Monday, August 31, 2009

Bad job, bad job...

So. Someone I know left their job, pulled up stakes, moved across country, relocated... all based on a wonderful job offering. Except the job from beginning to end was totally misrepresented. Totally.

Now they're broke. Their credit is screwed. They're basically homeless. And the job is untenable. What to do? Where to begin? I recommended another job might be a start. But it takes time to find another job.

In the meantime the bills keep piling up. The expenses keep piling up. And the temptation is to stay with the job because a check will eventually be handed out, even though it's costing more to stay in that job that the paycheck will amount to.

How to combat gross misrepresentation? You can't. But you can get out of that job ASAP and start looking for another. In the meantime, you can work at Burger King or Walmart or any number of other part-time jobs and work to stay afloat.

And don't give up. Keep on trying. Because nothing happens without a reason. No detour is unplanned. Every turn in the road leads to new possibilities. I firmly believe this.

And remember the most important part. We're all behind you, pushing you on your way.

anny

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kreativ Blogger

Hmmm. I've been nominated for the Kreativ Blogger award by fellow author Barbara Huffert (click on the icon). According to the rules, I need to tell you seven things about myself that are... not common knowledge. Since I'm a blabbermouth, it's hard to think of seven things I've never shared before but I'll try.

1) I'm a complete packrat. I'm working on this less than lovely trait, but I suspect that my children will have a real fun time after I die when they start sorting through my stuff, all the time wondering why I needed six tubes of Neosporin ointment or that pack of thirty disposable puddle pads or the thirty hi-lighters in that plastic bag.

2) I collect teeny, tiny boxes. I didn't start out collecting boxes, but after the first ten or fifteen people brought boxes back from foreign parts as souvenirs for me, I ended up with a collection. I'm now up to thirty-three plus boxes (including a lovely little lenox box, a wooden bullet box, two heart boxes plus boxes from China, Chile, Peru, Mexico, and a box from Africa).

3) I used to sew. Back in the beginning, I sewed because I had a lot of kids and no money. Then I sewed because I had no clothes and no money. Now I have enough clothes for three people... and still no money. So there's no need to sew.

4) When I worked at McDonald's (a long time ago) we were robbed. In that strange way that things happens, time both slowed down and speeded up so that certain events seemed to last forever and others passed so quickly that the memories are blurred. I can safely say that it's an experience I would not like to repeat.

5) I've seen UFO's on more than one occasion. Individuals who have never seen one find it hard to believe that such things exist. Note that I didn't say the sightings were flying saucers or other such phenomenon, but simply that they were certainly not familiar aircraft, nor were they ever identified satisfactorily by the local authorities. As to what the significance of the sightings might be, I can't say. Maybe the little green men are just checking up on me.

6) By the time I was forty years old, I had moved forty-one times, living in six states, attending nine schools in nine years in three states. I'm sure there is someone out there who's moved more than me, but I think that's a pretty respectable record.

7) In high school, I had perfect attendance, completing four years of school without a single absence. What does that say about me? I'm not sure... except that it was better to go to school a little sick than to stay at home a little sick. A sick day was not a fun day at my house. No TV. No radio. No books. Poached eggs on toast and hot tea. 'nuff said?

anny

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Odor Eaters

After running my daughter and granddaughter around to an endless list of stores in search of new work clothes last week, we were pretty tired of piling in and out of the car. At one point I sighed and then wrinkled my nose at the unpleasant odor in the car. Cautiously sniffing, I commented that someone must have inadvertently "stepped" in something.

A quiet voice came out of the back seat, "I'll just put my shoes back on..."

And my daughter nearly made herself sick laughing. Earlier in the week she'd commented that she refused to wear her daughter's sneakers. Well, now I knew why!

When we got home, one of the first orders of business was to take care of those sneakers. Apparently T had been wearing them all summer with no socks. Ewwww!

The strange thing is I remember going barefoot and wearing tennis shoes with no socks back when I was a kid, but we never had a problem with bad odors. It makes me wonder why the problem exists now. What environmental changes have caused the difference? Heck back when I was a kid, you took two baths a week. One on Wednesday and one on Saturday night. Washed you hair once a week. Washed your feet at night before you went to bed.

And we didn't have AC so we sweated like... well, just take my word for it. Of course, so did everyone else. No one had AC. And most folks didn't have fans, either.

Are we any healthier now that we're all deodorized and perfumed? Sometimes I wonder about that.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Taking off the fur...

There are days when I indeed feel as though I'm removing my fur. It seems incredibly unfair that I not only am getting older, but furrier. What's up with that? Shouldn't I be getting balder?

Then to add insult to injury, what's growing in is gray! If I don't shave for a couple days, I have a gray beard. Somehow, it never occurred to me that when Shakespeare mentions graybeards, he was talking about women... It was never my ambition to grow up to be like my father.

Personally, I think the entire depilatory industry is responsible for the cultural idea that women have to shave--especially their legs. Who cares if they shave their legs? If you're wearing pants, who will know if you don't? Really. Shouldn't that individual know you really, really well? And if he's of the male persuasion, who is he to complain about hairy legs or underarms?

For that matter, after suffering the sandpapering from the house hunk's beard, why would he complain about receiving similar ministrations from me? I think that hair removal is sexist. In romances you rarely read about a man removing intimate hair. It's always a woman that does so to please her man. Now why is that?

Why can't we ask them to shave their legs and underarms and other body parts? Aren't we worth it? There should be equality in hair removal. A sort of "I'll take it off if you take it off" approach. I bet we would all be a hairier bunch if it was dependent on them taking it all off.

anny

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New home

After the moving... you have to settle in and re-invent your space. I'm still not settled in, but it's getting there. This is, of course, my computer desk. As you see, I have a window I can look out if I wish. Plus a nice big comfy chair, a sun lamp, and assorted bits and pieces on my desk.
Here is the fishy part of the fish lamp. Isn't he pretty? He brightens up that part of the room. We all need bright spots in our surroundings. Somehow if we can look at one nice spot in a room or even apartment, that spot can keep us sane and motivated. If there are no bright spots its easy to get discouraged and downhearted. So Mr. Fish is my bright spot.
Here you can see Mr. Fish's corner. I've since moved that vase of flowers out of the way so I have an unobstructed view of Mr. Fish. After all, what good is a bright spot if you can't see it?

Sometimes I think our lives are like that. We have bright spots, but we're so busy piling up the extraneous, cluttery details of life in front of them we just can't see them.

I know I complain about my allergies, but forget that I'm blessed with the ability to breath. My feet and knees hurt, but I'm still able to walk. I'm tired, but have a comfortable bed to sleep in every night. How many other bright spots am I missing because I'm sweating the small stuff?

In the last week, I've learned a lot about sweating the small stuff. There are some people out there whose problems are much bigger than mine. In the mean time, I retreat to my office, look out my window, and dream bright dreams for the future.

anny

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Go on without me...

It's the classic scene in movies and books. Someone is wounded--usually badly--and they pant out, "Go on without me..." right before they pass out--or die. Obviously, they just don't have the strength to go on. That's exactly how I feel.

Yesterday I started to reclaim my life as a writer. I won't proclaim an instant success. However, I opened one of my wips and started working on it. It was hard. I had to re-read it from the very first sentence just to remember what I'd written so long ago. I think I might have added another hundred words today. Not a lot, but one must start somewhere.

A few have asked how the inspection went. As far as I know, it was fine. Strange, but fine. Today is another day, hopefully a more peaceful day.

Darkness is falling earlier each night. A possible tropical cyclone may venture near our coast this coming weekend. Halloween candy is in the stores. All signs that fall is approaching quickly. Soon the winter darkness will close in.

Contrary to many of my friends, I find the winter darkness comforting. I like being able to drink cocoa and curl up with a good book and my afghan on the sofa. Oh, yeah, I forgot my fluffy socks. Perhaps I'm part Eskimo.

Writing seems to go better in the winter, too. There isn't as much to distract me, nor so many things to do. This year for the first time in many years, I'll begin the winter with a tan. Somehow, that feels strange. Its as though I'm not quite myself.

In any case, my hiatus is as end. Hopefully, I'll finish the Naughty Nooner (free read from EC) sometime this week so I can send it off to my editor. And then of course there are the other half dozen things I'm working on. A futuristic romance, a fantasy romance, and a vampire love story among others. Sigh. So much to do...

anny

Happy Birthday, Hunk! I love you. Many, many more!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Recharge, please.

Sigh. Welcome to Monday. Today we are scheduled for an inspection of our apartment. I'm tired from cleaning, I admit. But I'm more tired of the insanity of helping my daughter resettle.

Tonight there was a major crisis. She prepared to color her hair, only to discover her hair coloring package was no where to be found. She was nearly in tears. Now I know that her hair color wasn't a matter of life and death, but when you're starting a new job and want to put all your best feet forward... well, her spouse and I went out in search of the appropriate hair color while she did other "girl" things in preparation. We found her color at the second store.

When today is over, I plan to collapse on the nearest level surface and pass out. Perhaps I'll have a piece of chocolate or even eat a cookie or something. No, that's tomorrow because tomorrow is the Hunk's birthday.

Oh, no! Does that mean I have to bake a cake? I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and I received the standard answer. "I don't know."

In the meantime, I could use a recharge. Too bad its not as easy as poking my finger in a socket.

anny

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy weekend!

Hope y'all enjoy the serenade... Have a lovely weekend.

anny

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Why???

There are times when I just want to sit down and howl. Yesterday was one of them. I've cleaned for a week. My company has finally arrived. One of the kids brought me a note from our leasing office when she came in from playing outside.

So yesterday was Friday. On MONDAY the maintenance department will be conducting inspections of our apartments. What kind of inspections you say?

Oh... things like smoke detectors, replacement of gas lines for our stoves, replacement of filters for the furnace. And "general housekeeping".

That last one has generated a storm of protest at the rental office. So much so that the leasing manager refuses to speak to any tenant about their concerns. Makes you kind of wonder, eh?

Why would that be? Those who have tried to find out exactly what "general housekeeping" entails haven't had much luck. There have been generalizations handed out. "No piles of stuff." "No clutter." "Nothing sitting around."

By definition, most authors have plenty of "stuff" sitting around. I admit that I was planning on finishing rearranging my office this week. It annoys me that I must spend the weekend cleaning it instead of the other things I needed to do.

But more than that, I resent the cavalier treatment from my rental office. No warning. No courtesy. No explanations. Why the short shrift?

It seems to me that cooperation would be more forthcoming if the leasing agent did their part. When one neighbor expressed concerns because past inspections have led to subsequent robberies, she was curtly told in that case she should make sure that she was in the apartment when the maintenance people showed up. This after she mentioned she had an appointment.

I have to admit that the straws are rapidly piling up. And soon we may reach the one that finally breaks the camel's back.

anny

Friday, August 21, 2009

Losing the trail...

Last night I finished a book that I almost didn't read. That would have been a shame. I normally thoroughly enjoy Nora Roberts books, but a reviewer I really respect gave it a so-so review so... well, I was afraid I was going to be disappointed.

At the time I purchased Black Hills, I also purchased Burn by Linda Howard and Knock Out by Catherine Coulter. Postponing reading Black Hills, I read the other two first. They were both excellent, by the way. I heartily recommend them both.

Night before last, I started Black Hills, finally reluctantly halting half way through because my bed beckoned. Then last night while waiting for my company to arrive, I whiled away the time by finishing the book. I thought it was a WONDERFUL book. Truly wonderful.

The thing that disturbs me is that I almost passed it by based on a stranger's review. Yes, I've read other reviews by her. Yes, it seemed like a very erudite review. And yet... well I usually don't allow others to influence my reading choices. Why did I almost let that happen this time?

Perhaps I'm just tired or burned out or preoccupied, but for some unfathomable reason, I almost chose not to form my own opinion. That would have been unfortunate. I would have missed a great story all because I was too lazy or too willing to let another person make that decision for me.

No, I don't think the reviewer is a bad person. I just forgot the most important fact about a review. It's one person's opinion. One person. The fact that it's in a blog for all the world to see doesn't make it any more valid for anyone except her.

Too often, we allow the opinions of others to influence us so that we miss out on some of life's most engaging experiences. Why? Why do we allow ourselves to be herded off the trail?

This was certainly a wakeup call to me. It made me re-evaluate how I look at reviews for my own books. Does it disappoint me when a reader doesn't like the book? Yeah. But again, it's one person's opinion. And I'm certain that out there somewhere there are a dozen other books that reader will love. That doesn't make my book a bad book. It just means that reader wasn't a good match.

How about you? Have you let someone hold you back from reading a good book?

anny

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Family Pictures

I have a huge plastic bin full of pictures. Old pictures--some that are far older than me. New pictures. All sorts of family group pictures. And in almost all of them, at least one person is frowning or looking in the wrong direction or squinting...

That's the wonderful thing about family pictures. They're a snapshot frozen in time. When you look at them over a bit of time, you can actually discern something about the people in the pictures. Were they happy? Were they sad? Body language tells you whether they were lovers or friends or siblings.

I love looking at family pictures. Some of them tell such wonderful stories. I have a picture of one of my family groups taken in the early 1920's. The family is lined up in front of the old home place. Only back then it wasn't "old". I suppose I find that picture interesting because I stayed at that same home place when I was a girl.

I have another picture of an ancestor's blacksmithing shop. He and his brothers are lined up next to the open door. I have an old plumb bob that ancestor made in his shop.

And there's the picture I have of four generations of women in my family--again taken back in the 1920's. Life was hard and their faces clearly show just how hard.

I wonder what our descendents will be able to tell about us from our pictures? Will they find us as interesting? Will they be as fascinated?
Or will they be disappointed because we didn't video record everything?

anny

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Agony of de feet!

Well, I feel like I've walked a million miles. Anyone who says you don't get enough exercise when you're cleaning is whacked. Seriously. My feet are killing me.

I've worked out a little rhythm. Pick up some item at one end of the apartment. Carry it to the other end. Pick up an item in that room. Carry it back to the other room. Even being efficient hasn't helped in the end. I still have swollen ankles.

The sore feet have driven me to a hot soak in the tub. If you could see the pitiful size of my tub, you would understand. Every night I wedge myself in that tub in expectation that I'll have to call 911 to pry me out. Only the reduced swelling in my ankles induces me to continue on. Overall, I'm more of a shower gal, myself.

It's a good thing the house cleaning is drawing to an end. Then it's back to the writing! Yay! I can't wait.

In the meantime, I'll prop the feet up and read a book in the evenings. Surely there are plenty of them in my library. And tomorrow?

One last day of cleaning.

anny

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Those days...

We've all had one of those days... you know the day that you should have just rolled over and gone back to sleep? That was yesterday. First of all, I had to get up early. My daughter needed a wee bit of money to tide her over. I deliberately set it up online so I could transfer money without going to the bank. Small thing in fine print... it takes a minimum of three days.

So I hied meself off to the bank bright and early. Except the bank has changed hours and doesn't open until TEN. Then the lady that helped me had never done a wire transfer so she told me I had to wait for another lady. And that lady was sort of spaced out as it was her last day at work. Sigh. Finally had the transfer done.

Went home, loaded the car and went off to the laundromat. You know how much I love doing laundry. Enough said. Then I straggled in to discover the maintenance man was back to finally fix our sink.

After he left I collapsed in a chair.

For five minutes. And then it was up and at 'em because there's still a lot of stuff to finish up in the next two days. At which point my daughter's family will descend upon us for a short time while they get resettled in their new apartment/job/schools here in Maryland. Uh-huh. Fortunately, it will be a very short visit, but you know how these things are.

In the meantime, back at the ranch... I will get back to writing next week. This cleaning jag has been good for me.

My big score yesterday was a basket full of travel sized shampoos, body wash, etc. A basket of them. When on earth will I use all of them?

Also solved the case of the missing razor cartridges. I now have enough to keep me baby smooth for about six months. If I'm so inclined.

And I found $2.37 in change in one of my purses. Instantly I set about checking out my other empty purses, but only found an additional six pennies. Alas. I'm not going to find untold wealth in my purses.

Other miscellany... a stash of hi-lighters in a variety of colors, two more rulers, another pair of scissors, a package of large safety pins and four large packages of cotton swabs. I can now clean my ears in perfect peace, knowing that I'm good to go until next year sometime.

Who knows what I'll unearth tomorrow? I must admit that I'm beginning to enjoy the anticipation in a sick kind of way. Definitely time to get back to the writing...

anny

Monday, August 17, 2009

In search of light...

In the midst of my cleaning this last week, I smashed not one, but two lamps. One was repairable with a new bulb ($12.00), but the other was beyond saving. It was mostly a pile of shattered glass. There was nothing to do except go in search of a new lamp.

My quest began at Walmart. Accompanied by my friend Jane, I roamed the newly organized Walmart (why do they insist on moving everything???) until we stumbled across the lamp aisle, mostly by accident. It was a very short aisle, filled with remarkably cheap ugly lamps.

I was a bit dismayed as I have in the past bought several quite nice lamps from Walmart. However, it was clearly not going to be the case this time. Disappointed with the sad collection available, we went home.

The next day the house hunk and I headed for Home Depot in search of the special bulb for the sunlamp. We were very pleased to find it without any trouble. Bulb clutched firmly in hand, we cruised by the lamp aisle. Out of a selection of about thirty lamps, one was a vague possibility, but I held out, refusing to buy until I'd done a little more searching.

We left there and went to a different Walmart from the previous day--to no avail. This Walmart was in the midst of reorganization and the selection was even more pitiful. Persevering, we went downstairs to the Sam's Club. They had no lamps of any description. Foot sore and tired, we went home.

The next day we went out to the next county in search of some other items (and dinner). While sitting in Applebee's, the hunk asked, "What about Lowe's?"

I agreed that Lowe's was a real possibility so after dinner we stopped there to search out their lamp aisle. Actually, there were three lamp aisles with a couple possibilities, though nothing that really sang out to me. Having consumed two large glasses of tea, I soon found it necessary to seek out the ladies room.

On my way back to the hunk, I passed a huge cart filled with "clearance" items. And there, sitting in solitary splendor, I discovered my lamp. It's a standard table lamp with a single pole running from a flat round base to the light bulb. BUT sitting on that base is a chubby pale blue ceramic fish. One look and I fell in love.

It's exactly the quirky, happy type of accessory I wanted for my new office. When I get things straightened up, I'll take a picture and post it. In the meantime... the best thing? It was a forty dollar lamp that I paid seventeen dollars for. That's actually less than any other lamp I looked at, including the ones at Walmart.

So... perseverence counts!

anny

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dusty treasure

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I've been cleaning. In my case, that involves wading through piles and piles and piles of papers. In those papers are buried family history information, pictures, old writing exercises, and assorted memorabilia.

Every piece of paper must be examined and placed in the appropriate pile so that I might put it away in the proper place. As I've pored over papers, I've discovered old letters from people long dead, pictures of my ancestors, and assorted handiwork from when my children were small.

I also found twenty-two pairs of scissors, seventeen assorted rulers, and a large assortment of beads that I thought were long gone. In addition, I unearthed two partial afghans (complete with patterns).

I must have some sort of fetish for lip gloss/chapstick/lip balm as I've assembled a bowl full of the tubes in a lot of flavors. And just in case I might have a headache, there are also several bottles of meds in a variety of "strengths".

This is all a small sample of the treasures to be discovered when preparing one table in the corner for relocating today. It's amazing what can be found in the piles and boxes if you only take time to look. I've continued my fifteen minutes on, fifteen minutes off program for cleaning. There's enough dust that I desperately need that fifteen minutes off when the timer chimes.

What is all of this in aid of? It's time.

Have you ever contemplated a closet or corner in your home and thought, I should do something with that spot, but somehow the time never arrives? Well, it's time to clean and reorganize my apartment. Time to make the necessary changes so that the hunk and I will be more comfortable in the coming days.

So for the next few days, I'll be delving into the shadowy spots, searching for more dusty treasure. Who know what I might find?

anny

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I is naked...

Sigh. There are some things in life that we just shouldn't have to cope with. Yesterday I went shopping with Jane at the Walmart. We had occasion to sort of stroll by the ladies clothing department so we could check out the jeans.

Now for years--at least ten, probably more like fifteen years--I have worn the White Stag brand of pants, tops, skirts, even swimwear from Walmart. Their sizing is totally consistent, the quality is top notch and most importantly, the clothing does not scream fat lady clothes at the top of its lungs.

You know the clothes I mean... right? Those ugly clothes that fit poorly, are designed by a demented elephant and emphasize every bump, lump and bulge on your body. That's Walmart's new "brand".

White Stag's designs, on the other hand, are regular women's clothing in larger sizes. You might find yourself standing next to a tiny little woman dressed in the identical shirt you were wearing. Or jeans. Or jacket. The White Stag sizes ran from Small through 4X.

Let me tell you--no skinny woman would be caught dead wearing the new plus-sized clothing line from Walmart. And if no skinny woman would wear them (because they're incredibly circus tent ugly), why should I?

You know? I just hate when I find something that fits and then it's discontinued. Every single time I find a bra that fits, they quit making that style. When I settle on a comfortable pair of shoes, I automatically buy two identical pairs because as sure as God made little green apples, they're gonna discontinue that line of shoes.

Why can't they just leave well enough alone??? Who are these people that make these decisions anyway?

I wrote to Walmart and told them exactly how I feel. And pointed out that unfortunately, I would not be buying my clothes from Walmart anymore. Now I know I'm only one person, but as they say, every journey begins with one step. I'm walkin'.

anny

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vagaries of Maintenance

Yesterday the maintenance man finally showed up to fix our bathroom sinks. The sink in the "main" bathroom drains very slooooowly. And the sink in the "guest" bath has no water pressure in the cold faucet.

For those of you unfamiliar with apartment living, the maintenance people (and apartment management) discourage self repairs. So, we've been waiting about two weeks for the maintenance people to show up. Today was finally the day.

After pouring several bottles of acid crystals down the drain, and plunging it repeatedly, the sink now drains just a tad faster. Its not fixed, but slightly improved. The fellow admitted there was more work to be done, but pointed out his efforts would tide us over until the end of the week when "someone" would return to actually fix it.

He received an emergency call just as he was checking the guest bathroom sink. It will require a new faucet assembly--also to be fixed at a future time. And he gathered his tools and trotted out the door. Sigh.

However, all was not wasted with the acid crystals. My downstairs neighbor called to say that her bathroom sink is now draining very quickly. So there's always a silver lining somewhere.

Overall, things work well in the apartment. We've not been unhappy with the maintenance until the last year or so. We have new owners who are either trying to cut back on maintenance hours or they're hiring incompetent workers. Either way, maintenance has been slow to non-existent.

Fortunately, very little has broken down in our apartment so we haven't needed to call on them for service. I have noticed this maintenance problem is not restricted just to our apartment complex. All around us, those little jobs that used to be taken care of promptly aren't being tended to now. I suspect it has to do with the economy. Grass verges on the roads are covered with runaway weeds. Trash and litter are cluttering up lots that used to be immaculate. Bushes are missing their regular trimming.

For some reason when the economy nosedives, routine maintenance is the first thing to go. You would think it would be the one thing you kept because morale is so important. Neat orderly surroundings make us feel better. When buildings, grounds and roadways are slovenly, we grow apathetic.

Perhaps our surroundings are a better barometer of the economy than all those other indicators. Sloppy = bad economy. Neat = good economy. The poor have no money to fix their surroundings. Seems to make sense to me.

anny

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Let's Get Organized"

When I was a teenager, my stepmother had a favorite saying, "Let's get organized." Every time we had a project, whether it was a picnic or moving across town, she would immediately start out with, "Let's get organized!" That was her battle cry.

I've spent the entire day on Monday, attempting organization. While my daughter and son-in-law were here this past weekend, they helped me move some furniture I've been anxious to have rearranged. The trouble with rearranging furniture is that you have to clean up/reorganize/put away a lot of stuff.

In this case, the sleeper couches were moved from the small room we've been using as a catch-all out to the living room. And the catch-all room is now my office. Or...I should say, it will be eventually--just as soon as I get organized.

There is also a spare room/work room that will be included in the general reorganization. Some of that stuff belongs in the office. Some belongs in the trash. And some belongs at the Goodwill Store. Sigh...

Anyway, I am not nearly as tired as I should be for the amount of work I did yesterday. And that's because I hit on one trick--a trick I picked up after reading through multiple "getting organized" sites. When we clean, we tend to clean until we drop. And then we don't clean again for months.

Well, I tried this new trick. I set the timer, picked a job, and worked for fifteen minutes. Then I stopped, had a cuppa while I contemplated what I might do next. I had one other rule. Nothing was moved unless it was put away. I didn't allow myself to move any item to another spot in the meantime.

The combination of planning and only handling any item one time meant that I actually accomplished quite a bit. Living room is done. Kitchen is done. Office is about half done. And the spare room is started. Down side... two demolished lamps and about three loads of towels to wash (remember we had company all weekend). However, I've decided the broken lamps was a "sign" that I need new lamps. And laundry is a never-ending chore anyway.

While I was to-ing and fro-ing around the apartment, I was thinking about my works in progress. So besides cleaning, I've been contemplating what I want to do with my stories. See? A win-win situation.

I've purposely taken this week to pull my life together. Cleaning and reorganizing the apartment will give me a visible sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I return to writing next week. And it will allow me the chance to make some decisions about the direction I want to take in the coming year.

Cleaning has given me the opportunity to weed out more than clutter. It's allowed me to declutter my mind. It's allowed me to decide what items I can "let go" and discard. I'm a stellar pack rat and it's time to unpack.

I don't know how Feng Shui my place will be when I finish with it. But it will definitely be a different space. Perhaps that's the best I can hope for... a new space.

anny

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Friends

The grandkids have gone home. But right before they went, they asked me to take a picture of them with their summer friends. Years from now when they look at the pics, they'll have good memories of playing out in the yard with their friends.

I remember the summer friends from several years. Those are treasured memories, even after all these years. Summer friends are special. You meet under unusual circumstances, become best friends and part at the end of the summer to go back home.

During the hot, hazy days of summer, you roam around as a small loyal pack, joining together to face all the other little packs of kids. You're fiercely loyal to each other, share your snacks and bottled water or soda, squabble among yourselves and make up before parting each evening.

Every day you spend time plotting and planning what you will all do together the next day. Tragedy is a rainy day when you can't play outside. Your group draws together in a mutual aid society for every scratch or injury, rushing inside in search of first aid materials.

Summer is over. The kids here will be going back to school soon. Apartment friends are even more transient than friends who live in houses. Perhaps the next time my granddaughters come to visit, their summer friends will have moved on. In the meantime, they'll have lovely memories of their friends from the summer of 2009.

anny

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Changes

Life is a series of detours and short cuts and wide open interstates. In my experience there are always changes, usually just when you get comfortable with your status. Funny thing about those changes... we usually protest, kicking and screaming, even when the changes appear to be beneficial.

We observe the world around us through the glasses of our current events. Last night I was taking part in a chat on one of the reader loops where much of the conversation centered around children leaving home for the first time to attend college or enter the military. While I have my own memories of that time with my children, those memories are long past. I have dealt with the anxieties and uncertainties of children leaving home and learned exactly how little control we exert as parents once our children leave the nest.

Yet, it is impossible to share that knowledge with another parent. Like most life's experiences, its something each of us must learn on our own.

With every rotation of the earth, inevitably changes arrive, some small and unnoticed, some huge and life-altering. How we adjust to the changes will determine how content we are with life. The changes themselves do not determine happiness, but our adaptability to our new circumstances.

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies. ~Author Unknown

anny

PS: I'm featured at the Sex Talk for Wicked Women Blog today!

Time Out

I've come to the conclusion that I'm in time out. Evidently, my brain has decided that writing is much too hard and decided to take a vacation. It's for sure that nothing much has been accomplished in the last few weeks.

Some days I feel like writing is harder than walking around the block--and believe me, that is very hard for me. Walking to the pool is a major undertaking. Walking around the block would be... an epic journey.

Writing when you have a fuzzy frozen brain is kind of like crocheting blindfolded. With enough perseverance you might complete a project, but it sure wouldn't be pretty. I feel like I'm crocheting blindfolded AND left handed.

So what's a writer to do? I'm taking a time out. That's right. You know when a referee blows the whistle and a team takes a time out? Everything stops while the team works out a new plan. Well, I'm taking time to work on a new plan.

In the meantime, I'm catching up on my reading. And working on beading projects for RomantiCon in October. And resting. And spending time with the grandkids. And some days, I'm even peering at my notes and research for various projects. But very little writing is happening and I've finally given myself permission for that time out.

How about you? What do you do when you need a time out?

anny

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Heroes


Heroes are all around us. Sometimes in the most unlikely places.

Take, for instance, this fellow. His name is Dwight and he's the lifeguard at our pool. Here, he's in the water (on his break) playing with C, our neighbor and D (in the vest).

They had a splashing war that went on for about half an hour. The kids love him.

He's soft spoken, but every kid down at the pool listens when he says, "Jump."

Here's a heroine named Jane. Not many people would play with the neighbor's granddaughters, but Jane's up for almost anything, including a group picture with T (on the left) and D (on the right).
No wonder the first thing they say is "We love you, Jane."

Dwight--perfectly willing to mug for the camera.

Judah--who thought I really wouldn't take the pic! He had a "race" with T. And gave her a couple pointers with her swimming.

T. and Jane hanging out. Any adult who spends time mentoring kids is a hero in my book.

anny

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What's your pleasure?

On an author's loop that I check out occasionally, there's been an on-going discussion about how various genres are indicated and marketed. In particular, one group of readers is interested in reading interracial, multi-cultural romances.

Part of the discussion has centered around what constitutes interracial. Is it only black/white? Or is it any couple that doesn't share the same racial background? Is it any couple/trio/quartet where one individual isn't white?

What if one of the individuals is also a vampire or shape-shifter? Or, as is the case with my Mystic Valley series, what if the "other" race is blue? Certainly, there are cultural differences in those romances. Does that count?

All readers have preferences for certain types of stories. Some read only BDSM stories. Others prefer vampires or cowboys or Navy SEALS. As one reader pointed out, the IR/MC stories are the hardest to locate and pinpoint because so many other factors enter into the mix.

After thinking about it for a while, it occurs to me that might be a positive sign. I can remember a time when the interracial aspect would have overridden all other aspects of the story. Yet, now we hear complaints that readers can't pinpoint an interracial story by the cover or blurb. Isn't that a good thing? Am I the only one that believes it's a positive sign that as authors we are writing characters from the entire spectrum of humanity?

What do you think? And what's your particular pleasure?

anny

Monday, August 3, 2009

Crafty Epic FAILS and Successes

Over the last few weeks the grandkids have been hanging around at my house, we've tried several crafts and experiences to entertain them.
This is T, hard at work on her first "book". First day--2000 words. I have to admit that I didn't do nearly so well.
This is yesterday's craft. Soft foam. A kit that purported to be suitable for a four year old. Uh-huh. After the first five minutes, D, the five year old showed her eminent good sense by deserting us while T and I spent the next two hours puzzling over the instructions. The resulting pictures were the result approximately five minutes after I finished construction. The thing sort of exploded. I believe it will not stay together without super glue.

This was last week's project--paper making. It was a Bill Nye kit purchased at Wal-Mart in a real steal of a deal. I think the instructions were written by someone who was on LSD. One piece broke almost immediately. The "paper" which was supposed to dry in twenty-four hours was still wet 72 hours later.

Oh yeah, we ended up with food coloring and water all over the balcony--and us.

This was the most successful project. The kids love Sculpey clay. That metal thing (for the uninitiated) is a pasta roller. You use it to flatten and mix the clay. Over the weekend, we picked up some more clay--on sale.

I have to say that I'm really, really disappointed in the quality and instructions for kid's crafts. It's ridiculous when the instructions are so bad they require interpretation and/or translation. The shoddy quality of the contents is... worse than disappointing. For a kid, it's a betrayal. They pick out the toy with anticipation and excitement. When they finally have the chance to "play", the workmanship is so terrible nothing lasts the hour it takes to put it together.

The girls decided that they'll stick to beads and clay for the rest of their projects. Can't say that I blame them.

What's your craft story?

anny

Saturday, August 1, 2009