Thursday, March 30, 2023

End of First Quarter Review


Image courtesy of Pinterest.

It's that time again, dear readers, when I review the progress of my stated goals for the year. So without further ado, let's jump right in.

#1) For the first time in however many years, I can say that I am on track with sending postcards to my Grandma in Denmark!

#2) I haven't yet opened the Finders Keepers file, but I will starting in April. My annual writers retreat is in June this year and that's the project I'll be working on. And in preparation for the retreat, I'll be reading through what I've written so far, maybe making notes as to tweaks to make and scenes to add, etc.

As a side note, I'm "on track" with this--I hadn't planned on looking at this book until the second quarter to begin with.

#3) I'm not on track with exercising 3x per week... But I'm getting there. I was diagnosed with bursitis and prescribed PT as a result. Most of my "homework" on that front is basically yoga, so in order to keep my hips feeling fine and in actual good working order, I guess I'll be doing yoga for the rest of my life. I'll work my chair gym routine back into the mix and that will all come to fruition this quarter. 

Image courtesy of IMGBIN.

#4) I'm most definitely on track for reading 52 books this year, including those six non-fiction titles. According to Goodreads, I'm four books ahead of schedule in general and, as I mentioned at the beginning of March, I've read two, working on the third of my non-fiction books.

#5) I'm not on track for keeping up my writers group duties. I am mostly on track, I just haven't found the best schedule for staying current with it. Still working on that aspect of it.

#6) I added a non-hockey pattern right at the beginning of the year and haven't spent a whole lot of time working in this sphere of interest. I was for a while and then I had some higher priority things come up, but I am on track. I have the next three months to complete and list the next pattern or set of patterns...

#7) I'm definitely on track for self care. This encompasses a wide range of actions from watching TV to working on cross stitch patterns to doing my PT to hockey games to doing nothing. But I'm prioritizing it over many other things.

#8) I have not completed a home improvement project as of yet. I was hoping to do up the middle bedroom properly as the guest bedroom, and bought an actual headboard/bed frame for that purpose. But that project might have to be scrapped, but A) we'll see and B) I'm not technically off track with this either.

#9) I'm definitely off track with regards to reading / watching / listening to writers education. At least as far as my original intention went. I wanted to do something weekly, but as I mentioned, self care has been a priority which sometimes also means sleeping in rather than reading / watching /listening to something. I've done some--but not as much as I'd wanted by this point. The second quarter would be a good time to get this back into rotation.

#10) I am WAY OFF TRACK on the cooking / eating healthy / adhering to a food plan route. That is a priority in the second quarter as part of self care. But DH recently found an exercise plan of attack that will help with both this and #3...

#11) My housekeeping efforts are way off track as of right now. I did good for a while and then...I didn't. I've started penciling things back into my lovely little housekeeping planner.

#12) My blogging is most definitely on track...

#13) I have submitted one article to my writers group newsletter and am working on a second. So on track.

#14) I haven't gotten to the Personality Strengths books yet...

#15) Daily Bible reading / listening is on track. :0)

#16) Goodreads is up-to-date in terms of reading challenge data. This blog cross-posts there. I just need to pencil in the "ask-me-a-question" monthly or something.

Considering last year, I'm feeling fine about my progress. I'm feeling much better in general, both mentally and physically, but I'm still cutting myself some slack.

Hope you're all well. Have a great weekend.


Monday, March 27, 2023

Today is World Theater Day


Have you gone to the theater lately? I haven't.

National World Theater Day

To be honest, I can't remember when I last attended theater in person.

The last time I attended the theater by proxy was last October. Remember I saw Benedict Cumberbatch in an encore showing of Frankenstein?

Before that, it was either Cumberbatch as Frankenstein (the previous October) or Cumberbatch as Hamlet very pre-pandemic. A non-exhaustive search says 2015??? That's a tragedy for sure.

I do have very old blog posts about live trips to the theater...

A trip with Sonshine to see Miss Saigon at Casa Manana in 2013.

DD and I saw Carmen at Bass Hall back in 2009.

DH and I saw South Pacific and Chicago at some point, but I can't find those posts.

These days, of course, I'm into hockey which is a performance all its own and not unlike opera or so I've come to learn.

Are you a fan of live performances in performance halls and actual stage theaters?

Do share in the comments!

Take care and have a great week. Catch you Thursday.


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Happy Birthday to my Darling Daughter


Happy Birthday to the Child Most Like Me.

You know her as Darling Daughter or DD. :0) 

Lots of picture homages to my children this month, but both the girls were born in March, so...

Without further ado, here she is.

Love you baby girl. Love you so much.


Monday, March 20, 2023

The Buc-cee's Road Trip Recap


Our Buc-ee's road trip was fun and successful. DD and I ran into...Buc-ee himself at the Bastrop, TX location!

The drive south was lovely, with high clouds blocking most of the sun until the sun was high enough to not shine directly into the windshield. US Highway 77 veered away from I-35 at the tail end of Waco and I must say, the United States / the State of Texas is sooo beautiful. 

I love, love, love driving along the back roads, seeing the beauty of the countryside as well as the small towns dotted along the highways and byways.

Remember that $1M I talked about a few weeks ago? Yeah, I might invest it in the tiny town of Rosebud, Texas. Turn it into a location for writers retreats. Main Street looked like it could use a little revitalization. Although, I must say, the town is larger than it looks when just driving through.

There were quite a few charming towns along US-77.

As for the Buc-ee's locations--which were the main point of the trip...

First stop, Giddings, TX. Giddings is a small metropolis of approximately five thousand people and it seemed like a third of its citizenry were all at this very mini-location of our favorite rest stop. Okay, not really. But it was tucked in between a Starbucks and a Walmart and was smaller than my house. I'm guessing the chain hadn't quite gotten so famous when they first built it. But most disappointingly it wasn't large enough to rate having the magnets I collect created for it...

DD is going to work her Cricut magic at some point, though, and make me a facsimile magnet to go alongside the others.

Next stop, Bastrop, TX. This Buc-ee's was very much like every other Buc-ee's. Large and crowded. I used the potty and got my magnet and we headed for...

...the third and final stop of Day 1, Luling, TX. This was also a larger location, but so jam-packed it was a challenge just to get in and out of the parking lot. They're planning to build a new store across the highway that will become the largest store in the nation once it's done. I did get my magnet, however. :0)

Also on Day 1, DD and I visited the World Animal and Snake Farm Zoo, a small facility right along I-35. They had an otter exhibit, which DD loved. They also had a petting zoo with a llama. Sadly, I somehow deleted without saving pictures of those two things. I didn't mean to, of course, but devices were being uncooperative and I probably should have just waited until I'd gotten home.  (lesson learned)

On Day 2, we visited two more Buc-ee's locations, New Braunfels and Temple, and visited the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco.

A good time was had by all, even DH who was left behind and enjoyed having the house all to himself. He thought he was getting one more night alone, and was disappointed to find us home Monday afternoon rather than Tuesday afternoon...and suggested we take more trips. :0) A plan both DD and I are happy to carry out.

Hope you have a great week!


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Is It Time? Am I Ready?


To be the published author I play on TV?

Me at GRL October 2018.

There's an author event at a local library in April that I've been invited to and that I actually signed up to participate in. It's a full Saturday during regular library hours.

I've done previous iterations of the event--evening, the romance genre only--and my biggest takeaway is that you have to have physical books to sell. The people who attend seem to want to walk away with something in their hands.

Of course, is anyone going to want to walk away with an MM romance? That's the first question.

Am I ready to really be an ally and represent the genre? Will there be people there who enjoy the genre as much as I do? But what book do I choose to showcase my work and the genre? That's the second question.

I finally picked two books and I worked for more than a week to format the MS Word documents appropriately to upload to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing so that I could order physical copies of the two titles.The covers ended up being more of a challenge, but I finally beat them into submission as well.

I gotta say it was as challenging and, more importantly, as tedious as I remember. Part of me was like "Eehhh, maybe I don't want to do this thing."

But five months out from all the heavy thoughts I was having about quitting writing...well, I don't feel like that's a path I'm quite ready to go down. I want to keep writing for a little while longer. I definitely want to finish my hockey series, but after that, I'm not sure what I want to write.

It's not that I don't have a list of ideas--I do--but they're not eliciting any spark of excitement in me at the moment, so I'll just have to wait and see what my mindset is when I have to make that decision.

Another thing I've determined that needs to happen is a revamp of all six books of the first series. In addition to new covers, I need to transition them to the more traditional third person, past tense point of view. Right now, they're second person, present or something like that.

That project might also be a good way to dip my feet back into the writer mindset and habits.

Between the time I drafted this and today, the day of posting, I got the physical copies--LOOK!

The covers need a bit of tweaking, but the insides look great.

Hope you're well. Have a great weekend.


Monday, March 13, 2023

Nacogdoches ~ The Oldest Town in Texas


Nacogdoches is a charming little town. At least the part of it I saw, which was a very small part. Its citizenry might say otherwise, but I wouldn't mind another, longer visit.

Last week, while attending my friend's memorial, my writer peeps and I stayed in a VRBO on the town square. I geeked out at the architecture in my immediate vicinity and took a few pictures. Even found a bit of inspiration for the new home of one of my characters.

One of the books in the VRBO said (and a Google search confirmed) that Nacogdoches is the oldest town in Texas, founded in 1779 by Don Antonio Gil Y'Barbo. Its settlement roots begin with the Caddo Indians who lived there before the Spanish.

Also -- fun fact: Nacogdoches is the largest producer of blueberries in Texas. Mmm...

The view from our VRBO...

And some additional images...

This is the side view of the building above. Look at that balcony that runs along the second floor!


Below is one of the two buildings I found helpful in picturing what I wanted for one of my heroes in the current hockey work-in-progress. The first being the place we stayed with its open floor plan and all the exposed brick.


Look at the decorative elements on this one--not to mention the bank of windows.


This building (below) has some lovely exterior brick and it's being gutted / remodeled on the inside. I'm so curious as to what the owners are going to do with the space. I'd also love to know what its shape and size is. Leaves me to image how I might build it out as well. :0)

Hope you're well. See you Thursday!


Thursday, March 9, 2023

Book Reading Report...


Image courtesy of IMGBIN.

Do you remember that one of my goals for this year is to read six non-fiction books over the course of the year?

Yeah, well, I'm just about halfway there and we're almost 1/4 of the way through the year, and I already have three more books lined up. Somehow, I don't think I'm going to have a problem completing this goal.

This is what I've read so far... 

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

This book was mentioned by a dear friend who used this book when homeschooling her three kids. She and they all have their financial poop in a group, so I figured "Why not?" It certainly couldn't hurt.

And it certainly didn't.

I learned a couple of new principles and have endeavored to put them into practice...

First, I'm gonna share the Five Laws of Gold:

  1. Put aside no less than 1/10 of your earnings.
  2. Put your money to work for you.
  3. Follow the teachings of wise rich people.
  4. Don't invest in things about which you know nothing.
  5. Maintain realistic expectations.

In addition to the those five laws, here are The Seven Cures to Fatten Your Purse:

  1. Spend 90%, save 10%.
  2. Expenses grow to equal income, so budget down to 90% of your income.
  3. Make the gold multiply. (seek wisdom/learning before investing)
  4. Guard your treasure from loss. (again: seek wisdom/learning before investing)
  5. Make your dwelling a profitable investment. (own your own home)
  6. Insure a future income. (seek wisdom; accept opportunity; work your way up)
  7. Increase your ability to earn. (seek wisdom; accept opportunity; work your way up)

There are overlaps, as you can see, but I take that to mean those points are especially important.

* * * * *

The second book I read is...

Behind the Bench: Inside the Minds of Hockey's Greatest Coaches by Craig Custance

Obviously, this is not a personal improvement book like the rest of them... I received it for Mother's Day last year after having it on my Giftster list for several years.

It took me a while to get into it--there's nothing wrong with the book. I wasn't in the right headspace because of my mom-- But the author is someone I now sorta kinda know.

"Know" in the sense that Craig is one of my favorite pod casters and we do occasionally have exchanges via the comments sections of the podcast he co-hosts. We are also "friends" on Goodreads...for whatever that's worth. I think it's cool. Your mileage may vary. :0)

FYI, Craig--if you ever see this--your book was recommended by Greg Wyshinski. For those playing along at home, Greg is one of my other favorite pod casters. And is, in fact, my first pod caster...

* * * * *

I've just started the third non-fiction book...

Eats Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation! by Lynne Truss

I'm reading this to hone my skills as a copy editor / proofreader as I'm fixin' to hustle more business in order to reduce debt and increase savings / investments.

As you can probably glean--it's about punctuation. I may or may not bore you later with any surprising insights I find. However, it's turning out to be harder to get into than I expected. There's just been a few too many anecdotes up front.

* * * * *

And last but not, officially, least--a book I read at the tail end of last year and which I might have mentioned at some point this year:

Atomic Habits by James Clear

I meant to post the whole write up for this book, but other topics came along and it got pushed and got pushed, sooo... I've lumped it in here and created a page with that review, so you can go read about my thoughts on this book if you're so inclined.

Since I read this last year, it doesn't count for this year, but it's close enough that I at least wanted to mention it and share what I learned.

More book reports to come at some point. I do still have those Strengths books to get to!

Take care. Have a great week.


Monday, March 6, 2023

Rest In Peace, Dear Friend


This past Saturday, I attended the memorial for my dear sweet friend Michelle. We met at writers group way back in the early teens, I think, but quickly became friends outside of that.

She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2015 or 2016 and it got progressively worse, of course. Her husband reached out to me a few weeks ago to let me know. It's funny because she'd been on my mind a lot in the three/four weeks prior to his email.

The world has lost and the heavens have gained an angel.

I miss you, friend. Till we meet again...

Michelle loved Harry Potter, so I stitched her a sampler of Harry Potter spells for her birthday in 2014.

Michelle and me at the RWA Conference in San Antonio in 2014, dressed for the awards show.

The Miss Maple authors in 2016... (The Miss Maple project fell through.)
Michelle is in the short one in the back in the blue striped shirt.

Miss Maple Author Photo Shoot, image two.

Susie, Chrissy, and Michelle (l to r) during one of our early Lake Conroe trips. (2017)

Our last visit with Michelle (in the green) in March of 2019.


Friday, March 3, 2023

Captain's Log ~ Supplemental

National Sons Day & National Marching Band Day

is tomorrow--March 4th!

Celebrate your son on Saturday if you have one! Give him a call, send a text or an email...maybe FaceTime or Zoom...

Look at us there-- Look how chubby I was-- Look how young Sonshine was--

Another reason I chose that picture is because Saturday the 4th is also Marching Band Day.

And if you've been around these here parts for any length of time, you know that Sonshine was in the marching band at his high school.

Without further ado, let's celebrate two birds with one stone, er, post!

Love you, Bubba!

And you, dear reader, have a good weekend...


Thursday, March 2, 2023

Happy Birthday to the Brown-Eyed Girl!!


She was just here and we didn't take a new picture, but here are some others in honor of my first-born!

Here she is, in no particular order.

Happy birthday, sweetheart--

You've come a long way, baby girl!! I love you sooooo much.

Have a great weekend. Catch you Monday.