Thursday, December 30, 2010

Undecorating the House

I'm in that tweeny time, between Christmas and New Year's. I begin decorating the house for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend. Whatever I get out and in place is what I do for the holidays. This year, I was prolific. Heck!

Now, I have to take it down. I keep looking at everything and wondering if I should do this in one convulsive effort on New Year's Day. Or, should I begin slowly and clear out that which catches my eye.

I mean, I could strip the linens from the table, pull up the sheet under the tree and throw the Santa hat chair back covers into the washer. That would take care of some of the squishy stuff.

Or, I could pack away the Victorian carolers and clear off an entire table top. And I could put away the winter gourd collection. And take down one of the Navitiy scenes. That would undecorate an entire room.

Or, I could put away the twelve teddy bears that line the staircase. Wow! That would be another entire "room" undecorated.

Or, I could continue packing up things to take to Goodwill. I promised that if I received replacements for anything, I would evaluate the original to see if it had life in it for another family. I got many replacements, so packing up goodies for Goodwill would bring two-fold satisfaction: I can get rid of things I don't need and provide retail therapy for others.

Or, I could update the Christmas card list. (I've already written and mailed my thank you notes, so that's not on the list of stuff left to do.) Or, I could put away the last of the gifts that are still scattered across the living room floor.

Or, I could have a nap. With a purring cat on my lap.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Past

My mother has been gone for over seven years, yet I woke up at four this morning thinking about all the wonderful Christmases we shared when I was a child. We didn't have much, but we had love and fun and time together.

My mother raised me alone. My father, the sperm donor, left the family before I was a year old. I spent many of my formative years in a house filled with women: a grandmother, an aunt, a mother, and me.

As Christmas grew closer, the bestest odors came from the kitchen. Mother made terrific tollhouse cookies. She wasn't fancy. She just used the recipe on the back of the Nestle chocolate chip package. She let me eat a little bit of raw cookie dough. We didn't know it was bad for us. So far, it hasn't killed me. Grandmother made peanut butter and oatmeal cookies. I got to press the fork on the peanut butter balls to flatten them and put the criss-cross pattern on them. My aunt baked pies -- apple, pumpkin and cherry. Nothing was low fat.

On Christmas day, my aunt and mother would get up at three in the morning to put the turkey in. My mother always received a turkey from her boss, and it was the biggest damned bird you ever saw. Eventually, the cooks would make stuffing, sweet potato casserole, fresh vegetables (I confess. To this day, I have never had green bean casserole.), creamed peas and onions, tomato aspic. Without all of these foods, it wouldn't have been Christmas. Add pickles and olives on toothpicks stuck in a ceramic rooster and canned cranberry jelly and the table was ready.

With all these aromas floating in the air, what do you think is my favorite Christmas smell?

New crayons. I get a box of new Crayolas every year, along with coloring books. To this day, a box of Crayolas takes me back to Christmas mornings when I was a little kid.

I miss my mother, today as much as any other day. I'd walk a thousand miles to open one more Crayola box from her. I miss you, Mini Mommy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I'm old enough to remember sending out paper Christmas cards. I even wrote letters to go in each. Not a generic Christmas letter, but hand-written personal notes to friends and family. I'd start around November 1 in order to get 100 cards and letters done and mailed.

About a dozen years ago, I wussed out and wrote the generic Christmas letter. Around eight years ago, I turned that task over to my cat. I took more shortcuts: printed labels, return address labels, etc. I also reduced the number of cards sent. I decided if I didn't receive a card, the people to whom I was mailing cards weren't interested in what I was doing. I didn't want to annoy them. This year, I mailed fewer than 50 cards and letters.

What I'm seeing in return is a shift in the way we think about communicating. E-mail used to be a good way of sending notes to our friends. Individual notes with actual news in them. Health updates. Travel updates. A real message addressed to me. I noticed a subtle shift a few years back. More messages came in addressed to me but were clearly generic in nature. Many of my friends discovered the .bcc function in e-mail programs. Notes moved from personal to impersonal.

Time passed and people discovered Facebook and Twitter. Now, I get postings all day long from my friends. It's easy to send out a blast on FB and think you are communicating. You are, but you aren't reaching me on a personal level. Maybe you don't want to. (Think about Obama using the teleprompter instead of looking into the camera. I'm sitting in front of the TV, dammit. LOOK AT ME.)

I've been thinking about this a lot. We've lost the ability to reach people on a personal level. We mistake pokes, and jokes, and forwarded messages for communication. It's not helping us relate to our children. Oh, what's that you say? You just text your kids when you want to get their attention. At the dinner table. In the same room. In the same house. How silly is that?

Know that I'll read your messages with the attention they deserve. And then I will hit the delete key on e-mail to kill a FW: FW: FW: joke or ignore the message on FB.

I was looking through a desk drawer last weekend. It was like an archaeological dig. I discovered a fountain pen that belonged to my great-grandfather. It has a lever to draw ink into the barrel from a bottle that used to sit on his desk. I held it for a long time. What would it be like to sit with fine stationery and write a letter using a fountain pen again? Probably would make the recipient drop dead in shock. I don't want that responsibility.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Musings

Again with the musing, you say. Yup. Get used to it. I like to think about what holidays mean, what they don't mean, and how to get the most pleasure out of them.

With Thanksgiving behind us, I turned my attention on "what's next." First, it was disemboweling the turkey carcass and turning it into sliced meat for sandwiches and broth for hearty soups. Then it was pulling the Christmas decorations out of the garage and dragging them to the front porch.

Thank goodness for more football games than any human should watch. With various games in the background, I managed to get the tree up, decorate it, and decorate the remaining hard surfaces in the house. That is, those hard surfaces that I felt like decorating.

Like many people, Terry and I have waaaay too much stuff for the holidays. Not everything comes out every year. A few things stay behind and are not seen for years. One of these days, I'll find them and march them over to Goodwill. Maybe someone else will display them.

Still, I am as decorated as can be.

While all this activity was going on, I realized how happy I am. I love my husband and our life. I might even love it more if I weren't working three days a week. I don't yet know when I'll pull the plug, but having nine days off in a row made having nine more off in a row veeeery attractive.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Musings

I have so much to be thankful for every day of the year. Sometimes, though, it is a good thing to take stock of the list. Today is that day.

I am grateful for my family, in all its iterations and variations. We are not a "typical" family, whatever that is. We all have good health, keen minds, and jobs. In today's environment, all three have equal weight in the plus column. My husband and I will become grandparents for the first time next spring, so we are doubly grateful for the little pink peanut growing in Aleta's womb.

I am grateful for finding my sense of place. After decades of living hither, tither and yon, I am so glad Terry and I found our sense of place at Smith Mountain Lake. I can lay my eyes on still or roiled waters. I can look at mountains near enough to touch. I am grateful for the artistic and literary communities that have embraced me and encouraged me to follow my dreams.

I am grateful that I live in a counntry where I can engage in political discourse and peaceful discord without fear of reprisal or arrest. I may not like everything that is going on, but I pray that cooler heads will prevail and collectively we can move the country forward one baby step at a time.

I am grateful for the turkey roasting in the oven, for being able to put food on the table, for my loving husband, and all my friends.

I wish everyone a loving and restful day. As for me, I plan to spend the afternoon in a turkey coma watching football. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The end of home games

Alas, Saturday was our last home game this season for Navy football. We made the trek north to Annapolis five times this year. And wonder of wonders. Not a single rainy game this time. Last year, we were sodden at least twice.

Saturday's game was a fitting farewell to our senior class. Each senior marched onto the field with family and sponsors to be honored. Having watched these young men play for four years, I can say our officers' core is in fine hands.

Our small community of season ticket holders disbanded until next year. As with any community, our friends had good and bad luck. Death of a parent. Surgery. Success of a son who is going to fly for the Navy. Redeployment for a Marine pilot who taught at the academy for the past three years. We will miss watching his son grow up. Zander is quite a fan at 22 months.

Most of us are skipping the Army-Navy game. At least in person. Something about being wimps sitting out in Philadelphia on December 11 and freezing our tails off. We agreed that hot toddies, fires and home-made chili won out over $9 beers and crummy hot dogs.

Until next year. Go Navy. Beat Army!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fred First on Earthcare

Yesterday, the Friends of the Franklin County Library and Smith Mountain Arts Council worked together to bring Fred First to speak on his love of our planet earth. Fred lives in Floyd County and has been blogging about his exploits there since 2002. I've been reading his blog since 2008 and love it.

Fred drove down and back in dense fog (see his latest blog entry) on a barely two-lane highway unfit for cars or trucks. Even the deer avoid it. The enthusiastic audience loved his presentation, though, so I trust the hair-raising trip was worth it.

Fred read a couple of essays, talked about his passion for the earth, showed us a wonderful multimedia show of photos and music, and even let us complete our Christmas shopping. Yes, he thoughtfully brought copies of his two books, Slow Road Home and What We Hold in Our Hands. I saw many of the guests walk out with copies of each. Wonder how many will find their way into Christmas stockings. Mine belong to ME.

BTW, I filtched Fred's picture from his blog.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Old Time Virginia

This weekend our daughter, son, and daughter-in-law came down to Smith Mountain Lake from New York for a pre-holiday, post-summer visit. Our daughter lives in Orange County, and our married kids live out on Long Island. We always try and do something that they can't do in New York. This weekend presented some terrific opportunities.

First, there was the annual chili festival at the lake. We sampled really good and very ordinary chili. The weather cooperated, so we soaked up a fair amount of Vitamin C.

We planned a drive through the Blue Ridge to Floyd on Sunday for lunch. We took the long route, Rt. 40 to Rt. 8 into Floyd. Again, a perfect day for driving through the mountains. And no one got car sick, although a couple admitted to being a wee bit queasy. More likely, it was from hunger. We ate at a local cafe and headed over to the Floyd Country Store. We couldn't figure out why people were standing along the sunny side of the street.

As always, a pickup band was playing real mountain music at the back of the store. Just a jam session with people who love the old music sittin' and pickin'. I caught movement and turned to see the start of the Veteran's parade. Took us seconds to stand outside and salute our veterans (Terry and son are both veterans). What you don't see on Long Island are parades with tractors, pets from the animal shelter, a bus honoring local warfighters lost, and girl and boy scout troups.

Now, you tell me where you're going to get a taste of real Virginia like this.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


One of the greatest things about living in the U.S. is our ability to vote without intimidation or threats. Unfortunately, we cannot vote without lies, slurs, mudslinging, and character assassination. That's become axiomatic. It's what politics has become.

I watched the election results until way too late. Depending on what side you are on, it was either a landslide or a shellacking. Either way, a seismic shift changed the balance of power. Good people won. Good people lost. People you agree with will be our leaders. People we don't agree with as a populace probably are looking for a job.

Term limits would have helped, but we can't expect our leaders to vote on a bill that would put them out of a job. Not going to happen. Even if that is what Jefferson believed. So, we the people have to do our job every two years and vote for the people we want to lead us.

I hope the new guard listens carefully. Some of the old guard did. My Congressman did. He was out in the district nearly every weekend, listening, asking questions. When he voted on major legislation, he knew my position. He didn't have to talk about me as a generic "the people want me to vote for/against" a piece of legislation. He knew, because I told him. He listened.

I wonder if the new guard realizes that it too is on thin ice. If it doesn't listen, if it doesn't connect with me as an individual, not as a "people" he's never met, then he too may be out of a job in two years. My warning to all of the winners: Be careful what you ask for. You may get it.

And one more thought about connecting with the voting public. What's with this teleprompter? Obama, are you listening? Lose the teleprompter. There is no better way to connect with me, the "people," than to look straight into the camera, straight into my eyes. Then and only then will I know you are talking to me, not to a generalized blog.

Get the message, all, and get to work. This infighting has to stop. No more family feuds. No more fingerpointing. We need you to run the country, not play the blame game. Stop whining and GET TO WORK. You owe it to us. We sent you to Washington. We can send you home.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jury Duty

I've been called to jury duty before. And I've been called to grand jury duty before. Yesterday was the first time I actually sat on a grand jury.

A bit of background. I was called for grand jury while still living in LA a loooong time ago. At that time, the county grand jury sat every Friday for 18 months. Yes, you read that right. I was in process of moving to NY at the time and would be leaving in two months. So, naturally, I was excluded from service. Glad I was. The jury heard the prosecutor's case and reviewed evidence from the Hillside Strangler case. I have a strong stomach, but that might have been overboard, even for me.

Next, in Northern VA, I was called for jury duty. Just plain ol' jury duty. We had a call-in number to use the night before we were asked to appear. I called, only to find that the perp had pled out. Great. Service satisfied.

I was intrigued by county grand jury in VA. Wondered what it would be like. Part of the nearly 50 cases we reviewed were ridiculous. Petty theft (case of beer, a can of Coke and $20 from a vending machine), lots of Walmart thefts. And then there were the dog fighting cases. Not an actual fight, but arrests of people selling pit bulls trained to fight. (I now know what a good fighting pit bull goes for. Must work that into a novel someday.)

And then there were the slimy cases. Child pornography. Murder. Elder abuse. Child abuse. Having sex with a minor. For the life of me, I have no idea what drives people to commit some of these crimes. Still, I got plenty of "material" for future novels. None of it will take place in VA, so I'm safe. Besides, by the time I get around to writing about some of this stuff, the cases will be closed and I'll be able to use the newspaper accounts for research.

You'll have to excuse me. I need a hot shower to wash away alime.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Slaughter at Smith Mountain Lake

We came home one afternoon to carnage on our lower deck. Bodies all over the place. Such mayhem. Such a battle. And one calico-with-an-attitude meowing us out about not being able to help with the slaughter.

Last time she ate anything with serrated legs, she puked blood all over the kitchen. We spent four hours at the emergency hospital. X-rays, kitty Tagamet, one awful enema and $175 later and she was empty of bad legs. And she wanted outside to indulge again. NOT.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rural vs. Wilderness

When my husband Terry and I were in Alaska this summer, we were struck by the difference between rural and wilderness. Terry grew up in York County, PA, which is a combination of rural farms, small towns and mid-sized cities. I grew up in Southern California. During the winter, I lived in the Los Angeles area, which is about as far away in spirit as you can get from either rural or wilderness. But, in the summer I spent all my free-range time on the Mohave Desert, which I think of as wilderness. We had vast swaths of miles and miles of seemingly nothing.

I hiked in the Rockies and Sierras, love the Great Smokies and Applachians. But the Chugash Range surrounding Anchorage was a mind blower. So were the mountains that form the Turnagain Strait boundaries.

I must set a Mad Max book in Alaska.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Life's Lessons: Don't Believe Your Press Releases

When Terry and I went to Alaska, we went for a vacation. What we came away with were several new life lessons. So, in an attempt to share them (and perhaps bore you all to death), here's the first.

My cousin's boyfriend loaned me Going Rouge: An American Nightmare. This collection of editorials and opinion columns offered new input into the life and times of Sarah Palin. Perhaps what prompted Duane to loan me the book was our drive through Wassila, one of the ugliest examples of urban and suburban sprawl in Alaska. I expected it to be beautiful, with small lakes, float planes and lots of cute homes fronting those lakes. NOT. It's one strip mall after the other. Even the lake where Ms. Palin lives is ordinary, as is her house. Only the large fence between her and a writer she termed snoopy stood out in the middle-class neighborhood. What do you want to be the Palins move into a mansion, just like other nouveau riche do. The town is "wasilly." Couldn't even find a book store there.

I admit I read sections of Going Rogue, too. I found it full of misrepresentations and myths. People who believe their own press releases bother me. This book bothered me.

While I was reading Going Rouge in the great room, my bedside reading was The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. What could be more of a contrast to the first book than this one? Pausch lived the last years of his life full of joy, full of honesty about what was happening to him, full of life and love for his wife and children. He could have passed a lie detector test. Yes, he was afraid of dying but not afraid to die. I found his honesty uplifting.

Stray thought: I bet Ms. Palin could also pass a lie dectector test. She obviously believes the lies she tells and the press releases her "people" submit. Sigh.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Moose Tales

One thing we learned immediatly upon arrival in Anchorage is to be on the lookout for moose. They are tall. They are big. They are fast. And they are everywhere.

Just not everywhere we looked. Everyone we met had a moose tale. One woman found a female taking a dip in her outdoor hot tub in the middle of winter. No, she didn't hand the visitor a robe and towel. Another watched a moose dine on her flowers. (Must be a relative to my local deer population.) Yet another stepped on a moose's nose when he went out to get the morning paper. The beast was sleeping next to the heat exchanger and got stepped on.

With all that send up, I had to see a moose. None appeared in Anchorage, although sitings were supposedly abundant. When we went down to the Kenai, we were assured we would see plenty. I saw one, but it was behind an old silver Airstream, so my husband Terry didn't get to see it. I thought we see plenty in Moose Pass. NOT. Eventually, as we were driving back up to Anchorage from Kenai, along around four in the afternoon, a cow and calf ambled toward a stream in a fen. I saw both. All poor Terry saw was a moose butt. He thinks there are more moose tales in Alaska than there are moose tails.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back Online

After being gone for nearly three weeks, and trying my darnedest to stay unplugged, I'm back online. My husband Terry and I were in Alaska for most of our "away" time. We re-entered the world of the lower forty-eight on Monday, July 26th, picked up our car at Dulles Airport and drove to upstate New York. We had plans to visit our daughter and son-in-law, go to Woodstock and then on the Saratoga for part of the summer racing meet.

And then we were home, sleeping in our own bed, and not living out of the back of a car or a suitcase. Still, the time away, even though I could not get completely unplugged, was worth it. I have tons of material for this blog; ideas for story twists for upcoming novels; great pictures to work into who-knows-what; and a fresh perspective on the world around me.

I feel like I'm coming out of a creative hibernation with a mind that is tumbling with ideas. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I don't know if I can do this. I'm going to try and unplug for at least a week. No cell phone. No tweets. No Facebook. No blogging. NO E-MAIL! I think it will be hard. Terry has promised that, if I get going into catatonia he'll let me get near a keyboard. Otherwise, it's a complete break. I'll be free-range writer during that time. Do you think I'll be successful???

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wytheville and Fred First

Last Friday, I drove down to Wytheville with a writer friend of mine. It was the 26th annual Wytheville Chautauqua and writing contest. Both my friend and I placed in the essay contest. I was a little concerned about the title of the essay I submitted, "Balls," because I know the sensibilities of some of the people who coordinate the contest. But, since this had nothing to do with testicles and everything to do with juggling the various balls of life, I said, "what the hell" and sent it in. Took honorable mention.

The highlight of the day, of course, was getting to hear Fred First talk about eight years and 1,000,000 (yes, that is one million) words of blogging. Fred started with stray thoughts and images about the place he lives in Floyd County, VA. Very rural, gorgeous, and Fred's own special place. He read an essay from his first book, Slow Road Home, about how he hated canned, embalmed asparagus when he was a child. -- Hate to admit it. I still like canned asparagus, cold with wasabi mayo on a boat-nic. (That's a picnic on a boat.)

Fred's book is a direct result of his blog. He dumped his blog, formatted it for print, and self-published a few years ago. It's a hit and he's a wonderful speaker.

And I scored a promise to come to Roanoke and speak to the Valley Writers in 2011. Maybe I can get him on the same program with Jim Minick, who was also at the Wytheville event. What a day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cow in the lake

On Saturday evening, just as Terry and I were heading out to dinner, a neighbor called to report a dead cow in the lake just off the end of his dock. He wanted to know what to do with it.

I suggested he drag it ashore, butcher it, and stock his freezer. He was not amused. He seemed to think that because Terry and I are on the homeowner's association board, we should remove said dead cow. We thought not, gave the neighbor several numbers to call (Coast Guard Axilliary, Marine Fire and Rescue, Applachian Power (who owns the license for the lake), Virginia departments with varying degrees of responisibility for health, water safety, etc.). The Coast Guard and Marine Fire and Rescue eventually showed up and circled the dead cow. My neighbor went out as well. Everyone agreed that the cow was indeed thoroughly dead. And then they left. Cow remained in the water.

Cow was in the water on Sunday. Today, it's moved on or down, who knows which.

So, what is the story about the dead cow? Becky Mushko wants to know if it committed suicide. Looked like a young cow, so I don't think suicide is likely. Of course, it could be pregnant and not happy about it. . . .

Was it murdered? Did a jealous cow lure it into the water just as lightning was striking all around? Was this an act of a jealous god who decided that the cow was a bad influence on her herd and should be destroyed?

Without roping the cow and dragging it to a dock, we'll probably never know what happened. CSI wasn't called. The police were not interested, even if the cow was a murder victim. Alas, this inquiring mind is not likely to know what happened. Bet Sally Roseveare can do something with the cow in the lake in her next Smith Mountain Lake Mystery.

And no, I didn't take any pictures of the bloated corpse.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's Time

Terry and I went to the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra's closing concert on Saturday. A tribute to Woodstock, the orchestra performed with Jeans and Cadillacs, a cover band from Canada. The music was wonderful and reminded me that Woodstock and the decades on either side formed the soundtrack of my life.

I haven't seen as much tie-dye, bell bottoms, love beads, head bands, and Birkies in one place in decades. It was wonderful.

The best moment, however, was unscripted. The leader of the cover band set up one song by saying this was an anthem of families waiting for vets to come home. He asked the crowd to give a round of applause to all Vietnam vets in the audience. We stood and cheered for five minutes. Unscripted, spontaneous.

We didn't thank our war fighters when they came home. It's past time, but it's never too late. Thank a veteran from any war or peacetime today. You'll feel better for doing so. (End of political comment.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


The first signs of spring are here:

peepers singing at dusk and dawn
earthworms on the sidewalk
sun higher in the sky
warmth in the sun, chill in the shade
annoyed skunks letting the world know they are waking up
writers re-emerging from their dark caves of creativity

I set out to finish editing my manuscript, edits based on comments from my critique groups and from agents who were kind enough to tell me what was wrong with the opening movement while rejecting the book.

I hit the goal on Sunday. One final read for the remaining typos and then it's off to agents for their reaction.

I'm glad spring is here. I even missed the stinky skunks. Most of all, I am so glad my saint of a husband lived with the slug all winter while I muttered incantations over words, sentences, phrases and chapters. Thank you, Terry, for being here and being my sounding board. You are truly a saint.

Monday, March 1, 2010

February Wrap Up

Now that it is March 1st, I can safely say farewell to the Winter Olympics. Not that I watched all that much of the broadcasts. Nor did I care about which country won the most medals. I don't get curling and don't want to. I understand the origins of the biathalon, but after five minutes it was like watching paint peel. And what's with the twizzle? I hope I forget what it is in four years.

I did go to a "meet the authors" event at a local eatery on Saturday. I wanted to see how the venue works (it doesn't; it's right next to the kitchen). I wanted to see if the room was too small for a crowd (it was way too small). I wanted to see who turned out to talk with and listen to three local writers: Sally Roseveare, Karen Wrigley, and Becky Mushko. I learned that when the audience is 80% friends and family, you don't sell many books. Such events, while nice and provide a bit of local publicity, will not make or break anyone's writing success. Back to the drawing board to study how to expand beyond local venues and all the familiar faces.

And last, but not least, I am putting the finishing polish on my latest edit of what I call Mad Max 1. After receiving three rejections to query letters last year, in which three different agents made the same comments, I took their feedback to heart and rewrote about 70% of the opening section. Now with loose ends nearly knotted, I should be ready to resubmit and see what happens.

At any rate, one of my resolutions was to make Mad Max 1 the best book I can. A second resolution was to submit it to agents and see what happens. One nearly complete, one ready to begin.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Many of you were kind enough to point out that I was not readily available last week. I neither posted a blog entry nor anything on Facebook. I did not send e-mails. I didn't receive e-mails. I was virtually cut off from the outside world. No, I didn't lose my electricity or phone or cable. I LOST INTERNET ACCESS. Here's what happened.

On Friday Feb 5 we had another snow event. Not nearly as big as the one that clobbered Washington, Philly and other points north. But big enough to deposit a 7-layer of snow, a quarter of inch of ice, and another 5" of snow. And then we lost our Internet access.

Saturday, Feb 6. Still out.
Sunday, Feb 7. Still out.

Monday, Feb 8, I called my Internet provider. Ah yes, the dreaded ice on the towers up on the mountains excuse, er, reason. I could accept that.

Tuesday, Feb 9. I'm getting less accepting of no access. Besides, I'm paying for something I can't use. Called my Internet provider again. They sent a technician out in yet another snow event. He realigned our wireless receiver and said we should be fine. We actually had access. I broke out a bottle of wine.

Wednesday, Feb 10. We had intermittent access. I was able to do a little work, check some facts, and get bumped off about every five minutes. I put my Internet provider's number on speed dial and was on a first name basis with Mike and Neal in tech support. I couldn't hold the wireless signal, so I decided to see if I could get online using an ethernet connection. It worked. I moved my "office" into the laundry room so that I could be productive.

Thursday, Feb 11. By now, I'm damned cranky. I called my Internet provider again, only to be told that the problem was inside my house, so "not their problem." Thursday is supposed to be a work day for me, but it turned out to be a series of trials and errors. I bought and installed a new wireless router. So far, so good. Terry could get on wirelessly from his desktop. Neither of my laptops would attach. I spent two hours with the router's tech support. Finally, the frustrated -- but very nice technician -- threw up his hands and said my wireless card in my laptop must be bad. I took myself upstairs and into a time out. I read a book.

Friday, Feb 12. Okay, I was up early and ready to run all the diagnostics again. I reloaded the router program on my laptop. Still great connectivity as long as I was working in the laundry room, tethered to the wireless router. I tried my other laptop. A tweak or two and, voila, I was online. I disconnected the first laptop, took it back to my real office, tweaked it and, again, voila. I was online.

So, if you think I was being a snob last week, I might have been, but I couldn't reach out and let you know I was being a snob.

Sigh. You never know what a crutch the Internet is until it stops working.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Animal Communication

On Saturday, I went to a public session on animal communicating led by Karen Wrigley. She worked with a golden retriever that stole the crowd's heart. She talked to several people directly, passing along messages from the pets, living and past over. I found her session uplifting.

Karen has a new book coming out in a few weeks. Called Beyond Woofs and Whinnies, it's full of stories from animals to their humans. Even if you are a sceptic about communicating with animals, I encourage you to get the book. I read the manuscript and found it both entertaining and encouraging. As we say, buy the book, buy the book, buy the book.

Friday, January 1, 2010

'Possoms and 'Coons and Bears, Oh My

With all due apologies for modifying this famous phrase, I ask, what do the three critters in the title in common with writers?

Give up?

We all hibernate in the winter. I love this time of the year. The lake is cold and quiet. Snow birds have driven south. Year-rounders are hunkering down and recovering from the holiday season. The family has left and my husband and I are alone with the calico-with-an-attitude.

Nikki has the right idea. She's tucked in, not to be disturbed until the tree comes down on Twelfth Night. She'll survive, as long as we encourage her sleeping all day. Not a problem.

And what do I have on my plate as a writer?

  • Finishing a revamp of Max 1 and getting it to be the best book I can write.
  • Sending the revamped book out to agents.
  • Seeing the book in print (or under an agent's guidance) before the end of the year.

    That's enough for now.