Oops, My Grammer

I’m always goofing up my spelling and grammar online. I make mistakes especially with blog posts. A friend from my Writers’ Guild shared with me this video this morning and it made me laugh. Weird Al Yankovic is so funny! I truly love his videos.

Rejection is Just Redirection

Have you ever experienced an online troll?  What about a “hater” or even a “group of haters”? 

(By the way, this is a great song about the whole “haters gon’ hate” vibe.  To go off on a short tangent, I really love this song.)

What about someone in your environment who, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get them to treat you right?  Or maybe just someone or something that leaves you drained?    

Here’s some simple tips:

  1.  Take time out for you and practice self-care/self-love. 
  2. Be wise to the negative behaviors of others but hold yourself to a higher standard and do not stoop to that level. 

“I am sending you out as sheep among wolves, so be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”  Matthew 10:16.

  • “Do not cast your pearls before swine.”  Matthew 7:6.  This is not to say that other people are necessarily bad.  Perhaps they are not at a point in their lives that they are willing and able to receive you with love and respect.  If this is so, do not waste your energy and time trying to prove your worth to them.  Life is short and precious, it should not be wasted continually trying to be perfect for someone else’s expectations of you.  Make your own expectations.  Meet your own goals.  Dress the way you want.  Think the way you want.   You are not unworthy.  You are enough.  They just fail to see the treasure that you are, even if you may appear to be a diamond in the rough.  Remember, in this life, we do not know who God treasures either.  Some people would be the least you would expect.  Treat people fairly and stand up for yourself when you feel in your heart that you are not being treated fairly by others. 
  • Let go of bitterness and get your spirit back.  Bounce back from hardship like you’re Walter Payton.  This is extremely hard.  First, learn to take the L.  Second, learn to forgive.  Third, vow to not let the pattern repeat itself.  Respect yourself enough not to allow it to happen again.  Fourth, understand that what others meant for your harm, God may have intended for your good.  This is called providence.  It was providence that made Joseph a powerful influence in Egypt to prevent the famines despite all he went through.  Providence worked in his life and it works in your life too.  It’s just hard to see when you’re in the trenches.   You just got to believe.  Sometimes, though, we pray and pray and pray on something and it still doesn’t happen.  That’s another life lesson right there.  The failure, the rejection, the divorce, the bad grades, the whatever is going on in your life…..it is teaching you to first lean not on your own understanding of things but on a spirituality, and second, it is teaching you to love yourself.  The full and total rejection moment will teach you to find value in you, to regain your self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth.  Remember as Rocky says in this short motivational speech, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.  It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.  You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.  But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit.   It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

 Keep moving forward towards your goals.  If you have to, start very small.  Work on your hygiene first.  Work on the way you dress.  Work on your hair, make-up, style, etc.  Go back to the gym or church or wherever you find positive vibes and happiness from meeting goals.  Don’t let others tell you not to do these things.  Do them because you need to do them to improve your self-esteem.   Raise that bar first and then move out from there to your surroundings and your interactions with others.  Begin, at the same time, to strip away that which does not serve you.  Are there behaviors or traits you have taken on that are not good?  Substance abuse problems?  Addictions?  Unhealthy habits?  What about people you interact with that wear you down?  Begin to set boundaries not just with certain people but with things you do throughout the day.  Ask yourself, do I really want to do this thing or is this something I am doing because so-and-so wants me to do it?  Once again, this comes back to self-love and self-respect.  It is not selfish to say no.  It is awareness that you need to raise the bar on your self-esteem/self-worth.  Likewise, choosing to not date certain people or hang out with certain folks that bring you down…..that is not arrogance but self-awareness that you need to protect your energy.  Your energy is vital to your overall health and success.  So start small.  Take the baby steps which can turn in to bigger steps down the road. 

These are the things I am telling myself now.  I too have faced a personal setback and I am re-learning this now.  It is a thing I have to continually re-learn painfully.  You would think I would get it the first time but no, I keep having to re-hash it over and over as I believe a lot of people do.  One thing that really helps me is YouTube.  Here’s some video advice from folks way, way, way smarter than me about how to do it.  The first three videos are about self-love.  The fourth is Maya Angelou reciting, And Still I Rise.  The two other videos are inspirational pastor sermons.  These are my two favorite sermons of all time that I must admit, I have to go back to again and again when “my chips are low” and I feel myself entering that defeated mindset mode.  I highly, highly recommend watching these sermons!  However, they are each long but packed with valuable info.  I hope that you like these videos too (please share with me as well, any videos you think would help me) and remember that whatever I am going through and whatever you are going through, we are in this together and you are enough, you are valuable, you are worthy.  Think like Walter Payton and bounce yourself back up.  Let’s get to it!    

If You Love Poetry…

If you love poetry…

I’ve found a great place to submit your work! It is a little newspaper called The Webb City Sentinel located in southwest Missouri in the Joplin area. The submission process is simple and free. If your work is approved by the poetry editor, it will be shown on the online portion of The Webb City Sentinel. Here is the announcement on their site. I love this. I love what they wrote:

“I’m a great believer in poetry out of the classroom, in public places, on subways, trains, on cocktail napkins. I’d rather have my poems on the subway than around the seminar table at an MFA program.”

Billy Collins, 2001-2003 United States Poet Laureate   

We want your poetry. We want poetry from your children and your grandparents.We want poetry from seasoned poetry veterans and those just putting ink to paper (or, finger to keyboard).

We want to feature them here in Webb City’s “newspaper.”  Then, we want you to print them out and slap them on your refrigerator, carry them in your pocket, give them to someone special.  We want your poetry on the school bus to Mark Twain and Eugene Field, while you’re waiting in line at Crazy Llama and the Sub Shop, and while you’re walking around King Jack and the Frisco Greenway Trail. 

We can’t wait to see what you’ve got.

Here is the link to the submission board:

I was super fortunate to be listed on their site recently. Here is the poem I submitted:

Little Pawn

by Janea Speer

My whole life, I admired the King and Queen.
Serene, graceful, and applauded.
Powerful and strong….aggressive.

Yet hiding behind the defenses of the lesser pieces.
As I became older, I pondered the knight or the bishop,
how they could think outside the box and level the playing field.

But, in my older years, I admire the pawn.
The one to first enter the fray with honest courage.
Who risks much although so little…..
One by one, swiped from the board unceremoniously and yet…
Relentless, undeterred, defiant against odds so stacked heavily against.

Yes, some days even the little pawn sees glory
when faced with such intimidating adversaries.

With this blog, I also wanted to do a shout-out to the poetry editor there. I met him in Fall 2019 at the Joplin Writers’ Fair at the Joplin Public Library. There were many great local authors there showing their books. He was at a table across from mine and was nice and friendly. We talked about publishing books and Ray Bradbury and joining writing clubs. It was fantastic to meet someone with an avid interest in reading and writing and helping other authors. He recently published a new work to help authors too.

His name is F.C. Schultz and here are a few links to some of his books. Type in his name on Amazon and you will find, on his author page, a large group of books he has written or co-written.

My daughter read the book titled The Rose Weapon and she did think it was quite good. It is a Viking story about fire-breathing dragons. There is a sequel to this book as well called When Embers End.

The Greatest Thing You’ll Ever Learn is Just to Love and Be Loved in Return

The first tape I ever bought was Nat King Cole’s Greatest Hits. Natalie Cole had just released the song with her father called Unforgettable.  It was my favorite song at the moment.  I liked love songs back then. I liked old AMC movies about love. Especially the black and white movies like Roman Holiday or any of the kodachrome Elvis movies or anything with Cary Grant. I liked everything to do with love. I was a typical young girl full of heart and dreams. So, I went to the store when I was maybe 12 in 7th grade and I bought Nat King Cole’s tape.  I still can recall that day at the mall store.    

I learned every love song on that tape, laying on my bed with my Walkman and listening to the songs with my eyes closed and smiling.  His songs were so happy and promising and full of optimism. I played the tape over and over and over again.  I wore that tape out.  His voice was amazing.  The songs I loved the best were Walking My Baby Back Home and L-O-V-E.  A lot of people today reference Nat King Cole and probably don’t even realize it.  The phrase “to love and be loved” comes from a little known song from Nat King Cole called Nature Boy.  It actually goes like this…. “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”  This song is also in the movie, Moulin Rouge. 

There’s an urban legend story about Nat King Cole’s wife.  Some say it is true.  Some say it is not.  Here is the story, irregardless.  This woulda been in the year 1965:

“An African-American woman is stranded on an Alabama Highway in a rain storm. She flags down a motorist who turns out to be a white man who takes her to where she can get a cab. She’s in a big hurry, writes down his address, and leaves. A week later, there is a knock at the man’s door. It’s the delivery of a giant console color television with a note from the woman he had helped on the rainy highway. She thanks him and says that because of his kindness, she was able to make it to her dying husband’s bedside. It is signed Mrs. Nat King Cole.”

There are other firsts in my life for different types of music playing.  The first 8-track tape I ever remember hearing when I was a little girl in the 80s dancing at my grandma’s house with my cousins was the Beegees.  I remember dancing to Stayin’ Alive.  It was a very happy moment. I must have been four or five.

My mother had a record player and to this day it is in her attic.  We only had three records we would play over and over again.  They were Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Joan Jett’s I Love Rock and Roll, and then Olivia Newton John.  I can’t remember the specific album from Olivia Newton John but I remember her singing I Honestly Love You. My mother liked her a lot.

My first CD, well, that was Wrecks n Effect or maybe Guns n Roses Appetite for Destruction.  To this day, Sweet Child of Mine is still one of my favorites. 

Once streaming came on board, it was pretty easy to access all sorts of songs and I honestly can’t remember what were my first ones then.  But I remember the tape of Nat King Cole the most of all. 

How about you?  What are your fondest memories of music?  What was your first 8-track or your first tape or CD?  What songs meant the most to you as a kid? 

See Keukenhof Gardens in Virtual Tour

(Google Images.)

One of the most beautiful places in the world is Keukenhof, considered to be Europe’s gardens. Check out this great link from the Daily Mail that talks about a virtual tour by drone of the gardens put together by photographer Albert Dros. Scroll through the brief article and you will see the videos to click on and view the wonderful outdoor spectacle that is Keukenhof. The park is closed for the first time in 71 years but still can be seen through this virtual tour.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/escape/article-8272887/See-flowers-Keukenhof-garden-Holland-virtually-thanks-photographer-Albert-Dros.html

I learned about this oddly enough by researching the Dutch origins of the Snickerdoodle cookie. I’m smiling right now just thinking about how the internet leads you off on various other paths so easily. Yes, I’m making an old family recipe book. It is just a short collection of favorite family recipes that I am planning to give to my mother-in-law for Mother’s Day which is fast approaching.

My family name on one side is Schippers which in Dutch means “son of a skipper” or “son of a shipowner.” My family moved to western Kansas in the Midwest United States in the late 1800s from the Volga River region of Russia. They were German-Dutch farmers that lived in Russia under the authorization of Catherine the Great. With all the turmoil of the late 1800s and early 1900s, they re-settled in America.

Snickerdoodles were a popular recipe among Dutch-German immigrants along with other things like Smargs and Beirocks. Here is some origin information about this sweet cinnamon sugar cookie. This is a great article:

https://www.myrecipes.com/cooking-method/baking-recipes/snickerdoodles-history

And here is our family recipe for the cinnamon sugar cookie. It’s a pretty good one:

(Google Images.)

Snickerdoodles

1 and ½ cup flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

½ cup vegetable shortening

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.  Set aside.  In another bowl, cream shortening and sugar.  Beat in the egg and the milk.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  Cover dough and chill for ½ to 1 hour.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.  Combine 3 tablespoons of the sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Roll the dough into small walnut sized balls.  Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until very lightly colored.  Transfer to wire racks to cool. 

Strawberry Fields Forever

It is strawberry picking season soon.

According to a recent study cited by Whole Foods Market, strawberries rank 27th as the best American food due to overall antioxidant capacity measured against food quantity.  They also ranked as the 4th best fruit behind blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries.  Strawberries are very high in Vitamin C and also contain Calcium, Iron, Vitamin B-6, and Magnesium.

Strawberries require full sun, loamy soil, and slightly acidic to neutral PH level to grow.  Strawberries right off the vine will taste different and usually better than supermarket strawberries.  Why is that?  According to http://www.almanac.com, “supermarket berries tend to be tart with grainy texture;  this is because the natural sugar in the berries begins converting to starch as soon as it is plucked from the plant.”

Strawberries require 6-10 hours of sunlight to ripen and the plants should be well drained.  Raised beds are particularly good for strawberries like the one shown.

IMG_3797

This patch started out with just one plant in the right corner and quickly spread when the owner would bury the runners.  These are also Junebearer strawberry plants that are recommended for novice strawberry plant growers.

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You can make strawberry jam without a pressure cooker using instead a strawberry freezer jam recipe. Once the jam is ready, you just place it direct in containers in the freezer. Just look up strawberry freezer jam recipe on sites like Allrecipes.com.

May Day Baskets

May Day is tomorrow and with this day comes the tradition of children making baskets of flowers to anonymously give to friends, neighbors, and family. During the social distancing, perhaps kids can send virtual flower photos to those they care about. Or you could work with your children tomorrow to draw a picture or two of flower baskets. Take a picture and send to family members and wish them a “Happy May Day!”

Why is the giving of May Day Baskets so great for kids?

It gives children the opportunity to create and design a flower basket. It is an artistic outlet for them.

It gives them a sense of accomplishment.

It gives them the chance to be sharing and caring.

Baskets left anonymously teach children to not expect rewards always for doing good deeds.

It is one of the few times a year that children are actively encouraged to give to adults rather than receive.

Sunflowers are my favorite so I’m sending you a flower pic to wish you and yours a Happy May Day as well!

(Google Images.)

Petunias = Petun = French Trader Word for Tobacco

(Google Images.)

This month is Lawn and Garden Month.  One flower you will find in abundance at a fairly low price at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Wal-mart is the petunia.

Here’s an interesting fact about petunias.  They are in the same family Solanaceae as tobacco, gooseberries, tomatoes, chili peppers, and even deadly nightshade.

Petun, in fact, is an old French word borrowed from French explorers in the Americas.  It means tobacco.  Petun was a regularly traded item between French explorers and Native Americans.

Along with marigolds and geraniums, petunias are a fairly hardy annual plant that most beginner gardeners can work with.  Petunias also spread out and some varieties cascade over the tops of garden containers.  They are perfect for hanging baskets.

According to the Old Farmers’ Almanac online, petunias grow through Spring, Summer, and Fall.  They come in mostly 5 shades:  red, pink, yellow, purple, and white.  Petunias should be planted in full sun to achieve more flowerings.

The great thing about petunias is that they only require water once a week except in dry extreme heat.  If you plant them in containers, expect to water more.  Pinch back or deadhead the wilted ones and more should grow in their place throughout the season.

Petunias are fairly resistant but you do need to protect them from mold, rot, leaf spots, and insects like caterpillars.