’s body.

Please read the rest here…this dive into the deep end is just getting started!

XO, MamaMick

Courtesy of Sharna Crow
Courtesy of Sharna Crow

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Stop all that goddamn whining. Look what happened to me today.


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