Monday, December 31, 2007

Time for a New Year

Looks like it's time for a New Year! Christmas went by so fast this year. Seems like it was just yesterday that we got out of school with the whole two weeks looming before us. How short they were!
We started back last Friday and are working ourselves back into the routine.

Most of my time in the week between Christmas and New Year's went to polishing work on my current book, The Cattle Rustling Catastrophe. I found to my absolute HORROR that I'd gone over 40,000 words from my goal. Knew that because of my "unique" filing system (sounds better than total chaotic jumble), I would be able to cut some wordage when I cleaned up my double chapters. I did. But, I still ended up with over 17,000 words OVER. This is not good. Even 10K is doable. I cleaned up over 20,000 out of the mystery. (Hey, I did! So, okay, maybe 17K isn't so awful.) I need to keep reminding myself when I'm in the middle of the mess.

So, with every spare second I had this week, I cleaned up as much as I could of weasel words--that's, buts, aw, well. Anytime a character used another character's name when there were only two people speaking, I slashed. Still isn't enough. So, I'm faced with a gigantic hurdle. Tonight I realized that I'm going to have to cut one of the subplots and hope it makes the word count nearer my goal. Now that I've faced the inevitable, it doesn't hurt so bad. As a backup plan, I've printed out the first three chapters. Tomorrow I plan to slash and rearrange them into one or two smaller chapters.

Even though it feels like a huge amount of work, I know quitting isn't an option. I truly love this book. At the beginning, I got sidetracked for awhile, but I knew inside that I could stick with this until the end. This is a fun book and it's good. It has a great moral built in and teaches a lesson in an exciting way. I plan to rework it as much as necessary which presents two more problems.

One is that when I slash the subplot, I have to find another way to provide motivation for Jenny to keep going. Kind of like her author, she needs a reason to get to that last chapter. Had an idea tonight which might turn into a possibility.

My other problem is the fact that I'm planning to cut and paste chapters that have gotten good "reviews." The first three chapters did well in the SANDY contest and got good scores. The first 20 pages won an Honorable Mention in The Smartwriter's WIN contest. So, should I go with my instincts and change them? Or leave them alone because well respected judges and authors liked them? I feel the fact that the book hasn't sold yet might be an answer. (And I can always change the chapters back if I decide I'd rather. :))

So--until this book is finished, I feel like I'm in suspended animation. Everything hinges on the time I can spend working out this muddle. Kind of like having a jigsaw spread on the dining room table---every time I pass by I have to stop and work a few pieces into place.

I'm hoping to finish before leaving for the Midwinter Unschooler's gathering on the 21st. By then, I'll need a vacation!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Checking my list

Seems like I spend more time checking my list of "to do" projects than checking them off. I still have some things to finish up and mail, all the decorating to do and some shopping. I try to congradulate myself that I'm way ahead of where I usually am during this busy season. Last year, I ended up sending out several gifts after Christmas. While my friends didn't seem to mind, I did. It's like I didn't care enough to mail things in time which was not the case at all. More a case of too much to do in too little time. Happily, I already have some things mailed off and hope to get everything else out by this weekend. Sometimes, I amaze myself!

With all the Christmas prep, something has to go and it seems to be my writing. Most of it anyway. I've done very little in December and I'm starting to feel it. I managed to get my article done for the January, "Cookies and Milk" and also a short article for a Christmas Tradition type book. Don't know if it will be accepted, but it was a goal I was determined to meet. I'd love to write a short piece for Cup of Comfort and have until the 31st for that one.

Got some super good news on Monday. Five unit studies that I wrote this summer were accepted by a publisher! They were preschool lesson plans to be included in a giant encyclopedia of lesson plans. It's a great credit, will be a super big check AND they will use me again in other projects now that I have a foot in the door.

This month I have an article in the last issue of Fandangle online magazine, also a short story, "The Cling Thing," in Stories for Children. (This story has been moved to the November archives. Click on Stories for Children Magazine, Archives and then the download for November. They did a great illustration this time.)
The picture on top is a pointsetta someone gave my sister last Christmas. She gave it to me and I kept it alive all summer. It spent the warm months outside in my garden. When it got cold, I brought the ungrateful wretch inside and gave it a place of honor. I knew that to have red blooms for Christmas, I needed to put it in a dark place so many hours a day. Sadly, I didn't check how many days in time. Should have begun it's routine in September. Now I think there must be two plants in the pot, one part has died but the other is still going strong.
I've been going a little plant "mad" lately. Our local supermarket has been having $1.00 sales and I have a huge golden mum and a waxy leaved plant with pinkish flowers from Canada. Also still have the gigantic Boston ferns and a large pot of rosemary still blooming. I'll see if I can keep them through the winter. Like I need another challenge in my life----

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Time for Snowmen.
We got some of the white stuff this week. Enough to give us two hours delays for school. We hadn't planned to go to school on Wednesday anyway. It was time for the HolidayFest at The Beach. In the summer this is filled with waterparks, water slides and lots of tanning bodies. In the winter, they freeze over the large pool and make toboggan slides out of the water slides. They have horse drawn (or tractor) carriage rides, lots of Christmas lights, carols and hot chocolate. Every year, we go with the homeschoolers at CATCH to get the discount price.
This year, since some schools were closed, my brother, sister in law and two of their granddaughters got to come along. Not many people were brave (or dumb) enough to venture out in the snow and cold. We did. (No comments please on our mental capabilities. We did it for the kids--works as an excuse for me.)
After a day of ice skating and drinking hot chocolate, we arrived at school just in time to clean. We had a great crew and with all the help were done in record time.
On Friday, we didn't make it to school at all, even with the two hour delay. The car froze up and I ended up with a free day since the boys stayed home with their dad and grandpa. Managed to do some shopping, some crafting and even an hour of writing.
Today's rain has melted all the snow. The weathermen are predicting rain for the next five days. Yippee. Sounds like a good time to stay inside and finish getting all my Christmas gifts ready to be mailed out. I'm not feeling as stressed as usual for this time of year. I've dropped off a lot of what I "can't do" and am concentrating on doing things one by one. The season is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. I'm trying to keep that in mind.
Tomorrow is the last Knight's meeting until January. The boy's club is having a party. I'm going to start mentoring some of the girls in the girl's club. They want to know what it takes to be a writer. I'm excited and a little worried at the same time. Do I even know what it takes to be a writer?
Can only give it my best try -

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Thanksgiving Part 3

No Thanksgiving is complete around here without the Holiday Parade on Saturday. We have a "standing" place to sit so that anyone in the family who comes know where to meet us. This year, the parade committee decided to have the parade at 5pm. instead of it's usual time of 2 in the afternoon. The reasoning was so they could use Christmas lights and give the parade a new "dimension."

We usually sit at the beginning of the parade route. They start in the High School Parking lot, come up a small hill by the Great Scot grocery store and make a turn in front of Webster School. We always sit in front of the elementary school by the Stop Sign. At 5, it wasn't too dark so the lights didn't make much of an impression on any of us. I had to wonder about the people viewing the parade at the end of the route. If it was dark enough to see the lights on the floats, could they see anything else? Our small town has some street lights, but I'm not sure it was enough to light up the elegant costumes or cute, smiling children on the floats. I suppose one must give up something for "progress" even in a parade. You could see the lights or the floats.

This year one of my nieces came along with her three boys. Austin, Cody and Brayden had never been to a parade. They were thrilled with the band (singular---it's a small town, what can I say?) They also loved the fact that everyone tossed out candy to the children along the curbs. Free candy and all you had to do was look small and smile.
About halfway through the parade, my great-nephew, Austin, turned to me and asked, "Is this all you do at a parade?" I'm not sure what he expected.
Austin is in the middle of the picture between his brother, Cody in the red and Miah in black. As you can tell, it was a cold day!
On the same day as the parade, I got another part time job. My cousin called to tell me that one of the cleaners at the boy's school had quit. Did I want Wed. and Fridays? I'd often thought it might be the perfect job. We were already there. It didn't take up any of my writing time. Plus, I'd have helpers.
I get paid and the boys get money taken off their tuition. It works out well--almost like "multi-tasking" character building. I told them they get to help their parents, work for the privledge of going to school there, make the school a clean place for all their friends and teachers and they are doing a community service too.
This was our first week as school cleaners. It went surprisingly well. The first day was rough. We had to wait for a knitting class to finish before I could mop or vacumn and we didn't get out until dark. When you are working in an old barn next to a 500 acre nature preserve in the middle of nowhere--well, every horror story you've ever seen comes back to haunt you as you struggle to lock the door on the way out. Our goal for this week is to get out before dark. Now that we are getting into the routine, it will go better.
So, that's the end of the Thanksgiving posts. I had to add the new job because I'm giving thanks for having it. Especially since I lost my church cleaning job a few months ago.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving Part 1

Figured that the last few days have been too busy for one post so I am doing parts. That way I can write less at a time. (Maybe :) )

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Mine was busy, hectic, and every other adjective of that vein - but it turned out well. We ended up not having to do much of the cooking. My brother did the turkey and several of the side dishes. Most everyone brought something so we had plenty. One of my nieces said as we set out the food, "This is too much. There's no way we can eat all this." Oh, her of little faith - LOL!

I'm always filled with awe at people who actually have leftovers for DAYS. DAYS! We are doing good if we have leftovers to send home with the different families and a small amount for lunch the next day. Had a good laugh after surfing though some blogs the other day. One lady said she had frozen SEVERAL meals from leftovers for those busy December nights. I remember thinking - HOW?

The photo above is a sampling of this year's Thanksgiving crowd. I didn't realize until later that not everyone was out of the house at the right moment. We had three cameras and mine was first. The second camera caught a few more and then the third got everyone.

It was cold and no one wanted to go outside for the group shot. We did manage to get the dog in the picture this year - although he stopped for a scratch. I'm the one holding the little girl in pink, Samantha. We had about ten more that made it out for the next photo op.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving Part 2

As you can see by the cool icon on this post, I did manage to finish my NANO entry this year. It's my first time to do this and
I'm thrilled with the outcome. Managed to log in with
52, 388 words on Tuesday - a good few days before the

The book is far from over. In fact, I didn't even write the
last scene where the villian is uncovered and all the loose
ends are tied up. Once I hit what I thought were 50K, I was done.
Eventually, I'll take this ms. out, dust it off and do something
with it. Had an idea today to maybe enter it in a few
contests early next year. The Daphne and the St. Martin's Press Mystery Contest are coming up.

At the library tonight I saw another book to use in
research. I've forgotten the whole title but it's
something about "The Most Famous Two Minutes" and is
a cool history of the Kentucky Derby with all the
winner's pictures. My ms. takes place the year Ben Brush won
the roses.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Lull before the Storm--of Thanksgiving. It's semi-quiet and peaceful right not. I've worked on the house most of the day. Still have to get the rest of the couch covers out of the dryer and put on the couch and love seat. Also need to scrub the bathroom sink, chop celery and onions for dressing and later make cole slaw.

This year, I got off fairly easy with cooking. My brother is doing the turkey and stuffing. Several nieces and nephews are bringing most of the rest of the meal, including paper plates and cups. We don't do china here on the holidays (although it might be nice sometime.) I have to buy a spiral cut ham tonight, the makings of cole slaw and do another pan of stuffing. Tomorrow I might open some cans of veggies. It sure is nice to not do it all anymore.

Jarrod and I made a fast trip to return library books. It's close to the last date to sign up for "Merry Money" too. Jarrod wanted to make sure he got all his paper dollars. In another week, the library has a nice "store" where the kids can buy things with their hard earned dollars. They get a dollar for every 30 minutes of reading. The boys were already plotting their assault on the "shopping rooms" having realized that last year the best stuff was upstairs. Miah's observation was, "Let's look at everything first and then go back." Last year he spent unwisely downstairs and then didn't have enough money for the room upstairs.
My NANO word count is up to 37K. I managed somehow to write 3000 words yesterday in between cleaning and shuffling clutter spots. Every holiday we have clutter spots that have to be shuffled to somewhere else in the house. My room is a MESS because it's become a catchall for overflow.
Time to chop celery. Hope everyone has a super Thanksgiving. It got up to 66 degrees today! The roses are still blooming at Sister #2's house.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Saw this fun quiz on Cj's blog- The Compost Heap. I'd love to do a link to her but am not sure how to do this yet without blacking out the entire eastern seaboard.

Two names you go by: Donna and Donna

Two things you are wearing right now: Clothes and shoes :)

Two of your favorite things to do: scrapbooking and reading

Two things you want very badly at the moment: To finish several writing projects and to have Christmas shopping done

Two favorite pets you have/had: Two of my current cats are Scrawny Bob, an orange shorthair and Mary, a black Christmas kitten I've had about five years. She's the longest cat I've ever seen and when she stretches to scratch people think she's a very skinny, short dog.

Two people who will fill this out: I haven't a clue.

Two people you last talked to: Jenny about a puzzle she wanted to work on the kitchen table and Jarrod who wanted printer paper. By phone, my friend, Sherry and my friend, Maribeth, about meeting for dinner.

Two longest trips: By Greyhound bus to California, by car to Washington state and up into Canada.

Two favorite holidays: Christmas because I love the whole season and Valentine's Day.

Two favorite beverages: Unsweetened iced tea and organic coffee.

Feel free to play along. Just let me know so I can read your answers.Have fun !
No picture today because I'm blogging at the library. Today turned out to be a glorious, fall day. It's actually warm enough to go without a coat. I'm getting ready to do my half hour of walking. Thought I'd try a new route and walk through Loveland.

My NANO project is screaming scenes at me but I didn't bring the laptop today. My experiment to use the Loveland Library to type ended under the category of "Nice try." The plug I used is on a nice table right in the floor to ceiling windows of the entrance. It's also right next to the door. This meant I felt the cold and heard everyone who came through. Since Wednesday is pre-school, toddler storytime, I heard every little squeal, cry, squabble and parental command to "BE QUIET!" as they came inside. Later, I heard all the songs and frequent admonishions of "Sit down. Sit DOWN. SIT DOWN." I managed to type some words but I worked for everyone. Although I'm almost used to writing in a noisy environment, it's not always right in your face noise. As the body count kept rising, I felt myself tensing up and almost willing the time to race by so I could quit. Guess I should think seriously about earning enough to buy extra battery power for the laptop. It has to be cheaper than gas to go over to the other branch where I can type in relative peace.

Am not sure I'll try this again. It's almost better to write long hand and try to add it into the laptop later. Today I'm working on a Christmas memory story for Cup of Comfort, a synopsis and some notes. They can all be done longhand.

My December article is ready for the paper - Circus in a Box. It's a short history of animal crackers. And here's a fact to keep you awake at night--what animals replaced the dog and jaguar?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Time for Fall---It's gotten colder here. In just a few short days the leaves have put on a colorful display. I went outside today to take a few pictures of the boys raking leaves. Also some shots of the house with the trees still showing some autumn color. Thought at first I wouldn't be able to take any pictures. The camera kept telling me "Memory Card Locked." I had no idea how to LOCK a memory card in the first place. Unlocking it was beyond me. Figured I'd have to go look in the camera manual in the well thumbed "Troubleshooter's" section.

Thinking maybe I'd done something to the card accidentally, I took it out of the camera. To my surprise there is a little plastic thingie on the side of the card, an arrow and the word, Lock. The plastic thinie was pushed into lock position. When I pushed it back, it worked perfectly. Technology---grrrrrrrrrrrr.

Managed to get some nice pictures. The one above is from the porch looking toward the field where our neighbor keeps horses - Lady and Bay. The grey building is their barn.

Since I had a free day, I also got in some writing. It's day 8 in NANO and I'm up to 19,000 words. Happily, I still have ideas for another chapters ahead so I'm not panicing about the dreaded "middle of the book." There are a couple of sections I'm not certain about. When I begin edits I know I'm going to have to erase some coincidences or do some convoluting of characters. I also know I have lots of research to make this into a real book. Came up with several questions today about pocketwatches. Somewhere, I have a reproduction Sears Roebuck Catalog that I think fits my timeframe. If not, there is always the internet. :) Amazing what you can find when you look.
Miah and I went to storytime tonight at the library. We loaded up on Christmas DVD's to watch this weekend. It's never to early to get in the mood!

Friday, November 02, 2007

NANO Day Two---

I really can't believe I'm doing this even though I talked about it all through October. A plot is coming to life that didn't exist in it's present form until I sat down to write it. Maybe that's what I truly like about writing. You sit down and have a blank page or pc screen--then suddenly, like magic--people are moving and talking and coming to life. Sometimes, it's a bit scary. Like today --- things happened that I never dreamed this morning. There are more characters than I anticipated and they sure aren't turning out like I expected.

Today I didn't get a good start until after five. Once I started though, I got through a lot of words and hit a total two day count of 6333. I'd just hoped to make it to 4000 which would give me a 2000 word a day count since I only write five days a week. I think I ended up with two chapters. My main character is such a hunky guy I could easily fall in love with him. Too bad he's already married to his young bride, Clementine. Today, Ben--that's the main character--spoke to the old stablehand, Jack, and got some news about his father's disappearance two years ago. Jack doesn't actually know anything but his brother--a hand on another plantation (this is Kentucky, after all)---has hinted he might know something.

Tomorrow, Ben will head for Cincinnati on the Belle of Louisville--or maybe he'll take the train. No, his wife is going on the steamboat.... I'll figure it out. All my suppositions add wordage---LOL. My first drafts are strictly figure it out missions. You could read it, but it wouldn't make much sense. Unlike my friend, Kathi, who writes and outline so detailed it could BE a book, my first draft is an outline in the making.

I'm glad tomorrow is Saturday. Don't have to get up early and go anywhere. We were running late today in getting to school. First we had to wait for Miah to find his shoes. (This is usually a ten minute hunt.) Then we ended up behind a huge green combine or something. It puttered along for miles until I got up enough nerve to pass it. Then we ended up behind a dump truck that never went past 20MPH. After we cheered at him getting out of the way, we ended up behind a little barn on the back of a trailer and a long "OVERSIZED LOAD" banner. It slowed us down for twenty miles or so. We did not arrive at school on time. On the way home we got behind a piece of farm equiptment I could never identify. It sat WAY UP above the road. Jarrod thought I should drive under it. I didn't.

NANO Day Three tomorrow---I managed to get my little icon on my blog so am proud of myself. Maybe tomorrow I can figure out the Regions tab on the NANO sight. Looked today and there is no one in my town.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Let's Play 30 Questions!

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night? My niece, Jenny. She makes such funny faces and does all kinds of silly dances.

2. What were you doing at 0800? At 8AM, I was thinking, "I have to get up in an hour." At 8PM, I was watching "Joel Osteen."

.3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? Reading emails.

4. What happened to you in 2006? Got an emailing saying I'd sold a book--that's about the biggest thing.

5. What was the last thing you said out loud? "Night" to my Dad.

6. How many beverages did you have today? 2 cups of hot tea before church and after, then 2 large iced teas with lunch, a cup of water, another cup of hot tea, a cup of hot tea at Maribeth's and 2 later.

7. What color is your hairbrush? Which one?

8. What was the last thing you paid for? Gas and a jug of distilled water

.9. Where were you last night? Home with the kids. Read awhile and they played cards.

10. What color is your front door? Bright blue.

11. Where do you keep your change? In my purse, the ashtray of the car, under the car seats, dropped all over my desk and in a Folger's coffee can as an incentive to save. Most of my change I "keep" at JoAnn Fabrics buying scrapebook paper.

12. What’s the weather like today? Sunny, bright but with a chilly nip. Covered my plants tonight.

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor? United Dairy Farmer's Cherry Cordial.

14. What excites you? Lots of things--finishing a project, writing, buying new scrapbook supplies, finding a book I really, really, really want to read, cole slaw.

15. Do you want to cut your hair? Nope.

16. Are you over the age of 25? Yes.

17. Do you talk a lot? Yes, usually when I shouldn't.

18. Do you watch the O.C.? What is it?

19. Do you know anyone named Steven? Yes, my grandpa, my cousin and several other people at church.

20. Do you make up your own words? Sometimes.

21. Are you a jealous person? Sometimes.

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’. Aimee.

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’. Kathy.

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list? Maribeth.

25.What does the last text message you received say? I don't text message since it runs up the phone cost.

26. Do you chew on your straw? No.

27. Do you have curly hair? If I curl it.

28.Where’s the next place you’re going to? Bed tonight, Knights tomorrow.

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life? Hm, I'll have to think on that one.

30.What was the last thing you ate? Kettle corn popcorn.

31. Will you get married in the future? Sure hope to.

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks? Does Perry Mason count?
33. Is there anyone you like right now? I like lots of people--some more than others depending on the time of day. :)

34. When was the last time you did the dishes? Yesterday afternoon.

35. Are you currently depressed? Not right this minute.

36. Did you cry today? No.

37. Why did you answer and post this? I'm a copycat and two of my friends did it.

38. Tag 5 people who would do this survey. I don't know 5 people with blogs--but if anyone wants to post answers here, I'm game.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Looks like fall has finally arrived. We are the beautiful fall colors and some much needed rain. The rain makes everything look like an impressionistic painting. Nice to look at if one doesn't have to drive. So many drivers seem to think they can go the same spreed in rainy weather as they do in dry.

It's been a long week. Lots of ups and downs.

"Let's Write 3" began on Monday. Lots of new faces and a great class, as always. I'm really excited that we are all going to get more personal attention from our moderator. She offered to look at some of our work. Only trouble is, I can't decide which project to let her critique!

My cousin in the nursing home had a bad spell on Tuesday night. It didn't look like she would make it through the night. Since it was a "dark and stormy night" literally--we weren't able to make the hour and a half drive. A call before we went to bed let us know she'd taken a turn for the better. That was good news.

On Wednesday, my usual school day routine got turned upside down. I had blankets to wash at the Loveland Laundromat. Didn't see my old friend from last year. There were lots of changes, new paint, new signs and new dryers. The black lacquered bathroom was the same though. Only this year they had a sliver of soap. After washing the blankets, I planned to write. Instead, I met Mom and Sister #2 so that we could go to the nursing home and visit my cousin.
Had a funny moment there. One of the nurses' aids said someone had said to her, "I didn't know there were any black Catholics." She replied in all seriousness, "Oh, yes, I'm full blooded." I'm using that someday.
Thursday I'm not sure what I did! We did schoolwork during the morning, cooked dinner. I did go to the library to print some research pictures. Got into an interesting conversation with one of the librarians. We had spoken before about growing up in the same areas of Cincinnati. That night, we also got into a discussion of high schools, neighborhoods and streets. Turns out our paths had crossed umpteen times through the years.
Then we started to talk about where we lived now. She mentioned her road. I said, "Oh, the only person I ever knew who lived there was Mr. B." Shocked, she said, "We live in his house." From there we were OFF to the amusement of the few library patrons. She'd always wanted to meet someone who knew him. I told her all I knew about the house (built in the 1890's) and the man. Sure makes the cliche' "it's a small world" seem true.
Friday turned out to be a golden, autumn day. It got HOT! I took a walk through the Grailville retreat center and went down several new paths. Guess several of the downs to the week happened on Friday. Got booted off a Yahoo group (no great loss since every time I opened my emails my stomach clenched.) Still, I'd have liked to slam the door on my way out. They didn't even print my letter telling why I decided to leave.
Earlier in the week, I'd also had another jolt from someone I met on that group. That's all I care to say in print, but I feel a deep sense of loss.
Time to move on to next week. I'm looking forward to beginning the NANO novel writing month on Wednesday. That should keep me busy! I'll have to pound out 2000 words a day to meet the 50,000 word deadline. Maybe later I'll have to remind myself why I'm doing this. Okay, I heard that remark----

Monday, October 22, 2007

Success - almost

I finally have a picture on here with the title. I've tried several pictures over the last few days. Had a nice picture of the Dionne Quints (I used to collect Quint memorabilia.) Someone said I needed a Thanksgiving picture so I took off the winter picture of the quints and went for an autumn theme. Got a lovely picture of a fall lane, but when I tried it out, it was about the size of a postage stamp. Also, my title vanished.

So tonight I decided to scroll around for another autumn type pictures. Finally found these trees in the fog. I love fog. Not driving in it, but seeing it or being out in it. Maybe it was all those spooky black and white movies I watched as a child. Anyway, the picture came out wonderful but my title vanished. So, I played around and found out how to change the title color. I might make further renovations, but I'm happy to have both things working in synch for once.

Friday, October 19, 2007


There might not be a picture with this post for one simple reason. I'm not sure about what I'm doing. :) The new look to my blog so far is thanks to my friend, Erica. She talked me though some of the technical details so I could change the template. I'm working on putting up a new picture but seem to be doing something wrong. My blog keeps telling me to SELECT AN IMAGE. Funny, I thought I did.

Had an early, early morning today. Miah needed to be at school by 8:45, a full hour and 45 minutes BEFORE normal. He had to meet the teacher for Endangered Species to go on a field trip to Green Acres. Since all I had to go on was a cryptic note in his homework planner--Oct. 19, 8:45, Fields Trip--I fervantly hoped someone would actually be there when we arrived. They were, even though we were five minutes late. Miah got his name tag and climbed aboard his teacher's SUV.

This was the second early morning for school this week. On Tuesday night, the boys house sat with Sister #1. She had to be at work early, so I had to meet her and the boys earlier still. We arranged a meeting at a gas station near the school. The trouble was, I seldom go in that direction and am not familiar with the road. Imagine my surprise when I made a LEFT turn out of the parking lot and realized you aren't allowed to make a LEFT TURN, only right. A giant berm blocked the road into the lane I needed to go. With no other choice, I switched to the turn lane (going in the wrong direction) and eased up past the berm. Thankfully, no policemen saw my mistake. What the other drivers thought I have no idea. No one blew any horns or cursed. Not where I could hear anyway! OOPS!

Today I kept one of my mini resolutions. After my writing stint, I forced myself out of the car and took a walk out of the school grounds. Across the street there is a retreat center with gardens, etc. I took a lovely walk through the pathways, saw some late blooming yellow and pink zinnias (particularly pretty against a damp, misty day), a greenhouse and a tiny coffee house tucked into the bottom of a meeting center. Next time, I'll bring money and go in for a cup. Here is a link if you'd like to see where my walk took me.

Are you thinking Christmas yet?? I'm already making my list! In our family, we pass around lists to take the guess work out of shopping. I happened to find a cool sweatshirt featuring the Dionne Quints. That's going on my list for sure! Along with Season Two of "The Big Valley." I'm hoping to add a picture of the Quints to this blog---if you see it, I've succeeded. If not, back to work . . . .

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Small Victories

Since nothing truly big has been happening in my life the past few weeks (except for a monster cold that doesn't want to leave,) I decided to focus on some small victories. Might as well celebrate the small and hope for better things ahead.

1. I wrote an email and said "no" to serving on a refreshment committee on Sundays.

2. Decided to go for it and start my agent blitz again. I have two and a half books that are complete. None of them are doing any good sitting on a shelf. Aimed for the top agents in the business. Yesterday, I got a very nice email back from the one I wanted SO MUCH. The agent couldn't use my book, but he wrote the nicest rejection I've ever got. (Well, second nicest.) I hope it's not bad etiquette, but I sent him a thank you.

3. Decided not to let any rejections get me down. It only takes one yes. I'm scrolling out the agents and marking my next targets. Have also decided to change my query letter. I think I'm my own worst enemy by trying to pitch a series. One book at a time is best for now.

4. Another short story is on the October Fandangle online magazine. "The Teeth in 4B." Semi-scary for the season but with a message for all of us who were once metal mouths.

5. I won a slot in Linda Jo Martin's Perspective in Writing blog to be interviewed. If there is anyone who reads this that I HAVEN'T told---LOL--I'll be glad to supply a link.

6. Someone told me that you can now read a full year of "Cookies and Milk" on the archives.

7. I cleaned my room - most of the way.

8. After having falling out of the habit, I got up this morning and did ten minutes of power walking. I'm making another resolution to use half an hour on school days walking around the circular drive at the school. Tomorrow will put this to the test.

9. I decided to take some time for myself and have been watching an episode of "Perry Mason" almost every night. Except for the night when I watch "Jon and Kate Plus 8."

10. I updated my blog without being tagged. :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Miah decorates his pig cookies. Later he earned a blue ribbon for them. Miah with Fred, his scarecrow, then both boys with Bill, Jarrod's scarecrow. Neither of the scarecrows won ribbons but we had a lot of fun creating them. You can't tell from the picture, but Miah's had poker cards tucked in his hat, pants and sleeves - including five aces.
The boys favorite midway ride.
Miah poses with his swordfish that won a blue ribbon.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Every year I say the same thing. "I won't do this again." Every year, I lie. Once the year has passed and last year's fair has faded into the nostalgic glow of time, I forget all the hassle. I'm ready and eager for the adventure (gagging) to begin again. Well, almost.

The fair in our local county opened officially last Monday. We rushed around last week trying to get art work, photos, exhibits, etc. finished. This year Sister #2 happened to be out of a job for two weeks (Thank You, God!) so I delegated some of the projects to her. The boys had both signed up to exhibit traditional scarecrows. (Pictures in another post.) It took them several days to construct the corn stalk men to stand. The rules said "freestanding" so we took that to mean they had to stand on their own two feet. The boys achieved this by loading boots with concrete and sand, then putting poles up through the body. I'm proud to say ours were only two of three that stood on their own two feet. And, no, they didn't win a prize. The grand prize went to a scarecrowthat SAT on the ground, leaning up against a wall. How that applies to freestanding, I'll never know.
Early Monday when the scarecrows had to be delivered, we ran into a problem getting in the gate. In past years, you could drive a car or truck through the Yellow Gate to deliver baked goods and vegetables. You were supposed to be honest enough to exit via another gate. In truth, there was nowhere to park inside the fair gates anyway. We were stopped by a demi-god of the Lion's Club who told us we needed a "Vehicle Pass." He didn't sell them, didn't know where we could buy them but by, darn, we needed one. Then he backpedaled and said, well, we could go in to unload the scarecrows but if the police saw us without a pass we'd be towed. He washed his hands of the whole thing. (Even though the rules in the Fair Book stated, entrants will be allowed to ENTER the yellow gate to deliver entries ONLY.) We took our chances.
By then the mood in the truck with Bil #2 and Sister#2 became a bit heated. They had no idea where we'd stop to carry two very heavy scarecrows, not to mention the boy's cupcake and cookie entries, several jars of pickles, a planter full of herbs and sundry other exhibits. I told them to sit near another gate and wait while I got the baked goods entered. Jarrod and I started off with each of us holding a box. Mine held the cookies covered with a piece of aluminum foil that kept blowing up to blind me.
As we passed through the gate, I happened to notice a small open slot that someone could drive though. I begged the mercy of the lady at the gate. (Apparently, lady Lion's Club members are more sympathetic to the "vehicle pass disadvantaged.) After asking if we could please just slip though for a few minutes, she said, "Well, I'm not looking, so go ahead."
We were thankfully close to the Grange building and unloaded the scarecrows, baskets of veggies and the baked goods in record time. We were not towed. We were not asked for our vehicle pass. I'm sure all the police were somewhere munching on fair food like Polish Sausage or deep fried Twinkies.
During the week, I ended up sitting at the photography/art building for eight hours. Two hour shifts for each entrant. Couldn't let the kids sit alone--besides it was air conditioned and I got some work done. Also talked to many interesting people, answered questions and had a great time.
On Tuesday, the "Cookies and Milk" ladies and myself were able to pass out some copies of our September page with some pencils. We'd have some made with our "Read "Cookies and Milk" logo on them. Hopefully, we generated some interest in people that had never read our page. Several older men stopped by the booth and regaled us with interesting stories about the community. I'm sure there's a way to work one tale into a story someday.

We all managed to do well in winning ribbons. After all the rushing and hassle to get artwork and photo's framed, I was pleased that the boys and Jenny did so well. I even managed a blue ribbon on a framed scrapbook picture. This was my first year to enter "Art" and a blue ribbon was nice.
Also managed three blues in the flower show. Miah got a blue for a yellow rose and Jarrod got several seconds and third prize ribbons. A nice haul and the checks from the agricultural society are fun to spend! Mine should just about cover all my summer library fines. (Long story.)
On Thursday, I had to man the vegetable building. Imagine pumpkins, tomatoes, seeds and hay left in an UNCOOLED building, with the windows closed for about four days. Yup, it smelled that bad! The heat at the fair was brutal. I had a bit of an adventure getting inside because no one at the Fair Board could find a key. One of the maintenance men gave me a ride in his golf cart as he whizzed from the office to the building in search of the right key. He finally found one and I went into the overripe room. Thankfully, I found a small fan and plugged it in. Got a lot of questions on the "Freaks of Nature" exhibit. Pictured above is our own freak---a Siamese cucumber. Too bad it didn't quite survive in time for the fair.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Middle Name Meme


The Rules:

1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.

2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of their middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.

3. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.

4. At the end of your blog-post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag.

5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

My middle name is ALICE.

1. A--Alluring--well, I can dream can't I?

2. L- Loyal--I'm a very loyal person to friends and family.

3. I--Inquisitive---I like to know everything. (Okay, so nosy works too, but there is no N in Alice.)

4. C--Creative--Probably should BE my middle name--I love anything that takes creative work--writing, sewing, gardening, photography, etc.

5. E - Hm, this is a hard one. I'm not very energetic or eager. There's a word that means really, really joyful but I'm not sure how to spell it. I'm sure it starts with an E though (well, semi positive.) Maybe this makes me Evasive.

I would tag someone but the E tagged me, the C won't give her middle name, I don't know any Ingrid's or Isabel's. I know people with A and L but they don't have blogs. So everyone can read this with relief that they haven't been tagged!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Back home again. . . .

The picture on top is of me at Niagara Falls. I'm sure everyone wonders how I ended up in New York when I was going to Michigan. It's simple if you know how my family takes a vacation. Our plans are apt to change and evolve as we go along. We did head for Michigan and spent the first night there. Our destination was to Greenfield Village in Dearborn--a super living history museum.

We got a late start on Wednesday and didn't get anywhere near Dearborn until about 10:30 at night. Everyone was exhausted and we just wanted a place to lie down and sleep. We'd stopped at a travel center and gotten a discount hotel book. Since the last time we were in Michigan we'd stayed in a semi-luxury hotel (discount convention rates), we had no idea where to find anything reasonable. Going with the coupon, we ended up at the nightmare motel.

Our first red flag was the number of men and women pacing back and forth from door to door. Knocking, whispers, clandestine meetings in cubby holes by the ice machine. (Once you pay your money, no refunds.) We weren't sure if the motel was an oasis for drugs or worse. We got inside the door and locked ourselves in--prepared to tough it out.
It got worse.

We discovered when we found the bathroom that instead of there being a wall around 3 sides of the tub, there were none. The tub and shower were in an open pit with two shower curtains--one opening up into the sleeping area. I don't even want to go into the why's of that. I'm sure I don't care to know!

We turned off the lights to take showers--in case there were cameras hidden somewhere. It was that kind of place. We were supposed to have two double beds and a pull out couch. But, when we pulled out the couch to make a bed it hit the wall. You could make a bed--one that sat up like a hospital bed. I ended up on that. Once the couch was out, it cut off entrance to the bathroom to anyone else. Good thing we could climb through the peek a boo tub!

By morning we were all itchy and got out of there pronto. We also declined the free breakfast. It was not the best place we've ever stayed. As we got the van loaded, we realized someone had walked their dog and he or she had used the bathroom right by the driver's door. It was not a Holiday Inn. As we left town, we realized we'd wandered into a shady part of town. I'm sure our angels worked overtime that night.

Once away from the weird motel, we went to Greenfield Village. It's such a fantastic place. This was my second trip and I enjoyed watching the boys see all the sights. We went though every building in horrible heat. The only house we missed was the Wright Brothers. They had some kind of play on the porch each time we went by and we never seemed to arrive as it was open.

The boys got to record their voices on a tinfoil machine just like Edison, make brass candlesticks and print up a poster on an old fashioned printing press.
Our plans had been to stay another day and go to the museum. Instead, we decided to head toward Niagara Falls. It was a long drive across the top of Ohio and on into New York. It had been years since I'd seen the falls but they were lovely

Everyone wanted to go on the "Maid of the Mist" so I gamely gave it a try. Boats aren't really my thing but I surprised myself. Felt queasy as we waited to launch, but then forgot to feel sick as I gave myself up to the experience. It was so neat to ride almost up to the falls. That was a high point of the trip for everyone.
Looks like a storm is heading in so I'll continue soon. . . .

Monday, August 13, 2007

The "Maverick" brothers
My nephews Bret--dark hair and Bart--blond
This was a long time ago! Bart has an almost two year old daughter and Bret is almost through college. Time sure flies. . . . This picture won a First Prize one year in the fair.
All in a day's work. . . .

Had a long list of plans for today and I'm happy to be able to say I checked off almost all of them tonight. Of course, I had to x out a few right from the start.

When I realized that I had to add on garden chores to the list, I knew my writing time would go.

So---the day went something like this: rushed next door to put in a load of wash, cut all the broccoli in Sister #2's garden, came home and blanched the broccoli, had to stop to go to the Dollar Store for freezer bags and canning jar lids, ended up going to three stores before I found jar lids, home, put the broccoli into the freezer bags and into the freezer, started bringing in tomatoes to can.

This begins the tomato hours---wash off tomatoes, drop in a pot of boiling water to loosen the skins, drop into cold water so skins come off, chop tomatoes into pieces and put in jars, put in salt, seal and start boiling in the canner. In the interest of multi-tasking, I worked on the entries for the fair at the same time. The deadline for photos and artwork entires is August 15th. I'd do a jar or two of tomatoes, let the rest cool and start filling out the blanks.

Tomatoes done, fair entires done, I wrapped up a box for a friend and collected all the library books and vidos that would be due before I get back from Michigan. Got dressed (brief hassle as the well went dry--all that canning) and we had to run water in from the cistern. Went to town.

Stopped to have my glasses adjusted. Waited in line. On to the post office. Waited in line. Then to the store for drinking water. Waited in line. Went to the library. Took my time in the air conditioning finding some books to take on the trip. A cool surprise--a DVD of "Perry Mason" had come in. I've been on the waiting list for three months. I know what I'm watching tonight--if I can stay awake long enough.

Home, helped get supper, ate and then started working on emails. For some reason there are always emails before I can feel like I can leave for any length of time. Now all I have to do tonight is pack, change litter boxes, clean the kitchen, iron clothes for church on Wednesday morning (we'll be out late tomorrow and I won't have time) and I sure hope that's all!! I'm ready for a vacation.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Looks like it might getting ready to rain. Moisture would be a welcome relief from this heat wave. When you don't have air conditioning (I don't), any cooler air comes as a refreshing change.

This has been the hottest week of the summer I'm sure. Everything seems to take longer to accomplish. Writing is best done with a fan blowing right on me. An added benefit is that I can't hear anything else going on which can be good and bad! It's easy to block out the kids but what are they doing that I can't hear??? Sometimes ignorance is truly bliss. Like Saturday when Miah decided to find out if it really was hot enough to fry an egg on the hood of the car. It wasn't - quite. He found out cleaning egg off is harder and takes longer than putting it on.
Despite a rough week, ending with a funeral on Friday, we had a fairly relaxing weekend. Jenny came out on Thursday night. She did the "portrait" of me at the top of the page. I don't know where she got the long granny gown with flowers or the fuzzy slippers. That's more my winter sleepwear than summer!
We took time out this weekend to mark out what art work the kids want to enter in the Fair. We will not be entering the drawing above! We also got out the latch hook kits and refocused on finishing for the Home Arts entries. Miah, Jarrod and I all discovered one astonishing fact---we'd forgotten how to latch hook. We had to read the instructions on back of the kits to get back in the swing. We are all working on cats. Miah has a baby tiger. Jarrod a surreal blue cat. Mine is a kitten with a ball. I read the instructions wrong so half the ball is a gray that should be on the kitten's head. Like Jarrod says, if I don't have enough yarn, I might have a pink headed kitten!
With the heat comes cucumbers. I've made 38 quarts of pickles up to yesterday. I thought I was done. Today there is another bag of cucumbers waiting to be pickled. Back to my vinegar, garlic and dill . . .

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thanks to my friend, Erica, this blog has an award! Makes me feel almost famous. :)
I am slowly coming down to earth from my Honorable Mention in the W.I. N. contest. (See and scroll down to the W.I. N. results for 2007. The Cattle Rustling Catastrophe managed to snag an honorable mention this year. Even though I said I never enter that contest again after my agony last year. I didn't mind losing then (well, maybe a little.) What frustrated me about the contest was not being able to post my entry until several minutes before midnight and the deadline. I vowed never again. Sometimes I have a short memory.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mariah, Jenny, Jarrod, Me and Miah--feet in the Atlantic Ocean
Looks like a long time since I updated this blog! As you can see from the picture on top, I did make it on vacation. We spent several days at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. This was my first time to South Carolina. I love the palm trees and surprisingly, the ocean. I've seen the Atlantic and the Pacific many times so I didn't anticipate my reaction. Although I found it fun to sit in my beach chair watching the waves, I got more a sense of restlessness from the water than calm.

There were so many commercial aspects to the beach and town! Small planes dragging banners flew overhead every few minutes advertising something. Buy! Buy! Buy! Souvenier shops. T-shirt shops. Candy. Ice cream. It got to be overwhelming. I truly appreciated the beach in the early evening, after almost everyone had stopped sunbathing for the day. You could walk or sit in the cool sand without tripping over someone. We took walks along the beach, searched for shells or blew bubbles. After dark, we took another trip back to the beach for the nightly walk. Since it was the 4th of July weekend, these visits were punctuated by fireworks. One night, we brought a box of sparklers and all the children ran through the surf, the sparks like shooting stars against the dark of the ocean.
Another night, we went for a walk on the Longest Pier on the East coast. Since they were offering "entertainment," we had to pay. A band played oldies and we stopped to watch. All the children got up to do the Limbo.
We played Bingo, Laser Tag, Putt Putt Golf and waited in line one night for over an hour to eat at the Olive Garden. I read a bunch of books, did some sewing and sat around with my sprained ankle propped up. It turned out to be a nice, relaxing few days.
Now, if I could just think of what to do with the jar of sand I brought home and all those shells. . . .


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Blogger on vacation!

All the water guns waiting on the porch for the boys to return.

Check to see the article I wrote for the July issue--Sybil Ludington.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Looks like it's summer again. It's felt like summer for weeks now but we had to wait for the official beginning on the 21st, my niece, Heather's birthday. Somehow I always have this belief that life should be more relaxed in the summer. Probably a hold over from the endless summers of childhood. Remember how those days seemed to last forever? I thought it might feel like that forever - until I shifted over to the adult viewpoint of summer. Yup, the days seem to last forever but not in a carefree way! More like a how long can a day be way instead!

Some days I have no idea what I did to be so busy. Like yesterday. I remember I did stuff---wash, shopping, cooking tacos. (When Jenny comes to visit we have to have tacos. No one makes them for her at home.) I got out some crafts I'd bought and the three J's---Jenny, Jarrod and Jeremiah, painted little clay figurines of bugs, horses and dogs. It kept them all in one place, semi-quiet and doing something. When they got done, we went to play Putt Putt golf. We manged to get passes this year during the half price sale.

I raced back, got ready for the summer crit group and raced to the library. Only two of my friends showed up so we spent more time gossiping and discussing life than doing a critique. Although I did get two commas taken out of a perplexing query letter. After the group, I went with the children, two sisters and my bil to walk two miles around the college track. Do my feet hurt!

Would like to say I got to write but that would be a lie. The only thing even approaching words on paper were the emails I wrote. Today, I have Emma here. Some people might be able to write with a two year old, I can't. Except for this because she's out in the yard with the grandparents.

Spent an almost sleepless night worrying about a problem I'd have liked to discuss with someone - anyone. Made a decision this morning, after two aspirin and going back to bed at 7:30. Second guessing myself if it's right. Only time will tell.

As Scarlett O'Hara used to say, "Tomorrow is another day." And I'm sure Ziggy or someone used to say, "I hope it's better than today."

Saturday, June 09, 2007

My life in sound bites. . . . Some weeks the days go by in itty bits of moments. Like this past week. Thinking back I'm trying to remember where it all went. Monday is a total blank. Whatever I did, it's lost. On Tuesday, I know I met the Cookies and Milk ladies for lunch at Bob Evans. The boys went with me and were super good. It cost us over $30 bucks for a meal--YIKES--but Miah couldn't finish all his Western Omlet and brought some home for an afternoon snack. We stayed almost two hours. Came home and I think I did some writing. Most days I do some writing. Then I went to visit Gwen, the super lady who started us off on our newspaper page with her encouragement and caring. I took one of my manuscripts for her to give a thorough read through.

Wednesday the boys and I got up early to be at the Cinemas for a free showing of "Charlotte's Web." Every summer the merchants in town sponsor free movies on Wednesdays. The boys had never seen this classic, not even the cartoon, and loved the tale of Wilbur, the pig. We met my friend, Patty, there and had a nice mid-week visit.

Sister #2 got off a bit early so I had time to write on Wednesday too. Then went for the weekly night to clean the church offices. Got home early and went next door to watch the boys on the trampoline.

Thursday, I got a rare day OFF of everything. Spent most of the day writing, cleaning, and loafing. Did several scrapbook pages and had an idea for an article. Read a lot, walked a lot and enjoyed the freedom. Worked on planting marigolds and seeds in my garden. Also spent part of the day searching for a missing library book on woodpeckers and the case to "Chicken Little." (What is it with the missing birds around here?) Found the video case behind the couch. The book is still missing but the library let me renew it.
Friday we did school work. Yup, our new books to work on through the summer came. We took a trip to the library in the afternoon and watched a movie, "Savannah Smiles," when we came home. Had yummy garlic bread pizza and ended the day playing poker and Wheel of Fortune.
I love summer! The peonies have faded but you can see how the front porch looked last month. In the edge of the left front of the photo is part of my mailbox.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A week in review----

Welcome to my newest great niece, Hayleigh Marie! Here she is just 36 hours old. Thankfully, the last time I saw a baby sale too good to pass up, I bought several PINK outfits. (Baby clothes are one of my vices. I love buying them. Usually, I pass them on to someone who actually HAS a baby. Sometimes, I hoard a few outfits for a bit or use them to dress my keepsake dolls.)

One day I'll have to take some pictures of the dolls. I have several that belonged to my nieces Heather and Jenny, a set of Dionne Quintuplets I made, a walking doll my dad won at a fair in Texas as well as a bunch more. When I get tired of how they look, I dress them in something different.

Oh--yeah, the week in review. . . can't say it was much of a red letter week. I did get some lovely free time on Memorial Day. Can't remember what I did, but I know I sat and wrote or edited something. Felt very virtuous to be working on a holiday. I did figure out how to use the OCR on my scanner. This translates typed pages into my word program. Have been working at this for YEARS and never got it right--until now! I scanned four whole pages and all I had to do was tweak it a bit. Look out files, here I come! I have years of work I could be recycling but didn't want the bother of putting it into the pc.
The next day, I had several nice surprises. Got a HUGE birthday box from my sissy (okay, so I adopted her and she adopted me--LOL!) Sherry, in Tennessee. Lots of cool presents for Christmas, Easter and my birthday. I mailed out a query that I've been debating for weeks, printed up two articles to send out and actually sat down to watch an episode of Big Valley in the MIDDLE OF THE DAY. Total decadance.
Of course, that was also the day (I think) that I went rushing toward the bathroom and rammed my foot into the doorjam. My two pinkie toes went crunch and they sure felt broken. I could barely hobble to sit down. Soaked them that night and realized when I tried to walk upstairs I couldn't. All the extra babies and activity this week did a number on my left knee. If I bent it, it screamed. It happens and I take it easy for a bit. I'm sure I resembled Quasimodo lurching from my owie knee to my huge toes. Couldn't get my shoes on for two days. (It was sooooooooo nice! I couldn't drive anywhere.)
But, all good things must come to an end---the swelling is going down so it must be getting better. Showed the kids the bruises at the pool yesterday, they were impressed.
The rest of the week zipped by as we try to finish school for the year. (Although we generally work during the summer too, we do ease off some.) Friday, we skipped school all together and headed for Jenny's pool. The kids stayed in about three hours while I read "Quaker Summer." (This was so I could have two grown up books to list when I play tag with Erica's blog. I was too embarrassed to list 3 kids books as the last three I read. Even though it WAS research, I swear.) Even though I had on tons of sun screen, I managed to get burnt--in two nice neat circles around my ankles. Good thing I have stopped hobbling and can walk semi-upright. I'd sure look weird hobbling along with two pink ankles.
Saturday---I actually got to work for two hours straight! Funny, I kept waiting for someone to call or some disaster to strike. And something so GOOD happened today---Erica helped me solve a year long mystery. I now have all the lyrics to a Donny Osmond song that's been driving me nuts. And I am not dumb enough to tell anyone what song. You might think I am very weird.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Weekend----Or maybe I should call it a memorable weekend? After all the excitement of the past two days, today is an anticlimax.

On Saturday, I was suppose to have two nieces here at 8:30. Their mom had to work and their dad had an open house. Okay--psyched myself up to do this even though I'd rather have gone to my niece, Mariah's Confirmation. At 4 AM, the day hit the skids into "Brace yourself, Houston, we have a problem." My niece, Sarah, had gone to the hospital to have baby #3. Okay. . . so I woke up not to two nieces but two nephews and a niece. At 7 AM. (Is it Monday yet?)

So---due to the unexpected, we had no suitable breakfast in the house. Sent Mom to the store while I took Drew, 2, Kris, 4 and Taylor, 4, next door to jump on the giant trampoline. We were so involved when Miah got up and joined us. The raisin bran arrived and we trooped next door. Wondered, in the space infintisimal seconds when I could think, where the first two nieces were. They arrived about noon so we joined, Stephi, 4 and Sammi, 3 to the mix. (Are we having FUN yet?) Another couple of hours and Mariah, 7, arrived after her big morning. If you are keeping score, that's five kids UNDER five and two over. Before long, Jarrod, finished watching cartoons and came out. We got out the slip and slide--the kids got wet, they got cranky, they ran in eight different directions.
Eventually, I escaped to the store for lunch--chicken nuggets and popsicles. The kids had a nice picnic outside and Drew fell asleep. Josh came by for Stephi and Sammi and the kid count dwindled. Later that evening, we had a mini-party for Mariah's Confirmation--cake, balloons and ice cream cups. Since I got out of shopping for the BIG EVENT on Sunday, I didn't mind.
Except by the time I got to bed I realized the only time I sat down all day was to drive to the store for the chicken nuggets. My feet felt like they'd grown rocks.
For weeks we'd been trying to plan a family May crowning (Catholic event to honor God's Mother) and since you have to feed people when they drive all this way---a cookout. After Saturday, all I wanted to do was sit, but it didn't turn out too badly.
I lost count of the people who came but we had a crowd. We'd decided to do most of the socializing next door at Sister #2's house--so all the food, the grills, the MESS, were centered over there. Some of the teenaged cousins did slip over her to play Monopoly at the kitchen table away from the baby element. And I did have one scary moment when someone opened my bedroom door and let my most skiddish cat out! (She's mostly a bedroom, one person cat. Doesn't like people, noise or leaving her comfort zone. Why she left the room is beyond my mental capabilities.)
Later in the day, some of us gravitated over here. The little girl cousins formed a club called "The Pinks." All small boy cousins who wanted to play were given girl names. (I am so not going there! They were quiet!) They wanted to create M and M people on the computer so I let that go on for a bit.
Then we trooped back to the "neighbor's" for a bonfire and s'mores. Miah and Anthony in the picture by the last hurrah of the night. The boys were thrilled to have two cousins over for the night. Mariah got a girl cousin to go home with her.
Monday, After doing two loads of wash and editing a bit, I am sitting in a QUIET, empty house wondering what to do with my holiday. Everyone else went swimming at Sister #3's. I am soooooooooo glad there wasn't room in the car for me! Happy Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I tried to come up with a classier title for this piece. Graduation goofs. Pomp and circumstances beyond control. But then I decided simple is best - yesterday was Tuesday and it turned out to be a weird day.

We didn't do school because Sister #2 came home early. Instead I spend the morning running errands with Mom. For about a week I'd hoped to get to Brad's, the biggest garden store, to search for herbs. They had some nice plants (owie prices) but I went ahead and splurged on thyme, sage, chocolate mint, spearmint and oregano. I use a lot of sage and oregano.

The vegetable flats were on sale for $10.99, so we got exotic things like red onions, habanero peppers, chocolate beauty peppers, celery, broccoli and beets. The boys grow the peppers to enter in the fair. I'm trying my hand at some container gardening this summer.

Got home and spent the rest of the afternoon working on various writing projects. Then it was time to go to Austin's graduation. For those of you who don't know him, Austin is my great nephew. He's Justi and Tim's son and is five years old. Kindergarden graduation.

There is something "off" about five year old graduating in the first place. I see it as some gigantic conspiracy with the cap and gown industry to get more dollars from what is probably not a best selling item. Not enough people graduating in May and June? Let's start a new trend---let the little people graduate too! Sometimes I wonder where this will lead. Graduating from 1st Grade? Second? Preschool?

The graduation took place an hour away so I left in plenty of time - I thought. (Always a sure indication you haven't left soon enough.) Scrambling though town I searched in vain for a gas station where the gas was less than $3.49 a gallon---angry at myself for not filling up that morning at $3.15.

My directions were to go to the OLD high school which was now the NEW elementary school. It was the high school were several of my nieces and nephews graduated. Okay, I could find it. I thought. The OLD high school was still---well, the OLD high school. I walked in on an Awards Ceremony (what a heck of a place to put a door!) and saw no five year olds. Outside, I grabbed a bystander and asked where the elementary school was located. The other side of town. (It's always the other side of town when you're in a hurry. )

I was already late but since it was a small town (only two stop lights), I managed to find the light, make a turn by the water company and did find the elementary school. The streets--all one way--were clogged with parked cars. I drove around the school twice, looking for somewhere to park and ended up turning illegally down a driveway and shooting across the soccer field to a clear patch of grass. It was a long walk back to the school and was now 7:15.

Figuring I'd missed most of the graduation, I hurried Mom along and we got to the gym. The old fashioned, un-air conditioned, pre-1950's gym and discovered we hadn't missed much but the incoming procession. There were 90! graduates. Being a great grandmother, Mom got to sit on the folding chairs for the elite guests. I stood near the door. I did try to get up on the bleachers but they were packed with wall to wall people and it was HOT! LIke people sweating and fanning themselves with programs hot.

I got there in time for the "musical" part of the program. The kids sang "Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue," while counting on their fingers. They did a cute version of "The knee bones connected to the. . . ." and two other garbled songs I couldn't understand a word of.

Then came the "diplomas." Each child's name was called and his or her teacher would squat down beside the child for a photo op. Some of the teachers were smarter than others in their clothing choices. Let's put it this way--you can see a LOT when someone is squatting on a stage.

After that they had a slide show---we waited and waited and waited--while the Power Point thing goofed up. Eventually they did get it running and we saw some cute pictures of a year in the life of a kindergarden class. (For sale at $7.00 bucks in the back of the gym.)

Despite the hassles, the little kids were cute in their caps (no gowns) and dress up clothes. The little girls wore their best dresses and some of the boys were in nice shirts, pants and ties. Sniff, they looked all of six or seven! How time flies. . . .

While I'd like to have a picture of Austin on this blog, I can't. When I got there I realized the batteries in my camera had died! The end to an imperfect day! Thankfully, his mom had bought a disposable camera for the ceremony.

I did hear some good news when I got home. My friend, Erica, is a finalist in the Genesis writing contest!!!!! Hooray, for her! I'm sure the competition was stiff so this is a great accomplishment. She won't know if she won the contest until later in the year. Finaling in the first round is a bit like winning the state beauty pageant and now she's going on to nationals---writing wise! Let's keep hoping for more good news!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Job Well Done

This morning I finished my first ever landscaping job for someone else. Hopefully, the picture does it justice. I had to stand sideways to get a full shot--the yard being very small and my back getting poked by a huge, prickly evergreen bush. The pictures show a slanted/sideways view. When I stood in front of the arbor it all looked straight and matched (even though the space was not a complete circle.)

It took less time than I anticipated. Going to find a Home Depot was the major challenge but once there I got a terrific bargain on the black satin mulch. Even brought home some mulch and flowers to spare for my garden. Guess what I'll be doing once it cools off here a bit?

Can rest tonight with the job behind me and extra cash in my pocket.

Sure will sleep better than last night when I had dreams about the work ahead. Dreamed I arrived and found huge slabs of rock all over the space and I had to clear them away. Got to it and dragged a half a ton of rock into a neat pile by the fence. Then I realized that the slow seepage under the rocks had sprung a giant leak and OH NO...the space under the rocks was a swimming pool sized HOLE filled with water and the ugliest giant carp I'd ever seen. No way could I empty the pool and harm that fish--even if he was scary.

But then, I turned around and found a small circle of dirt and I realized I had way too many flowers! I'm glad the reality came closer to the nice part of the dream. You can't see it all in the photo but there are a LOT of flowers in there--some hadn't bloomed yet. I'd like to see it once all the plants start blooming and spreading out.
As I was planting, a bright yellow butterfly flew in and landed on a purple flower. I can hear him going back to the other butterflies he knows, "Hey, guys, there's a new place to eat in the neighborhood."