Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Better Cow

WARNING!!! This post is written with the aim of displaying the sheer stupidity of racism.
No cows were harmed in the making of this blog.



When I was a child, my uncle David took on a summer job across the country. He decided to backpack home across the Appalachian Mountains. He vanished for six months. His parents were struck down with worry. The entire family put together an extensive search for the beloved young man. And then, after a half year of no signs of his whereabouts, David stumbled into the front yard of his home.

Uncle David refused to say a word of what happened. The family was overjoyed to receive him, they didn't pressure him for answers. Decades later, as he lay dying, he finally told his story.

 In the middle of those mountains, after many gloomy, rainy days, David resigned to his predicament. He was lost.

"A lost soul is a vulnerable, impressionable thing," he whispered.

Living off beetles and moss, he made off in the distance, the welcome sounds of mooing cows. Certain that he would find ranchers attached to those animals, he grappled his way toward the noise. By the time he climbed a final rise in the mountain, he stumbled from the shock of what he discovered. An entire herd of orange cows.

He had found the secret to why cheddar cheese is orange.

Collapsing beside a bright orange calf, a rancher saved his life. As he was wakening from his weakened state, David overheard the rancher's children talking about him. Seems his bright orange hair had been his saving grace. Anyone with cheddar coloring on their head, must be a heavenly being. Someone above all others.

He was weak, exhausted beyond belief. The ranchers fed him bits of cheese to bring him back to health. He discovered that the only way out of the orange cow ranch was through dangerous hiking. He must stay until he could make the trip.

In the months that he was there, he learned many things. First, and foremost, was that orange is a superior color. It is better than every other color in the rainbow. So much so, that the ranchers had SOP, Superior Orange Power, tattooed to their right buttock.

After awhile of being around the colored cows, David came to believe in this way of thinking. The cows were perfect. They held themselves a bit higher than other cows he had seen. They grazed with somber distinction, mooed in smooth, deep harmony, even pooped bigger and sturdier pies. Just a few reasons why they could not be segregated with other, ordinary cows.

The ranchers considered themselves lucky to be able to serve these god-like creatures. They would have done it, even without the profits of the special cheese. The money made went toward the well-being of the four-leggeds. The plushest grass, filtered water, daily rub downs, everything that could be done to spoil the creatures was done with awe and gratitude. They were slaves to higher beings.

Having become a convert to the thinking of the ranchers, David joined them on daily bowings to the orange cows. He was never allowed to touch one, though. One must be born into the family of orange cow caregivers to be given that right. The only thing he could do was convince them to tattoo his right buttock with the SOP insignia.

When he was finally able to leave, he gave praise and thanks to the cow for its existence. David knew the world was a better place because of them.

The ranchers blindfolded David, and led him out of the mountains. They filled his backpack with the orange dairy food, and sent him home on a bus. As instructed, he never revealed his story, the secret to where orange cheddar comes from. But in his heart, he always knew that one color could be better than another.

As he has been gone for many years now, I am writing his tale. Please don't tell anyone else what I have told you. I would fear for my family if 'they' knew of my knowledge.



Heather Leigh,
There is no such thing as a white or black race. The only thing blood tests can tell you is ancestral areas.
The orange cows may be true, though. Couldn't possibly be made with red and yellow food dye.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Love Those Grandmas


What is it about hanging out with Grandmothers that is so damned inviting? Is it the calmness, tranquility, the consistency of their lifestyle? Playing cards, reading the paper, making cookies, coleslaw or daily dinners? The healthy, home cooked meals are always a delight. And who doesn't love having someone who thinks everything you do is a miracle?

Maternal Grandma taught me to eat peaches over the sink, scramble eggs just so, and how to fold a fitted sheet. She thought I was a genius chess player. Never did she realize that the secret to so many of my winnings, were a direct outcome of her revealing every one of her maneuvers, as she stated them out loud. She was too absorbed in the game, to notice that she was constantly revealing her strategy. As she passed over a decade ago, she'll never know that I'm a barely passable chess player. Anyone heading to heaven before me, please don't let her know. It still feels good to my ego, pretending that I am a family champion player.

I wear her wedding ring on my right pinkie. Could be my overly inventive mind, but it still holds her energy. When I do something stupid, it's a link to a vision of her shaking her head, telling me to be good. When I shut up and listen, I can hear her wise advise. Like always see the woman before the make up; the ultra classic: if you don't have something nice to say about another person, then just don't say anything; and in order for love to be real, it must be reciprocated. Do people still talk like that?

Paternal Grandma is still kicking up a storm. Albeit a slower storm. Okay, maybe like a light mist of a storm. But her spirit, mind and direct, honest words will never slow down a beat. She is one of the Oklahoma immigrants from the Dust Bowl in Steinbeck's 'Grapes of Wrath'. A childhood of extreme poverty is something too painful for discussion with me, memories she shies away from.

 I don't believe I ever had the privilege of wondering what she's thinking. It always comes out in blunt, tactful, honest conversations. Pre-navy days, before my ears were accustomed to dirty jokes, she could bring a blush to my cheeks with her good-natured humor. She taught me that growing old pertains to the body, not the attitude of it's owner.

She, too, thinks I am a much better person than I really am. Although she is quick to complain that she has used up more than one address book, trying to keep up with my many moves. Next one I make, I'm going to mail her a new book, with a box of pencils and big erasures. No use denying my traveling spirit. Even a Grandmother can't hold me to a city.

Her biggest wish now is being able to dance with her husband. They were quite the earth shattering, dance duo, not long ago. Simple love like that is not to be brushed away.

Today's life style is much more hurried than theirs was. We all have built in, life stressors, just different ones with each passing decade. But spending time talking face to face was a norm. Seeing the other person's reactions to your words could not be deleted. Appreciating times of laughter was not done with an lol. You got to see it happen. In fact, those are my best memories of being with both grandmothers. Sharing a laugh.

Think I'll have to bake some chocolate cookies and reflect some more on the blessings of grandmothers. I'll be sure to bake them on the top oven rack, as taught to me by Grandma.

Moving advice from the expert, as accused by Grandma:



Heather Leigh,
Admirer of Grandmothers

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Popcorn Pushing Addict



I am addicted to that villein of snack foods, the white puffy crunchy, the fiber filled phantom--popcorn. It ain't a pretty thing. In recent years, I've managed to cut back, allowing myself one daily bowl. Sundays, a less stress day, I am able to stave away the crave.

I have to be careful of my consumption level. It is the eighteenth leading cause of death among middle-aged writer moms in the Pacific Northwest. Nothing to be laughed off as a fluke.

It gets worse. I force it on my vulnerable family. For gosh sake, our youngest is only sixteen! Not even a high school graduate. How's he expected to get through life with any chance at a pursuit of happiness? What kind of mother am I?

Even now, between sentence writing, I'm munching away. Why, why, why?! You demand of me. I'll confess my inner turmoil. I'm caught between the love of the popped kernel, and the seasoning that I've developed over the years.

Every kernel is unique as a snowflake, a child's temper tantrum, the honesty of a top politician. Who knows what shape that will be bowing it's belly to my harsh teeth? My curiosity grows with every mouthful.

Don't think that I'm your common addict. My taste buds scoff at the microwave version. No, for me it is the specialized popcorn pan, the jolly fat one that takes in a table spoon of olive oil, and half a cup of kernels. With the temperature just so, I rotate the handle and await that sound of pop! pop! pop!

As the last kernel is transformed to greatness, and quiet has been restored to the kitchen, I tip the contents of the pot into the waiting bowl. I must warn you, never leave it longer. Smokey fumes may harm the delicate flavor of our waiting treat.

In the not so distant past, melted butter would now be lovingly poured. But thanks to the son of the addict, we have switched to warm coconut oil. I shouldn't be pushing this, but you have to try it. Tastes better than the dairy drizzle.

Next comes the seasoning. This has taken years of trial and error to master. Yet, I am still open to trying new recipes. I'm just big like that. There is no pre-making of the seasoning. Every member of our family likes it a bit different. As I know the importance of the perfect bowl, each person gets their custom topping.

***Recipe seasoning at end of post. Yey for you!***

My real question is this. If I am arrested for my exploitation of the youngsters in my house, is popcorn served in prison? I suppose they are required by law. The Constitution does mention something about no cruel or unusual punishment for horribly self-destructive prisoners.

The one hope I have when discovered by Johnny Law, is that my boys are given a chance at life through rehab. They shouldn't be forced to join a gang, or become a drug-dealing popcorn pusher. Only I should be the one to suffer. Please, readers, have a heart and pray for my kids. Let me be the martyr, not them.

Another option I see for them, is to market my popcorn seasoning. Funds from sales could send them to some obscure South American country. Keep them out of harms way from their addicted, wayward mother. I just hope they remember the happy times we had--before my addiction loomed so huge it took over our lives.

Another addiction of mine? Writing oh so funny books about the boy with the elephant living in his back yard. I've written more than even I can remember (six, actually). Please, I beg of you, check them out. Facing the dragon of addiction with another will help in my healing process:



Heather Leigh,
Popping the addiction curse.

Popcorn seasoning recipe: 
half a packet of taco seasoning
1/4 cup of Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Mix and sprinkle some over popped corn. Amount of everything varies with taste. 
We have also enjoyed: red pepper seasoning, Tajin, a bit of lemon pepper. Make it your own. But don't hold me responsible when you, too, become an addict.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Little Frog, Big Slippers



There is a frog the size of my fingernail in our front yard garden. His existence was discovered by a human, that would be me, this afternoon while weed pulling. At first, I was not sure if it was a frog, or a shiny, froggy shaped rock. Never can tell about these things.

After I stared motionless for a plethora of moments, his stillness won out over my curiosity. Ever so gently, I brushed his back side. And then, HOP, he did the motion they are known for. So damned cute I forgot to cry in surprise.

I also missed where he jumped to. Somewhere deep into the jungles of lawn and pulled weeds, I imagine.

I was left to wonder many things. Mainly, was he a baby tree frog, a size-impaired creature, or a creation of the garden gnomes, similar to the banzai tree?

If he was a baby, where were the neglectful parents? Don't they know the dangers of the garden? That at any moment a middle-aged mom could come along and rip away the weed that had been his cover.

How about a size-impaired creature? Did the other tree frogs make fun of him? Was he left out of leap frog and nightly chorus sing-a-longs by his peers? Or perhaps he was the envy of the pack. We don't know if tree frogs aspire to littler stature.

The garden gnome theory is the most plausible. It is a fact that our ceramic statues guarding the flowers come to life every evening. Not only do I hear their merry making every night, but they move the hose almost daily. No doubt they have the wisdom and engineering capability to transform the size of frogs. If we can alter a tree, most decidedly, gnomes can whittle down a frog.

In the background of my thoughts, I could hear the dogs inside the house. The foreboding sounds of the fire grate coming down, let me know to be ready for a re-decorated living room. These thoughts, in turn, led me to ponder the mystery of my three pairs of chewed slippers. That is just this year, of course.

How did our St. Bermastiff, Daisy, get to my comfy foot coverings? Ever since her puppyhood years, I have diligently kept my door closed when not in the room. Yet at least once a month, some article of clothing, bag of treats, or a pillow winds up in our back yard.

Okay, before you say no-way-Jose, hear me out. Could her partner in crime be that mini-frog? He is small enough to squeeze through a cracked open window and slide under a door. Yes, how he manages to open the door for Daisy to begin her plunders is a mystery. But the Egyptian pyramids are still a mystery, right? And no one has proven that dragons, unicorns and fairies do not exist. I mean, there are still some people who don't believe that garden gnomes come alive in the evening. Can you imagine such nonsensical views? Being a sensible person, I am hypothesizing a collusion of forces between Daisy and mini-frog.

Really, the bigger mystery is how the dogs know I am coming back inside. When I returned to the house, there they were. Plopped on the couch in the seemingly same slumber position as when I had left, just an hour before. The only thing different, was the fallen fire grate on the floor. Of course, when questioned, both claimed the other one did it. And I am certain Daisy will never reveal her friendship with the fingernail sized tree frog.

Another unusual pair of friends are in one of the stories about the boy and the elephant living in his back yard. If you think my blogs are humorous, check out my children's books. Sure to entice young readers, and bring on the smiles.



Heather Leigh, 
Supporter of Inter-Animal Relationships

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Rotten Treasure



The moment you breathe a sentence that includes something about your dog, every person within a mile's hearing range will spurn out yarns of stories about their dog. Starting up the topic is a dangerous business. Only do it if you have time to listen, are ready to fight for air time to counterattack with your own story, or you are a writer and no one can interrupt.

After reading this, your only way to avenge yourself will be to post your canine story in the comment section at the end. I wish you luck.

Our backyard is a doggie Disneyland. Wide open space, soft soil from the never-ending Pacific Northwest rain, and alone time when pesky humans are away at work. It is the quintessential locale for wrestling, romping, chasing, and digging.

Have a biscuit you want to bury for later lavishing? Trot out behind one of the three trees and hide your treat.

Have free time to bask in the sun and survey your land of wonder? Sit on the ramp leading to the dog door and contemplate life.

Want to play dig-and-find? You just might discover an old rotted tennis ball left behind by a former dog inhabitant. And this is where our tale begins.

Daisy, eighty-five pound St. Bermastiff, had unearthed an old rotted tennis ball. Partially chewed open, soft from years of underground life, smelling like soiled socks and sticky sweat--it was every dog's harbored dream. And it was her discovery.

But then came Morris, fifteen pounds of part Maltese white fluff. He knew there was no way of throwing his weight around to get the ball. It was going to take intellect, planning, and a damn good scheme. Who knew how long it took for the diabolical plot to sift it's way out of his white fluffy head.

When Daisy was snout deep in the scent of her treasure, body poised above the rubber insides, delight scorching her muscles, mind focused solely on the ball, Morris knew it was time to make his move.

Standing on the dog door ramp, he barked incessantly at nothingness. Daisy, forever trusting in her life companion, dropped the ball and ran beside Morris. She was ready to defend our home from a non-existent intruder. Joining the barking chorus, she did her duty as a protector.

Morris gave a couple more woofs, then set in for the backside maneuver. Galloping quietly away, he gathered up the ball in his tiny mouth with it's cute little tongue, and stole the treasure. Dashing into the open door, he leaped upon the couch and savored the dug up debris. Daisy was still barking at the air.

Minutes whisked away until the Invisible Intruder was barked away. Daisy, her job complete, trotted back to play ball. Gone. It was gone.

The only explanation could be is that the intruder had reburied the ball. Gazing out at her terrain, she knew the search for the ball must continue. It was out there somewhere.

This morning, she searches yet again. Digging holes in our backyard, ensuring that we will never have a level lawn, she is on a mission. With every claw full of unearthed dirt, she is one drop closer to finding her lost ball. And Morris is ready to help with her next discovery.

They work well together.

Another pair who work well together is Scout and the elephant living in his backyard, Ellie. In this book, they are pairing up to spin on her belly on a frozen pond. Great fun and laughter comes with this story:



Heather Leigh,
Proud Pet Companion  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Be Obnoxiously Noisy



I Can't Keep Quiet is a singing group formed to vocalize about the deeds of our White House. Whatever your political views, their song is intoxicating. Their story is as well. Turns out, they spent two days rehearsing via internet before meeting at a Peace Rally and performing that day.

After hearing their song on Face Book, I thought about what I do to be boisterous. Singing isn't something you want to hear from me. Just trust me on this one. Instead, I blow it out through writing.

They spent two days, about the same that I spend working on these posts. Okay, that's an exaggeration. What I actually mean is that I will spend the first day writing the rough draft for around an hour. The next day will be to revise, re-view, and polish. If I'm feeling confident, I'll wait a few hours, re-read several times, and finally post.

Which is a huge difference from when I first began the blog gig. Back in the good ole days, I was finished with  the entire thing in less than thirty minutes. But as time goes on, I spend more of it haggling away to wrestle out a page and a half of prose. This means that either I am trying harder to make it good, or am losing my quick speed ability to write. I don't know. I would like to believe that it's the first explanation, But that may be writer ego shielding my eyes from the truth.

In my not so incredibly vast, but not too limited, experiences, I've discovered that the more that I know about a subject, the less I know. Know what I mean? I shall give an example.

About two hundred and ninety-seven years ago (never knew I was that old, did you?), I had some schooling in electricity. I went in knowing all that needed to be known: plug in appliances to make them work, and the words behind AC/DC (not the heavy metal band, silly). Soon, I discovered a murky, hidden electrician secret.

We don't really understand electricity. Oh, sure, you can converse about voltages, series and parallels, conduits, all of the usual rigamaroo. But electrons move all over the place. They do not follow a leader. They bing, boing, and ping wherever they fancy. Copper can harness, voltage drops can guide, but no one is truly in charge of individual movements.

In the end, I found that there are a lot more questions to ask than there are answers to meet them.

So here I ping back to writing. The can't quiet group got their sensation done in two days. How did they know it was done? They harmonized, went live, taped, youtube posted, and were done.

How do I know if I'm done, you ask? As my children's book writing teacher told the class, you're done with your story when you are sick of reading it, over and over and over again.

Even then, I'm not done. Once a book, blog, or story is published, it is unwise for me to go back and re-read. There will be a plethora of words attacking me that are not satisfying. Pitchfork, going for the monster type attacks. Scary stuff.

It's become so bad at points, that I've taken off three books from all ready being sold, indie publishing sites. After soothing the beasts of ineffective, glaringly noxious words, phrases, sentences and even chapters, they were put back on the shelves.

In order for me to progress in churning out books, I have come to accept that perfection is not in my writing vocabulary. Which is why I so appreciate the can't quiet group, live theatre, and live music. Those people expose themselves to chances of imperfections--while others are watching them! AND, depend on others to do the right thing. Vulnerability up the yin yang. At least I have a delete button before I hit that publish button.

We've all heard that phrase, Follow Your Bliss. Whatever your--yes, I am talking to you directly Reader-- bliss is, don't suppress it. Let us hear what you can't keep quiet, in all of it's imperfect beauty. If you go for suppression, you will implode. Scientific fact.

Comment below on your bliss. We want to know.

Here is the first book that I took off the ebook shelves and re-wrote. Hope you enjoy this final revision:



Heather Leigh,
Rolling in Imperfections

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stampeded And Smitten



When my sons were one and four years old, we sold everything and moved to Costa Rica. Yes, we did it. Gave up suburbia in the U.S. with it's safety nets and green, over-watered lawns, to live in the jungle. What  possessed us? A desire to try something new, live the Pura Vida lifestyle, and madness.

We didn't know we were mad until we attempted to live with the locals. It was then that we discovered what Pura Vida, pure life, is really like.

Sure there was a beautiful river across the dirt, chicken pecked road. It was a deep turquoise green. The boys and I went daily to play, splash and pretend we didn't live in heat bordering on hell temps. All was fun and games until that week of torrential rain.

Turns out the rain was so severe upstream, that it decided to bring down an alligator for show and tell time. So now our play zone was an unusable petting zoo.

Then there were the absolutely fascinating ants. To study them in a far away classroom, they're remarkable. Could hold my ADD mind for hours. Living with them is another story.

There are the fire ants. Those little hellions are drawn to human ankles for a loving bite. But the bite for us two-leggeds feels like zaps of fire. Horrid enough to experience daily, but even worse when it is your children getting bitten.

Oh, and the ants so small they are barely seen. Those can get through zip lock bags. How do you keep food sanitary if they can even get into a zip lock?! Refrigerator, of course. ALL opened food containers were stored in our fridge. Made for one heck of an overstuffed appliance.

Ant stories could take on several blog posts. To get the full jungle life effect, we should be discussing the amount and size of the ticks, cockroaches, and mosquitoes. But I want sweet dreams tonight. Not a head filled with life's little monsters.

Before we moved back to the States for less Pura Vida and more libraries, public drinking fountains, and to teach the boys what escalators at the mall are for, I got the idea for a book series.

While hiking in the jungle, my oldest son loved to be first on the trail. He thought there was nothing more fun than pretending to use a machete. Holding back vines and branches, he led the way for us dependent adults.

It was on one of those walks that an accompanying friend told me that he had a Scout personality. He enjoyed helping others--still true to this day.

Hmmm. Something about that name stuck with me. In fact, it leeched on. After being back in the land of concrete, I started writing about a ten-year-old boy, Scout.

Eavesdropping in on the kids at my son's school, I wrote in their dialect. Striving for fifth grade humor, I wrote and wrote. So many bloody words spilled like a biting, hungry vampire, my head hurts just thinking about it. Ouch.

From these not-so-great stories, some good things were revealed. Scout had a quirky, borderline whiny personality, and an unusual penchant for getting into crazy situations. He had a friend named Matt and came from a circus family.

However, after months of writing Scout stories, they never got above barely humorous. Nothing that I would venture to publish. Until, Ellie.

One day, while Scout and Matt were goofing around, he ran into an elephant. Literally. He was running down the sidewalk and crashed into a a female gray fattie.

Don't distress yourself about offending the new character. She relishes her stout side.

I don't always know when a new character is going to pop out like a Star Trek ship coming out of hyperspace. But Ellie was ready to be born. She planted her body on the sidewalk, in the path of a running Scout.

As soon as we met her, I was smitten. Her attitude, boldness, charisma, and wild streak were too much for me to resist. I knew I was turning a blind spot on her borderline wickedness, but I was addicted at the first, "harumff," from her trunk.

Scout and I invited her to his stories, and to live in his backyard. It has been a love/hate relationship ever since. Drama Queen eloquence and galloping humor.

Thus was born Scout and Ellie.

From there, the stuck in the mud, confusing stories I had been writing, became laughable and ready for publishing. Alas, a token for my troubles.

Ready to read the stories that started in the pura vida jungles? Thought you would be. Here is a link:


Post your thoughts on elephant behavior in comment box below. Ellie is an avid reader.

Heather Leigh, 
Smitten by an elephant