Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My World is Different from Yours

I love reading blogs. I especially love it when people share the different elements of their lives. Case in Point: the Dispensing Happiness blog. The author of this blog shared her idea of a TV dinner, i.e. a dinner eaten in front of the TV. You have to check out this wonderful serving of Asian delights. Yummmmm! This is very different from my idea of a TV dinner! I would either serve a real TV dinner with the tin tray thing or I would heat up corn dog pups and pizza rolls! Granted I do occasionally have 'theme' dinners for special events like a long awaited DVD or the Olympics, put this is definitely the exception rather than the rule! Yes, my world is different from your world, but thanks for letting me visit your planet via the Net!

Monday, January 29, 2007

I am a Sap

I am a total sap. Do you need proof? If you live in the Deep South you may have a Publix grocery store nearby. They have the best commercials. I was just watching one that had a 10ish boy asking his mom to make a cake in the shape of a heart for a special girl. They make a pretty cake and take it to school the next morning. The boy jumps out of the car to go into the school and his mom calls out to him not to forget the cake. He just looks back at her with a little grin and keeps going. The cake was for mom. She's his special girl. I actually had a tear in my eye! I'm such a sap!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Photog Friday - Looking Toward the Sky

Yesterday my moods mirrored the sky. In the morning when I woke up it was raining and the day was covered with gray. My mood settled in as a negative cloud, covering me with a small, but disturbing bit of depression. I hate depression. If given the choice between real, physical pain and depression, I'll go with pain. But the clouds and rain moved through as did my mood. I finished the day feeling upbeat with a winter's clear blue sky overhead, my puppy's leash in one hand and a yummy cup of coffee in the other as I walked Marco the Wonder Pup through our neighborhood.


Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight. - Ben Franklin

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Docking Time

Let me start by saying that I drive an over-sized, semi-stupid vehicle, known as Big Red. Big Red is a Ford Excursion, which is one of the largest non-commercial vehicles made in the past 10 years. Believe it or not, this beastie of a vehicle handles great. When I drive it I treat it like a REALLY big sports car. After grocery shopping, I bebopped home. What makes this an unusual event is that I had an audience watching me. Right when I was ready to park, several pickup trucks full of construction workers happened by. They didn't really happen by; they actually paused and watched. Apparently a chick parallel parking a ridiculously large vehicle is a form of entertainment. Realize that I park Big Red this way at least twice a day and I've become quite the pro at this. It takes me less then a minute and two turns of the steering wheel to perform this maneuver. Once Big Red is docked, I mean parked, the construction workers continued driving. One of the older ones was nodding his head as he drove by, signalling his approval!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Press '1' for English

I stole this from a post at Lowcountry Blog Roll the other day:


Let me just say that I have no problems with immigrants coming to the USA. My own mom emigrated here in the 60s from England. I embrace their cultural diversity and believe they enhance our collective conscience. But in America we only have one de facto (notice I did not say 'official') national language, English. Then why am I being asked to wade through a selection of other languages? Isn't English the primary language taught by federally funded schools?

My other question is: Do Spanish-speaking people in the U.S. get directed to call centers in foreign countries like India and have to deal the speaker massacring their native tongues?

Side note: On May 18, 2006 the Senate voted on an amendment to an immigration reform bill that would declare English the national language of the United States. The immigration reform bill itself, S. 2611, was passed in the Senate on May 25, 2006, and now has to go back to the House. The side note material is presented for informational reasons only and does not denote my support for this bill.

Novel

Have you ever written a novel? I haven't. My friend Joe, the publisher, is trying to get me to write one. But there’s a tiny detail: I have no idea what to write. The strange thing is that I am a published author, but I write non-fiction. To be more exact, I write those big, scary computer books you see in the bookstore. (Bet you didn't know that about me, did you Ali?) Believe it or not, I have cranked out a 400+ book in 6 weeks before. I’ve written 4 books and have contributed to 7 others. I'm even published in multiple languages. But ask me to write fiction and I can't get past a page or two. It seems, as far as the world of fiction goes, I only have small ideas. I envy those people who can write fiction, particularly the ones that can come up with story after story. And then there's me, looking for just one story to make my own.

I'm fascinated by the process people use to write fiction. In school, I thought that people just sat down and wrote. And some people do. But the ones who I am endless captivated with are the ones that have a system. They research, build, create and generate. They have note cards, notebooks and bulletin boards full of information. Bill Diehl use to live down the street from me and I got a glimpse into his writing process. He did copious amounts of research and had an elaborate card system for keep the locations, scenarios and characters consistent. If I wrote a novel, this is the approach I would use. This is because to me the storytelling is in the details.

Hopefully, one day, a story idea will hit me over the head and I'll run with it. Until then I'll just plug along in my blog!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Photog Friday - Daybreak

"To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. It matters not what the clocks say or the attitudes and labors of men. Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me." - Henry David Thoreau

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mood, Mood Go Away

Do you ever feel a mood coming? Not a happy, cheerful mood, but a dark one? I hate that feeling. I've been fighting one for a couple of days. I keep trying to lift myself up with thoughts like "Life will be easier once the divorce is final." or "Life is easier without the evil soon-to-be ex." But the mood is putting up a good fight. I know what is bringing it on: Valentine's Day. Yes, the dreaded holiday of love that has already taken over retail establishments. I can't remember the last time I didn't have someone to call my Valentine. Even before evil soon-to-be ex I always seemed to be dating someone on Valentine's Day. It has literally been decades since I haven't had a date on that day. And the dark mood is using this knowledge as fuel. I know its silly. I know that it is just some date on the calendar. But someone needs to tell the mood that.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Lucky Girl has left the building

Yes, sad but true, Lucky Girl is gone. Now I'm "My Life Sucks" Girl. It started a little over a half an hour ago. Monkey Boy walked into the bathroom and yelled, "Ewwww!" He found water on the floor and assumed that Marco the Wonder Pup had an 'accident.' I checked it out and unless Marco has developed a bladder the size of elephant, this wasn't the work of Marco. After further investigation I noticed lovely water stains in the ceiling. I'm thinking at this point Monkey Boy's fish tank may have broken and now there are dead fish upstairs. Went upstairs; no broken tank; no dead fish. But there was a stain in the ceiling there, too. Now it hasn't rained in over a week so I didn't think it was a roof leak.

On to the the 3rd floor. The 3rd floor is a finished attic. I opened the little door to climb into the eaves and began my search. I found some pipes that have been chewed on and have been stripped of their insulation. I'm thinking that's the problem. During my fun time in the eaves, something gave me a terrible itch. I don't know if it was the insulation or something creepy-crawly, but I got out of there and headed straight for the shower. I don't want to ask Monkey Boy to look at my itchy back as it may freak him out: "Monkey Boy, could you look at Mummy's back and see if something has chewed on her?" Anyway, now I have to beg the plumber to show up tomorrow and then I have to paint ceilings.

I miss Lucky Girl.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I want to go to England!

My dear and wonderful friend, Joe, visited me today. Joe is one of those people who lives a charmed life. Currently he and his partner are starting a publishing company in London. Yes, Joe just decided one day to move from New York to London and start a business. He's like that. I love that about him. Anyway, he was here visiting his mom and he stopped by my house before jetting back to England. We had a wonderful time talking about where our lives were going and I am now dying to go to England. You may or may not know that my mom is from England (Yorkshire, to be more exact) so I have visited Britain several times. After hearing about Joe's life in England and hearing him use British terms like 'pinch' instead of 'steal,' I am dying to go there. I may have to make a trip over there this summer. I can stay in London for a few days with Joe and then take the train to Yorkshire and stay with my aunt. You wouldn't mind, would you Aunt Pip? (she reads this blog!) I'll let you know what I decide.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Who's a lucky girl?

Me! This morning I got to walk to church in 70 degree weather in January, hear a sermon that included a testimony that would touch any heart and walk back to my house on the beach, all before 11:00am! Lucky, lucky girl!

I was here this morning!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Small Town Blues

I've got a bit of a case of Small Town Blues. Two events have perpetrated this malady. One is lunch, the other is a sign.

How can lunch give you the blues? In a small town, going out to lunch (for a city girl) can be boring. There are only a few places to go to and you go to them over and over and over again. Eating out becomes actually tedious. Soon its more exciting to go home and see what's in the freezer. Sad, but true.

And the sign? I was asked to put a sign in my yard because my house can be seen from the main street in our village. It has to do with a local developer who has a terrible history who is trying to get a major zoning variance that would allow him to makes lots of money and damage, yet again, the character of our island. I have no problem with doing this. After the sign was up for a few days, Marco the Wonder Pup managed to get his leash tangled around it and knocked the sign down. I put the sign away until I felt like getting the hammer out again to pound it into the ground. The next morning I got a call from one of the elder neighbors that went something like this:

Neighbor: "Sharon, I just wanted to check on you and make sure everything is alright."

Me (in a confused voice): "I'm fine. Why would you ask?"

Neighbor: "Several of us noticed the sign was missing from your yard and we were worried that someone had given you a hard time about it. If someone took it, we would be happy to get you another one."

Me: "No, the sign and I are fine. The puppy knocked it down and I haven't had a chance to put it back up."

Neighbor: "Oh, that's fine. We just thought your yard gave it such good visibility."

Me: "Yes, ma’am. I'll go out right now and put the sign back up."

Neighbor: "That's good. Have a nice day."

Me: "Sigh"

So I dropped what I was doing, found the hammer and put the sign back up. Neighbor nagging = Small Town Blues.


Sorry, Mom. I didn't mean to knock the sign down and get the noisy neighbor lady to bug you but I really, really wanted to get to the beach!

Photog Friday - Winter in the Coastal South

Winter in the Coastal South. Its marked by cooler temps, less humidity, fewer bugs and amazing sunsets. Enjoy this bit of my Southern winter:
One kind word can warm three winter months.
- Japanese proverb

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Book Mooch

Graphic from BookMooch Website.

This is the coolest idea. Thanks to Knit 'n' NASCAR, I found a site called BookMooch. BookMooch has set up a vehicle for swapping books! BookMooch lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want.

Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. And its free to use. You are basically just covering shipping the book to someone in exchange for getting a free book later. How cool is this?! I have tons of beautiful books that I don't need anymore and this would allow me to get new books to enjoy!

Techie Love

Have you given much thought to the technology that you truly love? Excluding the really obvious stuff like cars, electricity, medical advances, what are the techie things that give you a warm fuzzy feeling when you think of them? Here are mine, in no particular order:
  1. My iPod: I love my iPod. It rides in the car with me. It comes in the house with me. It travels with me. It lulls me to sleep. Its my friend. I love being able to download music instead of buying a whole CD that only has 2 or 3 songs on it that I like. I love being able to access my music in multiple ways through playlists, albums, by artist, etc. It has really expanded my love of music.
  2. PodCasts: I know that I play podcasts on my iPod but I would argue that they are a separate entity from the iPod (and since its my blog, I win the argument!). I get so much enjoyment from the wonderful group of podcasters who share their knowledge, humor and wit with the world through their podcasts.
  3. Blogs: I like these coming and going, meaning that I love to read them and I love to write in mine.
  4. The Internet: Duh! It has expanded, enhanced and enriched my life by opening avenues of discovery that simply were not possible before.
  5. High-speed Internet connections: Life on dial-up sucks!
  6. Digital camera: If you haven't figured it out, I love my digital camera. With film, I would worry about the cost associated with using my camera and didn't fell comfortable experimenting with it. My film camera was mainly a documentation tool used to capture birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc. My digital camera is more like a playground where I take pictures just to see what they look like.
  7. Digital Video Recorder: I didn't expect to like this. I tried it because it came with my cable box. I am so hooked on this. Its so easy to use! I can record things because I'm not going to be home or I'm just not in the mood to watch a show I like. Later, I can watch it and zoom through the commercials. Life is good.
What kind of techie stuff do you have in your world that you love?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Separation of Worlds

From the beginning, blogs have been a personal thing. They have a certain amount of anonymity and that anonymity shields the blogger, giving them the freedom to express thoughts and feelings that they may not normally express. This is one of the attractions of blogging; the veil provided in the blogging world ironically gives you the ability to show more of your inner self rather than less of it. In the 'real' world you can't carry your latest craft project around or show everyone a photo of the dinner you cooked last night without coming off as somewhat of a nut. You can't express your opinion about everything and anything in the 'real' world without coming across as weird, a blow-hard or a know-it-all. But in the blogging world, these things are anticipated, encouraged and lauded. And this is a good thing. I'm OK with you expressing your opinions, negative or positive, but keep them behind the veil of anonymity. If you are tempted to fuss at a friend or relative who writes something that you don't like on their blog, don't. This is their space, not yours. But feel free to start your own blog.

Inspired

I have been so inspired lately. Usually after Christmas I have the 'blahs.' Not this year. I've been trying new recipes, checking out new blogs, devouring books, knitting, and watching way too much HGTV. It seems like many people are feeling the same way, judging from the blogs I've read. I know a lot of my feelings stem from the soon-to-be ending of my 20+ years marriage. I have to admit I've found marriage to be stifling. My soon-to-be ex is a tad bit controlling. The decorating in the house has been stagnant because he didn't want any major decisions to be made without him, but he would never make a decision. My own personality was subdued because of the comments made when we went out with other people or entertained at home. After the evening I was told what 'I did wrong' like saying things wrong or bringing up a topic he didn't approve of. My clothes were critiqued and my makeup discussed. I found the whole thing exhausting. Now I feel like I can have fun. I can't wait to make things 'me.' I am so excited about decorating without waiting for someone else's opinion. I have it all played out in my mind.

New topic: went to a seminar for people who want to become teachers but don't have an education degree. I'm so pumped. I only have to take one test and I can start interviewing. After I get a job, I'm going to teach for about 6 months and then start working on my Masters part-time. I found out yesterday that I can get a special loan as a teacher to get my degree. The loan is a service as repayment loan, which means that I get $2500 of my loan forgiven for each year I teach. And to top it all off, I will be fully vested in the teacher's retirement after just 10 years. Party!

Another new topic: Mom is doing well. We don't have the test results back yet but her voice sounded pretty darn good. Thanks for the prayers! I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

One Less Tooth

Monkey Boy lost a tooth today. We were at a local place having the breakfast buffet after church when Monkey Boy takes one bite of his food and announces that his tooth needs to come out now! The family we were with immediately became squeamish at this notion and felt he should wait until after he ate to yank the tooth. After explaining to them that Monkey Boy has a history of swallowing teeth (2 so far) we excused ourselves and went to the bathroom. The tooth popped right out and we were back at the table in less than 5 minutes, much to everyone's surprise. So I have spent the day with a baby tooth wrapped up in tissue in my pocket all day. The life of a mom!

P.S. One of the comments asked how you handle the Tooth Fairy when there isn't a tooth to put under the pillow because Monkey Boy swallowed it. You write a note to the Tooth Fairy explaining what happened and put that under the pillow. We've actually done this 3 times, twice because he swallowed his tooth and once because his tooth came out when he was brushing his teeth and went down the sink.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Prayers, please.

My mom is having surgery on the 9th this week. They are doing an exploratory procedure on her parathyroid glands. As you can imagine, this is a scary thing for all of us. Part of the scariness is that they may find something wrong with her parathyroid glands. The other part is that the doctor said there is a chance that she may lose some of her voice. It depends how close he has to go to the larynx.

My mother has a voice to be proud of. As a young woman in England, she sang in a club. I can only imagine what she was like, standing on the stage in high heels, holding the microphone and making everyone fall in love with her. My childhood memories are peppered with the sounds of her singing to the songs on the radio that always seemed to be playing in the kitchen. My favorite song that she sang was the Shirley Bassey hit, "Hey Big Spender."

I didn't inherit her gift, but Monkey Boy has. He can sing like a little angel. I guess a gift this big skips a generation.

Please, say a prayer for my mom. Thank you.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Photog Friday - Your Moment of Zen

Each time you walk on my beach, you'll see something different. We have extreme tides that shape and reshape the water's edge. This area was active with volcanic eruptions millions of years ago and because of this and the work of the tides, rocks show up in the middle of the sand here. Rocks that are exposed through the action of wind and water feel very zen to me. So today I'm sharing one of my rock photos with you.
"When we gaze at nature, at a loved one, at a work of art, our soul immediately recognizes and is drawn to the face of God."
- Margaret Brownly

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Miscellaneous Ramblings

I'm just going to ramble today. This is because I woke up at 3:00am this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. Why couldn't I go back to sleep? I did the one thing I know better than to do: I thought about my soon-to-be ex, his bimbo and the divorce. When I think of these things, I just can't sleep. Whine, whine, whine. So now I feel brain dead and am trying to perform mindless tasks like laundry, telling my dog to stop barking, and apparently, blogging.

So, how many notice that I added a graphic to the heading area? What do you think? Its my own design. By my own design, I mean I heavily modified some clipart.

And I decided to assign each of you a few New Year's resolutions:
  1. Find at least 3 new blogs to read.
  2. Get in the habit of commenting on blogs that you read.
  3. Comment on my blog frequently.

Have fun!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Strangest Race Ever

I found this awesome photo at Say No to Crack and had to share:


I even love the name of this photo, "Run Sheep, Run!" This was the kind of thing we would do for entertainment in the olden days before cable and the Internet. Don't you just love it!?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It worked!

The past two days I have been cooking up homemade soup like mad. This was to the amusement to a couple of my friends who wondered at loud about why I was making soup when the weather was in the mid 70s. My theory was that if I cooked enough winter food, the weather might get the hint and cool down. It worked! Today its just in the 50s. I get to wear a long-sleeve shirt!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy and Warm New Year's

What does being warm have to do with New Year's? Normally, nothing. But this year is different. Today it got up to 73 degrees! Even for the Coastal South, that's warm in January. I actually ran around wearing sandals or no shoes.

Here in the South, we have a tradition of eating black eye peas and greens for good luck on New Year's Day. So to honor this tradition, I made what I call 'Lucky Soup.' It is actually a French bean soup that I add greens to. The typical greens eaten today are collard greens, but I knew Monkey Boy wouldn't go near them so I used spinach. I was going to keep the soup vegetarian, but then my BIL reminded me that ham is also part of the tradition and because of my concern of offending the Southern gods (these include but are not limited to: Vince Dooley, Robert E. Lee, Tennessee Williams, and Lynyrd Skynyrd) I threw some ham into the soup. This stuff is good, real good. Monkey Boy loved it and skipped the biscuits so he could eat more soup, though I think he was really saving room for ice cream!

Here is the promised photo of the baby hats I made while I was in Alabama. One sports a cute bow and the other is decorated with flower buttons.

Got about 75% of my Christmas decorations down today. The tree is only half decorated now and looks like one of those sad trees after the ornaments go on sale at Macy's.

Hope your New Year's Day was reflective, restful and fun!

Avoidance

I truly hate taking down my Christmas decoration. I find it boring and sad. So today, when I'm supposed to be taking down these decorations, I'm engaging in some creative avoidance. So far I've managed to spend time reading, surfied the Net, added a bunch of blogs to my RSS feed, shopped at Amazon and blogged. At this point, cleaning the bathtub looks more inviting than taking down Christmas decorations!