Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Visits

Family bustles through the front door the day after Christmas, bursting bags cradled in their arms. It's dark outside and lights glisten in the damp air. No time to eat. Grab a quick drink then drop onto the sofa. Time to exchange gifts.

Laughter bounces off the walls, hugs abound, and joy is everywhere.

What's it going to be like when I'm my parent's age? And what was it like for them at our age?
Questions, answers, and more laughter.

People have become NICE. Like a contagious infection, it has spread from person to person throughout the holiday season, until everyone smiles. And also like an infection, it will be "cured." Is the cure better than the disease?

I wish the NICE disease didn't have to disappear until next year. Is there anyway to make it last?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Surprise

The boys have been home from college since Monday (today's Wednesday.) The house has become strewn with stuff. Their stuff. It's hard to move with the clutter. The Christmas decorations remain in the attic. The boys wander around town. And the 25th is in a week.

I love my boys. But sometimes...OK, so this afternoon I blew up - just a little. I'm sure Jimmy was kidding when he said everyone around him reacted to my yelling at him over the phone. And Tom was screwing the Superman plate onto the front of the truck.

So I headed out to run some errands. Which I still haven't gotten done because of the phone call.

"Mom?"

"Yes, Tom."

"I put my foot through the ceiling."

"What?"

"I was up in the attic and slipped. My leg went through the ceiling at the top of the stairs."

"You OK?"

"Yup."

Silence.

I grinned, imagining his incredibly long leg sticking through the ceiling.

I cringed, thinking of the mess that needs to get cleaned up.

I groaned at the amount of work to repair the hole, then repaint the entire ceiling!

After rushing home to grab my camera, Tom displayed his work of art. Then out came the vacuum and the cleaning commenced.

Tom tried to surprise me by getting the decorations down by himself. All I can say is, I'm surprised!

I gave him a huge hug.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Vacation Post-Mortum

As you might know, my family went to Topsail Island for holiday on Thanksgiving week. It was a very interesting challenge for the first several days. While all of us enjoyed each others company, the 1,000 piece puzzle that Mark succeeded in finishing (yeah Mark!), and touch football on the beach, it was not without it's down side.

For example, the realty company was completely non-responsive to our issues, and we needed to continually go to their office and complain. I HATE chronic complainers - and both my husband and I became one.

Why?
Here's a short list.

1- We were locked out of the house for an hour when we first arrived. Agents didn't give us instructions for the combination lock on the door. Took 30 minutes just to get an agent on the telephone.
Time to get resolved: 1 hour sitting in the drizzling cold

2 - Hot tub dirty, water slimy, hot tub cover ripped with pieces hanging in the water.
Time to get resolved: 3 days (and it still wouldn't heat higher than 91)

3- Bathrooms dirty, soap scum, hair balls in the drains, urine in the toilets.
Time to get resolved: 3 days (and three visits to the rental office)

4- Internet not working and rental agency "tech guy" didn't understand that the problem was at the service provider side and not the house side - even though we told him again and again.
Time to get resolved: Thanks to the involvement of my husband, 3 days (if he hadn't, it would not have been fixed.)

5- Rental company NEVER returned any phone calls.

OK, enough griping. Yes, the list can go on for, yikes, 14 more items. At least that's what we have listed in the letter we're sending them tomorrow.

But through it all, we had fun being together. It just goes to show that family and friends are so much more valuable than "things," although those "things" can sure make life more comfortable. So when people ask me how our Thanksgiving was, I respond with smile and say, "Wonderful."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

All a Twitter

There's been much talk lately about Twitter. It's being compared to the status line of facebook, but one where you can update your status via cell phones and computers. Why Twitter? I'm not sure but I've signed up and invited all my writing friends to join me. This way we might be able to help keep each other on track with our works. Or maybe not.

I've also read an article where Twitter was being used for business advertising and promotions. Hum. Guess you'd really need to focus on not interjecting anything really personal on your status. HA! I began Facebook with the intent of making it a business venture but alas, it turned into fun, games, and keeping up with my friends. I wonder if Twitter will work for me?

Have any of you Twittered lately? I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Viva Vacations

Europe has a custom of taking three weeks vacation at a time. Their thoughts (at least with the Europeans I know) are that the first week you chill out; the second week you're totally free; the third week you begin gearing back up for work.

I like this philosophy. Why can't we implement it here? LAUGH. With most of us either working for ourselves and unable to take so much consecutive time off, or with jobs that make you wait for five years just to get two weeks, dreams like this are impossible.

Personally, I would work way harder if I was treated with more humanity. My boss is really kool...don't get me wrong. But he's bound by the rules. Just ask yourself...what would you do with not one, but two sets of three week vacations in one year!!! HOORAY! I say.

Every good thing has a payback. Usually a pretty brutal payback (from my experience). The week or two before holiday is a living hell, as is the week or two after holiday. And in today's economic stress, can you imagine being away from your job for two or three weeks? You might get layed off and not even know it. (I was once layed off when I was out sick and my boss didn't have the stomach to tell me to my face - made HR do it over the phone!)

But I digress. As usual, I suppose.

I was thinking about joining the nano writing session this year - you need to write 50,000 words in the month of November. I'm up to around 2,500. Does that count?

Next week we're off on holiday. I figure I'll need to work a bit while I'm at the beach, but also plan to play a great deal. The boys are heading down from college and joining us. Should be super!

Viva Vacations!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blinded

Yesterday afternoon, towards evening, yellow light poured through our closed blinds in the bedroom. It was a gray and rainy day, yet this odd yellow-ness brightened the window. I peeked out. The leaves, intensely yellow, seemed to glow in the twilight. It was eerie yet it was way cool how they luminesced.

This has to be the most beautiful fall in many, many years. Vibrant colors rippling through each tree...through each leaf. I can't seem to take in all the colors - to burn them into my memory so I can recall them on bleak winter days. There are just so many of them bursting like fireworks.

My husband told me to check out the front lawn on Sunday. He managed to remove every single leaf. Until Monday. Now we can't even see the sidewalk!

This is a strange topic to write about, but it's a calming one. The colors are talking to me, reminding me of all that's right in the world. God's pallet, some say. Just drink in the vibrancy and let it fill you like water in a pitcher. Become blinded by the colors of life. Relax.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Simple Things in Life (Warning: May be considered gross)

Have you ever been laid up with a tooth problem? 

I had a sinus-lift tooth implant last Monday. What that means is the dentist cut into my sinus cavity, lifted the thin sinus membrane then topped the metal spike implanted in my jaw with a bone graft. Then he covered the mess with a mysterious "membrane" to keep it all in place. More or less.

The dentist ordered me not to sneeze, or blow my nose, or chew on one side of my mouth. Let me tell you, it's danged difficult to follow. My body automatically rejected these restrictions as a visceral reaction to being told "don't." 

Suddenly, my nose ran like a son-of-a-gun, pleading for tissues and a good hard blow. My jaw became exhausted from chewing on one side. Soon the muscles tightened up so much I could barely slide a teaspoon between my teeth.

And "don't sneeze?" Right. Can you not sneeze on command? Just last night, I sneezed 6 times in a row - shot gun sneezes, hard, fast, almost one on top of the other. I NEVER sneeze more than 3 times. 

It sounds gross. And it is. But when the mysterious membrane shot into then out of my mouth after my sneezing fit last night, I was astounded. How did something that size slip into my sinuses and work it's way out of my body? I mean, this thing was an inch long oval piece of pliant material! How did it get into my sinuses in the first place? 

I went to the dentist today and had him check everything out. My sinuses are fine. He smiled and said "You're a case study I shall never forget." Then he continued with "Guess we won't have to cut you open to remove the membrane in two weeks. You did the job for us. But how?" I guess I'm an article waiting to happen. Maybe he'll title the piece: The Chick With the Osmotic Sinuses, or perhaps: Patient Sneezes Her Way Out of Surgery.

I think I should receive part of his royalties for his article. After all, if it weren't for my super healthy and super thin sinuses, he wouldn't have the material, right? If he's amazed at how the membrane crossed over an intact sinus membrane to be expelled by my body, would other dentists also be intrigued? Perhaps I should ask for a movie deal.

Good news is I can eat, and sneeze, and blow my nose again. You really miss the simple things in life. :^))

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Horse Burps

Did you know that horses don't burp or vomit? Gee, isn't this information you're just dying to know? Well, it turns out their cardiac sphincter (the valve between the stomach and esophagus) only allows one-way flow.

Hummm. So why did my horse, who always manages to pass obnoxious gas when I'm cleaning his rear feet and haunches, repeatedly burp yesterday?

And how can I incorporate such a tiny detail into one of my stories? My current novel deals with a dragon - I supposed I could make the baby dragon burp tiny balls of flame. Or, pass such noxious gas as to incapacitate the enemy (an ancient version of a stink bomb).

Yes. I must do this. Steggy (my dragon) will have to develop burping or farting as a defence mechanism.

See how easy it is to incorporate an everyday gross occurrence into your story?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Old farts

The college trips are done. Yippee!!

The boys fit in well with their school and friends, keeping busy, studying hard, and playing just as hard. It's nice seeing them relaxed at school but it makes me worry a bit about what's going to happen once they're done. Tom's already thinking about possibly heading off sometime this summer to Etheopia to help build facilities. Jim will want a job that will allow him the most time to play - so probably life guarding if he can get it again.

Last weekend we visited Tom at Carolina. Here's a picture of Tom, Ed & I at the Well at Chapel Hill. There were dozens of parents and students hanging in front of this place, snapping pictures and helping each other get family shots.

We picked Jimmy up from NC State on Friday night then headed to Carolina to pick up Tom. We all celebrated Tom's almost 20th birthday with dinner at a restaurant of his choice. He chose Chillies, I think mostly bcause of the molten chocolate cake. Everyone fought over it - as usual. Whenever these guys together it's pure chaotic fun.

When we visited Jim at NC State the weekend before, we took him and his roomate, Jonathan, out for dinner. We only had one chair in the back of the van, so Jim demonstrated how to use a seatbelt while sitting in a folding lawn chair. It actually did OK, but thankfully we didn't encounter any need to test it.

Why do dorms always smell like old socks?

I can't imagine using the bathrooms in these places. Even though they do get cleaned each week, it's still pretty gross.

Ed and I opted out of attending the football games. Sitting in a stadium with 15,000 (probably more) to watch a game is OK. But it's the getting out at the end of the game that always causes me to pale. And talk about wasting gas...not moving because a drunk hit a cop car...or the incredible lines of non-moving cars and vans. Not exactly our cup of tea!

We like sitting in front of the TV, feet up, chips and drinks by our sides, DVR(aka Tvo) so we can make our potty stops and refill our glasses.

I admit it. We're old farts.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rest in Peace

After browsing through cd after cd after cd, I finally located the exact picture I sought. Excited, I loaded the picture onto my computer, spun my chair around and

WHAM....

ran into my cd/dvd drive which was still open.

It's hosed.

It won't spin.

It won't close.

It won't open.

It's dead.

Funeral services will be held later today followed by a pyre.
Please send all condolences to:
Drive Farewell
c/o Clutz R Us
2 Broke to Replace Drive
Greatly Missing, IT
24067

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A View of NC State

Parents Weekend at NC State was this past weekend. The most desolate part of the world is a university campus on an early Sunday morning. Well, if you call 10:15 am early. My husband and I were due to meet our son at exactly 10:50. Not a moment before as he allots his sleep like a miser counts his coins.

Since we had time to spare, my husband and I hiked through campus seeking one of the many, many "great" coffee shops they always brag about. But guess what? They're not open on Sundays.

We finally discovered a tiny shop in the student center that served stale coffee from large urns. The two of us, plus an employee pouring coffee for himself, comprised the huge morning rush for the cashier. I provided a few minutes of entertainment when I requested decaffeinated coffee.

Yeah, right. On a college campus...where caffeine empowers students to keep their glazed eyes partially open during those large, 600 student classes.

I was shown a foil cylinder of Tasters Choice Decaffeinated Instant Coffee. Yuck. I selected juice.

We settled in front of a TV sipping our drinks and munching muffins, and learned of Paul Newman's passing, of SNL's lampooning of Palin, and saw a replay of Letterman's response to McCain's cancellation.

Still no movement on campus except a smattering of parents and those who worked.

Sports news danced across the TV screen, wrapping my husband with its vibrant airwaves. I yawned, dug through my new SCBWI satchel and thought about reading or filing my nails. Instead I tapped into the university's wifi system and checked email.

My iPod Touch is fun. However, my mail is via RoadRunner.com. Roadrunner is so protective of their services (I'm being generous) that I can receive email on my Touch, but I'm not allowed to send any. Great, isn't it?

Anyway, I digress.

My son finally awoke and met us outside his dorm. He drove us to a the church he attends - a huge rock 'n roll service with a large stage for the band and the preacher. I have to admit it was pretty cool. I wanted to film a piece of it but I forgot my camera was in my satchel, in the car. But I'll tell you more about this church some other time.

After service, we ate hardy, then returned Jim to his dorm. We woke his roomie still huddled under his blankets. It was 1:30.

It's been many years since I attended my liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania. Juniata College was a sprawling campus in the mountains, the approximate size of my 1200 student high school. I remember sleeping late, staying up late, having fun, trying to avoid studying. But never can I remember having a schedule that permitted me to play until 3 or 4 am, sleep until noon, then head off to classes.

Guess it's a good thing I'm a parent now and not a student.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Yike!!

I had such a wonderful time at the Carolina SCBWI conference this past weekend. We checked in Friday afternoon and didn't stop discussing writing & illustrating until, well, I guess it stopped when I walked in the front door of my house when I returned earlier today.

My head is swimming with ideas, challenges, and thoughts of future stories. Many terrific people jazzed and inspired me.

The schedule was very busy but I made some time to catch up with old friends and make a few new ones. It would have been nice to be able to kick back and chat more, then again, I'd have to miss one of the workshops!

Being the "conference photographer" (ya'll might not agree once you see some of the pictures) I was moving and hopping all over the place. This afforded me many opportunities to sneak a peak at everything that was going on.

Now I'm home, my body kinda tingles as it's finally beginning to relax.

Yikes! So much to remember...So much to do...So much more writing that will have to wait until I reassess my characters.

And I promise to upload some pictures soon. :^))

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fall into Business

It's September. Colleges are halfway through the first term. Local schools are in full swing. And I'm traveling.

Determined to have finished the latest re-visioning of my MG fantasy, Dragon Tears, I joined up with a friend of mine to write 2 days a week. It worked well, for the first week. Then the trips lined up.

The trip to north Jersey to visit my parents for their birthdays.
The trip this coming weekend to the Carolinas SCBWI Writer's Conference (Yeah!)
The trip next weekend to NC State for parents weekend.
The trip the weekend following that for UNC parent's weekend.

Then I believe we're home ... until my trip to Blowing Rock on 10/17 to trail ride for the weekend.

And then we're home for good. I think.

What about my story? Words float screaming to be written. Jack is sullen that he's forced to remain quiet while I flit from place to place.

But the day after tomorrow (not the movie) I drive to Durham to get a much needed shot of "kick in the butt" motivation to finish this draft of the book. Then one final draft to pull together all the parts and pieces of all the various story threads and then I'm done. Finito. Finished. Ended. At least until the next review.

I'm anxious to return to work on Dutchman's Creek (my ghost story). As a friend of mine posted on her blog, sometimes a decrepit building can bring a story to mind. This is my muse for Dutchman's Creek:





Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Riding Time

The boys are off at school. It was a tad sad, says I who spent almost the entire day after they left in bed, wallowing in a fit of depression. But eventually I began to smile again. And now I notice the house is cleaner, I don't have to shut doors to keep the boys out, I can go to sleep and not hear the pounding of the stereo base. I still miss them, but I'm also enjoying a new kind of freedom.

Last week I disappeared to Blowing Rock with some friends of mine. We brought our horses (Beth's husband is a real trouper for putting up with all us women and our beasts) and settled into a small bed & breakfast that we rented. This was wonderful because we were the only ones there and thus we were able to use the kitchen for our breakfasts and lunches.

Off to the stables - full of color and life. Our equines were buzzing and excited about being away from home. Everyone gets jazzed on a trip. Like us in the house, each had their own room to relax in once our daily ride was done.

We rode under God's canopy, snippets of sunlight bursting through the pewter clouds heavy with water. Leaves all shades of green overhead while the ground was dusty. It was dry country. Everyone wished it would rain. But it didn't.

On we road around the trails in Moses Cone park. Up to the big house overlooking the lake. Circling up the mountain to the peak to view the valleys. Then down again to the lake to watch the geese.

The soft noises of the horse, sneezes, breathing, clopping of hooves. Tension drains from you -- until a deer leaps and the horse sees. HA That's enough to tuck your toes and push down your heels.


Horses grazing among the flowers and bees. Harmony between all creatures. What do they know that we humans don't?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Moving Day

Tomorrow is moving day for Tom. He's heading off to UNC-Chapel Hill to begin his sophomore year. And boy is he jazzed and excited to return to his friends (and freedom). Then Saturday, we move Jim to NC State for his freshman year.

Ed and I are ... frazzled. I believe we'll both collapse Saturday night and won't move until we have to return to work on Monday morning.

Sometimes I think getting kids ready for college is more difficult than raising them. After all, they're "adults" now and know everything. Packing shouldn't take more than a couple of hours. (No, Jim. Packing is not having your possessions placed in piles around your room. Packing means just that...placing these piles into boxes and suitcases for transport.)

Last minute shopping is a must. After we drop Tom off tomorrow, Jim has it planned that we're going to stop at Costco to purchase boxes of goodies for him to take with him Saturday.

Sigh.

We've been after theses boys for weeks to make lists, check clothes, order text books on the tax free weekend, and place all their packed items in the living room (currently renamed: staging area).

Tom has - although we're still doing laundry.

Jim ... well ... he's working at the pool until 9 tonight, then he plans to visit friends until late this evening. He hasn't really staged at all.

Perhaps I should purchase ear plugs as a precaution for some yelling that might occur?? Perhaps I'm being overly concerned? Perhaps .....

Will we survive moving our two children into college?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Old Friends

There was a pleasant surprise waiting for me in my email box the other day. A message from one of my college buddies with addresses to others that were in my "posse." Gosh, I haven't thought about them in a very, very long time. It's not that they're gone from my life, in fact they're a very real part of me. These ladies helped make me who I am today. However, soon after college we scattered around the country, raised families, laughed and cried with the ebbs and flows of life, always hopefully living life to the fullest.

And that makes me smile.

I remember the first day of college, clunking down the all girls dormitory hallway in my cowboy boots my sister had presented me. Meeting my diminutive roommate, Pam, for the first time (there wasn't facebook or even personal computers back in those days.) I was always jealous of her red curly hair that she could cut herself.

Then there was Karin -- the beauty queen who could pick up a chair with her teeth!

Susanne, the actress who participated in every play on campus.

Jan, the super artsy type that makes me totally jealous.

Bunny, the blond bombshell who had to fight off the boys.

Polly, totally in love with Ed, even back then.

Chris, who had everything going for her but didn't know it.

Being the only science major in the group when the boys upstairs played tricks with an eviscerated cat, I laughed while the others screamed. And the peanut butter in the bathroom, pennies in the door jams, panty raids, acting completely goofy while perfectly straight. It was a wonderful time of life. And I would do anything for any one of these gals if they needed. And still would.

Now both my boys are in college - and I wish them the same lasting friendships I was lucky to find with my buddies. For though the years have added characteristic creases around our eyes and possibly a few extra love handles around our waists, we are still the same, carefree people we were over 23 years ago. Older, wiser (hopefully) full of joy and wonder, every day yields another reason to smile.

I'm heading to the basement to drag out an old photo album and relish in some more refined memories.

Oh the things my boys will never know - and all the things their parents will never know.

It's probably much better for everyone this way.

Oops, I feel another gray hair of worry popping up on my head.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Perfect Pitch

I have been assigned to write a description on how to make a perfect pitch for manuscripts. However, everything I create seems to be wrong. At first I applied the rules given me by Barbara Seuling at one of the SCBWI retreats where she said we need to describe our story in 25 words or less. The ENTIRE story...from beginning to end.That, I have discovered, is not a pitch. It is a wonder 30-second promo for my story - an elevator pitch.And I think that's one of the problems.

I belong to several networking groups and to me, when I wear that hat, an elevator pitch is something that sums up my business, beginning with a customer's need, progressing to a benefit I offer, then finally closing with my ... now what am I supposed to close with?

See how confusing it is? And yet it also appears to be similar (at least in my mind) to a manuscript pitch.For instance, with my printing and promotions business, I can begin my pitch with:Does your small business need quality printing at affordable prices? Business Cards Etc gives you quality printing and promotional items to help your small business succeed for less. Now I'm stuck for a closer.

And I'm at a loss on how to create a catchy pitch for my story. Things like It's a cross between Harry Potter and Elvis Presley at a shuttle launching where an alien eats the rocket fuel.

HUH?

I've broken down and ordered a book - Making the Perfect Pitch by Katherine Sands. It's been recommended to my by several authors so I figured I'd get myself one. Maybe then I'll understand how to make a perfect pitch for my manuscript - and at the same time, create one for my business!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Critique Groups

I've been working with five other ladies for what seems like forever. We're friends. We're family. We're sisters. I would do anything for any one of them. Even accept their suggestions on my wonderfully terrific chapter submission that has absolutely nothing wrong with it. (Yeah, like I've ever survived a critique session without someone drawing my blood.)

Tonight was our bi-weekly meeting. Tonight was different. The chemistry has been permanently altered and I'm not sure I like it. We all will adjust, eventually. But for the moment, it is difficult to accept that one of my sisters has decided to go on a hiatus for several months...perhaps longer. She questions her ability to write. She questions her authenticity. She questions if she's wasting her time pursuing a dream of creating a wonderful novel for children.

But from my perspective she is one of the funniest, warmest, loving-est people I have ever met. She is a creatively talented writer - an incredible writer. She is a super-charged editor. She's ... what I've always aspired to be.

And now she's gone.

We were sad this evening, trying to focus on our critiques yet our thoughts were flooded with missing our friend. And for the moment our chemistry has been altered to taste bitter. It will eventually sweeten over time as someone new fills her spot. But that someone will never fill her shoes.

We love you and miss you, Bernie. Come home soon,

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Back to Normal

It's Sunday afternoon and the boys are back in town. Yahoo. Music is blasting through the house, everyone is on their computer (except Ed who's de-fatting pork so I can pull it in a little while to make BBQ). It was too quiet with the boys gone.

But we got a great deal at Movie Gallery yesterday. It was so quiet for them as well, they gave us three movies for the price of two. Ed and I had movie night and it was fun. I had been thinking we were going to watch the entire trilogy of Lord of the Rings, but it's been postponed (is this a good thing?).

My youngest, Jim, came home from being one of the camp councilors at a Christan Camp, and when he walked in the door he was elated because 23 students at the camp (6 in his group) dedicated their lives to Christ. He was beaming. That plus he had a wonderful time with all the games and activities.

Ever been to Bald Head Island? That's where Tom went for this past weekend - you need to take a ferry over to the island. Then, once there, the only modes of transportation are walking, bike riding or gold carts. Of course the kids ride the carts.

The house is full of nice noise. I think if I laiddown on my bed, I could sleep very comfortably now that everyone is safely home.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Just a Tiny Taste

Today is July 4th and the house is quiet. Jim is off as a councilor at a youth camp this week. Tom left for the beach last night. Ed is at work. The cats and dogs are napping.

This is the first time the boys won't be home for the 4th. It hit me hard last night and made me realize that being an empty-nester isn't all fun and games. Like all the food we bought for a forth of July BBQ - when there's only two of us. All the research into train tickets to head up north - only the boys are gone and can't go on the trip.

This is only the beginning of a lifetime of changes. Whew! I don't think I'm going to like it as much as I thought I would.

Distractions. I need distractions. Way too hot to go horseback riding - or even grooming. Perhaps later in the evening when it cools down a little.

Distractions. I've already worked on my novel at Bonnie's house this morning. That helped a lot. Saw a red-shoulder hawk hanging around her garden. That was way kool!

Distractions. Yikes, I could clean or do laundry but that's like admitting defeat! I just CAN'T do that! It's a day to play and have fun!!!

Yard work? Too hot. Curves? It's closed. TV? Boring. Shop? No money. Read? Sure, if I don't fall asleep.

Gosh, I'm sounding like my eldest son - "Mom, I'm bored. There's nothing to do." Guess it runs in the family. :^))

Oh well, maybe I'll create a flyer for a yard sale my Civitan group is having on the 19th. Creativity. I like it.

What did you do on your July 4th?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Birthday

Today is like every other day. I worked. I wrote. I exercised. Today is my birthday.

Everyone keeps asking me what I want to do on my "special" day. It's difficult to answer as I don't really know what I want to do. However, I do know what I don't want to do.

I don't want to clean the cat box, the fish tank, do laundry or change the sheets.

I don't want to clean off my desk, the kitchen counters or sweep the floor.

I don't want to argue, criticize, make anyone sad, gossip or speak badly about anyone.

I don't want to be separated from my family cause I absolutely LOVE having them around.

So what do I want to do on my "special" day?

Hug, laugh, share, comfort, feel contented, peaceful, and loved.

Yeah, that's it. What more is there?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

101 Reasons

I've discovered this fabulous blogsite that is slowly detailing 100 reasons to stop writing. It was created "... to mark International Slush pile Bonfire Day, 101 Reasons is proud to reprint the article that started it all. Edgar Harris’ groundbreaking coverage of this previously secret industry event was originally published in RevolutionSF."

Evidently, various contributors publish a new reason and by the time all 101 reasons are written, it is estimated to be September 6, 2016. The most current reason is #17 . Humm, wonder how frequently they add to the list??


Catch this picture of NY editors standing around the slush pile as it burns.

Bonnie's back in town! I'm in good spirits cause tomorrow we're going to WRITE!!! Wooo Hooo!

The end of my dawdling, I hope...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Amazement & Confusion

After rising early to ride my horse with a couple of friends, I took a walk this afternoon and was amazed. Astonished. Totally awed. I actually was feeling a little bit more fit.

I joined Curves last Tuesday to try and remove some of my rolls and, while I worked out four days last week, nothing happened. I began including a walk and thus far have put on 4.25 miles in 6 days. Not bad for just starting out, is it?

Anyway, today while I was walking, there was a change in how I felt. The book I was reading (yes, I read while I walk - it's actually pretty simple to do and helps the time go by more quickly) didn't distract me enough for me not to notice my legs felt good. And I was holding in my stomach, working all those muscles. And I didn't get totally exhausted after a mile.

Wow! I'm amazed!

But now my butt aches because I've been critiquing manuscripts most of the afternoon and I'm tired of sitting. I'd write, but I can't seem to focus on the book. Why is that? Why am I having so much difficulty in using my free time to work on my book? What am I actually avoiding? I"m completely confused as to why this is happening. It's not writers block because I know the details of the story line and what's going to happen next. The story is there. But I'm having difficulty disciplining myself to buckle down. Is this a form of writer's block?????

Saturday, June 21, 2008

1995

Sitting at my desk, the strumming on a guitar floats into my office. A smile spreads across my face as peace swells inside me. How can you ever stay tense when the gentle strands of music fill your soul.

Until you hear the cry, "Mom! The Internet sucks!"

Shattered. Good thing I tried to be creative while everyone was at the store this morning.

A good friend called. We haven't spoken in several months - she lives far away and we haven't even seen each other in years. But she's the kind of person who will always close to me.

Speaking with Rose conjured up many memories of the life our families shared together. The beach, the pool, the parties, laughter, tears, skinned knees and fake nails. You can't forget a relationship like that.

It was during the 'Rose Era' that I began writing. It was during one summer that I sat at my computer after the boys went to bed, and wrote. My husband traveled so I gobbled up the time he was gone to write and write and write. I finished my first book in two weeks. That was back in 1995, a year that changed my life.

HA! I laugh and scoff at it now. But then I was ignorant and didn't know any better. Back then, I was somehow wise enough to attend my first ever writer's conference (SCBWI) and that changed my life. That first conference - completely intimidating, overwhelming, nerve-wracking. Too nervous to speak with anyone, I played sponge and soaked up every nuance I could until I was over-saturated. My newly acquired knowledge oozed into my story. Then I attended another conference. And another. Each time learning more and more, improving my abilities, becoming more professional, creating a better story.

I'm on the fifth reiteration of the same novel I began in 1995 and am still only about two-thirds of the way through this re-write. I've hit a snag - it's difficult to continue. The story is still there, but my motivation is not. Today I created only one-half a page, but that is good. For in the last two weeks I've created nothing.

It feels good to create again. My son says I'm wierd.

Friday, June 20, 2008

What Happened to My Writing?

My day was completely planned. My writing buddy, Bonnie, had appointments and couldn't meet with me again (two weeks in a row!). So I decided to help myself and schedule my day. It began early with the buzzer awakening me to rise and head to the stables to meet a friend of mine. We rode the trails before the heat and flies became overwhelming for both us and our horses. Plus, it allowed me to return home before all the motorcycles began swarming the local drag strip.

Just so you know, there's a "Smoke Out" biker rally this weekend and they anticipate between 7,000-10,000 bikers zooming down our quaint country roads with radios blasting and mufflers booming. My county is a dry county - what this means is there are no alcohol sales within the county lines with only a couple of exceptions. Wal-Mart is one of the exceptions where you can purchase beer and wine. The drag strip people (I'm guessing) sent to all the bikers, directions on how to get to the "nearest" liquor store (Wal-Mart). Now, can you imagine how many bikers will be sober while driving the roads??? Oh, and the county's spending $60,000 on extra police protection patrolling the roads etc. And yet the county won't pay for a new high school???? Don't get me started!

Anyway, back to my day. The ride was wonderful and completely relaxing. While I was sitting in the car all sweaty and dirty, I decided to hit Curves (30-minutes exercise place) and then home to work on my novel. Bonnie would be so proud. But that's not what happened.

A client emailed me changes to a website. Then we talked on the phone, after which I worked on his project until I had created a revised layout for his approval.

It was suddenly 4 pm. The sheets! I forgot to get the sheets laundered. So hustling and hugging the dirty cotton against my chest, I stuffed the washer with the stinky mess and sighed.

OK. There's still time to write.

The boys come home. Tom falls asleep on the sofa and Jim stays long enough to say HI, and to NOT get his clothes out of the dryer as he runs out again to play volleyball.

Ed leaves work early and is home by 5:15, wandering around the house looking for dinner.

Tomorrow? Will I be able to write tomorrow??

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Behind the Eight Ball

My parents and sister returned home today. It left me sad because it will be six months until I see them again. Everyone's schedules are so jumbled and it's difficult to just "pop in" to visit when they're 9.5 hours away. And you know what I just realized? For the first time ever, we forgot to take a family portrait! Turn the car around - we must take care of this!!

I cannot see the top of my desk. The bill pile has fallen over, scattering on top of the return address labels I printed for Jimmy's graduation announcements that were finally mailed the day after graduation. OK, I admit it. It was my fault. Somehow I couldn't remember where I stored all my addresses (they're not on this computer so I thought I had lost them). It finally occurred to me they were on my other computer, the old laptop. By the time I copied them to the new computer and sent them to Jimmy, it was already the day before graduation. So if you receive yours a bit late, DON'T BLAME THE KID! HA HA HA HA

I'm far behind in my online class and in the review of manuscripts for our critique meeting tomorrow night. I'll begin tackling the ms in a few moments but it will take more time to catch up with the class. Then I also need to get back to my novel.

It's funny how company made me fall behind in just about everything! Or perhaps it was the excuse of company?

Ah, well, there are no more excuses. Time to buckle down and get out from behind the eight ball. Don't you just love cliches??

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Beach Trip Blues

Today's Sunday and the house is quiet. 100+ temperatures has drained everybody. The stifling heat was brutal during the graduation ceremonies, and again yesterday as we toured Chapel Hill and NC State campus' in a van blasting a/c. It's hot.

Did you know you can be cold and still sweat?

The family leaves Tuesday morning and it makes me sad. It's so much fun having them in the house that time speeds by. It seems they have just arrived loaded with goodies and then they're gone.

OK, enough of this. I'm just feeling a bit blue because my son is at the beach and I'm not. :^))

I love the beach - sitting in the sand under an umbrella, reading, but mostly listening to the surf which totally relaxes me. Closing my eyes reveals scents in the ocean spray, the cries of the gulls, the far-off laughter and screams of children.


I don't think we're taking a vacation this year. Everyone is working and schedules are becoming very complicated. We might be able to squeeze a long weekend rafting trip on summer low rivers. Not the excitement of fall dam releases where water slushes high and fast. Our trip will be more like coasting on a lazy river in an inner tube, laughing while sluggish waters carry you in the warm summer sun. Then home to the campsite with smokey fires cooking burgers and beans. I can hear it already -- there's no wi-fi connection up here -- we don't have cell phone coverage -- there's nothing to do -- isn't there a TV around somewhere? -- can we take the car to go .... anywhere?? Perhaps I exaggerate how a 20 year old and an 18 year old would react to the trip? HAHAHAHA

I miss the beach and our friends who usually accompany us. So this is a big beach HELLO to everyone. :^))






Saturday, June 7, 2008

Graduation Day

My youngest son graduated high school today. It was a of day mixed emotions - happy, sad, scared, elated, contented... for Jim. For me it was a day of errands, family, preparing camera batteries, and trying not to feel.

It began innocuously enough, eating humongous pastries bought by my parents who are visiting for the occasion. Then snacking throughout the day as Jim packed for his week-long trip to Myrtle beach with his friends. It's the typical Senior Graduation Trip and I dread it.

We iron his National Honor Society sash that he'll wear over his black gown - finish washing his new black gabardine pants and shirt - load charged batteries into cameras and those fans with the water misters.

Jim needed to be at the high school by 6 pm. The temperature was close to 100 in the shade - and our seats were in the sun. The Senior boys had to wear ties and long pants, while the girls wore dresses. A tad unfair in this heat wave.

We arrived around 6:45pm. Sun blazing, pomp and circumstance played by the band members sweltering in the heat, graduates dressed in their black caps and gowns, family and friends hiding under umbrellas to block the sun. I suddenly realize the fans with the water misters were left on the kitchen counter.

Tears fill my eyes on a few occasions during the ceremony. I'm proud of my son and all he's accomplished. I'm sad he's finished living at home. He's excited about his new life and I don't blame him. But I'll miss him.

For Jim, there is much to explore, much to experiment, much to live. May you live a long, healthy and happy life, Jim. I shall miss the boy I used to know. I am pleased to meet the young man before me. And I'm excited to grow with the man you're going to become.








Congratulations, Jim. We love you.










ps. Notice I didn't call you "my baby?"

Friday, May 30, 2008

Class Notes

As you might remember, my critique group decided to take an online class called Dirty Little Secrets taught by Keena Kincaid. I've learned a lot. It's very thought provoking and makes you realize how many dirty little secrets we all have that makes us who we are. Yes, that's a little cliche, but it's true.

At our critique meeting last Wednesday, we actually broke into a character discussion - and it was fun! We were all a bit surprised about it, but I guess it shows that we're thinking about what we're learning. HA. Good for us.

We began the class by studying several pictures then taking one and examining the secrets as told by the description of the person. Their dress, how they hold themselves, expressions, where they are, everything about them can point to a secret.

After we completed this assignment, we moved to our own work-in-progress (wip) and defined the major secret of our protagonist (or antagonist). How did the secret affect how they acted (or didn't), dressed, their mannerisms, and many more questions?

My character, Jack, has a fear of being considered abnormal because he has visions which come true. So, being an outcast for a 12 year old is a major big deal. How does Jack deal with his visions and with his family and friends? Well, for that you'll need to read my book Dragon Tears once it's published. However, I'll need to go back to the beginning (after I've completed this draft) to pull Jack all together.

I love taking these little short online courses, or attending a workshop, or conference. But it also makes me realize how much MORE work I need to do with my story. It's a bit frustrating because I have so many other stories waiting to be told, and I just can't seem to finish this one.

Guess I need to sign off and clean house. My parents and sister are heading into town for Jim's graduation on June 6th. Should be a wonderful time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thank You. Thank All of You.

Yesterday was Memorial Day.

People my age are the children of those who fought in WWII and Korea. Can you imagine your father or uncle, mother or aunt, grandfather or grandmother tossing grenades or firing upon another human being? I can't. But I'm grateful. And I'm terrified my sons might one day need to fight in a war.


My generation fought in the Vietnam War and yet we're the same generation who spit upon the soldiers when they returned home. It wasn't the soldiers' fault they had to go to war. So why did we punish them? Instead, we should have offered hugs and quiet THANK YOUs to these men and women. Just like we should do to those fighting in Iraq and elsewhere.

How have I celebrated Memorial Day?


When I was in my early twenties, I would celebrate the first official weekend of summer with a camping/canoeing trip. Nary a thought about the veterans who were killed fighting for my freedom.

Then I got married and had children. We didn't camp and canoe anymore, but we bar-b-Que'd and went to movies and slept in late.


Now my children are both heading off to college and I pray they will never experience the horrors of war.

Why it's so hard to say THANK YOU to the veterans I know? I want to let them know that what they fight for, what they endured for my freedom is truly meaningful to me. Yet, I feel awkward so I say nothing.

Well, not anymore. I shall try to let every veteran I know understand that I truly appreciate them and what they have had to do for this country, for my family, for my boys.



Thank You.
Thank all of you!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cell Phones

We transferred from Alltel to Verizon today. Our sons have been after us for at least a year to make the transition. It's difficult to do when you're in a comfortable groove even though you have complaints about your service. I mean, who doesn't have complaints about something?

I lost my razor about a month ago. Had to borrow an old LG phone to be able to keep in contact with the family. It's got pictures, and neat ring tones, and just about everything you need in a phone. Except it's like 3 years old! Archaic! Efficient but old.

My husband, Ed, had been the proud recipient of phone hand-me-downs from our children for years. I can't remember the last time he actually held a new phone in his hands. The kids always get the fun stuff and us old "fogies" get their leftovers.

Not today.

Due to Tom, who's been the major instigator in wanting us to transfer our cell phones from Alltel to Verizon, who grabbed an old phone bill and headed off to the nearest Verizon store. It didn't help that he had just dropped his red razor on the sidewalk and it smashed the corner of the phone to partially tear the wire strip connecting the display to the main circuitry. Then, when he tried to use duck tape (courtesy of his dad) to try and tape the phone together, he only succeeded in ripping the wire even further so there ended up being no display.

Plus, it didn't help that Jim's display on his razor began to intermittently stop working for not apparent reason.

So, on Memorial Day weekend, when we're supposed to be off in the wilderness and enjoying the scenery, we're off to Verizon. I bring a book, crocheting, water, and a pillow. I anticipate that the boys (Ed and Tom) will be in the store a long time trying to figure out if Verizon can come close to what we currently pay with the conveniences we currently have. And in particular, to check into those "hidden charges."

I didn't even finish a chapter. The sales woman, Vickie, a young, attractive blond (gee, what a surprise) convinced both lads that they could match our service.

Guess what. They did!

We got four new phones, with unlimited texting, and a whole bunch of minutes - plus the boys have extra stuff that kids need (like email and movies etc.) for the same price we were paying before! How fun is that?

We rushed to Costco to pick up our Memorial Day dinner, and stood in the checkout line - all of us playing with our new phones. The woman in front of us, wearing a blue tooth ear phone, laughed and said she wished she had a camera to get our family in action pressing all our phone buttons. HA. As the people behind us didn't have a clue what was going on.

Jim lost his service on his phone for a couple of hours when we transferred his account over to his new phone. He grumbled and complained, not knowing what was going on. Then when he arrived home we handed him a bag with his new phone with all his contacts.

Happy Birthday, Jim. Hope you enjoy your surprise!

It was a great day. Spent way too much money, but it was still a great day. Everyone smiled.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Prom Nite

My youngest son attended his Sr HS Prom Nite tonite. It was great fun during the preliminaries where parents took tons of pictures, including moi. I've posted them on my facebook for the kids to enjoy.

I can't remember the last time I dressed formally and had a true 'date' with a man. I miss that. The closeness - the uniqueness - the specialty of the evening. I know I can get this at a picnic at Pilot's Mountain, or a private camping trip. But it's been a long time since I've experienced this kind of intimacy. Now I have wrinkled hands, age spots, and flabby arms. But I still smile and am happy. Wonder why?

I won't be able to share this level of closeness again with either of my children. My boys are turning into adults, responsible and self-sufficient. They don't need me any more - at least until they get married and have children of their own. Then, perhaps, they might need me during those first few weeks with a newborn, or later, they might remember that they don't know everything about raising a toddler, and maybe both sets of parents might know a tiny bit.

I'm happy I'm not young. But I'm not happy that I'm so old. Yet I'm happy with my life. This doesn't make sense, but if you think about it, it just might.

I love my life. My family. My everything. :^))

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Giving Up the Challange

I don't feel like working today. My thumb hurts where one of my cats clawed it thinking I was bringing him grass to eat. It's hard to type cause I keep hitting the gouge next to my thumbnail.

Plus the birds are making a racket outside my window which makes me want to head outside and lay in a hammock to read/nap.

And a fruit fly (or something) keeps buzzing around my nose and eyes making me afraid my next inhale will include extra protein.

Lastly, I've decided I need to give up on the writing challenge. I haven't touched my story (or any story) in several days and I can't keep starting the challenge over and over, can I? It's not that I'm unmotivated, which I am, but it's all the other distractions in life. The prom my youngest son is attending this coming Saturday. His graduation from high school in two weeks. The family coming to visit (yeah!!) and all the housecleaning that needs to be done (boo).

Oh, I have to tell you that all insurance companies are alike. Whether they're health or homeowners or property liability. I think they all operate the same way. You remember that a tornado touched down here a couple of weeks ago and my church suffered some roof damage. We finally get the "Statement of Loss" from our insurance adjuster, and on the quote he includes line items that reads: "less 70% depreciation". We're all running around like headless chickens when I decide to phone the insurance company. The representative (a very nice woman) told me not to worry about that line because the insurance company will pay the entire amount.

So why put that line item in there? I'm guessing so the people who DON'T call in will accept the lesser amount. The same thing happened to me when I was undergoing cancer treatment. The health insurance company seemed to spin a wheel to determine what item du jour they wouldn't cover. Unless you called them, you didn't get coverage. How many millions of dollars are bilked out of people like you and me because we're too busy working to call and wait 20 minutes for a representative to pick up and clear up our "misunderstanding?"

Oh oh. I think I stepped on one of my soap boxes. Sorry. But that's just how it is. Some days are warm and fuzzy while other days just suck.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Create-A-Story

How about we create our own story? Here's the beginning. You just add whatever you feel should follow. Together we can create a fun "masterpiece." Or not. LOL
--------------------------
It's sticky warm tonight. The wind finally ceased rocking the tree limps back and forth across the yard. Stillness quiets even the crickets and peepers. Nothing moves. Except me.

The ground sinks beneath my feet, squishing water between my toes. Yet I walk on toward the shadows under the trees. They're calling my name and I cannot resist. Shadows, bleak and stark. Waiting.

I'm breathless with anticipation. I am breathless as fear courses through my veins leaving me tingling. I pause.

They call.

I step forward. Pause. I turn back the way I came, back toward the gloomy shack that I called home. But there's nothing for me there. Not any longer.

Once again I face front and step even closer to them. Giving myself to their ways, I surrender to the dark.
------------------
OK, now who's going to add the next piece of the story??

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dirty Little Secret

I've begun an online course taught by Keena Kincaid. It's only a two week course and I'm really looking forward to it. Tonight's the first night - and many (human) errors (mine) were ironed out. :^))

The course is called "Dirty Little Secret" and we're going to concentrate on how a little secret can completely affect our character's behavior...from how they sit, smile, hold their head, to how they speak and the clothes they wear.

It's going to be exciting - although, sigh, I can already see how it's going to affect my main character in Dragon Tears. NOOOOOO!!! I don't want to do yet ANOTHER full revision!!!!

But Keena's already gotten me thinking about a secret that's affecting my character, Jack. No, not my horse, Jack. My character. Jack in Dragon Tears had his name long before I bought Jack the horse. Is it coincidence? Or something else...... You decide.

I've got to download some pictures for my class and then study them.

If the course gets me thinking like it's already doing, it's well worth the couple of bucks to take it.

I'll keep you posted without giving away how Keena's secrets. All I know is that it should be very fun.

And no, I haven't completed today's writing challenge of spending 15 minutes with my novel. I'm off to dinner instead.

Ciou. And bon appetite!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Horse Facts

I received this email from a horsey friend of mine and thought I would share it with y'all....

1. People who don't take care of their own horses will be the first ones to tell you how to care for yours.

2. You should never buy a cheap girth!

3. A handsome horse that's badly behaved will become a lot less attractive in about 15 minutes

4. People who think they have nothing more to learn about riding hit the ground the hardest.

5. Children and ponies are natural allies and often have identical dispositions.

6. The richest horse people often look the poorest.

7. The closeness of a horse is one of the sweetest smells in the world.

8. A solitary ride through the bush is more beneficial than six months with the best psychiatrist.

9. The worse a person rides the more likely they are going to blame it on the horse.

10. The best thing about going to the barn first thing in the morning is that horses don't care how you look.

11. If a dealer insists a horse is worth twice what he's asking he's usually worth half that much.

12. The best way to appreciate how another person rides is to get on their horse.

13. I can recognize another horse person no matter what town, city, state, county or country I visit.

14. You can never have too many hoof picks.

15. It is not wise to argue with something that outweighs you buy 1,000 pounds.

16. I'd rather have a horse with a perfect mind then a perfect head.

17 Eight hours is too long to be in the saddle!

18 If you think you have left the water on in the barn you have, if you think you have closed the pasture gate you haven't.

19. When someone asks you if you like their horse always say yes :)

20. The happiest people I know own horses, dogs, cats and at least one deranged goat.

21. If you're looking for the perfect horse you will never own one.

22. Owning a horse can either make a marriage or break it.

23. I'd rather lose my lipstick then my curb chain.

24. You shouldn't talk about your first place ribbon to someone that came second.

25. If someone says that horse has a little buck, it has a BIG buck.

26. If we need rain, schedule a horse show or trail ride.

27. I've never warmed up to some that didn't want a walk down to the stables to see the horses.

28. A clean stable and a sparkling horse are among life's great pleasures.

29. Even given-away horses can be too expensive. Especially give- away horses.

30. No matter how badly behaved you are, your horse always gives you a second chance.

31. A more expensive horse doesn't make a better one.

32. Losing a horse can break your heart, but it will have been worth it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday

A day off. Relaxation. Calm. That slight tingle twitching in my muscles as I sit perfectly still, listening to the wind chimes. The sun beating on my shoulders.

Trail rode this morning. Didn't even shower (cause you get filthy on the trail). Grabbed a cheese sandwich and a bottle of water and headed to the stables.

It was a lazy day for Jack (the horse) also. As we walked in from the paddock to the barn, he stopped to check out a bicyclist on the road. Then again 'cause the wind blew. Then again to see if any horsey-friend was going to run to the fence to say "hey." Then again ... just because it's Jack.

Ran into a buddy of mine and we road together. The horses walked - so slowly they were almost stopped. Relaxed and half-asleep on their feet, each of them tripped over their own feet. Several times.

The landowners had mowed trails in the hay fields which made it interesting. I never knew where they would lead on their 120 acre farm. Some of the land is wooded although most of it is open hayfields. All of it is hilly and great exercise for both Jack and me.

Flies are buzzing, flitting on necks, around eyes, anywhere annoying. Head flips and tail swishes chase them off. But they only return again.

The slight breeze, the warm sun, the gentle rocking and swaying on the horse lulled both my thoughts and body into one-ness with everything - the rippling grasses, the crows chasing a kestrel hawk, the butterflies sipping nectar from the wildflowers.

Trail riding grounds me. It's real. No pretenses. No expectations. Just the horse, me, and the trails. What a wonderful life!
Yawn. I think it's time for a nap.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Challenge - Day 4

Yes, I know today's Friday and it really should be Day 5, but I didn't have a chance to write yesterday. That all changed today. Wow! Great Muses struck at Bonnie's house this morning. Jack and the gang wanted me to crank out their story and I sure did. What also helped me keep writing was ordering a sandwich that wonderful Frank picked up for me. And even though I hit a break point, Frank hadn't returned with lunch so both Bonnie and I kept plugging. What a GREAT morning! A morning that lasted until 2:30 pm. HA HA

Then the reality of paying work settled upon me and I put in a couple of hours. But it's almost 6 on a Friday night. Jimmy has two friends over - they're playing guitars, singing, and giggling. It's wonderful noise that fills me with peace. This is what I miss when the boys are away. This is what's going to be so hard to stand next year.


But they're growing up. And I'm growing rounder. I'm trying a new form of exercise - reading while I walk. I've discovered that my peripheral vision can keep me on the edge of the road without distracting me from my book. Great way to accomplish something I love (reading) with something I need (walking). My foot hurts from the surgery, so maybe I pushed a little too hard, but hey, I gotta get back into my pants!

The pictures are from my front yard. I love spring and all the colors it brings. :^))

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Challenge - Day 3

It's Day 3 - and I didn't get a chance to write anything. Business is booming (hooray!) and there's not sufficient time to write. Actually, there's insufficient time to finish all the projects for my clients. Where is all the time going??

Its 11:21 pm and I've just returned home from our bi-weekly Piedmont Plotters meeting (our critique group). Trying to settle down after an hour & half ride, I'm too keyed up to sleep but too tired to write. I've reviewed everyone's comments about my latest chapter, and while there's some clean up to do, it wasn't that bad a critique.

Good news, Bonnie and I will have our Friday Writing session. I'm tickled about that.

Betsy? Where's your next chapter? I'm waiting girlfriend.

How's everyone else doing with the writing challenge???

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Challenge Status

OK, it's day 3 or is it 2 of the writing challenge? I'm not sure as it's approaching the transition of night to morning. I critiqued manuscripts today - not my own, so does this count as part of the challenge? Unfortunately, I think not.

I've failed to maintain the conviction of my own challenge to spend a measly 15 minutes a day to create. Sigh.

My latest 15 minute-venture into my book left me swooning with amazement as a new chapter / idea formed on it's own accord. It left me breathless. I need some time off to reconsider and reflect upon what's happened in the fifth re-write of my book. I do know it needs to be strengthened, intensified, hardened. Does this make any sense? My protagonist took me over and created a new scene which needs to ferment a few days until I can actually mold it into a more final form. This is my excuse. I edit others' work instead.

Work is piling up. That's a good thing. It'll keep me busy for most of my free time for the foreseeable future and that is also a 'bad' thing. No time for Jack. Little time for creating. I guess I'll need to schedule carefully all the tasks I must attend to so that all will get done.

Ah that the mighty dollar (needed for 2 college tuitions) intrudes upon my creative solitude.

HA. And such is life.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I'm a Happy Mother!

Today began differently than any other Mother's Day. It's been 19 years I've been a Mother.

Today I did not get my usual breakfast in bed. They boys slept hard, all wrapped in their sheets. My husband was kind enough to let me sleep late when he couldn't arouse the boys. Yeah for hubby! :^))

Then I couldn't sleep anymore. My back crunched and grinded whenever I moved. Time to get up. After a quick shower, I checked on the boys who were still out cold. Teenagers. 10:30 am is way to early for them to consider placing their feet on the floor.

Ed (hubby) has made me coffee. :^))

I searched for news articles to send to http://www.breastcancer.org/, a website I'm proud to be a member of. (oops, dangling participle).

It's now 11:30 am. Still no movement from the boys.

At noon Tom stumbled into my office. "Happy Mother's Day." He hugs (feels wonderful) then said "How come you didn't wake me for church?"

I laugh.

It's time to jump onto Jimmy's bed and yell "Happy Mother's Day!" He grabs me for a hug (feels terrific).

I return to my office and continue my web-surfing for more news articles.

The hall closet opens then shuts as they dig out wrapping paper (I can hear everything that's going on.) Then the heavy footed trot down the stairs. Finally Ed appears and requests my presence in the family room.

It's time. I smile, wondering what they have in store for me.

After settling comfortably between my two little boys (who are now both taller and smarter than I), they hand me a box.

Humm, not the typical gift of flowers, or candles, or books. I gently shake it. No noise. I slowly peel the tape from the edges of the wrapping paper, drawing this out as slowly as possible, like my grandpa Banta used to do. Finally, unfolding one layer at a time, the box is revealed.

A digital photo frame. I plugged it in. Turned it on. It was loaded with images of my boys and covered their activities over the past year! Some were fantastic images, some made me laugh, and one or two made me cringe. But I saw parts of their lives I never knew about.

What a thoughtful gift. I'm glad today's Mother's Day is different than the others. My boys are growing up and becoming wonderful young men.

I am so very lucky. I am so very proud.

I love you boys.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Challenge - Day 2 (Tornado Pics)

DAY 1 (yes, I started over):
Well, I didn't quite make 15 minutes writing today. Fortunately, I was prompted by my fellow writers to work on a chapter of my novel just so I could submit it for their review. Our critique group meets every other week just to keep us (me) on our toes and cranking out at least one chapter. It works unusually well. So I did a little editing on chapter 16 of Dragon Tears (children's middle grade fiction), then popped it off on a trip through cyberspace in an email. Now I really need to get working because I'm only partially finished with chapter 17 and I'll need to charge ahead with both creative and editorial juices surging through my veins. HA.

BONNIE! No more Friday morning doctor's appointments - I need you to help with my lack of self-discipline! Are we on for writing next week???

OK, back to the tornado. The power returned around 9 pm last evening, way ahead of schedule. You should have seen the Duke Energy people work. There were at least 10 heavy duty trucks working on the six power lines that had been ripped apart by trees and winds. And while the traffic became a tad snarled as they hauled the lines across the highway and hoisted them to the top of the power poles, it was tolerable.

They opened up Underpass, where a house was destroyed. I haven't been back to snap a picture of it yet as time hasn't permitted. When I played voyeur on Friday morning and had pulled over to the side of the road to take what pictures I could, a county sheriff (young AND cute) pulled along side and asked "What are you doing here?" "Taking pictures." Then I smiled remembering I'm an old chubby lady in glasses. "Best move on then." He waiting until I pulled away before he moved.
Dang.
I'm acting pretty glib about this because no one was really hurt. Only material things were damaged. (And none of mine were.)
Can you see the stairs that lead nowhere?