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    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    It's Harder Than It Looks

    With the exception of housework, I don’t like to leave things undone. So much so, in fact, that when I’m singing a song and I can’t remember the words I will finish it by saying, “The rest of the song.” My husband finds this hilarious and will wait for me to hum myself into a corner and be forced to sing something like, “la, la, la, yeah…the rest of the song.”

    Right now I’m just about out of my mind because I’m nearly done with the novel I’ve been working on for a year and a half. But it’s summer, the kids are home. They are so home. So very, very home. Help! Somebody save me! They’re HOME!

    I try all day to keep them busy, entertained, and not killing each other. Bedtime comes late. I wish I had the energy to write once they’ve finally gone to sleep, but instead I end up slouched on the sofa, watching Mr. Bean and thanking God that I made it through another day. And hoping my ADHD kiddo doesn’t grow up to BE Mr. Bean.

    Even though I’m not getting a lot of writing done, my Work In Progress is on my mind all the time. Kory is forced to live in whatever story world I’m working on and has become accustomed to me rattling on about fictional characters and problems. Sometimes he listens and gives me great feedback. Sometimes he nods and says, “Uh, huh.”

    The other day I was rambling about a plot problem, just thinking out loud while he relaxed on the sofa—probably wishing for some peace and quiet. I finally figured out how I was going to cause the disaster I needed to precipitate the book’s climax. I must’ve stopped babbling abruptly because Kory looked up from his position on the couch, quirked a brow at me and said, “The rest of the book?”

    Exactly. I wish it were that easy!

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    British Television: A Rant

    What is with those Brits anyway? Why can’t they make TV shows like regular people? Don’t they know it’s frustrating when they produce riveting programs like Downton Abbey and Sherlock Holmes but only offer the public a diet portion?


    So lately my hubby’s been working bizarre hours which translated to a few nights of solo telly for me.

    For you criminal types who read my blog: He’s back to his normal routine of being home at night. And during the day, for that matter. And at dawn, and early evening, and late evening, and at 2:00 in the afternoon. And should he ever step out, we have a cattle dog who’s turned herd protection into a psychosis.

    Back to British television.

    I’m prone to watching odd programs on Netflix on the rare occasions when Kory’s not around. See this post about my traumatizing All Creatures Great and Small experience.

    So after a couple of strange movies—Ondine and Working Girl—I decided I needed something more classy. I checked out Downton Abbey and was immediately hooked. But here in the US, even small children know that a season consists of around twenty-two episodes aired weekly from some time in the fall to some time in the spring.

    In the UK, seven episodes are considered sufficient for a season. Seven episodes are just enough to keep you awake for nearly two nights in a row. They are NOT enough to be dubbed a season. I’d like to go ahead and officially demand more of this show.

    Apparently, others have voiced similar opinions because according to the Wikipedia article a new “season” will start in August of this year. However, this “season” consists of only eight episodes plus a Christmas special.


    As if this wasn’t bad enough, along comes the Masterpiece Mystery series, Sherlock. Set in modern times with an aspy Sherlock and a Watson who reminds me of David Gray, this adaptation has all of the fascinating cerebral details of earlier renditions with the added fun of technology. If you haven’t seen the show, you might think that CSI units and DNA testing would ruin Sherlock’s brilliant deductive reasoning technique. But I think the concept has always been about mind games, and I like the way they’ve incorporated modern gadgetry into the show. For instance, when Sherlock or Watson receives a text, we see the message float on the screen. We also see bits and pieces of Sherlock’s thought process in the same manner. Quite fun for a modern audience used to ingesting data in abbreviated formats.

    The only un-fun thing about Sherlock? Its season consists of three, yes three, episodes. Apparently, the Powers That Be have deigned to give us three more episodes later this summer. I’m not sure if I should be happy about that or not. Seems more of a cruelty than a kindness.

    So there you have it. My rant against the stingy makers of superb British television. Now it’s your turn. What are you watching this summer? Any shows got your knickers in a twist?

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Wheels, Trees, and a Little Cheese

    So my husband is an optimist. Who knew?

    A couple weeks ago, out of nowhere, he said, “I was thinking we should get you a bike.”

    My first thought was, But I don’t go outside.

    My second thought was, Has he forgotten what happened last time I was on a bike?

    When we were dating, he witnessed my first bicycle ride as an adult. I rode into a tree. Sadly this wasn’t the first time I’d ridden into a tree. I drove a snowmobile into one when I was around 13 or 14. I’m pretty sure if I’d ridden a horse more than once in my life, I also would have somehow managed to navigate the both of us into a tree. It seems that riding astride of things (ahem!) is not my strong suit.

    But Kory had faith in me, and after my initial resistance to the idea of two wheels, I actually got excited about getting a bicycle. Especially when Kory started sending me pictures of cute cruisers and comfort bikes with seats like sofa cushions. Not to mention the baskets! I pictured a 50s version of myself riding down the street in bobby socks and a ponytail. Oh, I would immediately drop 30 pounds and be adorable on my retro bike with a basket and fancy rims and maybe even a bell.

    We finally found the right one and ordered it AND the basket AND the matching helmet (Wait! What about my ponytail?) It came today, Kory put it together—he has the necessary education for such a task—and I took my first ride.

    Oh. My. Gosh. As it turns out, one needs muscles to ride a bike. I seem to have none. Whatsoever. But going downhill was fun. I can’t wait to get on it again and build up some strength. Maybe I will get rid of that 30 pounds after all.

    At the risk of sounding a little corny (ugh! Hate corny!), my husband has no idea what this pretty bike means to me. I had no idea when he suggested getting me a bicycle that it would actually touch my heart. (Ew! I know, I know. This is so not me.) But when I was a little girl I desperately wanted a pink and purple ten speed. And the permed, blonde 80s hair to go with it. What I had was a hand-me-down dirt bike. And straight, almost-black hair.

    Time passed. I forgot about the pink and purple ten speed. 80s fashions wilted, thank goodness, and I learned to like my straight, dark hair. I didn’t know there was a part of me that still longed for a sleek, stylish bicycle. Until my husband said, “I want to buy you a bike.” Then he let me pick out the prettiest, most girly one we could find, and when I balked at the price he said, “You’re worth it.”

    All that remains is picking out a worthy name for my lovely cruiser. Any suggestions?

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Lemonade Economics

    We tried an experiment this week. We’ve been looking for new and effective ways to promote books and subsidize my mom’s jewelry-making habit, so we decided to try our luck with a booth at a local farmer’s market.

    Thinking this would be a good opportunity for the boys to learn a little about commerce, we suggested that they run a lemonade stand next to our table. They really got into the idea, so on Wednesday we loaded tables, chairs, a canopy, boxes of books, jewelry, a cooler, and two little boys into the van.

    Setting up was a nightmare. Just putting the canopy up requires an engineering degree. I’d only had a crash course on the front lawn given by my overworked hubby. When I couldn’t get the framework in place, I called him. He was on his way home from working a night shift at the test lab but agreed to come to my rescue. Thankfully, help came from several of the other folks at the market, and Kory got to go home and sleep.

    With everything set up, more or less, we were open and ready for business. That’s when we learned a hard truth about retail. Selling something is easy when you’re seven and nine-years-old and adorable. In fact, you can sell a small cup of lemonade for twenty-five cents and people will give you a dollar and say, “Keep the change.”

    The boys made a killing.

    Monkey, in particular, got into the whole salesman thing. He hollered, “You want some lemonade?” at every passerby, and when things were slow, he went out and tracked down customers. He hounded the other merchants in our row so relentlessly that I thought he’d get some cross looks. But they were all patient, and most eventually gave in and bought some lemonade. Unfortunately, being Monkey, he didn’t remember they’d already bought some and continued harassing them.

    It’s nice to know he has career options if his whole playing-video-games-for-money plan doesn’t work out.

    But you should have seen the boys' faces when we told them they had to pay Daddy three dollars for supplies. “What?” “Are you kidding?” We explained that in a real business, you have to purchase your supplies and that money comes out of your profit.

    I almost told them they had to pay me for actually making the lemonade, but they were so indignant about their overhead I didn’t want to bring labor costs into the picture. Next time.

    As for the other, less adorable and less obnoxious members of our enterprise, well, we did all right. Decent, in fact. But I’m not sure if we’ll try again. The canopy snapped halfway into the afternoon, and we had to enlist the help of some customers to take it down before it crashed on our heads. We lost a few necklaces to the wind. They were blown off and broke on the pavement. We did sell some books and met some great people, but it’s kind of humiliating to be outsold by a couple of little boys trying to earn enough money for a Lego set.

    Then again, if anyone ever tells you the life of an author is glamorous, they're probably trying to sell you something.

    In honor of the boys success, I think it's appropriate to share this YouTube of a clearly ADHD duck and his take on lemonade stands.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    The Birds, the Bees, and the Turtles?

    So Roger and Molly, our box turtles, went on their first vet visit today. We have the best vet ever. He’s a man of remarkable dedication. I’ve seen him cuddle a snake.

    It was basically a Well Turtle check-up, but even though we’ve done our research, he had some excellent advice for taking care of our herptilian friends. I learned:

    1. That it’s illegal to “trade” in ornate box turtles. Oops! I feel like a criminal! Actually, we didn’t buy these guys. We got them from a rescue, so I think we’re ok.

    2. Proper turtle care requires that I buy two thermometers. Thankfully, they’re not for taking the turtles’ temp but to monitor their habitat.

    3. Iceburg lettuce has no nutritional value. Actually I knew that from all those 80s movies about Anorexia.

    4. Crickets are the equivalent of Cheetos for turtles.

    5. To make crickets healthy, I must Gut Load them by placing a slice of apple or potato in their container for the crickets to munch. I should also purchase a product called Reptical. I’m supposed to put the powdery Reptical in a baggie, then place the crickets inside and “shake to coat” before I feed them to Roger and Molly. Yep, you got it. Turtle Shake ‘n Bake!

    6. Turtles, like most reptiles, pee when they’re nervous. I’m guessing our vet has experienced much worse. He took it in stride.

    Unfortunately, I neglected the most crucial question: Is there such a thing as a Depo shot for a turtle? What exactly do we do to keep our turtles from getting that lovin’ feeling? We’ve already severely restricted the amount of Barry White music played in their earshot. And, of course, we have a strict ban on candle-burning. Having once burned my big toe on a candle flame, I can tell you those waxy traps are far from romantic. But Roger and Molly don’t know that, so no candlelit dinners for them!

    We’re settling in to turtle ownership, and Kory plans to build an elaborate habitat for them. I suggested a combination coffee table/turtle enclosure with Plexiglas sides so we can still see them when they burrow. We’ll keep you updated on Project Turtle Palace.

    Hope your summer is off to a good start!