Writing My Life

Now and Then

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… “lollypop, lolly pop, OH! LOLLY, LOLLY POP!” … may be the most disgusting treat IN THE WORLD!

It is DAY 23 of posting EVERY DAY IN MAY! Sheesh! I do have some important things to write about, just not tonight. Mondays are always SO tough, aren’t they? And this has been a pretty rotten day for some family members and friends.

To liven things up, I pulled out a photo taken by Grand-daughter Taylor. It features a VERY creepy, crawly, AND CRUNCHY treat I brought back from Albuquerque. Believe me it took courage to even buy these little suckers! And I just know there is a story to be told about how these “alacranes” found themselves in such a predicament!

Which do you prefer: Pineapple, blueberry, or apple SCORPION???

Maybe we could retell a favorite tale – something like “3 Little Scorpions.” They crawl off through the desert to seek their fortune but end up swimming in vats of artificially flavored corn syrup. Imprisoned in their glass-like houses, the 3 are packaged and trucked many more miles until they end up in the home of the bravest kid on earth – one who actually EATS the suckers … scorpions and ALL.



… weary of bad weather? maybe blossoms are the cure for the grumps …

Utahns have been griping for weeks, maybe even MONTHS,  because of WAY below-normal temperatures and WAY above-normal rainfall. At the slightest ray of sunshine, we run out to play or work in the yard – so thrilled to feel even the tiniest bit of warmth on our faces.

I love this representation of spring in Utah: snow in the mountains, trees in bloom, and trees struggling to bud.

Yesterday – while waiting for the Rapture – I, too, rushed lumbered to the front yard to pull up spent tulips and to plant pale pink petunias and lavender creeping flox. It was the perfect time to weed and plant because the soil had been softened by so much moisture.

Our flowering crab apple tree surrounded by pink petunias worshiping at its feet/roots??? Pansies peeking from the background may last the entire summer if temperatures stay this cool!

Because of the other “bucket-list” plans on the day to end all days, I didn’t have much time to bask in the handiwork of my gardening. But after lunch with Mom and Connie B, and after attending the wonderful heart-warming play at the Hale Theatre, I drove up to my yard with a greater appreciation for all that was blooming!

"In the leafy tree tops the blossoms are blooming!"

This is my favorite tree in bloom is this little Japanese flowering tree – whose full name I can’t remember. Grrrrr. It is also the tree-of-choice for our little yellow-feathered friend. He finds something yummy to eat among the branches and blossoms. I hope he returns to dine soon.

It amazes me that this delicate little tree survives and thrives - showing up bigger and heartier looking kin.

Not all that long ago snow covered our young snowball bushes. Soon the little green blossoms will burst into big puffs of white!

I wish I had the memory to remember the names of everything I plant, but I don’t. If any readers can tell me what this pretty pink flowering perennial is, I will be ever so grateful.

The plant reminds me of bleeding hearts, but those don't thrive out here on the western desert like this nameless beauty does.

While this montage may bore many, I am thankful I took these pictures and posted them because a rather nasty thunder storm – complete with HAIL – descended upon my lovelies and stripped some of their beautiful blossoms. The remnants lie scattered upon the green lawn much like strands of hair piles up on the floor at the barber shop.

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… uh maybe this is NOT Thor’s hammer …

Tonight G.E., his brother, and I started our weekend early by going to the cinema to see that critically acclaimed movie THE GOD OF THUNDER: THOR! Like most blockbusters these days, it is based upon a comic book/graphic novel. (HoHum) I have to admit it WAS entertaining, but one Marvel Studio movie a year fulfills my need for super heroes.

While watching cities crumble, muscles ripple, and women crumple, I thought about that hammer of his and wondered how it ended up in Bryce Canyon. While visiting the hoo doos over spring break, I watched for the signature rock formation and was thrilled when I spotted it – or so I thought.

After arriving home from our night out, I searched for the photo and then compared it to pictures I found online. Check them out and tell me what you think.

Thor's Hammer was NOT cast down to NEW MEXICO but rather Odin zapped it off to Bryce Canyon as evidenced by this Flickr photo!

I shot this picture, but I think it's Thor's CLUB. Sigh.

Will the REAL hammer please stand up. Oh, all ARE standing up. Pardon me.

I may NOT have found the actual hammer, but I did snag a SuperHero! Awwwwwww!

G.E. snapped this photo of us. What a backdrop!!!

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… maybe the cutest bird I’ve ever seen in my yard …

I announced before that I live in the western desert – of course with all the rain we’ve received this year that may change to the western JUNGLE!!!! My gosh, will this drizzle EVER dry up? Rainbows are God’s promise that He will NOT flood the earth again, but it hasn’t cleared enough to even SEE a rainbow. Does that mean the promise is null and void?

ANYWAY, in spite of rain, cold, wind, AND  a little snow, some brave birdies have migrated north – obviously they don’t check the weather channel. This evening we saw the MOST adorable tiny bird I have ever seen. It was eating something off our flowering Japanese flower tree – redundancy in wording, I know, but I can’t recall the tree’s name. Pretty little thing though. Perfect for a pretty little bird.

This sweet visitor was a yellow-greenish color and kind of fluffy – I thought he might be part chick, but G.E. assured me that was NOT the case. A chick-a-dee? A canary? (I’ve lost confidence in identifying ANYTHING since the Pongo-ballo bush faux-pas!)

While I can recognize a robin, starling, seagull, etc., I had NO clue, and so I Googled a description of the small fry and found out he is an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER. I saw NO crown, but read that one rarely does see any orange on top of their bitsy heads or anywhere else on their little bodies for that matter.

I scanned through several online images to find one that looked like CutiePie until I found this one. It must be his twin for he looked just like this guy. Adorable, right?

"He's so fluffy! I could die!" (I LOVE that line from DESPICABLE ME.)

I’ll keep watching for him and will have my camera handy next time. I also hope to catch sight of Robinilla – the biggest, fattest robin I have ever seen. I wonder if there is a worm left in the neighborhood with that chunk around! And have you ever noticed how yellow their bills are?

Yes, I’m getting old if I care this much about our feathered friends.

No, I’m not desperate for blog topics, but I don’t have time to write about how I’m going over the edge. That has to wait until the weekend when I have time to list all my signs of madness.



… may be the goofiest entry I’ve ever posted … seriously …

I have a long-time blogging friend who spent part of the winter in India, her hubby’s birthplace. Well, she came back and posted all these VERY cool photos, including this fascinating picture of a VERY unusual plant.

Pingo-ballo agave bush

Isn’t it amazing? I actually thought some children had a lovely time sticking colorful rubber balls on the ends of pointed leaves, but it really grows like this and has that fun name: Pingo-ballo agave bush. I LOVE IT. I think it deserves a page in a book by Dr. Suess, don’t you?

Not to be out-done by Ms. Alice, I took a trip around my house where I spent ALL of the winter and stumbled upon a very interesting plant as well. Unfortunately, the picture I took of it has yet to arrive in my email box. Sorry, but you will have to return in the morning to see what I found. Nighty Night.


… a back-handed compliment is better than no compliment at all … maybe; maybe not …

Formerly called “left-handed compliments,” the politically correct term is now “back-handed.” Because I birthed left-handed children, I respect this change in terminology. Nevertheless, I feel I need to define the idiom and explain why I prefer “back-handed.”  The Phrase Finder’s definition is as follows:

A left-handed (or back-handed) compliment is an insult concealed in an apparent compliment and thus is the reverse of a real compliment, as left is the reverse of right. The left side has long been associated with wrongness.

Aside from all of the Christian superstitions about “sinister” left-handed” people, there are other reasons for apprehensions about offerings from one’s left hand. In many areas of what is called “the developing world”, where people eat without utensils, they use only their right hands, since they use their left hands for “toilet-related” functions. Apparently, it is still a tradition in some areas.

Well, that last paragraph is rather gross, but I remember hearing that explanation as a reason why we don’t shake left hands. With the “wash-your-hands”campaign blitz going on in rest rooms across the nation, I hope this isn’t an issue anymore. But back to the topic at hand.

I LOVE to give and receive compliments because they cheer up  people. It’s when we base our self esteem upon receiving or not receiving plaudits that praise becomes problematic for the hearer. But what about those times when the giver’s motivation includes an additional message that might not be so kind? What EXACTLY are those statements? And how do we pick up on those implications? More importantly, how do we feel about them?

Giver’s Intentions: I don’t really think we can “guess” why individuals share compliments that leave us wondering what they really meant unless we know that person fairly well. For example, my hair dresser often chats about her grandma who looks at her straight hair and says, “I just love your hair when you wear it curly.”

Jessica knows her grandma well. She knows how much the elderly woman dislikes straight hair because she thinks it looks stringy or slutty or both. She knows her grandma is outspoken, but she also knows Grandma loves her. So Jessica just laughs off the remark or says, “I really like it this way, too, Grandma.”

Sometimes we want to give our friend or family member some “helpful” advice, but we don’t want to hurt their feelings. We think embedding the suggestion in some sort of “compliment” will soften the words. But that rarely works. Our dear ones can usually see right through the ploys, and the whole idea blows up in our faces.

There are also times when we’ve experienced a misunderstanding with someone in our lives, and we may be working through the disagreement. We want to improve the situation, and so we make an effort to be kinder and to share our appreciation through sincere compliments. Because of the hurt feelings, our friend or family member may be suspicious of our comments, but I think we can show our sincerity by sharing heart-felt thoughts.

Examples of back-handed compliments: While most of us can recognize one when we hear it, here are a few common examples ~

  • “You look nice today.” (Inferring that other days you DON’T?)
  • “You look so skinny in that dress.” (Even though you aren’t.)
  • “You’re smarter than you look.” (What does a smart person look like???)
  • “I can’t believe how cute this baby is.” (Why? Because the parents are so ugly? because babies are ugly? Hm?)
  • “You think like a man.” (Because women’s thinking is so flawed? Or maybe that is an EXPLICIT insult!)

Picking up on the intended meaning: We sometimes decide a person is actually slamming us with a disguised compliment by the “way” he or she says it. If the tone seems a little too saccharine or condescending, we become suspect, especially if a false smile accompanies the statement.

Body language, as well as facial expressions, often tells us the giver is insincere, too. If the body seems tense, we assume that anger or even jealousy lies behind the words.

The preciseness of the language might suggest the individual has long thought about what to say and how to say it, and has just been waiting for the right opportunity to pounce.

What about those times when the comment is obviously backhanded, but no other “signals” accompany the words. Then, I think, the person has NOT thought about what he or she is going to say or how it will sound. They just spit out their opinion not realizing that it might come across as insulting.

Should we become offended in such circumstances? Probably not. It goes back to how well we know that person. Are they ALWAYS saying things like that? Do you have a history of not getting along with said person? Because of that history, are these asteisms subconscious attacks upon us? In reality, I DON’T think so. These people are just a little oblivious. Or maybe a lot oblivious.

How to react to backhanded compliments:  Can’t we just laugh them off most of the time? Naive as I might be, I believe most people are not so conniving as to work on ripping on people in this way. After all, it takes a clever person to come up with a clever backhanded compliment on the spur of the moment. That’s why most of the examples I shared are pretty cliche’.

When we know the person well, we sometimes joke about the compliment – “I guess I look pretty shabby most days then.” And our colleague, friend, mother, sister usually blushes and says, “Oh, I didn’t mean it that way,” and they really didn’t.

Last night a friend of mine that I’ve gotten to know over the past year told me how nice I looked. Then she followed the compliment with questions:

Friend: What is different? You got your hair cut. (I had.) But there’s something else. Is your hair lighter?

Me: Yes, sort of. I got highlights put it in.

Friend: That’s it!!! I like it!!! It’s so much softer.

Me (thinking to myself): So you think the brunette color made me look like a hardened old woman?

Although I thought the grumpy comeback, I knew she didn’t mean it that way. She’s one of the sweetest, kindest women I know. The last thing she would do is insult me – I am sure of it. And so I said, “Thanks. Glad you like it.”

To wrap up this text that grew and grew in length, I don’t want anyone to become paranoid about sharing compliments. It is a wonderful thing to do. If you see something you like, say so. That person will usually (like 99% of the time) LOVE it and will not take offense to how it was offered. I really don’t think we tell each other enough how much we enjoy her company or how inspiring he is to to us or how lovely she is. Such sentiments can brighten moods and make our little worlds better places, don’t you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.


… word clouds ~ may be a spin on love stories …

While looking back through some of my earlier posts last night, I re-read my tribute to my mom and dad on the 65th anniversary of the day they wed. Nearly a year has passed and so I thought of another way to honor their love story. Hope you like it! 

P. S. Tagxedo is sort of like wordle.net but I like it better because you can “shape” your words. Most of my Wordle creations looked like potatoes; whereas Tagxedo shapes the story!!

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… MAYBE spring actually arrived today …

We’ve only enjoyed 5 days that were warmer than 70 degrees this spring, and this was one of them.  To celebrate, I want to direct you to 3 of what MAY BE my favorite spring time posts. These entries also celebrate my SECOND year of blogging! (Actually, I’ve been blogging since 2007 if you count my Link2Literacy blog for teachers that I work on from time to time, but who’s counting, right?)

Anyway here are reruns of 3 spring-a-lings. (I LOVE to make up words!) Is RE-posting sort of like RE-gifting???

  1. Spring turns a young man’s fancy to love, right? Well, young men are NOT the only ones! Click HERE to read about romantic WORMS – yes, I said worms! I was a little desperate for topics in the early years, but this one is still pretty funny.
  2. BUT spring can also bring out the worst in some of us as we tackle noxious weeds, plant-eating insects, and my personal UNfavorite- VOLES. Go HERE for a tale of what’s even worse: ALIEN voles! (Not ones who sneak across boarders, but those who create crop circles! Seriously!)
  3. Last of all, I want to remind those who think spring might be here (people like me and dozens of others who posted on FaceBook about the SUNSHINE) that Mother Nature can be cruel, especially here in Utah where our weather tends to be “bi-POLAR”! (Clever little play on words, isn’t it?) The quick slide show posted HERE shows one and all what a difference a day can make in Utah.
Please stop by one or more of the above sites because I LOVE COMPANY. Happy Springtime in the Rockies to you all!


… maybe I’m a purse-a-holic …


Latest ADDITION to my purse ADDICTION.

My name is Renae, and I’m a purse-a-holic.

(Hello, Renae.)

It started last year, and has gotten progressively worse! All the symptoms are there: gravitational pull towards any boutique, aisle, or website that displays even one sac, pocketbook, bag, satchel, or purse. I look longingly at it; walk away or surf away, and then come back.

I talk to myself, saying things like, “Just one more. I’ll stop after this teal one. A lavender one won’t hurt this once. Everybody needs a little green one once in a while. No one needs to know; no one will notice.” And so it goes until I succumb.

I don’t even care if it’s cheap stuff. I’m as happy with a knock-off brand as I am with a little bit of Vera Wang.
I realized I was in trouble when my hidden stash started crowding out my other addiction – shoes.

My sponsor, CJG, actually started me on this road, but she could stop after one. Little did she know the monster she unleashed because of PURSE-ENVY!

P.S. I created this ENTIRE post, including the picture via my little Android (phone, that is!)

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… maybe the strangest geological label around – Mr. Big Rock, HooDoo u think u are? …

I’ve traveled a little bit in my near-63 years upon this beautiful earth, and I’ve seen some great sites, ranging from the Eiffel Tower in Paris AND Vegas to Washington’s AND Lincoln’s monuments. BUT I have NOT seen many famous NATURAL wonders. I have ventured into Yellowstone Park and watched Old Faithful do her thing, and I have marveled at the Tetons  in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. EVERY day I ooh and ahh over the Rockies right here in my backyard, but I had NEVER ventured south to visit what SHOULD be one of the TOP 10 natural wonders of the world.

Southern Utah is home to NUMEROUS red, salmon-pink, golden, and gray rock canyons. While I have seen pictures and postcards, calendars and magnets depicting these canyons, I had not visited any until this past spring break. It was time!

I chose Bryce Canyon as our destination because of a certain accommodation: Ruby’s Inn. For years, I had heard of the historical lodging place, and I wanted to stay there, regardless of the canyon it called home. So off we went on a cold, rainy April day.

I love the learning that takes place on such ventures, and I will share more “fun facts” over the next few weeks, but I have to say that seeing these MORE than AMAZING formations up close and personal surpassed my expectations of breath-taking WOWness!

Yes, I shot this photo with my little red camera!

I became instantly curious. How were these “columns” created? Why are the rocks’ colors so intense? And my FAVORITE question of the hour: They are called WHAT? HOO DOOS? Who came up with THAT sophisticated, scientific-sounding name?

Although the Bryce National Park literature failed to explain the origin, and my personal research has not “conjured” up the answer, I have my own theory.

You see the native tribes of that area – the Paiutes – believed that the consummate trickster, Coyote, turned these “legend people” to stone. The rows upon rows of hoodoos look like lines of warriors, and I was, in fact, reminded of the terracotta army of the first Qin Dynasty.

HooDoos of China

Back to my theory. According to the always reliable Wikipedia, “the word hoodoo was first documented in American English in 1875.” Its definition is based upon trans-culture folk magic that involves potions, spells, and conjuration. Therefore it isn’t a far stretch to imagine that the Wily Coyote legend inspired the Official Geological Naming Committee to cleverly assign these majestic rock formations a “fun” label like HooDoo – “not to be confused with New Orleans voodoo or Haitian vodou.”

Unreal AND Surreal!