Wednesday, December 29, 2010


     Sorry to be so late but just to keep you all up to date...I'm still fighting this thing! It just about has me cornered and fighting to the last breath (and I MEAN it when it comes to breathing!). I'm just finishing up a round of meds and will call the doctor again in the morning.
     I AM getting better...just not well yet and I have no energy to speak of. Let me tell you, Christmas is no time to not have energy. We had one big celebration on Christmas Day with around thirty people here. I couldn't have made it were it not for my younger daughter and my niece (my older daughter had family responsibilities of her own that day. But we still have one more celebration (Christmas) set for New Year's Eve with a lot of people so I'm not out of the woods yet.
     Anyway, I'm going to live and I know I owe everyone an explanation so here it is...and when I get to feeling like myself I'll post again on a regular basis. I miss you all and I miss reading all the blogs and I apologize for it but I'm going to bed!
     If I don't post again until next week ...Happy New Year, Friends.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pnew-Monia or Too Much Christmas?

     It hit me again. I feel so bad I can barely hold my head up but do you think I'm sick? Oh, no. Just feel like death warmed over. I sure feel my years when I get this stuff anymore. I just don't bounce these days. Dern.
     I've been to the doctor's offices though.  No, not to my MEDICAL doctor. Oh no. In the midst of doing my best to get all the shopping, decorating, wrapping, planning, etc., etc., etc., done, I also have end-of-year medical stuff that has to be done at a certain time so insurance will take care of it.
      So I go traipsing off to Springfield Christmas shopping on Monday afternoon and Tuesday for bone density tests and Reclast infusions which have absolutely nothing to do with how I'm feeling and only serve to make me worse because I'm so exhausted by the time I'm finished running around all over the place.
     Monday I spend the day fruitlessly searching for gifts for persons impossible to buy for in the first place. At 5:30 in the evening I give up and go across town to spend the evening in the company of my 13-year-old granddaughter while her parents attend a holiday dinner. When they return we visit awhile longer and I spend the night, making the next morning easier to manage.
     Coffee and a few bites of breakfast.
      Most medical layouts are somewhat the same so I'll describe my particular situation and you can use your imagination: the bone density test was at my medical facility, a very large spread-out building across the wide wide street (north/west) from the hospital we use if we are desperately ill. I go to Radiology (I'm there at 9:30 a.m.) where I sit for 45 minutes waiting to be called for the bone density test. The test and all that goes with it takes until 11:45. I leave and run run run around town to finish (???) shopping before my next appointment at 1:30. I return to the hospital facility. The building where I need to be is catty-corner from the one I was at earlier (south/east), forcing me to park in front of the hospital itself. Since all the parking lots were very full, I drive around and around, at last locating a spot at the very bottom of the emergency lot. After locking the car, I walk UP the hill all the way to the front entrance of the hospital, where I am directed down a long long hallway to the far end of the building, onto a ramp/walkway that goes ACROSS THE STREET to the building I need to be in. Then I take an elevator down to the lower level, walk all the way down the hall to the very end, check in, walk back to the elevator, take it to the lowest level, again walk all the way down the hall to the very end and have the procedure. Then I return to the car.
     I get home at 5:30.
     And I wonder why I feel so bad.
     All I have left to do is finish shopping, put up the tree and wrap the gifts. Oh, yeah, and plan for the family dinner(s).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's Beginning to Look A Little Like Christmas

     Okay, I emptied the hall closet today. The one you couldn't get into without something tumbling onto your head. The one I stuck everything in LAST January and shoved with my foot as I closed the door. The closet no one dared open for eleven and one half months.
     It is lovely and neat now. It is nearly empty.
     On the other hand, there are boxes piled on the living room couch, the chairs, the floor and in the bedroom on my side of the bed and in front of the closet. Some are emptied and some are partially opened, papers and lids pulled and shoved out of place, so I can see what lies inside. Lights and stars are trailing across the floor and several dozen candles are scattered willy-nilly around the rooms.
     In other words, I'm decorating.
     Christmas is officially here. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care. Really and truly, even if what is left of the chimney from 150 years ago is only a partial plaster shape jutting out from the stairwell wall. And I doubt than anything larger than a mouse could possibly get down whatever opening might remain. Much less Santa Claus.
     But the stairs make a nice spot to place the majority of the decorated stockings and with the chimney behind holding the (self-purchased) three-foot stocking of one of the more optimistic grandsons, the living room begins to take on a very festive air.
     There aren't too many flat surfaces in my living room (at least ones that aren't permanently cluttered with books and papers) but now those that are available are covered with my collection of Santas and the odds and ends of small things accumulated through the years. Oddly enough, even the shabby worn ornaments take on some kind of glow when they've been uncovered after another year of being boxed up. One just can't give some of them up no matter how bad they look or how worn out they become.
     Over to my left is an empty corner, waiting for my daughter and grandson to return with our Christmas tree. Everything in the room had to be rearranged so the 'office' has temporarily turned into a storage room, the upright bass and guitar has been moved out of the living room, a couple of little tables have disappeared and some chairs are now crowded together. But do you think I'm giving up my floor-to-ceiling live Christmas tree? Over my dead body!
     And pretty soon it won't look a little like Christmas any more. It will look a LOT like Christmas.
     It's a good thing. Because it is coming much faster today than it was yesterday.
     As some good folks used to say, it seems to me that,  "The hurriered I go the behinder I get."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cyber Week

     On-line Christmas shopping may use less gasoline than cruising the malls but I'm  here to testify its just as stressful. I've spent the better part of the day filling out forms, sending off orders, revising orders, canceling orders, putting in card numbers etc., etc., etc., until my head is spinning.
     I shouldn't complain. At least my legs don't hurt.
     And part of the shopping is finished. Only part, mind you. But, really, I'll get it finished in time. I promise. All I have to do is to come up with gifts for four grown men, three teen-age boys and a couple of small kids. Now the kids are no problem...if they were all kids it would be a breeze. (Oh, for the days!) And, I'm sorry, but I HATE handing anyone cash or cards or anything of the sort. I WANT to give gifts. I just can't think of anything appropriate.
     I'd bend and give the men lottery tickets because they could be fun but it would be just my luck for the one who has quite a bit to win several thousand dollars and the ones who really could use the cash to sit and watch with drool dripping off their chins. So that's out.
     Shirts? My husband is a good example. Do you know how many shirts there are in his closet? I'd hate to count. On top of that, he has an iron-clad policy to never let a piece of clothing go, even if he doesn't wear it. He has shirts that have never seen the light of day but do you think he will let me give them away? Oh, no. He might want to wear them someday. In reality, he wears one of perhaps four shirts all the time. (Two are exactly alike and I watch like a hawk to keep them washed.)
      Teens? Oh, right. They would take anything as long as it is electronic and costs over $500. I wish I had enough money to buy five I-Pads because they are all in love with mine. However . . . that's out.
     At least you can find things that women will like. Maybe only temporarily but they WILL like them. Women seem to just enjoy unwrapping shiny packages and exclaiming over glittering bracelets, unnecessary purses and scarves and jackets and strange kitchen gadgets, even while knowing they will never be used.
     Why do men and boys think you should NEED something to enjoy getting it?
     They should watch and learn. Christmas presents aren't about things you need. They're about things that are there to be unwrapped and exclaimed over.
     All the suffering I do? I wouldn't do it if it were'nt FUN in the long run.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Send Me to Glory in a Glad Bag@

     I despise trash.
     There is more trash generated in a day by this family than there is usable material that came inside it.
     On any given day, I fill at least one enormous black trash bag and haul it to the barrel outdoors. Most of the time there are two, but to be fair, sometimes I do put another half day in between gathering up all of it into disposable containers.
     Now, I know this is something my readers are not likely to be happy to find out but it is just one of those things: we still BURN!
     I know!
     I'll admit I'm a firm believer in re-cycling and I'm as concerned about the environment as the next one but until I live alone again (or at least just myself and my better half) I've given up. Burning is still allowed in our county and I am blessed to be able to do it. There is something soooooo satisfying about standing and watching those piles and piles and piles of trash turn into a thin column of black smoke, and then disappearing forever. It is almost addictive.
     I do manage to save all the newspapers and magazines and catalogs (what I can bring myself to give up) and donate them to the local re-cycling station in town. But I got sick and tired of digging through nine small and two large trash containers on a regular basis just in order to separate sticky nasty cola cans and plastic milk cartons.
     In this house, peace is kept by my refusing to become a small (!) dictator. So I just do my job the best way I can. In this case it means getting rid of all the garbage and trash in the most efficient manner I can manage.
     When the wonderful day ever comes that I can unwrap a package of something . . . anything . . . without removing sixteen layers of plastic hard enough to build a barn from perhaps I can rest. Wouldn't it be great to come home and put things away, knowing there was only one thin barrier between you and whatever  it is you are planning to use?
     But no . . . you never know. I might slink into the large discount store with my trusty little scissors or tiny pocket knife and make off with something val-u-a-ble, so I'm stuck with dealing with trying to remove tons of armour from whatever I've bought.
     Then I have to dispose of it too.
     Ergo: Bright burning, all-consuming Fire. . . until something better comes along.
     Oh, yeah. The title. I stole it from a friend of mine who wrote a wonderful funny song with that name. Didn't have a key on the computer with a copyright symbol so I just substituted the @ sign. Ain't I clever?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Did I Tell You? Or Did I Tell You?

     Okay, I woke up and felt AWFUL. My body hurt and my neck hurt and I wanted to die. So I left the house at 8:30 a.m. and drove 50 miles, sat around half nekkid for hours waiting for ex-ray and blood test results, freezing my you-know-what off (do you know how COLD those offices are?) because the doctor just knew for sure I had pneumonia or meningitis or something dreadful unknown to mankind until this very minute.
     At 1:15 p.m. I was turned loose (I had had ONE CUP OF COFFEE from Mc you-know-who on the way up) to have lunch and go home.
     "Go home," she said. "Take Tylenol or aleve or something. You'll get over it in a day or two. If it DOES get worse, go to the emergency room."
    I had one very small errand to do . . . return a jacket that was too big when I got home. Drove across town, parked. Couldn't find the receipt! Spent ten minutes going over every inch of car, purse, coat pockets. It is GONE. (Not at home either. When I say gone, I mean gone.)
    I was starving. I stopped and had a baked potato and a salad. The only thing good. Since I had an important meeting out of town in the evening I stopped in Marionville and picked up dinner for my long-suffering husband. I waited and waited and waited. (That's what I get for trying someplace new.)
     Now, I really thought ham and potatoes and beans and cornbread would be easily fixed and transported. My husband is partial to that kind of cooking. The place looked to be the right sort of place. However . . .the food ended up looking terrible and, according to poor dear husband, tasted worse, even after being placed on a 'real' plate and heated nicely. How in the name of heaven you can ruin beans and cornbread I'll never know.
     Okay, I'm home. It is 4:30. My event is supposed to be from 5 to 8 and it is 30 minutes from home. I look like something the cat drug in.
     So I spiff myself up, plaster make-up all over so I don't look like death warmed over, suck down a cup of hot coffee and about 5:30 I'm on the road again.
     It's a good thing my body is resilient. Also it's nice that I'm really not sick (the doctor said so, remember?) Anyway, off I go to put on as good a front as I can.
     And it is nice . . . a gathering of writers and advertisers (and interested citizens) who are celebrating the one-year birthday of a new magazine in our area. CONNECTIONS is a fine new magazine dedicated to Southwest Missourians and is being distributed free of charge across Barry and Lawrence Counties. It has just published its thirteenth issue and is really taking off. So popular has it become that subscriptions are being offered now to people outside the immediate area and the focus is no longer on just around here, but is expanding to include the Ozarks in a more general way.  (Check their page on Facebook or ask me to send info if you are interested in more.)
     Anyway, I relaxed and enjoyed myself, staying until about 7:30 before heading home. Now I'm wrapped up in my jammies and robe and doing what I like best . . . relaxing with the computer and my books.
     My head still aches, my stomach feels funny and my eyes hurt but hey! There's nothing the matter with me! I'll just pop a couple of pills and I'll be fine.
     Onward and upward!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dreary Days

     Last night when I couldn't sleep I was filled with good ideas about what to write about. Today and tonight they are all gone.
     I feel like I should crawl into a hole and pull it in after me. This bug is not going away and I'm exhausted from dealing with it. So, after two weeks of listening to husband and children lecturing me about doctors and protesting as loudly as I could I am giving up. Tomorrow I'm getting out of my nice warm bed, putting on decent clothes (leaving my cuddly robe behind) and driving fifty miles to hear a doctor tell me what I already know . . . I've got something that makes me feel like the devil and it will just take a while for it to go away.
     This has happened before and it will happen again. I call and say "there is nothing really wrong, just feeling lousy." Nurse says "doctor thinks you should come in. might be serious." I say " I don't have a fever, just can't shake it ." Nurse says "doctor says come in anyway."  I go in and who is right? ME. I waste the doctor's time, my time, everybody's time.
     Now, I'm not wanting to be sick. I'm not wanting to show everybody up. I just want a little something to help me get well. I've spent two and a half weeks swallowing aspirin and cold medicine and finally give up and what do I get? An exhausting trip and a diagnosis I could have made for myself.
     Oh, well, it makes my family happy I guess. And one of these days, who knows, maybe I'll actually have pneumonia? Will that suit me? Hohoho.
     I'll let you know what happens after I recover from the trip.
     (I guess you know I don't feel like doing any Christmas shopping on the side, either!)
     Oh, dreary days! Oh, woe is me! Moan, groan, poor pity-ful me.
     Does anyone feel sorry for me?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Am I Normal? Or is it Just Me?

     Thanksgiving is over. Missouri Folklore Society conference is finished. The drawer where the mouse was trying to build a nest is emptied and filled with metal pan lids (try chewing those up, little feller . . . gotcha!).
     Two big important events coming up: Christmas and the surprise in February (NO, I'm still not ready to tell. But I will later.)
     Preparations are underway. Not enough preparations, but at least I've started. Hey! Don't rush me! There may be lots to do but I've still got time. God knows I produce best under deadlines.
     Anyway, I've started shopping and I've got little lists all over the house and I'm working on it. The thing I'm avoiding, though, is (one of ) the deadline that is looming closer and closer and closer.  And that is the current (new) book.
     Junkyard Bones is a kid's mystery and it is basically finished. In fact it has been finished for the past year but I've not had too much time for marketing lately so it set on the shelf (figuratively speaking) through my surgeries, conferences and numerous family crises.
     Now, though, I've got a publisher who is willing to take a risk with it and I'm supposed to be sending it off.
     That was lovely until I began messing around with the finished product.
     I had written the whole ms in WordPerfect, which was the medium I worked in for years and years. Now, I know most editors really prefer Word, so I would convert things when I got ready to send them off and it worked out pretty well, but just about the time I finished writing Junkyard Bones, my old old OLD Word program crashed and I couldn't do anything more with it.
     So . . . I ordered the newest version of Word to be downloaded into the computer.
     And off I went to have the second of the two surgeries, never dreaming that it was to be a whole new ball game when I resumed working on the ms.
     During the past few months I've messed around with the new program by writing some short things and trying to familiarize myself with all of the new stuff. And let me tell you . . . it ain't been easy! (I hate computers.) Anyway, I thought I'd pretty well mastered the basics.
     So a couple of nights ago, I merrily converted Junkyard Bones from my WordPerfect program into my new Microsoft Word and opened it up to have a look.
     At first glance, everything was fine.
     At second glance (or glare) is was not.
     First of all, I had to figure out how to remove the headings, which wasn't too bad. That turned out to be fairly simple and I was feeling really puffed up about myself.
     BUT . . . and this was the BIG BUT . . . the blooming program replaced every blessed quotation mark in there with something else.
     Now, I can use Search and Replace. That's fairly straightforward. But in this case, the quotation mark at the beginning of the sentence is replaced with a bold-faced capital A and the quotation mark at the end of the sentence is replaced with a @ sign. And, since each sentence is of different length there is no way you can put in a string, not to mention that you certainly don't want each capital A in the manuscript replaced with a quotation mark.
     So I am going over the blasted ms word by word and replacing each and every one of those capital bold-faced As and @ signs.
     I'm going to have my own manuscript memorized by the time I get it ready to send it on to the publisher.
     Talk about line editing!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey Time...and More Important...Family!

     My feet hurt. I've been up and running around away too much today and I'm still trying to get over this bout with the flu or whatever it is I've got.
    First a week or so of just being sick, then I thought I was all over it and had that great weekend. Okay, Saturday night and Sunday I could deal with...I just got a little too tired, right? Wrong. I've still got this THING! Only yesterday it turned into a really sick stomach too. I spent most of yesterday in bed because I was afraid to move and today has been up and down and trying to get things done anyway because TOMORROW IS THANKSGIVING! And when you are Super Grandma you always have a bunch of family who are coming.       
     Well, yeah, they would stay home if I said to do so but what fun would that be? So instead two of the three and part of their families will be here and one brother and one other granddaughter who showed up out of the blue (she is sick too). Actually, husband isn't feeling too good either.
     All this sounds like fun, doesn't it?
     At least the kids are kicking in and one is bringing roasted turkey breast and broccoli casserole and mac and cheese (for the youngsters) and one is bringing the peeled and cut up potatoes ready to cook. So it makes it much easier for me. I spent the evening putting together deviled eggs and jello and mixing the filling for the pumpkin pies (I like to cook them early on the morning we are going to eat.) So all I really need to do in the morning is to bake the pies and mix up my hot rolls and cinnamon rolls and put them on to raise.
     Oh, yeah, I guess I'd better do something with some salad and vegetables too, right? But will anyone really eat them except me? And after all, I am one sick cookie, aren't I? Maybe I'll just concentrate on turkey and cinnamon rolls.
     Wow. Even with a stomach rolling around all over the place my mouth waters. When it comes to holiday time I turn into one big pig.
     But the best thing is having family here together. It is hard to gather all of us at the same time anymore and Thanksgiving doesn't even really take care of it. (Christmas is another matter. NO ONE misses Christmas.) But I'll get to have the 13 year old granddaughter for a couple of extra days and that will be nice. She doesn't get to come and stay too often now because of the school stuff. The teenage boys don't really care to be here that much and we see them all of the time but I miss Allison coming like she did when she was small and staying. And the fact that sometimes one of the older ones finds he or she can't bear to stay put while the rest of the family wines and dines and visits (even though sickness is raging on campus and in particular in a certain bedroom) is just an added surprise and pleasure. Hot herb tea and grandma and grandpa go a long way toward making you feel better when you are no longer eight hours away.
      So even if my poor tummy rebels from too much turkey it won't matter. I have special people here and that's the most important thing of all.
     I give thanks every day for what I have...and who I have.
     And lets hope this stomach settles down by tomorrow! Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Busy is Good (Right?)

     Wow! Great weekend . . . with only one little drawback. A sick stomach that will NOT quit. It seems to be leftover from the flu stuff we all had last week. But I refuse to let it put me under again. I do not have the TIME!
     Report on Saturday's meeting: good, good, good. Only thing that went wrong was no book sales but that was because there were about thirty other authors with tables all set up and selling. I was late getting there and spent all my time catching up with people I hadn't seen for months and didn't devote myself to my business. Gets me in trouble every time. Anyway . . .
     Sometimes I'm a little cynical when it comes to workshops, etc. I've done this so many years it can get old. But not so Saturday. Things were fresh and new. Malena Lott, from over around Norman, OK, had an absolutely mesmerizing program and I came away with lots of new thoughts and perspectives. Great presentation and a wonderful person. Didn't get a whole lot of time to get acquainted but perhaps later. I'll look forward to running into her again. She has lots and lots to offer. If you write, better check her out.
     Then I stayed for the panel discussion on self-publishing. While this is not an avenue I've pursued in the past I know plenty of authors who have. There have been good results and bad and it seems to be like a lot of things. It has to be thought out thoroughly and carefully done. The panelists know their business and had much to suggest. It seems to be a very valid approach.
     The last presentation was by Mary Nida Smith and I was really looking forward to it because it was about blogging exclusively. But I simply couldn't stay that long as we had the music program at McDowell Saturday night and I had to drive fast to get home for that. I know Mary and it was too bad I had to miss her but she has a great web presence. We'll connect more there and I can milk her for all its worth. Ho.
    Then the music was great, I did a (!) fantastic (!) job of belting out a couple of songs, did my 'dooty' as hostess, visited like mad, sold a copy or two of Trash to Treasure, took out my I-Pad and worked for awhile on a short story and, finally, couldn't put off running down any longer. So I bid 'farewell' early to all my friends and came home where I crashed about midnight.
     Sunday morning we got up early and headed out for Miami where we spent unnecessary amounts of pennies in some slot machines. Later we ate a little lunch, came home, took a nap and called it a day.
     What a weekend.
     And all I really have to show for it is the upset stomach.
     Well, yeah. Two paragraphs of a short story.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Feast or Famine?

     You go for a long time with no demands being made on your time and what happens? Three things on the same day that you really should take part in!
     With a new book out (I DID mention it, didn't I?) I have to find a way to sell it and what better way than book signings and conferences? So...the quarterly Ozark Writers League is this Friday night and Saturday in Hollister (near Branson if you don't know the Ozarks) and since I'm a charter member it is where I'll head early early tomorrow morning. I can't go tonight for various reasons  . . . also it is awards night and I don't have anything entered. Ergo: nothing won! But tomorrow's program sounds intriguing and my editor from High Hill Press will be there and I've not seen her for a month. Also my dearest friend(s) and mentors, Jory and Charlotte Sherman, will be up from Texas and I can't wait to get my hugs and kisses. Jory was kind enough to do one of the blurbs on the jacket of From Trash to Treasure: the Evolution of an Ozarks Junkyard. Bless the two of them. I could never have turned into the writer I am were it not for their love and encouragement. If you've never read his work, for God's sake, get something quick quick quick. It's pure gold. I love the things he does on the Ozarks. The poet shines through in everything he writes.
    For heaven's sake. I can get ten miles off the subject while I'm looking at the map!
     Let's try this again.
     I belong to a small group of local writers who made arrangements with a place in Mt. Vernon called the Keen Bean (coffee shop, lovely place and smells like heaven) to have our books on individual shelves. We call ourselves Home Grown Books.So what happens? The others decide to have a book signing tomorrow . . .just when I have to be gone to Hollister for OWLs. Natch.
     On top of everything else (and this is a very pleasant thing indeed) another happening is taking place in Buffalo tomorrow  that (again) I can't go to.
     A number of years ago, five other authors and myself founded a small group called Ozark Writers, Inc. (OWI). This was a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization formed to promote writers from the Ozarks (and stories about the Ozarks). We did workshops, talks, book-signings and various projects and culminated in publishing two anthologies, Mysteries of the Ozarks, Vol(s)I and II. Because of various responsibilities and lifestyle changes, we put the group on hiatus for some time. Now I'm happy to announce that it is being brought back into existence (without my being on the board this time around but with my full support).
     Anyway, naturally a workshop is planned for tomorrow at Buffalo MO. And I can't go. Dern. But maybe there will be a good turnout even without me.
     Please go to Facebook and look up Ozark Writers, Inc. We would be pleased for the attention and if you have any questions you can check with me or some of the ones you will become acquainted with there.
     My better half just came in and demanded some attention so I'll leave you all for now. Have a great weekend and if I don't get back before Sunday or thereabouts I'll be thinking of all my new friends . . . I double-dog garrenteeee it!
     Told you . . . either I have nothing to do or I have too much! Hooo . . .

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Online Shopping Out, Tramping Through Stores In . . . Ugh!

     Okay, I'll admit it. I made a big mistake. Never never again will I take part in an online auction. I was glued to this derned computer for two and a half days and then lost the item for an unreasonable amount of money. At least I had sense enough to give up when the bid was still very low. But I stayed tuned it and, by golly, I could have practically manufactured it myself for the amount it finally went for.
     But I've learned my lesson.
     Back to traditional shopping. Which isn't any better, for that matter.
     I've been having so much trouble with bursitis in my shoulder I gave up and called my rheumatologist this morning for an appointment. Turned out my choice was next year or this afternoon so naturally I picked up and flew to Springfield as fast as I could get there.
     Now one to waste a perfectly good day on something so mundane as a doctor's visit, I decided to see what I could find for Christmas gifts.
     I have no soles left on my feet as of this writing. They are worn off and will have to recover before I can do any more shopping. I didn't get in until 8:30 and I have precious little to show for it all. (Well, I did manage to get home with a couple of extra clothing items for my own dear self. AND...note this, it is important for later reference...I was absolutely forced into going to the book store. After all I did have a 15% off coupon. And I NEEDED a few books about a certain place I'm planning to go in February . . . I know, I know . . . but you will hear more about this later, I promise. It is worth waiting for.)
     Anyway, to make a long story short, I still have the major part of my Christmas stuff to do. It gets harder and harder each year and I HATE to give money, which is what the teenagers really want anyway, I know.
     It would be simpler I'll admit. We have a thirteen year old granddaughter, an "almost" fourteen year old grandson, a fifteen and one/half year old grandson and a sixteen and one/half grandson.
     You try and figure out something for them they'd really like (that wouldn't cost $500 and up).
     Oh yeah. Don't forget the girl in college, the young and single career woman and the grandson and his wife with two little great-granddaughters.
     And a husband who "doesn't want anything for Christmas, it is a waste of money".
    For this, I walk my legs off.
     I'm going to bed. Maybe I'll dream about the new outfit I bought. Tomorrow I think I'll go to town and look for a necklace to wear with it.
     Merry Christmas to me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Sucker That Is Born Every Minute

     How many of you have ever been caught up in a bidding war? Raise your hand, sucker!
     I swore off going to auctions years ago after standing next to a sister-in-law who was insisting on paying twice the amount for a set of table glasses that I'd just seen (brand new) a few days before at the original price. Raising bids is addictive, pal!
     Problem is not that I can't stop bidding. Problem is if I finally find something I really want then I REALLY WANT IT! And usually it isn't available anywhere else.
     Anyway, because of this and various other reasons (namely a lack of ready cash) I've pretty well given up auctions as a lost cause.
     Until a couple of days ago . . .
     We all know Christmas is coming up pretty soon, right? Well, how many of you have four teen-age grandkids to find gifts for? I do! (Not to mention a college student, two grown ones, a grand-daughter-in-law and two small greats.)
     What to get? What to get? What to get?
     To make a long story short,, I happened across an online auction that offered a very desirable electronic object that one of the grandsons would like to have. Well, the object costs a small fortune so I hung around (in my innocence) and got HOOKED!
     For the past three days I've been tied to the darn computer, checking my bids every ten minutes and trying to gauge the competition. I missed the first one by a millisecond, gave up on the second one and found out the next morning that by giving up too early I had missed a real bargain. So here I am again, glued to the screen.
     Darn kid. If I spent this much time just looking for a gift for him in the stores I'd need a new pair of shoes. Besides, I'd still have a bunch of grandkids to go.
     What's a loving grandma to do, anyway?
     Got to go . . . time to check my bids. Maybe I'll win this one!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dogs, Cats and Other Monsters

     I scooted over to Becky's site to read over what she had to say so early in the morning and I was inspired to come back home and tell a little about the animals in our life.
     For some reason, no matter how much I scream and protest, we always end up having at least one or more for me to have to look after. Down through the years there have been countless animals around this forty acres and the two domestic (more or less) ones we have presently are only the latest of those forced upon me while I was kicking and screaming.
     I didn't mind when I was younger. In fact, little kittens and puppies were no more trouble than babies. We had them in the house on a regular basis . . . house and barn and garage . . . wherever there was a hole Mama Cat (we hand-picked the puppies) could find to use as a birthing spot. Kits, cats, sacks and wives. Ha. Sometimes I felt sort of like the old nursery rhyme.
     Anyway . . . back to the present.
     We are (at the moment) home to one beagle, a female. Millie lost her companion to the wheels of a truck several months ago on the highway not far from here so she prefers to stay at home now.
     I am owned by ONE CAT. I no longer even remember how Bagheera managed to wriggle herself into our lives. I do know that I swore I would never have ANY MORE ANIMALS. And suddenly I had two more puppies and a kitten.
     Don't ask me how it happened. When you have, in addition to a husband on the property, a daughter and two grandchildren, anything goes . . . or comes, as the case may be.
     In this case, (and it has been a number of years now) once again it was animals.
     Now, the very first thing I want in the morning is COFFEE (please note the capitals).
     I stagger into the kitchen, where the floor-to-ceiling windows and door, un-curtained, are open to the wonderful world outdoors. This was arranged so that I could watch nature in a leisurely  manner while waking slowly, happy.
     And the first thing I see? A yowling cat on her hind legs. Her whole black body, in a frontal position with belly bulging, resembling some kind of enormous black bug, is plastered to the glass door. You would think from the noise that she hadn't been fed in a year.
     It is so strange. I feel guilty if I cross the room in front of her and put my coffee on BEFORE I feed her. Sometimes, if I'm late rising, she will be looking in a different direction and I will creep across the floor and try to avoid being seen as I reach the sink.  Then, AHA! I'm out of her sight path. I did it! I tricked her.
     How foolish can you be? But that's the way it is when a household has pets.
     Who owns whom? Who knows?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We Did It!

     Wow! We pulled it off. The Missouri Folklore Society 2010 Conference is over and done and was a roaring success.
     I have to apologize to my readers for taking so long to get back to you and I will do my level best to keep up with this blog now.
      After being in charge of the Missouri Writers Guild Annual Conference in 2000 I swore I'd never do another such thing again. However, here was the situation: I've belonged to MFS for many many years and I felt as if I'd never done anything much in return for the benefits I'd received. The group had never met in the southwest corner of the state and it sounded like a great place for a variety of reasons. Since those in charge must necessarily live close by it was only logical that I could do a lot of the arrangements so I volunteered to act as a co-chair.
     As anyone knows who has been in charge of such as this, it becomes all-consuming. Over the month of October it felt as if things took on a life all their own and I had no time for family, writing, breathing or much of anything but MFS.
     But things went off without a hitch and all that is left to do is to sand off the edges and file the paperwork.
     Perhaps I can do a little writing . . . in between getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas . . . and another upcoming activity that I'll address later in another post.
     One thing right now: the new book is out! From Trash to Treasure: The Evolution of An Ozarks Junkyard is available now from or High Hill Or of course, you can get in touch with me. It is going well but it would sell even better if I could find some time to get out and push it!
     Now, I need to stop writing and catch up on my reading. I've missed my friend's blogs! It has been ages and I'm far far behind. I'd probably better head for Becky Povich first of all. She has all sorts of good advice and she is always giving something away. (Go to and see what she has to say.) I have to ask questions of her all the time. I think of her as sort of a computer guru because she seems to know all sorts of things I don't understand at all. I'm going to have to ask her how to leave a comment now on her site. I think they've changed things and you're supposed to send them to facebook or something. Urk. I'm so computer ill-literate. It's dreadful.
     Anyway, I'm going to go and read for awhile. Tomorrow I'll try and post again. And maybe I'll find time to write on the article I'm supposed to have done before now (Lou, if you're reading this, I've not forgotten! I'll do it! I'll do it! Just give me a little more time. Pullleeeezzzze???)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

There Is A Time

     At last I'm back here at my post. I've been without my computer for ages . . . just at a time when I needed it the most. Due to last year and all the things I've been dealing with, somehow the virus protection protection program I subscribe to got overlooked, expired and I got a major infection which resulted in my hard drive crashing and having to be scraped clean.
     It is hard to imagine how devastating this has been. I'm very bad at backing up things anyway and I was just lucky that my wonderful computer people were able to save my documents and Outlook Express for me. So far the only thing I've discovered that I'm really missing is my address book in Outlook Express. I'm not sure how that happened but I have most of the names in Yahoo and I have printed off the others in the past so I think I have many if not all.
     I was caught in the final weeks of arranging for the MFS conference (it is the 4th, 5th and 6th of November) and things have been really wild. On top of everything else, my co-chair, who is located several hundred miles away, has had intermittent internet problems of her own.
     Then the new book came out and I've not been able to do much with that AND my in-laws have been in some really bad medical conditions.
     Hooey! I'll be glad when this is all over.
     I keep loading things in the trunk of my car for the conference and I worry that I'll manage to wreck it and lose all my signs, posters, folders, etc.,etc.,etc.  But that won't happen, will it???
     On to better things.
     I've had a whole day to sort of finish up some of this stuff and in between I sat down and watched a video. Now, this is not something I do. I NEVER watch videos. But last night my daughter was talking about one, "Something's Got to Give" with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keeton. She left it laying out and, by golly, I celebrated all my work and sat down and watched it.
     What fun! I can't remember the last movie I watched. If I ever sit down to relax at all I read. I think I went to the local theatre and saw "Up" the clever animated cartoon about the little man who sails away with him house and a bunch of balloons when I last saw a movie. But I certainly enjoyed it.
     Now, back to work.
     The next time I write . . . and I hope it will be with a lot less time in between . . . I have something very pleasant to tell about.
     Just not enough time to get into it yet. So keep reading. I'll get to it sooner or later . . . I promise!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Checking In

     I'm beginning to feel like I'm connected to the computer. Something like a growth on my knees. (I've got where I sit in my armchair with it on my lap. I'm gonna have to get a pillow or something to keep from baking my legs.) All day today, up and down, to the printer, back to the phone, to the computer, to the phone, etc., etc., etc.
      However, things are really getting done lately. If I had time to write it all down, I'm sure I would be astounded at myself. I can't believe how much I can accomplish when I really put my mind to it.
     On top of everything else, I think I mentioned the two writing assignments I've been given. Well, I now have a third one!  
     Actually, this one has come along just at the right time. Let me explain.
     Several years ago, six friends, myself included, formed a not-for-profit group we called Ozark Writers Inc. (or OWI). Our goal was to promote Ozark writers and writing. For quite awhile we explored several avenues of promotion, e.g., workshops, lectures, book signings, but the most successful project was the publication of two anthologies, Mysteries of the Ozarks: Vol(s) I and II. As time went by, the publishing house ceased to exist and we each became busy with out own projects and the group sort of went on vacation.
     Yesterday, I had an e-mail from one of the women asking if I would be willing to write another short story for a third anthology, Mysteries of the Ozarks: Vol III.
     Well, I'm not about to let the others publish something without submitting a story that I've written for consideration! (Never mind that its been over a year since I've written a short story at all. There's always the possibility it will be turned down.)
     Anyway, since (as I mentioned in an earlier post) I've been given an assignment to write a chapter on 'how-to write' a short story, I figured I would simply keep a sort of journal while the mystery story comes into existence. This way I can kill two birds with one stone.
     Not to mention forcing myself to get busy with my chosen profession.
     Let's face it. You can just get by with so much by having major surgeries and putting on conferences. You've got to get back to work some day.
     So watch out for all of it. I'll keep you up.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Good News At Last

     The new book is out! I spent all day yesterday in Springfield and the main event was meeting Lou and picking up a couple boxes of Trash to Treasure. The cover is great and my only concern is that I didn't make a very long manuscript out of it to begin with. I just wrote until I thought it was finished. There were really more adventures that could have been written about.
     Oh, well, maybe I'll do a sequel.
     Right . . . before that comes two assignments: one for a how-to chapter for an upcoming book and one for a how-to book. After that I need to find publishers for the two juvenile novels I've written. Then there is the novel in my head that was conceived several years ago and has been carried around for a long time waiting for the right time.
     Also, let us not forget that Trash will have to be marketed. Letting the book languish in boxes, or small bookstores does not get it sold, as we all know. Gotta get out there and push it too.
     When I finished with Lou I went by to give Connie, my older daughter, her copy and found her sick on the couch. However she really perked up when she saw what I had and gave me a special hug. While I was there Allison played her latest accomplishment on the violin. She is going to make one whale of a violinist. She has an ear for it and had picked up a lovely tune on YouTube, copied the sheet music and is mastering it. I've got to find out the title so I can hear it again. It is beautiful and she played it so well I was amazed. She's only been taking lessons for a few weeks.
     Sandy and Ben received their copies when I got home and Ben took one to his mom at the nursing home while Sandy and I met Mark at the homecoming parade in Monett. I gave Mark his copy while we waited. Josh marched in the ROTC group and Aaron danced at the top of the Sophomore float with all the rest of his football buddies. Great night and big big crowd. Kris, however, opted to stay at home and watch t.v., for some reason. Long day at school, I guess.
    By the time I got home I was really ready for bed, let me tell you. 
    This morning I'm still so tired I can hardly leave my chair. I look around and the house is a shambles. I've been gone so much lately I'm behind on everything and I'm such a bad housekeeper the least little let-up really shows. I usually try and keep a pathway through the main part but when things get so hectic I tend to pile in those areas too.
      Fun time is over. My work is cut out for me this morning.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Eating Out:: Always an Adventure

     Today was another day for running around like a chicken with its head chopped off. (For those who don't understand the term, I'll explain at the end.)
     In other words, I had errands from 10 this morning until 3:30 this afternoon. I was dropping when I got home, thought I'd lie down a bit and for ten minutes all I could do was dwell on more things I needed to do so I got up and did them and forgot all about the nap. Well, at least I was home.
     I really shouldn't gripe, no matter how tired I get. The weather is so fine, autumn brilliant and sun-shiny. Breezes blow and the temperature isn't hot nor is it cold. For the first part of October it is just about perfect and I do enjoy getting out in it. Soon cold November will settle in and I won't want to leave the house and the furnace for anything, even food.
     Speaking of food, I discovered a special little spot today that I've overlooked up until now. 
     First I headed into town where I got sheared (badly needed) and as it was just nearing noon, I tried to think of someplace different to stop for lunch. Monett is not the most adventurous spot in the world for cuisine and everything sounded boring. Suddenly I thought of a little place in Pierce City that at one time had been good so as I was heading in that direction anyway I decided to give it a try.
     Uh-oh. Closed down, a victim of the current money problems, no doubt.
     Now what?
     Just next door was a little drug store with an old-fashioned soda fountain. There were plenty of cars parked around it and I was left with little to choose from anyway so, what the heck? A hamburger would be better than nothing.
     I pulled into place before the windows. I could see the few tables and bar stools were pretty full but upon walking in I managed to find a spot right next to the cash register. I perched on top of a stool and looked all around, admiring the decor.
     My attention, however, quickly turned to the plates being prepared by the pretty girls in front of me. Oooh . . . each one looked delicious.
     To make a long story short, I chose the special for the day, French Onion soup with yummy mozzarella cheese and and enormous plate of spinach salad full of grilled chicken, sliced strawberries, mandarin oranges, pecans, and bacon, all topped with wonderful sweet poppy-seed dressing.
     I'm ashamed to say I ate every last bite.
     It is now eight at night and I'm still not hungry. To those of you who know me, that is some kind of miracle..
     Now, Pierce City is just a very small town with not too much going for it. But if you by some chance are driving through one day and it is lunch time, my advice it to stop and sit a spell and have a bite to eat at the little drug store. It isn't hard to find . . . it is the only one in town from the looks of things . . . right on the main drag (and do NOT drive more than thirty down that drag either).
     You'll be glad you did.
     Just to finish part of my day I'll tell you I drove on westward to pick up some lovely homemade bread from the Country Cupboard Bake Shop, located between Stark City and Newtonia. Lovely people own it who make fabulous jams, jellies, breads and sell a large variety of wonderful food items as well as some specialties, e.g., aprons, spices, doilies etc.I'm ashamed to say I don't know if they are Mennonite or Amish, Mennonite I believe. I must ask the next time I'm there. Not that it matters. Lovely people no matter.
     By no means all of my day but since so much of my life revolves around food, it is fun to share this much.
     Oh, yes, the chicken. When you kill a chicken for food, you must either chop the head off with a hatchet or wring its neck by holding the head and spinning the body around until it becomes detached from the body. The body will jerk and twist for two or three minutes as the nerves adjust to death before it quiets, hence: running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
     Now, isn't that food for thought?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Moving Right Along!

     After a couple of hectic weeks, things are picking up once more. I've been on the computer and the phone countless times with my lovely editor, working out last minute stuff about the new book, and it looks like it will be out sometime next week! Hurrah! Been a long time a-coming.
     Actually, I started the manuscript two or three years ago. It isn't too long . . . more a memoir than anything and regional at that. Tigress Press was all set to go with it when the owner, Janet Musick, unfortunately developed severe health problems and had to close down the company. So it went back into the files and waited until the right press came along.
    I'm so pleased that High Hill Press agreed to publish From Trash to Treasure: Evolution of an Ozarks Junkyard, mostly because it is really a gift to Ben, my husband.
     Another subject . . . the Missouri Folklore Society: last-minute stuff keeps cropping up again and again. There are so many details. My co-chair and her helper came down last week and we went over the meeting site again and worked on the schedule, checked out maps, and tried to think of things we'd forgotten.
    We've been so fortunate locally to have such good publicity. Monett, Neosho and other places have gone to so much trouble to let people know about the conference. I'm hopeful lots of locals will show up. On the other hand, I'm really worried about the membership. We've had problems with newsletters getting out this year as well as some other things. Nothing that myself or my co-chair could prevent and that's what is so very frustrating. We do as much as we can on this end and if it isn't publicized properly across the state, well, I worry . . .
     What wonderful weather we're experiencing but I'm really afraid we aren't going to have the marvelous color we usually have in the fall. After the long long really scorching days of August, I fear it over-powered what moisture it takes to pull out the scarlets, oranges, etc., we usually look forward to. I'm watching the sassafrass behind the kitchen and the "shoemake" along the roadsides and they aren't looking too promising yet.
     On the other hand, we've not had a hard freeze yet either.
     Oh, dear, what a dilemma! I can't stand cold weather so I don't want it to freeze but I love the color so I can't wait to see the results.
     That's me . . . never can make up my mind. Well, whatever will be, will be. I'll take what I get and learn to like it.
     I'll probably gripe and gripe but enjoy it all anyway. 'Til next time, folks.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Is Anyone Else Cold?

     I'm ashamed to admit that when the thermometer reaches sixty I begin to freeze a little at a time. Except for surges of warm off and on until April or May I continue to be cold throughout the fall, winter and spring. I just can't help it. I'm a warm-weather girl. Fall is beautiful weather and I bundle up from top to bottom and stand just outside the back door to admire the beautiful colors for five minutes at a time and I love to go driving but that just about does it.
     It is really hard to enjoy all that beauty when the ends of your fingers are numb and your nose is dripping.
     I think that's one of the reasons I've always turned to books and reading. You can put yourself deep into the beauty of any weather . . . snow, pouring rain, typhoons, burning sun . . . and love every minute of it. In the meantime you maintain perfect body temperature with the furnace (or air conditioner) blasting soothing air right onto your little toes and fingertips.
     Well, I might as well become resigned to it. The Powers that be are not going to change things around at this late date to suit me. I'll just continue to freeze until the day comes when I can't move from the cold and then they'll just cover me up and there I'll be.
     I don't worry about any heat, believe me. It would take a lot to thaw me out anyway.
     Yesterday was such a shock after the wonderful warm fall weather I've been enjoying so much. It wouldn't have been so noticeable but for the family reunion we had at Lake Stockton on Mutton Creek. There we were, forty five-fifty strong, on the north slope, with the wind whistling off the lake water, totally exposed, no shelter but for a blue tarp in front of the cooker for the fish. It was dreadful.
      My neck and upper back was in a mess anyway following two trips to the chiropractor last week with another visit scheduled for today. Then I sat in lawn chairs and finished off the lower back. I can't remember when I was more miserable.
      But there I was . . . enjoying my large, large, laaarrrrgggeeee family.
      What a day.
     Upon arriving home about 6:30 p.m. I took a muscle relaxant and applied a heat pack to all the places it would reach (never mind that I KNOW I'm supposed to use ice . . . are you kidding?) and finally got warm and happy.
      Every single person in my family camps and revels in the outdoors. I swear, the colder it is the more they enjoy it. Not me. Not mine. We believe in nice warm houses. Nice warm furnaces. Nice comfortable recliners. Books. Comfort.
     Things around here have gone from hectic to more hectic. I only have a month to go before the Missouri Folklore Society conference date of the 4, 5, 6th of November. Liz Faries (my co-chair) and Jan Caudle, who is kind enough to be helping out, are coming tomorrow night and I'll meet them again in Neosho on Wednesday. There are so many details to this and Liz has done it all before and I'll at a loss about much so I'm really thankful to Jan (as well as all the others who are up to bat with this). We keep getting proposals from members and every one is so interesting sounding! Unfortunately, I'll be kept so busy I won't have time to sit and listen to any of them. Oh well, next year will be my time for that. In the meantime, I have to try and attract an audience!
     Lou called today about my Trash to Treasure manuscript. I think it will be ready for the shelves in the next couple of weeks. She did a bang-up job with the cover and I really like it! I sent an ariel view of the junkyard and she wrapped it around the whole book and then superimposed an old truck on the front between the title and the author. It looks great from the jpg and I expect it will look just as good on the book. She still has a couple of blogs to go and I think it will be ready to go.
     Just in time for Christmas. I hope to get some advertising out before it is too late for the season.
     Got to stop for now. Grandkids for the time being.
     Family First.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Better Late Than Never

     So much is going on in our house right now I can barely breathe. Between family, our business stuff, MFS conference responsibilities and all the bits and pieces of getting the new book out there I meet myself coming and going.
     First thing in the morning is the coffee pot, natch. Next, turn on the computer. Run and make the bed. Get dressed. Check the e-mail. Drink my first cup and try and open my eyes a little wider. (I sleep later nowadays than I used to and I don't wake up fully for a looooonnnggg time.) Last night's dishes (no, I don't do them at night!).
     Okay, to work. Back and forth to the computer to the dining table to the stuff piled on the desk to the computer to the table to the stuff piled on the desk to the shop to see if Ben wants some breakfast (he goes out but he doesn't seem to eat enough to keep a bird alive so I always have to try anyway) back to the computer, etc., etc., etc.
     Last night Sandy and I drove to Lamar to watch the football game. Aaron made two touchdowns and ran most of the yardage for the third one but we lost by just a few points. Unfortunately, he managed to get a concussion so it ended the evening on a sour note. By the time we all got home and he was established at his dad's house and it was clear that everything was okay it was well after midnight, but do you think I could sleep late this morning? Nooooooo. I had to wake up early and worry, worry, worry about everything.
     Write? Who has time to write? I wish I did. I love to write. I want to write.
     I hear those tales from writers who tell everyone who listens that they never ever miss their daily stint. Well, I'm here to tell you, that they must miss out on a lot of stuff. Or maybe they're just more organized than I am.
     But I ask you this: when you're in the middle of a story or an assignment and the nursing home calls because your in-law is having a panic attact or a meltdown of some sort, do you choose to sit there until your three hours are over or do you stop and let it wait until you find time? If your kid is receiving an award at 10 a.m. and that's when you have your writing time, do you say "Uh, oh! Can't make it?" and go on with your article?"
      Maybe that's the difference between me and a really dedicated writer. I can't give up my 'real' life for the one I yearn for in my mind.
      But that's okay. I have lots of rewards from both ends of things. And every now and then I actually get a book out on the market. . . whoopee!
     So watch out for the latest. Probably about the end of October. From Trash to Treasure: the Evolution of An Ozarks Junkyard. You will be able to get it from Amazon. Check out the publisher at .


Monday, August 2, 2010

Karen - Spillin her Dreams: Almost a Millionaire

Karen - Spillin her Dreams: Almost a Millionaire: "The other evening we were relaxing before heading to bed when our phone rang. Wayne answered and a person on the other end said the words ..."


Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Really Really Good Excuse for Procrastinating

     Things are heating up around our house as I'm trying to prepare for knee surgery. I'm not finding a lot of spare time for extras while waiting as I'm suddenly loaded with a number of unexpected responsibilities. One of the grandsons is spending time here each day and requires supervision so I'm more confined than I had intended to be at this point and I'm never ever going to get caught up with the housework and necessary errands before the deadline.
      School will be out soon and then there will be others around too. The college student is home so things are really going to town now but that's ok as I'm certainly enjoying her presence.
     I've just finished a two week regimen of anti-biotics to I won't have to deal with any infections lurking in the shadows. I spent all day Monday at doctor's offices and hospital pre-admittance sessions, getting poked and pried and questioned until I thought my head would pop (not to mention various and sundry parts of my poor abused body). I wonder how people ever managed to have surgery done before they came up with all of this "necessary" stuff to do before you're even admitted into hospital?
     And I'm waiting on the galleys of the Trash to Treasure book to get here so I can go over it and send it back to Lou before the deadline. Naturally, she is loaded with responsibilities also so there you are. (I must not even allow myself to think of the MFS conference in the, no, no.)
      All of this is so my few readers can understand that I will not be writing for awhile. Please keep checking in and as soon as I'm up to it or find a few minutes I will post a note or two...who knows? I may even get a chance to do another short one BEFORE the surgery, which is on the 25 of May.
     Anyway, wish me luck. I don't expect any problems at all. I've already had the right knee replaced (in November last year) with no difficulties so I'm not planning for any this time either. Give me six or eight weeks after the operation and I'll be running around all over the place again, flapping like a rooster who has just been decapitated.
     So...keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Boston Mountains: Unending Beauty

       Last week I made a trip down through the edge of south-western Missouri, through the Boston Mountains to Ft. Smith, turned left and on to Little Rock. In May, the scenery is so beautiful it takes the breath away and it is difficult to keep one's mind on driving (especially when you're cruising along between 70 and 80 mph). While some might argue that adding the long high freeways have ruined the look of the Ozarks, I would say that it has enhanced it. It's rather like being in a low-flying plane and swooping over the thousands of acres. One gets the feeling of wilderness from looking down on the green sea below. The observer knows there are homesteads here and there (but really very very few, even now),still they are seldom there to view. The whole lovely experience leaves one breathless from beauty.
     My main objection to the super highway is that one must travel so fast you can't savor the experience enough.
     The observation I made to my husband on my return, though, was that I enjoyed covering large distances in a short period because it gave me a chance to see how the terrain connects and changes and I can make out how the valleys and hills (mountains) wave and roll. It's sensual in the feel.
     I first discovered the feeling on a long trip out west when I was younger. Sitting in the passenger seat at the time and watching the changing scenery, it struck me how the different areas fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. I loved the feeling at the time and now I watch for it.
     Finding that same feeling on my trip was so very satisfying.
     Things have been in a rush around here and it doesn't look as if it will end very soon. The yard has been mowed once and it screaming at us to mow again. My attitude is that we moved to the country and it should look wild anyway but Ben insists wild is wild and he refuses to have a hayfield for a front yard. Since it only takes about two days before the grass is ready to bale I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. I reckon I'll be mowing pretty soon, wouldn't you think?
     I've fought some kind of flu bug for two weeks and finally called the doctor and got some anti-biotics. Knee surgery is scheduled for the end of May and I can't afford to let myself get too run-down this month. I'm trying like mad to get caught up with things but sometimes I feel like Alice drowning in a sea of tears.
      (BTW, if you've not gone to see Alice, do so, right now. It is the only movie I've ever watched satisfactorily with 3-D glasses over my own spectacles and it was great, great, great! They integrated the original book with the Looking-Glass novel and it turned out beautifully, especially the Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. I couldn't believe what a good job was done! Highly recommended. Not just for kids.)
     Just returned from a weekend conference in Little Rock where I gave some effort to marketing two juvenile manuscripts, Junkyard Bones, a mystery concerning a boy who finds a dead body in his grandfather's junkyard, and For the Love of Pete, a humorous story of a kid who wants a dog but isn't responsible enough to have one . . . yet. Got an agent and an editor who will look at them but need to make a couple of changes to each one first, based on some suggestions made after discussion. This is where one really benefits from actually having one-on-one interviews with the person the author is interested in selling a manuscript to. You can get a feel of what they really want.
     In the meantime, I'm waiting for the galleys of the adult non-fiction book that is scheduled to come out sometime in the near future, From Trash to Treasure: The Evolution of an Ozarks Junkyard. Unless something goes wrong, it will be published by High Hills Press. The editor had expected it to be ready by now but so far I've not received the galleys. I did tell her I couldn't do anything for a couple of months after the surgery so if she doesn't have things for me to do before then it will have to wait.
      Yesterday I got so tired of lying around feeling bad (and I couldn't concentrate on anything creative) I decided to scrub the bathroom floor. It was needing it something awful so I poured Puerex and stuff into a bucket and went to work on my hands and (what was left of one and one (re-built and sort of hard-to-get-down-on) knees and scrubbed with a vengence. Well, the floor is certainly cleaner now. It smells to high heaven in the bathroom too. But we still could use a new floor. I may have to begin campaigning all over again.  There are some disadvantages to uncovering what is hidden by dirt, right?
      Aaron just left for school with his brand-new driver's license. He is so proud and I'm so proud of him. It is so much fun to watch a little boy turn into a responsible young man. Besides, he can go to the store for me. Whoopee!
     My coffee is getting cold and duty is calling. Spring is outdoors and so is my deck chair. Which one will win? Who knows?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Which Come First : the Chicken (housekeeping) or the Egg (writing)

     Spring is my favorite time of the year and now that the taxes are done and the sun is shining on a regular basis I can really take the time to enjoy it. I took all the stuff into the accountant this morning and spent a couple of hours with him, walking out with only one small item to look up after I got home. Then I called him with the answer and filed the papers, heaved a sigh of relief and walked outdoors to admire my miles of golden daffodils.
      For years I've allowed the jonquils to spread and the results are wonderful now. Of course there are the predators . . . first the husband and now the grandson. They despise anything that they aren't allowed to mow down and I have to watch Aaron like a hawk.
      I threaten to put large rocks all over my yard until the green blades turn to brown and lean into the dirt. In fact Aaron begins making noise when the tiny plants first begin to peak their spears above the ground. "Ohhh, look," he will say. "It's going to be time to MOW!"
     Someday I'm gonna kill that kid.
     But spring has finally come and Easter Sunday is this weekend. The college-age granddaughter will be home for a short-short visit, Ben is feeling a bit better and life is good for the time being.
      I registered today for the Arkansas SCBWI conference in Little Rock to be held the end of April. It didn't look as it I could take the time to go but turned out that I could and since I've got two juvenile books to pitch to agents and editors I'm really pleased to find I could make it after all. This has been such a lousy year in every other way and I've not had time or energy to market any of my writing (never mind that I've not even been able to produce anything new either) so I'm tickled to find something with this much promise.
     It looks as if the adult non-fiction is going to be published in the near future if everything goes right so everyone keep fingers (and toes) crossed, please, and I will update you as soon as I hear anything. Keep in mind that the publishing world moves sloooowwwwllllyyyyyyy though so don't look for it too quickly.              
     In a moment of madness, I tore 'my corner' completely apart yesterday afternoon. Sort of a celebration of sorts for finishing the income tax. My chair and table and lamp are surrounded by desk, computer, another lamp, a spare upright bass fiddle that has sort of been swallowed up, and piles and piles and piles and piles of books, magazines, manuscripts, papers, clippings, etc., etc., etc. Since I was basically crippled about June last year with this blasted knee thing, my housekeeping on the whole got completely out of hand and 'my corner' has been completely neglected. I kept saying to Ben that I was going to get to it and suddenly I did.
     I've burned a lot of stuff and now I have about 2/3 of the books stacked up neatly but I still have approximately 1/3 of the books left to make decisions about (do you know how hard it is for me to part with a book?) and about a half dozen shallow boxes filled with various and sundry papers, photos, clippings, etc.
     I sort of wish I'd never started it but it needed to be done.
     When I die they will just have to burn down the place and put me on the top. There isn't any other solution.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bluebirds, Blizzards and the Beast Within

     What an exasperating month this has been! (Yes, Ellen, I know that exclamation marks should be used sparingly and only for special emphasis, but by golly, I've earned the right this time.)
     Endless winter has had me pulling my hair out anyway lately. Taxes have been piled up on the dining table since the beginning (!) of February (I know, I know); it seems we've had every problem known to mankind, what with elderly parents with physical and mental situations, three teen-agers and one nearly teen-ager with various and sundry situations to deal with,  and all sorts of  illnesses and problems among the adults in the family.
     The blues have become a way of life for just about everyone in our immediate circle this winter. The two-day blizzard was just about the straw that broke the camel's back, believe me.
      Had it not been for the bluebird I think I might have run away from home. The Bahamas were sounding pretty good about that time.
      Driving home after delivering someone  to or from (who knows which?) school,  a near liquid drop of perfect blue dipped its wings and soared up from the left pasture and across the road in front of the car, landing on the fence on the other side. It's a wonder I didn't go in the ditch. I've never been so glad to see anything in my life.
     The day was cold and the temperature hovered near freezing. I told Ben that night that I hoped the bird didn't change its mind and return south but the next day (while delivering another child to another location) I spotted another bluebird leading what appeared to be several others. I got a really good look at only the one but I'm pretty certain there were four others.
     The next day, things improved even more. The sun came out! (Note: another exclamation mark.) The temperature was warm. Spring was really coming. Really.
     The beast within began (slowly) to recede.   
     This miracle of sunshine, that albeit off and on, has been a life saver in more ways than one. If ever there was a 'winter of our discontent' the winter of 2009 and 2010 has been just that around this house.
      I suppose I just need to vent. My apologies for getting so behind on this blog. But I'm down to the last of the taxes. The appointment is made with the accountant for next week, I made it to my Missouri Folklore Society board meeting in Columbia today (about six and a half hours driving today...I drove to Lebanon yesterday and spent the night with Ellen) so I'm really worn out, but have things all under control for the conference in Neosho next November. Whoopee! (Note exclamation mark.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Crazy Busy

     I unearthed a book I got last year this morning, Crazy Busy, by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. but so far I've been too busy to read it. I can tell I was too busy to read it when it was purchased also as there are several bookmarks stuck in the first two chapters.
     Unfortunately my answer to everything, all my problems, is to buy a book about it. Now, if I were to actually read the book and to put the author's advice into action, perhaps I could solve the problem at hand. But, no, what I do is scan the chapter headings, tell myself this is a really good book and that I will read it thoroughly when I find the time, lay it aside and go on about my busy, busy life and, just as I did with this volume, forget all about it.
     Searching my memory, I do remember buying it when I was at the Writer's Colony at Dairy Hollow last spring and I credit myself with knowing I did use a little of the information the book had to offer with the novel I was working on at the time. However, it could be put to a great deal of good use if I would only heed to some of the advice in my own life.
      Too bad, though, that it will never happen. I'm just too busy.
      I was saddened the other day when learning of the death from cancer of Winston Spencer Churchill, the grandson of Britian's wartime leader. I had made his acquaintance last summer when I was in the south of England, where I heard him speak and later shared a table with him at dinner. He was a lovely man who actually resembled his grandfather except for his wonderfully expressive blue eyes, and I quite enjoyed visiting with him at the event we attended.
     We had a lovely day on Sunday with the entire family here to celebrate (a week late) Amy's twentieth birthday while she is home on spring break. I so enjoy her presence as she brightens the place up as much as the multiple crocuses and daffodils on the south side of the house. She will be leaving on Thursday but will probably come home for the summer to work and save money for the next year (third) as she is planning to study for at least one semester somewhere in Europe. Her major is Art History so there are very few places that wouldn't enrich her wealth of knowledge.
     Got the taxes started today. Ugh.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Necessary Shopping

     The time has come. I'm absolutely forced into taking a trip to Springfield. We're out of T.P. Really. Its an emergency.
     Usually I go by Sam's Club every couple of months and stock up on several things, toliet paper being one of them. I've got lots of storage space and it really is nice to never have to think of this necessary item. I buy two or three very large packages and they last a long long time. But this time, except for trips up following the surgery which occurred on the first of November, I've not had a chance.
     How strange to think I've not made the run to Springfield since October. This is incredible, especially considering that the toliet paper has lasted that long.
     So tomorrow I'll replenish. And go to the doctor.
     Told you. Spring is coming and the weather is warmer. I can go places again. Hurrah.
     The other thing I need to do is spend some time with the granddaughter who lives there. Poor kid. She's been sadly neglected this winter. The youngsters here in town get plenty of attention but since the only time school has been out has been for a day here and there Allison and I don't get many chances to spend time together.
     But tomorrow I'll make up for it.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring is A-Comin'...I Promise

     Ben and I drove today, over toward Neosho and out into Oklahoma and I watched closely for hints of green in the brush and trees along the roadsides. At first I thought it was still hopeless but sure enough, here and there I did find just a faint tint . Not much but enough for a promise. I'll take it. And yesterday, while admiring my crocus, my sister mentioned a neighbor plucking a sprig of forsythia that suddenly appeared on the south side of her porch.
     Next will be the weeping willows. They always begin swaying their long yellowing tendrils in the breezes. Then you really know. Spring is coming. I promise.
     I love watching for old barns and homes that are falling down. True, you don't see too many any more. As I grow older so do they and, like myself, they won't last forever. But when I see them, I return momentarily to childhood and the houses and barns of that time. There's just something about the architecture of the years of my growing up that makes me nostalgic.
     When I was small we moved many times. Each spot was a rental as we didn't have much money and cost was the major factor. The only house and land I ever really felt was home was a very big old country home with lovely old woodwork, transoms above the interior doors, wonderful closets and a room of my very own...with a lock. On the property was a big barn, in which one could play,a garden, some outbuildings, trees to climb and lilac bushes under which I could read for hours. There was also a smokehouse and an outhouse, necessary at the time.
     I loved the place with a passion. We lived there for several years and I cried when we left. I still feel a tearing at my heart when I think of it. Once I wrote a poem about it. Sometime, if I can find a copy, I'll post it here. Right now, I doubt if I could even locate it. It seems as far away as the house and barn and they disappeared many years ago. All that is left is scrub brush and trees. The land has grown wild again. But each time I drive by the spot my heart aches for what is gone.
     I believe that's what I'm looking at when I watch for the old barns and falling-down houses. Not necessarily the structures, but the memories. The feeling that someone should take care of the property before it crumbles into dust. People lived there. People loved there. Children lay under the lilac bushes and swung from the ropes in the barn.
     We waited for the crocus and the forsythia to bloom and for the springtime to come.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How Far Can Spring Be?

     Felt rotten for two days and keep hitting the bed for extra sleep. I think I'm coming down with something but it won't develop into anything except the need to sleep and sleep and sleep. Keeps me from doing a lot of things I should do.
    One bright spot is the sunshine that has broken out through the cold. We've not had any more snow or rain for several days and the sun is so nice and warm. Our bedroom faces the south and the windows look out on trees and brush and flowering things, when things are actually flowering. Well, guess what? Yesterday, the golden crocuses were flowering. Yes, truly. Blooming as if spring really was here. Oh, it was wonderful. I sat on the edge of the bed and savored the beauty.
     All around the jonquils are budding up and more crocuses and snowdrops are sticking their leaves above the ground and preparing to bloom too. It didn't make me improve healthwise, but it sure made me happier.
     Let's hope the weather continues to improve, the cold goes away and the spring flowers begin showing in backyards everywhere across the nation. Our spirits will rise again.
     And my body may start to feel better also.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Moving Along

Good results from the weekend conference. I feel better about my career again...for the time being, anyway. This morning I sent off, via e-mail naturally, the ms that has been haunting me lately because I've waited so long to decide what to do with it. The history of our business and our life is not exactly of national interest and so I've waited, trying to think of the best approach and have decided on High Hill Press which is up near St. Louis. It is owned by a friend of mine and I know she and her husband do good work as I've seen other examples of their books and know their authors are well satisfied.

Now I must begin making lists of advertising possibilities and places I will want to contact for setting up signings when the book is completely finished. There is a lot to the business end of this writing urge, more than most authors such as myself enjoy dwelling on. We would prefer sitting in front of the computer screen day after day, doing nothing but putting lovely words on a white background and admiring how they look. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. At least with this one, I do know my market.

However, today the mundane takes over now that I've taken care of the first step of the business. I have to wait and see what I need to do next from my end for the sake of the book. So I'll shut down and head for the kitchen table where waits THE TAXES!

Wish me luck and hope it doesn't take too long.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Writing Life Again

I actually managed to sit myself down today and edit one short story and create another (non-fiction) one. I looked up a conference in the autumn and decided I've got to enter some of the contests at least, even if I don't have a new novel in the works so I polished up Dealing With Dad, a humorous 3000 word thing and then went to work on a (so far) untitled essay about growing up in the Ozarks. It will take some work on it before it is finished but I'll let it rest and go on to the next one pretty soon.

I've been going to and reading Lisa Scottoline's blog. She is very witty and I am enjoying her column a lot. I got hooked on her books and she has just published a nf of the columns. I had read it and was intrigued so looked it up. Her books are really good. She is a lawyer and uses all her knowledge to write these wonderful thrillers.

In some ways I'm getting sick of the thrillers...not particularly an author...but it seems as if the subject should run its course one of these day. Its the only thing on the library shelves now. That and sensual stuff and I'm really sick of those. There are just so many ways to have sex and no matter how many hints you give the end result is the same. Now I'm beginning to look at murder in the same jaded way. For heaven's sake, lets try another subject or two!

Of course, am I looking for a subject to write about at the moment? Nah. Just being critical. One of these days though. I expect to come up with a real dilly and when I do...I'll work and work and work and then won't be able to sell it. Ha.

Anyway, at the moment I'm being a little bit productive. I can go to my meeting feeling like a REAL WRITER again...for five minutes anyway!


Friday, February 12, 2010

Does Depression Ever Disappear?

It's odd how year after year, when things seem on the surface to go smoothly, that beneath it all there is a lingering sense of gloom that one can never seem to escape. I've always prided myself in being an upbeat cheerful person and take pains to put on a happy face to others but I think perhaps it has been a protective shell that I must have developed rather early in life. Maybe I wanted to simply hide my really really private thoughts from the world. I'm good about sharing all sorts of things with others: in fact sometimes a confidant may feel overwhelmed with my insights. Nevertheless, I've found that I still go to a great deal of trouble to make sure that some things are never touched on. Ergo: depression.

The question is, then: How do I let go of my own depression if I cannot even identify the reasons to myself? I've fought with the dilemna for years now and am no closer to the answer than when I first began. I've had a wonderful life, great family and childhood background, loving parents, an understanding sweet husband and children and grandchildren who love me, even pets who've doted on me as long as I fed them regularly. What more can I do?

Most people who know me have no idea that I've been on anti-drepressant medications for years or have gotten a glimpse of the devils that haunt me at times. I keep waiting and waiting for the relief to come along that I feel I've earned by this time but it eludes me as a shadow that dances before the sun.

Maybe it is the highs and lows that a person experiences that calls out the creative processes. I can only hope.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Catching My Breath

All I've done for the past two days is run, run run. The snow has pretty well disappeared, thank goodness, and today the temperatures have come up nicely. Yesterday, though, was terrible. The car showed an even 26 degrees but I can't even begin to guess what the wind chill was. It was simply terrible. I had intended to go off to the city to do some needed catching up but I can't manage that kind of weather so we'll have to do without for a spell yet, I guess.

When you have three grandsons aged 13, 14 and 15 that you help haul around you are kept busy busy busy and with one mom sick and the single father of two of them trying to work I'm called on quite a bit these days so my excuse to get out of writing a lot is at least legitimate most of the time. If I did have a half hour to think I couldn't organize anything worthwhile.

I did make reservations to go to the next OWL conference though and discuss a ms with one of my friends so maybe I'll dig myself out of this hole before the month is over. I dug in and managed to solve the formatting problem that was driving me nuts and now I feel as if I can do just about anything. I ordered a REAL BOOK with WRITTEN OUT INSTRUCTIONS for the new computer program so I'm confident I'll be able to conquer the whole thing soon. I can manage anything if it is on a sheet of paper in front of me but for some reason I cannot hop back and forth on the screen of a computer with any satisfaction.

It is obvious that this blog is going to be hit and miss but I intend to really try and keep it going...even if I don't have a single follower. It is easier than journaling and I do enjoy getting a few words down on the screen.
Maybe I'll actually come up with something worthwhile one of these days.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wasted half and hour going over other people's blogs. It seems as if it is only younger writers, proud parents and crafters who take time to write on them, at least on Blogspot. Maybe I'm looking at the wrong location. Also, I'm so dumb (?) I can't figure out how to invite friends in my e-mail address books to go to my site and follow it and I can't seem to download the bookshelf thing I looked up either. Jeez, I waste so much time doing junk.

Then I have the t.v. on across the room and can't decide if I want to watch the Super Bowl or not. Usually I only watch the Cowboys or the Longhorns but I'll admit that I'm rather fond of the Saints. After all, New Orleans went through so much they deserve to win on that alone, I think. So I may give in after all. Ben had to go out and work today and try and beat the (potential) snow storm so he can sit in the house tomorrow if it does come so I'm alone in here and must manage to avoid housework at all costs. And when I came into the living room to begin with, the t.v. was tuned to an old movie...don't remember the title...but it had Ethel Barrymore, Angela Lansbury and some others and I ended up watching up half of it because it was intriguing and fun. Another waste. No wonder I never do any serious writing any more. I used to have a rule of absolutely no television and no reading between two and five p.m. but somehow it went out the window.

Here comes my darling. More later.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Computers Can't Solve Everything, Can They?

I'm just too old for birthdays, I believe. They wear me out. By the time I got all the phone calls fielded and e-mails answered and Facebook contacts checked out, coffee consumed with visiting family and friends and cake consumed (lots...chocolate with fluffy white frosting, yum, yum) I was too tired to walk. Unfortunately, we still had a double basketball game to attend. At least it was in town. But I staggered home and fell into bed afterward. Goosedown never felt any better, even to Mama Goose, I'll bet.

Spent all morning installing a new version of Word. My original one bit the dust at just the wrong moment last fall, four days prior to my surgery on the first knee. I was all ready to send off some manuscripts and it really messed things up as they were done in Word Perfect and needed converting before being sent. Needless to say, they are still waiting for attention. I am not computer-oriented in the least and am at a loss with the new set-up. If they only put instructions in BOOKS, as once were done, I could follow instructions! Blast it, I can't follow anything on-screen. I read it and go back to another screen and immediately forget what the next step was. Grr.

My most immediate problem is with a manuscript that I had already messed up with Word Perfect. Somehow I managed to have part of it in a Master Document and part in individual chapters. I think I got that straightened out somewhere in between transitions but failed to realize that some of the later chapters had no headings. Now I can't figure out with this brand-new Word screen how I'm supposed to completely remove all the headings and start over again. I'm terrified to mess with the new program without some kind of written reference to help me. I'll end up with a bigger problem than I have already. So...Monday, in between everything else, I'm going to have to try and run down someone to give me some advice.

If you see me coming in your direction, please don't run for cover. This is a real emergency.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Late...As Usual

Late is my middle name. At my age, I've mostly given up on New Year's Resolutions. In fact, I hardly notice New Year coming and going. It takes all I have to get through Christmas these days. But I have a birthday coming up tomorrow and suddenly I feel like I'm really running out of time.
Because I had knee replacement exactly three months ago I've had a really good reason to put off writing anything and, believe me, that's exactly what I've done...nothing. I usually find any excuse in the world to get out of exerting myself and now I have to wade through the piles and find out where I left off.

Actually I left off with three completed (to MY satisfaction) ms and a Word program that bit the dust three days before my surgery, wouldn't you know? So I jumped in and ordered the new one but I did have the good sense to not install it until this morning. It's up and running now so I just have to teach myself the basics of the new set-up (urk) but at least I can once again convert from my Word Perfect originals. And I think I have a possible market for at least one of the ms. I'll let you know at a later date.

Back to my Birthday Resolution. Since I'm now down to about three decades (yeek...well, maybe more if I'm really lucky) I figure I'm going to have to increase my efforts. Right now is a good time because I still have a knee to go in the spring. So...a blog is one way. Reading a couple of sites for inspiration is another and I'm making a list of them right now and am intending to do so each day. Also get back to a little bit of actual composing. HOWEVER...I do have to finish income tax (UGH) for my husband's business, so that messes me up a little. But I will belly up to the bar and get to it a little at a time.

Got a two-day OWL meeting to hit on the third weekend in February and I'm chomping at the bit. I need to get back in the swing of things. Wish me luck.