Monday, May 11, 2015

Bloom When

It is mid-May, which in Colorado this year means flowers, sunshine...and snow. Yesterday, we had about four inches coating the landscape.

I looked into my backyard when it hit to at least enjoy the flora for a moment before it froze. Only one brave blossom had opened. It was a beautiful dark purple, with large leaves laced out wide. The others sat curled into buds, unwilling to risk opening.

The open flower fell to the ground when the snow came. But every single one of the other plants turned yellow without ever showing their faces.

It made me think about life. So often we want to wait until its safe to risk pursuing what we really want. When I get married....when the kids are older....when I've saved more...when I'm retired...when the economy turns around...when I can talk someone into going with me...when I lose weight...when I get better at it...

And in the meantime, we wait. Just, wait.

The problem is, we only get to live each day once, and not one person really knows what the next day will bring. When I think bravely, I'd rather bloom blue and early and leave a trace of color in the world than fade to yellow without ever having seen the sun. Because the snow will come for all of us, whether we open ourselves to this life or not.

I'm thankful for this one small reminder to live, and for
all the opportunities I've had to experience wonderful moments in this life. Blossom moments. For playing with kids in Cambodia, for eating amazing pizza in Vatican City, for sleeping late on a rainy Saturday, for snuggling kittens in my lap. I'm thankful for the wonder of watching whales leap from the ocean, waterfalls sail off cliffs, Christmas trees hovering over piles of bright presents. For the chance to be totally and utterly honest with friends over coffee, to laugh like a crazy person over old memories, to pursue dreams I can't make happen on my own, and to pursue those I can. For moments of success, yes. But also for moments of failure, because it means at least I tried. For roller coasters, for songs that make my heart expand beyond my chest, for painting classes, and for a delicious bite of chocolate. For all the moments that remind me to be open, to embrace the warmth of the sun, and to bloom not just where I'm planted, but when.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

(Sniff, Sniff)...Do You Smell That?

I'm not all about ragging on oneself, particularly publicly. But the truth is, I don't have a perfect body.
No, this is not my nose. While it probably works better
I can't say I'd trade.

I've come to accept this.

One particularly im
perfect part nose. It just doesn't work that well. This can be a good thing, like when I'm working with children and those around me start making the grotesque "I'm smelling a loaded diaper" face, because the person who smells it first has to take care of it. So, I change very few diapers.

But it also means I can miss out on some wonderful scents, or at least it takes them a long time to get to me. So when coffee is brewing, cookies are baking, or a Christmas tree is freshly cut, everyone around gets this blissful "I'm smelling my childhood" face, and I have to pretend until my lazy nose finally decides to perk up and sniff already.

If anything, this makes me appreciate those wonderful scents more. And one of my favorites: fresh bedsheets. I enjoy sleeping, although its another thing I'm not particularly good at, but still. There's something so great about lying down in cool sheets and poking your feet into the corners of the bed, then balling up a pillow and closing your eyes.

And then, you inhale, and you get that unique aroma of soap and Spring Breeze, or whatever scent your detergent is. It makes me anticipate dreaming of meadows, (I never actually have, but it's a nice thought as you drift off) and it makes something that is pleasant anyways feel special.

I've read a few historical of late and always amid the romance and fancy dress balls I'm thinking about how they didn't have Degree or Mitchum, didn't bathe all that often, and didn't have spearmint gum. I'd probably do better than most in that environment giving my lack of olfactory acuity, but I'm glad I will never find out. I don't even want to imagine the days before they had soaps with artificial meadow smells. I would miss that.

So, today I'm thankful for good smells, all of them, and particularly the aroma of fresh sheets. I'm thankful for the chemists in some lab who mixed ingredients until they came up with Meadow, and for my own washer and dryer, so I can enjoy that scent as often as I'm willing to do laundry. And yeah, I'm thankful for my mediocre nose because even I do get those whiffs of wonderful now and then.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Raise Your Glass!

There's only one thing to do when it's April and your tulips are wearing little caps of snow:

Drink a margarita.

Why, you ask?  Well, aside from the obvious primary reason--because it's a margarita--there is another more subtle goal.

Winter is a cold, unfeeling despot. When it sees those under its power start to smile, or venture out of doors without down-feather armor, it figures it has gotten too lenient and cracks down. Hard.

And you end up with snow hats on your tulips in the middle of April.

 Like all despots, it reigns unfeelingly and uncompromisingly. So if you dare to pack up your mittens and scarves, you get crushed by a cold (I'm on number three this year. Clearly, I'm a rebel.)

So what are we to do? We protest. We say, "Suck it, winter. I may be stuck inside. I may be paying a heating bill during a month that should mean open windows. I may even have to keep my winter duds at the ready year-round. You can take my papasan chair, but you can't take my margarita!" We raise our glasses and our spirits in the face of the frigid out-of-doors, because no matter the temperature, "It's eighty degrees somewhere!" And the spirit of Spring cannot be overcome!

And you know what? Winter sees, raises it's fists to the heavens, and realizes it's beaten. Then, ever so slowly, slinks away until...well, until later.

The fire may burn in the fireplace, but Spring burns in our hearts. Raise your glass!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Most Interesting Man In The World. (And he doesn't drink Dos Equis....probably PBR)

I love writing stories set in the South because some of the most interesting people I've ever met hale from below the Mason-Dixon. Here is the story of one such man, who is to this day the most interesting person I've encountered. I met him during a visit for work, and wonderful craziness ensued.
Aren't little towns the cutest?!?!

His name, while fascinating in its own right, has been changed to protect the innocent.

I went to review the properties of a county and got an immediate flavor of the town when I passed two sheriffs having a Little Debbie Snack Cake Break in the middle lane of the road, with their lights flashing.
I'd made the appointment with a woman but when I arrived at the county annex, which was roughly the size of a teaspoon, she said I'd be meeting with the judge. My mind goes to black robes, silver comb-over, and a deep voice. 
I was right about the deep voice. Judge Bubba Butterstone stood up, dusted some hay off his hunting fleece, and led me back to his computerless office. We talked square footage, year built and maintenance routines, then toured the annex. I wanted to see the courthouse so he said he'd drive me over if he could smoke in the truck. 
Fine by me.
Judge Bubba warns me there may be stuff in the passengers' seat and sure enough, a hunting rifle and a hunting vest are taking up space. He moved the vest, and invited me to share the seat with his rifle.
"Don't worry, it's not loaded. Oh, wait a minute. What do you know, it sure is." 
So, I'm making sure my toes are out of the way, and then he says, "Why don't I just move that? You'll probably be more comfortable." 
Um, yeah. 
So he lifts it over my head and into the back while I shamelessly scrunch low in my seat, just in case.
As we head to the courthouse, he says, "The traffic was bad this morning."
"Oh, because of construction?"
"No, because of that convict that escaped."
"Yeah, a kid just got convicted of murder and escaped from the detention center last night."
This explains the cops and their Little Debbies. Apparently, they'd been stopping traffic to look for the murderer, and then found out that somebody's car had been stolen so they figured they should just look for that car instead of searching all the rest of them.
So we go to the courthouse, a stone building that volunteers are coating in Christmas lights. It was like a scene from a movie set in the South that you watch and think, "Maybe fifty years ago in a Thomas Kinkade painting," only it was real.  It warmed the cockles of my heart.
Then, I ask about the jail. 
So Judge Bubba says we'll just go look at it, and heads to the jail. 
At first I wasn't sure this was a good idea, but then I figured the last place an escaped murderer wants to hang out is near the prison. Plus, Bubba rolled up the windows, so if there was a convict passing by, he couldn't reach in and grab the loaded rifle out of the back seat. 
As we pass the news vans, the judge tells me not to let anyone know who he is and we won't get mobbed…by the two news crews. 
I agree to this condition.
We go inside, and all these sheriffs are walking around looking pretty P.O.'d that somebody got out. When Judge Bubba tells them I want to see the sprinkler riser they all gave us that "I'm trying to track down a killer and you want to look at pipes?" look. 
Hey, I would have done the same thing. (And I later found out that the criminal escaped via the sprinkler room, so it was a sensitive topic to begin with.)
So I just smile and get a phone number I can call after all the convicts are rounded up, and head out of dodge.
Just another day in Arkansas, y'all.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pocket Pack!

Ew, right? 
So, I thought I'd dealt with my annual cold in November-December. It was a long bugger this year and sticky. I won't go into more detail than that. At any rate, I spent my time in the trenches and figured I was good for the rest of the season.

Au contraire. This year, I managed to obtain a second cold in March. Yay. I do not like to be sick. I don't like it when my nose gets red and I sound like a ten year-old, and I have to sleep with my mouth open, which then makes my throat dry...I don't like it. So, I stock up on meds, and make sure I have Kleenex within reach at all times.

The problem with carting a box of tissue around with you is that people stop seeing you, and just picture a giant germ headed their way. Gives a body a little sympathy for Typhoid Mary. Same goes if you pull a bunch of Kleenex free and stuff them in your pockets/purse/laptop bag.  People see you riffling through a bunch of wrinkled tissues and assume you've got mucus on everything you own, which is usually only about 30% true.

Enter, the nifty little pocket pack. It fits relatively easily in a pocket or purse, and keeps all your tissues nice and orderly until you need them. I no longer need to walk around with the equivalent of a WARNING sign tucked under an arm, nor do I have to sift through wrinkly tissues
while people lean as far away as possible without falling off their chairs.

It sounds like a small thing, and it is. Until you get a cold. So, I'm grateful for Kleenex and the person who thought up putting aloe in them so my nose won't chafe. I'm grateful for the portable packaging some marketing guy thought up mid-sneeze, and I'm grateful that my spring cold was much shorter than my fall one.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Open Windows

This is not the view from my window, unfortunately, but it was
too pretty to pass up. It definitely beats my deadish yard and the
angry squirrel who regularly runs the fence.
I've been a proud homeowner for 1.33 years now, and I must say, I like it. There have been elements of adjustment, sure. Like the fact that owning a lawn means one must mow a lawn, there is no super to call when things stop working, and it costs a lot more to regulate the temperature of a house than an apartment of middling size.

We're at that quirky time of year where the typically moody weather of Colorado becomes downright manic depressive.  It snowed on Wednesday, and today it was pushing eighty.  It does keep things interesting. I don't want to flip flop between running the heat and running the A/C but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, even if her pocketbook winces when she does it.

So, I'm always very pleased on days like today. It was upper '70's, perfect sit-outside-to-read weather, but at night it will cool down. So although the house got a little to cozy for comfort today (still had the system set to heat from Wednesday) it's no matter. I can sleep with the upstairs windows open and it'll cool right back down. For free!

It makes me grateful for lovely weather days, for the fact that I have A/C at all, even if it can get a little pricey, for a fabulous down comforter in case it gets cooler than expected overnight, and for two stories in my house. I would not leave windows open if I slept on the ground floor.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Golden Hearts

Last week I found out I'm a finalist for the RWA (R) Golden Heart (R) Contest for unpublished writers.  (I don't know how to make the little symbol with the R in the middle. Sorry.)

For me this was a huge honor.  For the cats it was rather traumatic. Poor Buckles was sitting right behind me when I let out a victory screech. It took them a while to confirm I'd regained my sanity before they'd come back over.

Anyway, this will look great on my writing resume and I was so excited for that. Little did I know...

Almost immediately my inbox experienced an inundation of email unlike anything since the great flood, if the flood had been electronic instead of wet.  It turns out the finalists are a super fun group of women who want to be my friends!

Writing is a solitary activity, unless you count the people in your head, which my therapist says I can't. So, it means so much to have friends and peers who get the process, who understand the reward of typing The End, who share dreams of being on a book shelf, who get rabid insecurity, and who want to jabber sometimes to people who will answer back. And now, I have a whole bunch more friends to add to my circle! We've known each other via email for less than a week, but already bonds are forming and we're planning to keep in touch long term, to encourage and help each other find success, and to celebrate when we do.

Now, I can't talk about writing friends without mentioning CritGroup13, including Jodie, Christina, and Donna. We've been sharing life and writing for what...six years now? And they probably know me better than almost anyone in the world. Even though we've only gotten to hang out all together once. Once! (If I were going to indulge my corny side, I would say they truly have the Golden Hearts (R). But I won't. And they do.)

So, today I'm grateful for email, that makes long distance friendships so much easier. For friends who stay friends no matter how long its been, and who immediately go into fun-goofy mode the minute you get together again. For fellow writers who share my passion for story, for those moments, however rare, when we can all be together and get a little crazy. For this finalist opportunity, and for all the friends I didn't know came along with it!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Little Airplane vs. The Big Nor'Easter

This is the BEFORE picture. Note the happy, unsuspecting
smiles of two friends/ who don't anticipate a potential
death match over a vomit bag.
Perspective is crazy. Not just in the I-can-pinch-your-head-when-you-stand-far-away way, but how your definition of what is good, or what will make you happy can change based on experience.

Last fall I got on a flight to North Carolina for a writer-girls weekend (shout out to Jodie, Christina and Skype-Donna!)

During the layover in Washington-Dulles where I met up with Christina (yay!) we were told our flight was 20 minutes late. Boo. But then that moved and then it moved again. So after a while we were going to get in late, but I was just hoping to get in soon. Then, we go up in the air in a cigarette with wings and fly through a Nor'easter.

Do not get in a plane and fly through a Nor'easter. It was like driving on a rumble strip through the mountains with portions of the road blown out. My new definition of happy very quickly became to land without having puked. I had my little sick bag ready and I was eyeballing Christina's, ready to kype it as needed.

About an hour after the "we're landing soon so put up your tray tables" announcement, we started flying up instead of down.  Not good. The pilot said cross winds were high, but we'd try again.

So. We go lower and lower, and I breathe harder and harder thinking non-puky thoughts, and we're so low I could literally reach out my window and pick a weed off the Tarmac...and then we sore up into the windy heights again. Me and my stomach were yelling "Nooooooo!"

Pilot man lost his nerve, which in retrospect, I'm okay with. I'd rather have a pilot be cautious than end up sliding down an inflatable slide while firemen spray foam at the plane. But at the time, I didn't feel that way. Again, perspective.

So, now I'm praying harder than I've prayed since the last time I got pulled over, and deep breathing, and also trying to figure out what we'll do if the pilot makes good on his threat/promise to take us to Dulles instead, if our third attempt isn't successful. I'll be happy if we can just land here. At all.

We fly lower, and lower, and I pray harder, and harder, and continue to think non-puky thoughts, and then....BAM. We hit the runway. Hard.
This is what waited at the other end. This
and lots of chocolate and laughs. Yes, it was totally
worth it.

And you know what? We applauded. I applauded. Because at that point, the only thing I wanted in the world was to be on the ground, and I was! And as a bonus all my dinner was still inside me!

All this is to say, I want to be grateful for the little things, without a Nor'easter in the mix. So today, I'm grateful for pretty weather, and windows that open, and cats that didn't wake me up early. For sweatshirts and yoga pants, for breakfast. I'm grateful for my laptop and that the battery lasts a long time, for auto back-up so I don't have to live in partial panic that I'll lose EVERYTHING some day by accident. I'm grateful for toilet paper, and indoor plumbing, for warm water, and clean clothes. For eyeliner! For clean water, for coffee, and for fun mugs. For beaches, and friends, and even experiences that make me remember how much I have to be thankful for.

Monday, March 16, 2015

You Are My Sunshine

One might wonder why, for a post about sunny days, I would choose a picture of red peppers.

If one has ever been badly sunburned, one knows exactly why. Because just like those peppers, you're red, and burning, and pointy....okay, not pointy. That was just to see if y'all are paying attention.

But for real, yesterday the fine state of Colorado reached the mid-70's for the first time this year. And, to celebrate, I cleared my schedule and spent the day outside reading and editing.

The whole day.

The funny thing is, I only spent a few hours of that time in direct sunlight because my favorite reading spot in the backyard is nice and shady in the afternoons. But, those few hours were long enough to get a sunburn. Oh, it's not a red, burning, pointy sunburn, just a pinkish warm-to-the-touch one that will fade rather quickly.

But you know what? I'm cool with it. (Lame pun unintentional) For the next few days I won't be able to forget the lovely time I spent outside.

I'm as anti skin cancer as the next person, but this mild rosiness wouldn't be possible without that beautiful weather.  And if the price for being able to loll in my papasan chair with a glass of wine and a favorite book is a baby sunburn, well then welcome baby sunburn.

I'm thankful for sunny days and spring, and sunscreen--which incidentally, I did put on my face--and the smart people who figured out how to make it not feel greasy. For favorite books, wine, time to put my feet up and enjoy the sunshine, and yeah, even a little sunburn now and then.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


My library is nice, but not quite this nice.
picture by imelenchon
This is me resurrecting my poor blog. It didn't die, its just been cryogenically preserved for...a while.

But for a number of reasons it's now been reawakened and I will have to think of things I'm grateful for at least three times a week. In part, because I am adopting, and in this time of waiting for a placement, I want to keep myself focused on things I do have.

I've never been a budgeter. As long as the income is exceeding the expenses, I didn't worry about it. I admit it. And if I had been, the book allowance would likely remain unregulated because I love them and I feel like they're a good investment. Hey, I reread some of them!

But, alas, since adoption isn't free, I'm now saving extra-hard, so my book budget went from astronomical to just above nil. It was a painful choice. I window shop on amazon and lust after new releases the way Carrie Bradshaw looked at shoes.

When I took my little pity-party public on Facebook, so many people were quick to remind me about the library. I've used it before, I use it often for audio books when I'm traveling for work. But for whatever reason I've never gotten into using it for actual books. I think it goes back to the limitless budget for buying my own copies.

So, after some amazon-lusting I went to the online library system to see if they had the new releases I wanted. One, they didn't. Boo. But one they did! Yay!  So now I'm happily ensconced in a new novel. It turns out the library copies are just as enjoyable as personal copies, as long as you don't dog-ear the corners. So, I'm grateful for libraries, fresh stories, a society that still recognizes the importance of written art, and artists who labor to make them. I'm also grateful for all those books I managed to accumulate before my self-imposed embargo. My pretties!