August 31, 2007

Favorite Poem Friday

We will have a guest blogger to replace Favorite Book Friday . . . and that will be Favorite Poem Friday.

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost is my favorite.

According to Wikipedia (and really, folks, is there any more reliable information source on the planet?), “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" was Frost’s favorite of his poems.

So, to keep you cool on a warm summer day, here is everyone’s favorite poem (Okay, me and Robert Frost, but that’s almost everyone) . . .

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

August 29, 2007

Save the World on a Wednesday

Of course, you could help save the world on a Tuesday or even a Friday, but why would you want to? When you help save the world on a Wednesday, you not only improve our planet, but you get the added bonus of using wild, wonderful “Wednesday” and “World” alliteration.

And folks, what could possibly be better than that?

Perhaps a cappuccino . . . or a cat nap.

But since we’re all wide away. We are all wide awake, aren’t we? Zzzzz. “Um, I’m up. What was the question?”

The question was: How can we help save the world on a Wednesday?

Well loyal readers (which, I believe, consist of my friend, Christina, my third cousin on my father’s side and, if she’s not busy vomiting on our WHITE carpet, our cat, Jasmine), the answer comes in the form of some eye-opening facts . . .

From the August issue of Spirit Magazine (Southwest Airlines's publication):

We use two million barrels of oil every day to make plastic.

That represents about 10 percent of the nation's total oil consumption. Even so, 72 percent of Americans don't know that plastic is made from oil and 40 percent believe that plastic tossed into the trash will eventually biodegrade in a landfill. (It won't.) The average American believes (mistakenly) that about 40 percent of plastic is eventually recycled. The actual figure is less than 6 percent.

So, loyal readers, how can we help save the world on a Wednesday? Same way we can help save the world every other day . . .

August 27, 2007

The Ultra-Glamorous Life of a Writer

A Day in the Life . . .

1. I wake unconscionably early to take our oldest son to the school bus. He manages six grumpy words to me: "Can you pick me up today?"

2. I return home to find our adorable cat, who has deplorable aim, has piddled outside her litter box . . . again. While cleaning up, the strong ammonia odor nearly kills me.

3. Then a horrid discovery in the washing machine -- youngest son's juggling ball. The ridiculously expensive one he worked all summer to buy. "It's ruined!" he screams. I ignore his implication that this is my fault (even though he actually blames his brother) because with children, everything from pimples to poor grades to nuclear proliferation is my fault.

4. After laying the wet juggling ball in the sun to dry, we manage to get out the door so I can drive said youngest son to school. After he leaves the car, he turns to me and says six grumpy words: "I left my lunch at home." For some reason, I know this, too, is my fault.

5. Back home, after walking the dog, feeding both pets, making phone calls, cleaning cat vomit off the carpet and resisting the strong urge to take a nap or slam back a mojita or BOTH (but not in that order), I eat son's forgotten lunch -- surprisingly good -- ignore the large pile of dirty laundry and even larger pile of unpaid bills beside me and begin writing.

I wonder if J. K. Rowling begins her day this way.

August 23, 2007


Betcha didn’t even know I was gone.

Well, I was. I spent a few glorious days in PA with family and friends.

My girlfriend Jeanne, her friend Spidey and I spent three hours hiking here. It was about 67 degrees -- a refreshing departure from South Florida heat and humidity. While hiking, we discovered a covered bridge, corn fields, a small waterfall, lovely views and lots and lots of horse poop.

Also spent time with family doing the following: eating sushi (Thanks, El!), watching my brother-in-law wrestle my youngest son in the pool (Go, Jake – both of you), sipping margaritas poolside with my awesome sisters-in-law (Cheers, Alane and Janet), laughing till my sides hurt while playing Mexican train with my family (Cheating’s never been so funny, Jay) and pigging out at this restaurant (Thanks, Den & Mike) where fifteen of us shared meals and desserts that looked like this:

and got cute photos there like this:

Kim and Czar Jake

And there was the rockin’ barbeque (Thanks, Chef Den!) where my old college buddy came with her two girls (Yo, Barb!).

Got to see my oldest son eat things like a two-foot hoagie (Yes, they’re called “hoagies” in Philadelphia) from this place. And I also got to watch him devour things like this plate of desserts:

Just give me a Philadelphia soft pretzel drenched in mustard, thank you very much.

Had dinner at this lovely vegetarian restaurant with this lovely friend:

Donna and Jeanne, before stuffing themselves silly at Blue Sage.

There was more. Our boys went to the King Tut exhibit. They played miniature golf and went out to eat. Often. We all laughed and hugged and ate -- all the things family and friends should do together. Often.

Spending time with family and friends has totally renewed my spirit.

And now it’s time to get back to work. That means you’ll find me here . . .

doing what I do best – banging my head against the keyboard and occasionally -- writing!

August 14, 2007

Tuesday's Time-Waster

Fellow word nerds -- Unite!

Dyslexic word nerds -- Untie!

A most addicting word puzzle: Wordy.

Have fun!

Until next week,

August 13, 2007

Motivation on a Monday

"When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, your fugitive presence, inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgment of the gift you have been given, which is the life itself . . . That work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life." -- Stanley Kunitz

August 10, 2007

Favorite Book Friday

Mrs. Biddlebox by Linda Smith with illustrations by Marla Frazee is one of those picture books I not only borrowed from the library a dozen times, but had to purchase for myself and others.

The book won the 2002 Original Voices Award from Borders. You can read about that here.

Linda Smith wrote this book while she was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation to treat breast cancer. Her battle was ultimately unsuccessful. She left behind a husband, eight children and several books that were published (after she died). You can read more about Linda Smith here.

I love Mrs. Biddlebox because the illustrations are perfect. I love Mrs. Biddlebox because the language is surprising and delicious. (“When the fog gave her the whiffles, she held her broomstick steady, stabbed the dreary lot of it, and twirled it like Spaghetti!”) But mostly I love Mrs. Biddlebox because it captures the truth about feeling rotten, about having a really bad day. We’ve all felt like Mrs. Biddlebox and it helps to know we’re not alone in those feelings.

That’s why I was disappointed when I read on Alice Pope’s blog that Mrs. Biddlebox sold only 12,500 copies with HarperCollins then went out of print.

Harcourt recently purchased rights to the book and is reissuing it . . . with new cover art.


Children have really bad days, too. Mrs. Biddlebox gives them permission to do that. She lets them know they’re not alone in their feelings. (“On a knotty little hill, in a dreary little funk, Mrs. Biddlebox rolled over on the wrong side of her bunk.”)

The new and “improved” cover looks too cheery. The blue color is too bright to represent the feelings in this book. Although different from most picture books, the original cover art captures the essence of the story.

I’m thrilled that Harcourt is reissuing Mrs. Biddlebox so more children (and adults) can enjoy this gem of a book, but I wish they’d kept the original cover. I know I’m going to treasure my copy with the amazingly “dreary” cover.

Your thoughts?

August 6, 2007

Motivation on a Monday


As you begin a new week, here are a few quotations to think about:

"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop." -- Confucius

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go." -- Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel)

Have a happy and productive week.


August 3, 2007

Favorite Book Friday

This is my favorite children’s book that has hubby’s name in the title:

When our boys were little (and didn’t have video game controllers and telephones permanently attached to their hands), hubby would put on his best ten-gallon cowboy voice and read the PUNderful text of Deputy Dan and the Bank Robbers.

I’d overhear great lines like this: “Deputy Dan, please answer the door.”

“You want me to answer the door?”

“Yes. Please answer the door.”

“Okay, boss.” And this goofy cartoon deputy faces the door and says, “Hello, door!”

When Deputy Dan is told to “check” the bank for clues, he takes his trusty marker and makes check marks all over the bank.

The author, Joseph Rosenbloom, will never know how many laughs he provided to children (and the adults reading to them). I want to tell him that Deputy Dan brought many giggles to the Gephart household.

So, Amelia Bedelia, Queen ‘O Punderful books for young readers, sorry to tell you honey, but there’s a new sheriff in town!

August 1, 2007

What a Visit!

This is my niece, Nicole:

One word to describe her and her week-long visit with us? FABULOUS!

During her stay, despite heat and summer storms, we managed to do the following:

1. Saw many animals, including an albino raccoon here.

2. Spotted a tiny frog, green lizard, skinny snake and colorful grasshopper (but no alligators) here.

3. Listened to a band play here and bought fresh squeezed lemon/limeade.

4. Played tennis and said things like:

“Maybe we should try to keep the ball on our own court.”

“Sure, whatever. This is fun.”

5. Shopped here. After only forty-five minutes at the mall, my sons got a giant bag of candy, coffee drinks and heaping bowls of ice-cream with money they’d saved. (I can imagine our dentist smiling with thoughts of paying off his Porsche extra early.) Nicole and I got a good laugh at how expensive everything was.

6. Floated in the calmest, clearest ocean and said things like:

“Ew, Nicole, there are fish swimming around my ankles.”

“Oh, Aunt Donna, they’re only fish.”

and . . .

“What’s that giant thing everyone on shore is pointing at?”

“OHMYGOD, I think it’s a barracuda.”


Here’s Nicole taking a photo of our cat, Jasmine:

Nicole loves animals and plans to have lots of them someday. For now, she helps some of them find homes here, like the dog she helped get adopted last Saturday – Hooper, which we affectionately nicknamed “Pooper” after he did you-know-what on the floor in the store.

And here’s Nicole’s favorite member of the family: Lady.

Lady is thinking: Can’t somebody please go into the garage and get me a dried chicken strip? Lady is NOT a vegetarian like her owners.

When not visiting us, Nicole goes to school here and makes some interesting pieces of art, like a giant toothbrush. (Hey, maybe our boys could use it to fend off giant cavities.)

And finally, here’s a picture of Nicole and me at the airport. I’m smiling, but inside I’m sad because it’s hard to live 1,200 miles away from someone you love so much.