All We Ever Get is Calories

I’ve been dieting lately.

I find it no funny coincidence that dieting sounds so much like dying, because I’ve not been able to indulge in my unhealthy eating habits for -eight- -whole- -weeks-.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

This dy -eting has been part of a challenge: I, along with several other participants, have solemnly sworn to drink 64 oz. of water, eat 2 fruits and 3 vegetables, not consume sugar, exercise 5/7 days of the week, keep a food journal, contact a teammate daily, and whine about my lack of energy at least 3 times a day.

And that’s why I want to hear about dessert.

No, really. The upside of this diet is one ‘cheat’ day a week where I get to eat sugar. Two weeks ago, I made chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter bars to celebrate. Last week, I opted for an oatmeal fruit bar -because I love oats.

I also love chocolate lava cake, cream puffs, éclairs, fresh fruit pies, pistachio ice cream, Tagalongs, Symphony bars with toffee bits, Costco’s macadamia clusters, rich chocolate, crullers, and …maybe I should go to bed instead of making myself salivate.

In the meantime, what are some of your favorite treats? If you could eat sugar for just one day a week, which dessert would you indulge in?

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Pexels.com

©2022 Chel Owens

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Here’s what I wrote for the last …weeks:
Wednesday, April 27: We talked about how we want to be remembered.

Thursday, April 28ish: Announced the winner of the Terrible Poetry Contest, Geoff Le Pard!

Sunday, May 1: Shared a quote by Alice Walker.

Thursday, May 5: Announced the latest Terrible Poetry Contest. THERE’S STILL TIME TO ENTER! IT’LL BE FUN!

Friday, May 6: Friday Photo of a funny play on wives words.

Sunday, May 8: Quoted C. S. Lewis for Mother’s Day, then wrote a poem about the dang holiday.

Monday, May 9: Mormon Monday! Families are so so so so so important.

Friday, May 13: It’s Friday Photo day down at the tire shop!

Sunday, May 15: Quote by David O. McKay.
And, a really beautiful knock-off of “Bad Habits.”

Monday, May 16ish: I’m a Mormon, so I’m not inked and holed.

Tuesday, May 17ish: Answered Charli’s prompt to rewrite her story in 99 words.

©2022 Chel Owens

Rest In Peace of Mind

One of my favorite quotes is Don’t take life so seriously. No one gets out alive. I laugh, then go right back to taking life too seriously. I’m all caught up in the rush and tumble of meaningless nothings ….which will, one day, add up to a eulogy of my life.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

Why the morbidity? I attended a funeral for the husband of a friend on Monday. Funerals for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are a little different than movie funerals. One, we don’t wear all black. Two, the service focuses on hope and eternity; on the joy we had in the person and on the promise of being with him or her again after death. Three, there are often A LOT of people attending since Mormons have a thing for large families*. And four, family and close friends eat funeral potatoes, ham, and Jell-O salad afterwards.

Item #4 might not be that unique. I mean, who doesn’t love cheesy potatoes?

I really enjoyed the funeral. The man whom we honored sounded wonderful: big into his family, a proponent for hard work, a lover of Doritos and Mtn Dew, sometimes a tease, a man always ready to open up his home for events; sincere, genuine, service-oriented, and kind.

A few thoughts crossed my mind during the service. The primary one was I want people to say those things at my funeral.

That’s a good thing, because I normally come away thinking I sure hope no one says this when I die! …If you know the deceased was a mean drunk who beat his wife, it’s disingenuous to go on about how he loved his fellow man. So, my kids had better not say, “Chelsea loved being a mother. Housework was her middle name. Birds sang and children frolicked. I still can’t believe we all learned to play six instruments and speak seven languages!”

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

I’m aware of a common writing exercise to type up one’s own eulogy. Being a paranoid person, I’m not heading that direction. I do wonder what, specifically, I’d want people to say -as a sort of goal to work towards. If not known for dishes and laundry, what about for writing that elusive book? If not for birds singing, what about dogs barking? Do I want my children to remember my RBF or my real love for them?

I want everyone who wants to, to come. It should feel like a party (with those yummy potatoes!) where no one feels excluded. Maybe I should arrange for a balloon artist.

What about you? Have you thought about your end-of-life party? What would you want said?

©2022 Chel Owens

*Granted, not everyone has a large family. Family is very important, and the focus of our faith.

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Here’s what I wrote for the last two weeks:
Wednesday, April 13: Asked for input on “How in the Heck Do You Balance Your Blogging?

Thursday, April 14: Wrote a terrible poem about bad drivers. They’re still out there!

Friday, April 15: Announced the winner of the Terrible Poetry Contest! It was Frank Hubeny!

Later, I shared my inability to open a box for Friday Photo.

Saturday, April 16: It’s Terrible Poetry time again! Frank says we’ll be writing a common-meter nursery rhyme. Parody is welcome! Write one! Contest ends tomorrow!

Sunday, April 17: Carl Jung talks to us about facing the dragon.

Monday, April 18: I’m a Mormon, So I wear special underpants called temple garments.

Thursday, April 21: Updated y’all about COVID conditions ’round Utah.

Friday, April 22: Friday Photo. I shared some smart-aleck’s addition to a driving meter.

Saturday, April 23: Wrote my own nursery? rhymes?

Sunday, April 24: Quoted Desmond Tutu.

Monday, April 25: I’m a Mormon, So I keep sex between me and my husband.

Tuesday, April 26: Wrote a lot of D‘s for Not Pam‘s prompt.

©2022 Chel Owens

How in the Heck Do You Balance Your Blogging?

Hi, friend! Would you like to have it all: stable income, house, kids, home-cooked meals, sleep, exercise, free time, vacations, and time to write and read blog posts?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Like me, you can have it all! I follow a very systematic, daily approach. From the moment I can’t distract the two-year-old anymore, I am shuffling off to a fast-paced itinerary …that, frankly, started long before I finally got there.

I’m the yoga pants-clad minivan momma in a mental haze. My ‘system’ is ‘whatever is on fire comes first’ and my ‘daily’ is a loose adherence to the time between midnights.

I’ve surfaced enough this morning afternoon evening between-midnights to realize mine might not be that effective of an approach. And to realize I need help.

First, I called a cleaning service. Next, I slept and ate and might shower. Finally, I’m asking you: what’s your schedule? Specifically, since this is a blog, what’s your blogging schedule?

It’s gotta be better than mine…

©2022 Chel Owens

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Here’s what I wrote for the last two weeks:
Wednesday, March 30: I learned that many of you share my driving pet peeves.

Friday, April 1: Friday Photo of some old timey propaganda.

I also wrote the second-to-last Anyone Can Poem over at Carrot Ranch.

Saturday, April 2: Winner of the Terrible Poetry Contest, Matt! He picked the theme and form of a free verse on driving for this fortnight’s contest. I’m going to sneak one in even though it may be past the deadline because I’m so excited to do this one!

Sunday, April 3: A quote by Roy T. Bennett.

Monday, April 4: Mormon Monday’s very dry explanation of how things go down every Sunday.

Friday, April 8: Friday Photo. Slow down, squirrels!

. Sunday, April 10: Quote by Jacqui Murray.

Monday, April 11: I’m a Mormon, So I’m way too honest.

Tuesday, April 12: Answered the Crimson’s Creative Challenge.

©2022 Chel Owens

I May Be Karen Wheeler

Man, do I hate tailgaters. If the term is different in your neck of the woods, I refer to those drivers who think personal space isn’t important. I refer to those drivers who haven’t guessed how likely a rear-end collision will be. I refer to idiots.

I see no logical reason for a person to follow closely behind my car. I’m not going to speed up. All I’m going to do is run a verbal commentary on what s/he is thinking. “Hi, I’m Mr. Rudypants* and I want to show how stupid I am by riding your butt. How’s it working for ya??”

This action not only fails to achieve the person’s purpose (speed up or move), it also puts me on edge. I drive with heightened anxiety. If the car in front of me stops, what’s going to happen to Rudypants?

Photo by Nikita Nikitin on Pexels.com

Man, do I hate speedsters. Pedal-to-the-medalers. Hot rods. Also idiots.

You’re not impressing anyone with your ability to break the speed limit. Seriously; I’m a minivan and I can do exactly the same thing. When are you going to stop, anyway -at 100 mph? The white and black signs with numbers on them do exist for a reason.

My favorite is when a driver tailgates my car up the onramp, then guns it and barely scrapes around my car as s/he peels down the highway. You go, girl.

Photo by Digital Buggu on Pexels.com

And man, do I hate impatience.

…..

…..

…..

What?

Photo by Ono Kosuki on Pexels.com

Oh. Right. So… what’s your road rage/pet peeve? Would you drive me crazy?

©2022 Chel Owens

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This here’s what I wrote for the last two weeks:
Wednesday, March 16: “A Phrase By Any Other Language…” in which we discussed apt expressions worldwide.

Friday, March 18: Behold, The Unidachshund.

Saturday, March 19: Winner of the Terrible Poetry Contest: Colleen!!

Sunday, March 20: A quote by Steve Jobs.

Monday, March 21: Mormon Monday! It’s okay, you can repent.

Tuesday, March 22: Announced the biweekly Terrible Poetry Contest. YOU HAVE TILL TOMORROW TO SEND IN AN ENTRY!! We’re writing burlesque. It’s fun!

Wednesday, March 23: My birthday. Thank you for all the kind wishes.

Friday, March 25: Friday Photo. It’s nice.

Sunday, March 27: Aristotle’s quote. You know, about the snow he lived in.

Monday, March 28: I’m a Mormon, So I’m prudish.

Tuesday, March 29: An answer to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt on disappearance.

©2022 Chel Owens

*I have standards about swearing, remember? Oh, and there are kids in the car a lot.

A Phrase By Any Other Language…

He has that sort of, uh, je ne sais quoi about him -you know?

I took French lessons in school, yet I couldn’t quite describe je ne sais quoi. I hadn’t heard it. Once I had, I was surprised to learn its frequency in general use. We’ve other phrases like that in English: déjà vu, de facto, alfresco, doppelgänger.

I love pulling them out as appropriate. Sometimes you just need a succinct term for how you’re feeling and weighty, wordy English can’t cut it.

Even better, of course, is when I hear a phrase or word that isn’t in common usage; one we’ve not adopted but that scratches my itch for expression. What about Bilita Mpash (Bantu), the happiness felt after a really good dream? Or, 慢慢来 màn man lái, take your time? Then again, we shouldn’t forget 横飯 – yoko meshi -the stress of speaking a foreign language because, literally translated, it means eating your food sideways. These are nicknamed untranslatable expressions.

On that note, what sorts of odd phrases do we use in American English (or British English)? Besides quoting movies or memes, I often slip in the odd idiom or two. Sometimes I stop and provide a little etymological history lesson for my boys.

Do you have a few oft-used terms? How about a favorite foreign phrase?

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Matt’s been reading my Wilhelmina Winters series as audio performances and sharing them. He’s decided to stop while he’s ahead and I don’t blame him! Wil has over 100 installments.

Aaaand here’s what I wrote for the last two weeks:
Wednesday, March 2: I’m still wondering why it’s bad to be beautiful. What do you think is the underlying stigma?

Thursday, March 3: Announced the winningest Terrible Poetry limerick about grain, Joanne‘s.

Friday, March 4: Friday Photo: Choose your own office adventure…

Saturday, March 5: The new Terrible Poetry Contest! Write a tanka about what’s in your pocketses by tomorrow!!

Sunday, March 6: Charlie Chaplin‘s quote.

Monday, March 7: Mormon Monday! Talked about The Plan of Salvation.

Thursday, March 10: Shared a true, recent story about camping in our backyard.

Friday, March 11: Friday Photo. Be careful out there, ladies.

Sunday, March 13: A quote about tacos. Yum.

Monday, March 14: I’m a Mormon, So gambling’s off the table.

Tuesday, March 15: Our wedding anniversary, and the day I wrote about the day of Triffids. You know; the book.

©2022 Chel Owens

What’s Wrong With Being Beautiful?

I am not a beautiful person. I don’t turn heads and never have*. Then again, I’ve never wanted to. Instead, I strive to be heard for my wit, my mind, and my impressive collection of hardback books. Furthermore, I find being attractive and flaunting that attractiveness to be SHAMEFUL.

Why?

Photo by Darcy Delia on Pexels.com

Okay; okay…. I’m not talking about showing skin as an invitation for sex. That’s a little obvious of an answer. What I’m asking is why being proud of beauty is wrong. Beauty is a heritable trait, like intelligence. It takes work to look good, like how piano-playing takes practice. Only a few people are beautiful, much like how only a few people are successful.

Yet, I think intelligence, musical ability, and success are good things. They’re admirable. Sexiness? Not so much.

Again; why?

Why is it taboo to play off looks, especially as a female? Why do I look away when a voluptuously thin woman catwalks past? Why do I judge the pretty girl at the bar?

What’s so bad about beauty??

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Here’s what posted over the last week:
Wednesday, February 23: Asked where you’ll all be in five years

Friday, February 25: Friday Photo. Really, Wal-mart? Really?

Sunday, February 27: Shared Pete’s fantastic quote.

Monday, February 28: “I’m a Mormon, So” I’m no druggie.

Tuesday, February 29ish: Tried a limerick about graaiins.

REMEMBER TO ENTER THE TERRIBLE POETRY CONTEST BEFORE TOMORROW MORNING (MST).

©2022 Chel Owens

*-except for that time I walked through the computer science building at college. Those boys hadn’t never seen a woman.

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

Gather ’round, young and old. Old Granny Chel is gonna tell you about a mystical time, four whole years ago…. I was ‘specting my fifth child -a boy- and learned I needed to stay in bed. In those days, you see, everyone left the house to do the shopping and the working and the schooling. I remember taking pictures of my bedroom and writing on Facebook -you older ones remember Facebook, don’t you?- about my vacation plans to tour Laundry Mountain and Bedside Manner…. *sigh*

‘What’s a vacation?’ Well….

Photo by riciardus on Pexels.com

Can you imagine telling this to your children? Before COVID-19, this would have been a fictional, dystopian short story. After COVID-19, however, many of us feel how close to home this hits.

I’ve reflected on life before COVID many times: When I stood in line, six feet apart, in the Costco parking lot while reading the sign about what they were out of. When I dropped my children off at school and adjusted their masks. When I’ve seen drinking fountains, couches, restaurants, and bulk candy containers taped off with warning signs attached. When a sneeze makes me jump. When a cough draws scrutiny.

My reflection hasn’t been a longing for the past so much as an astonishment at how very different life has been. I’ve often thought, No one would have guessed these things would be happening now.

Such a thought reminds me of that common interview question: Where do you see yourself in five years? The best job candidates say, “I see myself here, at your company. I’m working with a team to improve quality and productivity.” The worst say, “Oh, I plan to get pregnant, have a baby, and stop working for this company within two years. In five? I think I’ll be working for your competitor after using up my maternity leave.”

COVID-19 has been the worst potential employee, ever.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I think we’re seeing the tail end of it, which is great. I’m crossing my fingers we won’t experience another pandemic of this magnitude for another hundred years. Assuming life moves at the pace it currently is, then, where do you see yourself in five years?

It’s okay; I’ll hire you no matter what…

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Here’s the run-down for the last two weeks:
Wednesday, February 9: Told you about our regular side business selling handmade all-natural soy wax candles, plus the one we’re trying to launch, Valiant Candle Company.

Thursday, February 10: Announced the winner of the Terrible Poetry Contest for that week, Matt again!

Friday, February 11: Friday Photo. Don’t you just love alone time?
Also, announced that week’s Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme was a cento poem about being compassionate.

Saturday, February 12: Had a lot of fun writing a cento-style poem about …well, not really about anything. It was a mess.

Sunday, February 13: Shared a quote by someone, often misattributed so who-knows-what famous person first said it?

Monday, February 14: “I’m a Mormon, So” I likes my milder cuss words.

Tuesday, February 15: Wrote “This is the End,” a short story about The End.

Thursday, February 17: Announced the winner of the Terrible Poetry Contest, Dumbestblogger!

Friday, February 18: Friday Photo! Ice cream, anyone?

Saturday, February 19: “That’s a Moray!!”

Sunday, February 20: Shared a quote by Oscar Wilde.
Also announced this week’s (and next week’s) Terrible Poetry Contest. You have two weeks to ENTER!! The theme is a limerick about grain.

Monday, February 21: “I’m a Mormon, So” I’ve been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

©2022 Chel Owens

The Side Business(es) -Valiant Candle Company, Anyone?

We have a side business selling gaming dice and gaming candles. I wrote about a Kickstarter we did in February of 2020 for creating music dice. Since then, I’ve not talked about the business much. Some of you may not have even known we did that in our free time.

We’ve had the dice company about 12 years. Kevin thought of the candles and put a few out there, back in 2019.

The biggest surprise of the last two years is how incredibly popular the nerd candles are. Who knew DND Candles would be a thing? Who knew someone would want a dirt candle? A bacon candle? A whiskey candle? (The weed candle‘s popularity, on the other hand, doesn’t surprise me that much.)

We’ve had a blast. We’ve told everyone who’s come over about it; invariably, most want to try making candles as well. Learning how to make candles isn’t difficult. Starting a new candle business is. …Which is why I’m using Wednesday’s space to plug an idea:

We are collaborating with Kevin’s sister’s family (and their EIGHT KIDS) to get another business going: Valiant Candle Company.

So far, it includes a Dr. Who candle, Lord of the Rings candles, Star Wars Candles -mostly Mandalorian-themed, and Mythology candles. Check it out to see all the categories.

The sky’s the limit with creative designs and scents. We and my in-laws are trying all sorts of ideas. I love how excited our nieces and nephew are whenever someone buys their candles.

Do you like candles? What are some of your favorite scents? Have you ever made a candle from all-natural soy wax? If so, how did it turn out?

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DON’T FORGET that Susanna Leonard Hill’s Valentiny contest runs Friday February 11th between 12:01 AM EDT Friday February 11th and Sunday February 13th by 11:59 PM EDT. The instructions to enter are here.

What did I do all last week? You’ll find out, below:
Wednesday, February 2: Salsa’d to “We Don’t Talk About You-Know” no no no….

Thursday, February 3: Announced the winner of the Terrible Poetry Contest, Geoff.

Friday, February 4: Friday Photo. Do you like big buttes?
Also, announced this week’s Terrible Poetry Contest. PLEASE ENTER!

Saturday, February 5: Attempted a pantoum about my second-most embarrassing experience.

Sunday, February 6: A quote/poem from Stephanie Bennett-Henry.

Monday, February 7: “I’m a Mormon, So” I believe in the Godhead but not the Trinity.

Tuesday, February 8: Popped off a weird response to the prompt of anxiety.

©2022 Chel Owens

We don’t talk about You-Know…

“‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ is the #1 song in the world right now,” the radio announcer said this morning. I watched my boys in my rearview mirror; their ears pricked up. “In case you don’t have kids and, for some reason, have no idea what we’re talking about, here’s a little clip from the song.”

© Disney

“Trust me,” he added, “Now, all day long at the office, you’ll be singing, ‘Bruno, no no no….'”

Have you heard the incredibly catchy “Bruno?” You should have now (the video’s right there). It’s a song from Disney’s 2021 animated film Encanto; the musical phenomenon of creative genius Lin-Manuel Miranda -a man already popular for creating In the Heights and Hamilton. From the Disney side, he’s responsible for the songs from “Moana.”

With so much success, what can he say except, “You’re Welcome?”

Bruno, whom we are not to talk about, is a member of a family almost-all blessed with magic talents. While his sisters heal through food and change the weather with mood, he’s able to see visions of the future. Understandably, this skill quickly makes Bruno a pariah of both the Family Madrigal and the local (normal) town. The film’s talentless protagonist and Bruno’s niece, Mirabel, seeks information to solve the mystery of their suddenly-failing magic.

While Encanto leaves me wishing for a clearer conflict and a more solid resolution, the music leaves me and my family wanting to play it again and again. Why?

Did you actually listen?

The tune of “Bruno” is a Salsa. It stomps along in a syncopated pattern, constantly pushing us to aural completion. Add the video of actual dancing and you can’t stop your feet from tapping.

Me; I’m interested in discussing its addictive appeal. We writers need to take note. If we can create the same movement in an unresolved conflict, think how happy readers will be at resolution. Consider how word choice can orchestrate any scene like the steps of a dance. Imagine offbeat poetic meter!

Do you see it? Have you intentionally crafted prose or verse this way? What’s your favorite Disney song?

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Here’s last week:
Wednesday, January 26: Discussed the strange people who might like cats in “Dogs or Cats, and is it all Toxoplasmosis?

Thursday, January 27: Announced the winner of the Terrible Poetry Contest, Matt.

Friday, January 28: Friday Photo. It’s a bit undead.
Also, announced this week’s Terrible Poetry Contest. PLEASE ENTER. There’s still time.

Saturday, January 29: Tried the Golden Shovel form with my own poem.

Sunday, January 30: A quote from Life of Pi.

Monday, January 31: “I’m a Mormon, So” I am a teetotaler.

Tuesday, February 1: Wrote a folk song about 49ers -not the football team.

©2022 Chel Owens

Dogs or Cats, and is it all Toxoplasmosis?

“Mom, do you like cats?”

I thought about it, eyeing the orange tabby he cradled. “No, not really.”

My son faked a scandalous expression. “Who doesn’t like cats?”

“Me, that’s who…”

© Chel Owens

I can understand his confusion. Cats are the only animal we voluntarily care for at the moment, besides his Christmas-present turtle. The cats are the first pets we’ve invited in and kept. I hold them, talk sweetly to them, and feed them. Any second, however, I expect they’ll go for my throat.

© Chel Owens, from when we first brought them home.

I’m just not a cat person. I am, and always have been, a dog person.

My life dream was to travel the country in a pickup truck with several dogs. If I had to have a home, it was going to be a ranch where they could run. I relate far more to Charles Muntz of Up with his posse of trained canines than I do to Madame Adelaide Bonfamille of Aristocats.

Look, I know dogs are dumberer. I got it. And it’s not like I love ALL breeds of dogs. It is like I dislike all breeds of cats, and especially dislike certain breeds.

I think it comes down to trust. I know, given the option, that cats would take over the world, lock us up in a pit, and forget completely about humanity. Dogs, on the other hand, would invite us over for games and treats.

What about you? Are you a cat person or a dog person? Why?

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Here are last week’s posts:
Wednesday, January 19: Admitted that no one likes housework in “Neverending Lau-ahn-dreeee.”

Thursday, January 20: Announced the Terrible Poetry Contest. There’s still time to enter a sonnet!

Friday, January 21: An a-maize-ing Friday Photo.

Saturday, January 22: I found my feet! -in poem

Sunday, January 23: A quote by Henry B. Eyring about struggles.

Monday, January 24: “I’m a Mormon, So” I receive personal revelation.

Tuesday, January 25: “Daddy’s Here.”

©2022 Chel Owens