Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year in Passing...

So hard to believe today is the last day of Year 2006. It flew by seemingly faster than its predecessors. And with it, took along a few friends.

It's funny how celebrities affect us. For the most part, we don't know them, and yet when they pass away, the news of their deaths affects us as if they were our next-door neighbors. For me, those included Dana Reeve, Ed Bradley, and former President Ford.

Then there's the group of people you don't know, never met, and yet will never have a chance to. You read about them in the paper. Horror stories of how they were killed instantly in a car crash, suffered a stroke or heart attack, or a young child who lost their valiant fight with a disease no child should have to know about.

This year also marked the passing of more than few personal friends and associates. A gal I've known for years--an exercise enthusiast who thought she'd pulled a muscle in her back, but was gone from spinal cancer in a matter of months. A wonderful guy I used to work with who could (and would) always make you laugh--just 56 years old. A pilot friend of my family's who loved life to the max--started every morning out with a flight in his airplane (weather permitting, naturally), but one morning inexplicably had engine failure and crashed. Another family friend, also a pilot--we called him and his family "the All American family" because of the traditional way they celebrated all the holidays--lost his battle to cancer. And just yesterday, I learned about the passing of the father of a friend of a friend. I'd met this gentleman several times and loved talking with him. A professional chef, he loved my cupcakes--he rarely had high praise for food, but sincerely thought my contribution to the party fare was awesome. I'd been looking forward to seeing him again for the next Super Bowl Party...

As the years go by, we lose more and more people who have touched us, who are important to us, who leave gapping holes in our hearts when they leave. My "losses" this year were insignificant to the sadness endured by these peoples' families, and that fact is not lost on me. It is also not lost on me that life is very precarious, very short, and that because sadness is inevitable, time must not be spent needlessly on little grievances or petty problems. Sometimes easier said than done, but always worth reinforcing.

So, in closing, I wish you a fond, yet bittersweet, farewell Year 2006. You, and those that left with you, will never be forgotten.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Tap! Tap! I'm IT!...

So...the other day I am enjoying myself reading Blogger John's...well...Blog! And imagine my surprise when I see my name! (

It seems I've been "tagged"! So here goes! Try to stay awake...

Four jobs I’ve had:
Savings and Loan teller/Operations Supervisor
Assistant Escrow Officer
MRP Manager

Four Places I’ve lived:
Seattle, Washington
Palo Alto, California
Dublin, Ireland
Southern California

Four favorite foods:
Hmm..this one is hard!
Almost anything Greek...
All the "true" comfort foods like: mac and cheese, meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, pasta, bacon! Bacon! yum! Pizza!
All the great junk foods like: chips, nuts, cheetos!...yum! Cheetos! Pretzels! Popcorn... are we getting hungry yet??!!! Yeah!!!
And believe it or not...healthy stuff like salads, vegetables and fruits and milk and yogurt (Hey Santa! You bringin' me that yogurt maker I asked for??? Please?? Pretty please???) and homemade bread! Even better with homemade butter!!! (Gee, John! and Gail!! (who doesn't read this, I don't think...--you guys have made me really hungry now!)

Four movies I could watch over and over:
Okay. Another hard one cuz I go in phases with movies. I'll watch a ton in a row, and then won't go to the movies for a year or more. At this point, I can't remember the last time I went to the theater--it's probably been over a year now! goes:

The Cutting Edge... saw it about six times. "Toe Pick"...
Pretty Woman... there is just something so humorous and so touching about this flick...
The Natural... Robert Redford and an inspirational, true story about baseball...what more is there to say??
For Love of the Game... okay...there was a bit more to say...another baseball movie, another inspirational, true story. Guess I love all movies like this... anyone remember Chariots of Fire?

Four TV shows I enjoy:
I am not a huge TV watcher...but this season, two shows have caught my attention:
Men in Trees (Thank you, Tammy!!!)
Studio 60 (I think this show is very clever...)
Most everything on The Food Network...especially Barefoot Contessa and Alton Brown's Good Eats (Hey Santa...did you get the memo about that totally cool measuring cup like AB's??)
Some of the oldies that are no longer on (except in syndication), but I really enjoyed them the first time around like Friends, Cosby, Sex in the City, Mary Tyler Moore, Andy Griffith, Matlock, Newhart... It's interesting how these shows that were so contemporary in their time, are so timeless many years later...

Four places I’ve traveled:
France (my first venture was almost a spur-of-the-moment decision to tag along with my sister...and a trip I'll always remember...)
Ireland (it is just as beautiful as the pictures... the air smells so fresh and clean... even in the cities)
Washington (I love Washington...there is just something about it...)
Yellowstone (oh my gosh...just the most amazing much to amazingly awesome)

Four places I’d like to visit:
All 50 states (been to about half of them now...)
England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland
British Columbia and Nova Scotia (I keep threatening...someday soon I am gonna make it!)
Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Norway...(face it...a lot more of Europe)...and definitely Greece!

Four websites I go to (almost) daily:
Ah, man. I am so pathetic... ... gotta check those traffic flows...
Assorted Blogs
Assorted Email sites and Group Links
Assorted News sites (since I don't get a local paper anymore and the local TV news is just plain old annoying...there is this one weather gal who wears the SAME pants everyday...and they are like two sizes too small...I can't believe management doesn't get her some new ones!)

To pass this on (if anyone even shows up here):
Well, you all are safe! I am not taggin' no one this time around! Mainly...cuz I tagged ya all last time!!!! But hey...if you wanna tag me again...I'm game! Us Borin' Folk just love a chance to prove the point we are boring!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Can't Fight City Hall...

But you can fight the Post Office!

Last Saturday was a bad, bad mail day. Went to collect it, and there was the regular invoice from Toyota for the ol' Highlander. And there was also my November payment. Stamped: Addressee Unknown--Unable to Forward.

Addressee Unknown? Unable to Forward????

Surely Toyota Financial Services had not moved and had not bothered to correct their billing stubs. And why had it taken the Postal Service almost six weeks to return this to me? And...and...and... why were there black pencil marks through the coding on the bottom of the envelope... Closer inspection showed that my envelope clearly addressed to City of Industry, California had been traveling around Carol Springs, Illinois! Hope it had a nice tour!

Upon opening the current billing, there was no big surprise there: two months were now up or else!

So, Monday morning had me phoning Toyota, and speaking with a very nice customer service rep. She waived the late charges, but told me that unless they had the two payments in five days, there would be a bad mark on my credit report...and that while obviously it could be removed, it was a time-consuming procedure. So she recommended I overnight the payment to them.

Hmmm...a $14.40 Postal cover their error... Brooke was not a happy camper...

So...I trek off to the post office...never a fun thing to do on one's lunch hour...never a smart thing to do during the Christmas rush!

And stand in line forever...and finally get up to the front. I show the very nice clerk my envelope and he looks at it and says that's pretty weird. I tell him that since this was not my fault and that it took six weeks to return what was obviously a payment to me, and that since I now needed to send it overnight to City of Industry, that USPS should pick up the charge. Mr. Nice Postal-Guy grins and says he agrees, but he doubts they will. He offers to go and talk with a supervisor. You do that, I think...but wisely say: Thank you very much.

A couple minutes later (at least it seemed that long!), he returns and says that said super is gonna be out in a minute. So I wait...and wait...and wait... and then Mr. Supervisor arrives.

Things start out pleasantly enough. I state my case again. Show him the envelope. He peers at it. And announces that the envelope is not the proper configuration for postal standards to allow them to code it properly. That's why it was returned. And no. They will not pick up the $14.40 Express Mail charge.

What?? Excuse me?? What??? Not the proper configuration? Okay...give me a break here...

I have been using the exact same envelope now for almost four years...hundreds of thousands of people send payments to Toyota Financial Services using the same envelope. So I ask: You are telling me that everyone who made a payment to Toyota for November is getting their checks back six weeks later...and that from now...every payment sent to Toyota is gonna come I wave my December payment in front of him...

Yes, he says...

I am astonished at his reply. So I ask him: why did it go to Carol Springs, Illinois? Why didn't it just come back to me? And so 100,000 plus envelopes are going back to customers? I truly doubt this, I say.

He then asks me where I mailed the payment.

At his post office.

Oh. Not daunted...he says but your return address is in another city.

Like duh... I sorta patiently say: Yes...I live in that in this city (24/7 or so it seems...but I didn't go there...pat me on the back for my restraint!). And so yes...I send mail here...

Oh. He sighs. Just a second he says, and picks up the envelope and goes to the back.

A minute later he returns...and announces the obvious... Somebody miscoded the envelope not just once...not even twice...but three times. A truly mishandled piece of mail. He actually apologizes. And says that yes...they will be happy to waive the $14.40 Express Mail charge for me.

Woo Hoo! I fought the Post Office and won! And guess what! My Express Envelope actually arrived at its proper destination the next day...and Toyota posted the payment immediately... and Mr. Highlander is safe from nasty tow truck drives who moonlight as repo-dudes. can't fight City Hall, but sometimes you can fight the Post Office...Mr. Nice-Postal Guy was pretty impressed with my success! And so was I!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Awww....the sweet sound of those slot machines ching-ing away...adding up dollar after happy dollar. The lights..sparkling and bright as bonus after bonus pops up on the screen... Awww, yes... Such was my experience last Sunday!

We had our annual Christmas party this year at one of the local Indian gaming casinos (although "local" is rather a relative term here since it is 55 minutes from my house on a very narrow, very curvy two lane (uh...would be one lane each direction...) highway during Santa Ana Winds of 30 mph with gusts higher...but hey! it was a party!). I was smart--I decided when the party was announced that I would stay overnight at the casino hotel. Now, where to begin this tale...

The hotel was amazing! Huge! Twenty-one floors overlooking the mountains. The room was luxurious with a huge bathtub, separate shower, very nice bed! (you know my obsession with hotel beds...), a couch and a chair... you get the picture: great accommodations! Could've stayed there a week...

My co-worker and I agreed to meet for lunch, get our rooms as soon as we could, and scope out the party area. Which we did. Lunch was yummy! The room for our party was nice and big and still in the process of being set up, and there were lots and lots of nickel-machines (my personal favorite!). I resisted the temptation to stuff a hard-earned bill down the throats of any of them. Instead I opted to spend some time in my awesome room.

The party started promptly at 5PM, and we arrived in all our holiday finery. Open bar! WaHoo! Long Island Iced Teas--the house specialty. Double Wa-Hoo! Dinner was delicious...a bountiful buffet.

Next was the Gambling Contest. Each employee received a $20 seed, and using only that seed money, could go out on the floor and gamble it away. The one who made the most money in 45 minutes would receive a nice prize. Off I went to search out the one nickel-machine "that spoke to me". It was quite a task, but I settled down at a Cheetah game. Plunked in my seed money. And began to watch it wither. Then it sprouted. And grew. And withered. And grew...and grew...and grew... Soon I had $125!!! Naturally this was when my department-mates arrived on the scene. "Cash out! Cash out!" they implored me. "You have just a couple minutes to turn in your total." Yeah, yeah, yeah, the gambler in me cringes. But I obey. And off we go, my ticket in hand (they don't use real cash these's all so modern...) in search of my boss. And sure enough...I am in the lead...but we had more than two minutes! So the runner-up trots her litte behind out to the floor...places a couple of bets...and voila! She's up to $134. And there is still two minutes left... (Longest two minutes I'd ever seen. Why can't two minutes be this long in the morning when I am running late... or this long when I wanna sleep in for just another couple minutes?)

Sadly..."my" machine was occupied...and so my total went the wrong way and dropped to $100. Ho hum. Time for another Long Island Iced Tea to wash away the discouragement of being second...

After the party, I ventured back to see if "my" machine was free...and it was!!! Stuffed my ticket back in... down to $75...down to $50...down to $20...Big tears are threatening... down to $10... suddenly...I hit 50 free spins! Now this has to be a good thing! And it was. The total began building. Ten more free spins... and building.... five more free spins...and building...and building...up to $225!!! "Cash out! Cash out!" my responsible department-mates yell. "Cash out, now!" So I do...

But then...they turn their backs on me... and lure is too great... I plunk back down in front of Cheetah (who'd doled out another $45 buck to someone in my absence...) and feed him another $20... Ten minutes later: $100!!!!

Woo Hoo! Now this is why I LOVE nickel-slots. And why I am very, very glad the casinos are 55 minutes from my home...up a very narrow, very curvy winding two-lane highway...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

You're Fired!...

That's right...after more than four years of membership in my first crit group, yesterday I was shown the door. The reason: lack of performance. Every month, each member must complete a critique of another member's work or be tossed out on her ear. I did not do a crit in November. Thus, December 1st, my butt felt the boot.

So yes, technically, I was justifiably axed. But there are always two sides to each story. There was nothing new to crit until the last day of the month. Oh yes, there had been one new chapter up for about four days the beginning of the month... the two times of the month I am never home before 8 or 9PM from the job that really pays me.

And therein lies the crux of the matter. Why is a volunteer crit group run like the coldest corporation around? That is notifies a member of long standing that she's out via a "form" email... No personal email asking if there was something going on in my life that rendered me quiet for the month. No waiting until December 2nd or 3rd to see if the weekend allowed time for critique of the new chapter that arrived mid-day on November 30th. Just a swift "you're outta there, baby!"

Of course, I am not so naive as to not realize that I was "dismissed" not because I didn't do a crit but rather because the owner of the loop no longer wanted me there. If it was solely because I missed adhering to one of the "rules and regulations", the group would be a lot smaller than it is today.

Actually, I don't really care that I was unceremoniously unsubscribed from the group. It long ago stopped being beneficial to me or my writing goals. What saddens me is that the callousness of being dumped without a "personal touch" is so indicative of how our society is becoming in general. No longer do we care about the other person's feelings or situations; no longer do we take the time to lend a helping hand whether it's actually jumping in and getting dirty ourselves or with moral support... unless it helps our own cause.

Sound cynical? Perhaps. Is it reality? At the moment, it sure feels like it. But I am also enough of an optimist to hope it's just a passing phase.

Bottom line here: Usually when one is shown the door, it is the best thing that could happen to their career. I'd been hanging around mainly for sentimental's hard to leave one of your first groups. But it was way past time for me to make that move. Now it's one less personal email I have to compose and write. And more time for me to write...and clean...and play computer games...and sleep... and cause mischief in general!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

It Just Ain't So...

Ya know that old adage: Pictures don't lie? It's false!!

And that one about pictures telling a thousand words? Yep! A lie, too...unless you are looking for a thousand words of untruths...

And I have proof!

I've been house-hunting this year (yes, I for almost a year...but I am sticking to one small area so I go and see each home that comes on the market...). Recently one went up for sale that was a model that is really too small for my needs. But, because I am seemingly a masochist at heart, I did a drive-by. And wow! It was in a perfect location, had a tile roof (as opposed to an old original shake roof which quite a few in that area still have...remember...I have vivid memories of not goin' there again...), and was on the side of the golf course that I'd really prefer.

Alas... the realtor had not posted any pictures of it, but the description sounded lovely. Lush landscaping, fountain in the entryway, pristine condition. (Yeah...we could also talk about truth in advertising here, too...). But my current home is not ready to put on the market yet (yes, we are still in the friggin' cleaning mode...), so I kept my cool and did not call my agent for a showing. After all, the floor plan was really too small for my needs. I don't want to throw out or give away everything!

But then...this week... the listing realtor put up a picture. Not the normal four or five or six or ten... but one. And oh my!
It was one of the backyard...and it was amazingly beautiful. Large! Covered patio for part of it that overlooked a grassy area with some trees, secluded, the golf course and mountains farther out. So what if the floor plan was small...I could LIVE on that patio, I excitedly told myself! And geez... maybe the owner would consider throwing in the terrific patio table and chairs!

Alas...why hadn't I finished getting my place ready, I berated myself. I knew this would happen, I chastised. No sense in going to see it, I meanly told's so terrific, it'd be sold in no time...and you, Ms. Procrastinator-Extraordinnaire, still have shoveling to do in the current abode. So hop to it, I commanded thyself.

But, but, but, Ms. P-E came back meekly... maybe seeing it would be just the "push" I needed... And, and, and...what harm could viewing it actually do? Other than waste a bit of my agent's time and my time... So, I made an appointment to see it today...

When I arrived at my agent's office, she handed me the detail sheet to read over, and it says it has a walk-in closet in the master bedroom. Now I've been in enough of these homes to know...they ain't got no walk-in closets in the master bedroom or otherwise! Buy hey...I'm not opposed to that! Even it is done without a permit... So off we go!

Upon entering the gate, I see that the fern-lined walkway with fountain is really a fern-entangled jungle! Hmmm...okay... I can just have my new landscape dude fix this for me...

I walk to the back as my agent struggles with the door locks...(graphite, I think to myself...just a little graphite is all that's needed...) to view the "gorgeous" huge, honkin' backyard... that's the size of a postage stamp. Talk about trick photography! It turns out it's about half the size as MOST the other yards I've viewed! And lush landscaping: uh...can we say "overgrown mishmash"? Yes, yes we can. My heart sinks a bit.

But, there's still the lovely patio table... which was obviously turned the long way to make the picture look better, but has a huge crack in the glass, and the chairs are all broken and beat up. So, I won't be beggin' for them in the offer, I think...

And the "covered" patio...uh... it's bird netting. Yep. Bird netting.

But, it's also pretty secluded, and I can see the golf course, and the view is pretty amazing. By this time, agent has struggled through the four locks with success, and we go inside.

It is very clean. A definite plus. The only room remodeled in the "extensive" 2002 remodel was the kitchen (which is very small but really, really nice!)...and the master bedroom closet which has been made into a walk-in by taking up half the garage. And there is a HUGE dip that could substitute for a skateboard gangplank between the two rooms.

So...pristine really equals permitless...

And is probably why there's only one picture. That has been expertly doctored.

So...the next time you see a photo of yourself that you hate...and think that can't possibly be you... you'll be right! And you have my full permission to refer to this blog entry for proof.

And the good news here: I don't have to rush with the Current Abode Clean-Up this weekend. Woo Hoo! Ms. P-E is most gleeful about that!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Beauty and the Beast...

Randy posted the following comment:

...Once, after the major part of a firestorm had passed, I watched the residual fire slowly eat up a was eerily spellbinding. I'm also reminded of a line from the book, "You Can't Go Home Again" spoken by a bored debutante leaving a typical Manhattan party after a fire had broken out in the apartment: "If only there could always be a fire."...

And I have to really got me thinking how true that is. That something so horrible can also be beautiful. And, on the flip side, something so beautiful can also turn horrible.

Let's take fire for example. I have only been really looking at the negative side of it. After all, when I have nightmares, they usually have one of two recurring themes... planes crashing (I saw one once...that was enough for me...) and the house burning down. And yet, there is little that can compare with the comfort of sitting by a roaring fire crackling away (contained!) in the fireplace on cold evening or Christmas morning. Or roasting marshmallows by one while sitting on the beach. There is also something very primitive and wild and free about fire.

Probably one of the most amazing things is what occurs after a fire. How nature comes back even after the most devastating of burns. I remember a few years back, a wild fire ran through my dad's grove and it appeared destroyed. Yet, within a week, new sprouts on his avocado trees began pushing their way out on on the burned and blackened branches. Within a month, those determined sprouts were tender new leaves, and within a couple of months, it was hard to tell there'd been a terrible fire that had burned or destroyed close to a hundred homes.

I still have a hard time understanding how someone can just set a fire for the sheer destruction of it, but perhaps they don't think past the possibility that it might burn so outta control. Maybe they feel confident that the abilities of firefighters will keep it contained to a few acres at most. And yes, there is a certain excitement to watching a fire, just as most of us slow down to gasp at the twisted metal of a car wreck, not taking into account there might also be a twisted body.

Maybe the fascination of destruction has less to do with the ruination itself but is more about the spirit of what's survived and what lives on afterwards...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tis the Season...

And sadly (or maybe not so sadly...), I don't mean the Holiday Season. Instead, I'm talking about Santa Ana Wind Season...which is now pretty much synonymous with fires.

Already an arsonist was at work early this morning setting a fire that's burned thousands of acres and killed four firefighters with a fifth fighting for his life. The scary part is that this particular fire was not only intentionally set, it was started right as the winds picked up. The timing was carefully mapped out for maximum destruction.

I cannot understand, no matter how I try, the appeal of this crime. To watch beautiful land destroyed and ravaged, wildlife killed for no's beyond my comprehension. I am perfectly aware that lightning storms can and do cause the same devastation, even to the point of taking human lives, but at least that's Mother Nature wreaking the havoc. I am also perfectly aware that with the destruction by fire comes the rejuvenation of the land. But again, that's Mother Nature at work.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of the firefighters who were lost today. As anyone who knows me, one of my biggest fears are the wildfires (a fire in Antarctica is too close to me in my opinion...yeah, yeah, would also think I'd move, huh...go figure that one!). For me, the freedom of the Santa Ana Winds blowing through the valleys, cleansing the air, means tension and worry. And now sorrow.

One can only hope that the person or persons who set this morning's fire suddenly gains a conscience and realizes what horror they've caused. But somehow, I rather doubt it... nobody with a heart would or could intentionally set out to destroy so much--much less take joy in it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Let the Sheep Come In...

Ah, yes. Tonight is the first of two nights in a row of sleeping on a "Heavenly Bed". And, as you can probably tell, especially since the last two posts were devoted to the mysterious world of sleeping soundly, I am totally looking forward to the adventure.

My plans for the next two days are simple: arrive at Westin Hotel Number One. Check in as early as possible to gain the most time in the room for my expenditure of bucks as possible. Briefly poke around said room to admire all the amenities. Then...drum roll... indulge in an afternoon nap in the Heavenly Bed. Get up to take an amazingly long shower in the Heavenly Shower. Crawl back into Heavenly Bed for luxurious hours on end of a good night's sleep. Sadly, one must awaken no later than 4:30AM and abandon Room Number One to get to Westin Hotel Number Two in Seattle. (That 4:30AM wake-up call is just obscene in my book...but that's a whole other story...)

Upon arriving in Seattle, the plan for the afternoon is again simple. Arrive at Westin Hotel Number Two as early as possible...check out the room... another afternoon nap (hey! it's supposed to be raining in The Emerald City tomorrow!), another shower in the Heavenly Shower... and more sleeping! Fortunately Thursday morning brings no ungodly-hour wake-up calls.

Do I have sleeping on the brain? Maybe just a wee bit. Is this any way to start out a vacation? Well, it *is* my vacation...and I can do whatever I want, I say a bit petulantly... And no... I shall not be traveling from hotel to hotel and sleeping or showering the entire time. But the first two days...I am enjoying them to the max! the subject of sleep is put to bed!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

More on Sleeping...

It's apparently an annual rank the best and worst cities for sleeping.

For Year 2006, the "winners' of the worst were...drum roll, please:

Number Five: St. Louis!
Number Four: New York!
Number Three: Houston! (one more reason to not attend the RT Convention in April...)
Number Two: Nashville!
and we already know who took top honors (if you read my last blog entry, that is!!!)
Number One: Atlanta!

What's more interesting, however, are the best places for sleep. Topping the list is: get ready...your eyes are probably gonna fall out...:

Number One: Anaheim! Anaheim, California!!!
Number Two: Los Angeles. Los Angeles???? Yep...Los Angeles...
Number Three: Raleigh-Durham
Number Four: Minneapolis
Number Five: Chicago maybe Anaheim wins this year cuz it's the home of the "happiest place on Earth"...that would be Disneyland just in case you are still in a state of stupor over the fact that LA came in a close second...

And last time around it was second...Minneapolis was first, followed by San Diego in third. This time around, San Diego didn't even make the list!

So...I am thinkin' that my sudden lack of being able to sleep has nothing to do with the fear of beer bottles, eggs, firecrackers, etc. hurtling themselves into my backyard while I slumber, but rather whatever unknown reasons that no one seems to want to divulge on these surveys at work that has tumbled San Diego out of the top five of best places to sleep. I am just confirming the truth of the survey.

It a hard job..but somebody has to do it... And no...Seattle is not on any of the lists...

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Now It All Makes Sense!!...

One of the big reasons I love staying in hotels is how well I sleep! No worries about someone jumping the fence into my backyard (okay, hasn't happened yet, but I have found beer bottles tossed in, eggs hurled in, trash flipped in...and it did happen to a near-neighbor of mine...). No concerns about the place burning down (I know for a fact that hotel fire alarms screech loudly enough to arouse a deaf person...those Oracle software boys may know how to write groovy programs, but they can't operate a microwave to save their souls--witness burning, flaming popcorn...yes...flaming... that caused their smoke detector to go off and send them outta their unit next to mine to retrieve the fire extinguisher...). No worries about oversleeping cuz...well, I'm on vacation!!!

I was particularly looking forward to my stay at the Atlanta Marriott a couple months back because I hadn't been sleeping well due to the thousand degree temps (okay...116F which is damned hot even by desert-standards...) and other assorted reasons. And to add to my excitement, I was staying on the Concierge Level which meant a bigger room, a better bed, a quieter floor. And, I got all those things.

Yet, I slept no better than at home. Maybe slept even worse!

The first night, I figured I was just overly tired and excited about being in Atlanta. The second night, I decided I was still overly tired and excited about being in Atlanta. The third night, I chalked it up to the vitamins I was taking that were new...except I'd been taking them for almost a month. The fourth night, I concluded it must be the abundance of sirens. But deep down, I was mystified...and bummed. I had sooooo been looking forward to some quality rest. Were my days of sleeping well in hotels over? Alas, a dismal thought at best.

But hope for future deep slumbering in beds away from home reigns supreme! A new study came out of the best and worst cities for sleeping. And guess what city topped the list? Atlanta! Atlanta, Georgia! The Peachtree Capital is the lousiest place for sleeping!

Woo Hoo! Life is good again as I can anticipate my wonderful night's sleep next month in Seattle... on a Heavenly Bed, even! And no! Don't even bring up Sleepless in Seattle...hear me!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Turning Leaf...

Today is the first day of Autumn 2006! Hi Autumn!!!! Hope you enjoy your stay!!

I actually felt Ms. Autumn sneaking in about a week early. (Eh, eh, eh...your secret is safe with me!) When she arrives ( maybe not so safe...), the air just feels different--a bit of cool-crispness underneath the heat. The sunshine is just a bit less bright. Certainly the days are getting shorter...dark in the morning until after 6AM, dark in the evening now by 7PM.

I love autumn. It's like a fun, last fling before winter sets in. I feel invigorated because of it.

Of course, where I live we don't see the vivid colors of fall that a lot of the country is showered in. It is much more subtle. The liquid amber trees begin turning yellow and then a beautiful deep red that lasts until late January if the winter storms are light. Orange, rust and yellow chrysanthemums and other fall flowers pop up in yards and shopping center planters. Soon the perky, pansies that just make you wanna smile cuz they are so happy will begin showing up.

The days here are still warm but the nights are cool. Cool enough you have to close your windows at night, and even think about putting on an extra blanket. But the mornings are glorious, clear, dewy, and the promise of a perfect day ahead.

Ah, yes. This is definitely my favorite season. So, Welcome, Ms. Autumn! I hope you stick around for quite a while this year because I am going to do my best to enjoy each and every day of your visit!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Blog Post Follow-ups...

Been doin' a lot of cleaning and organizing and tossing away around the house lately, so I thought now might be a good time to follow-up on some previous blog topics.

Number 1: Roof, Ceiling, Yard Drainage...

As you may remember, the roof and ceiling were fixed last year, and to date the waterfall in the kitchen is becoming a distant, nightmarish memory. However, it seems the light fixture in the kitchen may be a casualty after all. After putting in two sets of new bulbs, I am still without light in there. Must say, it does make cooking and cleaning at night a tad difficult. Gonna have to have that resolved as the end of daylight savings time is fast approaching...remember, home repairs seem to take months and months and months....

The drainage repair is complete and the new landscaping is about 85% done. I have grass!!!!! Beautiful green grass!!!!! Lush perfect green grass...that I noticed some weeds in today!!!! ACK!!!! And lemme tell ya...I'd better NOT be seein' any gopher holes out there....

Number 2: Pomegranate Juice...

I may have been a bit hasty on my decision to never taste the stuff again. After searching high and low for pomegranate pills, to no avail, I learned that Landers has Pomegranate/Cranberry Juice. Now I LOVE cranberry juice. Have been a fan of it for years. So I nervously bought a bottle of the one with pomegranate juice mixed in. And guess what??? Yes!!!! It's awesome!!!! I LOVE it! Even more than the straight cranberry juice. And mixing it with!!! Now there's a drink that'll be showing up on the bar circuit soon! Especially with a tad of peach water mixed in... Seriously, I have altered my opinion on pomegranate juice enough to seriously consider that Dumb, Awful Alberston's may have sold me a bad bottle.

Number 3: Highlander Woes...

Well, the other night I go to get in my car to trek home. and... you got won't start! At least the tow this time was only five miles so it was covered. I think Mr. Highlander must have liked riding on top of the tow truck looking down on all the other vehicles. The good news this time (well, except for the bill!) was they found the problem and fixed it. Can't believe how much better Mr. Highlander runs now that he's all fixed up with a new idle air-control valve. And since he hasn't been washed since the first tow-truck experience, I can now have that chore back again. But not too soon... courtesy of Toyota, he had a bath before he was returned to me. Guess Toyota doesn't like to see their cars running around a filthy brown color...

So...that's life in Brooke-World at the moment. We now return to cleaning, organizing, and throwing out of...of... stuff. Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Integrity in Journalism...

Now there's a joke! Integrity in journalism. I think that went out with Ike! (And no....I am not old enough to remember don't even go there!)

I was watching the news for a bit this morning and remembered why I'd stopped watching it! Lousy reporting. It's all about the ratings... not even getting the scoop... just reporting anything.

I've always been bothered by the dumb questions reporters ask during an interview. One incident that sticks out in my mind to this day actually occurred in the 80's. There was horrible flooding in this area...people had to flee to their roofs because a levy had broken. They were rescued by helicopter. There was one gal, probably about 20 or so, who couldn't swim and she was understandably terrified. She was plucked from the rooftop with cameras rolling. When she got her feet on dry land, a warm towel around her, she was shaking, in shock, and babbling, "I thought I was gonna die! I thought I was gonna die." Some insensitive local reporter stuck a microphone in her face, and said: "Can you tell us how you felt?"! The woman thought she was gonna die! How would he feel...if he couldn't swim...the water was rising... houses around her were washing away... "Oh...I was thinking I'd go to the mall after I got rescued..." I think that was the day, I gave up on local news.

This morning I heard about a commuter plane going down. So I flipped on TV to see if they had more details, and caught a press conference with the Kentucky coroner. Have to give the man points for patience! Dumb question number one: How does this compare with other plane crashes you've seen? His answer: This is my first one. Dumb question number two: Do you think the plane went off the wrong runway? His answer: I have no idea. I am the coroner. Next dumb question: Is there a passenger list? At this point, you could see the guy start to roll his eyes and catch himself just in time. His answer: I'm sure there is. I haven't seen it. It's probably at the airport. I have to go now...

Now I realize both these scenes were during times of high stress and there was loss of life in both. But reporters are supposed to be trained professionals... not three-year olds who have discovered the magic of asking questions...

So...I've renamed the various news networks.

ABC = Asinine Broadcasting Corporation
CBS: Crummy Broadcasting Service
CNN = Crappy News Network (since this was the network this morning...)
NBC = No-Brain Broadcasting Company
MSNBC = More Silly No-Brain Broadcasting Company

Now... I am leaving FOX up to you! Whaddya say? Any ideas... and no! using the F-word does not count! Sorry, no prizes..but the best answer might reappear in a later blog entry. Ain't that incentive enough?!!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mixed Messages...

They talk about relationships being full of communicative pitfalls. Well, lemme tell ya! Boy/Girl snafus ain't got nothin' on the writing world!

When every new writer starts out, they write for the joy of simply writing. They put words to the paper. They tell a wonderful story. They read it over a few times. It's perfect, they announce. They have their family and friends read it over and receive rave reviews. They send their baby out into the cold, cruel world of harsh editors, who read the first few lines and cringe. A rejection wings the baby back home to the new, happy writer. Whose world crashes as innocence is stripped away taking the simple joy of writing along with it.

And thus begins a new phase in the writer's life: learning all they can about the craft. And thus begins all the mixed messages. Ready for a few? Here we go!

POV: Never head-hop, Ms. Writer is told. Stick to one POV per chapter. No, stick to one POV per scene. Wait! Stick to one POV, period. No, it's okay to switch POVs mid-scene if you do it well. Halt the presses! If your name is Nora (as in Roberts!) or Jayne (as in Ann Krentz!), it's okay to switch POV several times within a scene...but only if you own that name...which by the way (some snide crit partner will shatter Ms. Writer's world...again...) you're not, and never will be... so don't do it. Oh, and then, there's all the different types of POVs. Ms. Writer wonders quite innocently: What the hell does POV mean anyways... For the means Point of View... Ms. Writer begins to feel a tad overwhelmed.

Then...there's the outline vs. pantster way of writing... there are elaborate methods to help Ms. Writer create the perfect story. Diagrams, Boxes, Spreadsheets, Sticky Notes, White Boards... anything one can think of...the writing world has created to help Ms. Writer along in her quest for publication. Problem is, every method sounds so stinkin' good until you try it. And of course, there's the panster method where one just sits down and writes. But Ms. Writer is now a bit leery of that method since it's what she did the first time around and Baby got sent home with its tail between its legs... So at first she wonders, do I do all these methods at the same time...or one at a time. Do I have to do one of these methods. And then...suddenly another message is hurled her way: do what works for you. But herein lies the problem: Ms. Writer has no clue what works for her. She ain't succeeded yet!

GMC: Gotta love this one! Ms. Writer worries: GMC. Sounds like the car corporation. Then she learns it stands for Goal, Motivation, Conflict. Ah! Okay. Gotta have that in a story. Realization hits. Her story doesn't have any of that, will never have any of that, and the reason why: who knows what the heck any of those things are! And so, the learning quest continues... and Ms. Writer's head continues to spin.

HEA: A romance has to have that...right? Ms. Writer yanks out her code-deciphering guide. Oh! HEA = Happily Ever After... okay. Sounds fair enough. But ChickLit instantly breaks that rule and it's okay. So does Women's Fiction, which has strong romantic elements but not necessarily a HEA. But you gotta have that. Right? Right?? Well, maybe not... Ms. Writer suppresses the urge to scream and pull out graying hairs. Maybe a glass of wine will help clear up matters.

Then there's the whole genre thing... Historicals are dead. Especially Regency Historicals. ChickLit is on its way out. Sex is hot. Inspirationals with no sex are hot. But as she pours the last of the wine into her glass, shaking out every last drop and then peering into the bottle to check for any lingering liquid, Ms. Writer reads what editors are looking for: Historicals. Regencies. ChickLit. But aren't these dead or on last legs? Maybe...maybe not! Where's the chocolate? Bring on the chocolate!

So...what's a girl to do. Write, that's what! Just plain old write. Develop her own voice, her own style. Return to that innocent stage of writing when it was fun. But keep in mind all the rules that make a story tight, that make it publishable. Hey wait!!!! Isn't that another mixed message??? You betcha, Baby! And isn't that what makes this business fun? That makes it a challenge? That makes it so damned rewarding? It sure is... or is writing just a free pass to eating all the chocolate one can consume and slugging back lots of fine Merlot...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Awesome Atlanta...

Okay, now that everyone has expounded on the Atlanta Experience...and some are even planning Dallas next year already, I figure I'll chime in with my thoughts. Not a day late, a dollar short, or anything like that. Just want to re-live the fun; rekindle the experience a wee bit more.

Bottom line: I had an absolutely wonderful conference experience. I'd have to say: Atlanta was my best national conference to date. While I've heard a lot of attendees say the same thing, maybe Atlanta was just a stand-out event (kudos to the planners!), I think a lot also had to do with my attitude.

This is the first national conference I've attended with no planned agenda, no expectations, nothing I simply "had" to do. I know my way around the conference circuit now, so I decided to just go and absorb the experience. Go to workshops that looked "enjoyable" as opposed to "educational", and I would not take diligent notes. I'd listen and absorb instead. I did not sign up for any editor/agent appointments. I refused to pitch my work at every twist and turn. I would not, not, not buy ANY tapes.

As a result, I attended more workshops than I have in a long time...and they were all awesome! I liked the fact that this year they had more than one on each subject matter. This made it possible to do two things: first: go to both and compare the info, or second: be able to miss one and yet still go to a live one. (Remember that declaration about NO tapes???)

I went to a couple of book signings that were not mad frenzies cuz I got there late...and they actually still had books with authors to sign them. Had a lovely conversation with Ed Gaffey while waiting for his wife to sign books for those in front of me. He was incredibly interesting...he is now on my "to buy his book" list just because he was so nice (see below...he fit right in with the theme of the conference...). Then I finally reached the front of the line, and even though there were still at least ten people now behind me, his wife, Suzanne Brockmann, spent a good two minutes chatting with me. A very enjoyable morning...and I was so controlled, I only came away with three books...three books I really wanted.

Did some wonderful sightseeing events. First to CNN Headquarters...they put on an AMAZING tour. Then the following day we went to the Georgia billed as the largest aquarium in the world. It was quite impressive, way too crowded, the beluga whales were gorgeous, and I purchased two CD's of oceany-aquariumy-new agey-relaxation type music that are just as nice at home as they were there. And... did you know there are HILLS in Atlanta? Not exactly like the hills in San Francisco or Seattle (at least the part we were in...) but some damned steep inclines. Geez...who knew!

Had a fun lunch with the ACME Crit Group I'm a member of, and received a new pin for my badge. Went to a really fun party thrown by the Chick-Lit Chapter and won a book (that looks great!) and received another new, very cute pin for my badge. Ventured to the Ritz-Carlton for the Ballantine-Bantam-Dell cocktail party and spent the evening by the huge floor fan. That very strategic move (oh, okay...totally unplanned...a lucky break! geez...) had all kinds of wonderful, entertaining people coming by for a few minutes of chatting. It was definitely a success. One memorable moment of the party actually took place outside where my friend, Randy, and I went for a cigarette break. There we talked with a very nice bellboy who'd recently moved to Atlanta after escaping and losing most everything to Hurricane Katrina. His upbeat attitude was truly an inspiration to us all. Also went to the top of the Hyatt Hotel to their revolving restaurant 72 floors up. What a spectacular view of the city...all 360 degrees of it! And...on our last night...we got our thunderstorm!

The general message of this year's conference was to be professional in all writing be nice. That really resonated with me. And it must have resonated with others, too, as it just felt like a "happy" conference. Atlanta is a beautiful city and everyone was so friendly and helpful. was a definitely a wonderful conference experience. are wondering about those tapes I was not, not, not...under any circumstances.. gonna buy? Well, the entire conference set should be arriving in my mailbox in another three or four weeks. Hey! I'm not perfect!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Hey, July!!!!!!

Where'd ya go???? Huh???? Are you hiding? Well, get back here!

Certainly would be nice if we could just summon back a month that whizzed by without our hardly noticing it, wouldn't it? I feel rather cheated! Now, let's see what I did...

Well, the first weekend was 4th of July. Had great intentions of getting a ton accomplished (yeah, yeah, yeah, the usual plan...) A big list of stuff to accomplish over the four-day holiday. As I recall, it was beastly hot! The landscape renovation had just begun, and we were in the process of waiting for the round-up to get rid of the weeds. The tree roots that were sprouting everywhere had been trimmed, the trees themselves had been trimmed, things were looking good... well, except for all that brown grass that covered about 75% of the area. And good news: my firecracker-lovin' "friends" next door seemed to be taking the weekend off.

The following weekend, my good karma went on vacation. Another big list of things to do. Sunday, I started out ambitiously by washing my very dirty mode of transportation to discover there was a very beautiful vehicle masquerading under all that grime. Then it decided not to start after dining at Carl's Jr. Uh, picture 100 degree heat, my stubborn car, waiting for a tow truck. Thirty minutes later, it did arrive, and the very cute tow truck driver couldn't start it either. Damn. So, I had to have it towed 35 miles to the dealer. About halfway there, the driver calmly says: I hope you have a way home because I can't bring you back. Uh, oh. Like NO!!!! But needless to say, I worked out that curve ball. Then, of course, the car started at the dealer, and they can't find a thing out of sorts, meaning... I now feel like I have an undependable car...which was why I brought a new car in the first place... the beat goes on.

Next weekend... Good Karma was still on vacation! Got up nice and early to get a head start on chores. First on the list: laundry. Last rinse of the first load, the toilet starts gurgling, a wretched sewer-smell drifts into my closed-up house that is trying to keep out the 100 degree in Brooke-World is NOT good. Have to call the landscaper first cuz he's buried the sewer-manhole with new dirt for the new lawn (yes...progess happened in the weeks of July!), then called the sewer company who came out and unclogged their lines from my tree roots...grrrr. This is not so good since they were out over Christmas. But they say they will pour stuff in that will stop it once and for all this time. We shall see... the beat goes on!

Weekend Three... had to get ready to leave for the National Conference in Atlanta, which entailed packing, and doing some cleaning... and spending LOTS of time admiring my new lawns! The car ran fine... the sewer lines seemed okay... I am paranoid on both scores since the sink in the bath seems to be draining very slowly... the beat goes on!

Last weekend, I was returning home from Atlanta. Had a wonderful time. Have to say, it was probably the best national conference I've attended. Got so much out of it by not having an plans, no lists... just went. Hmmm... can I maybe apply this to other areas of my life... Toss the lists... might be worth considering.

July was very busy, it just flew by. I did get a lot of work done on my current manuscript, have only about fifty pages to go. The landscaping is about 85% complete. A few more plants to go up on the slope (the landscaper will do those); a couple of beds and several pots to be replanted (I shall do those!--wonder if I remember how to garden...), and the roof leak adventure of twenty months ago will finally be a memory of the past. My car needs another bath... oh well. It's not gettin' one for awhile!

Wonder if August will flee as quickly... we'll see! The beat goes on!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Up, Up and AWAY!!!...

Okay, I admit it. I am a worry wart. I am getting worse with age. It seems lately that I can take almost any situation and imagine it turning into a major drama. Maybe it is my writer's imagination and creativity coming back in full force (after all, I am buried knee-deep in my current manuscript, madly trying to get it wrapped up...but I digress...though it is one of the things worrying me...). Maybe it's too many irons in the fire what with work at the same break-neck pace it's been the three years I've toiled there, trying to finish said manuscript, and other commitments (been practicing saying "no" lately...) coupled with some personal issues. Or, I suppose it's possible I'm just a dork. However, I am going with a combination of the three.

But sometimes my nutty worries pan out. Case in point yesterday... sorta...

My neighbors own this flimsy gazebo-tent deal set up in their backyard. You know the kind: has the plastic tarp material in green and white covering the top and is held up by the flimsy poles. They've had it installed there since they moved in last winter. During the rain storms, the wind would often lift it up, and tilt it towards their house. I wondered if it might lift enough to crash into their large sliding glass window and break it.

But since it was in their backyard, and blowing towards their sliding glass window, I didn't give it much thought. Except to note how ugly it was when looking out my den window...

Then one day last winter, the wind shifted and it looked like it could blow my way...and horrors!...crash into the side of my house, take out part of my roof, maybe even my den and living room windows. But I pushed those evils thoughts aside because the ugly gazebo appeared to be anchored. And it would have to jump a six foot fence...

Well, between that time and yesterday, it must have come unanchored and taken pole vaulting lessons..

It's been unseasonably hot and humid here the past couple of days acting more like weather we get in late August. I was minding my own business, trying to stay cool, pounding away at my manuscript attempting to rack up the page count as I hurtle towards "the end"...sorry...digressing again... when I noticed that the wind had picked up. We are not talking a breeze here. We are talking huge, nasty wind gusts. Trees bending wickedly towards the ground. Leaves flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Dust everywhere. Scary wind. (They have a name for them...just can't think of what it is...and no, it's not tornado...)

All of a sudden, the ugly green and white gazebo lifts into the air...and then settles back down. It lifts into the air again, and settles back down. Hmmm....I think to myself. Surely it can't blow over a six foot fence. You are such a dork for even thinking that it could.

A third time, it lifted straight into the air, high enough I could see the feet bottoms, tilted to its side like a missile and flew (not very slowly!) towards the fence, its pointed nose on a direct path for my den window. As it cleared the fence, I backed out of the room, hoping my computer would be okay. Damn, I sure wished I'd backed up that last chapter, I think to myself...

And then...the last metal pole-leg got hung up on the fence...and the poor, ugly green and white gazebo dangled over onto my vegetable garden. It flopped in the wind, trying to escape. Lickety-split I ran outside, and put it out of its misery by taking off the ballooning green and white tarp while trying not to get gored by the poles.

There the gazebo carcass remained until this morning when my neighbor discovered its disappearance from his patio. "Geez!" he exclaims as he peers over the fence at his ruined gazebo (it sustained a mortal wound in the manner of a broken pole during its attempted escape to my yard). "That could've gone into your window and broken it!"

Hmmm...Maybe I can delete "dork" from my list of the reasons I've become a worry-er...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fathers Shortchanged?...

I was amazed to learn this morning, as I was sipping my coffee, that Father's Day is a relatively new holiday. It seems it actually started in Spokane, Washington in 1909, when a lady was listening to a sermon on Mother's Day. Having been raised by her widowed paternal parent, it occurred to her that fathers should be honored in a similar fashion. The following year, the mayor of Spokane declared June 19, 1910 as Father's Day. The month of June was chosen because it was the month of lady's father's birthday (did that make sense?). It wasn't until 1966, when Lyndon Johnson was in office, that a presidential proclamation was made designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. And then, it was another six years until Richard Nixon signed into law that the holiday was made official.

I guess I just thought Father's Day had always been around. I can remember always celebrating both Mother's Day and Father's Day. I was surprised to learn that this important day is only 34 years old. Seems rather an oversight to me.

After all, while mothers are certainly important, fathers are just as much so. Until women in the workforce became more of a necessity than an exception, the father of the family provided all of the income in the household. Then he came home, usually took care of the yard, played ball with his kids, took out the trash. And who was the dreaded disciplinarian of the clan? Yep...Pop!

My father had a very stressful job flying for Pan American World Airways as a flight engineer. Then after flying for hours straight, he'd get into his bright yellow Ranchero with the flaming orange strips and drive 120+ miles home from Los the days before a decent freeway ran all the way through. As kids we just kind of took it for granted. But a few years ago, I did a lot of commuting to just the Bay Area (a mere hour flight, sitting back in my seat, slurping my Diet Coke, reading my book, as opposed to 23 hours of working, not counting the drive). After 23 months, I was physically exhausted. And I'd totally gained a new comprehension for the sacrifices my father made for his family.

While I am enlightened to learn that Father's Day is new, I guess it's also important to remember that we don't need just one day a year to honor and cherish our parents. We have 364 other days to tell them how much we love and appreciate them. And to keep in mind that life is short and precarious, and someday, someday much too soon, we won't have that opportunity.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. Your kids love you.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fashion Trends...or Flops...

Okay, it's entirely possible...though I am loathe to admit even the remotest possibility...that I could, maybe, horrors! be getting old. Or, maybe I can just attribute it all to having just had a birthday a couple of days ago.

But I just don't get the following Fashion Trends:

First: Tattoos. What is the deal with total-body tattooing? I mean, geez, if nothing else, it must hurt like the dickens. I guess since I am basically opposed to pain of any fashion, I'd find this trend hard to understand at any time. But what is the thrill or point or statement of covering one's entire body with a snake? What's Mr. Snake gonna look like in 15-20 years when gravity takes hold of him? Now, lest you think I am opposed to all tattoos, please let me assure you this is just not so. I think a small one is really cute (or masculine depending...), and have even on occasion toyed with getting one myself. But as previously mentioned, I abhor and run from pain at all times. So, I am not really seein' a tattoo in my immediate future...unless it's one of the kiddy paste-on ones...

Second: What is the deal with wearing pants that are falling down? There is just no way this can be comfortable. I mean I know I would not want to worry about suddenly doing a full monty cuz my pants headed south. Why give them any encouragement by having them halfway down to begin with? I remember when I used to have to wear panty hose everyday to work (thank goodness THOSE days are over!), and every once in a while you'd get a pair that was too short...and they kept slipping down...and you kept having to yank them up. It was NOT fun. Now...why would anyone intentionally put on pants that do this same thing...except if they fell down, there'd be a lot more exposed!

Third: What is the deal with Body Piercings? Pierced ears, even multiple holes are cool. Pierced eyebrows just look painful (we already know my feelings on that subject!). Pierced noses, tongues, lips...oh gosh, the lips are kinda the worst..., belly buttons, nipples, etc... that's just gross. Sorry, it just grosses me out. At least, gravity won't affect them. The holes, I guess for the most part, will close. But, it's just gross (get the idea: gross, gross, gross!). And anybody who thinks it's attractive just hasn't really looked in the mirror. Case in point: a person I know got a small diamond on the side of their nose. To me, it just looked like a big zit. Of course, I would never say anything--I am not fond of getting my head bitten off (or insulting a person needlessly). Every time I saw the person, I'd think at first: Ah, poor them...they have a big zit. Then after a few months, the diamond stud was gone, and when I asked it about it, she replied: Oh, my roommate asked me when I was gonna ditch it cuz it just looked like a big zit and it was disgusting. Well...see... I was not the only one.

Fourth: What is the deal with Love Handles flappin' in the wind. Yeah...what is the deal with the shorty tops and low-rider jeans that let the love handles hang out in all their glory. flash here: they aren't very glorious. Most of us have them. I guess this is the way of saying: Hey, the majority rules. But frankly, I am gonna continue to hide mine.

Of course, I can remember the fashion faux pas I've pulled off in the past. Ah, the orange fish net stockings with the adorable sunshine yellow mini-skirt that had the pumpkin orange-hippy-daisies on it. Yep...I was stylin', man! I was too cool for words...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Kids will be kids???

I read a sad and very disturbing news article today about two college students who were found dead inside of a balloon. Apparently, it was one of those balloons that is used for advertising as opposed to a hot air balloon which was, of course, my first thought when I saw the headline.

According to the article, the 21-year olds (boy and girl) deflated it and then crawled inside. In my naive way, I thought: were they cold? But then there was a quote from the dead girl's mother: "It was more a fun thing they thought they were doing," said Linda Rydman, whose daughter was found dead. "You know how you blow up the balloon and suck the helium."

Okay...obviously this poor mother is shattered by losing her daughter. My heart goes out to her.

But, geez... letting the air out of a 8-foot-diameter balloon, a balloon that was not theirs, a balloon they were apparently not in charge of maintaining, and then crawling inside for the purpose of sniffing helium to sound like Mickey Mouse? And to add to the incredibility of this, they were legally adults... not six-year old children who've yet to reach the age of reasoning.

I remember inhaling a wee bit of helium from a party balloon in elementary school, got really sick to my stomach with a horrible headache, and then the teacher told us what this article says in the last paragraph: "Inhaling helium can quickly lead to brain damage and death from lack of oxygen, according to the Compressed Gas Association, which develops safety standards in the gas industry."

The article does go on to state: "The county medical examiner said Sunday that the cause of death won't be released for six weeks, until toxicology results come back." One must wonder how "high" they were to begin with. And because this horrible event took place in Florida, and I'm in California, no doubt I will never hear the outcome.

Where have we missed out on simple common sense? There was just so much wrong about this incident. The fact that it started out as an act of vandalism. Regardless of whether they were under the influence of something, it was amazingly stupid. But the price these two people paid was the ultimate one. All the way around, it's just such a waste.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I am a Fish Tycoon!...

Well, not exactly. More like a computer game addict is probably closer to the truth.

Okay, let me back-track just a bit here. Yahoo Games put up this new one about a week and a half ago called Fish Tycoon. You start out getting $300, some fish eggs, free fish food, and two tanks. The object of the game (which is real-time by the way...) is to grow the fishys to adulthood, breed them to make more fishys, and then sell them. Sounds pretty simple...and pretty safe...

But oh, it SO is not.

You have to feed these fish. Cure them of diseases called "ick" and "fungus" (okay...real fish get these things, too...but I don't have "real" fish...I now have "fake" fish). They have babies (after I make them go kissy-kissy in the isolation tank). They get sick for no apparent reason. Oh, did I mention you have to feed them? A lot! Or they die! And that is very sad cuz then you have to put them in the trash can.

It is a very obsessive thing. You can't leave the tank longer than eight-ten hours or else disaster strikes...and every last fish has croaked. Even if the plan is to sell the suckers as soon as they mature, they are still my babies! I don't want any of my babies to crump. I want them to go to nice homes with nice fish-parents who will continue to take most excellent care of them.

I personally believe it is the melodic music that plays every few minutes for the addictive nature of this game. It sucks you in. Even when it becomes VERY annoying, it is there to remind you that you have responsibilities. Helpless fishys are waiting for you to feed them, force them into having sex for the purpose of bearing children (these guys are both male and female depending on the need...), medicate them, sell them to the lovely sound of the cash register ringin' up another sale.

Now...lest you begin to worry that I've gone over the edge, and you may have to stop reading this Blog for fear of not wanting to associate with a crazy person, I told two friends about it, and now they are as addicted as I. It is not our fault that we arise first thing in the morning and race to turn on the computer to feed fish...FAKE fish!... feel badly when a fish...a FAKE fish...goes belly up... begin to feel sorry that we are making 200 year old fish have more babies...

It is the draw of the "cha-ching" of the cash register that draws us...the glory of being a successful Fish Tycoon...or the pathetic possibility that this latest obsession brings new meaning to the phrase: gotta get a life!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Four Peeves...

Yep, I could go on and on...and on some more about all the things that bug me. But, so you won't fall into a deep coma while reading away, I shall limit them...this blog entry just four. Ready? Good! Here we go! Oh, by the way, they are not in any particular order. They all bug me about the same...which would be a lot since I'm devoting an entire blog entry to them! Now we are going!

Number 1... The way the local TV news has teasers about stories that sound VERY interesting and then runs them not just at 11PM but at 11:25PM...and THEN! tell you nothing that you didn't already know! Like about pillows. I stayed awake until 11:25 to find out that it doesn't matter the price of the pick what you like. Well, NEWS FLASH here! That's the problem! What criteria do I use to find what I like? The teaser said: Learn how to buy a pillow...does price matter? Did they tell me that? Nope...all they told me was that some people like expensive pillows...some like the cheaper $8 ones. Well, duh! That's why they make pillows in all price ranges...

Number 2... People who cut in front of me and then poke along. This peeve actually encompasses a lot. People who rush up to the ATM machine...and then stand there for minutes on end while the line backs up behind them. Then they don't even apologize for hogging the machine. Or in the grocery store... They rush up to the line...only to either have 23 coupons or not enough money or a declined credit card. Or people in cars who pull out in front of me only to poke along at 20 miles per hour under the speed limit. Gads...if you could haul ass from a dead stop to cut in front of me, then for goodness sake, put the pedal to the metal, and haul ass down the road.

Number 3... People who make my phone ring and then hang up when they hear my voice. Fine...ya dialed a wrong number. At least say: Sorry...I dialed a wrong number. Don't just leave me with dead air after I went running to pick you up.

Number 4... Buying eggs. go through carton after carton and there's always at least one or two broken before you find one that has all twelve (or eighteen in my case) that are fine. Then when the checker rings them up...they practically toss them to the bagger, who drops them into the sack only to put the bottle of V8 juice on top. Can you tell I went grocery shopping to my favorite store today?

Okay...that's four. And you know what? Four was just about enough. I really didn't have any more that I could think of offhand. That's not so bad. Then again...try me tomorrow! I bet I can come up with another four...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Anybody got the time...

I love clocks! Any kind of clock. Grandfather, coo-coo, digital, fancy, plain. Heck, I even LOVE the song, CLOCKS, by Coldplay! About the only exception to this list would be alarm clocks. Those, while they probably serve a very useful purpose, can just go.

I personally have no less than 12 clocks scattered throughout my home. And probably have about four wristwatches that actually work, and another three or four that need the battery replaced.

So, you are probably thinking that I always know the time. And you'd be correct...I can almost always tell you within 10-15 minutes what the time is. Oh, it's not cuz I am constantly looking at all these clocks. As a matter of fact, any one who knows me will gleefully tell you that I am always a couple minutes (at least...sometimes more, I admit it...) behind schedule.

But see...there is a very good reason for this. Not one of the clocks I own is synchronized. And to make matters worse, I don't think even ONE of them actually has the correct time. Yes...they are all within a few minutes of being correct. But even my one clock that is supposed to be anatomically (hmm...that's not the right able to reset itself based on the GMT clock...) correct is four minutes fast.

The clock is my car is fifteen minutes fast. I used to try and correct it, but it kept creeping up until it'd hit that magic 15-minute-fast mark and then hold. I let it win. The clock in my bath is twelve minutes fast.

Lest you begin to think all my clocks are fast, let me reassure you, they are not. Case in point: I am currently looking at four clocks... one says 56 minutes after the hour, one says, 57 minutes after the hour, and a third says 58 minutes after. Hmmm...the fourth one appears to have given up the competition and has stopped. Guess I'll add a new battery to my grocery list...

With the way time whizzes by anyway, do I really need all these clocks to make me more aware of it? it because I have all these clocks, that I know how fast it goes by even though I can't do a thing to slow it down...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

What a difference a month makes...

April was travel month. I was only home ten days the entire month. And for all of those days, I was sick. But that is not really what I wanted to "talk" about here. (I was just shamelessly hunting for some sympathy...)

When I left on my first trip, it was still Standard Time. Light about 5:15AM, dark by 6:00PM. Five minutes before my departure time, I raced around the house and changed about 95% of my clocks since the time was due to change while I was away. So even though I was well aware the time had changed, when I got home, it felt very strange having it dark in the morning and light at night. But, it's certainly a change I like.

Then in the middle of the month, I left for another ten-day trek. Nothing was in bloom yet, the hills were kinda turning brown. While I was away, we apparently had some rain. And WOW! Spring sprung!!!

The hills are green again. The wildflowers along the freeway are in full bloom. Trees have new, green, shiny leaves! Front yards are ablaze with groundcovers that almost glow fluorescent in their pinks, reds, and purples. Even in my backyard, all seventeen of my rosebushes are blooming.

Everywhere you look, there is new life. That is one of the reasons I so love Spring. It is a new beginning, a fresh start. The trick is to remember to take a minute or two and enjoy the show! Because like everything else in life, it's short, it's precious, and it doesn't last nearly long enough.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Do I bother checking?...

Twice in two days--that's the question I got about my blog. "Well, you never write anything anymore," it was bluntly pointed out when I began to sputter very reasonable excuses. "It's been months since a new post went up," the pointing-out continued. "You know, you are supposed to update those things at least twice a week...even once a week would be an improvement in your case," the barrage kept coming.'s the deal. It's kinda's gonna sound like pathetic whining. Oh, fine! My last entry was so stinkin' upbeat, and blogs are fundamentally about complaining (albeit humorously...), and so, I couldn't come up with anything that sounded cheery and cool. Oh sure, I could have gone on and on about the things I like...but then you would've gotten all bored, and told me to "Stop already!".

Besides, I've been busy. January was work, work, work. February was...uh... work, work, work. March was...hmmm... work, work, work and getting ready for the big cruise! April was Travel-Month! First on the cruise, then to two conferences, back-to-back. And I even found time to be sick, file my taxes, house-hunt (to no avail as yet) and celebrate Easter! Just call me Wonder Woman! because I also judged four writing contests, entered a writing contest, and am now scrambling to finish a manuscript (and submit it) by a self-imposed deadline of two weeks.

So, yeah... in answer to the question: "Do I bother checking your blog? Are ya ever gonna update it?"... the short answer is "Yes! Please do!" because I am gonna surprise ya now and again and have a new entry up there! Just you watch!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Blog Tendencies…

It's a very easy trap to fall into: complaining on the blog. Oh sure, it may come out comical and be very entertaining. But, bottom line: negativity. Since I seem to be on a quest lately to be positive and perky…I am devoting this blog entry to naming a baker’s dozen of things I love. Here goes!

1. I love how fresh and crisp the air is after a rainstorm. All the dust is washed away, all the trees seem greener, the horizon is clear as a bell. Even the birds sound happier.

2. I love ice cream and pizza. Yum, yum…especially when they are served in one meal!

3. I love baseball. And I love any sport viewed in person. You can just feel the passion, the excitement!

4. I love traveling. Whether I’ve been to the destination before or it’s the first time, I love the thrill of seeing new and different things. Even the air smells different in places away from home.

5. I love the silky feel of polished wood.

6. I love roses. Everything about a rose says beauty and grace. I also love daffodils because they are so perky—it does take a certain amount of spunk to be the first flower of spring! And I love tulips for their charm and luck.

7. I love the smell of baking bread. Nothing is quite so homey.

8. I love sunrises, sunsets, and moon rises. Talk about nature’s perfect show.

9. I love fireworks! Well, except when they appear unwanted in my backyard! But a fireworks show…definitely can relate to all the ooh’s and ah’s…

10. I love getting something accomplished that has been nagging at me; shouting at me to “finish me and get me off your stinkin’ list!” Ah, the feeling of joy when that finally happens!

11. I love to write. I have so many stories in me… I simply love the joy of writing. It is never a chore. The chore is finding the time and giving myself permission to delve into something I love.

12. I love reading. Always have…always will.

13. I love how my family and friends, who are all so special and wonderful, make me feel special and wonderful…even when I am not so special and wonderful.

Now, see? That wasn’t very hard at all!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!!

Well, all I have to say is: it’s a good thing I am not terribly superstitious. Otherwise, I’d be kinda concerned. Let me tell you about my New Year’s Eve and the first few hours of New Year’s Day.

Now….first I should explain that New Year’s is my favorite holiday. I love new beginnings…no matter what they are….and what is more of a new beginning than the first day of a brand new year?

I have this little tradition that I’ve been doing for a number of years, and frankly, I like it. I look forward to it. I have a really nice dinner on New Year’s Eve. Something fancy. Beef Wellington. Salmon in Phyllo Pastry. Nice wine. A nice dessert. Then about 10PM, I break out the snacks. At 11:30 or so, out comes the champagne, and the TV gets flipped to Dick Clark and the big ball in Times Square.

This year’s New Year’s Eve feast was Lobster Cakes with a field green salad. Had been looking forward to those Lobster Cakes for weeks. Got them all prepared…and they were awful! Just dreadful! Horrid. Wretched. Okay…you get the idea. They were dastardly. They were so bad, they made me feel sick. To the point where I was really in no mood for snacks at 10PM…or 10:30…or 11. Didn’t even want the champagne.

But that was okay. I can be flexible when forced into it! I’d just drink my bottled water and toast Dick Clark and the Waterford Crystal Ball at midnight with a bit of Crysal Geyser! How healthful!

Now…the other thing that most people know about me is that I am practically paranoid to the point of obsessive about fires. They are my worst nightmare… And I have many occasions to worry about them living in Fire Country….

So…back to my story!

At precisely 11:54PM, while I am happily watching Dick Clark and trying not to feel badly that his stroke was so devastating, suddenly gunshots go off in my neighborhood and firecrackers begin crackling away. One of them hits the side of my house. Now that makes a person feel really good! I check out the window (carefully so I don’t get my head shot off! Hey! I ain’t no dope!). No signs of fire. Thank heavens it rained earlier (and to think, since the drainage is NOT fixed, I wasn’t happy about the rain…man, how things can change on a dime!)

I return…not quite so happy…to Dick Clark. Of course, with my heart thundering at 500 beats a minute, I can hardly concentrate on the ball dropping… I believe I saw it. I believe I wished Year 2005 good-by. I think I wished a happy welcome to Year 2006.

The neighborhood remained quiet. My heart slowed down.

At 12:20, I hear a whooshing, a crackle and see another firecracker come into my yard and skitter along my patio. It too went out…harmlessly.

Heart beat increases dramatically. Calmness is shot to hell.

At 12:40…a repeat of the above.

The clock moves to 1:01…another one plummets into my yard.

Seems my normally very quiet neighbors next door have moved their party outside to their patio, and are drinking up a storm…among other things. A small fight ensued but reconciliation came quickly.

Now it is 1:30…and you got it! Another firecracker whistles into my yard.

This continued until 3:31AM.

Needless to say…On January 1st…I was very, very tired. Oh…and the lobster cakes were still letting me know they didn’t love me.

Ah well. I guess a lot of people feel tired and puny on this day. Hee, hee…just never thought I’d be one of them!

Happy New Year! And ho, ho, ho….Bah Humbug!