Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm Late, I'm Late for a Very Important Date

I have been here, there, and everywhere else the last two weeks as I covered for my sis while she went to Hawaii to welcome her husband back from his tour in Afghanistan and then for my dad as he went to Phoenix to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of two friends from high school. He and Mom and Gene and Kathy double dated during high school and then got married within months of each October we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Mom and Dad's wedding.

Anyway, yesterday I woke up in my own bed and didn't have to run anywhere to feed kitty cats or get 5 year olds to school for field trips to McDonald's Play Park or Patsy's Candy Shop. Wilson and I spent a lazy morning reading the paper and then I went off to see Toy Story 3. I loved the movie and have a post percolating in my brain that will hit the blog soon!

All of that to say that yesterday I did not even turn the computer on one single time and went off to bed with nary a thought of 12:01 AM when Blogger would have nothing to post on this here humble site. In lieu of a profound post I thought I would make a list (don't ya just love lists!?!) of things I am grateful for these days.

  • The beautiful view of Pikes Peak from my office window.
  • My sweet Wilson (he pretty much always shows up on my list you know!) and his patience with being alone for two weeks while I ran in and out to feed and love him.
  • Good old fashioned work like washing windows - there's nothing like the joy of seeing a job well done and there's nothing like the gloom of watching a thunderstorm diss your hard work :-(
  • The opportunity to slow down, enjoy life, and remember the purpose God gave me in this life.
  • Evaporative coolers to make the house bearable during these summer days.
  • Seeing for the first time in years the beautiful blooms that have popped up around the neighborhood. In years past I said that our area was too dry for beautiful blooms, but it turns out I was so caught up in the rat race that I was missing out on the splendor in life.
There you have it, my gratitude list for the moment. What are you thankful for today?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Can You Be a Super Villain!?!

“Bwahahaha, I will defeat you!” Black Dragon’s deep, coarse voice echoed through the room followed by coughing and gasping.

“Trouble there, Auntie Tammie?” My niece laughed as she witnessed my failed attempt to be a super villain.

Black Dragon was supposed to be fearsome. I was playing with my nephew, trying to get into character and the deep voice rasped my throat. The next day I was feeling the slight dryness in my throat and my voice still sounded a little hoarse.

Thankfully, writing in super villain (or any other) voice doesn’t take a physical toll on the body.

In non-fiction it is generally the writer’s voice a reader “hears.” A friend once said she enjoyed reading my blog because she liked seeing things from my perspective – she was responding to my voice. Fiction writing is different. What the reader responds to is not the author’s thoughts and feelings. They are responding to the narrator or point of view character’s inner psyche.

Finding the right voice for a book is one of the keys to the success of the story. Writing in the wrong voice can completely change the impact of the work. Had I used my best kitty cat persona when playing with my nephew Black Dragon would lose some of his punch. Think about it….”Hee, hee, hee, mean old Black Dragon is going to defeat silly little Dragonoid. That’s right, I am; what do you think about that you silly thing?”

Really, voice is something that is important throughout life so it shouldn’t be so surprising that it is equally important in writing. We all have our own unique voice. I don’t mean the physical aspect of whether we sound like a super sexy hunk or a squeaky Cinderella mouse. I’m talking about all those little things that make us us; the words we use, the inflection and tone, the pace, and on and on. We are who we are and we should be proud of that. Speak who you are loudly whether it be through words or just the way you live your life. In turn, this will infuse your writing with that irresistible aspect that makes it exactly you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blue Big Blankie Makes the Blog

Blue Big Blankie has been around for years. He is so named because when little man was a wee babe he had a little Blue Taggie Blankie; then Blue Big Blankie came along. Both were named because of their attributes. As time went on he grew too old to need Taggie anymore so it was packed in a box for another day….maybe his own wee babe one day down the road.

Blue Big Blankie was such a part of his life. Remember Linus and his blanket in the Peanuts Gang? Blue hasn’t quite come to the rescue as much as Linus’ blanket, but Blue is right up there when it comes to security blankets.

He is five now so his need for Blue is dwindling. In the past it went everywhere with him – school (daycare), church, bed, etc. These days it hangs out on his bed until bedtime and then it fulfills its duty. Recently when I stayed with him for a while he crawled into my bed around 2 am with his teddy bear and Blue Big Blankie. The bad dreams made it hard to sleep in his own room even with the security of his old friend, Blue.

Slowly he is outgrowing the needed security blanket. When I picked him up at school one day and forgot to bring it home he didn’t miss it until bedtime. When he realized it was at school he asked for a substitute blanket and everything was fine. Someday soon Blue will get packed away with his old friend, Taggie. His job will be done for the time being.

I have a security blanket, too. Despite my advancing age :-) He goes with me everywhere. There is not a day I don’t leave the house without Him and not a night that He is not there with me as I drift off to sleep. He is always there even when I sometimes get busy with my life and forget about Him. My security blanket is not physical, yet He comforts me in the same way that Blue Big Blankie comforts my nephew. My security, too, has names that describe His characteristics –

…for the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. ~Proverbs 3:26

Monday, June 21, 2010

Golden Years

In his younger years he prowled and hunted. He ruled his domain and all that passed through it. He was a force to be reckoned with.

These days he leads a slower life. He still rules the domain, but it is with a softer paw – sometimes. He still wanders through the land and checks out everything that comprises it. These days, though, he prefers to find a cool, quiet place to recline instead of prowling and hunting. He worked hard to get to this point and he is enjoying the fruits of his labor. He still lives the good life; it’s just different now.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What Makes a Daddy?

Have you heard? Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Daddy. This old cliché is often trotted out at this time of year. But there is truth in this statement. Almost anyone can father a child, but when it comes to being a true dad it takes more than just contributing genetic material.

What makes a man a true daddy? It’s a ton of little everyday things. Little things like knowing his child’s likes and dislikes. Being able to take a frown and turn it into a smile by singing just the right words that are meant just for her. Knowing her favorite foods and her favorite movie star. It’s remembering her birthday with a special gift. All these little items and so many more make up a daddy. But it’s not all about the giving and the knowing.

No, it takes more. A daddy wants what’s best for his child. He teaches her to walk and to talk and to read. As time goes on he teaches her to manage her money and change a tire on her car. He offers advice and, when needed, constructive criticism. He knows when to push and when to back off. A daddy knows what makes his daughter tick.

Yes, it takes a lot to make a father into a daddy. When it happens it is a beautiful thing. A daddy is a part of a girl’s life no matter how old she gets.

Today is Father’s Day and I wanted to take this opportunity to tell the world or at least the handful of readers of this blog that my daddy is the best in the whole world. He has always been there for me and for the family. He has taught me great things through the lessons he spoke but more importantly through the way he has lived his life.

I love you Daddy! Happy Father’s Day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

No Flowery Prose

just some purty flowers for your viewing enjoyment....

The cottonwood was flying around like crazy today so that is what is clinging to some of these flowers.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Betrayal hurts. When we trust someone we put our heart on the line and there is always the possibility of pain. Friends are human and they sometimes save their own skin without counting the cost for anyone else. Sometimes they make poor decisions without regards to the outcome. It happens to all of us at some time or another. Even Jesus was betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver.

Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.’’ Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. ~Matt 26:48-49

Not only was He ratted out by Judas, but He was also deserted by His friends. “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” ~ Matt 26:56 Even to the end of His life on earth He was experiencing true human nature and it hurt Him as much as it hurts us when it happens in our lives. He knows exactly what we are going through when this happens.

The difference between us and Jesus is that He continued to love and care during this ordeal. Jesus asked, “What have you done friend?” He then allowed the situation to play out. We humans tend to shut ourselves off when something like this happens. We get angry and lash out. Sometimes we walk away and become bitter. Whether we admit it or not, we are fragile and when a friend disappoints us it creates cracks in our heart and often those cracks are hard to fill and fix.

So what do we do when the worst happens and a friend lets us down? We remember that there is a friend closer than a brother (Prov 19:24). When it happens we need to run to Him and let Him fill the broken spots in our heart that the betrayal created. It is in this filling of the fissures with Jesus’ love that we heal and are able to go back out into the world and trust again.

It’s not easy and often takes months of allowing Jesus to mend our broken heart before we are able to move on. As much pain as it causes and as hard as it is to heal, though, I think that this tremulous aspect of loving and caring is a major part of our experience here on earth. It is only in the loving, being hurt, and learning to love again that we truly live.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

La Bobera - The Foolishness

The Foolishness has taken up residence high in the mountains of Colombia. There, in one village, one family is dealing with Alzheimer’s in a horrific way. This family is considered to be the largest known clan affected by Alzheimer’s. In the village, La Bobera (The Foolishness) is dreaded. Not knowing the cause has led to much fear and superstition. The New York Times featured an article on one family in the area.

The family matriarch cares for three adult children with Alzheimer’s. In a cruel life twist, when she should be enjoying her golden years, Mrs. Cuartas is a much needed care giver. At the age of 82 she is once again changing the diapers of her children, feeding them, and taking care of their needs.

The remote region and the fact that the gene has long been in the ancestry of the area means that many in the village and surrounding area deal with the dementia. Early onset of Alzheimer’s leads people in the prime of their life to begin to lose their memories and their ability to function. This disease is devastating a whole region of people.

This area has become important in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Having so many affected in one geographic region offers a suitable group to study the disease. A gene has been identified as causing the problems so there is the ability to determine if a person is predisposed to developing the disease. This offers the opportunity to work for treatments that can be used before Alzheimer’s develops as opposed to trying to treat it once symptoms have appeared.

It is truly a tragedy that this region of Colombia is dealing with this horrible disease in such a profound way. My heart goes out to them as it does to anyone having to fight dementia. While nothing can make it worthwhile to have Alzheimer’s the unique chance to work toward a treatment and cure is the one miniscule bright spot.

Read the complete Alzheimer's article on the New York Times web site.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

100 Moments - Statue

#47 Statue - This photo was taken at the cat enclosure at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Today I visited the zoo with my sister, my niece, and my nephew. I haven't been to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in a looooong time. The last time may have been been when I was in junior high school and I remember on that trip wearing my pink Holly Hobby pant suit and my big, white floppy hat.

After temps in the 90s last week this weekend has been rainy and dreary. The temp was okay for me, but then again I am most comfortable when it hovers around 50-60 degrees. My sister was cold and when the rain started it got colder for her.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo sits on the side of Cheyenne Mountain and is a beautiful zoo. We got to see quite a few of the animals, but didn't make it to see all of them and some were just plain not being sociable this morning.

I have a new camera that I am still learning my way around and so I got some really good shots and some not so good ones. I thought I would share some of the better shots with you all!

First stop was the giraffe enclosure. I love giraffes; they make me smile. Remember Melman in Madagascar? How can you not love a hypochondriac giraffe!?!

Hey, you got any of those giraffe crackers for me?

This is the African Crowned Crane. They moved quickly and it was tough trying to get a good shot. In this picture if you look in the branches on the top left side you can see one looking at me.

Who doesn't love a meerkat? Especially when he poses for the camera.

Whacha got for a chipmunk to eat?

Downtown Colorado Springs in the distance.

These monkeys partied too much last night and were still sleeping.

Caught this cat (leopard?) despite her not wanting her picture taken.

The Lions just lounging around on a Sunday morning. The kids were behind the rock.

I love the okapi.

Kitchi's jail break partners enjoying their lunch. Kitchi is still on the lam and I presume living the high life of a free river otter.

American Crocodile

This gal posed for me very nicely. There was a docent holding a baby wallabee and silly me walked up and asked, "Is it a bunny?" Duh!

Mr. Tiger relaxing by the waterfall.

Couldn't get a good picture of the peacock without the fence in the way.

The peacock wandering the zoo.

The Giraffe and Me

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sometimes the Sugar Cookies are Rancid

One thing for sure is that life is never boring. My momma always said there’s just too much happening to be bored and she was, as she was pretty much all the time, right. Life had been clipping right along in a pretty standard state when, bam, things just went all wonky and now life is different. That’s the way it happens and that’s the way things keep from getting boring.

I have recently blogged about changes that have me out on a limb and because of those changes the last few weeks have been a little catawampus. But, I think this will be the new normal for me for a while and I am okay with that. Anything but boring!

Last weekend I took a long weekend and did some house sitting for friend. She has a wonderful house that she affectionately calls the Tumbleweed Inn. It was a great time for me to relax, think, pray, and decide how I wanted to proceed with my newly askew life.

Part of my duties this week was to take care of the two lovable family pets.

Ginger is their 15 year old dog who is blind. He was just the sweetest guy. I mean, can you resist this adorable face!?! I couldn’t, except when it came to the no people-food rule. Since he was having some cranky tummy problems I was strong and resisted his big, brown puppy dog eyes that he worked to the max whenever he detected food.

As sweet as Ginger is, Jenny the kitty cat just stole my heart. I am pretty sure that if my Wilson didn’t insist that his momma is a one cat woman I might have “accidently” packed Jenny in my suit case and brought her home with me. But, I was a good girl and left her with her family.

I had great views from the living room and the patio in back. It was so peaceful I snapped a lot of pics to try to capture the feeling.

The seating arrangment at the bottom of this pic is where I sat and contemplated my Night Music post for Wednesday.

Overall, it was just what I needed after the hectic pace of life for the last few years. It felt good to have the time to slow down and cogitate on life.

When I returned home after this little get away my sweet Wilsie was a little put out with me. He was spoiled quite well by his Pop Pop, his Auntie, and his Cousin, but he wanted to make sure I knew he wasn’t happy to be left behind so I could go take care of someone else’s animals. He has finally come around and is insistent that I let him type and add something to this post. He probably wants to tell you that after being left behind I went out to dinner tonight and stayed away for FOUR hours chatting it up with my friend. I love my Wilsie!

So, last night after having been away I came home to find my advanced reader copy of Jennifer Valent’s book that is due out in October 2010. I was so excited I dropped everything else and sat down to read. I am half way through and have not been disappointed. Thanks Tyndale House for providing this copy so I can help spread the word about this great book.

Late in the evening as I was reading I had a craving, but had very little food in the house. Desperate for something I looked at a decorative sugar cookie I had around for a while. You know the type; they are just too pretty to eat. Well, in a moment of insanity I decided to give it a try. I mean, it has been around a while, but surely it would be okay. It’s been wrapped tightly. It was just time. So, I tentatively unwrapped it and looked it over. There was a little mold on one side, but I could eat the other side, right. I took a small bite anticipating the sweet taste. I love sugar cookies! Bazzinga, the joke was on me. The cookie was rancid and that little bit filled my mouth with the bitterest taste imaginable. I learned my lesson; giving in to cravings in the middle of the night is never a good idea. Oh and sugar cookies should come with an expiration date!

Drum Roll please. The big news for today is that my big brother is having a birthday! I won’t tell you how old he is, but he is older than me ;-) Happy Birthday Big Brother, may your coming year be as sweet as I am!

There you have it; my slightly awry life - mostly good, but every once in a while a rancid sugar cookie.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Little Night Music

The heat of the day cooled to a nice comfortable temperature. Slowly the lullaby of the night began.

Crickets chirped out their messages in a sweet melody.

Every so often a lonely, deep throated frog sang out his baritone ribbit in contribution to the symphony.

A slight breeze rustled through the grasses and trees, adding a light undertone.

Surrounded by the darkness and the night music it was easy to slip away and remember what is really important.

Have you noticed how fast life seems to happen these days? It seems there are never enough hours in the day or days in the week to accomplish everything. Recently I have had the opportunity to slow my life down and take a new view of things. I am always surprised about how much I enjoy the time to breathe and contemplate life. I shouldn’t be, but I am.

Last weekend I took some time out and house sat for a friend while she and her family were on vacation. They live far enough away that it was like a mini vacation for me. Their house is in a small subdivision on good size lots and away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

One night I sat on the patio late in the evening. After a very warm day the temperature had cooled. As I sat there in the silence I realized it wasn’t silent; it was just missing the sounds of the city. I was surrounded by the sounds of nature and it lulled me into a peaceful, quiet state.

I am a city girl and though I live on the far edge of town I am still surrounded by city. Because of this I often forget what the night is like when you remove the lights and sounds of the civilization. So I sat there entranced by the music and the peacefulness. I felt my muscles relaxing and any tension draining away. All other thoughts seeped from my brain as I just listened and enjoyed.

As I drifted in this lush night life, I realized that regardless of where I am I need to find time in my life to just stop and appreciate. I need to let go and recharge. I need to remember what life is really all about.


Monday, June 7, 2010

The Game of Life

Life behind bars wasn’t as bad as I had heard. The people loved me. I made them laugh and wowed them when I raised my hand to greet them with a big high five. I was spoiled and pampered. It really was a pretty cool time. I knew the time would have to come to an end sometime. I decided to go the online route. I got my picture posted on a web site and who couldn’t help but be charmed by my handsome face and winning personality?

I don’t like to reveal much about my life before. It doesn’t bear repeating. I believe the past should remain in the past. What is important is what my life is like now. For me that’s the game of life, moving forward.

She was persistent; once she had seen my picture she couldn’t resist me. Truth be told I couldn’t resist her either. Don’t tell her that, though, it spoils the illusion of me being my own man. She told me the whole story after I came into her life.

When my profile continued to show on the web site several weeks after she had been told I was taken, she had to check into it. She sent the email and waited, barely able to breathe until she knew. When the response came that I was still available she called her sister. She was so excited; this may be the one she gushed during that call. She couldn’t wait to meet me in person.

I tried to act indifferent when I first met her. I yawned, looked around, tried my best to be nonchalant. Thankfully, she didn’t buy the act. She said, “He’s the one I want.” The deal was done.

She drove to her house. I was nervous and it showed. She talked sweetly to me and encouraged me. I thought I would give it a try and see what happened.

When we got to the house I prowled around. I wanted to check it out. If I was going to be living here I wanted to make sure it was acceptable. It didn’t take long for us to settle into a routine. She learned my habits. I learned hers.

Honestly, life is better here than behind bars. I’m still not talking about my past, but this is definitely better. I wouldn’t go back to the way it was. That’s the game of life. Sometimes the unexpected is just what we need.

In my game of life, I rule the house now. Okay, I admit, I humor her with her rules like not getting up on the dining table, kitchen counters, the computer or piano. Still she has cleared off the coffee table for me. I drink from a glass on that table. I have my toys all over so they are ever ready when I awake from my nap. I love that she leaves the card board boxes around for several days for me to have fun with. I really am easy to please and she really does want me to be happy.

My name is Wilson, the cat. I have found a good human and I love her in my kitty cat way. She loves me, tells me so several times a day. We make a good pair. The game of life has been good to me.

Today I celebrate two years of being momma to my sweet Wilson. I wrote this for a Faithwriters weekly challenge in September 2008 and thought it would be appropriate to publish it here today.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Weeds and Birds

Almost every day during my summer vacations in high school I would get up to find the note on the table. It read, “Girls, pull weeds today.” We lived on the corner of a cul-de-sac and had a large rock garden on the side of the house. It was great for conserving water in this dry climate, but it was a pain in the derriere when it came to keeping it free from weeds. It took constant vigilance to stay ahead of the game. My sisters and I spent many a summer hour out there pulling weeds. I, for one, despised pulling weeds!

Over the years that Mom was sick the yard suffered from lack of loving care. It just was too much for Dad to keep up with. In the last few years Dad has been working to landscape the yard. Since I have some time on my hands these days I have been helping him by pulling weeds in the areas he wants to re-rock.

Today as I pulled weeds in the heat (the sun was hiding behind the clouds, but it was hot) I remembered those summer days when I would have rather been anywhere else besides there. I’m significantly older now and my body is complaining in ways it didn’t back in the day, but I am not terribly upset at that. The old bod needs to be put through the paces after years of sitting behind a desk. The thing that amazed me is that after all these years of pursuing a “normal” career I am thrilled to be doing something as simple as cleaning house and pulling weeds. It gives me lots of time to think.

I had time to think about how the yard is symbolic of my life right now. Over the years I have been lax and the weeds of discontent and unhappiness have taken over. I have been pursuing life in the wrong arenas and my fatigue has overwhelmed me. As I pulled the dastardly weeds I thought about how I was trying to pull up the enemies in my life. I have been letting go of emotions that serve no valid purpose. I have been focusing on habits that need to be changed. I am weeding and for now that is what needs to be done.

As I worked I took in my surroundings. The birds and squirrels have always been fed very well in my parent’s back yard and they are frequent visitors. Tuesday when I was over there, a little brown bird crawled under my truck and died there. I don’t know what the cause of death was, but I gave him a somewhat irreverent burial in the trashcan. Honestly, I am not a big fan of birds. They kind of freak me out. I watch them from afar.

Usually when I am around I see lots of pigeons and crows helping themselves. Today though I watched as a beautiful black/blue bird came up and had a mid-afternoon snack. He looked at me with a sunflower kernel in his beg and then with a nod of his head flew away. Shortly after two little brown birds who had red chests and little red hoods on came in to take a few minutes of rest. They were very pretty and I watched as they enjoyed themselves and then flew off. Before I was done the tiniest little yellow feathered friend swooped into the yard and alit on one of the feeders. She stayed for a few minutes and then went on her way.

There in the midst of the chaos of a yard in redirection I was immersed in beauty. I couldn’t help but think about the verse in Matthew that says, “Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” Because if not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without the Father knowing it, surely I, a child of God, cannot go through the valley without Him knowing it and being there for me.

I had my point and shoot camera in my purse so I tried to get some pictures of the birds when the red hooded ones returned later. I couldn't get close enough to get really good pictures.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson

Life turned on Camden Bristow and so she turned to the only place she knew to go for refuge – her grandmother Rosalie. When Camden arrived on Crescent Hill the last thing she found was refuge. Grandma Rosalie had passed away and left her old, ailing mansion to Camden. Without Rosalie there is nothing left for Camden in Etherton, OH.

However, she soon finds there is more to the house than meets the eye. As she tries to deal with the news of her grandmother’s death and that she is now the owner of a 150 year old house, she realizes she is not the only occupant of the house. Are the old stories of ghosts haunting the house true?

Refuge on Crescent Hill is the new release by Melanie Dobson. True to form, Melanie has taken past and present and wound them together in an intriguing story that will keep the reader glued to their seat until the last page is turned.

As Camden searches for the truth of what has happened in her grandmother’s life during her absence, she also seeks a buyer for the house. Her determination that the old house not be torn down creates problems. The house on the hill has been part of the Etherton history for 150 years and Camden wants to preserve that history. Alex Yates is more than happy to take the property off of Camden’s hands, but will he be able to honor her wishes to keep the house intact?

This novel quickly became a favorite of mine. Melanie has a knack for creating strong feminine characters that draw me into the story and I found myself not wanting to leave.

Refuge on Crescent Hill can be purchased on