Tuesday, January 31, 2012

#*&%$#^ Curse Words


I've been thinking about cursing lately.

I have to say I sort of like it. I know that's not what you expected to hear. I've heard Bryon tell people before that I don't curse very much. He is not, however, inside my head. I curse. A lot.

Often, I set those curses free upon the atmosphere in a blue cloud. I try to keep them low so no one actually hears them but occasionally, they just demand to be freed.  I do try to refrain from cursing inappropriately at work, or church or in front of Grace, but Man, there are times when I'd just like to let loose a tirade like Yosemite Sam only bluer.



If feels good to curse and purge out whatever frustration is poisoning my mind or troubling me at the moment. I know a lot of words and yes, I could substitute more socially acceptable synonyms. They just wouldn't and do not provide the same level of satisfaction as a good F-bomb.

Dang and Gee Whiz just don't cut the mustard.

Bryon and I told all our friends and family that the first person to teach Grace a curse word had to pay for her college education. I blame it on our previously demonic and untamable dog Ruger. One day out in the yard Bryon was supremely frustrated with Ruger and threatened to beat his ass. Grace asked him what "beat his ass" meant.

Just this past week Bryon was at Walmart with Grace shopping, and Grace pointed at something on the shelf and asked "What the hell is that?" Bryon said it was so funny he had to laugh but then explained that hell was in fact a curse word. Guess we are on the hook for the college education. I was really hoping that it would be Grandpa Rice.

My go to curse when I'm at the absolute end of my rope is GD. You know what it is. Of course that is probably even less socially acceptable than the F-bomb. I await annihilation from a lightening strike every time I utter it. That particular curse is completely automatic. I blame that one on my dad.

My dad didn't curse very often at all as I remember, but when he did, that was his go to curse. I haven't heard him use it in a long time. Of course, I've been out of the house for twenty five years now so he may not have as much occasion to NEED to use it. Kids are infuriating.

I don't remember my mom cursing. Ever.

So where did this habit emerge from? I guess, I'll never know.

It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Fuck it.








Monday, January 30, 2012

Cemetery Sentiments

IMG_0376 (1280x960)I made it a point to visit several cemeteries this past year. I visited them not to pay respects to friends and relatives lost, but as research for my novel. It is, of course, mostly about reapers. The grim kind. Graveyards were an inevitable setting. So, I started paying a lot more attention to cemeteries and how they were laid out. I took time to drive through many cemeteries while I was out on my regular travels to get the feel of things.

Cemeteries are a place that I don’t normally pay all that much attention to. Like churches and Chinese restaurants, you don’t realize how many there actually are until you finally start noticing them. There is one on every corner.

I finally drove through Springfield National Cemetery for example. How many times have you driven by that one? It was huge and pretty cool.

As a rule, I don't really dig cemeteries. No pun intended. I don't go to decorate graves on Memorial Day or Christmas. I figure the dead aren’t keeping a tally of visitors. Surely, they have better things to do now. With that in mind, I really don’t see the point of visiting cemeteries. I know which cemeteries my grandparents and even some friends now are in, but I couldn’t even lead you to their graves.

My own mother knows I will not likely visit her grave when she’s passed. In fact, she knows me so well that she’s already purchased her stone and had it engraved with an etching of a vase full of flowers. Smart lady.

The whole idea of a cemetery is really sort of crazy to me. And wasteful. What’s the point of putting all that non-biodegradable steel, various metals and material into the ground to house your absolutely biodegradable husk?

Why can’t we just wrap up our dead in a blanket and bury them? Sure there is disease to consider, but not if we cremate everyone. If you don’t want to be cremated for whatever reason, religious or personal then let’s just have one big depository. What’s the big deal? You are DEAD. You aren’t going to care.

There are even rules as to where your ashes can be spread … if you are stupid enough to ask for permission. Seriously, just cremate me, carry me home in a Folgers can, scatter the ashes in the backyard somewhere, have a party and move on. It’s done. I don’t care anymore. Besides, I don’t want people looking at me when I’m dead. My hair will look stupid and … well, I’ll be DEAD.

I definitely want to be scattered and the ashes disseminated. I do not want my remains plopped up on a mantle or entertainment center or bookcase somewhere because you KNOW at some point the cat is going to knock that sucker off, and I’m going to end up in the Hoover. As resting places go, the Hoover is NOT on the list. I do care about that.

Funerals in general are depressing occasions. I don’t want one. It messes up everyone’s day, they have to leave work, find babysitters, dress up in uncomfortable clothes and be all sober and stuff. I’m dead. It’s sad. I was a wonderful and fantastic human being. Better each time you remember me. I’ll be missed. Have a party, wear what you want, sell or giveaway my crap and move on.

Really, there are too many of us on this planet already. If we keep burying everyone, eventually we are going to have to start doubling up in the cemeteries anyway. The Vikings had the right idea, put the body on a wooden boat, light that pyre on fire and give it a push. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Still seems like a good plan to me. You can even roast weannies and marshmallows for the after party.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dog & Cat

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DOG UPDATE:
Last Wednesday night, I traveled to the Springfield Dog Training Club east of Springfield for my first ever obedience training class. The class is for Belle. I mind just fine. Most of the time. The rules that make sense anyway.


It was a raining night. It was dark. It was foggy. The club is out in the middle of nowhere and I drove by it the first time but finally made it. The first night is just for the humans. Belle goes with me next week. The class didn’t even start until 7 pm and I HATE being out on a weeknight. When I first walked in the previous class was still in session. Those dogs were BEHAVED.

As the first class wound down, the staff circled chairs around for our class. We all sat down ready to share our dog woes with the not so faint smell of urine in the air. You know, sort of what I’d expect and AA meeting to be like. I could already imagine Belle and I getting kicked out for our mutual insubordination because everything struck me as funny. I was one dog away from being a Saturday Night Live skit.

I’ve placed a lot of hope in this class when what I probably should have invested in is more massages for myself. And maybe hypnosis. Or some sort of voodoo to ensure more patience. From the first night, the one thing I learned that seems to be the pivotal key to success is this; hotdogs. Dogs LOVE hotdogs and will apparently do ANYTHING for more hotdogs. Woe to you when you run OUT of hotdogs.

I cut up an entire package the very next day after class and have been trying to implement my new mind bending dog training techniques on Belle. I also bought a doggie seatbelt so I can keep her from pinging around the interior of my car to and from class.

I’m ready. Bring it on next week’s class. I am prepared to dominate.

I’ll just have to try to keep the snarky thoughts and comments to myself. THAT will be the most difficult part. Unless I run out of hotdogs.

CAT UPDATE
Last week also brought the spaying of our new wildcat, Violet. I’ve been feeding her in the mornings so she’s used to the schedule now. She waits impatiently outside the patio door for us to wake and greet her in the mornings. She’s really sweet and friendly. Monday I thought I might just crate her up and take her to the vet, but I decided to call first to make sure that would be okay. I didn’t know how it would go or WHEN I might be able to catch her and get that feat accomplished.

The vet said no problem, bring her when I could and they would get the job done … for $53. The next morning she was outside the door as usual. I ran up and got the cat carrier and stuffed her inside without incident. She wasn’t too happy once she realized she’d been duped by my affection, but she wasn’t insane either. We came to an agreement. She mewed and I consoled all the way to the vet.

I dropped her off and checked on her later that day. She was still groggy so I decided it was probably better if she spent the night at the vet than if I tried to keep her in the garage all night. I picked her up early the next morning and took her home.

My biggest fear was that the second I let her out of the crate she’d run for the woods never to be seen again. I have the same worry every time I hive bees. Because really, what’s to keep them from just saying screw it and flying away? Uh, nothing.

Before I opened the cat carrier, I filled her bowl with food, another with water and dumped some tuna over the top of it. I wafted the open tuna container in front of the carrier. She was interested. I opened the door and she came out purring and rubbing against me ready for lovin’s. I was forgiven. I’m pretty sure the tuna helped.

That night, Grandpa, Grace and Bryon all reported that she was indeed fine and still hanging around. Grandpa fed her some more tuna and and everyone in the family scratched her ears for her. At one point, Bryon got a glimpse of something out on the back deck and looked out to find a beautiful, fluffy white opossum eating out of the cat bowl and Violet rubbing her body against it like a Brillo padded cat scratch post. What the heck?

Guess it’s a good thing I went ahead and gave her a rabies shot as well.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Where Is My Spanish Jet Pack?

If you are of a certain age, say born in the late 60’s, then you, like me, might have been promised two things by your elementary teachers: the Spanish language was going to take over the world, and it wouldn’t be much longer before we would all be traveling by jet pack

The Spanish language has indeed infiltrated my local Walmart grocery isle and several of my favorite products are now multilingual. Unfortunately, the labels do not reflect the three words I remember from my high school Spanish classes twenty five years ago: burrito, dinero, baño.

I figured those three words would buy me a burrito and then direct me to a bathroom. I was golden. Spanish has not taken over the world. At least not my world here in the Midwest. If I had remained in journalism and had the opportunity to travel the nation and world, sure I might have finally picked up a little more Spanish. As it is, my three words have sufficed. Niangua is not very diverse. There is not much need for a second language after all. 

I think a second language is definitely a use it or lose it skill. I haven’t put any of those Spanish lessons to use in more than twenty five years. Sort of like algebra. Those teachers lied about that as well. I have not ever, knowingly used algebra. Good thing too since basic math pretty much already stretches my brain to its outer limits. 

As for jet packs, well that’s another disappointment.
Bryon and I have had a running joke about the jet packs for years because he too was promised a jet pack. We are both still on the waiting list. Every time we are somewhere and desperately want to be somewhere else, we despair on our lack of a jet pack. If ONLY we had a jet pack, we would be there by now! Damn the government for not providing our jet packs. 


I think this should be one of our President’s highest priorities. Newt Gingrich has already promised that by the end of his second term, if we choose HIM as President, he’ll establish a permanent American base on the moon. Newt is basically going to steal the moon. Like Gru in Despicable Me. Well, Newt, if you expect to accomplish that, let me suggest you start disseminating the jet packs a.s.a.p. Now THAT would be exciting. And it would make getting to that moon base camp a lot easier. 

I’m probably not going to vote for Newt, but I do vote for jet packs. 

I’ll be anxiously awaiting mine in my soon to be semi-weekly mail delivery.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Vampires VS Tsunamis

Vampires vs Tsunamis. Probably not two things you would ever put together. Unless of course you are inside my head.

Last weekend, Bryon and I watched Hereafter the Matt Damon movie. We are way behind on watching movies. While watching the movie, I was really distracted because the entire time I couldn't get over how much Matt Damon looks like my brother Mike. If Matt had a little more gray hair or Mike used some Grecian formula, they could be doubles. Or maybe it's just me.




But I digress... SPOILER ALERT if you have not seen the movie Hereafter and have any hope of watching it... Don't read the next paragraph.

The opening scene was of a tsunami crashing into town and sweeping people and cars and everything away. It was horrifying. One of the main characters was caught up in the crazy powerful flood and swept through, over, under and into all sorts of obstacles until she was finally knocked in the back of the head and died. I have no idea how they made that opening scene. My heart was racing, and I could barely stand to watch it. It was way, way too scary.

On the the polar opposite of that are vampire movies. I really dig vampire movies. Actually I like pretty much any kind of monster movie: vampires, werewolves, zombies, chupacabra ... you get the idea. No matter how much blood and gore are in those movies, it just doesn't faze me. In fact, the bloodier the better because hey, they are monsters, right? Blood will be spilled.

What I can't watch are slasher movies and watching that opening scene made me realize exactly where that fine line is. Real life horror is way scarier than anything made up. Now, what are the chances I will ever be in a tsunami? About the same as being bitten by a vampire I suspect. But there are lots of even more horrible things in this world to fear and worry about than movie monsters.

When we do want to watch a movie upstairs, we have to wait until Grace has gone to bed and is ASLEEP because she gets scared if we go upstairs and leave her alone downstairs. Even though the doors are locked and there is no way anything is going to happen to her while we are one floor away. Still, she worries.

The other  night Bryon was out in the barn working on his boat and it was my night to put Grace to bed. She wanted to know what I was going to do because I turned off the TV. I told her I was going to take a shower and read. She wanted to know where I was going to read. I had to promise her I wasn't going to go upstairs and leave her alone downstairs. I asked her why it mattered as long as I was in the house. She said bad guys could break in and steal her or there could be a fire, and she couldn't get out.

We showed her months ago how to get out her window in case of a fire. It stuck in her head. I  assured her no bad guys were going to break in, and even if they did we'd have way more guns than they had. She fell asleep, but I stayed downstairs and read on the couch.

It would be nice if we were never really truly afraid of anything but that's just human nature I suppose. That and maybe a few too many monster movies. I still can't look out a window at night without expecting a vampire to be floating outside of it à la Salem's Lot, but I'd take that over a tsunami any day.

I was going to put a photo from the last tsunami on the top of the post today ... but it was way too scary.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Editorial Errors


Okay, first off I want to apologize. I've been happily blogging along for some time now. Regardless of  how many times I read, reread, proofread my posts, the second I read it AFTER it's posted, I start finding errors.

It's embarrassing. I know how to spell. If I didn't this wonderful little program into which I create these works of literary art would bedazzle said words with a little squiggly line under my sketchy bits so I can be alerted and reconsider whether or not I really wanted to thhype that word. Or TYPE that word. See, I just totally ignored that squiggly and look what happened. A typo.

Word 2010 also alerts me to grammatical errors. Sometimes though, those errors are not really errors. I meant to do that. For effect. Other times, Word and this blog editor just totally bail on me and leave me hanging. As a result, you get a poor usage of the word THERE when I should have said THEIR. Seriously people, I know the difference. I utilized buckets of red ink during my three long dog years of teaching English to high school kids and correcting that very error.

My problem is not ignorance of grammar and spelling or even typing. My problem is my complete disregard for detail and a totally blind eye to my glaring imperfections. Maybe it's God's way of keeping me going. Maybe I'm just lazy. Maybe the type on this tiny netbook screen is growing smaller and smaller by the second and is almost down to 5 point type now and my 43 year old eyes are giving up. See there, that was totally a run on sentence, but it had a good effect yes? You got the point. Too many details to take in and no desire to correct that mistake.

You should see the other guy. You should see what I DO correct. I read these posts in the editor pane before I post them. Then I send it to preview mode and read it again. I find lots of errors and correct them that way. Finally, I schedule it to post. It posts a day or two later and then I get the email in my inbox saying Life In The Big Cedars has a new post! Yippee! Way to go! Yay me!

Then I read it and find all these embarrassing errors and have no way to correct them on my 3 1/2 inch iPhone screen while I'm driving down the highway in BFE. So I have to wait until I have free WiFi somewhere, crank up the blog and fix them. But the damage is done. You've already read it! You already think, "Damn, why am I reading this hack? She doesn't even know the difference in there and their.'" Rest assured I do know the difference.

I just really, really need a living breathing editor.

I apologize to any of you that I have corrected or judged in the past.

Editors feel free to apply. 

The rest of you feel free to offer corrections in the comments section below. We can make it a game. Think of it as our own little personal version of Where's Waldo.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Long In The Tooth

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Bryon found one of Belle’s puppy teeth last week. Grace wanted to keep it. She asked if the Tooth Fairy would come and leave Belle money. I considered it but then told her the Tooth Fairy was way too busy with human children to worry with dogs too.

The Tooth Fairy did not visit that night, but Grace gave the tooth a place of prominence.

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I have to say I am not sad to see those sharp little needle teeth gone. Belle was six months old on MLK day. I start the obedience training tonight. Belle goes next week.

I guess they have to train their human first.

I hope I’m a quick learner.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Farm Update



It's been a while since I've done a farm update. Here's what's going on in the Big Cedars outdoors.
The chickens have been on strike the past couple of months. The Buckeyes molted and looked very pathetic around November. Now they have the nicest silky feathers again AND they are all laying. The new ones just started this week. Their eggs are tiny right now, but it's nice to have fresh eggs again.


They even grew back feathers where the last two roosters wore them off with their amorous advances. The hens don't miss those two guys at all. The latest rooster has been getting busy but the red Buckeye's don't want anything to do with him. They know the score. I'm sure they've been accosted but I've only seen him on the yellow Buffs so far. He may not last long enough around the farm to win the Buckeye babes over.


I do like how he keeps an eye out for the hens. If he can just keep his hormones from raging so much and realize we do NOT want to hump his girls or infringe on his territory ... he might make it. I'm not holding my breath though.

The strawberry bed is just full of weeds and a few strawberry plants. At this point it's going to be difficult to weed without pulling up plants too. It sort of got away from us last summer. Hopefully, we'll be able to sort it out and get some berries this summer.


This is Gary's garden spot below. The weeds took it over as as well. The tiller will solve most of that problem when it gets closer to spring.


We did manage to get our main garden beds cleaned out, and I keep spreading rabbit droppings on them from time to time. This year, I hope to really concentrate on TOMATOES, potatoes and lettuces.
I've all but given up on the heirloom varieties. I like the IDEA of heirlooms but they just don't produce for us. We've tried three years now. I've had to buy tomatoes from my Grandma or the farmer's market to get enough to can. Maybe this will be our Year of the Tomato.


Walking out to the greenhouse the other day I came across this mess. It looked like bloody entrails for a minute. As I got closer and studied it a little more I finally figured out what it was.



Swiss chard from the garden.  Whew!


The handicap bunnies got separate rooms again because the white/gray one was chewing the heck out of the little black one. The black one is the three legged one. He sort of just waddles around the hutch. The other one isn't much better and would have likely been better off if it's flipper foot had been removed as well. They are pretty pathetic really. They are cute though and friendly.


We still have our stray cat, and I may take her to the vet this week to have her spayed if I can get her into the cat crate. I figure she'll bail as soon as I get her home, and we'll never see her again. Hopefully not. She's pretty sweet but her claws sure are sharp. Ask Grace about that. She keeps trying to pick her up.

Basically right now we are just waiting for spring to start gardening again. The greenhouse is full of animal feed right now. I haven't decided if I'm going to try to start plants from seeds or just buy them. I'm feeling pretty lazy at this particular moment and thinking buying them sounds pretty darn good.

We had talked about raising pigs again but our freezer is packed to the rim. We have enough friends that would buy them to butcher if we want to do it, and we finally have a couple of leads on where we can get some piglets. More to come on that front.

Farm on.


Monday, January 23, 2012

The Drawer From Hell


You probably have one too. This is my drawer from hell.

This is where I stuff all the papers I think I should keep but don't know what to do with. Random receipts included. Receipts for things that cost a lot or come accompanied with a warranty or manual get a little better treatment. They get stapled to said warranty or manual and filed in a box.

This drawer is not a good system, because NOW the drawer is FULL. Now I have to do something with all this crap. You can imagine how fun it is to sort through all of that junk.

I do not look forward to this occasion.

Usually, I get the shredder and the drawer and plop down in front of the television and spend a couple of hours sorting through things. I'm tempted to just shove it all into a bigger box and stuff it in the closet. But like everything else in life, if you do that it will eventually catch up with you, and you'll have to deal with it anyway. There are no free rides. Everything has a price.

Most of the time when I have something I don't want to do, it only makes it worse to put it off. More time to worry or fuss about it. More time to stew on it. If only I'd just do it, then it would be over. Ripped off fast like a Bandaid on a hairy arm. I especially find this is true with work. When I have a call I don't want to make or a face-to-face meeting I don't want to follow through on, it's almost always better to just do it and and be done with it. Rarely is it as bad as I thought it would be. And boy does it feel good when it's behind me.

In general, I don't like to let things pile up ... like the drawer.

Or like Grace's desk ... or her bathroom sink. These two places drive me absolutely nuts.



A person can only stand so much clutter in their lives. I guess Grace is still going to have to learn that lesson.

I sure hope it's soon.







Sunday, January 22, 2012

Step By Step


I have become a slug. This was not a surprise to me. I know how much time I spend in front of the computer and/or tv (sometimes at the same time). Don't forget my other favorite pastime ... reading.  I also drive a lot for work which means lots of time spent sitting around. Generally, I like sitting around being a bum. None of these activities however inspire movement of any kind. Well, maybe when I raise and lower my coffee cup and click my fingers along the keyboard. Still, not many calories being burned there.

The two things I decided to focus on for January were writing and walking. My friend Liz recommended a great digital pedometer which I promptly ordered from Amazon. I really had no idea how much I walked on an average day. It took me a few days after receiving it to decide to try to get it set up. I hate trying to figure out my stride and fiddle with the settings. I finally sat down one day when the house was empty and quiet and figured the damn thing out. It was actually pretty easy. I got it all set up and headed outside to take the dog for a walk. That was a good day. I took Belle on three loops around our trail; one in the morning, one at lunch and one before dark. She was happy, and I was too.

Belle and I did that three days the first week I had the pedometer. Each trip around our trail is 3/4 of a mile and takes about 15 minutes. Since that first week, I pretty much backslid into business as usual. I even forgot to wear it one day. I did walk on the treadmill a couple of nights but then life got busy as it is prone to do, and my ambition waned. When it was warmer outside, I made Grace take Belle for a quick 10 minute walk in the mornings before school. Now that it's cold, I don't have the patience or the desire to arm wrestle her into doing it. I don't even want to take the dog for a walk on those mornings so she's stuck in the kennel until Grandpa picks up Grace after school and takes her for a walk.

Today, I MADE myself walk her around the trail twice. It was hard. It's cold. I didn't want to do it. I did feel great when I got back inside and warmed up around the pellet stove. Belle is noticibly calmer when she gets to expend some of her energy as well. I know in my HEAD that it's a win/win. My heart and the rest of me take more convincing.

I just checked the trip meter on the pedometer. It's been eleven days since I started using it, and I have 48,676 steps on it. There is a great Walking Site that explains about the whole step thing and how many you should strive for. Basically, 10,000 steps equals about five miles. Two thousand plus steps equals a mile. So in eleven days and despite my lackluster ambition, I have walked about twenty four miles (if I did my math correctly). You should check that though. Seriously.


For the optimal health benefit, I should have been somewhere closer to 110,000 steps. I was less than half. I have got to move it! Uggg. Why can't it just be easy? But you know it never is. I know it never is. Exercise always feels uphill both ways.

I think back to ten years ago, when I was a walking/hiking machine! I was in the best shape of my life then. Now ... not so much. On a birighter note, I have managed to lose five pounds in the little effort I have exerted so far. Well, that and not eating two chocolate chip cookies four times a week at Subway. It really is the little things that add up.

Now, I just need to keep adding up those steps.

Friday, January 20, 2012

reCreating Yourself


Some days are diamonds. Some days are rocks.

Sometimes I feel like I am really in a funk, like that Mary Englebreit quote "Life is just so Daily."

Other days as I'm cruising up and down the interstate and back roads for my job, just the right song plays at just the right moment and it's almost like I'm the star of my own HBO series. Last night going in to meet with girlfriends for our monthly "Used To Be a Book Club, Now We Just Meet, Eat and Talk"  gathering was one of those latter moments. It was even complete with a totally rockin' soundtrack and a Serengeti sunset which I drove into as it faded to black. 

I'd like to have a lot more of those days.

I was looking for an inspirational computer wallpaper (i.e. totally killing time on the internet when I should have been working) and came across the quote above. I used to say that to myself a lot, not quite so eloquently perhaps since I'm no George Bernard Shaw. My version was more "Every few years you have to reinvent yourself". Still, the sentiment is the same I think.

I have not remained the same person for all of my 43ish years. Just ask my husband. I think the basic elements are always the same, but there are so many things to do and experience and try why would anyone want to stay the same forever. Okay, maybe my hair has been mostly the same for the past 15 years or so, but that was another post ... (follow to Bad Hair Day post here).

Bryon says he used to have a wife that hunted with him. Yes, yes he did. Now I'd rather sleep in, be warm and toasty and then drive to Freda's for coffee and breakfast. There are lots of things I used to do that I don't have any desire to do anymore. There are lots of other things I'd still like to try. That's how life is, full of possibilities.

Then there are things that you rediscover and find out that they still turn you on, after all these years. Like writing.  Sorry honey, the hunting thing is still looking doubtful BUT, you never know.

I think one of the things that turned me on about writing back in the day when I was full of lots of free time and few responsibilities was the endless possibility of it. That and the fact I got to see my name in print pretty regularly. That didn't hurt anything at all. It was affirming. It was also a great release. I can't tell you how many hours of bad poetry was composed in my teenage self's room on an electric typewriter. Mercifully, none of it survived.

Sporadically through the years I've come back to writing in one form or another. In junior high it was bad poetry, high school brought a monthly column in the local paper, college was all about the term papers so I'm not sure that really counted. When I started teaching, I didn't have time to write for anything other than sheer survival and that was only lesson plans.

I walked away from writing for several years. More than once I've espoused that I have a degree I hope to never use again: a B.S. in English Education and a minor in Journalism. Then Bryon and I ALMOST moved to Montana and when we didn't, I decided I was going to experience all this state (and Arkansas) had to offer if I was going to be stuck here. I started hiking. A lot. I went by myself because no one wanted to go. Then, eventually other friends got interested.

I started writing trail reviews for the Outdoor section of the Newsleader each month.  I rode the entire Katy Trail with the DNR from Clinton to St. Louis on my mountain bike and wrote a full page article on that experience as well. I had a real editor and everything. They paid me money to do it so that made it all all the more legit. Of course that same editor once used the word heretofore in one of my articles. I still don't know how to use that word. It was embarrassing.

Then I fell away from writing again. My relationship with writing has been hot and cold for sure, but like a bad boyfriend, you just can't ever really get away from him. He has some good qualities, you could change him if you just try harder.

I hope this time around my writing does change and I can find a way to keep it in my life. It is addicting. I've wasted my time on much less noble or productive pursuits. I hope it finally lives up to my expectations and I can mold it into what I've always known it could be. Maybe it's time to actually recreate myself into something old and make it new again. A retread. Maybe this time when I grow up, I really will be a writer.

Like the age old question asked by lollipop licking Owls everywhere ... how many words does it take to earn the title of Writer?

A one, a two ...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

If Self-Doubt Were a Superhero, What Color Would His Cape Be?


Yesterday, I felt a little bit like a superhero with a secret identity. I was flush with the success of completing a monumental project. A project born from the primordial goo of my imagination, spewed forth like a fish-man-beasty thing crawling from the depths. Okay, that might be a little melodramatic. Still, it felt like a big deal. All day.

Alternately, I was overcome with self-doubt. I shamelessly posted it on Facebook, because, dammit, I can't help myself. I can't keep a secret. Don't tell me any. I sure can't keep something as huge as a novel quiet. People congratulated me all day. It was wonderful. Like a second birthday.

But in my mind I was having this conversation:

Superhero Me: Way to go! You did it! You rock!

Self-Doubt the Evil Nemesis: Yeah, but you probably just wasted your time.

Superhero Me: No Way! It's the journey that matters. Completing the task! Doing what you said and set out to accomplish.

Self-Doubt the Evil Nemesis: Uh, yeah, still a waste of time and probably at least one tree was also wasted with that stack of paper.

Superhero Me: No, it's just as good as some of the other paranormal romances I've read.

Self-Doubt the Evil Nemesis: Really, you think so? Soooo deluded. No one is going to waste time reading that drivel. It's not even a real genre. Paranormal Romance, what the hell is that? Who cares?

Superhero Me: Middle aged women, lots of them. We like that stuff.

Self-Doubt the Evil Nemesis: Does it really make any difference in the world if it exists?

Superhero Me: It made ME happy. So yeah, it does.

Self-Doubt the Evil Nemesis: Self indulgent and weak

Superhero Me: Shut Up, Self-Doubt or I'm gonna rip that cape off and shove it up down your pie hole.


Last night I was determined to start the next novel fresh and new. When I started trying to massage my tiny little germ of an idea, my last unfinished project kept niggling at the back of my mind, "What about me? Finish me."

The last project was also the first real project I had ever started. I retrieved it from the bowels of my hard drive, dusted it off and reformated it to make it look prettier than it likely deserved. I printed that puppy out. Printing it out all nice and double spaced with a title, header and page numbers made it seem a little more official,  more substantial  and worthy somehow.

I bound it together with a colorful binder clip and headed to bed to reread it. I had already completed 115 pages before I wrote myself into a corner from which I couldn't figure out how to escape. As I read through it last night and then more today, I can't help thinking, it's not that bad. Sure the plot is ridiculously complicated and has no continuity but that can be fixed, right?

Apparently there are plotters and pantsers. Plotters tediously plan their storyline and spend hours writing the map of their story before their characters ever even come to life. Pantsers just jump in and write, anxiously waiting to see where the story takes them. For all my planning in my real life, I think I'm a pantser as a writer.

I don't like to be bothered with the tedious details.

On the one hand that's exciting because, I spent a lot of the work reacting to the crazy things that kept happening. Like in real life but totally not. On the other hand, at one point I got my heroine into such a mess, I'm now going to have to delete her back to something less grand. A God, I would not make. Lisa Almighty won't likely be in my future.

So I've decided to work on actually PLOTTING this unfinished work and molding it into something much better than it is right now. See, I AM teachable. In the meantime, I keep trying to kick Self-Doubt to the curb but he's a real bastard sometimes. Mostly he creeps in the minute someone tells me they want to read it. What? Why would you want to read it??? It's a NOVEL for God's sake. Oh, yeah. Right.

I feel like I need to make lots of disclaimers and caveats before I let anyone read it. Only a handful of people have read any of it and that was only the first twenty pages. As long as it's safely buried on my hard drive, and my desktop and my USB drive and my Skydrive and Google Docs ... ( paranoid much?) it's safe and a gloriously unjudged jewel. As soon as it get's read .... well ... I'll be judged too.

My own doing I know. I hear the strings whining as you play your tiny finger violin for me.

Be careful what you wish for ... you just might get it.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dreaming of a Drift Boat



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This is Bryon’s latest project. It’s going to be a drift boat. Fishermen use them a lot out west. Bryon hopes to take it down the Eleven Point as well as out west. He found this kit on Craigslist. The kits sell for $3,500 new. He got this one for $700. The guy had bought two of them and completed one boat. The previous owner messed up the epoxy on the outside of this boat when he started it. The epoxy has to cure at just the right temperature and he did it out in the sun and it got too hot too quickly.

Bryon and two of his fishing buddies went in on shares and are all working on the boat together. They sanded it back down to bare wood and started over. That’s Matt in the pic above and those are the sides of the boat they are working on. The boat looks awesome so far. I couldn’t really envision what it was going to look like so he showed me some pics online.

It’s a pretty big project but they hope to make it river worthy by spring. He’s already dreaming of fishing trips to come.

They are taking boat name suggestions. So far all the potential names they came up with are dirty ones. They could use the help if you have a trout related name idea that doesn’t involve trousers or body parts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Novel Success!


Five months of writing to the date.
86,456 words.
335 pages.

Having a finished novel sitting on my desk ...
PRICELESS

I finished my paranormal romance novel Reap 'Em & Weep tonight. You'll read this tomorrow sometime. It feels like a real accomplishment. I sort of like just carrying it around.

I have no idea if it will ever see the light of day but I always wondered if I could do it. Stick it out until the end. See it through. Turns out I can. That feels pretty damn good.

The only thing better than having a project is having a completed project.

My plan now is to let it sit and percolate for a couple of weeks per Stephen King's advice in his book On Writing. The idea is that when you go back to it and read it to do so in one or two sittings so you don't lose focus on it. Also, after letting it sit for a while and going on to new things, it will be like reading someone else's writing. You'll have more perspective on it.

I think that idea is swell.

Bryon is begging me to read it. Now that it's done, I'm chicken to share it. It's not ready. I know there are some plot inconsistencies I need to iron out. Other things I need to flesh out. Still more I need to take out. I think it will be like a scab that you can't stop picking. At some point, I'm going to have to share it. And I will, I promise. I can't keep a secret, let alone something this big.

Just not now. Just not yet. I need to pick at it a bit more first.

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to do it. Thanks to Bryon and Grace who endured Ramen noodles and Beanie Weanies more nights than were probably healthy.

Tomorrow I plan to start another one. A rolling stone gathers no moss. This isn't a sequel yet, although I have at least two more in mind for a Reap 'Em series. God knows how I like a series.

I'll let you know a little about the next one when I get rolling, for now I can tell you it's going to be based on the Worst Case Scenario books. Did you know they have a paranormal one? They do my friend, they really do.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Medley’s Best Apps in the Universe

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I might have an unnatural love for my iPhone. But if loving it is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. This thing is just awesome. It’s my office, my entertainment, my portable reference desk and my library. Oh yeah, it’s also a phone.'
The first smart phone I had was supplied by my work and it was a Palm Treo. I loved that gadget too … until the next thing came out. Then I loved my Blackberry for several years. Finally along came my iPhone. I can’t imagine loving another more than this phone, but alas it will probably one day happen. My electronic midlife crisis will inevitably lead me to a newer, younger, faster love. But until then, I’m enjoying all my iPhone 4S has to offer.
There are hundred’s of thousands of apps in the App Store and it’s hard to sift through all of them or even know what to look for. Honestly, every once in a while I’ll pick up one of those $10 app review magazines at Barnes & Noble and flip through it while sitting in their incredibly uncomfortable café chairs just to see what’s cookin’. I am certainly not going to BUY one of those magazines because it will be outdated by the time I make it through the door. Besides that, I’ll probably only actually use one or two of those apps. Still it’s a good way to see what you might be interested and it may lead you to other good apps in your search.
Here are a few I have found especially useful to me. Most of these were 99 cents or $1.99. I know lots of people only use the free apps but all of these were worth paying for to me.
TuneIn Radio:
I use this almost every day. When I’m on the road, I lose my regular radio station for KSMU around Lebanon. With this  app, I can stream it right into my super awesome car and it comes in crystal clear. Plus if I miss Morning Addition for some reason, I can tune in to Talkeetna Alaska or Seattle, WA or somewhere else on the West Coast and catch the first two hours. It’s fun listing to the morning news of places I’ve been or might like to be. There is also a record feature and if you step away from the car, it picks right back up where you left off. It does use data to stream, but I’ve listened as much as I’ve wanted to and not hit my AT&T quota yet. At home, it uses WiFi, so that cost me nothing. You can set presets or favorites of the stations you like to listen to the most. I especially like one called Coffee And The Muse for when I’m writing upstairs. There are just so many options!
iBookshelf:
I tested out several free versions of bookshelves for my phone and this was my favorite. I can use the phone’s camera to scan in the barcode of books in my library at home and it finds them and adds them to my bookshelf on my phone. What that means is when I’m out and about at used bookstores, I have my entire booklist at the ready so I don’t buy books twice! I can also look to see which one’s I’m missing from a series. There have been a few books it couldn’t find but that’s no problem, you can search by author or just snap a photo with your phone and enter it in. I have all of my paranormal library collection entered into it. I still have to work on the upstairs library, but I plan to get them all entered in soon. I have a stack of six books I had bought twice before I got this app. It will pay for itself pretty quickly and it’s super easy to use and flip through to review your collection. You can also export the list to an Excel file for your computer!
Words With Friends:
I know you’ve heard of this one and probably have it. It is a fun and addictive Scrabble game you play with … well, you’re friends. It’s totally worth paying the $1.99 to get rid of the ads by the way.Super easy to use and you can send messages while you play if you want to congratulate or rant about a word played.
Angry Birds:
A super fun killer of time and ambition. I played four hours of it once at a family gathering. I sort of burned out after that but it’s fun while you are waiting for a doctor’s appointment or for your oil to get changed. They have new seasonal versions from time to time that make it fresh and new.
Amazon:
I have Amazon Prime ($79 for free shipping for a year and lots of other things like free streaming of movies and tv which we can’t use out here in the Big Cedars due to our incompetent internet speed). The nice thing about it is you can make Wish Lists of things you are maybe considering purchasing and if you check back from time to time the prices change and you can pick stuff up super cheap. I was looking for Season Four and Five of Supernatural and they were $44.00 each at Walmart. I put them on the list, checked back for a few weeks and got them both for $14.99 each. The day after Thanksgiving I got True Blood Season 2 for $9.99 and they are all shipped right to my house! Very handy!
Reader Apps: Nook, Kobo,Kindle
All three of these apps are good. I have a slight preference to the Nook app since I also have a color Nook tablet but the other two apps are just as good for buying, downloading and reading books on your iPhone.I don’t use the iBook app. I just never tried it.
Camera+
I really like this camera app because it has easy uploading directly to Facebook, lots of easy editing features and border options.
MovieNight
This is great for searching for movies at your local theaters and finding times and reviews. Very, very handy when I’m downtown and wondering what’s on.
MyPathFinder
This is the Silver Dollar City app and has show times AND the SDC MAP on it! Much easier than carrying around their big paper map and you are looking at your phone every ten seconds anyway right?
WhiteNoise
I like this for tuning out everyone at lunchtime so I can read or write. You can listen to the ocean, train tracks, birds, lots of cool stuff instead of the incredibly distracting conversation of the obnoxious persons beside you.
Facebook:
I might be a little addicted to Facebook. Okay, a lot addicted. But it sure is fun sharing your every random thought and catching up with friends. Actually, there are a few people I Iike better on Facebook than in real life. That’s probably wrong, but true. The Facebook app is constantly changing but it’s easy to use and share what’s going on in your life.
I have lots and lots of other apps on my phone taking up space that just need to be deleted because these are the best. Of course you never know until you try them, and I do love the thrill of the app hunt.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Catting Around


This cat has been hanging around the place lately. We think she probably came from our neighbor's house since they have a pretty regular supply of farm cats. Bryon actually caught her in the steel trap we set during the summer to catch the raccoons. Her foot was pretty sore, but he released her and we didn't think we'd probably ever see her again.

We never did catch any raccoons.

Then a couple of weeks ago, she decided to make friends. I knew a cat had been eating the leftovers out of the compost pile because one had scrammed out of there more than once. She about scared me to death in the dark when I walked out to dump stuff.



She got trapped in the barn for a couple of days. I guess she'd gone in there while the door was up and we didn't know it. No harm down though. Hopefully she ate a bunch of mice while she was in there.

Belle has been playing with her and Grace has taken a special liking to her. She named her Violet. So, we've been feeding her and she purrs and rubs up against us and begs for more.

I guess if she hangs around another week or so, I'll load her up and take her to the vet and get her fixed. We don't need eight million cats around here and I know that's what is bond to happen. I just worry that as soon as I get her fixed she'll get chowed on by a coyote or crawl up under our car. One wild cat did that not too long ago and we found it dead on the driveway.

I guess I've wasted fifty bucks on dumber things though.

Pansy was supposed to be an outside barn cat. That was the ploy I used to get her anyway. Then she was sick as soon as I brought her home from the pound and she's never been outside in her entire eight years. She is the best cat in the universe too.

Now if she'd just learn to get along with Belle instead of hissing and spitting at her all the time, life in the Medley house would be a little quieter.

I'm not holding my breath.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dead Cock Walking


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This guy’s days may be numbered. He’s five months old. Apparently that is the rooster threshold for friendliness because today he rushed me – twice. Now past experience with two roosters has proven that this is the beginning of the end.

The last two roosters got to flogging everyone who came to the house. Grace was a special favorite for them to chase around. They hardly ever flogged me, so I probably let them go longer than I should have. We ate them both eventually.

This guy made the mistake of coming for me first this time. I really thought we could raise a non-aggressive rooster. Eternal optimist that I am. Buffs seem to be pretty docile birds … at least the hens are. He finally started crowing good the past week or so. I guess he’s feeling pretty cocky right now.

What he doesn’t know is that I hold all the power. He lives and dies at my will.
They don’t say “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” for no good reason. He’ll do well to learn that quickly.

It bums me out because if we eat him, when the zombie apocalypse comes, we won’t have anymore little baby chickens to raise.

Now that’s just sad.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ant Farming


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I guess we can add ants to the list of domestic animals on our farm now. This was another of Grace’s Christmas gifts. It has been sitting in the closet since Christmas as we awaited the arrival of ants from Uncle Milton.

Bryon wanted to get this gift for Grace because he always wanted to have an ant farm. Actually, he did have an ant farm, but his mom would never let him get the ants for it. She didn’t want them escaping into the house. Not to be deterred, he caught some wild ants and filled it up. As soon as she saw them, she made him dump it back out.

Grace’s ants arrived Tuesday in our mailbox. Bryon and Grace got their new home ready that night and deposited them into it. The flyer says they’ll live a few months. They are harvester ants. You use a tool to make the three starter holes then the ants are supposed to start tunneling and doing their anty thing. So far these ants have been pretty lazy.

We saw one or two squirm down one of the tunnels then back its bus right back out. I’m also pretty sure three or four of them are already dead. Mostly they’ve just been hanging out on the top and eating their way to the bottom. The green medium is both food and fun.

I am sympathetic to Bryon’s mom on this front. It seems wrong to BUY ants and bring them into the house when the last two years we had to pay to have them exterminated. If these fancy harvester ants don’t make it. By spring we’ll have a whole new crop of hardy Missouri bathroom ants we can scoop up to take their place.

Oh how I wish I could play the Pink Panther theme on this post. You’ll just have to imagine it for yourself. You know how it goes … dead ant, dead ant … dead ant, dead ant, dead ant.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Living Crystal


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This is one of Grace’s Christmas gifts. It was a crystal growing experiment. I have no idea how this worked but from a bunch of pink water and a starter rock of some sort, this cool pink crystal grew. I may very well be magic.

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She and Bryon started it New Year’s Day.

As experiments go, this beats Sea Monkeys in my book.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Trail Swag


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Bryon has a food plot planted with turnips back behind a nice patch of cedar trees on our land. Our trail meanders through our woods then dumps out into the turnip patch. There are deer tracks everywhere out there and lots of little purple turnip shoulders crowned with bright green tops are peeking up through the dirt.

I guess they are irresistible to deer. And apparently dogs as well.
Belle pulls one up by it’s green top almost every day when we walk by the patch. She carried one all the way home today and ate it up.

I don’t mind her eating turnips. It was the dried cow patty she carried home and wanted to bring into the house and the deer foreleg where I drew the line.

I don’t even want her kisses anymore. I know where that mouth has been.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Liar, Liar Pants On Fire.


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Last night I got home late. After Grandpa left, Grace was watching television in the living room. Bryon wasn’t home yet. I smelled something in the house. I realized it was Grace’s perfume. I (or Santa who can remember now) brought it to her for Christmas last year and the first time she wore it in the car on the way to church, my head tightened up and I’m pretty sure my brain shriveled a bit.

I picked out the berry scent (yes I sniffed it in the store) because usually food scents are okay for me. Go figure right? But that scent was NOT okay. I told her she’d have to take it to Nana’s and wear it at her house when she visited. She put it in her Nana backpack and that was that. We had an agreement. A deal was struck.

Last night I smelled it as soon as I walked in the house.

I asked her if she had sprayed her perfume.
 
“Nu uh” she said and kept right on watching Sponge Bob.

“Well, I smell something,” I said searching the house for the source.

Finally, I caught a glimpse of the bottle on the edge of her bathtub. Her bathroom reeked of it. I brought out the bottle and asked her again.

Yep she had sprayed it. And yep, she had lied.
 
I told her she was grounded from her DS for three day.s Then I lit a nice cookie scented candle to dampen the wretched smell that was already causing my brain to seize up.

Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

I really hate it when she lies to me. I know it’s inevitable. Heck I did it too. Often. My mom says she always knew when I was lying because I blinked too much when I talked to her. I don’t think Grace has a tell like that. I guess I need to pay more attention. I did tell her I would always find out if she lied to me.

Of course, my mom didn’t know every time I lied to her.

We had a few parties in high school she never found out about until years later when I finally told her. I can’t believe the neighbors didn’t tell on me but the didn’t.

We don’t have any neighbors.

We are screwed.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Car Works

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This is how I started out my very busy day. Sitting at the Ford Dealership waiting to see why my engine light was on and whether or not I was going to make it to Rolla for my appointment.

I spent two hours at Don Vance (without an appointment) to find out it’s some canister purge valve that apparently keeps gas fumes out of your car. Seemed sort of important.

Once they determined the culprit. They turned off the light, ordered the parts and sent me on my way. Bryon said to just crack the window. He must be confused as to which one of us in the family has the big spanky life insurance policy.

I made it to my appointment but just barely.

This car has been the most awesome and the most frustrating automobile I have ever owned. I feel especially responsible for it since it’s my baby. I picked it out.l I got to buy it and it’s in my name. It try to keep it clean and take care of it. Sort of like our kid and pets around the house.

Like Grace says, if you love animals you have to take them to the vet when they are sick.
If you love your car, you take it too the shop.

They are all expensive to maintain and even the car talks back.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hire Jeff Houghton




My friend Jeff needs a job. He's awesome. He's funny. He's an innovative employee. Seriously, if you have an opening or know someone who does, send this to them and give him a call. You won't be sorry.

If not, you should just check out his blog. He's been posting everyday for nearly a year. Today was post 317. The Mystery Year Blog

Here is his blog page/resume

 HireJeffHoughton.wordpress.com


Help Support a Starving Artist






One of my new friends in ORA has self-published two short stories and a longer ebook on Smashwords. If you haven't checked out Smashwords it's a very cool site and a great way to fill up that eReader you got for Christmas with some great stuff at a very reasonable price. Smashwords is sort of the Fair Trade of Writers. Lots of writers self-publish on the site and they make about half of whatever you are paying from what I understand.

So help support some folks who have put a lot of heart, soul and late nights into their work and maybe you'll discover a great writer along the way.

Here are the links to Allison Merritt's works. Enjoy!

Clear As Mud - short story (6 pages)
One Day in D.C. - longer short story (20 pages)
Return - short story (8-10 pages?)

She also let me beta read her cool new steam punk novel called The Treasure Hunter's Lady and it is AWESOME! She'll have it available in February so stay tuned.

The Perfect Brownie


I am the self-proclaimed Brownie Queen. I am expecting to receive my tiara any day now. If you don't believe me, I can give you some references. I make really wonderfully decadent brownies. No they are not from scratch. They are from Betty. Betty Crocker. You probably already know her. She provides the basics in a box marked Original Supreme. I add the bling.

The bling is half a bag of Hershey's chocolate chips.

Bake as directed for EXACTLY 35 minutes.

Let them sit.

Devour with milk in a frozen glass.

Repeat.

Day 8. It's not too late.


Gosh, I keep toying with the idea of posting every day for a year. Other people I know have done it. I want to do it. I just don't know if I can. I mean SURE I CAN. I just don't know if it would be worthwhile or anyone would actually want to read it. All that glitters is not gold. Just ask S.E. Hinton.

I already have four post for January and this one would make five. I could catch up. Give it a go. Make the effort. If I get behind, maybe I could back date it. Sure I could. I might have to take up a collection for my blog book next year if I actually make it 365 days. Long term commitments are difficult.

I might forget. I might be paralyzed with self-doubt. Nah, probably not. You might see lots of pictures of a cute but slightly demonic dog.

You might get random rambling posts like this one.

Or you might get gold.

I'd bet on the rambling thing if you are a betting person.


The first week of January


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The Man & The Beast
It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon here in the Big Cedars. I should be out walking today. I walked a total of twelve miles last week and most of that was on the weekend. That is so not happening this week. I felt sort of crappy today and just couldn’t motivate myself to get out and do it.

I baked brownies instead.

No that isn’t what I should have done, but it’s what I did.

This first week of January I also managed to add 12,945 words to my novel. Have I told you what it’s called? I can’t remember. It’s called Reap ‘Em & Weep. I added a lot to it yesterday in the Write In at The Creamery in Springfield. There were 38 writers in attendance writing in all sorts of genres. I added 3,800 words of that total yesterday alone.

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The Write In
Now, that’s not all gold, but it’s at least something and it’s much easier to delete than to add so I’m getting close to wrapping up my novel. I should finish it this week. (fingers crossed). Then the editing begins. At this point I’ve read it so many times, I can’t see the forest for the trees. I’ll probably read through it in its entirety one more time after it’s finished and then I’ll solicit some beta readers to help edit and give me advice before going any further.

It’s funny how many people are secret novelists or at least harbor the desire to be. I had no idea. The more people I talk to, the more I meet who have a husband or wife or friend who want to or are trying to write a novel. It’s pretty cool.

Everyone has a story in them. The hard part is getting it out.
I’ve learned a lot already and I’ll learn even more before I’m finished.

I bought this little netbook so I could slip it into my purse and take with me for lunch time writing. It’s pretty swell.

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I can’t wait to start the next novel.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Writing the Reaper

I'm writing in JANO (local write a novel in a month challenge). I've added 7,282 words to my novel in the past four days! I should break 70,000 words tomorrow night. Then only 10,000 more to go!

Not getting much blogging in obviously. I'm a good multi-tasker but that's stretching it.

More to come.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Niangua Groove




We're back, back in the Niangua Groove. It's not quite the same as Ace Freley's New York Grove, but it's what we do out here in the Big Cedars.

The car is cleaned out and ready for work, breakfast muffins are made and frozen, ready to heat up for two weeks worth of traveling morning meals. The clothes are washed and I'm ready to go back to work. Well, mostly.

Getting up in the morning at 6 or 6:30 am in the dark is the hardest part I think. I sure do like sleeping in late, but I've had a good long run and I think I'm actually ready to face a new year. Bryon goes back to work tomorrow and Grace goes back to school. One thing about life is if you don't like change, you are not going to fare very well because things change constantly.

Garrett sights in his rifle for youth hunting next weekend. He hit it right on four our of six times.
Shooting clay pigeons.

We had a really fun New Year's Eve with three families of friends coming over. One family spent the night. We shot guns down Bryon's shooting range, then rode out to the field to shoot clay pigeons (I'm pretty sure I was the winner, but I do have a honking bruise on my shoulder for a trophy). We rode four wheelers, played Just Dance II on the Wii and ate and drank.

Watching the Green Lantern in 3D.
Hanging out.




Cats playing poker.

Why we don't do these things more often, I have no idea but we sure had a good time. So good in fact that I forgot to close the gate to the chicken coop and sometime in the night, two of my new Buff Orpington hens got killed. It was a bummer. The chickens have been VERY reluctant to go to roost in the hen house the past two nights and I've had to carry three of them back in there.


I actually thought I'd lost another one yesterday sometime because I only had six in the hen house (two of which I had to take there) and I knew I'd seen seven earlier in the day. Thankfully Bryon found her in the garage this morning. She had hidden herself very well.

So now that leaves me with six hens and a rooster. None of them are laying yet. The old ones molted and quit laying a couple of months ago and the new ones (only two now) should start in February or March. I have had the light on out in the coop and the heat lamp is on for them tonight since it's so cold so that might spark the old ones back up. I've been buying organic eggs from the store but they sure aren't the same.

I hope they resolve to lay more eggs in the new year. 


Sunday, January 1, 2012

January Resolutions


I had a long list of resolutions that I was considering for this year. I've decided to simplify them and just concentrate on one or two each month. This month's area of focus will be WALKING and WRITING. I signed up for JANOWRIMO which is the local version of NANOWRIMO. Basically to write a novel in a month or 50,000 words.

Most people start from scratch and write, write, write without editing until they hit the 50,000 word goal to 'win'. Some work on 'works in progress'. I'm going the WIP route as well as the blogging route to shoot for my word count. My real goal is 18, 591 on my novel because THAT will put me exactly where I need to be.

I'm going to need to write at least SOME on it every day this month to achieve that. No easy task! Time is the enemy of ambition. At least it is for me.

I am excited to meet some new people next Saturday at the Write In at the Springfield Creamery which will give me eight uninterupted hours of writing and smoozing with other writers. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

I've put a word counter at the top of my blog to try to keep track of the writing (all forms) I accomplish this month.

Here we go!