The Plant Killer, "Sunflower Club" & a Contest

By Cindy Beck
© 2009

The Plant Killer

I should have known better than to plant several small sumac in the yard, because I live with ... (menacing organ music) ... the Plant Killer! Otherwise known by its scientific name as F. Russell Beck.

It seems like only yesterday, in the crowning achievement of my life, that I actually grew a softball-sized watermelon in my garden. That is, until my husband came along with the Mega-Tiller of Death and ran the melon over, splitting it in half like a ... well, like a ripe watermelon ... and leaving it to die in the hot sun. (Click here to read about it in "The Parable of the Watermelon.")

Russ claims it was an accident. Knowing him, I'm sure that's true. He would never intentionally do something like that. However, his subconscious must lie awake at night, planning the demise of my yard and garden. Otherwise, how could it be that a man who can walk a straight line with his eyes closed, mows in a zigzag that takes out every plant on the entire block?

Well, okay maybe not the entire block, but only because we have a big vinyl fence that goes around the yard. If not for that, he'd mow right past the property line and over the neighbor's eight-foot plum tree. If the neighbors are wise, they'll put their above ground swimming pool on the other side of their yard next year, because I've seen Russ and his wild mower crash into our vinyl fence several times this summer.

On Sunday, I walked out to look at my lovely little sumac grove. The lawn chairs, chicken wire, and old satellite dish that I'd placed around them as protection had been for knot. Yup, my cleverly designed protective devices were heaped off to the side in a tangled knot.

Using my excellent sleuthing abilities, I recognized the tracks that circled around the yard and serpentined back to the sumac. Lawnmower!

I hurried over to my grove, knelt on the ground and ran my hand over the closely clipped grass. Nubbins were all that remained of my little trees. The heart-rending cry that followed caused passersby to cover their hearts in sympathy. Who knew Russ could cry that loud?

I'm continuing to water, fertilize, and pray over the murdered sumac, in hopes they'll come back from the roots. I'm so desperate that I might even try a voodoo spell. The kind that involves sharp pins and a little doll made in Russ's image.

In the meantime, I've devised a plan. One that will work far better than piling junk around my plants to protect them. The next time the Plant Killer's subconscious starts plotting to mow over my trees, I'm going to pull his plug.

What? No, not that plug. His lawnmower's plug.


Last week's contest winner: Only one person guessed correctly that statement #4, "My favorite position to play in softball is outfield" was false.

My favorite position was not outfielder, but CATCHER!

Rachelle Christensen wins one of the two prizes, a mini first aid kit. And since that still leaves another first aid kit, I've put the remaining names into the random generator, and it pulled Ronda Hinrichsen.

Congratulations to you both. I already have Rachelle's address, but Ronda, would you please email me yours? Thanks!


"The Sunflower Club" and a Contest

In conjunction with my planting tale of woe, I'd like to mention a book that I recently received from Gretchen Holland, while at the LDS Bookseller's Convention a couple of weeks ago. Gretchen wrote a cute book for children called, "The Sunflower Club."

Here's the blurb from the back of the book:

Jenny and Jacob look forward to summer vacation every year, but this summer will be different. As the twins prepare to turn eight and be baptized, their Grandfather introduces them to a club. They begin to understand that they can join the club too, IF they learn some important lessons. As small sunflower seeds arrive in the mail, Jenny and Jacob's special adventure begins. With the help of their Mom and Dad, their older brother Alex, and, of course Grandpa, this summer will teach them important lessons about faith, trust, love, work, and sharing their feelings with others as they get ready to join "The Sunflower Club."

Gretchen was so sweet and gave me an autographed copy of the book to use as a prize in a contest.

So ... here's how to enter to win:

1. For one entry, leave a comment on this blog post.

2. For two entries, leave a comment here telling me you plan to leave a second comment about the contest, along with the link to my blog, out at Facebook. And then remember to actually go out and post that at FB. (You're on the honor system here.)

I'll pull a winner at random, next Monday. Good luck!

(And thanks to Gretchen, for donating the book. You can purchase Gretchen's book at Amazon.com.)


I'm a Kreativ Blogger ... by Cindy Beck

A long time ago, and in a land that's somewhere over the rainbow, Oz-Girl nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger award. I was staggered. I was stunned. I left a comment at her site thanking her for it, and it disappeared. I'm guessing a munchkin ate it! (Ooo, I'd better be careful or L. Frank Baum's ghost is going to haunt me for making such accusations.)

Then, in the past couple of weeks, Ali Cross and Nichole Giles nominated me again. I'm staggered. I'm stunned. This time the munchkins better not eat my thanks.

According to the rules of the award, I must tell seven things about me that no one knows. Considering all the games of tag that I've played, it's getting hard to dig up seven unknown truths. Or even semi-truths. So, in keeping with my warped unusual sense of humor, I'm going to give six true facts and one that's a lie made up.

The first two people to comment and correctly guess which one of the seven facts is not accurate wins a mini first aid kit ... great for the car, backpack, gym bag, or desk drawer at work. (Sorry, but family members may not participate in the contest. A a few of them actually know me!)

1. I met my husband, Russ, in high school at a horror movie.
2. My son and his family were once extras in a movie.
3. I learned to play the flute in college.
4. My favorite position to play in softball is outfield.
5. I've visited Canada.
6. My cousin-in-law is from Denmark.
7. My co-authored book of humor, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief, is due out in December.

Thanks again to Oz-Girl, Ali Cross and Nichole Giles for the award. And now, for my nominations ...

Bugs Bunny
Sylvester and Tweety
Pepe Le Pew
Yosemite Sam

(And if Pepe Le Pew responds, would someone please let me know? I want to know how he's going to answer the questions!)

What's playing in my head: Theme Song for the Bugs Bunny Show.


A Tale of Disorganization ... by Cindy Beck

AND A REVIEW OF, ORGANIZE AS YOU GO, written by Marie Ricks.

© Cindy Beck, 2009

(Keywords: Cindy Beck, disorganization, organization, organizational tips, Organize as You Go, Marie Ricks, humorous writing, LDS humor, humor blog, down home humor, funny, laugh)

I woke up this morning wondering what I'd forgotten to do last night. Try as I might, it alluded me. So, I ran a nice warm bath, added bubbles, and as I did, Corky Porky Pie, the dog, jumped in. No matter, I could just give him a bath.

That's when I remembered he would refuse to cooperate unless his rubber ducky floated in the water. No big deal, I dashed out of the bathroom and to the closet where Quackers resided. Opening the door, a super-sized bottle of shampoo fell off the cluttered shelf and onto my head. No problem, I liked seeing stars. I staggered around, dazed, and tripped over Russ's bowling ball that sat nearby. Grabbing my stubbed toe, I reached for the bowling ball. Too late. It bounced down the stairs and with a crash, fell through the floor. Oh well, I always wanted a second entrance to the basement.

Just then, Corky Porky appeared beside me, dripping wet and munching on a bar of bath soap. The muddy water from his coat spread in an ever widening circle on the white carpet. "No worries," I said with a sigh, "I needed to clean the carpet, anyway."

That's when it dawned on me. If I had read, Organize as You Go, by Marie Ricks—as I'd planned the night before—I could have avoided the whole scenario!

Author's note: Okay, so I made it all up for your amusement. Russ doesn't really own a bowling ball and I don't have a white carpet. But, Corky Porky Pie does own a rubber ducky and he does need a bath! (The dog, not the rubber ducky:)

Review of "Organize as You Go," by author, Marie Ricks

Cover Blurb:
Have time to smell the roses again. Bring greater organization to your busy life! It is often the small, but important changes you make in the way you think, what you do, and how you respond to your daily stresses that makes all the difference in your capacity to have an ordered, more productive life. Are you seeking for answers and wanting to implement major changes? If so, this book is for you. Learn about 50+ organizing as you go personal, family, and home organization principles to change your life for the better, beginning today!

My Opinion:
I'm always game to try new organizational methods, so I really looked forward to reading Marie's book ... and she didn't disappoint me.

Organize as You Go is broken into seven easy-to-read sections, so that once you've read the entire book, you can use it as a quick reference. She gave organizational advice for every day use, holiday use, at home, during travel or moving, as well as suggestions to stay organized for the future. In addition, she mentioned forms to help organize your life that are available at her website.

Since I recently moved into a new home and a few unpacked boxes still sit tucked into corners, I enjoyed her advice on how to get those last few, stubborn boxes unloaded and put away.

What I liked most about the book, however, was that it left me feeling motivated and inspired, with the attitude that organizing my life wasn't as hard as it sometimes seemed. And when it comes to organizing, that's half the battle.

The book would make a wonderful wedding gift, as well as a Christmas gift for those who need a little extra help with their organizational skills. And it makes a great reference book for those who want life to flow a little ... or a lot ... smoother.

To learn more about the Marie Ricks and her other work, click here for Marie's blog.

To purchase a copy of Organize As You Go, click here.

What's playing in my head: Nothing. I've turned off the songs so I can get my ear worms organized in alphabetical order.


Strike Three ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2009

(Keywords: Cindy Beck, mom, mother, breast cancer awareness, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, sew, talents, humorous writing, LDS humor, humor blog, down home humor, funny, laugh)

You’d have to know my mom—she’s a woman of many talents. For one thing, she’s a fantastic organizer. She’s so good that if the Republican National Committee requested it, she could orchestrate the next Presidential Inaugural Ball with both eyes closed and while under general anesthesia.

I don’t bring that up because I plan on having her anesthetized any time soon, but so you’ll understand her abilities.

If you’re ever on a cruise ship and see the two of us, my mom would be the classiest lady on board, while I’d be the cruise-ee wearing one broken flip-flop and old peddle-pushers* from 1963. That’s assuming I could ever manage to scrape together enough dough to go on a cruise.

My mom also sews. In my elementary school years, she created cute little outfits for me which I proceeded to destroy and decimate by climbing trees and sliding down hills on my backside.

One summer, in hopes of helping me learn to run a household someday ("someday" meaning that unknown point in time when presumably I'd marry a boy instead of playing football with him), Mom undertook teaching me to sew. My handiwork turned out great. The shorts could have held a pair of Siamese twins and their Siamese dogs—with a pant leg for each. After that, Mom gave up educating me on the “genteel” arts.

Now that I’ve supplied our mother-daughter history, I want to make it clear that when I say there are three things my mom can not do, I’m not criticizing her but simply stating facts.

Mom can’t whistle. When she tries, it comes out as a puff of air with sing-songy noises.

Having grown up during hard times, Mom never owned a bike, nor learned to ride one. Therefore, as a nine-year-old I taught Mom all the essentials, and then quickly regretted it when she ran my bike into a pole, crunching my front basket. Even when she finally, sorta, maybe got the hang of balancing on a bike, she could never figure out how to stop. She’d just put her feet down to slow the bike from 60mph to 55, and then bail off, leaving the bike to weave down the street and crash into the nearest parked car.

The last thing Mom can’t do is throw a ball. Any ball. Not even a wadded piece of paper into a trash can.

So, when I answered the phone on Friday and Mom said, “Because of my work with Civista Health in promoting breast cancer awareness, there’s a possibility I may throw out the first pitch at the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs [minor league] baseball game in two weeks,” I fell on the floor, laughing. With tears rolling down my face.

Corky Porky Pie, the dog, ambled over to see if I’d had a stroke.

I finally quit with the hysterics and pulled the phone away from the dog, who was carrying it to the backyard to bury it. “They asked you to throw a ball? At a real ball game? While they were at it, why didn't they just ask you to ride a bike around the bases afterwards?”

Mom laughed at that thought as much as I did.

When my husband, Russ, came home a little later, I told him the news. He looked at me incredulously. “Your mom? Throw out the first pitch? We’re talking your mom? With a real ball? While they were at it, why didn’t they just ask her to whistle the national anthem?”

I know some might think I made this up, so let me set the record straight right now. I kid you not.

If Mom is chosen to throw out the first pitch, it will be a day that lives on in infamy for some poor event organizer for the Blue Crabs. Emergency personnel will probably take him off in a straight jacket as he mumbles, “But she was supposed to throw it over home plate, not knock out the lights on the scoreboard!”

With a little luck, there’ll be a webcam at the baseball game. I live halfway across the country and won't be able to be there, but I have to see my mom throwing a pitch. I just hope she doesn’t bean anyone.

And from what Mom tells me, so does she.

* For those who weren’t around in the dark ages, “peddle-pushers” were an early version of capris.

What's playing in my head: Take Me Out to the Ball Game, featuring Harry Caray and the Chicago Cubs fans.


CONTEST WINNER: Nancy is the winner of the book, Martha's Freedom Train from last week's contest. Nancy, please email your mailing address to me at bumblebeephoto2(at)yahoo(dot)com.

"Martha's Freedom Train" and a CONTEST!

Posted by Cindy Beck

Although I usually post something that relates to humor here, once in a while I’ll do a book review. Today, it’s my privilege to review a charming book of historical fiction, written for children by my good friend, C. LaRene Hall.


Martha and her parents escape slavery with the help of many conductors for the Underground Railroad—an escape route set up by people of all colors. They finally have a safe place to stay, but Mama has caught pneumonia and is too ill to travel farther. Papa learns about a wagon train of Mormons traveling west, and he takes Martha to meet them. Her heart almost breaks when he sends her west with these strangers. Martha encounters many exciting adventures along the way. They cross rivers, see Indians and buffalo. She helps put out a fire, and after falling asleep beside the trail, they accidentally leave her behind. Once they reach the Salt Lake valley, she still has choices to make, and Martha wonders how her papa will find her.


This is a delightful story that’s quick reading, and yet contains enough excitement that it’s hard to put down. It’s well written and the characters capture the imagination. Although it’s intended for those ten and older, I found it fun, even as an adult. I liked the moral of the story, that God loves all children regardless of color, and mentally cheered in the section that disclosed Martha had a burning desire to learn to read.

In addition, children and adults alike will enjoy the cute penciled illustrations that depict slices of Martha’s journey. And I loved the pioneer recipes for journey cakes and prickly pear jelly at the back of the book.

Now, if I could just manage to pick a few prickly pears without getting poked …


I thought you might like to know a little about LaRene, so here are a few of her responses to Crazy Eights, a game of tag she participated in earlier this year. If you’d like to read all her answers, click here.

Eight Things C. LaRene Hall Wishes She Could Do:
1. Go along ways away
2. Have more writing time
3. Have more time everyday to do what I want
4. Find someone to publish my next book
5. Travel to new places all the time
6. Have no bills
7. Have enough money to travel
8. Have no weeds in the yard

Eight Shows She Watches:
1. News
2. Perry Mason
3. Murder She Wrote
4. My Three Sons
5. I don’t know what else is on. I don’t start watching anything until after 9 pm
6. This is a hard question and I have no answers.
7. A good movie if there is any on.
8. I don’t watch much TV because I’d rather write or read.

This is your chance to enter a drawing to win a signed copy of Martha’s Freedom Train! Simply do one of the following:

1.Tell your friends about Martha’s Freedom Train by posting this link on either Facebook or Twitter: http://www.authorhouse.com/Bookstore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=55282 , and leave a comment here that you’ve done that … OR …

2.Go to Amazon.com (click here) and leave a quick note about Martha’s Freedom Train in the review or discussion section. Something easy like “This book sounds great!” will work just fine. Then, leave a comment here on my blog that you’ve done that … OR …

3.Mention Martha’s Freedom Train on another blog (as an entry or a comment on your own blog, or a comment on a friend’s blog), along with the link, http://www.authorhouse.com/Bookstore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=55282 and then leave a comment here that you’ve done that ... OR …

4.Go to LaRene’s blog at http://www.clhall.blogspot.com, leave a comment such as, “I hope to win a copy of your book at Cindy Beck’s blog,” and then leave a comment here telling me you’ve done that.

The winner will be picked next Monday, by a random generator. Or possibly by my dog, Corky Porky Pie, who isn’t quite as random but can’t read, either, and so is guaranteed to be impartial. The winner’s name will be announced next Monday, here at my blog.

Good luck!