Monday, June 30, 2008

Being Braindead and Blowing Up The Sky

I'm having a braindead moment.

I've been so busy the last few weeks that I can hardly see straight. Work at the office has been insane. My son was gone last week and is now back home. I'm freaking out because it is almost Independence Day. I mean come on! June just started like YESTERDAY. How can it possibly be over?

Of course that means it is time to blow up the sky. Yes, the famous family tradition. We live in an area that sells the REALLY good stuff. Fireworks are my one big weakness on which we spend hundreds of dollars a year. And don't start with me - I'm well aware that many people feel it is like taking a match to dollar bills. You're just burning up hard-earned money. That may be true, but sometimes you have to live a little and just have some fun.

So Independence Day is the one time we plan for every year. I have no qualms about plunking down good money for some really incredible displays. The tradition seems to have been picked up by my son. Last year he spent almost a hundred dollars of his own money. Yes, the baton has been passed. I'm so proud.

Sometimes you've got to blow caution to the wind and let your hair down. Just make sure it doesn't catch on fire. You know, it is probably best that you keep it in a ponytail or bun until after the fireworks show.

We usually get together with my family and pool resources to have one incredible personal fireworks display. It lasts for hours and hours. Then the boys usually start a funeral pyre for one of the action figures chosen for sacrifice that particular year and burn up most of the leftover tubes and such so that there is little left to discard but ashes once we are finished.

I'm not yet ready for it all this year. We haven't even begun to buy our explosives. Hopefully I'll have time to go out tomorrow evening after work and pick up some choice items. My son has already started compiling his list. Sure hope he's compiled his money too.

I only hope I'm not braindead come the 4th!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Early To Bed, Early To Rise

One more big day left of writing tomorrow. I'm exhausted so I think I'll turn in early so I can get an early start.

I began the rewrite of my fantasy novel. The start is MUCH stronger than it was. Makes me really happy and gives me a boost in knowing that my decision to start afresh was right. Tested the old and new against my critique group last night and everyone thought it much better than the original. I think I can do this.

It took several years for me to get as far as I did, but I think with the material ripe in my mind and a better sense of my writing ability it should go faster this time. Not throwing away the old chapters but using them as a blueprint, the bones that will eventually hold up the final product like the frame of a house. Now I can add the plumbing, electrical, drywall, and siding.

This is going to be good, so much better than what I thought a few days ago. Maybe I'll end by adding a roof.

Okay, enough with the weird metaphors.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Complete Rewrite

Previously I posted about going back to the first story I started almost seven years ago. I was looking forward to returning to the fantasy land I'd created.

It's become a real mess in my absence.

Remember, I hadn't written anything creative since high school (college doesn't count because everything is required down to a T). My first foray into creative writing in so long required a bit of priming the pump. Thought I'd gotten down some really good material.

Boy was I wrong.

The story idea is still really good in my opinion (which is all that matters to me). The characters continue to intrigue me. There's some great bones to work with, but I've decided that this story is too important to me to continue without some major surgery. So I'm going back to the drawing board.

Gosh I hate saying that. Spent several years working on it to get it to the halfway point. But I know I can do better. That's the nice thing about going back to something I haven't looked at in many years. I realize that my writing has improved a good deal since day one (week one, month one, year one). And that's a good thing. Any writer wants to see that they just keep getting better and better over the years.

It's hard throwing out so much work, but in the end it will be more satifying to have something of which I can be proud.

Then maybe the book will actually get published someday.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Not Again!!!

My son signed up to go to International Youth Convention this summer in San Antonio. They leave in three weeks. I just received their itinerary from the youth pastor. I should have known.

Once again they have to be there at FOUR O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING.

It hurts us. It burns us. Say it isn't so, please!

This early morning stuff is getting old fast, and he hasn't even started his sophomore year in high school yet. Once again I'm wishing for the day they create the caffeine IV drip so I can program it to come on while I'm still in bed. Hey, maybe they'll make it portable too so I can take it in the car and to work that day.

What is it about school and church trips at this age that they always like leaving in the early morning hours when even God may not be awake? This is inhuman. This is insane.

I remember well the days in which we did this kind of stuff too. For some reason it was actually fun then. Only problem now is that he can sleep on the bus while I have to go home and get ready for work and then drive all the way back across town again. Oh the inhumanity! Did my parents suffer so?

When I was thirteen, I got to go on my first IYC trip with my two older sisters. It was my first big trip without my parents tagging along. We stayed up all night packing and getting ready and then my oldest sister drove us all to the church to load up the bus. Pretty sure I crashed at that point once the bus left the parking lot. The ride both ways was rather a blur but I loved the time we spent in Florida. Complete blast!

Yeah, now I remember. My parents didn't have to run me around so much when I was growing up because I had my two older sisters to take me hither and yon. I know my son likes being an only child, but I sure can hardly wait until he's sixteen and doesn't have restrictions on where he can drive himself.

Until then, I have to continue to play the chauffeur. Maybe I can talk my boss into letting me take a vacation day to recover.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Movie Review!

Last night was the last hurrah before my son left for vacation with his father. We chose to see the new Indiana Jones movie, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It was a nice finish to a great adventure series.

I admit, I already knew alot of key story components but that didn't make the adventure any less fun. It made it all the more intriguing how they were going to bring out these new story lines.

There's been alot of flack passed for Cate Blanchett's turn on a Russian accent. My view is that she did an excellent job (and looked the part so well). You completely forgot who she was, which is the hallmark of a good actor or actress. Never once did she falter from her characterization (or her accent, with which many other noted actors have not fared so well).

John Hurt had the best performance. He also probably had the most fun of all the characters in the role of "Ox". As always, he provided a stunning play on a very intriguing role as a former colleague gone mad from trying to communicate with the crystal skull. I'm sure he enjoyed watching it at the premiere almost as much as performing it during filming.

Then there's the bugs. For the love of all that is holy, why in the WORLD do so many movies have to have creepy, nasty, big crawly bugs??? I had enough of them in the Mummy movies (of which they are also coming out with a third this year). I guess the Indy movies must have their obligatory bug scene, but sheesh! I spent the rest of the evening scratching imaginary itches from the heebie-jeebies.

My favorite scene was where Indy crashes the college library. That's all I'm going to tell you. Absolutely hilarious!

The only criticisms I had were the completely unneeded "Mac" character and that they didn't use Karen Allen to the fullest extent. Come on - the scenes in which they let her and Harrison Ford just go at each other were the best. We needed more of that from them. I'm not going to tell you exactly what they were fighting about, just to avoid spilling any beans for those who have not seen it. But those were the most fun moments of tension in the whole movie, very reminiscent of the original.

The ending is completely implausible but a totally expected ending to the premise and tone set in the opening moments of the movie. They did a really neat job finalizing that scene though. Very cool!

Then the very end wraps up the series with a neat little bow. And maybe a lead-in to a new generation?

We'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Free At Last!

My son is leaving to visit his dad for a week. Okay, okay, this may sound bad but I'm looking forward to it.

We've been really busy lately, out of town, yada-yada-yada, so I haven't had any time to actually do much writing since I finished my last book. So I've planned my free week to get back into the writing saddle. Plus I'll find some time to spend with my friends (party, party, party!).

It may sound weird coming from an almost 40-year old, but spending time with friends is so much fun. Makes me feel like a kid again sometimes. My girlfriends and I look forward to these moments when we can have movie marathons, play cards, drink soda (we're good girls, we are!), eat pizza. etc. etc. Plus the calories don't count when spread with friendship. I finally get to break in my new house too.

Somewhere in between I'll have to squeeze in work, but for now I feel like someone who's been looking forward to a long vacation.

Then I'll be ready to welcome my son home again from his vacation.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Technology - My Nemesis

I love what technology can do. I just hate having to mess with it.

We got a new computer system here at home (and at work, but that's another story). Spent four hours troubleshooting some problems. My internet and email doesn't look quite right. I can't open attachments that I receive in email, and my printer hardware cannot be found when I plug it in. It keeps asking for a disk, but the dadgum thing didn't come with one!

Tempted to drag the old one back out and toss this one out the window.

Reminds me of some software upgrades we had initiated at work. The program never did work or look right after that. We kept wishing we could somehow go back to the previous version. I thought improvements and upgrades were supposed to make our lives easier. Far too many times I end up bald from pulling my hair out in frustration. Maybe my co-workers will feel sorry for me someday and pay for hair plugs.

Same thing with cell phones. I spend so much time dealing with phone calls all day then again when I get home at night. Why in the world would I want to talk to someone while shopping at Wal-mart, pumping gas, or just driving? Drive time is my only down time anymore. Everyone keeps telling me it would be a good idea for emergencies. The Lord took care of me quite well without one for all my years, thank you very much. At this stage, I think I'll let Him continue doing such a fine job for a few more years at least.

Then maybe at home I'll just get rid of this stupid computer and go back to a typewriter. Do they still make those anymore?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Poor Baby Kitty!

I had to take Paws into the vet this morning. My poor baby kitty!

For the last several days, his eye has been half closed. Figured he probably had a tiny piece of litter or something in it and it would work its way out. It's happened before so I wasn't too concerned.

Got home from work last night to see my little timid one with a swollen, red eye that was draining. At least the fluid was clear, but I felt like the worst mommie ever! Immediately I called the vet and scheduled him for early in the morning.

My fear was that perhaps his eye was getting infected. Maybe when he and Toby were playing, Toby's back claws caught Pawsy-Poo in the eye. I couldn't figure it out.

Anyway, Paws was none too happy to get captured and crated this morning, dragged like an animal to the vet (wait a minute, he is an animal but don't tell him that). He let me know his displeasure often and loudly. He announced his presence coming and going. My cat sounded possessed!

The vet put this ultraviolet dye in his eyes to check for any scratches or punctures in the eye membranes. There were none (thank God!). Just a slight infection, probably from a stray piece of litter.

Now I get to put antibiotic ointment in his eyes twice a day. Oh goodie. I just hope my boss understands the scratches and blood stains all over my clothes when I arrive at the office in the morning.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summertime Sleepovers

My son has his best friend here for a sleepover tonight.

I've been relegated to the living room and office. Monday is the only day I have shows that I like to watch. The TV was mine, all mine until 9:00. Hey, that rhymes! Now they own the family room and television. It's a good time for blogging.

They're probably getting the video game and guitars all set up. Maybe they'll be quiet so I can go to sleep later. Or not. Oh well - I'll get even in the morning.

Usually when they have a sleepover at our house, they'll crash on the sectional in the family room sometime in the wee hours of the morning. But my kitchen is back there too, so it will be open season when I have to get up early in the morning and prepare myself breakfast. Heh, heh, heh! sweet the revenge.

Nah, I'll probably play the sucker once again and try my best to be as quiet as possible so as not to disturb their rest. Being considerate to those sleeping is just hardwired into my being. I love to see people snoozing peacefully - my son and his friends included.

Now if I accidentally drop a pan on the floor, that's a different story. It would be an accident after all. :-)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Back To The Ancient World

I've been pleasantly surprised tonight.

Fantasy is my favorite genre for writing and reading (good fantasy, that is). Other genres attract my interest from time-to-time, but fantasy always calls me back home. My recently completed novel is a thriller, a completely different turn for me. I've tried my hand at a wide variety of writing such as mystery, suspense, even romance - one genre I don't particularly know much about since it has never interested me. But fantasy is my first love.

My initial foray into novel writing was a very involved fantasy story - rather an epic really. I broke my proverbial teeth on that one. Started it January 4, 2002. It never got completed.

Since I finished my first novel, I've decided to go back to some of my other stories and finish some before letting exploration begin on other ideas. The only problem for me has been deciding which one.

A friend of mine from my critique group suggested I go back to Tumaline, the first fantasy realm I created. I remember the feel of the moss, the smell of the briny air, the stench of evil. Being near the ocean in San Diego actually made me think of this particular novel again too. What I would have given for a chance to walk along the beach at the Del and revisit Tumaline in my mind at that particular moment!

I guess I was surprised to think that someone else had truly enjoyed my own little creation. It was my first time involved with creative writing since high school. Playing with the words and worlds was fun for me, but I figured the Old English feel didn't really thrill anyone else. Guess I was wrong.

So it is back to Tumaline for now. I'm looking forward to exploring that ancient land once again.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Humor - Not My Cup of Tea

There's a friend of mine who is such a great humor writer. I'm so jealous.

He's currently working on a detective novel, and the wry humor just leaps off of the pages. Kinda reaches up and pinches you on the pattootie when you least expect it. We critiqued his first two chapters this week. I was dying laughing throughout the entire thing. Even when we were critiquing last night, I was cracking up so bad at times I could hardly get out my comments. Suppose my laughter was the best compliment he could have asked for.

There was a humor contest he entered a couple of years ago with a story about the Mustang Ranch. He won first place hands down. Now before you go about misunderstanding the intent, you've got to understand that it's not what you think. Just imagine a couple of car guys, grease-monkeys if you will, hearing about a place called the Mustang Ranch. They're all set to buy themselves a classic Ford automobile. That's where it gets absolutely hilarious. And of course the story had me about to pee my pants when I read it (and it's clean too).

I wish I had the ability to write that kind of humor, but God chose not to grace me with it. When I try to write something funny it usually comes across as odd and makes people look at me as if they're not sure where I'm going with it. My friends understand, even though they too have a strong inclination to back away from me. My writing style has a tendency to be a bit intense, so humor just doesn't work well for me.

But he's just oozing with it. I guarantee you that someday soon I'll be writing a glowing review of his recently published novel. Now if he'll just finish the dadgum thing (I know you're reading this right now, so you better stop reading and get busy writing).

Then we can celebrate his success. I'll have to think of something humorous with which to toast him. That might present a problem. Maybe I could just spill my soda all over him instead. That might get a laugh.

Or else I'll get slapped.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Riding Out The Storms

The storms tonight have been crazy!

We've had an outbreak of thunderstorms across Kansas this week. Tonight my area is getting pounded. Reports were out of a couple of tornados just to the south. Our critique group met tonight (minus our crazy storm-chaser dude - you know who you are), and just as we were wrapping things up an employee came rushing over to us to say that the tornado sirens were going off.

I'm so glad my son likes to go to the bookstore with me to hang out.

They gathered everyone in the alcove near the bathrooms, their official "storm shelter". I guess it's better than nothing. There were insane people driving around, pulling up to the store and trying to get in. The sympathetic employees ran and unlocked the doors several times to let in the soaked travelers.

For about forty-five minutes we received updates of the storm, the locations of the funnels, track directions, etc. Finally the warnings expired and they released us from the store into the pouring rain. What fun! Well my son and I tried to make it fun to see who could get to the car fastest without becoming drenched. I'm not sure either of us could claim a win.

Even though I've lived in Kansas all my life, I never take the warnings lightly. I do keep my head about me though and try to balance a healthy dose of respect of the storms with a bit of logic too. That's what any good Kansan should do this time of the year.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Time Change - How I Hate Thou!

Ugh! I hate time change.

Coming back in from California still has my body clock all messed up. I feel like a zombie.

Everytime I change zones or we have Daylight Savings time, it takes a good week to two weeks for my body to catch up with the glimmering lights of my alarm clock. Doesn't matter if it is forward or backward, I'm screwed up.

That brings me to the stupidity behind Daylight Savings time. Don't get me wrong, I love the long evenings of extra light. I just wish they'd quit flipping back and forth in the spring and fall as if they were God and leave it one way or the other (longer evenings would be my choice). You hear the typical tomes of electrical savings and other such hogwash, but none of it makes any sense when you look at the greater picture. It's still just a bunch of guys running around and screwing with my internal body clock.

Of course, when I travel it is a matter of choice. I know I'm going to have a few zonal zombie moments upon my return. But once again, that's MY choice.

Cause you know I'm not God.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Ah Home

There's always something wonderful about coming home from a long trip.

Traveling is second nature to me. I've ambled about the good 'ol U.S. of A. extensively in my "young" years (just celebrated my 39th in San Diego), sometimes for pleasure but mostly for business. However, I've seen some incredible places in those business jaunts.

If it hadn't been for my job, I'd have never seen various places in Alaska, New York City, San Francisco, and many excursions in between. Living in the middle of the country does have its perks in that you can get virtually anywhere in a short period of time.

This time San Diego was a real treat. Traveling with our entire entourage from the office, we experienced just about the best places around for dinner. The Hotel del Coronado has the BEST lobster bisque, not to mention the views! The weather was in the sixties and seventies, zero percent humidity, and did I mention the views? I loved the sound of the waves crashing upon the shore, the smell of the brine in the air, the toot of the horns as the carriers, cruises, ships, fishing vessels, etc. left harbor. We worked hard during the day and ate well of an evening.

By Friday, I was so ready to leave.

It wasn't that I didn't enjoy being there. I did - every minute of it. But it wasn't home.

The final leg of our night flight felt much longer than the two hours we were up in the air. But when we landed, I breathed my first sigh of relief. Once again we were on good old Kansas soil. When I rounded the corner and saw my house, I breathed my second sigh of relief. And when I stepped into the house in the wee hours of the morning and heard the familiar cry of my kitties, I sighed deeply.

I was welcomed home. There's not a greater feeling in the entire world, no matter how amazing the views.