Thursday, November 25, 2010

Some Thoughts at Thanksgiving

The turkey is roasting in the oven. My table is set, the rooms are clean, the rest of the food is waiting to be cooked. My oldest son is snoring in his bed; his siblings are silent at this time.

I'm thinking about Thanksgiving this year and Thanksgivings past. Some things remain the same, some things have changed. Last year my oldest son was living in a dorm room, now he's home. Last year was the first year without my mother and of course that cast a shadow on this holiday. Last year I had no job, no steady source of income, this year I do.

We lose things, we lose people. We gain things, we gain new friends. (Sometimes we gain some weight.) It's the ebb and flow of life, year after year. And so it's time to once again remember to give thanks for all the good things we do have in life. I think we humans too often focus on the things we don't have.

I'm thankful for my husband and kids, my sisters and their families. I'm thankful for the parents I once had, who are no longer with us, who raised me and taught me good values. I see parts of them in myself from time to time when I suddenly make a statement they made in the past. Oh they're still here really, living on in their four daughters.  My mother's silverware is lovingly placed beside my china on our dining room table. My father's bedroom bureau now holds my youngest son's clothes and treasures.

We'll make new memories every year as we go forward. It's my table and my traditions now and I know my children are watching what I do and say, and down the road they'll remember all the things I did to make their holiday special and memorable.

Ah, just smell that turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Whose story is it?

Lately I've been thinking about the issue of revision. As writers, we all get our words turned around, omitted, or tampered with by editors.  Often the changes are for the best, but sometimes maybe we're not so sure.

My question is this:  If an article, story or novel is edited quite a bit, does it still rightfully belong to the person who created it to begin with?  Do you still want your name on it?

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Music Isn't Music Anymore, or Is It?

A few days ago I took my son up to college to help him with a film project. While we were sitting on a bench waiting for someone to arrive, I couldn't help listening to the music blaring from the nearby college radio station. I felt like sticking my fingers in my ears, to tell you the truth. I'm no fan of rap music.

Which got me thinking about the music I do like.  The other day as I flipped the TV channels I caught a piece of song, a beautiful song sung by what sounded like James Taylor. The only lyrics I caught were "our town", so I immediately googled the words and found a Youtube video from the Pixar animated film Cars with James Taylor singing.

Good lyrics and a beautiful melody. I was impressed. I miss songs like that. I grew up in a time when there were some great songwriters.  Some of them are still around today. But some of today's songwriters could learn a thing or two from the masters.

I don't buy many CDs or download many songs these days. Yes, I turn to the classics and my old favorites most of the time.

Good God, I think maybe I'm turning into my mother!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hooray for the Arts!

Hi everybody!

I took a short break in September, but more posts will be forthcoming in October.

I was job-hunting and dealing with other issues during the past few weeks.  I also participated in a short film for my son's Filmmaking class in college.  He needed someone to play the monster. My daughter stepped in to play the cop after another actor dropped out. The whole filmmaking process was quite interesting, but very time-consuming. I understand much better now what is involved in setting up the shots. Actors need to very patient while the director is working on the lighting, camera angles, and other factors such as cars and people not wanted in the scene.  It's not easy to get everything right.  The first evening we ran into technical difficulties, it got dark in the park, and the park rangers told us we had to leave.  Oh well.  We returned the following evening to finish up.

I thought my son did a great job for his first short film.  Three minutes goes by fast, but not when you're filming.  Lots of footage got cut, but that's what film editing is all about.  He dubbed in some sound effects and scary music which helped create a scary atmosphere.

All of my three kids are pursuing their passions--film directing, music directing, and coincidentally writing and art, my two interests. I wouldn't have it any other way.  When skeptics and naysayers argue: "Oh, those aren't good fields to go into for jobs", I blow them a mental raspberries.  Life is short.  My parents were stuck in jobs they hated for most of their lives and it wasn't until they were retired that they actually, finally fulfilled their lifelong passions.

I fully support my children's interests as I happen to be a strong supporter of the arts.  The world would be a dull place indeed without music, art, films and literature.

Monday, August 9, 2010

When the bill hurts more than the cavity

I think I'm going to become a patient's rights advocate. Recently my sister was torn, trying to decide how to take care of her daughter's dental problem.  The poor girl was in major pain, it happened to be a Sunday and they have no dental insurance.  My sister took her to an urgent care center.  One little problem with this type of facility--they don't do teeth.  The best they could do was give her pain medication and advise her to see a dentist.  And that will be $65.00 for this visit.

So what do people do about their dental problems when they have no dental insurance and no extra money to pay a dentist bill?

What boggles my mind is the fact that you can go to a hospital if you have a medical emergency, and as far as I know, you can't be turned away if you have no insurance.  They'll take care of you, treat your ailment, and then send you a bill and how you pay that bill--well, that's to be determined down the road.

But what about a dental emergency? The way I look at it is simple.  Everybody has teeth.  At some point, every person will need to see a dentist. Sure, we're told to see a dentist twice a year for check-ups and cleanings, but if you don't and develop a cavity, need root canal, etc., then what?

Not everyone will have a medical emergency, not everyone will visit a doctor, not everyone will need to take advantage of their health insurance, if they have it, but most everyone will need to visit a dentist.

So the way I see it we need a radical new plan.  We need emergency dental care facilities that are open every day, even on weekends. And some provisions for those who can't afford a hefty dental bill.  No one should be turned away because they can't come up with the money at the time of service.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pretty summer images

My camera and I went for a walk this morning, hoping to discover some lovely images to photograph.  Above are a couple of pics of flower gardens I found.  Now that I've posted them, I think you can see the signs that summer is starting to fade and the sun has burned the grass a lighter shade of green.

I also visited a local park and sat inside a lovely gazebo for a short while.  I looked out over the immaculately kept park grounds and thought what a quiet and peaceful spot this would make for writing.

So I may go back there with a notebook and pen.

How is YOUR summer going?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Interesting House Design, Don't You Think?

I remember telling fellow blogger Adam (when he was away on his trip and blogging about the interesting houses he observed in Canada)  about a very cool house around the block from me.  Today I hopped on a bike and went over to photograph it.

I really like the design of this house and find it very different and interesting.  One thing I couldn't help noticing as I looked over the photo was an image in the right hand window.  Was someone looking out the window as I snapped the picture, or was it a....


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer Thoughts

I've been away from this blog for a while due to being on vacation.  I guess it's time to start posting again.

Random thoughts:

I think it's interesting how both my daughter and I are now college graduates with a BA in English. That means we may find ourselves applying for the same jobs. Even though she tells me, "But, Mom, I'm just starting out and you have more experience", you never know. Employers might want to hire someone for entry level pay. We'll see what happens.

I'm still trying to exercise every day even though we've been going through heat waves here. Walking around outside some days is like walking through the desert. Must have a bottle of water with me!

Television has been totally boring over the summer so I'm reading. I finished Jeffery Deaver's Roadside Crosses and now I'm rereading The Lovely Bones. I am finding that as I've gotten older, I don't seem to retain many details from these books anymore. With some passages from The Lovely Bones it's as if I'm reading the words for the first time.

I love the commercials for Old Spice because they're funny and entertaining. Bravo to the advertisers for coming up with something I can actually watch without wanting to press mute or change the channel. I'd say with 90% of commercials, I either leave the room or do what I just described. And good for the Old Spice makers, I actually bought some of their product for my husband.

And now I'm going to go look for some shade or a cool room.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thank you for the blog award!

Thank you to bettielee for bestowing a blog award on me--The Versatile Blogger.  You can visit her at this address:

And now I'm supposed to list 7 things about myself you might not know.
1. When I was younger, still in school, I wanted to be an artist. I used to draw all the time.
2. My first cousin was a member of a band from the 70's called The Ozark Mountain Daredevils. They had a top ten song called Jackie Blue.
3. I have never traveled on a plane.
4. I never learned to swim.
5. I can sing like Cher.
6. I know how to play the piano.
7. My father taught me how to play the guitar when I was a teenager.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Introducing my new blog

Hi everybody!

I'm still keeping this blog, but today I'm starting up a new one.

It's called A Daily Dose of Comfort, and the plan is to start each day with an inspirational quote to keep readers feeling upbeat and positive.  For years I wrote greeting card sentiments and only recently I've started getting back to that market. I truly feel we need motivation and inspiration these days to stay on the right track and keep going forward.

So, this blog, It Bloggles The Mind, will be a place for me to speak my mind on current events, happenings, and what's new in my world; my new blog will be a place for you to stop by if you need some words of encouragement and inspiration.  And of course, you can leave a comment if you want!

The blog address is:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer Reading

I am lining up some summer reading.  This time of year TV has nothing much to offer except reruns, so it's the perfect opportunity to peruse the book stores or just sift through the books in one of my bookcases.

So far I have a Jefferey Deaver novel waiting on my night table, The Lovely Bones (to be reread), and I believe there are a few other novels unopened in my bookcase.

So how about you?  What will you be reading this summer?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thank You For Being A Friend...

I was very saddened to learn of the death of actress Rue McClanahan.  I loved watching The Golden Girls when it first aired in the 80's and still enjoy the reruns.

One of my sisters has a recurring dream of life in the future for herself and her 3 sisters. In her dream we're all sharing a house as The Golden Girls did, and apparently all of the guys have died off. She relates to us how nice this life is, how we're all helping each other, having fun, and just as she did when we were kids my youngest sister is still being sent off to the store to buy us food and drinks. We laugh at this, picturing a gray-haired Rose hopping on a bicycle with a basket to go fetch coffees and doughnuts.

That's what I loved about The Golden Girls, how they helped and supported each other in good times and bad. They say women outlive men, so it's quite possible for this scenario to occur. As I grow closer to the golden years, it's scary to envision life down the road, but somehow a little less scary thinking I might share those years with the three women I love most.

>No nursing homes for us! We're all gonna be fun-loving, peppy, live life to the fullest golden girls!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Roughing It

Life is challenging in the "roughing it without plumbing" days.  At times I feel like a homeless person, even though I do indeed have a home. But those who live in their car or in a cardboard box on the sidewalk or perhaps underneath a bridge are challenged with the same thing I'm challenged with--searching for a bathroom on a daily basis. It is only now that I have a better understanding of what that is like and what it must be like every day for those whose situation is not temporary. The things we take for granted are the basic necessities everyone needs, and it's not until we find ourselves without them do we realize just how valuable they truly are.

The neighborhood grocery store has been a godsend for my family, open from 6 am until 12 midnight, seven days a week.  Oh, we've visited other stores and restaurants as well, but this particular store is 3 minutes away by car. Yes, I've timed it. When my husband and I were house-hunting 13 years ago, I had a checklist which included nearby stores. There HAD to be stores close enough to walk to. Back then we only had one car which my husband drove to work every day, leaving me car-less. I remember that hot August when we moved in, walking my three kids over to their new school for registration. Yes, walking them there. I don't know how many miles away it was, but it would take about 10 minutes to drive there. But since I had no car, we walked in that awful heat.

Most of the inconveniences I've faced in life pale when compared to this current crisis.  I would love to take a shower, but I can only take a sponge bath. (we're having 80 degree weather here) I would love to cook real meals on the stove, but that would mean having to wash dishes and I can't do that. I would love to use my own bathroom instead of public restrooms, but flushing the toilet would create a disaster down cellar. I would love to wash clothing in my own washing machine instead of running to the laundromat, but that would create a flood all over my cellar floor.

The things we take for granted are the things I will cherish as soon as my situation improves and life is back to normal.

In our time we have luxuries we take for granted--electricity, indoor plumbing, heat, air conditioning, running water, telephones, computers, televisions, etc. Take one thing away and life gets very stressful and throws us off balance.

I have a better appreciation now of what life is like for those who have nothing or very little. I am enormously thankful to have a roof over my head. I am going to make a solemn vow to stop complaining about petty problems now that I see how fortunate I've always been.

And I think maybe this happened for a reason so I could learn from it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It All Started With A Tree...

So here I am at the library. Not an unusual place for a writer to hang out, right?  Of course not. Except this writer usually works from home.  So why am I not working at home?

Well, you see it all started with a tree. A big tree. In our front yard. Not that we knew the tree was the real problem. We thought it was a simple plumbing problem. One day when I went down cellar there was water all over the floor. So I mopped it up. I thought our washing machine had a malfunction. We even unhooked the machine from the wall.

Well, things got really interesting when the toilet backed up. I knew there was more to this little mystery. So we called a plumber. Apparently there was a big clog in the pipes and they proceeded to suck out the clog with this big, heavy machine which almost didn't make it down our cellar stairs.  But that didn't totally solve the problem.

What do you mean there is still a problem? They did some investigating and discovered there were tree roots in the sewer pipe in our front yard and under the house.  Oh wonderful.

Fast forward to today.  Two weeks have gone by and the problem has yet to be resolved.  We need a tree guy to chop down the tree immediately, but so far no one has been available. Then we need another guy to do some digging to clean out the pipe. The wait goes on.

So basically my whole family has to clear out of the house for the whole day every day until this situation is over with. We can't flush the toilets and we can't run the water.

I must admit I have learned some things during this crisis. The number one thing, I suppose, is just how much water we use on a daily basis. Too much!  Water for showering, water for dishes, water for washing hands, water for laundry, and most important, water for flushing the toilet!

You don't know just how much you value indoor plumbing until you don't have it anymore.  We have had to become very creative. I bought a big plastic basin we can fill with water to wash up. Then we dump the dirty water outside. My sister was called upon recently to allow my son to take a much-needed shower. (He only takes one about once a week anyway.)  Today I washed my long hair using this new basin and a large cup.  A strange way to do it, but it worked.  I also bought three or four boxes of wet ones for freshening up, hand-washing.

Since I cannot wash dishes at this time (this part I actually love!), I've had to purchase easy-to-fix foods which do not require pots and pans.  I have paper plates and cups at the ready.

The toilet issue is the toughest one to deal with.  Five people who need to go.  I have scoured the neighborhood for accessible bathrooms, open long hours. We have a library, a grocery store, a Dunkin Donuts, and a Target pretty close by. If people notice me zooming down the street in my car, you can bet I'm headed for a bathroom!


A tree guy is supposed to be chopping down the tree tomorrow or Friday!  When he came by to check out the tree yesterday I told him how urgent the situation has become. When he said he would do it this week, I must admit I almost kissed him.

I'm still at the library only it's one day since I began this post.  This is my home away from home now.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I am a Shower Singer

On May 5th, I wrote about being a shower singer on the Army of Ermas blog.

The title of the essay is This Stage Is All Mine, Baby!
Here is the link:  An Army of Ermas.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane

(I meant to post this yesterday, in honor of my son's birthday, but was busy with another essay.)

So today I'd like to go down memory lane--24 years to be exact. On May 4th, a Sunday afternoon, I was lying on my bed all alone in the apartment. My husband was at work; normally he'd be home, but he was filling in for someone else that day. I was nine months pregnant with our first child and experiencing a few twinges and odd feelings I'd never felt before. I really wished my husband was home so I could run my symptoms by him and see what he thought. Could I be going into labor? Or was it just that spicy pizza coming back to haunt me? Or was it really nothing at all?

Well, it wasn't nothing at all. My water broke and that set everything into motion. My husband was now home, running around looking for the doctor's phone number. He found it, called and was told all three of the doctors I'd been seeing for the past nine months were out of town! WHAT? Oh, don't worry, there is a doctor covering for the group.

Yeah. Sure. But I don't know this doctor! And he doesn't know me. I'm supposed to feel comfortable and relaxed with a doctor I don't even know delivering my baby?

Well, what could I do? I went to the hospital and had my first baby, a little boy. It was a wonderful experience. I had natural childbirth, no drugs. My husband served as my labor coach and did a great job. He even outlasted the student nurse who fled the room at one gory point. I still wonder today if she ever became a nurse or if the birthing of my baby scarred her for life and she wound up flipping hamburgers for a living.

That little bundle of joy is now 24 years old (as of yesterday) and graduating from college in a few weeks. He is a multi-talented, creative, sensitive, intelligent young man who has made me proud since the moment he came bursting into this world.

I hope he will be very successful in his chosen career. (And maybe so successful he can send his dad and me on a nice trip to Hawaii!)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Finding The Fun

I went to see You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown yesterday afternoon. The auditorium was filled with lots of children and their parents along with a number of senior citizens. My kids are young adults now, so one of them sat next to me during the performance while the other two were seated down in the orchestra pit since they were part of the orchestra.  It was a different kind of experience for me as a parent; normally I'd be watching one of my kids up there on the stage.

I loved listening to the songs, some familiar, some not.  I grew up watching and reading Charlie Brown stories and sat watching videos with my own kids.  I smiled as You're a Good Man played out on the stage, thinking back to the many times I tuned in to A Charlie Brown Christmas or any of the various holiday specials. I do miss the childhood fun with my kids. These days we're all adults and life is always so busy, hectic and sometimes lacking in fun or just plain spontaneity. Kids always seem to find the joy and humor in life. I know I've gotten awfully serious in my fifties and I really need to stop and laugh or go out and smell the roses. I want to find that funny girl I used to be.

So take some time to find the child in you today. What made you laugh? What silly things did you do in the past? What silly songs did you sing?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nature's Beauty

Spring is here at last, so I went out and looked for some nice nature pics. Everything is budding and blooming as the earth renews itself.

Here are a few illustrations of nature's beauty. If you click on the photos, you can see them close up.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mystic is Mesmerizing but There's No Place Like Home

>So I promised I would post a descriptive photo of my trip to Mystic.

Here goes.

Along the highway the signs of Spring were beckoning to us. Trees with budding leaves lined up along the left and right, in various shades of red, brown and green. Once we passed the Rhode Island border into Connecticut, farms popped up on the right with cows chewing grass on the sunshiny afternoon.

When we arrived at the street which housed the hotel, we noted a familiar trend we'd just left behind in Rhode Island. And what might that be? Why, road construction, that's what. They were tearing up the street as evidenced by orange cones, men with hard hats, trucks and so forth. One person was holding up a SLOW sign. I commented to my husband, "I wonder how long he has to stand there and hold up that sign?" An hour? Two? All afternoon?

The water was sparkling beside the S & P Oyster House Restaurant, across the street from our hotel. People were strolling across the drawbridge and along the sidewalks. There was a peaceful, easygoing feeling here replacing the everyday stress and rush rush rush feeling I'd left at home.

When we took a drive along some of the roads in Mystic, I noted the stone walls and lovely flowers in bloom. I wish I'd been able to photograph them, but since I left my camera behind--well, just wasn't able to do so.

It was wonderful getting away from the all too familiar, same old, same oldness of day to day life. A change of scenery can be so helpful to the mind and body.

But on the third day, our time was up, and we had to pack up the car and head back home.

While I love getting away and seeing new and different places, I find I must agree with Dorothy who once stated so aptly:

There's no place like home.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Away today but with you in spirit

I am away today in Mystic, Connecticut celebrating my 55th birthday.

It's a beautiful day here, we're right on the water, the sun is shining and we're just about to go for lunch.

I couldn't ask for a nicer day.

I didn't sleep much last night--too noisy outside. It reminds me of my trip to New York City--the city that never sleeps.

Unfortunately I forgot my camera so when I go back to Rhode Island I'll have to post some descriptive photos.

Have a nice day and I'll talk to you later!

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's Finally Spring!

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

balloonMan whistles

by e. e. cummings

This is one of my favorite poems about Spring. Any thoughts about the poem? What images come into your mind? I think it sums up the season very nicely.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My most recent post...

...can be found over at An Army of Ermas. It's called Married With Children

Here is the link: An Army of Ermas

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Just Wanna Go Back to Bed Today

>It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring. Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day. On second thought, don't!

As you have probably surmised, it is raining here. How depressing. I really need to hop in the car and go to the store but I just can't summon the energy or motivation to get out of my chair. I am typing away here to keep myself awake. When I look out the window, all I see is torrential rainfall.

There are those who maintain, "Well, better rain than snow!" I suppose that's true. But when I awake to rain in the morning, the rest of the day just doesn't seem to matter. I can't get motivated and inspired.

In a little while, I'll force myself to go out the door and do those errands. Right now I think I'm going to practice the piano. I now have four lessons under my belt so I know something, even if it's only a little something. I can find middle C. I know the names of all of the white keys. I can play a few notes of Beethoven's Ode to Joy. I know what a half note looks like. And a quarter note. And a rest. But I have miles to go before I sleep. (or master the piano, anyway)

So how about you? Do you do your best work when it's sunny? Or does sunshine make you want to skip work and go lie on a beach somewhere?

Friday, March 26, 2010

And The Winner Is.....

Thank you to everybody for entering my caption contest! It was fun. I enjoyed reading the entries and thought they were all good. But there could only be one winner.

Since I had a hard time choosing the winner, I asked my son to help me out. He has a great sense of humor. We liked them all but there was one that made us laugh the loudest.

Congrats to Matt at Pensive Sarcasm for his caption!

It was:

Kathy: "I am sooo going to eat her cake, too."

Rose: "I'm smashing her cake in her face if she goes for mine."

If you knew my sister, Rose, she probably WOULD say/think something like that! She is a tough cookie.

So, Matt, go to my profile and click on my email to let me know which book you choose and where to send it.

Thanks again, everyone, for playing!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Did you enter my contest?

This is the last day to enter my Caption contest. Just tonight to come up with something clever. I will pick a winner tomorrow, Friday, March 26.

That is all for now.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Of oldies and Barbies...

I've been away from my blog as of late! Sorry about that. Lots to do, people to see, kids to oversee. Before I get to today's topic, here's a reminder that my Caption This contest is still going. You can still enter.

Right now I'm listening to Mick Jagger sing, "I can't get no sat-is-fac-tion." My googling reveals the song was released in 1965. I was 10 years old that year so I only vaguely remember hearing it. I was probably too busy playing with Barbie dolls, creating little stories and getting them into all sorts of mischief. I remember one time deciding my sister's Barbie needed a new hair style. Now this doll had long black hair, nothing wrong with that, but I thought she should go shorter. Who knows, maybe it was a hot day. So I got out the scissors and started cutting! It was going rather well, I thought, when suddenly I put down the scissors and stared at poor dark-haired Barbie. Oops. Her hair was indeed shorter, but unfortunately she now had a big bald spot on the back of her head. I tried to hide my handiwork (probably stuffed Barbie in a hamper or something), but when my sister found her she was livid. "Who did this to my doll?"

But back to Mick Jagger who can't get no satisfaction. Do you remember the song from years ago? Or did you first hear it later down the road as an "oldie"? Do you have any particular memories you associate with the song?

You can also share your Barbie stories here.

Oh, one more thing. For more of my musings on Barbie, you can read my essay on a new blog called, An Army of Ermas. Here is the link:

There are also lots of other funny essays by some very talented women writers. Check it out!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Caption This!

I decided to borrow an idea from a fellow blogger.

Yes, it's a caption contest! And there will be a prize. In fact, you can choose from 4 of them.

Since my sister and I have birthdays coming up in April, I thought I'd use this photo I found of the two of us from about 25 years ago. Our birthdays are two days apart so we always used to celebrate both of them on the same day.

Here's what you have to do: Write a caption telling what either my sister (on the left) or I (on the right) is thinking. Be creative, be witty. If you want, you can write what both of us are thinking (within one comment). Post your caption in the comments section. Only one caption idea per person. I'll let it run for 2 weeks so you have until March 25th. Good luck!

Oh, and if two people happen to come up with the same caption and it turns out to be the one I like best, the person who posted it first will be the one who wins.

Prize is a CHOICE between FOUR books in my book collection (all in good condition):

1. I'd Rather Be Writing (by Marcia Golub) (a guide to finding more time, getting organized, completing more projects and having more fun.) Non-fiction hardcover

2. How to Start and Run a Writing & Editing Business by Herman Holtz (NF paperback)

3. Open House (by Elizabeth Berg) (hardcover novel described as "a love story about what can blossom between a man and a woman, and within a woman herself.")

4. How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction ( a paperback non-fiction book by the masters of speculative fiction: Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Marion Zimmer Bradley and others.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Survived a Trip to Hell

The sun has returned! If you take a look out the window you'd swear it's Spring already. But it's not. Quite. The outside thermometer is reading about 67 degrees. I'll take it.

I went to a rock concert on February 27. My son's band was playing at Club Hell, a little night spot in downtown Providence. Yes, Club Hell. Relatives gasped when I told them the name of the place. My kids and I joked that evening that we were all going to hell. And we did.

A nice little family outing. Most of us donned black clothes because it just seemed fitting. I haven't been to a nightclub in God knows how many years so it was quite an experience for me. The first thing I noticed upon entering the joint was how dark it was in there. The second thing I noticed was the sticky floor. What exactly had created the stickiness....I don't even want to know. The third thing was the condition of the rest room. Holy cow! It was dark in there, too, not very clean-looking and seemed to be devoid of paper towels and soap. Were we supposed to bring our own?

We had to wait about two and a half hours for my son's band to take the stage. They were the main attraction. Don't even ask me the names of the songs or even the names of the bands that started things off because I can't recall. Mostly we tried to find a quiet corner to sip our drinks and "talk" above the music. That involved shouting into each other's ears.

At last the guys took the stage and we moved up closer on the dance floor. After a couple of cocktails I was relaxed enough to enjoy the music and leave my worries behind. They played about six songs off their new CD and a few other familiar cover songs. The audience cheered, swayed to the music, applauded and even shouted for more.

My ears are still ringing. No, not really, but they did for a while. I truly enjoyed the show but I must admit the volume was louder than it needed to be. This was a very small building not a football stadium, and I'm sure I could have heard the music just as well if I'd stayed outside.

But all in all it was fun and broke me out of my usual Saturday night routine. And now I can say I've been to hell...

and back!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


>Well, in keeping with my New Year's resolutions, I did indeed sign up for piano lessons and had my first one today. I was very nervous. I haven't been a student for a long time.

I discovered I don't have too much trouble using my right fingers, but the left hand is a whole different matter. I don't have trouble TYPING with my left fingers, can hit that q key or z key without much difficulty. But piano keys? For some reason, my fingers do not want to cooperate.

I also found I needed to trim my nails when I got home. Long fingernails are not so good for piano playing. How come nobody tells you that?

So I'm off. I'm doing it. He gave me some exercises to practice at home and I shall practice. I am going to learn to play piano no matter what. Even if I break a nail. Even if arthritis warps my fingers. Even if my left fingers stubbornly refuse to stretch and bend over the keys.

And when I master the piano, I'm gonna learn to play the tuba.

(No, not really)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Here comes the SUN?

>It's raining today. Rain, rain, rain. It's been raining every day for the past 4 days. Or maybe longer. Talk about depressing! I forget what the sun looks like.

I think it's yellow or perhaps orange, circular shaped, hanging up there in the sky against a blue background with a few wisps of white clouds hovering near. But I could be wrong. After all, I haven't seen it in a while.

Do we take the sun for granted? Is it any wonder some cultures worship it? Think about what the sun does and how it makes us feel. It provides warmth, light, energy, vitamin D, helps plants grow, and yes, makes us feel GOOD, cheerful, upbeat. Without it, life's a real downer.

I've tried turning on every light in the house to replace the sunlight but it's just not the same and of course my electric bill will soar. I just can't feel sunshiny happy without the sun.

So, I've posted a picture of the sun in the absence of the real one. I'm just gonna stare at it frequently throughout my day and repeat a little mantra: It's sunny, it's sunny, it's sunny!

I need to feel cheerful again. I'll let you know if it works.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Time to celebrate!

>I just realized today I have passed the 100-post mark. I have 120 posts on this blog, not counting this one. Time flies when you're having fun!

So today I think I'll just celebrate the fact that I've hit 100 posts. We'll just have a little party. And I'll pose the question: What will you be celebrating this year? A special anniversary? A graduation?

A milestone birthday? Publication?

Come on over and have some cake.

Friday, February 19, 2010


We had a silly, but fun discussion this morning, getting ready for school and work. My youngest son was commenting about his older brother away at college, who has enormous difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. Evidently he's frequently late for his morning classes. So my youngest son was suggesting we buy him a talking alarm clock, something really loud or obnoxious that would make him bolt out of bed in order to silence the annoying voice or sound.

Our discussion revolved around the possible clock sounds/voices. What animal noise might do the trick? I thought a rooster crowing, but my youngest suggested a cow mooing or a pig squealing. My daughter chimed in with dogs and wolves.

Then we progressed to other sounds. I thought maybe Steven Tyler of Aerosmith screaming one of his songs might do it. "Dream onnnnn...", but my son said, "No, that would just make him think he should keep dreaming."

So we discussed other singers with unusual, loud or somehow unique vocal skills. Ozzy Osbourne, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin, perhaps Minnie Riperton? ("la la la la la--ah ah ah ah ah ah") Yeah, that last one ought to rip right through the brain!

We pondered whether a piercing movie scream might do the trick. Imagine waking each morning to Janet Leigh's Psycho shower scream. Or maybe just The Godfather or some other scary dude threatening you to "GET UP NOW!"

Yes, we ran the gamut from animals to rockers to screamers to criminals in our attempt to pinpoint the perfect alarm clock for my oldest son. I don't even know if they make such devices, but if not, it's high time they did!

After all, some people simply do not wake up to your typical beeping noise or radio station music. For these people much more effort is needed.

I just might have to go into the clock business.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A New Face in the Mirror

Routines. Do you ever get sick of them?

Do you ever get tired of seeing the same face in the mirror each day? What if one day when you got up in the morning and looked into the mirror, a completely different pair of eyes stared back at you? A different mouth gaped back at you. A wonderful new mane of hair sat on your head.

I think about these things. I love variety in life and get bored easily. Housework? So, so repetitive. What's the point in washing the floor when it's only going to get dirty again? Those dishes in the sink? Sure, you can wash them, dry them and put them away. But in another few hours they're going to go back to being dirty all over again. They never get done!

I'm thinking this might actually be a cool idea for a novel or short story. A person wakes up in the morning looking totally different. Has this idea been done before? I suppose it has. There's nothing new under the sun, right? It's all been done before. Just like routines, story ideas are explored over and over again. The trick is to put a new twist on it.

Excuse me now, I've got some thinking to do.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Some Winter Imagery

Winter is upon us in the northeast. Yesterday was a "snow day", with a blizzard predicted, but not much happened. Those weather guys blew it.

I decided to take a walk and snap some winter photos. There's not much of interest to photograph in winter. The trees are stripped naked and look lonely and empty. I did glimpse some frozen lakes with a touch of snow covering them. And just about everywhere squirrels bounced from tree to tree or scurried across my path in search of food or whatever squirrels do. I captured one or two on my camera.

I hope these photos will paint a picture for you of winter in my corner of the world.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Playing By Ear...

I've been trying to teach myself how to play the piano. I have a keyboard, so I figured how hard could it be?

Years ago my parents shipped me off to some woman's house for piano lessons. I only vaguely remember this; the memory is filed somewhere in the back of my mind. It's funny how people have such selective memory; there are reams of memories stored in the brain, but many can't be accessed no matter how hard one tries.

I recall learning how to play "I love coffee, I love tea" on the piano. I can still play it to some extent. My fingers have tried to remember the right keys. Not that there's any great need for me to be able to play this song in 2010. My father always played by ear and I'm trying to do it, too.

I only got so far with my childhood piano lessons. Who knows why. Maybe lack of money, maybe I was bored, maybe I didn't want to practice at home. Kids would usually rather play with toys than sit and listen to a grown-up try to teach them something.

So this morning I sat down at the keyboard and tried to play a song. I've got the notes figured out and now I just have to learn the chords. I'm stubborn like that. I'll keep tickling those ivories until I get it right.

There are plenty of self-taught musicians. Joni Mitchell is one I know of. She certainly did okay for herself.

Practice, practice, practice!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


How do we ever know for sure that someone is telling the truth?

Can it be ascertained by simply reading someone's words on a page or is it necessary to sit across from someone, look him or her in the eyes, and judge by body language and facial expressions/cues?

There are supposed to be telltale signs of lying. Sometimes a person will shift their eyes away from the person they're talking to. (not make eye contact) (Of course that could also indicate shyness.) I think constantly rubbing the nose is another sign. (But then again the person could just have an itchy nose.) A nervous laugh might be another indicator. Moving the arms around might be employed to distract the other person from what is being said. But again, it could just mean the person is nervous.

Some people are easy to read; others are not. When it comes to stories, we don't have the luxury of seeing what someone's characters are doing, so as writers we need to make these characters come alive on the page.

How would you make this person appear to be lying?

Sally looked at John and started telling him her story.

Maybe you can rewrite the above line in the comments box.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Follow Your Heart

There's a song I like on one of my Beth Nielsen Chapman's CDs called, "I Keep Coming Back To You." I've interpreted the lyrics of the song to mean the woman is in a relationship with a man that's like a see-saw--the two have their ups and downs, but always seem to get back together. I think it's an interesting song because it can relate to both couples who are dating and couples who live together. Married couples have their share of fights or arguments, but don't have the luxury of "going home" if they're mad. No, it's more a matter of slamming some doors and finding another room to occupy for a while until things cool off. Slowly, when one or both have decided to test the waters and actually speak to the partner, they get "back together again."

A couple of lines of the song I especially like are, "Hold me now, just think about this room that we have shared so long/ We've studied that map of cracks on the ceiling, talking 'til the break of dawn".

I love that part because it rings so true. When you've shared a bedroom with someone for many years, there's a closeness and familiarity that's unmistakable and unique. There is safety and comfort in snuggling up to someone you trust completely and telling him your thoughts and concerns and listening to him tell you his.

That's why when I hear the line that goes: "there is something strong as history telling me this love is true", I nod and think, yes, there is something about having a history with someone that reminds you to remember the good times you've shared in spite of the bad. When you've had a lifetime of memories with one person, you have a connection that's worth keeping.

And the summary of the song is:
"They say follow your heart and you'll be happy, so I keep coming back to you".

I think that writers can also take something from these song lyrics. Was there a genre you used to love to write in, but gave it up for one more marketable? Did you once dabble in poetry, but stop writing it because "there's no money in poetry"?

Writers need to follow their hearts to accomplish their best writing.

Monday, January 25, 2010


First, I'll do my writing exercise. For ten minutes I'll describe what I'm hearing. But today I'm also going to look outside, too.

Ten minutes on the timer:

Raindrops pattering on my roof. Outside the wind howls, and like a huge mouth opening wide, blows, rustling leaves on the trees, whipping and scattering loose leaves across the street.

The street is slick with rainwater, like large tears flowing from a giant's eyes.

Winter grips us in its hands, indecisive about the outcome. Will it be snow or rain or some of both?

Well, the timer just went off. That was interesting. I might be able to use those images in one of my stories.

I'm really trying to focus more on descriptions. I've looked over my WIP and find it sorely lacking in description. I think I need to remember what I learned in college poetry courses. One of my instructors told us to make sure we use all of our senses when we write. She said the readers need to see, smell, hear, taste and feel what we are sensing.

Sounds like good advice to me.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What Do You Hear When You Stop to Listen?

I thought I would try something different today. I'm just going to sit here and record what I'm hearing. Just a little experiment to try tuning into my environment.

Outside noisy trash truck's brakes screeching to a halt. Trash cans bumping and scraping as they're emptied, then tossed back on the ground. Sounds are fading now as the truck makes it way around the block.

Inside: oil burner kicks on, hums steadily. Crackling sounds emanate from the baseboards as heat is passing through them.

Outside: a dog barks at something unseen to me. On my roof, the sound of little feet scurrying across the surface. Squirrels no doubt.

Another truck outside. Glass shattering as it's emptied onto other glass.

Try this experiment yourself. Take about ten minutes when you can, sit at your computer, listen to the sounds around you and write down what you hear. I think it's a good exercise for writers. If you come up with some sentences that sound particularly good, use them in your work in progress.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Battling the Ah-choos...

I've been battling a cold the past few days and noticing how different everything smells and tastes. Well, foods don't actually taste like much. They are absent of flavor. And smells? Let's just say you could stick a skunk in front of my nose and I'd never even notice.

As for sitting down to write and trying to string together coherent sentences--that's not so easy either. My mind is muddled due to medication. I like the sound of that. Alliteration of the m's. Writers are supposed to write no matter what. Okay fine. But you get what you get.

I did manage to throw together 11 humorous greeting card ideas and email them off. How funny they are remains to be seen. Humor is such a subjective thing. I've noticed that even my sisters and I have different tastes in humor. Two of them love the TV show, The Big Bang Theory. I've tried getting into it, but it doesn't really do much for me. I have laughed out loud at 30 Rock but my sisters don't find that show funny. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

So now I need to go find some tissues before I sneeze all over my keyboard and screen.

Winter is such a fun season, isn't it?

Monday, January 18, 2010

One More Time...

This post is intended to be an update on my New Year's resolutions.

Last week when I took my son to a music store to get some equipment for his electric guitar, I spoke to an employee about piano lessons. He told me they charged $19 per week and you pay on a monthly basis. That sounded pretty reasonable. I took a pamphlet home to read and I'm hoping to begin lessons in March.

I've been exercising regularly and did indeed tape a picture of a woman with 6-pack abs on my fridge. This is a reminder for me not to pig out every time I go to open the door. It seems to be working so far. I'm thinking of taping up similar pictures all over my house. I have found however that many family members and friends sabotage my efforts by tempting me with cakes, brownies, chips and various other goodies. It does teach a person to use self-control.

On the writing front, I'm not living up to my vows. This is another area where family members attempt to keep me from writing by talking to me and bugging me while I'm trying to concentrate. Thinking is a very big part of writing. Just because I'm not typing doesn't mean I'm not writing. Much of the plot plays out in my head before it ever gets to paper (or computer). But I don't think non-writers understand that.

Oh, and the children's picture book. My daughter has not done any drawing as far as I can tell. That means yours truly will have to do it herself. That should be quite a challenge, but probably fun.

Thomas Edison once said: Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Friends are the best medicine

Friendship seems to be something many people put on a back burner due to time constraints. Those of us with families, jobs and household and other obligations simply have to give something up. Unfortunately we let our friendships fizzle out and that is just so sad. Friends can brighten our lives in so many ways, offer support, lend an ear, make us laugh.

Recently I went out to dinner with two girlfriends I met at two different jobs. One I worked with about 26 years ago and we've remained friends to this day. The other I met in 2002 when we both worked at the same bank. They're both very different, but together we have common bonds. After dinner as I was driving home I was in such a good mood and thought how great it would be to meet with these two friends at least once a month. I'm so glad I've kept in touch with them over the years instead of letting life and its many complexities get in the way. They make me smile when I don't think I have any smiles left.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said the only way to have a friend is to be one.

Sounds like good advice to me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Watch Out for Those Over the Counter Drugs!

Something happened while I was shopping at Target over the weekend that still has me amused and bewildered. After plopping all my items on the counter at the check-out, I waited for the clerk to total it up standing ready with my credit card. As he was finishing up he sort of casually told me he'd need to see some ID for one of my items. Huh? "Just get out the card and I'll scan it." I looked at him through narrowed eyes and wrinkled eyebrows. Not understanding, I started sliding my credit card through the machine. That was fine to do at that point, but not what he meant. No, I was supposed to get out my license, some form of ID.

I stared at him and said, "I don't understand. Why?"

He then told me that since I was purchasing a bottle of NyQuil, he needed to see my ID. WHAT?

A dim light of reason filtered through my brain. Ah, alcohol. NyQuil has alcohol in it. Here I am a 54-year-old woman buying a product with alcohol in it. The clerk wants to make sure I'm over 21. Ha Ha ha! Good God.

I laughed out loud. Being in a hurry, I simply complied with his request. I left the store with my purchases mulling over the whole thing. Never before have I had to show my ID in order to buy items such as NyQuil. Is this something new? Are stores so petrified about getting in trouble with the law (in case some minor decides to swig a whole bottle of NyQuil to get drunk) that they now force everybody to whip out their license if they want to purchase a bottle?

Or is it everybody? Does everybody have to do it? I don't have to show my license at the liquor store whenever I buy wine or beer. Why do I have to show it at a department store?

It doesn't make sense to me. I got home and took out the bottle. Another laugh when I looked at it. It isn't even NyQuil, it's DayQuil. There's no alcohol in it! Gee, I guess I could have stood there arguing with the clerk. I could have made a scene!

Sigh. Maybe the clerk was just paying me a huge compliment (if looking younger than 21 is a compliment at this stage of life).

Nah, that can't be it.

I wonder what will happen if I try to buy some glue.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Technology: friend or foe?

As you've probably noticed there are different kinds of blogs and bloggers. Some people write theirs as a kind of daily journal, like so: This morning I got out of bed. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, flossed, combed my hair, got dressed, fed my goldfish, and got ready to begin my day. Then I....

Well, you get the idea.

Not too interesting, is it? No, it's not. I wonder why anyone would think such daily rituals are fascinating enough to share with readers. If you want to keep a diary, buy one of those lovely little cloth books with blank pages, tuck it in your top drawer and write in it at your leisure.

But blogging? Let's have something meaty! Writing, current events, politics, pop culture, fashion, cooking--the list is endless. I think people need something to chew on.

So today's topic to chew on is new technology and how it might be making us all dumber. Why do I say that? Well, because I think people rely on modern gadgets so much now they can scarcely function without them. For example, let's take clocks and watches. When I was learning how to tell time (back in the caveman days), we used a round object with numbers on it. My kids, on the other hand, can't seem to fathom how that works. "What does quarter of three mean?" They need to see 2:45 on a digital clock to understand quarter of three. No thinking is required with a digital wonder. It is what it is.

Then there are calculators. My kids grew up using them in math class. Instead of figuring out math problems on paper, step by step, they simply whipped out the trusty calculator. My husband is always amazed that they can't do simple adding and subtracting mentally.

Now let's take GPS systems. Lots of people are installing them in their vehicles these days. Sure does make getting places easier, right? I won't argue that point. But recently, as I sat in the passenger seat while my daughter drove us to the movie theater, I had to laugh at the "woman" guiding us to our location. Sitting between us was this little device SPEAKING each turn, each direction along the way. While my daughter and I tried to have a conversation, the mechanical passenger kept interrupting with street names, route numbers and highway exits. It sure does take all the thinking out of trying to figure out where you are, doesn't it? It made me think of the old days when cowboys and Indians had only the sun, moon and stars to guide them.

So, that's my theory. Technology seems great, but we'll pay a steep price for it in the end.

We're all gonna get dumber.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What do you like to read about?

So I've been surfing around the various blogs I follow and noticing that there seem to be many more female bloggers/participants than there are males.

Why do you suppose that is? I'm curious. And after you're done pondering that question, here's another one: Do men and women enjoy the same blog topics equally? Now, I suppose if the topic is fashion, there are bound to be more women jumping in with comments. Sports, probably men. But I'm wondering if it's a good idea to try to choose topics both genders will enjoy.

I've always tried to be versatile with this blog, choosing a variety of topics. I like the idea of giving everybody something to think about.

So what do you think? What subjects/topics interest you?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Abs of Steel!

>Good morning! See, I am already keeping one of my New Year's resolutions to blog every day.

I was looking over my list of goals for 2010 and realized I forgot one. Even though I managed to lose about 12 pounds last year, what I'd really hoped to do was flatten my stomach. Not an easy task for sure and one I failed to accomplish. So recently I asked a fitness expert for some helpful tips. She told me I needed to do cardio exercises (which I'm assuming refers to jogging, speed walking or swimming), ab muscle training, and try to maintain a healthy diet. So.

Of the 3 cardio types of exercises listed above I'll choose speed walking. I can't jog these days because I've got a little bit of arthritis going in my knees. I never learned to swim, so that's out. I love going for walks; it's just a little tricky navigating those icy sidewalks and streets during our New England winters. But I'll do it. In fact, yesterday I braved the snow and wind and took a 25-minute walk.

Now for the ab muscle training part. She told me I need to re-train my abdominal muscles to get them to tighten up. How would one do that? I am assuming that means I should suck in my stomach and hold it for, I don't know, 30 seconds or so? Maybe do that at intervals all throughout the day. Like when I'm standing in line at the bank or grocery store. Yes, other customers might look at me a little weird. (Why is she making such a strange face?) I won't be able to converse since I'll be holding my breath. Guess I'll just have to hold up my index finger in a "just a moment" gesture.

And now for the third thing: maintain a healthy diet. Hmm. Yes. Well. I did a pretty good job of that last year. Right up until the holidays hit. I hate to admit this but about an hour ago I hopped on the scale expecting to see a certain set of numbers and...well...somehow the scale had jumped ahead about 5 pounds! My eyebrows shot up. (Must be something wrong with this scale!) I stepped off and played around with the dial. Got back on. Same set of numbers. It's not the scale. Oh no! Could it have anything to do with those chocolates my husband tucked in my Christmas stocking? Or the 7-course Christmas dinner? Or the goodies that popped up everywhere I went in December? Have some of this, have some of that.

Well, it's time to return to a healthy diet. I can do it. I won't always like it, but I can do it.

I'm thinking of putting a photo of someone with six-pack abs right on my fridge so I'll have to see that every time I open the fridge. That could work. Nice visual motivation, right?

So that's another of my New Year's goals. Abs of steel. A lofty endeavor, to be sure. But I do so love a challenge.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Making Goals For 2010!

So it's a new year and I've yet to post about it. Shame on me.

First off, I'll comment on my last post which was about making plans in 2009. I had mentioned I wasn't too keen on making plans, but preferred to wing it as I made my way through the year. Of course, there are drawbacks to that method, such as not much gets accomplished. I can admit that. I think the only thing I did accomplish in 2009 (of the things I'd hoped to do) was lose weight. We all know many people begin a new year vowing to lose weight/get in shape. It's a noble idea, but not so easy to accomplish. Probably because I had health concerns, I worked hard to lose the weight.

Now when it came to writing goals, I fell short. I did not complete my romantic/erotic novel. I did not self-publish my children's picture book (lack of funds and because my artist didn't work on the drawings). I did not blog as often as I should have. I did not come up with a decent recording of the song I wrote.

So...I have much to accomplish/shoot for in 2010. One of my goals is to take piano lessons. That will require money. Another goal is to finish my novel. That will require dedication and discipline. Another is to complete and publish my children's book. That will require money and my artist's doing her part. Another goal is to blog every day. Again, that will require dedication and discipline. Another goal is to find a steady source of income. That will require good luck, job/career availabilities, and stubborn persistence.

So there you have it. Wish me luck! Or just tell me to get busy and work my butt off!