Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

May you experience the joy of the season through the eyes of a child!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Carols

Who doesn’t love Christmas time and the music that goes with it?  How many times does a few bars from your favorite song transport you back to childhood memories of waiting for Christmas morning, and that perennial joy that warms the heart?
 
Christmas has to be my favorite time of the year when it comes to music.  But did you know some of the songs we sing were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago as pagan songs to celebrate the Winter Solstice?  The word carol means to dance or a song of praise and joy.  
Some songs, had unusual beginnings such as I Saw Three Ships was written by wandering minstrels as they travelled through the English countryside and has several versions.  The three ships often referred to biblical characters, such as the three wise men, or Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, but it changed constantly. 
Good King Wenceslas was written in Victorian Britain by John Mason Neale to a traditional folk tune.  The story in the carol was about a king who help feed and shelter peasants.  However, the real story of King Wenceslas was quite gruesome.  Apparently after a disagreement with his brother, King Wenceslas was stabbed to death by three of his brother’s followers.
The words to Silent Night were written as a poem by Joseph Mohr and the music was added several years later by his school teacher friend Franz Xavier Gruber.  By the time the carol was famous no one believed Gruber had written it, instead they assumed it was Mozart of Beethoven. 
Did you know the total number of gifts in the song The 12 days of Christmas totals 364?
Did you know Jingle Bells was not intended to be a Christmas song at all? It had been written by James Pierpont who loved to live fast and race hard.
And The Christmas Song, immortalized by Nat King Cole was written in the heat of summer to try and “cool off”?
Your turn:  What is your favorite Christmas carol?


Thursday, December 19, 2013

My favorite Christmas Movie


As Christmas approaches, and if I'm humble enough to admit it, even in the middle of summer, enjoy plugging in my copy of White Christmas.

Ever since I can remember it has been my number one movie for the holidays. I've watched it so many times, I can almost recite the lines by heart!  Can anyone say obsession? 

And who, with just a few musical notes from the famous song by the same name sung by Bing Crosby, not be transported back to those days as a child when winter snow meant Christmas wasn't far off?

Then the hopeless romantic I am, who doesn't want the knight sitting atop the white horse to win the heart of the woman he loves?

Your turn:  What is your favorite Christmas movie and why?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Weird Christmas Traditions


Christmas is for kids.  Right?  Well my biggest kid is my husband (shown here).  We started years ago a tradition years ago when the “real” kids were little that most people would think is absurd.

After we have our traditional Christmas breakfast followed by opening of gifts everything is put aside and one more gift is set in front of everyone.  When I say go, everyone rips into their gift and the free-for-all begins.

The tradition started with nerf guns and has progressed to marshmallows. Nothing is safe, but we all have so much fun.  Absurd?  I told you it was, but the kids have come to expect it and thoroughly enjoy it!

Your turn:  What is your “weirdest” Christmas tradition?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Writing a Blog—When do you find the time?



When I began blogging, I did one post and waited to just before the next one was due and did another.  At one point, something came up and the time I thought I’d spend writing disappeared.  Therefore, I’d been unable to post anything for a week.  I really believed there had to be a better way.
So one day I sat down with my list of topics and started writing.  Within a few hours I had accumulated several weeks of posts.  Having them ready to go, I went ahead and scheduled all of them.  A couple of days later I did the same thing. Soon I had almost two months of posts accumulated and scheduled. 
I’m finding it’s easier to schedule one day to work on posts.  Then I can schedule them and forget it.
Your turn:  Do you have a blog?  How do you work in time to get them done?  Do you do them just before they’re due?  Or do you create several at a sitting?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Just for Laughs . . .


Over Thanksgiving, my hubby and I went back to Ohio for a visit. My two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter had us wrapped around her finger in a heartbeat.

While there, my daughter-in-law had my granddaughter repeat her alphabet.  As a very proud grandmother, I listened to her as she echoed back her mother’s prompt.  A . . . a, B . . . b, C . . . c, and so on.

The repetition of letters proceeded on queue through the alphabet:  R . . . r, S . . . s, T . . . t, U . . .

My granddaughter threw up her hands like a football referee and yelled . . .  Me!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Snow in the Mountains



Yesterday we had a winter storm blow in, dumping several inches of snow in the valley and upwards of a foot or more in the mountains. Winter snows in a high-plain desert region are looked on as a hope for the future.  A promise that water will fill the underground reservoirs for use next summer when the temperatures climb into the upper 90’s or higher. The impact of the melted snow reaches far away from the foothills of the Sierras onto the desert valleys and beyond.
As my mind wandered it made me think of how we as writers impact people everywhere.  Our words have the ability to reach around the world with the invention of the internet.  One blog such as this can be seen in Korea, India, England, or our own back yard. A book can be a healing balm, its message touching someone’s hurting soul.

It sobers me to think of the masses we can reach with a single word or sentence, for good and evil.

I leave you with Ps 19:14, more as a reminder for myself than for you.  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Monday, December 2, 2013

If you could go anywhere--Where would it be?




I love to travel and see different places, meet people, and just experience things I'd never seen before.  Since I started writing I've been to more places.  When I go to a conference, I take a few extra days see the sights and just relax. I've been able to see Washington D.C., San Francisco, Florida, and Colorado to name a few.  I'd always wanted to go to Alaska and was recently able to cross that off my travel list.  (It helps having a son living up there.) 

 
Mostly I've wanted to travel the United States because of the vast diversity we have here from the rain forests to the desert plains.  From the frigid north to the tropical south.  But if I could really say there was someplace I'd like to go, it would be to Tuscany.  I'd love to ride my bike under the Tuscan sun through the vineyards, past Tuscan Villas, and through a bit of history that dates back hundreds of years. 

 
Your turn:  If you could go anywhere, where would it be?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

For Jesse

To Jesse, my son, who this Thanksgiving is serving his country in Afghanistan.  I dedicate this to you.  As a kid, and if he'd admit it even as an adult, Jess loved Snoopy.  Thank you my son for being so brave and so willing fight for your country, even if it means being apart from your family.  We love you! We miss you!  Please stay safe.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Out of the mouths of babes . . .

I loved this.  The youngest one there understood the real meaning of Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Is Your Glass Empty or Full?

 
 
 
This speaks more to me than anything else.  I can easily succumb to grumbling and complaining when I should be thankful for my half-full glass.
 
 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What I'm Thankful For





As we enter this Thanksgiving season I am reminded of how much I have to be thankful for.

**I am thankful for God who loves me in spite of myself.

**I am thankful for my wonderful husband and best friend - you're the other half of me.

**I am thankful for my children - I love you all, more than words can express.

**My friends - each and every one that has walked beside me, taken me through good times and bad, and shared laughter and tears.

**Our country - the land of the free. And for the soldiers that protect us.

**For the policemen and firefighters who risk their lives daily.

**For the dirty house, loads of laundry, and piles of dishes.  It all means I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food to eat.

The list is endless. 

So everyday leading up to Thanksgiving, I will post a picture or a thought about being thankful.  In the meantime, I will be enjoying my time with my family and friends.

God Bless you all.

Your turn:  What are you thankful for?
 
 

Monday, November 18, 2013

What my Children will do differently - cameras



My father's hobby was photography. He had Press Camera--the ones you only see in old movies--the big black box that weighed significantly more than the cameras of today.  The lens bellowed out and the flash was a separate attachment where the bulbs had to be screwed in before every picture. 
 
He was always taking pictures of us, our family and neighbors.  To make a little extra money, he took wedding pictures.  As a young girl, I helped him in the "dark room", a root cellar in our home turned photo shop. 
 
There he'd pull the paper from the film cartridge and develop the negatives, using a mixture of chemicals.  Then by shining light through the translucent plastic negative we'd create  prints.  The process was a long one, especially when comparing them to the point and shoot digital cameras of today. 
 
Although I did enjoy the time I spent with my father making the proofs for his customers and later creating larger prints for the newlywed couples, I honestly prefer seeing the pictures instantaneously. 
 
The kids of today have photos at their fingertips, they appear on Facebook, IM messages, and digital scrapbooks. Most don't even own a camera--it comes with their phone! They also have the ability to delete the horrible shots with one click, whereas, those of us who are older, know how it is to wait for the film to be developed, pay for the pictures, only then to realize they weren't worth a plug nickel.  They were blurred, too dark, or the heads were cutoff because of poor aim. 
 
Your turn: What do you think your children do differently?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I hate coffee





Yes, I hate coffee--or maybe I should say I hate the smell of coffee.  I have probably just offended more than half of my readers by making that statement.  Sorry, but the smell of coffee turns my stomach.  The only time I remotely like the smell is when I first open the can and inhale the fresh coffee-bean scent. 

But like I said, there are some of you who disagree.  Why is that?  It is because smells invoke memories (good and bad) more than any of our other senses.  Although coffee doesn't bring back bad memories, I do remember always having a pot on the stove, my parents drinking many cups of coffee, and the constant stench of it in my home growing up.

The scents I love?  The smell of fresh cut grass.  For some, the connection is related to the pain of allergies.  I love the scent of fresh-baked bread and chicken noodle soup.  The smell of baby powder or the spicy smell of Monarda (Bee Balm) as I rake out my perennial beds in the spring.

As a writer I need to invoke the use of scents in my work.  What does fear smell like? Or Joy?  They are a valuable tool in the writer’s arsenal.  They are a powerful tool to evoke emotion in the reader.

 Your turn:  What are your favorite smells? Or the ones that invoke less than memorable moments?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Where did you Sleep Last Night?


This is a picture of my son during his first tour of duty in Iraq using his backpack as a pillow and a slab of concrete as his mattress.  He is now on his fourth tour overseas.  I don't know about you, but I slept in a comfortable bed last night, with clean blankets pulled around me because of the veterans that have fought for our freedom.

Although the words seem inadequate, I just want to say . . . thank you to all the men and women who have served our country and given so much of themselves for our freedom.

Your turn:  List the first names of friends and family you know who have served overseas. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Writing a Blog—Where Do you get your topics?

When I first decided to start a blog, I struggled with what to write.  For the longest time, I had decided not to do one for that very reason.  But now as I am working to improve my social networking, I knew I needed to jump in and do it.  But I was still faced with the question of what to write. 
So I went to the internet.  I did searches on “blog topics”.  I found more than enough blogs, articles, and marketing websites that listed possible topics. I copied each list into an excel worksheet.  Then I read it and marked the ones I could use repeatedly, highlighted topics I thought would be fun to write about, and made notes next to others that may be usable if tweaked slightly to resemble my interests.
I keep the running list with me, along with a pad of paper on which I can make notes on when I think of something. I’ve found it’s easier to brainstorm related ideas by using the list as a jumping off point.
Yes, there are always topics that will take precedence over the topics I have, but it beats having to sit down at the keyboard and force out a topic spontaneous post.
Your turn:  Do you have a blog?  How did you come up with your topics?  If you don’t, what do find most frustrating about the topics covered in a person’s blog?

Monday, November 4, 2013

If you could go anywhere--Where would it be?




I love to travel and see different places, meet people, and just experience things I'd never seen before.  Since I started writing I've been to more places.  When I go to a conference, I take a few extra days see the sights and just relax. I've been able to see Washington D.C., San Francisco, Florida, and Colorado to name a few.  I'd always wanted to go to Alaska and was recently able to cross that off my travel list.  (It helps having a son living up there.) 

 
Mostly I've wanted to travel the United States because of the vast diversity we have here from the rain forests to the desert plains.  From the frigid north to the tropical south.  But if I could really say there was someplace I'd like to go, it would be to Tuscany.  I'd love to ride my bike under the Tuscan sun through the vineyards, past Tuscan Villas, and through a bit of history that dates back hundreds of years. 

 
Your turn:  If you could go anywhere, where would it be?

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words



I love this picture sent to me by my daughter in law.  The shoes you see belong to my son, daughter-in-law, and my granddaughter.  When I look at this picture I see several things.
 
1) A young family just starting out in life.
2) A pair of army boots belonging to a soldier who goes off to war to protect the ones he loves.
3) A small young life, just taking her first steps.
4) A mother and father who nestle their daughter between them. 
 
As I start a story, hoping to make it unique, I bring to that fictional world all the things that have influenced my life, good and bad. That's what makes my story special and different from everyone else's.
 
Your turn:  From your view on life, what do you see when you look at this picture?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

My First Rejection


 
Rejections.  Ugh!  No one likes them.  They are hard, they make you second guess your abilities, and they leave you with a question.  Do I quit or do I keep on going? 

My first rejection came at a very bad time.  It couldn’t have been any worse if I had penned it into one of my novels.

My mother had died the day before in a tragic car accident. I stood in my kitchen when my husband came in holding the day’s mail, which included the self-addressed envelope I recognized as the manuscript I’d sent to a publisher. I opened it and read the short letter telling me my manuscript was not what they were looking for.

As I look back on that day, maybe it was perfect timing.  I set the rejection letter aside and didn’t go back to it until several days later.  By then the disappointment had rolled off my shoulders like water off a ducks back in comparison to losing my mother.

When I finally returned my attention back to my manuscript, I had decided that I’ll keep on trying. But first I had to learn from my mistakes. 

Well, I’m still learning, doing my best to understand the industry, the craft, and improve where I can.

Your turn:  When was your first rejection?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gardening


 
As some of you may know I am an avid gardener.  When I lived in Ohio I had ten very large, very prolific, perennial beds, the biggest being over 700 square feet in size.  I grew Daisies, Black-eyed Susan, Lilies, Monarda, and much, much more. Yes, I lost plants, but for the most part, being blessed with my father’s green thumb, if I stuck it in the ground—it grew.  (Shown above.)

Now that I live in Nevada, gardening has changed dramatically.    Along with the obvious—the lack of water, I now deal with creatures that eat my plants from the roots up!  I have pine trees that resemble trees from Christmases past.

I put them in the ground and not even two weeks later they were void of their needles. 

I have tried traps, repellents, and even throwing a few choice words at them.  But they keep coming back.  Voles and moles have gnawed the roots of my trees away, leaving them no roots from which to drink the water I give them.

I have a feeling this will not be the last time you hear about my ongoing battle with the “wildlife” of Nevada!

Your turn:  Do you have a garden?  What are some of the challenges you face?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Best Laid Plans


 I work for a very large corporation which takes safety and training as seriously as they do their bottom line. Everyone receives yearly training on possible safety hazards, we have fire drills just like everyone else.  We even had a terrorist drill which included bringing in the swat team to search for wounded employees...and yes, we had volunteers that got to act out the part of the wounded or dead. 
Just recently, because we are located in an earthquake-prone area, we had a drill scheduled for that too.  The safety team has been planning it for months.  They coordinated the drill with local officials on all levels. Fire trucks were lined up on the main road ready to come to our aide. The drill was scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Then suddenly ALL the lights went out.  Something made the power go out and the generators didn't kick in as they were supposed to.  Although, in case of an earthquake, it could occur, this was NOT part of the planned drill.

It made me think of how many times I've made big plans for my life only to have them fall apart.  Or whatever I wanted to do goes through as planned, but I soon learn it is not what I really wanted. I believe God has a sense of humor when it comes to our human nature. He waits p-a-t-i-e-n-t-l-y for us to realize he has our lives in His capable hands.

The poem by Robert Burns says it well: "The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!"

Your turn:  Have your best laid plans ever gone awry?

Monday, October 21, 2013

The View from My Window - Lake Tahoe and Mark Twain


The view from my office window is spectacular. (No this is not it.) But, to the west, beyond the hills in my small valley, I can see the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Just over their craggy peaks and out of my sight is Lake Tahoe (shown here).  It is a beautiful lake so blue and clear you can see over sixty feet into the water to the lake’s bottom.  Mountains surround the lake covered with a dense pine forest.  The view is absolutely breathtaking.

Tahoe was originally named Lake Bigler after the third governor of California.  It is also one of the few inland lakes that can trigger Tsunami warnings during an earthquake.  It was also the location of the Ponderosa ranch used in the TV series Bonanza—now a private residence.

But there is one little-known fact that I found amazing.  While reading Mark Twain’s adventure “Roughing It”, I learned that Mark Twain and his colleague decided to make the eleven mile hike from Carson City to Lake Bigler on foot.  Many hours later after climbing over several mountains they finally found the lake. 

One day after starting a fire for their morning meal, Twain headed back to the boat to retrieve the frying pan.  He looked up to see the fire, which he’d started beneath a tree, had caught the dry bed of pine needles ablaze.  From there the surrounding pine forest became engulfed in flames. For hours, from the safety of a small boat in the middle of the lake, Mark Twain and his companion watched the mountains burn.

He later returned to Carson City to tell them of his experience and had to pay for the damages incurred.

What little bit of history have you learned of late? 

 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Live Your Dreams


The rest of the story—as promised.  At my first writer’s conference, my brain whirled at the enormity of writing community and the excitement that flowed between writers.  It was new and exhilarating and left me wanting to continue in my writing adventure. 

But, was it for me?  Was it something I should pursue?  Those questions dogged my steps, leaving me unsure of myself. 

In one of the many workshops, the instructor passed around a bag of Dove chocolates, you know the ones with the words of encouragement emblazoned inside the foil wrapper.  I’m not normally a chocolate eater, unless it’s coating nuts of any type, but I still shoved my hand into the bag and pulled out two pieces.  One I dropped into my purse and the other I unwrapped. 

The inside of the wrapper read, “Live your dreams.” 

Wow!  What great encouragement for someone who felt like a young bird, sitting atop a safe nesting place preparing to fly. Me.  I straightened out the foil wrapper and slid it into my notebook feeling very inspired.

The next day, while digging for a pen, I found the other piece I had dropped into my bag.  Surprise did not even begin to describe my feelings when I found that it too read, “Live your dreams.” Apparently it was the message that I was supposed to take away from that conference. So I did.

I kept both wrappers and have them hanging in my office. The road to publication has had its ups and downs.  There have been times I’ve been ready to quit, days when creation of every sentence felt like I was attempting to move a mountain, but I keep on. 

I’ve had many rejections, none of them easy to bear, but I keep trying to learn.  One day, God willing, my dream will be lived out in full living color.

Until then . . . I’ll dream.

Your turn:  Have you ever had anything occur in your life that was a confirmation of the road you were supposed to travel?

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Little Bit of Encouragement


 


 
Here's a bit of encouragement for you, stay tuned to my next post for the story behind this promise message!
 
 
 
 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Weird City Names - just for fun

Have you ever wondered how cities were named?  I have and their reasons leave me scratching my head.

Unalaska, Alaska – Apparently they didn’t want to be part of Alaska.
Why, Arizona – Why not?  Oh, yeah.   That's in Mississippi.
Turkey Scratch, Arkansas  - Happy turkeys?
Zzyxz, California – They learned the alphabet backwards.
Bonanza, Colorado – I thought the Ponderosa was in Nevada?
Moosup, Connecticut – Is there a Moosdown?
Hill and Dale, Florida – Apparently they couldn’t decide between one or the other name.
Hopeulikit, Georgia – Hope you do.
Zaza, Idaho -  Hmmmm?
Normal, Illinois – Is anywhere normal?
Crab Town, Iowa – When I think of crabs, I picture the ocean, not an inland state.
Kickapoo, Kansas – Watch where you step.
Spider, Kentucky – I won’t go there – I don’t like spiders.
Frogmore, Louisiana – Is there a Frogless?
Deadman’s Corner, Maine – Stay away from there, bodies are pilling up on the street corners.
Unicorn, Maryland – I thought Unicorns were extinct.

Now just when you think those are weird. Look at the breaking news coming out of either New Hampshire or Maryland...either way...it will give you a laugh.




Monday, October 7, 2013

When is Your Best Time To Write




As with many writers trying to squeak in a little writing time along with the stress of their dreaded day job, family and other responsibilities, I figured the only way to make my writing time l-o-n-g-e-r was to figure out how to write faster. 
I read a book called 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Write More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron hoping for some golden nugget to improve my craft.  What I found was a confirmation of what I’d already started to figure out.  Along with a few other nuggets I'll share along the way in upcoming posts.
Today, I am going to focus on when is the best time to write.  We each have our own personal “prime time”.  Some of us are morning people, who can write better when the day is fresh and so is the brain. Others are slow movers and need at least three cups of coffee before even chancing a glance at the computer.  Some are night owls able to plug away at the keyboard until those of us who are morning people (me) are ready to climb out of bed.
If you don't know when your best time to write is, the author suggested making a log of writing times and accomplished word counts along with other details of where and when you are writing.  Because having more time, doesn't necessarily translate into more words on the paper.  By learning when your best writing time and place are, you can actually accomplish more in the less time.

When is your best time to write?  I love early uninterrupted mornings.  How about you?




Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pet Peeves and My Morning Commute


 
This morning on my way to work I was considering a possible subject for this upcoming blog.  My commute is an easy one where the last ten miles is a four lane highway with the speed limit of 65.  It can be a pleasant trip with views of the mountains on one side and cattle ranches on the other, their fields dotted with cows and horses.
However, my usually peaceful drive was being hindered by someone in the passing lane matching the speed of the person in the right hand lane.  The two cars running along parallel with each other created a line of cars jockeying for position behind them.  The cars in back bunched closer, leaving no room for error by anyone. It made my morning commute resemble that of the Indy 500 race.
The cars finally moved, but not without a few shouts their direction by others…including me, I’m ashamed to say.

What is your pet peeve?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pass the Word On


IBM 407 Accounting Machine
While in high school I met a young Christian man.  We were taking the same computer classes and ended up becoming very good friends.
Some of the machines we worked on were almost ancient at that time, which would make them nearly prehistoric in comparison to the robust computers of today.  (See the picture above.)
This young man would print out Bible verses using these machines and hand the papers out to everyone.  By today’s opinion of prayer in schools, this would have been frowned upon, but not then.
Although we went our separate ways, I kept the papers for years.  I could probably dig into a few old boxes and not be surprised to find one of those scripture verses tucked into a book or between memorabilia from my younger days.
Those tiny papers containing a huge message, changed my life forever.  Not long after we graduated high school, I met the God he served. I wish I could find him and thank him for those messages he’d given me.  Messages of hope and eternal grace. One day I'm sure I will.
Have you ever had someone enter your life, if for only a brief time, and leave you with a life-changing moment?



 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Candy Dance Faire


 

All of us all have fairs and festivals that re-occur in our neighborhoods every year. Some having beginnings we’re never aware of. One near me in a small town located at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range called Genoa, NV, has a yearly festival called the Candy Dance Faire which runs the last weekend in September. 

In the early 1900’s the Judge Daniel Webster Virgin’s daughter, wanting to illuminate the dark streets of town came up with the idea of raising money to purchase street lamps. The women banded together and made candy. Then every year, to encourage couples to pay for a dance ticket, the woman would serve their home-made candy free of charge.

The dance still occurs over 100 years later, but now they also close the streets of town to motor vehicles and line them with arts and crafts vendors. These people sell everything from jewelry to metal design to hand-made quilts.

And, oh yes, candy.

Check it out here: http://www.genoanevada.org/candydancefaire.htm


What fun historical events happen in your neighborhood?



 
 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Autumn – My Favorite Season




When moving across the country two years ago, I expected I would miss many things about Ohio and the location I had lived for more decades than I’m willing to admit.  The obvious were my family and friends.  Other things, like the familiarity of a life lived in one general area, I knew, would be a struggle. What I was sure I wouldn’t miss was the days of gray clouds and rain. 

However, the dismal rain produced the one thing I find I miss the most. Trees.  I miss the vibrant green of the leaves in the spring time and they create as they are tossed by gentle summer breezes.  But most of all I miss them in autumn.

Yesterday marked the start of autumn—my favorite time of year.  I love the musky scent of the season, the appearance of cornstalks and pumpkin decorations along with the feel of crisp cool air against my cheeks. But more than anything I miss the abundant color of the leaves in the Midwest, rich tones of red, yellow and rust and the crunch of their dried remains under my feet long after they tumbled from the branches overhead.

In the desert climate of Nevada, fall is not as spectacular.  The few trees that do grow here generally have a short-lived change in color to yellow before slipping to brown and dropping to the ground. On one particularly cloudy day (an uncommon event here where there are 350+ days of sunshine) a cloud bank muted the mountainside in grays.  As I gazed down at the trees along the river below my home the clouds parted, albeit briefly, and lit up the line of cottonwoods lining its banks.  The view was breathtaking.  The drab yellow turned to spun gold at God’s hand.  It had been a small blessing on an otherwise drab day. One I will not soon forget.

What is your favorite season and why?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My First Writer's Conference


             My very first writer’s conference was the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference in San Francisco.  I had written my first book and wanted the world to know about it. Being married with four children, I had never been on a vacation by myself, across the country, to a destination where I knew no one at all.  I guess you could say I was a little nervous.

               First stop after check in into the hotel was the Faith, Hope and Love Chapter meeting.  There I met Debra Clopton, Linda Goodnight, and Janet Tronstad. In the short time between the meeting and the start of the RWA Conference, I had the opportunity to take a impromptu sightseeing tour of San Francisco with these wonderful women.  Through it, I also experience the open arms of the writing community.  And there in a conference surrounded by thousands of writers, I no longer felt alone.

               I learned more than I ever thought possible. I met authors who up until then were just a name on the cover of a book.  But most of all, I walked away with a fire in my gut and a desire to start another book.  A conference can be a scary thing, but the bonds you make with the writing community are immeasurable.

               Share a memory of your first writer’s conference.


Monday, September 9, 2013

A Diamond in the Rough



On a recent trip to Alaska I wanted to see Mount Denali.  During our visit it rained daily, and the most I got to see was the bottom portion, as shown here.  It was the diamond in the rough, an image not quite visible to me until the clouds would part and show me the grandeur of the highest peak in North America.  Denali, also called the "high one", rises over 20,000 feet above sea level.

I never did see it, but much like those clouds hid the beautiful mountain, so does our fear of achieving what God has intended for us. We let the clouds of doubt throw a blanket of indecision and procrastination onto what we can truly be until we let God, the creator of heaven and earth, chisel away the rough edges, create the light catching facets, and polish our gifts until they shine.

The hardest part is taking the fist step, making an attempt at achieving something bigger than ourselves. Then, if you turn the wheel over to Him, the rest is a piece of cake!  Well, almost.  But that's a different topic!  :-)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Weathering the Storm


I posted this print on Facebook, but I couldn't resist placing it here as well.  I have so much empathy for that little bird, holding on with all he has while the cold rain pelts him in the head.

We've all been there.  Felt our lives spinning out of control.  Holding on for dear life to something that resembles normal.  But only when we bow our head and say a prayer, can God work through our lives.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day




For most of us Labor Day is the official last day of summer marked by a long weekend where most of us kickback and enjoy our final barbeque of the season.  But what is it really?

Did you know that Labor Day was first celebrated in 1882 in New York City after labor leader Pete McGuire saw a similar festivity in Toronto for the celebration of Trade Union Act in Canada which began in 1872?  So yes, we copied off our northern neighbor.

Were you aware that President Grover Cleveland proclaimed the day a national holiday in 1894 after several workers were killed in the Pullman Train strike by the U.S. Military.  It was supposed to be an appeasement to the workers after the violent act against railroad strikers.

Did you know it was the first holiday to be celebrated with a parade?

Did you realize President Cleveland decided to have Labor Day at the end of summer so as to not associate the holiday with May Day celebrations found around the globe?  May Day had been associated with violent labor movements throughout the world including the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, which was designated as International Workers Day in the U.S.  Workers were shot and killed by the Chicago police force for protesting for an eight-hour work day.

 It also is the start of the NFL and College football season.  So grab a burger and set the dial to your favorite football game, but take time to remember the holiday’s roots starting over 100 years ago.

 


Thursday, August 29, 2013

What my Children will do Differently - phones




For those of you who remember the picture above—raise your hands!  I know I’m dating myself with this next comment…Do you remember party lines?  You’d pick up the phone and the party that shared your phone line would be talking away totally oblivious to your need to make a phone call.  Plus, there were no secrets, because what you said was always heard by others! 

Today our kids have digital phones, no longer connected to a physical wire, and no longer overheard by another party on the line!


Monday, August 26, 2013

Thank You to our Heroes

A photo of the blaze in Yosemite.
 
For the past several days I have watched in shock as a wildfire has disseminated hundreds of thousands of acres in and around Yosemite National Park. Firefighters from all across this country have arrived on the scene trying to put out the flames that lick across inaccessible terrain along the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This is no small blaze.  I live nearly one-hundred-and-fifty miles from the blaze and have been breathing in the smoke and dust that have channeled into our small valley.
It made me think of how fortunate we are to have heroes around us. Individuals willing to give up their lives for our safety and our well-being.
Armed Forces – Thank you to all the men and women who serve our country and protect our borders.  I can sleep at night because you are there, sacrificing your lives for us.
Fireman – Thank you for your efforts to protect our homes, our livelihoods, and our parks.
Policemen – There have been those few times that I have received a ticket and I’d be honest in saying you aren’t my most favorite person.  But I thank you for protecting us, and putting your lives on the line to do so.

Thank you to each and every one of my Heroes!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I Love Post-It Notes



I love Post-It notes.  I have them in ever size, from small to large.  I have them in pink, blue, lavender and even the traditional yellow.  I have them in solid colors and imprinted with someone’s logo.  I have them in different shapes:  squares, rectangles, and hearts.  I have them stuck everywhere and I use them in ways I’m sure the inventers had not anticipated.
Knowing my addiction to Post-It notes, I thought a fun blog would be describing the 101 useful ways to use a Post-It note.  Instead, while researching more uses I found a brief history of the little scraps of paper.  Did you know they were made by accident?
In 1968, Spencer Silver worked at 3M with a focus on creating an extremely strong adhesive for the aerospace industry.  Instead, he created an incredibly weak pressure sensitive adhesive that no one could find a use for. That is until Vice President of Technical Operations for 3M Geoff Nicholson, a member of a church choir, kept losing the small pieces of paper he’d place in a hymnal for markers.  He wondered if the adhesive, weak enough to be peeled away from almost any surface easily, would be the answer to his problem.
Almost seven years after Silver's original discovery they could finally market a saleable product.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Still the road to these new sticky-backed papers was not an easy one until the Post-It frenzy hit Boise, Idaho.  Huge samples of Post-It notes were given away to anyone who would take them as a sort of bribe to get them to try them.  And the town wanted more--they loved them! 
Today, Post-It notes are in the Top 5 of bestselling office supplies.  They’re number one in my book! 
So maybe another day I’ll look into the 101 useful ways to use them, but until then you can say you know how they came to be.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What does one do with all that Zucchini?

 
Tired of Zucchini bread, muffins, and cakes?  Can you only grill so much Zucchini or slice it thin and hide it in layers inside a lasagna so your kids don't realize they're having veges with their meal?  Here's a variation of something I stumbled on...

Zucchini Bake


1 Zucchini, cubed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (I use the one flavored with garlic)
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 large Tomato, chopped
1 can sliced mushrooms
Garlic Salt
Parmesan Cheese
Bacon Bits  (I used read ones.)


Heat oven to 375

Take a medium casserole and spray with non-stick coating.

Chop vegetables.

Mix Zucchini and Olive Oil and place in bottom of casserole.  Follow with Onion, Tomatoes, and Mushrooms.  Sprinkle with Garlic Salt.  Sprinkle enough Parmesan Cheese to cover the top.  Then top with bacon bits.

Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes.  It may take longer depending on the amount of ingredients.


Enjoy!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The View from my Window – Eurasian Collared-Dove





The view from my office window includes a bird feeder my husband built for me.  I have seen Brown-headed Cowbirds, Sage Thrushers, White-crowned Sparrows, Quail, Pinion Jays and Eurasian Collared-Doves. The latter being one of my favorite as shown above.  I took this picture of him sitting on a block of bird seed we've set  on the feeder.

At first I thought they were Mourning Doves because they sound just like them.  Their soulful Koo-KOO-kook echoing from their perch at the top of our house to the fence across the street where the male struts his romantic dance for the female all while repeating his touching song.

Actually, the Eurasian Collared-Dove is the chunky relative of the Mourning Dove and gets its name from the blank half-collar at the name of its neck.  These doves made their way to North America via the Bahamas where, amazingly, several birds escaped from a pet shop during a mid-1970 burglary.  The birds spread to Florida and now live over almost all of North America where they seek open sites in agricultural areas where grain is available, including farmyards, fields, and silos. They avoid areas with heavy forest cover or extremely cold temperatures, which explains why they live . . . in the view from my office window.