Wendy Knuth Author of Moore Zombies, blogging about the human experience.

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In Memoriam: My Dad

               This isn’t so much of an obituary, but rather some fun memories and thoughts of my Dad who passed away July 4, 2017.  What to call him:  Scientist, engineer, oceanographer, diver, genius.

By the time my Dad hit high school, he was two grades ahead, which he claims was just enough to make things very socially awkward.  At the age of 16, he then went to I believe Yale, or it may have been Harvard, where he claims he majored in billiards and flunked out.  But, he went on to get an engineering degree, and really was a genius.

You didn’t want to watch Jeopardy with my Dad.  He took it very seriously and basically made you feel like an idiot as you watched him answer almost every question.  He actually tried out for the program two or three times, but his pitfalls were sports and pop culture.  I always thought it was too bad that he never made it on, but then if you didn’t have cakewalk categories, there would be less of a viewing audience.

There isn’t a book he hasn’t read.  I’m exaggerating a little bit but he was quite the bookworm and he read fast!  If you were reading the same page with him, he would turn the page before you were halfway down.  His fav was sci-fi.

My Dad alternated between being genius engineer with some dough and broke student at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

              Dad loved the ocean.  He was a commercial abalone diver and we had shells all over our home.  I recall going to the back doors of sea food restaurants and he would receive cash in pocket for his catch.  Not sure if that practice still works these days.  When the abalone was overfished, he had to switch to sea urchins – ouch – he hated that.

 

             I was very spoiled seafood-wise as a young girl.  I have gotten over complaining about buying a lobster tail at a restaurant – but as you can see from the pictures, I am not exaggerating about what my Dad used to bring home for dinner.

 

One time my Dad found a white abalone and knew of a lady at Scripps who was studying them, as they were rare.  So we were sitting in a parking lot waiting, when the lady drove up, and she looked kind of a little scared but I could tell she felt much better when she saw me, a young girl.  My memory is that it seemed like a sketchy back parking lot abalone deal.

                One time, my Dad caught a large shark and came home with it in the back of the pickup truck.  He was very proud and wanted a picture of his young kids sitting on his catch.  I thought the dead shark was disgusting, slimy, oozing and smelly.  I unhappily ended up sitting on that yucky dead shark, and I don’t recall ever seeing the photo, but I imagine the look on my face would be priceless.

            When my Dad had his engineering hat on, he worked for the companies IVAC and Pancretec.  He worked on IV medical pumps in their infancy.  His story is that he made the prototype for what IV pumps have become today.  Even ill in the hospital he spoke of the major dilemma being how to get over the issue of different medicines having different viscosities and how to make a pump that would work to factor in that problem.

I searched online for the history of medical pumps and would have loved to see my Dad’s name in glowing lights.  I found info on early IVAC pumps that used drips or syringe action that had issues.  My Dad spoke of coming up with a two wheel idea to push against the tubing, which is kind of what we see today.  But, I’m sure he was at Pancretec and back in the day companies often took credit for what their engineers came up with.

              A highlight of his career was a cancer patient who took the time to find out who had made the pump he was using and called my Dad at our home.  We’re talking rotary telephone, before telemarketing, before answering machines.  This man was dying, and he thanked my Dad for creating the medical pump that allowed him to spend time at his home with his family.  Dad was very proud.

Flip

When my Dad was doing the oceanographer thing, he made several scientific excursions including going to the North Pole and South Pole including visiting South America, and I wish I knew where else.  He was even on Flip and Alvin the submarine.  I did an 8th grade report on Flip with pix, that are long gone.  Flip was a vessel that literally would turn from horizontal to vertical so experiments could be done.  So, everything – toilets, sinks, beds were on the floor and also on the wall so that things were usable when the vessel would fill with water at the bottom as a ballast and flip.  I believe it was scientists in Alvin who first discovered hydrothermal vents with their own ecology of interesting and never before seen deep sea creatures, which was huge news at the time.

Flip https://youtu.be/4dftaWQLtPQ

             One funny story I always loved was one voyage where the King of Sweden was on board.  You have to realize that these scientific excursions always carried nerd types from numerous different countries and various communities: people studying salinity, polar bears, tides and currents, etc.  I don’t recall everything my Dad was studying but I do know at one point he was interested in sediments at different ocean depths.  So my Dad has the story of how one day, some scientist from another country rolled a marijuana cigarette and passed it around – we’re talking the 70’s here, and the King of Sweden said that it tasted funny, unlike a typical rolled cigarette.  He didn’t realize what it was.  No one told him.  How many people can say they smoked a joint with the King of Sweden?

              Speaking of nerds, my Dad did have the pocket full of nerdy stuff, the glasses, and yes, a slide rule.  I learned how to use it as a young girl.  When I was taking calculus in college, my Dad actually helped me when I was having difficulty with problems.  There aren’t too many people in their forties that can help their kids with math homework past algebra.

            Anyone remember bulletin board systems before the internet?  A fond but now funny memory is my Dad and I downloaded a current satellite image of west coast weather.  It took about 45 minutes, and we thought that was just amazingly cool.  Circa 1991?

Speaking of high tech, other memories include when Dad brought home our first ever microwave, our very first computer (Kaypro with tiny green screen), and our first dot matrix printer.  This was back when a floppy disc really meant floppy for those of us who know what that means, way before thumb drives.  Oddly enough, in his older years, even though he enjoyed the internet and would email, he never fully embraced the use of cell phones, including smart phones or texting.  He went back to basically living off the land for his retirement, and enjoyed answering to no one.  I believe he loved it, and I am happy for that.

Last picture with my Dad

Now that he is gone, I wish I had learned more about his excursions and his engineering work as an adult.  I guess you don’t think of these things until it is too late.

 

Love and miss you, Dad!

How To Cure Rosacea – You Can’t – But This Will Help!

This is the story of my ongoing battle with rosacea, including no-no’s, tips and tricks, and my before and after pictures.

Here is my “before” picture of me with rosacea, and without any makeup. This picture was taken recently when my rosacea was at its worst ever. I almost never went out in public like this. People did double takes on me. “Wow, you got really sunburned!” is what I hear and translate as, “Wow, you are really ugly!” Um, yeah, thanks.

Rosacea Before

Rosacea Before

My rosacea started in my 30’s. You can read stories online of people who have rosacea and how the awful redness, blotchiness, and pimples are nothing compared to the true and ultimate horror of growing the bulbous nose. W.C. Fields is often given as a prime example.

Here are some links to pictures from the National Rosacea Society:
https://www.rosacea.org/patients/allaboutrosacea.php
This one shows a couple of bulbous noses: https://www.rosacea.org/patients/faces.php

One trick I learned was to use a cover-up stick ALL OVER my face, not just over small problem areas, and then apply liquid base (you may call it foundation), and finally powder. It works pretty well, but feels heavy and I don’t like having this on my face for long hours at work.
Another trick I tried was to get sunburned. My face will peel and I will have a fresh set of skin, or I will tan over. Nope – don’t do it. You will only look like a nuclear bomb went off in the immediate vicinity.

Yet another trick I discovered was the green tinted makeup. Not Halloween makeup! It is very hard to find. You have to search grocery stores, drug stores, and the likes of Kmart or Walmart and you might find one item. I never found a green tinted base, but I did find a green tinted cover-up stick, and I applied my regular base and powder over this. The idea is that green and red make brown/tan. I thought I looked okay, but my husband told me I looked sick, literally green around the gills. But, I have tried this off and on over the years.

To give you an idea of green makeup and what I am talking about, I am including Amazon affiliate links if you are interested in giving green makeup a try. Perhaps you are better with makeup than I am.

Green Cover-Up Stick

Green Concealer

So finally, I went to a dermatologist. Cureable? No. What to avoid: Stress, coffee, caffeinated beverages, sun, wind, alcohol, spicy food, hot showers, hot tubs, hot baths. Bummer – I like all of those things, except for stress.

I was prescribed metrogel as a remedy. It is a gel you apply to your face. I can’t say I noticed a huge difference. But by today’s standards, my rosacea was still in its infancy so perhaps it worked better than I thought, or at least kept it from getting worse. I’m not sure.

I don’t recall how much the metrogel costs, but you do need a prescription for it. Here is a link to their site: https://www.metrogel.com/

At some point I ran out of metrogel and got sick of going to the dermatologist. So a few years pass and my face continues to redden. Back to the dermatologist who now recommended I get my face lasered.

The laser dermatologist recommended I do one side of my face so that I could see if it made a difference. I wish I had taken pictures. It is said that the laser feels like a rubber band snapping on your skin, but I say it feels like being sandblasted one small area at a time. You end up with a throbbing, aching pain, the kind of pain where you feel each heartbeat in your face. The pain goes away within half an hour or so. Ironically, you are left with a very red, sometimes bruised face. My doc admitted after seeing some dark, purple bruising, that the laser was “up too high” and he turned it down.

I was glad he suggested doing one cheek, because I did notice a difference, but probably wouldn’t have if he had done both cheeks.

The next treatment included both cheeks. I wised up and asked about my Rudolph nose. I thought I had one face, but in the dermatology world, you actually have two cheeks, one nose, one chin, and one forehead, all priced differently. I HATE that!!!! By the way, laser to the nose really, really, REALLY hurts!

I ended up doing the laser treatments 3 or 4 times and my cheeks are still lopsided to this day, but you can’t tell by looking. Laser is not covered by insurance and I found it to be too time consuming (long drive to the big city) and honestly I didn’t have the funds to be this vain. I want to say it was around $140 per cheek? I can’t quite remember, except that it was expensive. However, at the time I thought this was a permanent or at least a long lasting solution. It did make a big difference. I actually could and would go out in public without any makeup, and nobody looked twice or said anything. Unfortunately, this only lasted about 1-2 years.

After some time, and disgust, I thought I would try a new dermatologist. Said new doc was also a newbie doc. He recommended a sulfur cream. Unfortunately I don’t recall the prescription name, but I do recall smelling like sulfur all day, as well as smelling sulfur all day – it burned my nostrils. If it had worked, I would still reek of sulfur to this day.

Years and years pass. My face has become horribly, blotchy red, and now, the pimples . . . so superficial that they come off easily with a scrape of the fingernail. I went back to the first dermatologist. I arrive without makeup and see not only other patients doing a double take on me, but the receptionist herself. The doc took one look at me and said, “You’re a disaster! We can’t have you walking around looking like that!” I agreed.

Luckily, times had changed. He prescribed Soolantra twice daily and Doxycycline once daily. I’m not sure about the theory behind the antibiotic, but it is a low dose antibiotic, not something you would take for a typical infection. The difference was huge. It took about two weeks for me to see great results. I do have insurance so each visit cost me a $35 copay. The doxy was a couple of dollars, and one tube of Soolantra cost $60, which lasted around 3 weeks using it twice daily.

Rosacea Meds That Made A Difference For Me

Rosacea Meds That Made A Difference For Me

After some time, I saw my doc again and he wanted me to stop the pills and do the cream once daily. My “after” pic you see actually looks a pinch worse than when I was at my best with the full initial treatment.

So here are the results, before and after.

Rosacea Before

Rosacea Before

Rosacea After

Rosacea After

Funny enough, when I look at the “after” pic I think I don’t look so great, but in comparison to the before pic, I think, “Much Better!” Perhaps now that I know how bad it can get, I have lowered my standards and am more accepting of my “after” pic look. Maybe I will try some green makeup again.

If you suffer from rosacea, I hope this post helps you see that there is help. Please see a dermatologist. As an endnote, I would like to say I realize that people are suffering from much worse. The bigger lesson learned is to please think twice before you say things to strangers in public.

Wendy Knuth
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American Folklore – Songs From the Past

For some reason tonight, I had a song running through my head – Charlie and the MTA. I have old memories of my parents and us kids singing the song together while my mother played the guitar. Said mother had a very old songbook of tunes. She played, we sang. I would very much love to have that old book of songs, but along with the rest of what is now known as folklore American song history, it is long gone. It only survives by word of mouth, and unfortunately (or not), in this day and age of me and mine and now, this type of thing did not get passed down to my children, and probably didn’t get passed down to yours.

This particular funny old folk song running through my head is about the Boston subway raising their rates so that poor, old Charlie didn’t have enough money to afford the increased price, and for some strange reason he couldn’t afford to get off the subway – he had to ride it forever. I youtubed the song and could only find The Kingston Trio.

Another oldie but goodie was Boil Them Cabbage Down Down. After googling this song, I could only find a very hickish, twangish, fast bango picking version with slightly different lyrics on the Andy Griffith show of all places. My family sang it much slower and with harmony, making it a much “prettier” song than what I can offer to you:

One song that should be well known by all and is truer to the way we sang it: Sixteen Tons. A song against “The Man.” An intensely wonderful song where you can sing high, or low, or in between, that has a common, bummer theme that we all can relate to. How can you go wrong?

I will leave you with two images. Image number one is two young children on a mattress in their mother’s room as she strums the guitar and we all sing. Image number two is a bunch of hippies with their children on a beach in front of a firepit, singing together. Take your pick, they both happened.

These are only a few of the songs we used to sing. Please enjoy the songs and pass them along to the next generation!

Wendy Knuth

The Wonderful World of English

I thought I knew English.  It is my first language.  I speak some Spanish and have learned those rules are much easier than English.  English has iffy rules.

You might be able to start a sentence with “and”.  But, starting a sentence with “but” is iffy.  But we speak like that all the time.   Do you walk towards the tree or do you walk toward the tree?  It depends on which country you live in or rather, which country one’s writing is intended for.  One can often tell the origin of one’s writing if there is “our” instead of “or”, such as colour and color.  Then there is theater and theatre.  In the United States of America, however, we use both.  You can go traveling in the United States.  However, you go travelling outside of the U.S.  Note how I underlined those words for emphasis.

In my Moore Zombies: Zombie World book, I have a couple of attractions inside the park.  (Incomplete Sentence Alert.)  For instance Creepy Show and the Become a Zombie areas.  I looked up rules for names and a long list of things to be italicized or emphasized.  Was there an attraction on the list?   Nope.  I also bring up the fact that Frankenstein is the name of the scientist in the book Frankenstein, (underline book names) and not the name of the monster.  Same problem.  In bringing attention to the name itself, do I refer to it as Frankenstein, “Frankenstein” or Frankenstein?  I decided one way, then the other, then back again.  I found I had caps in one area, italics in another section of the book and quotes in other areas.  How confusing.  Change it all to “just normal” I finally decided.  I think.  I could be wrong.  Read the book.  (Pluggy, pluggy.)

One thing that I have recently learned is one is supposed to put a comma after an introductory hello.  Hello, Sir or Maam.  Why the pause?  I have been writing letters all of my life with “Hello Jane”, not “Hello, Jane”.  I’m going to have to attend counseling sessions now.   Speaking of pauses. . .  Suddenly, the black cat jumped in front of me.  If it was suddenly then there shouldn’t be a pause!

Did you know there is a difference between onto and on to?  If you walk on to the next attraction, you are going there.  If you walk onto the next attraction, that would be incorrect because you are not really “on” the attraction.  What about off of?  I hear it all the time.  She jumped off of the table.  I discovered a great argument against this practice.  One wouldn’t say on of, therefore you can’t use off of.  Now it becomes:  She jumped off the table.

Now that on and off are easily understood, I would like to tell you about a confusing conversation my husband and I once had about the alarm.  Is the alarm set?  Yes it is on.  Does that mean the alarm is sounding?  No, if the alarm were sounding, then it would be going off.  So the alarm is off if it is not set to on, or you have turned the noise off.  If the alarm is on, it is not really on, it is only set to alarm.  Try explaining that to someone who is learning English.

If you think I have mastered the language, reread this blog to find that I use quotes here, italics there and underlines elsewhere.  Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.  Luckily, that is often not entirely incorrect in the wonderful world of English.

Wendy Knuth, author of Moore Zombies picture and chapter books

Moore Zombies Picture Books Are For All Ages!!

Moore Zombies CoverGimme Noodle Front Cover

Why Placing An Age Range On Picture Books Doesn’t Quite Make Sense

Hello all.  And I mean all!  I don’t care what your age is in the human spectrum of life.  If you are reading to and with children, then a specified age range for a book implies limitations that just shouldn’t be.  This is why I HATE placing an age range on my Moore Zombies books.  Plug, plug.

I am a strong believer in early reading.  When my children were young, I read to them early and often.  Yes, you may enjoy the words and the pictures, but don’t forget about cuddling, bonding, learning, teaching, feeling proud, giggling, etc.  This can be between adult and child, between older child and younger child, or even between children of the same age.  Everyone has fun.

You can’t tell me that a toddler doesn’t read.  Maybe they can’t interpret the letters, but they are certainly taking it all in.  In a way, isn’t that reading?  Don’t we read situations?  Don’t we read people’s emotions?  There is no lettering involved there.

My mom has a story about how proud my brother’s babysitter was about teaching him to read a Dr. Seuss book.  After she left, my brother read the whole book out loud, over and over, without the book.  My mom didn’t have the heart to tell the babysitter.  Somewhere, I have footage of my young son reading a book that was upside down.  However, he had all of the words memorized, and I mean correctly for each page.  I’ve seen online footage of other young kids reading an upside down book.  How cute!!  This is definitely a form of early reading.

As an author, I enjoy placing things in my picture books (meaning wording and pictures) for adults and children, because I know they will be read by both.  So how can I classify my picture books as being intended for ages 3-5 or 4-8 when in reality they are for ages baby to senior.  The years pass quickly, so grab a picture book and read to, or with your kids.  I highly recommend Moore Zombies!

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies Picture Books & Chapter Books

Skewed Advertising, Cell phones / Smart Phones & Screaming Deals

We will get to cell phones in a moment or two, depending on how fast you can read.  But first, let me give you an example of skewed advertising.  Right now, I want you to picture a pair of prescription glasses.  What pops into your mind?  For those of us who have impaired eyesight, we can tell you why your picture is not quite right.

It turns out that a pair of prescription glasses is actually 3 parts: the frames, lens number one, and lens number two.  If you would like to upgrade to scratch resistant, low glare, transition lenses, lightweight, etc., you will pay more.  Seriously?

What about shopping for homes?  New home buyers might think they will pay only the quoted principal and interest price per month.   Not only will property tax and insurance add much to your payment, but you find out about all sorts of processing and document fees.   Those are my favorite kinds of fees.  In fact my husband and I recently bought a used car from a sales lot.  Luckily, we were eligible and fortunate enough to participate (again) in the non advertised processing fee and document fee program.  I think I’m going to start a club.

Let’s talk cell phones.  I found a screaming deal!  And after all has been said and done, I assure you, in my opinion (back off lawyers), it IS a screaming deal!!!  I wish I could say I get a kick back or some sort of payment for my testimonial.  I don’t.  Do I want to pay it forward?  Sure.  Do I want there to be an eventual repercussion on those engaged in skewed advertising?  Yes!!!  Hopefully it will lead to either a lowering of rates, a true reflection of the actual cost involved, or both.

Backstory:  Kids wanted cell phones.  Mom (me) & Dad, (the old bald guy) owned dinosaur flip phones with old school texting for a “low” monthly payment of approximately $60 per month through “major” carrier.  Last Christmas I bought my boys pay-as-you-go cell phones with slide open keypads.  I thought it would be the highlight of their presents.  My boys were thoroughly unimpressed.  They weren’t smart phones. They went mostly unused. . . A waste of money.

So, the talk of the next couple of months was how to get smart phones for the whole family.  My boys and I checked into plans and found some deals.  A lot of major carriers offer some sort of family plan.  Screaming deals!!  So we ran the numbers and finally decided to go with a certain carrier.  I actually went online and started adding things to “my cart”.  The numbers went horribly awry.  The plan was a great deal, but oh, you actually want line access with that?  Um, yes, I would like for the phones to work.  Well, then, that is a different situation.  The stated family plan with phones and plan, and line access was now more than double than the advertised deal.  It turns out that cell phone usage is like buying glasses. There are 3 parts: the phone, the plan, and the line access.  You need all 3 for it to work.

So we checked out a second major carrier who also advertised a screaming deal.  Nope, same problem.  We checked into a third major carrier.  Again, same thing.  Note how I am not naming names.

I can’t figure out why companies pay huge bucks for advertising and for advertising campaigns that just aren’t as advertised.  A company should be creating a feel good, win-win relationship with a customer.  Why in the world would you advertise a price point that you know is not true for the service to work, and set up a resentful relationship with your customer?  I really don’t get it.  Hint, hint.

My quest continued.  I start asking around at work.  What type of cell phone do you own?  What do you like and not like about your cell phone?  Who is your carrier?  Is your service good?  How much do you pay per month?  They are only too happy to answer my questions but I don’t like their answers when it comes to the cost.  As the months go by, my coworkers become annoyed with me.  They can’t believe that in my downtime I am still online looking for a screaming deal.  There just aren’t any.  When will I wake up?

But wait.  I came across a great article.  The link is at the bottom of this blog post.  I researched the plans and decided to go with Republic Wireless for three of us and a separate plan for the old, bald guy who had different needs cell phone wise.  My sons and I are almost always under the wonderful veil of Wifi service either at home, work, or school.  I had to purchase 3 smart phones up front.  I believe they were around $150 each.  Maybe this is part of the way they make money, I don’t know.  They are not the latest and greatest, but they are smartphones, and you can only use the Republic Wireless plan with certain phones.  We did not “port in” our numbers, which means we got new phone numbers.

I didn’t pick the cheapest plan, which is Wifi only at $5.00 per month.  You can make 911 calls outside of Wifi.  I upgraded myself and the kids to the $10 per month plan which includes text and calls over 3G outside of Wifi.  You can upgrade to include gigs if you want.  They now even have a refund program where you receive money off of your bill for not using your gig allowance if you are on that plan.

The part I am DYING to get to:  My monthly bill is $33, including taxes for all three lines.  The fine print?  It is actually in the same size type as all of the rest.  Republic Wireless has a page about how much you will pay in taxes.  There is no line access fee, no skewed advertising in my opinion.  How refreshing!  That is why the $10 per month option I chose X 3 lines of service, plus taxes equals $33.00.

This is a two part plan.  One, buy a phone, two, pay for service.  That’s it.  Really, truly, A SCREAMING DEAL!  Don’t believe me?  Neither does anyone else.  I tell my friends and coworkers about what I finally decided upon and tell them the cost.  The looks on people’s faces would be the same as if I told them about last night’s alien abduction experience.  One coworker even stated, “Well, you really don’t know until you receive your fist bill.”  Another victim of being used to having to pay at least 100% more than advertised per month for that “monthly deal”.

No, really.  My monthly bill, again, including taxes is $33 per month for 3 lines of service.  I have had the service for several months, I have received the bills, and yes, it’s true.  Check it out!

Meanwhile, speaking of screaming deals, don’t forget to download the free ebook Moore Zombies: The Search for Gargoy.  Available online at major retailers for free (Amazon  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NUMLXB0 ), or go to http://www.MooreZombies.com

Wendy Knuth

Author of Moore Zombies picture and chapter books

 

Article on deals for cell phones:  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2375644,00.asp

 

 

Spooky Time – A Fun Halloween Game!

Tonight I reminisce.  I would like to tell you about the fun & scary game that somehow just came to be.  It became a favorite Halloween tradition for our family.  Spooky Time.

When my children were very young, I liked to set the mood for whatever holiday was present.  I just happened to be shopping for Christmas items at a craft store when I noticed a 90% off deal for Halloween items.  Lucky me. I bought numerous, numerous candle holders at 10 cents apiece.  Skulls, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, etc.

So come next Halloween, I put them on display.  I also wanted to play some Halloween music, and all I could find was CD’s with songs such as The Purple People Eater.  I used to light the candles in the spooky looking candle holders, as well as in the jack-o-lanterns we had carved.  I would play the fun music and the kids would run around.

We turned out the lights so we could see how spooky the carved pumpkins and ghosts looked.  Then we decided to play hide-n-seek.  There were numerous candles everywhere so that every room was very well lit.  We even left some of the lights on, but dimmed them.  My boys were so cute.  They would go to their bedroom for one minute to give us time to hide.  Then, they would come out with big eyes, fake swords and plastic armor.

As the kids grew, I had to find scarier music.  So I went online and found some great clips that I downloaded and put on CD’s:  Werewolf howls, theme music from The Exorcist, theme music from the Halloween movies, music with people screaming on occasion, maniacal clown house music, the dreaded string sounds that you usually hear when someone is being attacked in a movie, etc.

The years continued to pass and we had to have less and less light as hiders were more easily found.  By this time, the REALLY scary music was blasting, and the neighbor children came over for this great, fun, scary, Spooky Time.  Sometimes the kids would hide with adults being the seekers, other times vice-versa.  We discovered throwing items at or near a seeker could throw them off, and there was a lot of moving around so that hiders could go to a place where the seeker had already checked, leaving the seeker to believe no one was hiding there.  One thing was very apparent – the jump scare never gets old!

Fast forward a couple of years.  The lights were almost none existent.  The music still blared on.  So, yes, injuries started to occur.  Hiders and seekers would run into each other.  One night, I heard “Wendy, I’m bleeding!”  We turned on the lights and our neighbor had a split in the center of his forehead.  How very Halloween to have blood dripping down all over his face and onto the carpet.  I thought he had crawled into an outside wall corner but it turns out he had just run straight into the flat surface of the wall.  Head wounds bleed, um, a lot.

Boys and men are so funny.  As my husband and I were working on the boy’s wound, my husband told him that someday women would be impressed with his scar, but that he needed a better story.  Apparently, running into a wall doesn’t excite the ladies.  All of the boys got to work.  I was amazed by all of their fantastic stories as to how our neighbor had now suffered this injury.  Great imaginations!

Being the only female present, I found it very interesting that there was no screaming or crying, but almost a proudness, a rite of passage if you will.  I’m sure if some young girl had split her head open things would have been quite different.

I don’t think that was the last year of Spooky Time.   I believe the next year the kids wore their karate gear, including headgear.  We may have even gone one more year.  But it was pretty much the end of an era.  And that is why I reminisce.  It was a lot of fun.  Go ahead and give it a try, just remember to leave some lights on.

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies  MooreZombies.comGE DIGITAL CAMERA

I Despise the Smell of Skunk or What To Try If Your Dog Gets Skunked

So you got skunked.  Seriously what does it mean?  That means you were badly beaten in a game, right?  Well, I wish.  Say it over and over and over again and it starts to sound weird.  Anything to do with “unk” is just not good.  That is why similar words sound just as funky, pun intended, eg funk and gunk.  But, don’t forget bunk, dunk, hunk, junk, punk, and sunk.

But in reality, your dog got skunked.  Why, oh why does this keep happening?  As a dog owner, I have issues.  Ongoing and longstanding issues.  Oh, let me tell you the horrors.  My dogs get skunked.  Luckily it seems to be a seasonal problem of late summer and early fall.  As a youngster growing up in a rural area, our dogs got skunked.  I remember how my mother would bathe the stinky dogs with either lemon juice or tomato juice or tomato sauce.  From my recollection, it worked great.  However, it seems that over time I swear the skunk smell has become much more potent.

There was a time my husband and I were camping, on a merry stroll we were, and my dog went crazy.  She starting barking at a tree.  At the base of the tree.  There was nothing there.  She started to attack a pile of leaves and sure enough, there was a skunk happily hibernating.  He let her know he was not appreciative of her and we dragged her off with the wet odor of skunk in our mouths.  Yuck!!

Another time, our dog ran into our house, so excited, with soaking wet skunk-sprayed fur and proceeded to rub herself all over the carpet in the middle of the night.  Didn’t she know we had to work the next day?   The thick odor makes sleeping very difficult, as well as the increasing anger that goes with this situation.

I would never admit to it, but at some point in time, there may have been a dead skunk in my living room, with entrails all about, and a proud dog to boot.  How fun!  A new job for the husband!

I wanted to put said dog in time out or at least on skunk restriction.  I wanted to have a sit down.  Look dog, you’re not doing us any favors here.  You are not protecting the fort, in fact you are allowing chemical warfare into the fort of which you should be protecting.   If only that would work.

So I tried the lemonade, and I tried the tomato juice and even tomato sauce.  It seemed to have lost its efficiency.  Perhaps my memories were bad as to how well those old tricks worked.  Online I go and find a new recipe.  Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap.  So instead of hitting the odor with acids, now we are hitting it with bases.  Doesn’t anyone know the chemical composition of skunk spray by now?  The new formula seemed to work pretty well, except I lost my fingerprints during the treatment and I’m not so sure how that affects the dog’s skin, but with my increasing anger over the dog’s defunct learning curve, I hoped that the burn and the bath would deter the dang dog.  Um, nope.

As for the carpet, I can’t spread tomato juice all over and I’m sure hydrogen peroxide will make for bleach spots, so I tried a solution of vinegar and water ala the internet.  I sprayed it all over the carpet – works great for a day or two, if you don’t mind the smell of vinegar.  I repeated this treatment every couple of days.  It turns out, from my now all knowing experience that the skunk smell naturally dissipates after approximately one month.  Or it could be that one becomes so used to the foul stench in your own home that you don’t notice it after a month.

Why do I write this angry blog?  Last week, my dog got skunked.  Yet, that sounds wrong, as if he was a victim when I’m sure he was the instigator.  Can you believe I was fresh out of hydrogen peroxide?  I hauled Mr. Dog into tub and went after him with a mixture of vinegar and dish wash soap.  I have to say it worked great for several days.  And again, if you don’t mind the smell of vinegar.  But that nasty skunk smell seems to have a way of working itself back up into the fur and up into your nose.

I now have lots of ideas.  Has anyone started selling this skunk juice?  Perhaps someone, somewhere has or could start a big skunk farm.  You could sell the juice to the police to use as riot dispersing bombs.  You could sell it to the general public as an alternative to mace.  People could use it on their natural born enemies so that they would have to call off from work.  It makes me wonder, how many people have actually called into work to say “I can’t come in today, I’ve been skunked.”

I am always amazed when driving down the road with the air on in my vehicle and I catch a whiff of that foul odor.  I roll down the windows to rid the car of that vile smell and it always takes a couple of miles before I stop smelling it.

The smell used to seem unusual or even interesting.  Nowadays, it just makes me mad.  I am dubious of trying a commercial product as most of the internet gives it a small remark and then moves on to home remedies.  But I’m willing to try.  I also just recently read something about minty mouthwash.  Oh, how I look forward to trying that as if I have nothing better to do.  Thanks dog!

Wendy Knuth

Author of Moore Zombies

MooreZombies.com

What’s wrong with the children of today? Raised by Hypocrites!

I have seen many facebook posts about how different the childhood lives were of us older folks.  We are so proud of our crazy escapades.  We used to run wild with parental consent.  Playing outside was the norm.   At times, we were literally miles away, and far outside the reach of any authority.  We were physically fit, we were using our imaginations, and we got dirty.  We had a great time.

I grew up in a neighborhood full of mostly boys.  There was motorcycle riding, bicycle riding, skateboarding all sans helmet, pick-up games of football and kick ball, horseback riding and other such activities.  There was a creek nearby for swimming, fishing, and crawdad catching.

So, what stands out?  Well, let’s see.  There was the time when I was riding on the back of an ATV, a stick somehow got stuck up my pant leg and so I shook my leg to get rid of it.  My leg was caught under the back tire, which sucked me right off the seat and I was slammed to the ground as the tire rolled over my limb. My driver friend took a serious hit to her ribs against the handlebars.

One day, my neighbor decided he would like to be strung up a tree.  Seriously, it was his idea.  Does anyone remember how much fun you can have with the old rope over the branch trick?  Well, said neighbor boy created a loop and put it around his neck and asked my brother to start pulling on the rope.  He made it a few feet off the ground before he started making very strange noises and the writhing of his body was evidence enough for my brother to let him down.  Brilliant thinking on behalf of both of them.

At one point in time, boyhood frustrations were running high.  There were altercations occurring.  One day, we kids happened across previously mentioned hang him up boy and his military father.  The father thought it would be a great idea to duke it out and settle the tension.  So he asked “Who wants to fight?”  Boys agreed to fighting, and fighting occurred.  As the only girl, I was an observer.  As I recall, the fights ended on their own with mutual consent.  Can you imagine the headlines today?

These are but a few of my many, many stories I could tell you about the youth of past days.

So, parents, if life was so great, why won’t you let your children experience the same?

Let your children run wild with no knowledge of their whereabouts for hours on end.  Let them trick-or-treat unsupervised.  Let them sell cookies door-to-door to complete strangers with no parents watching over them.  Forget the helmets, forget the seatbelts.  Remember how much fun it was without them?  Swimming alone, why not?  There is nothing like living a little dangerously.  It will build character.  As a small test, tell your children to leave their cell phones at home to simulate the lack of contact.  Are you game?  Probably not.

Did we have great fun as youths?  Yes we did.  We didn’t know how stupid we were being, and yet we look back at it with fondness.  Did we let our children do the same?  Heck no!  Are you a hypocrite?  I can’t answer for all of you, but for me, yes, guilty as charged!

Wendy Knuth

Author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books

MooreZombies.com

Open Letter to Michelle Obama

Open Letter to Michelle Obama:

Okay folks, this is not about politics, and I’m certainly not going to reveal mine, but I do have a few words to say about sports and snack time.  In this regard, I feel if my message could go straight to the top, to someone who is trying to make this nation healthier with her Let’s Move Initiative, then maybe more attention will be drawn to my plan, and perhaps it could actually be implemented.  I would love to help Mrs. Obama out in this area with a simple, but great idea.

So here we go.  Attention parents and/or coaches (football, soccer, baseball, t-ball, basketball, etc. and so forth and so on) regarding snack time for post practice and for post games – Get Rid of It!!!!!

That’s it.  Easy enough, right?  Back in my day, I played soccer in elementary school.  For our weekly game, one parent was designated to bring a half time snack.  Soccer, as well as other sports, involves a lot of running.  Did we need a half time pick-me-up?  Yes.  It was called oranges.  There was always a large plastic bag of sliced up oranges, and we also drank water.  There was never any variation.  Week after week, our only half time option was oranges.  If you wanted something after the game, you could eat more oranges, and we did.  Do oranges have sugar?  Yes, of course, but at least you get some fiber.

When I became a parent and my children entered the world of sports, I was surprised at the weekly schedule of a post practice snack.  And, while a healthy snack schedule was incorporated for half time during games (apples, oranges, bananas), there was also a post game snack schedule.  What would parents buy?  Junk, absolute, complete junk.  Me?  Guilty.  The cheapest and easiest things to buy in bulk are junky snack items and questionable “fruit” drinks.  If you read the fine print on many of these drinks they claim to be 10% fruit juice.  At least they are honest.

A parent and I had a conversation about this once.  She had told her father about snack time and he was abhorred.  Great job, kids! You played hard, you exercised, you burned some calories, here’s a bag of sugar.  This parent and I joked about substituting a multivitamin in the place of a snack.  Perhaps it’s not such a bad idea.

There are other issues, also.  Believe me, parents know when to schedule the feeding of their children.  You look at practice and game times and determine whether a meal should take place before or after, or if a child needs a snack of the parent’s choosing beforehand.  Often times, my child was all sugared up just before dinner, leaving my other child wondering why he didn’t get the same junk.

How widespread is this practice?  When did it come into play?  I’m not sure.  I hope it’s not countrywide.  Tell me your sports practices.  I would also like to know if professional athletes wrap up their game with a bag of cookies or chips and a sugar drink.

Do we need a federal mandate to ditch this practice?  No.  We need a vote, perhaps at the very first team meeting.  Parents and coaches, please mull this over.  In the meantime, I would just love for Michelle Obama to read this so that she could bring national attention to this sugary situation.  Call me!

Wendy Knuth,

Author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books.