Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Happies 12/31/10

It’s a lovely day today, unseasonably mild, and that makes it a nice day automatically. 51 degrees and sunny; the snow is melting.

Tomorrow we start a new year and for once, I’m not making resolutions. I’m just going to try to stick with the good habits I’ve developed this past year (mostly out of necessity, for health reasons) and try not to beat myself up too badly about those I’m still working on.

Sticking to my exercise plan got easier when my husband and daughters bought me a Wii and the Wii Fit Plus system to go with it for Christmas. Now I have a lot more variety in my exercise. I particularly like the balance activities; my balance can sure use improvement. And if I ever feel I need a particularly hard workout, I still have the treadmill.

As 2010 ends, I have to say, I’m happy it’s over. It’s been a rough year, or rather, a rough 15 months…starting with losing our dog Max last September, losing my brother-in-law Dave last December, losing our cat Burt in February, then being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in August. That’s a lot of loss, a lot of grief, a lot of stress.

So instead of that resolution (“This year I’m gonna lose weight! Really!”), I’m going to start the new year grateful for all the good things I have, especially my family and friends. Oh, and I’ll cross my fingers that 2011 goes more smoothly!

Are you making resolutions? Just wishing wishes for the new year? Here’s hoping 2011 is your best year yet.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday Gripes, 12/27/10

I really have very little to gripe about today. Only the ton of snow that’s fallen on us last night and today, and the shoveling that awaits if I want to get the mail out of the mailbox…

Oh, and all the pounds I’ll be putting on from all those leftover Christmas yummies! My willpower absolutely disappears at holiday time.

Christmas was definitely a wonderful day. My two daughters and two grandchildren were here, which made for a great time for Dan and I. Christmas is best when viewed through the eyes of a child! The excitement, the wonder, the joy…that’s what Christmas is about.

Of course, that’s not to say *I* wasn’t excited, too. Family, fun, presents, food…what’s not to like?

So now it’s hard to return back to work from such a lovely break. But I’m trying.

How was YOUR Christmas? Was it just as wonderful as you hoped?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Gripes…But Not Really

Today I’m supposed to gripe. But I’m feeling so good, due to finding out I don’t need a biopsy after all (long story that I won’t go into here), I just can’t find anything to grumble about. The sun is shining, the weather is fine, and I’m healthier than I imagined.

I can, however, find something to laugh about! Here’s a sign we saw on a recent drive, at a combination gas station/convenience store/food stop. See if it gives you a laugh too:


It made us laugh so hard, we had to stop and take a photo.

What has made YOU smile today?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Happies…and Stocking Stuffers!

Like many Americans, my “happy” for today is remembering yesterday, gathered around a Thanksgiving table with my husband, mom, sister, daughters and grandchildren. When we can be together, problems fade into the background as we enjoy each other’s company. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving also, with lots of family, friends, food and fun.

And for those of you braving the Black Friday crowds today, I have a terrific alternative gift idea for you that won’t require leaving the house and fighting the crowds: an e-book!

It just so happens that two of my books, MIRROR IMAGES and PENUMBRA, have been recently re-released for sale in many e-book formats, so you can read them on just about any electronic device you choose. MIRROR IMAGES and PENUMBRA are short story collections, tales you might encounter in the Twilight Zone.

PENUMBRA: PenumbracoverUse

Travel deep into unknown territory, where life and death are not as they seem; where machines dominate your days; where you have to be careful what you ask for, because you might get it; where magic is the norm, and stars really do grant wishes. These stories will take you beyond the realm of the solid and real, into the deepest, darkest corner of your imagination. Don't forget to bring your flashlight...

MIRROR IMAGES: mirrorimages2

When Cassie buys an antique compact, little does she know it can foretell the future--her future. Marjorie, a Florida girl unwillingly transplanted to Vermont, learns there's more to fear from the alien snowfall than just the cold. Neil Dallas's jagged descent from rock and roll singer to drug-addicted has-been is unstoppable...or is it?

Let these eerie tales take you to a place where nothing is as it seems--where the only thing you can rely on is unexpected.

* * * * *

For more info or to order  your copies, visit the Books We Love Publishing Partners blog: Only $1.99…how can you beat that?

Let the holiday shopping begin!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Gripes, 11/15/10

Another gray day today. I don’t think it causes my anxiety and worry, but it sure complements it.

I am SO sick of feeling anxious and terrified and worried about things that either don’t deserve worry, or that can’t be controlled. I want to be strong. I want to be tough. I want to be happy. Not hysterically happy…just calm, pleasant, relaxed. I’d gladly give up those infrequent glorious highs in order to get rid of the frequent depressing lows. No question.

I wonder why mornings are so rough. Maybe it’s because during the day, I worry for  a while and either finally make peace, or just run out of adrenaline. Whereas when I’ve just woken up, it all hits me anew after a night of peaceful sleep.

(sigh) Oh well. I’m still in there swinging, and that’s something.

Got my mom moved up to my sister’s place over the weekend. I wasn’t allowed to do much because of my back, so I did small things and paced a lot. Winking smile She’s moved in now, not unpacked of course. That will take time. But the hardest part is done.

Regardless of all my worries, I’m so grateful for my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my parents and my sister. Family is one of the best things you can have in this world, and I hit the jackpot with mine. Definitely something to counteract the woes!

What are YOU grateful for in your life?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blogging is sooooo complicated...

Trying to import (export? copy?) this blog into the blog on my Amazon author page. There used to be a unique blog there, but I guess they got rid of it.

Anyway, it asks me to put in the address to the feed. To me, "feed" is when I sit down to dinner. :-) I know in the vaguest sense that there are different types of feeds for different blogs. I believe this blog uses atom. (Which I learned about in high school science class. Hah.)

But. I have no idea how to find the correct address to use. So I took the blog address, added "atom.xml" to it as they showed in an example, crossed my fingers and gave it a shot. Supposedly it's done...we'll see if it works. I guess I'll know if/when this entry shows up on my Amazon page.

I desperately need a course in the technical aspects of blogging, creating and maintaining a website, creating book trailers, etc. Anyone have a great suggestion?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Monday Gripes, 11/8/10

I have a confession to make. I fell off the exercise wagon over the weekend. Admittedly, I was busy; Saturday helping my sister paint in preparation for my mom moving up there this weekend, and Sunday doing all the work I didn’t get to do on Saturday. Besides, painting is exercise, right?

Apparently, my nervous system doesn’t agree. Had a few twinges of anxiety over the weekend, but nothing big. Today, though, was worse. Getting out of bed to start my day was a Herculean effort. So I guess it is true that exercise helps chase the anxiety away. Got back on the treadmill today and will try (again) to keep going.

But tell me this: why is it that I have to do something I hate to avoid something else I hate? Exercise is, at best, the lesser of two evils.

Of course, it only added to my problem that it’s a gray, rainy, cold, blustery day. And because of turning the clock back Saturday night and being on the edge of a time zone, it’s 4 p.m. now and nearly dark. Oy!

So I’m griping in fine form today. And hey, never let it be said I’m not good at it.

What’s your best negative talent?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Windows Live Writer

I just downloaded Windows Live and am trying out the Writer component. But to tell you the truth, I don’t know why I would use this program over going to my Blogger dashboard and posting a new blog entry there. Does anyone have tips?


Sunset in New Hampshire

A sunset image. I played with it a bit with the Photo Gallery app, but can’t get it as colorful as it was in person. Still, it’s improved.

I do like the ease of inserting a photo here, rather than going through an upload process, and also how simple it is to resize the photo.

Okay, will try hitting the “Publish” button and see what happens.

Hmm. I wonder if I could list all my blogs, and publish to all of them at once?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Happies 10/29/10

Sometimes it's not a question of happy; it's a question of laughing at yourself, or crying.

I bought a new windbreaker jacket a few weeks back. Have worn it several times, most recently yesterday morning while taking a walk.

Today I passed it, hanging in the laundry room, and saw it still has a price sticker prominently displayed, hanging from the back of the left arm.

Hahahaha. At least it wasn't toilet paper stuck to my shoe, right? (eye roll)

But I do have things to be happy about. I'm looking forward to seeing my grandchildren in their Halloween costumes and going trick-or-treating with them (and my daughter).

I'm happy to be able to watch the Steelers play on Sunday night.

I'm glad my Christmas knitting is coming along!

And I'm delighted to have a house to live in (even if it is teeny), food to eat, a place to sleep, safety, and love. What more can you ask for? (Besides a big bag of money. Still working on that one...)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Gripes 10/25/10

I'm trying to think of a gripe, but I can't because I'm still on a humor-induced high.

My daughter Helen and I had an awesome time in Concord on Saturday at a booksigning for Red Green, real name Steve Smith, the star of the long-running PBS comedy, "The Red Green Show." Set in the fictitious Possum Lodge, the show features Red and his friends, always good for a laugh and ready to fix anything with a roll of duct tape, "the handyman's secret weapon."

I can't believe how many people were there...we waited in line an hour and there were as many people behind us when we got up to him as had been in front of us at the start.

My husband couldn't come, but he had given me a good question to ask. So when I went up to Red, after shaking his hand and saying what a pleasure it was to meet him, I said, "My husband says the Man's Prayer every day, and he'd like to know if there's a Woman's Prayer." (For those of you who have never seen the show, the Man's Prayer goes like this: "I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess.")

He looked pleased and smiled and said, "You know, there was one episode where a woman's group took over Possum Lodge and they did have their own prayer."

I asked what the prayer was and after our picture was taken and while he was signing our books, he said the prayer was: "I'm a woman, hear me roar, I'm in charge, get used to it." Then he laughed and said, "You know, at one of these events, a woman showed up with the entire thing written out on her t-shirt."

I told him I'd never seen that episode, and he said, "You will." I told him how we'd loved watching his show in Kansas, but it wasn't on when we moved here to NH. Then it showed up recently. He said that was because he'd starting touring and part of the money for each appearance went to the local PBS stations. ;-) So I said, "Please keep touring, then! We want the show to stay on."

And then the store employees who were handling the whole thing hustled us on so the next in line could move up.

He was very pleasant and friendly, and didn't seem at all tired although he must have been, from all the pictures, signing, and smiling.

So there you have it...the story of the event! And the reason why I'm still smiling today.

If you're looking for the perfect gift for the home handyman (or handywoman) in your life, pick up a copy of Red's book, How to Do Everything, From the Man Who Should Know". And to check out his Facebook page (doesn't everyone have a Facebook page these days?) go here: Red Green.

As Red would say: keep your stick on the ice!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Happies 10/22/10

What is there to be happy about today? Well, let's see. First, although some trees are leafless now, there's still enough color to make any view rival a Monet. It's cold (45 degrees right now), but sunny and a perfect fall day.

Another happy: going to lunch and to a booksigning with my daughter tomorrow. That should be fun.

Whose signing are we going to? Why, Red Green, of course! Check it out:

How to Do Everything.

Red Green is the star of a long-running hilarious show on PBS, set in the fictional Possum Lodge in Canada. Do yourself a favor and watch it if you can find it on your local public broadcasting station's schedule. If it's not there...write them to demand they show it!

For more info on the show, visit the Red Green News website.

Okay, off my soapbox. What are you going to do with YOUR weekend?

Keep your stick on the ice.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Spooktacular Halloween Contest from BWLPP

Books We Love Publishing Partners is committed to bringing to our readers new and vintage books that meet the criteria for quality and desirability that has long been the hallmark of the Books We Love community.

We invite you to visit our website and browse the genre index for all the titles currently available. More books and short stories will be added weekly until our official Grand Opening, Jan. 2, 2011. Books We Love Publishing Partners

Enter our Spooktacular Halloween Contest by visiting the BWLPP Blog and either subscribe to or follow the blog via Google Follow or Facebook. Each subscriber/follower will be entered for a chance to win the ebook of his or her choice from the BWLPP available titles, plus a Halloween Tower from Rocky Mountain Chocolates!

BONUS ENTRY ~ Visit the Books We Love Author group site and vote for your favorite Books We Love Author. Receive one additional entry into the contest for every vote submitted.

Hurry, you must enter by midnight C.S.T. on Oct. 30.

Winner will be announced on Halloween, Oct. 31, 2010.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Gripes 10/18/10

It's hard to find anything to gripe about when the day is sunny and brisk, and the leaves are so gorgeous, they make you cry. But you know me...I found something. :-)

As a writer and editor, some of the things that bug me the most are grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. No one's perfect, but some things should be obvious.

For example: the word "nuclear." This word is NOT pronounced "nuke-you-lar." Pronounce it with me: it's "nuke-lee-ar." Say it three times, or until the urge to mispronounce it goes away. Because pronouncing it incorrectly really does make you sound uneducated...

And another word I find particularly irritating when it's misspelled, as that means it's also mispronounced. That word is "probably." Meaning, "it's probable." I can't tell you how many people write that word as "prolly." It's like fingers on a chalkboard to me. Aarrgghhh!

So it's "pro-ba-blee," spelled "probably," and "nuke-lee-ar," spelled "nuclear."

There. I feel so much better now!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Happies 10/15/10

This is what keeps distracting me out my office window. What more can I say? Fall in New Hampshire makes me happy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Friday Happies 10/8/10

Okay, it's not Friday, it's Sunday and my happies are late. But, better late than never, right? It's always time for happies. ;-)

It's GORGEOUS out, cool sunny weather with the leaves changing into a myriad of brilliant fall colors. I can't drive anywhere or even look out the window without gasping in delight. I do so love fall in New Hampshire!

Saw a funny bumper sticker the other day that made me smile: "My karma ran over your dogma." Heeheehee!

Went on the New Hampshire Wool Arts Tour yesterday with my two daughters and my sister, and my sister's friend. We had a lovely time driving the gorgeous back roads, and of course buying lots of beautiful yarn! And a lovely lunch out as well.

Here's info about the Wool Arts Tour, which is going on today and tomorrow as well: NH Fall Wool Arts Tour.

And here's where we had our lunch: Tooky Mills Pub.

Then, we came home to where my husband was on grandchildren-babysitting duty, and they had made pumpkin and pecan pies. Yum! So we forced in a bit more food and had a lovely dinner, with delicious pie and whipped cream for dessert. Can't beat a day like that!

How is your holiday weekend going? Take some time out for yourself!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Gripes 9/27/10

Well, it IS raining today, while makes me a bit glum. Though I know we need it, so I'm trying hard to be okay with it.

It's also kind of chilly, but that just means it's time to pull out a comfy shawl. Right?

I was up in the middle of the night, sick as a dog, no idea why. That's my main Monday gripe. Thus today I've been eating very, very light. Not that it's a bad idea to eat light...but the house is full of lots of yummy birthday goodies, none of which will sit well on a sick tummy. (sigh)

So I'm trying to focus on other things, like work, and knitting. With mixed success.

Another gripe: just when I get to like a new show, they pull it. Last year I really enjoyed "Eastwick," for instance. It doesn't appear to be on the fall schedule, so I assume it's not returning. Why not? It was SO much better than many things that are returning. At least, so says Liz. ;-)

I also loved Flash Forward. A very clever show, that left me wanting more each week. And don't you just hate it when a show ends, never to return, and they don't tie up all the loose ends during the final episode?

I guess that's it for grumping today. Hope you all are having a tolerable Monday!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Happies 9/24/10

Happies are often made up of many little mini-happies, rather than one large one. Here are mine for today.

My blood pressure is back to normal. Yay!

The leaves are starting to change and gorgeous color is popping out everywhere.

Seen on the road: license plate frame saying, "Once a Marine, always a Marine." The license plate itself read: "TNKRBL" Heeheehee!

Koko the parakeet has become a regular chatterbox, letting loose streams of words, whistles and chirps that last five minutes or more. In there I sometimes pick out new phrases. Today's new phrases: "You are the best boy, Koko" and "It's me, Koko" (the latter usually said when I enter the house, so he doesn't freak out).

Last but not least: licking the frosting spatula for the Shaker Pie my wonderful husband just finished making for my belated birthday celebration on Sunday!

Hope you're having a happy-full day too.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Happies 9/17/10

Today is my birthday, so that's a reason to be happy right off the bat, right? I'm one of those folks who's never grown up in terms of holidays and celebrations. I love 'em all.

I've also been feeling better the past few days, so that helps my long-term outlook as well. Maybe I'm climbing up out of the pit I've been in and getting back into the sunlight. Yay!

With that improving mood, I am trying to get back into the things I care about, like knitting. And writing. I hope it's a self-feeding cycle where the more I do, the more I want to do.

I'm continuing regular exercise and administering reading, chocolate, music, knitting, and loved ones as needed.

I have found, though, that my taste in some things has changed. For instance, although I've always enjoyed romantic comedy movies, they are much more helpful and enjoyable to me now. I need to laugh, and to have a happy ending. That gives me hope. Suspense and mystery movies I'm less interested in now, and horror is right out! I watch TV and read books to get away from the negative aspects of real life, not to immerse myself in them and get depressed all over again.

And those endless medical lawsuit/OTC medication commercials? I mute 'em. I have my own issues to deal with. I don't need to start worrying about someone else's. ;-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Gripes 9/13/10

Well, it's Monday. That's gripe-worthy all by itself, isn't it? Especially after a nice, if rainy, vacation.

It's gloomy here today, but I hope we DO get rain because unlike the northern part of the state, we sure need it. The rivers and ponds are quite low, some nearly dry, and some towns are putting water restrictions in place. While that was quite common in Kansas, it's unheard of here in New Hampshire, at least since we've been here.

Of course, I don't want it to go the other way and then we end up with floods. Yeah, I'm picky.

Today's gripe is road work. They've been working on the road I have to travel on to get to...well, just about everything except the yarn store. (That's one bright spot, at least.) At first they were just working on the bridges, of which there are several, but now they're repaving everywhere.

What irritates me is, they have repaved the lane going in one direction, but not the shoulder. Since they're paving the lane going the *other* way now, those orange cones direct us off onto the shoulder so the oncoming traffic can drive on "our" lane. But the shoulder isn't quite large enough in spots where there's a guardrail, so I end up driving with one tire on the new pavement and one on the old shoulder, with all that loose tar flicking up under the car. (eye roll)

Today I took the long way home from physical therapy, just to avoid it (though that involves navigating a traffic circle--a stupid invention if you ask me). And I drive a small car. Wonder how the 18-wheelers manage? I just hope they're done paving soon.

And the other related gripe is about people who feel that even though we're driving on the shoulder, half on and half off the new lane, with orange cones all around and oncoming traffic a few inches away, not to mention construction workers and their equipment, we should STILL be able to go at full normal speed, and they get irritated when I have the audacity to follow the construction zone speed limit. Sheesh.

Okay, back to work. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday Happies 9/10/10

Okay, I'm a little late with the happies. But bear with me. We just returned from vacation yesterday, and if you look at this photo, it pretty much tells you about two of the three things our trip involved:

One of the two things is a little subtle, so I'll point it out. It was raining. It rained the entire time we were there, and rained on poor Dan on the few days of his bike trip the previous few days. I was starting to worry it was ark-building time.

But the second item--the moose!--was the end of a multi-year quest to finally see one. We were beginning to think they were mythical and only mentioned to entice tourists to visit.

We took a long drive Thursday morning out in the middle of nowhere, getting our so-not-made-for-muddy-dirt-roads car all messy, and after two+ hours were ready to give up. But we tried one more road and, voila! A moose! He looks like he's lying down, but really he's standing down in a water-filled ditch, eating watery plants.

Obviously, the rain didn't bother him a bit.

After we watched him for a while, he got annoyed with our presence, turned around and started walking away. We followed him slowly, and he began to trot. He whipped around a corner and when we got there, he had disappeared into the woods. This was the last we saw of him:

The other two things we did a lot of during the vacation were read, and eat. Well, what else IS there when you're stuck inside due to inclement weather?

But despite that weather, we had a nice, relaxing time. Maybe more relaxing than it would have been had the weather been sunny. So, happy time!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Friday Happies 9/3/10

Well, I'm happy the pre-recorded message from State Farm, telling me Hurricane Earl was headed my way and to board up the windows, was wrong. (eye roll) I need more stress like I need a hole in the head.

However, my mom, who might actually live near a spot that will get hit (i.e., Connecticut coast) and who is a State Farm customer, didn't receive a call. Go figure.

I'm happy to hear from my doctor that not only does exercise up my dopamine level, which should make me feel better, but she confirmed my belief that so does chocolate. She said it would take about an hour to kick in...but somehow I think eating chocolate has an instant soothing effect. I'll gladly do a study of this myself and see how it turns out!

I'm glad the Internet provides me a route to contact friends and family who don't live nearby. I wrote a lot of letters in my youth to family members, but friends I'd moved away from usually fell by the wayside as letter-writing was laborious and lengthy before you'd get a reply. Because kids just aren't that motivated to hand-write letters.

I guess we are the society of instant gratification.

So at least now, a friend can stay a friend for life. More contact beyond the annual Christmas card and those newsletters no one reads.

And now, beyond the magic of cell phones, we also have Skype. So you can call a friend on your computer, and see her too! Reminds me of the good old days of TV when a picture-phone was all the rage in all the sci-fi stories. And didn't Maxwell Smart of "Get Smart!" have a watch phone? I know he had a shoe phone...

Phew. Glad I don't have to take off my shoe to make a phone call.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Gripes 8/30/10

It's hot here. 90+ degrees. And we all know how much I love heat, right? NOT. I am perpetually thankful for the invention of air conditioning. Thank you, oh wise inventor, whoever you may be.

But even before the heat hit today, I woke up feeling really blue. No particular reason...just, that's what I got today in the dice-roll of life. (sigh) After a few hours moping around in my bathrobe, I'm finally up and doing fine. I don't know why mornings are so hard. They ARE getting better, but darn it, I just want everything to be happy. Is that so much to ask?

So I'm still working at the happiness-creating. Chocolate works sometimes. Knitting works once in a while. Music can work. Having my husband here, or some other family member, definitely helps. Koko the parakeet helps too! Even though he doesn't know it.

I just have to find the way to inspire myself to TRY those things when morning seems like it's not worth facing. Because some days, lying in bed until I fall back to sleep seems like the only reasonable option.

What do YOU do when you want to improve your mood? All suggestions gratefully considered!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Happies 8/27/10

As soon as I opened my eyes and saw the sun shining, that was my first "happy." We needed the rain--heck, we need more--but the gloomy, damp weather really affects my mood.

I'm looking forward to my daughter coming over this evening after work for a night of pizza, movies and knitting. I'm so happy to have a good relationship with all my kids, especially my girls. It just makes me pleased as punch to know they like me and actually want to spend time with me!

I'm delighted that my husband will be back tomorrow from his backpacking trip. I know he loves the outdoors and the more strenuous the hike, the more he seems to like it. So I don't begrudge him his outings. But I'm sure happy when he comes home.

And lastly, today seems to be spiderweb day. I have seen not one, but two perfect ones today. One is between the arm and back of the rocking chair on the porch. Must be made by a small spider as the silk is quite delicate, nearly invisible. I have avoided sitting on the rocker as I don't want to ruin it. Sooner or later, it will have to go; but for now I just enjoy the artistry.

I found a second perfect spiderweb over the license plate on the back of my car. It could have been made by the first spider's sister...very similar. Unfortunately, a little of it was pulled off when I opened the trunk to stow my groceries, but most of it is still intact.

There are so many small things in nature that hold such beauty, if we would not only take time to see them, but take time to FIND them, which isn't always easy. The next time you go out, look at your world from a different angle--kneel down, or tilt your head, or look way up or straight down. I bet you'll find something awesome you didn't know was there!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Classes Available

I'm teaching two courses starting on Thursday (8/26), and I hope you'll join me for one--or both! Here's the info.


8/26/10 - 10/7/10

Does a deep love story live in your soul? Could you join the ranks of the Bronte sisters, Nora Roberts, Judith McNaught, Danielle Steele, or Nicholas Sparks? Discover your romantic writing roots while you familiarize yourself with the specific factors that create a successful romance story.

Essentials of Romance Writing



8/26/10 - 10/7/10

Dialogue may be the most important characterization - but most difficult to master - tool at a fiction writer's disposal. Stiff, unnatural or overdone dialogue will doom the liveliest characters or stall an exciting plot. Effective dialogue propels your characters and story off the page, deep into the imagination of your reader.

In this workshop, you will gain a thorough understanding of effective dialogue in fiction, including the functions of dialogue to develop characters, expose motives, reveal setting, create tension and suspense, speed up scene and more.

Abolish your fear of dialogue and access your story's unique voice!

Write Great Fiction: Dialogue

Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Gripes 8/23/10

Rain. Clouds. Gray. Fog. Mist.


It is SO dark and gloomy today, it's hard to stay positive. I'm trying, because I really need to keep a positive attitude. But the weather has a definite effect.

We do need the rain, I admit. We've been in a bit of a drought. The Souhegan River is so low, you can see all the rocks at the bottom.

But isn't it a shame it can't rain from a blue sunshiny sky?

That said, I just had a cheerful little interlude.

Every year, a little local boy comes around, selling gourmet popcorn as a Boy Scouts fundraiser. I only see him once a year, but he's bright and talkative and has no trouble chatting with an adult. He showed up just now at my door...riding his bike, despite the rain...and he sure has shot up in the past year! I had to remark on how much he's grown.

We had a lovely chat. He asked about our dog and cat, and I told him that sadly, we'd lost them both within the past year. He related that he, too, had lost both a dog and cat recently, but added they now have a new one of each. I introduced him to Koko (the parakeet), and he was absolutely fascinated. "That's so cool," he said. "He's so little. I want a bird!"

It was a small thing, but it really cheered me up. So even the Monday blahs can be chased away, with the right medicine! A little human contact is all it takes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New video

Can't resist sharing this:

And check out all the "Simon's Cat" videos. They're great!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Happies 8/13/10

The past two weeks have been a challenge. Too dang depressing to call them gripes on Mondays, and too stressful to have anything to be happy about on Fridays.

Two weeks ago, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I knew it was a possibility, but naturally it wasn't the answer I was hoping for.

Since then, I've struggled with trying to get through depression to acceptance. It's not an easy path, though I've had valuable tips from people who have walked their own roads of accepting a difficult diagnosis. I'm still working on it, but I've learned a few things so far.

Diagnosis or no, I still have a lot of things to be grateful for. Supportive family and friends, a comfortable home, a job I can adjust around my condition and schedule, a saucy little parakeet to keep me company, a beautiful state to live in...I'm grateful for them all, and more.

Exercise helps improve my mood, as long as I can get over the horrible hump of getting out of bed and getting started on it. Just moving around can give me a boost.

Singing helps. Listening to music helps. Sunshine helps. So does chocolate!

By far the most helpful thing is my family and friends. Hearing their voices, seeing their smiles, feeling their hugs, all help me put things in perspective and go on with my life, one step at a time, one day at a time.

I'm trying to get my life back on track, including posting regularly. I know I'll have challenges to face, but I can only tackle them successfully with a brave smile and courageous heart. So I'm working on it...

Happy Friday the Thirteenth to all of you!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Sting of Rejection

Check out this great story of an unusual rejection letter:

Sting of Rejection

Makes you look at them in a different way!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Monday Gripes 8/2/10

Saw the neurologist today about my neck issues. As of tomorrow, I launch into a new round of physical therapy, to try to at least not lose any ground I've gained with the two spinal cortisone shots. And, if I'm lucky, perhaps the PT will give me even more relief. Fingers crossed!

It's a big pain in the neck, though (literally and figuratively) to drive over to PT twice a week--half hour drive, half hour appointment, half hour drive home. I already have other activities going on, and this basically fills up the rest of my schedule. Oy.

On the lighter side of Monday, check this out. It'll give you a much-needed laugh!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Happies 7/30/10

Today is my son's 27th birthday, and that's a good reason right off the bat to be happy. He has a lovely wife, a great job, and a new house--he, and we, are very blessed.

We just returned from a family reunion/vacation. First stop was Hershey, where we met with many members of my mother-in-law's extended family. Naturally, we also toured the chocolate factory, and took advantage of the many activities Hershey has to offer. Here's a picture of my grandchildren having fun at Hershey Park:

Then, we headed for Gettysburg with just our daughters and grandkids to continue our vacation. Definitely less interesting to the younger set! But an important spot in history. It is indeed a somber place, with so much blood spilled everywhere.

We learned as much as we could before going, so we would understand what we were seeing. Some highlights included the Pennsylvania monument:

and my favorite monument of all, with an Irish Wolfhound on it:

It was terribly hot and humid, which pretty much knocked the stuffing out of me. I spent mornings doing various touristy activities, and afternoons hunkered down in the air conditioned hotel room.

The trip home was long but uneventful, and we're all happy to be unpacked and back to our normal routine. Especially happy is Koko, to be ransomed from the bird boarding facility and back in his own comfy cage!

Now it's back to work, but with many good memories to think back on.

Hope you have a fun trip planned this summer!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Happies 7/16/10

I was thinking about skipping today's Friday Happies, since I'm not too happy. Have been sick all week with a virus in my inner ear, making me dizzy, nauseous, running a fever, etc. But then I saw this video on another blog and couldn't resist sharing it. If it gave me a laugh in my current state, I should pass it on.

Signing in the Waldenbooks

It's hilarious, yet all too true. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. (sigh)

So I've made a promise to myself. If I'm ever in a bookstore and there's a book signing going on, and there is NOT a big line at the table, I'm going to buy a book--even if I couldn't care less about reading it. (Naturally, I won't reveal my true motive.) No author should have to go home without making at least one sale.

Anyone want to join me in my promise? Authors everywhere will thank you!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Write Like...

I found a fun website for writers and wannabe writers. Go to I Write Like and paste in a few paragraphs of your writing, and it will analyze it and tell you which famous writer your writing style resembles. Obviously, it's not scientific, just for fun.

I pasted in a blog entry and got this:

I write like
Margaret Mitchell

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

And then I pasted in a few paragraphs of my time-travel romance novel Lady of the Two Lands and got this:

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Hey! Two of my favorite authors. Maybe there IS something to this analysis after all. Let's make it three for three. I'll paste in a few paragraphs from my paranormal novella Restless Spirit and see what I get.

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Woo hoo! I guess I'll quit while I'm ahead.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Friday Happies 7/2/10

If you...or I...just look around, there are always happy things. Sometimes we have to dig to find them, but they're there.

I was able to knit a whole, long row on my shawl last night without pain. That makes me happy.

The sun is shining and it's a comfortable 74 degrees. That makes me happy.

Koko the parakeet is getting braver, talks and squawks (if only he would enunciate!) and is very amusing. Another happy thing.

I have two shawl kits coming in the mail. A VERY happy thing! Yes, I am haunting the mailman.

This weekend I'll see my daughters and grandchildren for an Independence Day celebration, complete with food, fun, and fireworks. Oh, and the annual Pots and Pans Parade! Good thing I don't plan to sleep till it's over. ;-)

I have good friends and lovely family, and right now they are all relatively healthy and happy. That's a fine thing indeed.

Oh, and way back when, someone developed chocolate. That is definitely a happy-maker!

So, what makes YOU happy today?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Gripes 6/28/10

Today has been humid. Moist? Sultry? At any rate, it's been hot. As I often say, "It's hotter'n Tophet."

But what just is Tophet, anyway? Why are there so many mysterious sayings and words of wisdom featuring words we don't know? Is the wisdom intended only for the initiated few? I mean, I have a suspicion about what "Tophet" means. So why not just say, "Hotter'n hell?"

Well, Liz, just go look it up. So, I did.

According to Wikipedia, "Tophet is believed to be a location in Jerusalem, in the Valley of Hinnom, where the Canaanites sacrificed children to the god Moloch by burning them alive. After the practice of child sacrifice was outlawed by King Josiah, the valley became a refuse site where animal carcasses, waste and the bodies of criminals were dumped, with fires permanently burning to keep disease at bay. Tophet became a synonym for hell." Read the rest of the article here.

I really did not want to know that. Geeze. Yeah, too much knowledge can

Well, off now to ruminate on all the possible interpretations of "forbidden knowledge."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Happies 6/25/10

Well! I'm back. It's been a wild week. I received a call Monday that there was a cancellation Tuesday morning and I could go in and have my x-ray guided cortisone shot. With great trepidation, and a spark of hope, I said "Yes."

The shot went well, if you don't count my anxiety beforehand. Oh, and if you don't count that two nurses couldn't find my vein for an IV, and where they eventually placed it turned out NOT to be in a vein, so I ended up with a big bulge of fluid under the skin of my arm. (sigh) But, my veins are notoriously hard to find.

I do think the shot is helping, some, and I'm hoping for more as I'm only now at the beginning of the time period when I might notice the full effects. They've set me up for another shot in three weeks, which I can cancel if I'm doing great. Otherwise, that will continue the healing process.

So I am cautiously optimistic and a teensy bit happy for my Friday Happies. Keep your fingers crossed for me that soon I'll be once again working in my comfortably...and all those other things I haven't been able to do since this debacle started. Here's hoping!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday Gripes 6/14/10

Okay, I've missed a few gripes and happies. Sometimes life interferes.

So I'm set with a cervical cortisone shot. That's the happy part. (And the worry part, as I try not to think about needles. Oy.)

It's not till mid-July--that was the earliest opening they had. That's the gripe. Another month to hang on and try to fight the pain. But at least I'm on track for getting some relief in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, I'm bonding with Koko, my parakeet. He's a little nut. He loves to imitate whistles, and he's trying hard to talk. He's quite an acrobat, hanging upside down from the roof of his cage and climbing everywhere.

Lately, when I take out his seed cup in the morning to refill it, he jumps on and comes along for the ride. To make sure I fill it properly, I guess! Here's a photo of him.

Okay, I guess he pretty much looks the same in every photo. Maybe I should tell him to put on a different suit or comb his hair differently next time...

My biggest gripe, connected to the wait for the shot, is that I can't knit. And that's just a sample of the things I can't do right now, because of the pain. I can't go grocery shopping (luckily I have a terrific husband who's jumped in to do it), can't drive any great distance, can't even stand up or walk for long due to the pain. Sitting on the couch with my arm resting on my middle and my wrist resting on the laptop is the only comfortable position.

Well, no, I lied. There's another comfortable position, but that's with my right arm draped over the top of my head, so it's not good for much!

Anyway, I hope this will all be over after the shot, and then I can think up new things to gripe about. In the meantime, wishing you all a gripe-free day.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Monday Gripes 6/1/10

Ah, June. The month for weddings. At least it's OUR anniversary this month...32 years. Nothing to gripe about there! I'm married to my favorite person in the whole world, and I treasure every moment together.

Mostly, these days I'm griping about my shoulder pain. Not much can be done until I see the neurosurgeon in a week. I fear surgery will be what he suggests, and that definitely scares me.

First, the idea of an IV freaks me out. I get panic attacks over them...probably because my veins are small, or roll, or both, and thus are hard to pin down.

Next, anesthesia frightens me. The idea that I won't be breathing on my own makes me wonder, what if my body "forgets" how to breathe and won't start up again? I know that's extremely rare, but logic always gets squashed when in a fistfight with panic.

Then there's the surgery itself. When working on or near the spine with sharp, pointy objects...heck, what's NOT to worry about?

And, what if I go through all that and it doesn't fix me after all? What if I can't ever be back to normal and work at my desk comfortably, knit without pain, sleep easily?


I'm trying to tell myself the surgery is what I WANT, to fix the constant pain. And I know once it's over, and I feel better, I'll be terribly thankful. But right now, I'm just in the "terrible" part, scaring myself silly. Sheesh. What a wuss...

So, what scares YOU silly?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Happies 5/28/10

Well, I'm definitely happy that yesterday is over. Had two MRIs, one on my neck and the other on my shoulder. The shoulder one was flat-out torture, and made me realize the Spanish Inquisition would have loved to have an MRI machine...

But now the diagnosis part can begin. I hope to receive a call from my doctor today if I'm very, very lucky (or Tuesday if I'm not) with word on where we go from here. One step at a time is the best we can long as there are no steps back, I'm happy.

I'm delighted it's such a lovely day here today, lower 70s, sunny and gorgeous. Perfect weather for me, not too hot and not too cold.

Our tomatoes are hanging in there after surviving a late frost. They still look a little peeved, but I hope they get past it and prosper. The zucchini and basil has sprouted, nothing yet on the oregano. That might be a bust.

A lovely three-day weekend to look forward to, and that certainly makes me happy. I can use the rest and relaxation!

I'm able to knit despite the shoulder pain, though usually only one row at a time. But one row is better than none at all. And if I work with the laptop on my lap while sitting on the couch, I can get my work done as well. Another thing to be thankful for.

And I guess I'm just happy to be alive. Things could be a lot worse than they are now, I keep reminding myself. Hard to see the silver lining through a haze of pain, but it's definitely there.

What are you planning for the Memorial Day holiday weekend? Something fun, I hope!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Happies 5/21/10

Well, let's see what I'm happy about today. I'm happy the doctor visit is over. No diagnosis yet, just a shot, some pills, and an upcoming MRI. At least I'm on the road to feeling better.

I'm excited about the two hour finale of Lost on Sunday. Not happy it's ON Sunday, mind you...I would rather they'd put it in the regular time slot. And I'm not happy the series is ending...though it has been getting more and more confusing as time goes on. But I've hung in there. I just hope they finish things up somehow, with if not concrete answers, at least big, huge hints. ;-)

How many of you have followed Lost since the start? Show of hands. Okay, one, two, three, four... Fine. And now, how many understand what the heck is going on? Hands? Anyone?

Uh huh. I thought so.

At the start, when Lost was a show about plane crash survivors trying to figure out a way to live until rescue came on what seemed to be a mysterious, possibly dangerous island. And that story was compelling, and almost believable. The characters and their interactions were the focus, and I really enjoyed getting to know them and see how their relationships developed.

But the farther we went, the more bizarre and unbelievable it became with many added characters, story lines, and time lines. And while I feel I've come to know who the people are for the most part, and some of their background, and even though I'm a fan of anything paranormal, I don't get the bottom line: why is this island so terribly weird? Why are Jacob and the smoke monster there, and what does this dang piece of tropical real estate have that requires it to be protected at the cost of so many innocent lives?

Anyone with answers, please post. It would make my Friday even happier!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Happies 5/14/10

Once again, I skipped my Monday gripes because I was in a very happy mood and Monday was a lovely day. However, TODAY I have a gripe! Naturally. It's my stupid shoulder and the ever-increasing pain it's giving me. I'm seeing the orthopedic doctor the first week in June, and in the meantime, sleeping is getting increasingly difficult. So I'm likely to be grumpy all the time until then. Fortunately, during the day I can find ways to work with it or ignore it.

But I do have a fun weekend to look forward to, and that's my happy for today. I'm headed up to my sister's house tonight, and tomorrow we're going, along with two of her friends, to the WEBS Tent Sale.

If you're not a knitter, you won't know what WEBS is. Well, it's the biggest yarn store I've ever seen, with a huge main room stuffed full of gorgeous yarn, and then an even larger warehouse with yet more yarn...I think you could fit a 707 in it. They have an annual "tent sale" that attracts knitters from everywhere, with special sale yarn, books and equipment in the parking lot under tents, as well as the usual supply inside.

So despite the fact that I was in yarn nirvana last weekend from going to the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival with my daughters and reveling in all the gorgeous wool, silk, alpaca, bamboo and cotton yarn there, I'm definitely ready for more yarn!

In case you're a knitter (or even if you're not) and curious about WEBS, you can check out their website here. Yes,the fact that their website URL is yarn dot com tells you just how big and how popular the store is.

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...yarn shopping!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Friday Happies 5/7/10

Today's happies are easy. Tomorrow I'm going with my daughters to the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival. Every year, it's our outing for Mother's Day.

We'll have a great time watching sheep dog trials, visiting sheep and llamas and other fiber-producing animals, watching spinning demonstrations, and catching up with friends.

But the best part...the very best part...will be checking out all the yarn vendors. Oh, there is so much lovely, soft, colorful, gorgeous yarn to ogle and fondle and dream about and take home!

It's an event I look forward to every much so that I went one year when it was pouring rain, and my foot was in a cast. This year it will be rainy again...but no cast, so I figure I'm ahead of the game.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. I hope you enjoy your special day as much as I will!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Happies 4/30/10

Today is a gorgeous spring day, sunny, warm, flowers blooming. It's hard to NOT be in a good mood on such a day. Even with all the shopping I had to do and errands I had to run.

And after yesterday's shopping debacle (looking for jeans and shorts unmentionables) and not finding anything I liked that fit me, and going into a grumpy fit of depression--well, today was indeed a glorious day as I found some of everything! Jeans ordered online, shorts and the other item purchased in-store. So I'm a happy camper.

I brought Koko home a new toy and he was playing with it within minutes of putting it in his cage. That's very gratifying--have had pets in the past that look at the toys you bring them, then look at you as if to say, "Are you nuts? You expect me to play with THAT?" So I'm happy Koko is easily amused.

This will be a working weekend, but it IS a weekend so there will be relaxation also. And NEXT weekend, Mother's Day weekend, I'll go with my daughters to the annual Sheep & Wool Festival, and come home with much new yarn to fawn over. Whoopee! Can't wait. It's my favorite yearly Mother's Day activity.

For all you mothers out do YOU like to celebrate your special day?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Gripes 4/26/10

Today the gripes involve pain. After all, what's more gripe-worthy than being in pain?

I had surgery on a torn rotator cuff back in 2006. Once the doctor got in there with his scope, it didn't look as bad as he thought it would, so he just cleaned up loose and frayed ends and left it at that. You see, apparently if a rotator cuff is only partially torn, the only way to fix it is to cut it completely loose and then sew it back. You can't just sew the torn part, and since there was less tearing than he thought, he hated to cut through still-good tissue.

So. It's been good for some time now, but in the past two months, it's started to bother me again. And I'm afraid surgery on it, again, will be the only thing that will help.

In the meantime, I'm trying to do what I can to ease it, maybe even figure out a way to live with it. But that's difficult, because the pain is there every moment of every day, to one degree or another.

The worst times are when I'm working on the computer (naturally!) and when I'm trying to sleep.

On the computer, I've discovered that sitting in my office chair and stretching my arms out for the keyboard is what does it. Now, my main computer is a laptop, so I can move it around. Thus, I tried sitting on the couch with the computer in my lap. That is SO much better for my shoulder...

...but it's worse for my back. (sigh) I can't sit on the couch all day unless I want to be a cripple when I get up.

So I've tried an alternate solution, sitting in the recliner with the computer in my lap. That works better for my shoulder and the back is okay...but there's no electrical outlet within reach, so I can only work here for as long as the battery holds out.

As for sleeping...there is NO comfortable position. So I flop around every minute or two, until I finally pass out from sheer exhaustion. Once it go to sleep, it either eases up or just isn't enough to wake me, as I do manage to sleep all night. Go figure.

I tried taking Aleve for two or three weeks, but that only upset my stomach and didn't fix the shoulder. The heating pad is nice while it's on, but doesn't have any lasting effect. So, what's next? If it doesn't clear up, I fear a visit to my friendly neighborhood orthopedic doctor may be in store...

Hope you're having a healthier week than me!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Happies 4/23/10

There! That should make anyone happy. :-)

Koko is getting more comfortable in his new home. He moves around easily in his cage now, and has even figured out how to swing on his swing. He plays with his toy now and then, either ringing the bell from underneath or by shaking the colored pieces of wood the bell is attached to.

But his favorite activity seems to be watching the birds outside. We've placed one of the four hooks in the house in front of a glass door, where he can watch the wild birds at the birdfeeders outside. He seems to enjoy it, and chirps and squawks, trying to enter into the conversation.

As for talking to ME...well, he hasn't learned to do that yet. But he does seem to listen intently when I talk to him. I hope soon he'll begin repeating things back...not that he'll know what they mean, but at least he'll know we're communicating.

Hope you have lots of healthy, happy communication with your loved ones on this beautiful spring day!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Happies 4/16/10

Despite the fact that it SNOWED last night (huge, aggrieved sigh) and despite the fact that it's cold and gray and nasty outside, I do have a happy. And here he is:

Koko! He's still getting used to his new home, still a bit flighty (ha, ha) but I think he'll settle in. I'm just happy to have some company again in this lonely house.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Gripes 4/12/10

I guess my first gripe for today is that I seem to have fewer gripes than I thought I would! But I guess I shouldn't complain about that. Should I?

My second gripe is with someone...the town officials, state head honchos, whoever is in charge of deciding what to do to fix the landslide up the street from us, so the road can be reopened. 'Cause, nothing is happening!

We're lucky that our driveway is on a side street that's still accessible. Unlike our neighbors up the street, who have to drive to the cones, get out of the car, move the cones, drive through, get out of the car, put the cones back, drive away; then reverse when coming home.

The biggest inconvenience for us is that the mailman won't deliver. According to the post office, he is not allowed to exit his vehicle in order to move cones. He can only get out for approved bringing a box to your door or something that needs to be signed for. I guess moving cones to go up a closed road doesn't count as approved!

So for the duration, we have to run to the post office daily to get our mail. This wouldn't be bad if this is what we preferred...some people like having a post office box. But we don't have a box, so we can only pick up our mail at the counter, during the limited hours they're open.

Still, it's not much of a gripe, I guess.

My biggest concern today is a worry, not a gripe. Koko the parakeet has been home for 24 hours now and is just sitting in one spot in his cage, not eating or drinking or chirping. I know the move from bird-filled pet store to bird-free new home and new cage is stressful. I just hope he recovers soon! Because I'm not sure how long a tiny little bird can go without nourishment. Do send soothing thoughts Koko's way.

And if any of you out there have parakeets, do you have any tips or tricks for getting him over the adjustment period quickly? All thoughts gratefully accepted!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Friday Happies 4/9/10

I didn't write my usual Monday Gripes this week because Monday was such a beautiful day...warm, sunny, flowers blooming...that I just couldn't think of anything to gripe about! And that's a good thing, something to mention on my Friday Happies page.

Today, alas, is rainy, misty and gray. But that's what makes all those flowers bloom, I keep telling myself. I just hope it doesn't cause another landslide on our road...which has been closed for a week or two since the last one. Sheesh.

Yesterday was Grand Central Station at the bird feeders. I've kept the feeders filled all winter, but rarely saw any birds there. Well, spring has changed all that, apparently.

During the brief two-hour period where I was in sight of the feeders, I saw: pigeons, grackles, starlings, a blue jay, woodpeckers, a goldfinch, juncos, a purple finch, mourning doves, and brown-headed cowbirds. It was a real food fest! They went through the entire block of suet that was out there, and half the seed in the seed feeder.

Also, I've noticed the house wrens have returned to the birdhouse on the side porch and are busy screeching while building this year's nest.

And as if that weren't enough bird news, Koko may get to come home this weekend! When I visited him on Tuesday, they said he had begun to refuse the liquid baby food, so as soon as his weight stabilized on the regular bird food, he could come home. I'm certainly excited about that!

So all this happy bird chirping and watching can't help but make me happy, even on a gray spring day. What spring events cheer you the most?

Friday, April 02, 2010

Friday Happies 4/2/10

This is Koko. Is he not gorgeous? He's going to come home with me in a week or two, when he's fully weaned. In the meantime, I'm visiting him as often as I can, to get him used to me. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, and I'm off to another Koko visit. What more could anyone ask?

Hope your weekend is happy, too!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Gripes 3/29/10

Rainy, misty, damp days make me grumpy. And it's been raining all day, with a repeat of the same tomorrow.

People who go postal on me over nothing make me grumpy, especially when they're sweet as pie one second and nasty the next. And they do seem to come in bunches lately.

Not enough money, quite, to ever achieve all of our goals makes me grumpy. How hard and how long do we have to work to have "enough" instead of "not quite enough"?

Rudeness makes me grumpy. Fanatics of any stripe make me grumpy. Bullies make me grumpy. Too many commercials in my favorite TV shows make me grumpy. Dropping a stitch in my knitting makes me grumpy. Burning my toast...well...I guess you could say, "that really burns my toast." Another way to say, it makes me grumpy.

And--you knew it was coming--grumpy people make me grumpy.

So that means I make myself grumpy! Sheesh.

I think it's time to go to bed and just let tomorrow be a new day...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Happies 3/26/10

Big news of the day: I have chosen and reserved my parakeet. He won't be old enough to come home with me for a couple of weeks yet, but I can go see him as often as I want. He has a bluish-green colored chest, blue and black tail feathers, yellow face...I need to take a picture the next time I'm in. I told them his name was "Koko," so they can call him by name and help get him used to it.

He won't be ready to come home for a couple of weeks yet. He's still growing into his feathers! But I was able to hold him, and it went well. He was comfortable checking out my hands and my jacket, while I held him cupped safely against me. Didn't seem to be afraid, which is a good sign.

So that definitely made my Friday happy! And I wanted to share it with you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Gripes 3/22/10

My intended Friday Happies turned into my Monday Gripes. After much research both on the net and in person, Friday was the day I was going to go to the local bird store to get a parakeet--and then, of course, post about my "happy" on my blog.

I had researched which breed was best for me in my situation; looked into the feeding, housing, and entertainment requirements of the bird. I had visited the bird shop personally as well and interacted with/handled several birds of different breeds.

Finally, my mind made up, I went to the store...and found the bird I had settled on had been sold the day before.


That put a crimp in my style. They had another parakeet there, but I didn't care for the colors. And more importantly, it was less friendly. I felt the one I had handled previously was a little more fearless and willing to explore. Having had a parakeet once in my life, many years ago, who was definitely NOT friendly, I wanted to be sure that this time, I got it right. So imagine my disappointment, when I was all psyched up for bird ownership to begin.

But. There are new baby birds there, about four weeks old right now and they should be "ready to adopt" in another three weeks or so. I will go in and visit them in a couple of weeks ("when they look more bird-like," the shop owner said), interact with them, choose one...and most importantly...put down a deposit. That way I know my bird will be waiting for me as soon as he's old enough to come home.

Of course, that requires me to have patience. Something I'm not blessed with in abundance! Hence the griping.

In the meantime, I'm amusing myself with coming up with potential names for the bird. I read that parakeets, when they do learn to talk, can pronounce hard consonants best. So, for example, a name like "Giselle" might not be good if I want little birdie to ever pronounce his name!

If you have any suggestions for names, I'd love to hear them. The parakeet will be some combination of blue and white in color, and hopefully will be a male. (I hear they are more likely to learn to talk than females. No accounting for nature.)

So let me hear those bird names! Looking forward to it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Gripes 3/15/10

Apparently, there's more to this griping thing than just unburdening myself about things that bug me. Sometimes the gripes have power...and in a negative fashion.

Take today, for example. All day long, and indeed all yesterday and the day before, too, it's been raining here. Roads are washed out, basements filling, and still it keeps raining and raining and raining.

This isn't just a warm spring rain. It's a true nor-easter and rivers and ponds everywhere are overflowing their banks.

And the temperature is low...37 degrees here right now...and the winds are wicked. So not only is it wet, it's also cold and miserable.

"Oh, well," I've tried to comfort myself. "At least it's not snow."

You can imagine the rest. it's snowing. (sigh)

Maybe I should complain about how heavy a million dollars is, or gripe about the rudeness of Robert Redford knocking on my door and wanting to meet me. Heck, you never know!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mini Friday Happies 3/12/10

I'm happy...I just noticed two purple crocuses pushing their pretty little heads up out of the ground! Yahoo...spring can't be far behind.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Monday Gripes 3/8/10

Ah, it's Monday again. So that must mean it's time to gripe about something! I'm sure I can come up with an issue, griping is never difficult...

Oh yeah, I remember. This gripe is easy. My DH and I were out for a ride on Sunday. We like to travel the back roads, and take our time to enjoy the sights. If someone closes up behind us, we usually pull over and let them pass. Hey, we're polite, and we know what it's like to be stuck behind someone going slower than we want to go.

So, on Sunday, this car was tailgating us. As soon as we could find a good spot to do so, we pulled over to let him by. He passed us, and we resumed our drive.

And then, the guy in front of us slowed down. And slowed. And slowed. Eventually, we're inadvertently tailgating HIM because he's slowed down so much. Clearly, it's a deliberate action on his part as he's going way slower than the road requires.

Now, I confess at this point my DH might have made a rude gesture. :-) But really, it was deserved.

At any rate, this continues for many miles--him slowing down, us fuming behind him. At last we approached a spot where we could pass, and we pulled out to do so...only to have Mister Roadhog pull into the left lane, clearly with the intent to block us from passing, and nearly causing a collision.

As you can imagine, the testosterone was flowing at this point. It was almost palpable. I tried to calm DH down, reminding him that I was too young to die, the guy was an a**hole, and we should just let him go be an a**hole by himself.

Eventually, we came to a stop sign. The guy sat there and sat and sat, combing his hair, looking at us in the mirror, waving. What a twenty-four carat jerk!

He pulled out at last. My DH pulled out right behind him...and made a U-turn to go back the way we had come. So at last, the horrifying event was over, and DH felt that he "won" by refusing to continue to participate. Which is good, as I was sure I was going to die...

So tell me, what the heck is up with this? Why would someone decide to go to war with us, for no better reason than we were nice enough to pull over and let him by?

Sheesh. Sometimes I have no hope for the continued existence of the human race.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Friday Happies 3/5/10

I'm still getting over the loss of Burt. So I'm not entirely happy for my Friday Happies. But I do know Burt would WANT me to be happy, and I'm trying.

One thing that delighted me today was seeing the sun come out, and the temperature rise into the upper 40s. It really felt like spring was just around the corner, and I'm SO ready for spring! I think spring will help me move on, give me something cheerful and warm to focus on.

And I hate to say it, but...TGIF. This weekend will be part distraction--we're celebrating my granddaughter's birthday--and part relaxation and de-stressing. I really need a break. And there's nothing like little arms flinging around me and little voices shouting "Nana!" to cheer me up.

There's also nothing like settling down with a cup of tea, some knitting, and a favorite old movie. When I'm depressed, I like to watch musicals or romantic comedies. They both pull me right out of a funk.

My favorite musicals are "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," "The King and I," and "West Side Story." Of course, the last two have teary endings...but that can be cathartic, crying over someone else's troubles instead of your own.

And for romantic comedies, give me "French Kiss," or anything with Julia Roberts in it!

What are your favorite ways to indulge yourself and get out of a blue mood? I'm always open to new suggestions!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Monday Gripes 3/1/10

My gripes today are more like sorrows, and that's why I didn't post on Friday. We had to have our cat, Burt, put to sleep on Friday, and for the life of me, I couldn't come up with something to be happy about.

Burt was about 12 years old. He was a stray, so we're not sure of his exact age. He started living under our deck the summer of 2000. When we were out on the deck, he'd climb the stairs and jump into our laps and purr, purr, purr. He was such a friendly and sweet little soul. But we already had a dog, so we figured he'd just be a neighbor but not a family member.

Then, the fall began to turn cold. Poor little Burt (yes, we'd already named him, so our fate was already sealed, even though we didn't know it) was shivering and getting skinny. Being the sneaky person I am, I spent time introducing Burt to our dog, Max, out on the deck to see if they were compatible. Max was totally confused about why we'd want to have anything to do with a cat, but he was fine with it if it was what we wanted.

So in November, when the first snowflakes fell, we took Burt in. He was so happy and grateful to be inside. He was the perfect cat...loved to sit on laps and be patted, and also loved to eat! I think that was because he spent time (who knows how much?) living outside on just what he could catch. It took him a long time to realize that now, he would always have plenty of food, a warm house, a lap and many hands to pat him.

Over the past year or so, Burt has begun to have "spells" where he would vomit and not eat. We took him to the vet several times, and they couldn't find anything in particular wrong with him. But since he always got over the spells, we didn't worry too much.

As it turns out, we should have worried, because Burt was developing stomach cancer. In cats it's known as a silent killer, because by the time unmistakable symptoms show up, it's usually too late.

Burt stopped eating last Tuesday night, and wouldn't drink, either. We tried everything, every treat we could find, but nothing worked. He got weaker and weaker, didn't seem to be in much pain, thank goodness, but just fading away. So on Friday, we took him in to be put to sleep. We all went and held him and told him what a wonderful kitty he was, and how much we would miss him. It was quick and went smoothly, but there's a Burt-sized empty spot in my heart now. And my heart was already damaged by the loss of Max in September.


The house sure seems empty, sterile and devoid of life and purpose now...

We miss you, Burt.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Gripes 2/22/2010

I have to say, one of my biggest all-time gripes is people who are rude. Whether it's a speed demon cutting me off in traffic, a store clerk ignoring my request for help, or a teenager's roll of the eyes, it's all rude and impolite, and absolutely unnecessary.

I've never understood how it is that people can treat others so cavalierly, being dismissive or downright insulting, with no consideration for the other person's feelings. Do they get some kind of adrenaline boost out of it? Are they asocial personalities, with no feeling for others at all? Or are they just so narcissistic that they only care about themselves?

The world would be a much better place if people treated each other politely. Can you imagine a war starting if people said, "Oh, you're a Protestant? How interesting! Tell me about your beliefs," or "You need more land? We have a plot over here that's just sitting idle. Do move in!"

That may be a little simplistic, but honestly, if people always treated each other with respect, so many little disagreements would never have the chance to escalate into anything serious.

I've spent my life trying my best to be polite to everyone, regardless of how they treated me. "Take the high road," I told myself. "At least then you have nothing to feel guilty about, no matter how things turn out." And that's true, as far as it went.

Yet, when I'm treated rudely or unfairly, it causes stress and emotional fallout. And I find more and more often I'm asking myself, why should I suffer on the account of someone who clearly has no respect for me?

So I'm venturing one toe into the water of "well-deserved rudeness." I would never treat anyone disrespectfully just because I feel like it. But in the case where someone treats ME poorly first, for no good reason...then, I'm starting to think, all bets are off.

It's difficult to be rude, purposely, after a lifetime of polite. But in some cases, it seems warranted and more, it seems to be the only thing certain people understand.

But that's how wars start. Isn't it? Oy.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Happies 2/19/10

I've missed a week with the Gripes and the Happies, due to being out of town with my DH on a Valentine's trip to the White Mountains. Definitely all happy, nothing to gripe about there!

So I'm trying to get back on track.

Happy, happy, happy. Let's see. I'm happy it's Friday! But I guess there's a lot of that going around. What else?

It's a little warmer today, and the snow is melting. After the most recent ten-inch storm, I've decided that it should be against the law for me to have to sing "Let It Snow!" ONE MORE TIME this winter. I love snow; it's pretty and Christmassy and the snowflakes are a marvel of nature's engineering. But enough is enough, already. By the time it hits mid-February, I'm ready for temps in the fifties and crocuses popping up. So today's high of 41 and drip, drip, drip from the roof makes me think spring might actually come. Soon, I hope!

Lately, I'm driving myself crazy trying to figure out what bird I've seen several times on the tree out my front window. I've seen more than one of them, but I suspect they're moving through and not native to this area as I've never seen them before this year.

I love watching birds, and I keep a couple of bird books handy for quick and easy identification when I see a new one. But this time I'm stumped. It LOOKS like an eastern bluebird, perhaps; but the book's description of its eating habits and natural habitat don't sound right. It's a little blue bird about the size of a sparrow, with a red breast and white tummy. Any guesses from bird experts out there?

Birds are such delicate creatures. I don't know how they survive brutal winters without turning into little birdie popsicles. I try to keep food out for them, but I know their lives must be harsh.

I remember once hearing a bang coming from the direction of our sliding glass deck door. I looked out and there was a small finch lying on the deck. I was so afraid he'd killed himself by flying into the glass door.

I picked him up and held him, and I could feel his heart beating. Good sign; he wasn't dead. I pulled out one wing to examine it, then the other, then turned him over to check his feet. They all seemed to be in good shape, as far as I could tell. No blood, no obvious wounds.

So I just held him in my hands, keeping him warm. (It was a chilly autumn day.) I hoped against hope that he'd just stunned himself and would recover, given time.

And sure enough, in a few minutes, he seemed to be coming out of his daze. He realized where he was--in the hands of a giant--and started to flap his wings. I opened my hands and he flew/skittered across the deck floor. After a minute, he hopped up onto the railing and flew away.

That was one of the most special moments of my life--holding one of God's tiniest living creatures in my hands, and playing some small part in helping it recover from a trauma. I've always remembered that with a smile.

So, whatever those blue birds are, it doesn't matter...they bring me joy. And that's what counts, right?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Monday Gripes 2/8/10

I know I'm not the only one with THIS gripe. Many of my favorite shows are on ABC. Come December, they disappeared. "Well," I told myself, "it's just because of the holidays and all the holiday movies and specials. They'll be back come January."

January came...and went. Most of those shows haven't returned. Heck, "Lost" didn't even start the season until February. Oy! And other shows are returning at the end of March...or later.

What's up with that?

It's not like there's a writer's strike this year. So what's their lame excuse? Are other networks doing this as well, or only ABC?

All I can hope is that this means they'll continue showing new episodes well into summer. Hmmpfff.

Another thing that bothers me is that no one writes letters anymore. I'm as guilty of that as the next person, I confess. Since the invention of the personal computer, people have been getting farther and farther away from the pen and paper. I'm not even sure anyone could read my handwriting anymore. (sigh)

Now, I know it's easier to pop open an e-mail program and type a note, or open up that IM box and "chat" away. But those things are ephemeral and once you close the box, it's gone. (Or once your computer crashes.)

I remember writing love notes to my then-boyfriend (now husband) and using scented stationery. I remember shopping for stationery, and there were lots of choices: floral and opulent, cream-colored and official-looking, or dotted with terminal kitten cuteness. I always had two or three boxes on hand and chose based on who I was writing to.

And when I received a letter...oh, that was special. I'd get a cup of tea, sit down in a comfy chair, and open the letter. What news would it contain? Questions for me to answer in my next letter? Jokes? Sad tales?

After reading it, I could save it in my desk drawer, to read and reread whenever the fancy struck me. Something permanent and real, to hold onto, something that symbolized a relationship between two people.

I guess I've talked myself into it...I'll have to go write someone a letter!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday Happies 2/5/10

My happiest event of the day today was meeting my husband for lunch. Friday is always my "grocery stock-up" day, and it's anything but fun. Plus, it delays when I can get my "real" work done by carving out the highest-energy portion of the day. And Dan, of course, is in the middle of yet another long workday. So we meet for lunch, and it gives us something to look forward to and a chance to debrief a little.

Today we went to Taco Bell. It's one of my favorites, because I'm a vegetarian. It's tough to eat at any fast-food restaurant if you're a vegetarian, in this burger-is-king culture. But at Taco Bell, I can order *anything* on the menu and just ask for beans instead of meat. Simple! And don't think they don't know it...I saw a sign up today reminding people that during Lent, they can get any item made without meat.

My second happy of the week was Groundhog Day. Now, I know that good old Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so that means six more weeks of winter. And I have to say, are you really surprised? At least in our neck of the woods, spring never comes this early.

But for many years, I've been a fan of the movie "Groundhog Day," with Bill Murray. I especially enjoy the scenes at Gobbler's Knob, when the groundhog is pulled out of his burrow and, with much pomp and circumstance, foretells six more weeks of winter.

So imagine my surprise when this year, I went to the Reuter's website to see what Phil had predicted, and found a video of the event. I viewed the video, and it's almost a carbon copy of the movie. I was so excited! I've watched it three or four times and now, I really have to watch the movie again.

Have you had any surprises or unexpected little tidbits of info about your favorite movies? Do share!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Monday Gripes, 2/1/10

I was reminded today of a catastrophic misspelling (the offender shall remain nameless) that really sets my teeth on edge. It's an adverb that's defined as "without much doubt, seems reasonably true."

The word is "probably," and as you may guess, it comes from the word "probable."

What really drives me batty is when people spell it "prolly." Oy! My only guess about this flagrant misspelling is that those people are spelling it phonetically--and "prolly" is the way they pronounce it.

(Suitable interval while Liz faints from the pain of it all, falls to the floor with a thud, slowly reawakens, shakes her head and staggers to her feet)

Oh. My. God. Please people, please, the word is PROBABLY. Pronounce and spell it right, and you'll add years to my life. I swear.

Okay, I feel better now that I've gotten that off my chest!

My second gripe for today is my own failing memory. I suppose everyone forgets things now and then; it's only human. And as we get older, we tend to forget more than we used to. (For instance, we forget what it feels like to be able to do a hundred sit-ups in a row. Seriously.)

What really irritates me is when I forget things that have a timely nature to them, i.e., a doctor's appointment, a phone call that needs to be made, when the post office closes. It's not so much that I forget them that bugs me, but that I remember them when it's too late to do anything about it but smack my forehead and swear.

What, exactly, is up with that?

I mean, if I'm going to forget I have a doctor's appointment until it's too late to go, why remember it then? I'd be much happier, if I have to forget, then to never remember at all. Because you see, remembering too late creates guilt and stress, something that's bound to only make me forget even more things.

So that's my request of my own peculiar gray matter: either do your job with one hundred percent efficiency (okay, I'll take ninety), or just forget about it. Tell me, is that too much to ask?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Happies 1/29/10

Friday Happies time again. The thing I'm most grateful and happy for today is indoor heating! It's SO cold here today, only 15 degrees and with the wind, it feels like it's close to zero outside. I'm also happy that today I was driving the car with the heater that works! Lucky me.

Seriously, indoor plumbing and electricity and heat has to be one of the best inventions ever. I can't imagine what it must be like to have grown up in a home with only a fireplace and/or woodburning stove for heat. My mother tells stories of rushing down to the kitchen on frigid cold mornings to dress by the stove, as her bedroom was just too cold.

That leads to my second happy: I'm happy I live in a temperate zone, where winter is truly only one season of the year. Soon it will be spring; then summer; then fall. Just when you think you've had enough of the heat or the cold, it changes. What a great system!

And while we're talking about marvelous inventions, how about the microwave? I remember how troublesome leftovers were, when you had to either put them in a big pan in the oven, or try to reheat them in a saucepan on top of the stove. They'd stick and burn and make a mess, and just didn't seem to be worth the effort.

Now, I can put that leftover spaghetti or omelet or stew on a plate, pop it in the microwave, press a few buttons and, voila! (Practically) instant hot food. I absolutely love the microwave, and sure can't imagine any circumstances under which I'd go back to life without it.

What are your favorite convenience inventions--or those that you truly can't live without?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Gripes, 1/25/10

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. That's what I've been chanting all day today, as it drizzles, drips and pours. Flooding alerts are up everywhere, as not only do we have the rain to deal with, but also the melting of the over one foot of snowmelt to deal with.

Rain has always been one of my gripes. I know it's necessary to the foliage, the water table, and the planet...but I just can't feel happy on gray, wet days. Snow, I can deal with, but not rain.

Speaking of rain, one of my favorite short stories is called, "Rain, Rain, Go Away" by Harlan Ellison. In this story, a normal, average fellow finds that this magic chant of childhood really DOES have power when he repeats it...and he learns the consequences. Check it out in his story story collection, ELLISON WONDERLAND:

Another thing that really bugs me is the way the grocery store constantly freaks me out. Just when I find a product I like, they stop carrying it. Or they instead carry a different size or shape of bottle, or change the label. Or they raise the price. Or they move it to a different shelf, or section.

Don't get me wrong, I love to try new things. But I also like the comfort of the tried and true, and it really burns my toast (my latest favorite saying, BTW) to get used to something and really learn to love it, only to have it transmogrify or disappear.

And that goes for lots of things beyond food products. For example: a new TV show appears. I watch an entire season of it and really become a fan, only to have it disappear.

I find a clothing store, or bookstore, or restaurant, and it's my new favorite place. Then one day it's gone, boarded up or turned into a flooring store or tobacco shop. Sheesh.

So what has changed or disappeared on you and invited your ire?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Happies 1/22/10

A second installment of Friday Happies. I hope whoever is reading this blog enjoys the new features!

Yesterday was my grandson's birthday, and that reminds me how happy I am to be a Nana. I enjoyed raising our children, but it was a 24/7 job with the heavy responsibility of raising them "right," instilling in them our values, and seeing that they could stand on their own as adults and be happy. That can put a lot of strain on a person!

As a grandmother, I can enjoy the hugs and kisses, the pictures presented with pomp and solemnity, the excitement of Christmas and birthday mornings, and the sheer innocent love of a child for a grandparent...and I don't have to worry that child won't turn out right because of me.

I think grandchildren are a reward, and I'm so delighted I did something right to deserve them! Far from making me feel old, they make me feel young again as I remember their mother's childhood years, and I get to enjoy them over again.

And my second bit of happiness today is that it's Friday. TGIF! I'm sure people the world over feel the same way. Friday for me is a break in my everyday routine. Instead of writing and editing all day, I put in a mere hour or two. Then I grab my shopping list (and the cooler, if it's much above freezing outside) and get the groceries, stashing the perishables in the cooler. Then I meet my husband at his workplace, and we go out for lunch. It's become a tradition that we both look forward to, to mark the start of a weekend where we'll get at least a *little* free time.

How about you? What traditions do you have that bring you joy?