Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Welcome Guest: Michelle Houston

Clearly a glutton for punishment, Michelle Houston has returned to my blog again this year!! She took part in my What, When, Where, Why and How interview last year -- and claims it was a lot of fun. *G*

Welcome, Michelle!

Marianne, I’d really like to thank you for having me on your blog again. :-)

Tell me five things I probably don’t know about you and that most folks wouldn’t guess.

I am a geek. A massive geek, to boot. I am one of those people, that in high school, I loved science. Still do. In fact, I am currently a nontraditional student, majoring in biology. Which leads me to interesting fact number one: I hate jelly fish. Now you would think that with a love of nature, and an understanding that the things are not likely to kill me (with certain exceptions of course) and that in the ocean there are things that would do a heck of a lot worse damage than a jelly fish would. Yet, the fact remains, I hate them. Can’t even look at them in an aquarium without turning a bit green, which is rather amusing for the rest of the family; not so much for me though. Having swam in the ocean in Belize recently, and having come across one, I can safely say, I do freak out a bit when they just suddenly appear out of nowhere.

I am addicted to TV shows like Numb3rs, West Wing, Stargate, Babylon 5, etc. (But not to the point that I can quote dialog and know episode names by heart) Half the time, I don’t understand what they are talking about in West Wing, or follow the math in Numb3rs, or really grasp the science in Stargate (too much physics for my biology brain), but I love watching them. I also own the DVD’s of West Wing, Stargate: SG1, the Stargate movies, Stargate: Atlantis, Babylon 5 and Crusade, Firefly and Serenity, and now Farscape. What’s more, my addictions have begun to lead to interesting title and plotline choices. One of my recent acceptances, All Alone in the Night, the title comes from the intro of Babylon 5. An older release, Enslaving Heaven, has what some have called a Firefly feel to it. I have been trying to figure out how to get a story out of the title Geometry of Shadows, but that one is still escaping me. I will manage it one day though. Just wait and see.

My wardrobe is mostly T-shirts, and most of them are from zoos and festivals. Although, seeing me, you might be able to clue in to that fact. As a college student, I do have the college wardrobe of jeans and T-shirts, with a few nice pairs of pants and shirts thrown in. But only a handful of my T-shirts are plain. In fact, it’s interesting on lab days, trying to find something to wear that I am willing to sacrifice should it come to that. I have shirts from the Miami, Knoxville, New Orleans, Belize, and St Louis zoos. From the KC renaissance festival, and from the Japan festivals in KC and in Springfield. As well as assorted other places.

Hum. This is starting to get hard. LOL Trying to come up with interesting things about myself.

I am a speed reader. I can devour a book, sometimes two, in an evening. I am hell on the local library’s budget, as well as my own budget. I pick up books from the library weekly, and often more frequently than that. They have gotten used to me picking up a book one day and bringing it back the next, although I try to hold on to it for at least a few days, so they won’t think that I didn’t like it. Most of the ladies at the library even are starting to know me by name, and have known me on sight for months now.

And finally . . . I the very model of a modern major general. That’s right, I LOVE that song. One of these days, I want to actually go see the Pirates of Penzance. For now though, I settle for torturing hubby occasionally by listening to that song, and teaching our daughter the lyrics. My favorite scene from Babylon 5 would have to be one of the characters trapped on a ship with another of the characters, who decides to just start belting out “I am the very model of a modern Major-General, I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral, I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical”. I about died laughing when I first watched that episode.

Ooh.... I love Gilbert & Sullivan, especially "Pirates of Penzance".

Finish this sentence: My favorite saying is ______________ because ________________

My favorite saying is "In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught." (Baba Dioum) because it’s so very true, and touches upon the heart of the human condition. So many people I talk to questions why I care if the Amur Leopard goes extinct, or if the coral reefs off of the coast of Belize are bleached, and so on. They don’t understand the leopards and the reefs, and the many incredible natural wonders all around us, and they were probably never taught to care.

As a teacher (I may have a couple semesters left, but pre-service or not, I am a teacher), I know that my role will be to try and make my students care, to teach them about the wonders of the natural world in such a way that they will not only understand them, but understand what the lose of them will mean.

It also calls to me because it’s the motto I try to live by when I explain things to my daughter. I want her to care about conservation, and I want her to know why it matters. Thankfully, she is starting to get it. What’s more, she is starting to educate others about conservation.

Write me a paragraph using the following three words: Camera, Wishbone, Hamburger

Wow. What a list. I have to say, this posed a challenge, and I am not quite sure what to make of my resulting paragraph. It certainly is different, but I wanted to get the whole “story” in, but being limited to a paragraph, I had to imply a lot.

Karen leaned back in her booth at the local truck-stop, her weary eyes threatening to close. Forcing the lids up, she glanced at her watch to find that only twenty minutes of her lunch break remained. With a soft sigh of exhaustion, she returned her attention to the hamburger that sat half eaten on her plate, the grease mingling with the ketchup and mustard, until it formed a congealed mess that was slowly, hypnotically dripping onto the tabletop. Pushing the plate away, she looked out the window in time to see one of the local professionals, if they could be called that in her tiny Podunk town, climbing out of a trucker’s rig. The woman’s skirt flared up, for a brief moment showing more of her skin that probably the trucker had even see. Karen wished that she had her camera with her, that she could capture the haunting pain and defiance on the woman’s face as she fought to keep her skirt down. At three am, she was one of the few people braving the cold outside the Wishbone diner, and Karen found herself imaging what would make her so willing to sell herself, to risk her health to make a few bucks. As the woman turned, for just a brief moment, they made eye contact, and Karen could feel herself drowning in the bright depths of her eyes. She was just about to get up, to go outside, when the woman turned away. Unsteady steps brought the woman to a fairly new model car, and moments later, she was pealing out of the parking lot. Glancing at her watch again, Karen gave another soft sigh and slid out of her booth. She had less than ten minutes to get back to work, where she would spend the rest of the night more than earning her minimum wage at the factory. As she stepped out into the cold, her tired and aching muscles protested, but she forced herself to ignore the constant pain as she crossed the icy lot to her own clunker.

Born to ride on the back of dragons, to journey among the stars in a ship traveling faster than light, or to dance the night away in the arms of a mysterious vampire, Michelle Houston willingly shares the worlds in her mind in an effort to bring them to life.

Writing everything from short and sweet stories, to hot and spicy tales of kink, from contemporary tales of romance to erotic romances featuring Greek Gods, vampires and were-creatures, she has crossed sexualities and has gone wherever her mental muse has guided her. A journey she has never regretted.

With dozens of stories either out with a variety of publishers, both print and electronic, she has many more stories just waiting for their chance to be told.

Beyond that, she has a love of the natural world around us (except for insects, spiders, snakes, scorpions, and she reserves the right to add more at any time) and hopes to share the enjoyment of the Earth with her students once she finally earns her degree in secondary Biology/Earth Science Education. Currently she's attending college full time, and is expecting to graduate in May of 2010.

She's married to a wonderful man who supports all her writing endeavors (even when her characters scare him just a wee bit), and is the reason she is even published at all. Her daughter is too young to know just what mommy writes, but she knows she wants to write too when she grows up, and already has a good start on it.

In other words, she is an ordinary woman, with an imagination that is only held in bounds by how fast she can type.

You can visit Michelle website and find out more about her: If you want a more intimate look, check out her blog where she posts whatever comes to mind at the time.

Also, make sure to swing by Oh Get A Grip for her weekly posting on a variety of different topics. Six sexy authors telling it like it is …

She also has a fairly regular newsletter, where you can stay up to date with releases, publications news, and more.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's Raining Again

It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring..."

Rain certainly lends itself to musical references, doesn't it? DD went around all day yesterday, "Talking to myself and feeling old..."

Yes, she really does know the Carpenters.

And because I AM feeling old and blue (why does weather affect our emotions so much?), I leave you with a musical tribute to rain...

Here's hoping that tomorrow I can play "Here Comes the Sun" or "Sunshine On My Shoulders" instead!

Do you like the rain?


You Are Air

You are a quirky, flighty, and zany person. You change with the wind.

You are highly creative and often inspired. You love to be spontaneous and hate restrictions.

You have a yearning for travel and adventure. You want to have a wild and crazy life.

You actually feel a bit more balanced when there is structure and stability in your life, but you avoid it.

This couldn't be more wrong...


Monday, March 29, 2010

Baby, It's Wet Outside

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~Langston Hughes

It's raining.

I shouldn't complain, but ... we just didn't have the best weather in the world this weekend, though yesterday was better. Still cold, but not unbearable. However, they are predicting sunshine and near 70 degrees starting on Thursday - YAY!!!

I found bulbs growing UNDER my front steps yesterday. Best guess? The chipmunk that used to live there (the one I live-trapped a week or two ago) must have nabbed them from somewhere and brought them home to eat later. And they grew. I'll frequently find masses of sunflowers growing where the chippie buried sunflower seeds. It must really frustrate them to go back to where they buried their food and find... nothing.

Anyway, I dug up the bulbs and moved them. I don't recognize the foliage, though, so it'll be a surprise for me when they bloom.

DD finished a second 1000 piece puzzle yesterday and nearly finished a third. She's having so much fun working them! I heard somewhere that keeping your mind busy as you get older helps stave off dementia and Alzheimer's. I should be safe.

I made yogurt on Saturday, and the most interesting thing occurred. The yogurt set, but the top of each glass was FULL of liquid that I dumped out, probably 3/4" deep (the jars are only about 4" tall, so that was a LOT). The only thing I did differently this time was use off-brand milk. I almost NEVER buy the cheap milk (I prefer to use either organic or, at the very least, the "no growth hormones, no antibiotics" milk and you can only get that in brand name) but I was at Target and they only had the cheap stuff or Hood and we wanted to use the jug for our greenhouses. Since Hood comes in a "light block bottle", we couldn't use that one, so I got the other.

I found, while reading about food in one book or another, that the way they "make" milk (in all it's various fat content forms) is by skimming off ALL the cream/fat first so that all milk starts as skim, and then adding back in the fat to meet whatever content they're making: 1%, 2% or whole.

I wonder... do you suppose that the cheap milk uses a different process?

I'm puzzled by this and now am driven by the need to find out.


Your Bed Says You Have Your Head in the Clouds

Outward appearances are very important to you. You do your best to look good and have an attractive home.

You try to be an organized person, but you often fall behind. Certain parts of your life tend to fall into chaos.

You are very high maintenance. You like everything a certain way, and you're grumpy if things aren't the way you like them.

In relationships, you tend to kick back and let the other person be in charge.

You tend to be a dreamy, head in the clouds type of person. You think in terms of possibilities.

You are a bit of a homebody, but you can also make yourself at home anywhere.

Hmmm... maybe 75% right.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's a Puzzle

"It is one of man's curious idiosyncracies to create difficulties for the pleasure of resolving them." - Joseph de Maistre

Yesterday was COLD again(though we did walk a few miles...brrr), but today looks like it might be nice enough to get outside and rake the lawn. I just put the feeders out, and although it's cold, there isn't the wind so it's more than bearable. They're talking about weather in the 60's again next weekend. YAY.

DD and I finished our 1000 piece puzzle yesterday, and started a new one. DD loves puzzles, and the funniest thing is this: I never liked doing the kiddie puzzles, so even when she was pretty small (like four y.o.), if she wanted to do puzzles with me, she had to do grown-up ones. I didn't toss her into 1000 piece puzzles right off, usually did 300 - 500 piece ones, but they had the little pieces and tough pictures. It took her a little while to get the hang of it, but now she's AWESOME at doing puzzles. And I didn't have to suffer through 25 piece Barney puzzles.

Our favorite puzzles are the Hometown Collection from MegaBrands and created by Harry Wysocki. DD loves them because there is always a black cat somewhere in the picture. His website discusses that here. We're doing "Winner's Circle" right now, which has the 1924 Kentucky Derby winner, Black Gold, in it. It makes THIS song stick in my head:

As an aside, I only just learned that Dan Fogelberg died of cancer in 2007. Very sad.

In between my walk, doing a puzzle with DD and a few other things, I built the LASR/WC/Aurora website for next week and did some writing.

Tomorrow is Monday. YAY.


Your Shopping Stereotype is Traditional

You tend to be a very down to earth shopper. You go for function and quality.

Price matters to you, but you also want to get the most bang for your buck. You never buy junk.

If you find a brand or store you like, you tend to stick with it over the years. You are a loyal shopper.

You don't buy the latest thing right away. You prefer to purchase things that have stood the test of time.

That's all very true... scares me when these quizzes are correct.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

L-O-O-O-O-N-G Day

I'm still tired from yesterday... so tired, I can't even think of what the quote should be about, so today we're quoteless...

DH was home and a bit grouchy (and when he's grouchy, he doesn't like me on the computer, so I got no work or blog-hopping done). DD was needy and the Dd was antsy (but it was about 25 degrees outside and windy... brrr).

I also needed to make dog food, and since I wasn't on the computer, I made a lot of stuff. Went to the store and bought four chickens and the makings for dog food, came home and put two chickens in a pot with the giblets for the dog and two in the crockpot with seasonings for us. Last week, I made meals for the family all week with one crock pot chicken. I'm thinking I can do that again :-)

DD also complained that she had no pants to wear, so it became laundry day as well. And I'd run out of granola so, what the heck, I'll make that, too.

So, two weeks of dog food made, five loads of laundry, 12 cups of granola and two crock pot chickens (and a partridge in a pear tree -- actually, it was a veggie lasagna for lunch cuz we needed to eat, right?).

I was on my feet for a solid 4 - 5 hours (maybe more?) and then at around 2:30, when I was mostly done (except the crock pot chicken, which would wait) I decided the dog HAD to be taken on a walk, so I bundled up and went.

DD begged for a board game when we got back. I talked her into a puzzle instead... and she chose a 1000 piece one, which is about half done and spread out on my dining table.

I was ready for bed by dinner time. I am clearly VERY out of shape...


You Are a Thoroughbred Horse

You are hyper, energetic, and even a little high strung. You love to compete, and you're always up for a friendly race.

You love to be on the go, and you never stick around for long. People accuse you of always running away.

You tend to get bored easily, and you do best when you wear yourself out. You like to work hard.

You have a lot of courage, drive, and ambition. You like to be a winner.

Hmmmm... yeah.... that's about right except the running away part -- I'm not that easy to get rid of.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Four Letters... Starts With "S"

When snow falls, nature listens. ~Antoinette van Kleeff

I woke up this morning and what did I see?


I flipped on the light to take the dog out and there was white stuff falling from the sky. It appears to be over now, but I was utterly horrified... not that I should be. It's pretty standard for March weather.

One year, I was feeling brave and planted the Friday prior to Memorial Day (the "rule" here is don't plant your tender crops/flowers until Memorial Day). The weather forecast was mild and I just didn't want to wait any more.

I can even remember what year it was, because the first of the new Star Wars movies had been released. The Saturday following my planting, DH and I went to the early showing (about 9:30 a.m.), enjoyed the movie and then stepped outside to find... SNOW.

I panicked.

"We have to get home NOW. I have tomatoes and peppers in the garden!!!"

We hurried home, picked up the baby from the neighbor's and I ran to the garden, which was covered in about 1/2" of snow. I started throwing anything I could over stuff, even tipped my wheelbarrow over three of the pepper plants.

The next morning, I checked them. And everything above ground had died. The plants actually recovered, because the ground didn't freeze, but I lost a lot of time waiting for them to basically start over.

And I swore to never plant before Memorial Day again, no matter WHAT the weather forecast said.

I'm feeling brave this year, planning on my mini-greenhouses, assuming the weather will stay mild (like it did last year -- we had our last frost the first week of May last year). But I wonder if I'm jinxing myself...


The beginning agility class went pretty well last night. No dog fights! YAY! And the Great Dane's dad wasn't there, just the mom... and I think the dog was far better behaved. I wonder if all that extra testosterone was getting him riled?

The instructor also addressed the issue and made it clear that she expected owners to correct their dogs when they behaved in a way that wasn't acceptable, and for the most part we had a peaceful night.

I was exhausted again, but no headache.


You Are Consistent

Of all the types, you are the most disciplined and the most ethical. You have high ideals.

You thrive when you are able to be an advocate for causes that you believe in.

Some people may say that you are a bit stubborn and inflexible, but you're more tolerant than they realize.

You do your best to live a principled and just life - which can make you a bit tense and critical at times.

ROFL.. that's actually pretty close. I chose the kind of scribble I usually do when I'm on the phone with someone and .... bored.


Thursday, March 25, 2010


If you can look at a dog and not feel vicarious excitement and affection, you must be a cat. ~Author Unknown

It's been raining and/or ugly for two day, which in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. But when you have a young dog who is a bundle of energy and you can't expend some of that energy? Then things get a little crazy.

One day, she can deal with, but we hit day two yesterday (not really raining, but gale force winds and COLD, so we couldn't walk) and I knew I had to do something. So we piled the dog into the car and headed out to her favorite places.

We started with Agway, where we got grass fertilizer and she got lots of love and dog bones (and where I argued with the head helper about whether you catch and drown rodents, or catch and release -- she was telling our shared FedEx guy how to deal with a rat in his woodpile. I got a bit... *ahem*... vehement, but no blows were exchanged).

Next, we opted to take the time to go way the heck out of our way and hit Petco. Now, it used to be that the Petco employees spoiled Dakota rotten. It used to be they walked around with a bag of treats hooked to their pants so they could treat and pet all the dogs. She loved going there. But the last couple of times, things haven't been as much fun for her. In fact, the last time, she went through the check out line, sat pretty and waited for the treat they ALWAYS give her (and I even said something about her waiting for her treat) and they guy looked at her and then turned back, took my money and helped the next person, totally ignoring the dog.

Could YOU ignore this face?

Yesterday we saw no fewer than four employees who passed close enough to pat the dog, one even had to step out of our way to avoid her, and not one (NOT ONE) even acknowledged her presence, let alone patted her.

Worse, the three people there who had dogs wanted nothing to do with letting their dogs interact with her. One even seemed as though they though Dakota was going to eat their little shitz tsu (as if... please) and would yank the dog violently away whenever we were in view. Sadly, THEIR dog seemed very interested in playing.

I left without buying anything, even though I will typically get something for the dog when we go... treats, a chewy, a toy.

But DD and I were so angry by the time we left, we were spitting nails. Maybe a stupid thing to get upset about, but it's like taking your kid to a party and having them treated like a pariah.

I emailed Petco when I got home. And, I most likely won't be back to their store -- that's the third time in a row we haven't had a good experience.


I talked to the lady whose Border Collie was attacked last week. He was so sad... slithered into agility class and then wrapped himself around my legs and just shook. I told her I was sorry about butting in with her dog, and she said, "NO. Don't be. I just froze." So, phew. It's all good.

We spent agility class trying to get him to be a little less cowed. He wanted to stay hiding under the chairs -- the room has a bad memory for him, and he was fine outside of it, but not in. Poor thing.

We also discussed the Great Dane with the instructor -- my complaint was that they never correct the dog, and the Border Collie's mom was frustrated that they didn't seem to be taking responsibility for their dog's bad behavior. They never even went to her to apologize that night last week.

The thing is, he's not a bad-tempered dog. Most Great Danes are just HUGE pussycats, and he's no exception. His problem is two-fold: he's not altered and he's not being told what is proper behavior.

The Border Collie's mom is on vacation the next two Thursdays, so won't be in the beginning class. Hopefully things will settle down by the time she's back.


Did some writing on the sequel to "Kitchen Matches" yesterday (tentatively entitled "Now and Forever"). I've been struggling because it's not as funny on paper as it is in my head and every word I write has been an ordeal. But I decided to just push on through and then submit the first chapter to my writing group (who are going to think I'm schizophrenic, because I keep submitting things from different WIPs!) and see what they think. If they think it's dry as dirt, I'll go from there. Sometimes I think we can't judge our own work very well.


I just realized I forgot to plant my seeds yesterday!! OH NO. That's first on my agenda this morning. Oh happy days, gardening season has begun.


You Are Chocolate Chip Cookies

You are all American and down to earth. You tend to stick to the classics ... you can't go wrong with them.

You have an eye for quality, and you are probably an accomplished baker. And you never skimp on real butter and eggs.

Your friends can always count on you to be consistent and loyal. You are true to the end.

You are sweet because you take time to do things right. You are thoughtful in all of your actions.

Hmmm... mostly right.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Welcome Guest: Nicole Green

Another very brave, brave person today: Welcome to Nicole Green!

Tell me five things I probably don’t know about you and that most folks wouldn’t guess.

I have an insane fear of mold. Really--it freaks me out. Years ago, I had this lunchbox for school and I guess I forgot I'd left some old food in it. I opened it up and saw all this mold inside. I screamed and slammed it shut and threw a huge fit. My mom wondered what in the world was wrong with me. I told her and she had to get rid of the stuff. Never used that lunchbox again. I shudder at the memory.

I've always wanted to play the guitar. I tried to teach myself once. My grandma got a used acoustic for me from a yard sale. I got songbooks and everything. Even one of those beginner, how-to books. I got so frustrated with fret boards and chords and plucking strings that I eventually gave the whole thing up. I'd still love to learn one day, but I think I'll need a better teacher than myself...

I named my first car--an Eagle Talon--Steamboat Willy. My cousin, who's an amazing artist, made a sign for it and everything. We put the sign in the back glass of the hatch. I also decorated the interior with "The Little Mermaid" stickers. And the back was plastered with bumper stickers for Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and lots of other great '90s bands I love. Yes, I was a...character in high school, huh?

Okay, this is hilarious. When we were little, my cousin and I broke the shower curtain rod in the bathroom by trying to practice doing chin-ups, using the shower rod as a bar. We put it back like it was never broken and then went to play Barbies, not letting anyone know what we'd done. Later, a family member (FM) had an unpleasant moment when the rod and curtain came crashing in on FM during that person's shower. We pretended to be as shocked as everyone else! It was years before we confessed to FM.

Reading my aunt's Harper's Bazaar magazines as a kid, I used to think the name "Versace" was pronounced like it looks--well, to an American anyway. Long "a", soft "c". Luckily, I figured out the truth through context clues before I pronounced it out loud to anyone, though. But I guess people will know the truth about the whole embarrassing thing anyway once they read this, lol...

Fill In the Blank(s): The only thing better than a cookie is ____________________.

What? Better than a cookie? Such a thing exists? Oh, you must mean two cookies. Yes, definitely two cookies. Or maybe writing. Depends on what the day is like. Although, writing usually necessitates cookies...

Write me a paragraph using the following three words: Brilliant, Rat, Vacation

Okay, fiction (with a slight basis in reality of course):

I once had a brilliant idea to conquer my fear of rats. I decided to trap one and teach it how to dance. Unfortunately, it seems rats don't like to dance. Especially rabid ones. After that little episode, I needed a vacation.


Nicole Green received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Virginia and she currently attends law school at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. When she’s not studying the law, she returns to Tappahannock, Virginia where her parents and younger sister live. She enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her hilarious and wonderful friends and family.

My first novel, Love Out of Order, debuted Feb. 2, 2010 and is available most places where books are sold. Website: Blog:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Raindrops Are Falling on My Head...

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. ~Author Unknown

Thanks for all your comments yesterday on pricing for DistinctivelyDD-- we're leaning toward raising prices but offering free shipping (so, though the end result, moneywise, is the same we're hoping folks will think they're getting a great deal -- just like when car dealers price their cars $29,999 instead of $30k).

Seems silly, but I suppose we can play the game.

DD is working on learning how to make chain mail bracelets. She made one already, but won't give it up (she wears it almost every day). It's lovely! We need to invest in 14 gauge wire as she wants to try making her own jump rings for this instead of buying them pre-made (she is her mother's daughter!).

First, though, she needs to make more book thongs. We got cleaned out yesterday! *G*


It's raining today. I'm trying not to complain because it was supposed to rain yesterday and it really didn't. Still, I'm going to miss having my walk this morning. DD, Dd and I have been walking 2 - 3 miles every day and it's been great for all of us.


Tomorrow I start seeds. Tomorrow is the first day of the waxing moon (yes, I plant by moon cycles -- here are some reasons why). The second quarter of the moon is a good time to plant anything that has seeds inside so we're planting our squash and cucumbers.

I'm collecting all my clear plastic jugs as well, so I can make little "greenhouses" for the plants in order to put them out early. You just cut the bottoms off the jugs and bury them in the ground around the plant. Then, during the day, take the caps off so they don't cook, but at night simply re-cap them to keep them safe from frost. That's a trick my mom taught me :-)

I want an early and large harvest this year. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get one.


LASR/WC/Aurora is having a HUGE (and I really do mean HUGE) Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt this year. It officially starts on 3/29, but you can enter three ways now. Click on the banner for details.

Prizes include $25 or gift certificates (THREE of them), plus several other GCs, autographed books, tote bags full of goodies, eBooks and more. We have ten prize packs full of hundreds of really cool stuff.

You should check it out.


Your T-Shirt Says That You're Smart

People may not realize it first, but you're a total brainiac. You are downright brilliant.

So much is going on in that head of yours at any time. You always have multiple streams of thought going.

You are learned, and you have a well developed sense of humor about the world. You don't take anything too seriously.

It's sometimes difficult for people to get your jokes though. You can be a bit esoteric and offbeat.

LOL... the "brilliant" thing may be a matter of discussion, but this: It's sometimes difficult for people to get your jokes though. You can be a bit esoteric and offbeat. Right on the head.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Making Time

Sometimes I feel that life is passing me by, not slowly either, but with ropes of steam and spark-spattered wheels and a hoarse roar of power or terror. It's passing, yet I'm the one who's doing all the moving. ~ Martin Amis

Yesterday I made time...okay, not exactly, but despite the fact that I'm still (and always) buried in LASR/WC/Goddess Fish work, I decided I would make time to do some other things.

So... I wrote.

Only it wasn't as successful as I may have liked, since the story is coming out like a bunch of dog excrement. It's frustrating: I know the characters, I have the plot loosely outlined, I have a pile of scenes I can see CLEARLY in my mind, but when I write them??? They are horrible. Stilted. Dull.

Should I push through and get it down on paper? Or do I stop and try to figure out why this book, which should be quite fun and sexy, is coming out dry and boring?

I also spent some time with DD.

We played Battleship for an interminable amount of time. Then we were going to put the rest of her jewelry up on Artfire, but got sidetracked. We received an email from another artisan telling us that DD's items were lovely, but that we weren't pricing them high enough -- that the low prices were indicating to possible buyers that we didn't value our work and made them hesitant to buy.

And I sat and wondered if that were true.

And I agonized... because we price them to make a profit, but not a huge one. And we're not trying to rip anyone off. But, OTOH, are we making it look as though her work is cheap? Not worth anything?

I'm still not certain ... and we surfed both Artfire and Etsy to see what other people charge, and we are lower than most.

So, what do we do?

For now -- we put a about a quarter of the items on DistinctivelyDD on sale to clear out the older items for the new stuff she's making (LOTS of earrings for $1.99/each!) and will contemplated the prices. You should go look. *G*

Frustrating. What do YOU think?


I forgot to bring in my birdfeeders last night... and just now, as the sun was rising, my heart was in my throat. Had the bear gotten them? I didn't want to lose my stupidly expensive, squirrel resistant Droll Yankee Dipper.

:::Peeking out through my fingers:::

PHEW! Still there. I'm so lucky!


You Are a Verb

You are an active and proactive person. Verbs are doing words, and you are a doing creature.

You're always up to something. Inaction drives you crazy. You get bored and restless easily.

And even when you take time to sit still, you don't quiet your mind. You are in a different state every few minutes.

Whether you're thinking, working, playing, loving, wondering, reading, or simply smiling - you are a verb all the way.

Yep, yep, yep....


Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Plight of the Monarch

Butterflies are self propelled flowers. ~ R.H. Heinlein

Most of you know that my family raises butterflies every summer, both black swallowtail and monarch. You may also remember that we weren't very successful with the monarch last year -- we found significantly fewer eggs, of those eggs only about half hatched, and then even the caterpillars didn't always survived. It was one of more devastating years. We only successfully raised ONE monarch last year, as compared to a dozen or so in 2008 and twice that in 2007 (our first year, when we didn't really know what we were doing, or how to find the eggs).

Dru sent me an article yesterday entitled: Where Have All the Monarch Butterflies Gone?

It says, in part:

In the 1980s, as many as 170,000 monarchs would descend each fall and spring upon Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, Calif., to spend the winter in a seaside eucalyptus grove.

This year, however, just 3,800 monarchs showed up, a new low in what has been a steady and precipitous drop-off in population.

Two of the biggest problem are deforestation in Mexico in their over-wintering areas and the loss of milkweed in the United States.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If you have space, please PLEASE plant milkweed. If you have an open field, or an unused area behind your shed, or a corner of your yard that isn't used for anything else, please consider milkweed. While the plant itself isn't lovely, the flowers ARE and the smell amazing. And, even better, they give the monarch (as well as a few other bugs who only eat milkweed like the Tussock Moth) a place to lay their eggs and raise their babies.

Monarch Watch offers both information on how to grow milkweed and butterflies, AND they offer free milkweed seeds (so do I, BTW, near the end of summer when they're ready to harvest).

If you opt to do this thing, I and the butterflies thank you. Who knows? If you're east of the Rockies one of my butterflies might stop by your house!


You Are Glamourous and Graceful

You have deep, sophisticated tastes. You appreciate the rich subtleties of life, and you avoid anything too crass or commercial.

You believe in savoring every moment of life. You are a minimalist, and you don't like to over do things.

You know that a little goes a long way. You can appreciate a piece of expensive dark chocolate, and prefer it to a fast food milkshake.

You have a great personal style that others envy. You know how to spot an underrated object from miles away.

Hmmm.... 50/50...


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wonderful Weather!

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see. ~John Burroughs

Long but lovely day yesterday. Nearly 70 degrees, sunny and almost no wind. I walked with DD and Dakota twice -- about 3 miles the first time, and only 1/2 mile the second. I cleaned out flower gardens and saw how much is coming up -- hopefully when the weather cools down to the point we'll go into the 20's overnight next week, nothing much dies.

DH wants to have an orchard of sorts on the edge of our lawn. We already have two apple trees that are producing pretty well, but he wants peaches, too, and maybe more apples. Not a lot of fruit trees will grow here (I'd sure love oranges... *sigh*), but I'm going to research what does best.

However, in order to plant where he wants to... there needed to be a massacre. Out came the chain saw. Casualties of war thus far? One maple, one HUGE birch and a beech tree.

Now we just need to dig back about two feet into the woods and clear out all the blueberry bushes ... not an easy task. DH mentioned that he has a friend who "collects" large equipment, and he could borrow a backhoe or some-such thing but there is NO WAY I'm letting him loose with that kind of machinery. Our entire plot of land would be re-excavated. So, I told him we'd (mostly me and DD) would do it by hand. It took us about a month to clear out the space for DD's swingset that way, and I had my mom to help then, so as soon as the ground isn't frozen (almost there!), we'll get to work for a couple hours every day.

After hauling brush and stacking logs yesterday afternoon, I told DH that I'd changed my mind -- I didn't want to be a pioneer woman. I wanted to go live in a condo in the city and spend my days at the spa and my evenings at cocktail parties and Broadway shows.

I don't think he believed me.


The only writing I did yesterday was in my brain, but I did think of what kind of pets I wanted my heroine in my "Kitchen Matches" sequel to have AND their names. And no, I'm not sharing because it will ruin the effect when you read it *G*.


You Are Skepticism

You live by the philosophy "Question Everything." And you do question everything, including this quiz result.

You think people believe in too much, and you think very little is true. You scoff at astrology and psychics.

You're not a nihilist - you believe in some things. But you only believe in what's true and tested.

You have lots of opinions and theories, but you never take them too seriously. You're always willing to change your mind.

Not close at all! LOL...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Drama, Drama, Drama

Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift. ~Margaret Lee Runbeck

I'm tired this morning. Helping at the agility class wore me out physically and emotionally and gave me a raging headache. We have twelve dogs in there, all beginners, and most are doing fabulously.

The best thing I saw was this Golden Retriever with confidence problems -- who was so scared she wouldn't even do the most basic jump -- come out of her shell a bit last night. Her owners were so patient, and just took her to each obstacle and sat with her for a few minutes, didn't make her DO anything for the first 20 mins of class or so, just showed her that they weren't going to hurt her. And then they worked her on the jumps only for a while until she was taking them like a pro. So, with her confidence back up a bit, they tried her on the harder stuff ... and she did great. I was so thrilled!

The worst thing was watching the other helper's dog get attacked. He's the sweetest Border Collie and he was tied on his leash (as is Dakota during class) near where she's helping. Last night, a Great Dane came out of the tunnel off-leash and just ... attacked. Of course, the Border Collie couldn't get away, being tied up.

I was across the room and all I heard was growling and yelping. I looked up and saw the poor dog screaming under this HUGE Great Dane, and the owner of the GD was trying to get control (this dog probably weighs 120 lbs) and not getting it and the helper was standing in one place, hands on her face, clearly trying not to panic. The instructor was spotting a dog on the dog walk and couldn't leave without endangering THAT dog.

I was horrified, so I took some action that I probably didn't have the right or authority to do and I need to apologize to the other helper for taking over with her dog. But I ran over just as the Great Dane was pulled off and then took the other dog over by where I had Dakota. He wasn't hurt (probably will have some bruises, but no blood), but he was terrified. So I put a chair there for him to go under and moved DD's obstacle away so the other dogs wouldn't have a reason to get near him or Dakota.

I probably should have let his owner handle it, shouldn't have dog-napped her dog -- but it was knee jerk: a dog I liked very much was getting mauled by a dog who's shown many times to have some serious alpha-dog tendencies and is too much dog for his owners to handle.

Still, when I see her on Wednesday, I'll apologize.


You Are the Cheshire Cat

You are strangely illusive and provocative. You tend to stir up trouble and then disappear quickly.

You sure know how to push other people's buttons, but it's difficult for anyone to push yours.

You are mysterious and crafty. You tend to be lurking in the background, and you show up at the most unexpected times.

You are purposely vague and baffling. Trying to figure you out will just drive people crazy!

LOL... don't know about that, but I like how it sounds.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Fever

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!" ~Robin Williams

One of the joys of homeschooling is being able to set your own schedule. Yesterday, we settled in to work but the weather was unbelievable -- 66 degrees and clear as a bell. I couldn't settle down, DD couldn't settle down ... so we gave up. And took a LONG walk. And released our jar-o-worms into the garden (a couple things of note: there were a LOT more babies than I'd thought and several of the worms had literally tied themselves into knots, which I found really odd and wish I knew why they'd done that).

We examined all our gardens, thrilled that we finally got crocus in colors other than yellow (I'd bought a "variety" pack that appears to be about 95% yellow... lots of variety there). DD's bleeding heart is beginning to poke above ground, as well as her miniature hollyhock and all our chives. My rosemary is coming back, and the marjoram is already taking over in its spot.

I let DD play on the swings, and run around with the dog. Once we got that mostly out of our systems, we came in, had lunch and hunkered down again.

Spring Fever is in full swing. Of course, on Sunday, a cold front moves in and our temps will drop 20 degrees. I hate it when that happens.

I filled up about half of my seed peat pots with worm castings and still have every intention of starting my seeds on the 24th. I can't wait! Then, in another month, I'll plant my cool weather crops outside: peas, spinach, etc.

I'm so ready for growing my own stuff. I went shopping this week and was horrified that canned veggies were (at the cheapest -- and I tried WalMart, Target and two grocery stores) $.076/can ... used to be I could get them at WalMart for $.043 / can and it hasn't been that long. That's a HUGE jump in price, percentagewise. Actually, I've noticed that most items have increased significantly. Very frustrating, especially nowadays when so many people are out of work or making very little money.

In writing news, Charity sent me a link to a class that sounds like something I could use to finally get my law enforcement information on track for "Stiller Creek". And I'm working on my fantasy and hope to get that done and through crits at my group over the next couple of months. I'm still working on some shorter stories, in all my spare time (*G*), too.

I've decided I'm a little ADD. But it works for me.


You Are Coors Light

You are a person who values routine and stability. It's likely that your order the same thing every time you go to the bar.

You aren't necessarily on a diet, but you do appreciate a beer that you can drink every day. If anything, you are consistent.

You don't like to change, but you're not adverse to taking risks... especially when you have a few beers in you.

The bottom line is that you're out to have a good time. You're all about friends, fun, and letting loose.

I haven't had a beer in ... more than a decade (wow), but the assessment of me is pretty on target except the last part. Huh.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Welcome Guest: Rebecca Rose


Tell me five things I probably don’t know about and wouldn't guess.

Five things, eh?

1) I'm actually a pretty shy person. Most wouldn't think so by looking at me, I did have purple hair last year. But being the center of attention is nerve racking! I breakout in hives.

2) I cry very easily. My poor husband and kids hate it! We'll be watching something and I'll be balling my eyes out. I cried during the beginning of the new Star Trek movie, Lord of the Rings, and a 911 recording that had a little girl calling for her father who was having chest pains. She was worried that the paramedics would show up and she'd still be in her PJ's. :) Going to the movies with me can be an awful experience because of this!

3) After a 40 foot tree fell on our home I learned how to do roofing. Nope, didn't like it! I can and have done some plumbing and electrical. You could say we live in the Money Pit! My Pepere used to comment that I was a boy trapped in a girls body because I've never minded getting my hands dirty. I loved going down and helping him in his work shop.

4) I broke my right forearm changing the alternator on my Explorer. (I'd replaced it twice before this and twice after.) The crowbar slipped and my arm flew up hitting the hook under the hood. I wrote my third novel with only my left arm! I'm actually pretty proud of this. I've also changed clutches, radiators, done tuneups, batteries, tires, wiper, just about everything. I find it fascinating to take it all apart and put it back together again.... especially when it works. ;)

5) I never wanted to have children. I'm fiercely independent and need a lot of space. After finding out we were having our first I cried for two weeks then bucked up. Our three kids are the best thing to happen to me. They're my inspiration, hope, and laughter. I believe Fate knew I needed them. I love going to the school activities, car pooling, baking with them, making breakfast.... the list goes on and on. If someone had told me 15 years ago I'd be the "Mommy Mom" I would have thought they were crazy. Even my friends from back then say, "Really? WOW!"

Finish this sentence: My most embarrassing moment was _________

My most embarrassing moment was at Open House with tons of people around. My five year old, and the child my parents wished upon me, announced that he can turn off the "Dinnng Donng". He always has to sing, ding dong. So, I told him that it was cool he learned how the door bell turns on and off. (Meanwhile, in the back of my head I'm dreading what I'm sure is going to come out of his mouth next.)

"No Mom! I can turn off the dinnng donng while I'm going tinkle!"

I looked to the side of me and to my husband for help and support; he was gone. LOL

3) Write me a paragraph using the following three words: Grumpy, Shower, Driving

True story! One day I was out doing errands with the cretins. The morning had started rough for me without a shower, coffee, and little patients for other drivers on the road. We had just stopped at the hardware store then Staples, and some other random place that I can't remember. It was lunch time and I decided that seeing everyone was getting grumpy with each other, we'd get a bite to eat. So after we ordered our food and everyone decided where to sit, we ate. Things seemed to be looking up because we were all joking with each other and having a good time. It was later at a stop light that I realized my cup of soda was missing. I inquired about it and we all agreed that I had it when we came out of the restaurant but now it was missing. As I began driving to the next light my oldest looked at me and said, "Did you ever take it down from on top of the car after you strapped Jack in?" At the next red light I reached my arm up and took the drink down from the roof. I'll never live that down!

Once Rebecca Rose picked up her first romance novel she knew her destiny was typed on those pages. She lives to find romance in ordinary life doing everyday things, by believing you just need to be conscious enough to look for it. While being slightly dyslexic has created some challenges for her, she feels compelled to write about the characters living in her head.

Divine Turmoil was her first adventure in writing novel length stories. After finishing this work of love, inspired by the death of her Grandmother, she felt the need to find out what happened to the other characters in the novel. And a series was born.

This started a new and exciting life for Rebecca and her family who live in Western Massachusetts with their three tenacious children, deaf dog Max, and three cats Enzo, Snowball (who’s all black), and a very lazy Maine Coon named, Murphy’s Law. She’s also had numerous short tales published with her hometown magazine.

Reading was, and still is, an enjoyment that her whole family takes pleasure in. It is the only time the house is quiet, unless the family has gone hiking. Otherwise, Guitar Hero guarantees their home is never dull.

Rebecca is always delighted to hear from her reader. You can e-mail her at

The second novel in the 'Divine Series', Divine Redemption, will be coming out later this year!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Of Water and Worms

“A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm.” - Bill Vaughn

It finally stopped raining just before dark yesterday. Thank HEAVENS. I hadn't been out at all over the weekend, but ventured out yesterday to go to the library. It was an adventure.

You see, from my house, there are two routes to get to the library (unless I want to go WAY around, which I almost thought I was going to have to do yesterday). One of those routes floods if there is high humidity, so they typically detour us around to the other one.

Yesterday, someone idiot hit-and-run truck driver tried to make the turn off a side road onto the alternate route, was too big and sheared a utility pole, causing it to fall and causing the road to close for pretty much the entire day. So we had to drive through the lake instead.

It's times like that I wish I was driving my 4Runner again -- I would have liked just a little more clearance. DD thought it was an adventure.

Hopefully now that the rain has stopped, things will settle down a bit. But I hope they catch the guy who hit the pole.


DD had a science experiment assigned to her last fall: an invertebrate zoo. I told her we were NOT keeping an invertebrate zoo all winter ... they suggested spiders and other bugs that, while I don't hate them, I have little desire to keep as pets.

We compromised on earthworms. The problem was, of course, that our ground freezes here so if we kept worms, we'd have to keep them ALL winter. So, we prepared a huge glass jar, wrapped it with a dark towel (that could be lifted to see the worms and worm tracks) and studied up on how to keep the critters alive. And then, after every rainstorm in October, we gathered worms from the road.

The strangest occurrence happened when we used the last of our firewood in February. The bottom pieces had frozen to the driveway pavement and I had to hit them with the maul to loosen them -- and underneath one of them were a PILE of worms! I was so surprised to find them there, alive under the frozen wood. Thankfully we had a new house for them and added them to our jar.

Every couple of weeks when I made dog food, I minced up bits of vegetables to add to the jar for their food, and about every month or so, I microwaved an egg shell and crushed it (worms need calcium... who knew?). Every couple of months, I dumped out the dirt into a huge bowl and we sifted through it to count the worms.

All things considered, we did very well. We lost a few worms, but gained several babies (wow are they TINY). And now that the ground is thawing (and once it's not quite so muddy) we're going to put them out into our garden.

DD is sad. She wants to keep them inside forever.

What's the strangest thing you ever raised?


You Scored an A

You got 10/10 questions correct.

It's pretty obvious that you don't make basic grammatical errors.

If anything, you're annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.

As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they're only human.

And it's humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.

Actually, bad grammar drives me a little crazy...


Monday, March 15, 2010

Building an Ark

The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It's still raining here... raining and raining and raining. You should SEE the dirty looks I get from the dog when I put her out to go potty! "You want me to go out THERE? It's wet and windy!" She goes, but it's clearly under duress.

I *think* today is the last day it's supposed to rain. I hope so. The "creek" out back is a raging river and water is beginning to seep into my basement in one area where the water is puddling (note to self: that needs fixing this summer).

DD made piles of jewelry this weekend -- about eight new bracelets and many pairs of earrings. I need to get them up on the DistinctivelyDD site ... hopefully today. She did a fabulous job, don't you think? Here's a sample:


I bought a new coffee grinder this weekend. My old one had died, and I needed one to grind all the herbs I plan on growing and drying this year. And, I needed something to grind flaxseeds as well. And, probably coffee, too! *G*

Other than that excitement it was pretty quiet here over the weekend, which is good, I suppose. I do hope we can get out into some decent weather, soon, though. I miss walking.

What did you do this weekend? Anything exciting?


You Are the Dragon

You are powerful and a bit intimidating. While you do have a bit of a temper, your bark is much more vicious than your bite.

In general, you tend to be fair and even noble. You treat everyone with respect, and you try to do right by people.

However, if someone crosses you, you can get downright nasty. Your emotions can get the better of you.

You don't literally breath fire when you're angry, but enough. It's best not to make you bad.

LOL... actually, this is rather close...


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dislike DST

A morning without coffee is like sleep. ~Author Unknown

I hate DST. HATEHATEHATE it... It's utterly outdated and should be discontinued. This message will repeat in October.


Woke up with a wicked case of heartburn so bad I'm not having coffee. So, if my post seems a bit cranky and odd, that's why! I never had heartburn EVER until I was pregnant -- now I get it fairly regularly... is it cuz I'm getting older? -- and Rolaids (et al) are disgusting and I can't take them. I use papaya enzyme and it usually helps, but I got a new kind this last time, and they aren't working. :::grumble, grumble:::

Anyone else know natural remedies for heartburn?


It's raining here. I'm relieved, actually, since it was snowing last night. I worried I'd be waking up to two feet of snow. Instead, I have a river running down my front lawn and little creeks everywhere in my yard.

I bundled up in raingear and put out my bird feeders first thing this a.m., bringing the dog with me. She's not particularly fond of rain, but I knew she'd go out if I was with her. She did, and did her business and then (even now I'm amazed at how good she is) came inside, took her treat (she gets one for coming in when she's off leash) and dropped it on the floor, then sat down.

It took me a good thirty seconds to realize what she was doing -- since the dawn of time, when she comes in and is wet, I make her sit on the rug inside the door while I dry her off. This time, I was soaking wet myself so hadn't said anything while I was getting out of my coat and boots.

And she still sat. She didn't run off with her treat to eat it on the couch, she waited. Without me saying anything.

I was so impressed.

Good dog.


You Are a Ponytail

You are energetic, laid back, and a lot of fun. You are ready for whatever life throws at you.

Your idea of style is looking presentable. You prefer simple, well fitting, and neat clothes.

At your best, you are productive, inspiring, and full of live. You love to be active.

At your worst, you are hyperactive and frenzied. Sometimes it's hard for you to calm down.

Pretty close...


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away...

Weather is a great metaphor for life - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there's nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella. ~Terri Guillemets

They're expecting rain today and tomorrow... lots and lots of rain. Somewhere between 3" - 6" which probably means some flooding again since the ground isn't completely thawed yet.

I'm just praying for light winds, thought they're already gusting pretty heavily this morning.

My SIL brought me over a bunch of quart and pint canning jars yesterday. She's single and doesn't use the bigger jars when she cans, but had gotten a bunch free from the lady she bought her pressure canner and has been holding on to them because she couldn't bear to just get rid of them. Then I mentioned I was going to be canning a LOT this year, and she happily shared.

I'm excited.

Now I wait. First thing to harvest? Strawberries... in a month or so. I'll make strawberry jam and loads of frozen strawberries that I'll vacuum seal to save for a whole year :-)



You Are a Doer

You are energetic, active, and a total go-getter. You don't procrastinate or back down. You just do it!

You think that most people are paralyzed by fear and inaction. They would just feel better if they did something.

You make a good leader and a good motivator. You believe that everyone is happier when they are being productive.

You love to take on new tasks. You enjoy learning, and you see every day as a growing experience. You're always changing... and changing for the better!

Yep.. pretty much!


Friday, March 12, 2010

I Haz a Happy ...

Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad. ~Norm Papernick


Talented author and friend, J. A. Saare nominated me for a Happy 101 award a couple of days ago.

Here's the plan: I share 10 things that make me happy (as an aside, I made a "happy journal" once -- because I'm not a naturally happy person -- and listed more than 200 things that made me smile... it's a great thing to have and to pull out when you're down in the dumps) and, in turn, nominate 10 blogs that make me smile! It's going to be tough to whittle it down to 10, but I'm going to give it a try...

10 things that make me happy:

1. My daughter -- who needs at least forty hugs a day. Since the dog and the cat and I are the ones she's around, we get them. No, I'm not complaining :-)

2. My goofy dog.

3. Really good books.

4. Talking to my mom.

5. Watching clever, fun TV shows like "Leverage" and "Bones" and "Eureka"

6. 80's music

7. Gardening

8. Sunshine

9. Long walks in the sunshine :-)

10. Quiet time

Here's a list of blogs I try to get to at least every couple of days because it makes me happy to keep up with them!

The Bandwagon

Writing Wrongs

Notes From Me

Book Mom

Maria Zannini

Melissa McClone

Jennifer Shirk

Groovy's Ruminations

Diane Craver

Becoming Briggs

Thanks to all those folks (and so many more!) that give me a happy on a regular basis.


For those who asked: Dakota is acting as though nothing happened night before -- as though she didn't nearly vomit up a lung or put me through the wringer. I don't know what set her off, but she seems to be fine and dandy.

DD and I are helping out with a beginning agility class on Thursdays now. It's a HUGE class (12 dogs that range from a Poodle to a Great Dane!) and she asked if we could. DD loves it and I think it's fun, too, though it exhausts me. The dogs are all really good dogs -- a few are pretty alpha and try to assert themselves now and then, but for the most part everyone gets along and most of them really enjoy what they're doing. It's been so much fun to revisit how things were when we started agility over a year ago. It's all so effortless for Dakota now it's hard to remember when she was scared by the see-saw.

It rained for most of the day yesterday, and is overcast today. They're not predicting a very nice weekend, which is a drag. I've gotten spoiled this past week with the sunny, warm weather.

How's the weather where you are? Any plans for the weekend?


You Are A Chocolate Ice Cream Girl

Dramatic. Powerful. Flirty.

Dramatic. Powerful. Flirty.

Oh, yeah... that's me...


Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Dog's Tale

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

So... yesterday was gorgeous. We walked a LONG walk and then home for school, which is SO hard when the first really nice days start happening.

Later was agility class -- and be warned, I will be talking about yucky bodily functions ahead. Dakota played when we got there, but from the first run, I could tell she wasn't quite herself. I figured she'd just played too hard and was tired.

And then came the last run of the first class. I brought her out to the course, and she laid down in front of the jump instead of sitting. I asked her to jump, and she wouldn't... after a bit of encouragement, she carefully STEPPED over the jump. I knew she wasn't feeling well, thought maybe she had to potty, so I took her outside. She went potty, and it wasn't ... erhm.... solid, and then she threw up.

So, we didn't stay for the second class and came right home. Let her out and she threw up and went potty again. Brought her in where she laid by my feet for about 15 mins and then, without any warning, she threw up again. This pattern was repeated a few times (oh, joy) until, finally about 90 mins after we got home she curled up on the couch instead of at my feet. I figured this meant she felt at least a little better.

Apparently it did. Though she was completely exhausted (completely! I've never seen her so wiped out -- I had to carry her up to bed because she wouldn't wake up enough to walk), there was not more vomiting. I worried all night, though, and kept checking to make sure she was warm and breathing...

I'm a little tired.

But I'm so relieved that she seems to be fine this morning. She wanted to eat (I gave her about 1/2 c of her homemade food... will see if it stays down) and is now happily snoring back on the couch.

At first I was worried about bloat, but the primary symptom was:

Attempts to vomit (usually unsuccessful); may occur every 5-30 minutes

And I thought: Dakota is absolutely NOT unsuccessful! Oy... I had no idea her stomach could HOLD so much.

Other things included restlessness, unwillingness to lie down, etc. So I figured that wasn't the problem.

I still haven't a clue what happened. I'm just glad she's okay.


Today will be our last nice day for a while -- it's going to be overcast and raining pretty much all weekend. My DH is *not* happy about this (this happened last year, where the weekdays were gorgeous and the weekends weren't), but we can't control nature. However, the rain will aid in hurrying along "ice out" on the lakes, so he make actually be able to start fishing on April 1st ... provided we get his boat registration back in time. I hadn't sent it in yet, because it was still so early -- but spring is VERY early this year!


You Are Flexible

You are broad minded and energetic. You are up for almost anything - all someone needs to do is ask.

You have a true appreciation for nature, and you love being outdoors. You also enjoy traveling to exotic places.

You crave freedom in your life, and you're not big on commitments or responsibilities.

You want to be able to scurry off to the next thing that interests you... whatever that happens to be!

Uh.. no, not really. But I do like frogs...


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Welcome Guest: Fran Shaff

Today we welcome author Fran Shaff to the blog. Please, make her feel at home!

Tell me five things I probably don’t know about you and that most folks wouldn’t guess.

Five things? You're going to make me work in this interview. :-) Hmmmm.

1) I never went to kindergarten. I walked into first grade at the age of five, having never seen nor heard of the alphabet.

2) In third grade I was a spelling champion in my school.

3) I never read much as a kid because my parents thought reading was a waste of time, being an unproductive activity.

4) I didn't know that I liked to read until I was in college. I guess that's a pretty unexpected background for a woman who eventually became a writer.

Hmmm... Fran, that was only four. Maybe you can leave a fifth in our comments?

Finish this sentence: My favorite color is ___________ because ______________

Today, my favorite color is green because I am so sick of looking at snow.

Write me a paragraph using the following three words: Squash, Iodine, Mask

I take it you don't want me to merely say: When I squash my finger in the car door I apply iodine and mask-ing tape. I'll try to be a bit more creative.

Little Lizzy took the bottle of iodine from her mother's secret stash of first aid products. She'd always admired the skull and crossbones on it's label. Copying the picture onto her latest art medium would surely give her a leg up in the school creativity contest. Colorful markers, construction paper, fabric and even the rubber from an old dust mask became part of that depiction of the skull and crossbones. When Lizzy had finished her masterpiece, she took it to school and entered it in the creativity contest. Lucky little Lizzy proudly accepted her prize for the scariest spaghetti squash in the event.

Fran Shaff is the author of more than a dozen romance and young peoples’ novels which are available in hardcover, paperback and e-formats. She also writes short stories and articles. Her short stories have appeared in such places as Woman’s World magazine and at major outlets on the Internet. She has won numerous awards for her writing in both fiction and non-fiction categories. For more information please visit Fran's website: You can also find Fran at MySpace, Jacket Flap, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other Internet networking sites. She has an active blog at:

FREE DOWNLOAD. If you'd like a free download of Fran Shaff's acclaimed historical romance "Change of Heart," go to: This download is available in ten different formats.

Look for Fran Shaff's latest contemporary romance "Montana Magic" in March at Wings ePress ( and at major Internet outlets.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Hit and Run Blog

I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden. ~Ruth Stout

DH is awake EARLY (which I find ironic, because he has a LATE LATE night planned at work) and has messed with my blogging plans. So for this morning, I'll just say: it was gorgeous again yesterday, we walked again, my legs hurt (in a good way), it's gorgeous again to day, we'll walk again.

Life is good.

I love sunshine.

I love spring.


OH -- and I posted on Healthful & Homemade today, too.



You Are Subway

You are active, modern, and on top of trends. Taking care of yourself is important to you, even if you don't always do it.

You like to have a lot of control in your life. You are a high achiever who doesn't compromise.

You are an active, "take charge" type of person. You don't complain or blame other people for your problems.

You do your best in life, but you also cut yourself a break. You know it's all about balance.

Not sure I'm "modern", but otherwise it's pretty much right on!


Monday, March 08, 2010

Spring is ... Springing

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain

I can't say that spring has sprung, because it's not *quite* done doing its thing. But -- WOW -- are things warming up early this year. Two things have made it feel like spring to me.

First, check this out -- these are from the garden in front of my house:

Second, I had to pull in my bird feeders last night. NH Fish & Game report bear sightings, even in the far north, so the bird feeder raiders are awake and HUNGRY. I've never pulled them in this early. I usually wait until mid-April, though last year my feeders got nabbed early by our backyard bear.

I even worked outside, raking leaves out of my one "woods" garden because I know the daffodils are coming up and I have piles and piles of them in there. Last year, I didn't rake it out right away and the poor daffs were growing as best they could under their heavy load and when I finally raked, they were a good 3 - 4" high, but bent over and pale, pale green from no sun exposure. Poor critters. Not this year! Nope, I went out and got my first blisters of the year -- but their little nubs are exposed to the sun.

I'm even going to plant my seeds early. I'm planning on making little miniature greenhouses out of discarded milk jugs and liter bottles, and will put those over the tops of my most tender plants until it's safe to let them out into the big bad world for real.

Yeppers.... from here on out, it's gardening season. *G*


You Are a Tiger

You are an even tempered, controlled person. You assess situations carefully.

You are aggressive, but you are never out of control. You pick and choose your battles.

You are rational and calm. Even if something should effect you, you don't let it.

You are cool and calculating. People can rely on you, as long as they don't cross you!

LOL.. that's pretty close to correct!