Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I get the last post of 2008--YAY!

For 2009, I've decided to not only make writing goals/plans, but personal goals, too. Here are some of my personal goals:

1--I'm going to find time EVERY DAY to spend by myself.

2--I'm going to re-study Japanese again.

3--I'm going to read at least one new book a week (I may do a weekly post on my blog discussing the book I read--that could be fun!)

4--I'm going to learn at least 1 new dinner recipe a month.

5--I'm going to plan and book my dream trip to Japan!!

6--I'm going to come up with a sensible "diet" and exercise plan.

7--I'm going to use my foot spa and massage chair thingie at least once a week.

8--I'm going to get a for-realz massage at least once a month.

9--I'm going to get a new tattoo.

10--I'm going to make sure I drink at least one glass of tea per day.

What about you? Any goals you have for 2009? Funny, weird, serious--share 'em!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cranky old writer

Today's post is random rambling about things that drive me nuts, which is why I'm wearing my cranky pants.

1. Lose/loose - get it right people. The two words are NOT interchangeable. When you LOSE weight, you get LOOSE pants. Seriously, that makes me crazy.

I went out for a brisk walk yesterday, and this provided me with #2 and #3.

2. If you have kids, great. But your kids Christmas scooters (there were NINE of them) don't belong all over the sidewalk where I'm trying to keep up a certain pace. Don't you teach your kids the value of their toys? Or was that your way of telling your neighbors "screw you?" And don't pretend like you didn't see them. You were standing in the yard talking with your other slacker friends.

3. Keep your giant, slobbering dogs on a leash. I like dogs, but not when they come running at me. I don't know your dogs. I don't know if they're nice or mean. And I don't want my crotch sniffed, especially when I don't know whose crotch they sniffed last. (That's six degrees of separation even Kevin Bacon would back away from.)

And lastly, YOU KIDS STAY OFF OF MY LAWN. That is all. Now go read a book. Or tell me what makes you cranky?

Monday, December 29, 2008

sports movies

I'm a huge fan of sports related movies. Friday Night Lights, We Are Marshall, Bull Durham, Hoosiers, Jerry McGuire, Juwanna Mann (seriously, too funny)--you name a sports film, I've probably scene it. More than once. Hell my favorite TV Show of all time was Sports Night--which was about sports casters.

Last week, I spent some time rewatching favorite movies. Friday was Bull Durham. There is a scene in that movie that makes every girl weak at the knees. Crash Davis set the bar high for men all across the world with this speech: (strong language warning)

And yesterday, while folding laundry, I watched my all-time favorite sports movie, The Replacements, starring Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves. It wasn't a blockbuster hit, but I could watch this movie every time it's on. Wait, I do watch this movie every time it's on. And I watch it other times as well because it's on my keeper shelf.

This is my favorite scene in the movie. It cracks me up every time. Is it realistic? I dunno. But it's funny as hell. The best part of the scene? The very last line. So watch it all the way to the end. (sexual content warning)

Are you a fan of sports movies and tv?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Reunions and a Great Video Clip

Have you seen these guys? They are Straight No Chaser, an acapela group reunited after college when one of the guys posted a clip on YouTube. Hoping to connect with his old singing buddies, he got them discovered by Atlantic Records. And the rest, as they say, is holiday history...

What I love about the story is not the record deal or even the great music, though they certainly are terrific. What I like is how they got together after time, and life, and miles had drawn them apart. My own friends often wander home for the holidays. I see old students, kids I knew through my family home from college. I run into high school pals visiting parents, siblings, whomever... finding themselves back in Green Harbor for a little while.

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday and will continue to do so as we head for a brand-spanking new year. And I hope you find a few old friends in the hustle and rush.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After

I used to think the day after Christmas was the most depressing day of the year. Something happened to me this morning, though. I realized I actually like this day.

  • There is plenty of nummy food in the kitchen, and I no longer need to make it.
  • The lights are still up and I can enjoy them without the constant to-do list streaming through my head.
  • There is still a "vacation" vibe, yet things start getting back to normal.
  • Did I mention the end of the constant to-do list in my head.

I can breathe! I can relax.
Happy Boxing Day!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Solstice (a little late)! Happy New Year!

Whatever you celebrate, I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

And so does Bailey!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the day before Christmas...

It's Christmas eve, and I'm one of a handful of people in my office today. In some ways, it's cool--hello, RUN WITH SCISSORS while the bosses are out! In some ways, it sucks, though--I'd much, much rather be home. haha. So, for those of you who are stuck at work with me and have access to a computer, here are some online fun and games to check out:

--You can download the classic Elf Bowling game and wow your coworkers with your amazing ability to knock elves over!

--Into Mah Jong? Here's a Christmas Mah Jong game for ya.

--If you're an evil heathen like I am, you can watch the Ding Fries are Done guy on YouTube and laugh, laugh, laugh your work cares away.

--And last but not least, check out the picture that I found on (this pic made me snort out loud):

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Twist on Chrismas Songs

Here's a fun version of a old favorite. Have you heard this one yet? You might want to listen to it twice to really get the whole thing. Pretty awesome.

What's your favorite Christmas song?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Let's play a game

I'm going to make a list of things and you guess which ones are me, and which ones aren't. How well do you know me?

  1. Jeans, T-shirt, flip-flops is my outfit of choice. TRUE
  2. I'm naturally a red-head. FALSE (naturally a dirty-blond girl)
  3. I played basketball and softball throughout high school. TRUE
  4. I turned down a softball scholarship for college. TRUE
  5. I don't like listening to Jazz. TRUE
  6. I don't like old movies. TRUE (there are rare exceptions to this...)
  7. The first feature I notice on a guy is their butt. FALSE (it's a tie between eyes and smile)
  8. My favorite flower is a daisy. TRUE
  9. My favorite animal is a poodle. FALSE (flamingo)
  10. My all-time favorite movie is Dirty Dancing. TRUE

Now, go! Which ones are true and which ones are false?

Saturday, December 20, 2008


It snowed last night. Not the wimpy, little dusting we've already had, but the real deal that we've been waiting for. I don't care how old you are or how jaded you've become. Around here this is special an the kid emerges from the basement of every soul. It SNOWED. It covered everything and we awoke to a sense of softness, sounds made dimmer by the thick layer on the house. Morning light was more pearly and had no sharp angles to it. There as a smell... a slight, softened edge to the air like springwater, but with no trace of green. If you live in New England or a place with a similar climate you know what I mean. You don't need to look outside to know it snowed. You rush to the window because you know already.

And there it is... a thick blanket (the dustings don't count) made for careening down hills, sliding over big back yards, and building monstrosities of white. Snowmen, snow houses, igloos, you name it. The holiday decorations are suddenly magical. Every nativity scene achingly beautiful. The boats in the harbor decked out in ridiculous lights, wreaths, santa hats... nobody embraces the winter like our local lobstermen. I think you have to be slightly insane to do the job anyway.

We deck our lighthouses with holly and bay. We greet N'oreasters with grins and hot cider (usually spiced with something suspiciously stronger than cinnnamon). We build snow-lobsters and snow-forts and have snowball fights with mailmen we've known for years. We're not right in the head, I guess.

Must be all the snow. :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Warning: Reading this post may cause cavities

I'd like everyone to mee the newest member of Gwen's family. I'd introduce you more formally, but he hasn't exactly told us his name yet. (My characters ALWAYS tell me their name right away, I'm a little miffed at the Lil Dude for keeping it to himself.)

So far the names in the lead are:
Frank (Frankincense)
Clark (for my favorite movie Christmas Vacation)
Walter (Walter is our favorite weatherman and we got puppy right during an unheard of arctic blast. Ever try housebreaking a puppy in the snow? In the middle of the night?)
And Mel likes Wally. Updated at 9:15 Friday morning (Pac time)
Lil Dude has informed me that his name is Wiley.
And he says hello. And he also says that he would like one of you to talk Mom out of giving him the bath she's been talking about all morning.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eau de Burger

If you follow this blog, then you know that Gwen wishes someone would come out with a roasted turkey scented candle.

As much as I love the smell of a turkey roasting in the oven on Thanksgiving, that's just WRONG. Scented candles are meant for romance and relaxation, not roasted meat.

But what do I know? After all, you can now buy flame-grilled-burger-scented cologne.

Yes, that's right. Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Burger King has unveiled a burger-scented men's body spray called "Flame."

Utterly repulsed by this idea, I shared this disgusting tidbit with Mr. Brice, assuming he would agree with me. No such luck. Much to my utter chagrin, Mr. Brice is intrigued by the concept and is now asking for some for Christmas.

I sincerely hope he's joking.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The other side of the story

I've always been drawn to novels about minor characters who finally get their own story.

One of my favorite novels is by Jean Rhys called Wide Sargasso Sea, which shows the tale of the crazy wife in the attic from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. I love how the author breathed life into this character and really gave her an existence of her own.

Just a few days ago, I picked up a YA novel by Lisa Klein called Ophelia, which is from the POV of Ophelia from Shakespeare's Hamlet. I'm eager to dig into this looks fantastic! I've always wanted to know more about this mysterious character.

What about you--any good stories you've picked up lately that show the POV of a character from another book?

Also, what minor or little-known characters from books would you love to see featured in their own stories?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Email? What's that?

I just returned last night from a week long trip to Costa Rica. I'm tired, but it was a great trip that allowed us to see many parts of the country, from the beautiful coasts to the crowded cities. There are levels of poverty there that break your heart and yet, the people don't seem unhappy. but that's another post for another time.

While I was there I didn't check email or have a cell phone - a true tech vacation! Of course, I came home to 517 emails and spent several hours wading through them last night. That got me thinking...what's the longest you've gone without checking your email or using your cell phone? Could you give it up entirely? Or do you freak without it?

Monday, December 15, 2008

smell ya later!

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and somehow we got to talking about how important the sense of smell truly is. For me, it's the strongest of our senses, which is why I try to use it in my writing.

The sense of smell is like a Trapper Keeper for your memories. That's the best way I can think to describe it. I think that's how you develop your 'favorite' smells--based on the memories they created when your Trapper Keeper filed them away.

Smells are also a little bit like a time machine. The smell of vanilla takes me directly to my grandmother's kitchen. It comforts me and makes me feel warm and safe. Wet grass transports me to stargazing on a hillside. The smell of crisp new money takes me back to a Christmas where I received a stocking full of the brand new bills. Honeysuckle and Gardenias are summer. The smell of cinnamon takes me to directly to a softball game because I always had an Atomic Fireball in my mouth.

What about you? What smells are in your Trapper Keeper? Where do they transport you?

Saturday, December 13, 2008


It has surprised me for a while now that schools, most specifically high schools and colleges, haven't led the way in the ebook revolution. Then yesterday my godson, Tommy, called to ask for good places to download classics, Hamlet and a few others, for his spring semester at a private high school. I was delighted to hear he and his classmates are welcome to use ebooks in lieu of a specific edition of these classic texts, and that he has a few teachers who have sought out text books available in the format.

It always seemed logical to me that high schools and colleges would want to jump in with both feet on this technology. Even disregarding the cost-- which would be substantial, the convenience and health benefits are huge. Rather than carting around a book bag that weighs more than most of the cheerleading squad, students could pack a light sack with a Sony E-Reader or an Amazon Kindle, some pens and pencils, and a notebook or-- better still, a netbook mini computer. Under five pounds and everything necessary for a full day of classes. Makes perfect sense to me.

Not only that, but students could purchase a reader for under $300 as incoming classmen, use it for high school, college, and grad school, and download many books for free. Certainly text book publishers would be smart to give bulk discounts. Imagine starting school in September or January, logging on to the high school home page, and downloading all your texts for the year. They don't tear, wear, get dropped in puddles, or have a place to ink "Bongo loves Daisy" with a big heart around it. How often, during debates and stump speeches, have we heard politicians bemoan the out-dated text books in struggling school systems?

Why hasn't this happened yet? Long ago many colleges required incoming students to own laptops and provided discounted models. Some even included the new computer in the tuition. And net-books, mini pc's, really evolved out of the "one laptop per child" movement that sought to provide small, scaled down, child-sized computers for kids.

I'd love to see this idea spread. It would be great for schools, great for ebook publishing, great for young people with straining spines and groaning pockets. And I'd love to hear from readers. What about you? Does your school district encourage the technology? Do you love or hate the idea?

Friday, December 12, 2008

update on Headache Town

The Headache from Hades took off for parts unknown...for a few days. Then it came back.
So I went to my acupuncturist who gave me two different kinds of Chinese herbs, made me look like Pinhead from Hellraiser for half an hour, and is making me put salt water up my nose three times a day with a dropper.

Sometimes I wonder if she just wants to see if I'll really do whatever she says. (I have a week off from blow drying my feet every night, though. Apparently, my spleen channels are more open now, but I'm Yin deficient, so we're taking a break. Yes, I really did blow dry my feet every night. See? I do whatever she says.)

Can I just say that I have NO idea how people can snort lines of coke or whatever other drug you can snort now? It is TORTURE for me to put saline drops in my nose. I hate that feeling. It hurts and I don't like tasting something that went in my nose first.

So. That is my update. I will let you all know how it worked and whatever new torture she designs for me next week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What Are You Reading????

I'm looking for some good suggestions. What YA books have you read recently that you absolutely loved? Dish!

As Rhonda knows, I can't rave enough about Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle Trilogy. These books (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing are set in Victorian England and feature a young girl who dabbles in witchcraft with her friends at boarding school. It's a classic good-vs.-evil struggle as she battles with the evil Circe for control of the Realms, a magical world beyond ours.

I don't normally read much paranormal, but I'd heard a lot of good things about this trilogy, so I had to try it out. Besides, having written a time travel set in that time period (although mine is in France, not England), I was curious to read more about the era. And I'm so glad I did, because I LOVED IT!!!!!!!

From the start, I couldn't put the first book down. Totally devoured them. Libba Bray just blew me away.

So whatcha been reading? Anything good?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hardcover, trade paperback, or mass market?

When it comes to buying novels, what size/type do you prefer to purchase? Do you go for the hardcover version? Do you like trade paperbacks? Or do you prefer mass market paperback books?

What influences your book-type purchase--durability? Cost? Size? Type of book? Who the author is?

As for me, I rarely buy books in hardcover due to the high cost. It has to be something absolutely spectacular for me to do so. I actually don't remember the last hardcover novel I've purchased.

My favorite book size tends to be trade paperback (and luckily for me, there are tons of YA novels that come out in this size). I'll typically wait until a hardcover book comes out in this size before buying it, even though that usually means waiting a while--the prices for YA trade paperback are usually very reasonable, and that's a hard allure to resist, because that means I can buy more. LOL.

If, however, given a choice with the same book between trade and mass market, I may buy the mass market version, since it's sometimes much cheaper. But if it's only a marginal difference, I'll still buy the trade paperback size, since I prefer that one.

How about you?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My Favorite Time Waster

Sometimes, I procrastinate. I know you're shocked to hear that. One of my favorite places to procrastinate is Image Chef.

You're welcome.

Monday, December 08, 2008

research papers for dummies

And by 'dummies' I mean ME.

My oldest son has 3 projects due within a week of each other...and then finals. This will be a busy week. (Of course, if he had started working on these projects when they were assigned instead of the week before they were due, this would be a whole different blog.)

I love to write. I do. I get to imagine things, then bring them to life on paper. Unfortunately, research papers are a different beast. And since my son's 8th grade teacher failed to teach him how to properly write a research paper last year, I'm doing it. (Of course, this entails that I must re-learn the process myself.)

BTW, it sux. Not the paper itself--he's actually done a pretty good job with that (although his spelling is atrocious!) What sux is the actual research and the dry delivery. No voice allowed.

Do you know how hard it is for me to watch my son write a voice-free paper? UGH! Especially when his written voice is so strong. But the guidelines were very specific. "Formal tone only."

"Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?"

In college, we were encouraged to write with personality. Even when writing dry term papers, my professors always encouraged us to develop our voice. It made reading and grading the boring texts a lot easier.

So this 'formal tone' thing goes against my grain, but my son managed to do a good job of keeping is voice strictly monotone. I'm proofreading it for him today. I have a feeling that when I'm done, I'm going to need to write something colorful, lively, and full of me.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

BFFs Old and New

Paris Hilton may have taken the term "bff" to new heights, but it's been around a while. I guess today good friendships are on my mind for a few reasons. First, I got an email yesterday from a very old and dear friend I was missing without realizing it. Second, I have been spending a lot more time with my friends lately. And third, I am hooking up, later today, with some internet friends. I love meeting online friends in person.

My old friend Maureen dropped me an email to update her contact info and it was weird how I had been thinking about her recently. I think about her now and then anyway, but last week I drove through her old stomping grounds and had a Maureen moment... then I passed an ancient Hyundai on the highway. It was the exact make, model, and color of the little hatchback she drove during college, later purchased by me and driven into its grave. She was on my mind, and then-- kapow-- she was in my inbox.

Plus three of my bff's from high school have been constant companions lately. Roxanne I have known since we were tweens. Timmy was my first real boyfriend. Petie I have known since pre-school. We spent Thanksgiving together and it was great. The game-- for which I am eating crow, thanks a lot Rams-- drew a 6,000-plus crowd. I got hugged a lot this Thanksgiving and it was lovely.

Then there's Alan and Nonny, two friends from Romance Diva pals who are leaving my area soon. I couldn't stand the idea of letting them go without an in-person hug, so I am squeezing in a quick lunch before a meeting. I love those online-in-face connects. I got a pretty nice guy out of one of those. :)

I've realized, reflecting this week, that BFF means more than "best friends forever." I have many "best" friends. If I were forced to pick only one it would be Ahmed, though Max might get kind of ticked off. But I won't be forced to pick just one. For me it's not the BEST that counts as much as the FOREVER. It's a great blessing to have friends. And good friendships survive time and distance. One minute you're getting tackled at a high school football game by a guy you run into all the time at the grocery store... the next you've got a very dear and old friend popping up in your email inbox after ages. But the warmth and genuine joy is there, regardless.

So drop your friends-- old and new-- a line. Tis the season, after all. Spread some tidings of comfort, joy, and bff-itude!

Edit: Nonny and Alan outside Cheesecake Factory!

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Dear Reader,

Please be careful. There is a viral headache being passed around our blog. So far, at least three of the Nistas have had terrible headaches this week. I know nothing has worked for mine. Today it spread to my inner ear too.

The world doesn't seem to expect any less of me when I feel like 1/4 my usual self. So I need some creative headache cures that don't include burrowing back in my nest of a bed all day. Or any more advil because I'm one shy of an overdose.

So what crazy remedies did your grandma pass on to you? I am desperate.


It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Every year, Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier. They put up the ginormous 4-story Christmas tree in the lobby where I work two weeks weeks before Thanksgiving this year. I think that's just a little excessive, doncha think?

(And it's definitely a "Christmas tree" this year, despite it being a federal government building. Normally it's a "holiday tree" and decorated in such inclusive colors as blue, silver or gold, but this year it's distinctly a Christmas tree with red ornaments, but I digress...)

I mean, okay, I understand that the economy sucks this year, and people are trying to make consumers head to the malls to spend, and what better way to do that than to remind people that the holiday season is here (even earlier than usual!). But a tree up 2 weeks before Thanksgiving? For crying out loud, I'm barely over Halloween by that point.

But fine. We're now a full week past Thanksgiving, and well into the holiday swing. I get that. I'm okay with it. But why must you play all my favorite classic holiday shows SUPER early?!

Case in point: "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." Best. Christmas. Movie. Ever. I just love that little dentist wannabe Hermie the Elf, and the doll on the Island of Misfit Toys. And when Rudolph says "Ready, Santa!" at the end, it just tears me up inside.

Well, I hope you were able to watch it last night on CBS, because I was not. (I had dress rehearsal for "The Nutcracker.") Because according to this list, that was the ONLY time all season that it will be on this year!

What the heck? We're still 3 weeks away from Christmas, but no more Rudolph. Oh sure, if I'm interested in watching "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" (Dec 10, Dec 11, Dec 13, Dec 24), "Rudolph & the Island of Misfit Toys" (Dec 11, Dec 15, Dec 21), or "Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas in July" (Dec 13, Dec 24), then I have plenty of other options. And those are fine in a pinch, but they're not the true Rudolph.

So now I'll have to wait another 365 days to get my true Rudolph fix. It just doesn't seem right.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hump Day

Well, it's Wednesday again...and that means another fun-filled post from moi. Lucky, lucky you!

So, while pondering today's post (read: what the crap am I going to write?!?!), I realized what an odd phrase "hump day" is. I mean, it's not like you can go celebrate by dry-humping people...or at least not without their permission, anyway.

Of course, I googled it and found out that Wednesday is called Hump Day because it's like getting over the "hump" of the week. So, there ya go.

And while I'm on the topic of weird phrases, why is there a "poop deck" on a boat? I mean, EW...who really wants to swab THAT?

Here are a few other phrases that seem a bit off-kilter to me.

--pop a squat (or "cop" a squat): my relatives back in the hills of WV say this one. Okay, I say it, too. But that doesn't mean I understand why we refer to "sitting" like this.

--hot polish boy: when I first moved to Northeast Ohio, I saw a sign that advertised for hot polish boys. I was like, what kind of place have I MOVED to?!?! Then, I found out that meant some kind of sausage sandwich. Okaaaaaaay...

--boob tube: dude, this one's charming. I usually just say TV. haha

So, what about you--any phrases that are weird or make you laugh? Do share!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Cheap Gifts

No, this isn't a tirade on $5 Rudolph sweaters or half-price ties that play Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. It's a few suggestions on some less expensive, but great, gifts to give this year. With things being tight all over (and I'm not talking about my pants), homemade gifts are a fabulous way to feel extravagant without spending massive amounts of cash.

If you're good on the computer:
* A CD of family pictures set to music and edited with one of the movie maker programs complete with a custom label.
* An offer to build a website
* An offer to teach someone how to build a website, make a movie or whatever other computer skills you have

If you're crafty:
* Homemade bath salts - I make a lot of these
* Homemade body scrubs - ditto
* Jewelry - I even opened my own shop, I got so good at this.
* Hand-painted items - this category is endless. Example: Paint a flower pot and fill it with some seed packets and gardening gloves.

If you sew:
* Reusable grocery bags - you could even monogram these or dress them up with iron on transfers
* Make ties (see here for instructions)
* Sew a custom stuffed monster!

If you cook:
* Make cookies/cocoa/soup in a jar
* Offer to teach someone how to cook!
* Make a recipe book with pictures.

For more crafty gift ideas, Google is your friend - just type in homemade gifts. The ideas are endless! Or check out this blog: Craftzine. Christmas doesn't have to be expensive. Get some friends together and make a day of gift-making. How much fun would that be?! Have you ever made your own gifts before? What kind of stuff have you done?

Monday, December 01, 2008

too much family?

We host Thanksgiving every year (except for last year when we were busy painting our new house). This year, we had 23 people. Not a record, but still, that's a lot of family and friends.

At one point, when I was being chastised about my political views and my weight gain, I was quite sure there is such a thing as too much family. But then I realized, this year was special. We had 3 generations of aunts in the house for the first time ever. Me, 2 of my aunts, and my great aunt.

That was pretty darn special for my kids and my niece and nephew. And who knows if we'll be able to have that happen next year?

So yes, there is a thing as too much family. At times they have no boundaries and no tact. But all the inappropriate conversations and huffy political attitudes aside, too much family is the only way to experience the holidays* because sometimes, history is made.

*not recommended without a lot of wine...