Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

Although no sculptured marble should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored. ~Daniel Webster

From the wife of a Gulf War veteran and the daughter of a World War II veteran, I wish you a wonderful Memorial Day and ask that you take at least a moment and remember those who, over the centuries, have fought and died for us so that we might be free.

Here are a few videos to remind us:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Too Hot!

Heat, ma'am! it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones. ~Sydney Smith, Lady Holland's Memoir

Had a great day yesterday -- spent it with a friend who came up from Massachusetts. The time flew by and we didn't really DO anything except chat! Well, we went to a UBS and Barnes and Noble, had lunch, walked the dog ... but mostly we just gabbed.

A good day.

Today is supposed to be brutally hot. I actually just got back from taking the dog for her walk since it'll be too hot in the next hour or so. DH and DD went out on the lake, but I have no desire to go, so I'm staying home for some alone time.

I think I might have a nap. I'm exhausted this morning already...

Otherwise, nothing new here!

What are you doing this Memorial Day weekend (for my USA friend)?


Your Life Will Be Calm in Ten Years

You're the type of person who takes things as they come, and you do your best not to worry.

You know that there's a lot in this world that you can't change - and you're not about to try to change it.

You are confident and content. You don't feel like you need to push too hard.

Try to break out of your comfort zone every now and then, though. Have an adventure! You are risking complacency.

This couldn't be more wrong!


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pillar Place 2010

Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine. ~Jeffrey Glassberg

Busy day yesterday -- finished putting in my veggie garden. I still had more squash, cucumbers and all my broccoli and cabbage to plant. But the time I was done, I was about ready to collapse from heat exhaustion (I'm telling you what... the weather this year is NUTS), so I didn't get the paper and straw down. I have that scheduled for Monday (NOT Sunday, when they are calling for 90 degree weather).

I've already lost one of my summer squash plants, so I guess it's good my SIL gave me a few more, and my eggplant isn't looking too healthy. I have to assume it's the early heat before they've had time to really get their roots set. Very frustrating.

I planted parsley seeds for my black swallowtail friends, too. Decided to plant it near the rue I have behind the garden. When I was done, I glanced over at the rue, not really expecting to see any butterbabies (since the earliest we've ever found them was mid-June), but I guess the heat is making everything a little crazy.

I found one. He's bitty and was still black when I found him, though he shed his skin in the late afternoon and now looks more like an adult (though he's still only about 1/2" in length).

DD was gone for the day, so I got the privilege of naming him. I named him "Al" (short for Alpha because he's the beginning).

And thus Pillar Place 2010 begins ... a little weakly (last year we had something like 15 the first day!), and I'm wondering what happened to Al's siblings, though we did have a pretty massive thunderstorm on Wednesday, which would have been the day they hatched based on his size, so they may have gotten washed away (which makes me sad).

Behold Al:

Not that he looks like that anymore... They grow up so fast.


You Are Engaged

You feel completely absorbed and intrigued right now. You're cheerfully busy.

You're alert and completely involved with everything you do. You don't walk through life half-asleep.

If you're interested and engrossed, then you feel incredibly happy.

You are constantly curious and never bored. There's too much to be fascinated with!

That's mostly right on!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Fun With Agility (Equipment)

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." — Albert Einstein

One of the ladies I'm in agility with has been figuring out how to make her own equipment. Buying it is VERY expensive, but when you have a dog who loves it like we do, it's something to do with her every day. Good exercise for her, good exercise for us. I've been wanting equipment since last summer, but couldn't justify the cost.

Then two things happened. One, my instructor mentioned that the AKC had amended their rules to allow non-purebred dogs to compete in AKC agility trials and two, my friend posted pictures on Facebook of the regular jumps and tire jump that she made. It looked so simple, I knew I had to give it a go.

I opted to make weave poles first, because Dakota is still learning how to do those efficiently. She can do them, but not quickly so we wanted to really work with her.

First, I looked into the AKC requirements for weave poles and found out that they're a little different than what we use in class (I suspect the class poles are USDAA sized ... a little smaller and closer together than AKC). I needed poles that were 40" high and 22 - 24" apart.

So, I did my math, then drew a picture of what the poles would look like and figured out what parts I needed. Then it was off to the store. When we came home we had this (notice that Dakota is curious, but not enough to get close to the scary PVC pipe):

I cut it up... and discovered that I can NOT cut straight with a hacksaw to save my life. Thankfully, it didn't REALLY matter if the pipes were just a tad slanted. And I filed them down a bit on the driveway.

Fit them together:

And VOILA! Weave poles!

I made two sets for just under $26. If I'd have bought them, the cheapest set runs about $45 (and it's the kind where you jam the poles into the ground).

I feel very smug. And very capable. Next up.... the tire and standard jumps. I figure I can make 4 - 5 jumps for the cost of buying one.

And, here is Dakota and DD practicing with the new poles (now that they look like something familiar, Dakota isn't afraid of them anymore!):

I found four AKC agility trials in New Hampshire this summer. I don't know that we'll compete, but I am going to do my best to attend, so I can see what they're like. OH, and check THIS out. I thought it was amazing that DD was such a good handler at eleven ... this girl is SIX YEARS OLD!

Truly amazing.


You Are Peaceful and Content

You have reached a point in your life where you've accepted things and found bliss.

You cultivate a sense of gratitude, and you believe that each day you're given is special.

You have a low tolerance for drama, and you have been known to cut troublesome people out of your life completely.

You are a daydreamer, but there is nothing lofty about your dreams. You can be perfectly happy just watching the clouds.

The first half? Not so much...but the second? Pretty much right on.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fun With Flora

Coffee. Garden. Coffee. Does a good morning need anything else? ~Betsy CaƱas Garmon,

So... our heatwave finally broke last night, with a BANG! About 11:00 I woke up with a jolt -- sounded like someone had set off a bomb in my bedroom. It was thunder. Thankfully, that was the only really bad one and the storm moved through quickly, taking the heat and humidity with it. It's only supposed to be in the high 70s today. Hallelujah!

I took the roses back yesterday and made the nursery lady laugh. She was amazed that only one full day in the sun in front of my house had done the kind of damage it had. They'll be able to snip off the burned blooms, though and the plant will be good as new because the bush itself wasn't bothered.

I ended up buying two more flowering plants -- not bushes this time. I got lavender (not my pictures) for one side:

And a daisy (in "banana cream") for the other:

Both plants sat outside all day yesterday in the blistering sun and made it through just fine.

Since the weather is cooler, I can finish getting in my annuals. I got (again, not my pictures):





And I can finish the rest of my garden as well as putting down my "weed block" of newspaper and straw. It's just been too hot to work outside all week. I'm so excited it's finally cooled down just a bit!


Your Brain is Young

No matter what your actual age is, you've done a good job keeping your brain young.

You know that the key to a healthy brain is exercising it, and that's something you just do naturally.

You're the type of person who is curious about everything, and your curiosity makes your brain healthy.

Keep reading, learning, and engaging with the world. You've figured out the secrets to being mentally sharp.



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Not So Rosy

My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view. ~H. Fred Dale

So, I put my roses out in front of my house (in their pots) where I figured I'd be planting them, just to see how they'd do.

They didn't do well.

Those of you on Facebook already know: the petals on the flowers turned black. They cooked.

Here's the thing that I can never seem to emphasize enough to flower nursery workers: my house doesn't just have full sun all day. It has full sun that reflects off my nearly white vinyl siding that acts like a magnifier. If it's 90 outside (like yesterday), it's probably 120 in the garden in front of my house. I'm not exaggerating, and no matter how many times I tell the folks at the nursery that, they never quite seem to understand.

So... roses may be full sun plants, but their flowers can't hack the heat, so they're getting out of the oven and back to the store.

Yes, I'm a bit sad, but no point in keeping them if they aren't going to survive.

Maybe I'll just plant more echinacea (coneflower). It really seems to like it there.


Speaking of Facebook, here's something that made me crack up:


I tried writing yesterday. I had a little bit of time where I didn't *have* to do anything, so opened up "Now and Forever". And stared at it. I knew where I wanted it to go, but nothing would move from my brain to my fingers. Anything I forced sounded...forced.

So, I'm going to do what I did with all my completed stories (save one): write it out of order.

Yep. I'm going to write the scenes that I have bouncing around in my head that happen further down the road. Hopefully, as those get written, it'll loosen up whatever is blocking the current scene. Maybe that scene isn't necessary or isn't happening the way it should and my subconscious knows this. Regardless, I need to get some words down, and since I have a pile of scenes already brainstormed (including the end) I think it'll work. It always has before.


Your Creative Power is Your Logic

You're the type of person who is great at execution. You don't just dream about ideas - you make them happen!

You are idealistic and determined, but you are also a realist. You only undertake projects you're pretty sure you can finish.

You are a natural problem solver, and you actually think better when you're being challenged.

You do best when you work by yourself or when you're in charge. You ideas are big, dramatic, and the best.

Actually.... um... that's right on.

Sometimes these quizzes really freak me out. Just saying.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Coming Up Roses

“You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses” - Ziggy

I did something yesterday I never thought I'd do...I bought rose bushes.

I know, perhaps not scandalous, but you must understand that roses and I tend to not get along very well. Yes, yes... I kill them. So I've avoided getting any until now. The fact is, I need some pretty, compact bushes for the front of my house. They need to be able to take brutal, hot, full sun (and not your average full sun -- my house is VERY pale gray and gets full sun all day, reflecting that heat down on the plants and cooking them. Even most full sun plants can't take the heat.) and still look pretty.

I'm told these roses can, but if not they have a one year guarantee. I told the lady at Agway that I'd know by July if they'd make it!

Here they are... aren't they lovely?

And I'm told they'll bloom until first frost, so I'm happy. They haven't passed the husband test yet -- he hasn't seen them, but he should like them. If not there were these yellow deciduous bushes with tiny white flowers that were my next choice.

Still, I like that vibrant red. Hopefully, I won't kill them.


You Are an Orange Rose

You represent desire and enthusiasm

Your vibe: Sexy yet familiar

Falling in love with you: happens instantly - it's a fast ride

I'll take their word for it... but the picture is pretty :-)


Monday, May 24, 2010

You Win Some...

“Winning is not everything, but wanting to win is” - Vince Lombardi

First the good news about our agility competition: Dakota came in with the fastest final run of the day: 22 seconds! The next closest was 38 seconds! Here's a video of (most of) her final run. My camera isn't holding a charge, so I couldn't leave it on while waiting for them to do their run, AND it's taking longer to start up, so all three videos I took are missing the first couple of obstacles :-(

Anyway, here's the run:

Now the not so good news about the day...

On Wednesday at our class, the instructor announced that the dogs wouldn't be allowed in the room with us and that they'd have to be crated. This was because there are a few dogs who raise a ruckus when there are dogs on the course, and there are dogs who are dog aggressive. Once, a dog even jumped over the fence and chased the dog on the course.

So... did I understand WHY she opted for what she did? Sort of. I absolutely believe that problem dogs should be required to wait outside. She knows these dogs, they're all in class with her. She knows their habits and behaviors. But instead of standing up and saying, "You. Your dog barks every time another dog is running the course, so your dog has to wait outside." she punished everyone. Many of our dogs, including Dakota, simply lie down quietly and wait their turn.

Dakota doesn't mind being crated ... at home. But she doesn't like being away from us elsewhere (unless we leave her in the car, which is probably like a crate-away-from-home.

Regardless, we gave it a try. I asked to put her in a different room, away from the other dogs who were barking and howling and scrabbling at their cages and she settled in okay. When I peeked in, she was just laying in the crate quietly, so I thought it might work out.

Then I went to get her a few minutes before her first run. I opened the door and she slithered out, tail tucked deeply between her legs, head down, ears down. I gave her to DD at the entrance door and went inside to watch.

Dakota took her first obstacle, a jump, and then ran PAST the next one (poles) and to the exit of the course, trying desperately to leave. She has NEVER done that in the whole time we've done agility. She loves to run agility. DD got her back on course by holding her collar and pulling her through the poles, but she lost a ton of time.

And DD burst into tears when they finished.

So, we opted to put her into a friend's car, with her dog, thinking that might work better. She drives a Prius and can run her A/C without running the car (it was pretty hot out yesterday). I waited until about 15 mins before Dakota's next run and checked on them... Same thing. She was a wreck. I took her out, walked her around a bit, got her some water, let her pee ... but the damage was done.

Her second run was a mirror image of the first. She took her first jump and then tried to leave the course.

And DD burst into tears again.

Here's the thing. Nearly everyone was angry. ALL the dogs were off their game. None of the stronger dogs did well at all. The Border Collie -- typically the "dog to beat" didn't even have a fast enough time to make it into the final runs. That's NEVER happened.

The owners were stressed, the dogs were stressed.

After Dakota's second run, I chose to take her out into the play yard and just miss the rest of the dogs running (she ran third, so the majority of dogs ran after her). She played with several other dogs whose owners had opted to the do the same thing. There was much grumbling and anger and frustration.

After the end of the second round, points were tallied and Dakota's team won first place! YAY!

We brought her in for pictures and then I simply took her to my seat with me, without asking. She laid at my feet, content. Apparently others opted to do the same, because when the instructor looked up from taking the picture of the last team, everyone still had their dogs.

She sighed and said, "Okay, but if your dog barks you have to leave."

There were final runs of the highest rated dogs in advanced, intermediate and beginning.

Dakota ran second, and had her best run of the day: she did all the obstacles, didn't try to run off course, was accurate and fast -- and I credit it to the fact that she was able to settle in with me like always.

If they insist on crating all the dogs at the next match, I don't think we'll attend. The frustration and stress was over the top. DD was a mess, I was exhausted.

In other agility news, DD ran two other dogs -- one of who won her final match as well. The other one actually ran against Dakota in the final match and did well, but not quite enough (she was a small dog and just can't run as fast as Dakota when Dakota's on top of her game).

Also, DD whacked her left pinky finger on the wall, bent it back until she heard it pop and it puffed up like crazy. This happened after the first run. We iced it, and worried that it was broken. She couldn't use it -- too painful. After we got home I gave her ibuprofen and more ice and by bed time she could wiggle it a little bit and it was at least bearable.

So, yeah, not such a stellar day. But Dakota did add a first place team ribbon and a trophy to her collection.


You Are a Soothing Latte

You like to take good care of yourself. You believe that you deserve to be pampered.

You don't deny yourself much. You know if you don't treat yourself, no one else will.

You tend to savor your morning coffee routine. You take your time with your latte.

Plain old black coffee just wouldn't be the same. The latte is about so much more than the caffeine for you!

Uh... not so much.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Amazing Weather!

Language... has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone. ~Paul Johannes Tillich, The Eternal Now

What a gorgeous weekend we've been having, and rumor has it this amazing weather is going to stretch into next week! YAY.

DD and DH went boating yesterday. It was a little hazy out, but plenty warm and quite humid. The lake water, though, is still quite cool -- maybe 60 degrees. DH called me at just after lunchtime and said, "Your daughter is swimming."

I asked him if her lips were turning blue, lol... she had a great time -- swam for a few hours, helped him catch a fish (our freezer is filling with salmon and trout) and just enjoyed the day.

I did, too. I had a good "alone" time -- days that are few and far between, so greatly valued. I realize that there will probably come a time where I get LOTS of alone time after DD is grown, but right now the breaks are necessary for my sanity. I'm a person who prefers to be alone rather than in the company of people, at least for long periods of time.

I took the dog for a long walk in the morning, before it got too hot. Watched the "Bones" season finale (and cried a little). Had lunch (a "snacky" lunch -- one of my favorite things about being by myself is not making MEALS) and then went outside to edge more of my gardens. I love having flower gardens ringing the house, and having little gardens in the middle of the lawn, but there are days I wonder about my sanity. I spent two hours outside and only got two gardens done: Bailey's memorial garden and my biggest woods garden. Of course, I did spend several minutes pretending to be a statue while at Bailey's garden -- that's where I keep my bird feeders and if I held still enough, the birds would come eat. I watched a downy woodpecker couple, a few tufted titmice, a white-breasted nuthatch and several chickadees (who probably would have come even if I was doing the cha-cha... chickadees are brave) from only a foot or two away.

Spent the rest of the day doing what I had to do: building the webpages for next week's LASR/WC/Aurora stuff.

I squeezed in a little writing, too.

It was a good day.

Today -- agility competition. DD asked me again last night, "Dakota is good enough to win the gold medal, right?"

Yes. She it. As long as she makes her contacts and behaves. Is it wrong to hope that the one Border Collie that's truly stellar makes at least one little mistake?

As long as my camera doesn't give up the ghost, I'll have some video for you tomorrow.

:::fingers crossed:::

Speaking of cameras, I need a new one. I know several of you really enjoy picture-taking. Can you tell me what cameras you have, and what you do and don't like about them?


Your Interpersonal Intelligence Score: 55%

Your Interpersonal Intelligence is Average

You do well in most group settings, but you also need time to recharge.

So while you can work with people during the day, you may crave your alone time at night.

For you, it's all about balance!



Saturday, May 22, 2010

Six Truths and a Lie - Revealed!

There is no truth. There is only perception. ~Gustave Flaubert

Okay, the day you've all been waiting for... it's time for the reveal of the truth behind my post on Tuesday. First off, all names have gone into the virtual hat over at and the winner of the $5 GC to either The Wild Rose Press, Samhain Publishing, or is:


Jaime, email me which GC you'd like to have.

Jaime didn't guess correctly, however. The honor of THAT goes to Keri Mikulski, who got the right answer and it behooves me to offer her something as a prize -- so, Keri, you get your choice of any of my stories in PDF format. Email me your choice to authormariannearkins AT gmail DOT com, and I'll get that to you.

Now, let's talk about me. *G*

Here is the list I posted on Tuesday, with explanations:

1. I've handled a rattlesnake with my bare hands.

True. However, I didn't REALIZE it was a rattlesnake at the time. I was eight years-old and collecting critters for my reptile zoo that I was keeping in the goat pen, and found the cutest little bitty snake.... yep, a baby rattler w/o rattles. I scooped him up, put him in his new house and then showed him to my step-father who, despite the panic he must have been feeling, chopped off his head with a shovel

End of snake that could have been the end of me.

2. I've belly-danced in front of an audience.

True. Of course, I was a toddler and the audience was my mother -- she says I did a pretty good job!

3. I bought a pony with a bag of nickels and pennies.

True. My dad used to toss his change into a box at night, and when I went to visit, he'd tell me to leave him the quarters and dimes for laundry and take the rest. Eventually, I saved up $25 -- the cost of my neighbors pony -- and got my first horse. And it didn't occur to me to take the change to the bank and get him bills... I was only in fifth grade.

4. I've never broken a bone.

False. I broke my wrist in a fall from the back of the pony referenced above! LOL... he was a feisty little bugger -- and made me realize that ponies aren't always the best animal for kids. We had the gentlest horse in the world, too, a leopard spot appaloosa called Hombre who was so sweet, you could ride him without tack. Maybe I should have claimed him as my own instead!

5. I've walked to the bus stop, two miles in the snow (though it was only uphill one way).

True. We lived in the boonies and I walked a mile or two to the bus stop every day, depending on whether I took the dirt road or the woods. Rain or shine, snow or sun, I walked it every day.

6. I owned Mork & Mindy rainbow suspenders and wore them with pride.

True. We didn't have much money when I was young... I could tell you stories about owning two pairs of pants, and having to wear one pair for two or three days in a row, while I washed the other one by hand and waited for them to dry... but I won't. *G* So, when everyone who was anyone had those suspenders, I wanted them in the worst way ... and I got them! I wore them constantly.

7. I'm afraid of chihuahuas.

True. When I was very young ... third grade... one of my friends had this seriously nasty chihuahua, and when I visited her, she'd keep it locked up. Once, her siblings apparently thought it would be funny to let it out. I was in the backyard, it charged out barking and chasing me. I ran (as an aside... running from a dog is the worst thing you can do) and it cornered me by the gate before I could get out. And, it bit me. Only dog that ever has. And, I've never quite gotten over that fear.

Thankfully, in junior high, my best friend also had chihuahuas and helped me realize that not ALL of them were nasty, biting little things. But even so, my heart goes in my throat whenever I have to deal with them. As an adult, I don't run screaming on the outside, but I do on the inside.


In other news, because apparently the five squash and nine cucumbers weren't enough, my SIL brought me SIX more squash and FOUR more cucumber plants. The cucs are easy enough to find a home for .... but squash? They are space HOGS. Oy.

Good thing I have a freezer, because I suspect I'm going to be doing a lot of canning and freezing this year.


We have our bi-annual agility competition tomorrow. Hopefully my camera won't crap out on me and I'll have some good video. DD is determined to get a gold medal for Dakota, but she's also running two other dogs. The instructor is having DD run her Papillion, Missy and there's a mini-Australian Shepherd named Riley whose dad recently had back surgery. He's having DD run the dog for him.

She's an awesome handler and it's fun to see that other folks appreciate her too.


Friday, May 21, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not. ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936

So, yesterday when I got up it was gorgeous out. After a solid 36 hours of rain, I was beyond thrilled, and decided (after checking the forecast for the next week) that it was time to put in the garden.

I went out in the morning and set it all up: squash here, tomatoes there, cucumbers along the back, herbs in that spot and the broccoli and cabbage in that last open area over there.

I put up cages for the tomatoes, cucumbers and the squash.

I had to make a trip to Agway to get a few more cucumbers since my seeds didn't do well, and since I needed to go to the library, too, and it didn't open until eleven I had to wait a little bit.

By the time I got back, it was lunchtime, so we ate. And then it was unbearably HOT outside!! We had temps in the high 80s! I decided I wouldn't put it in, but then after an hour or so of sitting inside and working on the computer, I couldn't stand it.

So right around 1:00 pm I went to put it in.

I dug the holes (LOVE my bulb planter), and DD helped by putting in a little Soil Moist and Osmocote (yeah, I know, not really "organic" but I make an exception). We popped in the plants, filled the hole with water and dirt and DONE.

Easy peasy ... except, I'd forgotten I had THREE not TWO winter squash and that I had three eggplant plants that I hadn't planned for. Okay, after some thought, I figured out how to squeeze them in.

Then, after I finished planting the EIGHTEEN tomato plants I'd dug holes for, DD says, "Um, Mom? We have more tomatoes."

"How many more?"


Why on EARTH had I bought THIRTY tomato plants?? And how would I fit them into the garden -- a garden that was already packed full??

I managed... sort of. And now all the neatly organized tomatoes are a bit of a mess. I have roma with my rainbow heritage, and sweet 100s with my big boys. They're quite close together, so harvesting might be, er, interesting.

I ran out of steam before I got in the herb seeds or the broccoli and cabbage, so I'll do that today, as well as putting down the newspaper and straw for weed block. And then, God willing and the creek don't rise, it's done.

Thirty tomatoes... I must be out of my mind.


I have a friend who just moved into a new-to-her home in Pennsylvania. The gardens there are beautiful and packed full of flowers, some of which neither of us recognize, so I thought I'd post the pictures here and see if any of you can tell what they are.

This first one is a small tree (bush?):

And this is ground cover:



You Are a Creative Worker

You are a very personally expressive person, especially outside of work. Your individuality matters to you.

You draw a lot of inspiration and energy from your own internal world. You get bored easily around other people.

You are confident and competent. You tend to not make mistakes, and you trust your judgment.

You are down to earth and practical. You achieve success one step at a time, by paying attention to details.

Actually, that's amazingly close!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday Thirteen: Smells

Thirteen of the Best Smells in the World!

1. Fresh baked bread.

I remember reading that if you're selling your house, you should bake bread right before prospective buyers come by. I can understand why! There's just something about the smell that .... mmmmm......

2. Milkweed blossoms.

Yes, really. They smell like a cross between roses and lilacs and are absolutely my favorite "flower" smell in the world.

3. Freshly mowed grass.

Maybe it's because it smells like summer, but I could sit outside and inhale for hours after we cut our lawn.

4. Vanilla.

I love the smell of vanilla when I'm baking. I even used to use vanilla scented lotions and sprays LONG before they were as popular as they are now.

5. Puppy breath.

For those of you who've never held a little puppy (8 weeks or younger) and just smelled them, you're missing out. Puppy breath is the best (and it comes in the cutest package!).

6. Cinnamon.

We boil cinnamon sticks in water on our wood stove during the winter. I really love that spicy smell it sends all through the house.

7. Roses.

I can't grow roses worth a darn, but I really enjoy them. Our library has the walkway from the parking lot to the steps lined in them, and they're just beginning to bloom. I walk through really, really slowly!

8. Babies.

Babies have this great smell of milk and clean and baby-ness that is such a great smell. I'm sure they smell attractive to most people so we'll be suckered into taking care of them (*G*), but I love smelling babies (unless, yanno, they need a diaper change).

9. Liquid smoke.

I suppose I could put "jerky" instead of liquid smoke, but the fact is, I know what makes it smell good. It's why even the dog treats I use make my mouth water -- what is it about liquid smoke that really does it?

10. Freshly brewed coffee.

Best smell EVER in the morning. Mmmm.... and I love to go into coffee places and just sniff. The Gloria Jeans in our mall draws me like iron to a magnet. DD laughs at me, because I slow WAY down as we pass, my nose goes up in the air and I just sigh in ecstasy.

11. New Books.

Even DD agrees with me. When she gets a new book, she'll flip the pages with her face only inches away, breath in and say, "I love how books smell."

12. Molasses.

I think I like the smell because it reminds me of horses. I really miss owning a horse.

13. Fruit.

Just about any fruit, really. Fresh fruit is the best stuff! And anymore, instead of vanilla scented lotions, I use fruity scented ones. I really like them!

What are your favorite smells?


You Try to Tread Lightly

You would like to make the world a better place, but you also don't want to inflict any damage on it.

You try to live a green and sustainable life. The environment matters deeply to you.

You are thoughtful in your decisions and words. You think everyone should try harder not to harm one another.

You don't think big... in fact, you tend to think small. You know that one small action can make a big difference.

Um... not really... maybe a little.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Trip to the Dentist

If suffering brought wisdom, the dentist’s office would be full of luminous ideas. ~Mason Cooley

I've fallen behind in inviting authors to my blog for interviews... *sigh*... so no fun and goofy stuff from someone else today.

I've been enjoying your answers to yesterday's post -- it's HARD to think up lies that sound true, and truths that sound like lies... I imagine the authors I nominated are going to find out the same thing!

I'll post the answers and explanations along with the winner of the free book/gift certificate on Saturday morning.

Today DD and I head back to the dentist.

I need a little bitty filling -- I have all four of my wisdom tooth (having had my four bicuspids pulled for braces in high school, I had room and they grew in straight!), which tend to be softer and more prone to cavities and so they like to fill up all the crevices and bumps for me to keep cavities from even forming. One of those crevices is in need of a refill, lol.

DD, OTOH, needs a tooth pulled. One of her perm teeth is literally drilling into the baby tooth instead of pushing it out. As a result, the baby tooth is dead (and gray, ick) and oozing bacteria into her gum. She sprouted an abscess a few weeks back, and they've tried treating it in various ways, but nothing is helping, so today ... out with her tooth!

She asked me three times last night if it hurts to get a tooth pulled. I told her the story of when I had my five pulled (four perm and one baby)... One the drive home, with my mouth full of cotton and a pile of paper towels held at my chin to catch the drool and blood ... our car broke down. So I was stuck, numb and drooling, hoping the paper towels would hold out until we got home (they didn't). The pain meds started wearing off before we got help. All-in-all a really bad day. But I told her, "I lived through it and nothing you're having done will be that bad."

LOL... what? I should have lied?

I always figure if she's prepared for the worse, than the actual procedure will seem like a breeze.

I remember my first roller coaster ride. I was TERRIFIED. We were at Disneyland on my senior trip for high school. I stood in line for Space Mountain, holding my best friend's hand and probably crushing the bones. Every step was difficult. My heart pounded, I wanted to cry and run screaming out one of the exits.

I didn't. I got on, and the ride started. And it was NOTHING...the plane ride there had been worse. I laughed like a loon all through the ride. I'm fairly certain everyone thought I'd lost my mind. But, if I'd gone on thinking it was nothing? Then things may not have turned out so well.


You Are the Breaststroke

You are a happy and content person. You try to enjoy every day and every moment to the fullest.

You don't push yourself too hard, but you do try to stay consistent.

Slow and steady does win the race, and because of this, you're miles ahead of everyone else.

You live mindfully and intentionally. You take every decision seriously.

About 50/50...


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Am I a Bold-Faced Liar?

There is no truth. There is only perception. ~Gustave Flaubert

Rowena Cherry invited me to play along with her (and, if you want to have some real fun -- go check out HER post for this!!).

Here are the rules: I tell either six truths and one lie, or six lies and one truth about myself, and you get to figure out which, and leave a fun or silly comment. Feel free to try to figure out which is which!! Everyone is offering a prize, so I will, too:

One person who comments on this post between now and Friday will get the eBook of their choice from Samhain Publishing or The Wild Rose Press (mine are available there... just in case you didn't know *G*) or a $5 GC to or (for those of you with Kindles and Nooks). The drawing will be held 5/22 in the early morning, and I'll announce it on my blog that day.

First, let me nominate seven other authors for this honor:
* Wendi Zwaduk
* J. A. Saare
* Melissa McClone
* Diane Craver
* Charity Tahmaseb
* Allie Boniface
* Keri Mikulski

Okay ... onward to my truths and lies (Mom, you don't get to guess...just saying):

1. I've handled a rattlesnake with my bare hands.

2. I've belly-danced in front of an audience.

3. I bought a pony with a bag of nickels and pennies.

4. I've never broken a bone.

5. I've walked to the bus stop, two miles in the snow (though it was only uphill one way).

6. I owned Mork & Mindy rainbow suspenders and wore them with pride.

7. I'm afraid of chihuahuas.


Speaking of truths or lies... did you know this about me?

You Are a Vampire

You are charming, sensual, and even a bit manipulative.

You can't help but get people to do what you want.

You have sharp senses and a strong predatory instinct.

You go after what you want, without mercy.

While you have the heart of a killer, many people are drawn to you.

You are elegant, timeless, and mysterious. You are the ultimate fantasy object.

I vant to drink your blood!!!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Hooray for Routine!

I love the routine. I love the structure of it...I know my life is kind of orderly. I just like that better. - Andrea Martin

I'm so glad it's Monday! This last week has been crazy -- DH was off work and it really messes with my routine with DD. We got even farther behind on school (DH thinks everyone should be on vacation when he is, so schedules jobs for us -- like moving rock) and I just felt unsettled.

At this rate, DD will be doing school into July.


I think I'm going to put my garden in this week. It's looking as though the weather will be mild enough, plus I'll use my greenhouses over my tenderer plants ... I'll just make sure I bury them down enough they won't blow away, or put the tomato cages around them.

I'm also going to lay down compostable weed block to save me work later. It's newspaper (about 2 - 3 pages thick) covered with straw. As the garden plants get bigger, it's terrifically hard to weed between them (not to mention time-consuming), so I'm hoping this will help a lot. We'll see.

I have 18 tomato plants currently (Big Boy, Roma, and "rainbow" heritage with yellow, orange and black fruit), but might get one more 6 pack. I have two kinds of squash (summer and winter), cucumbers (but not enough, so I have to go on the hunt -- I prefer "burpless" because they have fewer seeds), broccoli and cabbage. I'll plant from seed: green beans (LOTS of these since we eat them AND I use them for the dog's food), carrots, spinach and chard.

I think I need a bigger garden.


You Are a Crocodile

You are fierce and strong. You go after any prey that is in your sights.

You have a take charge personality, and you are quite dominant. You are not easily intimidated.

It's likely that you've had to struggle for survival in your life. You've had to develop a very thick skin.

You can be brutal, but you can also be tender. You tend to have two sides to your personality.

Mostly right...


Sunday, May 16, 2010


Anyone's life truly lived consists of work, sunshine, exercise, soap, plenty of fresh air, and a happy contented spirit. - Lillie Langtry

Lots of sunshine? check.

No wind? check.

Good temps? check.

Walking the dog instead of blogging? check.


You Are Energetic

Some people may consider you to be a bit too boring, but you find comfort in routine.

You are a naturally curious person. You are truly interested in how the world works.

You value your relationships, and you try to learn as much about your friends as possible.

Novelty and variety recharge you. You are a true adventurer at heart.

Mostly right.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Goofy Dog

The dog wags his tail, not for you, but for your bread. ~Portuguese Proverb

DH and I watched "Blind Side" last night -- and I was blown away. What a great movie! We both thoroughly enjoyed it. It was funny, sad, frightening, sweet, touching... it both broke my heart and inspired me. Fantastic.

If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend it.


I've come to the conclusion I have the goofiest dog ever. Anyone else have a dog who eats broccoli stumps? Raw?

I did, however, learn my lesson. Broccoli apparently ... um... loosens her up. So, we won't be doing that again.


Going to move the rest of the crushed rock today. I just couldn't face it again yesterday, so I edged some more of my gardens. I'm about half done with that -- but soon I get to put in my veggies! I haven't been able to use my cute little milk jugs because it's been REALLY windy, darn it.

The squash I started from seed already has blossoms on it!

I've also bought some butternut squash for Dakota's food (I have too many plants -- anyone in NH need 3 butternut squash plants?), 18 tomato plants, and need a few cucumbers. Can't WAIT.


You Are Bridge

You are a thoughtful and conscientious person. In fact, you're a bit of a brainiac.

You get a real thrill from mastering difficult tasks. You get bored if you aren't being challenged.

You are competitive, but you aren't a sore loser. You take a rational approach to competition.

You work hard, and you're persistent. You don't expect to be a natural at anything.

It's always a little weird when these things are super close to 100% correct...


Friday, May 14, 2010

It's An Acquired Taste

I believe humans get a lot done, not because we're smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee. ~Flash Rosenberg

The other day, I was gabbing with one of the wonderful ladies who helps me with the LASR/WC/Aurora site and said something about her getting another cup of coffee. She mentioned that she didn't drink it, had never gotten to where she liked the taste. She'd tried to learn in college (need that caffeine for exam cram, right?) but hated the taste.

I agreed and said, "It's definitely an acquired taste."

DD has mentioned similar thoughts about beer and wine. My DH has a friend who makes his own beer, and it's usually VERY dark. We don't drink much here at our casa, but once in a while, DH will crack a bottle. I'm not a huge beer drinker, and always the lighter stuff (though there was a pub in Downtown Sacramento that served an amazing apple beer... mmmm...), so even to me this stuff smells rank. DD agreed and asked how Daddy could stand drinking it.

I said, "It's an acquired taste."

And it got me to thinking about how we force ourselves to do something at least somewhat distasteful in order to get used to it.

I learned to drink coffee in high school. I was born in the dark ages, before they gave free refills on soda pop (calling it both so folks from around the country will understand... though I suppose I should add "coke" in there for those of you south of the Mason Dixon line -- I'm told "coke" is soda/pop and "co-cola" is Coke. Yes?), so when my friends and I hung out at the local Denny's (yep... that was the hang out for the drama crowd), we'd order one BIG batch of cheese fries with water and coffee -- because coffee had free refills.

I'd dump cream and sugar in there 'til it was all but a milkshake, but I learned to really like the flavor of it. Even today, I'll frequently drink decaf just because of the taste. But it took a lot of getting used to.

I think this holds true to all sorts of things in life: exercise, chores, work and, yes, even writing.

For me, writing isn't the tough part. It's editing. I hate editing with an all-consuming passion. I know there are some out there who LOVE it (*cough-Charity-cough*), but I despise it. So, I do my best to get the first draft pretty close to right the first time.

I have the habit of going back over everything I've written before I start the new stuff -- which can be a problem when writing time is at a premium -- but often there are changes I need to make because of something that's been added, or just general additions or subtractions that I decided on. Adding more color, taking out a dull scene, finding typos. It all happens as I go back through. And because I haven't finished the first draft, it feels less like "editing" and more like "writing" to me.

Hey, it works. And it's how I acquired a taste for editing. Maybe, like my beer preferences, it's editing-light?

What are somethings you do that you had a acquire a taste for?


Yesterday I moved crushed rock. A lot of crushed rock. We ordered two yards, and when it came I thought, "Heck, that's not so much." Boy was I wrong! About thirty wheelbarrows full later, I'd finished covering the ground under the deck about 2" deep and still hadn't gotten but about half of the rock gone. I was exhausted, had a headache from whacking my head on the deck a half dozen times, and couldn't face the rest. It's in a pile for me to tackle today (it's going behind all the gardens next to the house that have a little rock in them, but need another 4" or so). Whee.

Then, we helped out at beginning agility last night. It's so funny -- the little dogs in there are pretty much fearless. There's a Papillon and a Dachshund who are Superdogs, flying up and down the obstacles, over the see-saw, through the chute... just incredible.

Then there's the biggest dog in class: the pit bull. And he's afraid of everything. He'll do the jumps, but do NOT ask him to do any of the contact obstacles. Not even the easy ones. The problem is, he's being rehabbed so, although he's 95% people friendly, it IS possible to push him too far, so we haven't been able to, well ... PUSH him. Normally, the way you get a dog to learn that the frame or walk won't hurt him is to push him right over a few times.

But... ha. Last night his owner came in with the dog and a muzzle. So, poor pooch was manhandled to death. I'm telling you what -- pushing him over the frame was almost as much work as moving 30 wheelbarrows full of rock. He'd plant those feet and he is STRONG. I'll give him this, though: he never even ONCE got snippy at all, never tried to nip us or complain in any way that was a negative reaction. He's really amazingly good-natured for a dog that has a rep for not being good-natured.

And he went over that frame twice under duress, with three of us pushing him over. And then, I swear you could hear it click in his head: "Hey, not only does this NOT hurt, but when I'm done they pat me and tell me I'm good and give me treats!" and over he went a couple more times on his own.

Next week: The walk-it.

I really enjoy helping out in class. So does DD. I think she's considering a future in, too, actually! LOL...


You Have an Extremely Active Imagination

Your mind is vivid, lively, and colorful. There is a lot going on in your head.

You have the ability to make pictures and movies in your mind. You are extremely visual.

Your creativity knows no bounds. You don't put restrictions or limits on your thoughts.

You have a gift that other people wish they had. So exercise that imagination as much as you want!

Well... yeah. Duh.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday Thirteen: Flowers

Find more Thursday Thirteen participants here

Today I'm talking about thirteen flowers I currently have blooming in my yard.

13. Chives! My SIL laughs at me for using chives as decoration, but I think they're really quite pretty and very colorful.

12. Creeping Phlox. I have lots and lots and lots of this... in two shades of pink, lavender, and this pink & white striped. I love it -- it's my favorite ground cover and makes spring really POP.

11. Thrift aka "Sea Pink". Quite hardy, but lovely and makes nice green clumps after it blooms. Last year, for some reason, the center of my large clump died and I now have a bunch of small clumps instead of one large one, and plan on moving some of it around where I need spring color.

10. Lily of the Valley. Not my favorite flower, because you can't really see anything but green. The flowers are tiny and white, so don't "POP" ... but they really thrive and they smell lovely.

9. Lilac! My lilac bush is finally really blooming. It has a couple dozen blooms on it, and I swear nothing smells as wonderful as lilacs.

8. Azalea. This actually started as an orange bush, but has slowly changed to pink. It's really quite lovely, and would have been much lovelier if my DH hadn't fallen asleep at the wheel of the lawnmower and driven over half the bush last year...

7. Forget-Me-Nots ... I love these flowers!! I can't kill the things and have them everywhere. They reseed like CRAZY, but they're just gorgeous. Blue flowers are one of my favorites.

6. Lambium. A shade-loving ground cover that has lovely foliage AND flowers and spreads like crazy. Right now, my shade garden is full of color from this, the Forget-Me-Nots and this next flower...

5. Saxifraga. This is a difficult to grow, slow-spreading ground cover that I've struggled with for years -- but I really love the flowers, so delicate and pink -- so I continue my struggles. It's worth it.

4. A red small-leafed rhododendron. Vivid and gorgeous. I really love this bush.

3. Violas aka Johnny Jump-ups. The first year we lived here, we planted these on purpose ... now we can't get rid of them. I weed them like crazy, but there are still hundreds and hundreds of them everywhere. They aren't horrible, but they frustrate me by getting into everything... lol... still they do add color.

2. Bachelor Buttons... this is actually the first of these that is blooming. I was surprised to see it opening up when I wandered around the yard taking pictures. Another blue flower. Yay! Unfortunately, the deer ate the rest of the buds, so this may be the only one I get this year...

1. Bleeding Heart -- so pretty and it's DEER RESISTANT (very important out here). The only thing I don't like about it is that it all dies back when it's done blooming, so not even the foliage sticks around. Makes it tough when it dominates an area unless you can plant late summer or fall blooming bulbs around it, which still doesn't always work.

And (not-so) honorable mention goes to:

My rhubarb, which has already gone to seed...


You Are Practical

You have your feet firmly planted on the ground, and you are very sensible.

You always seem to know what to do, and if not, you can sort things out on a long walk.

You are like comfort food for the soul. You set your friends (and even strangers) at ease.

You take extra good care of yourself, and because of this, you have a lot to give back to those you love.

About half right...