2022: Ian’s Magic

It’s the dog days of summer! It’s been a while since we’ve seen temperatures this high and I’m ready for fall.

Back to school is getting close and kids will be reading. If they’ve had a break from that over the summer, it is time to get them ready to start again. Your local library is a good place to begin. They have summer reading programs and tons of books on the shelf. And they have air conditioning!

If your favorite child likes magic, I have a good one. Ian’s Magic is about a boy who can perform feats of magic if his math problems are correct. If not, things don’t work out well.

Ian knows a lot of kids don’t like math, but he does and he’s good at it. But he’s not the only one. His brother doesn’t like math and has seen what Ian can do with his magic and he threatens to tell everyone. Brothers!

Ian Conner learned in the first grade he could perform magic using math. And this year, the prize for the annual math contest is $500! Ian really wants to win, but he knows classmate Thomas Martin will be stiff competition. Thomas wins every year. And this year he has a college tutor helping him prep for the contest!

Ian decides to study accelerated math, hoping it will help him win. But when the day of the competition arrives Ian must make a difficult choice – hope his studying helps him win fair and square – or cheat using his “math magic” to win the contest.

Pick up a copy of Ian’s Magic and sit under the air conditioner with a glass of lemonade. It’s fun and a good way to get your kids ready to go back to school. https://tinyurl.com/yxnszumv

Ian’s Magic by Peggy Chambers, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

What are you reading/writing this week?

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2022: 100 Years and Counting

I’ve been writing. I’m working on the third Sandhill Island novel and as always, I love being back there. It helps to soothe my need for the sea.

But in between bouts of writing, I’ve been working on a project for my writing club.

I am a member of the Enid Writers Club, the oldest writing club in Oklahoma. We’ve been in existence since 1923. No, I haven’t been there the whole time, but I have been a member since 2009. I love this club and the people who are in it, and I want what is best for it. So, to celebrate this momentous achievement we are celebrating for a whole year. The actual date is January 6, 2023, and we will celebrate up to and beyond that date.

The club was founded by Professor RJ Wolfinger of Phillips University. In the years since Professor Wolfinger was teaching on that campus it has been sold to Northern Oklahoma College. My club and I have been in touch with the college and asked about placing a plaque on the campus in celebration of this milestone. And they said yes!

And one thing led to another. We have contracted with noted Oklahoma artist, Nancy Russell, of Alva/Guthrie and she is sculpting a plaque with our logo on it. She presented us with a maquette of the sculpture, and we were so excited! It will hang on the former Phillips University, now NOC, and we will have an unveiling sometime later this year or the beginning of 2023.

We have other plans for the year to celebrate, one being a writing workshop held at St. Matthew’s Episcopal church in October with three outstanding speakers, Rilla Askew, Stephen Jones, and John Biggs. There will be more to come when we have the plans in place.

We’d love to have you help us celebrate as the year goes along. I’ll keep you informed.

What are you reading/writing this week?

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2022: Of Celebrations and Surgeries

This week, following a 50th anniversary celebration, my husband had his third shoulder surgery.  Yes, I said third, on the same shoulder—in a year. I guess the older you get the more your body refuses to heal correctly.  The surgery didn’t hold the first time.  His body reacted badly to surgery the second time and they had to quit before they could finish, and the third time was the charm, we hope. 

He had outpatient surgery in Oklahoma City at the OU Health Center.  They were very professional, and things went as they should.  Now he has another five weeks of recuperation in a sling followed by physical therapy—again.

I hope things work out well this time.  He’s a trooper.  He says his pain level is low and he’s used to the sling now.  I keep thinking the longer he is in a sling and not using the arm the more the muscles will atrophy. But I guess physical therapy will take care of that. He’s been saying he has one and a half arms.  For a do-it-yourselfer, he has had to ask for help a lot and that is not his style.  He hated that more than the recuperation.

But we are getting back to normal.  I wrote for a few hours yesterday.  I should have taken my laptop to the hospital and done some writing while I waited on him but didn’t want to carry it.  I took a book and read instead.  I’m not sure how good the writing would have been with me under stress. But even bad writing is writing.

Now, we are back on track for healing and writing.  I’m working on another Sandhill Island novel.  The last, I believe.  It might be time to put the little island to bed and move on to other things.

What are you reading/writing this week?

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2022: 50th Anniversary

June 24, 1972, I married the love of my life at the ripe age of 19.  We were broke, living in his parent’s rent house, with a baby on the way and no idea what to do with it.  But we persevered. 

            We met our senior year in high school and began dating soon thereafter. Then after our freshman year of college we married. The baby came much too quickly, and we were both terrified.  But she soon taught us all we needed to know about how to parent her. Four and half years later we did it again—this one a boy.

By the time we were 25 we had two children and a mortgage on a cute little three-bedroom house where we lived for the next 20 years. The children thrived in spite of us, and we worked sometimes daylight until dark or later.  We tired to work opposite shifts, so someone was home for them, and we had two grandmothers and a babysitter in town to fill in the gaps.

Later in life we both went back to school to finish what we started and encouraged the kids to not follow in our footsteps. We knew the hardships of marrying early and being poor.  I think they listened.

But I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

It has been 50 years since we married in that chapel and began being parents within the first year. We took a little trip with some cousins to celebrate the event and hired some work done around the house to make life easier for us.  We never would have done that 20 years ago. The do-it-yourselfers have finally succumbed to having the work done for us and giving our aging bodies a break.  

We are now retired, and I know we have been blessed. Not many marriages last that long these days due to divorce or sometimes death.  I can’t imagine life without my husband, but I know one of us will probably go down that path someday. 

Happy 50th Anniversary sweetheart. I love you.

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2022: James L. Osburn – Happy Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day and since I wrote about my husband’s days as a father last year, this year I’ll talk about my dad.

            My father was born on a farm deep in the Arkansas Ozarks during the Great Depression. He was the youngest of five children.  With a ninth-grade education, he joined the Air Force during World War II and was trained as an aircraft mechanic.  Afterwards, on the GI bill, he acquired every license the FAA had available. He married my mother as soon as he returned from working on bullet-riddled aircraft on Guadalcanal and they had three daughters.  He hired on at Vance AFB in 1960 to teach maintenance. He spent some time in Houston with NASA as Director of Aircraft Maintenance. Then later returned to Vance and retired in 1989 after becoming the Director of Aircraft Maintenance for them.

            When he wasn’t working, his favorite past time was fishing.  He built a pontoon boat from plans he found in Popular Mechanics magazine out of Styrofoam pontoons with a wooden deck and only one seat—for the captain.  The rest of us stood.  We named it “Happiness is . . .” after Snoopy and the Charlie Brown series.  It brought the family together and soon he bought a place at Canton Lake for our weekends away from work.  It was the beginning of my love of the water. We ate gallons of fried fish and hush puppies because of his passion for fishing. (I’m the middle kid in front of him).

            Toward the end of his life, in the hospital for heart surgery while my mother suffered with lung cancer and chemo, his dementia increased.  His doctor smilingly told me Dad thought he had once worked for NASA.  I informed the doctor that the frail old man in the chair who couldn’t remember what he ate for breakfast that day did work for NASA and that was the one thing he still remembered.  It was the highlight of his life—next to his family.

He died fourteen months after Mom, his mind confused and broken.  He had survived the Depression, war, and long working hours. But all good things must come to an end.  His body had endured enough, and it was time.

I love you Dad and thanks for raising me. I know I didn’t always make it easy.

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2022: A Lazy Week

It’s been an uneventful week. I like those now and then. Next Sunday is Father’s Day and the following is a milestone anniversary for my husband and me. Fifty years—and they said it wouldn’t last!

This morning we took the dog for a walk around 8 o’clock. I planned to do it earlier but didn’t make it. It seemed less humid. It’s that time in Oklahoma when the temperatures soar just in time for harvest. It has quit raining and may not rain another drop until October. Welcome to Oklahoma. But that lack of moisture leaves the tornadoes with no fuel.

The cottonwood is about finished with it’s blizzards. It normally snows between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Now it is time to clean out the air conditioning system.

I mentioned earlier we had sprung for a water well and sprinkler system for the yard. We are loving having water at the touch of a button, and the yard looks better for it. I’m sure the well water is better for the plants than the city water was.

My husband will be having surgery number three on his shoulder soon. That will keep us indoors and under the air conditioning. While he’s recuperating, I’m working on the third Sandhill Island novel. This time there are smugglers!

So, you can see, the Chambers household is staying in under the air-conditioning and recuperating. What work is done, happens before the heat of the day or afterwards. We’re boring like that. But we still accomplish a few things.

I think in this heat a salad for dinner might be the ticket.

What are you reading this growing/week?

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2022: The Accidental Gardener

Several years ago, my aging neighbor across the street brought me some strawberry plants in a three-pound coffee can. He could grow anything, and they were overrunning his little area where they were planted. I was excited to grow strawberries in the front flower bed. They lasted a year and fed the birds. I was not a successful strawberry farmer.

But inside this coffee can lay the hidden roots of another plant that soon came up on its own. I showed it to the neighbor, and he said, “Oh those things are all over the place, I can’t get rid of them.”

I thought it was a Hosta. I had a few Hostas in my garden, some more successful than others, so I transplanted it to a shady area and fed it, watered it, and watched it grow. But it never spread as he said. I did a little research and found that some Hostas like shade and others prefer a little sun, so I moved it. It came back up the next year and did the same thing. It grew a little and then stopped. Maybe a little more sun.

Last fall I moved it closer to the front of the flower bed where the sun was stronger and again this year it popped up. My Hosta, an accidental gift from a neighbor, was still alive. The neighbor didn’t fare so well. He passed away. And though I couldn’t grow the strawberries he gave me; I could grow the Hosta.

Then it did a fabulous thing. It bloomed! And it wasn’t a Hosta at all but a Calla Lily! This is the third year I’ve had it and the first time it has bloomed.

When we went to South Africa, there were gardens of Calla Lilies outside out hotel. My daughter had Calla Lilies in her wedding bouquet. I’ve always loved them, but never grew any. Now, thanks to the generosity of a neighbor and an accidental planting, I’ll have some of my own.

Who knew I could grow a Calla Lily?

What are you reading this growing/week?

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2022: Cover Reveal

My husband should be having a third shoulder surgery soon. We’re waiting on a date. We had a well dug and a sprinkler system installed and waiting on sod for the back yard. We’re having a 50th wedding anniversary this year and a short trip planned. Such is the life of retirees. I remember my parents went to south Texas in their motorhome to stay for the winter and had many adventures. Our retirement seems to pale in comparison to theirs.

            But in the middle of all this activity, my writing club will turn one hundred years old in January. We’re planning some celebrations. One of which is an anthology of our works. We’ve been talking about it for some time and we’re finally putting it together. I’m gathering all the fabulous works of art and putting them together in a book to be published this summer.

            Slowly the documents are dribbling in. I’m impatient, I know. So, I started work on the cover. The title is “Prose Colored Glasses” voted on at the last meeting. And with that in mind, I went shopping for just the right pair of spectacles to go with the title. And I found them at a little discount store.

            The title is a spin-off on the phrase “rose colored glasses” like looking at life through rose colored glasses. I had the glasses, now I needed roses—and I didn’t have any. With all the rain we’ve had recently, one rose gardener said his had been beaten down by the weather. I needed to find some pink ones to go with my purchase of the glasses.

            I was off on another adventure. I will climb all obstacles when it comes to my club. I wondered if there were roses growing in a park somewhere in town. And I went on a hunt. My husband said to call if I got thrown into “flower jail” and he might bail me out.

            I found just the right color of roses in a park in town. With my rose pruners in a sack to not to be so obvious, I clipped a small amount of dainty pink roses, took them home and arranged them on the dining room tablecloth—artistically—and  began to take pictures. Above is my masterpiece. I wanted to capture the idea for our potential cover.

            If the picture is accepted when I upload it into the publishing website, this will be our cover. It came out good.

Consider this a cover reveal and be prepared for some fabulous writing from many different writers.

What are you reading this week? Get ready for “Prose Colored Glasses.”

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2022: Aging Gardeners

            I mentioned last week my husband is looking at another shoulder surgery. To say the least we’re not looking forward to it. It’s not his first and we know what he is up against.

            There’s no doubt about it, we’re in our golden years.

            He’s not ready to call a lawn service company yet. It’s a guy thing. So last year we bought a ZTR lawn mower even though we live in a residential area with a normal sized yard. It’s a small mower and he’s not happy with it, or maybe he’s not happy having to use one, but it’s a compromise. There is nothing wrong with the mower, it’s the stage in life.

            This year we went one step further. We hired a company to drill a water well and lay a sprinkler system. It is one more thing we can do with a flip of a switch and not push or pull the equipment around like we did when we were in our twenties. We’re more than a little beaten up physically, probably because we were always do-it-yourselfers, and now our bodies are paying the price.

            But with a riding lawnmower and a sprinkler system we should have a beautiful yard, right? We’re home all the time to look after it. If you see us running (ambling) through sprinklers this summer, join us!

            Perhaps we should have spent our money on an RV and traveled the world. It might have been less expensive and not as hard on our bodies. Awww, retirement.

So much for ageing gardeners. Maybe we should stick to books. What are you reading this week?

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2022: Cottonwood!

My husband had shoulder surgery this year and is looking at another.  He is not happy with the idea of being incapacitated and so we work together on the yard work. 

Yesterday he was certain he could mow the front yard with the new ZTR mower he bought this time last year.  So, I tried to help him. We moved things around in the garage so he could get to it and once it was out, he really had no trouble at all making wide circles and keeping the shoulder as inactive as possible. 

Until the Cottonwood began to fall in blizzards. It stuck to sweaty bodies, flew up our noses, and stuck in our hair.  Once it quits for the year, we’ll have to have our air conditioner serviced which will look like it is covered in thick woolen batting. We’ve been here before. The neighbor next door has a 100-year-old Cottonwood tree, and it loves the spring when it can show it still has what it takes.

After coming in covered in the white fluff I was inspired to write a poem to express my feelings.  

COTTONWOOD WRANGLER

Balls of white gossamer fluff roll across the prairie

And The gardener watches the blizzard in vain.

In true Oklahoma form a funnel of cotton rises into the air on my front porch

I watch knowing nothing can be done until the Cottonwood is spent.

Each spring between Mother’s Day and June, huge puffballs fall from the sky

And the neighbor’s 100-year-old tree once more springs to life to procreate.

Seeds set out on cotton wings – some the size of my hand – and drift into corners

Motivated to growing into a tree like its mother.

And I, the gardener, become a wrangler of Cottonwood babies

Scooping the balls into dust pans and securing them.

I slam down the lid as half escape into the air before they are dumped into trash cans

Headed for the landfill where their dreams of treedom might come true.

So much for gardening. What are you reading this week?

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