Thursday, January 30, 2014


I grew up in Rhode Island so I'm no stranger to snow. It's pretty and white and wet and cold and slippery and when it melts it makes mud everywhere. Get enough snow and it has to be shoveled off the driveway and brushed off cars. It's heavy. I do like snow and there's nothing more fun than an old fashioned snowball fight, except winning a snowball fight. There's building igloos and snow forts and sledding and making money by shoveling people's driveways for them. Snow, as a kid, was always great fun. Then there are the snow days when school was cancelled. Of course, in Rhode Island that had to be a substantial amount of snow since it wasn't an odd occurrence and we were usually prepared for it, expected it. I have lots of snow memories, the most pronounced is the Blizzard of '78.

I lived in Florida for most of my adult life and it doesn't snow there. Then my husband and I moved to Virginia and it snows occasionally there. We'd get flurries and a few inches about once or twice a winter. It wasn't until I was pregnant that we got a REALLY BIG snow fall. It didn't matter since I was too nauseated to go anywhere. I practically hibernated that winter anyway. Then we moved to Georgia.

Our first winter in Georgia and we had a snow. Not a big snow. Mostly ice and it was gone a day or two later. This is our fourth winter in Georgia and it snowed again! This time we actually got an accumulation of about 3 inches and Little Man is old enough to enjoy it.

Photo by LeeAnn Rhoden
We made snow balls, we made trails through the snow, we drew in it with sticks, we made a snow castle and then stomped on it. We went out in the morning and then again in the afternoon after our mittens dried out. Today, the snow is mostly ice and it will be gone by this afternoon. I just hope that it lasted long enough to engrave an image on Little Man's heart so he can look back fondly on snow memories.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Out Loud

Photo by artur84
Okay, I have sensitive hearing. I wake up in the middle of the night if Little Man removes one of his socks. So to me, most everything is too loud. Frankly, I don't like the assault on my ears and the pain it causes. The day begins with an alarm and it seems that things just get louder as the day progresses. By bedtime, my ear drums usually throb.

I don't like LOUD music. I don't like LOUD music emanating from someone else's car. I don't really like to go to the movies because, you guessed it, they are too LOUD. The TV is too loud most of the time. We recently purchased a TV and we were shown an assortment of sound bars to go with it. No. Absolutely NOT in my house. And, no, I do not like surround sound. The last thing I want is loud noises coming at from all around.

There are two things that really bother me about the volume of the TV. First, there are some channels that have the program's volume so low that you have to increase the volume just to hear it. AMC is one of these offending channels. Then, when they go to commercial, they are SO LOUD because you have the volume turned up. Seriously, can't they hire someone to balance the volume between program and commercial? Second, is basic balancing within a program or movie. Why are some scenes, okay dialogue mainly, so low that you can't hear it and the sound track or explosions so loud they blow the speakers? Really? You can't afford a sound engineer?

Currently we are having a tiling/pixelating issue with our cable. Apparently, the cable box doesn't handle HD signals very well. The cable company tells us to turn off the box to "reset" it whenever we call to complain. I'm pretty sure this is on page 1 of the Customer Service How-To-Blow-Off-The Customer-Handbook. Got a problem with tiling? Reset the box. Have a question about your bill? Reset the box. Anyway, the problem is not just the tiling screwing with the picture, it cuts the sound in and out too. The only thing worse than having it too loud is getting half a sentence.

Aside from movies and the TV being loud, Little Man does his fair share of noise-making. He has several drums, songs he sings, a "keyboard", and a constant adorable chatter where he creates his own worlds and stories going on in them. The chatter stops for two reasons - he's sleeping or he's eating. He hums when he eats so even then he's noisy. I thank God everyday he's a happy, funny Little Man and his noises don't really bother me all that much anyway (except for the drums).

Anyway, it's time to try to find a quiet place to settle down and perhaps read a chapter, or write a chapter. It's time to unplug, stop throbbing, and relax.

Friday, January 24, 2014

All That Glitters

When we found out that we were going to have a boy, I was honestly a little sad. Not because I wanted a girl - I wanted a healthy, happy baby no matter what the gender - but because I would miss out on all the things that I knew to do with a little one. I knew about crafts, coloring, coloring books, beads, finger painting, etc. I realized as I was waddling through the local Michaels that I'd have to abandon the idea of coloring with my little person and learn about trains, model ships and airplanes and learn to like the smell of rubber cement (and learn how to get it off the kitchen table). It was more fear, than sadness.

As Little Man has grown into this marvelous creature full of creativity and his own ideas, I am happy to see that he does like to color and draw with markers and finger paints (even if it is all over the place). What I wasn't expecting was his apparent interest in glitter. Maybe interest isn't the correct word. More like obsession. Everything he brings home from school has glitter on it. Every gift he makes for his father or me has glitter on it. And when he gets home from school he takes his glitter-laden art project and shows it to every room in the house, shedding glitter in every room in the house.

Photo by LeeAnn Rhoden
Art by Little Man
Glitter doesn't sweep up. Glitter doesn't vacuum up. Glitter might dust up from hard surfaces onto a damp dust cloth, but then it will fall off the dust cloth onto another surface, or floor, or clothing, or hands, and from there into the hair, on the face, in the eyes, in the mouth, on the counter, in the refrigerator, in dinner. In fact, I've witnessed the Little Man picking at the glitter. "Look, Mama, I made the sofa sparkly." Great. Just great.

Glitter is everywhere in our house. And at certain times of the day when the sun is coming in at just the right angle, it's quite pretty. I don't know if glitter has qualities I should be aware of like does it conduct electricity? What happens if it get inside the computer? Does it clog drains? Is it eventually bio-degradable? If it gets into a cut and skin heals over it, or it is inhaled, will the body reject it? I just don't know.

I do know that his "art" projects bring him joy and he treasures his creations. To me, they are priceless worth far more than gold.

Monday, January 20, 2014


I am a collector. I collect interesting things. I don't collect knick-knacks or bobbles or commemorative plates and coins. I do collect books but that is righteous and hardly considered a collection - more like a beginning library. Anyway, what I collect is information. This usually take the form of business cards and take-out menus.

In a recent "The Kill Zone" blog, James Scott Bell posted about discoverability. It's an interesting look at being successful as a writer. In a nut shell it talks about how writing is hard, marketing is easy, and discoverability is our of our hands. And he's right. To be successful at whatever we want to do we have to be discovered. We can shout as loudly as we can from the tallest mountain we can climb about how great we are or how great our product is, but until someone listens and buys what we're selling, it means nothing.

What I've found during my lifetime is that getting your needs fulfilled is hard if you don't know where to look. It used to be that if you needed a plumber you let your fingers do the walking and checked the yellow pages. Now you can go online and search for ratings, or comments on Angie's List (provided you don't mind paying for a subscription AND they have a site in your area). I have found that the BEST way to get a reputable plumber or electrician or a recommendation for a good restaurant is by word of mouth. What businesses, and really all of us, need is not more marketing, they need networking - matchmaking.
Image by digitalart
Wherever I've lived I've paid attention to what people say, collect business cards and other tidbits that are of interest. It helps that I'll talk to anyone about anything. (It also helps if you live in an area where people actually are willing to share information.) That way if I overhear someone needing a plumber, I can pipe up and suggest one. Need an electrician? I have one of those too. A clock repair man? Yup. Need trees removed? I have a recommendation. For a business, a good reputation and recommendations are the key to survival if not growth.

It's that way with regular people too. Sometimes we just need to be matched with the right church, parent group, or whatever. So, if someone offers you a business card or suggests something, pay attention and give it a try. You may be surprised to find that the best match isn't made by the biggest marketing budget. Listen to the Yenta.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lessons at the Point of a Knitting Needle

photo and mitten
by LeeAnn Rhoden
I learned to knit about a year and a half ago. It was something I always wanted to learn how to do but just never sat my butt in a chair and did it. Then I learned about the knitting and crocheting group our church has on Wednesday nights. I do crochet so I thought I'd join and lend my hands to the projects of making prayer scarves for the Confirmands, prayer shawls for those in the hospital, baby blankets for newborns, and scarves and hats and mittens for the homeless and those in need. It was in this class I learned to knit.

I was taught by a woman who had been knitting for several years and since that time I've actually been able to teach new-comers how to knit and/or crochet depending on their desire. I have even been added to our local Joann's Fabrics instructors list to teach knitting and crocheting. Now all we have to do is get people to sign up for the classes!

Knitting and crocheting are needle arts that have been around for centuries, and probably millenniums. It is a craft that is passed from one person to another, and over time more often than not, woman to woman. Knowledge about the size of the needles, the size of the yarn, the patterns, the combination of stitches and twists, to take a ball of yarn and turn it into a sweater, or blanket. Something that is greater than its parts.

It reminds me of story telling. Weaving this way and that way, combining a knit with a purl give the fabric a more stretchy quality, yet strand knitting allows for beautiful Nordic patterns. And if you pull a few stitches off to the side and replace them at just the right point in just the right way you create beautiful cables and Celtic knots. Creating the right plot and subplots and intertwining them bringing in characters, back story and details a precisely the right moment and you have a magical tale. I can envision groups of ladies gathered together knitting and telling stories.

Knitting has also taught me several life lessons. First, knitting can be easy. A straight knit back and forth can quickly and easily become a scarf. Make it wider and longer and it's a blanket. Knitting is also tedious and can be boring. It takes time and patience. Second, making it more interesting by adding purls or cables or knots or stripes requires that you pay attention. One dropped stitch and you have a hole in the middle of your fabric. It's not easy to pay attention on one project that can literally take months to complete. Third, the more you knit, the more you want to do it and the more complex the projects become. A sweater, an intricate blanket, a hat knitted in the round.

But I also learned that it is the small things that become the most befuddling. A simple mitten can bring a grown woman to tears. I attempted mittens for Little Man since it got cold and he didn't have a pair. My first attempt was, well, garbage.  My second mitten was much better. I'm working on a mate for the second mitten. I'm not discouraged. Practice makes perfect, or better anyway. In time I will create my own mitten pattern, adding my part of the story to the women who come after me.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Image by samarttiw
Yesterday I went to my first yoga class. I've decided to try yoga as a way of stretching and limbering up muscles that have become less limber with time and as a no-impact exercise that won't irritate my back but instead, strengthen my back. The class I signed up for is the easiest class, a beginner class. This means that there were a lot of old people in the class. This is fine with me since I am, ahem, over 35. Even so, the class was fairly strenuous and I actually worked up a glow (I don't sweat).

What I discovered is that I am actually more limber and flexible than I thought. I have a few trouble areas, but for the most part, I think this will help stretch out those stiff areas. The problem I have is balance. This is not a surprise considering that for 23 years I've had a spine out of alignment and my body has been compensating by creating its own "balance." My hope is that with this class helping to strengthen my core muscles and my chiropractor keeping me aligned, I'll be able to get back to normal.

The key is balance. Not just physiological balance, or physical/environmental balance, but balance in life. Yes, keeping a schedule is necessary and my schedule is nothing if not busy. Rarely does a day go by that I'm actually able to complete everything on my list of things to do. But part of balance is being able to let myself not finish my tasks so I can take Little Man to run in the park. There will always be another day to work. Balance between tasks, hobbies, enjoyment, obligations, likes and dislikes. In balance there is peace and in peace there is creativity. Namaste.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Which Would You Choose?

There is a question floating around on social media sites asking what power you'd prefer to have. The choices are fire starter, telepathy, or time travel. Hmmm..... Well, I can see all sorts of applications for fire starting. That might even be fun, well, not for what (or who) is being set on fire, but I'd giggle. Telepathy would have been a useful thing to have in my early years, or while dating, but now I really don't care what other people think. But time travel seems to be both fun AND useful.
Image from Time Machine
I don't know what the parameters are of time travel, not having read enough science fiction, but from what I've been able to deduce from Jules Verne and Back To The Future it seems like anything you do to change/alter the past effects the future. I'll keep that rule because it is reasonable. I also don't know what form it would take be it a Victorian sleigh or a Delorean but it doesn't really matter as long as it doesn't take up too much room.

So, what would I use the time machine for? All sorts of things. Like that time I said something stupid and didn't mean to - I'd go back in time and not say it. Maybe I'd be a better dresser or make different decisions. Maybe there are people I'd be kinder to, or treat differently. I love my life the way it is, so I wouldn't want to change how it turned out, so I'd want to be absolutely sure to not stray too far from the path that lead me here.

Aside from the theoretical, my time machine would be working everyday. First, I'd get done the things that I have to do like house work. I could spend the day cleaning, doing laundry, going to the grocery store, cooking, etc. And then once the chores are done, let's say at 4:00, I can go back in time to do the things I want to do like writing, knitting, needlepoint, etc. My question is, once it is 4:00 again, will the house be suddenly clean and all my projects done? Hmmm.... Maybe it is better if the time machine would make time stand still so everything could get done and THEN time could move one. Sort of like a treadmill. But not.
Image by John Kasawa
I don't know if a time machine would actually work for me. Maybe I'd be better off with telekinesis. That way I could just think about cleaning the house and watch the beds make themselves, the dishes load themselves into the dish washer, the vacuum run on its own (I so want a Rumba). What power would you want and why?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Let The Sunshine In

One of the projects we have to do at our fixer-upper house is landscaping. There was an abundance of incorrect landscaping and an abundance of "what is that?" landscaping. We tore out the old, dead, leggy, overgrown shrubs and replaced them with new plants. Some areas we cleared out all together. Still, there was the issue of the trees. We have huge pine trees in the front of the house that shade our house and hide it from view. Alas, the cost of removing the trees was HUGE so we decided to put it off until we could save enough pennies, well, dollars. Still, even with the yard work that we've done, it made a huge improvement with the curb appeal. So, lacking the stack of dollars necessary to make the BIGGEST impact, we turned our attention for this year back to the interior renovations.

Nature, however, had a different plan. One of the five trees decided to start leaning toward the house. Understandable with all the rain we've had this year and pines being shallow rooted things to begin with. Then, to make its intentions clear, the tree leaned more and decided to show its root ball. Needless to say, we hired a company to remove the tree. Actually, we had to remove two trees - we had to remove one to get to the leaning one. Yes, of course we asked the HOA for permission to remove it since it does effect the exterior of the house. The trees were removed on Saturday and approval to have the trees removed came on Monday. I'm so glad.

It is amazing the amount of light that now comes into the house. Our master bedroom, which was always dark, is now bright and cheery. I don't have to turn on a light to put laundry away in the middle of the day. The front of our house is visible from the street and our new shrubs get not just morning light, but morning and early afternoon light as well. The down side is not I can see that I need to sweep and dust in the front rooms.

My point is, is that just the removal of one (or two) obstacles can shed light on things that were previously hidden. That's what I'm doing with my revisions. I realized that part of the gaping holes in my novel were obstacles that I had placed on myself. I'm removing those and moving forward with revisions, and yes, the prequels to the series I envision.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another New Day, Another New Year

Image by Stuart Miles
It's New Year's Day and thus a day to hang out in front of the fireplace and watch football between naps and meals. Many people stayed up to watch a ball (or some other symbolic object) drop, drink irresponsibly, and then made resolutions on how they're going to change their lives for the better. Some others rose with the sun and greeted the new day and new year with coffee and renewed energy to make resolutions on how they're going to change their lives for the better.

I did not stay up. I did wake up when the neighbors set off fireworks to ring in the New Year. I did not get up at dawn, but I was woken up when the Little Man came to me because he wet the bed. I started the day with roughly five hours of sleep. That's alright, I don't need to be coherent since I don't make resolutions. I do, however, set goals.

Image by pakorn
This year's goals are ambitious. For kicks and giggles here are a few of them:
  1. Teach Little Man to dress himself.
  2. Teach Little Man table manners - or at least how to eat with utensils.
  3. Teach Little Man how to read and write.
  4. Complete front yard curb appeal of the house - with the exception of taking down the big trees.
  5. Complete the "easy" renovations of the house. "Easy" means that only wallpaper needs to be removed or minor drywall repairs need to be done. The "MAJOR" renovations, like the kitchen or bathrooms, will be another time.
  6. Put in a vegetable garden.
  7. To FINISH my revisions/rewrite on my novel and to finish the other one I've been nibbling at.
  8. To organize my writing schedule and stick to it.
  9. To get to the gym.
  10. To finish my knitting projects before starting a new one.
  11. To organize my craft/project schedule and stick to it.
It is ambitious if you take the list as a whole. But each new day begins a new year and a whole new opportunity to catch up on the list, add to the list, or subtract from the list. Focusing on only one goal at a time makes it a little easier to complete. I don't worry about whether or not my goals, meeting them or not, will change my life for the better. My life is perfect the way it is.