Techno Toddler

Several years ago, I was visiting with my brother one afternoon at his house when we stumbled into a rather comical situation involving an entertainment center that would make a starship cockpit envious and his three-year-old son. It went something like this…. From around the corner in the kitchen, my brother was yelling out instructions on how to play a VHS tape he wanted me to see. Now, I am in no way a stranger to the technical world. However, I faced a wall with a television, multiple VCR units, a DVD player, and a stereo system with all the bells and whistles. “Turn on the TV and then the VCR,” my brother instructed from the kitchen.  — “Which remote is the VCR?” I asked, yelling to be heard over the microwave. — “It’s the black one!” came an exasperated reply. — I looked down at the shelf to find half a dozen black remotes. Well, that narrows it down. “Describe it!” I called back. — “It’s black and rectangular with little buttons on it!” came a snarky reply. — Oh, well why didn’t you say so in the first place? As I started to head to the kitchen to inform my brother what a horse’s patootie he was being, I looked down to find his three-year-old son shuffling through the remotes. In a matter of seconds, the toddler had turned on the television, activated the VCR, shoved the proper VHS tape into the slot, pressed the PLAY button, and plopped himself in front of the television to watch the show. As the sound of whatever it was we were supposed to be watching now filled the living room, my brother rounded the corner. “See? That wasn’t so hard,” he said. — “Wasn’t me,” I informed, pointing down to the toddler who sat between my feet. “He did it.” — “He can’t even read yet!” my brother exclaimed. — “But he apparently has watched you do it and memorized the buttons,” I said. “If I were you, I’d make sure he doesn’t know how to turn on the computer.” — Years later, using this true story as a base-line, I wrote a children’s picture book entitled TYLER ON THE MOON. The book is about a toddler who memorizes the button sequence to open the doors on a moon habitat and sneaks outside for a dangerous walk alone on the moon. The situation that inspired the story was funny in retrospect, but the lesson is that kids watch what we do and mimic our behavior without understanding the dangers.

Facing Mars

cvr200x300cosmicsculptureOkay, I admit it. I am fascinated with theories on UFOs, ancient civilizations, space travel, and the nature of the cosmos. I have my own theories, of course, but for now all I can do is wait for that watershed “the Earth is round” moment that changes what we know of the universe. Sooner would be better than later. In the meantime, I have found such discussions much too dry and serious. So a few years ago I decided to cvr200x300dragonsdenapproach some of those out there topics with a dollop of humor. Thus was born the COSMIC SCULPTURE anthology, a mixture of science fiction and fantasy short stories (serious and humorous) capped by the DRAGON’S DEN novel. The first story in the anthology, Cosmic Sculpture, is a rather twisted what if on how the face on Mars might have been created. Yep, I made it up. That’s why it’s called fiction. The anthology includes fourteen short stories, at least half of which skew to the silly side. Let’s peel the mask off that mysterious face on Mars and have a little fun with it!

Rat on a String

cvr200x300prairiefireA few years ago on the way to a Chickamauga Cherokee tribal meeting, my husband and I stopped at a rest-stop just inside the Missouri state line. As we took a little walk to stretch our legs from the long ride in from central Oklahoma, we encountered a rather dapper yuppie couple walking a pair of teeny-tiny terriers.  Seriously, the leashes weighed more than the dogs! After the couple passed, my husband gave a derisive snort and mumbled: “Oh, look. Rats on a string.” As soon as we got back in the car (and I stopped chortling), I pulled the ever-present steno-pad from my purse and jotted down a few notes. A few months later, that “rat on a string” comment made it into my western romance novel, PRAIRIE FIRE, as Teacup the Chihuahua. Which just goes to show you that it’s unwise to do or say anything in the vicinity of an author, as you never know what might wind up in the next novel.

Peacocks in Oklahoma

Peacocks in Oklahoma? Well, yes. We have peacocks in Oklahoma. They are not native, of course, but seem to like Oklahoma just fine. When I was a kid growing up on a farm in rural Oklahoma, we had a pair of nesting peacocks and I loved the silly things.

Many years later my husband and I lived in a housing development in southwestern Oklahoma City that had grown up around a farm that kept a big barn full of peacocks.  I probably was the only person in the neighborhood who enjoyed waiting on the peacocks to cross the highway at 6:30 in the morning. Out of my love for these sweet, silly birds, I wrote two children’s picture books about peacocks: Pete, the Peacock, Goes to Town (2005) and Pete, the Peacock, Goes to the Zoo (2011).

A few years back, my husband and I were watching a local TV newscast about grass fires and realized the reporter had camped in front of that peacock barn near where we used to live. My heart skipped a few beats, until I saw an army of blessed do-gooders rushing in to save the peacocks. After some fairly effective chicken herding, all but one of the peacocks had been scooted into a waiting truck. Well, one burly guy decided he would run down that pesky peafowl and grab him. Yep, you guessed it. With the evening news on live broadcast, this guy grabbed that panicky male peacock by the FEET. In response, the peacock spread his six-feet wide wings, lifted his body into the air, and stared flapping with unrivaled fury.  Like brass cymbals cranked into overdrive, the tips of those strong wings clapped repeatedly against the sides of his would-be rescuer’s head.  Whap — whap — whap!!!  A few seconds later the guy fell back onto the ground, but was still holding onto the peacock’s feet. Whap — whap — whap!!! Finally, the guy let go and the peacock, none the worse for wear, flew into the truck to join its fellow peafowl.

Word of warning folks: You move a peacock by grabbing it from behind and wrapping your hands under its belly. You never run at it face-on and grab it’s feet. Unless, of course, you LIKE being beaten to death by six-foot wide wings. In that case, knock yourself out! 🙂