Monday, December 22, 2008

What I'm giving for Christmas--ADVICE!

Yes, I'm giving advice for Christmas. Here it is, in handy-dandy list form in case you want to print it out and take it with you.

1. If you're a singer and you feel the need to record a Christmas carol, please remember this: Rarely does a well-known melody benefit from being slowed down (I just heard "Sleigh Ride" sung so slowly it was almost a lullaby--I'm sure the horses pulling that sleigh are sound asleep) or with variations on the rhythms that make the song just silly ("Jinnnnnnngle bells, jinnnnnnnnngle bells, jinnnnnnnngle allllll the way-ay-ay-ay"). If in doubt, ask me. I'll tell you.
2. If you really feel you're smarter than anybody else, keep it to yourself. I've had another encounter with Miss Snip, who's once again been dismissively rude to me. Honey, all God's children are equal! I'll just attribute it to the fact that you're half as old as I am--and half as nice. This time of year, we all ought to have on our Christmas spirit as if it were a sequin-sparkled sweater, right out there where everyone can see it. After Christmas, put the sweater away and keep the spirit out.
3. Think before you speak. Think before you email. Think before you act. Hey, in general, just think! That's actually going back on my own resolution list for the New Year.
4. Shop early. Mail early. Thus says the woman who spent over $60 to send one package out.
5. Write stuff down. This is good if you have a memory as flaky as a fresh-baked croissant (like moi) or if you're a writer (like moi). Those books don't write themselves.
6. Keep your promises. I mean, seriously. Do it. That includes anything from saying I'll be there at 5:00--and showing up at 5:00, not 5:15 (Note to self: Put on resolution list!) to signing book contracts with deadlines (Ditto on the resolution list thing).
7. Compliments should come faster than criticisms.
8. Love your family, your friends, your pets. They are your treasure, your chance at heaven on earth.
9. Laughter and a smile--every day.
10. Say your prayers.
Have a merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Baby, it's COLD outside!

I was in Massachusetts this weekend, and everywhere I went, people asked about the weather here. Apparently there was a little matter of a blizzard, and talk of temperatures that bottomed out at 27 below zero, without factoring in the wind chill. I suppose when it's 27 below as the absolute temperature, well, you're already cold.

I've given in and dug out some mittens. I'm like a little kid--I hate mittens and hats and shoes and mufflers and take them off as soon as I can--but there are times when even I have to give in to the weather. Fortunately I got a new scarf in Paris that's keeping me warm. And mittens that make me smile every time I put them on. When I bought them, the sales clerk told me that an old woman in Wisconsin knitted each pair by hand. Got them home, read the tag inside, and gee, you never know what you'll learn by reading the tag in your mittens. I didn't know there was a Nepal, Wisconsin!

But that's what the tag says: Made in Nepal.

Stay warm! And keep your mittens on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ah, Paris!

I have a wonderful excuse for not posting recently--I went to Paris! My good friend Lila and I went, and we stayed in a friend's flat in the Rive Gauche (Left Bank), only a block from the famous Cafe Les Deux Magots. I never realized how much I would love Paris. Actually, PARIS and LOVE are linked--and I think I know why.

The people were incredible. They were kind and lovely and gracious. I felt like my French with the flat midwestern accent must be painful to them, but they were helpful and encouraged me to try more.

And that's the first reason Paris and Love go together. Love is encouraging.

People walk together there. Mothers and daughters walk with arms looped. Young schoolchildren hold hands. Adults kiss--a kiss on each cheek upon meeting, perhaps, or the lingering kiss of lovers that never exceeds the bonds of good taste. Love is accepting, Love is near, Love reaches out and touches. Love isn't timid.

We noticed older couples strolling, arm in arm, and Lila pointed out that they listen to each other. Their eyes meet and hold during a conversation. It is truly give and take. Love listens.

The parents we saw with their children were wonderful. Their laughter, their delight in their children, was clear. We viewed parents who truly treasured their children. Love is respectful.

Our last night in Paris, we had just settled in at a favorite restaurant--on a very busy Saturday night--when we realized we'd forgotten to bring money (details, details) so we popped up to go back to the flat and get it. The waiter stopped us and asked us if we were coming back. I said I didn't know and he said.... (Get ready to drool, this is GOOD!)

You will return. If not tonight, then tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then next week. If not next week, then next month, but you will return.

That said it all. I will be back.
Love returns.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I voted!

I didn't put this on my list below, but I should have, since as much as I love to make lists, I love crossing things out on them even more.

Add this, please:

8. Vote.

Now, look at it:

8. Vote.

YEA! I voted early. My chickadee voted in her first presidential election, right next to me. How cool is that?'

And also very cool is this: As we left, I noticed that most of the people in line were new voters, young and caring. I wanted to go up to each and every one of them and say, Welcome! This is one of the things about being a grown-up that carries a great deal of responsibility--and which will always make you feel good. You have a place in the US, and it starts right here, at the ballot box. Choose wisely. I am so glad to see that you care. It's a beautiful fall day, and yet you opted to come inside and vote. The future is in your hands--and it starts today.

I love this.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

To-do list

This is one of those weeks when I have a gazillion things to do, and for some reason, there are no extra hours in the day, and no extra days in the week! How fair is that? Pfffft.

I love lists. Allow me to make one. This is: TO DO THIS WEEK.

1. Finish going through the stuff that's been tucked aside for lo these many years. Take to Goodwill or the library or the garbage can as needed. I actually do enjoy doing this--but I'm always interrupted just as I get some momentum going. We have a joke in my family, that every time I go into the basement the phone (which is upstairs) will ring--and I never get there in time.

2. Once I have all these lovely open spaces, they'll probably need to be cleaned. I like that part.

3. Laundry Mountain needs to become Laundry Hill, or preferably Laundry Plains.

4. I really need new shoes. It snowed last night and my sandals aren't...well, they just aren't. Oh, my toes hate being encased in shoes. I need to get some comfy and snappy-looking shoes.

5. I HAVE TO REVISE MY BOOK! I really love revisions, I do, I do, I do. I'm looking forward to a revisionfest. I'm not the kind who can spread it out over a couple of weeks. I have to sit down and do it.

6. Oh yeah, there's my job. Lots and lots and lots to do there, too.

7. Tell my kids again and again how much I love them.

Okay, time to get going! How's YOUR week shaping up?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Streets paved with gold

In typical Northern fashion, we've plunged headfirst into fall and don't we look nice. Today I was driving down a small residential street, and the trees arched overhead to form a canopy--a canopy of gold leaves that cascaded down on my car. The streets and lawns were covered with this gold, and as I looked at our Creator's majesty, I couldn't help but think: Wow, this looks just like the Windows wallpaper!

Yes, folks, this is why I'm a writer. Honestly. Sometimes I embarrass myself.

Anyway, it was raining and, for once, I was glad of it. People weren't out with their noisy lawn machines (blowers, mowers, and mulchers--it's amazing how much gas we'll use to control nature), sucking up every bit of this beautiful scene. Just for a while, it was nice to see the streets paved with gold--on earth, thankyouverymuch. And the only sound? The sound of wet leaves hitting the car. Lovely.

My son and I had a Book Binge this weekend. We love Book Binge weekends. We go to the bookstore and buy and buy and buy, and he stays up all night reading. I try but I poop out way too early.

And today being Sunday, you know what I did (besides laundry!)--Mystery Weekend on the Hallmark Channel, where I watched a Perry Mason movie that didn't have Raymond Burr in it--in fact, even Perry Mason wasn't in it. Apparently it was made after Burr died. Well, my darlings, I do believe that if you're going to call it a Perry Mason movie, then he ought to make an appearance in it.

Have a good week, all!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Things I'm thinking about

I've been thinking. Okay, I know. That's a dangerous black hole sometimes, but bear with me. It'll be fascinating. I promise.

Here's what I've been thinking about:

1. Motivation. I came up with the COOLEST motivation ever and I love-love-love it but I don't which of two books I'll use it in. Ooh, it's good.

2. Wall Street. I don't know what just happened but somehow I lost at a game I didn't even know I was playing. I hope I had fun.

3. Clothing. Why do I keep buying the same thing over and over? I've been on a jacket/blazer bender for about a year and a half now. Enough. If you go shopping with me, just slap my hands away from anything that looks jackety. Point me to the skirts and pants. I won't be happy, but I'll go.

4. Weather.We're playing hide-and-go-seek with the last days of summer as they make their exit from this year. Okay, fine. However, this means a 30-40 degree change in one day. I'll be comfy in the morning (see Clothing, above) but by the afternoon I'm sweaty and grouchy.

5. Temperament. I've been snappish lately. A lot has really cranked me, and apparently my patience is truly limited. No, it's not you. And to be honest, it's not me either. It's that big cosmic dump truck again. But it'll go away. It always does.

6. Mechanical ability. Seriously. I fixed my dryer. Victory dance!

7. The Desiderata. I revisited this beautiful piece of writing earlier in the week, and it calmed me right down. If you haven't read it recently, take a look at it. (Yes, you can Google it.) You'll feel MUCH better after a gentle reading of it.

Of course this isn't everything I've been thinking about. I've graciously omitted discussing laundry, the election, and the fact that my lawn has been officially declared Tall Grass Prairie and is thus protected by law.

Have a good rest of the week!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I need a nap...Or maybe 10 naps

I still haven't caught up on my sleep from the conference. Not only did I have my usual This isn't my bed! I can't sleep here! And where's my cat? I can't sleep without my cat on my legs! sleepless nights, I drove to and from the conference and that's always wearing--and more so the older I get. (Did I just say that? THE OLDER I GET? Huh.)

But it was a good conference, and it was great to see familiar faces. I would LOVE to say I came back invigorated--but see the paragraph above. I came back too pooped to pop, as my mom used to say.

I'll blog more when I'm feeling more coherent. I've been home 3 nights and each night I've fallen asleep so quickly the cat's barely got herself settled before I'm off to dreamland, snoring happily, glad to be home with family (feline member included).

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Where shall I go? What shall I do?"

(OK--I edited the header so it makes sense. Apparently the path from my brain to my fingers as I type is encountering traffic snarl-ups--road construction, no doubt.)

I'll be in the Twin Cities soon, and that means the Mall of America, my home away from home!

For those of you who aren't familiar with my beloved MOA, I thought I'd highlight some of the best features you'll find there, at least in my mind.

NORDSTROMS: If you like shoes, Nordstorms is THE place. That may not be much of a secret, but here's something that might be: stop in at the cafe if you get a chance, and have their iced tea. It's the best iced tea I've ever had in my life, and the food is excellent, too. I never pass up a chance to glug down a glass of iced tea there. And I get one to go, too!

SEPHORA: If you're a make-up/perfume fan, Sephora is the place to be. Tip: Get a Beauty Insider Card while you're there. Then, when you're back home, in Sephora withdrawal, you can go to their website and order--and if you're an Insider with enough points, you'll get extra free stuff!

YANKEE CANDLE: Sniff until your sniffer can't sniff any more! Wow, this place smells great.

DEPT. 56: What a fun store! From expensive to very affordable, there's something for you.

THE AFTERNOON: Sigh. I love this store.

BASIN: I'm weak when it comes to Basin stuff. It smells heavenly. Tip: Purchase a small bag of cut up soap. It's perfect for putting beside the sink in the bathroom because you'll use it before it dries out, and the scent isn't overpowering.

For food:
*CINNABON: Forget the diet, for at least a while. A Cinnabon cinnamon roll is extraordinary.
*LINDT CHOCOLATE: Every time I've been in there, they've had deals if you buy a lot. Haha. Like there's a chance I won't?
*RYBICKI CHEESE: I went in for the first time on my last trip and lost my heart to this place. This store has the most interesting flavored cheeses! We bought a couple of the more intriguing flavors and were going to try them when we got home, but we forgot to put them in the fridge right away, and there was a dog, and well....
*HARRY & DAVID: Oh, Harry and David, whoever you are, I love you.
*CARIBOU and STARBUCKS: I don't know about you, but I do need coffee. I also like GLORIA JEANS.
*GODIVA: The name says it all.
*TEAVANA: If you're a tea person, stop here. Sample. Buy!

This is just a beginning list. I also like Williams Sonoma. Itz-a-Puzzle. Coldwater Creek. Body Shop. It's a big big mall with something for everyone.

See you at BARNES & NOBLE, Saturday afternoon! Fantastic store, fantastic event!!!
(Did you recognize the quote in my title of this post? Of course you did!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Goldenrod is Yellow....

When I was a kid, we sang a song that has partially stayed with me all these years: "The goldenrod is yellow, the corn is turning brown...." Google, bless its little search engine heart, found the source for me, "September" by Helen Hunt Jackson (of Ramona fame, I believe).

It's a cool poem--goes on much longer than I'm sure we learned. And the ending:
One day of one September
I never can forget.
So what happened on that one day? She doesn't say. It's kind of an early "Ode to Billy Joe" thing, I guess.

I don't have anything more than this to talk about. Just find the poem and read it. Let September wash over you. It's a great month to make memories, whether you're doing something momentous or just simply walking to the mailbox on a golden afternoon.

One day of one September
I never can forget.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The last summer Saturday

Sigh. This is it. Labor Day weekend traditionally ends summer, but up here in the north, at least, we want to squeeeeeeeze every bit of summery warmth out of these days that we can.

School's back in session. The calendar page turns Sunday night. Labor Day is near. But it's too early to write off summer.

Tell that to the retailers, who have had autumn doo-dads on the shelf since June. Who no longer carry sandals, unless you're a woman who wears a size 5...or a size 11.5.

And I've got to ask--what's the deal with the Halloween candy being out already? HUH? My husband once teased me about having bought Halloween M&Ms in August, and I retorted, "Well, at least I know they're fresh."

"Either that," he said, "or really really old."

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Summer Saturdays

What an incredibly busy summer this has been. I wish I had something to show for it other than massive credit card debt. I've been travelling--to San Francisco and the Twin Cities. Now I'm home for a while, and although it's late in the season, I've discovered perfection. It resides in two words:


Isn't that just yummy? It's got a nice, peaceful energy. On a summer Saturday, you can be outside, riding your bike or taking a walk or swimming or just lolling in the sun with a good mystery or romance novel. Or you can be inside, taking a nap or reading a book....even house-cleaning has an extra shine on a summer Saturday.

I'm off to have some iced tea and read that new mystery novel I just bought. Inside? Outside? Who cares? This is a summer Saturday!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Why is it, just when I can't spare any more minutes in my day, my body decides to blow up? I'm on the home stretch with the book, going along great guns, knowing something's missing but I'll catch it on my rewrite. I'm good, I'm good, I'm good....

And then I'm not. I'm sick, I'm sick, I'm sick. I had some horrendous bug this past week that took me out for almost the entire week. I don't remember ever being so sick. I must have had some wild fever because I kept going in and out of reality.

Nothing got done with the book. I couldn't even have told you what the book was about. Assuming I could have uncurled my fingers from their claw-like position (did I tell you I was sick?) to type, it wouldn't have made any sense.

But here's the cool thing. As I was laying/lying (I can never keep those straight) in bed, feeling like a old bowl of Alpo, I got an idea of how to fix the story. Actually three ideas. One was probably the thing that, if I can pull it off, will make this story elevate, and the other two are thread fixes.

Most of you who read this know about the horrendous turn my life took two years ago. It was as if a great door slammed, and there I was, in a new room. An unfurnished new room.

I've been writing for years and years, and I'd managed to create a system that works for me. I use threads. It's very visual for me, the concept of these threads that run through each book--eh, I can't explain it easily here. It requires "twenty-seven eight by ten color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used...." (source given below--anyone recognize it without peeking?). Anyway, this is the first book I've written since the Great Slam and I hadn't set up my threads in my graphic synopsis (I totally forgot them) and sure enough, my threads had tangled into knots and some were broken.

Janet, is there a chance this train of thought might pull into the station any time soon?

What I'm saying, in my very roundabout, still kind-of-sicky way is that sometimes the part of my brain that runs under everything, the part that keeps my heart beating and my lungs breathing, remembers life before the Great Slam and reminds me about the threads even if my upper brain can't.

Kind of cool, huh? So now I'm back to working on this book again, still a little slowly, but I've got the threads untangled and we are GOOD TO GO!

(Pssst: "Alice's Restaurant" by Arlo Guthrie)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lolling around

Remember that song by Chicago? Does anybody really know what time it is? Well, apparently I don't. Today I thought I had a whole extra hour and I didn't, which resulted in me lolling around for sixty minutes that I really couldn't spare...but I do love to loll around. Lolling is way under-rated.

Unless I'm on deadline. I have to wait to loll until Aug. 2. Then I can loll for a little while before the next deadline comes clickety-clacketing at me with its little hooves.

Let's talk about lolling. First off, it's a lovely word. Lolling. See how it just lingers on the tongue? Lolling. Lolling. Lolling.

It's a whole lot better than saying, Procrastinating. Avoiding. Delaying. I always get this way when I'm on deadline. I suddenly want to clean my house. Really. Talk about weird, huh?

I love writing. I do. It brings me to life. So why is it so hard to do?

I was talking to my kids about transitioning yesterday. It's a phrase that's used to explain why, when your children are little, they cry when you drop them off at day care, they cry when you pick them up, they cry when they get home. It means that the transition from one environment to another is rough.

I was using this to explain why, when I get home from work, I need to smoothly and gently transition into being mom, and to please give me a few minutes before asking what's for dinner, can the son go to a movie and the daughter to the mall, does he have a clean shirt and where are her new jeans, etc.

And so I need to transition from my 21st century home, with a washing machine (running), a dishwasher (needs to be emptied), and a computer (in lap), to the 19th century, to rural Minnesota. I know my hero and my heroine need me--but my 21st century phone keeps ringing, my 21st century cat keeps trying to push the 21st century laptop off my lap, and my 21st century children think they should be fed.

ARGH! The pain of transitioning!

Tomorrow I'll loll for a little while, but it'll all benefit my writing. It's Crime Time Sunday on the Hallmark Channel. There's a Perry Mason movie (I love the theme song, and Raymond Burr's voice, and the generally unresolved tension between him and Della Street....well, my dears!), a Matlock movie (he's a great character to study--lots of understated dimension), and McBride (the device of replaying a scene with him in it as a shadowy observer is brilliant), plus a couple of my favorite detective and yours, in "Murder, She Wrote." Then it's back to writing.

And that's what I'm about to do now. 19th century Minnesota, here I come!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What if?

I just read about another child who's a musical prodigy. In this case, she's a pianist.

Here's what amazes me: what if nobody had ever placed this child's fingers on piano keys? Think about it. WHAT IF???

Is finding our talent a matter of chance? As a mother, I'm terrified at this thought. I look at my children and think, Could she have been a tuba virtuoso? Or Might he have been a zither whiz? My kids had the usual chance to try the elementary school selection of instruments (which oddly neglects the piano and the guitar, statistically the most commonly played instruments in the U.S.) but I've never tried piano lessons. Never gave them a banjo. And, yes, please, forgive me, but I've never put drumsticks in their hands.

Mother panic setting in. What if, what if, what if....

How many prodigies are undiscovered because they weren't connected early on? Because nobody put their hands on the ivories and let the magic be revealed?

I've vowed to watch my chickadees with more attentiveness. I'll catch every nuance of their interests. And, just to be sure, I'll put their hands on a keyboard and see if they happily pound out "Heart and Soul" or "Chopsticks"--or if they produce "Minuet in G."

Because you just never know....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Wake up!

Do you ever need a wake-up call? I don't mean a hotel wake-up call...although, now that I think about it, that'd be good. If I was getting a hotel wake-up call, I'd be in a hotel, which would mean I was on vacation, which would be lovely. I do like vacations.

I mean a wake-up call that rouses you from a sleepy torpor in life. Every once in a while, don't you just emotionally give yourself a dust-off and clean out that garage, or get that proposal done, or finally match up that basket of socks? You know what I mean. Stuff that's easy to let slide. I'm a go-with-the-flow gal, and it's much too comfortable on my duff.

Soooo, this weekend I haven't exactly been a whirlwind, but I've been managing my to-do list, making some of the to-do into got-done. What a relief to cross those naggy little bits off.

I am on deadline, and tomorrow I'm putting some muscle behind the words. It's going to be hard, hard, hard--it IS Crime Time Sunday on the Hallmark Channel and I do love it. But somehow I'll manage both.

I'll just have to set my alarm.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Connecting the dots

Remember that children's game of connect the dots? How many times did you, as an adult, look at the unconnected dots and immediately see the picture? And how many times did you see only a bunch of dots on the page?

I've been thinking a lot about connect the dots. It seems to be appropriate in my life right now. What I might usually call "coincidences" are actually dots that are connecting--the random is becoming, well, unrandomized.

Right now there are huge huge huge spaces between the dots, and I have to confess that I've drawn in some of the dots myself. I think I'm writing my own story, naturally with me as the main character, and I'm trying to squish in a happily-ever-after.

As a writer, and especially a romance writer, I'm a bit obsessed with happily-ever-after. It's the goal of our lifetimes, whether you read it in a religious sense (after all, the greatest happily-ever-after is heaven!) or in a temporal sense.

Which leads me back to my dots. I'm watching them connect and I'm amazed. But the time has come for me to ask myself: do I dare pick up the Great Cosmic Pencil (no eraser on that baby!) and start connecting some myself?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Our 19th Amendment POWER!

Today was a proud day for me. My daughter voted! It's her first time and she was a bit confused by some of it but she did great and I'm so proud of her. It's a regional election (city/county) but every bit as important as the "big" November election.

It still stuns me when I realize that women were given the right to vote when my grandmother was a young woman. I wish I'd thought to ask her what she thought of the amendment being passed.

So here we are, almost 88 years later (the amendment was ratified Aug. 18, 1920), and I'm trying to pass on to my daughter, and my son when he turns 18, the heavy privilege that voting is. If we don't vote, we silence ourselves.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

House on auto-destruct

Doesn't it seem like sometimes your house goes on auto-destruct? Mine has. Everything is falling apart, falling off, or just falling! Of course this is happening as I'm embarking on a Cleanathon. The more observant of you may notice that I claimed to have started it in May, which is true, but Life intervened and I got sidetracked. (Me? Sidetracked? How can it be???)

Right now my house is in the State of Chaos (somewhere between Minnesota and Wyoming) because projects started have been abandoned to deal with plumbing emergencies (2), computer disorders (2), light bulb catastrophes (1), and so on. And yes, there truly was a light bulb catastrophe. I fixed it and didn't get electrocuted, which puts me on some list of technological marvels, I'm sure.

And all this as I'm trying, trying, trying to get my contracted book written! Plus I have a proposal to finish this weekend.

Is there any hope?

I'd get right to work but I'm going out to hear a friend play some music and then to a movie. First things first, right?

SUNDAY UPDATE: Cleanathon was postponed, due to an afternoon of fruitless shopping for a filter for the furnace/AC. Yes, the filter we have--well, it broke. And apparently it's an odd little thing that we and only we have. Sigh....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spring cleaning bits and pieces

Yes, I'm spring cleaning and yes, it's May, but here spring seems to be a flighty little thing. The tulips are up but the flowering crab, usually in full bloom by Mother's Day, is still leafing.

Actually I'm doing more avoiding cleaning than I am cleaning. Life has so many more interesting things in it than I'm finding under my child's bed. (Really. I am serious. Although I am finding some very strange stuff.) And it would have helped if I hadn't had those extra two cups of coffee this morning. I'm bouncing around like a highly caffeinated Tigger.

I have a confession to make. New flipflops. Pink. HEY! I had no choice! They're Borns and they were $15. You would have, too. You know you would have.

Good news yesterday: my very first novella is being repackaged! YEA!

Time to continue the excavation under the bed, and then onto the Basket of the Unknowns next to my chair.


Monday, May 12, 2008


Kacie, observant fashion-chick that she is, noted how much I like flipflops. I was forced to go out and buy new ones this year for three reasons:

1. I couldn't find my old ones. Well, I found one of each pair. But not only do they not match, they're both for the same foot.

2. Some ghostly presence has stolen my socks, so when I'm wearing black slacks, I can't really wear my regular shoes without looking totally geekish--a nice band of winter-pale ankle over a black shoe looks horrid.

3. I went shopping with my daughter.

This third reason is perfectly clear to anyone who has a teenaged daughter. If I shop by myself, I can talk myself out of anything (except malted milk balls). With the Shopping Princess, things are a bit different.

Now I have two pairs of black flipflops (one with wild flowers over the toes, one sedately plain), one white pair with blue starfish, one beige pair, and one brown pair.

YES! I bought FIVE pairs of flipflops! At one time!

I should feel bad. Very bad. Instead I feel good. Very good.

I love flipflops!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

That is one soxy ghost!

This is ridiculous. Now a new bag of socks that I bought for my son has vanished, too.

Maybe my house is haunted by a ghost with cold feet.

Hmmmm....Up here? Cold? Pfffft. We're above freezing, which is, in my northern estimation, tropical.

Well, soxy ghost or not, my week is going much better. I do believe the dump truck has left.

UPDATE: May 10
Apparently my soxy ghost is also a meteorologist. IT SNOWED THIS MORNING!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The dump truck week

This week (and yes, I know it's only Tuesday, which doesn't bode at all well for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday) has been a complete mess. Nothing is going right, and everything seems to be going wrong!

Now, usually I'm Little Janet Sunshine. I really love life and laughter comes naturally to me. But not this week.

A lot of it I'm to blame for. I'm not perfect. But it seems like a whole lot of stuff the world had been saving up finally landed on me this week, like some cosmic dump truck has backed up to my door, raised its box, and deposited its payload. My credit card payment got lost. One of my kids has been sick. I can't find the sack of socks I bought--12 pairs of them!

It goes on and on, some things petty, some things life-changing.

And to top it all off, they moved BOSTON LEGAL to Wednesday night. Why? What was wrong with Tuesday? It didn't have a W in it?

A friend and I have standing Wednesday night plans. Church and then dinner and talktalktalk. But now it'll have to be church and dinner and talkwithourmouthsfull because we're both BL fans and have to be home by 9:00.


Maybe by 10:00 tomorrow night I'll be more cheerful, having spent an hour watching James Spader. It always does improve my spirits....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Memorable moments

I had a wonderful trip to visit my friends in The Big City and to shop at The Big Stores, and I'm home now, totally broke, but totally happy.

There were some memorable moments in this trip.

There was the woman at Nordstrom's who "somehow" knew about the loss in our lives. I have never come so close to sobbing in my favorite store. But it was a moment of kindness, and I appreciated her openness.

There was the cab driver who took us from the mall. As soft jazz played on the cab's radio, he told us of the war in Somalia and the family he had to leave there. It was a moment of gentleness and sadness, and I appreciated my fortune of living where I do.

There was my friend and her family. Wow, do I love that whole family. A moment? Many moments. And I appreciate their friendship more than they can ever know. I can't imagine trying to function without her and her family.

And every time I go to The Big City and The Big Stores, and I hang out with this family I love so much, I think, You know, I am so happy here. I should move here. But then I get home, to my own house and my own cat and my own stuff, and I realize, There is no way I can ever move, not in this lifetime, and definitely not without a backhoe.

It's good to be home, but I had a great time! THANKS!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring Cleaning & Snow Food

You know, spring cleaning is a whole lot easier when it's actually, gee, SPRING outside. We missed the storm I bought all the food for last week--and, as testimony to how much self-control I have, most of the snackies are still in the kitchen.

Snow food is snow food, that's why.

But this morning I woke up to way-familiar winds, and way-familiar white stuff blowing around, and although the weather is straightening out, it's truly affected my spring cleaning. My motivation is low, and the chocolate-covered peanuts are gone.


How can I spring clean and eat snow food at the same time? That's just wrong.

So I've cranked up Sirius radio on the computer and I'm listening to Classic Vinyl and that always gets me up and moving.

Spring cleaning. And snow food.

April in the North Country!

Saturday, April 5, 2008


I can't believe what I just saw when I opened my email.


So I checked, and yes, we have a severe weather alert.

Is it for Great Spring Weather Ahead? No.

Is it for Gentle April Showers to Melt the Last Icky Bits of Dirty Snow? No.

Is it for Flowers and Green Things Bursting Out? No.

It's's's for

So today, I'll be doing what I did not want to do, not all in one afternoon. Gotta go to the grocery store, because we're running low on milk, cat food, and snackies. Run to Target, since the end of the school year means that the school supplies have been depleted (it's kind of like that hot dog/bun thing--school supplies last almost a year, but not quite) so I have to find pencils. Zip over to the drug store to pick up prescriptions.

But the nice thing about a storm, if it does arrive, is that I'll be forced to stay inside and watch mystery movies on the Hallmark channel.

And that's why I've got to get those snackies!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Any time the seasons change, something inside me stirs and stretches. I'm such a victim of the calendar. I really don't think I would have noticed the spring equinox if it hadn't been trumpeted on the media, but there you have it. I heard, and that was all it took.

Now I'm in a busy-busy-busy mode. Too ratcheted up to read. Too ratcheted up to sit comfortably at the computer lazing the time away. And actually too ratcheted up to get any meaningful work done in the house. I'm here. I'm there. I'm back to here. Oops--over there.

But what's cool is that the thing inside me that's restless is the writer. She's been slumbering for a long time, sorrowing over losses, and trying to heal some pretty sharp wounds. Now she's waking up, and she's ready. Let's write, she insists. Let's write all those stories you've been dreaming.

There are other hands clutching at me, though. Kitty hands. Children hands. Job hands. House hands. And, ick-ick-ick, tax hands.

But this lady has been waiting a long time. I think she deserves a front seat in my day, don't you?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Loose ends? Tie them up!

I've had lots of loose ends in my life lately, and I'd planned to tidy them up this weekend. But first I decided to watch a movie with my son.

So we curled up, the cat snoring softly between us, and watched the movie we'd checked out from the friendly neighborhood video store. I'll skip the name of the movie since it's a new release and obviously somebody somewhere liked it--it had a couple of Big Names to star in it plus megachunks of publicity.

We'd missed it in the theater, though we'd wanted to see it. It looked charming and funny. I like movies that make me laugh. When it came out on DVD--and even better, on BlueRay so we could see every glorious moment in HiDef--we rushed out and rented it.

Good thing we didn't buy it.

It wasn't funny. It was so sad in places that we were both trying really hard not to cry. And then at the end, one of the major plot threads--I mean, a REALLY MAJOR PLOT THREAD--hadn't been resolved. Hadn't even been mentioned for the last quarter of the movie. And, to make this even worse, it was the plot issue of the child in the movie.

Loose ends flap around long after the story is done. I'm still bothered by this poor child's dilemma hanging unresolved--and he's not a "real" kid.

Any time we ask a viewer/reader/listener to plunk down even a bit of their hard-earned money, we sure don't want to, wow, ANNOY them.

When I write a synopsis, I also do a graphic representation with plot issues AND both primary and secondary characters at the top, with squiggles and arrows and all kinds of cool artistic things to ensure that they're all addressed throughout the work.

I hope that in my books, I never leave a little boy with his issue unaddressed and unresolved!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The problem for which there is no solution

Let me begin by saying that yes, there is a solution, but no, I will not do it.

I've found out what the problem is with me and weekends. The Hallmark Channel does mystery shows on the weekend. If there's a "Murder She Wrote" marathon, I'm done for. I love love love that show. I also like "Mystery Woman." But I'll watch Perry Mason or Matlock or Murder 101. Even if I've seen them before, I'm hooked.

Today was a "Jane Doe" marathon. I hadn't watched it before but I was sucked right in and didn't leave my chair except during commercials.

This does not make my weekends especially productive. So I'm blaming Hallmark for my weekend inertia.

Of course I could turn off the television.


I don't think so. See, tomorrow there's quite a lovely assortment on, including two "Murder She Wrote" shows, and a Murder 101, and a Perry Mason, a Matlock, and a Diagnosis Murder.

It's hopeless!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Yummy book

I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love now and I have to say I absolutely love this book. When I began it, I tore through the first third of it in one night. I've purposely cut back to read just a little bit each night before bed and I'm reading it more slowly to absorb it. It's beautifully written and even though the author and I have absolutely nothing in common on the surface, I'm finding pieces of myself in her experiences.


Most intriguing to me at the moment is her struggle to focus while she meditates or prays. Bingo. My mind is always going full bore even when I want it to SHUT UP! The only time I can even begin to block out--well, I don't know what exactly to call it? Mental chatter?--is when I'm writing.


You can break it into small chunks, like I do--and it fits into my chaotic life to read it at night in bed. The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, has a wonderful sense of humor so it's fun reading as well as meaningful reading.


I'm not kidding. I feel myself growing as I read it. I'm so much better, or at least I feel better, than when I started it.


(Did I recommend you read this book???)

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leaping into spring

Feb. 29 is such a misfit day. Every four years it comes pushing and shoving its way into the calendar, making the shortest month of the year an extra day longer. Leap year.

So how did I spend my misfit day? I went to work, but I left early to go to a prayer service for a friend's father who had died. Tomorrow is his funeral.

Funerals are still hard for me. I'm weary of crying. Saddened beyond measure to see my friends crying.

But I'm declaring that today is the kick-off day for spring.

One thing about spring is that it's hard for my spirit to stay low when I see things perking up. I'll find myself watching the scrawny lilac tree/bush thing outside my window. It's the first to report in with buds.

Birds, more than the big black cawing monsters that populate my backyard in winter, making it look like something from a bad folktale--yes, more birds will come and that raucous bleating will be replaced with robin songs.

The snow will go away, and the world will be, as e.e. cummings said, "mud-luscious."

And we will find ourselves smiling again.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Decisions, decisions....

Where to start the story? What's my character like? Matter of fact, what's her name? What's her problem, anyway? And his? Who is he? He's got to have a name, too--EEEEK!

Too many decisions. This is how messy starting a story can be. Matter of fact, it's kind of like:


When my daughter was a young chickadee, she came in to the kitchen. I had a bowl of raw ground beef littered with pieces of shredded bread and chopped onion, and I was cracking an egg over it all. I threw in some Worchestershire sauce and a slug of catsup. Then I dug my hands in, grimaced at how cold (and smelly) it was, and starting mixing it all with my hands.

She peeped over the edge of the bowl and asked, "What's that?"

"Meatloaf," I answered.

"MEATLOAF??? EUUUUUWWWW! That's how you make meatloaf?" She had her I'm gonna urp face on, and she fled the kitchen quickly.

Since that wonderful learning experience, she's never eaten meatloaf.

Starting a story is like making meatloaf. It's really messy at the beginning, doesn't smell so great, and there's no way on this green earth that its beginnings in any way resemble the final product.

But it gets there.

Right now I'm working out all the details of who and where and what in my story. I like to know my story's path before I get started, mainly because I am interrupted so often. I'm still deciding what goes into that bowl. And at some point I'll have to dip my hands into that mixture and begin the process of making a meatloaf book.

Let's hope it's yummier than a meatloaf! (I'm vegetarianish.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How cold is too cold?

It was THIRTY-THREE BELOW ZERO this morning when I woke up. Luckily, good northern girl that I am, I'd plugged my car in so it started right up.

But it's mornings like this that make me wonder: WHY????

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dream a little dream of me....

I had the weirdest experience last night. I dreamed my book.

Now I know this has happened to other writers, but you see, I'm different. I'm sane (see the post below about the roller coaster). (Just teasing, writer friends of mine!) I have perfectly normal dreams in which normal things happen to normal people. They don't always make sense, but that's, well, normal.

I had a friend in grad school who told me about a dream he had about neon fish walking....I'm sure there was more to the dream but I was stopped at "neon fish walking." I never dream like that.

And I certainly never dream about something I'm writing. (Or meaning to write...) And I hadn't taken cold medicine or melatonin or anything. Nope, this came out of my own normal head.

So what does it mean? I think I know--> I need to write this book!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

And that's why they call it a cold...

For the past five days, I've battled a cold and it seems to be settling in my chest. It's not too long as I don't try to do something silly like BREATHE.

And to add insult to injury, it's reeeeally cold outside. Going into sub-zero temperatures with a chest cold is horrible. So I'm coughing, hacking, and wheezing my way through this week and trying to stay tucked inside as much as possible.

I'm trying to put the last elements of sparkle on a couple of proposals. The problem is that it's hard to sparkle when you're, well, coughing, hacking, and wheezing. That's when a cell phone comes in handy.

I called my friend M.E. in St. Paul. She is the world's BEST plotting partner. We've done this for years, and she's terrific. All I have to do is hear her voice, and I know it's going to work. She can identify a plot oopsie and lead me to a solution. And she helps me find the sparkle.

My local writing pal, Kacie, has gone to snowier pastures in Alaska. She always provided a different angle in helping me develop the plot. She helps me dig into the characters so deeply I should start charging them for psychiatric services. She'll be back in May for a visit--I can't wait!

It takes two to tango--but how many to plot one of Janet's books? Hmmmmm. If my head weren't so clogged with cold goo, I might be able to answer!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Blizzard warnings...

I think I'll use that as a title for a book. Cool, huh? (Pun sort of intended.)

Sometimes life is just SO unfair. Ask my kids. Why on earth should the blizzard blow through during the night...and on a Friday night, no less? Blizzards are supposed to happen during school hours so they can stay home and watch tv and read and eat.

But the storm came, and it went, and they slept through it. I didn't, but then, I'm the mom.

Here comes the metaphor--> Yes, except for my brief shining moment on the Tower of Terror, a parent is always on duty, and she is alert for the night winds so her children can sleep in safety. And of course, you can ratchet it up one more level, as what happened in a film we saw in church on Ash Wednesday. It's not long, and it's online, so I'll give you the URL.
It's called "Rain" and it's from NOOMA.
Be ready for tears...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A very magic kingdom, indeed

I have left the Magic Kingdom behind (and 70-80 degree temps, sadly) and I'm home now. I learned SO MUCH!

1. If you are a man, rethink where you park yourself and your child to watch the Disney parade. HINT: In front of a woman's bathroom is not a good idea. You poor man, you barely got time to settle before you had to move, and move quickly. But bless your heart, you did it with the best of graces. I'm proud of you, even if I have no idea who you are.

2. If you are a child and you were at Disneyworld this past week, reach right around there and give yourself a big pat on the back. I've never seen such a bunch of wonderful children in my life. No screaming. No begging. No arguing. Now the parents....

3. If you work for Disneyworld, hon, I love you. Everybody made the trip truly memorable. There wasn't a clinker in the group.

4. If you are me, sit up straight, not only because it's good posture, but because you deserve to! I went on the Tower of Terror. For however long it took (which my memory places anywhere between sixty seconds and an eternity), I totally gave up all control. I had to just let things happen with faith that things were going to be okay. Well, I screamed the whole time (some things just go better with a lot of noise, and the ToT is one of them) but I did it! And I loved it! I did not, however, do any roller coasters. I am sane. That's my reason. I am sane.

It's good to be home, though, with my cat on my lap and Laundry Mountain awaiting me. Even if I do live in a state that's freakishly cold at the moment, I do have the memory of warm sunshine....

(Read on the plane: WICKED LOVELY. Wow. Just wow.)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Avoiding germs and other microscopic life

My son has a cold. One of those settle-in-your-throat-and-lungs-and-head colds. I can't get it. I have major plans for the next two weeks, involving some extensive teaching and I just can not get his laryngitis.

So far, so good.

Tonight we go for ice cream. It's -13F, so what else would we do? And what does this offspring of mine do?


Yes, I see you all gagging out there. You know where I'm coming from.

So I tell him to use the spoon, scoop off the parts he ate, and I'll use a clean spoon when we get home.

He dutifully scrapes off every part that's come in contact with his bacterial mouth. Licks the spoon.

And sticks it back in the sundae.

Now I ask you, what is a mother to do?

Take a guess!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

That was the first one, this is the second!

Thanks so much for the warm welcome! Janet, Cecilia, Pamela, and Susan, thanks for the comments!

I did neglect to say something in my first post. In addition to writing, knitting, cleaning, and redecorating, I'll also be reading more. And here's why:

I do love a cozy mystery! Guess I'll need to find a few more of those corners in my life, since I signed up for the club, so they'll come in regularly.

Today was beautiful here--thick white frost coated everything this morning, and I do have to say that the weeping willows, with their black trunks so stark against the bright white frost, were particularly outstanding. I truly had to stop and admire our Creator's handiwork!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

And so it begins....

It's a new year, time for me to embark on a new adventure. So here it is: my blog. Finally. And now, what do I talk about?

My writing? I have many projects in various stages of "finalness." This year my resolution is to do the BEST I can, and that means seeing these projects through to completion, or at least as many of them as humanly possible.

So this year, I'll be writing, knitting, cleaning, and redecorating, trying to fit all that into the corners of my life when I'm not being with my family or doing my job. Let's hope that my life has LOTS of corners!