Sunday, November 20, 2011

What I'm Doing Instead of Writing My Novel

I've had a great big dose of self-realization lately about how undisciplined I have become. Remember that I took the NaNiWriMo challenge, to write 50,000 words of my novel during the month of November? Well, it's not going so well. Here's what I've been up to instead of writing.

Jigsaw Puzzle: Scott and I bought a great puzzle at the gift shop at Mammoth Cave during our October RV adventure. It shows a collage of post cards from many of the country's national parks. Here is the poster that came with the puzzle.

Even though it was a 1000 pieces, we thought, "This shouldn't be too bad; look at all the words and small images. They will be easy." So we started off on a quiet Sunday morning. Scott put the pieces on the spare poker table, which made a really good puzzle venue. You could lean on the padded railing and contemplate without having stray pieces stick to your arm and fall on the floor and get chewed up by the dog. We quickly put the border together, congratulating each other on our prowess.

Then came the word pieces, like "Hot Springs," some of which really were easy to find. 

Lucy sat nearby, fascinated by all the activity.
Seven hours later it looked like this. Not as much progress as we had hoped for almost a whole day. 

Little did we know that we had done the easiest part. The middle of the puzzle was a killer, which we worked on for at least three more days over the next two weeks. Those big letters that said, "America's National Parks?" Those were the worst and had to be assembled using puzzle shape alone, which is not my forte. I'm better at color. Scottie saved the day and got them done. Ta dah!

Another RV Adventure: Around the second week of November, we discovered the moon would be full and the temperature cool after a cold front had blown in, so, like all normal people, we headed for the beach. Seriously, Scott and I love to go to the beach in the fall and decided, since we still had Maureen's RV, to drive down to Mustang Island for a couple of days. There were a few people at the campground, but the beach was almost deserted. As promised, the moon was full. Here it is, just beginning to rise in the east ...

 ... while behind me, the sun is setting in the west. 

 I spotted these tracks and found the little guy not far away.

He did not cooperate by staying still for his photo. After many attempts, this is the least blurred one I got.

We spent most of the next day walking on the beach and reading. I went in the water for a little while, but it was too cold for Scott. The dogs would have nothing to do with it either.

We kept them tethered at the campsite, but they still had a good time. Lucy may be sitting on a pillow outside, but she's still on guard duty!

Grandparent's Day: Last week my girl's school sponsored Grandparent's Day and a Thanksgiving lunch. Her grandparents were not able to come until lunch time, so she asked me to come spend the morning at her school and attend the music program as well as the lunch. I jumped at the chance and had a wonderful day.

Did I wish I were home, writing that novel? Not for a minute. It will get done someday, when there aren't any more days like this one. I've learned to grab those moments of joy and hold on as long as I can, for they are few and fleeting. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I have taken the Nanowrimo challenge. Each November is National Novel Writing Month and the organization challenges you to write 50,000 words of your novel in 30 days. They have a great website ( which is full of forums with other participants, pep talks from experienced writers and fun stuff to keep you motivated. It's all free, though they do ask for a donation if you can afford one.

50,000 words in 30 days. That breaks down to about 1667 words per day. Yesterday I wrote 1050 words, so I'm already behind, but I feel really good about what I've accomplished. It was a crazy day, full of interruptions, people in and out of the house, phone calls and life in general, but I still managed to write 1050 words. That taught me an important lesson. I can write when things are busy; I don't have to wait for one of those quiet days when I can shut myself away like a hermit.

So today as I do several loads of laundry, head off for yoga class, run by and make reservations at a local restaurant for a Literacy Volunteers event later this month and address invitations for my son's wedding reception, I can still take some time to write a bit. I just have to make sure that I don't get overwhelmed and defeated by that 1667 goal. It's just a number; it's the writing that is important. Still, this is 239 words. I wonder if they count toward my goal. 

I'll keep you posted on my progress. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Songs of the South

Fellow intrepid travelers, I have just returned from a twelve-day RV adventure through the deep south. Thanks to Maureen, Scott, Ruffles, Lucy and I were able to borrow Pal, her RV, and head off to find fall color and cooler weather. 

Our first stop was not a camping night, but a visit with my friend Leah in Baton Rouge. Another friend, Linda, joined us for dinner and we had a delightful time. During our conversation, Linda and I again talked about how we share the characteristic of having a soundtrack constantly running through our minds. I roll through life accompanied by the music that has brought me there and it was certainly true during this trip.

As we left Baton Rouge the next morning, my brain tuned in "Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight."
Just an ordinary story 'bout the way things go,
Round and around nobody knows,
But the highway goes on forever.

As we turned north on I-55 and headed through Mississippi, every road sign pointed to Jackson and so did I.
We got married in a fever
Hotter than a pepper sprout.
We've been talkin' 'bout Jackson
Ever since the fire went out.

Just outside of Jackson, we picked up the Natchez Trace Parkway. This is a beautiful, historic road that winds over 444 miles through Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, from the Mississippi River at Nachez to Nashville. The parkway is part of the National Park system, so it is beautifully maintained, with numerous pull-outs, parks, historical markers and rest stations along the way. It a perfect ride for an RV because the speed limit is lower (50mph) and no commercial vehicles are allowed. There is no development on the parkway either, which means you don't have gas stations, restaurants or anything else for that matter. You have to exit for the individual towns along the way if you have needs. 

I was surprised to see cotton fields along the Parkway, especially with cotton still unharvested. I thought it was picked earlier than October. You know what song is coming, except I couldn't help but sing it the way we did when we were little.
Oh when those cotton bolls get rotten
You got a lot of rotten cotton
In those old cotton fields back home. 
We camped at Tombigbee State Park in Tupelo, Mississippi one night and, being in Tupelo, Elvis was "always on my mind." The predominant song wasn't one of his though, it was the Alannah Myles tribute, "Black Velvet" that I sang all night, thinking of that sweet boy. 
Black velvet and that little boy smile.
Black velvet and that slow southern style.
A new religion that will bring you to your knees.
Black velvet if you please.

The Natchez Trace Parkway ends in Nashville, where it merges into Tennessee highway 100. Right there, where it merges, sits the Loveless Cafe. It used to be a cafe and Motor Court, but now it's just a cafe, and what a cafe. Those of you who watch Food Network have no doubt seen the Loveless on there several times. Diners, Drive-in and Dives filmed an episode and Bobby Flay challenged their "Biscuit Lady" to a Throw Down

The food is simple, down-home food cooked perfectly. We ate there twice, on the way up and again on the way back down. Both times I thought of the singer Patty Loveless. I don't have a clue about whether she is related to the Cafe owners, but I love her voice. 
If my heart had windows
You'd see a heart full of love just for you. 

The next leg of the trip took us up into Kentucky, where we really began to see some fall color. We visited Mammoth Cave and did the Historical Cave Tour and then headed east to the mountains and Cumberland Falls State Park. What a beautiful park. Kentucky has it designated a Resort Park for good reason. There are cabins, a main lodge (built by the DuPonts,) swimming pools, riding trails for horses and hiking trails for humans. I bet is wonderful spot for a family summer vacation. But in the fall it is quieter and the color is spectacular. Take a look.

The whole time we were in Kentucky I was either singing "Coal Miner's Daughter"
Well I was born a coal miner's daughter.
In a cabin on a hill called Butcher Holler.

or "Kentucky Rain."
Kentucky rain keeps pouring down
And up ahead's another town that I'll go walking through
With the rain in my shoes
Searching for you
In the cold Kentucky ra a a a a a ain
In the cold Kentucky rain.

It also rained several times while we were there, something my soul needed, but it didn't help get that rain song out of my head. 

Our last day in Kentucky was spent on the Bluegrass Parkway, which takes you through the "horse country" near Lexington and along the Historic Distillery Trail. We stopped at the Four Roses Distillery and bought some bourbon for the poker guys, but Jim Beam was just down the road. Every time I saw the sign I thought of Hank Williams, Jr. This was before I knew about his recent, stupid remarks about the President. But, even if I had known, I probably would still have sung - 
Lordy I have loved some ladies
And I have loved Jim Beam
And they both tried to kill me in 1973.
When my doctor asked me
"Son, how'd you get in this condition?"
I said, "Hey sawbones, I'm just carrying on 
An old family tradition.

 By this time we are getting tired of being on the road and are ready to be home in our own bed. The problem was that we were still a long way from there. We spent the last few days driving on interstates, later into the night that we had been to make up some time. Here my mind scanned through all the trucker songs I knew, particularly Eddie Rabbit's "Driving My Life Away" and Kathy Mattea's "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses." Here are some shots from the road.

Sunset, near Oxford, MS

Some of that Kentucky rain

Fall color on the interstate

Along the Bluegrass Parkway
Our last tourist stop was in Vicksburg, MS where we visited the Civil War Battleground and National Cemetery. I wasn't singing "Dixie," "Yankee Doodle" or anything else here. I guess the death and tragedy took up all the bandwidth and there was no room for song.

It was a good trip and we had a wonderful time. Sometime later I'll discuss the pros and cons of RV travel, but for now I'm just happy to be home. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Spa Divas In Training

I had a wonderful day today. Right now I'm at that relaxed stage where you're not really conscious of any part of your body. You know, nothing hurts, nothing feels tight, nothing even itches -- everything feels melted and it's all good. I'll tell you why.

There are a lot of September birthdays in my family; so many that we have combined parties, otherwise we would run out of weekend days to celebrate. Today was the party for Connie, Sasha and Sierra. Since it was an all-girl birthday, we decided to have an all-girl spa day. Carrie arranged for a wonderful lady named Barbara to bring her equipment and supplies and provide spa treatments for all of us. 

We started early, 10:00am, in order to get ahead of the heat. (As a side note for those of you who don't live in Texas, our temperature range for today was: low 55º, high 100º. That's a 45º change and we expect the same for the next week.) First up was a body and facial scrub. We put on our bathing suits covered ourselves with fragrant scrub then rinsed off in the outdoor shower around the pool. 

Next came the seaweed and mud pack. We started with my girl, Sophia, the youngest at the party. It took a few minutes to persuade her that covering herself in mud was a good thing. 

But she was a real trooper and gave it a try. I was so proud . . . spa diva in training. I knew my influence on her would be good. 

She and Sierra loved it. I think this is the photo of the day.

Connie really enjoyed the step where you relax and let the mud do its work.

And I looked like Beverly Hills Camouflage. 

While we were relaxing, Barbara conditioned our hair and wrapped our heads in warm towels.

 Sophia told Carrie she looked like an Egyptian queen.

 The three sisters -- Gooey, Aunt Connie and Net-Net to the girls.

That last one reminds me of the passage from Macbeth about the three weird sisters (aka witches.) 
" The weyard sisters, hand in hand, 
Posters of the sea and land.
Thus do go about, about.
Thrice to thine and thrice to mine
And thrice again, to make up nine.
Peace, the charm's wound up."

 After the mud it was back to the shower and then time for dipping our hands and feet in warm paraffin.

We peeled off the paraffin, massaged in the residual oils and covered ourselves with another creamy lotion to finish. 
So now you know why I'm feeling so good. Best birthday party ever. Happy Birthday to all to to all a good night; I'm melting into bed.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Old Ball Game

On August 23, Scott and I drove to Arlington with our friends, Bill and Susan. We had tickets for that night's game at the Ranger's Ballpark where Texas was hosting the Boston Red Sox. Now let me say that at the time I bought these tickets, early in June, I did not know that we would be in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave when August rolled around. 

Even though the Ballpark at Arlington is known for having good food, we decided to eat before we went to the stadium and chose Pappadeaux Restaurant. I'm glad we did because they had Alaskan Halibut on the menu, a fish that is very seasonal and one I love but hardly ever get to eat. It was pan-seared and served with a piccata sauce (lemon/butter sauce with capers) and lump crab meat on top. Yum! I should have taken a photo but it was all gone before I thought about it.

We pre-paid for parking so we cruised through the gate and into a good spot. Bill has a bad leg, so one of the attendants put him and Susan in a golf cart and whizzed them up to the stadium. Scott and I hoofed it, but we needed the walk after that dinner. 

 As we walked, we looked to the right and there it was ...

... Cowboy Stadium. Or as I like to call it, the High Cathedral of Football Worship.

Our seats were good, along the third base line and shaded by an overhang. It was 104º when we sat down. 

The Ballpark is beautiful and we were there early enough to see some of the players warming up. 

I love baseball. I am not a fanatic, watching every game and memorizing stats, but I do love the game. I love that I can understand the rules and that the players don't try to hurt each other. I love that an individual who trains hard and puts all he has into the game will usually do well. And I love that the goal is to "come home;" there's a certain grace to that. 

I wore a Ranger jersey to the game (another poor choice; polyester does not breathe at 104º) but there are several teams I like, including the Red Sox and NY Yankees. So I intended to enjoy the game, no matter who won.

The Red Sox scored in the first inning and set the pace for the night; the Rangers never caught up. Although "my boy," Ian Kinsler, made a good showing. 

Here he is at bat . . . 

Holding at third . . .

And coming home.

Bill enjoyed the game.

And so did Rangers coach Ron Washington . . .

... and Mr. and Mrs. Nolan Ryan. (Their seats look a lot more comfortable than ours, but I guess that's what you get for millions of dollars.)

I can't say that the heat didn't matter. It did. It was really hot. But after the game started and some of the seats around us did not fill, we moved around. There was a nice breeze blowing so that helped make it tolerable. It was after 9:00pm before the temperature went below 100º. 

The game was good, but at the end of the 8th inning, with a score of Boston 7, Texas 4, we decided to beat the crowd and head out. I seriously needed a cold shower and some air conditioning. By the time we got to the hotel a few blocks away, Boston had scored four more runs. My boy, Ian Kinsler, hit a solo home run, but still the game ended 11-5.
Not the Rangers' best showing, but we had a great time.