Monday, December 08, 2014

The 2014 Christmas Tree Wars

Every year, I battle my cat, Slick, over the Christmas tree. He somehow thinks that he needs to climb it. And knock off ornaments. And generally engage in massive mayhem.

Last year, he and our then-kitty, LuLu, destroyed one of our trees. When I say destroyed, I mean destroyed. We had to throw it away.

This year, LuLu is a year older and she listens much better. This doesn't mean that she hasn't been tempted by the tree, but she has responded much better to my discipline than Slick.

Slick doesn't care.

He knows he's not supposed to climb the tree or play with the ornaments. But he does it anyway.

Here's a picture I took last night that I posted on Twitter with the caption, "Should I be worried?"


Turns out that yes, I should have been worried. Shortly after I took this picture, he got that look in his eye and set about trying to climb the tree. What followed would be hilarious if I were starring in a Cary Grant caper. I yelled, then ran after Slick with the spray bottle full of water and chased him upstairs.

Do you think this deterred him?

Of course not. He was back moments later. He sat on the coffee table in front of me and just stared at me, that same look in his eyes.

What did I do?

I fed him. Yes, he already had food in his bowl, but I've learned that if you don't give this cat what he wants, he will irritate you on purpose and unremittingly until you give in.

After I fed him, he was knocked out on my bed for the rest of the night and left the tree in peace.

At this rate, he's going to gain 10 pounds.

Why can't he be like my other cat, Kathryn? Look at this sweet, innocent face.



See how nicely she sits under the tree, not bothering to play with the ornaments or climb it?

The only real solution to this is, of course, not to put up a Christmas tree. But I refuse. I love my Christmas tree and besides, it's MY house, not Slick's.

Right?

I'm beginning to wonder...


Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Season of Joy

I always wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start thinking about Christmas. But when that Friday hits, all bets are off!

I've already got my decorations out of storage and ready to be put up. I'm also trying to decide which yummy cookie and candy recipes to try this year. And the music! Oh, how I love Christmas carols. I veer from The Nutcracker Suite to Big Band music to Bing Crosby. Modern carols don't do it for me - with the exception of Mary Did You Know, a song I just adore.

I'm not going to get stressed out over this holiday because it accomplishes nothing. Instead, I tend to relax and take it slow, enjoying every minute.

It's the most wonderful time of the year...here's to a happy holiday season!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thoughts on a Lovely Saturday

I love and adore Saturdays. I don't have to go to the day job, I can sleep in, and best of all, I can write.

Today I'm working on my war dogs article while sitting in my office, listening to Big Band music. I'm contemplating going to get a large slice of chocolate cake later, but then I remember I already had my "Dessert Day" this week (huge blueberry muffins that were SO GOOD) and I reluctantly put the temptation aside.

Yet it has already been a glorious Saturday without the chocolate cake. I've made a nice dent in the article. As we all know, sometimes getting started is the hardest part. I tend to freeze up when I write non-fiction, and I think it's because I have so much information to disseminate into a prescribed word count that I panic.

That's why I prefer to write fiction. Those words are mine and mine alone.

But while I prefer to write fiction, I have an overwhelming desire to write my non-fiction World War II articles. I love to dig into the research on the topics of my choosing. And writing an article that will educate hundreds (thousands?) of readers on a little-known part of WW2 history and get paid for it? That is sheer bliss.

Thus, I've come to terms with my desire to write WW2 articles (and to overcome my frozen state each and every time I start to write one) and my need to write fiction. If you told me tomorrow that I couldn't write any more WW2 articles, I'd be naturally upset; but if you told me tomorrow that I couldn't write fiction anymore, I honestly would fall apart. Fiction is what brings me to life, what makes me think and question and explore. Without writing fiction, I wouldn't be me.

I am truly blessed to be able to do both.

I hope you are pursuing your passion and doing what you love. Life is simply too short not to.



Monday, November 10, 2014

When A Book Title Said It All

I'm neck-deep in research for my next World War II article, and that means I've been having a fantastic time digging into newspapers of the 1940s. It truly was a different time in so many ways, but there was one thing that wasn't different: romance.

Take, for instance, this very sweet story from the Chicago Daily Tribune on October 7, 1942, in the Front Views and Profiles" section written by Marcia Winn.

A girl we know received a letter this week from a soldier she knows pretty well. As a postscript he wrote, "Consult the title of Ludwig Bemelman's latest book." On her way home from work, she stopped in a book store. A priest, two business men and an elderly women were waiting at the counter as she leaned toward the clerk and said, "I don't want to buy anything, but can you tell me the name of Ludwig Bemelman's new book?" The clerk, a nice, friendly man, leaned far over the counter and whispered, " 'I Love You, I Love You, I Love You.' " The girl, her face crimson, turned and ran.
P.S. - The boy is coming home on furlough this week-end.


Not the couple from the story, but representative of wartime romance
I'll take that kind of letter any day.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Hodgepodge

Is it really November? It feels more like it should be, oh, I don't know, August? I feel like I lost two months of my life when I was going through my health issues, but I'm glad to report I'm on the other side of it and feeling better.

Which means I'm writing and planning and researching again.

What I've been doing: researching an article on the K-9 "Dogs for Defense" of World War II, researching/plotting my sixth novel, and watching The Blacklist.

Ok, so the last one doesn't quite fit with the other two, but I'm in love with this show. It's well-written (sure, a bit far-fetched, but it's TV!), James Spader is amazing, and, the best part of all? The creator and writer of this show is a Nebraskan!

And it counts as research, right? Because when you're writing a thriller, dissecting how thrillers work - even if they are t.v. shows - helps you figure out how to make it work on the page.

On the homefront, I've begun my purging project. We plan to buy a house next spring and I intend to go through every single box in my house and get rid of stuff we no longer need/want. My daughter has taken to this project wholeheartedly and has gone through her room, tossing things she's outgrown. I'm realizing, through, that I'm much more sentimental than she is - she can easily get rid of stuffed animals or drawings or stories she's written without a care. I, on the other hand, have a hard time putting those beloved stuffed animals in the garage sale pile or throwing away any of her creative work.

Still, it's a good feeling, to get rid of excess in your life. Now if I could just get rid of the excess weight that crept up on me the past three months, why, life would be better.

No, this post doesn't have much point to it- just a hodgepodge of thoughts going through my head that needed to be "purged" - and also, I needed to update my blog. How do I get so far behind on it?

I confess, I turn to Twitter much more these days - maybe it's because my brain can only handle 140 characters at a time.

If you're still reading at this point, let me know what you've been up to. =D


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Life Is Beautiful

Despite the setbacks we all have, despite the sorry state of the world, life is beautiful.

I see, hear, and feel it every day.

In my husband's morning kiss goodbye.

In my daughter's smile as she heads off to school.

In the gorgeous autumn colors painting every tree.

In the words that stream from my mind onto the page.

I have to remind myself that life is beautiful. And today, I'm reminding you.

Life is beautiful.

Enjoy it and embrace the beauty.


Thursday, October 09, 2014

Finding Me


Finally.

I'm back to work.

The physical therapy is helping.

And no more prescription pain meds are necessary.

I won't go into the sordid details of how I quit those pain meds cold turkey and suffered horrendous withdrawals because honestly, I lived through it and I'm still trying to process it. I learned a lot about myself during the whole thing, and I realized that sometimes when you think you're in control, you're really not.

Anyway.

I'm slowly, slowly getting back to my old routine. I'm not at 100% yet, but I'd say I'm at about 80% and that is far and above where I was two weeks ago.

It's been rather odd, like the last two months were a nightmare, like who I was then wasn't really me.

Now it's time to find that person again.

Time to find my joy of writing, my love of studying World War II, my delight in autumn's cooler temps and gorgeous colors, my zest for reading and finding new authors, my devotion to living a full life and enjoying and embracing all that it has to offer.

All of it got lost in the shuffle. My brain is still recovering and trying to put the pieces of the last 2 1/2 months back together.

When you've lost yourself for awhile, the process of rediscovery can be a bit painful. Mistakes made must be confronted. Lessons must be learned, no matter how hard. All of it is necessary to emerge a better, healthier person on the other side.

But it is also a slow process. I don't have any grand plans to finish my novel within the next week, or to start exercising again beyond taking my walks, or the determination to lose the weight I gained while being sick. There's no energy or motivation for that yet. What I am doing is taking it one day at a time.

After all, that's how we became who we are, right? One day at a time. And thus, I will rediscover who I am, one day at a time.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Got Ya A Dollar...

Have you watched the commercial where the gal wants a purse using money her insurance has saved her and she shouts, "Insurance, come find me money!" and this old guy in fishing gear appears, dangling a dollar in front of her? "I got you a dollar," he says. She tries to grab it and he yanks it away from her and says, "Oops! You gotta be quicker than that!"

That's how I feel with my health right about now.

I shout, "Give me health! I need to get back to work!"

And for a moment, a glimmer of hope appears, just like that dollar. I'll feel better for a few hours and think, okay, it's getting better. Maybe I can go to work tomorrow.

I'll reach for that hope. Then, just like the old insurance agent, that hope is cruelly snatched away a few hours later when the pain pills wear off, or when I wake up the next morning cringing in pain.

It's getting old.

I can't believe it's been two months since I had surgery and since all of this started. I'm now going to physical therapy three times a week and I won't lie - it hurts. We are trying to break down the scar tissue and adhesions in my abdomen from past surgeries. But getting to that point is very painful.

Nevertheless, I know hope will continue to be there, dangling, and I will continue to reach for it. It might decide to keep out of my grasp for awhile, but one of these days I'm going to catch it and darn it, be well enough to get back to some kind of a normal life.

I will continue to believe. I can do no less.

Monday, September 15, 2014

In the Mood? Nope.

Now before you think the title of this post refers to something naughty, let me assure you that it doesn't. Would I do that to you? :-)

No, I'm talking about being in the mood to write - and how I'm not. At all.

It's rather bizarre how I will be a writing machine for a few weeks, excited about my project, immersing myself in the world of literature and the craft of writing, connecting with other writers, and having a grand ol' time. But the past few days have shown a decided lack of enthusiasm for much of anything to do with the English language.

It's disheartening to feel this way, especially since I'm so close to finishing my edits of the novel. I've already got a query letter drafted and ready to send to agents. But I have to get the novel done first.

So what's a gal to do when she needs to write but can't?

Write anyway.

Now I'm not saying I've been a writing machine lately because I haven't. But I've managed to write a few sentences here and there and still stay connected to the story. After an epiphany on a certain aspect of the novel, I wrote a nice chunk tonight. Good, yes, but still not where I want to be.

However, I've been writing long enough to realize that this is just a phase I need to get through. The creative well may very well be dry and I need to refill it. My weekend was full of family time and tonight I took a walk with my daughter to enjoy the changing weather. Autumn is pretty much upon us even though it won't be officially here until next week. I have faith the urge to dive into the novel will return shortly.

Sometimes, forcing yourself to write is the correct move. Other times it's not. It depends on the situation and the writer. Everyone is different.

What about you? When you are not in the mood to write, do you do it anyway? Or do you take a few days off to refill your creative well?

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

It's Invisible Illness Awareness Week!

I suffer from a host of illnesses that can be classified as "invisible" - i.e. when you look at me, you can't tell I'm sick.

The biggest of these is rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, as I type this, I'm so exhausted I want to nap and my feet and hands are aching really bad. I don't know if the recent medical stuff or the change in weather (we're in the 80s today - supposed to be in the 60s tomorrow) is causing me to feel so rotten or what. BUT! I'm still smiling. I'm working from home, it's raining and cloudy outside, my kitties are close by, and I've got my chocolate.

And because I'm smiling, here's a cartoon of what I look like most mornings...except I have to get out of bed and keep going. That's what life is all about - we gotta keep going!