Monthly Archives: December 2011

Another Auld Lang Syne

I hate this time of year.  For one thing, I’m always another year older (which really does beat the alternative).  For another, like most everyone else on the planet, it’s a time to reflect on the things I did, or did not, accomplish in the previous 364 days.

Unfortunately the ‘did-nots’ almost always outnumber the ‘dids.’

That could be due to the fact that my New Years resolution list was way too long.  Or it could be because too many other things cropped up and pushed those things aside.  And I suppose there’s just the tiniest possibility that I just kind of forget the things on the list in the first place.  Okay, so maybe there’s a bigger possibility than that.

But I think Shelly Immel nailed it this week in her post, How to Make New Years Resolutions You’ll Still Care About in 6 Months.

I never take the time to think about what I really want to do over the course of the coming year.  Nope.  I just fill that list up with all the things I’d maybe like to accomplish and, by the time I’m finished, my eyes are wide and I have this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Because I know I won’t be placing a check mark beside any of them.

How can I when I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of the list before January first even arrives?

But this year is going to be different.  I feel like the past three years of my life have pretty much slipped by.  The first couple of years following my car accident were spent in a haze of pain and sleepless nights.  Then when things started to get better, my daughter died…which pretty much ruined 2011 for me.

Now that I’ve been reminded again how short and unpredictable life truly is, I know I need a plan.  I know I need to really take the time to look at my life.  Where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I want to be.

So in the next few days I’m going to think about these things.  And then I’m going to limit that list to a small handful of goals.  The ones I consider to be the most important ones.  One or two each from the personal happiness, career and family categories.  And no more.

Only things I truly care about, and things I have a hope of achieving.  Know what?  I’m tired of setting myself up for failure by the time January second rolls around.

What about you?  Do you make New Years resolutions?  Have you seen any of them come to pass?  Or are you like me and sit there shaking your head at the end of each year because you wasted time and energy saying you were going to do all of these great and wonderful things…and didn’t?

No matter where you’re at with the whole resolutions thing, I just want to take a second here to wish you all a very safe and Happy New Year!  May 2012 be all you hope for.

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Introducing Guest Blogger Samantha Warren

Some of you may know that I was a guest blogger on Samantha Warren’s site last week.  Well, this week I’m lucky enough to have her step in over here.  Today she shares some very important information about pets.  I hope you’ll stick around and find out what she has to say.

Thanks so much, Samantha!

I’m a pet lover. There’s no denying it. Growing up on a farm, I’ve always been in contact with animals in some way or another. Right now, my furry children include two cats and a rabbit. In fact, almost everyone I know owns an animal of some kind, even if it’s just fish. And there’s a reason for it.

First, let’s look at a few stats. Not to many, since stats make my eyes glaze over.

From ASPCA.org:

  • 63% of all households in the US own a pet of some sort.
  • This includes approximately 75 million dogs and 85 million cats.

That’s a lot of pets! And it doesn’t include the fun interesting ones like rabbits, reptiles, or rodents. And fish tend to be a fall-back pet for people who can’t afford or don’t have the time for other pets, so I think that 63% might be a bit low.

Anyhoo, why do these numbers matter? Well, studies have shown (don’t you love when people use that phrase?) that pet owners tend to be happier and live longer than people who don’t own any pets. Sadly, I don’t remember exactly where I heard those two things, but they are often repeated and I firmly believe they’re true.

Speaking from my own experience, having a pet can change who I am, what kind of mood I’m in, in an instant. For six years after graduating high school, I didn’t have a pet or much access to animals. I was miserable. Being an introvert, I’m not the best at human interaction. I spent most of my time in the barn as a kid, reading to the cows (they do like it, I swear).

I got Miss Josephine in 2006. Pretty little Penelope followed in 2009, and I just acquired Bunny Boop this year. Like all children, they can get on my nerves, but in the end, it’s all worth it. When I’m having a bad day, nothing is more relaxing than sitting on the couch and having a cat curl up beside me. When it feels like the whole world is against me, they’re on my side, purring and giving me the love I need. They don’t care what I have or haven’t done. They don’t care if I’m not 100% perfect all the time. If I snap at them, they’re quick to forgive and forget, as long as I offer treats as a peace treaty.

There’s a new country song out. “Like My Dog” by Billy Currington. I think it explains why pets are awesome very well.


Pets are amazing creatures. They are the definition of unconditional love and if they’re treated the way they deserve to be treated, they can make all the stress and craziness of being a human worth it.

Now for a PSA due to some of the really sad facts I read on the ASPCA site:

Pets do cost money, and they take some effort. Some of them don’t require a lot. I refer to cats as the fish of the mammal world. They do very well in smaller spaces. All they really need are food, water (they love a constant trickle from the tap), a litter box, some toys, and a lot of love. Dogs require a lot more effort. They have to be walked several times a day and they tend to be more demanding attention-wise.

  • Approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats).
  • More than 20 percent of people who leave dogs in shelters adopted them from a shelter.
  • The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for a year.

Pets are great, but if you plan on getting one, make sure you have the money and time to take care of it. They may be animals, but they deserve all the love they can get. While it may be cool to tell your friends you spent $1500 on a purebred something-something, keep in mind that mixes tend to be friendlier and have less health issues, not to mention they’re super cheap and that extra money can be used to take care of them. And if you do have a purebred, do us all a favor and get them fixed. There are enough animals out there who need homes without adding to it. And it greatly reduces the risk of them getting testicular or cervical cancer (yes, animals can get those too, even rabbits. My bunny will be fixed this summer).

Treat your pets like you would treat your children. They deserve that much and they won’t demand allowance or car keys.

Samantha Warren is a fantasy and science fiction author who spends her days immersed in dragons, spaceships, and vampires. With her pet dragon, Anethesis, she ventured to the ends of the universe, but the cost of space travel cut into her sock fetish fund, so she sold her ship and returned home. When she isn’t writing, she’s milking cows or trying to feed them Pop-Tarts. She spends a lot of time in her weed patch (aka: garden), watching any show featuring Gordon Ramsay, or posting random things on her blog (http://www.samantha-warren.com).

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Who Am I?

No, I haven’t developed a case of amnesia, and I’m not going through a midlife crisis.  Well…  I’ve been going through a midlife crisis since I turned thirty, and continue to remain smack dab in the middle of it.  But it’s not like it’s a new thing.  After a few years you kind of get used to it.

Wow.  Smack dab??? 

Where did that come from?!  To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never used that phrase in my life.  Maybe I wanted to though, because it was right there when I wrote the sentence…

Just for the heck of it I checked out ‘smack dab’ on YouTube…and found this.  Has anyone ever heard of the group OR the song?  Cause I sure haven’t.  If I ever write something set in the 50’s, I might use it though.

So anyway…

I’ve been trying to catch up on some of my favorite blogs since my computer is back and Trojan free.  And I happened to stop by Angela Scott’s Whimsy & Writing site.  There I enjoyed her post, 10 Tips to Finding the Writing Success YOU’RE Looking For.

I’m 99% on board with each and every tip she offers, except I realized a few hours after reading it that I’m not a writer first and foremost.  Writing might come in a close second…and I mean a really close second, but I’m a mom above all else.

There’s nothing in the world I’ve ever done that has given me more joy than raising my kids.  There’s nothing in the world that’s ever given me more stress, frustration, tears and headaches either.  But the good far outweighs the bad.

From the moment my oldest child was born I knew I’d found my true ‘calling.’  Now that they’re older and don’t require constant attention, and in fact don’t want me looking over their shoulders constantly, I can indulge more in the second love of my life.  And we all know that’s writing.  (Which could be moved to third place if Damon Salvatore ever appears after I blow out my birthday candles.)

But until then, I’m a mom who writes.  Sure, I’ll still say I’m a writer.  Much like others say they’re doctors, truck drivers and librarians.  But the mom thing?  It’s always going to come first.  Because there’s just nothing better in this life than having the privilege of raising children.  At least not as far as I’m concerned.

This group sure got it right.  Thank God for kids!

I know that everyone is different.  Not everyone is a parent.  What are you?  If you had to choose the title that defines you best, what would it be.

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The Late, Great Thomas Crapper

We’ll just put this particular blog down to extreme boredom after all the build-up and excitement of Christmas.  With the day winding down, and feeling at loose ends, it just hit me that this is Sunday night…and it’s going to be Monday in about six minutes.  That means, according to my self-imposed schedule, that I should have something ready to post after midnight.

So what came immediately to mind, when considering what I might write about tonight?

Thomas Crapper.

Don’t even ask because I don’t have a clue.  It was just there.  Thanks to some research awhile back on outhouses, it’s one more piece weird information rattling around this head of mine.  And much like those little numbered balls pop up for lottery games, I guess tonight was Mr. Crapper’s turn to come to the forefront of my mind.

Warning: This video isn’t exactly G-rated.  More like PG-13.

As surnames go, I can only say that I’m eternally grateful that I don’t come from a long line of Crapper’s.   I mean really.  Can you think of any century where that would be a good name to have?  Even if your parents were filthy rich, kings and queens even…

Can you imagine being a kid these days, on the first day of school and having the teacher do roll call?   “Billy Benson, Lucy Carmichael, Tommy Cra…pper?”  Can you see Tommy’s little hand shooting proudly up in the air, or confidently calling out, “Here!”  Not!  I see poor Tommy sitting under his desk, head hung in shame, and wondering why his mother hadn’t insisted that dear old dad take her maiden name.

And speaking of Mama Crapper, who would even consider dating a guy with that last name?  I mean, when I was in school, your heart would just ache for the kids whose last name was Butts because, let’s face it, they were the butt of a lot of jokes.  But Crapper?   Yeah, let’s introduce the folks to prom date, Tom Crapper…

Seriously though, if you can be serious about anything having to do with the name Crapper, the man did do a lot of good for modern plumbing.  No, he didn’t invent the flush toilet, but was apparently quite the advocate for sanitary indoor plumbing.

And, continuing in the serious vein, on January 27th we have the honor of celebrating Thomas Crapper Day.  I’m not entirely sure how we would do that.  Maybe decorate our toilets, or give them a good cleaning.  Some of you might want to organize a parade in your city.  Or we could petition the football people to add an additional game.  Yes, you guessed it, the Toilet Bowl.

On the other hand, maybe some of my talented author friends could take the idea in the video below and write a best seller about Mr. Crapper.

Are you distantly related to Thomas Crapper?  Would you date someone with that last name?  Marry them?   If so, would you keep your maiden name?  (yes, I should have had a nap today…)

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Feliz Navidad

I just want to take a moment to say, during this holiday season, that I’m thankful for so very many things.  My loved ones, my home.  The privilege to be live in a country that, even with all its faults, is a great country.  I’m even thank for my zoo.  Most of the time.

But this year I have a new reason to give thanks…for the new friends I’ve made during the whole indie author experience.  And I have met some of the most talented, genuinely nice people anyone could ever hope to meet.

When I first got started, I thought it was all about reaching the destination.  Now I know it’s not.  It’s the journey that’s the important thing, the people you meet along the way, the things you learn in the process.

Achieving my goals might be the icing, but without the cake the icing is nothing more than a bunch of gloppy sugar sitting in a bowl.  A few tastes and you wish you had the foundation of the cake to go with it.  So it is with success.  It’s nothing without a supportive foundation.  And I consider so many of you to be part of the foundation I’m building this new life on.

Over the next year I hope to get to know all of you better, to read more of your work (those who are fellow authors), and to continue with you along this path we’ve so recently embarked on.

And so, as I get ready to tackle a still enormous list of things I need to accomplish in the next couple of days, I want to say…in the immortal words of Jose Feliciano…I wanna wish you (readers and writers alike) a Merry Christmas!

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It’s Okay, Mom, Don’t Worry. Yeah, Right!

Hey, check out Samantha Warren’s website.  It’s my first guest-blogging gig, and I’m excited!

Only someone who hasn’t had kids yet could believe that there will come a day when a parent will stop worrying about their children.  My daughter actually laughed tonight when I informed her that I’m still going to be worrying about her when she’s forty (and older), whether she likes it or not.

It’s not something you can turn off at will.  It begins the moment you find out there’s a baby on the way, kicks into high gear the second they’re born…and does nothing but pick up speed the longer you love them.

Why are there never any good songs from a mother’s perspective.  Just pretend this one is, please.  It says what I feel about my daughter.

That makes it really hard when those same children are trying to grow up and mature… and you see them setting a course that you’re positive will break their hearts.  It doesn’t matter if they’re ten, fifteen, twenty-five…or forty.  It’s our job to protect them, and it’s not a position we take lightly.  Nor do we give it up easily.  Or ever.  I think we just learn to bite our lips and keep some of our opinions to ourselves as they get older.  I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes that lip biting really hurts!

Why am I thinking about this tonight?  Because the guy who broke my daughter’s heart about seven weeks ago, the one who inspired my Gonna Drown A Guy In My Septic Tank blog, is back.  And since no one under the age of twenty-five seems to be able to learn from the experience of older and wiser parents, I have to sit back and hope that my gut feeling is wrong.

So all I have to say to this young man who hurt my daughter is…  Well, I’ll let the guy in this video speak for me.  He says it so much better than I can.

The audio/video is a bit off, but this guy says pretty much what I feel.

I hope you paid particular attention to rule number 5, kid.  You got to break up with her the first time.  Next time it’s her turn.  And I hope your heart isn’t just broken, I hope it’s shattered.  I hope you cry an ocean of tears.  I hope you join a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery and regret forever the treasure you lost.

If, by some miracle, you prove me wrong and are actually in it for the long haul this time, welcome to the family.  Rule number 5 still applies.


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Finding Christmas

Oops…  I wrote down the wrong date.  Samantha Warren will be guest-blogging here on December 30th, not today as had been announced.

I might have found a glimmer of Christmas spirit tonight.  I’ll have to see how I feel tomorrow, whether it actually stays with me or not.  But tonight, for the first time this season, there was just the tiniest bit of a spark.

Finally got my Christmas village up.  Yes, it’s all crammed on top of my bookshelves, instead on the top part of my desk where it belongs (and where there’s a lot more room), but it’s up.  Still have to get some tacks to fix the lights…but it’s up.   Already been rearranged by Jasper (one of the cats), but it’s back up…again.

Books didn’t help.  Neither did the tree.  Driving around looking at the beautiful light displays, not so much as a hint.  And I’ve listened to carols so much that it’s just kind of like white noise now.  Except for the 12 Days of Christmas by Straight No Chaser.  For whatever reason I’ve loved their version of the song since the first time I heard it.

When they get to the Rains Down in Africa part, I have to grin every time.

But it’s almost always movies that do it for me.  Old favorites.  New favorites.  I watch more movies during the holiday season than at any other time of year.

Without fail White Christmas and A Christmas Story.  And the best of all of them, It’s a Wonderful Life, will send my Christmas spirit soaring.  Not this year though.  Sure, I was smiling at the end.  It’s impossible not to when George Bailey finally realizes what he has, and the tremendous impact he’s had in the lives of everyone he knows.  When his house fills to overflowing with the friends anxious to help this special, selfless man out of the jam the thieving Mr. Potter thrust him into.  No matter how many times I’ve seen it, and sometimes it’s half a dozen times every December, it just never gets old.

Wow.  Todd Karns (Harry Bailey) was sure a sexy guy, wasn’t he?

But this year it didn’t work.  And so far I haven’t been able to work up any enthusiasm to watch any of my others…and believe me, I have quite an extensive collection of holiday movies.

Tonight, though, was different.  Yet another hopeful trip out to look at Christmas displays.  Only one house in a city about twenty-five miles from here got to me, and I hope to get a picture of it Christmas Eve so I can post it for you to see.  It was one of the most beautiful displays I’ve ever seen.  And then it was snowing a little bit, and that always helps.

And then I came back home…and was bored out of my mind.

So I thought I would watch a movie I’ve only ever seen once.  I don’t even remember when I first saw it but I’ve always remembered it.  And I finally found it at the store the other night.

It’s called A Hobo’s Christmas.  And I realized tonight, as I watched it for the second time in my life, why I’ve never been able to forget it.  I tried to find a clip for you, but all that’s available on YouTube is the whole movie…in one video no less.  If you have time, it’s well worth watching!

Gerald McRaney plays Charlie, the widowed father of two children.  He has a new love interest and life is going fairly well for him again.  Until his father shows up a few days before Christmas.  A man who, when he lost his job twenty-five years previously, left his wife and son to live as a hobo.

How they get from Charlie’s initial anger and resentment to an ending that will bring tears to your eyes, even as you’re smiling from ear-to-ear, is very heartwarming.  Sure you know how it’s going to end, but have you ever watched a Christmas movie that didn’t end pretty much the way you expected it to?

And so a movie about a hobo worked.  At least temporarily.  Like I said, gotta wait and see if it lasts.  But I’m still sitting here feeling all soft and mushy inside, even after hunting up videos and writing this.

That’s something that wasn’t there before…

***Fourteen hours later, it’s still hanging around.  Looks like my Christmas village will be up before supper.  🙂

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