Saturday, May 31, 2008
I've made a few in my time. Usually my bad decisions are based on time management issues. You know the ones--those plans that you make with too little time factored in to accomplish everything? The ones where you didn't count on your sister arriving unannounced to stay a week? Or you had no idea that the kids would all have the measles that week?
But there are times when it's been sheer miscalculation based on someone else's reaction. Buy the big guy something for his birthday that he not only doesn't want...it's HELL, NO! he doesn't want it. What were you thinking? Oops!
Then there are the bad timing decisions. The ones where you decide to save some time by taking the freeway only to find yourself sitting in bumper to bumper traffic because of a three car pile up. Or you plan your vacation in Florida in August in the height of hurricane season and son of a gun, a hurricane comes to visit.
Sometimes decisions turn out to be poorly thought out because we are missing critical information. If the missing facts were factored in, our decision would have changed. Often these are the decisions we regret in hindsight. The woulda, coulda, shoulda decisions that we spend a lot of time re-living.
The thing I've learned about life and the decisions we make is this: We can't go back. We can't undo a bad decision. We can only go forward, hopefully having learned from the experience. It's called growing up. And if we're lucky, we keep growing until we're really old. About that time we stop making poor decisions because we've finally learned enough that we have a glimmering of wisdom.
That's why they say that with age comes wisdom...
Friday, May 30, 2008
How different you can be--and still generally tolerated--depends mostly on how much money or influence you have. Somebody like Oprah or Nora Roberts can stretch the boundaries more than someone like Anny Cook. Do I want purple hair? Hmmm. Hafta think about that. Hafta decide how that would affect my general over-all image as a writer.
Before anyone knew I was a writer, it didn't matter if I wore sloppy sweatpants on my milk run to the store. Now I have to worry about who I might meet or greet while I'm out and about. Like I said, if I was a big name star it might not make two hoots whether I was dressed up or not.
When I was younger (back when there were dragons and sorcerers) I longed to really be a hippy. Alas, I was a mother and wife and hippydom was not in my cards. Then I really wanted to be McGyver or Indiana Jones. Sigh. No one needed me rescue them. I only got to use my handy-dandy duct tape and Swiss Army Knife in the office repairing computers.
At last I found a place that I can be a little different. Yep. I write stories that are a little different--according to the reviewers. Haven't quite decided whether thats a compliment or their way of saying that they're not quite sure how to categorize my work. Maybe it's a little bit of both. In the business of writing, being different is actually an advantage. After all, if you're work is toooo much like the next guy's, then they call that plagiarism. So different is good.
It's kind of funny. The comment I hear the most often about my stories are that they are different or unusual. "Where do you get those strange ideas?" I guess I must just be marching to my own drummer.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Forty-eight years ago today, my mother died in a head on collision on a lonely two lane stretch of road near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. It was a few minutes before midnight.
I was ten years old.
I don't remember much about my mother other than the vignettes that older family members have passed on. She was very young. Only thirty-one. At the time, of course, I didn't realize how very young she was--how much of life she missed.
Because my mother was a very well respected woman, very popular with her peers and because she was a minister's wife, people came from all over the state of Arizona for her funeral. It was a standing-room-only funeral held in the blazing heat of the Sun Valley on the first day of June. After the service, we drove in a long mournful snake of cars about thirty minutes to reach the cemetery where there was another brief service.
Then we went back to my grandparents' home where there seemed to be a million people. Some were relatives from Oklahoma. Some were from further away than that...Indiana, Texas. In a little while we changed to comfortable traveling clothes so that we could drive back to New Mexico. We had been in the actual process of moving from Arizona to Indiana. There were many things to deal with regarding our household goods back in New Mexico.
On the way out of town we stopped at the cemetery again. I remember taking some of the fancy ribbon bows from the flower arrangements heaped over her grave. I had pieces of those tattered ribbons for quite a few years. That was pretty much all I had of my mother. I remember that to this day, I really can't stand gladiolas though they are beautiful flowers.
The next few weeks were pretty hard. My younger brothers and I were like lost lambs, not quite sure what to do next. They didn't have grief counselors back then. Actually, the general attitude was that we should "buck up" and "get over it."
What no one knew...what I carried around as a guilty secret for years and years was that I knew it was my fault that my mother died. The day she died, one of my brothers did something that I was blamed for and I was punished. I didn't generally mind being punished for something I did, but this miscarriage of justice outraged me. On that day I discovered that my mother was not infallible. And I lashed out with the only power I had... words.
I remember very clearly standing out in our dusty yard dotted with prickly pear and other cactus plants and screaming, "I hate you! I wish you were dead!"
A few hours later she was gone.
In the convoluted way that children reason, of course it was my fault. Why else would she be dead? God didn't take good people away for nothing.
It was a very long time before I was finally old enough to work through the past baggage. And eventually I did. But on that hot sunny day forty-eight years ago, I learned a valuable lesson that I've never forgotten. Maybe it was the last lesson I learned from my mother.
Never say anything in anger. Wait. Think about what you say. You may not ever have the opportunity to take back words said in anger.
So on this day of remembrance, I say publicly, "I'm sorry. I love you. I miss you. I didn't do nearly as good a job as you did in your short time."
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
But for those of us who have been in that situation, the comedy isn't so funny. And it makes fun of the men involved, implying that they are stupid and incompetent. That does a disservice for all the Dad out there who are doing their best to make it work.
For many years...ten or twelve?...the house hunk took care of the kids at night while I worked. I was a crew person at the ever popular McDonalds, closing the store six nights a week. He worked his day job, came home, passed me in the hall as I was leaving for my shift, and took care of the kids. Homework, supper, baths, laundry and whatever else needed to be done in the evening was taken care of by him.
Was it the ideal situation? No. It just was. Truth to tell, most times when Dads are in that situation its because there just is no other choice. But in my experience, they rise to the challenge. We desperately needed a second income and daycare costs were fifty dollars more than my take home pay. If we were going to have any income to actually live on, then we were going to have to split shift.
Do we need to stand up and cheer because they're doing a good job? I wouldn't get that crazy. But an occasional thank you goes a long way, doesn't it? As the economy falls into the dumpster there may be more and more Mr. Moms out there pitching in on the home front while Mom is working an evening shift. All I'm saying is that it never hurts to recognize that they're doing their part. And in the end...doing your part is what its all about.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Last year on May 23rd a tongue-in-cheek version of King Arthur's court was released. And nothing was ever the same for me. Chrysanthemum was my first book released for sale. It's a pretty scary thing when you release your first baby...kind of like taking your kid to kindergarten. You worry if he or she will make friends or pee in their pants or say those naughty words they overheard when their father hammered his thumb.
Well, Chrys has survived her kindergarten year with pretty good grades. She made a few friends. Told a few jokes. And seems to happily be heading for first grade.
Chrysanthemum was one of those serendipitous accidents. I started off with a perfectly serious premise--historical trilogy about three sisters who go off to Camelot to find husbands. Somewhere in paragraph three something odd happened. My serious historical derailed and ran off into the woods, jumped a canyon, and headed down the Interstate. I never was able to steer it back to the tracks.
Around chapter two, I decided that it would be more fun to go along for the ride rather than fight it so I did. It was a rollicking, irreverent ride all the way. I made a few new friends... added some interesting information to my store of knowledge and had a few laughs. For those of you who've read Chrysanthemum, I hope you enjoyed it. For those of you who didn't, you don't know what your missing!
Helen--we had a blast!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
It's easy to go about our business every day as though we aren't affected by the losses, but somewhere, deep down inside we are. There is a compassionate heart in most of us. And that compassion leads us to grieve when terrible disasters happen. For the last few weeks, I've been feeling blue and I just couldn't figure out why. I'm no more tired than usual. The sun shines most days. I'm taking my vitamin D. So why has it been so hard to get back to my old light-hearted self?
I think it's because on some deep cellular level I grieve. On some level the loss of so many souls has initiated the grieving process. There are recognizable steps in the grieving process and I seem to be working my way through the process.
To some it will no doubt seem unreasonable to grieve for people I don't know. But I know that without compassion, we are no better than a box of rocks. Even animals know how to grieve. In this twenty-first century mourning is no longer fashionable. This weekend, a day of national mourning, a Memorial Day...will be spent in traveling, picnicking, shopping... but not in mourning or remembrance.
Perhaps--perhaps we should take a little while this Memorial Day to contemplate our losses.
No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.~~John Donne
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Nights are funny aren't they? Have you ever noticed that even though you can shop, eat, do laundry, and almost anything else in the middle of the night, there's still a "hushed" feeling about night. The activity might be the same, but there's still a totally different quality about night time.
The darkness gives a sense of urgency to everything from pumping gas to buying a cup of coffee. There is a visceral feeling of danger, even when we are clearly safe. When I had a dog, I frequently took her out to walk at midnight. Usually, there were more people outside walking around then than there were when we walked during the afternoon. The afternoon was dead. We could have been attacked, robbed, assaulted and chances are no one would have seen a thing. Yet most people were more concerned about me walking the dog at night. "Aren't you scared?" they would ask. I wonder why the absence of light changes our perspective.
Maybe it's an old instinct from ancient times. Don't go out...there are bad things in the dark. Is it a cultural memory of times when things really did go bump in the night? Or is it our intuition telling us there are dangerous critters all around us that we're failing to acknowledge or perceive? In times past, humans weren't so quick to dismiss the idea of angels, demons, werewolves and vampires. They respected the possibilities and took the necessary precautions. Yet in the current age, the only beings that most people will admit that they believe in are angels. Why do you suppose that is?
I think that in the industrial age people feel foolish believing in the creatures of the night so they've substituted an alternate reality. For whatever reason, it's cooler to believe in aliens and UFOs than it is to believe that a vampire might be waiting in the darkness around the corner. I find it interesting that there has been such an upsurge in the paranormal genre. But the thing I find the most telling is how we have changed the creatures of the dark so that they sooth our underlying fears. Now they are the heroes... the alphas that exude sex and protection and ultimately love. They're misunderstood instead of dangerous. Rather than facing the prospect of being torn limb from limb, we have the likely future of unending sexual delights.
Yet, it seems that our instincts are still twanging with alarm. Don't go out in the dark...
Amarinda has gone to the country, Kelly finally has her internet hooked up and James is blogging today at OhGetAGrip. Enjoy!
Friday, May 23, 2008
I like the idea of overcoming differences in their backgrounds so that true love runs smooth. It's just that I get this glimpse of difficulties that could be awkward to say the least. Take the were-owl... she lays eggs? So how's that gonna work with a little fox?
Or the collie/panther couple... really will lead a dog and cat existence. In romances, the writer always glosses over the nature of the were-animal, but isn't that what makes the story interesting? Who and what they are is the very reason we read the book. To gloss over the very thing that makes them different denies the reason for the tension in the story.
It's kind of funny, but in my experience, writers spend more time discussing the nature of the beast when only one half of the pair is a were-animal. It's as though the animal nature is negated if both halves of the pair are were-animal. They'll supposedly automatically know what drives the other person will be dealing with. I'm not so sure that would be true.
In reality, we as humans barely perceive what makes us tick. How much more difficult must it be if one is a carnivore by nature and the other a real vegan. What drives are there that would lead to real conflict? Wolves, for instance are very different from say, lions. Not just in physical characteristics, but in social order. How would ultimately play out in the long run? Talk about in-law problems...
So, these are just a few things I think about in the middle of the night. And you thought that romance writers thought about sex.
The best of the best: Amarinda, Kelly, OhGetAGrip
Thursday, May 22, 2008
When my daughters were oh, I think maybe eleven and seven, I put them on a plane to spend the summer with my cousin. My friend went with me to the airport. We waited to watch the plane take off. And waited. And waited. An hour later, people started filing off the plane. There was something wrong and the flight was canceled. Passengers were put on a later flight, but in the meantime the flight attendant told me that I needed to talk to my daughters and fix whatever the problem was.
So the conversation went something like this:
"What's going on girls?"
Older one: "Nothing."
Younger one is crying.
"Why is your sister crying?"
Older one: "I don't know."
Younger one: "We forgot the gum!"
"Well, that's nothing to cry about!"
Younger one: "She said I was going to..."
Older one is frantically shaking her head.
Younger one (more determined): "She said my ears would pop and blow my brains out!"
Why do kids do stuff like this to their siblings? Does anybody know? Mine were continually sticking it to each other. Of course if anyone else tried that, they'd all unite and turn on that person like a pack of lions. Sigh.
I guess that's something, at least.
Don't forget to stop over at OhGetAGrip where we're talking about tough love.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I think it's going to be a while before I can look at food as food. Have you ever had that kind of epiphany? It rarely happens to me, especially regarding food.
Think I'll print out the photo and put it on my refrigerator. Maybe use it kind of like that "got milk?" advert.
We went to a restaurant after our bi-weekly laundry run. It was an upscale hamburger joint that's popular with families. Very noisy. I watched one family as they were seated. Mom sat down. Dad sat down. And then, sort of straggling along after them came three little kids. The youngest looked to be about three or four. The parents were paying absolutely no attention to the kids. Had no notion of where they were. I found it kind of scary. When we were seated in restaurants when we had kids...I was the last one to sit down because I was bringing up the rear flank.
Apparently my cam locks were delivered by UPS while we were out frolicking at the laundromat. The driver left them at our apartment complex office so if it's not raining today, I will walk down there and retrieve them. Then I'll come back and assemble my furniture!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Depending on what I'm working on, I find music can been quite annoying. Or quite inspiring. At the moment I'm working on a Christmas story so I'm listening to Josh Groban's Christmas Album.
When I'm looking for something to lift me into that triumphant state where the good guys beat the bad guys, I listen to the long composition from Chariots of Fire (25 mins long). That is EXCELLENT! Then there are various albums by Zamfir, Vangelis, Josh Groban... or if I want a somebody done some wrong song, then I haul out Gary Allan. That ol' boy is the most heart broken fella I've ever encountered. He also has some pretty good stuff if you just have on a good mad. For all of us who have had a tough day at the office--whether it's at home or out--his song "I just got back from Hell!" expresses the feelings pretty well.
I think it's interesting how music can help us set the mood when we're working. I don't generally work with music with actual words because I end up typing the words instead of my writing. But sometimes while I'm getting ready to write, I'll listen to that.
Some days I light the tart burners, adjust the lighting, open the doors... there are all sorts of mood altering things we can do to kick-start our mood. There are days it's just not happening. One day I was in such a funk that I took a shower, dressed like I was gonna go out, and went for a walk. It didn't help with the writing, but at least I wasn't in the house contemplating my navel... and for those of you who know me, that could be quite an undertaking.
There are things that can be quite a work stopper, too. Radio, TV, computer games, telephone calls, sirens, jackhammers, and the maintenance guys replacing the carpet in the apartment upstairs. I control the ones I can and deal with the rest--just because that's life.
Ah, the blogs... Amarinda dueling with Mervina the possum, Kelly packing like a demon, and over at OhGetAGrip we're talking about Tough Love... Blessings on your day.
Monday, May 19, 2008
As usual, I was stunned by the incredible talent we have in our group. The variety was astounding. About once a month someone starts an excerpt challenge. It's always refreshing and invigorating to display little clips of your work for your peers. I usually come away with a new outlook.
Tomorrow, I'll be back at the computer working on a holiday story for the Christmas season. Since it's in the seventies here and sunny, I'll probably put on some Christmas music CDs and light a couple of candles to get in the mood. The thing about writing is that you're usually two seasons off from reality. I wrote a book that had swimming in a waterfall last winter. Ah, well. Such is life.
Hopefully tomorrow will bring my cam locks in the mail so that I can assemble my book cases and put things away. Until then, I just have a pile of boxes sitting in my "office" taking up room. It's interesting--I will vegetate in clutter up to a certain point. Then it reaches critical mass and I have to stop and declutter and straighten up so that I can concentrate. I'm getting close to that point. It we have a couple days this week that are warm enough to open the patio door and windows... well, this place will be vacuumed and cleaned until my friend Jane won't recognize it.
Shhh. Maybe I'll even put some of the plants on the balcony outside and thin down the house hunk's jungle to a dull roar. The bamboo is about three feet high. I think it would like some real sunshine and fresh air. Don't you? And surely the gardenia would like to be outdoors. Sure it would.
Mondays are a new beginning for me. Yes, Amarinda, I know that Mondays are pukeable, but Monday is my day when the house hunk goes back to work and things settle back to normal. So my Friday is your Monday. Ack!
Check out the women! Amarinda, Kelly, and OhGetAGrip!
Blessings on your day.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I think my keyboard is having a nervous breakdown. It's doing all sorts of weird stuff, skipping spaces, substituting letters... just weird stuff. Do you hear the theme from Outer Limits?
Couldn't resist that picture--that's pretty much what the cat and I looked like this last week. It's amazing how much you feel like you missed when you're sick. I suspect that I didn't miss nearly as much as I thought I did. And I feel surprisingly guilt free.
Back in my working days I had a kidney stone attack on the weekend. So by Saturday evening I was in the hospital. The house hunk called in to my job to let them know I would not be at work. On Tuesday, looking and feeling like something that had been kept in a dumpster for a couple of weeks, I looked up to see (much to my appalled horror!) the director and asst. director of my department. Ack!
They each had one of those yellow pads clutched in their hand. And what was on the pads, you ask? Questions. Millions of questions that I apparently had the answers to. Now if I had been at that job a long time, I would say, okay--she knows where all the bodies are buried. But I had only worked there three months.
Anyway, they asked questions and I gave answers and directions and instructions while they took reams of notes. Goodness only knows what I told them as I was higher than a kite on morphine while I waited for an operating room. The next day they took me into the OR and put me out of my misery.
Looking back on it, I wonder what the heck was I thinking? No one is irreplaceable. What would they have done if I had been in a coma? I've learned a lot since then. And one of the things I've learned is that it's okay to be sick once in a while. It's okay to sleep or drag around wallowing in my misery. So I took time off and actually feel pretty good now except for a flaming case of laryngitis. I seldom talk so that's okay, too. It doesn't affect my typing fingers.
Anyway, since I spent the week under the weather, there really isn't a lot to talk about. I have no new news. I didn't go anywhere. I didn't open the blinds. I didn't even read all my e-mail. And nothing bad happened. The world did not stop turning. Life as we know it didn't cease. Amazing.
I may take another week off sometime. Until tomorrow...
Stop in and see the ladies... Kelly, Amarinda, and OhGetAGrip.
Blessings on your day!
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Some days are just like that, aren't they? That was one of my days yesterday. So I went back to bed and decided to start over today.
Earlier this week our furniture was delivered. Now when I say furniture, I'm just talking about three small bookcases...the kind that you can use like a hutch on your desk. One was for the house hunk's desk and the other two are mine. Now days most furniture comes in a tidy little box with all the parts so that the new owner can put it together. Right off the bat, the house hunk ran into trouble putting his case together as two cam locks broke.
Fortunately, we had another box to open...remove two cam locks and finish putting the case together. In the meantime, I called the furniture company and they're going to mail some extra cam locks to me. Then I'll get to put my cases together. Isn't that swell? I figure they'll arrive sometime next week.
I suppose if I have to be sick, this week was as good a week to be sick as any. Didn't really get much done. I wrote two and a half chapters on my new wip. I straightened up the living room. And I slept through the better part of two days. I was a good neighbor and shared my bug with my neighbor, Jane, even though we took great care not to visit each other personally, only talking on the phone. I guess this is one of those internet viruses they talk about. She would rather that I had demonstrated my selfishness by keeping my bug to myself.
With some of my "economic stimulus" money I bought the Dragon Naturally Speaking software for my computer. And immediately started coughing like I was going to hack up a lung. Then I spent a day sounding like Lauren Bacall. And now I sound like early Goldie Hawn with this high sqeaky voice. So until I sound like Anny again, I won't be trying out that new software. It would get way too confused if I did that. No telling what would end up on my computer.
The lady at BestBuy told me that Sony is getting ready to release a new version of the Sony reader. I'm kinda interested to see what they add/subtract to the reader this time. That's on my Christmas list this year if there are significant changes.
In the meantime, I decided to buy myself a Mother's Day present. I bought a bowed psaltery, complete with carrying case. It's very pretty and the perfect sized instrument for an apartment. I used to play the piano, but that sucker takes up too much room. Ditto the guitar, electronic keyboard, and accordion. I also ordered two ocarinas. One European and one Native American. Then I'll be set.
I suppose that I've babbled on long enough. Tomorrow is another day. Until then, Blessings on your day. Don't forget to stop by Amarinda's, Kelly's, and OhGetAGrip.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Well, after several years of not being sick, it seems that the summer cold/sore throat/runny nose bug caught me. I expect that I'll get better in a week or so. In the meantime, I think I'll sleep late and take a nap besides while I have a perfectly good excuse to do so.
Our water was out again last night. When I called it in, I was informed that there was a broken pipe and that we would be without water for at least two more hours. This was at dinner time. Of course. That was to make the day complete.
Yesterday morning when I finally crawled out of bed, I discovered that our coffee pot gave up the ghost--so no hot water for tea. Ever adaptable, I nuked a mug of water. Then I decided to have some pancakes for breakfast. Tossed all the stuff in the bowl...went to get an egg... no eggs in the fridge. So I substituted an individual portion of peach mango applesauce. Those pancakes were pretty good. No milk left for hot chocolate so I substituted canned milk. Geez, I'm a regular McGyver. Pretty good for my muzzy ol' brain.
Kelly asked what a tart burner was. The tart burner is on the left. You use tea lights in the bottom to heat and melt the "tart"--wax tarts like those on the right. It gives the house/apartment a lovely smell. I have bunches of them with tons of tarts in all scents and flavors can I buy 'em on sale. In the mean time, I toss the sealed tarts in my underwear drawers like sachets. Vanilla, lavender, lilac... yummy.
I mention the Blogging with a Purpose award. I've finally decided who to award it to. Jacqueline Roth, Barbara Huffert, Redlines and Deadlines, Bronwyn Green, and Life on a Farm. Tomorrow I'll post links. The rule is that you must pick five blogs to give the award to. They must not already have the award.
Please check out Miss Amarinda, Miss Kelly, and the OhGetAGrip Blog. Leave a comment or two or three. Blessings on your day.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
So I spent a lot of yesterday cleaning up. We were expecting a furniture deliver--a couple of small bookcases--and of course, you have to have a place to put them. I ran around picking up, putting away, and since it was a nice day, opened the door and lit a couple of tart burners.
At 2 PM we received a canned phone message--
the delivery is delayed until today. So I started dinner, did some more straightening up and worked a little more on my research on Yule traditions for Undain's book.
All of which means that not much writing was done. Maybe a couple hundred words. Not much more than that. Talked to a lot of people on the phone. I can go for weeks on end without a phone conversation, and then boom! everyone will call on the same day. There are some people that you talk to whenever they call. My aunt called from Oklahoma. That's a call you take. The house hunk called. You guessed it... that is definitely a call that you take.
On top of that I woke up with a drippy nose and sore throat. I haven't been sick in about six years. Now, suddenly I have a spring cold. Ack! Noooooo. I may just get up in the morning, get dressed so I can answer the door when the delivery guys show up and go back to bed until they get here. Can you tell that I'm not a very good patient?
So until tomorrow!
Check out the girls! Amarinda, Kelly, Rita, and OhGetAGrip!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Next I must award it to five blogs I feel are worthy and since Jenyfer has already been picked, I can't choose her even though I thoroughly enjoy her glimpse of life in Cairo. If you've never checked out her blog, please do so now! http://jenyfermatthews.blogspot.com/
I am going to take another day to consider my choices carefully. Please tune in tomorrow to see who I pick.
In the meantime, back to the research. The world of the internet is a wonderful thing. However, it does have a couple of drawbacks. One of those is the large number of people who copy information from other sites, slap it on their own site without any acknowledgements, and then twist the facts to their own purposes. Sigh. Groan. Yawn.
After several hours of surfing, I'm convinced that I'm looking at the same two or three pages...at least the same information. I've queried as many different ways as I can think of and still I encounter the same stuff. Anyway, it's certainly been an eye-opening experience. Anytime you research the origins of tradition, you find out things that you might not have wanted to know. For instance, did you know that Christmas wasn't widely celebrated in the United States before the Civil War as it was considered a PAGAN holiday? In Massachusetts it was even against the law for a period of about twenty five years. Very interesting.
Tonight I was talking to my friend Jane. She was describing her experience with teaching a young teen how to iron. Then we started reminiscing about what it was like when we were young. Does anyone else remember wetting the clothes with a sprinkler and rolling them up. You kept the un-ironed clothes in the drawer in the refrigerator so they didn't mildew. Before there was spray starch you could either starch the entire article of clothing or you could add a little powdered starch to the water in your sprinkler bottle.
How about bluing? Anyone else remember the little bottle of bluing that you used in the rinse water? Any of you do wash in a genuine wringer washer? We started out with really hot water for the white clothes. Then the same water (a little cooler by then) for the light colored clothes. After that came the sheets and towels (same water!) and then finally the dark clothes. I wonder how we ever got them clean?
I had a "squaw" skirt made out of a turquoise crinkly fabric. My mom would wash it and then hang it outside to dry in the inside of a nylon stocking so that it retained it's crinkly self. Then when I wore it, I had a crinoline underneath so that it poofed out all around me. How many of you remember wearing crinolines? You had to be careful when you sat down. Otherwise you shared all your "good bits" with the boys without meaning to.
Do you remember when we were taught to sit like a lady? How about wearing a slip? Or a girdle? Or horror of horrors a garter belt. The only thing more uncomfortable was (TURN AWAY MEN) a sanitary napkin belt. Ah, the mysteries of womanhood.
Heh. I remember ironing day! It was endless. One of the first chores I shucked was ironing. The only thing worse was taking all the rugs outside so that I could "beat" the dust out of them. Can we talk about asthma?
Well, enough of walking down memory lane. Until tomorrow...
Don't forget to check out the ladies!!! Amarinda, Kelly, and OhGetAGrip!
Monday, May 12, 2008
A friend once asked if I had heard from my children that week. When I said "no", she asked why I wasn't worried. Um, well that expression, no news is good news generally is true in my family. It's usually a blessing when I don't hear from them as that means things are going well and they don't need my assistance to bail them out of jail, financial trouble, or car trouble. See? That's the way it works.
Another friend asked me if I regretted having four children. My answer to that is "Which one would I send back? How would I choose?" Four kids, ten kids, one kid... once you have them, they're yours for life. The only way to change that is to die or hire an "Eraser" to make you disappear. Not even sure that would work as most kids are pretty resourceful when it comes to tracking down mom or dad.
I have a friend in Queensland, Australia. She declares that its the best place in the world to live. Some days I contemplate finding out for myself. Those are usually the same days I serious think about going to live in a cave.
Children are generally a blessing... except for the days that they aren't. You know those days-- days that they take a notion to do something that curls your hair before it makes it fall out. I had a lot of those days when mine were younger. It seems that the number of those kind of days increases exponentially for each additional child that you have. That's because the younger ones learn from the older ones. They don't repeat what the older ones did... no, they learn what not to do so they can do something entirely different. That way the parents are never ahead of the learning curve.
Over the years my kids have just about done it all, although none of them have killed anyone--so far. It was a near thing a couple weeks ago when my daughter called me and immediately declared (no Hello! How are you?) "I'm going to kill your granddaughter!" To which I queried, "Oh? How do you plan to do that without creating a mess?" By the time she worked out the gory details, she was mostly over it, though she thought she ought to make a note of it all, just in case. In the meantime, said granddaughter locked herself in her bathroom. Probably smart.
The most potent curse I know is "May you have two (six, ten) kids just like you were!"
I once received a call at work. Here's my end of the conversation:
"What kind of stain?"
"Did she drink any of it?"
"Well, mop it up with a rag."
"No, no problem. Now you have a couch."
"Uh-huh. I'll talk to you when I get home."
I put the phone back on the receiver and looked up to an office full of absolutely enthralled co-workers. After a minute one of them asked, "What kind of stain did they pour on the couch?"
"Furniture stain. Black Walnut."
"Oh. Well as long as no one drank it..."
Yep, that's my bunch. After the one that drank charcoal lighter fluid, a little stain on the couch is all good.
Don't forget to drop by the ladies blogs at Amarinda, Kelly, and OhGetAGrip where I'm holding forth on time management--or the lack of it.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I am in the middle of finishing a book so I'm gonna take a couple of "short" days on the blog. I'll be back with a regular blog on Monday. Enjoy your weekend!
Don't forget to check out Amarinda, Kelly, and OhGetAGrip!
Friday, May 9, 2008
So here's the thing that I found seriously annoying. Well... two things I found seriously annoying. The first is the story line that has boy meets girl... boy and girl have misunderstanding... boy and girl fail to work this out for 200 to 300 pages. Then in the last ten pages SOMEONE runs up and solves the problem and presto, they have a happily ever after.
Now I'm not talking about a genuine case of each must grow and change to make it work out. No I'm talking about Susie thinks John is cheating on her for the entirety of the book. There are a series of encounters where they have childish conversations to the effect of "I can't trust you" and "Do what you want", etc. Then at the end of the book, some person who Susie considers trustworthy tell her that John could not have cheated on her because he was doing thus and so and was not anywhere near the other female... Blech. Immediately, Susie runs to John's arms begging for forgiveness for not trusting him. Immediately, John declares that that's all right because he loves Susie. HEA!!! Am I the only one that wonders why these books are published?
A) What kind of relationship do they have if she doesn't trust him? B) What kind of man says yeah, baby, it's okay if you walked all over me, I love ya anyway? And C) If the trustworthy friend knew the truth all along, why not just speak up? Argh!
In the second case, the heroine has been through several bad relationships (why is it always several? Does that tell us something about her?) and now is afraid to trust the big gorgeous alpha hero because he's probably just toying with her. So for 200 to 300 pages we are privileged to hear her whine to all and sundry about how she's afraid to trust him as he most likely doesn't really love her, but will leave her as soon as he gets what he wants from her. Now in the old days that would be sex, but in our new jump-into-bed-before-we-know-each-other's-name era, that isn't so. They're screwin' from page three. So what's the hero hanging around for? Pizza?
In both cases, there didn't seem to be much of a story. I know what you're thinkin'. They couldn't have all been that bad. Yeah, they were. Out of 18 books, 15 were romances. Out of that 15, 12 had storylines like I've described. Kinda sad. The other three were older books from my library. Sigh. It's enough to make you go back to Helen MacInnes and Elizabeth Cadell. I can do without sex. I can do without kissing. Just give me a story. Give me people that don't whine. Give me characters that act like real people. Do you suppose that is too much?
On the other hand, I read a couple of excellent books:
Compulsion by Jonathon Kellerman. Want a book that will curl your hair and yank it out? This is it. As usual, Mr. Kellerman delivers.
Trial by Fury by J.A. Jance. This is one of Ms. Jance's JP Beaunont mysteries... a story that kept me turning my virtual pages until 2 AM.
Reckless Love by Elizabeth Lowell. An oldie, but goodie...one of Ms. Lowell's western historicals. I love her western historicals.
What about you? Read any good books lately? I have a pile still left to read--some from e-pubs and some from the dead tree pubs. Amarinda Jones, Katie Blu, Regina Carlysle, to name just a few. What's on your TBR pile?
Shoot! Forgot to mention that I'm guest blogging at Jenyfer Matthews blog today. Check it out at http://jenyfermatthews.blogspot.com/
Thursday, May 8, 2008
It's raining here. Supposed to rain all day. I kind of like rain as long as I don't have to drive in it. I like the way it smells. I like the sound of it on the roof. I like the way is sounds on the wind.
When I was a kid, one of the places we lived was on the side of a hill...literally. The yard of the house "next door" was level with our roof. Our yard was level with the roof of the house below us. When my father needed to repair our roof, he went up to the yard next door with a plank and used that as a bridge from that yard to our roof.
The weather there was mostly hot and dry. It was desert scrub--some mesquite, some cactus. Rain was sparse. Snow was even more so. And in the few short months we lived in that house we had both. The snow I wrote about at Christmas time. This time I'll tell you about the rain.
When my father bought that house it wasn't quite "finished". It was a concrete block three bedroom house. The kitchen was small, but we had a dining room to eat in and trust me that was quite a novelty for us. The house before this one was a tiny trailer attached to a concrete block building used by the church for Sunday School classes. As you can imagine there were real privacy issues.
Anyway, when Mom and Dad first used the sinks and tub, they made a discovery. There was no plumbing. The pipes didn't go anywhere. So Dad added some lengths of pipe so that they drained outside into the garden, thereby serving two purposes. The kitchen sink drained out near the back door where we had a giant four o'clock growing.
That part of Arizona is occasionally blessed with the remnants of a tropical storm or hurricane. That's what happened this particular time. The tropical storm moved over our area and rained. It wasn't some gentle little drizzle that would gradually soak into the dry ground. Nope. This was a rip, roaring rainstorm that poured down like Noah's flood.
The water just rolled down the mountain. When it made it to the edge of the yard above us, it flowed over the side like Niagara Falls. Of course there wasn't anywhere for that much water to go so it just flowed right under the doors and kept coming. Eventually the better part of it rolled on around the other side of the house and poured down on the house below us.
It took us a while to get the water in the house cleaned out. Dad had to run a garden hose through our drain pipes to wash the sand and mud away. And three days later, the yard was as dry as a desert again.
What I remember the most about that storm is the clean up. When the floors were finally dry, Mom put a coat of paste wax on them and then gave all of us kids rags. We'd stand on the rags and twist around polishing the floor. So way before some fellow name Chubby Checker was doing the twist--we thought of it first.
Visit all the ladies for a new take on life. Kelly, Amarinda, and OhGetAGrip!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
There is a mini-competition in progress on one of the chat loops that I belong to. It centers around nudging several of us (writers) into pushing ourselves a little further. During February, March, and even April many of us succumbed to the winter blahs. Now we have to get back into gear, writing and producing stories. It's not always easy to do.
Anyway, as I've observed how things have been going this last week, I find it remarkable how just a little competitive edge along with a certain amount of accountability has nudged so many of us out of our doldrums. I'm sure that warmer temps have helped. I'm sure that sunnier days have helped. But a little bit of show'n'tell has helped the most.
I foresee a flood of submissions for our editors. So perhaps they should rest up now in preparation of the future. Several people have also confessed to trying genres they've never attempted before. Change is good. Encouragement is good. And the high spirits evident when one person urges another on... that's especially good. Whether it's 500 words or 5000, it's forward progress. For some that 500 are much harder won than the 5000 for others.
Ms. Cook is a talented author who pens a fantasy world where the impossible can exist as well as bringing to life fairytales for the adult generation. Click here for the rest of the review of Honeysuckle! ecataromance
I recently read four stories by one author and that led to a detailed discussion with the house hunk regarding the many ways a certain erect body part behaves. In every single book the author described this body part in a position that is a physical impossibility. We tried various experiments and... Realllly impossible. Unless he was hung better than a horse--and probably not even then.
That discussion led to other observations about incredibly silly things that writers describe. Now I am a woman. Yes, I know that probably comes as a terrible shock to some of you, but there it is. You'll just have to deal with it. As I was saying, I am a woman and therefore, I'm pretty sure of the general location of various specific feminine parts. And unless the woman in a book is an alien, then her parts should be located in pretty much the same place as every other woman, right? RIGHT? Well, then, why am I reading books that have those parts in the wrong place? Is the writer in fact a man using a woman's name? Well if he is a she, then the internet is a wonderful thing, you know with pictures in living color and detailed instruction. Or he could ask the woman in his life to assist him in his investigations. If the writer is a woman, doesn't she have a mirror??? Just sayin', ya know?
You might look at it this way (no pun intended... get your mind out of the gutter!) If we're writing this stuff, shouldn't it at least be accurate? To my way of thinking, screwing that up is just as sloppy as a character walking into a room with a skirt on and two paragraphs later having her take off her jeans. Sloppy. And it reflects badly on all of us.
So never let it be said that I don't give my all to my research. And of course, the house hunk is always available to assist. After all, that's what house hunks are for...
Drop by the ladies blogs and check to see what they're up to. Amarinda, Kelly, and OhGetAGrip.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
My spammers offer me winnings from lotteries that I never entered, cheap computer programs, cheap drugs, cheap knock-off watches, and ways to keep my d'ick up. So far, I haven't been offered any of the things I want--the capability to teleport anywhere in the world at will, the power of mind speech with anyone I want, or the body of a thirty-year-old while maintaining the experience and brains of a fifty-year-old. Notice I didn't say I wanted a beautiful body, but I would certainly like to have a healthy one. Sigh. No one's made me an offer I can't refuse.
It is May already. Does it seem to you that time is speeding by faster and faster? Do you think it's because we're getting older or wiser? I remember longing for the day I would be twenty-one. It was a ridiculous letdown when I reached it. Couldn't even have a celebratory traditional drink as I was twelve months pregnant with my second child. He was born eight days later. That was the last time I anticipated a birthday with such unrealistic expectations. After that... well after that, they were just ways of marking time as it passed.
Perhaps I'll look forward to my ninety-ninth birthday. That seems like a worthy birthday to anticipate. Maybe. Will I still be writing? Maybe I'll have a secretary to take dictation while I sit hunched over in my chair, watching the squirrels play outside my window. Do you suppose they'll still have books then? Or will dead tree books be a thing of the past, outlawed to protect the earth's resources?
What do you think?
Stop in at Kelly's Blog, Amarinda's Place, and OhGetAGrip where we're discussing predators of all sorts... Leave a comment. Blessings on your day.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Saturday, May 3, 2008
I sometimes wonder what would happen if I just let all the characters run amok, meeting each other at random in a similar fashion to those cross-over television shows. For instance, how would Merlyn handle the Hieney twins? Or exactly what kind of meeting of the minds would there be between Eppie and Daffodil. I'm sure that Aristotle, the drang from Mystic Valley would have a lot to share with Percy and Bart from Avalon...
I mailed a print copy of my book to one of the women mentioned in the dedication. She called to let me know that she received it. Then she asked, "How do you think of all these ideas?" I confess that I didn't have an answer for her. It's not a conscious thought process. It's more a stream of consciousness process. I spend a lot of time doing "what if?" and then following my characters as they merrily dance off the beaten path into forbidden territory.
I admire authors who can wrangle their characters into a semblance of organized behavior. Mine never seem to listen to any of my objections at all. While I'm pointing them off toward a nicely worked out conclusion, they're busy adding complications that I'm not prepared for. When I politely point out that I'm in charge, they throw temper tantrums and refuse to follow the story board.
Now that I'm nearing the end of a book that's taken a much longer time to write than my normal schedule, the characters are acting up. Naturally. They've decided to change the story at the last minute. The villain refuses to be villainous, instead protesting that he's simply confused. Why can't they just do as they're told? And what is he doing wandering all over the valley instead of staying put?
I suppose that I shouldn't complain. The characters in another work in progress have totally disappeared and refuse to come out of hiding no matter what I try to coax them out... bribes, Tim-Tams, chocolate... they just ignore me and leave me in the lurch. That's another series. Perhaps I'll have to skip that story for now and move on to the next. Maybe they're just not ready to talk.
In the meantime, I also am dealing with three characters that I never had any plans for. They won't go away. And I have no place to put them. It's not exactly like every publisher on the planet is rushing to publish a story about a dragon, a tiger, and an alien. I don't have a story. I don't have a title. I don't have a plan. Every time I try to shove them back in the closet, they stubbornly refuse to leave. What to do?
If you see a strange woman with characters sprouting from her head like out of control corkscrews, don't panic. It's just me being my normal self. Blessings on your day.
Trot over to Amarinda's, Kelly's, and OhGetAGrip. Amarinda always had great stuff. Kelly has the Sunday Quote. and OGAG has a cartoon. What more could you want?
When I was in fifth grade, I had classes in a building similar to this one. See that tube along the right side of the building? That's a fire escape! The one in my school building was a corkscrew tube inside of a silo, but the principle was the same. When it was time for the fire drill (or even a real fire!) the class lined up and jumped into the tube. You came whizzing out the other end. Since we girls all wore SKIRTS back then, the boys were always trying to get in the front of the line. Nothing much changes, right?
All right! Everyone who remembers making chewing gum wrapper chains raise your hand! Com'on. I know there are more of you than that! My favorites were the wrappers that came with cinnamon gum because those wrappers were RED. It was especially cool for decorating the tree at Christmas. Too bad no one ever came up with a really useful purpose for them. They were really tough and could stand up to a lot of handling...
Want to see the world record chain? Check out here. Wanna know how to make your own? Check out this site.
When I was a kid, we traveled surprising distances considering the shape of the roads. I remember traveling from Arizona to Indiana all on two lane roads. One of the things that we kids would amuse ourselves with was the Burma Shave signs. They were strung out along the road about a quarter mile apart. And each one was a poem with a twist. There were tons of them...actually 7000 of them at the height of their popularity. Want to know more? Burma Shave.
Any of you have some of your own memories? Post the url! Blessings on your day.
Stop in to check Amarinda, Kelly and OhGetAGrip! Leave a comment!
Friday, May 2, 2008
Every day when I open my internet browser I'm greeted by a new scandal. It may be political or in the entertainment world or even is the religious world. Today's scandal details the affair the Barbara Walters had with a married politician. How does one begin an affair with a married man without understanding that it is wrong? I believe she said that he was brilliant and exciting. I really don't want to know any more of the story. What purpose is there in revealing her adultery now? Her credibility with me just dropped to zero.
I sometimes wonder if character is in danger of disappearing altogether. People think nothing of lying or stealing or massacring someone's reputation. There are so few examples for our children to look up to that it isn't any wonder they respect no one. When a child hears his parents discussing ways to cheat on their taxes or how they didn't have to pay for something because the cashier didn't ring it up, then what do we expect?
Character is also the strength to deal with adversity. Yesterday I was discussing this issue with a young man. He ask me why I thought there were so many divorces. I told him I think it's because at least one individual in the marriage didn't say those vows "until death do us part"--they said "until something better comes along". At the first sign of difficulties, they bailed out because that's so much easier than staying and toughing it out.
Someone once said that character is a measure of how a person behaves when you give them power. Have you ever watched the way a person changes when they're given a managerial position? Not all, but many become petty tyrants, drunk on the power they have over their erstwhile co-workers. Too few have the character to manage while keeping a level head on their shoulders.
The economy is falling on hard times and I suspect that we as a nation will see exactly what we've wrought. We haven't been building character. We've been building dependency. And the time is coming when we won't be able to pay the bill. Then we'll find out which of our neighbors have character and backbone and which will fall by the wayside.
Are you ready?
Check out Kelly, Amarinda, and OhGetAGrip. There's some good stuff there! Don't forget to leave a comment.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Back when I was a little girl, we wove small baskets from construction paper, picked flowers from the garden, and early on May 1st we delivered them to neighbors--especially shut-ins--usually leaving them on the doorstep, ringing the doorbell, and running away as fast as we could so that the recipient couldn't see who left them flowers.
Imagine my surprise when I went to look up information about May Day to find that in most of the world it is a holiday for Organized Labor...usually called Labor Day. Hmmm. Now I have nothing against labor, organized or not, but what does it have to do with May Day? In the interest of spreading knowledge, I herewith provide you, my readers with a short explanation of the traditional May Day.
The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring (season), May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer. In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary's month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary's head will often be adorned with flowers. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of "May baskets," small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors' doorsteps.~~Wikipedia~May Day
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian Europe, as in the Celtic celebration of Beltane, and the Walpurgis Night of the Germanic countries. Many pre-Christian indigenous celebrations were eventually banned or Christianized during the process of Christianization in Europe. As a result, a more secular version of the holiday continued to be observed in the schools and churches of Europe well into the 20th century. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the Maypole and crowning of the Queen of the May. Today various Neopagan groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on 1 May.
For additional info on May Day check out http://www.spiritualitea.com/sabbats/mayday.shtml
The info on this page sounds much more suitable to a writer of erotic romance!
I was roaming through my usual bloglists and came across the most wonderful pictures of Egypt on Jenyfer Matthews blog here. They're all from a trip she made to Luxor. Go. Drool.
Yesterday evening as usual, we did laundry at the local laundromat. I just have to say that I HATE laundry. I do not watch TV at home, but at the laundromat, I'm usually subjected to Judge Judy. Somebody please explain to me why normal sane people would take their case to a televised court so that they can play out their insanities in the world court? Where do they find these fools? Bad enough that your problems are a matter of public record. Why on earth would you want to be on TV? Is is just me or are we demonstrating a burgeoning lack of good taste these days? BTW, I have nothing against the judge. She's a pretty classy lady.
After the laundry, we went to eat. Now last week when we went to RT, the house hunk and I each had an envelope to put our receipts in as much of the cost is deductible on income taxes. The HH gave me his envelope. Day before yesterday he demanded it back so he could reconcile something on the bank account. I spent THREE HOURS looking for it.
Guess where I found it? ON HIS DESK!!! Seems he forgot that he took it back earlier...
So. In reparation of my lost time... he took me to dinner. Don Pablos (Mexican food)--it was excellent.
On that note, I'll close. Blessings on your day.
Don't forget to stop by Amarinda and Kelly's blogs. Then pop over to OhGetAGrip to check out the latest installment in the Erotica vs. Porno debate.