The Snoop Dog Rap: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

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This week’s writing challenge: The Best Medicine is an invitation to “Poke fun at yourself, write a limerick, find the absurdity in a real-life situation, come up with some groan-worthy puns, sketch a comic, put some fictional characters in a farcical situation — all’s fair in comedy.”

Obviously I don’t have a humor blog, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use this photo I took on my recent trip to The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C.!

New to the neighborhood, walking down the street

Wondering ’bout the neighbors I’ve yet to meet

Got my dogs on the leash, poop bag in hand

My sneakers on my feet, to avoid the sand

Loving the weather, loving the breeze

People so friendly, bless you when you sneeze

Pet owners walking toward other owners

Business suits, runners and even stoners

All give the nod, the slight shake of the head

Says it’s damn early to be outta bed.

Size doesn’t matter, we’ve all heard it

‘Cept when your dog drops a tiger sized sh*t.

photo credit: littlemisswordy

photo credit: littlemisswordy

Pooping tiger released the dragon

Looks to me like you shoulda brought the wagon

No worries, no laughs, wait a minute ’til it’s cooled

All us dog owners have been schooled

By the big breeds, small breeds, the growlers and the barkers

The shy types, sweet ones, and even the stalkers.

We all bow down to our four legged poopers

Embrace our role as human scoopers

Scented bag in hand no match for this steamer

We just keep smiling like we won a Beemer

Well behaved, highly trained, Chihuahua that goes insane

The mangy brown one or the golden-haired mane

The executive, the artist, the homeless man

The bus driver, the banker, and the UPS man

The competitive show dog or the lab who farts

We immediately connect cuz they’ve stolen our hearts.

One Ring To Rule Them All – edited (Weekly Writing Challenge)

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YO MR. WHITE! AND MR. STRUNK!

The infamous Strunk and White, purveyors of compositional advice, implore us to omit needless words in our writing. American author Ernest Hemingway, nicknamed “Papa,” embraced this writing philosophy. Known for an unadorned, sparse prose style, he favored short sentences with strong verbs and very few adjectives or adverbs. While Hemingway is well known for this style, he — like the rest of —worked hard at his writing:

Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.

– Ernest Hemingway, The Paris Review Interview, 1956

OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS

In writing, it’s important to omit needless words, the cruft that obscures what you’re trying to say to your reader. Never use more words than you really need to communicate — be brutal: remove all the words unnecessary to conveying meaning. Let’s look at one example.

Consider this sentence. There are 19 words. Most of the words are cruft:

In order to fully understand and absorb a piece of writing I must go about reading it many times.

After revising, we’re down to eight words — less than half of the original sentence and the meaning remains.

To understand a text, I must re-read it.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Based on this week’s writing challenge, I chose to edit an older post to half the original word count.

It was no easy feat for Little Miss Wordy!

Thank you Krista!

The Original Piece (828 words)

Wedding-Ring2

The digital clock on the nightstand read 3:43 am, as I awoke from a deep sleep to the sound of what could only be bad news. Phones ringing in the middle of the night don’t often carry with them the promise of anything good on the other end, especially when your spouse works the night shift. Still, I hesitated to answer it as I looked around the room as though looking through an old window covered in a thick, grimy film. Three rings, then four rings. On the fifth ring, my arm stretched out in a wooden motion as though someone was holding the marionette strings that were forcing my body to perform the actions my mind was trying so hard to resist. I picked up the receiver, and before I could say a single word was inundated with an avalanche of words tumbling out in a voice I was more familiar with than the very palm that held the phone. I inhaled deeply, filling my lungs with air, slowly lifting the weight that seconds earlier was crushing my chest. My relief at hearing his voice didn’t allow me to focus on his words. In his endless string of hurried phrases strung together with pauses to catch his own breath, I could only make out a few words. Wedding. Flood. Ring. Elevator. Almost died. That last one caused me to bolt out of bed, my feet oblivious to the icy tiles they landed upon as they paced the tiny bedroom that was our first as bride and groom. The room that held pillow talks long into the night of memories, dreams, and all the whispers that forever join two people together now closed in on me as I pieced together the story of how my husband almost drowned for fear of losing the very symbol of the love this tiny room had seen in our first years of marriage.

He worked the night shift at the hospital, and had headed down to the basement for a snack to keep him awake, as the sounds of hours of thunderstorms and falling rain had begun to lull him to sleep. As the ding announcing the elevator’s arrival sounded, the doors opened only a couple of inches, but enough for a steady stream of water to gush through and begin to fill the elevator. No matter how often or how forcefully he pounded the elevator buttons, the doors wouldn’t budge and the water kept rising. He worked his hands into the slight opening and with what could only have been the force of an adrenaline rush, pried open the doors enough to slip through into the flooded basement and find the nearest staircase. A few hours later, he realized his wedding ring was no longer on his finger. For most, panic would have set in as the elevator flooded. As he describes it, the moment he realized his ring was missing was when the real panic set in for him. He headed back down to the basement, and waded his way through the water for what seemed like an eternity, searching desperately for a small piece of gold that meant the world to him. As emotions threatened to overcome him, in the small corner of the elevator he saw a glimmer of hope and something else as he reached down and pulled his wedding ring to the surface.

A wedding ring is only a material item, a piece of metal with more sentimental value than monetary value. However, for the two people who place that ring on each other’s finger in front of all their loved ones, it is so much more. It is a shout from the rooftops declaring their love for another. It is a vault of memories and special moments shared by just the two of them, that each carry close to their heart, reliving those moments with a quick glance at their hand. It is a constant reminder of the love shared by two human beings. It represents a lifetime commitment to share in the good with each other, to support each other in the toughest of times, and to add more love to this sometimes dismal world of ours. How could that ever be a bad thing? Why should that ever be denied to anyone just because they are gay? What right does our government have to deny this and so much more to a couple simply because they happen to be of the same sex? Why should they jump through rings to be allowed the same rights heterosexual couples are automatically given?

The ring isn’t necessary for two people to show their love for one another. It isn’t necessary to join two people in marriage. The ring itself doesn’t guarantee anything really except the promise of love. How can anyone believe they have the right to forbid a union based on love, when the very essence of love is something that can’t be controlled?

The Edited Version (410 words)

Wedding-Ring2

It was 3:43am. The sound of the phone ringing awoke me from a deep sleep. I feared it was bad news and hesitated to answer it. On the fifth ring, I willed myself to reach for it, fighting the fear of what awaited me. I picked up the receiver and heard my husband’s voice. His words tumbled together…wedding-flood-ring- elevator-almost died. The last one caused me to bolt out of bed, my feet hitting the icy cold tiles in the tiny bedroom that held our love story. He frantically told me how that night he had almost lost his life and the symbol of that love story, his wedding band.

The stormy weather during that night’s shift, was making him sleepy and he had headed to the hospital basement for a snack. When he arrived, the elevator doors partially opened and water began to quickly fill the elevator. He pounded the elevator buttons, but the doors wouldn’t budge and the water kept rising. An adrenaline rush allowed him to push apart the doors just enough to slip out and find the nearest staircase.

A few hours later, he realized his wedding ring was missing and that’s when the real panic set in. He headed back to the basement and waded his way through the water for some time, desperately searching for a small piece of gold that meant the world to him. Then in the small corner of the elevator he saw a glimmer of hope and pulled his wedding ring to the surface.

A wedding ring is a piece of metal with more sentimental than monetary value. However, for the two people who place that ring on each other’s finger it is so much more. It is a shout from the rooftops. It is a vault of memories. It is a constant reminder of their love, and represents a lifetime commitment to add more love to this sometimes dismal world of ours. How could that ever be a bad thing? Why should that ever be denied to anyone just because they are gay?

The ring isn’t necessary for two people to show their love for one another. It isn’t necessary to join two people in marriage. The ring itself doesn’t guarantee anything really except the promise of love. How can anyone believe they have the right to forbid a union based on love, when the very essence of love is something that can’t be controlled?

Raised in a Cuban Starbucks

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photo credit: littlemisswordy

Through the years, she has slowly begun each morning with a cup of coffee to start her day. She holds the warm cup with both hands for some time, never rushing the first sip…the sip that promises a stream of memories only the actual scent in the air can rival. She closes her eyes, the cup warming her hands, and lets the memories warm her heart. Back in her childhood home, standing in the doorway of her galley kitchen, she sees her mom before the stove waiting on the familiar appliance that is iconic of a Cuban kitchen. It is the cafetera, and it does so much more than make coffee. She recalls many days when not long after the coffee started to brew, the sound of the doorbell would announce a family member or neighbor drawn by the familiar aroma. As always, they were welcomed into the kitchen for a dainty vessel of strong, black, liquid that never lasted as long as the laughs and conversation around the kitchen table. They always came. They always gathered in the kitchen. They told stories of the tiny island that seemed an insurmountable distance from them, of local parks where men played dominoes while smoking cigars, their cup of Cuban coffee never far from reach. And, they always covered a range of topics from parenting, to current events, to politics both American and Cuban of course. Some stopped in on their way to work, while others arrived after a long day. No matter when they came, no matter what troubled them, nothing seemed out of reach when discussed over some Cuban coffee.

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She was just a child, usually observing from a distance, nose in a book, only taking in the newest arrival with a quick upward glance between pages. She could brew a pot at the age of eight before she was even old enough to drink the stuff. Her parents sometimes allowed a tiny bit at the bottom of a tall mug of milk. It was those times when she felt grown up and worldly, like the very sipping of the coffee would give her the wisdom the grownups possessed. This wisdom they shared as they counseled each other through job changes, financial crises, and even marital troubles. Tiny cups atop matching saucers were witness to their hopes and their dreams, as they stirred in sugar with tiny spoons that would later come to rest just so on the edge of the saucer. She was raised to welcome a guest in their home with joy, and to offer coffee even before offering a comfy seat. A smile would play at the corner of her mouth as they entered the kitchen. They may have come for the coffee but they would leave with a sense of purpose and a warm heart.

Back in her grown up kitchen as she faces her day each morning, cup of Cuban coffee in hand, she inhales the sweet aroma and reflects on the many generations of family that through the years have started their day in similar fashion. She takes her first sip, and as the warm liquid slides down her throat she knows nothing is out of her reach.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Iconic

Do you have a family tradition that immediately takes you back to another place and time?

“One Ring To Rule Them All”

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Wedding-Ring2The digital clock on the nightstand read 3:43 am, as I awoke from a deep sleep to the sound of what could only be bad news. Phones ringing in the middle of the night don’t often carry with them the promise of anything good on the other end, especially when your spouse works the night shift. Still, I hesitated to answer it as I looked around the room as though looking through an old window covered in a thick, grimy film. Three rings, then four rings. On the fifth ring, my arm stretched out in a wooden motion as though someone was holding the marionette strings that were forcing my body to perform the actions my mind was trying so hard to resist. I picked up the receiver, and before I could say a single word was inundated with an avalanche of words tumbling out in a voice I was more familiar with than the very palm that held the phone. I inhaled deeply, filling my lungs with air, slowly lifting the weight that seconds earlier was crushing my chest. My relief at hearing his voice didn’t allow me to focus on his words. In his endless string of hurried phrases strung together with pauses to catch his own breath, I could only make out a few words. Wedding. Flood. Ring. Elevator. Almost died. That last one caused me to bolt out of bed, my feet oblivious to the icy tiles they landed upon as they paced the tiny bedroom that was our first as bride and groom. The room that held pillow talks long into the night of memories, dreams, and all the whispers that forever join two people together now closed in on me as I pieced together the story of how my husband almost drowned for fear of losing the very symbol of the love this tiny room had seen in our first years of marriage.

He worked the night shift at the hospital, and had headed down to the basement for a snack to keep him awake, as the sounds of hours of thunderstorms and falling rain had begun to lull him to sleep. As the ding announcing the elevator’s arrival sounded, the doors opened only a couple of inches, but enough for a steady stream of water to gush through and begin to fill the elevator. No matter how often or how forcefully he pounded the elevator buttons, the doors wouldn’t budge and the water kept rising. He worked his hands into the slight opening and with what could only have been the force of an adrenaline rush, pried open the doors enough to slip through into the flooded basement and find the nearest staircase. A few hours later, he realized his wedding ring was no longer on his finger. For most, panic would have set in as the elevator flooded. As he describes it, the moment he realized his ring was missing was when the real panic set in for him. He headed back down to the basement, and waded his way through the water for what seemed like an eternity, searching desperately for a small piece of gold that meant the world to him. As emotions threatened to overcome him, in the small corner of the elevator he saw a glimmer of hope and something else as he reached down and pulled his wedding ring to the surface.

A wedding ring is only a material item, a piece of metal with more sentimental value than monetary value. However, for the two people who place that ring on each other’s finger in front of all their loved ones, it is so much more. It is a shout from the rooftops declaring their love for another. It is a vault of memories and special moments shared by just the two of them, that each carry close to their heart, reliving those moments with a quick glance at their hand. It is a constant reminder of the love shared by two human beings. It represents a lifetime commitment to share in the good with each other, to support each other in the toughest of times, and to add more love to this sometimes dismal world of ours. How could that ever be a bad thing? Why should that ever be denied to anyone just because they are gay? What right does our government have to deny this and so much more to a couple simply because they happen to be of the same sex? Why should they jump through rings to be allowed the same rights heterosexual couples are automatically given?

The ring isn’t necessary for two people to show their love for one another. It isn’t necessary to join two people in marriage. The ring itself doesn’t guarantee anything really except the promise of love. How can anyone believe they have the right to forbid a union based on love, when the very essence of love is something that can’t be controlled?

Weekly Writing Challenge: The State of the State

How Much Stuff Do We Really Need?

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Every year we kick off the holiday season with Thanksgiving, a day when we stuff the turkey, stuff ourselves and give thanks for all the people and stuff in our lives. We’ve barely had time to digest the Turkey before we’re out the door to be the first ones in line to get more stuff to place under the Christmas tree for our family and friends, more stuff to ensure we are the most decorated house on the block, more stuff to find a place for, more stuff to dust, and more stuff to ultimately ignore. When is it enough? When is it too much?

In this video, Father Scott J. Brown references a family in Ethiopia who seems content with twenty-eight possessions in a 360 square foot hut, a very different picture from the average 2500 square foot American household. At what point do we have enough stuff in our lives?

Sarah Book Publishing

Sarah Book Publishing

Scott J. Brown is also a children’s author. His latest book, a must read, tells the story of three kings who face the dilemma of (gasp) having to come up with a personal gift fit for a king when the shops were already closed for the day. Purchase The Gift of You here and share the story with your children this season.