Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pass It On

Last weekend we went to the art festival in our downtown. Lots of beautiful crafts, paintings, photography, wood turnings, etc. and music and food from everywhere around the world. It is always a good time and this year it was even better because for the first time since we moved here it wasn't a hundred degrees. This year it was overcast and cooler than years past and so we were able to walk around and breathe and not sweat. My husband ate food from Samoa, I ate Greek food and Little Man ate a hotdog. After lunch, and a little more walking around, we experienced potty training in a port-o-potty.

When we left, we strolled downtown and ducked into several antique stores. My husband was looking at the furniture for ideas and joinery techniques. I just browsed around looking at old books, and knick-knacks. In one of these stores, upstairs and tucked away into a back corner, I noticed several pillows. They had some wear and tear and needed a little love to restore them but even in their discarded state they were beautiful.

These pillows were needlepoint and embroidery. They were intricate, graceful, feminine, and meticulous. The number of hours it must have taken to embroider the small flowers makes me gasp. The even stitches that were patiently and lovingly laid with each pull of the thread. Even the design was unique, well, certainly nothing I've seen before.

I touched them and felt their delicateness. The still silky feel of the embroidery floss and the durability of the tapestry wool. The once vivid colors were fading and the seams were splitting in spots. There were stains of use and living. I found myself standing still and staring at them for a few minutes with thoughts and emotions racing through my mind.

Who had made these? Who were they made for? What happened to the creator and the owner? How many people had rested upon them? Questions with no answers. I was sad that these pillows, which represented care and love and talent and practice and patience and planning, had ended up in the dark, dusty corner of this antique store. No one to know their history and no one to carry it on.

I felt sad for these pillows, or rather for what they represented - lost history and perhaps the last in a family line. More so, I felt sad for those who gave them up. They have no appreciation for those that came before them. No knowledge of their history or care to look beyond their own world.

I have things like this that have been passed down in the family - furniture, needlepoint, lace, jewelry, books, etc. I love it. To me, these are the tangibles of our DNA. "Your great-great-grandperson made this." Well, they also made me. Isn't it a responsibility to pass these things, this history down to the next generation? What do you think?

Thursday, September 19, 2013


So last week I talked about my pet peeves (and I have discovered more) so this time I thought I'd write about things that amaze me. Not amaze in that Twilight Zone sort of way, but in a happy way. Everyday, there is at least one thing that will catch me off guard and make me smile.

Photo Courtesy of

First, Little Man is absolutely amazing. Everything about him is amazing. Parents, you know what I mean. Not a day goes by when he doesn't say or do something that just takes me off guard and sweeps me off my feet. By far, however, the most amazing thing he does is something he hasn't changed all that much since he could reach out his little hand. In the morning, he reaches out his hands and places them on my cheeks and says, "Good morning, Mama." Then he puts his nose to my nose and gives me an Eskimo kiss and says, "nose, nose, nose," with each rub. This has varied over the few years of his life. At first he'd put his hand on my face and I'd say good morning and rub his nose. This made him smile. It evolved to two hands and his pulling my face to his so we could rub noses. That made him giggle. When "mama" and "dada" were his only words he'd just say "mama" and then we'd nose rub. Of course, now he can climb up in my lap and initiate the whole ritual. I love this more than anything and the day it stops I will secretly weep.

The second amazing thing is my husband. He is after all math-science guy and therefore very analytical. Yet he has taken up the hobby of woodworking and has demonstrated a hidden creative streak. He has designed and built several beautiful things. His current project is making a Federal-style table for our foyer that will match an antique piece we have. I am amazed at the vision he has for it and how he is carefully executing it in such detail.

So, my advice is to look for the things that are amazing!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

That Bothers Me

It's pet peeve day. I have a number of pet peeves; everyone does. Some days they seem to be everywhere, depending on how much sleep I've had I guess. Other days they don't bother me as much - but they never don't bother me.

One is when I'm emptying the dishwasher and the tops of cups and glasses (or the bottoms) have water on them. Worse is the Tupperware, or sippy cups, that flip over and fill up with water. Yuck. I need to invent tiny bungee cords that can be hooked to the rack and stretched over the flippy things to keep them from doing that.

Another is dog fur. We have two BIG yellow labs who seem to shed an additional dog in fur daily. It gets under the furniture, on the furniture and in places I don't like to look. I sweep and sweep and still there's more. Love the doggies, not the fur. Sigh. Maybe I'll get one of those robot vacuum cleaners that can suck up fur all day.

Carpet on stairs ranks up there. Actually, it's not the carpet itself that is offensive, it's the vacuuming of it. I think whenever carpeting is installed on stairs, the cost should include someone who comes over to vacuum it. Have you ever tried to balance the vacuum with one hand, yourself with another and use the attachment and hose with the third hand? Really, who has three hands?

Those are the ones that mostly bother me. I'm sure there are others, but not today. I wonder if my characters have pet peeves. I know Walter doesn't like pickles, but that's a dislike, not a peeve. Would it be realistic to add peeves to my characters? What are your pet peeves and what do you do when they flare up?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Where's the veggies?

In an effort to get the Little Man (and the Big Man) to eat more healthily, I'm trying to incorporate more vegetables into our diets. The problem is, I don't particularly like them either. Oh sure, I prepare them with most meals, and eat them, but there aren't that many I like and there's not much variety. And really, just how healthy are vegetables that are smothered in cheese sauce or sautéed in butter? Fortunately, you can hide vegetables in lots of ways. You can puree them and hide them in tomato sauce, meatballs, meatloaf, and in stews. There is even a pasta that's made from cauliflower.

Carrot cake cupcakes
Typically, I don't bake. I cook, but baking isn't something I like to do. I marvel at these women who can whip out an upside-down pineapple cake, or those moms who just put out a batch of cookies at a moments notice. However, in an attempt to get vegetables into a tasty form and to satisfy my husband's request to have cookies of muffins every now and then, I have turned to the recipe box.

Recently, I have made zucchini bread and carrot cake cupcakes. Both males have tasted them and deemed them good enough to eat. My husband is aware that the treat is made with vegetables but Little Man is not. We let him come up with his own name for the treat. He calls the zucchini bread "chocolate bread." The carrot cake cupcakes he calls "cupcake muffins." That's fine, for now it's our little secret.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Too Much Or Too Little And How Do You Know?

Courtesy of
So, I like to cook. It is a creative outlet for me although I admit to falling down on this a bit recently. Toddlers don't really like to experiment with food and I don't like cooking separate meals all the time so we've been eating like children lately. Or ordering out so someone else can cook separate meals. But, when I do cook, I enjoy it because I can combine and layer flavors and textures making something pleasing to the palette. Or, as my husband says, "Mmmmm! This is good! You can make this again."

I like knitting too because I can combine knits with purls to add texture and patterns. Throw in different color yarns and make stripes. Make cables too and Celtic knots. My goal is to learn Nordic patterns (yikes!). I know what you're thinking. You live in the south, you don't need sweaters and mittens. No, but I have family up there. Besides, an Irish sweater or Nordic sweater just plain looks cool.

Needlepoint and embroidery is fun for me too. Same reasons - different color yarns, different materials (wool or floss), different stitches. All yield different textures and patterns.

As you all know, I have also been editing and revising my novel. There was a horrible error that was caught by one of my beta readers. Terrible, but no big deal really (now that the twitching has stopped). I'll just move some chapters around and alter a few things. The important thing is that it was caught and can be corrected! Yay!

But the one thing that has me scratching my head is more about editing than revising. I have had some readers say they like certain things, and others say they don't like it. I've read blogs and editing resources that say don't do this, but then in just about every book I've read or am currently reading, it's there.

I'm not talking about too many or redundant adverbs. He shouted loudly. Duh, how else do you shout? I'm not talking about asides - he thought to himself. Well, who else do you think to? I'm not talking about weird physical things (although I've seen this in many professionally published books) - her eyes followed him down the street. No, her gaze, stare, glance can follow, but not her eyes.

I'm talking about what's called "stage direction." You know, telling what the character is doing. I get that we don't need to know that the character opened the refrigerator door, reached in, pulled out a beer and opened it. He lifted it to his mouth and drank deep gulps, downing the beverage in a matter of seconds. Simply saying he downed a beer may be enough. I agree, that that much detail is too much. But, I've had some readers say they like to know what the character is doing (downing the beer) and others say, cut it all out. Which is right?

I can't "taste" it to see if there is too much salt or "feel" it for too loose or tight stitches. When do you know what to cut and what to keep? If I cut too much, will the story now be a little stiff? If I don't cut enough, will it be trite? I guess I'll just have to make that decision on my own.