Category Archives: pastimes

Insecurity Strikes

Thought I’d open with a view of “the seawall as it was”–how I remember it from when I was little, all rocks and no beach (the bit in the foreground’s been brought in). This is to the west from where I usually go down to walk. I walk to the east, cause there’s no beach this way…

So anyway, I pulled out this old story I’m wanting to re-write, and revised the opening pages, and I’m still not sure they flow. Or rather, I feel like they open too slowly. I do want to open with this particular scene, but it’s a slow scene, a slow build, and I’m struck with insecurity that I’m doing it right, or that it’s a story worth telling, or… anyway.

I stopped and have been doing characterizaton work. Because my heroine is a completely different person (except for her name, appearance and backstory), with a new personality, and I had to stop and think about a few things about her. What her personality is. Whether she likes change or hates it. Is she adventurous? (She is.) So I did a lot of that today and yesterday. And now I’m working on the hero’s character stuff. I know him a lot better than I do her. And I’m still not sure that the opening works. I hope it does, but… Maybe I will e-mail my pages in for the Chocolate critiques my new RWA chapter is doing next month. And my pages for the critiques at the retreat I’m going to next weekend…

Tonight is the first Big Fancy Shindig in our new town. Because of the fella’s job heading up the local junior college, we get invited to all sorts of dinners, fundraisers and other community stuff. But I have to tell you that the events here are of a whole other magnitude than where we moved from. You do not need a tux to go to the Saint’s Roost Chuckwagon Cook-Off or the cancer society barbecue out at the Bar H. The Prevent Blindness Gala in our new town does. There are lots of people with lots of money on the island, plus the population–the Panhandle town had right at 2000 people. The island town has 60,000. What is that, you math people? a 300% increase? More, probably, right? Anyway, this calls for some serious primping.

The fella went out and bought a tux. He decided the beaded stuff I already had wasn’t fancy enough, so we went out and bought me 4 more dresses. (Two are formals, two are cocktail length.) Plus shoes and underwear (yeah, the dresses need special underwear) (which cost more than the shoes, which totally freaked the fella out, because underwear aren’t supposed to cost more than shoes)–and I still didn’t spend as much as he did for the tuxedo. So I get to buy another dress later. 😀 I’ll try to remember to make him take a picture tonight so I can share. It is a gorgeous dress, and fancy shoes, and all. We’ll be classy. I want a nap, but if I go lie down, I’ll mess up my hair, so I’m posting my blog instead.

Beach report: Mostly swept clean, but still lots of big rocks near the fishing pier. Not big as in boulders–those are always there, but big as in lots bigger than the shell scruff that was there last week. Saw a little bit of the sargasso-type stuff, but mostly the big seaweed. Some of the big stuff was new–still green. Just seagulls, except for one little pipit (or whatever the little bitty sandpiper-like birds are–I really need to get my bird book moved down here). No cormorants or egrets.

See those pink shells? That’s what I picked up off the beach after Humberto. Cool, huh? Pink! I think they’re some kind of barnacle… (There are two of them–the two in the back left? Those are separate from the big chunk. I put them in the back to sorta prop the other ones up…)

The tide was really high when I got out there today, though it was on its way out. It had been higher, almost all the way up to the seawall, undercutting some of the dunes. Haven’t downloaded that picture yet.


At least this is what I’ve been told. THE BOOKS HAVE LEFT THE PRINTERS. Last week, they were on the way to the distribution center. Next week, they should (note the word: SHOULD) be at the bookstores.

If you have ordered a book, whether directly from Juno, or from Amazon or any of the other stores, you ought to be getting it soon. Probably before I get my copies. A friend/fellow writer (Carole McDonnell) for Juno just got her copies of her book (Wind Follower), and I think hers was released before mine.

So. There is the latest book news. I’ll get it up on the website today or tomorrow. You ought to be getting your hands on them soon.

In other news, I have finally been on the island for a full week without 1) boxes to be unpacked, 2) a conference to attend looming in front of me, 3) company. School has started at all levels from kindergarten to university, and it may finally be possible to get settled in. Maybe.

I’m going a little giddy, I think, from all the delights of living in a larger city. There are restaurants! And concerts! And–stuff!

We have “subscribed” to the local symphony orchestra. They had a BOGO (buy one, get one free) deal on season tickets for new subscribers, and since we just moved here 8 weeks ago, we couldn’t be anything else. So we subscribed, and went to the first concert of the season last night–the annual Pops concert. It’s a small orchestra, mostly volunteer, I think, because this is a small city. But I enjoyed it tremendously. Not only did they play the Ed Sullivan Show spinning-plates song (A. Katchaturian’s Saber Dance), but they played Bugs Bunny cartoon music. Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #2, which was a lot more bubbly and fun than I remember from the cartoons.

They played in an improvised auditorium, since their regular venue–the (historic) Grand Opera House–had something else, so the marimba player was kind of down in a hole and I’m not sure he could see the conductor, but it was a symphony concert! And they played fun music! And we only had to drive 10 minutes to get there! That last is a MAJOR consideration, given that up until 8 weeks ago, we had to drive an hour to get to the nearest theater unless we wanted to watch the drive-in movies or the high school band. (The movie theater is about 15 minutes away, but we don’t have to leave the island.)

The symphony concert was the same place we went to a concert on Friday night (the fella’s birthday). That concert was a “rock and roll experience” concert–at least I think that’s how they advertised it. Instead of Elvis impersonators, there were two bands, one impersonating the Beatles, the other impersonating the Rolling Stones. They were pretty good, all in all. The music was great, though you could see a few cracks around the edges of the impersonations. The guy from Louisiana impersonating Mick Jagger actually said “y’all” once. Has Jagger ever gone in for that southernism?? But it was fun. We got a kick out of it.

And this evening, after all the weekenders have (hopefully) gone home, if it’s not raining/thundering, etc., we’re going to the beach. To swim. Without little guys to watch. And then we’re coming home to cook steaks. We had to leave the grill behind, so I guess we’ll broil them in the oven, but these are some gorgeous steaks… Can’t wait.

Beyond Tired

Although I probably shouldn’t be by now. It’s Wednesday. I’ve been home (again) since Sunday evening. But I still feel like I’ve been dragged backwards through the bushes. And then maybe beat with a stick some.

I went to ArmadilloCon in Austin last weekend. It’s a science fiction/fantasy conference, was lots of fun, but dang, I’m really tired now. And it was hard attending when I hadn’t even been in the new house for a week. Still, I bet I’m the only one in a while who’s been put on both the sex- AND the religion-in-fantasy panels. We had a lot of fun doing the panels–laughed a Whole lot during the sex-in-fantasy panel–and I scored a necklace-and-earring set and a dragon print at the art auction. Both very cool and very lovely. (The jewelry is purple rock–and no, I don’t remember what kind it’s supposed to be–that will go very well with the purple rock earrings I already have.)

So, now the boy is down from college for the week. I need to go drag him out of bed so we can go to the washateria (all the laundromats around here seem to have that title) since we haven’t rented laundry equipment yet–and doing laundry in the garage is REALLY going to be not fun around here… The heat index has been in the 110s (43 C) the past few days–worse than in Houston because of the killer humidity.

We have had fresh boiled shrimp this week–bought at the grocery store, not a fish market, but still the freshest stuff I’ve had in a long time. Wonderful. My next goal for the week is to get out to the beach and get IN the water, sometime before the boy heads back to school. The grandboys are coming to visit next week (so the posts here will be sparse, I’m sure) and I plan to take them to the water several times, but their WunkaBob won’t be here then…

Cross your fingers that the books (The Eternal Rose) come in next week. The printer has promised them by then, but…

I’m trying to write, but not very hard. I got 4-1/2 pages done Monday, but there’s just too much to do. Went to Ikea to buy tables to set up for computer desks–and forgot to buy the second table. Sometime, when I’m back that way, I’ll have to get the second table. (sigh) That’s my project for today, though. To put the table on its legs. It’s bound to work better than the card table I’m using right now…

New Time Waster on the Web

Okay. I have a MySpace space. I’ve never really been able to figure out what to do with it. But some kind friend sent me an invitation to a NEW thing where I fit RIGHT in. It’s called SHELFARI. I guess as a sorta pun on Safari–I dunno. But it’s a place where you can list the books you’ve read, state your opinions on them, and find other people who like to read the same kinds of things you like. And make friends with them. And stuff. It’s GREAT!

Yeah, of course I’m there. Or here, as the case may be. I’ve found another place to put up the books I list on my private “personal reading log.” I share my “reviewlets” with the loop at Romance Readers Anonymous, and now I’m putting them up at Shelfari. So far, I’m only doing the books I’ve read this year, because I’m working like mad to get the books in the ABR boxes into my log before I move this weekend. So I can know which ones go to the library and stuff. So I do my 10 books at a whack, e-mail the list to the RR-A loop, then head to Shelfari to stick them all on my Shelf, then go back and paste in the reviewlets. It’s been lots of fun. I’ve found friends–I mean, friends I know in “real life,” there and waved frantically at them. (Oh! Yvonne “friended” me! Yay!)

So, yeah. I’m not writing. I’m trying to pack (put all the “essential” family pictures in a box this a.m. along with the essential cookbooks and the research books–and then actually managed to carry it out to the garage). Trying to keep things neat-ish. The real estate agent and a MLS guy came by today to measure everything. I’d been told they would come take pictures–I took some pictures last night, not including my still messy office–and copied them onto a CD, which I gave the agent. And they didn’t take any more pictures, so I guess they’ll use the ones I took. Hope somebody buys this house soon. It’s only 2 bedrooms, for all the size it has, so it may take a while.

So Shelfari is giving me something else to obsess about (aka waste time on) till I have to go pick the fella up at the airport on Thursday. I’ll go into town early and watch a movie, or something… 😉

A new project

Okay, so I have this new project. Has nothing to do with writing (still working on getting New Blood ready to revise), but since we need to get the house ready to sell, I decided to finally get started on this project.

Our front bathroom looks out over the front porch through a round window. It’s set pretty high, so it probably doesn’t necessarily have to have a curtain, but it had a sheer gathered thing on a metal ring with silk flowers pinned to the “button” in the center. Hadn’t been touched in at least 20 years, so the flowers were faded to icky dun brown, and because the curtain was nailed to the wall, it obviously hadn’t ever been washed, so it was really dusty and spider-webby and stuff. I bought fabric several months ago but just stuck it in my sewing cabinet and let it sit.

Until last week. I got the fella to pull the tacks/staples/nails out of the wall and take the thing down, and I disassembled the curtain, cut it apart to use for a pattern to make a new curtain. My fabric is sheer, with a faint tan pattern on it, so I’ll leave the original cream-colored stuff on the button things and just cover them with the new fabric. (Have to clean them off first, I guess.) I’m just taking things a tiny step at a time. It took me two days to sew the hem all the way around the whole thing. Now I need to sew in the channel for the metal ring. Then zig-zag the inside edges so they won’t ravel when I gather them, then–well, I’m sure you get the idea.

Between the sewing and the typing, my back is killing me. More so from the sewing, because you kinda have to hunch over to see what the machine is doing.

I have a lot of other on-going projects too. I’ll probably have to stick them in totebags and take them with me though. Doubt they’ll get done before the move. The book. The book will get done and revised and printed out and all that. We’ll be lucky if the office gets cleaned up too. :) Y’all have a good weekend. I’m going to go get Laurell K. Hamilton’s new book this evening and stay up late to read it.

8 Things about me

Natasha Moore tagged me to do this 8 things thing. Problem is, I don’t know that there are 8 things y’all don’t know about me… Anyway…

Here are the rules:

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

I hope my 8 people haven’t been tagged with something like this recently.
Okay, here are my 8 things…

1. Just got back from a quick trip to Galveston Island–and I didn’t even go in the water! (shame on me–but I did take a walk down Seawall Blvd…)

2. I played flute in high school and college marching band–and I doubt I could get a sound out of the sucker now. I was not very good at it because I never actually practiced. Barely good enough to qualify. One of my roomies and I volunteered for last chair and next-to-last chair in concert band while in college, and when playing the really hard stuff, we would play alternate notes. Together we made a not-so-bad player…

3. I once worked as the “managing editor” of a small town weekly–what this really meant was that I wrote all the copy (except sports), took, developed and printed all the pictures, wrote the cutlines and picked out the stuff from the press releases to fill up the spaces in the rest of the paper. All in 3 days a week. For not very much $$.

4. While in college, the university renovated some old buildings, replacing towers that had been removed years before. The towers were built on the ground before being hoisted to the roof, and they were roughly the shape of a metronome–those weighted ticking things that keep time for practicing musicians. One of my roommates was inspired to take a gang of us and climb the construction fence and spraypaint the front of the tower (the plywood undercladding) like a metronome. And nobody knew we had done it until about 30 years later when I “fessed up” to the alumni magazine…

5. I’ve been reading Tarot cards for about 9 or 10 years–and still consider myself very much a beginner.

6. I have “tilted kneecaps” which gives them a predisposition to dislocate. Because I’m not very athletic, I’ve never dislocated them, but they’re still persnickety about a lot of stuff…

7. I have 14 nephews and 4 nieces.

8. While walking down the seawall, and other places in Galveston (plus hurrying through airports for plane changes), my sandals wore blisters on both my baby toes. (I haven’t worn them much since last summer and I haven’t toughened up my toes yet…) And one of them popped. Owie! I’d better get them tough before RWA in July!

More Flowers

Had to mail some stuff today–the fella went to the post office to pick up the mail, but I had things to mail off, so I did my post office-park-ball fields-6th Street circuit, and when I got back to the house, looked to see whether the apricot-colored iris was open. It was, and gorgeous, of course. There was another new iris open too–the sun was really bright so the pictures are a little glare-y on the white petals, but I’m just tickled with how pretty they all are. I guess I won’t snitch a piece of the pink one from the yard over on Main Street just before the park, even if I like it a lot. Not much place to put it…

We’re heading to Memphis (yes, there is a Memphis in Texas, just like there’s just about everything else) tonight to check out an estate auction for the old Memphis Hotel B&B. Ought to be some cool stuff, though I don’t know what we’d do with anything more than what we have…

I’m just blithering on here to get some words to wrap around the flower pictures. Talked to the older son last night, and Little Bit–his boy who just turned 3 this week–loved the Tow Mater pillow/doll we sent. Every little boy needs a squishy Tow Mater. Now I have to get the package ready to send to the daughter (& family) for her birthday. Some of it is stuff I’ve been meaning to send since Christmas. (Yes, dear, this means the cactus blossom painting I’ve been promising…)

I’m still typing in story. I stalled out today–at about quitting time–when I ran into a big chunk of exposition I’m seriously thinking about leaving out. But I think I’ll go ahead and type it in, then when I print everything out, I’ll be better able to figure out where to make the cuts and how to transition from one part to another. I am tightening it up pretty good as I go. Synopsis is still 16 pages long, tho. But part of that is because a fantasy needs its universe explained, and New Blood is a new universe. I’ve typed in 200 pages, and have more than half yet to go. Groan. It’s going to be WAY too long. sigh.

White Easter??

Yes, we are having a white Easter. Or we will if the snow doesn’t melt off any more. This is Texas. It’s not supposed to snow after the iris bloom. (I’ve been afraid to look at them since it got so cold today.) But it’s out there snowing.

Yesterday, we had Art Club. That’s why I had to hike over to the Methodist church. Except I didn’t hike, because I had a big casserole dish hot out of the oven to carry over. So I loaded up my car and drove the half block to the church, then I drove back and parked in my drive, and walked back to the church. Across the street, past the parsonage to the alley just beyond it, down the alley maybe 5 yards/meters and in the back door of the church. That’s how far it is. Yes, I’m a wuss. But I had to carry a big sack full of pans of rolls (Sister Shubert rolls are Teh Best!) too.

Then at the end, it had started to drizzle and was very cold, and I only had on my suit jacket, which had no buttons, and I had a lot of stuff to carry back home, so I walked home, clutching my jacket closed to stay warm, and got my vehicle, drove back, double-parked in the alley to load up, and drove back home again. Yeah, I know. I’m bad.

As the youngest of the hostesses, I appointed myself head server, running plates into the lunching ladies while Fredie Jo and Ruth and Frances served them up. (Rhenda couldn’t be there.) (And I ain’t exactly a spring chicken…) Then we ate lunch, and an artist from the little town around our county lake gave a talk about art. (Hey, it’s the Art Club.) She brought three of her Western realistic paintings and talked about composition and color and perspective and stuff. I enjoyed it a lot, because composition is something I struggle with. Of course, I prefer a more impressionistic style (I am just not a big detail person.) and I tend to do more still lifes and landscapes, but maybe there’s a story in the paintings… She said she likes for all her paintings to tell stories. And she paints horses and Indians and cowboys without any kind of reference or model!!! Needless to say, I felt totally intimidated. (sigh) These are my horse pictures–the race picture is supposed to look blurry.

Then I came home and wrote. I was really excited about getting so much writing done Thursday, and I was excited about where the story was, and about getting that much closer to the ending, so I got 5 pages written Friday. Which made me happy. Because that made 33.5 pages on New Blood for the week, and my goal was 30 pages. I’m almost through the trial. Just need to have them dismiss the charges for lack of evidence. Then we’ll be at the kidnapping.

The son is home for Easter. He wants to pick up his power tools and some other things to take back to Baylor. We went in to town this morning because he announced that he really needed some shorts (and of course wanted Mom and Dad to spring for them), and we were thinking we could get there and back before the snow got bad. (Which we did, since it isn’t snowing now at all.) But it snowed on us while we were in Amarillo–just on the side of town where the mall is.

And Penney’s was having a sale, so I bought 2 pairs of pants–they were on sale, and then if you used a Penney’s card, they’d give you more off. So I bought a T-shirt and a skirt the fella found and thought would look good on me, too. I’m getting rid of all my fat pants. I still had a few pairs I’ve been wearing, but I haven’t lost enough to go down another size, so I’m getting rid of the big ones anyway. But I needed a couple more pairs of the right size. Then we went to one of the Japanese “cook it in front of you” restaurants. I discovered that I like Monkey Balls. Still don’t like most “regular” sushi, but I liked the Monkey Balls…

And now we’re home again, and since the boy is off hanging with his friends, I’d like to pull together a little synopsis for Old Spirits. Wish me luck. :)

More progress

It’s a good day. Okay, so I forgot that I was supposed to head over to the Methodist church this afternoon to help Fredie Jo and Ruth and Rhenda and somebody else decorate and set up for Art Club tomorrow, but hey, I got NINE (count ’em, 9!) pages written this morning.

In the same length of time it took me to write four (4) measly pages last week. Yayyy!!! (picture Kermit the frog running in circles waving his skinny green hands in the air, going Yayyyy.)(That’s how I feel.)

Okay, nine pages isn’t so much, when I have ninety pages left to go. But hey, if I can keep it up, in 10 days, I’ll have the book finished. If 90 pages will get the rest of the scenes in. Actually, I’m probably already over my targeted word count. (sigh) But 9 pages is more than I’ve written on a single day in a very long time, and I’m happy.

We’re just about to begin the actual trial. The 9 pages were working us into it, and getting the magic spell started. Now, the trial itself. Can’t wait.

Though, since I have to make a potato casserole tomorrow, and hike myself and the casserole over to the Methodists by 11 a.m., I may start on this after choir tonight. We’re starting some really cool spirituals. With hard alto parts. Fun!

But really, the book is getting totally cool.

Long-Term Spending Habits

I got in a conversation the other day with … the fella, I think it was. We were talking about music and “oldies” and what music we had and liked back in the day–when we were in junior high and high school.

These days, the “must have” tech is an iPod or similar MP3 player. Back then, it was a portable record player, or for the really rich kids, a stereo. (This is pre-boombox days, folks. I’m old) And instead of a playlist, my friends had stacks of .45 rpm records. Singles.

I owned one. That’s right. One lone .45 rpm single. (Dedicated to the One I Love by The Mamas and the Papas) And our … you can’t call it a stereo. It was an old cabinet-style radio with a turntable in the top. It was the equivalent of having one song on an old … Walkman. Maybe. It’s not so much that I was impoverished, though with multiple siblings and a dad with a college prof’s salary, I didn’t have a whole lot of disposable income. It’s just that I chose to spend my money on different things.

This was the moment of epiphany. Because when I considered what I spent my disposable income on back in my high school days, I realized that it is exactly the same as what I spend my disposable income on Today. I buy books, and I buy earrings.

I have two massive piles of books in my office, and a rapidly growing pile on the table behind the recliner in the den of books I’ve read since the new year that I don’t want to mix with the books I read Last Year. I don’t just buy books. I buy BOOKS. Lots, and lots and lots of books. I buy books almost every week, three or four or five at a time. (I think I bought 5 at Target this week…) (Some weeks I’ll get a couple at Target and 3 or 4 more at Barnes & Noble.) (Hmm. I bought those books at Target on Tuesday, and today I ordered 4 more at B&N online…) (And I just got a second panel of books to read for RWA’s RITA contest.) (Hello, my name is Gail and I’m a bookaholic.)

And I buy earrings. I have an extensive earring wardrobe. I’ve become a bit more discerning in my earring purchases in the last…mumbledy-something years. (I’m a grandmother. You do the math.) But I own a pair of balsa-wood parrot-in-turquoise-straw-hat earrings, and I would snap up a pair of lady-bug earrings like I had when I was in high school in a New York minute. (I also have garnets, lots of Navajo silver, silver from Norway, turquoise slabs, green amber…lots of stuff.) I’m a sucker for cool earrings.

There are other things I tend to spend my money on. Office supplies–I can get all oogly over pens and notebooks. Yarns and fabric for crafting and quilting. Paint supplies. Flowering plants–indoors or out. Books about crafting and quilting and painting and gardening…though that’s back to the books, isn’t it? Thing is–all those things go back years and years and years too. I bought my first African violet when I started college. I learned to sew in high school. I took oil painting lessons in high school. And of course, I was writing things in notebooks. (Fan fiction for the original Star Trek, and for High Chaparral, which you trivia buffs may know something about.)

I haven’t outgrown my addictions. I’ve just become better funded.

Oh, and I’m still writing. We’ll be in Paris for the rest of the book.