Sunday, November 26, 2006

Snowman Season

I love snowmen! Today on the way home I had to stop at the Dollar Store. Naturally I had to check out the Christmas display and found myself another snowman mug. The kids know I can never resist buying anything with a snowman on it. They have more snowmen mugs, plates, bowls and fuzzies than they can count. Pretty funny when you consider the fact that I don't like snow, cold or winter. It's inconsistent, but I love snowmen. Cute. Funny. Fluffy. Sometimes sad.

Yesterday I had planned a block of writing time. If I got up early enough, I'd have two to three hours of free time while the kids watched Saturday morning cartoons. It began well enough. Fixed myself a thermos of hot tea, fired up the laptop, even LIT a candle (apple orchard.) Managed to work on my middle grade book doing edits to the third chapter. My mistake was probably in going downstairs. Turned out if we were going to make it to the holiday parade on time, we needed to eat. In order to eat, someone had to go shopping. Thankfully, it wasn't me, but I had to supervise the kids.

The shoppers came home. I cooked tacos. Whenever Jenny visits, it has to be tacos on Saturday. We ate. Decided against going to the holiday parade and I ran upstairs for another hour of work. Since edits didn't really "count" as "real" writing, I started to work on worksheets I'd printed out for my mystery book.

Managed two before Emma came. It was a lovely, warm day so we went outside. I sat on the porch steps and "thought" writing. Probably should have done it with a pen and notebook in hand, but Emma was too active. She's 14 months now. After we came in, I showed her a snowman in a water globe---the kind you shake to make a snowstorm. She seemed quite taken with it and even managed to shake it herself.

Tomorrow it's back to work after a week. Need to focus and start writing again.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving Before and After - - - -One thing I can always find to say about the holidays around here, they end up being more layers than a four layer dessert. I honestly didn't do it on purpose (Cross my heart!) but I managed to pull my back out of place on Sunday. This meant I had to be careful with the before holiday cleaning of the house.
I got some unexpected cleaning help on Wednesday by ****** (name changed to protect the guilty.) It was motivated purely by a special he'd seen on tv showing the common allergens in the home. Each dust mote, I was informed, harboured hideous amounts of breathe eating bugs and filth. We were nothing short of murderers if we tried to cook in a kitchen where this could fall in our turkey and stuffing.
To keep this from happening, the kitchen got a thourough vacumming job. The refrigerator and stove were sanitized until you needed sunglasses to hide the gleem of the surface. (Hey, as long as I didn't have to do it.) I especially enjoyed being able to see out the kitchen windows again. Although eventually all good things had to end. When he stood on a cabinet not meant to be stood upon, and it fell through a hole in the new tile, I figured the rest of the ceiling would never get dusted. I was right. It took awhile to repair the hole (left after we closed off a heating vent with plywood and put tile over it.) So we ate a few dust mites, I'm sure.

On Monday, the boys and I did some general cleaning. On Tuesday we did a bit more. By Wednesday, we only had some touch up, grocery shopping and substitutions. The substitutions are in anticipation of our youngest guests--we have ten UNDER six. At Easter, I was under the delusion that as a guest in someone's house, if the host said, "no, you can't play with that," the kid kept their grubby little hands OFF. I was wrong. One enterprising little boy managed to climb to the top of the game shelves and upend the entire contents. It took two days to sort out the Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble and umpteen other games that cascaded to the floor. This holiday, we took no chances. We emptied the shelves.

We also took every toy not suitable for the small crowd and hid it in the basement. We use to keep them in closed bins but found this didn't work. If it could be dumped, poured or scattered through out the house, it was. The boys took everything downstairs and brough up a few plastic Fisher Price houses and one bin full of suitable toddler toys.
Another area that usually grated on my nerves and UNDER my feet were the constant upending of the marker box. The little ones love to draw so I save all my scratch, only used on one side paper for the holiday art fest. It keeps them busy and quiet. Except for the scamp or two who uses the marker box as a game---"How many markers and colored pencils can be scattered over a dining room floor?" "How many times?" "How many adults will trip, stumble or fall scittering across them?" This year I got super smart. I took 3 colored pencils, 4 markers, and a small box of 4 crayons. Put them in an empty baby wipe box and that was it. The sum total of drawing tools I felt ablet to pick up 99 times.
We were ready for the onslaught! And then---the unexpected happened. It was such a nice, warm, sunny day hardly anyone stayed inside. The sandbox and swingset got a workout. All the scooters and pogo sticks and wagons and stroller and toy dump trucks were scattered across the fields. After all that preparation, I only picked up the markers ONCE and the blocks this morning. Oh, and 4 Hot Wheels. I felt a bit cheated.
But, hey, there's still Christmas! It can't possibly be 63 degrees then!
The best part of my day---after the food---was the opportunity to get the group shot above. Not everyone is here---HONEST--that isn't all of us---but it's most of us. I'm on the left wearing a dark blue jacket, standing beside my sister, Sharon, in a white blouse holding a baby in pink.

Friday, November 17, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like. . . . the holidays are approaching. Everyone ran out of school today with the glad tidings of 'no school for a week.' That's one of the beauties of a homeschool "school," we have liberal holidays. Although I always have great plans to do a lot of catch up work with our school curriculmn from Catholic Heritage, we usually take advantage of the time off to loaf. This week we won't be relaxing as much as cleaning, shopping, cooking and entertaining c0mpany.

My writing may take a short hiatus too. Sometimes it's easier to sink into the other layers of my life than to struggle to make time for work.

Should have taken advantage of "free" time today to write. After I dropped the boys off at school, I had about two hours of laundry to do. Several weeks ago, after two YEARS of driving past it, I made a discovery. I found a coin laundry across from the library where I often go during school. This is handy because I can be near the school. It's cheaper. Larger. And a good point when you have to be out somewhere for four or five hours---they have a very nice Ladies Room. I have to laugh every time I use this facility though. For reasons known only to the owner, it's painted a deep, lacquered black. The light bulb has a pink glow, giving it the look of another scene altogether. It's been a wonderful source for speculation. Were they tired of the standard laundromat look? Had some pain to use up?

I spend as much time laughing over the Ladies as I do the sign stenciled to the wall. PLEASE CHECK MACHINES FOR FOREIGN DEBRIS. Under which some wit wrote in pencil, OR GOOD OLD AMERICAN DIRT.

Poured myself a cup of hot tea while the clothes washed and got out my notebook. Although it doesn't work for everyone, I love to jump around on my various projects. Today I felt no inclination to work on a book---Jenny or the cozy. Instead, I decided to work on a travel piece that's been in my mind for some time. Little Boys on the Prairie. Didn't get much done--two pages, but it's a start.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Just another day. . . .

Two days a week, my nephews go to school in this converted barn. I've managed to get my mornings pretty streamlined. People are shocked when I admit I can get up at 7:45 and be out the door by 8:20. (Although when I told someone I did not bother to put on makeup, they said, yup, that would add another hour. My family think they are all comedians.)
Because it's too far to travel from the school to home--I usually find somewhere to write. Wednesday, I decided to vary my routine and go back to the library where I can hide in a cubby and plug in my laptop. It came as a surprise to me last year that the library does not expect anyone to PLUG IN a laptop. Apparently, one is suppose to have enough battery power to last. When I asked one librarian, she responded, "Well, gee, nobody has ever asked that before. Do they plug in?" When I asked if I could use a plug, she told me that it would be best not to in case someone tripped over the cord. Insurance rates, you know. My thought was that if someone was too HM! to miss a six foot cord sprawled across the floor they should trip. Being of a politer nature, I decided to appear to give in and find an out of the way spot. I pay taxes for the dirty darned insurance rates too.
After snooping around a bit, I found a nice cubby desk in the teen corner with a PLUG! It did require me to sprawl the cord a few feet, pry out a baby safety plug and plug in---but after I did that for months last year, no one said a word. This week, I decided to go back and see if my old haunt was still there. It was. I plugged in and a librarian even came back and made no comment about my plug.
The funny thing was that since last fall there has been an addition to the corner. I didn't notice until I got ready to leave that the whole two hours I wrote, my every action was caught in one of those huge, glassy globes that hang from the ceiling. So much for privacy.
Am not sure how often I'll go there, but this week I managed two hours work on my mid-grade. The day was rainy, gray and a perfect stay inside and write mood. I could hear thunder crashing outside and frequent downpours.
After that, I went to my other library--the one where they moved my plug in table! Going for the cozy corner look, they took out the copier and moved two wing back chairs and a nice table where I use to plug in. I only go there to play on their high speed internet or write in long hand.
Opted to stay in the car, the rain sluicing down the windows with my thermos of hot tea and work out the plot on my cozy mystery. Rain is a wonderful setting for this project!
As a reward for so much writing in a day, I searched through my purse for any stray change and made a quick stop in JoAnn crafts for scrapbook supplies. (Spending change isn't like spending money. And, yes, I made that up!)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

You know you live with a writer when. . . .
You have several funny stories that involve writing. Last night, Sister #2 announces that she might quit her job and write a book about how the whole family got thin. (This is a joke, the writing part.) My nephew, Jarrod, said, "That's going to be a short book. We didn't. The end."

Another writing funny happened this summer. Miah told his mom on vacation, "I wish I was a main character." When she asked him why, he replied, "Because if we were the main characters, we could take a helicopter ride. If the helicopter crashed, we'd live anyway."

This morning, using an unexpected free day to get caught up on some writing, Miah came into the room with a question. "How do you write your books?" I was tempted to answer, "One word at a time."

Today was a nice ME day. Did some cleaning, writing, scrapbooking, walking and errand running. Now that it's coming to an end, I realize the bitter truth. I should have goofed off more and not been so responsible!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Myth Smasher

I turned into a myth smasher last Saturday. Not that I'm entirely to blame. How was I to know that the kids still believed olives grew with the pimento inside? We'd somehow gotten on a conversation about Thanksgiving and food. The number one food of choice was .......OLIVES!

Jenny wanted to know how they grew. I shared what agricultural knowledge I had about how olives grew on bushes. Somewhere in the conversation I let the truth slip out---olives grew with a pit inside, not a pimento. The furor, the uproar, the protests of denial! Olives didn't grow with the red thing inside? Nope. The kids were equally horrified to know you can't just pick an olive and eat it like a pea or tomato. I'm sure they'll never look at an olive the same way again.

For those who enjoy the fictional Jenny, she makes a brief appearance in the November issue of Fandangle online magazine. The piece is a fictional essay called, Thanksgiving Is. . . .

I also started work on a long overdue project. It's a cozy mystery. Figured I could spare a half an hour a night to write a first draft. So far I've managed two session. The first night I kept going and wrote for almost an hour. Last night I did 45 minutes. I also spent my time in the laundromat yesterday morning working on a chapter by chapter outline. It was fun to see how much I could get done racing the washers and dryers. So many surprising characters and situations are popping up it's like making a new discovery every time I sit down to write. I have a tentative plan, some scenes and most of my characters.

We had a glorious two days of summerlike weather. Now the cold and rain has come to stay awhile. A good time to stay inside and write.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Last Wednesday should have been a ME day. Everyone would be gone. I could catch up on a lot of small chores and spend the afternoon writing. Got up extra early, wrote out a list about ten miles long of stuff to do and started work.

Knowing I'd feel guilty for even starting any "fun" stuff when there was cleaning to finish, I did all those chores first. Cleaned the kitchen, tidied the living room and my bedroom. Swept, mopped, washed dishes. I did hold off on flea combing the cats, thinking I'd take a nice long bath.

Naturally, I hadn't been soaking long enough when the phone rang. I ignored it twice, then decided maybe it was important. GRRRRRRRRRRRR.....I raced through dripping all over the floor and it was a blocked call! Debated about getting back in then decided to just stay out.

By then my stomach started to hurt and I realized I hadn't eaten anything. Tried to fix some potato salad (my favorite nobody's home comfort food) but I couldn't eat it. By then I was VERY sick. A virus raced by and slammed me like an ocean wave.

I'm slowly getting over it. Thankfully, I feel better every day. But it sure doesn't seem fair I got the cleaning done before it hit. If you're going to get sick, wouldn't it be better to do it before you clean?

Although I was too sick to care much---November 1st our second, "Cookies and Milk" page hit the newstand! HOORAY! Maribeth called and I was able to have someone get a copy of the paper. Patty later sent an email from Mr. Ryan, our editor, to let us know he liked it and we were getting good reader response. It doesn't get any better than that.