<![CDATA[Polly McCrillis      author of Suspense and Historical Romances - Blog]]>Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:46:42 -0600Weebly<![CDATA[speak up!]]>Tue, 14 Nov 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://pollymccrillis.com/blog/speak-up5279015
First, some holiday story news: Highland Press's annual holiday anthology was released last week and my story, Heart of the Matter  is one of four.  Click the book cover images for the links.
​Happy holidays early! 

​Now, on to today's post.....
Meet  Dewey, my budgie, or as we call it in the United States, a parakeet, one of the smallest birds in the parrot family. And like the bigger-in-stature parrots, Dewey is a great imitator. Not of words or voices, but sounds: water coming from a faucet, tea kettle whistle, every bird in our back yard and some that aren't, like a Bob White, the microwave Bing......a wildly entertaining bird is my pretty yellow and green lady, Dewey.   

And here's one of Dewey's cousins, a Hyacinth macaw, the largest of the macaw species. 

Both Dewey and this beauty are two of more than 350 species that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. And I've admired these biggies - no offense, Dewey -  for a long time. So much so a few years back when I had my secondhand bookshop I considered getting one to keep me company in the store. Made sense that Polly, a business owner, should have a parrot for a pet, right?

Steering clear of pet shops, which I have nothing against (I've rescued many a hamster and fish (and a corn snake), from a life within a pet shop). But for a parrot I wanted to find a breeder, someone who could educate me about the bird and someone I could go back to with questions and concerns if I needed to.

Google led me to several parrot breeders in Missouri and after a few links I ended up with a short list of parrot rescue organizations. Two clicks later I landed on one in the most unlikely, most convenient location in all of Missouri. The town my bookstore was in. And it was even on the same street as my store. 

A Parrot's Perch is a non-profit organization founded by Stephanie Chambers that had been in business a couple years when I met her. And she's still in business, traveling wherever she's needed, all over this country, to rescue parrots. Her website, (http://www.aparrotsperch.org/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AParrotsPerchRescue), can give you more information if you're interested in knowing about the work she does. 
Two cockatoos Stephanie rescued who are now permanent members of her extensive bird family
I eventually decided not to adopt a parrot, but had I done so I would've had a lot of  fun teaching it all sorts of phrases.  Such as:

From literature and Film:
                      It was a dark and stormy night
                               To Be Or Not To Be
         It was the best of times, it was the worst of times
                         We're not in Kansas anymore
                                      Oh bother
             Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again
                                   Call me Ishmael
                   I write this sitting in the kitchen sink
                     Oh, the tangled web we weave
               Here's looking at you, kid (said with a wink) -]             

and songs:    
           "The Piano Man"             Christmas carols                
       I will always love you          Lucy and Linus theme              
                  Somewhere Over The Rainbow
               Auld Lang Syne        Love Me Tender      
               melodies from Mozart and Beethoven works

And musical terms....in Italian: 
             diminuendo poco a poco
------piano forte

And phrases (too many to list!):

                      bahdeebahdee, That's All Folks!
 I tot I taw a puddy-cat                        Polly wanna Cheez-it?
                                     Roger that
        I think not                                   Whatever do you mean?
                            Parlez-vous francais?
                    You have the right to remain silent
                                Fly Low and Slow   

There are dozens of videos of parrots on YouTube. You can watch them tease cats and dogs, dance, argue, count to ten and sing. The video below is of Poncho, a guest on Johnny Carson's, The Tonight Show in 1981. Be careful where you listen to this...Poncho hits some high notes.

​​So, if you had a parrot, what would you teach it to say? Or if you have had or DO have one, what words/phrases/songs did/does it say? 
<![CDATA[let them eat...pie!]]>Tue, 07 Nov 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://pollymccrillis.com/blog/let-them-eatpie
​Did you know that here in the U.S. of A. we have a Pie Council? Yup. The American Pie Council®, an organization dedicated to promoting our country's love of dessert pies. AND we have a National Pie Day...January 23rd. You may ask yourself, just as I did, Why January instead of November? In two weeks and two days we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day and if ever there's a day for eating pie, the last Thursday in November is it.

But...maybe that's why the APC folks chose January. There's not much going on in the first month of the year apart from it being the first month of a year. And by the 23rd day of that first month many of the millions of people who made resolutions to lose weight will have lost at least 1.7 to 2.4 pounds and might be thinking, "I believe I've earned a slice of pie. "
​Unless you are anti-pie or desserts in general, then you must have a least one favorite. And are there ever a lot to choose from! Here's an alphabetical listing of some that came to mind:

Apple ~~~ Banana Cream ~~~Blackberry~~~Blueberry         
      Boysenberry~~~Buttermilk~~~Butterscotch ~~~Cherry           Chocolate Cream ~~~Coconut Cream~~~Custard
      Icebox~~~Key Lime~~~Lemon Meringue~~~Mincemeat      Mississippi Mud~~~Peach~~~Peanut Butter ~~~Pear ~~~Pecan                Pumpkin~~~Raisin~~~Raspberry~~~Rhubarb          
 Strawberry ~~~Strawberry Rhubarb~~~Sweet Potato
Canned pie fillings are so vast they have their own section in the grocery stores:

 or go with:

​                Fresh                                         Preserved
And you have pastry options: from the "Dairy Case"

​or make one "From Scratch"

OR if you'd rather scrap filling a pie shell altogether you can  buy a:
         Bakery Pie                   or a           Frozen Pie
So unless there's no access to pie fixings, a kitchen or a grocery store, I can't think of a reason for someone not to have at least one pie on their Thanksgiving Day table.

Speaking of pies on a table...would someone please explain THIS to me?
I've never understood pie eating contests (or any eating contests for that matter.) Inhaling as much pie in the least amount of time as possible to prove what? How many mouthfuls of pie can be gulped down faster than the other pie eaters? I don't get it. Prize money and notoriety notwithstanding, it's kind of disgusting. 
(no offense to all you pie-eating-contest-winners)

Two final fresh pie options: 
How great are these?! The perfect dose of dessert: pie-on-a- stick and pie pockets. As close to a guilt free pie serving as you're going to get. 

So, for those of you who are plan-ahead-way-in-advancers, what kind of desserts will you be making for Thanksgiving Day?
1) any pies?  2) homemade or.....?  3) favorite one?
4) any non-pie desserts?

You've got 16 days before those desserts have to be ready. So, whatever main course foods you're going to serve, 
Don't forget to leave room for dessert!!
<![CDATA[if time wouldn't tell]]>Tue, 31 Oct 2017 05:00:00 GMThttp://pollymccrillis.com/blog/if-time-wouldnt-tellPictureA watch of my friend, Doris

It's been nearly 40 years since I've worn a watch. Back when I was a college student I relied on one so I'd be punctual for class, rehearsals, piano lessons, jobs off campus. If I forgot to put the thing on, there was always the classroom clocks at the front of each room or the tower clock that chimed the hour. Not something I wanted to hear when I was rushing to class. Hearing the straight-up-on-the-hour chimes meant I was late. 

This was pre-cell phone/personal computers/laptops and every other device we use to communicate by word or voice and organize our lives with. In this era time tellers are as ubiquitous as public toilets. Every newly manufactured car, truck, boat and motorcycle has one, some digital some, a old-fashioned clock face, or both. If you're in the kitchen and not wearing a watch, all's well. Look at your microwave or stove. They'll let you know how long you've been there. These days, time literally surrounds us.
But...what if we had no tangible method to measure time? I mean, None. Looking at the timepieces I own got me to wondering about this. How would we go about “being on time”
​if we had no point of reference as to what that was? A 9 to 5 job would be meaningless. You’d have to get to work when it was daylight out and leave when it was still daylight. How would you know that you’d spent enough hours on the job to earn that paycheck? If you got paid biweekly, counting the days until your next payday wouldn’t be too hard; keep track of the sunsets or sunrises. When you’ve counted off 14, that’s your pay day. 

How would appointments be scheduled, or how would you know when to meet someone at a movie, restaurant or park? There’d be no reason or logic behind saying, “I don’t have time for this.” Charles Dickens’ couldn’t have used the famous opening sentence in his Tale of Two Cities, “It was the worst of times, it was the best of times…” “Time is of the essence” wouldn’t make sense, nor would, “Take your time,” or “my, how time flies!” (Tempus fugit, Latin for “time flies” would also be meaningless). "You're running out of time/Time is running out" would be senseless. No more "making time" for anything, or "spending time" doing something. "It's time to go/leave" wouldn't be necessary. If we weren’t able to measure the size of an interval between doing one thing and another, would that space feel the same without being able to say “I spent two and a half hours cleaning out my garage and another 48 minutes raking leaves”?

How would anything in our world be regulated without the human invention of Time?
The clock above is one my parents bought when they visited England in the 70s. The photo on the left shows the winding mechanism on the back of the clock. I don't keep it wound, but it starts right up when I do. 
Before I started this post I imagined what it would feel like to wake up from sleeping while it was dark not knowing what time I went to bed, how long I had slept, what time I woke up or when to leave the house so I could get to wherever…on time. After thinking on this for a bit, what I imagined was chaos. Chaos in a work place – how would companies thrive if their employees went to and left from work whenever they chose to? (“Well, I’ve done all I feel like doing so I’m going to mosey on home now.”) Chaos at airports – without Time there’d be no such thing as Schedules of Departures or Arrivals. Businesses wouldn’t know when to open or close, when to ring those church bells or serve lunch from 11-2. And forget trying to make an appointment for anything. A conversation for that would go something like this:

“I’d like to make an appointment to have my dog groomed.”
“Ok. Have you brought your dog into us before?”
“Yes. His name is Big Ben.”
“Very well. When would you like to bring Big Ben in?”
“Hmm. Let's see. When the sky is out of its pink-orange light phase and the sun is say, halfway up but not too bright yet. And after I’ve
          had breakfast.”

“Sounds perfect. One not-too-sunny-side-up appointment for Big Ben. How many of those would you like to see before bringing him in?”

​Would Big Ben’s owner be able to answer “3” if there was no Time?    
And with that, I will say, I’ve taken up enough of yours, and look forward to your responses. All in good time.
This pocketwatch was my great grandfather's. Inscribed on the back is what you see in the photo on the right. A retirement gift from great grandpa's fellow workers at the Middleboro, Massachusetts Post Office. This one I do keep wound for three reasons: 1) its ticking tick-tick-tick is soothing, 2) having a watch that will be 90 years old next year that is in such pristine condition AND still functions quite accurately is pretty special, 3) I like that it has to be wound in order for it to work. No battery, nothing to connect to a charger. Just a small winding dial at the top.  
<![CDATA[falling, part 2]]>Tue, 24 Oct 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://pollymccrillis.com/blog/falling-part-2Hello! I'm playing catch up this week since I didn't post last week while I was traveling. I want to share some of the sights I saw in Niagara Falls, New York, and Canada. 

Below is the first view we had when we entered Niagara (an Indian word that means thunder and water) Falls State Park. I took this photo because of the rainbow, barely visible right in the center. I'm standing on the U.S. side. The buildings are in Ontario. 
The first sight we had of the falls made me cry, as I'd told my friend Mrs. D. it would. Majestic isn't a big enough word to describe the grandness and beauty of 600,000 gallons of water PER SECOND spilling over 18 stories of rocky cliffs. How that height is measured I can grasp. How that much water per second is measured, I can't. I mean, how do you do that? I'm imagining this: standing on my deck during a thunderstorm with a measuring cup. No, make that five measuring cups lined up on the deck. Every second that passes - I've got a timer in hand - I pick up one of those cups and see how much rainwater is in it. But who has a measuring cups that holds 600,000 gallons?! If you know how the amount of water from falls is measured, please enlighten me.


​Viewing the falls from above them is great but seeing them from below is even better. The way that's done is by taking a tour by the boat, The Maid of the Mist (MOTM) on the American side or the Hornblower on the Canadian side. We chose the MOTM. Here's what the American Falls and Angel Falls on the U.S.A. side looked like from the boat....
and how the Canadian Horseshoe Falls looks. "Mist" is putting it mildly! Thank goodness the park system provides ankle length hooded raincoats, pink ones this month in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Entering the mist...
et voila, Me in the Mist!!
Mrs. D opted out of taking an elevator down and then climbing up five levels of stairs to stand in front of and beneath Bridal Veil falls from what's known as Cave of the Winds. A lot of people didn't go to the fifth level - the Hurricane Winds level - which may make them smarter than me, because I did. When would I ever again get that up close and drenched by a waterfall of this enormity? Wearing yet again, an ankle length pink raincoat (fortunately this color looks pretty good on me), AND sturdy water shoes, all provided by the park service. The photos below were taken on my ascension to the falls. Couldn't take anymore after I reached the top, or bottom that is, because my camera isn't waterproof, or even water resistant. But you get the idea of the size and power of these falls. Below these photos is a short video  I took at the 4th level. Laptop and computer speakers can't relay the deafening sound of the water, but their volume and sheer power is unmistakeable.   
On the last day of our adventure before heading home we drove across the Rainbow bridge over the Niagara River to
​enter Ontario, Canada. 
You'd think after a full day of soaking in the sights and sounds of the falls from the U.S.A. side their immensity wouldn't be so profoundly emotional to me, but no. Seeing all three falls face on, as much of them as I could get in my viewfinder (far left photo) and then Horseshoe Falls from the ground level rather than boat level, brought on the waterworks. Just a snatch-your-breath-away sight.
If you haven't seen the waterfalls of Niagara and ever get a chance to, grab it and go. From southwest Missouri it was a 1050 mile/16 hour drive one way. Every mile/kilometre was worth the experience of seeing one of our world's many natural wonders. Do it!
<![CDATA[falling]]>Tue, 10 Oct 2017 10:00:00 GMThttp://pollymccrillis.com/blog/falling
Tomorrow will be Day One of a journey I'm taking to a place I’ve wanted to go to since I was a young teen. At the time my family and I lived only a couple hours southeast from it but we never got that far north in the state of New York.  Four++ decades after leaving that state, I’m FINALLY going to see, hear and feel Niagara Falls.

Travelling by car it will take a couple of days to get there but I’ll be sharing the drive time with a friend. When I asked said friend, Mrs. D if she’d like to go with me, it took all of four and a half seconds for her to say “Yes!” And it took Mr. D less time to say “No!” when I asked if he’d like to come too. He declined not because he wouldn’t enjoy the company of two lovely women, but because seeing ginormous waterfalls and milling around an orchid greenhouse doesn’t hold much appeal to him. He’s happy to stay home and be caretaker of plants and pets. 
Upper right corner, the 1:00 position, is the Canadian side of the falls
Until I have my own pictures of Niagara Falls I'll have to use the multitudes that on line, like the one above. The Falls are in the U.S. and Canada and consists of three waterfalls: American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls on the U.S.A. side and Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, with Luna Island and Goat Island separating them. I’ve read that the best place to see all three falls is from the Niagara promenade on the Ontario side. I’ll let you know if I agree.

While writing the above a memory tickled my brain; something about someone tightroping across the falls so I paused to do a little researching. When I read that Nikolas "Nik" Wallenda had done just that, I was happy to know that the old gray matter is still actively churning. In February, 2012, Nik Wallenda crossed the  Niagara Falls at 1800 feet, on a tight (very, very tight) rope and established a world record for the first tightrope walker to cross the falls. 
We've all heard about the Wallendas, may have even see one of their performances. Nik is listed as an American acrobat, aerialist, daredevil, high wire artist, AND an author known for his high-wire performances without a safety net. He’s 7th generation of the Great Wallenda’s with roots that trace back to the 1780s  Austro-Hungarian Empire. This fearless fellow has been walking a fine line since before he was born, an in utero performance; his mom, Delilah Wallenda was still walking the high wire at six months pregnant with him. He started walking the wire at age 2 but his family didn't allow him to perform professionally until he was 13.  The 38 year old holds several Guinness World Records:
~ highest bicycle tightrope crossing: 238 feet high between two hotel towers in the Bahamas

~ highest blindfolded walk every recorded: at 557.89 feet from Chicago's Marina City west tower to the Marina City east tower.
The Marina Towers
~ crossed the Little Colorado River gorge at the Grand Canyon on a 1,300-foot-long wire. 1500 feet above the river. (the first photo in this post is a favorite of mine. I took it in July, 2009, on that year's mom/daughter road trip. We arrived at the Grand Canyon's North rim during a light rain and while we stood at the railing admiring the vast space, a rainbow began to appear. A magical moment!)

Imagine if Nik Wallenda and Evel Knievel had ever gotten together. I know that Knievel was a stuntman, not an aerilist, but put those two thrill seeking brains together and who knows what they would have come up with. There are hundreds of chasms and towering buildings they could tightrope/bicycle/motorcycle/rocket across and between. I don't know if I could watch someone do what they have done. I'd be scared for them.

Just seeing Niagara Falls will be eventful and thrilling enough for me, thank you very much.

Have you seen them?  
Next week's post will likely be photos from the Missouri to New York and back again journey. Hopefully I'll have a lot of "fall"to share with you. - colors AND lots and lots of water! 
<![CDATA[if only it had been a dream]]>Tue, 03 Oct 2017 10:00:00 GMThttp://pollymccrillis.com/blog/if-only-it-had-been-a-dream
For a couple days I debated whether to share this with you because of its high ick/eewww/that’s disgusting! factor, but then said to myself – if I can make it sound funny enough, you might overlook the repulsiveness of it.
How am I doing so far to compel you to read on? (a suspense writing tactic I’ve been working on; tossing out the bait, hoping for a bite).
Let me set the scene for you: Early morning, say 4ish. I’d been asleep a few hours. The bedroom is dark-no lightning or piercing lights from night fishermen’s boats sweeping across the windows. It’s a still, storm and wind free evening. I wake up. A wisp of a dream lingers, like being behind a car when it makes a sharp turn leaving only its rear bumper visible. I don’t remember what the dream was about but I feel calm so it must have been pleasant, or at least not a mare of the night. (interesting word, “nightmare”. It combines “night” with the Old English word mare or maere which is an evil spirit.)
Nope, wrong mare
So apart from lying in the dark, I’m not sensing that my dream had dark connotations. Great. I can just glide back into sleep without worry of a troubling dream returning. I settle in for at least a couple more hours of restful sleep. Two things you need to know here: I sleep with a fan on, sometimes the circular type that’s perched on top of a broad stand, sometimes with just a ceiling fan going. Because I don’t like feeling my hair in my face – not particularly long hair, just below the shoulders – I put it on top of my head with a stretchy band. I do this because I don’t like the feeling of hair moving around my face because of the fan. Sometimes a few strands of hair will escape the topknot and that tickling feeling on my face wakes me up. I just sweep them out of the way or redo the hair knot. 

Now the scene is completely set: dark, calm, quiet, earlyyyy morning hours, wake from an assumedly pleasant dream, settle back in to a couple more hours of the same. Eyes closed, pillows all just right, hair knot anchored in place…or so I thought. A strand has escaped and is blowing around on my forehead. Too comfortable to go through the trouble of stuffing it back into the hair tie, I brush it aside and again, tuck in for a little more shut eye. Not two seconds later the dratted piece of hair has drifted back, but onto my chin. And then my mouth. Nose. Eyebrows. Daintier than dandelion fluff,  as weightless as a sprig of dental floss. And moving in a very deliberate manner. No haphazard caught in the fan’s current swishing about way.
This blog, which I’ve maintained for four and a half years, has never been shut down by the Blog Police for scandalous content or language so I will not share with you the words that spilled forth from my mouth when my mind gave my only-a-second-ago relaxed body a sharp kick to fully wake it up to make me realize I was not dealing with an errant strand of hair. I think I even screamed, just like a girl, when I swiped at my face and felt something crawl across my hand. It was one of those, Don’t Want To See, Have To See moments. I sprung to my knees (didn’t want to jump out of bed in case I stepped on whatever it was that had so rudely interrupted my sleep), turned on the bedside lamp and looked at the floor. Immediately I experienced a triple play of feelings:  repulsion, relief, and triumph. Repulsion because there on the floor was a half-dollar sized hairless brown spider. Relief because it was on the floor, not on me. Triumph because it was going to die and I was the one who was going to flatten it.  
If you’ve followed my postings then you know I am an avid fan of the animal kingdom, have lots of stories about what crawls, climbs, walks, stalks and flies. But my fascination and appreciation and wonder at all the many animals that share this planet with humans does have a limit. And that night, that plain ole brown house spider met mine.
If that had been you, would you have been able to go back to sleep? Even after yanking off the sheets and blanket and remaking it with clean everything, I didn’t want to get back in that bed. I did, but only for about eight minutes. Just couldn’t get past the creepy crawlies and shuddering possibility that the now very dead, never to be heard from again spider might have friends and family lurking about in other parts of my bedroom.
​Nights like this, which are blessedly very few, are how I catch up on my reading.
<![CDATA[riding for a cause]]>Tue, 26 Sep 2017 11:00:00 GMThttp://pollymccrillis.com/blog/riding-for-a-cause
​I took advantage of zero lake traffic last Friday to get my kayak in the water. With all the writing I’ve been doing on Heart, the autobiography I’m ghost writing, it’d been a couple weeks since I’d gotten the kayak’s feet – and mine - wet so both of us needed some water therapy.
The summer crowds are gone – no more jet skis, zippy boats, ski boats, wake boarders or really loud, bad music streaming from a boat’s stereo system. Above all things, I do not miss that. Some songs, in my opinion, do nothing but pollute the air and airwaves and quite simply are painful to hear…too many to list, so I won’t even get started on that subject. However, I will say that it seems like the songs I loathe the most are the ones boat owners around here have to play loud enough to be heard from a bald eagle’s aerie.  In New Hampshire.
So I’m on the lake, and I have it all to myself. The morning is still, a 5 mph breeze from the southwest. Calls from the noisiest avians – bluejays, pileated woodpeckers and crows – are background accompaniment to the sound of my paddle stroking through the water. Or seemed to be until I stopped paddling to bask in the stillness and beauty of the day. At first I think the sound seeping through the bird calls is coming from construction equipment; one of those earth movers that has the low rumble. But the sound doesn't let up. No Beep-Beep-Beep that comes from a vehicle that large shifting into Reverse, no variance in sound whatsoever, or any pauses. Then I hear it – a change in volume, an ebb and flow of tone, a muffled growl rising to a penetrating snarl. It takes a couple minutes of listening before what I'm hearing registers.
Motorcycles. A lot of motorcycles.
Ah yes. Bikes, Blues and BBQ weekend, aka, The Triple B. I’d read about is happening this weekend. An annual event attended by hundreds of thousands of bikers – I think the attendance guesstimate for this year was 400,000, not including the vendors. Bikers come from all 50 states and even other countries to gather in Fayetteville, Arkansas for this three day event, touted as being the country’s largest charity motorcycle rally. Over the course of its 17 year history, BBB has donated $1.5 million to the Northwest Arkansas community’s local charities and organizations who serve people in need. Here are just a few organizations who benefit from the proceeds raised by vendors and BBB merchandise:
7 Hills homeless center
Boys and Girls Club of Fayetteville
Big Brothers Big Sisters of NW Arkansas
Horses For Healing
CASA for children (court appointed special advocates)
NW Arkansas Free Health Center
Peace at Home Family Shelter
Youth Bridge
Ozark Literacy Council
Map of the most popular biker trails
I’ve never attended BBB, or any motorcycle rally and can say with 99.869% surety that I never will, at least not by choice. WAY too many people and high decibel levels for me. But living in Florida for so many years, I’m certainly acquainted with their popularity. For biker enthusiasts a rally is the chance to get together once a year, like a ginormous, raucous class reunion. Many of them, like the BBB, are rallies ridden for a cause, not just for the fun of riding.
In Gainesville, Florida where I lived, it seemed like a platoon of motorcycles roared through town a least once a month. Daytona was a popular destination for fundraiser rallies, “Our Kids” one of the biggest and longest running, and of the course the infamous Daytona Bike Week. Like fire trucks and Canada geese, you could hear the bike engines long before you saw them.
When I did some poking around about other motorcycle rallies, I wasn’t surprised to read that every state hosts at least one. Those with an * are ones I recall going through Florida. Some of the more popular are:
Sturgis – considered the most popular and rowdiest rally in this country, held in North Dakota in August. The mayor of Sturgis hosts the “Mayor’s Ride”. For a $150 registration fee you can ride with the mayor through the scenic Black Hills and know that your money benefits the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department and Police Reserve.
Ride for Kids – The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation hosts this ride, organizing 37 motorcycle events across the country since 1984. Funds raised go toward grants for medical research in addition to helping out affected families.
*Ride for Life – this is the largest Harley-Davidson fundraising event to benefit MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association). Going strong since 1988, all money raised by the EHDDA, ( Eastern Harley-Davidson Dealers Association of New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Northern Virginia, Pennsylvania and southern New York…the longest string of words compressed into an acronym that I’ve ever seen!), stays in the area to help local individuals and families suffering from muscular dystrophy.

​Here's a short video of one group of riders in this year's Ride for Life.......
Ride for the Red – the American Red Cross hosts this one just outside of Topeka, Kansas. Compared to ones I’ve already mentioned, this fundraiser rally is in its infancy, 2017 being its fifth year. It’s doing well so far, with 350 participants riding for the Kansas Capital Area Chapter of the Red Cross last year.
*Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom – a caravan of hundreds of thousands bikers rumble through the nation’s capital to raise public awareness for those in the armed forces still being held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action. Also known as The Run For the Wall, the bikers travel through Washington, D.C., starting by the Pentagon and finishing at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
3J’s Motorcycle Days – this is a twenty years old charity rally on the Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Not for the slow poke or casual Sunday biker, this rally lets bikers combine their need for speed with their desire to help a good cause: Speedway children’s Charities helps disadvantaged children.

You don't have to ride a motorcycle to aid a charity event. There are countless numbers of walks, runs, marathons, bike runs (hi Uncle John and Jackie!!) that you can participate in to raise money to benefit those in need. I've walked/run in many and it always feels good to know that my time and efforts are helping someone I'll likely never meet.    
Any motorcycle rallies in your town? Have you ridden in one or know someone who has?
What about events for causes where you walk, run or pedal a bike? 
Aerial view of Dickson Street, Fayetteville, Arkansas. Just one of several areas in the city where BBB riders rally together. I bet the non-riding Fayettevillians get their shopping done early in the week. What a crowd!!
<![CDATA[MY MAMA DONE TOL' ME]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 11:00:00 GMThttp://pollymccrillis.com/blog/my-mama-done-tol-me8740725
Substitute teaching in a kindergarten classroom last week took my mind back to my bookshop-owning days and one day specifically. A mother and her young daughter were in my store picking out books for the wee one. When mom told her she couldn't have all the books she'd piled up, the child started huffing and whining. The mother frowned down at her and said, "Hush now! Act like you got some raising."

Well. The child got in a final whine, picked up the four books her mom allowed her, was told to thank the nice book lady,  mom paid and off they went.

I'd never heard that admonishment, "act like you got some raising," and it got me to recalling some my folks used on me and my sister. The first one that sprung to mind was "Use your head for something besides growing hair." 
​Heard that one a lot actually.

As a lifelong journal-keeper and traveler I've amassed quite a collection of phrases and terminology unique to the areas I've lived. I'll start with where I'm living now, smack in the middle of the U.S. of A. Some of these come with translations because....well, you'll see.

~~ I had to go around my elbow to get to my thumb (doing something the hard way when it should be simple) 
You'ns better be comin' to Sunday supper
~~Well aint she biggety lately!
Us'ns'll be there!
~~The Lord don't like ugly (what you did was wrong)
I'll knock you so hard you'll see tomorrow today 
~~Knee baby (next to the youngest child in the family
Well, if that don't put pepper in the gumbo!
  ~~If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride 
part of an old proverb that ended up as a Mother Goose rhyme. It means that wishing for something is useless; if wishing for something made it happen, even the poorest people would have everything they want)

Louisiana Cajun French:
~~Lache pas la patate (pronounced, Losh pa la pa tot, literally, Don't let go of the potato = don't give up)
~~"Whatcha doing, you?" (it's common to hear pronouns repeated at the beginning or end of sentences)
~~Sa c'est bette - That's silly/stupid. 
~~Sa c'est fou - That's crazy! 
~~Foo-yuz(describes a baby that gets into everything. "I had to put child locks on all my cabinet doors because that baby is foo-yuz!")

A very young grandson, Eric, with the family's beloved German Shepherd, Jena. Hard to tell who's talking who out of opening those drawers!
 New Orleans
~~ "make groceries" (going to the store for groceries)
~~How ya'll are?
~~going "to the house" (instead of going home)
~~"Where ya stay at?" (where do you live?)
~~"Where y'at?" (how are you?)

From a Texan roommate:
~~She's tighter than bark on a tree (won't spend money)
~~That's tellin' him how the cow ate the cabbage (telling someone a truth they don't want to hear)
~~ (after she survived rush hour traffic she'd say): I feel like a gnat in a hail storm. 
~~ It's blacker than midnight under a skillet 

New Englandisms:
(Note: to speak New Englander it's important that you don't say the 'r' in words that have them and add an 'r' to words that don't)
~~ Wicked pissa ("that guy was hilarious, a wicked pissa")
~~What a chowdahead! - (boy is he/she stupid)
~~Jeezum crow - (exclamation of frustration or emphasis)
~~ Heats ya twice - (chopping wood for a fire then sitting in front of it once it's blazing)
How about you? Any phrases you grew up with or ones common to where you live. I'll add them to my collection! 
<![CDATA[September 12th, 2017]]>Tue, 12 Sep 2017 11:00:00 GMThttp://pollymccrillis.com/blog/september-12th-2017
service dogs
I was reading a book by RaeAnne Thayne last week -  first one I've read of hers - and her main female character has a rescued dog. Her name is Annie. The dog, not the human. And it's a Havachon. Now, the first time Annie is described and her breed mentioned I paused and thought, huh, I've never heard of a Havachon before. She must've made that up. I keep reading and again the breed is mentioned. And then again.

I think, maybe she's not making it up. So I get to Googling.

Sure enough. A Havachon is a non-fiction breed of dog. (You knew this already, didn't you?). It is a cross breed between a Havanese, another breed I hadn't heard of, and a Bichon Frise, which I had. 

A full grown Havachon like the one above averages 9-12 inches tall and 10-15 pounds. Depending on the genetic blend of a Havachon’s parents, its coat can range in length and color. The mixed black and white above and solid white are most common. Below is a Havanese on the left, Bichon Frise on the right.
One click led to another and another and maybe just one more. The first thing I learned is that "cross breed" is no longer a politically or canine correct term. A dog that springs from the loins of two different breeds is a “hybrid” dog, and the more preferred term for dog snobs, The Designer Dog. Really, I did not make this up. A Designer dog sometimes comes about accidentally, but many such crossings are intentional. Why? Because the breeder is attempting to breed dogs with positive characteristics of two recognized breeds. For example, the Labradoodle (the first photo of service dogs are Labradoodles), was originally bred in an attempt to create a dog with a Labrador temperament and a hypoallergenic poodle coat. Hypoallergenic when it comes to dogs just means that the breeds are low-shedding, which lessens the amount of hair tossed into the environment to aggravate your allergies. They also tend to produce less dander which is what your immune system goes into red alert over.
​Of course not everything pans out like the cross/hybrid/designer breed breeder wants it to. Sometimes the pups will inherit both desired traits, or just one trait or neither. Even when crossbred dogs manifest dominant traits, these dogs might not pass on the desired traits to offspring.

So. I learned a lot about coats that shed, coats that don't, and why they do and don't. Now I'm curious about the breeds of
Designer  Dogs in the world. I recognized many of them, and there are dozens! - but am listing the most common and desired Designer Dogs and what they're made of. I could fill another page with an A-Z listing of DDs: 
  • Labradoodle — Labrador Retriever and Poodle
  • Goldendoodle — Golden Retriever and Poodle
  • Schnoodle — Schauzer and Poodle
  • Yorkipoo — Yorkie and Poodle
  • Bugg — Boston Terrier and Pug
  • Puggle — Pug and Beagle
  • Pomapoo — Pomeranian and Poodle
  • Aussiedoodle — Australian Shepherd and Poodle
  • Bassetoodle — Basset Hound and Poodle
  • Irish Doodle — Irish Setter and Poodle
​Goldendoodle                    Bassetoodle                   Schnoodle

If I had any of these I'd want a Bugg just so I could have this conversation when someone asked me:

"What kind of dog is that?" 
"No, not his name, the breed. What is he?"
"A Bugg."
"No, really. What is it?"

Wouldn't that be fun? After these pictures I'll tell you what would be even MORE fun, for me anyway.
Designer Dogs are not recognized by the American Kennel Club, the purveyor of all that is pure in the canine world, however, there are several hybrid dog clubs out there. Like with the AKC, the breeders must follow a written standard. Only dogs which make the written standard are to be bred. All the dogs in the list above are allowed into these hybrid dog clubs. 
This is Billy. He's a Chorkie - Chihuahua and Yorkshire Terrier - and my daughter's dog. This picture is of him the day she got him as a tiny tot. Cutest little fellow and super happy.
And very well loved. 
We have all these Designer Dogs. Some cute, some, mmm, not so much. But what we don't have and really need is one that is a canine combo of a poodle and a breed that starts with some thing that rhymes with jolly, golly, holly or folly. You know where this is leading, don't you? The world needs a Polly dog so when it's bred with a Poodle it becomes a PollyDoodle!

Yup. I want one of ​those. :-)

How about you? Any Designer Dogs in your life?
Maine Coon, silver tabby.....very Designer, all on its own. Gorgeous!
<![CDATA[September 05th, 2017]]>Tue, 05 Sep 2017 11:00:00 GMThttp://pollymccrillis.com/blog/september-05th-2017how sweet it is...naturally
The curtain is slowly closing over the summer months and I'm not sorry to look back over my shoulder at the hot months we endure in the middle of the year. I am not a fan of summer. Now, back in my student and public school teaching days I was. A couple months off from the routine of going to school every week day, the homework, the planning, the meetings and all manner of hoohah that comes with students and student's parents I was happy to leave behind. Younger years meant time playing outside for as long as Mom, Dad and the lightness of day allowed. Going to the pool, swimming in a lake or even better, the ocean were the finest parts of summer.

Now it's the fruit. 

These days, and for about a decade now, the best part of summer is all the fruit in the markets that we don't see any other time of year. Oh, and flowers. Summer months have a dozen varieties of flowers that we don't see the rest of the year, but to me the fruit is even more special. I get downright giddy when I walk into a grocer or even better stop at a farmer's market or roadside produce stand and see for the first time in the year, canteloupe and honeydew melons. Something I really like about the melons is the surprise inside: by looking at the rind you wouldn't guess what color the flesh will be. A canteloupe's innards, aka muskmelon, mushmelon, rockmelon, look like orange sherbet and tastes just as sweet. Calorie-wise it's pretty low, fat is nearly non-existent, carbs aren't extreme and come from the fruit's natural sugar, and you get hefty doses of potassium and calcium and a handful of other good-for-you vitamins. All from this melon that is oh so pretty inside. 
The pastel shades of canteloupe, on the left, with a honeydew on the right complement each other. Cut some up for a fruit salad and add bright colored berries we have in the summer and it's hard for me to decide which tidbit to eat first. I love them all.

For a few months every year we have something other than bananas, lemons, limes and apples to fill our bellies and quench a sweet tooth the natural way. I can eat a pint of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries guilt-free. My stomach won't appreciate my indulgence but my taste buds will. Eat a pint of some unnaturally sweet but delicious something, like chocolate almond ice cream, and the guilt would ride on my shoulders - and hips - for days.  But fruit? Nope.  No guilt.
Look at these colors!  It's just plain pretty food.

Fruit is a Crayola box of colors. The reds of strawberries, cherries, raspberries, the pink of watermelon and grapefruit, the purple red of a plum. Kiwi with its light shade of green, honeydew, even lighter. There's the white peach and near white of a pear. And blueberries, a True Blue food of which there are few. Concord Blue grapes are a dark blue but I haven't seen seen them here in U.S.A's midwest.

There's a spectrum of yellows and oranges: pineapple, mango, apricot, peaches, nectarines, plum, many varieties of oranges of course, tangerines and mandarins, the "Cuties" that are so totable.  

The berries are the only non-surprise when it comes to color. Unlike all the fruits you have to cut into to eat, berries wear their colors. The blackberries in the photo above are such a dark purple they appear black. Curious about these berries I did a little reading about them. There's been a lot of media hype about blueberries and their many health benefits as antioxidants, but according to a couple medical sources, blackberries are as beneficial. They may prevent and slow the growth of cancers, maintain healthy brain function, they're good for the cardiovascular system and promote healthy skin AND reduce inflammation, fight infection and boost immunity. All this from a berry that is more similar in makeup to peaches and almonds than any other berry.

I raise my glass to blackberries! Well, maybe not right now because I'm writing this early in the day, but later...maybe a glass of blackberry wine, or any wine for that matter. It's all made from some sort of fruit, right?  

So when the fruits of summer have vacated our grocery stores and produce markets there's always wine. And fruit sorbets and sherbets and as a last resource, frozen fruit.  And then we wait several months for the real things and when they appear, I can overlook the heat of the months when they're with us. They do make a summer season more palatable, in every sense.

Do you or have you grown any fruit trees? Have a favorite fruit or fruit recipe?