Monday, December 05, 2005

The Beholder’s Eye…

Doing author interviews takes a ton of time. And every month when I begin the process I wonder why I put myself through the torture. But then…the answers come back. And I know exactly why I continue to spend the time each month.

One of my favorite questions to ask is variations of the most romantic gift the writer has received. There is the usual flowers when the author is blue or happy. Or the special evening the loving spouse planned. The list goes on.

I loved the story one author told about how her husband was unemployed for quite a long period of time, and he promised her that when he got a job, he was gonna buy her pearls. And sure enough, with his first paycheck he bought her the most beautiful strand of pearls that she still wears everyday. (Of course, if you are sitting there thinking “Oh big deal”… you must remember that a lot of the sentimentality was in the telling by the author…not the telling here by me!)

But today…I think I just read the best answer to the question (and it wasn’t even an author I was interviewing…it was one my staff member prepared)! The author wrote back: My husband doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body! One time he bought me purple staples to go into my electric stapler because he knows I love purple.

Now I don’t know about you…and maybe I am just going through a sappy-stage… but I think this is sooooo sweet! I mean….I didn’t even know that staples came in colors! And when the guy saw them…he thought of her…and how she would like them.

And truly…isn’t that what romance is all about? Knowing everything about the other person…and doing something that will make them smile? Letting them know that you care?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Hmmm…maybe not that hungry…

I consider myself a very good cook. One of the first things I learned to make was scrambled eggs…and I can make them really, really good. Anyway you like them: hard, soft, runny, dry…I am your “man” for making great scrambled eggs. (Now omelettes are a whole other story…but we shan’t be going there at this time…)

So, about four months ago a cute tabby cat showed up in my backyard. Very scrawny, very hungry, very thirsty. I fed her some water. She lapped it up…but you could tell she was hungry.

Now, being the soft-hearted dork I am, I scrounged my refrigerator, looking for something…anything…a hungry kitty might like. Nothing…but eggs. So…I scrambled one for her. Put it on a plate…took it out…Ms. Kitty sniffed it a couple times. Tried a bite. Turned her nose up at my beautiful eggs and left the yard…never to return.

Fine. No big deal. The ants that swarmed the plate about a half hour later loved my scrambled eggs. Besides I told myself…over and over and over again…I dun want no pets.

Then, about a week ago, a really darling black kitty showed up in my yard. Obviously very young. Has the most beautiful green eyes you ever saw…and very friendly. And hungry.

Well, Mr. Cat was in luck. I had a leftover hotdog…which I fed him. He loved it! I was quite certain I had a new friend for life!

But Mr. Cat was quite fickle…he left the yard and did not return for a week!

Until yesterday. Mr. Cat was very hungry…he’d lost even more weight since the last time he visited…and my heart went out to him. All was forgiven for his eating and running behavior.

Sadly for Mr. Cat, however, there were no more leftover hotdogs. Or Thanksgiving leftovers. Or anything a feline would enjoy…except…yes… A Scrambled Egg!

Which I lovingly prepared. And placed on a plate. And brought outside.

“Here, Kitty, Kitty,” I cooed softly.

Mr. Cat spied me and came running. “More frank! More frank! More frank!” he thinks.

I set the plate down. He sniffed. He looked up at me. He sniffed again…and walked away! He didn’t even take one bite!!!!!

Hmmm….now I’ve heard that when one gets hungry enough, they’ll eat anything…even liver (and trust me…I’d have to be pretty damn hungry to scarf down some liver….) So, I am guessin’ that Mr. Cat is not that hungry…he is conning me… No more frankfurters for him!

Or eggs! (Like any of the feline population in my neighborhood is cryin’ over that declaration!)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Good Choices, Bad Choices…

I remember when I was about five years old, I did something outside on the swing set that probably could have gotten me killed if my lucky stars hadn’t been with me that day. My dad sat me down on his lap and gave me a lecture about making choices and decisions. How I had to learn to weigh my actions before I did them to make sure that they wouldn’t hurt me or someone else. That I had choices and I had to learn how to make good ones and to try not to make bad ones.

Fast forward a few dozen decades (oh, okay…not that many…) and I am sitting at my desk reading an Internet news story about how the Pennsylvania parents who were murdered by their daughter’s boyfriend were buried today. Their four children were there, all orphans in the matter of seconds. So very, very sad.

The article then goes on to talk about how nice the boy and girl were. There is even a quote from a neighbor…and just so no one will think I made this up, here it is verbatim:

"They were good kids and they were brought up very well. What I see is, they just made some bad choices," said Vera Zimmerman, 50, who has known the Bordens for seven years and is acquainted with Ludwig's mother.

Article by: MARTHA RAFFAELE, Associated Press Writer, titled: Pa. Teen Attends Slain Parent’s Funeral. Dated: November 19, 2005, 8:15PM, PST.

Okay…bad choices? These teens made BAD CHOICES??????

A bad choice is deciding on dessert when you are so full, you know you will explode or have an enormous belly ache…and then you eat every last bite.

A bad choice is deciding to try gardening…again….when you know you hate it.

A bad choice is getting a dog when you know you have no place to let him run.

A bad choice was for this young lady to sneak out and date a guy when she knew her parents didn’t approve of him.

To say this 18-year old man (yes, man…he is old enough to vote, old enough to defend his country, he has reached the age of majority in many states—though not in Pennsylvania…) made a bad choice by blowing her parents away, and then stealing his parents car and driving at breakneck speeds to crash into a tree six hundred miles or more from home made a bad choice cheapens the fact that he took the lives of two people who apparently tried to teach their children values. He robbed four youngsters of their parents.

According to a new report (mentioned in the same article, by the way), this wasn’t a spur of the moment decision on his part. He planned to attack them and finish them off. A bad choice????

As my “friend” (don’t I wish!!!) John Stossel would say: give me a break!

As for Ms. Zimmerman, to give her the benefit of the doubt, it is possible she was misquoted…and if so, she should be screaming “foul” as loudly as she can. Yet, I somehow don’t give much credence to this theory since on the day of their arrest, she was quoted as saying what “good kids” they were…

Uh, folks…”good” kids don’t go sneaking around and have multiple guns in their bedrooms and plan murders.

Give me a break! Bad choice, indeed…

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

November 15, 1989…

Sixteen years have flown by already…sixteen years since I lost my mother. It seems almost impossible to believe that much time has elapsed, and yet I remember that period as if it were just sixteen days ago.

They say that things like this get easier with time. Somethings “they” are wrong about. You never get over losing your mother…no matter how much time has passed.

I miss you, Mom…

Monday, November 14, 2005

This is “fresh”??

Sunday is grocery shopping day…better known as a frustrating chore. See, I live in a small town that sports two supermarkets. One is a small chain of three stores and very expensive with relatively poor quality. The other is an Albertson’s…nicknamed by me: Dumb, Awful Albertson’s (remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and how Phyllis called Rhoda: “Dumb, Awful Rhoda”?)

Anyway…not only do I live in a small town, I live in a small town in California. The state that is the largest agricultural producer of, well, almost everything… I remember reading that if California were its own country (ha! sometimes it feels like it!), we would be the seventh largest industrial nation in the world.

Okay, I prepare my grocery list, determined to start eating in a more healthy manner (yeah, yeah, yeah…I am fully aware the holidays are lurking just around the corner and tis the season to screw calories, eat hearty and all that jazz…but what can a person do when they suddenly start craving things like broccoli and carrots except succumb to the rare urge and purchase them!)

So, weekly ad in hand, I spy Fresh Salmon filets on sale! Woo Hoo! I love salmon. On the list it goes…. Hmmm…Fresh Shrimp are on sale! Bingo! On the list they go. Hmmm…yum! Grapes…on sale! Yep…mark them babies on the list…can’t forget grapes! Ooh, grapefruit…on sale! How lucky can a temporary health-food nut get! Except to see that avocados are also on sale! (Of course…having grown up in the avocado capital of the world…with a parent who still grows them…I would NEVER even consider buying one from the store!…but still, a girl can drool for a moment—see I had more avocados growing up in the city than I ever got living on a grove of the suckers…)

Then off to the store, I trot, with my list full of goodies…all prepared to spend a ton of bucks. Also on the list is some laundry detergent on sale for an obscenely low price…milk, butter (also on sale!), tuna (yep…on sale!) and Breyer’s Real Vanilla ice cream (on sale! But hey…it’s for Thanksgiving…I shan’t open it a day before…)

So…first item…the grapes…uh…they are from Chile. Okay…I have nothing against Chile…but I really don’t want grapes that have traveled thousands of miles when I live in a grape-growing area. Oh well…

Grapefruit…uh, hmmm… okay…grown out of the country… Okay…I personally even have a bit of a problem buying Florida or Texas grapefruit when we grow so much here…but…at least it grows on the same continent that I reside on…

EEEKK… The avocados are from Mexico???? Mexico??? When the store in which I stand is in the Avocado Capital of the World??????

Okay…so maybe I don’t need those “on sale” foreign items. Off to the meat counter.

Fresh Salmon…from Chile??????? Even the Atlantic would be stretching it for fresh…but from Chile???

But here is the best of all: Fresh Shrimp. Not fresh frozen…not frozen, defrosted…but FRESH! From….drum roll….New Orleans, you are thinking? Wrong! Oregon, you are thinking….Wrong, again!!!!!! Thailand!!!! And Bangladesh!!! And Viet Nam!!!!!! Ten thousand miles away these poor shrimpies have traveled. Heck…No human traveling home to California from those countries is gonna be fresh by the time it arrives…let alone a small fish.

I am at a loss to even try and figure out why…when it is readily available here… Albertson’s finds it necessary to search the world for these items… Oh wait! Cuz we are dumb enough to continue purchasing them. Well, this shopper wasn’t…this shopper spent a lot less money than she thought she would…especially since they no longer had the laundry detergent (probably started out with ten…) or the milk or the tuna or any of the other things mentioned in the ad.

Hmmm…maybe that is why the Albertson’s chain is up for sale….

Sunday, November 13, 2005

I am a bad, bad Blogger…

Yes, it’s true…I am a bad Blogger. To have a good blog, one must post at least once a week…preferably every few days… even better every single day.

Hmmm…my last blog entry was in August…true…the end of August, but a whole weather season ago. I have failed the Blog Frequency Test miserably. Dismally, even.

And yet, the other day, I was thrilled to see that someone actually commented on my site. And they claimed they liked it! Woo Hoo! I thought to myself. I should really make more time in my already crazy schedule to post on a more regular basis…maybe even just once a month!

The commenter left behind “his” blog site. Well, I should certainly return the courtesy and check it out, make a comment even. (Hey, I have been raised with manners! I didn’t grow up in no barn or fall off no turnip truck…not recently anyways…). I clicked on the link, wondering what I would find.

Nothing. The link led to nothing.

I’d been spammed! GRRRRR!!!!! And...not just once, but the next day…another entry showed up with a different name, but essentially the same complimentary message. Loved your blog…You write great…yada, yada, yada. Well, in the trashcan both you clods went. Deleted with no trace that you ever slimed up my personal space.

And…now…as I am sure you noticed…I have to have a spam detractor up.

I could probably spend another few paragraphs on the topic of spam…talk about people who obviously have nothing better to do with their time or creativity except to makes pains AND asses of themselves… But why bother…

I personally have better things to do with my time…like thinking up some entertaining blog subjects so that it won’t be another two months…okay, two and a half months…before I post again.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Reno High…and Low…

It is interesting and probably rather ironic that the high point and the low of point of Reno occurred within a span of six short minutes.

One of the biggest reasons I decided to attend RWA National this year was for an agent appointment. Back in May when sign-ups took place, I’d studied all the agents taking appointments, pondered their interests, checked-out their websites. And I picked one that seemed perfect. After all, her agency (not her, but her agency) represented one of my favorite authors. An author who writes the stories I love to read and try to write.

In retrospect, it was probably my conference “high point” that gave me the strength to deal with the “low point”. When a new writer begins the agent search, it is most difficult to keep in mind that we are the “employer” and the agent is the “employee”. We are ever so grateful if they offer to look at our work. Promoting them to god and goddess status is a given.

But the bottom line is this: there has to be, there must be, mutual respect and camaraderie. The agent/author (and yes…the fact that I’ve listed the word “agent” first there is not lost on me…) relationship is one of teamwork. Both sides must be equal participants; both sides must have the same goals and hopes and dreams.

Flash back to July 30th…the day of my agent meeting… My appointment was pushed back 15 minutes because the agent was late in arriving. When the moderator brought me over to her, Ms. Agent insisted she was done for the day; that she had done her time (pretty much her exact words…) and she’d done a workshop the day before. All of this right in front of me. The manner was curt and abrupt; no lightheartedness, there-must-be-some-mistake involved. When the moderator politely pointed out that the schedule had gotten off, Ms. Agent backed down. No apology to the moderator. No apology to me.

As I began my pitch, I could tell I was talking to a brick wall. But I doggedly continued…after all, maybe she had an insane hangover for all I knew. Then I said the wrong thing: I mentioned my stories are driven by internal conflict. She doesn’t like books like that. She likes external conflict. (Hmm…what is she doing promoting romance books my mind queried.) And so, I asked if the interview were over.

She then said the wrong thing to me: “Try to convince me.” Well… no…. The interview was over, and I told her so. I want someone who is excited about my career; not someone I have begged into taking me on.

I want an agent who is professional, on time (even if she does have the world’s worst hangover-headache…); one who is considerate and polite to others (whether she is right or wrong); and one who is excited about the business. Ms. Agent did not meet any of those basic requirements.

Just before meeting with Ms. Agent, I had chatted with another agent… a gal I felt an immediate rapport with. Someone I would love to chat with as a business partner, but we’d stray to more personal, day-to-day topics in our conversations.

This is the type of business-agent relationship I want. Will I find it with Friendly Agent? I don’t know (though she is on my top ten list!). But I do know that I shall keep looking for that type of partnership because I am striving for long-term representation. It might be hard to keep in mind that it is a two-way street, but then again… it is usually pretty hard to keep in mind that writing is a business pursuit as well as a passion.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Reno Reflections...

It is hard to believe that it’s been over a week since I hauled the weary body outta bed at 4:20AM to begin my week attending RWA’s National Conference in Reno. (See, I have this policy: when it is dark, you sleep…and trust me…it is damn dark at 4:20AM…)

Reflection Number One: It is dark at 4:30, 4:45, 5:00, 5:15, 5:30AM. Yes, I truly noted this.

Reflection Number Two: There are a LOT of people on the road at 5:30 AM…all going to work…and they drive just a nutty as when I am on the road at 7:30 AM.

Reflection Number Three: Reno looks much different in July than it does in December (which was the month I was there the first (and only) time I’ve been there…)

Reflection Number Four: Four to eleven percent humidity is very, very dry…I am used to sixteen percent or higher…and yes, I definitely noticed the difference.

Reflection Number Five: I was not insane or having flashbacks when I discovered the same local news I used to watch in San Francisco being shown on a Reno TV station (more about this in a future blog…)

Reflection Number Six: The food at this conference was basically…excellent. But…sadly…I bought a lot of $20 drinks! Darn gambling affliction…

Reflection Number Seven: The hotel staff at this conference was awesome.

Reflection Number Eight: Taxi cab drivers everywhere drive crazy…it must be a code they have to follow.

Reflection Number Nine: I am a lot more self-assured than I give myself credit for (yep…more about this in a future blog…)

Reflection Number Ten: I know a lot about writing…now I just need to do it…

Reflection Number Eleven: The Awards Ceremony…very interesting! (You got it! More about this in a future blog!)

Reflection Number Twelve: I had a very good time! I am glad I went.

Monday, June 27, 2005

This is GOOD for you??

Lately I’ve been hearing all about the benefits of drinking a glass of pomegranate juice a day. How it will make you live longer, stay healthy, put hair on your chest…okay…so it is not truly a miracle drink (and I probably really don’t want hair on my chest!). But it is supposed to be really good for you.

So yesterday, while doing my weekly frustration shopping at dumb Awful Albertson’s (remember The Mary Tyler Moore Show; how Phyllis used to call Mary’s friend, Rhoda, dumb Awful Rhoda?… okay, okay…back to our original programming…), I finally remembered to see if they might carry this wonder drink.

Now, I don’t know about your Albertson’s (and trust me…I could do a whole blog entry on mine!), but the dumb, Awful Albertson’s I must frequent is poorly stocked, very expensive, and generally annoying, and so I felt the chances of finding the brew were small. But…voila! They had one brand!

Darling bottles in three sizes: one serving for $3.69. Two servings for $5.48. And the best deal of all: four servings for $9.99! Woo Hoo! $10 bucks for half a week of unbelievable promises. I hemmed and hawed a bit between the one and two serving sizes. I ask myself: what if I hate it? But Self answers back tartly: how can you hate it? You love raw pomegranates! You love pomegranate jelly! So what is not to like about pomegranate juice. Miserly Self speaks up: Go for the one serving size….you need to go to Costco anyway, and they probably have gallons of it at a reasonable price of $5.00 for a life-time supply. Miserly Self wins the battle. A single serving bottle plops into the cart.

Upon arriving home, I eagerly search the bags for the cute little bottle. Rip off the safety seal, and slug back my first taste of improved well-being.


It is DREADFUL! It is HORRIBLE! It is WRETCHED!!!!!!!!! Nothing, absolutely NOTHING that tastes like the liquid in that bottle can possibly be good for you!

So now, I am stuck with a $3.69 bottle of swill cluttering up my fridge. I have toyed with mixing it with some vodka and maybe a bit of 7-up…but man…I really hate to waste two perfectly good beverages in case they fail to mask the horrors of the juice.

But I am game…. Any and all suggestions are welcome! In the meantime, I am sticking to the tried and true and delicious: the other red drink! Cranberry Juice!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Good-bye, Sam...

Thursday was a bittersweet day. It started out quite happy. It was my birthday, and for the past four months, I’d been dreading it. But once it finally got here, my whole attitude improved. After all, as too many people kept pointing out to me, getting a day and a number older was better than the alternative. Yeah, yeah, yeah…like I hadn’t already been telling myself that!

I walked in to a beautifully, thoughtfully decorated office, courtesy of my terrific department mates. Tons of balloons and streamers and banners…how could one not smile at all that! And then they all took me to lunch. We had a really, really fun time.

Upon returning to the office, the brutal reality of life reared its ugly head. I had an instant message from a gal I work closely with on a review site we belong to asking me if I’d heard the news about another member: Sam. It’s not good, she added. I immediately signed on to our posts-board, and found out that Sam had passed away suddenly. Needless to say, I was stunned. I had just corresponded with her the day before. She was so young, she hadn’t seemed ill.

As numbness began to replace the shock, one thought kept reverberating through my mind: man, I am so glad that Sam and I had buried our differences and had started really forging a very nice working relationship.

It hadn’t always been that way. We didn’t dislike each other at all; we just didn’t always seem to get along. I always fully appreciated how hard she worked on the review site; how many hours she unselfishly put in; how she wanted to make everything perfect. But there were times, when quite honestly, she really annoyed me…as I am sure, without a shadow of a doubt, that I really annoyed her. But then, after the fur settled a bit, we always moved on, no hard feelings…until the next fray.

When she volunteered to publish the photos for interviews (I am the coordinator), most of me was absolutely thrilled. I knew they would look awesome. A teeny bit of me was terrified that she would overwhelm me, but I figured that I’d cross that bridge if it happened.

The first month (April’s), she spent two solid days on them. And they were beautiful. And what was even more wonderful was we finally really understood each other. We finally had a chance to email back and forth to each other over common ground…we could complain to each other, we could commiserate with each other, we agreed with each other. I knew then that we would never have the rough patches that we’d experienced before again.

Three days before she passed away, she published the second month’s photos. I had no idea that they’d be her last. I can’t express how sad I feel over her death. I never met her in person; I don’t even know what she looked like. I do know that she was way too young to go; that she had way too much to accomplish yet.

And I know that her passing was rather a reality check…there is not a minute to waste. There is not enough time put off the things we keep thinking we’ll do tomorrow or the next day. And most importantly, there is no time like the present to forget differences, to tell people you care about them, to do it now and not wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow might just be too late.

I am so glad that Sam and I had the opportunity to get to know each other better, and to appreciate and like each other. I will miss her a lot. And she is one person, even though I cannot honestly say “I knew her”, I can honestly say I will never forget her.

Good-bye, Sam. You are really going to be missed.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Tag! Tag! You're it!!

Never was very good at ducking…obviously still am not! Looks like Randy has tagged me…so, here goes:

Total Books Owned: Man, I have absolutely no clue. I review books, and one of the “perks” is getting the books. Right now they are threatening to take over every room in my house. I have bags of them, stacks of them, the bookcases are overflowing with them. They are on the nightstand, a kitchen chair…everywhere! Get the idea? I have lots and lots and lots and lots of books… Millions of books. Trillions of books… In other words, too many to count!

Last Book I read: A GOOD YARN by Debbie Macomber. It was very enjoyable. Everything a good book should be…meaning it was a wonderful escape.

Book sitting on my coffee table I am planning on reading: well, the coffee table is one place where I haven’t allowed any books to reside! Nope! They are not invading the coffee table! However, I imagine this question was more about the next book in the stack to be read. And it is…drum roll, please… SOME DANGER INVOLVED by Will Thomas. He is a new author, and I actually started a bit of it this afternoon. After eighteen pages, I think it is going to be a big winner! Very reminiscent of Dick Francis and Laurence Saunders humor, and I am looking forward to getting more into it.

Five books that mean a lot to me: This is a pretty tough question … I am terrible with names of books after I’ve read them; and don’t normally remember the authors too often either… But there are actually a handful of books that I remember distinctly:

FOLLOW MY LEADER: This is a book that we read in the fifth grade…actually our teacher read it to us; a chapter a day after lunch (I guess to calm us down before we got on to math…). It is about a young boy who became blind after playing with a firecracker that exploded in his face. It dealt with how he learned to cope with his new way of life and learning to work with his new guide dog named Leader. It’s funny, to this day I still think about this book.

HENRY HUGGINS by Beverly Cleary: This is the first chapter books and series that I actually read all by myself…I loved her as a child and couldn’t get enough of her stories. I understand she is in her 90’s now, and still releases tales every couple of years.

THE NOVEL by James Michener: written in three different pov’s from the author’s, the agent’s and the editor’s, this is the journey a story takes from when the writer writes it, what the agent does, and what the editor does. This book solidified for me that I really wanted to be a writer.

Anything by Jayne Ann Krentz: Again an author that makes me know I have to be a writer. I remember getting my first rejection that took a year in coming after the editor requested it twice (I was so sure I was “in”! Little did I know about the world of publishing at the time…) and I was devastated. Right on the heels came a very harsh, very uncalled for (I found out later!) read and critique from a well- known editor on the same material. I was ready to quit. I’d read a lot of Jayne Ann Krentz books, but happened upon one of her first ones. Man…I was so impressed about how much she’d grown as a writer, and I knew that I could do it, too. I met her at a conference right after that, and told her how much she’d inspired me. She was sooooo gracious and kind. Last summer I again had the chance to briefly chat with her in the elevator in Dallas at RWA National, and again, she was so enthusiastic about helping people achieve their dreams of publication. What a nice, nice lady. I don’t remember the name of the book that got me believing in me again…but I will always remember the name Jayne Ann Krentz.

Anything by Katherine Stone: She has such passionate, vivid characters, and she is another author who is so very classy and gracious in person. I had the opportunity to meet her last year at a publicist party I’d snagged a private invite to (lucky me!). I turned around in the wine line and who was standing behind me but Katherine Stone. I did a double-take at her name tag and began doing something I never do: I gushed. About how wonderful I thought her books were. How loved her characters…their passion, their struggles. On and on I went, and she just kept smiling and saying thank you, thank you. I finally got a hold of myself and then apologized for being such a drooling maniac. Her friend assured me: Oh no! She loves it! And she must have! I had an agent’s appointment the next day…and she helped me define my style in a couple of sentences. I had been struggling over this, and she took the time at a party to help me. Now that is class. It was so wonderful to really love an author’s work, and find out personally that she is just as terrific as her books.

So…now I get to tag five people…problem is…I don’t know five people! So, I am gonna tag the two I do know that haven’t been tagged already! You’re up:

(Technically, I could also tag Randy again, cuz she tried to slide by by not answering all the questions!)

Eh, eh, eh….Tag! Tag! You’re it!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Whatever it takes...

Today I got something crossed off the proverbial To Do List…and it wasn’t even officially on there! Woo hoo!

About noon, I innocently go out to my car to go to lunch. A rather mundane, ordinary thing. Nothing too exciting about that… And notice that the back tire is lookin’ mighty darn low. Drats! (and yes, you are right…this is not quite the word I used…)

Now you have to understand…I have this thing about checking my tires…all the time…Ready for another: when I was a little girl story? Tough! When I was a little girl, waiting for the school bus in Palo Alto, every morning we would watch the guy across street as he performed his morning car check before going to work. He would come out in his shirtsleeves and place his jacket and briefcase on the back seat of the car. Next, he’d climb behind the steering wheel and start the engine. Get back out of the car, go to the rear tire and look at it a second. Then he’d bend down and stare at it, stand up and kick it, and proceed around the back of the car to the other tire. Perform the same check. Move to the front tire. Glower, bend, peer, rise, kick. Finally tire number four’s turn… Then he’d get in and drive away.

Being an impressionable pre-teen, this stuck in my mind…Oh whatever…I check my tires regularly…not that religiously…none of that bending, peering, kicking nonsense, but I do keep an eye on them, always thinking about Eileen K’s dad and glad I am not as obsessive as he! But getting a flat on the freeway or at some other inconvenient time (and any time a tire goes flat is inconvenient in my book!) is not my idea of fun…

So…anyway! The tire was fine yesterday…it was not fine today. Double drats. What to do…what to do… Well, the first thing to do was to ask one of the machinists if he’d kindly put some air in it so I could get to either Costco (where I can have it fixed for free…) or to dealer where I could also get the oil changed, the tires rotated, the 30K check done at the same time…all things I’d been putting off cuz one cannot take a disgracefully dirty car to the dealer… I opted to suck it up and took my poor dirty baby to the dealer.

A few hours later, I picked him up again…the most expensive tire repair in the world! But hey! They threw in an oil change, lube, tire rotation, 30K check and a CAR WASH! My lucky day!

And tomorrow morning…I no longer have to think: hmmm…I really need to get you washed, baby, so we can go to the dealer and not feel like shmucks. Ah…life is good…

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Time to take a stand...

As a young girl, one of the things my parents took great pains in teaching me was that to gain respect you had to earn it. You had to deserve it. It wasn’t one of those things that “just happened”.

For years now, decades actually, the romance genre of the literary world has bemoaned the fact that even though they have a commanding share of the reading market, they “can’t get no respect”. Romance Writers of America (fondly known as RWA) was established to promote the genre and its authors. It has spent countless of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars defining romance in hopes of building a respectable image. Thus far, success seems to have been minimal. The battle is one that is uphill, and the mountain just keeps getting steeper.

I have long been thinking that perhaps I am the one who has outgrown romance, and that my career really needs to be defined as “women’s fiction”. Even before the turn of the century (yes! this century!) I felt that perhaps I should be “looking outside the box”. Today my writing partner took a stand and declared herself a women’s fiction writer. Good for her!

So, while the romance genre continues to wonder why it doesn’t garner respect (uh, maybe a good place to start would be by taking a hard look at the book covers…), and RWA continues to spend money trying to buy it, I am going to go out and earn it. I will be defining my career in a way that I can be proud to say that I am a writer.

From this day forth, I write women’s fiction.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Tuesday: Take Two!

Yesterday was one of those days where I should not have bothered to go to work. I knew from the second I stepped into my office and peeked over my computer monitor that I was in big trouble. There were no less than eight pieces of paper strewn across the desktop…the same desktop that I had so painstakingly cleared off the night before…

Oh well, I say to myself in a cheerful, positive manner…they can probably all be dispatched in a lickety-split type of fashion… Eh, eh, eh…six of the eight snicker back…”that’s what you think, ol’ girl!” And so the day began!

I started out with four things on the “To Do” list that I really wanted to get done. By 9AM, the list had grown to seven…with none crossed off. By 10AM, we were up to nine…and still none crossed off. If that phone rings one more time…I let my threat dangle in the air. BRRR---ringgggg! it goes, knowing that dangling threats are idle ones… Time: 10:01 Items added to the list: two more…

Then I ticked off a co-worker. I asked her if she were still going on her maternity beginning the date we’d discussed. And I asked her if she could please give me a date when she was returning so I could make arrangements to cover her position while she was gone. I even told her I didn’t need to know until next week. Man, you’d think I’d asked for the exact minute she was gonna deliver the baby… The rest of the day, the department was in an upheaval because of this request. Silly me. Needing to plan for staff coverage…

So, there I sat at my desk at 8PM…when I had planned on being home by six, completing one of the tasks on the list. Now see…If I had stayed home all day…I would have accomplished a lot more at the office! And it would have been much more relaxed.

So, let’s just do Tuesday over. Ready? Lights! Camera! Action!! (Lead actress enters office, stage left and peers tentatively over computer monitor… What will she see?)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

How many others don’t care…

Okay…after three days I am still stewing. I agree with my writing partner that to “attack” on the board where this occurred is probably not the best course of action. Yes, it would uphold a principle of sorts, but other than potentially causing strife, the parties involved are not gonna change their ways…or even care.

Here’s the deal:

Last year I decided that I would like to get involved in writing contest judging. Which I did. I was quite surprised at the amount of time that judging an entry consumed. A minimum of an hour and a half or more depending on the length of the entry. And since most contestants enter because they want feedback, judges are expected to make tons of comments not only on the score sheets but also on the manuscripts themselves. This takes time…especially when you are very conscious that feelings and emotions are involved. A good judge does not, will not, cannot, must not hack away at somebody’s baby.

Okay, here’s another part of the deal:

Entrants are supposed to be submitting publish-ready material. Now I don’t know what that means to some people, but to me it means that an editor can take those pages and send them to typesetting (or however they do it these days…god, I am dating myself no doubt!) and turn out a professional book. And yes, I realize that someone entering a contest is probably not gonna have this level of perfection otherwise they would be sending it to said publisher…for modern day typesetting… And yes, it is a well-known fact that many brand new writers submit to contests honestly thinking they have publish-ready material, their friends and family told them so! Also, equally important, is that entrants also guarantee that they have a finished manuscript to go along with these 15-50 pages they are entering…just in case they final, they can then immediately send the rest of the manuscript to the final judge (usually an agent or editor).

And finally, here is what happened that has me still stewing three days later:

Two members of a critique group that I am involved with entered a contest that my writing partner and I were judging. It is one of the more prestigious contests and quite large. I received three entries to judge and immediately recognized one of them as being written by a member of the group. I had seen the chapter a couple of times…and I was rather surprised to see that even after a number of crits, it hadn’t changed much…including some typos. I turned it back in since I could not judge it.

Finalists were announced last week, and Member Number One was thrilled to see that all three of her entries finalled! Woo Hoo for her we all cried! Member Number Two was also ecstatic to learn that two of her entries finalled including the one that I turned back in (of course, she did not know this…). Woo Hoo for her we all cried!

Thank you, they said! Member Number One then went on to say that she needed to scramble to get her entries ready to go…that she had just prepared the pages needed to enter the preliminaries. Now she needed to get some more ready for the finals…and who knew what she’d do if she actually had to submit a manuscript.

Nothing ready? Nothing written??? And yet…part of the bargain was that a manuscript was complete??? Is this ethical? Is this fair? Not in my book.

Then the question was innocently asked: will you have time to see your scores before you submit so you can make any tweaks?

Member Number Two says: She doesn’t give a damn what some (implying: dumb) judge says about her work. That she doesn’t enter for feedback. That as a matter of fact she heard via her writing partner that some judge had written on an entry “Get a critique partner”… She found this very humorous...she has a crit partner...the one who saw the comment! Seems to me that both the writing partner and she should be giving this another thought…(remember the typos in the submission?)

Okay…I am not some dumb judge. I guess I really resent this whole deal because it felt like a direct slap to both my writing partner and me since both these gals knew we had judged in the contest…and how did they know that we hadn’t unknowingly judged one of their entries…that we were a large part of their success. It almost happened except I recognized the submission. I could have spent a couple hours of my time judging her entry, cheering her on, hoping when her score came out high and that I loved the entry that I would see her name on the finalist list. As it turns out…the two entries I did judge both finalled.

This whole experience has left me wondering…are most contestants as apathetic as these two gals? I hope not. I much prefer to think that the world is still somewhat sweet…that writers are sending in their lovingly prepared entries and eagerly awaiting them to come back with details of what someone thought. Then again, my rose-colored glasses are currently pretty smudged at the moment…

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Perfection has a price...

Well, it took it took almost four months to get the roof fixed. And normally when I call the guy that I called to fix the ceiling (currently known as Ceiling Guy…imaginative, huh!) it takes him about three weeks to come and see me. He is very busy…very popular…very good at a very reasonable price.

This time, however, I was surprised. He was able to come for the initial estimate the very next day after I called him. Business must be slow! After arriving most promptly, he looked over the job to be done…quoted a price far below my expectations (don’t tell him that!) and we set up an appointment for this week to begin the work. Four visits…we want it done properly.

Visit number one: he arrived right on time. Right at 3:30 as promised…not a minute late. After doing his thing, he asked me if I was still picking up the ceiling paint (which yes, I had volunteered to do during the estimate because while it is not a special color…I do really want the same paint…) and I said yes. I would do it this week. He then said I should pick up some TSP and scrub the ceiling.

WHAT? Scrub the ceiling? Why?

So that he can repaint the entire ceiling so it will all match…. Oh, I say…

Visit number two: occurred yesterday. Well, the day before yesterday now…cuz I see it is after midnight already (and I really should be in bed…keep reading and you’ll see why…) And Ceiling Guy arrives right on the dot of 3:30 again (of course, I had no doubt that he would! He has yet to be late…) Does his thing again…which this time is sanding the areas that he replaced and mudded last time and applying a second layer of mud that is really smooth this time… It looks great! But then he inquires: have you picked up the TSP and paint yet? Uh, no…not yet…but I shall! Do we really need to repaint the whole ceiling, I ask? Well, yes, he says like I am some kinda dork. Okay…I say… thinking I kinda had plans for this weekend that did not include standing on my head scrubbing down the ceiling…

So, today I pick up the TSP and a bucket and the paint. (My old bucket is about ready to fall apart and I certainly did not want to risk the TSP that I carefully mix running all over the floor and asphyxiating me before I have a chance to scrub the ceiling with it and let it asphyxiate me then…did I mention that the sliding glass door needs to be replaced because something horrible happened to it during the storm that ruined the roof and allowed the waterfall in the kitchen to ruin the ceiling and it won’t open or close? That shall be the next home improvement saga…trust me! But I digress…) And in a few short hours, I’ll be standing on a step stool scrubbing the ceiling…trying to make it match the “dullness” that he has around the areas he did for the new ceiling sections…

Ah, the price we pay for perfection. It is rather amusing when you think about it…I want perfection…it is so hard to find someone who still take pride in their work…and yet I am bemoaning the fact that here I have found someone who wants to make my ceiling perfect. Funny how we can always find something to complain about…and yet…while I am not happy about spending my Saturday (cuz I know me…it will take a lot longer than a few hours in the morning…) cleaning my ceiling because yes…I want it to be perfect.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The pressure is on…

Yep…as soon as I decided to turn my blog into writing-related topics, my idea well dried up. Not a drip…not a drop…instead it became: What to blog…what to blog...that is the question. And so…nothing was blogged (for nine days and counting! I understand!). So forget that idea. We are returning to our original babblings of life with a few writing topics thrown in here and there for fun!

Haven’t been up to much mischief this past week but here are a couple of updates.

The roof does indeed appear to be fixed! It never rains in Southern California after mid-April…but Mother Nature finally decided that I deserved a break. It rained (and I actually welcomed it even though driving was a nightmare…took me two hours to get to work and I won’t even regale you with the bus experience!…well, maybe down below!) twice in the last week. We got over an inch and a half…and no sign of water in the house! Woo Hoo! Next step: getting the ceiling fixed. Mr. Ceiling Guy is scheduled to start the work next Wednesday. It will take four trips…ugh… but with any luck, that nightmare will soon become a trauma of the past. Then we can see if the microwave still works and either get a new stove or just a new knob, and finally move on to getting the sliding glass window replaced… and then begin the repairs on the yard drainage…it never ends, this home ownership responsibility…

A new batch of baby spiders hatched this past week, and they are merrily spinning new webs on top of the old cobwebs. And the dust bunnies still rule! They are ignoring the latest eviction warning they received a few weeks ago…and with good cause…since booting their butts is still on the ever growing list of things to do...without fail...someday.

I signed up for Charlotte Dillion’s writing challenge…and have only written a couple of pages. Not good. Not good at all when one (hmmm…me…) committed to writing 25 pages a week. Can we say “schmuck”? Yes, we can…just kinda hate it when we are saying to “me”…

Have some things to say about The Runaway Bride, crit groups, the erotica-romantica-romance controversy beginning to move from a simmer to a boil, oh, and the bus story, but I really need to switch the laundry to the dryer and straighten the kitchen and turn on the dishwasher and pay some bills… See! Now you know why I haven’t blogged in nine days!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Great Debate...

Oh yeah…it is of vital importance: whether to put one space or two after a period. You laugh…you think I am joking. But alas…I am not. On no less than three writing loops today, there was massive discussion on whether to use one period or two after a period that ends a sentence. Post after post after post bemoaning the fact they are from the old school where two spaces ruled. Must they change their ways? And the most daunting question of all: how can they possibly go through a 400-page masterpiece and remove all those extra spaces?

On my! The trials of being a writer.

Now tell me…can you truly, really tell in most instances how many spaces are after a period? Does anybody really think a prospective agent or editor is going to throw down a manuscript in disgust and exclaim: “Horrors! This piece of drivel has two spaces after every period!”? I really doubt it. They are probably much more likely to roll their eyes at the 15,000 misplaced commas than worry about how many spaces are between the end of one sentence and the start of the next.

At every roundtable discussion I’ve attended, someone always asks the editor or agent speaking: “What are you looking for?” Never once has the reply been: “Oh, I’d love to see just one space between sentences. That is what excites me! That is what makes me think that perhaps I’ve found the next bestseller.” Give me a break! (as my friend, Jon Stossel (in my dreams I wish I knew him…he is so stinkin’ cute…but I digress) would say…) The usual answer is… drum roll please… “A good story.” Periods be damned…never ever hinted at as being an important consideration.

And yet we seem to forget that the story is what is important, and instead get hung up on period spacing, what font to use, how many rubber bands, if any, to use when binding the manuscript together for mailing. You know, the important things. Forget about a good plot, lots of conflict and tension, characters that shine. Let’s worry about the vital stuff…

And yes… I put two spaces after periods even though I have technical writing training which demands that only one space is proper…. So there! Do you suppose that is why I’m not published yet…

Side Note here: The roof is fixed! The roof is fixed! The roof is fixed! And…there was no sign of termite habitation, infestation, or damage! Woo Hoo! Now that, folks, is news worth shouting about! Now on to getting the ceiling repaired…

Saturday, April 16, 2005

No time like the present…

I have wanted to be a writer since I was seven years old. I actually even got published that year! In the PALO ALTO TIMES! (The daily newspaper published in the San Francisco Bay Area.) A little short story I wrote called MR. MILLS. And oddly enough, it was even a romantic story!

And then…writer’s block hit! Nothing of any great value spewed from my pencil until I was a sophomore in high school. Since my English teacher was in charge of the statewide writing contest for drug awareness, we all had to write an entry. Mine placed second in the class… again…it was too “sweet”.

The following year we had to write a novelette…about 25,000 words (it is rather scary I can remember all these useless details…isn’t it!?!) and wrote a beautiful…love story! The teacher didn’t think it was quite as beautiful as I did…she only gave me a B+… the following year…my senior year I found out why.

We were supposed to be writing dark, weird stories. Stuff about death and sadness and depression. Definitely not this kid’s bag. As a matter of fact, I wound up depressed. I began pondering my life at the tender age of 17… The fact that a fellow classmate that wasn’t really close enough to be called a friend, but I certainly knew him, hung himself in my best friend’s avocado grove didn’t help matters. I decided that if that was what writing was all about…well, it was not for me. And so I set aside being an author and instead went into business.

Fast forward a few hundred years (okay…not quite that many!) to present day…and Brooke still wants to be a writer. Brooke wants to write books. And actually, she has written two to date…nothing that could be published, but still, that is quite an accomplishment. I am currently in the process of editing a manuscript that could be publishable. And the well of ideas for others is in no danger of running dry.

When I started this blog, it was with the intent of it being a journal of my travels to publication. But…that would be pretty boring. I mean, how many days do I want to write: well…got home too late and too tired to write tonight. Or: Wow! Edited half a chapter today! There are just so many variations of these two sentences that even the most talented writer can come up with!

But that doesn’t mean I can’t write about writing! There are endless blog segments that can be created on the subject. And so, from this day forth, my blog will relate to its title: Brooke Writes Books.

Disclaimer: I reserve the right to occasionally expound on other subjects, but they will (hopefully) be few and far between…

Friday, April 15, 2005

Tax Day is HERE!

Are you ready for it? Are you all done? Got those carefully prepared envelopes in the mail? Remember to sign your returns in all the proper places? Did your hand tremble a bit when you were doing it?

Well, mine are done and out as of yesterday! Woo Hoo! No more thinking about it for another year…well, except for the fact that my printer had the audacity to run out of ink in the middle of printing my copies! So, technically I am not done. I still have to finish printing out the last three pages, shuffle all those pages and assorted data together into a neat bundle…and then I am done! With any luck…I’ll be able to cross that off the list by August 31! (yes…still 2005!…geez…give me a break here!)

I didn’t used to drag it out like this. I used be one of those creepy. geeky people that had their taxes in the mail by February 10th…eeekk….the 15th at the latest. Then about ten years ago, I was all involved working…and didn’t get the project done until March 1st (ironically I was working as a tax preparer…now there’s a thankless position! I could write a whole blog entry on that one!). Then the whole pattern changed about seven years ago when I was working in Ireland and didn’t return home until April 15th. I suddenly discovered the “thrill” of waiting until the last minute to do taxes.

And so now…I do drag it out a bit… But…mine were done before the deadline! Are yours?? (Ah…the joy of the taunt is so much fun!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Where's the fire?

Can somebody please tell me? I mean, it must be out there somewhere…and judging by the mass panic on the freeways these days, it must be somewhere close!

For example, tonight on my way home, I risked a glance down at the speedometer, knowing I was going much faster than the posted 65 MAXIMUM the signs say, and almost had to do a double take! Oh sure, the steering wheel was trembling, the tires were whirling as fast as they could whirl, and I swear there was a breeze coming in the car even though no windows were open and the A/C was off… I was doing almost 85 MPH…and the way the other cars were acting, it was like I was standing still. I must have been in the middle of the biggest road race imaginable!

And it’s not that they are just ripping by. They are switching lanes, back and forth, from the fast lane to the slow and then back across fours lanes to the fast lane again. Oh…and for the record…we are not talking about one or two maniacs here. We are talking about normal freeway traffic…all of them… except that poor truck who was only going about 70…and they nudged him off the freeway onto the shoulder…

Sadly, this exciting ride home tonight is not out of the ordinary. It is becoming an everyday, twice-a-day thing. Tonight just seemed worse because it is the first time I’ve been forced to drive 85; 80 was the previous record. And it may have been more noticeable since I’d just witnessed no less than five cars drive around railroad crossing barriers instead of turning around, going up a block and picking up the street down on the next corner…

So, I ask: where’s the fire? Was it really worth getting home three minutes faster? There must be something really important going on…

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Confessions of a Sig-alert Junkie...

Yes, it’s true. I am addicted to

What is You mean to tell me that you don’t know!!?? Well, that isn’t surprising…and is probably testament to your intelligence. is a traffic reporting service. They tell you all about the wrecks, hazards, and other assorted exciting things that happen on the freeways.

My addiction started out quite innocently. When I was working in the Bay Area, I used to drive the 101 to and from the office…also known as The Bayshore Freeway. When I was growing up in the Bay Area, that particular stretch was known as Bloody Bayshore because of the high number of deadly accidents. Okay…so it was some thirty years later, but that nickname never fell outta my brain, and I’d check the traffic reports to see how the freeway was running. When it was clear, I’d make the break from the office.

Then about five months ago, I discovered that one of the local news stations here had a feature on their website of up-to-the-minute traffic reports…really a link to which is really just a duplicate feed of the calls made to the California Highway Patrol. The cool thing about Sigalert’s, however, is that they also include a neat map with key-coded diamonds marking the spot of the incident.

So I started out just checking the traffic when I was about ready to leave the office. Then I started checking before I left home for the office. Now I just check any old time I want to procrastinate… But there are some interesting trends:

There are a ton of Hit and Runs. I am appalled by the number of these. At any given time, there are usually two or three in progress. Sometimes they catch the person…other times they don’t.

Sadly, there are also a lot of people involved in accidents that have been driving under the influence. Fortunately, they don’t too often result in serious injury, but an accident is traumatizing enough.

There are lots of ladders that fall on the roadway…along with couches, mattresses, plywood, washing machines, pipes, and today…a pick ax. And there are lots of dogs that are reported running loose on the shoulders of our highways. Some make it to safety…others…don’t.

Cars catch on fire. A lot! That is a rather scary realization to someone who dreads fires...who has nightmares about fires...we'll just move on and try to ignore that trend.

I am surprised by the number of reports of pedestrians walking along the side of the freeway…with no car in the vicinity. Where are they going? Did they have a fight with the driver, and the person in control stopped the car and said: Out! Out now!!! leaving the hapless passenger on the roadway where the cars whiz by at 70, 80 or more miles per hour?

And I have to say…one of my biggest complaints about driving the freeways is how they are out of control. It is rare to see a CHP cruising along with traffic to make us all behave. But, they are lurking there somewhere close, because their response time to incidents is amazing. Normally it is only two minutes or less and they are on the scene.

So see…at least my addiction is relatively educational…which is a good thing since at this point, I have no idea how to cure it…

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Who is one to believe?

I mean, don’t the predictions for the weather all come from the same place: the National Weather Service? I truly do not believe, nor will I be conned into thinking, that just because most TV weathermen (okay… weather-people!) are meteorologists that they really get out the maps and read the computer radars and come up with a forecast on their own.

But yet…one must begin to wonder. Otherwise, what could be the possible reason that three different stations and four different other sources have all come up with five different forecasts for today’s and tomorrow’s weather? One says sunny and cool. Another says sunny and warm…okay that could be relative, I suppose…but when they actually put temperatures to it, I have to say, and I believe most will agree me on this one, that there is a pretty substantial difference between 65 and 80 degrees. Most of us will notice that spread of warmth/coolth variation…

Another station says windy and sunny…I am not sure about that one…right now there is not a leaf stirring…but the wind here is very fickle. It could whip up any instant now…

One of the radio stations says cloudy all day (with the “all day” dragged out in a sing-song fasion)…they are wrong…there is not a cloud in sight! I think I can write them off write now.

But the fifth…they are making me most nervous. They are predicting sun today and rain tomorrow. Okay…I look at the radar…and see not a storm in sight…and 99% of the time the only rain we get here (because of the mix of ocean, desert and mountains…) we just don’t get rain without a storm. Sometimes we get heavy drizzle…but folks…that ain’t rain.

However…I am the one with the leak in the roof that pours down over the stove… So, tonight before I trudge off to bed, I shall haul out the towels and buckets and truss up the stove… just in case….

And today…I shall call the wayward roofer and see where I am on the amazingly long list…the list that is even longer than my To-Do one… another thing I find difficult to believe…

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

No Help Wanted...

Okay…I realize that one of my “flaws” is that I am too independent. But, bottom line here is: if I want it done, 99% of the time I truly do have to do it myself.

However, one of the best expenditures of money I’ve made was to hire a landscape service. Oh sure, they don’t do things quite the way I’d always like. They have broken a number of sprinklers. The defined line between the grass and dirt in my backyard is definitely no longer defined. But those are little things when I can use those three hours it took me to mow the lawns, etc. every weekend in other ways…like taking a nap for example…

But yesterday…they went a bit too far…

First a couple of background things: I don’t have regular trash service. Next, a few years ago I had a broken sliding window which I had replaced but the window guy put the broken glass crystals into an empty trash can I had in the corner that my dad had dragged out of my garage…I used to keep junk mail in it, but for some reason, it was decided it was better outside…See…this is why I am independent…

So, I come home last night…in the dark…don’t go there… and see a blue trash can with two green plastic bags on the sidewalk…on my half of the sidewalk…not on the neighbor’s half, ready for pickup early today (regular trash day for those that have the service…which I do not…) But since it is pitch black out, I procrastinate seeing if it is mine.

This morning, in the dawning of the new day, I totter out there…and sure enough! It is my trash can…and it now filled with grass cuttings. I drag it back to its spot in the backyard…it weighs about two tons….and haul the two green trash sacks in to plop down next to the blue can…and shake my head.

It was bad enough having the blue can there all the time…Now I have to figure out how to get rid of these two sacks (who knows what is in them…they didn’t really feel heavy enough for the glass crystals…) as well as the grass cuttings which I hope don’t start a fire before I work all this out.

Now see? This is why I am fiercely independent and try to do everything myself…it really is much less work in the long run…

Monday, April 04, 2005

Spring has sprung...

Spring has sprung…

… and I love it!

Along with autumn, this is my favorite time of year. It is so fresh, so new, so pretty. There is so much promise in the air.

I love how the days are warm, but there is still a cool breeze. You can be outside and still wear a sweater or a long sleeve shirt and feel just right.

I love all the colors! The new, bright green leaves on all the trees. The first flowers of the season…especially the Iceland Poppies we have here. I remember when living in Ireland, the first flower to pop up were the yellow Daffodils. There were everywhere! Vibrant, happy yellow blossoms lined all the streets and were in all the gardens. Then came the tulips! In every color imaginable and again they were everywhere. I tried growing tulips when I came home…and after three years of trying finally did get about four to come up and bloom. There were beautiful…and brought back such wonderful memories.

I love all the birds and their raucous chatter in the morning just before the sun comes up. During the day, they are frantically at work, preparing their nests, watching their eggs, and then the real work begins when the babies are born. This is the second year the mud swallows that built the next at the peak of my roof…yes…right above my bedroom screen door…that is a bit of a pain… are back. I allow them to stay because they eat bugs as opposed to my strawberries which are growing in containers right outside the said bedroom window. Mr. and Mrs. Mud Swallow are very good parents and so much fun to watch.

And I love the longer days…the longer days that give the illusion anyway of having a bit more time. Time to maybe get a few more things done… time to turn over a new leaf and begin again.

Yes, I love spring.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Where did March go??...

…and trust me, I am reeling over the fact that it has been over six weeks since my last post.

I have been very, very busy…hence, the lack of Blog Banter. What have I been doing? you ask. Well, that’s a reasonable enough question… I’ve been doing lots of things… lots and lots of things… I reply…wracking my poor brain for anything that might fall into the productive category.

“So, the roof is all fixed?” you query…trying to be helpful.

Uh, well no. The roof is still not fixed. But, hey! The good news is that the rainy season is probably over! Now I have about five months in which to be put off, ignored, shoved aside, and at the mercy of the roofing industry. And all the while, the huge crack right over the stove grows wider and wider and peels more and more. Trust me, I am not gonna be a happy camper if a chunk of sheet-rock falls into a pot of my heavenly-smelling culinary delight turning it into instant grub. And no…I am still not able to use the microwave…Grrrr…. Let’s move on, shall we, I say sweetly.

“But, you got caught up at work, right?” you question.

Well, no, not exactly. I am still two months behind in closing but…there is good news here, too! Got year end all done, and after the accountant did his audit, etc., there was not one adjusting entry (for those of you unfamiliar with accounting, adjusting entries are essentially corrections and it is almost unheard of to not have any while closing out the year…so this is quite a feather here! Clap a bit for me, please!) But yes…the stacks on the bookcase behind my desk are now taller than me…and there are three of them… And yes… I am still working awful hours. And yes… the new timeclock that I championed for is not up and running yet. Can we * please * change the subject??!!

“But you got your house all cleaned, right?” You always are the helpful one, aren’t you….

No, the Dust Bunnies in Brooke’s Abode still rule. And they have had babies. And their babies have had babies. So have the spiders. I definitely live in a haunted house what with all the cob and spider webs dangling from every corner and crevice and even non-corners and non-crevices of the joint. But! I got the Christmas tree put away today! Woo Hoo! Can we say progress!?

So, I ask…(my turn now!) feeling quite proud of myself: Do you have your income tax done? I do!!!!!! Okay…so that was a bit mean! But hey! You started it! You kept asking me about all the things that have been keeping me busy that are not done yet! Geesh!

And yes…it has been a long, long time since my last blog post… so long in fact, that I forgot my Blog user name! ACCKKK!!!!! How sad is that??? Don’t even bother to answer!

Monday, February 21, 2005

When It Rains…It Pours…

…and pours. And pours. And then pours some more. And we Southern Californians can’t take it. We are weather-wimps at the best of times. The temperature drops below 60 degrees, and we are shivering and shaking as if it were 60 below.

It rains a few drops and we are screaming: Flood! Flood! Run, run! A couple of bolts of lightning followed by a few crashes of thunders equates to a full-blow severe thunderstorm.

But I think the rest of the country that knows what weather is will agree that six inches of rain in a couple of days is a true weather story. Especially when it is the fourth weekend out of five that we’ve had six inches in a couple of days. And it rained during the week, I might add.

I’ve never really cared for rain…one of the big reasons I live in this area. Enough I say! Please stop! Go home! Let Mr. Sun come out!

Rain, rain, go away! Come again another day! Like next year!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Beat Goes On...and On...and On....

Ever have one of those days? Where you tell yourself that when you get home from work, you are gonna do this and this and that, and oh, maybe something else, too.

Well, when I left for work this morning, I told myself I was going to get four things done tonight. Without fail. No excuses. No whining. Was just gonna sit down and get them done.

I have now been home for 45 minutes, and not one of the things has been started…let alone finished. And you know what? None of the four things are gonna get done tonight.

That’s right! I am on strike! It might have something to do with the fact that I didn’t get home until 9PM, and that I am tired of eating dinner that is closer to being a midnight snack, but tonight I am saying Bah Humbug…Screw it…it will be there tomorrow, and will merely multiply (like bunnies!) into eight things!

And instead…I am going to go to bed and watch TV!

Have fun Little Bunny-Tasks! Live it up!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Jolt of Reality…

Woke up this morning the same way I do every weekday morning with the clock radio coming on to a soft-jazz station. No jolting outta bed for this kid. The sucker comes on at 5AM which I figure is cruelty enough. I stumbled outta bed to turn the heat on, turn the coffee pot on, turn my computer on and made a bee-line back to bed to catch the morning traffic report. Another ritual…

Today instead of hearing about the usual slow spots, the nice sounding traffic reporter announced a Sig-Alert. A possible fatality…which I have learned means a definite fatality. A chill stole over me… I always hate this type of news.

As the morning progressed, this particular accident turned out to be even more poignantly gruesome. A semi-truck had stalled in the slow lane, and a minivan had plowed into the back of it. Never even had the chance to brake. A husband and wife in their sixties with their twenty-year-old grandson were on their way to the airport. All three died.

A day they had probably all been looking forward to never really got started for them. They never even got to see the sun rise.

It definitely brings home the fact that life is so precarious. Anything can happen in an instant…faster than one can snap their fingers. It also reminds us that we can’t wait to put off those goals and plans that we keep thinking we’ll do tomorrow. And it definitely means there is no time to spare expending energy on trivialities that really don’t really matter in the total scheme of things.

Maybe sometimes we need incidents like this to spur us on, to remind us of what is really important. I know I certainly didn’t mind being at work one bit today. While I may have the same attitude tomorrow, I will probably become complacent again in the next few days or weeks…until another jarring jolt of reality hits me…

Monday, February 14, 2005

Whine…Whine…Wine, please…

Yep, I am gonna break down and grumble a bit. Maybe it will get all this discouragement and crabbiness outta my system. We can only hope.

I cannot believe it is now over five weeks since the Sunday House-Breakdown from Hell. The stove knob is still broken, the roof is still leaking, and the drainage in the backyard is barely functional and definitely still in need of repair. And tomorrow they are predicting the rains to start again bringing about three inches in the next two days and continuing for the next ten days or so. Of course, if I have to buy a new stove because of the roof leak, I guess I really don’t need to worry about getting the knob fixed. I am figuring I’ll get all new knobs as part of the nice, new, shiny appliance…

I feel I have been more than patient. I know this is a horrendously busy time for roofers. I appreciate all that. But when they tell me they’ll be out to fix it on Wednesday, and no one shows up, and this happens four times, I start losing my patience. Particularly when there is no call alerting me to the fact that they can’t come.

Probably part of the reason this whole fiasco is getting to me so much is that I called right away…as soon as I discovered the waterfall in the kitchen. I did not wait until the following morning. Or the day after that, hoping that the leak would seal itself. I called right away…and was promised good service. And have received nothing.

I guess it makes me feel like a sap because I am so careful to honor promises I make, even if they inconvenience the heck out me later. And it seems, at times like this, that I am the only one.

Oh well, eventually this will all get sorted out. And it could be a whole lot worse. I do not have to worry about my home sliding down the hill and crashing into the neighbor’s pool. I fortunately have the funds at the moment to pay for the repairs (barring having to do a whole new roof! But let’s not even entertain such dastardly thoughts! EEEKKK!!!)

And most importantly, I have my health. So, I have everything.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Man! How Time Flies…

Such an old cliché, but it’s so true! And I am always stunned by that fact. I suppose it is naïve on my part…that I keep thinking I have plenty of time to do everything I want to do. Maybe that is why I am such a good procrastinator.

Perhaps it is an equal part of arrogance on my part. Thinking that once I get going, I won’t have to pay my dues and all that jazz. But more likely, I think it might also be a bit of fear. What if I fail?

And would that be such a huge big deal? Would the world suddenly come to an end? Would a lightning bolt suddenly drop out of the Southern California sky and strike me? Would I wind up being shunned by one and all forever? Not likely.

I know I am a very competitive person…I must always do the best at anything I try…or I won’t do it. I am not quite sure where this streak came from, but I do know that while a good dose of healthy competition is good, too much is crippling. It makes one not go forth with things that could bring them joy.

Pretty simple, isn’t it. Nothing bad will happen from trying and failing…at least with the things I want to try…we are not talking skydiving here where the parachute might not open… But a lot of good could (and most likely would, even!) occur from lowering the bar a bit and just jumping in.

So, with all that said, I am going to get started on something that will move my goal of publication a bit closer to reality…after I go to the store…and take a snooze…but definitely today…for sure…maybe…

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Ramifications of Being a Blogger…

So, yesterday I created my Blog…woo hoo! Wandered around the house all afternoon in giddy-fashion…I own a Blog…I own a Blog!

And then…being the responsible sort of person I am, I decided perhaps I ought to learn a bit more about this blogging craze… Oh sure, I knew generally about blogging. Knew what it was. Had even read a few. And to my credit, cuz I am usually about a quarter-step behind on all new technology…gotta make sure it is gonna work and stick around before I step into it…knew that I’d have a blog that would tie into my website…which I’ll do…someday…very soon…well, soon…okay…someday….

Found out that the “best” blogs (and I always wanna be best!) have a theme that draws readers back time and time again. The “best” blogs are updated regularly…like everyday! The “best” blogs have links and pictures and something called RSS feeds… “RSS feeds!” I cry. “What in the world does RSS stand for!?!” I am still trembling over the thought of having to think of good links and track down photos (hmmm…that might actually be a good thing cuz then I’d learn how to use the beautiful digital camera I own that has hundreds of great pictures inside just waiting the moment when they can launch themselves into my computer…). Not to mention a theme! Heck, this is the person who took well over an hour to pick out the template for her blog… we might be in big trouble here!

But trouble or not, lack of technical know-how or not, currently theme-less and adrift…this is my blog…and I am likin’ this whole thing! Ramifications and all!

Friday, February 11, 2005

I am a Blogger!… Imagine that!

… and probably one of the world’s biggest copy cats. Yeah, I admit it. As soon as my friend and writing partner, Randy, told me she had started a Blog, I promptly whined: “I want a Blog, too!”

“Go get one,” she replied and instantly sent the link. Took me four more days to get up the nerve to go and peek around the site…and voila! Here I am!

Now, I am sitting here, composing my very first Blog post…and I am suddenly speechless. Can’t think of an intelligent word to write. Oh, sure! Tons of dumb things are flitting through my mind…but the first post should sound sensible.

So…probably the best thing to do is to sign off now while I am ahead. I think I am going to like this new venture…I think I am going to like it a lot!