Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Waiting for January 5, 2009

I love going on walks at night with Rick. We leash the Jakester up and enjoy the crisp night air. It's especially fun right now looking at the Christmas lights that don the houses in our neighborhood. Everything is sparkly--like the houses have personalities of their own -- showing off their holiday colors like peacocks in heat. There's electricity in the air.

But I'm really, really ready to move into January 5, 2009. I'm ready for life to go back to normal. The normal where I get up in the morning, feed the dog, drink a cup of java or hot tea, read the paper or a few pages of a book (right now that would be the The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent), do my morning pages, and early on, find my way to my office and write, with my husband happily on his way to work.

But he's not. He's has taken the past two weeks off. We've had such a good time going to movies (which we love), running those errands we never seem to find time to take care of (which is great) and eating out (which isn't--nothing fits, my waist is creeping up and under my breastbone and my pants have nearly all become capris). I've not done anything around the house. No cleaning. Little writing. No exercise.

There are piles of things that need to be put away. The tree needs to come down. Christmas presents need to find homes in drawers, cabinets, or closets, mail is stacked up waiting for me to sort through it, and growing kitties of golden retriever fur swirl on the hardwood floors when I walk by, and I won't mention laundry. Ack!

I need a day at home and I know it will come, but not until Rick's back to work on January 5th. I should be happy that we get along well enough to spend so much time together, and I am -- but I miss my normal. A lot.

So, this morning I got up early. I quietly crept downstairs with my little Alphasmart tucked under my arm to do a little writing. YAY, I thought, I have time to write. The house was church-quiet. I was ready for a pretend normal morning. I fed the dog. I made a cup of tea. I curled up on the couch and took a deep breath. I put the Alphasmart on my lap, poised my fingers ... and then I heard it, the bedroom radio blaring.

I just want my normal back. I'm afraid that when Rick retires, I'll be swallowed up by too many movies, too much food, exploring too many new places, and noise, a lot of it. The real fear is that I'll love it, and then what? Will I stop being me? Stop writing? Stop being my silly independent self?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh Chrismas Spirit, oh Christmas Spirit, where are you????

I was listening to the radio yesterday, driving from our house to Alamo, and the DJ said that there is always that moment, a singular moment when you know you know you have Christmas spirit. I can't put my finger on exactly when it is for me, I'd venture to say that it arrives somewhere between midnight, December 25, and the morning of December 26--after the peak, after the excitement, the rush. Who knows why?

Every year I swear that this will be the year we'll dust off the Christmas tree box, lug our artificial friend into the house and then, right after Thanksgiving, maybe even the day after, line up their color coded branches, stick the metal ends into the skinny trunk, string up the lights, oooh and ahhh, and begin to decorate the prickly branches. Then, we'll stand back and admire our handiwork--just as we do every year, but this time, we'll have time to enjoy it before it's time to take it down.

Yesterday morning I emailed our friends to ask if they'd like to come to our house for Manhattans, dinner, and to help decorate the tree. I signed the email Ba and Humbug Luck. Our friends are remodeling their downstairs, (translate no downstairs heat, stove, sink, dishwasher, etc.) We thought they'd enjoy a nice warm house and a Manhattan or two.

And so it would make sense that our heater went out about five minutes after I sent the email, and on the coldest day of the year, with frost on hillsides, rooftops, and grass. The water in the water fountain was iced over, there was snow on the top of Mt. Diablo (which my husband called me outside to see barefooted at 6 am before he left for the gym), and our friends were looking forward to a nice cozy evening with heat, which under normal circumstances we wouldn't be a problem.

When I told them we'd be chilly they still wanted to come. They must have been near desperate for a home cooked meal or a Manhattan. I think it was the Manhattans. My husband makes the best Manhattans.

After drinks and dinner the guys roped the lights around the tree, we all hung the ornaments and then we had dessert in the family room. They brought their two dogs with them, so along with our one and their two dogs we had a full and furry house.

Now I have Christmas spirit. It came right after I'd finished dessert...a very quick, experimental dish--so easy--so simple--so delish that I'm including it here so you can enjoy it, too. I can't tell proportions because I made it up.

Buy Pepperidge Farms frozen pastry cups. Bake according to directions
Cut off tops
Heat 2-3 tbs butter in a large saucepan until bubbly
add 2-3 tbs of brown sugar
Slice two bananas into 1/2 inch pieces
Add bananas to melted butter/sugar and stir. Cook until the bananas are warmed through. Scoop banana mixture into the cups, replace tops, drizzle remaining sauce over top of pasty cup and add a dollop of ice cream. Simple. Delish. Enjoy~

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cinnamon Christmas

Once Halloween hits, I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach reminding me that Christmas is almost here. The legs of time make a gigantic leap over Halloween and Thanksgiving and we’re plunked into a sea of Joy to the World, Silent Night, spending too much money on presents and all thought of what the holiday is really about, vanishes like candy in a kindergarten classroom.

My mind pulls and tugs, trying to hold back time as it ticks, like a bomb, toward Christmas. The holiday buzz begins. Running from store to store like a whirling dervish, buying to buy, wrapping to wrap and giving to give…and because I must. Colorful, glitter-laden Holiday greeting cards point out the ‘reason for the season’ but it, too, seems to get lost in shark-like buying frenzies and grabbing Christmas red sweaters on sale for half price.

How can I keep the focus on what has deep, rich meaning? Staying present and doing something for others less fortunate than myself is what I’ve learned bridges the gap from materialism to making difference during the holiday season. Here’s how it all began.

Each year at the start of the holiday season, I begin baking. It’s really the only time I bake in mass quantity. Strangely enough my now adult daughters do the same thing, as did my Mother. I didn’t want to be like my mom, and well, my girls pride themselves in their own individualism. But, what we do have in common is, we bake, we cook, we have to we're feeding children, adults--families.

When my kids were small, at the ages when baking with Mom was fun, out came the baking utensils, yellow measuring cups, ¼, 1/3, ½, ¾, 1 cup, worn metal measuring spoons, big white Rubbermaid bowls, lots of creamy butter, sugar, salt, flour, cracked eggs hopefully without tiny sand like pieces of shell. Cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg dotted the countertops along with other spices, and the baking began. We’d make cinnamon sugar Snicker doodles, gingerbread boys and girls with red-hots for eyes and m & m’s for buttons, red and green colored Christmas butter cookies, thumbprint cookies with strawberry jam and small loaves of cranberry bread. The best part was licking the leftover batter from the bowl with their fingers and for a moment, I’d worry they’d get salmonella from the raw eggs, which by the way, never happened.

I’d watch their deft little fingers drop cookies into Christmas tins and boxes with pictures of Santa Claus and reindeer on the top, counting to make sure each box had the same number of cookies. We’d pile into the old blue station wagon and drive to the local Homeless shelter, senior housing center or Battered Women’s Alternative, dropping off cookies. Then we’d go home, spread an old red, white and blue snowflake flannel quilt on the floor and eat snicker doodles and drink hot chocolate. We'd watch the Charlie Brown’s Christmas special on television. When I’d ask them what the best part of the day was, eating cookies came first but giving cookies to the folks who were less fortunate than us, they’d say, would make them ‘tickle inside’.

Now, the ‘reason for the season’ is seeing my children volunteer and give back to the community, to those less fortunate, and watch life come full circle.

I miss those days. They sped by much too fast. This year the cookies will be made with the grand kids, and that's just as special.

December CWC Tri-Valley article

Seasoned writers will tell you that after they finish their short story or novel, the road to publication is still far away. Unfortunately some of our little darlings as we like to call them, those words we just love but aren’t needed, must be slashed from the text. But tightening your prose makes your work more powerful and interesting to read.

The 10% Solution, by Ken Rand, is an unsuspecting little powerhouse of less than 100 pages, under ten dollars, and contains relatively easy, but dynamite suggestions which will help you polish your project.

For example, Rand recommends doing a word search/find for all the words that end in “ly,” specific words such as that, was, like, or specific names that might be overused. When you find them, you can decide whether or not the word should stay, go, or be replaced.

He also advises reading your text out loud. Listen for glitches, stilted and awkward conversations, or repetition.

Both Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and David King, and The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, site problems, pose solutions, and at the end of each chapter they provide examples for you to edit or questions to ask yourself about your own work to help improve editing skills.

As writers, sometimes we’re too close to our own work to catch redundancies or notice that in chapter five the protagonist has red hair and in chapter 23 his hair is suddenly salt and pepper. If you fit into that category, ask your critique group for help, hire an editor, or have a few trusted friends read your material.

Remember, when shopping for an agent you want to submit material that is squeaky clean and error free. Hopefully the above suggestions will set you on the path to both.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Scrabble Guilt

At last month's Bunco game, I sat next to a woman with perfect hair--stylish, fun, a little sexy, highlighted in such a way that it didn't look like a paint by number head--which is my big thing with highlighted hair--sometimes it looks too uniform. We began chatting and I found out that she's a hair stylist (surprise??) and she loves to play scrabble. So do I.

She told me about a web site, scrabulous.com, that she plays every day. So, when I came home that night, I sat right down at the computer only to discover that the site is defunct. Big disappointment, but not to be deterred, I googled 'scrabble' and found other, many other, scrabble sites...all of which I wish I'd never found.

You don't even need another player--your opponent is the computer. It means that while I'm playing scrabble with a machine I can avoid doing the things I probably should be doing. It feeds right into the procrastination hole like nail filler.

The good news is I've learned new two letter words. And I've won one game. Only one--it's never good when a machine is smarter than you, is it? Also, if it takes too long to create a word, you run out of time and then have to wait to see if your opponent i.e. the computer, will give you extra time. So far it has, I guess it feels sorry for me.

Right now, it's 7 pm and it's time to relax so if I'd like, I could play scrabble. But, I think it's more fun to play when I'm not supposed to, don't you?

Give it a try, you'll wish you didn't :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm back...

I had all but decided to give up my scribblescrabble.blogspot but then Kelly, editor of the California Writers Club Tri-Valley Writers newsletter, wrote an article about blogs and lo and behold, I saw that she gave my blog address for all members to check out! Now I'm ashamed! Not really...

I didn't really want to give up the blog (mostly because I couldn't think of a catchy name if I wanted to start another blog--fresh--without the big gap in time), but I'd gotten so lazy. My last entry was in the middle of October for gosh sake, the motivation factor was pretty low. But I do believe in omens and Kelly holds me to a higher standard so I'm back. And in a snap, too. I read the newsletter about ten minutes ago and thought oh %*&# I need to write something!

Being held to a higher standard because someone else sees that in you is a great motivator. It's sometimes the only thing that will make me write if I'm feeling really dreadful and can't get out of my own way. Fortunately, that doesn't happen often to me. I love to write. I write every day, although not on the blog. And granted, most of the writing might not make sense as I scribble scrabble my way through the day, but the point is, I do it. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, suggests writing every day, just three pages. Three pages doesn't seem like much at all especially after you read Carolyn See's book about the literary life and writing one thousand words a day. And that's what I've been doing on my little Alphasmart, which by the way, is the handiest and dandiest writing tool I own. Check it out at www.alphasmart.com and see what you think. It gives me the freedom to write anywhere. Uses a couple of AA batteries that last (no joke) 700 hours! I don't mean to sound like an advertisement for them, but it is a dynamite machine. It automatically saves, has a thesaurus, spell check, will cut, paste, copy, houses eight files which hold up to twenty-five pages each ...and more.

So if per chance you happened to stop by my blog to read, please say hello by leaving a comment and feel free to read some of my past blogs. Once again, I'll try to get back on track with entertaining little stories about the writing life, my grand children, yoga, books, and life's challenges and mudslides.

It feels good to be back:) Thanks for dropping by!

Monday, October 13, 2008


A friend sent this to me in an email. Enjoy!
There once was a woman who woke up one morning,
looked in the mirror,
and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.
"Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today."

So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror
and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.

"H-M-M," she said,

"I think I'll part my hair down the middle today."

So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up,
looked in the mirror and noticed
that she had only one hair on her head.
"Well," she said, "today I'm going
to wear my hair in a pony tail."
So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up,

looked in the mirror and noticed

that there wasn't a single hair on her head.

"YAY!" she exclaimed.

"I don't have to fix my hair today!"

Attitude is everything.

Be kinder than necessary,

for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply,

Love generously,

Care deeply,

Speak kindly.......

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...

It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Books, Books and More Books

I have an addiction to books. Much the same as people have to cigarettes, heroin, crack cocaine. I hear something about one and I dash right out to buy it...even though I tell myself to wait.

Today I went to the book store and bought three more books. It's embarrassing. I couldn't not.

One is by Carolyn See, Making a Literary Life -- recommended by a gal that I met at the East of Eden Writers Conference. (I can't hear the name of a book that comes highly recommended and not buy it). I've already gotten my money's worth from it -- I sat right down and pumped out 1,000 words.

Then I picked up Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan quite guilt free because it's my book club book this month.

Then I found Jeff Herman's guide to finding agents and I've wanted to get that one, too, so I thought what the heck! Right? Not to mention the books on craft that I just bought at the writers conference two weeks ago.

And last night, I went to Towne Center Books to hear the women who Cheryl Jarvis wrote about in The Necklace, talk about their experiences wearing a diamond necklace -- 118 diamonds, 15.24 carats...women between the ages of 50-62 :-) The necklace has been worn~

to make love
have a GYN exam
grocery shop
teaching class

to name a few!

But the best part is the transformation that takes place in these women as they share the magical necklace with friends.

I've only read the first chapter and it appears to be a very quick read, which is great because of that stack that continues to shout in my ear from the nightstand, the table outside our bedroom, the bookshelf in my office, screeching out of my red brief case, or sitting on top of the table in the family room, and hiding in drawers.

There's something about the smell of the paper and cracking that fresh new spine...the thought of being entertained or learning something new, or relearning something old or, or, or...must go read.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I spent some time with my grand daughter yesterday. We sat on the sofa cuddled up like two bugs telling stories. Sammie loves stories, so I make them up as I go. I tell her stories about frogs that fly, about people who slink into the television set and can hop out in any home they want, or how Jake the Dog, our dog, chases rabbits and tigers and cougars who live in the house across the street where they cook great meals and have elephant guests for dinner. Sammie's supply of questions is bottomless, prompting the stories to snowball into more and more outlandish characters and predicaments.

The below story, however, is very true...really!

"Nan, I have a new pet," says my four-year-old granddaughter.

"Really, I didn't see one when I came in. What do you have?"

"Oh, its a slug."

"A slug! Now that's an interesting pet, huh?" I say remembering that I did see all 1/2 inch of him last week, clinging to a leaf (and probably his life) in a see-through plastic jar.

"Yes, and my Mom found the perfect place for him to live." Sammie is just so proud and happy that Mom did this. She sits up straight and puts her nose up in the air. But I know my daughter -- slimy things aren't quite her cup of tea. If the truth be told, she apoplectic when she sees a spider.

"Where would that be?" I ask.

"In the vacuum cleaner."

"What a great spot for a slug!" I'm trying not to laugh.

"It's the perfect spot Mom said because slugs like dirt."

"Your mom is really great at finding special homes for little creatures, isn't she?"

"Nan, she's the best."

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to keep from laughing. But more than that, I marvel at the miracle of innocence and how little children see their parents as perfect. Isn't life wonderful?

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Writing Life

Each month I write an article for the Tri-Valley branch of the California Writer's Club. Here's part of this month's piece. Those of you who write might enjoy it, and those of you who don't, might want to start.

Now that the kids are back in school and summer vacation is nothing more than a faded memory, it's time to hunker down and get serious about writing.

But where to you begin? How do you get that "umph" back into your writing?

Writing prompts. Writing prompts will remind you what it is about writing that you love. And, if you do it every day, it can become addictive. That's why it's a great jumping off place, if you've abandon your writing routine and ritual, during the summer. Schedule time to write.

Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D., says "What you resolve to do first thing--or at least early in the morning, you will do." She compares exercising first thing in the morning to writing, and your exercise is writing. Here's a site that can help.

Visit The Story Starter http://thestorystarter.com. This site boasts more than three million story starters! So the excuse of "I can't think of anything to write about," or "I have writer's block" will quickly vanish once you set your eyes on this gem. The site was also selected as one of the 101 best sites for writers. Don't by shy. Each time you click, you receive a different prompt.

Happy fall, happy writing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Are you embarrassed to?

When I was a kid my parents would tell me that the world was a crazy place, nothing like the place they grew up in. They told me that there were more dangers than ever. Fast forward please.

Considering the vast numbers of people alive today, modes of communication and our more "tell all" philosophy, I sometimes don't think things are that different--there's just more of all of it. Except .... when it comes to politics, maybe things are worse.

The current political campaign is the dirtiest I can ever remember. A campaign, seemingly designed to elect the most well-suited candidate, has apparently taken a turn into Trash Town.

I consider it both a privilege and a responsibility to vote and I'm too much of a control freak to not put my two cents in. Right now though, I'm not so sure.

This is a very exciting time in our country. Regardless of who wins, this election is of historic proportions. Either the first black man or the first woman will hold one of the two most coveted seats in our country.

I wish them all luck. If I were a candidate? I'd drop out.

And for all the politicians and their staffs and members who want things to be better for children? How about if they start by setting a good example?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

She's back...

The other night I took Jake out to get some fresh air and as usual I glanced up to where the Bird family used to live. And they're back. I couldn't believe it. I ran right over and welcomed Ms Bird who cocked her head and looked curiously at me with one small pebbly brown eye.

Our little mourning dove has returned!

After they deserted their nest earlier this summer, they'd sit squished together on the five or six inch downspout at our next door neighbors house cooing. Who needs words?

Anyway, does anyone know if mourning doves (who do btw, mate for life) have more than one ?litter ?gaggle ?brew ?bunch? What do you call baby bird siblings? I don't know. And I'm sure it's something simple and when someone tells me I'm going to feel like an idiot.

I did have the "talk" with Ms Bird and asked her is she needed bird control, but she just blinked. Maybe they're Catholic. I have to say that I'm afraid she's going to be worn out.

And wouldn't you know it. The temperature has spiked since her arrival which is exactly what happened the last time she lived here. So I worry...

You don't suppose she's responsible for global warming do you?!

I'll keep you updated.

Monday, August 25, 2008

School Days, School Days, lalalala....

School is back in session. Not having kids at home anymore, it doesn't touch my world the way it used to. But I won't soon forget shopping until I thought I'd hide under a rounder (or have to rob a bank to pay for everything), blocking off hours and hours in my calendar and leaving work (after asking a crotchety boss) only stand in one snaking registration line after another to enroll my three kids.

And I don't care how much money you have, you actually can't ever have enough when it comes to registration. On registration day, you register for EVERYTHING -- would class pictures (way more expensive if you're "student" as the teachers call them, is a senior), class parties, uniforms, all sports activities, student body things, parking permits (if you're lucky enough to get one), charitable donations. I'm not sure,but I think there's a charge for breathing campus air. And those are only the things my foggy mind can recall.

Then, once they've emptied your checking and bank accounts, you're shamed into volunteering or making cupcakes which certainly you have time to bake in order to support something else the school needs, and to which you've probably already given a financial donation. The list was endless and from what I hear, it still is, only worse--which I can't imagine.

We always began school right after Labor Day. Labor Day was the end-of-summer demarcation, the line in the Cape Cod sand, if you will, that a new chapter of life was about to begin.

That said, Mother Nature routinely tricked us with fabulous Indian Summers which without fail began the first day of school when all of us kids arrived to school sporting our fall clothes. Heavy woolen fabrics, quilted material, winter pants and heavy jackets. Ugh!

We'd swelter and sweat and break out in heat rashes if we didn't fall flat over from scorching sun and enclosed classrooms without, yes, without air conditioning. "Offer it up," was Sister Mary Laura's best advice. She whose hands and red face were the visible part of her, the rest hidden the yards of fabric that made up her black and white habit.

Today, I still feel that After Labor Day is when I get serious about this next chapter of my life. Who can be serious about life when everyone's wearing shorts and tank tops? Or two piece bathing suits? Or swimming? (well, I don't wear those things because I'd scare people but I see them on others)

"Serious" comes with the cold weather, when you're forced to pull yourself inward and get crackin'! Or something like that. When a hint of fall rolls around, you can smell it in the air--crushed leaves, decay, the slight chill in the air, then I'll get serious. Fortunately here in California, that's a bit away yet...

Friday, August 22, 2008


When I first began writing, I didn't think too much about the font I used. A font is a font is a font. I've since come to my wingding senses and realized just how wrong I was!

When I started submitting stories I found instructions on margins, font size, and the font itself ~~ Times Roman, Garamond, Arial Narrow, one was supposed to use.

Take a look at the youtube abaout fonts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3k5oY9AHHM
After viewing it, you'll understand that each font has its own personality and you might think twice about submitting in plain old Arial Narrow! My personal favorite is Comic Sans who saves the day, er, fonts!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yogi in Brief Training....

Have you been watching the Olympics? We have. In fact, it's hard for me to do much else at night, except watch. I live vicariously through these amazing athletes. I imagine myself on the end of the diving board or butterflying through the water with lightening speed, just like Michael Phelps! Except he gains the Gold while I, Ms Couch Potato, gain the weight.

So my motivation to attend a new yoga class came from couch potato-ing it. I may have felt shamed into it. I mean, if those athletes can practice every day for years to keep their bodies firm and shape and win medals, the least I could do was resume a yoga class a couple of times a week right?

The instructor, new to me, (but who wouldn't be-I haven't been to a yoga class in about eight months) was just the best. Greg is tall and lean and gentle and funny and like most Yogis can probably twist himself with the agility of a rubber hose, but he didn't. Frankly, it was the best class I've attended, not because of the workout-although the workout was super--it was more about who he was in front of the room. Sort of like the athletes--it's how they show up--professional, doing their best, bringing the best out in themselves and others.

I left Greg's class last Thursday feeling refreshed, energized and happy that I'd done something good for my body. However, that didn't last too long. Once those taut muscles I stretched out like warm taffy started a chorus of "Tylenol, Tylenol, Tylenol" a little air went out of the "exercise" balloon to return to class this week.

And wouldn't you know? Conveniently enough, Tuesday and Thursday, right at noon, (the time class begins) filled up like a glass of milk! So, I'm going to go to miss my favorite class, but plan on attending an early evening one.

Who knows, maybe I'll be too tired to go.

Speaking of the Olympics, check out the balance beam on this youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO_BnsrWMnI (this was borrowed from my friend Eileen's blog: http://feistysideoffifty.wordpress.com/ )

Monday, August 11, 2008

Home again...

Do you like my new colors? I got bored of the "blogger" drab gray and decided that my blog needed a sprucing up. And since I write with a purple pen all of the time, I just thought why not?

We recently returned to the Bay Area after a stint in Montana to visit my husband's family. Montana has breathtaking views of the Mission mountains, twitching white tailed deer, elk, brown bears (which I've yet to see), old brick homes, Indian reservations, rivers and Flathead Lake.

Flathead Lake is where we spent our vacation. Every time we leave it, I feel like I've left a little part of myself on the dock. I'd get up in the morning, sit on the deck and write overlooking the Lake. I never quite knew what to expect from the water -- smooth as glass, mini ripples, or angry swells (but not the sort of swells we East or West coasters have seen), nonetheless, swells. Most days the sun would shine, although we had a few chilly days, so I'd wrap up in a blanket and find my way to the deck with a notebook and tea.

As much as there are a pangs of sadness to leave the Lake, mountains, and wild life, I'm happy to be back in the Bay Area. My Dad was a bartender in Framingham MA. for years. When Tony Bennett would entertain where Dad worked, he'd dedicate I Left My Heart in San Francisco to my Dad who much later, moved to Walnut Creek with my mom. I know why.

The Bay Area has been my home for thirty-five years and although we pay a price to live here, I've yet to be someplace I'd rather live--we're so close to so much. Okay, maybe, just maybe, I'd live in Kauai (but then you worry about living on an island).

Kidding aside, It's good to be home. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of blogging, using it as I intended months ago, as a journal of the silly, the serious, and sappy things that happen in life.

Oh! Update: The bird family moved out before we left for vacation along with their two babies. Precious. Adorable. Sweet. One day the parents were gone, the next day one baby, the following day, the other. I keep looking up at the next when I walk outside to get the mail and sometimes, even when we take Jake for a walk. I miss them. New life is addictive!

I took pictures of the babies, and if I can ever figure out how to get the darn things on this blog -- you can see them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Home sweet home...twigs, heat'n all...

My home office (my only office come to think of it) sits above the garage. To the left of the garage door, between the wall of the house and a drainpipe, sits a vacant bird's nest - up until a few weeks ago.

We're now the proud landlords of a pregnant mourning dove. Yup, she moved right in, without so much as signing a lease!

We've had other residents who've come and gone like bird thieves in the middle of the night. No one's stayed before. I don't know if Ms Betty Bird decided to move in because there were no other places to rent or the lease fell through on the condo she really wanted. With today's staggering inflation Betty's getting a pretty good deal. But...

Summer rentals here at our house do come with a high price. It's noisy--so close to the ups and downs of the garage door -- and then there's me, frequently running outside to check on Betty like a feral cat.

I'm worried about her. She's alone. No one's dropping off meals or water, and in her condition, she needs to stay well hydrated and eat.

She never leaves the nest. Who feeds her? And gives her a little respite when she's tired of egg sitting? Or when she wants a bath? Speaking of which, I put a bowl of water out there for her to cool her off but I haven't seen her use it yet.

What bothers me most is the fact that we have three small spotlights under the eaves. One of the lights shines on little Betty Bird every night. It doesn't seem to bother her, but it bothers me.

Can't you see it now? She hatches her eggs in the nest. The birds grow up and all fly the coop, so to speak. Then, two years from now the they take turns reclining on the bird psychiatrist's straw and jute couch...

"I can't sleep. My home life was pretty traumatic. When I was a baby, we lived in a noisy nest. We'd hear grinding noises, things skittering across the driveway--newspapers and magazines I think, cars, garbage and mail trucks rumbling by, the land lady running out at all hours scaring the worms right out of us. It was like we were being tortured. The worst part was that it stayed light until midnight and then before you knew it, the sun came up. We were just exhausted all time. I think we're all suffering from PTSD."

Bird Psychiatrist takes the pencil out of his beak and jots a few notes.

"And the landlords were very odd looking birds--no feathers, very fleshy, must have had some molting problem--were no help at all. They gave us a dish pool but the darn thing nearly boiled our mother one hot July day when the sun shifted and heated it up. It was awful."

Then the astute psychiatrist would tell them to eat more worms and move to the countryside ...

Anyway, last night when we got home from walking Jake in the 100 degree heat at 8:30 p.m., and still bothered by Betty's plight, I said to my husband, "I wonder if we should change the timer so the lights goes --" when I heard a "pop." The light, well, all the lights in the neighborhood for that matter, went out! Now how's that for a direct link to the Powers that Be?

Not bad, huh?

So Betty stayed cool last night, had a restful sleep in the dark, and this morning when I went out to say hello, she looked pretty chipper. Now, if she'd just take a little dip in the above ground pool in the evening, I'd feel a lot better.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

To the Birds ... Hummingbirds, that is

Now that our backyard overhaul is finished, I thought it would be fun to put a hummingbird feeder in a Japanese Maple tree, nestled in a corner right outside the kitchen window. I love Japanese Maples--we have a couple of green ones in the front yard, too, and one dwarf that is the most spectacular plum color.

Lowe's has dozens of hummingbird feeders so it took about thirty minutes to weigh the pros and cons of each one (no rash decisions for me). I finally decided on one that, come to find out, is the most poorly engineered feeder that's made, but that's okay because this was my virgin experience with hummingbird feeders. (I now have my eye on one at "The Gardener" on Fourth Street in Berkeley--hand blown glass, red, ruffled glass around the mouth--perfect).

Once the water and sugar (four parts water one part sugar) were boiled, cooled, and poured into the poorly designed feeder, I hung it in the Japanese maple. Hummingbird swooping action and long drinking began less than ten minutes after it was hung. I stood at the kitchen window in awe.

Three hummingbird facts:

wing beat approximately 53 times per second (no, I didn't count :-)
heartbeats over 1000 times a minute
resting hummers breathe 250 times per minute

I've also discovered that when they fly over my head or past my ears they sounds like they're dive bombing, which is a little unnerving (I'm not going to think about a bird weighing ounces having the ability to scaring me!. And, they're territorial, too. So the one who sits on top of the feeder keeping guard we've named, "GP," short for "General Patton."

While I love the placement of the feeder, right there at the window where I can see these little guys up close and personal all the time,I do have to stop whatever I'm doing--washing, rinsing, cleaning, peeling--because once they see movement, they fly away. I I don't want to disturb them. And they drink for a l-o-n-g time.

I found myself getting a little impatient. Here I am trying to get dinner on the table and it's like I'm playing a game of "FREEZE," all of a sudden turning into pillar of stone. Can you imagine being irritated looking at nature's beauty? It got me thinking...I need to slow down!

So, I'm taking the Eckhart Tolle approach to all of this and use it as a moment of divine stillness. I watch, fully present, open hearted, loving -- who couldn't be gazing at such a miracle?

If you want to see them in action drop by OR click on the title of this entry to watch a quick little hummingbird clip!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Squaw or Squawk

A friend of mine submitted a body of work to Squaw Valley Writers and was accepted! Very exciting, very prestigious. I'm really excited for her, in fact, we critique each other's work, so I'm especially happy and proud of her.

I thought about submitting but decided to take a different path. I asked a published writer (of several novels) to review my work. Also, we're going to be out of town during the weeklong conference and I wouldn't be able to attend anyway.

So my husband and I were getting ready for bed the other night and as I was standing over the sink getting ready to brush my teeth, I told him my friend's good news and that as thrilled as I was for her, I still felt the bite of that little green-eyed monster lurking and he said, "How can you be jealous? you didn't even submit anything." He's right, I didn't but still ... you know?

Should I have applied anyway, even though I couldn't go? Suppose I applied and was accepted! What then? I had this great fantasy about Squaw while I stood in front of the bathroom sink brushing my teeth ...

I'm at my desk writing and I hear the mailman's truck drive up. I'm torn--write, get the mail, write, get the mail (I have little self control and I'm very nosey--but aren't most writers?) It's a Saturday afternoon, I walk downstairs, out the door and follow a dirt path through a meadow with wildflowers blowing in the breeze (don't you love make believe???) and make my way to the mailbox. I'm wearing something "writerly" (although I have no idea what that would be) probably something "flowy" or gauzy and my barefoot toes are sending up little puffs of dust as dirt quishes into them. Obviously, I'm clutching a pen in my left hand, too. I'm distracted because I'm in the middle of an important scene, but the call of the mail was too loud and I had to, just had to get to the box. I open the small mail door, eagerly stick my hand in and find an envelope with the Squaw Valley Writers return address (let's pretend it's a manila envelope) With trembling fingers I slice through the envelope and guess what? I'm accepted! I hoot and yell and jump for joy -- and then I sit down and pen a note saying, "Gee, I'd love to attend, I so appreciate the invitation and I'm thrilled that you like my work (Sally Fields you like me you like me) but unfortunately, I can't.

There, done. I love fantasy ... maybe that's why writing works for me. But what I also know is that when I feel this way (with the green eyed monster) it means there's something I need to be doing. So I always use things things in two ways:

1) as a sign from the Universe that something related and very exciting is coming my way


2) that I have work to be done -- otherwise I wouldn't feel any pangs of jealousy

All of the above said, it's sort of silly to be jealous, although I am very happy for her, because I didn't even apply. It's like being sad you didn't win the 10K when you slept in...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Com"pout"er problems...

I've been away from my blog for too long but I have a good reason ...

My computer, Marcel, has been sluggish for the last month or so. But, I'd gotten so used to him being slow (or maybe I've slowed down so much) that I just didn't notice how bad it had really gotten until Saturday morning. I could have prepared a gourmet meal before I could finally get online. And, since I often have newspaper deadlines, I thought perhaps the time had come for me to take Marcel in for a thorough examination.

My daughter told me about WEB DISPATCH (www.webdispatch.com) where she recently took their computer. Apparently her screen looked like it was off when it was really on--just black all the time--she didn't know if one of the kids did something to it, it was in the process of dying, or already dead.

She was so impressed with Web Dispatch's customer service and service, that I thought I'd give them a try. In the past, I've taken Marcel to his birthplace in Dublin for service, or I've used one of their guys who, for a hefty sum, will make a house call. Even so, I'm always concerned that Marcel will end up in the wrong hands. And now I know why...

I called Web Dispatch and after talking to Scott on the telephone, I drove my little Marcel down to their store in San Ramon, which would be his home until Monday morning. As soon as I walked in the door, I was helped immediately. Immediately. Now, when was the last time that happened in a major computer store? For me? Never.

The tech, I mean The Prince otherwise named Walt, who worked on Marcel told me this morning that the spyware hadn't been installed properly and that one of the programs in my less-than-two-year old computer (remember this is the year 2008) was a reinstall of a 2002 program!

I don't know how long Web Dispatch has been in business but the word needs to be spread. I think their service is less expensive than major computer stores, they're willing to go the extra mile for solid and quick service, and I think they're pretty honest. If I were a movie critic, I'd give them two thumbs up!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sleepover Success...

Who says a old dog can't learn new tricks? When my grand kids slept over last week I did. For example:

~who knew that beverage coasters could be used as hockey pucks and zip across the floor like it's ice--and more fun than a suitcase full of cars and trucks?

~or that when you took a bath you could be totally entertained with two clear plastic caps and bubbles (NanaBanana forgot to bring toys upstairs for bath time entertainment after the kids were in the tub and had to get really creative)

~or that it's almost more fun to cuddle in bed and make up stories instead of reading them every so often

I'd forgotten that "why" is the chain word of the English language, sewing one answer to the next--and makes for very long (why), long (why), long (why), conversations

I also rediscovered just how much fun it is to marvel at pink, lemon yellow, and red rose petals, gather them up (along with a few sticks) in a Baby Gap bag, and glue them onto paper.

I learned that I don't know the names of many bugs, can't explain the aerodynamics of birds, or what that little clicking sounds was that kept JD from falling asleep until 10:30 p.m. while Sams was sacked out long before.

I also found out that several of the playgrounds in Danville were still closed for renovation, but that the bulldozer and tractors sitting at Diablo Vista unused at 11 a.m. on a Friday, were fun to imagine operating.

Osage Park was and is open, ready for climbing and romping, with little nooks and crannies for hiding in. And who knew that NanaBanana would be so nervous that one of her grand kids would fall, trip, or be kidnapped at the park, that she now has many new gray hairs (if that's even possible) to cover up with Loreal?

Ah to be three or four again~

Friday, June 6, 2008

Oprah -- Choosing Brilliant Health ... right

I read an Oprah and Friends email a few minutes ago called Choosing Brilliant Health. I'm wondering -- do three waffles with real butter, real maple syrup and a bowl of fresh strawberries for breakfast -- and lunch (minus the strawberries)-- count toward choosing brilliant health?

I had a bucketful of strawberries this morning because as we all know, that's what Costco carries -- bucketfuls. So, that part was healthy ... which means it was okay to eat the waffles for breakfast.

But for lunch, well, for lunch it was too late to be picky, or go to the store, or think about it too long or hard, because by the time I returned home from runnin' around this afternoon dinner time is closer than lunchtime.

I snarfed those pups up like candy and they pretty much are once they're smeared with butter and swollen with syrup.

So there you have it.

You know, it seems like it takes a lot of energy (which if I'd eaten some protein I might have) to dedicate myself to eating healthy. I do want to improve my dietary habits, but I think I'm just kinda lazy or maybe it's weak minded (translated: little will/won't power).

I start the day with good, make that fabulous, intentions (okay today doesn't count--but what about the strawberries?) but by 10 pm I've consumed either (and sometimes both) too much of something or a calorie laden dessert held together with lard.

I think if I eat more berries--strawberries, elderberries (make that "younger"berries), blueberries, and blackberries, because they contain the highest of antioxidants, I won't have to worry as much as I think I do, er, should. Anyway, I've included the link if you want to see the article, just click on the title above. I liked that it saves one from beating oneself up, but rather suggests a change of mind. (change your mind, change your life)


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Writer's Cramp

I have writer's cramp. No, no, no, it's not my hand, but my head.

I need to write a few additional scenes for my book and I can't seem to get into a creative mood. Sort of like getting excited about planning your own surprise birthday party. . .knowing I have to do it has taken the fun out of it.

It's been such a long time since I've written anything off the top of my head, except for my blog, articles for the newspaper (those aren't really off the top of my head) and my almost-without-fail-every-morning free writes, but still, Monday morning I sat down at my messy desk to write. Nada. So, I thought, I need to get out of the house.

I slipped my Alphasmart into my snappy red leather case and raced off to Borders and found myself sitting with the rest of the late morning throng I didn't expect to bump into and still couldn't write (noise pollution, cinnamon bun smell pollution, new book smell pollution, turning page pollution, sniffing pollution, slurping pollution, etc). See my problem?

I'm feeling like I've been so confined to
in the box writing
(because I've been editing and rewriting for so long)
that I don't know how to write out of the box this week
I have to admit, this is a frist, I mean first. Usually I pick up a pen or plunk my fingers onto the keyboard and one, two, three--go!

Who knows why???

Anyway, this has absolutely nothing to do with the youtube I've posted here. If you click on the title above, Writer's Cramp, it will take you right to it.

For many of us writers, it's a dismal look at writers ability to market,(which we'll identify with) and for those who aren't writers, a) you'll be grateful you don't, b) you'll see just how insane we are and c) you'll see how sometimes un-savvy we are when it comes to marketing ourselves and our work. Mostly it's funny ~ enjoy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sleep Over...with me...Nana Banana

I miss being a mom. I miss having my kids under my feet and wiping their noses, drying their tears and feeling needed. I mean, I'm needed in a different way now, at this stage of my life, but anyone who needs me has someone else who needs them more--except my husband, I suppose. But, he's so darned independent he doesn't really need me either.

Okay, so Jake needs me but only because he doesn't have opposable thumbs to open the door to let himself out to pee.

So, to fulfill my need to be needed two of my grandchildren are sleeping over on Thursday evening. We're going to eat lots of gooey food and play games and stay up a little late (they're only four and three).

Sammie's had her overnight suitcase packed since I mentioned, on her last day of school, that maybe she'd like to sleep over this summer. She's ready: several changes of clothes, special books she wants me to read (or maybe she'll read to me), and the directions to make clay!

And JD was so caught up in Sammie's excitement, it turned out that it included him, too, saying things like "Nan, when we sleep over...." or "Nan, should we bring our suitcase when I sleep over" or "Nan, where are we going to sleep..."

So this complicates things just a bit. He's got a little more energy than Sammie who tends to be more cerebral. She's perfectly happy to sit someplace and do something--crafts, read, color, those kinds of things.

JD is a bit more "active." This means I'll be running up the stairs and in and out of the workout room where he'll be wanting to ride the elliptical. And, he's curious about everything--what it is, how it works--he asks hundreds of questions--he's more of a hands-on sort of guy.

I'm tired already. I think I should take an old person's nap before the kids get here...except I'm too excited to sleep!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Plum Saga ... continued

I got up at 6;15 this morning, poured a cup of coffee and sat down with my cookbooks to find the perfect plum dessert recipe. It took quite a while, but eventually, like truth, one surfaced.

I drove to Safeway, purchased all the required ingredients, came home, assembled everything, measured out the crust ingredients, and luckily hadn't forgotten anything at the store. (As my husband says, if we need two things--two trips to the store). However, when I cut the first plum I smelled something I didn't like--rotting fruit. Can you believe it? The plums had gone past their prime, way past, and here I am ready to make a plum galette with no plums.

Now what?

I drove back to the store, grabbed an angel food cake, (I've had it with those litle plums--traitors!) blueberries, mango, rasberries, and strawberries, came home and concocted something I am not sure will be edible.

I simmered port and brown sugar until it was syrupy, poured it over the fruit, then layered the fruit and cut up angel food cake. I'll serve it with vanilla bean ice cream.

We'll see what happens. It all else fails, I made chocolate covered strawberries...

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Anybody have a good recipe that requires plums? Tarts? Cookies? Cake? Cobbler?

Last week I found a recipe in Gourmet Magazine for a plum tart and since we were having company during the weekend, I thought I'd try it out on them before I fed it to my book club, The Sexy Savants. (I didn't pick the name)

I zipped into Costco and bought the required bushel of plums, because that's the way they sell things there--in enormous bulk. At the time, bulk made sense. I'd be serving the same yummy dish to approximately thirteen people, so the more plums the merrier!

Before I served the tart on Sunday, I gave our guests my disclaimer: "You are the first victims to be served this dish. Please, give me your honest opinion, I'm thinking about serving it to my book club, The Sexy Savants, on Friday night."

They said they loved it but after they'd gone home and I collected the dessert plates, the truth was in the pudding, I mean the tart. And it wasn't pretty. Remember when you were a kid and you didn't want to eat your food, so you "fooled" your parents by pushing everything around the outside of the plate? I rest my case.

I asked my husband (the man who just last week I told "you're the most honest person I know, Rick, I so appreciate that in you.) Maybe I spoke too soon, maybe honesty isn't all it's cracked up to be.

I couldn't get him to commit to saying it was sthe worst dessert he'd ever eaten (really how bad could plums be swimming in a brown sugar/port syrup), he did, however, comment on how tasty the ribs he BBQ'd were. (they were tender and juicy--but I was having a crisis)

So, I have a partial bushel of plums sitting on the kitchen counter fermenting into whatever plums ferment into and I don't know what to do with them. Soon gnats will be buzzing all over the place and then I won't have to worry about it. I still won't have a yummy dessert, though.

I checked the Food Network certain I'd find the perfect recipe, and I did, except it only serves six. Doubling the recipe means I need more plums (which won't have ripened to the same degree of sweetness as the others) so that won't work, not to mention that we'd be eating plum tarts until July. And we all know where the tart calories would go, don't we? I thought I could make the recipe plus one half, but how do you half an egg? See my dilemma?

The ridiculous thing is that hardly anyone reads this damn blog so the chances of squeezing a recipe out of anyone is pretty slim.

Maybe someone out there in cyberspace who has a plum tree in their backyard will psychically intuit me need and send a recipe...I'd be forever grateful and so would the book club.

The Toy Fairy

The Toy Fairy visits my grand children's home at night, not every night but she drops by unexpectedly, leaving with whatever toys haven't been picked up and put away. We don't know where the toys go. So my daughter has trained the kids to pick up up their things before they go to bed. Isn't that the cleverest idea? I think it's great -- avoid the middleman, I always say! However, my grand son is "cleverer."

They were picking up their toys the other night, well, JD wasn't, but his older sister was while he lolly gagged around not doing much in the helping department. So, his mom set the timer and told him if his toys weren't picked up by the time the buzzer went off, he could say adios to his toys. He paid little if any attention to her.

When the buzzer went off at the end of five minutes and his toys were still strewn all over the family room floor, she proceeded to pick them up telling his that the Toy Fairy would be by later and he'd most probably lose the privilege of playing with them.

He got a little frantic, running around looking for something--he said was looking for something to give the Toy Fairy. My daughter kept asking him what it was. It took him a while to articulate it (after all, he's not quite three yet) but then he got his words together and said, "I want the rules. I want to give the Toy Fairy back her rules. I don't like them."

Clever, huh? Not quite three, already outsmarting his mother and the Toy Fairy. Sometimes it's really hard not to laugh at the things he does and says, like calling the UPS truck the NEW PS Truck. And he calls the people who live next door, the next store neighbors, cute, huh?

Cute comes in handy especially when he does things like smear liquid soap on the floor of the shower stall so he can slide while the baby's being fed .... ah to be almost three!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wouldn't ya know...

Wouldn't ya know that as soon as I announce and post to the world that I'm technologically challenged, I think "comments" is working! It would be very cool if it were, I think...

Double edged sword, this hitting "send" or "publish post."

Years ago, many many years ago (ouch--that many) I had the great misfortune of working as an administrative assistant, and a very, very bad one at that. The company I worked for (which shall remain nameless, although it was a Fortune 500 company) had an in-house computer system that could broadcast email of a sorts to other branches all over the west coast.

Let me tell you, if you're not cut out to be an administrative assistant (and I was not) hitting "send" should only be done after another human being has proofread your work(because there was no spellcheck at the time...)

I cannot tell you the errors that flew across the western division. Luckily my boss was applying for Saint of the Year award that year, the thirteen months I worked for him. (although I may have ruined him forever and no, I didn't get fired, I quit, I couldn't stand the work)

One day I had to mail (now you're probably wondering how could she possibly do something to the mail?) Well, It's not easy. I had to mail the Western Division's Annual Report back to headquarters in Washington (or someplace) and I added a little something extra. . .the secretary downstairs gave me what she said was the ORIGINAL recipe for Mrs. Fields cookies (I couldn't wait to try it!) -- and somehow I included the instructions in the package to the president. Not very professional. That's what happens when you're not organized--things find their way into packages that shouldn't be there.

As I said, my boss was a saint. Bless him. And, I would have baked some of those yummy Mrs. Fields cookies for him, you know, to say thank you but ...

HELP! I need a technology nerdie

I don't know what I've done, comments can't be posted on my blog. I can't figure out why. Yesterday, I tore my little blog design apart, "re-saved" all the settings, which will probably positivity assure me that no one will ever be able to leave a comment again, but of course that wasn't my intention. I know so little about these things. And, it's very very frustrating.

For a while, I thought it would be fun to blog without people's comments--I thought I could just use it as a "free write" but it's lonely not to have anyone visit and comment. I've come to realize that I like the human contact a blog brings. And I can't have it. Wah, wah, wah.

If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to email me. (visioncoachcindy@aol.com) I wish there were 1-800 telephone number I could ring up and find out what's going on...

Maybe I'll need to get another blog address except what happens if I encounter the same problem? I mean, really, how many blogs can one person have?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

American Idol

Rick and I have been watching American Idol or as half the population calls it, AI, (no, not the other controversial AI) for the last what? 19 weeks? The grand finale was quite spectacular last night with old AI winners singing and prancing around the stage--great fun to see them.

I remember little Carrie Underwood, whom I absolutely adore. The year she won, she looked like the girl next door who drank warm milk every day straight from a cow, and spoke with a cute twang.

Man oh man alive, has Underwood changed! Her entire body shape is different. It's model perfect now, legs that go on forever and skin as clear as a fogless day in San Francisco--and about that spectacular, too. Her voice, as great as it was when she won, is even better. If I remember correctly, she liked singing Jesus songs. Which is fine with me. I enjoy listening to her sing. I don't think she's singing Jesus songs anymore, the latest, I Don't Even Know Your Last Name, about a gal who goes to bed with some guy whose last name she doesn't know. And, if anyone can belt it out, Carrie Underwood can--and did.

I digress. The Davids. I really wanted David Cook to win so for me the outcome was perfect-o. I thought I'd feel bad for the one who lost (and I thought it was going to be David Cook), although Simon said there were no losers last night and I do believe that.

But the whole point I want to get to is how sad I felt on Tuesday evening when everyone kept telling David Archuletta that he was the best, etc. Each time they said it, poor David Cook had to crawl back up to the microphone and sing again, only to be told he was good, but nah, not really. In my book, he deserved to win for being humiliated in front of millions of television viewers and not flipping anyone off.

It surprised me that the votes were so high for David Cook. I thought it would be close race but it sounded like Cook got twenty million plus votes more? Is that possible? I've never voted. I've thought about it, but I haven't done it. Maybe next year.

It'll be so fun to see where these guys end up and I'm really curious about Syesha, too. As the weeks went on she absolutely blossomed! Awesome. I would have been happy if she won, too.

Congratulations to Rocker David Cook! Who-hoo.

Yay to David Archuletta for being such delight and wonderful talent to listen to and watch.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Procrastinating Again ... (my new favorite hobby)

I'm procrastinating again.

I have my manuscript beside me and today my job is to work work work on the revisions. But, every time I look at them, I get tired. 319 pages is nothing to sneeze at, I mean, there aren't 319 pages worth of changes, frankly if that were all I had to do, just slip in commas, add a few caps, end sentences a bit earlier, I'd be closer to being done. But, my wonderful editor, is asking me to make other changes--adding a character at the beginning of the book instead of nearer to the end, putting in some details that I'm not quite sure how I want to add yet. Things that are making me tired.

I've gone downstairs on at least four occasions to grab a little something to eat, then waddled back upstairs to work more, called a friend, done a little reading, went to Borders thinking perhaps smelling paper and books, or being where racks of books lived, would inspire me. It didn't. So, I went next door to Baja Fresh for another "snack" and then drove home certain as soon as my feet hit the hardwood floor, I'd be, once again ready. I'm not. I've read a few blogs, not commented on any of them, and now I'm blogging, because it's easier to blog than to recreate I think. Anyway, at least I'm writing....

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oops ... what about writing?

Here's what I'm re-reading right now: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff and I just began The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

The other day I wrote about my love for books--the smell of them, the smoothness of the pages and sometimes rougher skin of the cover, the font and shape of the letters--all of it, oh, and the words. Today, I must (because I want to) give a earth-quaking nod to my other love - writing.

My morning pages (which admittedly don't happen sometimes until well past eleven p.m.) is the girfriend who sticks by me no matter what. I don't have to worry about it being good or bad, precise or loose, heart wrenching or cold hearted, breathtaking or breathless. It is what it is. And, like that fabulous friend, it's the best therapist I've discovered so far.

On the page, all life's curiosities and problems, bumps and blips, work themselves out if I stick with it and write to resolution. I can usually go from hurt or craziness to finding peace and the truth in most situations in less than a thousand words. Not bad, huh? On the occasion that I don't, I go back, begin again, and eventually the truth surfaces in a way that has integrity and honesty and clarity--and the solution is always the best for everyone. The fog lifts and I have my 'aha' moment.

I am so grateful for the gift of writing and the fullness it brings into my life. It rounds out the rough edges, makes me look at things differently, and begs the question "what if." Writing makes me want to create, fantasize, think, and wonder.

For those of you who don't write, I hope that there's a passion in your life that brings you the same sense of oneness with with world that writing brings to me...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ode to Reading

I'm obsessed with reading. Obsessed. I read drinking coffee or tea in the morning--first the newspaper then whatever novel or nonfiction book I'm in the middle of, and sandwiched in there someplace is often spiritual reading.

I read everything I get my hands on, especially when I sit at the kitchen counter grabbing a sandwich--advertisements, cereal boxes, magazines. I read in every room of the house...kitchen, dining room, extra bedrooms, our bedroom, family room, yes, the bathroom.

Some days the house looks like messy library, overrun with books and magazines that I "must" get to. They sit in stacks calling me, beckoning me to open them. I can't resist the smell of the pages, the feel of the paper, the print, or the new knowledge or fantasy that awaits, so the call works.

Years ago, when I chauffeured the kids to soccer, dance, or wrestling practice, I'd have a book to keep me company. I'd be itching to open it up as soon my SUV full of kids deployed out.

When we go on vacation, I've been known to pack a separate suitcase of only books -- I never know how many I'll have time to finish when we're on a trip and I don't want to be caught short handed, so I take more than I think I could possibly read on the airplane, at the hotel, poolside, in the car...

And, I never, ever read one book, not even two, its three or for our five. Sometimes, I'll finish several in the same day, sometimes not.

So don't make the mistake of asking what book I'm reading, you'll get an earful.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Fed Ex - Ground Delivery

My manuscript arrived safely at my editor's home on Wednesday night--she shot me a quick email to let me know ... "On page 14--Ronald, that asshole." So, at least she liked the beginning.

I wanted the experience of mailing it to be special--not just stuffed down the gullet of any old mailbox, so I drove to Mailboxes, Etc. with my manuscript cradled next to me, filled out the address label, carefully placed it in the no-rip bag and handed it to the old sourpuss who stood impatiently drumming her fingers on the counter. She was a bit disappointing but that's okay I did my part.

When I walked back into the house, manuscript-less, something felt off, the way it does when I come home after dropping Jake at Shampooches. Hollow. And, that's how I felt about my book being on its maiden voyage, unattended--hollow.

For more than two years I've been working on this book, writing if not every single day, very close to it, carrying it with me everywhere I go physically or psychically -- vacation, to sleep, to my daughter's, Starbucks.

I'm hoping it'll be shipped back next week so I can make the necessary rewrites and begin sending queries to agents.

And having the book on "vacation" gave me a few days to play with other ideas for the next book. And the one I've come up with has been simmering for quite some time, so I'm jotting down notes, making character sketches, figuring out names, -- I'm excited!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Exercise . . .ewe!

Here's what I'm reading ... Case Histories by Kate Atkinson - so far, so good. I'll keep you posted. I'm on page 28

I finished reading Jacquelyn Michard's The Breakdown Lane, on the return flight from Montana. The book is about a woman who, after her husband leaves her in a near-mutual decision, discovers she has a debilitating disease. Great book, moves along at a nice pace, quirky characters.

The book made me think about all the people in the world who do have debilitating diseases, serious illnesses, or even a week's worth of cold and flu and the enormous impact health issues have on life.

My small sampling of strep throat was an eye opener. Sure, there were many people who would've been happy to drive me to the doctor, pick up medicine, or make chicken soup, but I didn't want to bother anyone. But what's it like if you need a ride every day or every other day or every week to the hospital for radiation or chemotherapy, not to mention doctor appointments? What do you do if you're feeling too weak or sick too your stomach to get yourself wherever you need to go? So, I had a little conversation with myself...

Monday morning I dusted off and hopped on the elliptical which has been sitting in our "workout room" (another word for joke) since 2006--unused. This is the Precor I begged Rick to get. We both needed to start exercising again. Rick used it for a really long time, until he decided to join a gym because he wanted to also to do strength training, lift weights and things I can't even imagine.

For the first week or so after we got the Precor I exercised faithfully, but after that, who knows what happened. I know what didn't happen...

The key to exercise for me is similar to what fuels Jake--food. If I'm faithful about it, I can eat more of what I want. The excuse that walking Jake twice a day for about thirty minutes doesn't hold up anymore. I'm packing on pounds I don't want.

The bottom line is this: I need to exercise to stay heart-healthy ... oh and so I can fit into my summer clothes :-)

Better Living Through Modern Chemistry...and thank God!

I thought for sure that the scratchy throat I'd felt a week ago Sunday morning was just the remnants of a late night the evening before. We'd friends over for dinner, I'd had had a busy week, maybe I overextended myself. I never get sick.

But the scratch didn't go away, in fact it got worse and worse, and in all my brilliance, I canceled an pre-scheduled doctor appointment on Tuesday morning because I was too sick to drive. I could have asked my husband to come home from work to drive me, I could have called a friend (I'm sure anyone would have delighted in taking me to the doctor--the ride home, however, once they learned I had strep might have been tricky) but I felt too awful leave the house. My head hurt, my right ear throbbed, I couldn't swallow my own saliva, and I had the chills. I went to the medicine cabinet certain I'd find a magic pill, but when I saw the size of the Aleve I knew my constricted, red, swollen, and yes, white dotted throat couldn't do it.

My throat burned all the time, I couldn't concentrate. So I couldn't read, writing wasn't an option, I knew that. I could hardly talk and believe it or not, walking wasn't too great, either. I canceled everything, no one questioning a thing once they heard my voice and believe me, there was no argument once I said I had strep.

Not swallowing is like telling yourself not think of the color lemon yellow. It's impossible. The more I couldn't swallow, the more I'd wanted to and the more thought I had to. And when I did, it felt miserable, like a vice closing around my throat.

The doctor visit was Wednesday morning. Eureka! Hail the virtues of better living through modern chemistry. He gave a prescription, a Z Pack. Six pills, two at once, then one each day for four. That is one powerful antibiotic. I felt like a rising super woman the next day, less than twenty-four hours after the initial dose.

The only thing that felt good sliding past my tonsils was ice cream. It may not have been the right thing to eat, but the cold against my sizzling throat was perfect.

Being sick is like being on vacation--all the things I couldn't do last week, have piled up for this week ...argh...the difference is if I'd been on a beach in Kauai, I wouldn't mind the work, feel fully rested and content to have relaxed for a week.


1) Best way to avoid strep? Doctor said wash your hands very often (personally I think I should have used a mask on the airplane to/from Montana)

2) My cousin told me to use Motrin instead of Tylenol or Aleve, etc, because it's an antiflammatory -- good advice -- it really worked.

Stay healthy and again, here's to modern medicine!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Happy Day-After May Day :-)

Belated Happy May Day!

Did you celebrate it yesterday? My old neighbor, Debbie, used to put a fresh bouquet of spring flowers on my doorstep every May first ... a May day custom, she'd say. I'd never heard of that before, but each year I looked forward to her colorful arrangements.

Anyway, I forgot all about it this year. I was too busy racing around -- left the house at 7:15 a.m. and returned at 4:15 p.m. -- geesh! The whole time I was out, I kept thinking about the next thing I had to do until I remembered that I am trying to practice the principles in A New Earth ...and living in the present moment because all we really have is NOW. (Maybe that's why Tolle named one of his books The Power of Now)

Living in the present moment is SO easy in that you don't worry about the past or the future because the job is to focus on now. Remembering to focus on the NOW, however, presents problems because my brain is very busy (even right now) for example, wondering about something else. We're having company for dinner tomorrow night and I can't decide what I'll serve. (future) I won't make that yummy pumpkin-spice-ginger-crust cheesecake because the last time I made it, the crust turned out like mortar. (past)

The challenge? We're conditioned to base our judgements, opinions, criticisms, way of life, -- everything -- on past experience instead of seeing each moment as fresh and new. If we could do that, have each moment be present and new, oh if we could just do that, then we could see possibility and not defeat or same outcome in everything. Interesting, huh?

So, I'm trying to focus on the present moment -- by watching my breath, taking time out to just take a couple of breaths to get back to center, back to the place of stillness deep within -- even in my chaotic world.

I'm not nearly as articulate as Tolle, but he said something that helps me get to that place. He used the example of stillness of the ocean ... the waves could be choppy on the surface (representing chaos/life), but underneath the water is calm (the stillness within). That's the place from which a wellspring of new ideas and possibilities live. :-) (my interpretation)

Okay, so now that I've done this I can go make that BLT I've wanted all day -- tee hee (past and future--what about NOW?)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Home Again...

We're back from Montana. Such a beautiful place to visit. We had a three hour wait in Salt Lake City and as I sat at one of the computer tables focusing on finishing up my column for the newspaper, I looked up and out the window to see it snowing sideways! That good old wind whipping across the tarmac. And it snowed while we were in Missoula, too, sometimes just flurries, sometimes enormous flakes. I can't help but wonder how each and every flake is different. Remember, you learned that in school? That every snowflake is different? Every single one? I can't imagine.

We needed jackets outside and sweaters inside. The mountains, visible from my in-laws beautiful home, were covered in white. On Sunday, however, everyone sat outside soaking up the sun and eating brunch after Rick's two nieces' baby baptisms. By California standards it might have been a bit too cool, but those thick-blooded Montana folk didn't mind it at all. Talk about weather seems rather prevalent in that part of the country.

We saw lots of white tailed deer munching on tasty new buds and flowers they happen to come across. Their long spindly legs, too big ears, Bambi faces and twitching white tails--I was in love.

So, we're back to the grind. Rick racing out of the house this morning for a 7:30 a.m. conference call. Me back to editing Darby Way and determined to finish by the end of the week, which is fast approaching. Jake the Dog under the desk patiently awaiting his morning walk.

I love visiting out of state family, but there's nothing better than coming home. Back to Jake (whom we missed terribly), back to our own "dirt" (of which we left plenty), and back to our own bed (even in not-so-fresh sheets). It's the best.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Morning Ramble

Ah, another Monday morning -- last week I actually reached all of my writing goals except to finish reading A Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. Since I read several books at a time, finishing one can pose a problem ... I want to finish it before we leave for Montana because I don't want to lug it on the airplane. I'd rather pack my carry-on case with lots of paper backs. So, I'm focused on finishing A Change of Heart before we leave.

What I like about Picoult's work is that she writes about difficult situations, ones in which you need to think (not quite as dramatic but sort of -- if your husband and child were drowning and neither could swim, who would you save?) The protagonist's daughter is in need of a heart transplant (make that desperate need) and the "perfect match" couldn't be more imperfect. I don't want to give away the plot but it's worth the read. I'm not sure I'd pay full price (I got it at Costco) but I'd definitely get it at the library or in paperback.

We leave to visit family in Montana on Thursday. I am grateful I love visiting my in-laws...they're wonderful. The only thing that's hard about leaving here is saying goodbye to our dog and furry child, Jake, and not seeing the grand kids :-( That's the tough one. I know Jake will be fine. We've found a great sitter who stays here at the house and keeps him company. And, my daughter who lives nearby is really good about email a few pictures of the kids for us to see. My other daughter, the one who works full-time, doesn't have time to be emailing pictures, but I carry the baby's picture in my heart anyway so.

It snowed in Montana on Saturday but then melted the next day -- it will be interesting to see what the weather's like when we arrive. I never know what to pack, and in fact, usually feel under dressed. My husband's family are all great dressers, and frankly, I just don't care about clothes as much as I did say, ten years ago. That said, I did buy a few new things to pack--weather depending. My mind is in grounded in spring, sounds like Montana's mind is hovering somewhere between winter and a frigid spring!

Saw the movie "88" yesterday. It received a D- in the Contra Costa Times, which made us think twice, but they've been wrong (at least in our minds) sooooo many times before that we decided, after Rick looked it up online to give it a try. I just think you can't over think movies the way you can books...when I go to the movies I suspend my critical mind and just enjoy what I see--within reason of course. "88" was good: full of suspense, a good little twist, a little foreshadowing that completely flew right over my head (duh) but that Rick caught..Looks like it came in as the 4th seen movie during the weekend. Would I recommend it? Yup!I'm not the best judge, though, I LOVE going to the movies or maybe it's the popcorn...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Book Summaries/Law of Attraction...

How do you summarize 80,000 words onto one page, single spaced? That's my job this week, to write a summary of my book. And, being the little wordie that I am, I want it to be fun. I reread it a few minutes ago, I decided I needed to take a break because I put something in the summary that didn't even happen! What's that all about! Geesh! Hummmm, maybe I should add it!

Anyway, it's an interesting process and I must say that going to the Times Book Club Gala Tuesday evening did give me a shot of inspiration. I mean, if other people in the world can write a book, summarize it, edit, re-write, find an agent and a publishing house, publish, so can I! Right? No? Yes, right. My brain is working overtime!

Those words--about other people doing it--come straight from the mouth of Michael Lozier, Oprah and Friends Abundance Guru. I love that when I'm doubting something, I can look at other people who've accomplished the same thing and think, well if they can do it, so can I.

He says to remember to ask for what you want, not what you don't. Makes such perfect sense in the eyes of the Universe and attraction, doesn't it? I mean, if you think about it, we're all energy fields, so it stands to reason that whatever we attract, we do so because of that field.

We attract what we think about so if I think I'll write a great book and it will be snagged up by a fabulous agent, it will be. I know it. And, if I go the other way and think no one will ever want it, well then, I only have myself to thank. Really. That's the way it works. I've seen it happen time and time again in my own life. We just have to watch what we think about. Lozier says something about learning how to catch yourself when you say, can't, won't don't...because they're negative. He suggests you turn it around to can will and do! Good, huh? Try it. I'd love to hear how it works. (BTW, I'm not saying I won't receive a rejection--only that the energy I'm putting behind the book, and into it for that matter, is postive and upbeat)

The funny thing about this blog is that I'm not broadcasting that I'm writing it anymore. This could be a huge mistake, but I've decided to use it more as a journal...I love journaling. I certainly won't put things here that would hurt or embarrass anyone, (especially me:-) ) but, it's a good way to keep the juices flowing. Writing pumps me up, and free writes are the best. These are first drafts, untouched, sort of preliminary work that we all do to keep the pump primed. So if any one's reading, great. Leave a note, if not, I hope the cyberspace molecules enjoy~

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Times Book Gala

Last evening, my friend Joan and I, (who bless her soul - was at the tail end of a migraine) trekked to Walnut Creek for the Times Book Gala event. There were four authors...and here's my own personal review.

If you haven't read Beth Lisick's book, Helping Me Help Myself, it's funny and a good read. And, if you have the opportunity to hear her speak, don't miss it. It's like comedy night at the Improv! She was clearly the most entertaining.

Sue Miller, who wrote several books that have been made into movies, is artist-in- residence at St. Mary's College in Moraga was very interesting and unusual. She didn't talk about her book per se, but spoke about the foundation for most of her books, which is home and hearth. I boughtThe Good Mother. Her newest one, The Senator's Wife, is supposed to be excellent. It's still in hardback.

Vendela Vida, a young (oh so young and beautiful) talented lady talked about her book Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and was quite interesting. She took three trips to Lapland to experience what life is like there in order to write this book. And, she read us the two paragraphs gleaned from her first trip -- long trip for two paragraphs, huh? She got the idea of writing this particular book from memories of pictures she'd seen as a child!

The only man on there, Andre Aciman, who wrote Call Me By Your Name, was pretty impressive too. After listening to him speak his book would be a wonderful read.

All of this brings me to my real point: have you ever known a reader/writer to pass up an opportunity to buy more books? So, now I have an additional two books to add to the collection, rows, and overwhelming pile of books I've yet to read.

I met one women there last night who told me that her son tells everyone she owns a book store, except she never sells any of the books. I can relate!

Lynn Carey said that the venue for presenting authors is going to change -- last night was the last Gala :-( I'm disappointed but she also said that a new venue would include one-on-one with authors which sounds great. We'll see. It's fun to hear several authors together but I like the idea of the one-on-one, too--to get a more in depth conversation going. So stay tuned to Lynn's writing in the paper to see what's up next. I'm sure it will be great!

Friday, April 11, 2008

A New Earth

I'm reading Eckhart Tolle's new book, A New Earth, and listening to the podcast on Oprah every Monday evening at 6 p.m. It is a real eye-opener, so much in fact, that three other women and myself have decided to get together once a week and discuss the principles of his work. The book is divided into ten chapters and each week, one is covered on Oprah's podcast at www.Oprah.com. If you have any interest in changing your life for the better, pop in and take a look. If you've not been watching, all of the past pod casts are available to download for free.

I didn't know much about Oprah until about six weeks ago because if I let myself watch watch TV during the day, I find it difficult to pull myself away from it.

However, watching her on the podcast has given me such joy. She's an amazing, spiritual, giving, loving person ... and so wants to contribute to changing the world, which I must say, is not only a lofty goal, but one that the A New Earth program is doing.

Check it out.