Saturday, February 27, 2010

Whiskerless Kittens

We adopted our three kittens from our Veterinarian's office. They were from the same litter. When we brought them home, they were so tiny they couldn't climb the stairs of our bi-level. It only took a couple of days for them to utilize their needle-like claws to grasp the carpeting and pull themselves up and venture into the bigger world. A week after bringing them home, they were on the bed and snuggling with us at night. One morning I awoke to find both of the boys were whiskerless! Charlotte, however, had all her whiskers. I was appalled to think she actually chewed her brothers' off. I worried that they wouldn't grow back and I knew they needed them to maneuver properly. I did some research and found that cats use their whiskers to determine whether or not they can fit through an opening. A cat will "test" an opening several times with their heads, allowing their whiskers to tell them whether or not their entire body will fit through the opening.

Then I found information that states a mother cat will often chew off their newborn babies whiskers to keep them from wandering! Aha! So, that's why Charlotte, our little mother, chewed off her brother's whiskers. She didn't want to lose them. LOL!

Our Veterinarian laughed. She assured us that the whiskers would grow back...and they did. Now that the boys are twice Charlotte's size, she wouldn't dare try that trick again.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bla, Bla, Bla, Bla

It's, what's not to love about that?

Well, I left my day job at the end of the year and I've been enjoying sleeping without waking up to the bla, bla, bla, bla of the alarm clock every morning. But, a good friend of mine is having some health issues and will be going in for surgery sometime in March. Tomorrow she meets with the surgeon in the morning. This friend is also the receptionist for our church. She asked if I would cover for her on Fridays while she's off...and tomorrow while she speaks with the surgeon. Of course, I told her yes. It's only four hours once a week. Other people are covering on the other days she works.

But, sigh, I do have to depend on the the bla, bla, bla, bla tomorrow. I just hope we don't get any snow until after I get home.

Helping others is always a good thing to do. It makes me feel good, and...what's not to love about that?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Over or Under?

Sometimes life just gets in the way. Yesterday, I forgot to blog. No excuses, just plain forgot.

I should have started your day with a smile. Maybe you did smile when you realized there was no Wednesday blog!  Those who follow me know I have three cats who keep me entertained. A few days ago, I uncovered a video for cats, which our cat Sarah, now gone to Rainbow Bridge, used to love. Let me tell you, putting in a video meant to entertain cats is a sure-fire way to keep them in one spot for a long period of time. The only problem is they become television buffs. Templeton now bats at anything on the screen that moves or flashes. The good news is it doesn't keep his attention for long. I thought I'd share these pics I took of Wilbur and Templeton watching their movie.

Aren't they cute? Charlotte didn't discover the movie until yesterday. And, to make them comfortable, I move two kitchen chairs in front of "their" television. I wouldn't dare play it in the family room on the flat screen!

But, now it's Thursday and I usually share a view from my window with you. I can tell you that most of the snow melted and the icicles are gone. But, unfortunately, we are getting snow flurries now. There is a dusting of snow covering the road and the sidewalks...and my car. Ugh.

The poor knock out rose bush outside the window looks so beaten. I sure hope it pulls through this nasty winter. I keep telling myself that in less than two months it will be April. I'm ready for spring. I need to see green and pretty splashes of color.

I'll leave you with one more amusing thing. A lot of writers tell me that they have "dreams" of scenes for their manuscripts. I've never had that kind of thing happen. For me, I just have to sit and get into a different zone and then my characters "talk" to me. So, this morning I was sitting in a quiet room and reading when I suddenly went into this zone. I could visualize my two characters in an already written scene, but they said totally different things than I had written. Their responses were passionate, heated, and very real. I plan to write that scene later today. Where was I sitting, you ask? Um, well, I'll just leave you with a question. Does your toilet paper roll over or under?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Should Have Known Better

Last night, I pulled a cover from a casserole dish and received a horrible steam burn on the index finger and middle finger of my right hand. I should have known better. I suppose it's called taking a risk or laughing in the face of danger, thinking it won't happen. That was really stupid.

I ran cold water over the fingers and then applied aloe, but the pain kept intensifying throughout our meal and afterward. Finally, I covered the burns with an antiseptic gel and used an oversize bandage to secure the two fingers together. This kept me from bending them and also kept the air from hitting them.

But, it sure is hard to type or do normal things. For instance, how can I put my glove on my injured hand? It just doesn't work. I sure hope the temps don't drop and we don't get another shovelable snowfall.

Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. Maybe I should have let the words I typed remain as the garbled mess they were before I painstakingly kept hitting delete and retyping. Now that would have looked like a code of some kind!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Visual Characterization for Writers

Recently my local RWA chapter hosted Shirley Jump as our speaker. She taught us her "Rule of Six." The theory is that we can easily think of three, or maybe four, things that motivate our characters. However, coming up with six is hard. BUT, when you delve deeply and reach that sixth motivation, you really get to know your characters and what truly drives them.

I'm a visual kind of person. I prefer to look at a chart to reading through a whole listing of numbers to see a pattern. So, when Shirley showed us a neat way to chart the characters using the "Rule of Six", I was elated!

What she had us do was use a large piece of paper (preferably 11X17). She used an Oasis Pad (available from However, I purchased a cheap sketch pad for my use. Here's what you do:

In the middle of the page draw a circle. I used a large glass to make the circle. Inside the circle write your character's name, their age, and their occupation.

From here you draw six lines protruding from the outside of the circle--kind of like when kids draw a sun with rays.  Label the lines with the following six things: Career, Family, Friends, Relationships, Education, Quirks.

Now question your character about each of these things asking at least six questions. For instance with Education--Where did you go to school? Why did you go to this school? Keep asking why at least six times until you get to the real reason he/she went to this school. Perhaps they wanted to move away from home, they had a scholarship, they followed a loved one there, followed in a parent's footsteps, it's the only one they could afford....etc. Write the answers on six lines you'll draw out from this main line.

Continue with the remaining main lines. When you are finished you'll have a well rounded view of what drives your character and why.

On the left hand side of the paper, list six strengths your character exhibits. On the right hand side, list six weaknesses. Remember the weaknesses are the things that will get your character into trouble, but the strengths will be what saves them.

These pages can be folded in half and will fit inside a notebook for handy reference.

If you are a visual person like me, perhaps you will find this a handy way to do a characterization.

I highly recommend having Shirley Jump as a workshop speaker. She is a multi-published New York Times Best-selling author. Check out her website at

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bright Orange and Golden Yellow

Bet you're wondering what that title means, huh? This morning I looked out my window at a gorgeous sunrise. A bright orange ball colored the sky a golden yellow behind the trees along the horizon. After so many days of gray, cloudy skies and either snow or rain showers, this sight lifted my spirits and brought a smile to my face.

The weatherman is predicting sunny skies today. Now what's not to love about that?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Wintery View From My Window

I'm so sick of snow.

This is the poor rosebush in the garden outside my office window. I've never seen a rosebush sport icicles before.

When I sit in my office chair, this is my view.

Killer icicle outside my bedroom window.

Snow on the trellis outside my bedroom window.

The little fishing boy on the bridge over the pond is buried in snow.

The pond. I don't think the fish will survive this winter.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Angels with Snow Shovels

The snow continued through yesterday adding another two to three inches to the nearly ten inches we received on Monday. Though I shoveled early on Monday, we were pretty much snowed in. With the possibility that I might need to take hubby to the VA clinic, looking at all that snow seemed a very daunting task.

Our son-in-law called and told me not to shovel out, that he would come and take care of it for us. And, he volunteered to take us in the truck should we have to go to VA. So, we waited and watched the snowfall, television and waited for the VA clinic to call.

In the early afternoon, our son-in-law called again. We still hadn't heard from VA, so he said their family would be coming over to shovel for us. When you are snowed in, getting a visit from your family is really something to smile about!

However, before they arrived, I looked out the window and saw a tiny lady wielding a snow shovel on our driveway! It was our new neighbor. Then I realized that her husband was also helping. They had shoveled the walk in front of our house and were working on digging out the driveway where it met the street. By the time our family arrived, we had been dug out. We've never had such wonderful neighbors. She said they didn't mind doing it for us and if we needed anything to let them know.

Angels with snow shovels is certainly something worth smiling about. God sends angels to us every day. We just don't always see their wings.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Digging Out the Newspaper

At 7am, I looked out the window to see where our newspaper might have landed. We have had over 20 inches of snow in the last two weeks. Yesterday we received nearly 10 inches, so everything is vivid white. Luckily, our newspaper was in an ORANGE plastic wrap. If not, I would never have found it. One tiny corner of the plastic showed in a deep drift near our flower garden.  I managed to rescue it, while standing in snow that reached nearly to my knees.

It is still snowing. I can see snow drifts and the roofs of our neighbors houses as I gaze out my lower level window. This is the worst storm we've had and the worst February. I haven't seen this much snow since living in the Chicago area.

I'm happy that I have a wonderful son-in-law who is going to come dig us out later today. Our county is under a Level 2 snow advisory which means you should stay at home if at all possible.

I guess it will be another day of putting something in the crockpot to make the kitchen smell good, while we hide away and wait for the storm to subside.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Reality is Not the Dream

When I left my day job, I envisioned myself coming down to my office and spending six hours a day sitting at the computer and writing, writing, writing. Writing would be my next career. I'd dreamed about it for years.

The reality is not the dream. Even though I don't have the interruption of little children, there are other commitments that call me. Making time for writing becomes just as difficult as working it around the day job.

I've set a writing goal, and I work toward that every day. Some days I exceed the goal, some days I don't reach it. I've learned to be flexible and not make impossible demands. To do so would turn writing into a chore and that's the last thing I want.

The truth is...writing is not easy. It takes discipline, commitment, and time. But it can be very rewarding. There is such a sense of accomplishment and pride when I write the last word in the story. That makes it all worthwhile.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cats and Warm Mattresses

A couple of years ago, we purchased a new latex foam mattress. We'd slept on a waveless water bed (prescribed by my chiropractor) for a number of years prior. The salesperson told us that most customers moving from water beds to regular beds preferred the latex foam. We tried the sleep number and the tempurpedic, and kept returning to the latex foam. What we didn't realize was how the pillow top mattress designed to deflect body heat in summer and reflect in winter (now how can an inaminate object do this?) would actually be so warm in the winter.

Crawling between the sheets, I would freeze...for about a minute. Then everywhere that my body touched, the mattress warmed around me. Nice.

My cats discovered this right away. Sometimes it's hard to remove them from the bed so that we can go to sleep. And the spots where they lay? Talk about warm!!!

Wilbur, my very fuzzy cat, has discovered that when displaced, if he looks at me long enough with his big pleading eye, can get me to raise the covers so he can slip between the sheet, too. He crawls to the bottom of the bed and snuggles around my legs. How he can stand being under all the covers like that I don't know. He's impossible to dislodge. If I want to change position, he's like an immovable tank. Sometimes he lays on his back with his legs bent and toes curled. Amazing.

But he does keep my feet nice and toasty!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Quiet Bravery

I've thought a lot about bravery during the past two years. I'd once thought bravery belonged to the soldiers who fought wars, or heroes who faced danger to save another.

But I've learned that bravery is so much more. Many people fight battles with disease with a quiet bravery that inspires everyone who knows them. Bravery comes in many forms. My husband has battled with an unknown disease since the middle of December. Yet, he faces each day with a smile as he waits patiently for the doctors to diagnose his problem. My son-in-law faced a battle with cancer and won. My friend's husband is fighting a battle with cancer right now. Cancer requires a great bravery from the ones who are afflicted to all who love them.

A mother must be brave when she watches her child walk into the doors of a schoolhouse for the very first time.

A child who falls off a bicycle, then climbs back on, shows bravery.

Every day we see people who exhibit a quiet bravery as they move through their lives. You won't see them decorated with medals, nor will you read about them in the paper.

I once stopped in a busy intersection to offer help to a young woman with two children, whose car had stalled. What bravery it took for her to trust me, a stranger. She accepted my hospitality when she couldn't reach anyone from her family to come to her rescue. She'd driven in from out of town to do some shopping and had the terrifying experience of being stranded. My husband helped to move her car out of the intersection into a safe parking lot and we took them all home with us. She spent a couple of hours with us before someone came to help her.I can't imagine what bravery it took for her to accept our hospitality when we were perfect strangers. 

About a month later I received a card from her with pictures of the boys. She thanked me for showing her children that angels come in many forms. What a wonderful blessing that was for me.

My mother was a quiet, independent, shy person. I never realized how brave she was until 2009. If you'd like to read the story, I blogged about it today at White Roses In Bloom.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

No Sunny Sky Today

I had hoped to share a view of beautiful sunshine sparkling across the snow and glistening through the icicles this morning. However, I'm looking out at a very gray sky. A slight wind is blowing, just enough to occassionally move a leaf dead leaf, hanging by a small grip to the once beautiful knock-out rose bush.

The rose bush completely hides my view of the neighbor's house. Instead the beautiful plant which graces my view with bright blooms lasting well into the fall now is coated and encrusted with piles of frozen snow and huge icicles.

As the snow slowly melted off the roof during the last sunny day, it turned into spears of ice so large I'd be afraid to walk in the garden for fear of being gravely injured. As these melted slowly, they dripped to the rose bush forming another formidable mass.

I think today my choice will be to remain inside since the roads are still snow and ice-covered...and so is my car.

This has been a long, long winter.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Naturally Grumpy Morning Person

I always TRY to start my day with a smile, but I'm not the nicest person when I first get out of bed. I don't drink coffee, I'm just naturally sluggish and close-lipped. This morning was no different.

I woke up stumbled my way to the bathroom noticing a foul odor. I kept sniffing myself wondering what dead creature had crawled into bed with me last night. The odor didn't go away. Finally, I made my way to the kitchen to get a drink. There sat hubby, all bright and awake, listening to the radio. And the odor was really strong.  No, it wasn't him! He'd just brewed a pot of coffee. What he calls coffee does not smell good to me. It's a columbian roast that smells like something burning. Ugh!

So, to get away from it all, I put my coat and gloves on over my pj's, stuffed my feet in ny heavy boots, and headed outdoors to feed the feral cats. My wonderful son-in-law came by last night to shovel our driveway and walks, so I expected to have an easy time of it. BUT, last night another two inches of snow had fallen. I thumped my way to the back yard, took care of the animals, and thumped back to the carport to grab the snow shovel. Yep, I shoveled everything again. At least it was light fluffy snow, not the heavy, wet, kind.

By the time I came back in, I was awake and energized. There's something good about being out in the cold weather and exercising that is exhilarating.

Now, instead of feeling grumpy, I'm ready to take a shower and face the day...with a smile!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Beauty and the Beast

I can't deny it. Snow is beautiful. There's nothing like viewing the pristine beauty of snow covered ground before anything has defiled it.

I love viewing the snow coming down in huge flakes, and the fine snow that if it were rain would require the building of an ark. Slowly it covers the ground, hides the flaws beneath, and continues, layer upon layer, to create a breathtaking scene.

T'would be nice to just stay inside a nice warm home and look out at the phenomenon of winter. But, reality rears an ugly head. One must dig out of the pristine blanket. Heavy, wet, snow defies the snow blower, requiring the use of old-fashioned snow shovel and muscle. That's where I come in, since hubby is not physically able to help. I did purchase a pair of heavy snow boots prior to the first big snow...thank goodness. They weigh a ton, but they are so warm and keep my feet dry. I feel like I'm walking on the moon...pick one weighted foot up and slam it down. Do the same with the other foot and you've made about 12 inches of progress. I'm sure I look like a displaced snow creature when I go out to shovel. Big boots, long tan faux-suede faux-fur lined coat, matching furry hat (which hides my face), and unfortunately the only gloves I have--leather driving gloves.

The last time I braved the beast, I had to thaw my fingers slowly in cold water. Hubby kept adding a bit of hot every few minutes until I could tolerate luke-warm water. Once the pain had left my fingers, all I could feel was the knifing pain in my back. Two ibuprofen and twenty minutes flat on my back took care of that.

Now, as I stare out my window at the snow slowly piling up, I'm amazed at how something so beautiful can also be such a beast.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Why Do I Do It?

I keep a small stock of my books in my office to use for promotion. When hubby and I were meeting with VA to plead our case, we had a wonderful lady who saw our problem and found a way to help. God had truly sent an angel to help us that day. I had reached the bottom that day, and I couldn't stop sobbing, worrying that my retirement from my day job meant my hubby would be without critically needed health care. My prayers were answered.

On the first day that hubby saw his doctor, we stopped to thank our angel. I asked if she liked to read and her eyes lit up. "I love to read," she replied. I then told her that I was an author and asked if she would like to have one of my books. After an enthusiastic yes, I promised to bring a book next time.

And I did. Actually, I signed all three of my books and took them to her on our next visit. I felt it was just a small token to thank her.  Last week, when hubby and I made another trip to the clinic to pick up some meds, we saw Karen and waved as we passed.

She called out to stop us. "I've been hoping to see you," she exclaimed. "I've been telling everyone here that I started reading FOXFIRE and I love it! I'm half-way through and, honey, you have developed those characters so well. I'm really enjoying it. I can't wait to pick it up again."

So, for all the people who wonder why I write...that's why.

Writing is a lonely business. It's just me and the characters. I might love them, but what about the people who buy my books? When I hear that I've entertained someone and that they, too, love my characters, it's all worthwhile.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Oxygen and Cats...

For a month, we've been trying to find the best way to deal with hubby's oxygen hoses. We have an Oxygen Concentrator to which he attaches long plastic tubing so that he can freely roam the house without having to carry an oxygen tank. First, he had a 50 foot hose which allowed him to travel to the lower level of our home if he wanted to watch sports on the large screen tv. Since we are supposed to change the tubing every 30 day, yesterday he removed the long tube and decided to replace it with a 25 foot which gets him all around the first floor.

The first thing he noticed were multiple small puncture holes along the tubing! A close inspection revealed the truth. Our cats had chewed the tubing. I do have to hide my purses from them. Especially, Templeton and Wilbur. They love to chew off the handles of my purse. So, they evidently transferred their love of chowing down husband's oxygen tubes!

So, he decided to use a second 25 foot hose for the downstairs. He accomplished this by attaching it with wall hooks to keep it from dangling. If he decides to go downstairs, he removes the headpiece from the upstairs tube, attaches it to the tubing hidden along the stairway, and he avoides a long twisting, and very  enticing cat toy (er, tube).

Very ingenious, I thought.

Until this morning, when I noticed Wilbur staring at the upstairs hose, which is on the floor and close to the wallboard. Hmmm. I picked up the tube and....ACK!!!!....teeth marks.  Sigh.

Poor hubby needs the flexibility of being able to walk around, so we can't attach the tubing. It has to be free-moving.

I guess I'll have to file down the cats' teeth.

Friday, February 05, 2010

It's Friday, It's Supposed to Snow...A Lot...

The weather man is forecasting a possible 10 inches of snow by tomorrow morning. Looking out my window I see a steady stream of white slowly blanketing the ground. Not much is moving outside my window this morning, except for the snow. A heavy white sky threatens the forecast is accurate.

That's not exactly what I had hoped for on this Friday in February. The thought of putting on my heavy winter clodhopper boots, full length fur lined coat, hat, gloves, etc. is not appealing. Nor is the thought of the backbreaking labor of removing said white product from my sidewalk and driveway.

There is one bright joy to hang on to. I didn't have to drive to work this morning, and I won't have to battle the traffic and roads on what's sure to be an accident-riddled home commute.

Ah, yes, what's not to love about that?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Laughing My Way Through the Battlefield

This week I've been participating in Powerdraft with some of my local chapter mates. It's amazing the creativity that pops up and keeps us going. This month, somehow we got on the kick of our mentor being like a general leading her troops. This has expanded into a full blown accounting of the battles we've faced throughout the day. Each of us was given a role and mine was Chaplain. I guess I'm always the one trying to inspire everyone. Here's how funny this can be.

Yesterday I was hit with a sudden stomach upset in the middle of the day. I reported in that I had been taken ill by an enemy weapon and had to keep running to the bushes. My progress along the assigned mission had slowed. I did however take countermeasures by utilizing a fizzy med ration given by the medic and would do my best to go forward and conquer. Grenades were exploding all around me, but I kept dodging them the best I can. At the end of the day, I had moved forward ten pages, my uniform battle scarred and tattered, but safely reunited with the rest of the troops.

I only wish I could share some of the other things my fellow members reported. I spend a lot of time laughing, but checking in with the support group gave me reason to continue typing the pages and not looking back at what I'd written. I completed ten pages by early evening despite feeling sick.

If I hadn't been involved with my Powerdraft group, I might have just given up and spent the day laying in bed. Now that's something to be proud of and something to smile about.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Putting Aside the Internal Editor

One way to put aside that nagging internal editor who has you going over your work multiple times and keeping you for making forward progress is to engage in a "fast" writing endeavor. Many people join Na-No, which I've never tried. However, my local RWA writing group sets aside one week each month for a "Power Draft". We start on Saturday and end on Saturday.

We have established a yahoo group and each of us post what our goal for the week will be. We are each accountable for posting our progress at the end of each day. The loop allows us to encourage each other, post stumbling blocks, etc.

Making yourself accountable for reaching a goal can help silence that editor. But, you must allow yourself the privilege of writing without going back and reading or editing. Just continue writing towards each goal. It's important to discipline yourself not to go back and read what you've written.

Once you have gotten into the pattern of reaching goals on a daily basis, you'll be amazed at how fast the pages rack up. When you reach the end of that first draft, pat yourself on the back! That's a major milestone. At that time, you can bring your internal editor out and allow her to read your draft. There will be things to change, but that is why we do edits! Allow for at least three different edits...but more for that at a later date.

For now, establish a goal. Put it in writing. Make yourself accountable, and write that first draft!

Thanks for stopping by.