Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

This video made me smile so I thought I'd share it with you here. It (sort of) has something for everyone. I hope everyone's holidays are happy and healthy!!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

We Haven't Heard Enough About Tiger Woods lately, so Here's My Two Cents'


I'm getting old. Or maybe I just don't like the way the world's changing. Or maybe I'm just sick and tired. It's probably d.) all of the above. I haven't blogged in a while for a number of reasons, most of which have been health-related, but also because I just haven't had much to say, and because I've been trying to drown out the white noise of life and concentrate on actual writing (stop snickering Dan and Diane...I'll have something new off to you soon). But the recent news of Tiger Woods and his "transgressions" have spurred my fingers into action.
I just wrote three paragraphs and deleted everything. Writing is rewriting.
You know what this debacle comes down to for me? Women respecting other women. We need to take of each other, ladies. We need to consider how our actions will affect the other woman/women invovled. I believe many attached men (not all, but many, and none who read my blog) will have sex with another woman should the opportunity present itself, and it's up to us women to not hurt other women. Before a woman gets together with a man who's attached to someone else she needs to stop and think: this may hurt another woman, a sister of mine. I watched one of Tiger's "girlfriends" on TV. She said he pursued her. So what? That makes it ok? That makes it right? That absolves her from any wrongdoing? Then I saw a sound byte from the "porn star": "Yeah, I saw a picture of his wife. I do look like her. I guess he likes blondes." Oy vey.
My parents told me something when I was growing up and beginning to date. It's good advice, and has stuck with me through the years. It is something I plan to say to my own daughters and it's this: the female sets the standard. I still believe this. If I say it's ok for a boy to do certain things when I'm in the back seat of his car, he'll go as far as he can (come on, guys, you know it's true). Women have the power to say yes or no (in normal circumstances). If all these women had said no to Tiger he wouldn't be where he is today. Who knows? Maybe there are some upstanding women out there who did say no to Tiger. I wish they'd come forward and reinforce my belief in humanity.

Monday, November 16, 2009

An Upate from the Office-in-Progress

Some of you may recall that my husband is building bookshelves in our office. He's hard at work on the other side of the room--this time going so far as to install a gas fireplace. He framed it in this weekend and here's what it looks like so far! The funny thing about the fireplace is that it works too well. I'm going to have to switch out those French doors for oven doors. Seriously, I may have to open the windows when I run the fireplace and let in some icy Cleveland winter to offset the heat. The fireplace  might end up just being a show piece. I don't want to admit that to my husband! Needless to say, I haven't been getting much writing done in here. I have to go elsewhere--my bedroom, the kitchen--which I think is a good thing. Changing up my surroundings often helps move my writing along.

I'm also throwing in another picture. This is of a bargain I found on....Craigslist! An 1895 Knabe piano for which I paid a mere $100. It needs work--lots of tuning help and some restoration. But for someone who loves antiques, and whose daughter begged for piano lessons (but is now considering throwing in the towel as she's realized the amount of practice one needs to become "good") this was quite a find. It fits perfectly in our home. See, you can find good deals on Craigslist, and not all of them involove sexual solicitation!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oh, How I Long for a Yes!

Rejection.
It's been the bane of my existence these past couple of months. I'm sure many of you can say the same thing. We're all in this together, right? I've been submitting this story I believe has some merit, is worth readers' valuable time. But alas, I've no takers. Yet.
Usually rejections get me down. I hate to say that out loud, but I can't help it. I'm working on that chink in my so-called armor. My skin is getting thicker, I swear, and I owe my understanding of the issue to some of the writer's journals to which I subscribe. Fortunately, The Writer arrived in my mailbox a few days ago, and within its pages I discovered two helpful pieces that address this age-old writing impediment.
The first, a short essay from Joseph Sestito, encourages the Buddhist approach to rejection. See it not as a negative, but as something positive. He also suggests I "take one on the chin" for all mankind. I will suffer rejection so others don't have to. Ok. I'm a fairly altruistic individual. I can do that.
I found the second piece of encouragement on p.25 in an article by the late Donald M. Murray, first published in 1992. He discusses the 10 habits of successful writers and his last habit--the habit of completion--struck a chord. "A piece of writing is not finished until it is submitted for publication as many times as is necessary for it to appear in print." I like this. I believe him. At least, I want to. Keep on keepin' on. Don't give up. Don't accept "no."
I also found this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyJsYZHUrmg on You Tube offered by a writer from PA named Jackie. I appreciate her take on rejection as well.
I'm really trying to change/improve my way of thinking when it comes to rejection. And here's how I see things now: at least I'm being rejected. Seeing those business-size envelopes addressed to me in my own handwriting when I open my mailbox means I'm doing. I'm writing. I'm creating. I'm trying. What's your take?

Friday, October 30, 2009

I just learned about this...has anyone else heard about it??


I found this link/story www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1897924,00.html over on Barbara DeMarco-Barrett's site a few days ago and thought I'd share the link here. I had no idea. Isn't it interesting how quietly the apology was made when the original lambasting was heard 'round the world?? Perhaps Ms. Winfrey mentioned her apology to her show's audience. I wouldn't know because I'm no longer a loyal follower. I used to be, until this ugliness occurred.
I wish she'd made this apology as loudly as she'd made her original objections known. She might have won me back.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Things I Like

In following some other folks in the blogosphere, and because I'd like to have two blog posts in one week instead of two in a month (as recent activity suggests) I am going to post a list of things I like. I appreciate lists such as this one. It offers insight into the inner workings of my mind for anyone who might care. Ok, the only person who's going to care is my mother, who says she's learned so much more about me since I started blogging. Hmm. The rest of you are welcome to read along and post your own list of likes on your blogs. I will come read them, I promise! Also, a caveat: I am not listing anything related to my children and husband, because as their biggest fan I could go on and on and make everyone sick. Here goes:
1. The 2009 National League Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies
2. down-filled comforters
3. email
4. autumn
5. the beach/ocean (Atlantic, especially)
6. ice cream (most any kind, but esp. Haagen Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond)
7. NYC
8. dogs
9. sharpened pencils (black Ticonderogas)
10. early American antiques
11. '80's music (no hair bands!)
12. yoga
13. golf
14. satellite radio
15. telescopes
16. Fleetwood Mac
17. Stevie Nicks
18. Advair
19. traveling
20. Adirondack chairs
21. Cosmos
22. Smartfood popcorn
23. the Denver Broncos
24. San Francisco
25. French impressionism
26. Red Rocks ampitheatre
27. Mexican food
28. scrapbooking
29. Mad Men
30. the Cleveland Cavs
31. sleeping in
32. thunderstorms
33. fire pits
34. hammocks
35. Harrison Fisher prints (artist from early 1900's)
36. non-pareils
37. Jean Paul Gaultier perfume bottles (and the perfume itself)
38. Ghostbusters
39. Starbucks
40. sound of the garage door going up (means my husband is home! Ok, I let this one slip in)
41. some reality TV (Amazing Race, Project Runway)
42. NY style pizza
43. heated car seats
44. my faith (Episcopalian)
45. reminiscing

Monday, October 19, 2009

Spanking is a Good Thing...

But only when it's the Phillies doing the spanking and the Dodgers, (or whichever opponent is unlucky enough to face them) getting punished! What a fabulous time I had last night watching the Phils trounce the Dodgers (Boo! Hiss!). Please God, let the Phillies show up to play again tonight. Go Phillies!!!!

Haven't posted in a while because I've been caring for sick kids, helping in my daughter's classroom and getting ready for the Scholastic book fair, and getting away for the weekend to Niagara Falls, ON with my family. Here are some pictures from our trip:



We had a great time even though our youngest wasn't feeling 100%.
Our dog, Divot, really missed us while we were gone. Here he is letting us have it for leaving him alone all weekend  welcoming us home--loudly!

The fall colors are gorgeous here in northeast Ohio. It's a great place to be at the moment. Just don't talk to me in two months.  ;o)

Receiving rejections every day on the short I've been sending out all year. Might be time to throw in the towel and move on. Continue to struggle with writing motivation. When I don't get any words down I feel it's a day wasted, and who wants to do that? Wasting time like that feels irresponsible to me. All right. Enough moaning. I'll be here at my desk, writing, for the rest of the afternoon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's on Your Bedside Table?

Here's a snapshot of what I'm currently reading. Notice where The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is....way at the bottom. And notice the bookmark--in the middle somewhere. I've been trying to get through this one for the better part of a month. Someone enlighten me here, please! I've already given this book way too much of my valuable time, but a friend me some words of encouragement. "Once you hit the middle, it really takes off." Wow. I have to wait more than 250 pages for the book to take off. You know this irks me because I'm pretty sure the agents I'm querying wouldn't be as patient with me, waiting for MY story to "take off" at page 250. And yes, that is Kathy Griffin's memoir, Official Book Club Selection. I can't help it. I love KG and I'm speeding through this fun read. No waiting around for 200+ pages for her story to take flight. It takes off like a shot, but I'm a fan and I need a light read every now and then. I picked up Time of My Life thanks to another blogger's suggestion. I'm only 20 pages in, but liking it so far. I have to say though, I've already seen this movie twice--once as The Family Man, with Nicholas Cage, and the other, 13 Going on 30, just reversed. I haven't started Home yet, but look forward to reading it as Marilynne Robinson is a wonderful writer. And this isn't unusual, me having three or four books piled high on my nightstand. What about you? Only one book at a time, or several? And what's on your bedside table?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So Long, Summer

Fall is creeping into northeast Ohio. I love fall. It's my favorite season and one that flies by too quickly, I think. Before I know it we'll be hip deep in snow and scraping ice from our windshields. So...I thought I'd share our lovely flower border that we enjoyed all summer. These flowers lined the entire walkway across our house, and caused some people to almost have accidents, so mesmerized were they by the sea of pink and white. (People told me this--I didn't actually see any near fender-benders, or hear any screeching brakes).

Also, for anyone who's interested, my handy husband is hard at work on the other side of my office. He's framed in the fireplace and the guy came last week to run the gas line. Here's what it looks like so far. I'm eager for him to complete the work, but I'm a little concerned about how warm the room will be once I turn on the fireplace. I may have to open a window in the dead of winter--and remember, I live just outside of Cleveland!

As for writing, I'm busy sending out a short story that, thanks to my writer's group, is getting a second chance. Seems I didn't have enough faith and give it a real shot during the first round of submissions. It's going everywhere. I hope it finds a home!!
Also went to see Julie & Julia--with my husband, this time--and really enjoyed the movie. The first time I tried to see it I was too stressed out, worrying about what was coming around the bend to assault my daughters' eyes and ears. The movie is definitely light fare, but what cracked us up was when Julie receives 65 phone messages--all from agents and publishers--wanting to talk to her about her blog and possible book deal. I found it funny that my husband laughed so hard at that one. I turned to him and said, "Yeah...we're livin' that dream aren't we, honey?"

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Just a Couple of Suggestions

A short post today, but want to share two things--one a book, the other a blog--I now count as a few of my favorite things in life.
First, the book. I just finished reading Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize winning book, Olive Kitteridge. Loved it. Olive is the main character of the novel but sometimes only appears as someone passing through a room in this set of linked stories. I also appreciate the format--a whole book of linked stories about the people in Crosby, Maine. I highly recommend this read and we writers can definitely learn from Ms. Strout's storytelling ability. Her book, Amy and Isabelle, is another favorite of mine from a few years back.
Second, the blog. I just happened upon this one that focuses on rejection--sharing of rejection letters, etc.--handled with (what I think is) a great sense of humor. Laughing along with other writers as we experience opening the dreaded SASE we mailed out with our ms just makes me feel better. Go check it out at: http://www.literaryrejectionsondisplay.blogspot.com/ and have a great Labor Day!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Admit it, I Screwed Up

Sorry I haven't been around much these past few weeks. We've been busy gearing up for school. So now that my girlies are back in the classroom, I should have more time to devote to blogging--to my own as well as trolling others' blogs. I'm also excited to have more time to write. I'm working on another short story, as well as preparing to rewrite my novel (4th go-round) and possibly rework its beginning. Now on to "real life" stuff.
No one out in the blogosphere really knows me, so I have to tell you up front: I'm usually one of the strictest, most likely to say "no" moms around. So why I decided to take both of my daughters (ages 11 and 8) to see Julie & Julia last night is beyond me. Brain cramp? Invasion of the body snatchers?? Temporary loss of consciousness??? I read the reviews prior to going, and the movie web site I checked said the PG-13 rating was due to, "One F-word, some strong and brief crude language, sexual references and non-explicit situations." In the past, before we've allowed them to see a PG-13 movie, (there have been 2 others) they get the "big speech" which goes something like this: "Remember, we don't use this language at home, the filmmakers use these words for emphasis, this isn't the real world..." you get the idea.
When we first sat down, I looked around and noticed my girls were the only two kids in the entire place. That was the first knot I felt form in my stomach. Then the movie started and the older couple sitting behind us said, (loudly) "Kids should not be here." Second knot. I felt okay for the first 45 minutes. There were moments the couples in the movie were shown kissing in bed (I shielded my 8-year old's eyes) and some language that made me cringe, but I know much of this went over their heads. But at the one-hour mark I couldn't take it anymore. Nothing in the movie was too over the top or gratuitous. It just didn't feel right sitting there with my two young girls. I could hardly enjoy the movie I was so caught up in my own angst. And who really knows what's sinking in and what isn't? I think things fly over their heads, but how can I be sure? I don't know what I was thinking. that the movie would focus mostly on the cooking?? Anyway...we left. I hope the older couple who sat behind us approved of that decision. ;o) Now, if I could just find that nomination form...the one for Mother of the Year...
On a happier note...to counteract that poor decision, I was rewarded this past week with my daughter announcing her decision to abandon the Twilight series. I posted a few months ago about finally allowing her to read Twilight (all of her friends had read the entire series at the beginning of 5th grade--a point in time I'd said, emphatically, NO! to my daughter's request to read it). She just finished the third book in the series, Eclipse, and came to me and said she'd had enough--enough of the teen romance/girl giving up her life for the guy nonsense. She likes the fantasy/vampire thing but was turned off by the romance between Edward and Bella. She'd heard from friends that the characters consummate their relationship in Book 4 and she said, "I'm afraid to read that. I think I'm done." She handed me Breaking Dawn and told me to "put it away somewhere." Thank you, God!! I think a lot of the themes in the books are too heavy for many of these young girls. I'm glad "dawn broke" for my daughter. Thankfully good sense prevailed and my daughter realized her limitations.
I guess I haven't totally screwed up...yet.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back to Reality...




These pictures are from our vacation. We spent last week with my family on an island off the coast of South Carolina. The top picture is an approaching storm. Even though we had some rain we still had a great time. My husband and I lamented leaving our small paradise. We're trying to conjure up ways of affording a home on this island. I said I'd have to sell some books and even have them made into movies to reach this goal. Is that so much to ask??
So now it's back to reality....getting the girls ready to head back to school...diving into the fourth rewrite of my book. I bet many of you are doing the same, right? (Please say yes, please say yes!)
Anyone want to guess the name of this island?? Sorry family and friends, you're excluded from this one. ;o)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Open Up...

I've struggled with ideas for my blog lately when it dawned on me to write something about new blood, fresh eyes and being open to new people. After all, the idea was right in front of my face. I was in the middle of reading a story by someone new to my writer's group.
My writing group is a tight-knit group of three. We began as a large and loose group that met monthly at our local library. Then four of us split off and met biweekly for a year until one woman moved away and left the three of us: another woman, one brave man and I.
It occurred to us a few months ago that we might need some new blood in the group. We'd all read and worked on each others' WIP's, and while we felt we'd made headway on these projects, we believed fresh eyes and opinions could be helpful. Change is good, right? I believe it is even though I find it challenging and frightening at times. Two people approached the other woman in the group and expressed interest in joining us. I knew we needed more members, but still felt squeamish at allowing them in--and one, a woman--has some pretty impressive credentials. Who was I to balk at her joining??
I couldn't help it. I expressed my reluctance to my group who, (I believe) understood my angst. I still hate sharing my work with others--an issue with which I continually wrestle.
Well...long story short...I'm glad these folks have joined us, and I've grown more comfortable with the idea of change and being open to others in general. It's always good to have fresh eyes read your work. This new woman discovered a split infinitive at the very beginning of my novel that we've read countless times. How did we miss that glaring offense??
So now I'm wondering...how many of you out there have had similar experiences? Do you welcome or rebel against change? And your take on writing groups? We either love 'em or hate 'em. Mine has become invaluable to my writing process. People are drawn together in this world for a reason. We're here to learn from one another. I feel that way about my family and friends, and definitely my writer's group. Even the newer members, from whom I've already learned. I'm glad I put my petty issues aside and opened myself up to the possibility of new relationships and new experiences. Hopefully, my writing will be better for it.
Oh, and before I sign off, Happy Birthday to my baby who turned 11 at exactly 2:53 p.m. this afternoon. While I'm thankful she's happy and healthy, I'm crying with each growth spurt and development toward adulthood. Sob, sob, boo, hoo. Don't all you mothers feel sorry for me?? ;o)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head

video

The song by B.J. Thomas was one of my favorites as a child. I even had a music box that played the tune. It's what ran through my head when I first saw this amazing video. Many of you have probably seen it, but for those who haven't it's worth a look and listen. Thanks, Mom, for sending it our way. I wish I was as creative as the person who conceptualized this idea. I have no idea who this group is, or where they come from, but I love this creation. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Want You Back

I realize I'm a bit late to this gathering, but still feel the need to comment on the sudden and devastating loss of Michael Jackson, one of the world's most talented, most creative, most prolific artists. His presence in our lives was a blessing.
I was traveling all day last Thursday. A news hound at heart, I felt a little displaced not being able to check in on CNN or MSNBC as often as I normally do to track the days' events. Imagine my shock when my sister-in-law's husband said late that night, "How 'bout my boy, Michael?"
To say I was stunned upon hearing of his death is beyond putting it mildly. I refused to believe what I'd heard. Since I was born in 1967, Michael Jackson and his family have been a constant presence in my life. I loved the cartoon of The Jackson Five and like so many others I, too, watched that Motown special 26years ago. I was 16 years old and I remember sitting on the family room floor, mesmerized as Michael moonwalked and gyrated all over that stage. Billie Jean is probably my most favorite of his songs. And while I never saw him live, and I didn't purchase every one of his albums, I still considered myself a fan. I did appreciate his talent and his music, which dominates the soundtrack of my teenage years. Unfortunately, as it so often happens, I took for granted his existence on this earth. He was always out there somewhere, to reappear occasionally on TV or pop up on newsstands. At least I knew he was out there creating, trying to make this world a more enjoyable place.
I realize everyone has their opinion about Michael and the accusations made of him with the children at Neverland Ranch. I will keep mine to myself; but I do believe, deep down, that Michael Jackson was a kind, caring person who longed for the childhood he never had; who worked to make others' lives happy; who was a loving son, brother, uncle and father; a compassionate soul who was probably too tender for the harsh environment of this world. I think many creative people are sensitive in ways that make survival on earth impossible. Many of these folks take their own lives. Many of them descend into drugs and alcohol in order to sooth psychological cuts and scrapes inflicted by society. I think Michael fell into the latter of these categories. He'd been too caring, too sensitive and he got hurt. He sought relief and, apparently, found it in bottles of painkillers. I am saddened to think he took pills to kill pain he endured.
And while I hope he's at peace somewhere, I'm still self-centered and greedy. I wasn't done hearing what he had to say. I wasn't done watching him moonwalk across the stages of the world.
I want him back.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Okay, So I've Taken Some Deep Breaths...

I put my girls on a plane last Wednesday for the first time ever without me or my husband (ok, so they were with their aunt, my sister-in-law) and watched them fly off to New Mexico. This was extremely difficult for me. At first, when my sister-in-law offered for the girls to come visit I felt excited. Wow...time to myself...to do whatever I want! But as the moment neared for us to actually kiss them goodbye, well, I had some serious second thoughts.
These past several days have been strange. I really miss my girls and although I'm happy to get their phone calls every night and hear them squealing with happiness on the other end, I sort of wish they were missing me a little more than they seem to be!! :o(
On the other hand...I've had a lot of time alone and I'm happy to report I've gotten some good work done on my novel. Thanks to those who've offered advice in my last post. It helps knowing there are so many of you out there who understand and feel my pain! I've done some substantial revising and I think, made some significant progress.
I'm holding off on the book doctor option for now because my writing group is considering inviting a new writer into our midst--someone with some impressive credentials and editing experience. If she joins us I'll share with her some of my book and go from there. So at least I'm back to writing and making headway. I leave on Thursday to bring my girlies back home and then we jump right back into the fire of their activities/camps, etc. And who knows when I'll have this kind of time again.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This Won't Hurt a Bit

I'm stalled on the third revision of my current WIP. I've received tons of help from the supportive but battle-worn souls in my writer's group and I feel I'm running out of steam. I'm getting to the point where I feel my story is uninteresting and all-too familiar. Yes, I'm peering over the edge, towel in hand.

So I checked into the Gotham Writer's Workshop and after perusing the selection of online courses decided the mentorship program sounded pretty good. Then I spoke to someone there who strongly encouraged the services of one of their book doctors. Now I'm in a quandry. I've heard some negative slants on book doctors over the years. It feels strange to me to have to pay someone to help me w/my book. But this person is professional, with writing and teaching experience; of course they should be well-compensated for their time and energy. But I'm still unsure. Anyone out there with book doctor experience??

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Twilight

I've finally caved and I'm allowing my almost 11-year old daughter read the book, Twilight. Most of her friends read this book earlier this school year--at the beginning of fifth grade. At the time, I felt the subject matter--some of which touches on teen love/lust/relationships was too mature for my daughter. But because she's worked so hard this year, has gotten exceptional grades, etc., and because she's matured a little, I felt giving her the book was just reward. She's thrilled and is devouring the book. I'm reading along with her and my jury is still out on the writing thus far. If I don't like it I probably won't say anything here (If you don't have anything nice to say....). I wouldn't want to come off as another jilted, unpublished writer throwing sour grapes at someone who has achieved success. I wish Stephanie Meyer more succes, actually. Good for her!
So with the Twilight book in the house I thought about my own "twilight" experience. I awakened this morning and just before I became fully awake, when I was in what I call my "twilight" sleep, several new ideas popped into my head for some characters in my book. I feel refreshed and energized--ready to work hard and forge ahead on my book.

This "twilight" sleep has always been helpful to me and my writing. I often get (what I feel are) my best ideas during these first few, hazy moments of the new day. The entire premise for this current WIP came during twilight sleep. I used to dismiss this time and the thoughts that arose during it. Now I find I become more conscious of my thoughts/feelings/ideas and I try, best as I can, to let go and let my mind wander. It's a wonderful experience and one I've learned to embrace as a writer.

What about you other writers out there--do you experience anything like my "twilight sleep"? And if so, what's it like for you?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blue Skies Smiling at Me

This is the kind of day I imagine inspired these lyrics when Irving Berlin wrote them way back in the 1920's. I'm posting some pics here to prove that yes, there are some days here in northeast Ohio when there's nary a cloud in the sky and the treetops meld into the blue background to look like paintings I (we all) made as a child. It was such a spectacular day here I just had to go out with my friend and hit the links. So when friends and family wonder why my book rewrite has stalled and I seem to be lured away from my computer, here are some reasons.

This picture on the right is my family's favorite spot in the summer. And here are some more pics taken from this favorite spot:





Any other writers out there struggling with writing while spring awakens and school draws to an end??? What do you all do to stay on track?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Time I'm Showing and Telling




This first picture is of the crabapple tree right outside our living room window. We love that it fills the window and almost looks like a picture when you're sitting in our living room, but I have to confess and tell you that our dog sits on the couch to stare out that particular window, and is the one who sees it the most. Oh well. The second picture is of the completed bookshelves (my husband's job is half way done!). Since I've put "work in progress" pictures on the blog, he asked that I put one up of the finished product. Please excuse the mess in front! I'm still moving things around.
This week I came across two articles about writing that resonated with me. One is from the June '09 edition of The Writer. The article begins on p.15 and was written by Richard Goodman. It's entitled, "No book yet? Don't lose heart." In it he speaks to those of us who've yet to have their books published, and I found the article inspirational and encouraging. I'm doing most of the things Mr. Goodman did before he made his way in the publishing world, so perhaps I'm on the right path. One place our journeys differ, however, is where he says he always considered himself a writer--even though he'd never had anything published. For some reason, I still grapple with that label. I wish I could embrace it as he did. I'm trying hard to learn that lesson and accept the description, "writer." Guess he had more self-confidence than I.
The second article was on the last page of this Sunday's New York Times Book Review in the Essay section. It was written by Lori Gottlieb and she speaks to writers and the issue of writing about family. She cites several examples of writer's mothers and how they handled being mentioned or even demonized in their children's writing. This is definitely an issue for me, although I have no burning desire to write about my family or mother, per se, much less demonize them. I have to admit, though, my parents are always in the back of my mind when I write--even this blog, which my mother does happen by every once in a while. Fortunately, she hasn't figured out how to leave a comment. ;o) Guess I'll have to continue evading her request for help teach her how to do it. I wish I could block them from my mind when I write, but this is a challenge for me. Ann Lamott says, "Write as though your parents are dead." Good advice, but difficult for me to follow. Maybe it's because I'm the oldest child and still want their approval. Who knows? I just appreciated Ms. Gottlieb's article and found comfort in the fact I am not alone when it comes to this issue. I also liked reading how some of those mothers handled seeing all or pieces of themselves in publication. Some handled it better than others, for sure. I'm not sure where my own mother would fall, and I may never know because she flat out made the request: "Please don't ever write a memoir." Trust me, even if I did pen a memoir, it wouldn't sell because we've led pretty mundane and "normal" lives. There's really not much to tell, so she has nothing to worry about. And it's not only mothers and fathers who worry. I just had something published and when my husband read it he said, "No one's going to think this about you and me, are they?" Who knows? Who cares? I think some of my best writing comes from the deepest, most honest part of my self, and often that part is rooted in my childhood. So no, I probably won't ever write a memoir, but I may write a story and have a family sitting around a large sheet of plywood draped with a tablecloth as substitute for the dining room table. The uncle in the story may have had too much to drink that Thanksgiving and when someone asks if he can please pass the bread, he'll throw a roll at them from the other end of the table and my mom will know where I got that idea. I hope it will make her smile rather than wince.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spring is Here!

Aside from the colorful blooms that pop their heads up from the ground after a long winter's hibernation, and the green leaves that wave at us from the trees, the return of the mallards is our favorite sign of spring's return. We've only lived in northeast Ohio for three years but these ducks have come into our back yard ever since. I guess I buy tasty bird food (black oil sunflower seeds, for anyone who's interested). For the past couple of years we've had just one couple. We think they've spread the word about our good eats because now we have this menage a trois. They--along with the other couple--come every day once in the morning and again in the evening. I had to call the Lake Erie Science Center last week because the male from the first couple has something wrong with his leg. He limps around and "wing walks" across my yard. The "duck expert" with whom I spoke at the center said she'll help fix his leg if I can just get him in there. It can be done, (or so she says...) so I'm going to give it a try. After speaking with her I came away with some knowledge I'll share with any duck lovers out there.
Mallards, unlike Canadian geese, do not necessarily mate for life. If the same ducks gather back at the same breeding grounds, they most likely hook up with the same partner they've mated with in the past, but it's not a given.
The female mallard lays an egg a day until she has her "clutch" of 8 to 12 eggs. Then she sits on the nest around the clock, maybe leaving to eat for a short period of time, but returning to the nest quickly.
Mallards do return to their usual nesting grounds, so it's likely some of these ducks are the same ones who've been coming to our yard these past three years.
Once he's "done his job", the male is not really needed by the female. She sits on the nest and then takes care of the babies once they're born.
Who knew female mallards were some of nature's single moms?

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm Back......

Ok. So I tried to stay out of the blogosphere, but I can't seem to do it. After receiving several very nice, very encouraging emails from folks who've stopped by over the past few months, I've reconsidered my retirement and I'm going to take another stab at blogging. Besides, I have to be honest and say that I've missed communicating with my "cyber friends"!

A quick update on what's been going on in my mundane exciting life. My husband is moving along nicely on the bookshelf project. He has informed me that he'd now like the office to be called the "library" as we plan to fill these shelves with plenty o' books and start selling them a loaner program. Here's what they look like as of right now:



Those are the doors sitting on the floor in front of where they'll eventually hang.

We spent the girls' spring break back east with family in New Jersey. Scott and I left the girls with family and jetted down to Sarasota, Florida for a few days of sleep fun, couple's time. It was our first trip to Sarasota and a beautiful one at that. Here in Ohio and New Jersey it was cold, wet and rainy--blech! What a treat to sit in the sun, play golf and drink like fish sip Cokes by the pool.

Unfortunately, our spring break ended on a sad note as we had to put our beloved Westie, Molly, down upon our return. She lived a good, long 13 1/2 years. She was our first "baby" and we will miss her dearly. My mom shared an old photo of her watching TV with my dad. And she did watch TV. People don't often believe me when I tell them this, but here's proof:

She loved TV, especially animal shows. We've been sad this week, but are grateful for our other dog, Divot, and for the time God allowed Molly into our lives.

As far as writing news...my Six Sentences were published this month in Six Sentences Vol. 2. I'll try to link up to Amazon.com where the book can be purchased. I have a short story out there trying to find a home and I'm still working on the 3rd revision of my book. Now that the sun has reappeared here in northeast Ohio I'm afraid of being distracted from writing. We are so happy to see the sun here!

I hope everyone else is doing well and I look forward to hearing from you all again and visiting your blogs as well!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hey, I Gave it a Shot

To my loyal followers (i.e., Diane, Dan & my family):

This will be my last blog posting. You all know I've struggled from the outset with this whole blog thing. And while I've met some nice folks along the way, I just can't maintain my blog. I'll post then forget I even have a blog. A week will pass and I'll think, "What can I write about that will be interesting to others?" This takes a lot of time for me, and I know how I appreciate seeing new and frequently updated posts on other blogs. I just don't have it in me right now. I'm really trying to rework my WIP at the moment, and thinking about my blog zaps energy that should go into my actual writing. For me, blogging is not a passion; it's an energy killer and attention diverter. I read somewhere that you should only blog if you love it and have a lot to say about a particular subject. If you blog to add it to your writing resume or to impress agents and publishers then you're doing it for the wrong reasons. I fall into this category. The only reason I started blogging was to gain a "web presence." If/when I get published I'll rethink the web site/blog issue, but until that happens I need to focus my attention on my novel and short stories.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me and my blog attempt, and thanks to all who have stopped by to introduce themselves and comment. I appreciate your time!! I'll still troll around and comment on blogs I've discovered every so often. There are many good ones out there.

Maybe the next time you "see" me in the blogosphere I will have fully emerged from the "writer's closet."

It's been a fun few months!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I thought all my "virtual" writer friends would appreciate this--a birthday gift from my sister. ;o)

This week I'm planning to completely re-outline my WIP. I remind myself that Arthur Golden rewrote Memoirs of a Geisha after 800 pages, so I guess I can rethink my little 'ol novel. What's everyone else doing this week?

I'm also going to celebrate (?) my 42nd birthday. Aiy. I can't believe I'll be 42. The thing I tell myself about getting older is that with every decade, life has improved. In my 20's, I became a nurse, got married, bought our first home. In my 30's we had the girls and became more financially stable. In my 40's.....I've had my first taste of publication and will---I know I will---have my first novel published. Getting older isn't so bad.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Moving Right Along


The bookshelves are coming along nicely!! Thank you, Scott!!!!
In keeping with the fun, Q&A type of lists, my friend sent me one I think benefits us writers. Makes us embrace economical use of words, which for me is always a good thing!
Where is your cell phone? car
Significant other: Scott
Your hair: poofy
Your mother: loving
Your father: athletic
Your favorite thing: family
Your dream last night: forgettable
Favorite drink: wine
Your dream/goal: publication
Room you are in: office
Your fear: snakes
Where in 6 years? ahead
Where were you last night? home
What you are not: malicious
Muffins: comfort ;o)
One thing on your wish list: agent
Where you grew up: Colorado
The last shopping you did: rollerblades
What are you wearing? sweats
Your TV: reality
Your pet: dogs
Your computer: lifeline
Missing someone: grandfather
Your car: dirty
Something you're not wearing: rings
Favorite store: Nordstrom
Your summer: oceanfront
Favorite color: blue
Last time you laughed: yesterday
Last time you cried: loss
Makes you think!

Friday, February 13, 2009

I am....Procrastinating...Again

I've seen this on a couple of blogs I follow and thought I'd play along....since I'm sure everyone who stops by here really wants to know what's outside my window and what I'm doing at this very moment, which is really procrastinating because I should be writing--make that re-writing my novel--or at the very least, I should be on the treadmill. Although the real reason I'm not on the treadmill is because I'm going to my Pilates class in a short while and on Wednesday morning I did the treadmill before I went to Pilates and that turned out to be a huge mistake. When the class ended I sped home and promptly threw up in my kitchen sink. Yes, the Pilates workout was challenging, but I think the real culprit was the treadmill workout prior to the class. Too much exercise in too short a time. My body can't take it! This is all very funny, too, because if you saw me (and for those of you who see me on a regular basis understand) you wouldn't know I walked on a treadmill or did Pilates or yoga. You'd think I sat on a couch and ate chips all day, which I swear I don't.
Anyway...on to the Q&A procrastination tool. And thanks to Wendy and Janna for sharing their answers!

Outside my window...it's cold and gray, but I can finally see my grass again.

I am thankful for...my family, my health, my dogs.

From the kitchen...the dishes say, "Clean us up! Put us away!"

I am wearing...blue Adidas sweat pants, my gray and black University of Colorado sweatshirt, Asics running shoes.

I am creating...an excuse for not writing.

I am going...to Pilates class.

I am reading...The Zookeepers' Wife, The Friday Night Knitting Club and Saving Fish From Drowning.

I am hoping...I don't throw up after Pilates today.

I am hearing...the hum of my PC tower.

Around the house...piles need to be de-cluttered and the girls' school papers need to be put away.

One of my favorite things...how my daughters' hair smells when it's freshly washed.

Plans for the weekend...dinner with friends tonight, church on Sunday (I swear we're going this week!).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A (small) Light at the End of that thar Tunnel

Received good (and not so good) news yesterday! My Six Sentences were chosen to be published in Rob McEvily's next collection aptly entitled 6SV2 (Six Sentences Vol. 2). It's supposed to be published in March. Then...on the heels of that affirmation, I got an email from the folks at The First Line (Blue Cubicle Press) saying they'd passed on the short story I'd submitted for their spring edition. This bummed me out because I felt the story was well-crafted and strong. My writing group loved it--always a good sign. But, like my husband pointed out, as of the past few months I'm batting 500, which is a good thing! This is what I'm going to focus on!!
So go check out Six Sentences and the hardworking folks at www.thefirstline.com. They've got a neat thing going with their first line series, and they were the first journal to publish one of my short stories, so you know they've got it going on! ;o)
Happy Valentine's Day!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

In Case You're Wondering...No, I Haven't Fallen off the Face of the Earth

This past week has just been busy for me--busier than normal. It just seems I was away from the computer a lot because I was helping out at school, delivering meals for Meals on Wheels, trying out some Pilates classes, taking my daughter and her friend to Family Fun Night at the middle school and hosting sleepovers and sitting in front of the TV with my mouth agape listening to the stories of that woman in California who just had the 8 kids and now has a tribe of 14. Oy. What was she thinking?!?! I hate to sound judgmental, but her house seems small for so many people and she says she's in school trying to better herself, which I appreciate, but how in the world is she going to support all of those children? And how does one single mother devote quality time to each one? I have trouble doing that with two daughters and I have a husband who's loving, supportive, helpful and present in their lives. If I lived in her community, I'd hate to think some of my tax dollars were going to support (what I feel is) her bad decision to add to an already oversized family. What a mess. Why am I (almost) 42 years old and still surprised by what some people do? When will my mouth no longer fall open in amazement? Okay. Enough of that. Anyway...
When I did get a chance to sit at the computer I tried to check out the blogs I follow and just didn't have the time or energy to come up with a post of my own. Thinking about my own blog and trying to comment on others' takes time away from my own writing and that adds to the already insurmountable frustration I feel because my WIP has hit the wall. I really need to get back to that project, so that's what I'm going to do today. Hopefully it will keep my mind where it needs to be and off the crazy news.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Day Came Today--at the Hair Salon

When am I going to learn to keep my mouth shut? Especially when I'm around a younger, hipper crowd? Maybe it has something to do with my impending forty-second birthday, or maybe I'm just not that good at comedic reference. But you would think I would have learned this lesson by now.
I went to get my hair done today. As I was checking out, three twenty-somethings stood behind the counter and one of them complimented my newly cut and colored coif.
"Thanks." I smiled and tossed my hair back and forth. After all, having my hair done does make me feel like a new woman. "It's bouncin' and behavin'."
"Huh?"
The three women suddenly seemed much younger than my original estimation. Perhaps they were in their late teens? They stared at me quizzically. One of them even had the nerve to go slack jawed.
"You don't remember Agree shampoo? It smelled like different kinds of fruit--you know, strawberries, sour apples? And the commercials always had this blond tossing her hair around. She'd say, "I love Agree shampoo. It makes my hair bouncin' and behavin'!"
The three girls exchanged glances and smiled awkwardly. Maybe they weren't even in their late teens. Maybe they'd just purchased their first training bras.
But do you think their embarrassed looks stopped me? No way, Jose! Onward and downward I fell into the death spiral of middle-aged patheticness.
"I guess you don't remember Love's Baby Soft, either?" Then I did the unthinkable: I started singing the commercial's song--you know, to jar their memories. "You can try hard, or you can try soft. Love's will get 'em every ti-i-ime..."
The girls shook their heads. "Love's Baby Soft?"
I took another stab. "Underoos?"
Nope.
"I'm a Pepper, he's a Pepper?" Beads of sweat began to dot my forehead. "Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too? With the guy from An American Werewolf in London swinging on the lamppost like Gene Kelly in--"
That's when I felt the bony finger of reality tap me on the shoulder. I turned and saw Father Time shaking his head in dismay. Stop while you're (sort of) ahead, he seemed to say. If this trio wasn't around for such pop culture phenoms like the ones I'd rattled off they sure as heck weren't going to recognize Gene Kelly and Singin' in the Rain.
They smiled sheepishly once more and one of the shrugged her shoulders. "Sorry, Mrs. Lost in the Way-Back Machine."
I waved my hand and smiled--laughed at myself, really. I guess it's good I provided some laughter for them, too. "That's okay, girls." And as I exited the salon I said under my breath, "Your day will come."
So how many others out there are like me? What commercials/products do you remember from way back when?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The "Out" Crowd

I'm having a tough time making my way through the 3rd draft of my current WIP. I think part of my problem has to do with reading message boards on the Absolute Write water cooler, which I think is a great site. Whenever I read posts about authors who've attracted an agent's attention I learn it's because they've written a "YA, urban fantasy" novel. What the ??? I don't write this kind of fiction. I'm writing lit fic for women about issues I feel pertain to the every day woman. I'm not seeing agent excitement about my kind of writing. It's a little disheartening. I guess I'm not part of the "in" literary crowd. I know I should write "what I know" and about issues that move me and I should write for myself, blah, blah, blah. Unless I develop a teenaged vampire blessed with superpowers who harkens from some subterranean netherworld to fight the wrongs of humanity I don't think I'm going to see the light of day in the publishing world. Agents and publishers say they don't want gimmicks, but this kind of fiction feels gimmicky to me. Publishing is a business like any other and those involved want to make money. That's the bottom line. If actually publishing a novel is the be-all and end-all for me I guess I'd better trunk my current novel and get to work on my "YA urban fantasy." Whatever that is. Maybe I should come up with a whole new genre: the middle-aged female suburban reality novel. Sound sexy??

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Great Time to be Alive!

As I sit amidst the construction site that is my office (more on that later) my thoughts are consumed with the meaning of this day--the celebration of Martin Luther King and the impact his beliefs and work have had on our society. The United States has come a long way in the 45 years since his famous speech, and I can only imagine what he'd say tomorrow if he were still alive. I wish he was here to comment, because I know he'd say something eloquent and profound and I know I'd learn something. I can also only imagine what it feels like for the millions of African-Americans in this country as they finally watch one of their own move into the White House. I don't mean to mitigate the occasion by making it a black-and-white thing; but if I were African-American, I know I'd be over the moon! I have to be honest and say I wasn't sure I'd ever see a black president in my lifetime. I believed we'd see a white female at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue before we saw an African-American man. Boy, was I wrong!
I was a big Hillary supporter. I even changed my political affiliation in order to help her win Ohio in the primary. (I was an Independent before). And I'm even more embarrassed to admit that when push came to shove I voted for John McCain in the general election. Truth is I didn't feel passionately about either candidate. I really wanted Hillary to be the Democratic presidential nominee and when those hopes crumbled, I kind of lost interest. I know. Hard to believe, especially if you're a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. How could anyone not have been swept up in the exuberance that was Barack Obama's campaign? It does seem odd, especially now that I feel very hopeful and excited about him being our president. Let's just say I arrived "fashionably late" to the party. ;o)
Before November's election i listed the pros and cons of each candidate. I just didn't feel strongly moved one way or the other. It was disheartening to feel such apathy just hours before I went to vote. I'd never experienced that kind of indifference before. But a number of things bothered me about Mr. Obama, the least of which was his skin color. (I'm not going to belabor those concerns now because that's not what my post is about).
I'm not embarrassed to admit that I got it wrong. I hesitated in the voting booth and made the wrong choice. I am confident the rest of the country got it right, and I am eager to watch tomorrow's events unfold on TV. I'm happy that my children--that all of us--will witness history in action when Mr. Obama is sworn in as our 44th president. Tomorrow at noon will be another one of those, "I remember where I was when" moments. I've had a number of them in my lifetime and unfortunately, they've mostly been sad occasions: when John Lennon was murdered; when President Reagan was shot; the space shuttle disaster; and of course, 9/11. It warms me to know I'll be able to say with pride, "I remember where I was when Barack Obama was sworn into office." I'll be able to tell my grandchildren that I was sitting by myself in my family room when it happened. So Dr. King's dream may not be fully realized just yet as there are still strides to be made when it comes to race relations in the United States, but a large chunk of his reverie will come to fruition in less than 24 hours. Half of me still can't believe it's happening.
As for my office...my husband, talented woodworker and perfectionist that he is (thank God!) is building bookshelves for me in hopes that someday, when my picture is taken to show "the author at work at home" (ha ha) it will look like I have a real literary-style study/office. I'm kidding. I just need more bookshelf room and he likes doing projects that involve cutting wood with a saw. He's even thinking of installing a gas fireplace--even more worthy of a writer's office! I'll never want to leave the room! I know they'll be wonderful once they're finished, but for now this is what will surround me when I write over the next couple of months:












I'll keep you posted on his progress!

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's My Blog and I'll Vent if I Want To!



It's beyond frigid here in northeast Ohio, like I know it is elsewhere. This is the window in my outside garage door. Beautiful, I think. The kids have off from school today. I'm hoping my daughter's riding lesson is cancelled as well. I don't want to hang out in that barn that's already cold enough. It's -12 and -25 with the wind chill, I believe. A good day to stay in and rent a movie, but first I feel the need to vent.
I'm feeling down this week. Down about my writing and the chances of getting my novel published, down about my weight and dislike of workouts, down about well-meaning friends/acquaintances who think they can comment about said weight and dislike of workouts (you can't, BTW, no one can!) down about agents and publishers who don't even acknowlege my submissions (I know...everyone's busy). (Dan, if you're reading this, don't get mad at me...I'm just venting frustration). Ugh. Sorry. Had to purge that publicly. I waiting to hear if my Six Sentences have made it into their next book and also on short story I submitted for another lit journal. I really hope both of these pieces see the light of day. It's these small victories that keep me going.
Okay. Excuse me while I hoist up my boot straps. I did open my email and receive a positive note--my blog was randomly chosen from the lottery at Query Tracker and I won an upgraded membership for one year! They're also going to post the link to my blog on their blog. Woo hoo!! I never win anything. Maybe this points to brighter things in my future. And if you're someone who's visiting my blog from the link on their web site, welcome! I'm not usually this forlorn. I think the cold's gotten to my brain. Stay warm, everyone!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Have Very Talented Friends!

I'd like to draw people's attention to my talented writer's group cohorts. My friend, Diane, who started our writing group and has just had a chapbook of poems published. She's also had poems published in different journals, and she self-published her first novel a few years ago. Please click on the Coexist link on the left hand side of my blog to find out how to order her chapbook. Having a chapbook published is a big deal for a poet. Diane is very talented and I think anyone would appreciate her work. She's also a talented artist! My other writing friend, Dan, has just self-published his first novel, Nadir's Fire. You can find Dan if you follow the link for Jeff's New Motorcycle. I'd planned to take a picture of both books and upload them here, but I can't seem to find my copy of Nadir's Fire anywhere...(ahem, Dan. I've yet to receive my copy, but I guess I could go on Amazon and find it myself...). Please support these talented writers. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, January 12, 2009


This is another thing I deal with when it snows: a dog who loves to dig in the snow and come inside full of snowballs!! Our dog, Divot, is a hound, so his nose goes right into the dirt--snow or no snow. You can sort of see some of the trails he's created with his nose in that top picture. When he starts tracking a scent, there's no getting him back inside. We call his name, (to no avail) and shake the bag of dog treats to grab his attention. We love him dearly, but hounds are something else when they think they're about to nab a bunny or mole or squirrel. There's no breaking that centuries-bred concentration. When he finally agrees to come inside, we have to deal with snowballs caked on his muzzle and paws. We try to get them off with a towel, but they end up melting off and we're left with small puddles in our kitchen, dining room, hallway and family room. I can't imagine my life without dogs, but I can envision a life where I never slip in another snowball puddle!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

This is one view from my back door this morning. We've already got about 6" of snow on the ground, and more is falling right now. We're due for another 4-8 inches. This is what it's like living outside of Cleveland in the winter--like God is shaking powdered sugar all over us. Now I know what it feels like for cakes and cookies and whatever else we shake powdered sugar on! A snowfall like this is beautiful, but I realize I'm only saying that because it's a Saturday morning rather than a Monday.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Beginning to Fade...

I almost clicked on "delete my Google account" this morning, but thought I'd give blogging another go. I'm finding that I just don't have the time or drive or inspiration to post every day or every other day. I appreciate it when the bloggers I follow post frequently, yet I can't maintain this standard for myself. Also, it seems to take energy away from my own writing. I'm working on the third draft of my WIP, although I'm not sure why I'm even doing that. With all the bad news in the publishing industry and agents and publishers saying they're hesitant to take on new writers and new projects I wonder why I continue at this point. It's so depressing at times. The other day I followed up on some of my submissions from earlier in the fall. I checked one publisher's web site--one I felt I had a good shot with--only to find a disclaimer saying they're no longer accepting submissions. If anyone had submitted to them prior to "Black Wednesday" we can contact them to check the status of our project, but they're not publishing anything new at this point. And this is a publisher who publishes fiction from first-time authors. I was crushed. My husband says this is probably a good time to just buckle down, put my nose to the grindstone and keep working while the publishing industry waits for the dust to settle. I guess he's right. Maybe I will have more time to blog after all.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!!!!

My family and I arrived home this afternoon after more than a week visiting family back east . We had a great time--saw the Rockettes at Radio City, went tubing, ate too much and just enjoyed being with loved ones. We were eager to get back home, though. We missed our routines and our doggies, Molly and Divot. After a lot of barking, tail wagging and licking we punched the message button on our answering machine and received a not-so-pleasant message from a disgruntled neighbor couple who apparently have too much time on their hands. They'd called with a gripe about our landscaping and how natural "debris" from some of our plants floats into their yard. They were nasty and rude. My husband and I bit our tongues and forced ourselves to take deep, cleansing breaths. What a way to start the New Year! We discussed what's truly important in life and counted our blessings. This is what I wish for everyone in my life--disgruntled neighbors included--to always remember what's important, to count our blessings and be grateful. Life could end tomorrow and how humbling would it be to face the time we've wasted consumed with the most trivial of matters. I hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2009, and I hope no one reading this gets their undies in a wad over Mother Nature and the debris she drops here and there. Life is just too darn short.