Author: smarthu (Page 1 of 9)


I’m expert at waiting, and not so good at using my “spare time.” I figure I’ve wasted hours/days upon days, waiting; i’ve waited for the right job (maybe I found it), waiting for the right man (I did find him & am married to him), waiting to retire, waiting for Social Security. Those are just the “big waits.” Smaller waits, such as doctor’s waiting rooms, bus rides, car rides, waiting for children to get home, waiting for morning to come–could all have been utilized better.

Here’s a fav poem about waiting


by Dr. Seuss

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come,
or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

Road Trip

During COVID (wow, did that really happen?), my husband and I decided to go on two road trips: One to the Grand Canyon (we live in Colorado) and one to Yellowstone.

The two “Covid” road-trips were uneventful. We drove on blissfully empty highways and visited blissfully uncrowded restaurants (except lots of rest stops were closed), and saw an abundance of wildlife who were reveling in their new-found open spaces. We breezed through Colorado and New Mexico. We “stood on the corner in Winslow Arizona” and stayed at a charming renovated railroad station hotel.

Yellowstone was another successful trip free of obstacles and hoards of people. The animals were again plentiful and seemingly grateful to move about freely. We drove quickly through a very windy Wyoming and visited Jackson Hole for the first time.

We dubbed the COVID trip as the second “Hole in the Ground” trip, the first one being a trip across Route 66 where we visited the Grand Canyon for the first time (for me), stopped at all the scenic stops along the old Route 66, saw the famed crater made by a large meteor and found in someone’s field, and saw other “holes” along the way. During that first trip, we decided to buy a condo in Hawaii, something my husband had been rooting for and I had been resisting. I think we were hoping for some epiphany during the second trip, but the only thing we came up with was that we’re happy for our health and our children’s and grandchildren’s health and happiness.

I told the above story to tell this story (to borrow from a phrase used by a famous comedian): We recently went on our “rock tour,” which is to say we visited places in South Dakota and nearby which have rocks. We saw Mount Rushmore (recommended), Crazy Horse (highly recommended), Devil’s Tower (fantastic), and many more “rocks.” Love seeing the buffalo, learning the history of the area, riding an 1880’s train, eating lots of home-style foods, staying in some fantastic places, and generally having a good time. On the way home, we visited the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado. That is another story for another time.

Alas, we didn’t decide to buy anything and I didn’t come up with any brilliant writing ideas, but I have new appreciation for our United States, respect for our Native Americans (and sorrow for what we did to them), and I hope our democracy continues (sorry to get political) and that our country continues to improve and remember its history.

Nom de Plume

I frequently think about names, specifically, people’s names. I never liked mine–Shirley–always sounds harsh and old-fashioned, and from the time I was a child, I didn’t like it and wished for another.

My observant husband pointed out that my parent-given name is sort of confusing, schizoid if you will: Shirley Mae Watt. (Surly May What?). He pointed out that, “no wonder you have trouble being decisive sometimes.”

It wasn’t until my daughter, at age 16, wanted to modify her name to make it more formal, that I realized that I could change it or modify it. We legally changed her name. I could have, for instance, used my middle name, “Mae,” which was also my grandmother’s middle name.

When I became an author, using a different name, or a Nom de plume became more acceptable. Still, I balked. I used my initials for my currently published books, although I am playing with different names for future use.

The reason I balked at changing was because every name I came up with sounded either vain, presumptuous or just plain silly. I played with “Morgan,” a name my husband preferred. As a child, I wanted a name that was popular, like “Rhonda,” or even “Mary Jane.” These are two names I wouldn’t want right now.

Personally, I like the names “Mom,” “Gram,” and “Nana,” by which I am frequently called. Or, “Dear,” or “Honey Bear,” as my husband calls me.

A friend changed her name from “Frances” to “Dee,” which suits her. She even added a strong last name to go with it.

Ah, if I had more courage, I could’ve been Brigette or Marilyn or Angelina (if only in name). But, how vain.

I worked with a woman once you didn’t like her name: Amy. She changed the spelling to “Amiee” (with a tilda over the last e), and pronounced that she was now to be called “Aim-ay” thinking it sounded French. She became irate when people called her by the English version of Amy. This required that people avoid calling her by name at all, lest they got a ten minute lecture on the correct pronunciation.

I have come up with a derivation which I intend to use in the future. An anagram of sorts: Esmae Watt (for historical fiction or some mystery fiction). I don’t expect anyone outside of the writing circuit to call me by that name.

I hope my children are happy with their names, and if they are not, I grant them permission to change them.

Mother’s Day Thoughts

Love being a mother, especially to two beautiful and talented adult daughters.

I read an article the day before Mother’s Day, written by a “Mom Influencer” (what is an influencer, anyway?) who has deemed Mother’s Day, a day to be free of kids, her own mother, grandmother and mother-in-law. She is tired of the hustle and bustle and driving to-and-fro to appease said mothers, who no longer have to deal with small children.

I reminded me of a statement by Whitney Houston years ago (Rest her Soul), where she declared that Mother’s Day mean freedom from seeing her children at all, a day she could go to the spa alone or with other mothers escaping their children.

Neither Whitney nor the infamous influencer were received well, but I wonder if not enough mothers (working and work-at-home mothers) who are frazzled and are hoping just for some free time, agree with them.

As a single mom, I remember being frazzled almost to wits-end not only about daily tasks and work tasks and demands, but also worrying on my own about money and how I would pull it all off. I never wanted a paid-for massage, fancy gifts or waiting in a restaurant for a meal (especially that), but always appreciated a card, a phone call, and now my daughters bring me a cherished pot of flowers that will grow all summer outdoors.

They are mothers themselves and deserve to be treated and to “retreat” to the quiet of a massage, a bubble bath with wine, a movie with their kids.

I have long felt that some of the holidays that were “man-made” by chocolate companies, by greeting card companies, by restaurants to drum up business, have turned into “guilt days.” Men feel guilty and pressure about providing appropriate Valentine’s Day gifts, Mother’s Day gifts and surprises, Christmas gifts, engagement stories, and lately gender-reveal stories.

How ’bout we all relax and use these days to remember what we are grateful for. I’m grateful for everything I have (including the financial things and my home and vacations), such as the health of my children, my grandchildren’s health and happiness, my son’s in law and their health and happiness, my husband and all the joy and love he brings me. My gratitude list goes on.

And, thanks girls for the flowers as a reminder of how lucky I am to have you two and that you have chosen me to be their mother.

The Importance of Shoes

I was sorting out my closet and noticed the number of shoes I have that I seldom wear. I suppose almost every American / and other women have and over-abundance of shoes.

Shoes have become, like handbags, status symbols; Louboutin; Prada; Jimmy Choo; Blahnik, and on and on. I have none of these high-status shoes, yet, I have a few pair that I paid upwards of 400 dollars for (that’s my limit). These shoes were purchased for special occasions.

I recall as a child growing up on a farm, we had 1 pair of new shoes each per year, and those were purchased for school. The summer was spent barefoot for the most part. (Before you see a poor kids running around barefoot–I must say I remember my childhood fondly growing up in the country. We rode horses, but never barefoot).

I was envious of the “new girl in school,” whose family came to town because the dad had scored a CEO job of one of the only big companies in town. Not only did they have a swimming pool, but the daughter, who was my age, had ballet lessons, pretty dresses, and to top it, black patent-leather shoes. The boys, I remember, liked to look into her shoes to see if they could see reflections of her underwear. (eye-roll).

The day of her ballet recital in which the entire school was invited, I went home and tried to ruin my new school shoes in order to get a different pair (patent leather). It didn’t work, and I went to school with glued-together shoes.

So, because of these sad, sad stories, I came to covet shoes. I never went berserk, but like many women, was attracted to shoes, always looked for the perfect pair, the pretty pair. I’m glad I never got the handbag bug. A hundred grand for a handbag? No way.

Men are not off the hook. I’m told that men are sometimes judged by the shoes they wear and the watches they buy for their collection.

It all seems so superficial, but it just IS a thing. I try to think of more important things like what’s going on in the world, how one bad president could ruin our democracy, my health, my family’s safety. All those things that are more important than shoes.

Nothing like a new pair of shoes that are also comfortable.

Some people in this world have no shoes.

The Seat Filler

I’m amazed by the number of jobs that weren’t jobs when I was growing up and trying to decide who and what I would be.

Chef. World Traveler. Travel writer. Woman lawyer or doctor (I could have been a paralegal or nurse). Television reality star. Exercise guru. Life coach.

During award season (Oscars, et. al), I came across a story of a seat filler for award shows. A seat filler essentially “fills” the seat when a celeb doesn’t show for an event, or when the celeb needs a break, or when there are too many empty seats.

Seat fillers are anonymous. They are quiet. They are never interviewed or even thought much about. Seat fillers are paid a modest sum for their work, but they do not get credit for said work. Seat fillers can dress up (and should), put on makeup, eat whatever food is available. Sometimes seat fillers get a free meal and a glass of champagne.

Wait, am I a seat filler in life. Food for thought.

Is Punctuation Passe?

I get that the X/Y/Z gens want to make their own rules, after all, every gen does, don’t they?

What happens when the rules and expectations of one gen collide with other gens? It always happens, but I haven’t noticed it in the past as I do now.

For instance, take punctuation. Please. I studied, still study and question my use of proper punctuation in writing. When to use a comma. When to leave it out. Parts of speech taken into account. When to use a semi-colon versus a colon. When to avoid semi and colons altogether. It’s so confusing.

I’ve read lately that the younger gens are given anxiety by people’s use of punctuation, especially in texts and emails. Calling it a “hard stop,” they suggest not using periods, just continue with what you’re saying. (Wait, doesn’t that make it a ‘run-on’ sentence doesn’t it make it unclear when to stop reading one sentence and move onto the next or does it make the word ‘sentence’ irrelevant?)

I will defend my right to use commas, “hard stops,” semi-colons (If I can figure out when to use them) and exclamation points (instead of an emoji).

Some of this smacks of narcissism to me; for instance, “I don’t want to learn the rules, therefore, we need to change the rules.” I get it that my gen also changed some rules, and not all for the better.

I’m reminded of an entry in my local Next Door app; a young woman is given anxiety by the park bench near our house; it makes her sad because a person who used to sit there had died. What? Should we make these benches socially unacceptable?

Don’t make me go back to “school” and re-learn what I know about punctuation. Please!

What About AI and Writing?

Lots of discussion in the writer-world about the use of AI?

Is it okay to use an AI-generated book cover when you self-publish?

Is it okay to let part of your book be written by an AI generator?

Is it okay to let AI edit your manuscript?

I was particularly interested in the editing by AI, since it is so expensive to pay for an editor if you do not have a traditional publisher. and even some traditional publishers will charge you for editing. Nothing worse than reading a book that had little or no editing done.

I am reining in my opinions on AI for all these uses. My husband, who is a writer as well as software developer, pointed out that when you put your manuscript into an AI generator, it is in there and is fair use. Do I want my novel reused in the future. It reminds me of a time when authors were afraid to send their manuscript out for fear their idea or novel would be stolen.

Do I think anyone wants to steal my unpublished novel or idea? Not really, but who knows what it could be used for. Could I be accused of stealing someone else’s idea or book? Could parts of my writing show up in another book?

I think it best to sit back and wait and see. I’m sure at some point AI will be regulated in some manner. Hope so.

Magic Weight Loss Pill

Or I should say, shot.

I did manage to lose 7 pounds this year, due to 2 things; 1) I got Invisalign trays to straighten my teeth, and cannot eat crackers and chips or nuts, and 2) My husband needs to lose some weight, so I modified our diet slightly (few carbs/treats only 1 day a week, etc.)

Then, Ozempic happened. I feel cheated. All along, I could take a shot or a pill and magically, the weight would disappear.

I doubt it’s that easy. For 1 thing–it’s a shot every day. For another, there are side-effects, such as loss of appetite (I guess that’s why you lose weight).

I love my appetite.

I do not begrudge those who are using Ozempic or other meds to lose weight; I do hope it’s the “magic pill,” and doesn’t cause any dangerous side-effects.

I won’t be using it and I don’t think husband will either.

I’m going to remain open-minded.

Restarting After Holidays

Seems like the period beginning Nov 1 and through New Years Eve, is the beginning of two months of relative non-productivity. My husband notices it also.

I love the holidays, don’t get me wrong, falling into a pattern of almost daily online shopping for the perfect gifts for everyone, planning dinners, watching holiday movies, cooking, putting on the “holiday pounds” so that I can take them off the following year (the year which comes at a rapid clip).

Then, on Jan 1, it seems like a struggle to get back to goals (writing, reading, planning to be more social during the year–which almost always falls short). This year, my resolutions are simple: keep doing what I’m doing, plan on lying fallow for at least two months, stay healthy, and pay more attention to family.

Happy New Year!

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