Saturday, September 30, 2006

A random pretty picture that came on my new computer... and made me homesick. As much as I love Ohio, I started lifed in California, Richmond, right across this bridge from San Francisco. It's been a very long time, and many states, in between that childhood of beaches, swimming pools, water ski's and sunshine...

If I learned only one thing (and I actually learned many) by moving many, many times when I was growing up, it is that people are the same everywhere. They just put emphasis on different things. Even in the 60's when I was growing up, California emphasis was on appearance. Kids were still hassled about grades, sunday school and the condition of their room, but foremost was instruction in grooming, fashion and fitness. Our first move was to Maryland, culture shock, their emphasis was on education and work, then all the other things. Pennsylvania - the state of your spirit, Indiana - how athletic are you?, North Carolina - manners, manners, manners. In every state, we adapted, changed our family dynamic and blended in. It was especially easy for me, I believe I'm one part magpie (my love of shiny things), one part chameleon.

I wonder, though, if someone trained in psychiatry would look differently at this lack of seperation anxiety? It would have been excellent early training for a con man.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Nibbling Away at Our Rights

There is a company who has decided not to hire smokers. They claim that health insurance is higher for smokers. They've also said they'll fire any employee that doesn't try to quit smoking ... that's the palatable spin. Since they followed up that news with the fact that they'll be doing random drug testing for nicotine, they should just say they're going to fire anybody who smokes.

This policy isn't really about smoking. While it may sound like a conspiracy theory, it's really a test to see just how much power big business has to control their employees. Today they've chosen smoking, tomorrow they will fire all the red haired, fair skinned people. They have delicate skin and it's more expensive to treat their sunburns. This policy is testing the ability to strip citizens of their rights.

Today it's smoking, if they get away with it, tomorrow it could be our right to practice whatever religion we choose, or our right to own property. Unchecked, we are destined to repeat our most hideous pages of history. An employer has the right to control the environment in his workplace, they don't have the right to control what I do at home.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I walked to the day job today. Unusual for me, but my reason was compelling.

1) As a conscientious citizen I felt the need to save a days gas and oil, and decrease the ozone depleting exhaust from my car.
2) Ever health conscious, I decided I needed to work some junk off my trunk.
3) Always a social creature, I wanted an opportunity to say good morning to my neighbors and shop keepers along the way.
4) It's pouring down rain and my convertible is leaking, therefore I had to leave it parked and under cover.

Isn't it amazing how we can rationalize our way to reaching whatever conclusion we want?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

When I'm 64....

I can distinctly remember thinking 40 year old people were ancient (then I turned 40 and got smart). The Beatles considered anyone 64 on deaths door. What do you think you'll be doing at age 88?

I interviewed this lovely 88 year old lady today who is the driving force behind the Zane Trace Players, a community theater group. They are currently in rehearsal for the musical version of Cindrella, which means the cast is mostly kids. She produces and directs the show, makes all the sets, helps with costumes, lights, advertising, ticket sales... where in the world does she find the stamina? If someone wouldn't have told me she was 88, I'd have placed her easily in her 60's.

Because people in my family seem to pass away young (60's and 70's), I like meeting people older than that. I'm one of those concrete people who's rarely sick, my kids tell me regularly that I' ll live forever. A daunting thought, so I seek out really old people to see what they do with their time. The secret seems to be staying busy. The oldest guy I ever knew died at 100. At 96 he was still recording clerk for the county. Still driving at 98, but he probably shouldn't have been, we all knew when we saw his cadillac coming down the street to leap out of the way and take cover!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My goodness, what's up with blogger today? Slow.... This pretty picture from my friend Waldo, could be last year, could be the year before.

It's fall, that strange time in Ohio, and other places I'm sure, in which you dress for the day in multiple layers. Tank top, sweater, jacket, parka for the morning. By lunch you're down to the tank top and then you start putting it back on a piece at a time until you're eating dinner in your down filled coat. Not being a native Ohioian, I refuse to dress in layers. My twisted brain truly believes that if I just keep wearing my flip flops and sandals, summer will not leave. I'm not the only one like that in my town. Two of our three postal workers have a competition to see who wimps out and switches from shorts to pants first. I've seen one of them delivering the Christmas Cards in shorts before. But then, a day like today...

It was so cold this morning I couldn't even get the dog or cats to get up with me. They stayed curled up in the quilt against Pap's back no matter how much I poked and teased them. I had to defrost the windshield on the car before I left, dodging the kids in coats racing for the bus stop that's across from the house. It was cold enough on the day job that we turned on the furnace, first time since May, so we've had that burnt lint smell floating around. It wasn't until mid-morning, when I was huddled against the back door in a sunbeam (smoking, shhh... you didn't see me write that) that I gave up trying to hang on to summer. I heard the honking first, and then the V-of geese flying south.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Some Funny Things for Monday

Dr. John posted today on the value of laughter. Since he's a wise man, and I agree totally, I found some funny stuff to share today. This joke was sent to me by my friend Waldo Schmidlapt, and then again by Library Lo, so it's GOT to be funny.

A woman was sitting at a bar enjoying an after work cocktail with her girlfriends when an exceptionally tall, handsome, extremely sexy middle-aged man entered. He was so striking that the woman could not take her eyes off him. The young-at-heart man noticed her overly attentive stare and walked directly toward her (as all men will). Before she could offer her apologies for so rudely staring, he leaned over and whispered to her, "I'll do anything, absolutely anything, that you want me to do, no matter how kinky, for $20.00......on one condition."

Flabbergasted, the woman asked what the condition was. Then he replied,"You have to tell me what you want me to do in just three words."

The woman considered his proposition for a moment,then slowly removed a $20 bill from her purse, which she pressed into the man's hand along with her address. She looked deeply into his eyes, and slowly, and meaningfully said....

"Clean my house."
While I was surfing around yesterday, killing time while a book was printing, I found this new blog that just cracked me up:

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Diamond in the Rough

Every publisher's dream is to stumble upon a book with bestselling potential. To pick a manuscript from the submissions list, start reading and see a Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or Ian Rankin like story unfolding.

With unsolicited manuscripts flowing into the big publishing houses like flood water, they have no choice but to find reasons to reject books in order to narrow their search. Bad formatting, bad grammar and sentence structure... these kinds of problems in a manuscript make it easy to reject it.

But if you're a small house like ours, a shack really, a lean-to against the garage... you dream of the diamond in the rough. A writer like Zane Grey, pictured here. From 1910 until after his death in 1939, Zane Grey was the bestselling western author of all time. He wrote over 90 books, about the west, about fishing, for kids, adults. The man was a writing machine. There is a reason they say behind every great man there's a woman, and Zane's was called Dolly. Here is (as Paul Harvey would say) the rest of the story:
Zane's great success permitted him to have homes in Ohio, California and other places. He travelled frequently and on a trip to California he came up with an idea for a new book. In his usual prolific way he whipped it up and mailed it off to his agent. Sometime later the manuscript was returned to him with a scathing letter from the agent chastising "the imposter" trying to imitate the great Zane Grey. That is when Zane found out that the rest of his manuscripts had been retyped and corrected by his wife Dolly.

What nobody can take away is the fact that Zane Grey was a great storyteller. That he was not always so into proper format, punctuation and spelling can be forgiven, that's what editors are for. These diamonds in the rough are the author's my publishing house is hoping to find. Not that we aren't doing cartwheels when a manuscript like Sandra Ruttan's "Suspicious Circumstances", or Theresa Leighton's "Last" come our way - good stories backed up by professional presentation, but we read everything just in case that next brilliant storyteller isn't so worried about the rules of the game.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Wicked Business

Isn't that just a stunning sky? A picture from my niece in Texas. Wow, looks like a sky painted by a kid, beautiful.

Our little publishing company has been under attack for the last few days. Very distressing to my partner and I as well as our authors. We went into the publishing business to help new authors that just can't seem to get a break anywhere but have real talent. After getting a number of submissions that lacked even the most rudimentary structure (400 pages without a single paragraph sometimes!), we thought it might be a good idea to offer an editing service at a very affordable price ($35). Well, apparently that labels you as a scam artist if you charge writers ANYTHING for ANYTHING. The fact that we did was giving our authors piles of grief, it was way too much work anyway, and we really do care about not just being a reputable company, but looking like one too - so we discontinued the service. My partner has written personally to everyone that was questioning our integrity, and while I've been proud of him before, he was amazing in this circumstance and has managed to change the minds of many.

When things like this happen, I think always of the penalties for judging others. I don't think you get slammed for it so much in this world, but I won't risk being judgemental because of the consequences from the next world. It also makes me sad that some people are so quick to tear down anything that's not the "norm". Luckily, I have way too much to do to worry about this for long! Sometimes my many spinning plates come in real handy!

Friday, September 22, 2006

21 Gun Salute for People Making a Difference

There's nothing better than a fantasy that becomes a reality, and the news was just filled with encouraging stories this morning. My 21 gun salute this week goes to:

Sir Richard Branson, airline mogul, who has given a 3 billion dollar gift toward development of alternative fuels. Great news on many levels, from the price of gas to global warming. Way to go Sir Richard! I hope his jet setting friends follow his example.

Stephon Marbury, NBA Star for the New York Nicks. He could have been like the rest of the prima dona basketball stars that lend their name to everything from sneakers to sweatshirts for endorsement fees in the millions, but he isn't. He hooked up with Steve and Barry's and his shoes, the same ones he wears on the court, are under $15! He wants kids to invest in themselves, not their shoes. Four stars for Stephon!

Walmart and their new drug plan. $4 prescriptions for generic versions of the medicines people need to treat high blood pressure, diabetes and allergies. This salute is maybe only two guns. It may be just a ploy to make us forget that Walmart has a pitiful health plan for their employees, and import almost all of their products instead of buying American. But I do applaud this small effort.

What a great day in the world wide neighborhood!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Worry From the Land Down Under

My body is in Ohio today, but my head is in Australia with my girl down under. If she had a blog or I knew she wouldn't be mad at me, I would ask everyone, all you nice, funny, compassionate people, to send her a note. She's had just one tragedy after another over the last week and I've never heard her so down.

She and I met over the internet. A pen pal site I think, it's been awhile ago. We wrote back and forth for a little over a year and then she came here and stayed with us for a month last summer. Like twins from different mothers, Barb and I yakked practically non-stop from her arrival to her departure. Everyone liked her, and I made sure she had a real midwestern summer experience- She was forced to judge the Queen's contest at the pottery festival, we took her to a baseball game when the weather was so hot even our sweat was sweating, and even tried hooking her up with a date while she was here. Barb is one of those people that is so thoroughly good she glows with it. Smart, wise and funny. Think good thoughts for my girl Barbara.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Still Wearing My Head

Poor Jazzmin, if it isn't her little sisters bugging her when she's trying to draw a masterpiece, it's Ophelia the Dowager Cat.

What a hoot yesterday turned out to be. I was trying to get ready for dinner and the speech around two cloying cats and one perfectly pathetic dog who had been alone all day since Princess has gone back to school. I don't know if I'm the only one who does this, but it's been a life long problem: the more nervous I am, the bigger my hair gets. I just can't leave it alone- curl, spray, comb, curl, spray, brush down, brush upside down. Before I know it I have the perfect style - if I were a beauty contestant from Texas in the 1980s. If it stopped at big hair I probably wouldn't consider it a mental illness, but I have the same problem with make up. There are certain colors of eye shadow and lipstick I never, ever wear but inevitably, I'll try them, in several wobbly layers, on nights when I really shouldn't be experimenting with anything. Lucky for me, I only had an hour between the day job and the speaking engagement so I was able to get out of the house looking more aging disco queen than clown.

Everything went great through dinner, I sat with some very nice ladies and compared notes about vacation spots. As dessert was wrapping up the president gave me the nod to start speaking, I walked, without tripping, to the podium, looked out over the 50 smiling faces and completely forgot everything I was going to say.....
This kind of behavior is so NOT KAT, I can't figure out what in the world
I let get me so riled up that I was actually speechless in front of a room
full of woman not much different from me... 80's hair aside. Nuts, one
day of totally nutty behavior. Jeesh.
I smiled at them for, oh 20 seconds or so that felt like a lifetime, and then said "Have you ever had one of those moments where everything, including your name, just flys right out of your head?" Half of them yelled "yes", the other half nodded and that broke the paralysis. I ended up speaking on mentorship and it's inclusion in the newly forming girls and women's network. They asked lots of questions, they stayed after to ask more. Done. Head still attached. Yay.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Exploding Heads

It's quite possible that before this week is over my head will explode.

I have quite a large head, but I'm afraid that won't be of any help warding off the imminent melt down of my coping skills resulting in a mushroom cloud of disgusting brain matter, blood and hair. Some day, I will learn to say NO, and these kinds of weeks won't be an issue... for now, I'm looking for the mirror I broke, the black cat who crossed my path, the ladder I walked under...

Yesterday I tried to open an attachment from one of my authors to prepare the final, final, edited copy of her advanced reading copies. The document opened at a page count of 460, but as it downloaded the number on her page changed to 452. Worse, the word count changed too. Said author is on her way to a conference, she needs these ARCs at the conference so I don't really have time to read the entire book again to see what it's leaving out...

Tonight I have that speech for the Professional and Business Women. I'm not laughing any more, I have no idea what I'm going to talk to them about. Wait, I know WHAT I want to talk to them about, I don't know HOW I'm going to do it. I've tried to write something several times but the lure of..., well.... just about anything drew me from the task. So I'll be winging it. I'm a total imposter anyway, I don't even know why they asked me.

This morning I had an angry e-mail from my partner ... editing!!!! An angry e-mail from my editor...writing!!!! And a stack of notes from my assistant at the day job, who is looking quite lemon lipped and eye rolling today. There are book plates to do, and I'm fairly certain I'm out of clean laundry except for my black coctail dress and a velvet pant suit. We will not even discuss the fact that my convertable top is leaking and since it rained yesterday, I had to drive to a meeting in Pap's beater. I doubt I'll ever be able to live down the shame.

In the event my prediction comes true, and my head does explode, you may notice that my blog posts get more interesting. I definately have too much to do to actually die, so I'm sure my body will continue to go through it's paces headless. :)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Things I learned from a 3 Year Old

It's been a while since I've taken care of a three year old for more than a few hours at a time. This past weekend was an adventure and I gained some wisdom to pass on to my friends:

Scrapbook glitter, while enhancing the appearance of the sewing machine, screws up its operation considerably.

You must cut up spaghetti O's before you serve them or they instantly become fashion accessories.

The term "time out" must never be used in place of the word "stop" or hysterics will shortly follow.

No matter how awful the three year old is being, if you put her on the naughty chair her two older sisters will look at you like you've just murdered a kitten.

If you put her on the naughty chair, no matter how awful she's behaved, you will feel like you've just murdered a kitten.

The tiny victorian couch in my library that' s too narrow for any adult to sit on comfortably is perfectly sized for a small girl and an old cat to use as a napping spot.

A brass band playing their way through the library will not wake a small girl up. The sound of a lid being removed from a tube of play-doh two rooms away will.

Blogger won't let me post pictures today... so you'll just have to trust me when I tell you I had a really cute one of the above mentioned three year old.

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's A Girl!

It was a girl after all, Brendolyn Jessica Jolene... great big name for a very tiny little lady, just 4 lbs. 12 ozs. But she is lovely, and not even as big as a football! Bren and her Mom are doing fine, despite her diminutive size she has quite lusty lungs and is eating like a mad woman. Off to write my article so I don't get fired from the paper...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thursday Full of Opportunities

Grandgirls mom called yesterday to put me on notice that the birth of baby #4 was imminent. Supposedly another girl, I hope so, but doctors have been wrong before and no matter how advanced technology gets, I won't believe it until I see it...her. She has asked her sisters, Princess and Bean, to go with her to the delivery room, my job is to take care of Juliette, who is three.

I love her desperately, but I'd have a better chance of surviving by giving birth to #4 myself rather than being left alone with Juliette. She doesn't sleep, she talks non-stop, and if I knew how to trap frenetic energy, I could supply power to my entire neighborhood. Julzy does things like paint the cat with toothpaste. Her middle name is "drama". Lucky for me, Juliette loves being outside mucking in the garden as much as I do. If the rain holds off... I will wear the little darling down jogging between the tired vegetable garden and the mulch pile.

In the event we don't get a baby today, I have just one feature story for the newspaper this week. Computers breaking, cars breaking... this week was too chaotic to get much of anything accomplished.

This is one of those moments I remember why I never divorce Papa Bear. After a day of hopping like Tigger, endless rounds of "the wheels on the bus", a monster sized temper tantrum over a nap, followed by an equally frantic crying jag because she was not permited to eat the cat's food... Pap arrived to take Juliette (the chatter box) and I out to dinner and then, and this truly makes him my hero, to our house to put her to bed while I stay here in Bean's quiet, tidy apartment. Calgon calls....

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Murder of Crows...A Blizzard of Buzzards

What do you call a flock of buzzards? This picture was taken by my friend Waldo Schmidlpt of an old tree by the cemetery that was just filled with buzzards. An eerie bird at best, but when hanging out in a gang like this, downright spooky!

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Today, I finally learned how to make a link from this blog. A simple thing to most people, but despite instructions, I have the hardest time with html. All those little carrots and slashes and quotation marks drive me crazy. I have new respect for dark daddy, my web designing friend.

Last year, clay guy talked me into taking a pottery making class. It was a logical request, me and Pap love pottery and have a large collection on top of the fact that pottery is our regional product and we actively promote its sale. I'm creative and kind of artsy, I thought I'd love it. I didn't. I hated everything about making pottery from the uncomfortable position you must assume at the wheel to the feel of the clay squooshing between my fingers. I hated having to remove all my rings, I hated that my long fingernails made it almost impossible to smooth things out properly. I quit the class, but, I gained a whole new respect for the potters who make my dishes and art pottery.

While you may be thinking the previous paragraphs were as random a bunch of thoughts as could be, they connect on the level of "things I once took for granted". I used to believe I was pretty smart, then I realized a three year old could stump me in under thirty seconds (smart people should also have answers for the illogical) and I don't know what a flock of buzzards is called. I used to call myself a quick learner, then the internet came along. Things I once presumed were easy, turned out to be hard, hard things turned out to be easy... I have learned that life has very many more dimensions that I had previously believed. That's cool, and it's inspired me to make a list of things I want to do and see before I die. Luckily, I have many, many years to work on this.

Top of the list: I want to tour Scotland, my husband's, families homeland. I want to learn how to use oil paints, train for a marathon, write a play and see it produced, teach my grandgirls how to walk with a book on their head, build a straw wall, raise a chicken, design a new house, learn to ballroom dance, see a financial report for the lottery, watch a concert from the first row, mediate a debate between a minister and a wiccan priestess, visit my girl in Australia... to be continued somewhere else....

Monday, September 11, 2006

Believe in Yourself

Library Lo sent me this picture, it was on one of those funny things people forward to all their friends with cool pictures captioned with something motivational. This one is called, of course, Believe in Yourself.

For years, the Kat that lives in my head has been a svelte size 8, with perfect hair and small feet. The fact that I haven't been a size 8 since Junior High, have seen maybe 4 perfect hair days in 47 years and have average sized feet that are nearly as wide as they are long, makes no difference. I have been known to catch sight of myself in a store window and recognize it as me only because the reflection is wearing the same clothes I am. So I like this picture, because for once the mirror isn't betraying someone, it's reflecting this internal kitty.

I'm not sure when certain of my body parts decided to move south of their assigned places, but evacuate they did. Dressing around the effects of gravity, (pepsi, hohos, ice cream) and five children is an adventure. Especially when your head still thinks you look like the Disco Queen you were in 1979. Most shopping trips include me trotting back to the dressing room with a lovely selection of cropped and spaghetti strapped tops, then slouching back out to fetch the St. John's Bay practical middled aged t-shirts that actually fit me.

Princess and I refuse to believe there is any size larger than extra large. That's the only thing saving me from needing a cattle scale to weigh in, I don't want to disappoint her by moving into the dreaded 1X, so I do apply myself to healthy eating when I'm busting the seams on those XLs.

I've always had bad eating habits. I hate to cook, so whatever is close at hand is what I'll eat. This is complicated by the fact that I have an addictive personality. I eat oatmeal for breakfast every single morning. If Pap fails to replace my oatmeal and I run out, I'll fret for several days and eat nothing. If he goes too long and doesn't replace it, I'll eat whatever is easy: half a jar of chocolate fudge, popcorn, left over cake. We live in a small town with no fast food restraunts, so anytime we went to the city we'd eat at McDonald's. Well now I go to the city two or three times a week and I can't drive past the McD's, I have to stop. I have eaten the same thing there for years (#2 with diet coke). As slovenly and self-indulgent as this all sounds, there is good news regarding my examination of my eating habits. I don't really care if it's healthy food or junk food, to me food is only fuel. I want it fast, I don't want to have to cook it myself, and I lack a goumets palate. I'm happy to eat the same thing every day for months. I just have to figure out three healthy meals and two snacks that I can eat every day until I'm skinny.

Until that skinny day, I don't really bug on my weight. It's just a number. If it weren't for the fact that I feel like lugging around a bunch of extra pounds is the same as playing russion roulette, I wouldn't care at all.

The Autumn of a Lifetime

Ever since we had our first chilly morning, I've been obsessed with the phases of a life and just where I am in that grand plan. When I was growing up and women were gossiping about the older man up the street with the young chippy - they'd call it "that May/December romance".

Memories of my life as a kid are always in the pastels of spring- squeaky clean, shiny and new. They're scented with chlorine, wet dog and playground sweat. I remember my late teens and child rearing years in primary colors suffused with neon - hot, ripe, passionate- surrounded by the cloying smell of honeysuckle, lavender and roses in full bloom.

The trees outside my kitchen window are still wearing their lush green canopies, but they're beginning to fade. The green is less vibrant, some of the leaves are edged with brown. The vines in the vegetable garden are looking wilted and have lost most of their leaves. The patio umbrella is faded and drooping, the canvas chairs have permanent bottom shaped dips in them. I look at this sad picture of late summer and remember that in a week or two the garden will be filled with mums, richly shaded in oranges, golds and browns. The trees will glow gold and orange one last time before they drop the leaves for winter. As soon as we have a morning frost, the fading pumpkin vines will shrivel out of sight leaving behind a crop of bright orange pumpkins. That's why I've always loved autumn, it's like a fighter regaining his feet on the 8 count and going on to fight out the round. He may get knocked out in the next round, but for this one he has come up fighting, swinging, punching and putting on one last show.

I feel like I've entered the autumn of my life. My kids are grown and it's the first chance I've had to fully pursue my own interests. There was that period right before Princess graduated from High School that felt like late summer - I was a little faded and droopy, sad and in need of plumping up. A bit scared about what was coming next. It's only this year that I realized after late summer comes Autumn! Another batch of memories to make, this time scented with the smell of hot cider and burning leaves, colored with rich golds, oranges and browns.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Grandgirl Weekend

The house of perpetual remodeling is hopping today. The grandgirls and their mom popped in last night for an early birthday celebration for Breezy (the one on the right) who is turning 7 on Monday.

I wasn't expecting (or planning!) to be a grandmother this early in life, but now that I am I wonder how anyone who gets the little charmers keeps up at an older age. I've already forgotten what it's like to just keep kids fed and watered on a regular schedule. Jazz, the one on the left, has been my gardening buddy since she was toddling. Last month she called me and said "Nana, I'm coming over this weekend, the tomatos are so overgrown I can't even see my tree".
True, I've been a little busy lately, and Pap is supposed to take care of the vegetable garden...

Always when grandgirls mom is here I spend time biting my tongue. I know it serves no purpose to say "how can you make these kinds of life choices? Why can't you see how hard you're making life for everyone around you? What are you thinking when your recklessness results in damage to tiny lives? How do I make you see that a life worth living is lived in honesty, hard work, clean fun and legal behavior?" When I was raising my kids in the 80's, the experts harped on "kids do as you do, not as you say". I believed that and Pap and I set a good example. With this child, it didn't matter. I'm a huge supporter of mentoring, not just for poor kids, or kids missing a parent, but for every kid. Personalities are so diverse that no one person can reach everyone. Grandgirls mom grew up looking at me like I was some super woman living standards she couldn't hope to achieve. A false reality, but her reality. If there had been someone around more like her, more edgy and spontaneous, that was willing to mentor, she might have turned out differently. She's young, only 26, and there's time to change, but only if she wants to. That's the real question.

Today will be spent in board games (Mousetrap is the new favorite) and craft projects - a little calm before the storm of next week's work. Since I missed three opportunities for stories this weekend, I'll need to chase down three new somethings before my Friday deadline. Hmmm.... My desk at the day job looks like a hurricane hit it, so some serious attention to that, all doable.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


It was inevitable that this day would come. My schedule has been tottering around like a house of cards for some time, I am not surprised that it crashed today.

I'm supposed to be racing between the Bump, Spike and Dive mud volley ball for charity event and Farm City Day to get stories for the paper. By lunch I'm supposed to be at the museum to hand out writing awards for The Theme is Pottery. The afternoon was planned to be spent talking to Karen at the Armory regarding the consignment shop that's opening, then zipping back to Crooksville for middle grandgirls birthday party (picking up the cake along the way). Somewhere amongst that stuff I needed to finish making ARCs for the reading club and finish my speech for the Professional Women. A day like this is carefully orchestrated, there is no room for spontaneous action, or glitches of any kind.

Big glitch. Pap's car is in the shop for repair so he took mine to work. The backup plan was for me to take Princess to work, do my running around in her car, and then pick her back up right before I picked up the cake. Well, I have discovered it's impossible for me to look presentable in under, oh, about 80 minutes. I woke up 45 minutes before she had to leave. So the entire day is scrapped. Ugh.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Writer's Talk with Some Artists

Spooky moon still in the sky this morning. I like these crisp fall mornings that warm back up to summer by midafternoon. Pap has my car today since his is in the shop and Princess had to be at work early, so I walked to work (which is what I should be doing every day).

Last night was the speech for the artists. Lots of fun, there are so many of them! I think it went okay, they laughed several times, applauded something I said once and several stayed after to ask questions about either the newspaper or to tell me they were also writers. Zanesville is a funny old city. I've moved around a lot and know that most cities have a personality of some sort. When we moved to Southeastern Ohio fifteen years ago, Zanesville was full of moldering old businesses, derelicts roaming the streets and empty buildings. I worked in a business on Main Street for about a year, so I saw it up close and personal. Then the artists started organizing, Alan Cottrill, the sculpture, moved back and placed a bronze Indian on the roof of his studio, rapidly followed by a parade of bronze characters on the sidewalk. The antique stores started spiffing up, and new businesses moved in. ZAAP and the Artists Colony was formed, followed by several of them taking up residence in the old Armory. The transformation is amazing, and the artists deserve all the credit for both giving the city back a personality and reminding everyone of their proud old heritage as an Art Pottery town.

Among my volumous list of personal beliefs, there are two that routinely march to the top of the list: 1) everyone - regardless of economic or social standing, creed, religion or gender- has the right to own something beautiful that moves them emotionally, and 2) just like dedicated policemen, doctors or bankers, dedicated artists deserve the right to make a living as artists. Getting those two beliefs to meld into a reality requires a dedicated marketing person, and compromise on the part of the artist and the consumer. Why it's worth the effort to work at making these beliefs a reality is best illustrated through evidence of the power art has to make change in the life and heart of a person : (slightly fictionalized to protect the privacy of the couple involved)

In the 1980's Pap and I were Art Consultants for a company in Indiana that also believed everyone deserved to own a piece of beautiful art. They developed a program based on volume that kept the cost of art down while still providing a good income for a motivated and prolific artist. We sold oil paintings, some prints and water colors through home shows called private gallery showings. All very dignified, part show, part art education, part pseudo auction. Pap and I lived near an Air Force base, so we frequently had young GI's at our shows who came for the food, I'm sure, but left with a painting or two ordered.

There was a young man who worked in the motor pool named Buster Yardley who was married to a tiny little girl named Becky who had been hideously disfigured in a fire just a few months after their wedding. Buster had quite a knack for canabilizing one set of cars in order to fix other sets of vehicles making the road leading to their shack on the outskirts of town looking like a graveyard for Fords and Chryslers. GI's being what they are, Buster and his wife were usually referred to as Junkyard and Dog. I'm not sure how Buster got invited to one of our shows, I knew of him, and it was common knowledge that everyone used Buster, but the Yardley's didn't have any friends.

It was a full house that first night I actually met the Yardley's. They sat in the back corner of a room, alone and aparently uninterested until I came to a selection of sea scapes. The first one was just stunning, crashing waves with nearly transparent crests, sunlight dancing off the water across the canvas. When I illuminated it with an art light, Buster came off his chair and moved to the front of the room. He had a million questions, who painted it, where was this beach, how did he do that? They left with a painting ordered for them. Several months passed, I'd see their names on packages being picked up by other consultants, or on sales slips at the gallery. Just before Christmas Buster called and invited Pap and I out to see their "gallery wall".

It was cold that night, with wind whistling across Indiana's flat landscape. Creepy driving through the car carcasses up to the Yardley's little house with the tin roof. Buster opened the door at our knock and led us down the short bare hall to the living room, empty except for two lawn chairs and a TV tray. Once we'd cleared the wall blocking our view of the end of the room, Pap and I were both struck speechless. The Yardleys had collected a group of seascapes and rustics that when assembled together told the story of a life yet to come. Illuminated by up lights arranged on the floor, the viewer was literally swept out of Indiana. A portrait of a mermaid posed on rocks, long red hair flowing over her shoulder and floating on the water, her tail a nicked and scarred series of scales, was prominently placed in the center of the grouping. "Isn't my Becky beautiful, that's just how she looks to me." Buster said pointing to the portrait.

Buster advanced through the ranks like all GI's do, upgrading his housing as he went. When he retired we got a letter from him, postmarked from New Hampshire. It was a short note thanking us for introducing him to oil paintings and explaining that back when he and Becky had nothing, and were struggling to rebuild their life together after the fire, it was the one thing that opened up dialogue between them, and helped him to show her just exactly how he felt and what he dreamed about.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Squirrely Day

I'm fairly certain that I am definately going nuts, this squirrel has been hanging around me all day.

I'm glad this week is nearly over, it's been chock full of bad news of one kind or another. Nothing desperate, just these little annoyances, one on top of the other until you want to gouge your own eyes out. It rained on a holiday, the paper lost two of my stories, my editor won't answer my e-mail, my computer is dieing, my internet connection is screwed up. Isobelle will not leave the beads on the chandelier in my dressing room alone, they are now scattered all around upstairs guaranteeing that I will step on at least one anytime I have to run to the loo in the middle of the night.

We've been talking lately about whether the building I work in is making people sick. I would say it was even if it wasn't... but it's funny how everyone who works here, regardless of their excellent health in the past, just starts falling to pieces. Headaches, flu, and allergy attacks seem to be the biggest complaints, followed by bronchitis. The building was constructed in 1930, it has flooded twice, once in 1950 and most recently in 2004. There's probably some creepy mold mutating and growing in the walls of this old place.

Speech number one tonight... artists. I will be a hero or a goat depending on whether they are open to hearing about a new way of doing things, or totally closed minded.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


I know just how this guy feels. You can only bang your head into the wall for so long before you just bust right through!

Crazy these last couple of days, I feel like the plates I spin have paired up and multiplied in my sleep. Had some work to do at the Prof.squared's yesterday, which didn't get done until today because my desk looks like a file cabinet exploded on it. I could have taken care of the desk yesterday, but instead I spent half the day on the phone following up some leads on an after school program story I'm doing, then I had a couple of interviews, followed by a Council meeting. By the time I got home, my brain resembled something like overcooked oatmeal.

Home computer is still crunked beyond use. Ugh! Did you hear that Donald Trump fired CAROLYN?! What was the man thinking? I was already bummed and sad about the death of Jeff Irwin, the upcoming anniversary of 9-11 and now that. Jeesh.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Best Laid Plans

I was kidding when I said I was trying to avoid laboring on Labor Day, but the universe took me seriously and my poor home computer is suffering the last of it's way over due death throes. Very bad news for me, because that will mean I have to spend more time at the office, dressed, and looking like a working person. Sucks.

I've been piddling around in my craft room for the last couple of days, working on a wall hanging for fall. Before I could read I was a mad drawer... person who drew... I make masks, sew, paint abstracts and decorate. But my passion is writing. Most of the artists I interview also write, but their passion is ART. I will tell you I'm not a great painter, but then I've never had any formal art training, so how do I know I couldn't be a great painter? That got me thinking about people in general, and the gifts everyone might have that they don't even know they possess. Wouldn't it be interesting to see what developed if every child were required to take art, music and creative writing all 12 years they were in school?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Labor Day Weekend

This painting is called Sitting on the Fence, it's by Jim Glover and the photograph does not do it justice. It was cold today and rainy, a reminder that winter's on its way.

It's labor day weekend and I'm doing my best not to labor. Long weekends are when you find out what a work-a-holic you really are. Sandra's manuscript arrived this morning, so I had to start on it at least. Did some updating on my website, answered e-mail, attempted to clean something and then decided it was entirely too cold and miserable to be that motivated so I spent the rest of the day reading a book. Interesting little mystery thriller called The Death Artist. If you like these kinds of books, its worth reading.

One thing I must do this weekend is prepare a couple of speechs. I'm speaking to artists next week and business women the week after that. The artists are easy, the women - not so much. I'm still trying to get my head wrapped around why they want to hear from me. I write like a talk most of the time, if you're reading this... that is me. Does this sound like a person who could teach a professional business woman anything? Well, I have a plan. I think I'll talk to them about mentorship and their responsibility to take on a teenage girl if for nothing else than to keep another generation from turning out like me! Living in a small town, people really know me and don't judge the quality of my work or my ability to get things done by how I'm dressed or whether I'm wearing make-up or not. When I need to, I can look professional... it's an act, but hey, we do what we must.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hurricane Ernesto

I'm getting real tired of Hurricanes. First beautiful New Orleans, my sister's home and now North Carolina, my favorite childhood memory. We lived in Wilmington when I was a teenager, this picture is of Wrightsville Beach, I didn't take it but I know that spot. North Carolina isn't getting the beating New Orleans did, but any flooding is too much flooding.

100th Post Party

A mini landmark occasion, 100 posts here at random thoughts. Exciting news for me because I have a long history of inconsistency. I'm not inconsistant in completing tasks, just the method with which I complete them. It can be a filing nightmare. Journal entries in notebooks of every size, on scraps of paper, on the back of other things. I'm a hazard to myself.

Dark Daddy was able to repair what I damaged on my website and even added a cool little component that the technologically challenged, like me, can use to update things easier. He rocks! The newspaper managed to lose two of my stories - most importantly the one about Paul's art show that is scheduled for TONIGHT, the newspaper does not rock. My author is having a meltdown, and completely freaking over her deadline. She still rocks, this will pass. One more day without my assistant...