Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas is Done

The presents have all been opened, the food eaten and Christmas 2011 is already a fading memory. Time to begin looking ahead to 2012. Some people say it will be the last year of our existence. Others say all the 2012 hysteria has been blown out of proportion. With that 'possible' end in mind, I have begun thinking of my resolutions for the New Year.

Number One: I refuse to believe the world is going to end on December 21, 2012. While I do think there might be some changes to disaster prone areas, I don't feel God is going to wipe out the world just because the planets will make a rare alignment. The Bible tells us no man will know when the end is coming, and I think the Mayans are exempt too.

Number Two: I will learn to roll with the punches. The past three years have been filled with loss and pain and confusion, but in 2012 I intend to judge what I get upset about and what I accept as God's will for me. He knows I have a lot to learn about patience and a lot of pride to put aside.

Number Three: There must be more balance in my day. Trying to be all things to all people is only wearing me to a stump. I am God's child, my husband's wife and my children's mother. I am a writer, a thinker and a free spirit. That is more than enough for anyone.

Number Four: My first book will be published next year. I resolve to put all my spare time and energy into making "Catalyst: Guardian Rising" into a success, as well as working on the next books in the series. It is what I have wanted since I was a child. I pray that God approves and blesses this career change.

Number Five: Above all, I resolve to be happy. I've been happy and I've been sad and happiness is infinitely more satisfying. But happiness is also a choice, one that I intend to make more often.

If 2012 is to be the last year of our existence, then it shall be a glorious one. If not, then it will still be glorious. The choice is mine.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Preparing for the Holidays

It takes time to gear up for the holidays. Time to shop, time to cook, clean, wrap, cook some more, wrap more and then all of your hard work is ripped open, eaten, dirtied or broken before the relatives are all gone. It is sad to think for most of us the credit card memories will linger long past the holiday glaze our faces acquire somewhere around dark on Christmas Day.

Don't get me wrong - I love Christmas. From the smell of bourbon with eggnog to the sparkle of color wheel on the silver aluminum tree I have strong memories about this special day more than any other. My brother and sister showing me where the Christmas presents were hidden so I would open them and get in trouble with my mother; wondering why Santa used the same felt tip writing pen as my father and my grandmother always given my dad a carton of smokes every year are just a few of my more interesting tales of holiday bliss. Oh families, where would we be without them?

But the good thing about Christmas is it keeps coming back year after year. A new chance to make great memories or to have it all spoiled in the blink of an eye because no one remembered to tell you the vegetarian second cousin of your late uncle's ex-wife now eats meat and your great-aunt Martha's second husband gets gas if he eats yams instead of sweet potatoes. (Who knew there was a difference?) 

As we grow older (but not necessarily up), the faces around the tables change as people come and go. Parents become children and children grow up to have their own children and the cycle continues, back up to the top of the clock on New Year's Day.

I wouldn't miss a single day of the entire season. Even a writer can't make up stuff as weird as the truth.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7

I just noticed the date. December 7th. The day that will live in infamy. On television they are showing "Pearl Harbor" and "From Here to Eternity" while the last remaining survivors relive the day they can never forget. It has been seventy years but for those who were there, it was only yesterday.

As a child we visited Hawaii. It was the late 1960's and the rush to develop and exploit the islands was in its infancy. I will always remember my father, a WWII veteran describe the significance of the Punchbowl, the volcano turned into a cemetery and seeing the Arizona memorial from a distance. He wouldn't go out there. I think he was afraid there might be someone in there he knew. I remember thinking if the volcano were to suddenly erupt, would it rain coffins all over the city?

Too many of us have forgotten the lessons of Pearl Harbor. The world does not love the United States like they did. We have been lucky. Except for 9/11 we have taken the war to others, never suffered the wounds on our lands. On this day, as on Veteran's Day or D-Day, we as Americans need to look back and remember. Remember those who took the words of the Declaration of Independence to heart - "We hold these truths self evident...all men are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

But our happiness is not necessarily those of others. If we force our form of democracy on other countries are we allowing them to experience their own pursuits of happiness? Once upon a time, our government practised a policy of non intervention in countries that were not in our hemisphere. Perhaps it is time to renew that policy.

Perhaps it is time for Americans to realize, we are not the world's caretakers. We have our version of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It does not apply to every person in every country. Each must find their own happiness. If it is the same as ours, wonderful. But do not forget the men who have died to defend the world's liberty. They gave the ultimate sacrifice and it is to them we owe our gratitude.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

For Tess

Job 35:11           Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?’


Men are frequently confused by the relationship between women and horses. Perhaps there is no rational explanation, we love them for more reasons than one can list. We are introduced to these mighty beasts, we come to understand them as well as we do ourselves. We know when they are happy and we fret when they are ill. Carrying themselves with a grace and fluidity we envy for its ease., they take us to heights never imagined. The normal, every day frustrations and stresses disperse from simple acknowledgement by a nicker when we enter the barn. They make of us more than we are.

Today we helped a beloved friend ease across the Rainbow Bridge. For more than twenty-seven years, Tess was the light in her "mother's" eyes. A bold and fearless mare who gave all she had and when the end came, she met it with the same fire and determination which carried her across jumps and fields. Tess had her Mary with her and Tia in the next stall and the memories of the days of glory to take with her. She left behind in all of us memories and hoof prints we will never be able to erase from our hearts.

Why do we gravitate to horses? Shrinks and researchers have entire lists of reasons, most them are bull. Horses are big and strong when we feel weak and unable. They are unconditional love at a time when girls want someone to love us for ourselves. They never judge us, or tell us we need to lose weight or do better in school. A warm shoulder to cry on, a friend we can spill out secrets to with a guarantee of silence. They are our first encounter with a creature totally dependent upon us for their welfare. It is a heady feeling, taken along with a vow of lifetime protection. Some people forget that vow, when their sturdy beast begins to fade in the canter or can no longer soar above the jumps. When they need us most many falter.

Mary did not falter. She made a vow and she kept that until Tess looked her in the eye and said, "It's time, I'm ready."

Farewell Tess. Go enjoy a well earned rest over the Rainbow Bridge. I am sure you have already made an entrance. You always did.

James 3:3

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween is Tomorrow? Are you Serious?!

I just realized tomorrow is Halloween. Really, I looked it up and everything. October will be gone for another year and November and its rewards will be here again. Am I ready for November. The answer would be: NO!

October came and went without the rich enjoyment I remember from other years. No leaf watching car trips, the North Georgia Mountains have become to crowded to enjoy the fall colors. No trip to the apple farms to pick our own, both weekends of the Apple Festival I was sick. No trips to the high school for Friday night football, my daughter would be mortified if I went and 'embarassed' her.

Which brings up to Halloween and this year's debate: How old is too old to go out Trick or Treating? My son stopped going out for candy in 7th grade. But now, Darling Daughter, who is in 9th grade, has decided after two years of staying home and pushing candy out the door, this year she and her 'boy' friend are going out through the neighborhood. I have exactly two problems with this scenario.

The first one is, high school students are too old for Halloween. Now granted, my child could pass for a 6th grader. She is petite. But she is still in high school. The second problem is, she is going with the 'boy' friend and his friends. Out, in the dark, at night, just with them. See my concern.

True, my daughter is a bright, level headed, intelligent, calm girl. But teenage boys are teenage boys no matter what generation. So, yeah - I'm a little bugged. Unfortunately my son will be working, or I would have him come chaperon. Will Helpful Hubby be home in time to help? I seriously doubt it. This is a busy week for events in our area. So who does that leave?

My mother would say that I am only receiving the payments for all the stress I put on my parents at this age. That's probably true, but it still doesn't get me a chaperon. Of course, I never had one at this age.

Forget the chaperon! I need a body guard! STAT!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Typing My Fingers to the Bone

If anyone thinks writing is easy, I invite them into my head. So many people, so many conversations - it makes me ill some times. Everyone has to have their turn in the spotlight and so they fight and scream to get their point across. It gets very loud some days.

Currently I am working on the edits for my first book, CATALYST - Guardian Rising. It's exciting, it's fun but mostly it's a challenge. Several suggestions my editor made require rewriting large sections of text. In the beginning the changes seemed overwhelming. But with perseverance  and time I think I will actually make my deadline. Cover art has been discussed and so much is in the planning stages. At last! My oldest dream coming true.

I've also head issues with my permanent job affecting the time I get to spend writing. Fall and Summer are big seasons in the tent rental industry. So in between festivals, fairs, wedding and commercial events I've been working. I haven't had any cotton candy yet this year, so boo on that. No candy apples, no hot dogs, nothing. I miss the cotton candy a lot.

The holiday season will be upon us soon, with lots of family, food, road trips and presents. My goal for this holiday season is to not gain any weight. I might not lose any but I will not be gaining any. Of course, I do have to make two of my fabulous coconut cakes and I have to have a slice to check on the consistency. And to test the bread for Christmas breakfast.  Well, maybe I won't gain any weight.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thomas Jefferson where are you?

Our country is in a serious downward spiral. The economy is sinking faster than a concrete block. Jobs are being lost in the blink of an eye and our government is wandering around in a self serving haze.

In New York, Atlanta and other cities around the country, young people are protesting Wall Street and the dysfunction in our banking system. Over the weekend, many saw themselves arrested or harassed. Is there any difference between those who protested the Vietnam War and the draft with those who are now upset with the financial situation here in America? Absolutely not, but that also means these protesters need to accept that with civil disobedience comes the possibility of government retribution.

Our Constitution guarantees us the right to disagree with our government, so long as it is peaceable, which for the most part these young people are maintaining. If we disagree with our elected officials, the time is coming to let them know. That is the second part of our disagreement rights. Exercising our right to vote for our government officials is the most important right we have.

Many people think only national elections are of any importance, and I certainly don't want to diminish them in any way, but local and state elections are the places where many of the laws that affect you personally are decided. If you don't think your local state representatives are protecting the things you cherish, then let them know. Be strong, be polite and be willing to vote the cad out if nothing changes.

If we do not exercise our rights, the government could easily take them from us. Don't ever forget - the consent to govern is mandated by and comes from the people. They should have our interests as a whole country in their programs. That has not been the case for many years.  Maybe we should just throw the entire lot out, or make them all work for minimum wage and have to sign up from Obamacare. Bet we would see things happening them

But Wall Street and the Financial problems require more. Mostly, it will require strong monetary reforms. No more programs like the 'Voodoo' Mortgages. There needs to be common sense exercised in this country. That is, if we can find enough people who still possess any.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

R.I.P. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs died yesterday. I remember the first time I was introduced to an Apple Macintosh while working for the IT department of a now defunct but at one time very popular shoe company. It seemed too simple to catch on, especially when compared with the big box mainframes and cutting edge first generation personal computers I was learning to use and program. While I was busy learning DOS and BASIC and COBOL, my boss was pulling out and plugging in his new Macintosh. From the first happy chirp I knew it was something special.

Jobs was more than a visionary. He personified an ethic not to let other people dictate who or what you are. Don't accept other's limitations as you own, but keep working until your dreams become your reality. Sometimes the world will be with you and a lot of time they will be against you but don't let that matter. He was possessed of a healthy blessing of the creative spirit and exhibited the dare to dream initiative that so many in the world are missing in this troubled times.

He also faced his impending death with grace. Can any of us say we would be the same? I don't think I would. Tomorrow is my birthday. Not THE birthday, but the last one of my 'youth'. I remember my grandmother telling me that fifty was the end of the world, now that's me. How did the time go by so fast? How much time do I have left? Or would I want to know if that information were available.

There is a new movie coming out soon whose premise is based on everyone being allotted only twenty-four years. A counter on your arm exacts the moments needed for each of life's experiences. Could you imagine how hopeless and beaten a pre-measured world would be? Would you trade any experience for more time?

I wonder if Steve Job would have traded any moment of his life, all his accomplishments for just a few more years. Somehow, I don't think he would.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Black and White and Shades of Grey

All my life I have been taught there are only two sides to every confrontation: black or white. My father did not consider the shade of grey as an answer. Dad considered grey as the color for those unable to stick with a position. Everything was wrong or right. However, with the disappearance of the core family unit and the values our ancestors used to pass down to each new generation, black and white have left the building leaving an entire rainbow of color answers.

Black = wrong, White = right, Grey = possible to be right or wrong only if no one get offended.

What other personal responsibilities formally taught to us by our families have we neglected to pass on to the next generation? Manners, correct enunciation, personal accountability all have gone the way of the flightless dodo bird, extinct due to lack of interest in their continuation.

What other little expected behaviors we all grew up with have suddenly disappeared? Chewing with one's mouth closed, wearing appropriate clothing for the event and location, and cutting in front of people in line are the first few that come to mind but I'm sure, given time, we all could come up with dozens. But what began this major shift in attitudes? Do we attribute this to the hippies back in the 60's? Or did it come sooner - as more families began chasing the all mighty dollar instead of growing their children.

I have two children in two different times of their lives, but they have been taught the consequences of their actions since they were old enough to talk back. I know they will tell me the truth, whether I am ready for it or not. They accept their punishments for their misdeeds and strive to learn from their mistakes.

I can think of thousands of prisoners who could learn something about personal responsibility.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Hint of Fall in the Air

The past few days have been blissful here in the South. Mornings arrived with a chill and a hint of the coming change of season. They continued as clear days without the wisp of a cloud anywhere in sight until finishing  in glorious color with sunset and the return of a chill. These and many more wonders are the reasons Fall is my favorite time of the year, especially in this neck of the country.

Soon it will be apple festival time and craft fairs and funnel cakes will abound. Friday nights will be for high school football and Saturdays for watching horse shows and playing with my ponies. Sundays are for family and church and catching up. Which will bring up back around to Monday and more work waiting and resting up for Friday again. The cycle of life spinning another year from the threads of life.

I don't tend to get much work done in the fall. Outdoors brings so much more than the house, which I will soon be resigned to when winter begins his reign sooner than I will be ready. But for now, bring me fall. It brings the contentment my heart longs for, the harvest of the summer complete. Time to make preparations for my winter projects.

The years fly past faster every year. The children grow and begin going their own ways. Helpful Hubby and I both grow older and greyer each birthday and Christmas morning gets later every year.

But maybe I am only entering my mid-life crisis. I will accept that. Soon I will be at the jumping off point, and I can feel myself gathering to scream inside. I have a year to get ready for the big one so if I am going to crazy it needs to be soon. Maybe after fall - I can't miss my funnel cake fix.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Random Thoughts As Labor Day Approaches

It is the first of September and summer is officially over, at least in our neck of the woods. School has been in session for a month, the children have settled into their routines of school, homework, activities. Soon the leaves will start changing on the trees and (hopefully) cooler temperatures will invade North Georgia. Oh, Fall - Nature's Paint Explosion. How I love the crisp air and clear smells that define my favorite season.

Soon it will be Apple Festival time, and the Fair will come to town. We will take part in traditions born long ago and carried on today for reasons vastly different from their original meanings. The Fall Fair was a time to come together, to celebrate a success harvest to provide food during the coming winter and to fellowship before the cold and snow kept everyone confined and apart. Today we go to the fair to eat cotton candy and ride the rides. Oh how the times have changed.

This summer went by faster than anticipated. I can barely remember the Fourth of July, it seems more than just two months ago. Helpful Hubby and I didn't take a formal vacation, preferring to steal days here and there along the way to run off to the lake or just hand around the house. That, I have decided was the wrong thing. The act of booking a vacation and planning where to go and what to do is cathartic. Without that wholesale clearance process that accompanies a vacation our brains begin to clog with useless, out-dated information.

Europeans as a whole take the entire month of August as vacation. Why can't Americans get away with the same thing? Because after ten days the men would drive us all crazy! Maybe the better policy would be three vacations a year - one with your family, one by yourself or with friends and one with your significant other only.

Sounds like a plan to me!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Lost My Muchness Have I"

One of my favorite books and movies is "Alice in Wonderland", or "Adventures Through the Looking Glass". C.S. Lewis was an incredible man, amazing author and devoted Christian. He wrote from a place of wonderful imagination, setting a standard for creating alternative worlds. In my humble opinion he was one of the most influencial fantasy writers in history.

Writing fantasy is a subjective area. Not everyone is going to 'get' it, some are going to be agast, a few might even get indignant - does that mean you should stop what you are creating? No.

The process of creating a fantasy world is vast. Geography, history, languages, people, even animals and trees have to be reconsidered in light of your world. The trick is to not create a world so different from present reality your reader has too hard a time following what you have written.

In the months prior to beginning "Catalyst", Book One of my Guardian Series, I carefully constructed a post-nuclear earth. The crust had shifted from the stress of nuclear warfare. The people have changed from centuries confined inside the Sanctuaries (a post for another day). Everyone has some common ancestry yet not so much as to assume only one people group survived to replinish the earth.

One person's fantasy is never anothers, so I encourage readers to branch out from their familar and favorite authors to embrace something new. Mankind has a thirst for adventure, a desire to be lifted out of their everyday lives even if just for the length of a good book.

So write what your heart tells you to write. If it means creating a new world, then make sure you enlighten the reader to the wonders and dangers of that realm as you see them. If you are using our current time and home, be sure to use places and situations you know best. If a reader thinks you don't know what you are writting about - the critics will slice you up and serve for you for afternoon tea.

And remember -
"Beware the Jabberwocky my son"


Sunday, August 7, 2011

What a Weekend!

Have you ever had a weekend that, as soon as Sunday evening rolled around all you could think was - I need a Do Over!

It went by entirely too fast and several things didn't exactly turn out the way they were planned, and now the sun is going down and I have a list a mile long of things that didn't get accomplished. I find this happening more often the older I get.

When you are a child, every day seems too short to pack everything into, but the special days and the years between crawled. Do you remember the feeling that Christmas would never arrive? Or, how long it took to become a teenager? How long did it take between turning 15 and getting a learner's permit to 16 and getting your own set of keys to Mom's car? The biggest - the feeling time would stop before you became old enough to drink?

Time is a mysterious force. It can race away when you are hand in hand with first love. It can crawl with infinite slowness during chemistry class. I heard on a news show the other day when Congress was debating the budget mess that 1 million seconds ago was in the 1970's; 1 billion seconds ago was sometime in the 1600s and 1 trillion seconds ago was around 20,000 BC. Numbers vast beyond our comprehension, counting away the moments of our existence.

In J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Hermione is gifted with a time turner in order to meet her tremendous academic obligations. Oh, what a modern wife and mother wouldn't give for such a treasure! To accomplish all that we set out in a to-do list without editing for the constrictors of time would be a fantasy anyone would buy into. But at what price?

If we could redo time, what we undo? Death? Love? Unravel the fabric of the universe? Wow, maybe just learning to live with the time we have is best.

For now.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nerves, Rashes and Insomnia

This morning I woke up a contracted author. A publisher wants to publish my first fantasy novel, Catalyst and I said yes. Signed all the contracts and sent everything in. I am also having my editor begin a review of Book Two, Piaculum. Scary, scary, scary but not cripplingly so. Maybe I need to sleep tomorrow morning.

A large and loving shout out to my friends and family who have been conned or hornswagled into my questioning and moaning. This has been a labor of love and insanity. Love because writing is what I always enjoyed doing but was afraid I would never make a living at it and insanity because at the age of almost 50 who publishes their first book? Apparently me.

I have always written little snippets of things over the years but nothing of substance. Then came children and working in our family business and for many years life outweighed dreams. With the reality of mortgages and PTA, the stories I have always had inside went dormant. But the hope of one day putting it all back together still flickered in the back of my mind.

Then my eldest went away to college, and the clouds soon parted. With time open in my day I began writing the story that had been peculating for several years. That was three years ago.

The initial rough draft took six months to get onto paper. I've edited, rewritten, edited again, gotten professional advice (for the book not for me!) and rewritten more. Eighteen months ago the book was finally ready to start sending to publishers. Query letters and polite rejections later, here we are.

Am I nervous? Incredibly! But the excitement balances the nervousness so far. Writing is a book is raising another child. Your cultivate the story, nurture your characters and discipline them when they threaten to run wild. Releasing that child to the public raises your defensive mode. Will it be well taken care of? Will someone love them the way you do? Did you do the best job you could with the story?

Well, soon all of you will have the chance to see how I did. The process of getting published takes a lot of time. More editing, more revising, artwork, the list goes on and on. I will keep everyone apprised of the situation. Be prepared for ups and downs - I am. Because, this is my third child. I intend to protect her well.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Who am I and Where Did I Come From?

I had dinner the other night with three of my closest female friends. Due to schedule conflicts we hadn't been together in almost a year, and the conversation was fast and varied. One is expecting to become a grandmother for the first time while another will have both children in college. Two were going back to work as teachers of children with learning disabilities. After all these great and life changing events, it was my turn.

When I mentioned I had a publisher interested in my book I also mentioned this blog. Linda asked me, "What is your blog about?" and I had to stop for a moment. What is this blog about and for? So, after spending several days pondering the topic, I finally came to a decision.

This blog is my journal, my take on things around me and the way I see the world. It isn't about what I wore on a particular day, or great places to eat around town where I live. It isn't about my children in general or anything in particular. This is what I think, feel, experience, write or hear within a defined period of time.

So this is me, being me, for the first time in a long time. There will be posts on my books and writing, my family and friends, triumphs and tragedies. According to the rules of conversation as handed down by my father, I will blog on everything except politics, religion and the Great Pumpkin. Well, maybe politics if I can't hold the irritation inside any longer.

Northern born, Southern raised, youngest child, biggest mouth - all terms used to describe this child of the 70's. My father was an aeronautic engineer and my mother a librarian. Personally I can't add without a calculator but I do have a passion for books. And I usually have an opinion on everything.

Grab a cup of coffee and come along with me, I have a wealth of topics I want to cover. Tomorrow I think I'll cover something totally different - like the new weather patterns or the lack of good network television during summer months. But whatever it is, I know it will be all me.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summertime and the Living isn't Easy

The dog days of summer are here. Temperatures are hovering in the upper 90s, the humidity is 110% and the heat index is around 110. It's days like this make me miss living at the beach. But that poses its only set of problems. (LIST TIME!)

1 - When summer is this hot, no water is cold. Not the lake, unless you can find the lower current where the rivers are still moving under the surface. Not any pools, they all feel similar to a hot tub, all chlorine and floating dead bugs. Even the water park cannot cool the water enough to make paying the small fortune it takes to get in worth while.

2 - Watering bans in preparation for another drought are already making their presence felt in this area. That means no watering your lawn except between midnight and 5am. This makes it rather difficult to play in the sprinklers. Another favorite memory of my childhood gives way to modern reality.

3 - Even the beaches in the Southeast are not centers of cool relaxation. The water is too warm, sharks are prowling just of the coasts, we are in the middle of a jelltfish explosion not to mention the still lurking spectre of the oil spill from 2010. There might not be any oil on the beaches themselves but we all know it is just off shore, ready to leap upon our Wal-Mart bathing suits and ruin our summer vacations.

4 - The mountains are cooler, but not by much. The only respite one can gather in the upper elevations of the South is the sun goes down earlier because of the hills and the streams and rivers are ice cold but every other person in a 100 mile radius has the same idea. The congestion and exhaust fumes contribute to the name "Smokey Mountains".

SO how does the 21st century Southerner keep cool? Thank God for central air conditioning and sweet tea. As long as we have these staples of our civilization life will remain bearable until Fall can roll around with his cooler temperatures and brilliant blue skies.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An Unwanted Anniversary

My mother-in-law died July 29, 2010. I have waited to write this out of respect for her.

When I began dating Helpful Hubby many moons ago (26 years!), his mother was the bane of my existence. She was overbearing, demanding and had no sense of personal space. It was a running joke around our friends that if the phone ran at anyone's house, it was probably his mother looking for him. She took noisy to the highest level.

Over the years, we had our arguments, our agreements and our moments of mutual silence but I had come to appreciate the struggles she had been through. MIL was the oldest of seven children (six girls and one boy) born to dirt poor parents in the North Georgia mountains. To escape an alcholic father and enabler mother she married at the age sixteen and was pregnant with HH's sister before she was seventeen.

Helpful Hubby's father wasn't the greatest catch in the mountains, but he had a fast car and was just back from Korea. Of course Daddy Dearest hadn't come from the greatest family either. MIL survived spousal abuse, verbal abuse from his sisters and low self-esteem for more than twenty-five years before gathering the courage to throw his sorry butt out the door.

With only a high school education and two children still at home to support (HH's sister went to live with Daddy Dearest) MIl put her energy into insurance. She married again to a strange but wonderful man and built a wonderful life for the last twenty-five years of her life, but some of the old habits never truly died.

She never completely trusted anyone to tell her the truth, but she wasn't know for honesty either. She took possession of my children and was angry when I planned events that thwarted her plans, but they were also her greatest joy. We fought about the best ways to raise children and over Helpful Hubby's love. She exasperated me more than any six other people on this planet. And I miss her more today than the day she suddenly dropped dead of an anurism.

Through adversity she learned strength and determination, but never let go of the baggage that prevented her from true happiness. She took everyone's burdens upon herself, planned for everyone's future save her own and left those of us who loved her with more questions than answers. But she gave birth to my Helpful Hubby and that forgives a lot with me. He might not be perfect, but he is loving and supportive and a lot saner than he should be based upon his home life while growing up.

So lift a glass to Janie Sue. She had a hard childhood, a disappointing first marriage, a true love in her second marriage and an early death from elective surgery. We will love you, hate you, cry for you, scream your name into the emptiness of the night and bless your acchievements every day, especially July 29th of every year.

So - Happy Anniversary of your Death Janie Sue Sanders Reece Blalock. We do miss you, warts and all.
Love Nancy

"Death would be an awfully big adventure." Peter Pan

Monday, July 25, 2011

Writer's Block

It finally has hit me hard. Writer's Block, the common name for being stuck up a plot with no contrivance, is keeping forward progress in any of my stories from occurring. However there is a small difference - it isn't that I can't write anything, I can't write anything I need to write. In other words, the right story is stuck and others are now pressing their own plot lines individual advantages.

Most days I try to keep two or three characters rolling around in my head for story development. Which is interesting while trying to work a full time job because I must admit sometimes the noise is quite deafening. After completing 'Catalyst' I began two other projects not remotely similar to each other: 'January Frost' a story for my daughter and her friends and 'Nishamora' an adventure novel.

The second in the Guardian Series has a working title as well, 'Piaculum - The Price of Redemption'. So, that makes three main stories in my head with a dozen or so major story arcs. Which makes more personalities in my head than 'All About Eve'! This much inspiration keeps my spare attention span close to zero, which does not make my husband very happy.

Currently my house is in a state somewhere between cluttered and "omg my mother is a closet hoarder!" This does not make me a happy camper. So, with this being the last week of school I have decided no matter how long it takes me I will clean up my house, work my job, be a mom, take care of my horses and still find time to write every day. I never thought I would lose my patience but I sense the end approaching.

My Loving Mother managed to accomplish all those things and much more, so I have the genetic makeup to follow in her footsteps and yet, I feel less than worthy of her apron. Were the truth of things to be told I despise cleaning. Until recent events conspired to overwhelm me my house was neat. Now though the beginnings of clutter are starting to arise.

The dining room table is covered with items that have no immediate home. The trouble always starts with items that have no immediate home. The living room is the object of my Dearest Daughter's possessions: lunchbox, jackets, clothing, blankets, anything she comes through the door carrying end ups on my couch and spills down to the floor and surround grounds.

The steps to the second floor are lined with Helpful Hubby and Dearest Daughter's shoes, soldiers of inattention neglected until searched for in panic when they are needed. The upstairs bannister has become a resting zone for items which need to go downstairs or into the laundry.

The three bedrooms are all in states of stacking up. However, I will give Dearest Daughter props, her room is much neater than any room in the house with the exception of dishes that don't always make it back to the kitchen in a timely fashion. And her laundry sometimes exists in two piles: 'dirty' and 'known only to her'. She obviously has more of her grandmother in her than I do.

My room is the worst, and I think it's because a man lives in there. Actually it is worse because I have always kept the mess out of public view. So the ironing has piled up on the cedar chest from lack of time. I need to take clothes to the thrift box which makes another pile to be cleared out. If I work on the missing sock table and reorder the DVD stack that makes five stacks I could clean out of my bedroom today!

Which brings me back to...

Writer's Block has a friend whose name is "Indecision". So unable to decide which project to tackle first I have made the first step toward planning my last week before school starts.

Let's Go Shopping.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer's End

In one more week my daughter will start high school. This is a momentous time in my life. In four more years she will head off to college, leaving the hubby and me empty-nesters. More important, over the next four years I will be handling problems my own parents dealt with as the parent of a high school teenage female. Here are some of the issues I brought to the table as an adolescent that I dread being on the receiving end of:

1 - Boy friend drama. I consider myself fortunate in that my daughter is not currently that interested in boys. She has had one brief relationship that she ended when he became too clingy. Here's to hoping that trend continues.

2 - School Work. Darling Daughter is very bright and wants to go to vet school. She also wants to go out of state. To get a scholarship, which is necessary for out of state tuition, she needs excellent grades. That's never been a problem, but this is high school.

3 - Sleeping. High school starts around 7:30am. That means the bus comes at the unearthly time of 6:25. What teenager voluntarily gets up at 5:45am to get on a bus to go to school??!?! I foresee four years of torment attempting to get her on the bus, or with a ride. Why our high school starts an hour ahead of every other school in the county has been the subject of much debate, but hasn't changed anything. I bet none of the school board has teenagers.

4 - Parties. Need I say anything else?

5 - Taxi Service. My child is only thirteen. With the current driving regulations, it will be at least four years before she can move herself around town. Four more years of Mom's Taxi Service - glad we downsized the car this year.

6 - Teenage Attitude. Angst, surliness, sarcasm, crying, laughing, yelling, whining, cone of silence, bratty, adventurous, fear, anxiety - yep that about covers it. If I don't like the mood, just wait a few moments. Change is guaranteed.

So I intend to spent this last week of vacation with my daughter. Enjoying the last few minutes of days with my child. The next time she shows up might be a long time coming.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What A Bummer...

This summer hasn't exactly been the greatest summer of my life. My ninety year old mother had to be moved quickly into my brother's house and we have been coming to grips with a life that will be ending sooner than later. Others in our family have been dealing with equally life changing issues and it has brought me to the following realization:

No matter where we are on the timeline, there is no rewind button.

As I watch my children growing, I am flooded with memories of myself at their ages (23 and 14). At 14 I was in high school, dealing with acne and boys and Algebra. At 23 I was working for a living, dealing with boys and acne and COBOL. No matter how old I get those memories are just as vivid now as they were then.

Which brings me to our recent loss, an employee of more than 12 years succumbed to rapidly advancing cancer. He was diagnosed on 2/15/11 and died 7/3/11. While I have known and seen many people go through various forms of cancer, this was the fastest downhill slide I have ever personally witnessed. And the real bummer... this was a wonderful man.

A true Christian, devoted to his church and his family. A good man on all accounts, but mortal, just like the rest of us. But the peace he and his wife exhibited during that last month was unlike most. With the security of knowing they would meet each other again for eternity both husband and wife met death head up, unlike most of us who run kicking, screaming and bargaining with God for more time.

If life had a rewind button here are a few days I would like to either relive as they were or have an option for a re-do:

1 - The day I spent extra time on the beach before driving home to Atlanta from Destin with first degree burns on my body. I then got stopped by the police 10 minutes from my home and almost got thrown in jail for being 'mouthy'. Of course my body temp was over 100 degrees! You be all nice and polite when your body is on fire.

2 - The night my dad died. My husband and I had gone out with friends and when the phone call came in the wee hours of the morning I didn't answer the first two times they called. It wouldn't have made any difference in terms of being there when he dies, but I wish we had gone to the hospital instead of going out. Wisdom though, only comes with age and experience.

3 - The birth of my son. I was too scared to enjoy the 'wonders of childbirth'. First children get the short end of the stick on this matter - their mothers aren't overprotective, just panicked they will do something wrong and their mother-in-law will get the chance to snark on them.

4 - My 48th birthday. My husband forgot my birthday.

5 - Our last family vacation. No explanation at this time required.

Unfortunately there isn't a rewind button, so all we can do is make the best of the days before is. Too much looking back isn't good for our futures.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Crossing Borders

This weekend several of my horsey friends and I decided to take a little field trip to our neighboring state for a horse riding clinic. Now, I know the concept sounds a little strange - takee your horse in a trailer to another state to ride said horse. But the clinic was well worth it.

Frank Madden gives excellent basic advise. While only one rider from our barn actually participated we had seven auditing the event. Now they are fresh and ready to come home.

We have any interesting colletion of sunburns, insect bites and strong food stories. wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwBut I don't know what else. But if all me phonnies were as shonny as

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Excitement - Mother Nature has Menopause

Am I the only one within my generation who thinks the weather is worse now than when we were kids? We had some gully washers and frog strangers back in the late 60's and 70's. But even those did not approach the ferocity of the past several storms which have rocketed across our state in the past months. One group screams "Global Warming!"; while the other side touts Corporate abuses of the Clean Air Act.

I don't pretend to know why our weather is in need of a nice vacation, I only have to worry about weather when my real job interferes with my writing. When the two work together and I have to take time away from writing to fix problems in my reality then I tend to grump. This weekend has been one of those days.

By all appearances Mother Nature has menopause. Really, think about it. Hot flashes, crying jags, moody swings - if these are not symptoms of full blown menopause then I am not a woman! Human women take hormones and anti depressants and any other manner of artificial and natural remedies to deal with their 'change'. What, however, does one give Nature?

Would a large glass of Pinot and a 500,000mg Xanex help? Perhaps a trip to the beach with some girlfriends. Chocolate produces wonderful feelings in human brains, would it would on Mother Nature? Maybe that's why she created cocoa beans in the first place?

So how do we calm a planet wide menopause attack? I don't know, but I sure hope someone figures it out soon!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mr. Clean or Strickolean?

We just returned from a cruise vacation in Mexico. We took our kids and our son's girlfriend. For the most part it was a fabulous vacation. We made some fabulous new friends at our table during dinner and had some memorable conversations. However, there were a few flies in the ointment.

1 - Rain in LA and San Diego happens occasionally. They do not have a good highway system out there. The roads are not gently beamed to let the water flow away. Instead it just lays on the road and causes massive flooding. It took us six hours to drive down to San Diego, normal drive time is two hours.

2 - The last time I took a trip from San Diego (four years ago), it was in the 70's during the day and 50's at night. This trip was 50's during the days and 30's at night. Everyone was bundled like a snow blizzard in Atlanta. Even the first day headed south was cool. They closed the ceiling of the pool deck is was so cool. Even in Puerta Vallarta it was only 68. Four years ago it was in the 80s.

3 - Don't always take the early seating options for the dining room. We never got to see the sun set in the West. Also, eating at 6pm guarantees you will be starving again before midnight and will need to order room service. This took approximately one hour each time we ordered. What sounded good at 10pm isn't so wonderful at 11pm.

4 - Driving to LAX from San Diego has a toll road. Be prepared to ante up $5 for the toll. On the plus side, it is a beautiful drive, with the Pacific on one side and sweeping vistas inland to the mountains. I wouldn't ever live in California, but it sure is a beautiful place to visit.

5 - Don't drink the water or eat the lettuce in Mexico. It might not be infected, but do you really feel lucky?

All in all it was a fabulous vacation. The weather was warm, the food was plentiful and the time all to short. Once again we found our slice of heaven on a secluded beach in Puerta Vallarta. But that is a tale for another day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On this day in history....

February 2Nd.

Groundhog Day.

In 1977, Radio Shack officially began making the TRS-80 computer. Such a short time ago, compared to the rest of history.

Working with computers has been part of my job history since 1985. Less than ten years after the TRS-80 began production. What changes we have experienced.

As children, would our generation have ever dreamed of television with remote controls or telephones you could take with you when you drive? Movies in three dimensions? Gasoline costing more than a meal at McDonald's?

What about the negatives we have experienced in that same time period? Coarse language and nudity accepted on prime time television? Teenagers hooked on prescription drugs they steal from their parents? An entire generation raised without two parent homes and dependant upon the government for their survival?

What would our founding fathers say of this America? Would they be proud of what we have bled and died to maintain? Or would they hang their heads and turn away disgusted with our avarice and complacency?

Make this day in history one you will be proud to point out to your children and your children's children. Take a stand for what you know is right. Stand apart from the masses. Think for yourself!