Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Horizon

I have printed out the first 50 pages of my novel and have laid in a supply of red pens. Now I will go more slowly and thoughtfully with the book. It deserves to be coddled for a while after the slap dash way it came together. There are parts of it in the middle that I am not sure I remember correctly. Since the main character lives alone, I have decided that her cat needs to become more of a character for her to talk with. She won't exactly answer back, but the character can pretend she does. I already have a scene where the cat brings a garter snake into the house to play with and the MC has to put them both outside again. This is based on a true story of me and my cat. In my case she only brought it onto the patio near me. However, she loves to catch moths, some of them huge, and bring them into the house to play with. I have to catch them then and put them back outside. This afternoon I saw her run away from a squirrel when she normally chases them or ignores them. Actually I think she plays with them and the squirrel may have been "IT" this afternoon. So the next leg of my journey begins.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Local Woman Buries Husband

(c) 2002 by Laurie Kay Olson

You wouldn’t believe all the people that come by.
Word spread faster ‘n’ a grease fire over to the diner
On all-you-can-eat-for-a-dollar-ninety-five burger an’ fries night.
They come from all over the county to see Earl –
Just as though he’d been someone famous, or leastwise important.
An’ he certainly was a sight to see, I can tell you.
But here I am getting’ ahead o’ myself.
Let me start from the beginnin’ – it all started when we decided
That we really needed to give the garden back o’ the hay barn an’ the lawn up front
 A good ol’ fashioned fertilizin’ but there wasn’t no money.
Our two li’l ol’ cows Bessie an’ Bertha couldn’t do it all themselves.
An’ my compost heap wasn’t producin’ half what I was expectin’
Since the raccoons keep gittin’ into it an’ stealin’ anythin’ they think might be tasty.
Dang fool creatures keep leavin’ their leftovers on the roof
Till Earl finally accused me of tryin’ to feed them like they was pets.
I pointed out to him that I had enough work tryin’ to keep him,
Two kids, two cows an’ a dozen chickens fed without startin’ in on the wildlife.
An’ if I was gonna, I probably be kinder to the critter than the put out
A leftover frozen blueberry toaster waffle that Bubba spit on to make Loretta Sue mad.
Eny-who, it was about this same time that our boy Bubba was hangin’ around
The eye-tinerant circus that was set up over to the county fairgrounds.
He got his self a part-time job helpin’ with the elephants.
Well, within a couple o’ days him an’ his daddy cooked up this plan.
So they go to the circus boss an’ offer to haul away
A big pile o’ elephant poop just for the takin’ – no charge.
That ol’ circus boss agreed quick as a lick from a hound dog.
Said he couldn’t get rid o’ the stuff fast enough,
So Earl an’ Bubba borrowed an ol’ dump truck from Ed Early down to the machine shop.
It took ‘em all mornin’ to fill up the truck, even with the help o’ some o’ the circus hands.
Apparently the elephants had gone off their diets when they ran across some kudzu
An’ the effect had been rather overwhelmin’ to say the very least most.
When they came home they smelt so dang bad I made them wash their hands
With the garden hose an’ eat their lunch sittin’ on the back stoop.
By the time they was done eatin’ an’ ready to go start spreadin’ it around
Some of Earl’s buddies from the Lodge had come by.
They wanted to see what ol’ Earl was up to with that truck o’ Ed’s/
I had got my ol’ clothes on so that I could get out an’ help with the work.
An’ I was checkin’ out what elephant stuff looked like
By climbin’ up the truck an’ lookin’ over the side.
All o’ a sudden-like my feet started to slip an’ I tried to catch myself.
One o’ my feet accidentally hit the do-hickey that dumps the truck.
I jumped off right quick so that I didn’t get dumped too.
That was when I saw Earl standin’ there in harms way.
So I started shoutin’ for him to move outta the way
All whilst I was tryin’ to move the do-hickey back the t’other way.
But naturally the dang thing was stuck harder than a butt from a billy goat.
An’ o’ course Earl wasn’t listenin’ to me, as usual.
So by the time he realized what was happenin, it was too late.
Next thing we all knowed, Earl was totally buried in crap.
We all rushed over to start diggin’ him outta there.
Word spread an’ soon there was a whole crowd helpin’ an’ watchin’
An’ some o’ the fellas were makin’ jokes about how Earl didn’t know crap
An’ a bunch o’ other jokes I know you can’t print.
Earl was madder ‘n’ a wet hen in the pourin’ rain by the time we dug him out.
He didn’t calm down until he’d had a long, hot shower, changed clothes,
An’ gargled half a bottle o’ Listerine to get the taste outta his mouth.
I’m gonna have to buy a whole case o’ Oxydol just to get our clothes clean again.
Earl still wants to get come dirty straw that Bubba saved up from the camels’ beddin’
This time Earl says he’s gonna play it safe an’ just load it up in a couple o’ Hefty bags
An’ trust that I won’t dump them over his head too.
O’ course I hadn’t even thought o’ anythin’ like that until he said it.
Lucky for him that I still love him after all these years.

The Finish Line!

After a long marathon I finally crossed the finish line just before work this morning when the NaNoWriMo website confirmed the word count of my book to be over 50k words. I won the challenge! There are no big prizes or anything. Crossing the finish line at all makes you a winner. Plenty of people don't make it.

There is still a lot of work to be done. A book of 50k is fairly slender. I have a beginning, a middle and an end, but there is plenty still missing from the middle. Then there are the months of rewriting, editing and rewriting some more. Then I will be faced with finding an agent and a publisher. In other words, I've run the race, now I have to climb the mountain.

The book itself turned out to be quite different from what I had been expecting when I started out. As you will often hear writers complain, the characters took over and had their own ideas of what was going to happen. My main character (MC) wasn't supposed to fall in love, then she met one of the other characters and there was no stopping her. Or him. But it led me to create friction, climax, and all that other good stuff that a story is supposed to have. There are characters and places named for people in my life. Though they have little connection. The town drunk, Emory, was named for my maternal grandfather and he was a teetotaler. Nurse Nancy Kay is named for my sweet sister-in-law and the only thing they share in common is the name. The sheriff's wife, Shirley is named for my mother and they are quite different.

When I got down the last thousand or so words, the stress started to lift and I started writing faster nad enjoying it more. So I am looking forward to the time ahead with no clock ticking. I will also be making notes on the next book for the next NaNoWriMo. It will be a sequel to "Tales from the Succotash County Times." I haven't decided which of the three sequels I have in my head I plan to do, but I am leaning toward "Succotash County Anthology," where we get to know the individual denizens of that locale quite a bit better.

I now face having a cold sore as a result of the stress. I shall bear it gladly, for I had a lot of fun doing this. This was due, in part, to the NaNo Facebook chat I joined. And to tracking my NaNo progress on a chart on the NaNo website. Many who competed have no intention of taking their novel any further. For those, like me, who are, I have created a FB group so that we can keep supporting each other. They are from all different walks of life all around the world. It was great getting to swap ideas with people from Ireland and Japan, among other places. Canada is a big one, too.

It is so fulfilling to find the dream I created as an eight-year-old finally coming true.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Down to the Wire

I've only got a few days left in the NaNoWriMo challenge. I have become a little mentally unhinged, but I am almost there. Just a little less that 4,000 words to write. I can do it! And once I have completed the challenge, I can go back and find out if any of what I've written makes any sense at all. If it does, I begin the process of editing.

In the middle of all of this chaos, I took some time yesterday afternoon to meet with three old schoolmates  I haven't seen in 35 years. We reunited on Facebook a couple of months ago and had a great time catching up. Going from 18 to 53 and getting used to how we looked to each other was quite a trip! I haven't laughed so much in a long long time. Thanks Jane, Briggs and Annie for a wonderful afternoon.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Local Woman Receives Visit from King

(c) 2005 by Laurie Kay Olson

(From the Succotash County Times, August 23, 1987)

Well, I’d been cannin’ my bread an’ butter pickles all mornin’
An’ it was getting’ so hot in the kitchen I was sweatin’ like
An ice cream freezer at the Independence Day picnic an’ crawdad cook-off.
So I took me a break an’ went out on the front porch to catch a cool breeze
An’ put up my tired feet, an’ drink a glass or two o’ lemonade.
I’d no more ‘n’ got to feelin’ like my ol’ self again when this man walks up.
He had black hair an’ sunglasses on so’s I couldn’t see what he looked like
But he said the lemonade looked mighty refreshin’ an’ could he have a glass.
I said sure thing an’ he sat down on the chair acrost from me.
I introduced myself as I was pourin’ him a tall glass an’ refillin’ mine.
When he sipped at his glass he told me that his name was Elvis Aaron Presley.
Well, I thought my jaw was gonna drop clean through to China.
Just to prove it he took off his glasses an’ laid ‘em on the table.
Shore enough, I’d know those baby blue eyes enywheres.
An’ my heart gave that funny little kerflop just like it used to
Back when he was alive an’ kickin’ an’ singin’ up a storm.
I sez to him “Elivis, hon’, you’re supposed to be dead an’ gone!
What’re you doin’ walkin’ ‘round like this an’ scarin’ folks half to death?”
Then he says that he surely was well dead an’ buried at Graceland,
But he has a whole heap o’ unfinished business before he can move on.
So I ask him what’s keepin’ him here instead o’ with the Good Lord.
An’ he tells me he needed to let Priscilla know that he really did love her,
An’ that Lisa Marie was the pride o’ his whole life,
An’ he wanted her to know how sorry he was about her an’ Michael Jackson
An’ their break-up. Not ‘cause he was black or nothin’
But ‘cause show business, with all that attention an’ money.
Makes it extra hard to make a marriage work out.
He also said that for awhile he’d been on a campaign
To get people to stop singin’ “Happy Birthday” like they was a choir o’ mice
Or a pond o’ bull frogs rather than just plain folks.
But that didn’t work out too well since it seemed that the song
Was always started out by the most tone-deaf person there.
I can tell you, Elvis Presley is just one o’ the finest boys ever!
We talked for an hour an’ more, an’ he thanked me for the lemonade
I fixed him up a peanut butter an’ banana sandwich
An’ packed him another one for the road
‘Cause he said he was meetin’ Jack Kennedy an’ the Big Bopper
At a convenience store in Jonesboro that evenin’.
I waved good-bye an’ wisht him well as he took off
He turned back an’ told me he’d by me a big purple Cadillac
Next time he found himself out an’ around these parts.
Wasn’t that just like him all over? So generous an’ all?
I wasn’t until he’d been gone a good twenty minutes or so
That I hadn’t gotten a autograph or a photo or anythin’.
But he had sung me a couple choruses o’ Hound Dog an’ Viva Las Vegas
It’s somethin’ I’ll remember and cherish clean into the next world.

Saturday at Last

Writing a novel in one month is more physically exhausting than I have ever thought it would be. But it can be quite mentally energizing. However, my characters are starting to do things that I hadn't planned. That keeps throwing me off and I have to regroup and re-plan. My main character went and started to fall in love the other night and I hadn't see that coming at all. Especially since the character she is falling for is a bit of a jackass. So I've had to incorporate that into the overall story line. But it's not a bad thing. It's going to add some tension and drama that the overall story really needed. Once they start showing some interest in each other a crisis will hit sending them in different directions. Then the other characters will work to bring them back together. And now it is Saturday at last. I can write until I'm numb. No waiting for the work day to be over so that I can squeeze in a couple of hours. I'm only a little more than one-third of the way through the November goal and the month is more than half gone. Fortunately a four-day weekend coming up should help me make my way around that. So off I go!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tired, Tired, Tired

Okay, this writing project is kicking my ass. More than halfway through the month and I am only a quarter of the way through the book. I lost the zeal I had yesterday. Even though I found a bunch of notes last night and another page of notes again today. The notes I really want to find remain elusive. In chatting with other authors on FB I'm finding that my book is truly different from what everyone else is writing. I hope that is a good thing. A couple of people have indicated that they would really like to read my book when they find out that the title is Tales From the Succotash County Times. I live on these tidbits of hope right now.

Last night I had a tough time winding down when I went to bed. The whole of Succotash County was still partying away in there. Still, this is what I wanted in my life. I made the decision when I was 8 years old and I'm sticking with it. The scary part is that I already have 3 sequels planned. A fellow writer has offered to load up a potato gun and shoot me. Death by my favorite food. I knew it was bound to get me one way or the other.

Well here's hoping that I won't be a stereotypically gloomy writer tomorrow. After all, it's nearly Friday. And next week is a short week. See, I'm feeling better already!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Racing with Nanos

So today I joined a new Face Book Group of people who are doing the NaNoWriMo challenge and trying to write a book by the end of the month. I am finding it to be a great tool already. The people in the group challenge each other with word sprints and word wars. I won my first war by 2 minutes earlier. Typing my fingers off I did 1,000 words in 31 minutes. Then I did a sprint. That netted me another 750 words. So that really got me moving on the book. Today I managed "Local Man Charged with Battery," "Local Man Makes French Toast," and got a dandy start on "Local Woman has Breakdown." After this I am beginning to feel a bit more optimistic about having a shot at making it by the end of the month. Well, that and the four day weekend coming up next week when I can really hammer away at it. If anyone out there has a suggestion of a topic to add to the book, let me know. Remember, puns are perfect!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Local Woman Abducted

© 1998 by Laurie Kay Olson

I first saw it up yonder, in the back pasture it was,
Where ol’ Bessie likes to go to chew her cud an’ think.
I’d gone up to fetch her back to the cow barn,
An’ all of a sudden there was these bright lights.
They come up over ol’ Doug Miller’s place down the road,
But way back towards the creek, you know, where he keeps his still.
You could tell he’d been up to making a batch o’ his usual shine
‘Cause all the trees was leanin’ away from the clearing
Like they was tryin’ to catch a breath o’ fresh air.
Eny-who, I didn’t know what they hell them lights were.
At first I thought maybe some ATeeF agents with flashlights,
Or maybe ol’ Doug had gone an’ blowed up the still again.
But it kept a-movin’ across the sky, all slow an’ silent an’ all –
Like ol’ Mabel Shively after she’s been to the all-you-can-eat buf-fett
Over to the new shoppin’ mall. You know. The one next to the Piggly-Wiggly.
Well. I plum forgot all about Bessie an’ just stared I’m tellin’ you.
That thing was bigger ‘n’ life itself an’ twice as shiny.
Then it shot this big ol’ light out all over me –
Just like I was some Hollywood movie star sashaying my backside up a red carpet.
Then that light somehow nipped my right up inside that big ol’ You-Fo
Just as slick as a whistle at a dog callin’ contest.
Next thing I knowed I’m lyin’ flat out on this table
That was colder than Neptune’s nether bits
An’ these li’l fellas with big ol’ eyes just a pokin’ an’ a prodin’ me
Like I was the prize pig over to the county fair an’ they was the judges.
They was talkin’ some language that sounded more furrin’
Than them dang’fool Eye-raki’s on the tv news last night.
Don’t think I didn’t just up an’ give them a piece o’ my mind –
Takin’ me so sudden an’ all. It was like to give a body a heart attack.
It must’ve worked ‘cause all of a sudden I was back in the pasture
Lyin’ there lookin’ up at the sky like I didn’t have a thing to do in this world
With ol’ Bessie starin’ down at me an’ chewin’ on her cud.
It was the strangest thing that ever happened ‘round these parts.
‘Lessen you count the time that Camilla Marie Boyd  over to Taylor Holler
Found a tater in her garden in the shape o’ Mr. Conway Twitty.
After what I’ve been through I can tell you one thing I’ve learned –
You just never know what might be hidin’ in the back pasture these days.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Block and tackle

After having a fairly good writing session last night I am feeling blocked today. So I've decided to leave the bouncing baby Bubba for another time and tackle a different section of the book entirely. I think that will jump start things.

I sat down this morning with the intent to just tear right in. Instead I ended up scheduling a lot of poetry to be posted in my blog for the next three weeks. What's with all the poetry you ask? Okay, you probably didn't but I'm gonna tell you anyway. Many years ago, while still fairly green at the poetry game, I noticed how many poems Emily Dickinson had written in her lifetime (over 2,000) and made a commitment to myself that I was going to write at least as many, if not more. I am pleased to say that I am more than halfway there. And some of them are pretty decent too, if I do say so myself. Of course, there are some that are total dreck. But you can't find diamonds without digging through the dirt.And you can't make them shine without cutting. So I am always editing.

So now it is time for me to get away from the past and get back to the future. I'm thinking "Local Woman Wins Trip to Paradise." Oh, yeah!

Friday, November 11, 2011

I sank the Titanic

AS I mentioned yesterday I needed to sink the Titanic. I have done so. And saved the memorial tackle box. Yes, I'm being purposely unhelpful with my comments. They shall come to light in time. I am really on the mend. I'm pretty much just down to a cough and a touch of laryngitis. So I'm taking charge of writing this book by the end of the month again. My next challenge: to help my main character cive birth to a bouncing baby Bubba.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On the Mend

I still feel like crap, but the flu is fleeing. I managed a full day at work today and a girl's lunch out because Rebecca is getting married tomorrow. So I am back at tampering with the history of Succotash County again. My object for this evening is to sink the Titanic. No not THAT one. But a row boat of the same name that meets a similar fate. I have been chatting on FB with another writer who is also doing the NaNoWriMo challenge. She's about twice as far along as I am, so I really need to get cracking. So Tally Ho! Or Let's Roll! Or whatever. I'm at a loss for words - oh, no!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Idiocy prevail!

Okay, so I announced my possible idiocy last week. I had a busy weekend cleaning house, but I also made some serious notes on the book. Then Monday morning. I arrive at work ready to roll. I have all my notes with me to get going Monday after hours. Two hours in I realize that not only is something not right, but that I am very intensely sick. So home I go with the flu.

I tcuk myself into bed with pen and paper, determined to get something done, no matter what. And promptly fell asleep. Extremely sick. Sicker than I was with H1N1. Was I going to die? Can't write. Can't watch tv, the noise bothers me. I worry down a little food and drink so that I can take my medicines and some ibuprofen. Mostly the ibuprofen. And sleep, sleep, sleep. By Tuesday morning I am feeling some better. I eat small, take more ibuprofen, call my mommy and go back to bed. This time I stay awake long enough to make just a few notes.

When I wake up I look at my notes. Little and almost no value. And I'm still wondering why I wrote down Cesar Milan's name. He has nothing to do with the book.

By Tuesday evening I am obviously getting well. I sit down and start makiong a list of characters so that I can keep everybody straight. Even created a few new ones. Also started making a list of local businesses and places so that I can keep them straight.

So here is Wednesday. I'm at work on shaky ground, but ready to get back at it. Stay tuned to see if I survive. . . .

Friday, November 4, 2011

I may be an Idiot

I took a leap and decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo. It is the challenge to write a book in a month. This month. I have no idea if I can actually do it, but I'm going to try.. Succotash County is waiting for me. So I will blog pieces of the book, my joys and frustrations. Today I finally figured out how I am going to pull all of these little bits and pieces into a cohesive format and started reconnecting with my inner red neck. We all have one of those lurking inside.

So I face my first weekend with my novel approach. We'll see how much I actually accomplish and how much I start cleaning the house because I'm intimidated by the project.

So I shall spend the weekend in Succotash County, listening to the voices in my head, and taking notes.

I wonder if Garrison Keillor feels like this before a trip to Lake Woebegone?

Taking Literacy Literally

(c) 1996 by the Colorado Daily, (c) 2011 by Laurie Kay Olson

I know I run a huge risk in writing a column on literacy because I’m bound to get mail saying that a comma was out of place, but I need to comment. Since Sunday was International Literacy Day (September 1996) I thought I’d chance it.

While most people think of the illiterate as being those who can’t read or write at all, a large number of people read and write so badly they have trouble communicating. Working at a newspaper, I get to see letters to the editor in their original condition. It’s scary.

My first lesson in the importance of precise language came from Frank Reno, former English teacher at Baseline Junior High. He told of his trip to a department store to buy a pair of sunglasses. The sign on the table read “All Sunglasses $4 – accept Foster Grants.” Being the savvy English teacher he was, he argued that the Foster Grants were also $4 since “accept” means to include. He walked away with a pair of expensive sunglasses for $4 while the clerk was quickly changing the sign to say “except.” Moral of this lesson: poor English can cost you.

As journalists, we survive and thrive via the written word and often laugh over the letters we receive. We spent one afternoon howling at a letter about computers empowering “death squids” in El Salvador. An image from a sci-fi flick flashed into our minds with giant tentacles waving as people ran screaming through the streets of San Salvador, while an evil scientist huddled over a computer sending encoded messages to the squids. The sincerity of this person’s letter was lost amid the laughter.

Another letter, written on the evils of driving, ended with a sentence about this man’s “mechanical satin.” I was baffled. A mechanical piece of fine fabric? After reading his letter several times I realized that he meant “mechanical Satan.” This is why I opposed teaching children that phonetic spelling is appropriate. It isn’t. Ever. (Uh-oh – sentence fragments!) There are “two” many homonyms in our language “four” this to be practical. Aside from limiting communication, it leads people to write us letter about “weather” affirmative action is necessary, “of coarse.”

Then there are the punctuation abusers. Some people can’t seem to decide where a sentence ought to end. They continue to string their thoughts together with colons, semi-colons, and commas until a single sentence will go on for half a page. I wonder if something happened to these people to make them afraid of periods. Just a tiny little dot at the end of a string of words apparently sends them into panic. Perhaps this same phenomenon is why some people can’t seem to employ an apostrophe to make a contraction or a possessive. I don’t know. Since I got over my fear of commas I just can’t relate anymore.

Dear Abby has the similar problems. She received a letter from a man complaining that magazines weren’t being very responsive to his short stories. He did it in a letter that was so poorly written that it was laughable. My advice to those starting out: Wanting to be a writer isn’t enough. You actually have to know how to write.

To be fair, we do receive clear, concise, well-written letters. Unfortunately, they are the exception. Why don’t you see the gaffs that I’ve mentioned here? We are kind and tidy things up as best we can without messing up the meaning. That is if we can find it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Succotash County Times - Correction

In last Thursday’s issue we reported that Earl Parker received a Dear John letter. This should have read that Earl had received a letter from John Deere about a problem with his tractor. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Earl, if you’re still having to sleep in your truck and take your meals at the diner, the Ben-Gay and the Pepto are on us.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Sporting Life

(c) 1996 by the Colorado Daily, (c) 2011 with additional text by Laurie Kay Olson

Hi, my name is Laurie, and I’m a sports-dysfunctional.

There needs to be a 12-step program for this.

One of the problems with growing up ion Boulder is that you are expected to be imbued with a certain amount of athletic excellence – and unfortunately I am the anti-athlete.

While most people manage to trot out some little story about how they were always the last one to be picked for a team, in my case it was worse. The team captains would stand and argue about who had to take me until the teacher would show up and force me onto one of them. The embarrassing thing is that this would happen even when one of the captains was my best friend. My friendships didn’t last long during sports season.

When I was ten years old, I managed an amazing feat while hitting golf balls with my cousin Rick. I managed to catch one of his drives – with my right eye. He went on to be an excellent golfer while I gave up on golf with a spectacular shiner.

I admit it. I was a tremendous klutz. This was facilitated in part by the fact that I had shot up to five feet tall and fully developed by the time I was eleven. I was too tall and round to compete with my short, stick-figure classmates – making me comparatively unbalanced. OK, let’s be honest – I was top-heavy.

I have clear Charlie-Brownish memories of enthusiastically trying to kick a soccer ball, only to end up on my back in the grass, staring at the sky. I would be there for a few moments contemplating the chances that anyone would ever mistake me for a jockette. Then I would get up and reluctantly return to humiliate myself again.

Add to this the hideous gym suits that had a tendency to ride up your butt, give you holster-hips, and hide your figure just when you were starting to discover what to do with one, as well as communal showers with two-dozen other girls, and gym quickly became my least favorite part of any given day.

In high school I finally found that I had some small talent for volleyball. Not great, though, for my growth spurt had stalled shortly past 5-3 which made me a little short at the net. And, alas, volleyball, too, fell by the wayside. There must be something about me that gives people the impression  that I couldn’t possibly manage to hit a ball if my life depended on it (unless it could be four-eyes and thunder-thighs . . . hmmm, could be).In my last game, a teammate decided that I wasn’t going to get the ball headed directly for me. In a split second, his head was between the ball and my hand. The heel of my hand shoved his nose into his brain-pan for the briefest moment. He wound up on the floor, squirming in agony, hands over his nose, tears coming from his eyes and me bending over him with laughter, having just experienced the reality of slap-stick shtick.

For the safety of those around me, I have decided to avoid all sports that involve balls, bats, racquets, teams, or other players (heaven help us if I ever decided to try the javelin or discus). I have resorted to such activities as swimming, although I have to be careful not to get my face in the water so I won’t drown.

Delores, the woman who works where I swim, has kindly memorized all necessary emergency numbers, including the county coroner, taken a refresher course in mouth-to-mouth, and has programmed 911 into the speed dial of her cell phone. I hope she’ll never need it, but with my track record, she’d better have her dialing finger poised the next time I wade into the pool.

(Editor’s note: Laurie Kay Olson is rooting for the Rockies to win the Super Bowl.)

(Author’s note: I am extremely grateful to Delores who eventually did have to call 911 at my request when my mother had a stroke at the pool five years ago. Bless you Delores!)