A Weekly Offering of This n That

Rainy Day is my alter ego. She is the little angel that sits on one shoulder and whispers in my ear to forgo that 6" piece of triple chocolate fudge with the four scoops of ice cream on it; she is also the little devil who sits on my other shoulder and convinces me that I can eat just one bite of each and be satisfied, and then laughs with such great abandon when in fact, I eat the whole thing, she falls off my shoulder. Mostly, Rainy Day helps me see the humor in living and, mostly, she encourages me down the right path. Not necessarily the straight and narrow one (how fun is that?) but the path that offers the most adventure and fun.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rainy Day and Masters of the Toast

Rainy Day has been paying attention to the way people speak for a long time. She unabashedly listens in on snippets of conversations when she is in a restaurant, or at the Mall, or wherever people gather and talk to each other loud enough she can hear. And Rainy Day can't help but wonder whatever has happened to our language?

We have become a speech lazy, y'know, nation. We, like, can barely, y'know? get a, like, sentence out without, um, a verbal, ah, pause. Y'know?

Not only has our casual speech degenerated into a chasm so deep as to barely be recognized; Rainy Day finds the same speech reinforced in the movies and tv shows.

A few weeks ago, Rainy Day attended a meeting, where the speaker gave a talk to writers, and wannabe writers, on writing. Rainy Day admits the notes Ms. Author distributed were quite interesting, but, y'know, like at least, y'know, 50% of like, her talk, was filled with, like, y'know. This person has sold novels, and gives talks to the public. Rainy Day truly believes Ms. Author is unaware of her verbal pauses, and subsequent turn-off of potential buyers and readers. Rainy Day is pleased to announce she did not scream, "No! I don't know!" every time Ms. Author used that phrase. Nor did Rainy Day comment that, "No she really did not like...". Rainy Day has a tad more couth than that. Not much, mind, but a tad.

J. A. Jance, Author
And Ms. Author is not alone. Rainy Day knows several writers who, ah, um, can't talk without, ah, um, verbally pausing instead of just pausing. Rainy Day admits to doing it, too, especially if she's around others who use verbal pauses frequently. Rainy Day also admits she tries very hard not to use verbal pauses. Alas, Rainy Day is a natural mimic, y'know?

Hence the title of this essay – Masters of the Toast, or Toastmasters. Rainy Day has belonged to Toastmasters twice in her life, and learned a great deal from the experiences. Not that Rainy Day plans a career of public speaking, but she does now and then read poetry and selected prose in public. And Rainy Day hopes to do more as her books are bought and read.

Toastmasters Clubs are all over the world. One can find a meeting to fit into one's schedule – early morning, lunch hour, or evening. Toastmasters offers a safe place to learn both speaking skills and leadership skills, even if you never do anything in the way of public speaking beyond offering a toast at a family gathering – or participate in a writer's convention. Rainy Day remembers her first Toastmasters group and how many of the members were managers at the large aerospace company where Rainy Day worked. These men and women used Toastmasters to present and polish their upcoming pitches to customers or higher-level managers. Rainy Day learned a lot about her company in that Toastmasters club.

If you are a writer, of either prose and or poetry (would both be 'Prosety?'), Rainy Day thinks Toastmasters is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Unless you want to sound like, y'know, a professional, uh, like, ahhh, ath-a-lete.

Her latest book - Buy it! Read it!
Don't just take Rainy Day's word for it; take the word of professional writers, such as J. A. Jance. She, too, recommends Toastmasters to all newly published or about to be published writers. If you speak well, people will trust that you also write well. If y'know, like your speech is like filled with, ah, verbal pauses and useless words, people will think your writing is, too.

(Note: Rainy Day uses photos and reference to J. A. Jance with J. A. Jance's knowledge and permission.) 

Do you fill your pauses with something verbal? Or do you pause with your mouth closed while you think of what you are going to say? Where did 'like' and 'y'know' come from as verbal pauses? Ummm, what do you think of those, ummmmm, noisy fillers?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rainy Day, the Book Launch, and a Suggested Winter Gift List

Before going to our regularly scheduled column, Rainy Day absolutely must interrupt for just a minute, or perhaps, three. You see, a very special and wonderfully nice thing happened to Rainy Day this past Monday, and she absolutely must share. Rainy Day had lunch with a friend at P. F. Chang's Chinese Bistro (one of Rainy Day's favoritest places;-) and she wore her Vietnam Women's Memorial tee shirt. Jennifer, a lady who works at P. F. Chang's complimented Rainy Day on the shirt and a short conversation ensued. When Jennifer found out Rainy Day was a Vietnam Era Vet of the Women's Army Corps, Jennifer not only thanked her for her service, but she bought Rainy Day's lunch, too! Rainy Day had been thanked before, but no one ever bought her lunch for her time in Service. Rainy Day thinks any company who honors our Vets, such as P. F. Chang's should be patronized and supported. And she thanks P. F. Chang's for hiring people like Jennifer and supporting our Vets.

You are now returned to our regularly scheduled verbiage:-)

Now, you might be thinking from the title above, that Rainy Day has yet another book out. Don't be thinking that. Rainy Day only has 3 books out (see right side of blog); however, her friend Karen Fisher-Alaniz, has a new book out. And Saturday 12 November 2011 was the official launch thereof. A fitting date as the book is about Murray fisher's time in WWII, and therefore a Veteran.

Because both Karen and her Father live in Walla Walla, Washington, that's where the Launch was held. Not only was it held in their home town, but Murray Fisher came and signed books right alongside of Karen. To be honest, Rainy Day isn't so sure he's Karen's dad – he looks more like a Christmas Elf who escaped Santa's Workshop;-)

Murray & Karen at Anchor for USS Arizona

And, the signing was held in the Old Depot. Murray Fisher was the last man to work there when it was an operating train depot. He literally turned off the lights and locked the doors when he left. There are a lot of memories and history in that building. Today it is a restaurant (Jacobi's) and a gathering place for book launches and other community activities.

Rainy Day has a lot in common with Karen – they both write – though not the same genre, they both come from rail-road families (Rain Day's Grandpa Good used to be Chief Engineer at the Portland, Oregon Roundhouse; both her Dad and her Aunt worked for the rail roads – her Dad hated it, her Aunt loved it. Go figure.).

Book Cover
If you're ever in Walla Walla, be sure to stop at the Old Depot and look around. The food at the restaurant is good, too. Perhaps you'll luck out and be able to eat in the old dining car attached to the restaurant. (Photos were furnished by Karen Fisher-Alaniz and used with her permission.)

Now, Christmas is coming. It does that, annually, at the same time every year. And Rainy Day knows many of you wait until the last minute to even remember it, let alone think about gifts, so here are some ideas. Order now, and you'll have time to enjoy the Holidays. Yes, Rainy Day knows that Thanksgiving isn't here yet, but if you get your gifts now, you'll have time to read them before wrapping them. Of course, Rainy Day knows there will be books. There will be books, won't there, Gentle Readers?

Rainy Day's Suggested Gift List:

For the History buff, a copy of Breaking the Code: A Father's Secret, a Daughter's Journey, and the Question That Changed Everything –by Karen Fisher-Alaniz. It is available at your local bookstore as well as through Amazon.com. It is Memoir at it's finest. Read the reviews on Amazon.com

For the Young and young at heart, how about Yadh, the Ugly –by Lenora Rain-Lee Good. A story of the adventures of a girl who is different and how she learns different isn't bad, it is just, well, different. Available from Sam's Dot Publishing  or a signed one from the author at: (copy and paste) Lenora@LenoraRain-LeeGood.com

For the person who has everything, including the books listed above, a gift in his or her name of a flock of chicks, a hive of bees, a dairy goat, or anything else that Heifer International sells to help others less fortunate.   A gift through Heifer can help lift an entire community out of poverty. It is, truly, a gift that can, and does, change lives for the better. (One can buy shares of an animal, if the whole one is too much.)

For the Quilter on your list, a Fat Quarter is always loved and appreciated. (A fat Quarter is a quarter yard of quilting fabric cut at 18" x 22" instead of 9" x 44") The nice thing about FQs is the color and or print doesn't matter, it will be loved, cherished, and end up in a quilt. They truly are a 'one size fits all' type of gift.

And don't forget fine art and or photographs. Look to the right of this blog for some excellent artists and photographers. Yes, that's a hint. Rainy Day loves beautiful paintings and photographs.

Last, but not least, consider a Box of Love that holds coupons for things such as free leaf rake n bag; free babysitting while the parents use the gift card to a nice restaurant; a weekend away at a favorite hideaway with that special someone; coupons for dinner cooked and cleaned up by you; coupons for ten nights of KP duty redeemable on demand throughout the year.

Rainy Day hopes this list of suggestions has helped you to face the Holidays with a bit more joy and a lot less hassle. Rainy Day does her best to bring a bit of lightness into your life. She truly hopes she succeeds;-)

Do you ever make your presents? What do you make? Are your homemade presents for special folk, or everyone on your list? Oh, wait; all the people on your list are special, aren't they? What was the best gift you ever received?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rainy Day and her Convictions

One of Rainy Day's most favoritest movies in the whole wide world, is the 1967 moie, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? If you're not familiar with the movie, Rainy Day gives it 10 stars out of five, you need to become familiar with it. The story centers around the Drayton family, a white upper middle class liberal, progressive family, and their blonde daughter, Joey, who comes home with her fiancé, Dr. John Prentice (Sidney Poitier) and the soul searching all parties concerned must face. One of the best lines is between the Monsignor (Cecil Kellaway) and Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy) when the Monsignor laughs and says something to the effect of, "It isn't every day I get to see a man come face to face with his convictions."

And it isn't every day when any one gets to come face to face with his or her convictions, but Rainy Day did, not too long ago.

A Song Bird Singing of Convictions
One of Rainy Day's long held convictions is that those who are sent to prison for a crime should be rehabilitated, and when released, given the benefit of the doubt. She think it works, at least when the prisoner wants it to, and gets some support on the outside. For those of you fortunate enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, a case in point is Dave and his Killer Bread. A four-time loser for drug misuse, he now puts out the bestest bread money can by, Dave's Killer Bread. Click here for his story. Get to the nearest grocery store for the bread. (BTW, Dave gave permission to use this paragraph and the link.;-)

And so, when Rainy Day decided to try one of the online dating sites, and met the most gorgeous hunk of old world manhood, Drago (not his real name), she was swept off her feet. Drago came from the old Yugoslavia as a teenager, but he kept that old world charm, the deep, European voice, and those old world manners. Rainy Day really thought she had met her man. And then, one day, as Drago and Rainy Day talked on the phone, he said a couple of things that didn't sound quite right. Nothing big, nothing serious, but just not 'right.' Rainy Day remembers the incidents he talked about, and she remembered them very differently than Drago did.

That night, Rainy Day couldn't sleep, so she went online and Googled Drago. Several pages came up and they weren't good. Drago had not only done prison time, but he did his time in a Federal Penitentiary for illegally selling guns. Rainy Day ran smack dab into one of her convictions. Owwweeeee!!! Did that ever hurt! (Rainy Day also loves to use exclamation points, can you tell?)

It took a couple of days before she talked to Drago to get his side of the story. Perhaps, she hoped, spending two years in a cell contemplating the error of his ways, was enough. Perhaps, like Dave above, something good came out of that time. Perhaps he was sorry for what he did (5 of the guns he illegally sold ended up being used in the commission of felonies – including the fatal shooting of a police officer. One of the guns ended up in a boy's backpack and taken to Junior High School. No one was hurt.). So, Rainy Day called Drago and held her breath hoping for the right answer. Rainy Day turned very blue.

His only remorse seemed to be that he was caught. He insisted he only exercised his Second Amendment Rights. Rainy Day, having served in the military to defend that Constitution and its Amendments had a different idea. Amendment II to the US Constitution reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Nowhere does it say one can buy and sell weapons without proper and legal paper work.

Blooming Where Planted
Drago and Rainy Day talked, and the more they talked, the more proud he seemed for the time he spent in prison, and the sadder Rainy Day became. Had he admitted his wrongdoing, had he shown true remorse, they might be together today; however, Rainy Day, having faced her conviction, had no choice but to say Goodbye. For, one of her convictions is to not become willingly and knowingly involved in illegal activities, or with men who commit them.

In the meantime, Rainy Day assures me, she won't date anyone without checking him on Google. She is now dating a gentleman she'll call George. The 'worst' thing Rainy Day could find about George is he used to run marathons in his younger days;-)

Rainy Day says convictions are good things to have. They help her as she wanders down life's path, but sometimes, they are hard when bumped into.

What are some of your convictions? Have you ever bumped into any?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rainy Day and Monsters of the Night

Once upon a time, Rainy Day was a little girl. And she loved Halloween. Rainy Day loved Halloween as much, possibly more, than Christmas because she got candy. Lots of candy. And cookies. Lots of cookies. Why, when Rainy Day was 4, and it was summer, and she wanted some candy, and her Mommy said there was no candy, Rainy Day put on her Halloween mask, and went around to all the neighbors and rang their doorbells. When they answered, she said, "Trick or Treat." The neighbors laughed, and gave her candy. Rainy Day thought it might turn into a pretty good racket, but her Mommy was a stick in the mud, and thus ended perpetual Halloween for Rainy Day.

As Rainy Day grew, and collected a coterie of friends, they looked forward to Halloween. Not so much for the candy (though, with Rainy Day's sweet tooth, the candy was definitely an added bonus) but for the fun of dressing up and going around the neighborhood and being sillier than normal. One year, an old man came to the door, very grumpy, and said his wife had just died and he didn't have any candy. He slammed the door in their faces. Now, Rainy Day and her friends were old enough to understand he didn't have time to buy candy, or perhaps even think about it, but young enough that they truly didn't understand his grief.  They left. They walked to the corner of the block, stopped, looked at each other, and laughing with great glee, ran back to the grumpy man's door. They set their bags of loot on the porch, rang his doorbell until they heard him coming, and ran, leaving their loot. Rainy Day has often wondered if he appreciated their gift. It was the only way they could think of to help him in his time of loss.
The first to ring Rainy Day's doorbell

Eventually Rainy Day became a housewife. She spent days before Halloween baking and decorating cookies, and packaging them in bags to hand the scary creatures that dared to ring her doorbell. Rainy Day remembered the fun she had, and delighted in sharing that fun with the children of her neighborhood. Then, people started being mean, putting contaminated treats in the bags of small and innocent monsters, and homemade treats were no longer appreciated, everyone had to buy individually and factory wrapped treats. No more homemade treats. A lot of the joy of Halloween left Rainy Day.

The second to ring the bell
Then, she discovered the little monsters invaded the local Mall, so Rainy Day and her friends grabbed their scary masks, and spent Halloween at the Mall, drinking lattes while watching the little monsters go from store to store to store. That made a lot of sense to Rainy Day – the malls were safe, they were well lit, the kidlets didn't have to dress in extra clothes, or take a chance on their costumes being destroyed by winds or rains. And Mom tagged along carrying all the coats.

And then Rainy Day had children, and the true joy of Halloween returned. Now, Rainy Day stays home on Halloween to keep her animals company, and answer the door to the few children whose parents take them to the neighbors and not to the malls. Every year there seems to be fewer and fewer trick or treaters, and more and more candy left over for Rainy Day to eat before it spoils. Perhaps Rainy Day should save it for summer? In case one of the local kids comes by for a "Trick or Treat."

Have you noticed a decline in the number of kidlets at your door? Do you dress up to answer the door and pass out candy? How do you celebrate Halloween?

And for you who have yet to reach your sugar high, a recipe from Rainy Day's friend, Nonie:

6 Butterfinger candy bars (regular size, or equivalent) (save a bit for the top)
12 oz container Cool Whip
1 graham cracker pie crust

Crush candy bars. Add to Cool Whip. Dump into crust. Freeze. Option: Add 1/2cup softened peanut butter to about 1 cup cool whip before mixing in candy. Spread on crust, drizzle with ice cream caramel sauce, THEN add the cool whip and candy mixture.