Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Fishing With Alpacas And Turkeys

My son's beta fish, Tyler, has his own home gym. It consists of a plastic bubble attached to a round mirror, about an inch and a half in diameter. The bubble keeps the mirror from drifting down to the bottom of his bowl. If you know anything about gravity, you'll understand why the air filled bubble is necessary.

In case you aren't up on beta fish lore, they don't know the difference between another real fish, and their image. We don't need to call them stupid. 'Not the swiftest swimmer in the bowl' works, without any animal cruelty in this post. When confronted with a mirrored image of themselves, the reaction is one normally reserved for a true threat on their territory.

Our last beta would flare her gorgeous rainbow hued, flowing fins at her rival. She would head butt the mirror with savage thrusts. Not only did this provide us sick-o fish owners with joyful amusement, she got exercise, released endorphins, and had a daily adventure. This was so intense for her, that she was only allowed five minutes at a time with the horrifying reflection.

But Tyler, well, he's been not so great for us to gawk at. He just swims away and refuses to face his enemy. I won't use the word wimp here. Bravery-challenged is more politically correct. Fish are sensitive, after all.

At the farm behind our house, we have been thrilled with the arrival of four young alpacas. They have the 'Beatles from the 1960's hairstyles. If I wasn't so stunned with their sudden appearance, I would have thought to holler at them to get a haircut. How can they bloody well see with all that fur in their eyes?

Our dog, Daisy, ran along their fence. The alpacas (is it too soon to name them George, Paul, John and Ringo?) were already unsettled from their landing in a new home. Now, they were encountering their first St. Bermastiff. Confused looks abounded. They knew it was not an alpaca, not part of the long neck pack. So what was it, covered in tan fur, long tail, and way too much energy? Such a long strange trip that day had held for them.

When I went back to say hello to them yesterday, the alpacas had gotten over their initial disorientation. Heads lowered, all four were chewing grass. It felt a wee bit discombobulating to me, though. All the other grass eaters have normal length necks. Alpacas have the look of goofy royalty--not a creature that spends it's day doing regular farm animal stuff. It was a week of expanding horizons for all of us.

In the excitement of the alpacas, I forgot the turkey incident. Another new arrival, a few days before Christmas, was a dozen turkeys. Although they are not expert pilots, turkeys can awkwardly flap up onto a four foot high fence. One brave turkey made it to the top of his enclosure, and then kept going to the other side. Free at last!

Daisy was so excited, she raced over to give a little nip on turkey feathers. Thankfully, she is a well trained dog, and backed off as soon as I told her to stop. The turkey gobbled displeasure at us. Daisy and I decided it was a good time to slink away. Pissed off turkeys are not fun to deal with.

I have no idea what could have happened to those turkeys, but when we returned the day after Christmas, they were gone. I'm as perplexed as you must be.

Hope you are enjoying as much entertainment this holiday season as I have been with my animal encounters. If you own a beta, be sure to buy the exercise apparatus at your local pet store. Happy New Years!

Resolving to include more entertainment and laughter in the new year? 

Heather Leigh,
Easily entertained by other creatures

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Joy of Junk

Tonight's dinner: sustainably caught Alaskan salmon, organic brown rice cooked in organic vegetable broth, organic steamed spinach, organic locally grown radishes. Another night of healthy eating.

What is wrong with my family? In high school, I existed just fine on Coca-Cola and Doritos, Twinkies for dessert. Where did my path veer away from the good tastes in life?

I blame the beginning of my dietary demise on the Diet For A New America video. Filled with horrific images of the factory farming realities of our dinner, I put down my steak knife and picked up the tofu. After that, the vicious cycle was relentless.

Back in the early 1800's, when I went to college, I became a vegetarian. Okay, maybe it was the early 1990's, but if you ask my teenagers they will easily tell you that I come from an era unheard of in their circle. Anyway, back then a salad consisted of ice berg lettuce, oily or creamy dressing, and bacon bits. I was constantly told that there was no meat on the salad, only to wipe off the crispy fried pig pieces when the salad was given to me. And, if I didn't want to starve at a friend's house, this was my meal.

I got great questions, too: "If you had nothing left to eat in the world, would you eat a steak?"
I was always polite, never saying what I was tempted: "If there was nothing left, I would eat you. Starting with that pudgy tummy. Mmmm."

These flowed into the guilt trodden years. People were cutting back on beef and pork. Then the reaction to learning of my nothing with a face diet became, "oh, I hardly ever eat meat anymore." This is when we were figuring out that animal products with every meal were not exactly what a healthy heart requires to keep beating. But rather than eating with more health in mind for themselves, the lessening of meat was intertwined with guilt. And it was as though my vegetarianism was a sling of mud in their face. That they owed me a personal apology.

This decade has gotten to be so healthy, we're borderline smug and self-righteous about how we spend our food budget bucks. Non-GMO, gluten-free, high fructose corn syrup, palm oil, and so-called natural sweeteners. We even debate cage-free over pasture-raised. Locally grown over organic. We've upped the ante, raised the bar, on every aspect of our grocery list. Then sneak over to MickeyD's on the lunch break and wolf down the Big Mac, hiding in the back of a tinted-window, hybrid SUV. If the neighbors catch you, all hope of your healthy liver cleanse will never save you from their ridicules and judgments.

This blog posting of food has got me dreaming of dessert, I'm thinking about some gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, chocolate rice cereal. With, of course, organic almond milk. But then, the organic sweeteners may not be good for my digestive system just before bedtime. Better to go with some pure, filtered water infused with fresh cucumber slices, to fill by belly.

Or maybe I should just say screw it all and sneak up to the store and buy Twinkies and chocolate syrup. What would you do?

While you are deciding which dietary path to continue on, read this wholesome, wonderful book about getting the very best from massage. Because massage is both incredibly healthy, and feels better than any junk food you could possibly ever devour.

Heather Leigh,
One of those health nut eaters who also writes awesome books

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Witch Identity Are You?

Monday, I will no longer be a witch. After much deliberation and inner angst, I decided to get the wart at the end of my nose burned off. See, it started out rather small. A little bump on the nose. It made me laugh. I'd look at my mirrored reflection and think that my true inner identity had surfaced. That the outside world would know the truth. I would never have to say a thing. An unspoken, shared knowledge that I'm not human.

But then it got bigger, and now it's ugly. Time to let go.

Does this mean that I have to explain myself with each new person in my life? That they will have to be told that I'm not like them? That they are standing before a conjurer of magic and spells? The wart let us do away with such time consuming small talk.

Have you ever gone through this? Not the wart issue, but change your identity? The way people see you? Every time you start a new job, move to a different town, go to a party filled with strangers, they don't know the roles you play. They don't know that you are the damned most awesome player of Apples to Apples, love hip hop more than your teen, and had a movie star crush on RIP Alan Rickman. My god, strangers don't even know what your favorite tree is. So pitifully hard.

What did you do? Make an announcement in a local paper? That would be so much easier than telling every one in your new town all about yourself, especially if it is a major metropolis. Giving your about-me elevator pitch, face-to-face, to a million or so people could take time away from unpacking.

I suppose social media is the way to go on this one.

This summer, I anticipate moving to another county. My plan this time around is to make up my identity. Does the new crowd really need to know I am not the direct descendant of Joan of Arc? That I am a well known author, under a pen name they could never guess? That I won the Nicest Witch of the Year Award, three times in a row? Because, all of these could be true, or at least, close to it.

Behind me in the move, I will forsake my worst reputations. Not being an efficient weed puller, an embarrassing addition in Zumba classes, the habit of wearing pajamas on work-at-home days, and not knowing how to dust. Can't say how long it will take for neighbors to learn my failings, but at least I'll have a few months of respite.

What new identity are you going to take on? We could both be related to Einstein, and share his IQ. If you want to say you invented chocolate covered strawberries, I will send a Letter of Confirmation. Definitely pretend to be on the Witness Protection Program, then only hint at the reason.

Also, practice being a witch. Get the cackle down, eat suspiciously slimy foods, buy too many straw brooms, own a black cat. If acquaintances wonder if you could cast a curse, you can get just about whatever you want. So much easier than throwing an adult temper tantrum.

Be creative in your new self. Only share with me (and anyone else who reads the comments on this page). Have fun with the fresh face that is now you!

This wild elephant has a reputation for making kids laugh, and for being big, bold and beautiful.

Heather Leigh,
Witch with elephant sized attitude

Monday, October 16, 2017

Gluten Free Tree

Daddy-Oh sent a birthday card. Read the on going investigation below:
As Dad is quite aware of my dietary wayward ways, he assured me that the illustration of the cake on the cover was gluten-free. Whew. That was a relief to me, but I still wasn't convinced that I could partake in the full reading of the card.

Was the tree that supplied the paper raised in a GMO free, organic forest? Did it have a chance to spread it's branches, cage free, toward the sun? Were pesticides, fertilizers, or harmful methane gases used to enhance growth? Did the tree get to spend its formative years with mom and dad?

And what about the birds? Before the tree was chopped down, was a six week eviction notice given to any nest dwellers? It can take a long time to find the perfect new home for baby chicks.

Had the tree ever been in an accident--hurricane, tornado, flood, tsunami or earthquake? All of these directly effect the quality of the paper. I do want a prime card, in case I choose to re-gift, or sell it to a pawn shop.

After researching my birthday card to see if I can read the inside, I'm going to tackle another project: The Golden Rule. You know the one:
Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You

This one deceptive, sneaky line has screwed up our nation for long enough. It has been the cause of decades of re-gifting, gnawed away at millions of friendships, and wrecked marriages. Do you feel my pain? You will after I explain the monumental problem.

Others may not want what I want. Get it? The Golden Rule MUST change to:
Do Unto Others As They Want

For decades (almost five--I'm getting up there), I've received boxes of every kind of chocolate known to the human race. Everything from truffles to fruit covered to fudge, even divinity. I detest all of these. It seems to be a coincidence that the giver of the chocolate is passing along his or her favorite. And then, oops! They get to eat the contents of the box.

There is only one true love for me. And that is chocolate covered caramels (a few granules of sea salt topping is the only acceptable addition). If the Golden Rule had been written correctly, I would have wolfed down cases of fine cacao and processed sugar by this time.
--okay, now that I think about it, perhaps my waist line is better off with the old Golden Rule--

Does this one-sided giving practice sound familiar? Hit home in your experiences? Ever receive a gift perfect for anyone, but you? Don't persecute the giver. They"re only exhibiting the overwhelming influence of the ghastly Golden Rule.

Repeat after me: Oh Lord, I am ready. Ready to accept myself as worthy of the New Age Golden Rule.

Join me in starting a Protest Rally: Change the Golden Rule March. This will be viral by morning. Be ready to march by the weekend. 

Protest sign ideas:
Bull the Rule
Golden is Olden
Demand YOUR Chocolate

In the comment section at the end, be sure to add your Protest sign ideas.

Want world peace? Protect yourself by only reading healthy birthday cards, and accept the new version of the Golden Rule. Spread these messages to all of those connected to you. It is for the highest good of us all.

One last thing. Before you go around thinking that I am writing against liberal ideals, think again. I am one of those smug Hybrid car owners who shops organic, buys local, and recycles carrot juice containers. But, I'm also a firm believer in making fun of myself. Because if I don't, who will?

Want more of my luscious humor and snarky insight? 
It's all here in this romantic comedy novel. 

Heather Leigh,
Reader of lightly treading birthday cards.

Friday, September 22, 2017

How To Become A Cat. Whisperer

I am the caterpillar whisperer, owner of a syrup-high house for flies, and a patron of spiders.

Caterpillars cling to our house. Every Fall, the black-orange-black fuzzy crawlers return for a chance to be noticed by me. But, you argue, each year is a different generation. Correct. But the knowledge of my existence is passed from egg bundle to yearly bundle. Call it the genetic code of claspers.

How did I get my whispering title? From being their savior. Even with six eyes, caterpillars are almost blind. I have found them lying atop our outside trash can, on the side walk primed for a shoe squash, and in the crevices of my car's hatchback.

Ever so gently, I swoop up the cylinder puffs and drop them off on the nearest tree, bush, or popular green eating spot. In order not to spook the little ones, I quietly tell them about their new home. I can feel their pin headed minds relax as they know they are in a safe place. So over simply a few generations, I have become the venerated cat. whisperer. It's a beautiful thing.

Not being one to toot my own horn, I must also reveal that my car is sweeter than yours. We have the biggest Japanese maple tree in the 'hood, that drips down scraps of sap. It's broad branches and seasonally colored leaves cover most of the yard and driveway.

Plummeting sprinkles of tree sugar coat my moonglow painted hybrid. This scrumptious feast lures in flies and gnats. Insect addicts. It is a blessing that flies are not extinct. When I drive away in the morning, they are stuck to the car by their scrawny legs. It's a shameful way to die. Because if there is one thing the world needs more of, it's flies and gnats.

The birds are so pleased with the flies hanging out that they crap in excitement. My fortunate car is adorned every morning with fresh droppings from the excited birds. The animal kingdom simply is smitten with every aspect of my being.

After my joy of being a mom, cat whisperer, and fly drug pusher, I am a spoiler of spiders. It's the webs that fascinate me. Each one unique, efficient, and architecturally amazing. Spiderwebs serve as home, traps, and food containers. Spiders remake them every day.

Gazing at the corner ceiling art, I am mesmerized. Tell me of any other artist who has that skill. The many-legged never even attend web design classes.

What right do I have to destroy fine art?

So spiderwebs have to be rather old, bedraggled and disgusting before I ever have the heart to destroy them. I'm guessing that the spider appreciates their solo admirer, as there are many webs about our house. What animal doesn't love a fan?

Yes, they call me the Cat. Whisperer, and many other names.

Want to read more about brave, intelligent girls? This one is only three inches high:

Heather Leigh,
Lover of the forsaken

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The People of California Versus Me

In the Superior Court of California, The People are against me. At least, that's what this court document claims. Wow. Talk about pressure. For those of you non-CA natives, who don't know of my transgression, I hang my head in shame and admit to:

Exceeding the max speed limit of 65 miles per hour.

Crawling out my front door, slithering out to my car, I can see the neighbors seething in their loathing. I know they hold protest signs behind their own front doors, waiting for the chance to flash their hate-filled words:
You committed a crime
We are all against you
We are a unified state protesting your existence

The children hold stones, women finger kitchen knives, men swirl batons, all carry loaded guns. Attack is a steaming, simmering vapor, putrid and overshadowing. One too many unscooped dog poops, and violence will fill our once peaceful streets.

You might try to convince me that I'm being paranoid. That the document on my desk doesn't really mean the population of California citizens are all judging me. Out of state friends tell me the same thing. They say that I'm being vain, swelling my head, believing that the most populous state in the U.S. is focused against me. That's over thirty-five million people. Everyone of them talking about my crime over dinner, on coffee breaks, twitter and facebook.

But you can't deny the truth. Not only do I have the document right here on my desk, there is also the neighbor's dog. He has a new collar, but the old one was fine. What other reason could there be that he got a new one, if not that it hides a camera.

My family thinks the pooch prefers our yard for pooping. Shows their ignorance of the obvious. The camera is aimed at me to see what crimes against humanity I'll commit next. If I'm susceptible to overlooking a speedometer, and barrel down the mountainside as fast as a Toyota Prius can go, then I could be plotting just about anything. There are no alternative facts. 

I've tried to leak the result of my case to the media. It was dismissed for lack of prosecution. But the only reason I escaped a life time in prison, is because  the issuing officer failed to show up for the traffic case. I could still be guilty. The media could do me no good, even if they weren't fake. 

Before I can seek to beg forgiveness from my compatriots, I have to forgive myself. But this is exceedingly difficult. I was descending a mountain, didn't pay attention to the speedometer for a few moments, and barreled downward at over seventy miles per hour. 

I'm certain that the officer who cited me had no idea that this is a frequent occurrence on that steep mountainside. There is no way he purposely hid in a place where this infraction was common. That would be entrapment, which is illegal. It's just sheer coincidence that he was located in that spot with a radar gun pointed at the passing cars.

The only thing I can do now is hours of volunteer work, be kind to my neighbors, recycle, and keep my lawn mowed and green. Anything and everything to win back the trust of the People of the State of California.

Maybe I should play the lottery. When I win, I could share the earnings with CA residents. Bribery always works to prove innocence.

I just looked out the window. The birds must also have learned of my wayward ways. Their crap is on my car windshield. Punishment for my sins.

If you have even an inkling of sympathy for my plight, please post a few encouraging words in the comment box below. It would help me get through these dark days.

My only hope is that someone else in California will commit a grievous, heinous act, like jay walking. Then perhaps the eyes of the People will move past me once again. For now, I must endure my fifteen minutes of fame. Thank you for reading these ramblings of an almost felon. 

The one thing I'm proud of in my shame-filled days, my debut novel.
It's pretty darned good and funny:

Heather Leigh,
The criminal writer

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Humboldt Conspiracy Spring Day

Spring days in Humboldt County, Pacific Northwest, are deceptively perfect. They hypnotize us innocent Spring Lovers into forgetting the other three hundred fifty-nine days of wind, rain, fog and constant chill.

Without hose-watering, our grass is a rich green. This gives a manipulative boost to background colors to create a faux grandeur. Black and orange fat cat, tiny yellow flowers, weathered wood saw horse; all are thrown into a deeper shade and meaning. Each everyday shade is granted a seemingly innocent ticket to inch into our visionary soul and suck out previous memories. The times they hid in fog? Gone, flown south, don't know what you're talking about

Walking through that infamous farm behind our backyard, there are black and white cows with melted chocolate colored eyes, thick, long black eyelashes that laugh at the concept of mascara, and fur invitingly soft. They keep us entertained by pretending to be more frightened of our fifteen pound Maltese than they are of the piglets. Those fat rascals even leap lightly when he enters their pasture. But you and I know that when they form a group to gaze at Morris, it is yet another act to keep us diverted from the painful truth of the dreary cold of the rest of the year.

Those piglets? Don't even open that version of Pandora's Box of Cuteness. They are long-haired, plump piles of adorableness to the point of being lewd. Even the big pig mommas are in on the jinx of being winsome. The breaking point for me is when they snort. Who can stand such moments and not be swayed into thinking this is how life always is in Humboldt? Takes one strong character, I can tell you that.

Okay, and don't get me started on the baby bull lying protected behind mom and dad. The appealing atrocities extend to the way in which the parents wrap their tongues around the grass before pulling it in. Oh, did I not mention that? You can actually pull out some of that grass around your ankles and hand feed the animals. Of course, be sure that you are only offering the grass. Don't mix in your finger-food fingers. The illusion of perfect day would be lost in an Emergency Room visit.

What is that sound? We can only hear it on non-rain days. The usual pitter-patter rainfall normally distorts the ear from the rush of our dogs racing through tall grasses. We can just make out the top third of our bounding, forever playful Daisy, St. Bermastiff. Only glimpse little guy Morris when he is on the up side of his leap-run. Both are in on the gig as their pink tongues hop along with them. They know the route to follow as we hike the perimeter of the small farm.

I am not sure if our neighbors are in on the deception game, or have been deceived themselves. Never can tell about these things. On our way home, we discover they're moving. Friendly neighbors giving away kitchen wares, clothing and a big, comfy couch. We grab what we will use. Chat about where they are going. Share a love of music conversation. Wish them well in future times.

Walking across our lawn with a freshly planted flower garden bordering the house, we notice a swallow bringing fat worms to her babies.Tucking the dogs inside, we observe Cautious Momma Swallow. She waits until not a peep of noise or movement could be prey about to pounce. Then, flies into the nest in the eaves of our house.  Even unseen baby birds in on the conspiracy. Another nest a few feet away, being built for yet another family.

Our Maple tree has burst with spring leaves. Happened all in a night, it seems. Green a shade lighter than the lawn. How do the plants learn of the weather-forgetting plot? Mother Nature's influence is strong, indeed.

Entering the house, dogs are quiet from their run. Or, they're destroying my slippers in the backyard. Never can tell with those two. They can only be expected to be sweet for so long.

Wishing you as lovely a Spring Day as ours. And that you develop temporary amnesia the coming of winter.

Spend the rest of the day reading with your child:

Heather Leigh,
Easily Manipulated By The Wondrous

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Behind The Scenes, Take One

None of my friends have expressed an interest in watching me create. I have figured out this is because readers don't know what they're missing. The scenes from Hollywood movies of writers are dramatic lies. Those movie scenes show us throwing papers on the ground, going for bouts of anger, in moments of moving joy, and partaking in hair-pulling anguish.

All rubbish.

So to clear things up, I am going to install a video recorder in my home office. It will slowly scan from the computer screen, to my typing fingers, and onto my fully concentrating face. Reality TV of the writer.

Every hour or two, I'll be shuffling into the kitchen for a cup of tea. That means I'll need a second recorder. Oh, but then at least once, sometimes even twice, I meet the cat outside for a sit-and-stroke fur break.

With all this running around ruckus, perhaps it would be better to simply hire a filming crew. They'll probably do it for free, as they'll be enamored with the process of writing. Gosh, I wonder how long it will take for a live feed to go Viral on YouTube.

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering how loving a person I must be, to allow the intrusion of a film crew into my home office. But, hey, I can't defend myself here. I am just some kind of wonderful when it comes to my fans. You're worth every Paparazzi I have to endure.

Hmmm. What else should the crew film? Oh, of course, my hour long, daily meditation. While not giving all of the suspense away, let it be known that I will be sitting in a chair, eyes closed, silently repeating a mantra.

Depending on the weather, this can go down inside or in our backyard. Everyday, you will rise with the excitement of not knowing which place I will be performing in. If that's not a get-out-of-bed motivator, I don't know what is.

I picture bars filled with rapt audiences watching TV, waiting to discover if I am going to take a deep breath, look like I am in an Astral Projection Mode, converse with a past life me.

Final film crew subject: Before stumbling out of bed in the morning, I generally allow time to come up with ideas for writing. I lie there, appearing to sleep. What is really going through my mind? Could be a blog post, a book chapter, or even a Toastmasters speech.

Those tough choices of which I dwell upon, may never be known by you. This leaves you to conjecture for the rest of the day. That is my gift to you--keeping your mind active, wondering what I am thinking about.

Anyone know of a good film crew? One that won't interrupt my immensely creative mind coming up with best selling novels? That really appreciates true art in slow motion? Please post comments in section below this post. We all need to do our part to share in this adventure.

My last exciting creation? Glad you asked. This is the perfect month to celebrate Santa:

The anticipation of jovial times is making me hungry for dinner. Have a splendiferous day!

Heather Leigh,
Star and Creator of that new hit Reality TV Show

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Prejudice Wind

Wind is accepted as fact when it's being pushy, against something. It can go around, fierce as it wants to be, but if has no obstacles, it blunders forward as a nothingness. And what fun is that?

I'm watching wind effects while waiting in the car for my son. There is no evidence of wind in the trees, all is hushed and still with those green giants. But the clouds are moving at a good clip, all the way to the horizon.

On the ground, air currents go in waves. Starts and stops. Dips and doozies. Ebbs and flows. Flighty and imaginative, then thoughtful and shy. No apparent pattern or rhythm, not even a complicated algorithm to explain speed choice. I believe Chaos is it's middle name; if not, it should be.

But that's ground-bound breezes. Clouds have their own monotony: keep going.

Clouds with wind don't stop and hang out, chat, do a bit of zig and zagging, nothing fun. They are all about the business of getting to their destination. Don't they know they have no real destination? There is no place that a cloud has to get to. But they act like they are in a huge hurry, and do not have time to talk with the likes of us lesser beings on the ground.

Why the difference? Are the winds of earth and sky not connected? Is there a different set of nature standards for those things that are higher than humans?

I wonder about birds in the midst of this pandemonium. At what point in their upward flight do they go from the low-brow, creative fun of varietal winds, to the dullness of single cloud motion. I wonder if they have a preference. Would you have a preference if you were a bird?

Birds of prey must be in adoration of those lofty, consistent, uptown breezes. All they have to do is glide up to one, spread their wings, then sail along. With their long-range focused vision, they can hang out up there and wait for dinner to present itself. Sooner or later, some mouse, snake, or ferret is going to slink out and offer it's body to be a meal.

It's the more common, less impressive birds that dig the upheaval of changing-velocity winds: pigeons, doves, robins, sparrows and swallows. They are probably the ones who get more invitations to the really cool bird parties. They're the chirpers with swag.

The ambidextrous feathered friends are the ones into both levels: ravens, seagulls, turkey vultures. They're the crazy, can't be fully trusted in a crowd, bunch. You just never know which way they will go: all the way up, pie-in-the-sky high, or down in the drifts.

The truly odd ball, eccentric clowns, are the ones who only like to fly over waves: pelicans. Well, if you've ever seen one up close, this will already be obvious. Those things have this long, sharp thing on the end of their beak that looks like a dangerous, venom filled, slightly curved, fingernail. Creepy.

Which kind of bird would you choose to be? Think you could pick a bird, then defy your friends, and soar where they're afraid to go? Are you that wild? What about your partner? Post your answers in the comment box.

Think I will roll down the window, and feel a touch of wind on my cheek. Might as well mix in with what I am writing about. Seems rude not to.Heather Leigh, Leaning Toward Ground-Bound Winds

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dark Ant Honey

This morning I was entertained by an ant. He was circling around the lip of a saucer, dizzy with the scent of honey.

Background story: Years ago, we lived in Costa Rica. There are over one million highly intelligent ant species living there (perhaps I exaggerate, but not by much). But as smart as those black droids are, they cannot swim. When you have honey that you want to eat without the added ant protein, there is a human invention called a bowl and saucer.

Put a bit of water in the saucer. Position a bowl in the saucer. Place your honey pot in the bowl.
Instant moat.

Crazy cool, huh?

So now, this honey-starved Scouter Ant is beaten down by his non-ability to swim. Imagine the poor little guy. He gets a whiff of the most enticing food known to his tribe, and is hyped to rush to the farm and show off his discovery. He is picturing himself in glory and fame. The others will be wiggling their three portioned body in envy. Perhaps even the Queen herself will give him an award. His name, Number One Million and Twenty-two, will be memorized by ant kids in antstory classes for decades.

Coasting the saucer lip, he is dizzy with imagined accolades. All he has to do is find a way in. The entrance must be on the other side of this curve, he is thinking. It can't be far now.

Switching to my viewpoint, I'm laughing at the poor creature. Yes, I am a vegetarian, sworn to avoid eating things with a face. But I am not above chuckling away at the confusion undergoing this woeful being. I have my dark side.

My giggling continues as I prepare the morning smoothie.

Sipping the cool blended fruit, I recall the 'bridge ants' of Costa Rica. The moat blocker trick didn't last more than an hour once these guys caught wind of the golden syrup. Using their bodies, they worked collectively to form a bridge from the saucer lip to the top of the bowl. Once constructed, fellow troopers marched across and grasped tiny balls of sticky stuff and raced back home.

See? I told you there were over a million types of ants in the Pura Vida country.

Luckily for those of us living with the less intelligent U.S. ants, there are no body bridges. You're free to use the saucer/bowl trick to protect your sweets.

We all love a good ant story. Kindly relate yours in the comment section at the end of this post.

In addition, pick up one of my books. Be the bridge of humor for a child.

Scout and Ellie books are awesome for the kid in your life

Heather Leigh,
Humorist with a dark ant side

Friday, February 24, 2017

Newbie Advice

Whether you are for or against immigrants coming to the United States, is none of my bees wax. That whole business is not what this post is about. This is simply advice for anyone moving here:

1. There is one article of clothing that is a necessity to your wardrobe: Micky Mouse. The most common is the one that I own, a gray tee-shirt with Mickey in traditional garb, hands behind his back, and smiling.

As we are a diverse nation, you are allowed to alter your selection. We even allow for various genders and animal types: Minnie Mouse for the women, Daisy and Donald represent the duck culture, Goofie no one's quite sure of, Pluto of the doggie kingdom, Chip and Dale from the underground tree rodents.

See how the 'melting pot' works now?

2. Pretend you are totally fashion insensitive, that you have your own character and style of clothing. Then, wear what every one else in your crowd is wearing. When you notice that your freshly dyed pink hair, that you paid top dollar for in the search to stand out from the crowd, is being worn by a huge percentage of the crowd, pretend you do not notice. Works every time.

3. Embrace ketchup on food. Be sure to include a puddle of it on your plate with every American burger and fries that you eat, then only use half.

4. Eat french fries weekly and do not question why they are attributed to the French--yet, I'm pretty sure they were started by our country Nobody quite knows why the credit goes to our European neighbors, and the fact that we don't really know is an embarrassment to us all. Avoid the discussion like politics, religion, and minimist modern art.

5. We are a nation obsessed with pets. Our dogs are friendly; no need for you to leap off the sidewalk in terror when you see one coming. Cats are fed foods for finicky eaters that cost more than premium wild salmon, and stinks. We have pet outfits that match the owner's wardrobe, bakeries that serve only furry four footers, massage for the stressed pooch, and aquariums that are more colorful than the Australian Reef Barrier.

If you happen to come from a background that believes in come-back Karma, consider requesting to be placed in an American, pet-loving home. You will be spoiled more than any Queen of Sheba.

6. Cars are a sign of status, smugness, culture and your world view. Practical sedans are for the efficient go-getter. SUVs are reserved for the Soccer Moms/Dads. Hybrids are for those of us who want to be sure you know we care about the environment more than you do (just please don't mention the fact that I drive twice as much as I used to because I so rarely have to buy gas). Sports cars are for those who love speeding tickets, and being pulled over by the highway patrol. Luxury vehicles let everyone know the driver has made it big in America and wants to be sure you are aware of the fact.

7.  When someone asks how you are doing, they don't really want to know. The acceptable way to answer is, "fine", or "good". Then, if you are feeling extraordinarily cheerful, you can add, "and you?".

To test this one out, try saying this quickly as you walk away, "I have six weeks to live. Have a nice day." Be sure they can hear you and speak clearly. It is a rare person who actually reacts to your response.

Don't think we are being rude in not listening to your answer. We are simply following social norms.
Because, really, we are a rather friendly bunch.

8.  Alcohol is drunk by types:
Wine is the classy way to get plastered.
 Micro Beer is for the aficionado, the craft masters of knowledge, edgy tasters.
Regular beer is for the regular guy/gal, seen most often at BBQs and kiddie pinata birthday parties (I mean the parents are doing the drinking, not the kids, silly)
Hard alcohol is for hard people. Also rumored to be for those on a slow suicide march.
Mixed drinks are for friends, If you partake in a fruity drink alone, you border on the edge of madness.

Hope this guide to living in the U.S. was helpful. It may not have been included in your Welcome to America brochures. But it is needed if you don't want to be labeled as a Newbie Geek.

Heather Leigh,
Non-Newbie Geek

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Humboldt Grass Description

Had I the tech savvy knowledge of how to click a selfie and then post it onto this fabulous blog, you would be able to see the beautiful view of the farm beyond our backyard fence. As I have yet to reach this climax of human knowledge, you have to read about it instead. Sorry.

There is a great, green field of knee high grasses being blown about by a combination of gutsy wind and oodles of rain. The angle of the rain before it hits the ground is barely a few degrees short of being parallel to the horizontal land. Beyond the field are pastures of piglets, goats, cows, one bull, and three horses.

It is a feast for my eyes for which I am thankful.

If only everything in life were so simple to describe. Yesterday, my sons and I drove for five hours to make an appointment. Being that the ride was through the rain, winding mountain roads, and plenty of dips and rises, I had to actually pay attention as I drove. The nerve. AND, as if being forced from a warm, comfy bed were not enough intrusion on my life, we had to leave at six thirty in the morning!

But don't worry, Gentle Reader (direct and intentional steal from Ms. Manners herself), I got my revenge on that trickster called human life: I stayed in pajamas today wearing my Christmas bunny socks. Sleep-in, no housework, kind of day.

You may be thinking that I am meandering around, poking in non-related paragraphs. But, oh, no. The joke is on you, oh Doubtful One. Being of revengeful mind, I spent the day writing my newest book. As it is about a couple who are not of the Earth but are living here anyway, it is a revenge on practical thinkers.

What does that mean exactly? Well, I am not sure. What I am sure about, is that it has actually made me have to think. Scary, but true. I have to conjure up what life for non-humans in body-less form would be like. And, figure out a plot for them to follow on their life-time on earth.

AND, being my first novel for adults (I quiver at saying adult novel, as then you may think I mean a naughty novel, which is not what I am writing.), I have to talk as an adult in the dialogue. With different perspectives from each character. Make it funny, yet grounded. Understandable without telling the reader everything that is happening, like a documentary.

Whew. Makes me want to go back to describing my backyard view.

One last thing that is difficult to describe, is why I associate tree frogs with my dear aunt, who passed away last year. They are not something that we ever discussed. Yet, every time I encounter one now, I feel giggly inside; somehow their cute, fat, laughable body shape and thin, straight mouth makes me sense that she sent them to me from beyond, as a way to get me to chuckle.

Last night, puppy Morris alerted me to one hiding on the side of our kitchen floor. Together, we trapped it under a plastic container and then rushed it to the front yard. I wondered what it thought, going from linoleum floor, to plastic dish, to wet grass and rain. As I heard the chorus of frog croaking of which he is sure to join, I sent a smile of gratitude to my aunt. She always could get me to laugh out loud.

Today I described my backyard view, challenging new book, and an aunt-derived frog. Feels like Sesame Street learning for the Writer's Soul.

Any descriptions you want to try? Post them in the comments section, I would love to read what you have to share.

Want to hear a kid laugh like my aunt still does for me? Buy a book from my Scout and Ellie series, They are just plain funny:
Scout and Ellie

Heather Leigh,
Author With Serious Intentions to Describe

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Forced Moving

If not forced into moving, I would lounge about in bed all day, every day. There would be a lovely silver bell on the night stand table that would rush a butler to do my bidding with every shake. When I close my eyes in contemplation of such a glorious fate, I can see him leaping over our dogs, flipping over the couch, and skipping down the hall to serve my flimsiest desire:

"Chocolate caramel topped with sea salt?" the butler would ask. "Green tea with a hint of lemongrass? Latest Pickles comic, or today's NY Times? How can I best serve you, oh great writer?"

But the butler has been on vacation since before I was born. And so I am pressured into seeking out these personal preferences all on my own.                                                    

In order to get what you want, do you, too, set yourself up with irritating naggers? A whistling tea kettle that shrills out the order to attend to it, so that you can have your cup of cozy tummy warming hot cocoa. A Zumba exercise teacher who demands that you move-that-body in the quest to have at least a semblance of healthy body and heart. An annoying alarm clock that will not shut up every single weekday morning so that you can fulfill yet another day with checking off your list of things-to-do today.

The creative naggers we set up for ourselves is over-the-top madness. Why don't we all leave well enough alone and go back to sleeping in until bedtime?

Who is responsible for the outrageous idea that life is meant to be lived?

The biggest, most obvious moving that we do, is move all of our stuff into a different house, sometimes even to a different city, for goodness sake. While I was not the first to partake in this silly practice, I have been overly guilty of over-indulging in it. The longest I have ever lived in one house has been four years; my average is two.

Why? The reasons are as varied as the creative naggers in your life. Every thing from a better job in a different city to wanting to experience life in another country. The reasons are irrelevant, it's the moving that is the BIG issue today.

My asinine addiction to writing is yet another thistle like burr that slave drives me into moving. In order to get this horribly intelligent, relentlessly witty post to you, I must have a computer. Last week, the dearly loved, decade old Mac abruptly died while I slumbered. After a couple of days of sleeping in until bed time, I was dragged into taking action by ordering a new computer. And how do I pay for this thing? I sale books. And where do I write the books? On a computer.

This entire vicious cycle translates to one thing: I have to move my entire body off the bed and on to the computer chair and desk. See what I am getting at? I have to actually move. No one else, not even a real live, not on vacation butler can do it for me. Life has become one immense series of moves. Ugghh.

In the end, I have at least achieved one thing in my life: I am a Master of Moving. And this leads me to wonder what things you have mastered in moving. What movement exercises, creative  nagger ideas, or ways to get out of bed? What cities, counties, countries? What states of mind? Please, tell me in the comment box below. If you don't satiate my desire to know your movements, then my mind will dwindle in idleness, thought process become stagnant in non-use. Please, do not burden me with such afflictions.

If you want to know my not-so-secret wisdom of moving tips, buy my book on moving with a twelve pack of beer (or wine or donuts). It is quite the read:

Moving: Are You An Intelligent Mover?

Missions for today: comment on your moving experiences, and buy one of my books. That should get you going until bed time.

Heather Leigh,
Mistress of Moving