Monday, October 3, 2022

Third Quarter Review

I'm sure you can guess / imagine how I did with my goals in the third quarter.

Not very well.

Not that I was really focused on them since Mom took a turn for the worse and then died.

I'm giving myself a complete pass.

The only two things that got done were reading and sending postcards to my grandma, including the terrible news that Mom--Grandma's only daughter--had passed. Yeesh.

But as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I had/have pondering to do. And boy have I been pondering.

In reality, a majority of my 2022 goals were things other than writing. Okay, barely a majority, but still a majority. Six of ten, to be precise. So most of them can and should remain in play. 

I'll still write to Grandma.

I'll definitely be working on getting our eating habits back on track. 

I'll be (sloooowly) working on trying to fit exercise back into my routine. Recently it's consisted of upping my average daily steps count and pulling weeds, but as the weather finally cools off I may want to spend less time with the weeds.

And housework ... better / more housekeeping is always the intent. I'm slowly, slowly getting things done again. There's no real schedule, which I need, but now that I have a few extra hours at home every day, I have the time and energy to get things done.

I'll always be a reader. Always.

I definitely won't get the Etsy inventory doubled as planned, but I'll keep plugging away at making new patterns. I'm not sure it's worth all the work to be honest, as least as far as the hockey jerseys are concerned. My best seller is still the Harry Potter Spells Sampler... I can create a hockey jersey to order in a day or two, so spending my time on those will probably come to an end. Little to no return on that investment of time.

* * * * * *

As far as the writing--that's really where the pondering comes in. I recently watched a YouTube video by one and only guru, Becca Syme, of the Personality Strengths for Better Faster writing and other things. And what she said...completely true and in context of her topic...is that most books don't sell.

Now her topic and specific point are of no consequence, but the fact that most books published don't sell at all or don't sell at a sustainable rate is important in my decision making.

Do I want to keep writing? Do I want to keep spinning my wheels for little or no return?

To date, I've published twelve individual books and one box set of three books. I've spent close to $4000 on all twelve between cover art, editing, and ISBNs. I've also paid for conferences and travel. I've bought SWAG and taken out advertisements. I've paid organizational dues. At this point, I'm still $650 in the hole after first publishing in November of 2017.

At this point, I'm not planning to attend anymore conferences. There's not enough ROI to justify them. If I do events, they'll local with minimal costs: gas and maybe a small fee, depending on the event & venue. But there's still no ROI for my time and I've discovered that if I don't have physical, print books for these events, then I make zero sales. If I decide to invest in print copies...well that's racks up my expenses amount, doesn't it?

My expenses are at a minimum this year and I'm making enough monthly, that I might bring in just enough to finally break even by the end of the year. Except I'm sure there are things I've paid for or bought that I missed in my original calculation... But neither here nor there.

Do I still have books I want to write? Yes. I'd at least like to finish the two series in progress. That's four more books, two in each. After that...I'm just not sure. My process isn't working as well as I'd like, which has been an issue for a few years. Unless I improve the process some way, some how and make it a little smoother and easier, I'm not sure I'll want to keep going.

I feel like there's a switch on something that needs flipping. But where that switch is or what it turns on--I have no clue. Which is a bit of a problem.

But maybe I can catch up on all my reading / watching / listening to blog posts, podcasts, and webinars about the craft of writing for enough light bulbs to go off that I'll feel comfortable and ready to keep writing after those four books are written and published.

* * * * *

As an aside, I bought my 2023 planner a little early. I wasn't planning on buying it until November-ish, but I couldn't wait. The upcoming year is a clean slate with a few things already lined up to look forward to. I haven't done much but log family birthdays, though, because those are never gonna change. It's still a little too soon for much else just yet. But I just wanted it...

* * * * *

In other news, the annual encore showing of the stage production of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller is coming along in a few weeks. DH and DD have agreed to go (it's the night of DH's birthday, so I asked if he'd be interested and he said yes! So then I asked DD so we could make an evening of it, and she said yes as well. So yay! I hope they enjoy it as much as I do. This'll be my third viewing... :0)

And that, my friends, is all I've got.

Here's to a great week. Catch you on Thursday.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Ready to Cruise Again...

 
It took a couple of tries for DH to convince me to go on a cruise. He'd gone on several with his family prior to my first "boat ride." But once I went, I was hooked and eagerly anticipated our second trip.
 
Our first cruise was Royal Caribbean ship from Galveston, the second was a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship out of New Orleans. Both were wonderful.

Our boarding in Galveston was delayed a couple of hours, so DH and I went and visited a couple of Navy boats, the USS Cavalla and the USS Stewart, instead of twiddling our thumbs in the hotel.

Our second cruise departed from New Orleans and as I'd never been there, we went down a couple of days early so I could check out the French Quarter, which I loved, in case you don't remember. Scroll past the COVID musings and you can see a few of the awesome houses I fell in love with.

After the trip to Oregon and the unfortunate situation I found there, I promised myself a cruise as soon as reasonably possible once that chapter of my life had come to an end. Sadly, it came to a close sooner than expected... and now we're finally moving forward on selling Mom's house and settling her estate once and for all. That could take up to six months or more (I hope the house doesn't take too long though...), but that's okay.

Definitely looking forward to a week on a ship where I don't even have to cook or clean. And I'm coordinating to get my kids along as well. Unfortunately, we were never able to go on a real family vacation when they were all small. But having them all together as adults will be so much fun.

Not sure which port I want to leave from...I think I'd like to go back to New Orleans, to be honest. Granted, the drive there is three hours longer, but if you're gonna go on vacation and you don't get one very often, make it count, right?

If you've never been on a cruise and you want a behind the scenes look, (and if you have Amazon Prime,) there's a great documentary called The Secret Life of the Cruise available. It gives you a peek behind the curtain of a cruise. It's an amazing ballet of moving parts and well worth a watch even if you don't cruise.
 
 Let me know if you like to cruise or if you watched the documentary.

Have a great weekend and catch you next week!

Here a few picks from previous cruise posts so you don't necessarily have to click links...





Monday, September 26, 2022

Miscellaneous Monday on Steroids

I usually only have two to four things to share for Miscellaneous Monday, but today you get a laundry list!


CALL OR TEXT FOR ASSISTANCE

The number to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is 988.

I heard this on the radio while driving to Omaha and thought it a vital piece of information to pass along.

* * * * *

It seems humanity is doomed to repeat too many of its past mistakes.

You may have heard that there is a spate of book banning going on once again. From what few articles I've read--which isn't many, to be honest--most of the books are LGBTQ-themed. A library in Michigan was defunded after librarians refused to remove certain books, although they did move some books to behind the counter. Librarians in the small Michigan town have been harrassed and accused of trying to "indoctrinate" the town's children.

Long story short, Nora Roberts, donated $50K to the GoFundMe campaign that was started on the library's behalf. She might have donated more, but that was the max allowed!

For the full story, click here...

* * * * *

Did you know that not only was September once the seventh month of the year, but until 46 BC, it only had twenty-nine days...?

 * * * * * 

I read recently that Canada's population is smaller than California's! I suppose I should have included images of both the locales, but I'm sure you know the difference in size. If not, go to Google Maps and look at North America...

* * * * *

Remember all that time spent yanking sticker burrs from my yard?? Yeah, for all the good it did. Those are some pervasive little buggers. We had two drenching rains about a month or so ago and everything greened right back up and there were little explosions all over my yard of these things.

click on the image and

LOOK AT THEM ALL!

YIKES! 

Because we have animals who spend time in the yard, I didn't want to buy harsh chemicals that would be toxic for any of them. DD suggested vinegar and a quick Google-search verified this as a valid option. To test its power, I took about 1/2 cup of vinegar and poured it on a handful of those sticker burr plants one evening. The next evening when I checked them, they were browning up/drying out quite nicely. I yanked them out and poured the rest of my gallon jug of vinegar into a sprayer and went to town on several other large swaths of these things.

Lo and behold...

Eradicating these things is going to be an ongoing process. I'm up for the task now, but how long will this enthusiasm last, I wonder... 

* * * * *

And one last tidbit... I've taken on the job of providing the writing incentive theme & goodies for next years' writers retreat at Lake Conroe.

One dear friend has provided this bit of extra fun for us since the beginning and has asked (finally) that someone else do the honors.

I volunteered immediately because I love this kind of thing. I came up with an idea within minutes and ran it by DD. She liked and now I have ten months to plan the fun and gather the goodies.

And no, I'm not sharing on the off-chance one of them reads this. I don't think they do, but they don't get to know until they arrive at the lake, so it's not fair of me to spill the beans here.

*

And that's all I got for you today. Have a great week. See you on Thursday...

P.S. ~ I think I figured out the blog via email thing...I hope it's working out for you. (Let me know if there are issues.) It's working out much better for me.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Break out the 45s ~ National One-Hit Wonder Day is coming!

 

Break out YouTube or Spotify and take yourself back on Sunday, September 25th. It's National One-Hit Wonder Day.

When I think of one-hit wonders, my brain usually goes straight to "Sunglasses at Night" sung by Corey Hart or "Come on Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners. They both came out in my formative musical years of junior high, which is probably why I remember them first.

But as I was doing research--looking at lists of one-hit wonders from various decades--I was reminded of so many songs I enjoyed growing up, as well as songs I didn't discover until the last five or six years when I explored musical genres a little more.

There were a couple of songs that seemed to end up on most of the lists I checked out. "Take On Me" by A-Ha for one as well as "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies that I heard even before "Sunglasses at Night" and "Come on Eileen."

What surprised me most during my trip down musical memory lane was which songs were actually one hit wonders. I like music a lot, but I'm not a connoisseur. Meaning I enjoy the musical experience but I don't generally follow / track the musician, the albums, the musical trajectories, etc. I've bought very few albums in my life, because I could never see spending $15 to have access to a single song I really enjoyed. The advent of iTunes (and other platforms like them) and the ability to buy a single song was amazing to me. To this day I ask for iTunes gift cards--alas, I haven't gotten one in ages.

Did you know that "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul, "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum, "Wipe Out" by The Surfaris, and "Monster Mash" by Bobby Boris Pickett and the Crypt Kickers were all one-hit wonders? Apparently they were. Who knew? lol

There were quite a few others from my junior high and high school years, but I won't bore you with a rundown of those song titles.

It seems like most of the original lists I looked at didn't include country music. Which--why not?

But they didn't, so I looked up those as well and would you believe, Billy Ray Cyrus's hit, "Achey, Breaky Heart" was listed. I was surprised by that, but according to one list, the massive fame of that one song took its toll on Bill Ray and it took him decades to really recover.

Of course, many online entities (Rolling Stone, EW, Spotify, etc) have their own thoughts on which one-hit wonders are the best. And, again, many list several of the same songs, especially the classics from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

I had intended to pick a favorite, but alas I don't think I can. I did want to leave you with a song to listen to if you were so inclined. It was tough to choose just one, but I opted to leave with this:

"Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin, not Bob Marley...

Have a super weekend.

 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Strengths Check-In...

 


Last Wednesday I received an email communication from Becca--the gal who turned me on to Personality Strengths and who teaches people, mostly authors, how to lean in to their top (ten) strengths to be "better faster" at things.

In that email, she encouraged everyone to check-in with their top five Strengths to see how those Strengths were performing or if they were being starved.

An example of starving a Strength would be if a person with high Input (mine is #8) isn't accumulating enough information or ideas or artifacts. Basically -- inputting. :0)

So I took a few minutes to review my top five: Consistency, Restorative, Harmony, Discipline, and Intellection.

I know most of y'all don't really understand the scope of these because I still haven't explained them to you as I've wanted to do since November of 2020 when I first took the test, but let's see how I'm doing anyway...

1. Consistency -- This encompasses two threads, treating all people the same and having them all be subject to the same rules and consequences; and as the name suggests being consistent in action and deed in order to get through routine tasks quickly and efficiently.

I don't know how consistently I treat people across the board, to be fair. But I have a very small circle of people I interact with, but I wholeheartedly support the principle.

As for "action and deed," I definitely have a very uniform way of doing just about everything.

So this means Consistency is being fed enough to work more for me than against me right now.

2.  Restorative -- This has to to with dealing with problems. I'm supposedly good at figuring out what's wrong and resolving it.

For me, it 100% depends on the area in which the problem falls as well as the scope of the issue.

Unfortunately, I don't always have the authority to make changes I think would help.

Now if I'm trying to self-improve, that's something else and I have more success with that.

This strength probably wobbles back and forth a bit more merely because of that authority thing I mentioned, but I absolutely try to fix and resolve the things I can, especially when they fall under the purview of my personal endeavors.

3. Harmony -- As the name suggests, I like things to be harmonious and I don't enjoy conflict. It also means that I prefer being busy and engaged over being bored and opting to spend time in front of the TV. I do spend time watching TV in certain circumstances and sometimes that circles back to the Input Strength I mentioned as much as it does feeling tired or ill or bored.

The "dealing with conflict" aspect of this is always a struggle for me and is something I'm aware of and "Intellecting" on how to get better at.

4. Discipline -- From the results of my Strengths test: "You enjoy routine and structure. Your world is best described by the order you create."

I feel like this should be my number one Strength. But regardless of where it sits--so much YES. This is me.

Keeping to routines helps me feel more even-keeled when other things are out of control. The more chaotic the things around me are, the more I cling to and even add to my routines.

I am in the balcony (rather than the basement) of this Strength, and it works very well for me.

5. Intellection -- Basically, I like to learn things and keep my brain active. I love to read. Romance mostly, but other things too. I've mentioned podcasts a lot over the past few years--listening to them not only feeds this strength, but feeds that #8 Input I mentioned as well.

I listen to mostly hockey-related podcasts, but also Ted Talks Daily (not all of them, but most), History This Week, one called Dark History, and one called Cautionary Tales. Those are the regular ones.

Occasionally I'll hear about a fixed length series like the 12-episode series about the British Royal Family I recently listened to. I also listened to a series about the victims of Jack the Ripper--did you know they weren't all prostitutes as sensationalist history would like us to believe?

This Strength is also about thinking and reflecting and pondering. I need time to parse information I've been given when needing to make a presentation or when taking a lot of detailed information quickly or when writing. Goodness help me if I have to make a decision quickly.

* * * * *

I definitely want to share more information with you about my Strengths and Strengths in general. I find them fascinating and enlightening and exciting. Spoiler alert--Strengths will be on the docket for blog topics next year and I might just make myself a little more accountable by putting it on the 2023 goals list.

If any of this intrigues you, visit the Gallup website.I've linked you to the page that covers the four domains that Strengths are broken into and then lists and links them for more info on each one individually.

* * * * *

I hope you had a great weekend. Catch you on Thursday. :0)

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Happy Hockey-tober...


Hockey season is a month away now, and I have tickets to the Dallas Stars home opener versus the Nashville Predators for DD and me...

Best of all--the home opener is on a Saturday for a change. So...!! DD and I can attend all the pre-game events this year. Which usually includes what they call the Victory Green Carpet Walk. That's when the players walk into the arena on (obviously) a Victory Green carpet. Fans get to line the carpet for pictures and possibly autographs.

There are usually other events taking place in Victory Plaza, as well, so DD and I are gonna make a day of it since we actually can. I've had the tickets for a month already and I can't even say how excited we both are.

Others look forward to Halloween...I look forward to hockey season. :0)

However, for the first time in five seasons, we do not have season tickets or even half-season tickets. DD and I will be going to games as the mood strikes us and not because we have to because we already paid for the seats. Are there things I'm going to miss about being a season ticket holder? A few yes, but not enough to keep on right now.

Last year, I didn't opt out and wished I'd had. Way before Mom's cancer was known to me and before we even thought we'd be moving Mom to Texas, I just wasn't feeling the energy needed for that kind of commitment. Also, I had other reservations, which ended up coming to pass, and so this year, I said, "No."

Mostly for the same reasons, but also because after the hiatus of many things due to caring for Mom, I need to decide if the things I wanted to do are the things I still want to do; if so or if not--how do I move forward.

I've reached a crossroads...there is lots of pondering and consideration and prayer to come for me over the next weeks and months.

In the meantime...

Monday, September 12, 2022

Labor Day Road Trip

Before I actually talk about the road trip, I'd just like to extend my condolences to the British Royal Family on the death of their beloved matriarch, Queen Elizabeth II. May she rest in peace.

God save the King...

* * * * *

Now the road trip...

 

Taken near Guthrie, OK, headed north.

As I usually do, I traveled north to Omaha to visit family over the long weekend. The trip probably wouldn't have happened had Mom not died, but she did and I was able to go. Not that I'm glad it happened at the expense of her life... But I am still grateful that I got to go.

DH had hoped to go with me this year, but inevitably something work-related and something he can't do remotely or push off comes up. Honestly, I don't mind. 

I enjoy the long drive by myself. My soul is fed by the time alone and the beauty of the countryside I drive through on my way there and back. The open plains filled with cattle or with fields of lovely growing things are so beautiful to me. The last stretch from the Nebraska border into Bellevue is especially wonderful because Highway 75 is two lanes and the fields and homes are right there.

My family is a chaotic, weird, wild, redneck-ish mass of people. I love them all. I like some of them way more than others...

The last two years, I met new babies, Christine in 2020 and Mayson in 2021...here we are this year. Christine took way too long to warm up to Auntie Jen (hence the face), but Mayson settled right into my arms as if no time had passed.


This year, I met my de facto new sister-in-law, Ally, and new niece, Ana. By all accounts, Ally and my oldest younger brother are destined for marriage. My oldest younger sister and Ally are already besties. Ana and Christine are close in age, so a new cousin and built-in playmate.

Here is Ana and me...


Overall, it was a good trip and good to see and mark the growth of all my nieces and nephews and to meet and welcome Ally and Ana to the family.

Much as I love the drive, one of these days, ten hours in a car just won't be feasible. But not this year and hopefully not next.

Hope you had a lovely and relaxing weekend.

Talk to you soon.

* * * * *

P.S. Two things...

A. I'm going to work on getting back to two posts a week. I'm finding more things to share than what Monday only posting allows for... There may be some misses here and there, but that's the goal. There will definitely be two this week.

B. I'm working on a way to automate getting this blog to those who receive via email. Right now it's been a very tedious process. But it may mean that you might see a post twice. Not sure which one as that depends on when I work out the kinks and launch. I apologize in advance.

Monday, September 5, 2022

My Summer Vacation

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Today is Labor Day and, growing up, that signaled the end of summer and the start of the school year. Isn't it tradition that, at least in elementary school, you write about what you did over the summer?

Well this is what I did...

Despite soooo many days of triple digit heat, and caring for mom, and keeping up with my day job, I spent quite a few hours cleaning up the yard. In part, to keep sane, to be honest. Especially as the days passed and mom required more care and attention which required me to be in her room...

I worked mostly while I was out with the little dogs anyway, which was 4-6 times a day in the beginning to ensure they didn't leave deposits on my flooring. Anywho...

First, I picked the pods off the sticker burrs to save all dog paws and my own feet from being wounded by these ugly suckers.

(Technically, they are sandbur seed pods, but we call them Sticker Burrs--and anyone who's experienced them will know exactly what you're talking about, lol.)

But as summer and the heat marched on, I started to just pull the whole plant from the ground. May as well, right? Considering how little grass is in the yard, they weren't hard to find or pull. I think I've mostly gotten them eradicated, although every now and again I find a small straggler or two. But they don't last longer than a blink.

Once the sticker burrs were done, I moved on to some sort of spider-like ground cover weed. Those, too, have been fairly easy to tug from the very dry earth that makes up most of my yard these days. There are also a lot of other random not-grass things growing (or already dead) that I've just plucked. Except the kudzu which grows as vines. Not sure how I'm going to get that out of the yard.

Spider-y plant on the left, kudzu on the right...image courtesy of me.

Then I got a wild hair to rake. Not only were there some leaves already, but our lawn guy is really just a lawn mower--so all the detritus from mowing gets left behind and what doesn't turn to natural mulch just sits, so when I've taken the dogs out I've also taken to wielding the rake.

As I'm out there letting the mind wander, it turns to "fixing up" the yard and what that might look like. I know it'll take money, which I don't have a lot of right now, but some ideas include:

  • privacy fence
  • a deck around the master bedroom (with a French door from said bedroom)
  • non-grass landscaping, which could include:
    • gravel (bye-bye kudzu)
    • actual ground cover
    • hedges / trees
    • pond / water feature
    • mulch
    • any combo of the above

I do have a small section of grass I want to keep and nurture, but we live on a decent size piece of property and I don't want to have to water that much grass in future summers (or install a sprinkler system). Convincing DH to do any of these other than the privacy fence is going to be a challenge. We'll see how it goes.

How's your summer going?

Have a great week.

Monday, August 29, 2022

National Read A Book Day...

Image courtesy IMGBIN.

Mark your calendars for a week from tomorrow--September 6th--and pick out a shiny new book. Or maybe you'd rather settle in with an old favorite.

Either way, spend the day, if you can, reading. If you can't take the whole day off--they should make this a mandatory event across the nation, don't you think??--they spend some time (thirty minutes, an hour) with your nose in a book.

Now, I read all the time. You all should know this by now. :0) In the morning, in the evening, sometimes during the day when I get my steps in (which is a thing I have gotten back to).

This year, after a long hiatus, I signed up for the Goodreads Challenge, which is nothing more than a pledge to read a certain number of books during the calendar year. I ended up at 72. I'd originally challenged myself to read 106 books, and if you're not a math wizard, that equates to two per week. But once things happened with Mom, I wasn't sure I'd make that particular goal, so I adjusted slightly lower.

As it stands, I'm seven books ahead of schedule. Here are a few of the books I've read so far:





Ms. Easton and Ms. North are my absolute faves and I've read several of their books this year, but I did branch out into a few other genres as you can see, although I still primarily read romance.

I did have to fudge the truth on Goodreads a little-- I still read A LOT of fan fiction. Individual stories, of course, aren't going to be listed as books. So I spent some time looking up the approximate word counts of a few classics. Moby Dick, To Kill a Mockingbird, Anna Karenina, etc, so that I could use them as proxies for the fan fic I read. I want credit for those words, dang it!

Now, unlike the woman in the image at the top of this post, I don't actually read physical books anymore. Once in a great while for reasons, but mostly I like that I can amass vast amount of books but not have them piled all over my house. My e-reader of choice is my phone, using the Kindle app for commercial fiction, and the plain old browser to access my favorite fan fiction repository.

What about you--are you a reader? Physical books or e-books? Fiction or non-fiction?

Hope you have a great week!!


Monday, August 22, 2022

Miscellaneous Monday

Just gonna share some random things I've come across on the Internet and saved up for just such a post...

Image courtesy of Twitter...
 
In case you never knew that major interstates are in numerical order...
 
* * * * *
 

I found this book when I was going through some boxes a while back. I must have gotten this in Denmark when visiting my grandparents when I was a very little girl because I have a very clear memory of my grandma reading this to me at bedtimes. I can't tell you how much I love this book.
 
Speaking of my grandma...I thought for a few days that she had passed away at some point as one of my letters had gotten returned. First time ever in decades. A letter I sent off right after I'd gotten a note from her saying it would probably be the last one I received from her since she wasn't expecting to be able to leave her bed ever again.

I was able finally to get a hold of the assisted living facility she lives in and, it turns out, she's still alive and kicking. In fact, her 97th birthday is tomorrow. I had to re-order the flowers I'd canceled... oops...

* * * * *
 
And lastly, in sad news, my mom passed away last Wednesday, two days after my post on death... But her fight is done and my hope/wish is that she's now cavorting in pines of Oregon that she loved so much.

Have a great week...

Monday, August 15, 2022

Death comes for us all...

“Death comes for us all; even at our birth-- even at our birth, death does but stand aside a little. And every day he looks towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh. It is the law of nature, and the will of God.”

― Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons

* * * * * 

 

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

As I mentioned a couple (a few?) months ago, we brought my mom to Texas due to health reasons. Unfortunately, that health reason is stage four lung cancer, which has metastasized to various places. She (and we) now seem to be in the final stages of life. The length of this journey depends on the one taking it--Mom, in this case, and not the ones living vicariously along with them--so there's no telling when we'll say the final good-bye.

I'm trying to line up topics and write up the blogs to be ready to go on Mondays, but should a Monday or three get skipped, you can probably infer we've reached a crisis point or she's passed and we're taking care of all the posthumous tasks...

I hope I don't sound as if I don't care...I do. It's my mom, you know? I've already shed some tears and I'm sure I'll shed some more, but Mom and I haven't been close in two+ decades, so in some ways it's a tad bit easier to walk this road. Also--something I haven't mentioned in a long while (lol)--my personality strengths probably have a lot to do with my journey through this.

Also, my husband has been a rock. He keeps asking what he can do for me, which is much appreciated, and it's really been a matter of taking things off my plate. Unload and re-load this dishwasher, for example.

I also know that being a care-giver requires me to take care of me...and mostly that means keeping as much normal as possible in a situation that's completely abnormal. Making dinner, doing laundry, and other random chores actually help me stay on an even keel... Also thinking about and writing and scheduling blog posts... :0)

If there's not a book, there needs to be one covering all the things to think about when a loved one is in the final stages of life. This has been a whirlwind journey for DH and I as we make sure all Mom's ducks are in a row so that there's not a huge mess left behind for anyone involved once the dust settles.

Luckily, her ducks weren't terribly complicated. Ours, on the other hand, definitely are, so we'll working on making sure we make as many arrangements in advance so that our kids won't be left scrambling, especially if we die unexpectedly.

As for the picture of Mt. Shasta at the top...even though Mt. Shasta in in Northern California, it's viewable not specifically from Mom's house, but as you drive from Klamath Falls to Keno where she lives. She wants to be cremated and her ashes sprinkled in the forests of Oregon, the home of her heart. I'm happy to make that happen. As a side note, I think we drove down that exact road on the first stage of our journey from Oregon to Texas.

I know death can be a bit of tetchy subject, but it's what's going on in my life at the moment, so here you go.

Hope you have a good week, no matter what mine brings.

Monday, August 8, 2022

National Middle Child Day ~ Friday August 12th

I was very excited to see this national day celebrating middle children--not because I'm a middle child...

>> I am concurrently an only child and the oldest child. Mom and Dad had me... Dad remarried when I was twelve and had four more kids, all of whom I love to death (except maybe that youngest one, lol). <<

...but because my darling daughter, the one that lives at home, is the middle child and she has sometimes felt overlooked.

The oldest, my brown-eyed girl, was a handful and needed a lot of attention and sonshine, is the youngest, the only boy, and was my favorite.

Now DD and I are a lot alike, but I love having her around and she's my hockey partner in crime.

DD and I at the Winter Classic cheering on our Dallas Stars...
(who won, by the way)

 

When I saw this national day for middle children, it seemed like a good way to show her a little love that maybe she missed in the past.

So I'll try to have her favorite meal maybe and a few small treats.

Are you a middle child or is there as middle child in your life? I'd love to hear about you or them.

Have a great week.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Movie Monday ~ Downton Abbey: A New Era

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

I had hoped to see this in the theater, but it wasn't meant to be...

Fast forward a month and a half and I received a discount on a subscription to Peacock Plus for three months and so I bit...

So the film provided an interesting ending to the whole Downton Abbey saga. It wrapped up a few lingering plot lines and relationships, and it provided the backstory to one of the long-standing mysteries while also sending the Downton matriarch to her final resting place. RIP Violet Grantham.

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So let's see...

Old Lady Grantham played by Dame Maggie Smith inherited a villa on the French riviera, which she promptly bequeathed to the one grandchild who will have the least amount of inherited wealth as she grows up.

The family was invited to the villa where clues add up that lead everyone to believe that Old Lady Grantham had a wild fling and that her son, the current earl is illegitimate. The truth is revealed at the end of the movie.

Meanwhile, a movie was being filmed at the family estate in exchange for some much needed cash to fix the leaking roof of the family homestead.

I imagine this is the last we'll see of the Downton Abbey crew--those who hadn't gotten their happily ever after were finally given them...even the lone representative of the LGBTQ+ community got one. So yay. As the writer of MM romance, I was very happy to see that.

If you've been a fan of the franchise, I'm sure you'll enjoy the final sendoff.

If you've seen it, let me know what you thought in the comments.

Have a great week.

Monday, July 25, 2022

A Day (or none) at the Lake...

and some Miscellaneous Monday items...

The view of the house from the lake...several years ago.
 
It's that time of the year when my girlfriends and I head to the lake. Unfortunately, Mom had some medical issues that precluded me from taking my annual pilgrimage.

I'm sad, of course, to have missed time with my dearest friends as well as the respite from care giving, but that's the way it goes.
 
Instead of weekend-at-the-lake pictures, we'll just talk about life as I know it and other random things.

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I'm doing way more laundry than I'd like. Little male dogs are disgusting, quite frankly, and so my pants especially need to get tossed in the wash way more often than they used to.
 
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It's been hotter than blazes here in North Texas way earlier than we usually see triple digit temperatures. We've reached 110*/111* degrees a couple times with stops at every other three-digit temperature in between. I've taken to watering the trees out front and a patch of really plush grass and the oak tree in the back a couple of times a week for about three hours.

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It's been so hot that there's a splooting epidemic amongst squirrels...

What is that, you ask... It's when a squirrel, or any animal really, lays flat out on their belly, limbs splayed in order to get cool. Rocks, pavement, railings, the ground/dirt, tree limbs, whatever they can find.
 
You can sorta see one here in my yard...
 

He's not quite as spread out as he could be. Sometimes I do find them spread eagle on that rock you see. If you want a better picture, just do a Google search. :0)

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Have a super week...catch you next Monday.

Monday, July 18, 2022

National Junk Food Day is Coming!

Mark your calendars for Thursday, July 21--it's National Junk Food Day. I'm suggesting to the fam that we, as part of my anniversary celebration, have junk food for dinner. Now do we all have to have the same thing...or do we each get to pick our poison?

I supposed it depends...

If fast food is on the table, we all have to agree on the place. If were going a la cart from the grocery store, we might have to have junk food every night depending on what each person wants.

A frozen pizza costs $4.50, whereas a box of, say, really good corny dogs costs about $10--which would then mean we have corny dogs in the house for a bit. On the other hand, a meal at a fast food place could cost as much as $10 with no leftovers...so, what's the better deal... 

What is junk food, anyway?

According to WebMD, "junk food generally refers to foods that contribute lots of calories but little nutritional value. Of course, what's considered junk food depends on whom you ask." 

But Wikipedia says junk food is a term used to describe food that is high in calories from sugar and/or fat, and possibly also sodium, but with little dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, or other important forms of nutritional value.

Is most fast food -- let's say a Big Mac and McDonald's fries -- junk food? There's definitely a lot of calories from sugar (a byproduct of the carbs) and fat--but does the burger at least have NO nutritional value ? Or does the bad stuff outweigh the good stuff?

Here's a list of what I'd consider junk food:

1. soda
2. baked snack treats like cookies, donuts, Pop Tarts, Twinkies, etc... (sadly, I think 99% of cereals fall into this category)
3. candy
4. ice cream
5. chips

I could probably add a few things to this list, but I think that covers the bulk of the really bad stuff. Also, I think there's sooo much stuff that's borderline...

Fast food, for instance. 

Also let's take pretzels...one of my favorite snacks...they're baked not fried--so that's a plus. They have salt usually, so that's a minus for some people. They're a carb, so that's also a minus... but if you're eating a serving size of pretzel sticks (43 of them) a couple times a week--is that horrible?

As they say--anything in moderation, right? But I think moderation is also open to interpretation, lol..

What about pizza? The crust can be problematic, but everything else aside from high-fat, greasy pepperoni could be considered healthy or healthy-ish. And cauliflower crust, if made properly isn't that bad--however, to be fair, it doesn't give you the true pizza experience. But it's still good.

Now...

As many times as I've read the above ramble while writing and finalizing it, it still seems a bit chaotic. Usually I try to find a logical path through the topic, but I'm not sure I accomplished that this time.

But let's end with me mentioning my favorite junk food: pumpkin cake, cereal, Pecan Pralines and Cream ice cream, and blueberry cake donuts...

Am I proposing any of those for my anniversary dinner? Nope...

If we go fast food, and I get to choose, I'm picking Burger King...

If we go grocery store options, I'm probably choosing pizza with toppings I don't usually choose.

I'll let you know which way we go.

Have a great week.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Second Quarter Report

Image Courtesy of IMGBIN

It's time once again to revisit the goals and see how I'm faring...

Mom's been here for three months now, and as you can imagine, her presence has definitely had an impact on my ability to get things accomplished.

But let's dive in, shall we:

1) send postcard to my Grandma in Denmark monthly--doing well so far, if only to let Grandma know how Mom is doing so she doesn't worry. On the other hand (SADLY), my grandma might not be around much longer, if her last letter is anything to go by. She'll be 96 or 97 in August, so she's definitely earned her eternal rest when it comes. Until then, I'll keep sending her missives.

2) exercise regularly / up my game--tilt... Mostly anyway. I'm mot exercising like doing yoga or using the elliptical. But I am having to circle the yard three and four times a day to get the little dogs moving in order to get their bowels moving. I do need to re-implement some sort of regular regimen, but that's not happening until after the annual lake retreat at the end of July, so...

3) continue to cook / eat healthy / adhere to a food plan--tilt! That's been thrown into the wind. Life, right now, is not conducive to this, so we are eating atrociously. But that too must change. So going with the same note as the exercise--after I return from the lake.

4) stay on track / up my game with the housekeeping--also TILT! I struggled with this before Mom arrived, so all the extra tasks I'm juggling have thrown this task completely into upheaval. Although in the last couple of weeks, I was able to find some semblance of a routine for fitting in some basic tasks. We'll see how long it lasts.

5) keep up with writers group duties on a monthly basis--um, no, sorry...

6) publish one book & do my best to finish and publish a second--one book has been published, but only because it was completed and ready to go late last year, early this year. Taking the WIN though! I'm working on the second book every day, but it's slow going because I've lost a lot of my morning writing time. And because of various factors, it's hard to really submerge into the characters' points of view to get their emotions on the page. But I'll get there.

7) hone /learn my craft--sadly, no -- it's the time factor again, but life is calming down and smoothing out, so I'm hoping I can find an hour or so a week to devote to this

8) double my Etsy inventory--honestly, I've been working on this, but I'm nowhere on track and I'm not going to catch up; not that it's a major deal in the grand scheme and I'll have more than I did at the beginning of the year. And also, I decided to leave Etsy...that's a process in and of itself and will take me at least to the end of the year. So I can already say this one will be a fail if we go strictly by the original intent.

9) read, read, read a lot of fiction--I'm not going to read the 104 books I originally challenged myself to via Goodreads, but I'm doing all right on this front. I have to read daily. It helps keep me sane. I think I adjusted down to around seventy books, give or take and I'm on track.

10) keep up with / solidify my Goodreads habit--not so much. This is a publishing related thing and one of the tasks that fell by the wayside with the usurping of my time by other tasks. And that's fine. Something has to give and this is one of those many things.

All things considered, it's not going as bad as it could. And I do have extenuating circumstances, so making progress on anything is a win in my book.

Have a great week.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Happy 245th Birthday, America!!

 

For the first time in years, I'm not spending the 4th of July selling fireworks...

Instead, I'm staying home, being around for Mom. Even though the reason isn't what I would have chosen, there are a few silver linings. Not spending two days on my feet for the better part of eighteen hours is one of them. Not driving home in the middle of the night after two eighteen-plus hour days and sleeping on a blow up air mattress is another. An extra day off from work is a third. :0) 

I will miss seeing the friends I've made though--shout-out here to Robin and Sarah who will never see this...

It's the end of an era and it's kinda sad. DH posits that fireworks will be banned in the state of Texas (maybe the nation) within a decade due to the constant / increasing drought conditions--at least in terms of being available for purchase by all and sundry to light themselves. I'm sure fireworks shows will live on.

Well...

That got kinda maudlin and that wasn't my intent.

I hope you've enjoyed your long weekend as I have enjoyed mine.

Take care and catch you next Monday!


Monday, June 27, 2022

New Release: The Time Between Heartbeats

 

 
 
My first historical has been released into the world and it's epic at 92K words or so!

The original version of this book was begun back in the fall of 2015. Now, I haven't spent all this time working on it. It was about 75% completed for many of those years, but I decided I wanted all those words to be worth something, so I finally got around to finishing the whole amazing tale a few years ago. It also took some time getting 92K words edited and then applying any revisions.

But here it is in all its wonderfulness. :0)

For more information, you can visit the book's page here on my blog/website.
 
To read an excerpt, click here.
 
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In other news...a fan fic I love and have re-read a dozen or so times (and I'm not being hyperbolic--I have actually, literally** read that thing that many times) has been finished on the author's end and will be updated at the fic site I read in the coming weeks. Yes, despite it not being complete, I've re-read it over and over because it was that wonderful.

There are in fact a handful of fan fics that I revisit year after year because, like with any favorite book (and they are books, despite also being fan fiction), I find comfort, peace, and pleasure in those worlds.
 
And with all the crap going on in the world, I'd much rather visit those worlds than pay much attention to the real thing unless I have to.

Have a great week!
 


**Y'all know how I feel about this word--when I use it, I mean it!

Monday, June 20, 2022

What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up...

The jury's still out on what I want to be when I grow up. :0)

But as I was going through boxes in preparation for the new home office desk...I came across a couple of school papers from my two youngest kids.

They were both surprisingly...accurate. DD and I both got a laugh.

DD was probably in third grade when this happened.


And Sonshine was probably in Kindergarten when he made this.


DD isn't an official teacher, she only has half the required degree; but she has enough of one to teach the 2s and 3s at a faith-based school as well as provide after-school care. But for the point of this post--close enough.

Now, short order cook at a local sports bar isn't anywhere close to "chef on tv" but he cooks food for money, so we're in the vicinity. He used to watch cooking shows when he stayed home sick from school. I'd encouraged him to pursue chef-ery post-high school, but he declined... And now... Well... 

**shrugs**

I too wanted to be a teacher and even started my education toward that end, but then I became a mom and my life took a detour. At this point, I'm mostly happy doing what I'm doing (office manager / bookkeeper; hobby enthusiast), so I think I'll stick with it for a little longer.

Have a great week!!

Monday, June 13, 2022

Before and After: My New Desk

I'm loving it, to be honest.

The room isn't finished by a long shot, but the desk is in place and I'm slowly deciding what comes back into my office space. I've sorted through quite a bit already. Some is getting packed away for future consideration, but some is being thrown away and some is going to the donation station.

With everything going on my life, clearing out unwanted stuff helps lighten the load. I'd read or watched something a while back that posited that even though we may love a thing or things, it still weighs on us because we might, for example, still have to dust/clean it. It still requires thought/brain power. So I'm trying to reduce some of that clutter--both physically and emotionally and "thinkily." I can't think of the right term, so I hope you understand what I mean.

Mom's arrival has also displaced certain things in house / life, such as my charging station. I have a small plastic hook situated over one corner of the dining room bench seat where all my charging cables hung. The little charging bricks, along with my air pods and my Bluetooth speaker, used to sit lined up along the back of the bench. When I needed to charge something...I chose the appropriate cable and the correct charging brick and plugged it in.

Well that's not available anymore because that's where Mom has taken up daily residence. So my new charging station is now on the shelving side of the desk where I've placed new hooks and have a plug-in USB hub.

Any who... here are the before and after pictures of my space.

BEFORE: The pics were taken from the door.





This last pic was taken from behind my set-up. The door is to the right.

If you want to see the pics of my empty-ish office, click here...

 AFTER:



Notice the lack of red, white, and blue lights now. A section of one string burned out and when I went to flip the string around, the whole thing wouldn't light back up any longer. So I need a new set of lights. I'm hoping for one long one of the correct length, rather than three I have to string together with the big mangled "knot" of connecting ends hanging on my wall.

See that shelving unit on the one side. I love that. It was a selling point. That lamp won't live there forever. Gonna move it to the corner behind the dog bed (I'll put a cube shelf thing there) once I buy some better lamps for the desk area.

I still have some work to do, but it's coming along and I'm much happier, more comfortable, and much more productive.

Have a super week...

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P.S. ~ The Colorado Avalanche swept the Oilers and now I'm waiting for the results of the TBL / NYR series.

C'mon, Rangers!