Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My poor little bathroom

As you all know I recently moved into a *new* house - new to me, that is. It's actually 102 years old. So the bathroom was an afterthought, to be sure. It's situated off the kitchen and under the stairs. Not a great location, but I can live with it.

However... here's the thing, there is some sort of odd lineoleum on the walls of the shower. It's ugly, and not supposed to go on walls, so I thought I'd replace it pretty easily. Hmm... so it turns out I can't take out the tub and put in an enclosure, because there is a load bearing pillar coming down from the stairs to the corner of the tub. The tub stays put! Apparently my only option is to tile those two walls. Which is fine, I like tile. Then I can have the tub refinished if I want.

But here's the problem, according to the guy at Home Depot, I'll have to rip out those two walls completely to get a flat surface for the tile. UGH! And if I'm doing that, maybe I should replace the fixtures for the tub while I'm at it because I hate them and you have to rip out the wall to do that... and I don't want to do it twice.

The rest of the (very small) bathroom is fine for now. I eventually want to put in a new floor and vanity/sink, but that can wait. The shower, however, can't wait long because I don't want to get moisture in those walls. And they're ugly!

If anyone has had any experience doing anything remotely like this, please let me know. I'm thinking that I might be able to tile myself, but I don't think I can put in drywall or greenboard myself. What do you all think?

I'll post pictures soon!

And the winner is...

No, this is not an Oscar related post. I haven't seen really any movies in the theater this year due to little ones who like to run the aisles, so they just aren't that much fun.

But, I do watch my fair share of television, and I'd like to present the award of "Most Captivating Sweeps Month" to....

Grey's Anatomy!!!

Yes, Gilmore came through with giving Christopher the boot, but as I said before it was handled rather poorly. Studio 60 was amazing, but it's too sad to contemplate the storyline now that it appears to be cancelled. (And traitor that I am I Tivo'd The Black Donnelly's last night). Lost was good as always, but Grey's had me on the edge of my seat, even though I really knew that Meredith would pull through. Plus, any chance to see Dear Denny again is met with open arms!

Also - I'd like to mention the unbelievable choice of "the panel" on Grease to save Kathleen rather than Kate. WHAT????!!!! Kate has such a beautiful, powerful voice, I have no idea what they were thinking. I thought it would be a no-brainer that Kathleen and Kevin got the boot. Their duet was truly painful last week, and sure, Kate and Derek struggled a little, but I'd still have saved her. That must have been one super acting scene that saved Kathleen (though hard to believe after seeing her performance). Ah well.... my pick for Sandy is Laura now, if she stays strong, and has good chemistry with Derek, I think she's a shoe-in! (And smart girl that she was she chose Derek for her scene partner!)

If you were an agent...

Lori Perkins has been talking about the kinds of books she loves to represent.... which got me thinking, what woul *I* represent if I were an agent? This was very fun to think about, since as a writer, I can't really write everything that appeals to me, at least not out of the gate. I understand that new authors need to build their "brand" and can then branch out if they have a nice following (like Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb).

So, I'd want to rep mysteries, particularly cozy mysteries. I don't think I'd rep genre romance because I don't read enough of it, but maybe an occasional stand-alone title that is women's lit/romance. I'd search high and low for the evasive literary novel with a Happily Ever After ending instead of all the misery and despair that seems to crowd the "new in paperback" tables right now. I'd also search for novels with intesecting plot lines, particularly when one is historical - The Map of Love and Possession are great examples. Also genre-bending novels with a mystery at their core, like The Historian (aka the best book of 2005) and Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books.

I also tend to shy away from "inspirational fiction" as a genre, but love books where faith is explored and presented as a complex undergirding to the structure of the book. C.S. Lewis and Tolkein are the masters of this. So, sure, I'd look for the next C.S. Lewis and Tolkein - no problem!

So, blog-readers, what books would you rep if you were an agent, looking for that diamond in the slush?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bad v. Badly

I've finally got the grammar rule down for this one! Have you, like me, wondered if it's correct to say "I feel bad" or "I feel badly?"

Well, wonder no more! I've just found the Grammar Girl's podcast - so much fun.

So, anyway, if you are trying to communicate that you are sad, or ill, or otherwise not up to par, the correct usage is: I feel bad.

Bad is an adjective, and therefore modifies the noun "I". It is you who are bad.

Badly is an adverb, and so modifies the verb. If "you feel badly" then your you have some sort of nerve damage and your sense of touch doesn't work.

I am so happy to finally have the answer to this question!

Catch-up Post

1) Three and a half more working days to go. WOO!!! Of course, this means very little right now because working is actually a break from the move. Phase one should be finished in one week, Feb 28th - and then I'll just have unpacking and organizing to do. Oh the joy of being able to focus!

2) Lost... I'll just say that I used to think I knew what was going on, and after last week's episode, I'm, well, lost! What I *do* know, is that Desmond is my new favorite character and I hope we get to see Penny again. :)

3) Grey's Anatomy... Meredith can't really be dead, can she? And as much as I love her, the whole storyline is worth it to see Denny Ducquette again. I love Denny! Also - brilliant move having the bomb squad guy there.

4) I have a comment on Gimore Girls that will segue into a writing related post... last week Lorelai gave Christopher the boot. Finally. Geez. The thing was, the final conversation that got us there was terrible. I mean, it was well acted, but the motivations were all wrong. I won't go into details except to say that Lorelai is an exceptionally well drawn character, so well drawn that I know this conversation was very out of character for her. It seemed like a case of the writers needing to get from point A to point B. And as much as I've been chomping at the bit to get to point B... the ends don't justify the means.

This is important to remember in plotting. I know where I need my characters to go, and sometimes am tempted to just give them a little push to end up there. But if I don't stay true to who my characters are, the readers will feel cheated.

Like I do right now about Lorelai. The real problem is that it breaks that 4th wall and your readers suddenly become aware that it's just a story, whereas (hopefully) they were living and breathing it up until this point.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Move

I've been sleeping at the new house now for a week and a half. I've got about that much more time till we're totally out of the old house and I'm done working, and can just focus on unpacking. It's crazy and hectic but I LOVE my new house, even with all the pet projects I'm seeing everywhere.

Here are a couple of highlights:

New Dishes!!! I told my mother how depressed I was to move my dishes one more time, so she bought me new ones. :) Don't they just pop against the white cupboard?

Saved by Elmo

This was day 2 of moving. I was trying to unpack. The living room was wall to wall boxes. Then I found the little tv/vcr and a rogue elmo tape. The kids made do with seating arrangements, and I had a blessed cup of coffee

Say it's not so!!

I just heard a vicious rumor that Studio 60 is cancelled. It's my favorite show on the air right now, edging out Gilmore Girls and Grey's Anatomy - quite a feat!!

Seriously, this is like the tragedy that was Sports Night, all over again. It's even another "Danny" that I'll be missing!!
Sports Night nearly made the leap to HBO and I'm hoping S60 will do that. I think cable is just a better bet for Aaron Sorkin all around. *sniff*

Friday, February 16, 2007

Quick update

No real time to blog in the flurry of unpacking. Just wanted to say that I now have cable tv and internet. YAY!!!!

Sadly, the first thing I saw on logging into Yahoo this afternoon but this travesty of justice:
Dog is being extradited to Mexico!

Seriously, any faith I had in our justice system is out the window.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Long, rambling post on many subjects...

Some thoughts for the day....

Clearly I'm not tracking on all cylinders because I went grocery shopping at lunch and carefully read all the ingredients on everything I bought to make sure they didn't have high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated anything, or gluten... then bought a bag of candy corn on my way out and ate that before anything else. *eyeroll*


I was discussing Gary Ezzo and his book Babywise/Growing Kids God's Way yesterday with a friend of mine and couldn't sleep all night thinking of the horror that is Ezzo. I try to steer clear of contraversial subjects on my blog. I try to stay mostly light hearted and focused on fun things the kids are doing, writing, gardening, things like that. But I will say that while book burning and/or banning is creative terrorism in my mind, like the death penalty it may just have it's place every now and then. If anyone out there in the blogosphere is considering using this method of child rearing without moderation (and Ezzo certainly does not encourage moderation or a blending of methods), I'd ask you to please check out these resources first:
I won't get into much more here, but just had to include some of these links in a post, to add one more "anti-Ezzo" hit to those googling him. Just to be clear - I'm all for schedules and discipline and structure if that's what works for your family - Ezzo is in a class all by himself in that regard. I don't know how any man has the gall to take from Christ suffering and dying on the cross, an imperative from God that a mother not pick up a crying infant.

OK, difficult subject out of the way - onto writing...

I want to talk a little bit about the mysticism of writing. I listen to a lot of podcasts on writing and read lots of blogs and books, and I have an English degree... so it's safe to say I've heard many, many hours of instruction and discussion on the subject. While getting my English degree, I found it very difficult to write creatively. I think in part I was absorbing a lot of information and was in a "take it in" mode rather than an output mode. But also, I know that I struggled with thinking that if my prose didn't sound like Faulker/Austen/Bronte/ as it left my pen, I might as well give up. I'd never heard the adage "first drafts are allowed to suck" or "write first, edit later". I just thought that what I was writing would never endure to be taught in a classroom years from now.

Maybe because of that, I bristle when I hear authors talk about the magic on the page, or how the characters speak to them and run away with the book - things that can't be analzyed or quantified or taught in any way. It makes writing into an exclusive club that you can't gain access to unless you experience "it", whatever that is.


I loved reading Janet Evanovich say that her characters are *her characters* and do exactly what she tells them to! I do think that I finally understand what authors mean by their characters doing something different than they had planned, however. Here's what I think - it's like raquetball. Have you ever heard a writing/raquetball analogy? I didn't think so!

So, in raquetball, you have the laws of physics governing the ball's movement. You hit the ball at a particular angle with a particular force, and the ball has no choice but to bounce off the wall in a particular way. If that's not the way you want the ball to go, then you hit it at a different angle or with a different force, but you don't get to change the laws of physics.

I think it's the same thing with characters. You set them up with certain traits, strengths, weaknesses and drives (their laws of physics). Then you introduce stimuli, events, plot points into their world (the serve) and they will react to these events according to the laws you set up. Now, as a writer, you can rewrite and change these laws if you don't like them. You can make your heroine stronger or weaker, or your hero a little more devious or more moral - but once you've established who they are, then their reactions need to make sense within that framework. So I think characters run away with the book when an author sets up that framework, and then introduces the plot points, and discovers that for a character to stay true to who you created them to be, they have to react in a way you hadn't planned. But of course you can change that if you want to by changing the character - or just go with the new direction.

But it isn't a big, amorphic mystery. It's writing. It's a skill. We can all do it. Just sit down with a pen, or a keyboard, and have at it!


The cable company can get me tv and internet access *this* Friday. I have to wait till next week for a phone, but who needs a phone. ;)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The cable...

will not be connected until NEXT Friday. Oh, the sorrow.

The Countdown

To answer a question from the comment trail, the official Countdown to Leaving Corporate America is D - 7!!!

After today I have only 7 working days left. WOO!

Flower of the Day

This seemed very appropriate for Valentine's Day! It's a bellflower called Campanula Pantaloons, and it always makes me smile. :)

I can't wait to see what blooms in my garden this spring, so I can start creating my little floral wonderland!

Happy Valentine's Day!

And a Happy Valentine's Day to all! My primary focus this Valentine's Day has been to try not to forget that Kira needs treats for her class. In the end, my mom and friend bailed me out with a last minute trip to the drugstore. But my husband did not forget, and showed up last night after working both jobs with chocolate covered cherries, two very thoughtfully chosen books, and a card. Aw! Whenever I was single on Valentine's Day (which was often) I celebrated by buying myself a present and wearing pink so I'd be happy, regardless, but it *is* more fun to have a present bought for me. :)

So Happy V Day to the rest of you! I hope all the little kids are having fun with their candy exchanges and Valentine's Day mailboxes today! If I had any intellectual reserve, I'd post about Saint Valentine and why he should be remembered, but honestly, I don't have it in me today. Check back next year...

Hello again

Well, the move is definately underway. We've been sleeping at the new house since last week, but still have sooooo much to do to finish up. DH has been working 2 jobs and I've been going solo with the kids without tv or internet access for a week. ACK! I have some fun pics of the move, but of course can't find my upload cable in all the chaos. I promise they will be posted shortly!

I do LOVE the new house - I'm seeing projects everywhere (why exactly did they paint the molding around the door... all but the last two inches??) but it feels very much like us and once the boxes are out will be very cozy and homey. And wait till you see my new dishes!! My wonderful mother wouldn't let me move my old, depressing dishes one more time and bought me the new set of my dreams. Pictures to come!

I have no tv wrap up this week, because I haven't seen any, except Grease. So I'll just briefly say that Derek is once again the only choice for Danny (he sang Footloose, people!) and they should just pick Sandy by pairing all the women with him and seeing who he has the best chemistry with. That's my tip for the producers!! I'm also curious as to why they put the guys through elaborate dance numbers, but have the women just stand there and sing. Why?

Also - March is NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month) YAY!!! I couldn't nano in November because I hadn't finished with my novel and I didn't want to start a new one till this baby's done. And I have much editing to go. This is perfect timing. I'll be staying home. The bulk of the move will be done. I should be set up well to edit in the evenings. WOO! If anyone else has a novel to edit, I encourage you to join me. I love the community that is nanowrimo, and I hope this has a similar feel.

So, see you all when I have my upload cable back!!!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Did she do it??

Update on today's goals. Darling husband is home packing, so that first goal is well on it's way. I know for a fact he left the top floor for me, so that's probably what my evening will consist of.

As far as the second... I wrote about 1000 words, then went to insert it and realized I'd covered some of the same ground elsewhere. Grr... this is the problem with taking too long of a break! So, I decided *not* to stop to write long passages. I make a note of what sort of content I think I need, and then I keep editing. This will mean I'll need to do a second pass, and Holly Lisle says you only need one pass, but... this is my first novel and I've just got to get the editing done however I can get it done. I'll refine the process with the next book. (And I finally know what that next book is! YAY!) So I stopped and edited the next 10 pages again.

Probably there won't be any posting till Tuesday. The Great Move should be taking place over the next 4 days. If I can sneak a little laptop time in, I'll post about it, if not - see you all on Tuesday!!

Okay, one more!

Just found this and have to post it - clearly I like tiger lillies and this is the first double tiger lily I've ever seen. (I have a thing for "doubles" - the fuller the better!)

I can't wait to plant this!

Flower of the Day

OK, I'm taking a break from my dog posts. This is because my cat is driving me crazy and the thought of adding another four legs right now isn't terribly fun. I'm sure I'll be back to my old, animal loving self once I finish moving. Probably the cat is just a little unsettled with all the boxes, so has decided to meow incessantly. I hope that's it!

So one of the things that I'm really looking forward to in my new house is gardening in something other than containers! They've put in a lot of flowers and bulbs in the front yard. But there's still plenty for me to do. Right now it's pleasantly landscaped but not even close to approaching cottage garden status!

I have a list in my notebook here three pages long of plants I want to get and where I'm going to put them - so I thought I'd share some of the highlights:

I LOVE Calla Lillies, and usually prefer them to just be white and long - then I found this. So, in it's honor I'm creating a "black and white" garden with these "Black Pearl" Callas:

Next up are two lillies. The first is "Clothed in Glory" - note the ruffled gold edge! The second is called Miss Lucy, and it's the only double oriental lily in the world! (And *I* have the web site address to buy it from!)

And finally we have an Iris named Steve. :) I think the blue in this iris is breathtaking. Also, the irony of a blue iris named Steve has not escaped me... or maybe I've seen Blue's Clues one too many times!

Goals for today:

1) Get everything ready to move tomorrow. We pick the truck up first thing in the morning. YAY!

2) Finish these 2 chapters that are standing in my way of continuing to edit. I've got one just about knocked out. One to go. That should be easily accomplishable at lunch today. If I don't do it now, it's not going to get done during The Great Move and it will drive me crazy!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I inspired a post....

on a fellow writer's blog. I am so very happy!


How Tight is Publishing?

I hear a lot about publishing being really tight right now - meaning it's extremely hard to break into and get published. Mostly, I don't think about this because I have exactly no control over the market, just over what I write.

But I saw this post by Lori Perkins recently and I thought this must be part of the so called tightness people are talking about. Lori is an agent who has been working for about 20 years, and she says that 20 years ago, she got about 2000-3000 queries a year. Now she gets 30,000. She attributes this to the computer and word processing, her theory being that 20 years ago, there just weren't that many people who could type well enough to complete an 80,000 word novel. I think that having 10x the manuscripts out there must contribute to the difficulty to get to market (if it truly is harder today than decades ago, which I'm not conceding yet). Simple supply and demand.

And it makes me wonder if I'd have typed out an 80,000 word novel. I tend to think I would have, because I wrote plenty on my word processor with it's 8 line display, and before that, I wrote long hand and then typed it up later. It was part of my editing process. (OK, I was 14, so I'm reaching here, but I did use it as an opportunity to revise).

It also makes me wonder how much the process of typing or writing longhand affects the actual manuscript. On the one hand, it's much easier to revise, so possibly books go through more revisions now. On the other hand, I know that when I wrote long hand, I wrote much more slowly and thoughtfully and didn't rely as much on revision. Not that I plan to go back. I love my keyboard. ;)

Greta's sign language

I tried to teach my baby sign language, like a good 21st century mom. I got the baby sign books and was all over doing the signs for "eat" and "drink" and "more" at all the appropriate times. None of them took. Nada.

But, what I learned was that the concept of signing had sunk in, I just wasn't teaching her the right sings. Just like at 17 months she still won't say "yes" or "no", but she will frequently say "kitty cat", "Blue's Clues", and "chocolate," (That's my girl!) she has no need to sign "more" when a furtive pointing at what she wants and then pointing at her chest does just fine. Another favorite is extending her hands in front of her, wrists to chest, palms up, and wiggling fingers. This means "put said item in these hot little hands before someone gets hurt. My cry can break glass, you know." There was no sign in the books for this.

Her latest is as follows. First some background. She isn't terribly fond of the word "no." (which probably explains her complete boycott of voicing it). Although I can say "Greta, if you want some chocolate, it's in the drawer in the kitchen. Just use your stool and go get it." And she will return with a chocolate bar in hand, if I am typing on my laptop and she decides to turn on text to speech, the on-screen keyboard (did you know you had one? I didn't) or just hibernate the whole thing and I say "Greta, no." She glazes over. No Habla Ingles. I'm just a baby and can't possibly understand you. If I say it again, she'll then continue doing the action, but with more ferver. The implied thought here is "I know you can't possibly be telling me no, so I am going to continue doing this, with oomph, and give you a chance to correct your error." If I continue saying no (and admittedly, she has sometimes worn me down by this point) she then has no choice but to acknowledge it, which is where her new "sign" comes in: Spread fingers of left hand, tilt head downwards slightly, bring hand to face, contort face into pained expression, stifle cry. This would be the sign for: "The world is too horrible, too horrible for me to gaze upon. I have been wronged."

This also is not in the baby sign books.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Link(s) of the day

1) www.bloglines.com I was resistant to this at first, because I love reading blogs on the actual blog page. But I follow so many (25 at last count) that this is really helpful. You can see on the left sidebar which of your blogs has an update. Then click on it, and the posts show up on the right side. If you like, you can then click on the blog title and it will open the entire blog so you can read on the blog itself. I usually do this, except for blogs that i know are kind of plain, or for livejournal blogs - because they're always plain!

2) www.historylink.org - an online encyclopedia of Washington State history. I've been looking things up all morning!

Quote of the Day

"The downhill path is easy, but there's no turning back." Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

My new obsession

And why doesn't Starbucks sell licorice lattes? I think I'm onto their new big taste sensation!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Another New Look

As much as I loved my last look, it was the "classic" template and I just needed to go back to the beta/new/enhanced templates. It was too hard to update my links and novel edits and other fun widgety things. So, I hope you like the Tiger Lillies. :)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Winter Ball

Kira attended her first "ball" last night. Her school held a winter ball for the entire school. Families were encouraged to attend, and daddies to dance with their daughters. Much fun was had by all.

Here is the little dancer:

Friday, February 02, 2007

TV Wrap Up

The One That I Want

I *just* discovered this show (Thanks, Trace!). Thank goodness I found it in time to see Derek sang "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". Sadly, the show is now over. He's Danny. Wow. WOW!!!!! All he needs is a pompadour.

I also liked Max, but there's no comparison. He'd be a great secondary character, though.

So far, Ashley S. is my choice for Sandy.

Top Design

OK, I don't feel like I'm going to bond to this show like I did Top Chef and Project Runway, but we'll see. So far, my pick to win it all is Goil. I'm not sure how I like Todd Oldham as host. He's kind of combining the Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum roles, although he's not juding. Interesting. But I miss having a Heidi/Padma around. And, uh, Alexis Arquette.... wouldn't have been my choice for the celebrity client. But it does raise an interesting question:

If a decorator had to design a room for you based on your five favorite items, what would those items be?

Mine would be ... ok I've been stalled here for a while. Clearly items yet to be purchased.

Gilmore Girls

Did I not say it was turning around?! Yes, Christopher, she still has feelings for Luke. Yes.

Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip

Love, LOVE Matt and Harriet. I feel sure they'll patch things up. Love Danny and Jordan. I thought the way they had her misunderstanding his declaration of love was really interesting. Loved the missing snake. And why did Tom lie about being out with Kim? I missed why he couldn't tell Julia the truth about that. I hate misunderstandings so I hope they clear that up soon.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Happy House Day!

Today we receive.... drum roll... the keys to our very own house!!! Yes, we are homeowners as of this very moment!

Tonight we will be driving to our house, just because we can!

This has been a long time coming. Since before we were married we've been working towards two big goals: Me being able to stay home with my kids, and purchasing a home. Today, both goals are realized. I'm turning in my notice at work today as well.

It feels like an entirely new chapter in our lives, like I just see a big door that says March 1st, and can't see beyond it. But I know it will be good!

Yesterday we reflected on what we'll miss most about the house that we're renting, which we really do love. I'll miss sleeping under a skylight - watching the snow fall on the glass, just inches from my nose was magical this winter - and the enormous magnolia tree outside our window that gets it's strong pink blooms on bare wood, before the leaves - and the expansive front porch/deck that looks out to the lake - the neighborhood has very few lights so the moon and stars are very bright from that deck! And mostly, I'll miss being able to walk to our very cool indie bookstore.

I think it's good to acknowledge what we'll miss, but what we'll gain is so much greater! What I'm most looking forward to gaining is a sense of home. I'll be able to make the house mine, to put all the little homey touches in that make it feel like *our* place - just perfect for us! Of course, at first I'll just be figuring out how to keep it clean with my little destructo-toddler underfoot and no job to run to. But eventually, I'll be customizing. See, I'm still thinking of it as a computer application - customization, personalization... if you talk like a techie enough, you stick that way. ;)

And the new Top Chef is...

Yep, Ilan won. I realized when he won how much I *didn't* want him to win. The reasoning being that Marcel is just quirky and different enough, that I could understand them going with him, but there's just no way that Ilan is a better chef than Sam. None. Nada.

OK, I never actually tasted the food... but I feel I know this. Plus, Ilan trashed Howard, from season 1, whom I loved.

If you watch the credits of the show, you'll notice a pesky little phrase that says "Some elimination decisions were discussed with Bravo." Uh huh. Read: we don't just pick based on quality of food, but who's gonna be exciting to watch. I know it was really tight between Sam and Ilan and I just wonder if the producers didn't think that a face off between Marcel and Ilan would be the more interesting than between Marcel and Sam.

And did you all notice the way Sam chose to work with Marcel, even though they'd had their differences, because he didn't want more people choosing Ilan. More Top Chef qualities at work.

Ok, that's it, I'm done with the whole thing. I'll just say that I hope the competition opens doors for both Sam and Marcel, regardless of them not winning the entire prize.