Marlene Ratledge Buchanan will be the guest speaker at the Gwinnett Country Retired Educator Association event on March 18, 2022.
GCREA will be celebrating its 50th anniversary providing support to all people involved in Gwinnett public education. It is a subsidiary of Georgia Educator Association (GAE), which Marlene joined in 1972.
Ms Rat Writes March, 2022 Newletter
Rabbit, Rabbit, Y’all
The chant of “Rabbit, Rabbit’ said upon the waking on the first day of each month brings you luck. Sometime in the early 1900’s this tradition started. No one knows where or when or who, but saying “Rabbit, Rabbit” supposedly brings good luck due to the rabbit being a symbol of spring and renewal.
I am not superstitious. Not very much. I like black cats. The number thirteen doesn’t scare me. We married on December 13, 1975. So far, thirteen has been good to us.
I am not scared to walk under a ladder, but why take chances. My best friend Pickle (AKA Dotti) walked under a ladder, fell down and had a black for a week or more. Why tempt fate?
Superstitions are interesting, but not dangerous. Knock wood.
If we are together and you hear me mumble “Rabbit, Rabbit”, it isn’t superstition so much as a trying to get any good luck I can. Oh wait…. Okay, I like superstitions that bring good luck, not bad. So I guess I am a little bit superstitous. Aren’t you? Just a little?
Spring arrives March 20
Spring is almost here and I am ready. The daffodils are amazing. The pear and cherry trees are starting to bloom. Things just seem happier and more maneage in the srping.
The Hummingbirds are the way to our area. 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water makes a great nectar. Change it every other day. Do not add color. The birds are attracted by smell not the color red.
Soon, I can start bushhogging. My favorite past time. Please note the other matching pair of boots is in the bottom of the pond. Neither boots nor golf carts float. You’ll have to read Life is hard. Soften It with Laughter to get that story.
Did you know? The Colors of Spring and Easter are yellow and purple. I was born on Easter Sunday—many Sundays ago. Purple and yellow are my favorite colors. I wonder if it is just a coincidence.
I have been invited to speak at several programs this spring. I hope you will join me. All of the programs are designed to be light hearted and bring a smile, if not an outright guffaw! (I hope).
Please consider me for any of your gatherings. You can reach me online. (I’m cheap. Just let me sell my books.)
Our son James will be 40 in March. How did that happen? I swear I still feel the labor pains. I know I haven’t lost all that baby fat I put on while pregnant. Here he is at DAY ONE with his Granddaddy, James E. Ratledge.
And here he is pushing 40. Dang, time moves quickly.
A New Book
Finally, I have a title for the next book. Smile! It smooths the Potholes of life. It will be another collection of essays based on the foibles of life—yours and mine. I hope to have it out in May. Keep your fingers crossed and Rabbit, Rabbit.
In the works is a collection of short stories? I don’t have a working title yet. They will be ghost stories with humor. I was thinking about Boo, Y’all.
Anyone want to read my stories as they are written for corrections and cohesiveness? Let me know if you do. It is almost like being an editor, but not quite. You get to have your opinion and your advice heard by me. I don’t think I am hard of hearing.
A Huge Thank You
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my newsletters. I welcome your comments and suggestions.
I write regularly for the GwinnettCitizen.com. My column is Hey Y’all, and can be found under the Opinions section.
Please check out my webpage and sign up for my newsletters. www.MsRatWrites.com
Happy Spring, Y’all
(Please forgive any mistakes. I know I make them. It just proves I am human and don’t have an editor.)
Recently I was asked by several people about how I became a writer and got my books published. I didn’t exactly go about things in the normal way.
Snellville Patch was very popular at one time. I wrote a letter to the editor about topic of which I have no memory. The editor contacted me and asked if I would be interested in writing for Patch. I accepted and Hey Y’all was born. I wrote articles on the Snellville Saturday Farmer’s market, festivals, and events around town. I also wrote about some of the history of Snellville. Then the editor changed and Patch re-organized and I wasn’t needed anymore.
My friend Cece Landress wanted to write the great American novel-or at least a story or two. She and I decided to take a class taught by Carole Townsend. Carole has published many articles in newspapers and with a number of books to her credit.
Cece and I went to Carole’s book launch of Blood in the Soil. There we ran into Auveed Cawthon, owner and editor of the Gwinnett Citizen, a monthly newspaper. (www.gwinnettcitizen.com) Auveed asked if I would be interested in writing for her paper. I did and the rest leads up to my books.
I attended a newly formed group named the Walton Writers. There I met an author, Tori Bailey, who was developing her own publishing company. With her encouragement, I collected a number of my better Hey Y’all columns and added some more and created Life is Hard. Soften it with Laughter. I used this phrase a lot-long before the book.
Here is where my advice begins with you wanting to write. Join some author groups. Choose wisely. Explore Facebook and the Internet for potential groups to join.
There are two groups in our area that I strongly support. Scribblers Web and Walton Writers. Membership in both of these groups is free.
This first I would encourage you to join is Scribblers Web. It has a number of meeting in person locations My group is the Snellville Scribblers. We meet the third Thursday of the month at Main Street Restaurant and the last Monday of each month on Zoom. Both programs start 6:00 pm.
Scribblers Web is designed to help you with the business end of writing and getting yourself published. I encourage you to join and peruse the past newsletters for a better feeling of the organization. We do not focus on critiquing your work, but you may share it with the group. This group has everything from cover artists, editors, web designers, publishers, and more. You are invited to submit your questions at any time. Look at the on-line bookstore and you will see we have writers from all genre.
Walton Writers, which you can find on Facebook at Magical Muse Moments Create, Paint, Write, meets the first Thursday of each month at 7:00 pm. Monroe Walton Center for the Arts is the home of this group. The goal is to help you with the business end of writing, but also with an eye to work content. Monthly discussions on activities, events, and opportunities take place. Also, people are encouraged to share their work for critique/review.
Another part of the Magical Muse Moment is Second Saturday Mic Night. It currently meets on Zoom (7:00 pm second Saturday of each month). Authors, musicians, and all creative people are asked to participate by sharing their work with others. Participation will strengthen your presentation skills. The feedback you get from the others will strength your work.
I attended a number of writers’ conferences. Some were a complete waste of money and time. Again, choose wisely. Don’t pay to attend a romance writers group if you don’t like to read or write romance. Sisters in Crime is a great resource, but if murder isn’t your thing, look elsewhere.
I would encourage you to explore Atlanta Writers’ Club, probably the oldest writing group in the southeast, and perhaps beyond. There is an annual membership fee. AWC host monthly meetings in person and/or on Zoom. There are two general conferences a year. This year AWC will sponsor a meeting for independent authors; those who publish personally. You will get great information from attending any of these conferences.
The best conference I ever attended was Southeastern Writers Association. It will be held in June at Epworth-by-the-Sea. I plan to go again this year.
My best advice for anyone who would like to write. Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Just write your thoughts. It doesn’t matter what it says or how you say it. Just get it down. It is never wrong. It is just the beginning of a new adventure.
A southern humorist, Marlene has won the 2020 Georgia Independent Author of the Year for Life is Hard. Soften It with Laughter and 2021 GIAYA for A Place with a past. She is available for speaking engagements. You may reach her through www.msratwrites.com
Here is my latest essay—A Letter from the Queen. I hope you enjoy it. It is longer than most I have written.
A Letter from the Queen
Good Day, everyone. I am Figaro, Queen of the Buchanan Cat House. I want to tell you how things are around here. Mama has thrown a snit fit. A pretty good one for a human, but not as impressive as mine can be.
Apparently, Mama thinks she is overworked and overburdened. There are four of us superior beings and two humans living in this house with her. As far as we are concerned she has only one job. To feed us and to remember to keep our crunchy bowls full at all times. She has been rather rude in this last job lately. She keeps putting this nasty green powder on our crunchies.
She read this Feline Food Enhancer would be good for us, especially me. I tend to throw up a lot. Personally, I think I am purging my system of toxins. She thinks I am sick. I wonder if she thinks I have a touch of anorexia, but I don’t. I am a svelte fourteen pounds, all muscle. I outweigh all of the others by two to eight pounds. I need the weight to keep the others in line. Especially my flashy sister, Mystic and the social misfit, Samson. I just have to look at Gracie and she behaves. I have power in my stare.
Mama can hiss and spit like a cat. If she didn’t pull out her whiskers, she could look really ferocious. She can hiss and spit like a cat.
She also keeps her claws rather long and shiny. I don’t understand why she puts that colored stuff on them. She keeps taking it off and putting different colors on. Find one, for heaven’s sake. Mine are beautifully long and sharper than hers. She must be jealous because she keeps making Daddy or our human brother Bubba help her trim cut our nails. Truthfully, our nails are prettier and much more effective than hers. I have taken our servants down with one good swipe when I didn’t want my manicure.
Mama has some strange ideas. Since her last cat, Ramona was brain injured by inhaling a bot fly, an evil insect from South America, Mama refuses to let us outside anymore. We eat her indoor plants. We need the fresh greens in our diet. Her prized Walking Orchid is quite tasty. I think Mystic ate the last bud yesterday. No flowers this year.
Mystic and I were found at a trash compactor by Bubba. We will forever be grateful he got us out of the parking lot. The traffic was awful. It is better living here where they wait on us, which is what the servants are supposed to do. I like to go outside, though. I love fresh grass. That stuff Mama grows in the pan for us is inferior. Monkey grass has the most vitamins and minerals. It also makes the best patterns when I throw it up.
Mama thinks she has so much to do. I don’t know why “tax time” stresses her out so much. She is causing a problem for us superior felines. Grandmama’s dining room table is our place for viewing what goes on in and outside of the house. Now Mama has covered it with papers and folders. The pencils are okay. We like to knock them off on the floor and hide them. She fusses when we skid across the top of the table and papers fly everywhere. Gracie, the baby, loves it.
Gracie can jump so high. Her favorite sound is paper tearing and glass breaking. Old glass makes a very satisfying crash. Mama also makes a strange nose to accompany the sound of breaking glass. You should have heard her when her grandmother’s vase hit the floor. Those high pitch whines are not good for my delicate ears.
Daddy went ballistic last night. Daddy hardly ever gets upset. Daddy organizes all the “financial tax things” which is just a bunch of paper. Then Mama does all the “tax stuff.” Daddy had been wasting hours of time placing all those papers into specific stacks. Mystic hit the table with one magnificent leap. I was very proud of her acrobatic skills. Gracie and Samson stood up and batted at papers as they flew through the air. It was great fun. Of course, that kind of behavior is beneath me. I watched from the top of the Queen Anne chair, one of my thrones.
Mystic loves Q-tips. If the drawer where the Q-tips are kept is left slightly ajar, she can pull it open. She lifts one Q-tip at a time out of the cup. Last night, she pulled them all out. She likes to throw them in the air and spin around with them. When she gets tired of them she hides them under the furniture. Mystic was so happy. Mama had refilled the cup yesterday.
Back to Mama’s hissy fit. She is good at them. She is trying to get two books completed for a deadline. I am SO TIRED of her talking about the plot in the ghost story. She needs to make the cats roles much more prominent. The second book is like her first. This one will have lots of essays glorifying the four of us, too. I do resent that crack she makes about tumble fur weeds. It is her fault. If she paid more attention to us and combed us more often, we’d have less loose fur to soften the look of the house.
This morning she was carrying one of our food trays into the kitchen. She feeds us in two different places. When Samson, the psychotic, found his way here, she fed him in her bathroom to keep him isolated. Truthfully, she should still keep him in isolation. Samson is a Scardy Cat and a bit odd. When he is upset he uses the bathroom in inappropriate places. Heck, I can stand up and look at him and he will lose it, usually under Mama’s desk.
Yesterday, I managed to get outside. That made Mama mad. She kept yelling and trying to catch me. I finally ate all the grass I wanted and came in. And, I had to wait for her to come back to open the door for me. I mean, she didn’t want me out so why didn’t she stand at the door waiting. I was only out 15 minutes or so.
The monkey grass doesn’t have any tender shoots up yet. I was forced to eat the old foliage. I supplemented with some of the Walking Orchid leaves. During the night, I blessed her with not one, but TWO, large throw-up spots right where she walks from the bedroom to the kitchen. They were well textured and patterned puddles, too. There is third one, but she hasn’t found that one yet.
Mama doesn’t wear shoes. She likes to be barefoot. Well, so do me. I can’t blame her for that. This morning, she must have been in a particularly hazy state of mind. She put one bare foot in a puddle and slid. To regain her balance, her other foot came down in the second artistically designed gift. The food and water on the tray went in one direction. Mama went in other. Thank goodness Mama was wearing her pretty panties this morning. Everyone got to see them.
Fussing and cussing Mama got up off the floor. She did not show any cat-like gracefulness, either. She kept slipping and sliding. Daddy can’t hear thunder, but he felt the whole house shake. Mama is the one who should be eating that gross green powder. She needs to lose the weight.
Daddy and Bubba helped Mama up. We gave our support from afar. Everyone started picking up broken glass, cleaning up the floor, the wall, and the counter tops. Gracie and Mystic did their part by knocking the dry food all around the kitchen and den.
And then, Bubba realized all of his work pants were in the washing machine. He forgot to turn the machine on yesterday. We don’t fool with that silly pants stuff. We are beautiful without them. And so much softer than the naked humans.
Mama was trying to de-slime her feet and legs. Something about not walking vomit all over the house. Bubba asked Mama why she didn’t wash his things. Daddy was snickering. I didn’t know Mama’s eyes could pop out like that. Mama got real quiet. That is never a good thing. Silently, we smart ones left the room.
Samson has been upset recently. He has been sleeping at Mama’s feet. Mystic sleeps at Daddy’s feet. Gracie sleeps in that old chair in the bedroom. I have my own room, in which I allow Bubba to sleep. Yesterday, Samson was on the couch asleep. He was between Mama and Daddy. I decided I should be in that place. I got up there and Scardy Cat jumped down. He wasn’t happy. He would retaliate. Not my problem.
When Samson is unhappy, he believes he is punishing us, his sisters. His doo-doos on the scratching pad. Makes no difference to rest of us. We use the chair in our parents’ bedroom to sharpen our nails; the one they think is so wonderful because it is really old. It belonged to somebody who has been dead for eons of time.
During the night, Samson did his thing. You know those house shoes Mama doesn’t like to wear? Yep, Samson got both of them. After she took the second bath of the day to rid herself of all my throw up, she put her feet in the slippers.
That’s when Mama sat down and pitched the fit. There was this really low grumble. The whole house got quiet. Mystic was toting her “baby” around and talking to it. She likes to do that. She wants to mother everyone. Mama gave her a ‘baby” which is just a ball of softness. Mystic talks to it. When she heard Mama, Mystic stopped and laid her baby down. Gracie who had been running through the house and over the dining room table trying to make all the papers explode again, stopped. Samson went into hiding. We haven’t seen him since.
Bubba got dressed in some other black pants. He very quietly got his stuff together and went to the car. Daddy walked in and said “What’s the matter?” Big mistake, Daddy.
Mama carried her house shoes to the toilet and emptied Samson’s gift from them. Then she threw her shoes into the trash can. Her eyes were real squinty and she was talking in a tight voice.
“I’ve had it.” OOOH, it is never good when Mama Talks in that low voice. “The ironing is backed up. The house is a wreck. Laundry needs to be done. I have a deadline on this book. I need to do all the taxes. I have to work tomorrow, and I have just stepped in cat poo-poo.” Mama used a nasty word there, but I cleaned it up for you.
Mama got back in the shower. That was the third bath of the morning. Humans really like that spraying water and stinky soap. Personally, I think it is awful. A few licks and her feet would have been clean.
She got dressed and stomped off into the sunroom. She really needs to work on her sulky walk. Cats glide. Mama thundered through the house. Daddy and Bubba left to take Bubba to work. I don’t know if Daddy is coming home soon. I wouldn’t if I were him. If they would let me out, I’d have gone with Daddy.
Gracie is in Mama’s closet. She is on the floor under all of Mama’s clothes. It is a good hiding place. The closet is so tight you can’t get anything else in it. Mystic took her baby to Daddy’s closet. They are on the shelf behind his suits. He never wears his suits so she can make her nest there. I don’t know where Samson is. He is the best hider of all of us. He should be in hiding. I think his poop is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Stupid expression. We don’t have a camel here. I, on the other hand, am on my pillow in Bubba’s bed. That is my space in my room. I will sleep until Mama calms down.
Then I will go to her. When I do my little moo dance, she stops what she is doing and pays attention to me. She’ll talk that insulting baby talk to me. Then she will give me my just desert, one mini-moo of half and half creamer. While she pours it, Mama sings Blue Moo, I saw you standing alone or Moo over Miami to me. She doesn’t sing very nicely, but she means well. And I get my moo, so I put up with her.
You see, as the Queen, I have made everything okay.
You won’t believe it. I don’t’ want to believe this, but…
Yes, it is true. We are sick. Not as bad as last time, but we are sick again.
Here is the other unbelievable part. Snell is healthy and happy and perkin’ along. James is hanging off the bed coughing up his last lung. I have no voice and headache that would kill a horse. Snell is humming a happy little tune.
Thank the good Lord he is. This time the roles were reversed. Snell and I had the Corona-copia of Covid ailments for 2020. It was James keeping us going.
The doctor thinks this is the flu with a side of pneumonia. The pneumonia is to give it longevity and a classy ring.
My greatest fear is suffocation. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because I had all those lung problems a few years ago that tried to take me out. Nanny-nanny-pooh-pooh. The doctors gave me two years to live if the surgery wasn’t successful! It will be four years January 22. Thank you, Lord, and thank you, doctors, and thank you, Medical Acoustics.
I just want to let you know, I am not able to talk very loudly or very long without going into coughing spasms. James is sick as sick can be. Snell can’t hear on the phone. Call, leave a message, and I will call you back as I can.
More on the flute. All pulmonary doctors should suggest this miracle device to help clear the lungs. I guess I do around ten blows on the flute. In about three minutes I cough up a nasty ball of mucous, freeing my breathing. I try to use it about every two or three hours. If I feel that collection of chest crude I use my flute. It helps to break up the thick jelly-like mucous so you can spit it out. No, it ain’t pretty. No, it doesn’t sound good. But yes, breathing breath is worth it.
Feel free to share this with anyone with Covid and/or any breathing issues. It is shaped something like a flute with a reed and the bottom flares out. The reed is disposable, but the flute is heavy plastic. I wish I could put a picture of it here, but I can’t. There are a couple of other things on the internet calling themselves lung flute, but this is the one that has kept me going for four years
Also, wash your sinuses out every day with salt water. That helps to thin the mucus and reduces the throat drainage. Half a teaspoon in warm water. Sort it up one nostril. Let it run out the other.
NOT AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM!
Medical Acoustics “lung flute”
323 596 7419
Happy HEALTHY New Year to you all.
P.S. My new webpage is up and working. www.MsRatWrites.com. Please check it out. I hope to share some of my essays with you in the very near future. I would really like your feedback on the website and any suggestions you have to make it better.
Winner of the Second Annual Georgia Independent Author of the Year Award in the category First Novel, for Life is Hard, Soften it with Laughter
On September 26, 2020, Marlene was announced as the winner in the category of First Novel at the second annual Georgia Independent Author of the Year Awards. Marlene won for her first book, Life is Hard Soften It With Laughter. The book is a collection of essays that reflect the wit and wisdom that she is known for.
Marlene is interviewed by Vickie Bley and Mary Treadwell on BTP Live by the Southern Pen Bookshop. July 2020
Yesterday was our son James’ 39t birthday. Yeah, I know. How in the world did he get to be 39. I swear we were in labor just a couple of years ago. He was just learning to walk. His first sentence was “I got Burt and Ernie at home.” Wasn’t that last week?
When James was born people asked us if he was our grandchild or adopted. Granted we were old and fossilized when he came into the world. He also didn’t look anything like his pasty white parents. This baby boy was born with head full of blue black hair, brown eyes and olive skin. He looks my daddy for whom he is named.
Yesterday, James had a birthday party at work. Cupcakes, cookies, key lime pie. Sugar in everything. And he loved it. We went to dinner last night. I had gotten him a chocolate cake. The restaurant gave him two chocolate brownies with chocolate syrup over them. Sugar, sugar, sugar.
And it was good. Real good.
Today is April Fool’s Day. I want you to know that the shakes we are having is from Sugar overload and not the DTs. No April Fool jokes. We are all running on high test sugar.
And it was good. Real good.