Thursday, July 31, 2008

Staycation Musings: Cats and Chipmunk!

(Latte on Chipmunk Patrol, LCS/SJS 2008)

(Java and Jack on Porch, LCS/SJS 2008)

Jack woke me up this morning with his scratchy cat-tongue and exfoliated the side of my right cheek. He ends the licking festival with a big love-chomp on the chin (OUCH!) while Latte sprawls out on the end of the bed, belly-up, head back. She manages to open one green eye, gazes in our direction, and proceeds to close it. She drifts back to sleep. Pathetic. Incredibly cute, but pathetic at the same time. These cats are on a permanent staycation!

Java quietly perches on the bottom step and peers out the window on bird-and-critter control. Last night, however, on the porch, Java was on her back under the wicker couch with her paws out and rolled her head. I started taking photographs of her and she posed like a cat model! I snapped fun shots of her.

Speaking of critter control, a darling little chipmunk frequents our backyard, raids the bird feeder, and sneaks into our garage if the door is left open. I will refer to it as Chipmunk! because whenever Steve sees it, he yells Chipmunk!. (Steve does not like Chipmunk!, because in addition to eating all the birdseed, Chipmunk! torments the cats. Plus, chipmunks can be destructive and messy, and I know this first-hand as one was trapped for three days in a public library where I worked. That's another adventure.) Perhaps Chipmunk! is aware of his annoying trait. Chipmunk! will not only stare and torment the cats, it will stare and torment Steve, even when Steve will lightly bang on the glass (and that only startles me.) Chipmunk! stares back, and pilfers the birdseed. Last week, Chipmunk! even enjoyed its breakfast upside down.

Speaking of breakfast, it's time to visit the refrigerator. I peer out the window and do not see Chipmunk! Ah, no birdseed in the feeder. That's why. I peer out on the porch and cats are sleeping. Again. What a life.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hairapy and the Birthday Blonde

I spent the morning at the salon. The mane is red and curly, brows are trimmed, and hooves (toes) are red as well. All ready for the big evening out. (I'm not going to the barn. Neigh. Stomp.) The blogarazza is giving a shout-out to everyone on the blogosphere that my mother (aka the Birthday Blonde) celebrated her birthday with us tonight! Woo-hoo! She is a brave and beautiful woman who is fighting--and winning--the battle with cancer. And we are so lucky to have her in our lives. She inspires so many people. I learn of it every day. We went out to a buffet for dinner in Michigan. Hopefully Project Fatten-Up-Steve is working. The man had three plates of food and three desserts: chocolate mousse cheesecake, lemon tart, and vanilla bean ice-cream. He is sprawled out on the couch recovering from his feast. It was a fun night and we spotted several deer on the drive home. It was a beautiful evening. More festivities for the Birthday Blonde are planned for the weekend.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Dark Knight and Vacation Brain

(Image Borrowed from Google, 2008)

Steve and I saw The Dark Night Sunday evening. Oh my goodness, I thought the clown in the movie It (based on Stephen King's book) was creepy. Joker in this movie is the creepiest villain I have seen in a very long time. Heath Ledger definitely deserves a posthumous Oscar nomination. Wow. However, we will watch a comedy next time after a movie like this because it was a downer. The other actors including Christian Bale, played their roles well, but Ledger's role stole Gotham City.

This is my second week of vacation. I can tell because I called my library to check in and called the wrong branch. Hm.Vacation brain! We're renovating earlier than projected and when I go back in to do time cards and check e-mail, Lula the Whale in the children's area may be demolished. All I ask for is one of her teeth to remember her. I emailed and suggested that perhaps demolition should be done before young patrons arrived in the morning and was informed that I was supposed to be on vacation. ;)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chasing the Sunset: a Writer's Reflections

(Chasing the Sunset, LCS 2007)

When Steve and I drove home last night, I learned how to use the camera feature on my cell phone. The sun was an orange round ball that hid behind trees and I was trying to capture a photograph of the sunset. Steve said, "Why don't we wait until we drive a little more to see if there's a space to take a photograph?" Well, I tried and tried, and it kept hiding until it set.
But I learned something from this experience. In the process of taking photographs, I noticed the sky with the gorgeous cloud shapes and the purple and orange colors. I noticed the deer in the cornfields. I noticed the beautiful green fields. It reminded me of the writer's conference I just attended. I was chasing the sunset, the sun, which was the book proposal I was plugging this weekend, but in fact, in the process, I picked up more beauty, more information, more ideas, which made the sunset and the conference more meaningful. If you are interested, here are the highlights of my weekend!

Wednesday, July 23-Saturday, July 26

Steve and I enjoyed a wonderful mini-vacation/writer's conference in Muncie, Indiana. We stayed at the Fairfield Inn at Marriott. The place was cozy, and the main room had access to free coffee and free internet service! Steve sequestered himself at the hotel and read the entire time. He was a happy camper! The only honey-do project he had to do was to pick me up from the conference for lunch and at the end of the day!

For our anniversary on July 26, we dined at Cheeseburger in Paradise (one of Jimmy Buffet's chain restaurants) for lunch. I felt like a true parrothead. Our server was a promising young writer and journalism student. She had a lot of energy and was a lot of fun!

In the evening, we met up with two dear friends we met at an earlier conference in 2003. We had a casual dinner at Mancini's. (We'll go to a fancy place in the near future.)

Approximately 200 people attended this event at Ball State University.
I learned so much this week, everything from what to do at a writer's conference (not shy away in a corner) to pitching a book proposal to an agent.

I had the privilege to pitch my book proposal Blogging by Candlelight (Or, Switching to Decaf) to an agent. She was great! She was young, energetic, had really cool clothes, and put me at ease right away. I felt like I made a new friend. Amy Tipton, you totally rock! I met a couple other wonderful agents from New York: Anne Hawkins and Josh Getzler.

There were authors and Ball State faculty who gave sessions. One of my favorite authors was J. Brent Bill. He is a Quaker and writes inspirational non-fiction books. His presentations are great and I attended four of his sessions. I thoroughly enjoyed Tasha Alexander (a Notre Dame grad), and Shirley Jump. Tasha writes historical fiction and I attended her session on writing dialogue. Shirley writes romance novels (a LOT of them) and she gave great information on how to freelance write and on time management. If she can do it with two kids, three dogs,and a husband, I can find the time, too to freelance.

I was impressed with the openness and the helpfulness of these authors. I also enjoyed attending Bill Fitzhugh's session on "Writing Shorter: Sketch Comedy."

I met Jane Friedman, Editor of Writer's Market (A must-have resource for writers!) I also met Sally Wright at a talk table about mystery writing.

Most importantly, I made new friends. Everyone was so kind and supportive! I had one person who took her time to coach me on my pitch. And we had just met.

Sadly, there was only so much time and I didn't connect with other talented authors/faculty there. I want to go to the next year's Midwest Writer's Workshop!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Midwest Writer's Workshop

(Blogging by Candlelight LCS/2008)

Hi! Steve and I are trekking to the Midwest Writer's Workshop in Muncie, Indiana today and will return home Saturday night or Sunday morning. It will be a great workshop! I will blog more about my birthday weekend and this weekend when we return!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Random Musings: Quotes from the Purse

(Jack on Ledge SJS 2008)

I cleaned out my purse and here are random quotes I kept specifically to put in my journal, but why not post it instead? I found the following quote on a Chico's birthday coupon that came in the mail:
"We turn not older with the years, but newer every day." -Emily Dickinson

A colleague gave me a piece of paper with a couple of quotes that she keeps on her refrigerator:

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"










-eleanor roosevelt

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Wild Animal Weekend

(Three Kittens, LCS 2008)
(Beauty the Cat and Kittens LCS 2008)

(Fiddler's Hearth LCS 2008)
It was a wild weekend and the highlights involved animals. :) While I was playing library on Saturday for an important community redevelopment meeting, Steve was taking care of domestic home stuff .While driving home, I called Steve and he told me about his hilarious adventure. I laughed so hard I almost had to pull over.

(Yes, I used to be one of those people who made comments about people driving and chatting. Now I am one of those offenders.)

Steve was in the process of putting the garbage cans away and he happened to peer into one of them, only to be greeted with a pair of beady eyes. As he jumped about ten feet and ran to the porch, this very round, lethargic raccoon crawled out of the can. We are now going to have to purchase a new trash can, because this one was trashed (pun intended.)

Saturday night we visited friends. It was a good time.

Today I played conga drums in church today and it was a lot of fun. This afternoon Steve and I ran a couple of errands. I was not going to do anything tonight and even canceled out on book club, but a friend called me at the last minute and somehow connived me to drive her out to Fiddler's Hearth (an Irish Pub downtown) and I would be the designated driver. I'm so glad I did. Before and after we visited the pub, she showed me kitties that she is fostering temporarily. There is a mama cat and three tiny kittens. I was in love.

We met up with another friend at The Hearth, sat outside, and listened to Irish musicians playing music. It was a beautiful day.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Stuffing Pink Crayons in Pencil Sharpeners and Tae Kwon Bra

It wasn't a misspelling. I said tae kwon bra. I need to invent one. A tae kwon bra that will withstand cardio, drills, falls, forms, and defense techniques without danger of having an apparatus malfunction and possibly an injury. Or worse yet, maybe they'll spontaneously spring out of my gui and start doing round kicks on their own. Showoffs. For one hour I would love to tuck the girls neatly away into one of the lockers and be able to jog in place more quickly and jump with ease, especially while working out with guys. Afterwards, I could retrieve them and be on my merry way. (I do have better apparatus but it's designed for jogging.) Bra-tracking to Backtracking to playing library today... It was a gorgeous day outside. Blue skies and low humidity. Inside, it was odd. I discovered a not so nice note in the suggestion box (rhymes with switch and probably designed for me--I had to play security before the officer arrived) and scraps of paper shoved inside a disk drive. The topper was when it was brought to my attention that someone had used the pencil sharpener. With a crayon. A pink crayon. Crammed halfway inside the sharpener. Nice. I left a note for my custodian to take a peek at the pink and see if he can fix it. Now the dilemma is, should I leave an Out-of-Order sign on the pencil sharpener?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Fireworks 2.0: A Wild Weekend: Part Two

(Fireworks 2008 lcs 2008)

Saturday morning Steve and I decided to do the fun run,which is a two mile walk/run. We were also on kiddie patrol, so we had a slow start. However, we got lost and didn't finish, but we won an award anyway! We had our exercise for the day.

We rested and read and later in the evening, we rode our bikes to a friend's house and perched on a friend's deck to watch fireworks. It was loud! And bright! Steve took the bike back to get sunglasses for me. I am such a vampire! I recall the Corey Hart song "I wear my sunglasses at night."

Well, the neighbors next door have a license to light off these amazing fireworks. However, they were so close to us that debris from the aftermath was getting into my diet coke and I was not amused. So Steve and I went inside the cottage and watched from the window.

Unfortunately, one of the fireworks actually malfunctioned and sparks shoot onto our deck.
People are ducking and running into the cottage. (Hence the title of the weekend, Fireworks 2.0.)
No one was hurt,thankfully. After the fireworks ended, Steve and I booked home on the bikes with lights.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Fireworks 2.0: A Wild Weekend: Part One

(Paddleboat Race, SJS 2008)
(Hat Ladies at the Paddleboat Race SJS/2008)

I hope your 4th of July was as interesting as mine! Steve and I visited Gravel Lake on Friday morning and left Sunday morning. We saw family and celebrated a birthday. Upon arrival, I was signed up for a paddle boat race in the channel at 3:00 p.m. I knew it would be no ordinary race (which I will explain later in this post), so I opted for a rest on the lounge with a Jen Lancaster book (her memoirs are hysterical!) Soon after I peeled off my contact lenses and opted for a midday snooze.

I woke up in a little while, put in a fresh pair of contacts, freshened up for the big race. We received the phone call from our family friend, who was on her way. So Steve and Dad empty and clean out the paddle boat for us, although it will be drenched again in less than an hour.

So my partner in crime arrives donning a brown girly cowboy hat and a swimsuit. I have my crazy hat, sunglasses,swimsuit, life vest and SPF 50. We're ready to go. Oh,wait. I insist she has a life jacket too. We pedal the trek down to the channel,sign up,and make our trek to the heart of the channel (and where I take most of my nature photographs!)

There are paddleboats and kayaks lined up behind a rope. Unfortunately (or fortunately,if you like excitement), the paddleboat race is the dirtiest race in the 4th of July activities this weekend. There are huge waterguns spraying, water balloons, and people leaping off one boat onto another to pull eachother off. And the race hasn't even started yet.

The whistle blows. People are pulling on each other's boats to get ahead. We somehow start off turning sideways but end up straightening ourselves. We are bombed with water balloons. Our thighs start to burn. People are yelling and cheering.

And then we are almost at the finish line. We ask a guy in the water to push us to the finish line. And what does he do? He pushes us sideways. Again. So we jump off, abandon ship, and push the boat over the line. And we come in lucky 13. We finished. We pedal back home and I rest for the remainder of the day.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Ghost Story

As thunder rumbles outside and lightning flashes, I am writing a ghost story, or rather a story about Ghost. Ghost is a small, white domestic fish who lives in the aquarium in the Library. For as long as I remember, Ghost, like the other domestic fish, entertain and soothe patrons who would peer through the glass as they enter the Library. Recently, Ghost is looking a little pale, even for him. He hangs out by the bottom of the tank and swims vertically. We notice something is wrong, but just watch. Patrons are concerned about Ghost and this Monday, Ghost is ashen. What is very sweet is that other fin children in the Library tank seem to swim and huddle around Ghost like they are protecting him. In rougher fish tanks, I have seen fish start eating the sick one even before the gills stop moving. Darwin in action, I suppose. Before staff starts to pull out the net and scoop Ghost out of the tank and into the big flush, I abate the process and insist that Ghost lives. So we compromise. Staff places Ghost into a small fishbowl with warm water, a little food, and puts him in the fish hospital. (My office). Ghost lives for three days in my office. Today, on Wednesday, July 2, @ 4:50 p.m., Ghost gives his last hurrah by swimming crazily in the bowl, goes belly up, and sinks to the bottom. Staff carries Ghost in the bowl and sends him to the porcelain gods in the sky as I hum "Taps". It was a beautiful 30-second service. The End. Literally.

Saturday Chez Sigety

It's a quiet Saturday afternoon chez Sigety. I'm curled up on a wicker couch on the front porch, surrounded by books and comfy p...