“Feisty After 45: The Best Blogs From Midlife Women”

Hi everyone! I just wanted to announce that my essay, “Does St. Peter Give Advance Notice” was published in the anthology, “Feisty After 45: The Best Blogs from Midlife Women” this month.

It’s available from Amazon. in paperback and Kindle. My essay is also available on this blog. (See the essays listed to the right).

Here’s what the cover looks like. Hope your month is going well!

Feisty After 45: The Best Blogs from Midlife Women

Available on Amazon

 

 

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Antioch Writers Conference in Yellow Springs Rocks

I recently attended the Antioch Writers Conference in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The week long conference was packed full of lectures and workshops. Yale professor and writer Andre Dumas III, who recently published a memoir titled “Townie,” was the featured speaker. He also gave a special workshop for all attendees. Tara Ison and Matthew Goodman lectured on fiction and non-fiction techniques each morning.

Afternoons consisted of workshops specializing in various genres: fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. I chose non-fiction where I presented the first 20 pages of a spiritual memoir that I recently completed. I received helpful feedback from non-fiction workshop leader Eileen Cronin, who recently published her memoir “Mermaid,” as well as other conference participants.

The conference also included an appointment and technique lecture from Crown Publishing Group editor Nathan Roberson. Mr. Roberson volunteered to review and critique a potential query letter for individuals that signed up for appointments with him. Additionally, Agent Hannah Brown Gordon of Foundry Media was on hand. She explained the process for obtaining an agent and also took appointments.

I pitched my completed memoir to Ms. Brown and received very promising feedback and a referral to a fellow agent that specializes in spiritual memoir.

The conference allowed me to hone my writing skills and make a ton of new friends. I highly recommend it for anyone planning to attend a workshop in 2015.

 

 

 

The Pet Butler

by Karin Britt Gall

My daughter, Kristin, greeted me from her usual spot in the coffeehouse, waving at me with one hand and drinking what looked like a hot chocolate with the other.

“Hey, what happened to the décor? Looks like they redecorated,” I said.

She frowned. “Yeah, I asked Julian, he’s the manager, what happened to the green chair in this corner and he said it was too far gone. Couldn’t be saved. But they reupholstered the rest of the stuff.”

I smirked. “So, your heart is broken?”

“Hey, lots of people liked that chair. I usually have a hard time snagging this area for you.”

Since she’s seldom on time, I ignored her remark. “Look, today I want to talk about a new business venture.”

“Yeah? You getting tired of writing?”

“No, I thought you might want to start a little business. It would help you on your income taxes.”

“Look mom, I already make so little with my customer service job that it’s next to impossible to get into a lower tax bracket. Any lower and I’ll be on welfare.”

“All the more reason for you to expand and become a business owner. Jack says he saw the perfect thing,” I said, referring to her stepfather.

“Where is the old fart anyway?”

“Golfing.”

Kristin made a rude noise. “I can’t understand why grown men follow little balls across manicured grass and call it a sport.”

“Exercise.”

“Right.”

“Anyway, he says that the sales manager in his office pays over $60 a month for a service to poop scoop his yard.”

Kristin’s hand shook almost spilling her hot chocolate. At first I thought she was clumsy, and then I realized she was laughing. “You’re kidding. Someone pays money to have their dog poop picked up? How lazy can you get?”

“Well, busy working people hire maids and lawn services and things like that.”

She giggled. “What do they call it? We be dog poop removal and stuff?”

“Animal Waste Removal. It’s a niche business. A legitimate need.”

“I’ll say. Okay, lay it on me. How much do I need to invest? Do they sell franchises?”

“Umm, I’m not sure.”

“That’d make sense. They could divide it up according to zip codes or suburban territories.”

“It would be a low investment, work for yourself business. All you need is a pick up truck and some tools like shovels and scoops.”

“Shovels? What the heck am I picking up after? Horses?”

“No, but some dogs are bigger than others,” I said, visualizing Great Danes and St. Bernards.

“I have to tell you that $60 a month sounds kind of low when you consider what you’re dealing with.” She wrinkled her nose in disgust.

“Not really. You’d go once a week, clean for a few minutes and go onto the next place. It’d be easy money.”

“If it’s so easy and so great, then how come other people aren’t killing themselves to do it? I mean there is rampant unemployment out there.”

“I suppose the messiness and subject matter has a lot to do with it. Remember George Jefferson from the TV sitcom The Jeffersons? He ended up owning a string of dry cleaners. He dealt with people’s dirty laundry.”

“Yeah, well he didn’t offer to clean their toilets did he?”

She had me there. “Cleaning toilets is honest work.”

“I know. Thanks, but when I said I wouldn’t mind a second job, I was thinking about doing some silk flower arrangements or crafts. Something fun.”

“I just thought this would be good to do in your spare time. Since you work second shift, it’d be ideal.”

“No thanks. Let’s see, how I would list that on my resume? Pooper Scooper Extraordinaire?”

“Okay. Okay. It was just a thought.”

“And just think about if I expanded the business. I can just read the wording in the classified ad now. ‘Hard-working person wanted. Musn’t be afraid to get hands dirty.’”

“I’m sure you’d want to wear gloves.”

“Oh yeah, and boots. Hip boots, in case I have a client with a Great Dane.”

“It was just a thought,” I said, defensively.

Kristin took her last bite of brownie and chased it down with her drink. “This has been fun but I need to go clean my apartment. Uh, is this a plot for your next book? You are making this up right?”

“I’m dead serious.”

“I’d have to research it. Just think of all the diseases and stuff you could get.”

“Just think, you could have your own business. Your name could be in neon lights. How about ‘Kristin’s Pet Waste Removal,’ or ‘Kristin’s Pooper Scooper Inc.’ Your tagline could be, ‘We scoop poop.’”

“Mom, calm down, and do me a favor. Don’t have the sign made yet.”

Kristin gathered her napkin and plate and cup and headed towards the collection receptacle mumbling, “Disgusting. Can’t believe I’m talking about this crap at breakfast.”

“I think you’re missing a great entrepreneurial opportunity here,” I called, wanting to get in the last word.

“Goodbye Mom,” Kristin said, shaking her blonde ponytail from side to side as she walked out of the café.

The End

Does St. Peter Give Advance Notice?

by Karin Britt Gall

Normally, I don’t open junk mail, but the other day I made an exception.

“What’s that?” my husband Jack asked.

“A survey from a funeral home,” I said, scanning the somber gray letter.

I had just finished reading a series of vampire books and my mind was in a morbid state.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No, they want to know if I’ve ever thought of making my funeral arrangements in advance.” I laughed a little uneasily.

My husband snorted. “Trying to drum up business, huh?”

“It should be illegal.”

“Well, they have to making a living, I guess. A few years ago lawyers weren’t allowed to advertise or go after business if someone was hurt in an accident or illegally laid off either.”

“We’re talking about something more serious than a layoff. Death is more permanent. They do have a line that says this is just a general distribution, and it isn’t intended to go to a home where illness or sorrow exists.”

“Right,” he snorted.

“It still gives me the creeps. Maybe they get advanced notice, sort of like an e-newsletter,” I said.

“That’s ridiculous. You just became middle-aged. It’s probably just an automatic mailing based on your age. Do you think they have an angel hotline?” he guffawed. “Maybe you’ve watched too many episodes of that angel television show.”

“Automatic mailing, automatic writing, séances, blood, embalming, it’s possible.” I was back in my morbid frame of mind now. “They do deal in death. Maybe they get advance notice from St. Peter.”

Jack laughed. “You’re starting to believe that weird stuff you’ve been reading.”

I sat down and started writing.

“What are you doing?”

“Filling out the survey,” I replied.

“Why?”

“Well, I learned a long time ago never to tempt fate. It’s sort of a guarantee. I don’t want to torque anyone or anything off.”

My husband shook his head in amazement.

“Besides, they sent a self-addressed stamped envelope. As a writer, I really can’t resist that, and somehow they know it. I know they do.”

Then, Jack reminded me about his favorite television ad. “What about that old woman who looks at her husband in his casket and says,
“Jim Bob would have just loved this?” he said, cackling. “I’ll just bet he would. If were still alive.”

“Poor woman. She probably agreed to do the advertisement so she could get a free funeral.”

Jack eyed me with concern. He was 15 years old than me and funerals were a delicate subject even at the best of times.

“My favorite ad though is the one in this week’s newspaper,” I said. “A local funeral home is advertising a ‘Lunch and Learn.’”

“What the hell do you need to learn about that? You die and someone picks out a casket or an urn. Seriously?”

“It says to ‘Please call and reserve lunch and a seat because reservations are limited.”

“I bet.”

I continued to read the ad. “It also says that it’s good to learn about the critical benefits of Advance Funeral Planning and that there’s a question and answer session afterward.”

My husband was clutching his stomach and laughing hard now. “Jim Bob would have just loved that,” he said, gasping for air.

“I think we should be serious about this,” I said in my no nonsense voice.

“Well, since I’m probably going to die first, I suppose you are. Tell you what,” Jack said, “when my time comes, just put me out at the curb in a garbage bag.”

“Really? Where’s my phone? I think I’ll make reservations for this luncheon. Never hurts to be informed.”

I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up just in time to see my husband snarl and slip my cell phone into his pocket. I guess he wasn’t taking any chances.

THE END

Hooked on Treats

Published in I LOVE CATS Magazine May/June 2002
by Karin Gall

Normally, our cat is a lovable feline, but thanks to kitty treats she’s well, a bit disagreeable at times.

Dustmop is the bundle of fur that we adopted eight years ago after she crawled out from under the window well of our house. What began as a ragtag stringy kitten is now a battleship gray and alabaster-white longhaired beauty. Her gray face is marked with a triangle of white at the corner of each eye and all four paws are snowy, save one.

From the very beginning, Dustmop made it clear that food is the center of her existence, and thus it became the bane of our lives. Somehow we got in the habit of sharing tidbits of food from our plates during snacks and meals. Dustmop, it turns out, has sophisticated tastes. None of this garbage in lead crystal glass for her. No sirree, she likes tuna (people tuna, in spring water, if you please), crab, shrimp, and other delights along with her dry cat food.

That’s okay. We don’t mind spoiling her. But the person I would like to meet is whomever invented cat treats. Treats (Whisker Lickin’s Double Delights) have turned our normally docile lap cat into a rogue tiger. These Purina treats come in shrimp, tuna, chicken and liver flavors.

They’re crunchy, bite-size nuggets shaped like fish that really pack a wallop. They have a double meat flavor and Dustmop loves them! The box recommends up to 14 pieces a day for cats 5 to 10 pounds. They’re kidding, right? Would you believe she eats an entire can a day?

This cat goes nuts if you even go near the cupboard that houses the treats. Dustmop requires treats at least 4-5 times per day. Anyone that hits the kitchen door gets nailed.

“Meowwrrr, purr,” Dustmop says as she wiggles full length on the floor in front of her favorite cupboard. I walked past her to grab a cup out of the cupboard. I was late getting ready for work. I started to walk around the corner to sit at the dining room table.

“Grrrowlll…” Dustmop moans at she swipes at my silk slacks with a warning shot.

I grabbed the treats. “Honestly Dustmop, you are so spoiled. Why don’t you eat the breakfast I fixed for you?” I said, sprinkling some treats onto the floor.

“Crunch, crack, chomp, chomp, chomp,” was my answer.

My husband shook his head. “I think the treat manufacturer is pretty sneaky. These treats must have the equivalent of kitty cocaine in them or something. When Mops has them in her system, she won’t eat anything else. The good thing is that they’re crunchy so her teeth like razors—excellent qualities during mousing season.”

“Humph,” I snorted.

So, don’t give them to her you may say. Yeah, well, that’s easier said than done. You don’t have to listen to her whine and growl until
she gets them. We’ve tried gradually easing back her portions, another brand of treats, everything. She won’t relent.
I now have Pavlov’s kitty. It’s disgusting.

In my opinion, the treat company created this habit, and I think they should help cure it. They have an obligation to pay for Dustmop’s
drying out fee. Surely there is a Betty Ford clinic for cats somewhere that will admit her. And, since these types of facilities are
sure to be expensive, we’re going to need some type of government grant or financial assistance.

That makes sense. After all, some government regulatory agency must have approved these treats for market. So in effect, they need to bear some of the responsibility for Dustmop’s condition. I certainly don’t want to be put in the position of signing over all my assets in exchange for Dustmop’s treatment. If that happens, I’ll be eating cat food after I’m retired while Dustmop would have existed on the best life has to offer.

But, since I REALLY love my cat, it’s hard to deny her.

“Meowrrr.”

Sigh. “Coming, Dustmop.”

###

The Chocolate Whizz-Way

I sent my husband for his yearly check-up at the doctor’s and now he won’t speak to me. No one over 50 will talk about it, but there’s a procedure that’s part of most routine physicals called a colonoscopy. To make liberal use of a reference from a Whoopie Goldberg movie—they check your “chocolate whizz-way” for abnormalities. At first glance, that doesn’t sound too bad. I pictured a plastic-gloved doctor poking his finger in the dark corner of hubby’s anatomy. Nope, they have specialized equipment and a doctor called a gastoenterologist for this little procedure.

I’m confused. When we’re little, we’re prompted by our parents to consider different career paths. Some of us dreamed about becoming firemen, others lawyers, some writers, still other doctors. Those of us lucky enough to make it into college explored our options even further. But who the heck said, “When I grow up I want to stick tubes up someone’s butt for a living?” From what I gather, that’s pretty much what happens.

My first suspicion that this wasn’t just a routine poke and feel was when they sent papers home advising that hubby would need a chauffer.

“It says here that you’ll need a driver. I guess they need to sedate you.”

“Oh yeah. They always put drops in my eyes.”

“Not the eye doctor. We’re talking about the other end.”

A look of panic crossed his face. “I thought it was just an x-ray or something.”

“Well, I guess it is, but since they have to send something up that dark passage, I guess they’re trying to make it pain-free.”

“Hmm, sedation…can’t drive…maybe we should delay this until after vacation.”

“I don’t think so. It took a while to get the appointment. Colon cancer is serious.”

“Look, I’ve been poked and prodded enough. First it was the nurse at the lab that looked like she hadn’t passed her driving test. I’m still black and blue.”

“Then, I had to do the smear thing when I went to the bathroom in the mornings. I still think they need to send rubber gloves with that kit.” He shuddered. “That reminded me of changing diapers years ago. I can’t believe we had to mail that package to the lab. Yuck.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Now, I have to submit to someone putting a piece of Plexiglas up my butt. Who thinks up this stuff anyway?”

“It’s known as advanced medical procedure.”

“More like advanced torture.“ What else?”

“Well, it says here you can’t eat certain things 48 hours before the test including nuts, seeds, and red gelatin. Hey, get those nuts out of your mouth.” I swiped at him and missed.

He swallowed. “Too late.”

“Then the day before the test, clear liquids only. I’ve got your beef broth all ready for tomorrow.”

“That’s it? That’s all I get?”

“No, I threw in some orange gelatin too.”

“Big of you.”

“Then, you have to drink a gallon of some liquid and sequester yourself into the bathroom for the evening. I’ll get the fan going and put some lit candles in the bathtub.”

“Candles? Is the priest coming to give me last rites or something?”

“Uhmm, no, it’s for the smell. I don’t think the bathroom fan will handle it all.” I smirked. I still remembered his platitudes when I gave birth. “In case you’re interested, I got you lemon-lime.”

“Lemon-Lime what?”

“The flavor of the liquid you need to drink for your cleansing. Yes sir, your insides will be cleaner than a politician’s bank account at election time.”

“You better be kidding.” His face flushed with anger. “The doctor didn’t mention this.”

“The paper says it takes about two hours for the procedure.”

“Two hours? No way. Well, he’d better not get too close. That chili I had over the weekend is doing strange things to my stomach.”

“Afterwards, they do a consultation to advise what they’ve found.”

“What the heck could they find? My entire body will be pretty much liquid free.”

“Yeah, pruny.” I giggled. I couldn’t help it.

“That’s okay. You can make light of the situation, but remember your physical is scheduled for next month.

“Oh, that’s right.” My stomach cramped.

An evil grin crossed his face. “Yes, and I’ll be glad to be your chauffeur. In fact, I’m really looking forward to it.” He whistled as he left the room.

###

Karin Gall

Published  2002

Canadian Health Magazine