Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Don't Get It

For today’s lunchtime entertainment I read a popular makeup catalog. Never having worn much makeup myself, I had a lot of questions as I paged through it. Fortunately, someone in the know took pity on me and explained. Unfortunately for her, my asking made her question her whole morning routine.

Here’s just some of what confused me.

Lips – Lip color is now available in what looks like a nail polish bottle. Thank goodness they’re easy to tell apart. How? Because the lip stuff has a layered look to it. Odd layers. Yellow, white and gray layers. The catalog does show a splash of the blended color so you know what shade it ends up after you swirl the applicator through it. Now I could be wrong but I suspect you pay extra for the privilege of mixing it yourself.

Eyes – Two things here. One is metallic shimmer, light-reflecting finish intense liquid shadow. Intense liquid? What’s that mean? My consultant didn’t know either. Light-reflecting? If the picture is anywhere close to accurate you would not be able to sit across from anyone wearing this because the glare would be too great.

The second baffling thing I found for eyes are cheat sheets, instant eyeshadow sheets. They are little papers that are glasses shaped with two different shades of shadow adhered. You peel off the protective plastic cover, place over the closed eye, yes they really do specify that, press and rub the entire sheet to transfer the eyeshadow and finally, blend with fingertips for professional results. You get 14 sheets for the low, low price of $9.00. Um, okay.

Foundation – This is the area I needed the most help with because I was so lost. First I came across was a wedge applicator. This is a stick with replaceable triangular sponges. The sponges come semi-attached in sort of a flower design. I guess that’s so you can do the he-loves-me, he-loves-me-not as you apply your makeup every day. As I understand it, you put on your foundation with your fingertips and then use the sponge to ensure that it’s evenly dispersed.

A few pages further back in the catalog, I found a tube of foundation that had a brush attached directly to it. You twist open the cap, squeeze some liquid into the brush, glob it onto your cheek and then smooth with your fingers, being sure to twist the container closed AND wipe the brush between uses. My question is why do you need either a brush or a sponge? Why can’t you just use your fingertips and be done with it? Perhaps because they can’t charge you for your own hands?

Another noteworthy item is the precision-tipped applicator for a line-filling treatment. Using this will get you an instant reduction in the length of deep expression lines of up to 75%. Looks like a tube of crazy glue to me so I think I’ll pass. If you choose to give it a shot, you may also want to try the plumping lipcolor to increase the fullness of your lips and lid-lifting eyeshadow so you have the complete package.

Something else I found perplexing that my resident expert couldn’t explain was the selection of ergonomic makeup brushes. They are available for whatever substance you might wish to apply. Okay what I want to know is why? When it takes mere seconds to swipe on any and all of these powders why do you need an ergonomic gizmo to do so? Unless you’re a professional makeup artist I see no need. As it is, I seriously doubt that this catalog would be the source of choice for their equipment.

And don’t even get me started on the grow potion for your nails or the dial-a-glow anti-aging 4-level gradual self-tanning solution.

I didn't have time today for the non-makeup portion of the catalog. Perhaps I'll look through that at lunch tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sorry, Too Hot to Think

A Question…

Do you use your whole house? Actively, I mean? I walked through a room and realized nothing in it had been moved for who knows how long. That started me thinking.

Although I would never want to live any place with less space than I have now, the majority of my house is unnecessary for anything other than storage. When I was in Haiti, I saw 6’x6’cinderblock huts with openings where the windows and doors should have been which housed entire multi-generational families. Am I being selfish, hoarding this basically empty extra space all for myself?

Perhaps I should start throwing things away. Seriously, if I haven’t touched something for literally years, do I really need to keep it? If I found a home for my 10,000 books I could probably fit everything essential that was left over into my car and that’s with the three cat carriers taking up the whole back seat.Yes, it does having me thinking…

Don’t forget about the awesome chats at Litergasm this week.

Wednesdsay July 30 - Desiree Holt 7pm - 10pm EST
Thursday July 31 - Ann Cory 7pm - 10pm EST
Friday August 1 - Brynn Paulin 7pm - 10pm EST
Saturday August 2 - The BIG PARTY!! 6pm - 1am EST

If you’re reading this Wednesday, Anny Cook and some of her friends are chatting on the Talking TwoLips group tonight from 7-10. If it’s already Thursday I feel safe in saying that you missed a few hours of fun. Shame on you!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Olympics

The first record of the ancient Olympic Games was in 776 B.C. They were held in Greece every four years for 1000 years. These Games not only celebrated the body's potential but entertained the Greeks as well.

In 1894 Pierre de Coubertin, a French teacher, assembled a bunch of leaders from sports and philosophy for what he labelled the International Athletic Congress. This group, soon renamed the International Olympic Committee, revived the Games in 1896, the first of which were held once again in Greece. Since then only the two World Wars have caused an interruption, in 1916, 1940 and 1944.

At the first modern Games, there were 241 competitors, all male, from 14 nations. Women weren't permitted to participate until 1900. In Beijing next month, there will be roughly 10, 500 athletes from 202 countries. Additionally, they are expecting 22,000 media representatives and require 180,000 staff members to pull everything together. Then there are the probable seven million spectators. My how the Games have grown.

Ah yes, I can see you've now guessed my third sports interest. The Olympics. I absolutely adore them, summer and winter both. If I could, I would do little else during the 17 days they last but watch non-stop. It doesn't even matter to me which sport is featured or who the athletes are. I want to see them all, even the lesser known ones who don't stand a chance of medalling. Seeing the expressions on their faces as they have the honor of representing the countries they are so proud of, giving it their all, is sometimes so much more moving than viewing the best of the best. I really wish they would show more of the nobodies. To me, that's what the Olympic spirit is all about.

For those of you who didn't mark your calenders when you got them last December, the Games of the XXIX Olympiad begin at exactly 8:08 pm Beijing time, on August 8, 2008. Odd? No, not if you know that in China, eight is considered to be very lucky.

This year there are 31 different sports that will have medals awarded. Did you know that until 1912, the gold medals were solid gold? After that they were replaced with ones that are 92.5% silver with six grams of gold coating.

One more interesting comparison for you and then I'll end today's history lesson. The torch relay began in 1936. There were 3422 runners who carried it from Olympia, Greece to Berlin, Germany. This year there are 21,880 torch bearers that cover 85,000 miles (137,000 km) over 130 days.

I'll try not to go overboard with this topic throughout the next month but I assure you it will come up again. As I said, I love the Olympics and there's all sorts of interesting trivia that I can share with you. Don't say you weren't warned!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Yep, It's Monday

I went to the neurologist today for my yearly visit. The main reason for going is to get my prescriptions updated but I also go to see if there are any new and improved treatments. When I mentioned how bad the last two weeks had been, my doctor decided it was time to try something else, not new, just new to me.

Doing what we all should, I inquired about side effects. One, it may cause weight loss. Oh my, how awful! I don’t think I could stand that. Do you think I should risk it? The other major one, and the one that may be cause for some concern, is that it may make me temporarily stupid. Huh? He explained that while I will still know the way home I may, at times, find myself unable to remember certain words and terms. I can just imagine me calling Neeley now, asking what that thingy that guys have is called. You know, the one that gets hard sometimes. The condition generally doesn’t last very long, a few days, but if it persists, discontinuing the medication will make it go away.

Hm, okay, to prevent additional migraines I feel it’s worth a try. I did think it wise to inform my boss just so she didn’t think I had a stroke or something. When I told her she said yes, she’s had experience with that medication and it did cause that type of thing to occur with the individual she knows. Now that that’s covered, do you think I can get away with being totally outrageous and saying bizarre things on a whim, just because I already warned her? Think of all the fun I could have. Of course I should probably wait to see how I react to it first. I may not have a choice in the matter. Either way, it could prove to be an interesting week next week.

Don't forget, Total-E-Bound's Prezzie Hunt contest in celebration of their one year anniversary ends on the 29th. First prize is a year's supply of ebooks.

Also in TEB news, today is the kick-off of the Litergasm author chats. Here's the schedule:

Monday July 28 - Jude Mason Jamie Hill 7pm - 10pm EST
Tuesday July 29 - Victoria Blisse 3pm - 5pm EST
Wednesdsay July 30 - Desiree Holt 7pm - 10pm EST
Thursday July 31 - Ann Cory 7pm - 10pm EST
Friday August 1 - Brynn Paulin 7pm - 10pm EST
Saturday August 2 - The BIG PARTY!! 6pm - 1am EST

I'll be popping in and out of most of them as I know a lot of your favorite TEB authors will so make sure you do to. There will be lots of great excerpts and plenty of prizes!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Stuff

The stench of raw unadulterated panic permeated the early morning calm.

No, this isn't the opening line of a new story. It was the way my morning began today. I woke up to only having two cats. Mouse was missing. He was tucked under my chin when I fell asleep but this morning, nowhere to be found. My house isn't that big. I don't sleep with any windows open. The alarm hadn't gone off so no one opened one from outside, providing him with an escape route. He just vanished into thin air.

This was at 4:30 AM. I spent the next 45 minutes searching everywhere, including the basement even though the door was closed when I went to bed and got up. I looked in cabinets. I even checked the refigerator just in case he and Harry worked together to open it. I raced up and down the steps, screaming hysterically, sobbing so hard I couldn't see, with Bixby and Harry trapsing along after me, I'm sure laughing as we went. By the fourth trip to the attic they were bored and decided to wait by their food dishes. They couldn't understand why breakfast was delayed just because Mouse had disappeared.

I was in the attic, tearing out boxes, thinking he'd somehow gotten behind them and had, gulp, decided to crawl back there to die, when I heard this little meow coming from the other corner of the room. I turned around and there was Mouse's head, peeking up over a box I would have bet he couldn't wiggle his way behind. He was wearing his sleepy, confused face, glaring at me like he was annoyed at me for disturbing him. I'm surprised my screaming woke him. Even though it was loud enough to wake the entire block, Mouse is almost totally deaf and generally doesn't hear me at all. I scooped him up, trying not to hug the stuffing out of him, and gave him an extended lecture on why it's not wise to sleep in places where he's not easily found because one, it panics me no end and two, what if he were to have a seizure and I couldn't locate him? Being a cat, he swatted me with his expressive tail and squirmed to be put down and fed. Panic averted. Whew!

That was followed by a mid-morning thunderstorm, the best we've had in years. It started with rumbles of distant thunder that I first mistook for train noises from the small portion of the Reading railroad train yard that remains active. Then the sky got black as night. The wind started. Lightning flashes began in the distance. The sky opened up and it rained so hard I couldn't see the houses 30 yards away on the other side of the parking lot. There was hail so big I was seriously concerned my car would be dented. The power went out just as they were about to award the final yellow jersey for the Tour de France but that's okay. I'll watch the wrap-up show tonight. I, of course, relocated to the porch. I felt like I was in the middle, summoning the tempest. The storm raged for an hour and then as quickly as it began it was over. Mm, there's nothing like a good storm to restore order within me. Fortunately, in this area, they're generally all bluster without causing any significant damage, just downed trees and wires, more of an inconvenience than anything else so I don't have to feel guilty for loving them so much.

I had a weak moment last week and ordered some post-its from Vista Print. Anybody want one? Email me your snail mail addy and I'll send you one with some bookmarks. Please put post-its in the subject line so I don't delete you.

Tour de France Finals
Winner Stage 21, July 27 - Steegmans, Belgium
Overall Winner, Time - Sastre, Spain (Yellow Jersey)
Cadel Evans, 2nd
Winner Points - Freire, Spain (Green Jersey)
Winner King of the Mountain - Kohl, Austria (Red Polka Dot Jersey)
Winner Young Rider - Andy Schleck, Luxemburg (White Jersey)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Miss August

I did something today I never imagined doing. Not that I have any sort of problem with it, I just saw no point before now. What is it, you ask? I bought a Playboy magazine. Specifically the August issue of Playboy. Why? Because I met the centerfold, Kayla Collins, a gazillion years ago when she was merely a pretty kid instead of the beautiful woman she is today. Okay, so it wasn't that long ago. She's only 21 now so it couldn't have been. There's a picture on her bio of how she looked when I knew her in you're interested.

How? I worked for her dad. I can't help laughing. You see, with how the offices were arranged I was able to hear many of the non-work conversations that took place between the guys back then. Total pigs, the lot of them when it came to this sort of thing. Oh yeah, as bad as they come. I'm sure you know what I mean. We've all overheard such things whether we wanted to or not.

I haven't spoken with him in years now so I don't know how he's reacting to his little girl being the focus of such discussions but I can't imagine it's favorable. I'd heard that he was not at all happy when her tanning poster appeared on the hunting camp wall and that was wearing a bikini. Hm, perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here. Like maybe you should watch what you say about someone else's daughter because one day it might be yours?

While I was at Borders picking up the magazine I spent a moment chatting with the woman having a book signing. At one point, one of the store personnel stopped to join us and she introduced me as another local author. One thing led to another and I ended up speaking with the manager about the possibility of my own signing. Okay quit laughing. I could maybe do it if Dakota flew in to be there with me. Or maybe if I hired someone to pretend to be me for the beginning of it so I could lurk on the fringes until I got over being such a coward. Any volunteers?

At this point it's not an issue. Borders doesn't carry the Bound Brits Anthology. It's not even in their system. The manager explained how I could go about getting it there. That might be my break time project later on. She did tell me to stop back in to arrange something once that's taken care of. I'll have to think about that one.

Tour de France update -
Winner Stage 20, July 26 - Schumacher, Germany
Overall Leader - Sastre, Spain
Cadel Evans is in second

Technically there is one more stage to go but the finishing order was settled today. The last day when they ride into Paris is more of a celebration than a competition. In the 105 years of the Tour it's become tradition to not attack on the last day so the standings won't change unless there's some sort of scandal or a sudden illness that prevents someone from riding the final leg.

Friday, July 25, 2008

More Pieces Please

Internet groups and blogs are like a playground, the contributors, puzzles. The thing about these puzzles is that they come without pictures and the pieces are doled out one at a time via something akin to a scavenger hunt.

In this age of instantaneous worldwide communication, it’s very easy to find someone to chat with any time, day or night. Some are passing allegiances, some casual chat buddies when you happen to bump into each other, some more than that. Still, it’s very difficult to honestly get to know anyone from a few paragraphs here and there. You lack the advantage of observing their interaction with their environment when only associating on-line. You miss all the little nuances of their personalities and oft times form a mental image of them that is far from accurate.

So the puzzles we attempt to build are ever-changing, shifting with our perceptions as more information becomes available. And as these impressions change, so does our interest in connecting the pieces. Some we realize we simply have no desire to continue and we put the lid back on the box. Others take shape in ways we weren’t anticipating but still represent individuals we believe worth knowing.

Along the way to assembling these puzzles which we are never likely to complete, because, let’s be honest here, none of us ever share every tiny detail about ourselves no matter who we’re speaking with, it’s highly probable that our misperceptions will cause hard feelings in some way or another. It’s up to you how you handle it. Me? When I’ve inadvertently stepped on some toes and am told I don’t know the other person I agree. They are correct. I do not know them. I merely responded with an impression formed through the glimpses of themselves that I’ve been granted thus far. If it’s a person who I feel I genuinely like and want to know better I add a request for them to tell me more. Dish out more pieces.

I don’t do that with everyone but it is how I am in my “real” life as well. People come and people go. That’s life. Many leave fond memories and we’re glad to have known them for a time. It’s the rare few that become the puzzles we laminate and hang on our walls.

Tour de France update –
Winner Stage 19, July 25 – Chavanel, France
Overall Leader – Sastre, Spain
Cadel Evans still in 4th

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What Birthday?

It’s finally close enough that I was permitted to order my groqit. For those of you that missed the earlier discussion, a groqit is a nifty little gizmo that reads barcodes. You then transfer the information and it is translated into a readable list of what books, cds, dvds you have. Ideal, considering the boxes and boxes of books all over my house, isn’t it? I’ll let you know how it works once I have it. Supposedly, once I figure out what I'm doing, I'll be able to share the lists of all the titles I have.

That’s it for my birthday. I prefer to ignore it. Well, mostly. I’m not opposed to chocolate cake with too much butter cream frosting but I’ll take one of them any day. My aversion to the day has nothing to do with age. I really don’t care about that at all.

No, my ongoing avoidance of my birthday began when I turned seven and had my one and only party. It was a real nuisance since my birthday is at the end of summer and that made it difficult to invite my school friends. My mother was hassled by the event in every way you can think of and was not at all shy about letting me know it.

Later the night of my party, two people were brutally murdered in the woods surrounding our house. Imagine what it’s like as a seven-year-old to come home and find a yard full of state police, including a helicopter. Then add the fact that I had more than likely stepped on one if not both of the bodies while I was playing in the woods. My mind at the time formed the ridiculous connection – I have a party and people will die.

Yes, I do know full well how totally irrational that is. People die horribly all the time without having anything to do with me or my birthday. The couple that night was at the wrong place at the wrong time. That's all. I didn’t know either of them. One wasn't even local. They just happened to be killed the night of my party in my back yard and left to rot in shallow graves. Still, I’m not taking any chances. Nope, no more birthday parties for me ever.

Tour de France update -
Winner Stage 18, July 24 - Burghardt, Germany
Overall Leader - Sastre, Spain
Cadel is still in 4th with only 3 days to go.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You Know You're Getting Old When...

The term ma’am is routinely used instead of miss.

You don’t leave home without your magnifying glass.

You pull down the skin from your chin and it wobbles like a turkey wattle instead of snapping back into place.

You need to have your hair colored more often than your husband uses the weed whacker.

Your laugh lines show long after you stop smiling.

Your teenaged daughter asks for your body glitter instead of buying more of her own because she is that positive you’ll never wear it again.

You flash the pizza boy and then can’t decide if he’s stuttering because of the view or because you’re old enough to be his mother.

Your arms aren’t long enough to be able to read the paper you’re holding.

You and your friends are out and have repeated the same conversation so often without realizing it that the waitress can fill in the blanks for you when you forget.

You purchase diapers for yourself instead of your kids.

The last box of maxi-pads you bought is covered in dust because it’s been that long since you used any.

You can sing along with songs on the radio station your kids listen to because you remember the original versions.

Your kids’ friends all think you’ve lost your mind because you tell them the movie they just saw used to be a popular Saturday morning cartoon.

All your date movies are now being shown on American Movie Classics oldies nights.

Your husband now counts the colored hairs on your head instead of the gray ones.

Your husband is down to one single strand of hair that is now 8 miles long when unfurled from the top of his otherwise bald head.

All your clothes are back in style for the third time.

Tour de France Update -
Winner Stage 17, July 23 - Sastre, Spain
Overall Leader - Sastre, Spain
Cadel Evans is 4th, down by 1 minute 34 seconds

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Premonition: anticipation of an event without conscious reason

Déjà vu: the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time

Instinct: behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level

Hunch: a strong intuitive feeling concerning a future event or result

Coincidence: the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection

Hooey: nonsense

We all have those instances in our lives when there is a moment that we just knew something was going to happen. How much stock do you put into it? Do you let whatever you call the feeling of something looming on the horizon influence your actions? Or do you stick to dealing with what is right in front of you and let the future come as it may? Really, unless you’re psychic, you don’t even know what to prepare for, right?

I bring this up because yesterday I was sitting at work, minding my own business, doing what I do all day and was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of being, oh I don’t know, swamped maybe. Pressed down by something big? Engulfed? Doused with pudding? Yes, perhaps that’s an adequate description. Slimed with pudding upon opening a new door and as yet unable to clear it from my eyes to see what I’ve just walked into.

The thing about this is, and I can’t decide whether or not to be concerned, is that nothing has really changed. Not that I know of anyway. Perhaps it will become evident over time. Perhaps not. Maybe it’s simply a case of a migraine that’s lasted far too long and an excessive amount of medication used to combat that. I can’t even determine what portion of my life it’s related to. Maybe a sudden wind storm will spring up and deposit the winning lottery ticket in my pocket and tomorrow I’ll have $64 million. Maybe I’m about to encounter a new set of amazing and highly entertaining characters to write about. Maybe I’m going to get hit by a bus. Maybe what’s left of my mind is finally gone and I haven’t realized it yet. I just don’t know.

What I do know is that this is a new feeling for me. Oh, I’ve had the slightly psychic, espish notions as we all have on occasion but this is entirely different, stronger, more urgent. I feel like I’m about to embark on an unknown journey, an adventure if you will. And I have no control. Wait, I don’t mean I feel out of control. I know I can choose to accept or not. Or at least I think I can. It’s more of a somehow I know I’m just supposed to hang on, go with it and then figure it all out once I see where I end up type of thing.

Ever have this feeling? How did it turn out for you? Did you have the courage to let go completely and just let whatever was supposed to happen happen or did something kick in and cause you to try to determine the outcome? I wonder what I’ll do when the time comes. We’ll have to wait and see for that one but I’m willing to bet it’s going to be one hell of a ride! Stay tuned…

Tour de France Update -
Winner Stage 16, July 22 - Dessel, France
Overall Leader - Frank Schleck, Luxemburg
Cadel Evans still in 3rd by 8 seconds

Monday, July 21, 2008

I Was Bad at Work Too

No, not where I am currently. Where I worked before. I don’t know what made me think about this but I was sitting where I work now and it popped into my mind. I spent the rest of the afternoon chuckling. I can’t help it, it was something that ridiculous.

You know the hooks on the inside of bathroom stall doors meant for hanging purses and coats? Somehow or other the safety committee got it stuck in their heads that we were so uncoordinated we’d trip and fall in the act of pulling up our panties and wind up poking our eyes out with them.What did they do? First they had them removed. Wow did that cause an uproar! So much of one that they replaced them only they put them at the very tiptop of the doors. We didn’t have any Amazons working there so they figured that was safe.

I, however, wasn’t taking any chances. Being the caring individual that I am, I went in early the next morning and added caution signs to the doors with arrows pointing to the hooks. Practical, right? It was also more aesthetically pleasing because I positioned the signs to cover the original holes.

All was dandy until one of the safety committee members used the ladies room. Then all hell broke loose. She did not take it at all well. In fact, she had the IT department do a search of everyone’s computer to try to determine who made the signs. Thank goodness they’d been done at home. I thought she might guess by the double-sided tape I affixed them with but fortunately she never did. I was a buyer at the time so I had all sorts of industrial grade samples at my desk. It took the poor maintenance guy eons to scrape them off since of course I lined the entire paper with tape.

I considered telling her many times before I left the company but feared she would still not have a sense of humor about the incident so I’m confessing here instead. I’m sure she’ll hear about it eventually. P, when you do, I’m sorry. It was meant as a joke and never intended to upset you. Um, just out of curiosity, why did it upset you so much?

Tour de France update –Rest day today, July 21
Cadel Evans in 3rd place, down by 8 seconds

Sunday, July 20, 2008

At Neeley's Request, Marilyn Monroe

If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.

Norma Jeane Mortenson was born June 1, 1926, baptized Norma Jeane Baker. She was the third child of Gladys Monroe, an unstable woman who was incapable of caring for herself, let alone her children. After years in foster care, Norma Jeane ended up in a marriage arranged by her guardian Grace, her mother’s best friend, to prevent her return to the orphanage. She was only 16 at the time and spent her days hanging out with the neighborhood kids until her husband, James Dougherty, six years her senior, called her home. Soon after their marriage, Jimmie joined the merchant marines leaving his young wife in the company of his mother. She went to work at the Radioplane Munitions Factory where she sprayed airplane parts with flame retardant and inspected parachutes. That is where an army photographer from YANK magazine stumbled across her while doing an expose featuring women working for the war effort and steered her in the direction of modeling.

Everyone is a star and deserves the ability to twinkle.

She and Jimmie divorced when she decided to pursue her modeling career which soon parlayed into a film career. It was the 20th Century Fox executive who discovered her in 1946 who recommended she change her name. She chose Marilyn after actress Marilyn Miller and Monroe, her mother’s maiden name. During her six month contract she had a few bit parts in some not so spectacular films and her contract was not renewed. Going back to modeling did not instantly provide her with enough income to survive so at one point she posed for nude photographs in order to pay the rent. It was Marilyn herself who suggested telling the truth when, in 1952, one of those photos turned up in a calendar, much to the horror of her then employer, Columbia Pictures.

A bit part in the Marx Brothers film, Love Happy, garnered her the attention of an agent who then arranged an audition that cemented her career in film. Soon after the blonde bombshell look was invented and put firmly in place. What you might not know is that Marilyn was highly regarded for her comedic ability but wanted to be taken seriously. So much so that she spent the majority of her acting career studying her craft in order to become a better actress. Unfortunately she was never widely recognized as a leading dramatic actress. The film, Don’t Bother to Knock, which she thought was her strongest dramatic work was poorly reviewed and not well received by the viewing public.

Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.With fame, came criticism.

Once Marilyn gained notoriety her behavior both on and off the set drew negative comments. On-set, she was thought of as difficult to work with. I’m not sure how accurate that description was however. From what I’ve read over the last few days it seems to me that she was merely insecure and needed the on-going support of her current acting coach to be able to perform a scene to the best of her ability. The constant presence of said coaches was not appreciated by any of the big name directors she worked with, Preminger, Hawks, Olivier, and Wilder. Off-set, at awards banquets, she was criticized by costars and other actors alike. After one such event Joan Crawford described her so unfavorably it brought Marilyn to the attention of Hugh Heffner who then put her, clothed, on the cover of the first edition of Playboy Magazine. Her photograph inside was nude.

A few individuals such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes costar Jane Russell, photographer Milton Green, and ex-husband Joe DiMaggio realized Marilyn was very misunderstood. She was shy and sweet and much more intelligent than people gave her credit for. She was dedicated to her performances, often rehearsing dance routines long after everyone else had left. She was a business woman who formed Marilyn Monroe Productions in order to secure better roles that were more than the blonde bimbo ones she was typically given at a pay scale more in line with her abilities than the low rate studios assumed she’d settle for.

Just before she died, Marilyn was back in touch with DiMaggio. They split due to his not being able to deal with her popularity. The trouble between them over this started with an impromptu USO tour in the middle of their honeymoon in Japan and ended with the filming of the scene with her in the white dress standing over the subway grate that director Billy Wilder himself turned into a media circus. At the end, DiMaggio felt she had fallen in with the wrong sort of people, including several noteworthy politicians, a doctor that prescribed all sorts of medicines and a so-called nurse/housekeeper with no real qualifications. The couple was to be remarried just days after her death which was classified as a probable suicide but was more likely a tragic accidental overdose, think Heath Ledger. DiMaggio remained a true gentleman regarding Marilyn. He had red roses delivered to her grave several times a week for 20 years following her death and, unlike her other husbands and self-proclaimed lovers, never spoke of her publicly or otherwise cashed in on their relationship. Even now, 45 years after her death, some of the photographers who were supposedly counted among her friends are still fighting for the right to sell her image.

Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.

Marilyn Monroe died August 5, 1962, just days before my birthday. I don’t know what really happens to a soul when someone dies but I would be honored to have a portion of hers because, though it was rarely recognized, it was a good one. To the end, she was still striving to improve herself. She had interviews and serious acting projects lined up. I, for one, am very sorry she died so young. Just imagine what she might have accomplished with age.

Tour de France update –
Winner Stage 15, July 20 – Gerrans, Australia
Overall Leader – Frank Schleck, Luxemburg

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Good So Far

Today has started out very well indeed. The Bound Brits Anthology is finally available at Amazon US. I was so pleased I ordered copies to be sent to both my great aunt and my mother. I'm not telling them. I prefer to leave it a surprise. My aunt will be mom, your guess is as good as mine.

Also, in even bigger news, my goddess of an editor accepted my new book, Drake's Rules, for Cerridwen Press. How awesome is that! I haven't written the blurb yet but I'll post it once I do. This is just the sweetest book. It made me sigh repeatedly as I was writing it. It also made me chuckle because there's a scene-stealing six-year-old who says exactly what she's thinking.

Last night, I was chatting with Anny Cook and her Frog Friends on the Ellora's Cave yahoo group and the excerpts I posted seemed well-received. Want to see the sweet one? I'll take that as a yes. Keep in mind this is unedited.

“Daddy, the bread’s gone. Can we get ice cream now?” Christy bounced on her toes in front of them.
“Megan?” Drake deferred to her since it was meant to be a thank you for her kindness.
“Fine by me.” She hopped off the bench. “Lead the way. And for future reference, I consider ice cream to be a staple, consumable any time, day or night.”
“What’s that mean?” Christy chose to hold Megan’s hand instead of Drake’s.
“That means,” Drake responded as he clasped Megan’s other hand, “That we’re going to keep an eye on her so she isn’t a bad influence on you.”
“Daddy,” Christy sighed. “Talk kid English.”
“It means that I don’t always eat the way I should, honey.” Megan caught his amused expression and looked relieved that she hadn’t offended him. “I eat sweets instead of real food sometimes even though I know I shouldn’t.”
“Ooh, that’s bad.” Christy’s eyes were huge. “Daddy says we have to eat all sorts of stuff so we don’t get sick.”
“Your daddy is right,” Megan assured her.
At the small ice cream parlor, they sat at one of the tables outside while Christy devoured her cone. Drake was having trouble not staring at Megan’s tongue as she licked the chocolate sprinkles from her ice cream until Christy stopped eating, mid-cone.
“Daddy said about Mommy and Jimmy,” she stated to Megan.
“Yes,” Megan confirmed.
“He gets sad when he says about them. Uncle Adam says it’s ‘kay ‘cause they can’t be with us ever now and Daddy misses them. Uncle Adam says they had to go be angels ‘cause they’re very special. He says that Mommy and Jimmy are in my heart forever and if I get scared or lonesome I can talk to them there and they’ll help me,” she paused to ponder Megan. “Did Mommy make you find me? I was talking to her in my heart and then you came.”
“I don’t know,” Megan answered truthfully.
“But Uncle Adam said she’d take care of me from where angels are.”
Drake had to swallow several times before he could speak. “Christy, there’s no way to know if Mommy sent Megan or not. Angels help without letting us know. But even Uncle Adam will tell you that sometimes things just happen the way they do without involving angels. Do you believe Mommy sent Megan to keep you company?”
She chewed on her lip before nodding. “Yeah. I think Mommy sent her to make you happy too, like when I was little.”
Drake ignored the ice cream smeared on her cheeks and hugged Christy tightly. “Maybe she did,” he whispered, his voice unsteady as he watched Megan’s reaction over her head. “I love you, Christy.”
“I love you, Daddy. Always and forever.”
“Yep, always and forever.”

I told you it was sweet!

Hm, what else? Oh I know. A few weeks back you may remember I was feeling nostalgic and wrote a letter. The end result of that was an email today from a friend I used to hang out with at the music festivals I went to in high school. Last time I heard from him was at least 15 years ago so now I'm sitting here smiling.

Soon I'm off to a picnic for Neeley's sister's birthday. And, believe it or not, I'm taking a guest. I haven't warned them I'm bringing him so they're not going to have the inquisition planned out. I'm sure it'll occur anyway. I must admit I feel slightly guilty, springing my friends on him our first outing but not too much since he didn't hesitate one bit when I invited him. Hm, a courageous man, how about that!

Tour de France Update -
Winner Stage 14, July 19 - Freire, Spain
Overall Leader - Cadel Evans, Australia

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vicarious Meandering

It's too darn hot for me to go out there today so I let Neeley do it for me. She had an exam this morning and went for a wander afterwards to relax. For reasons I have yet to grasp, she ended up at the Eastern Mountain Sports store. Maybe she's window shopping now in case she decides to go off with the Doctor's Without Borders program at some point in the future.

The first item of interest she encountered was biodegradalbe flip flops. Hm, now there's a concept for you. Did you know there's a slew of such things out there that are both environmentally friendly and acceptable to vegans? Never really thought about it but true vegans wouldn't wear leather shoes. I popped on-line to look at what she was talking about only I got distracted by the vegan hiking boots. Aren't they cute? I might need a pair once it cools off.

The whole thought of biodegradable footwear is somewhat fascinating so I took a detour to see what I could find. Brooks Sports makes running shoes they can BioMoGos. They claim these shoes will return to nature in a mere 20 years as opposed to the typical 1000 of standard running shoes. Admirable, isn't it? But just in case you're now worried about your shoes starting to rot off your feet, don't be. For biodegradation to occur you need what is called a triple convergence, the absence of oxygen, the presence of many microbes, and the existence of moisture. These three factors are only present in active landfills so your shoes would be safe in the closet.

The next thing we discussed were Polar watches that in addition to telling time, monitor your heartrate. Yep, I clicked to that page and found the cutest pink one. No, I don't have any real need for one but still, it would be a nifty thing to have. I'd be checking my heartrate throughout the day, just because I could.

The last noteworthy tidbit she mentioned was the variety of freeze-dried food. Grilled chicken breasts and mashed potatoes with herbs and chives or some Katmandu curry anyone? We can have hot apple cobbler or dark chocolate cheesecake for desert.

Tour de France Update -
Winner Stage 13, July 18 - Cavendish, Great Britain
Overall Leader - Cadel Evans, Australia

Thursday, July 17, 2008

One of Those Days

Ever have a day where over half the people who cross your path annoy you? The majority weren't even personally offensive. They were simply being annoying in my general vicinity. That's just plain wrong.

Actually it's a carry-over from last night. It seemed as soon as my head began to feel better someone popped up I believe specifically for the purpose of aggrivating me so my headache would flare up and go back to causing me major amounts of intense pain. I'm so disappointed about this one. The individual knew I was on day five of the killer migraine from hell and yet he went out of his way to phrase something to me that he knew would inflict maximum hurt. Guess I must have pissed him off royally at some point in the not so distant past and he's been just waiting for the perfect opportunity to let it out.

Today I had two, count 'em, two men chase after me, one of them twice. Unfortunately not for anything even remotely good. No, that's not how today was meant to be for me. Frankly, I feel I deserve some sort of major award for a) not staring and saying flat-out no, b) not laughing in their faces and asking what are you f-ing nuts, c) not smacking either of them upside the head because trust me, that's what should have occurred, and d) hiding my reactions so well neither realized how close I was to doing all of the above. Good thing I remembered to wear my "Harm None" ring today. Otherwise I may have forgotten I'm a pacifist at heart.

Thank goodness I'm home now. The only thing I might have to deal with tonight is Harry unrolling the paper towels again. Lately, he's been doing that every time I turn around. Hm, perhaps I'll just leave them on the pile he puts them on until morning when I'm over the grumpiness that follows taking my migraine meds too many days in a row.

I have the day off tomorrow. Maybe that's why today was such a nuisance. The comsic powers decided to mess with me because all the annoying people have to work and they're jealous. Yes, that could very well be. Gee, that's too bad...I'm going to enjoy my day of freedom anyway without feeling the slightest trace of guilt for doing so. I haven't decided what I'm going to do after I finish the errand I have to deal with first thing in the morning. There's a blues concert in the park. I'd really like to go but it depends on how hot it is. Despite all the plotting against me today, I'm still feeling decent and I'd like to stay that way for a little while at least. Oh while I'm out I do need to check if August's issue of Playboy has hit the stands and buy one if it has. Why? Sorry, you'll have to wait for that blog to find out.

Wow, I'm feeling so much better now...perhaps I'll go see what kind of trouble I can stir up tonight after all. Kelly, my car is a little dusty. I could start with washing it!

Tour de France Update -
Winner Stage 12, July 17 - Cavendish, Great Britain
Overall Leader - Cadel Evans, Australia, still by one second

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Was a Bad Child

All my life there’s been a hydrangea bush in my mother’s yard. It’s the old-fashioned kind, stalks, green leaves, puffy white flowers. When I was a very small child I wanted to know why it didn’t have blue or purple flowers like so many we’d pass in the street did.

Now I know you’re going to find this hard to believe but I was one of those children who always asked, “But why?” The answer of because that’s how that particular plant grows was not acceptable. I persisted until my mother finally told me it was because the soil where those other plants were had more iron in it.

Ah, something I could work with. One day, after much pondering of the situation, I snuck off to my father’s workshop in the basement where he did his woodworking projects. I collected up all his nuts and bolts, screws, nails, and washers. I took them outside and sprinkled them throughout the stalks of the hydrangea bush. I was sure come the following spring it would bloom the prettiest shade of blue imaginable.

Needless to say I was wrong. The bush is still there and it’s still got the same puffy white flowers. My dad? He might have been mad when he discovered all his containers were empty had he not been fighting so hard not to laugh at my explanation.

Tour de France Update -
Winner Stage 11, July 16 - Arvesen, Norway
Overall Leader - Cadel Evans, Australia

Bron - Mouse is holding his own, thanks!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Investment Opportunity

I came across this the other day and am sharing it because I'm positive you've all been waiting for such a tremendous opportunity to fall into your lap. Just as I also know you have unlimited funds burning a hole in your pocket so you won't be able to resist.

Curious? I'll tell you. The patent for a particular variety of pedicure toe separator is up for grabs. No really, it is. I certainly wouldn't tease about something as important as this. Seriously, I know this is an item you just can't live without.

This is no ordinary toe separator. Instead of the single piece type that you have to spread your toes to uncomfortable proportions to use, this kind is a small, square piece with an opening on one side. These are placed on the inside toes next to the middle ones, spacing them in that manner. They are touted to have sides that separate the toes with a bottom edge that provides comfortable support while stabilizing the toes. The individual nature of these pieces allows for adjustablitly per toe size as well as ease of wear and removal. Personally, I don't see the need. I can spread my toes so they're not touching but okay, not everyone can do that.

Anyway, this nifty little gizmo was invented by Swanson Sharaf Cotton of Las Vegas, Nevada. One of the design features listed for this specific style is that the full-foot separator is too cumbersome to wear except for during the actual pedicure. Cotton's invention is smaller which permits the wearer to sport them in any open-toed sandal both before and after a pedicure. Hm, never even considered it but sure, if they suit your fashion needs, why not?

Why anyone would want to let this baby go, I can't begin to guess but it's true. It is up for auction at the Free Paton Auction. It opened last August 22 and ends this August 21 at 5:00. Sorry, it doesn't list a time zone. Why so long? Not a clue. Perhaps that's how this sort of thing always works. The current bid is still the opening bid, $100.000. I know, such a bargain price! I suspect everyone is waiting until the very second so as not to drive the price up. If you want in, better mark your calendars now. I'm sure there'll be a real bidding frenzy the last five minutes and I know you don't want to miss out.

Tour de France is having a rest day today. Back tomorrow.


Migraine. Hot. Yuck. This week might kill me.

Tour de France Update -
Winner Stage 10, July 14 - Piepoli, Italy
Overall Leader - Cadel Evans, Australia by 1 second!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Casanova, Fact or Fiction?

A few days ago in a conversation with Amarinda Jones, she suggested I do some research on Casanova and then report what I find in a blog. I did a quick check and decided I would.

First the basics…

“It is only necessary to have courage, for strength without self-confidence is useless.”

He was born Giacomo Girolamo Casanova in Venice in 1725 to actor parents, one of six children who may or may not have actually been fathered by his mother’s husband. It’s generally believed that the theater owner was actually his sire, something he acknowledged in his later life when he was at odds with the Venetian powers-that-be.

He was sent off to boarding school at nine, supposedly for health reasons. His teacher, a priest, took him in and he ended up having his first recorded masturbation experience with the man’s sister at age eleven. At sixteen, while studying law at the University of Padua he lost his virginity to sisters. There he also discovered a love of gambling that plagued him throughout his life.

Following university, he entered the seminary for a brief time. That ended with much scandal, including asking for special dispensation from the Pope to be permitted to read “forbidden books”. His next career was the military but again, it was short-lived. Apparently sitting around Constantinople was too boring.

Back in Venice he made an attempt at professional gambling only to end up losing all his money after which he tried his hand at being a violinist for the same theater owner who was probably his father. Boredom sent him to pranking with his fellow musicians until his quasi-knowledge of medicine caused him to save a nobleman who became the first of many patrons Casanova would have during the course of his not working for real lifetime.

Capers and scandals earned him his first banishment from Venice so Casanova turned his attentions on the rest of Europe. He positioned himself to be noticed by the upper crust of society and managed to sponge his way from one region to the next, often being forced to move on by his own nefarious doings. On occasion he was jailed only to escape or be rescued by his current patron.

In France, Casanova made a fortune by becoming one of the trustees for the first state organized lottery. He became a spy and a diplomat as well. He used his wealth to acquire a silk mill but manufacturing was not his forte. His numerous liaisons cost him all he had and again he resorted to his charlatan ways to survive. Moving from one area to the next, he left a trail of schemes, mostly failed, and assignations which left him notorious and not in a good way. He added de Seingalt to his name to boost his respectability but his own reckless behavior worked against him throughout his years and resulted in his expulsion from wherever he landed time and time again. He was quite the con man since he generally managed to get readmitted all over the place as well.

Casanova lived out the end of his life as librarian to a much younger count who often couldn’t be bothered to introduce the old man to his important guests, something that left Casanova bitter. He took out his anger on the rest of the household staff which resented him for his better than the rest attitude. It was to stave off going mad or dying from grief that he undertook the writing of his memoirs.

“Happy or unhappy, life is the only treasure which man possesses.”

Now the seductions…

“Love is three quarters curiosity.”

What you must keep in mind is that Casanova lived in a time when the upper class married more for social standing than commitment. Attitudes about love and sex were more casual. In his memoirs he lists encounters with roughly 120 different women. He hints at more as well as some men but doesn’t include them because doing so would anger the wrong people.

The general consensus is that Casanova liked women who presented him with an intellectual as well as sexual challenge. He rejected those pursuing him merely for sex. His conquests were always mutually consented to and often followed a certain pattern. It seems he liked a touch of drama in his affairs. He’d discover a woman with a problem, say an abusive lover, save her from the brute which would result in a period of intense attraction during which she’d express her overwhelming gratitude physically. When things began to cool off Casanova would find her a replacement before skipping out.

In his memoirs he comments that in a time of seduction by alcohol and violence he much preferred to employ attentiveness and small favors to soften a woman’s heart. Yeah, I probably would have fallen for him too especially since he considered chocolate to be the ultimate aphrodisiac.

“Economy in pleasure is not to my taste.”

Final thoughts…

“In fact, to gull a fool seems to me an exploit worthy of a witty man.”

In my opinion, Casanova was an overly intelligent man who was easily bored and whose life has been highly romanticized. He amused himself by preying on more than willing, often wealthy victims and had a limited attention span for just about everything. Think of the Leo DiCaprio movie, Catch Me If You Can, only without a Tom Hanks in pursuit. Instead, he burned too many people and age set in. Without his 1400+ page memoirs which is regarded as a great descriptive source of his time, he probably would have been long forgotten.

Tour de France Update -
Winner Stage 9, July 13 – Ricco, Italy
Overall Leader – Kirchen, Luxemburg
Cadel Evans still 2nd by 6 seconds even though he crashed at the beginning of today’s stage

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ho Hum Day

Just a bit. It's too hot to think. Yes, the ac is on but I have to keep going to the attic to retrieve the Mouse cat. Silly boy just doesn't understand that it's unwise to sleep in 100 degree heat on a navy blue, furry bean bag chair in a sunbeam. All I can think is that it makes his old bones feel good. At least he's eating again. I think he figured out that I'm serious about taking him to the vet for weekly fluid injections if he doesn't.

My wonderful and overly-indulgent friend Neeley sent me a link today for a map with street views of the Tour de France. Click here to see some of the towns up close. Today's stage took place in the pouring rain. Tomorrow they move into the Pyrenees Mountains and they're worried about encountering ice. Can you imagine flying down an icy mountain road on a racing bike? I've seen them crash and flip over the guardrails into the trees on dry roads.

I promise tomorrow's blog will be more interesting. Amarinda Jones suggested a research project which I chose to accept. I should have it ready by then unless something unexpected and earth shattering happens here tonight, like Colin Firth shows up, finally having realized he just can't live without me. Hm, do you think I should put on some real clothes, just in case?

Tour de France Update -
Winner Stage 8, July 12 - Cavendish, Great Britain
Overall Leader - Kirchen, Luxemburg
Cadel Evans still in 2nd by 6 seconds
Tomorrow starts the first of the mountain stages so that'll shake everything up.

Don't forget - Total-E-Bound's anniversay contest is still going on. Enter to win. First prize is a year's supply of ebooks!

Friday, July 11, 2008

On Writing

I had someone comment the other day that it must be difficult to set my work aside and relax due to all the stress associated with it. I mistakenly thought he was referring to my day job because some of what I come in contact with can be heart-wrenching. When he explained that he meant my writing it really surprised me.

To me, writing isn’t work. The necessary promos and website maintenance, yes, those are work, but not the writing itself. That’s something I do because one, I have to for the characters living within my mind and two, because I truly enjoy it.

I will never be a well-known commercial writer, not that there’s anything wrong with those who are. I know individuals that have an idea and are more than capable of sitting down and writing it into a story that they know will sell. I both respect and admire them as we all should. Doing so on a consistent basis isn’t easy. It requires a lot of talent and dedication.

But that’s not me. I write first and foremost for myself. I always have. I will continue to do so. I started out because a friend I share books with challenged me. We had read the same thing and were discussing how disappointing is was. I made the claim to be able to do better and she dared me to prove it. I’d been having an ongoing dream so I wrote it down. She enjoyed reading it as much as I had writing it so I proceeded with other stories I had swirling around my head. I showed a few more friends and eventually they ganged up on me, nagging until I submitted something.

So off went one of my books to Ellora’s Cave and not even the one I feel is my best. I waited, fully expecting a rejection which I planned to use to make my well-meaning friends leave me alone. You can imagine my shock when I received a contract offer instead.

As much as I love my friends, none of them ever knew, until now that is, just how close I was to saying no thank you. Me? A published author? I really didn’t see it. Who on earth would ever want to pay money to read anything I’d written? But then I sat down and gave it some very serious consideration and signed the contract. I remembered Ellora’s Cave isn’t in the business of being nice to people. They provide books, good ones, to their target audience. If they thought people would like what I’d written then why not see where this might lead?

Being published has been an overall good experience, interesting too. I’m proud of my books. Through them, I’ve encountered some truly wonderful individuals from all walks of life. There’s a part of me that’s too curious to stop now.

As I said, I’ll always write just for me first. I’ll submit in order to share with everyone else after I’m through picking over a book and am happy with the final result. I make myself a little insane at times, obsessing over a section until it’s just right but that’s me. Even when I’m doing that and mad as can be at my characters for not helping me since I know they could provide the perfect words, it’s still fun.

So to respond to the gentleman’s statement, I don’t step away from my writing. When I’m out and about doing other things my characters are always with me. On the whole they tone it down when they know I am preoccupied elsewhere but there are times when it’s difficult not to lose myself in their antics. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Okay writers, your turn. Do you consider writing work or is it something you do because it’s part of who you are?

Tour de France Update - Winner Stage 7, July 11 – Sanchez, Spain
Overall Leader – Kirchen, Luxemburg
Cadel Evans, Australia still 2nd

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Rumination

“Worthy or not, my life is my subject, and my subject is my life.”
Giacomo Casanova

I’ve lost the ability to write. No, not that one. I still have plenty of characters swarming in my mind, doing all sorts of this, that and then some. I mean the other one, the act of putting pen to paper and forming legible symbols thus creating words.

It’s an ongoing problem, not just one that comes and goes with the functionality of my thumbs though I do have a touch of arthritis in them. I used to think it was because I was generally rushing when I wrote something down. Last weekend, I attempted to write a letter and took my time. The result was only marginally better. Are you having the same difficulty with manual tasks?

Is it because in this day and age everything is done on the computer instead of by hand? Using a keyboard definitely does not utilize the same motions. Have my writing muscles deteriorated to the point of a four-year-old? Maybe I need to practice just like we did as children. I know how the letters are supposed to look so it might be a skill I can redevelop.

It makes sense in a way. As you know, I used to play the double bass. My mind remembers how to play but my hands didn’t the last time I tried. Hm, maybe I should relearn how to do that too. I wonder if they have a music camp for adults. Here’s a thought. Perhaps, since I’m an alumnus, I could go back to the same one I went to as a kid. Can’t you just see it now, me with a hoard of teenagers? Anybody want to come to the concert on parents day?

Tour de France Update –
Winner Stage 6, July 10 – Ricco – Italy
Overall leader – Kirchen – Luxemburg
AJ – Cadel Evans is in second, behind by only 6 seconds

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Postmortem Options

What are your plans for when you’re dead? Are you a traditionalist? You know, the whole embalmed, casket, vault or mausoleum bit. Cremation perhaps? How about some alternatives?

I heard a report on the radio in the wee hours of the morning about how cemeteries are now going green. No embalming, no vaults, biodegradable coffins, headstones of indigenous stone only, landscaping that is designed to slowly revert back to nature. Not a bad idea. For more info, click on the banner.

But let’s take it a step beyond the norm. Many cultures have funeral pyres. Kind of average, right? Let’s add a twist. Instead of letting me be dispersed by the elements, let’s collect up the ashes and hold a raffle. I’ll even sell the tickets myself. Now, of course. For a lot of money. Hey, who wouldn’t want me taking up residence on the mantel after I’m dead and incinerated? I’m sure the demand will be tremendous but before you start scrambling to get your ticket, I should tell you that I plan on living a very long time. Unless you want my ashes scattered on your grave then you better do so too.

I know a woman who has always said that if she dies first she wants to be stuffed and mounted on roller skates, kind of like an overgrown pull toy for her husband. She figures that way he can continue to take her with him everywhere he goes. I’m not sure if she’s lined up the taxidermist yet or not.

What if you are destitute when you die? You wouldn’t want to be a burden to anyone. I’m sure we could find a less than scrupulous soup kitchen out there somewhere. Or if the idea of that doesn’t suit, even though you’d be performing the ultimate in community service, how about going on one last deep sea fishing expedition…with you as the chum?

No? Okay, here’s an idea for those of you who prefer to leave more of a mark. If you live in an arid region and die before me I could mummify you. I’ll need you to select a location off the beaten path location where I can then tuck you away for safe keeping. Imagine the speculation you’ll cause in a few hundred years when you’re finally discovered.

Of course there is one traditional method I skipped. You could donate your organs to those in need and the rest of you to a med school. Admirable but I doubt my parts will be of much good by the time I cash in and personally, I’d prefer to become part of a forensic anthropology program. Yes, there really are schools that accept donations of corpses just for the purpose of sticking them out in the elements to be salvaged and studied at a later date. I saw an article about it back when Kathy Reichs first started writing. I couldn’t resist showing it my mother and announcing that that’s what I’m going to do. Will I really? It all depends on the number of raffle tickets I sell.

Tour de France Update -
Winner Stage 5, July 9 - Cavendish - Great Britain
Overall Leader - Schumacher - Germany

Today's Lesson

Guess what this is. Why it's a mosquito vacuum of course. You can win one simply be signing up for the Birds & Blooms Magazine Backyard Garden Club email newsletter. They're giving away two, that's right count 'em, two of these thingys to lucky newsletter recipients. The advertised cost? Around $270. Being me, I had to go check how this gizmo works. Apparently it's got some sort of blood-sucking bait in the green part. The bait is warmed to make it more attractive with the propane tank. The round part under the green is the bug basket which you must check for yield to determine if you've properly positioned your vacuum. By that I mean in a shady area where mosquitos like to rest, upwind from mosqito breeding sites. You must check it often as these breeding sites change throughout the season. Also you must maintain your propane supply so as not to permit the mosquito population to rebuild.

Did you know that Io moths have no digestive tracts or functioning mouthparts? They survive on stored body fat, living less than a week during which time they must emerge from their cocoon, mate and reproduce. The caterpilars are green with a red, yellow and white strip and yellow spiny puffs on their backs. Careful, don't touch. The puffs release a painful stinging venom.

How about monarch butterflies? Pretty, aren't they? Well, if you want to help preserve them you can have your yard certified as an official Monarch Waystation by the Monarch Watch program through the University of Kansas. The program teaches you how to ensure your yard is monarch-friendly so the butterflies have an oasis during their migration. While they're resting you get to tag them with a sticker to help track their migratory patterns.

Not one for bugs? How about plants? Wax begonias are natives of Brazil, one of more than 1300 species. The French botanist, Begon, thus the name, discovered the plants and took them back with him in the late 1600's. They made their way to American in 1880 and the American Begonia was formed in 1934. There. I'm sure you're all so pleased to possess this knowledge.

Do your purple coneflowers get tiny green flowers all over the blooms? Yank the plant out. It has been infected by a leafhopper with a disease organism known as phytoplasm. But only pull the actual plants with the disease. It's only spread through the exchange of fluids during feasting so the other plants in the area are sage.

Hummingbirds. If you have no life and the patience of a saint it is possible to train them to eat from your hand. Want to know how? Email me and I'll provide you with a step by step guide.

One last tidbit before I conclude today's lesson. If you have an ant problem sprinkle some ground ginger across their trails. They hate that and will evacuate the premises.

Well, I think that's enough for one day. Don't want to overwhelm you. What shall I teach you about next?

Tour de France Update -
Winner Stage 4, July 8 - Schumacher - Germany
Overall Leader - Schumacher - Germany

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ingrained Response

I was having a discussion today with a rather excitable individual and something I said set him off. The volume went up, the language deteriorated. He was shocked when I took a very noticeable step back. Enough so that he jumped instantly to the erroneous conclusion that I had at some point been physically abused.

For the record, other than an attempted strangling that occurred once and only once, I was not. I can not however, make the same statement about verbal abuse. Without going into much detail because even now talking about it still leaves me too raw, I will say that for years everything that went wrong in the entire world was my fault. Additionally, all that happened was a direct conspiracy against him, my doing of course. Um, no, the truth is if I actually had that kind of power the last thing I’d do is waste it messing with him. Besides, he has so much bad karma the universal powers are already at work taking care of him.

You may notice if you ever read any of my books, there tends to be some exaggerated apologizing. Yes, you guessed it, there is a lot of me in my characters. But don’t all authors do that to some extent? Don’t we draw on what we know and have experienced in order to give life to our stories? Even so, I’m working on that one, both with myself and my characters. I sometimes think I’m making progress. That is until voices are raised for little apparent cause. Then I slip right back into it but that’s what I used to need to do in order to survive. You see, I was never sure if events might or might not go beyond a verbal level.

A couple once emailed that they had a bet on whether or not I was really a woman because she felt that only a man could write a hero that was as cruel as the one in my first book was. They obviously hadn’t even considered the possibility that personal experience made it all too easy. Honestly, I was very glad for that. Anyway, I settled their bet which meant she had to buy dinner but I suggested that he, in return, provide the after dinner entertainment.

Okay, getting sidetracked. I know I had a point I wanted to make when I started. Wait, I know. I wanted to ask you to think before you overreact to a situation. Yelling is fine when it’s justified. But when it’s not, please don’t do it. Your actions may inflict hurt in ways you might never realize because for some it’s very difficult not to take it personally when the only other person in the room is getting loud.

Oh just so you know, I did have a brief conversation with the man I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. He’s agreed to make an effort to remain calmer around me and I’ve agreed to work on not being so overly sensitive.

On a lighter note, I’m guest blogging today over at Night Owl Romance. Stop by if you have a chance.

And on a really happy note, I came home to the perfect card from my sweetheart of a friend, Dakota Rebel. Thanks, D! You never fail to make me smile.

Tour de France Update-
Winner Stage 3, July 7 - Domoulin - France
Overall leader - Feillu - France

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I was Just Plain Bad

At one point back in the late 80's/early 90's I used to go to aerobics, 8 classes in 6 days. I've always had breasts and hips but at that point the rest of me was sooo toned. I was not only tan but also blond from spending so much time in the sun. My hair was long which, for me, always means ringlets.

I was wound a little tight so my buddy in the red plaid boxers suggested a long weekend at the beach. Since he was constantly traveling he had limitless frequent flyer miles and was very generous about sharing them with me. He also pealed shrimp for me when we went out without being asked. Really, how could I refuse?

Do you remember the Alannah Myles song, Black Velvet, that was popular at that time? It was one of the songs from my exercise class. Anyway we got into the elevator at the Hilton in North Myrtle Beach with the bellhop just as it began. I loved that song. It made me need to move. So I did.

My pal just tilted his head and watched as I used the bellboy for the pole in my dance. Poor kid might have been all of 17 and I'm guessing it was one of his first days of work. He got redder and redder with each button opened but didn't seem upset having my shirt draped over his shoulder. Nor did he seem to mind holding my bra when I flung it at him. I had my shorts unzipped and halfway off my hips when we reached our floor. You should have seen the flourish with which I snagged my top and flung in back over one shoulder as I sauntered down the hall to our room. Yeah, I had a whole lot of ATTITUDE back then.

Once inside I dropped my shirt and stood, looking out of the window so I have no idea how much his tip was. I'm sure it was a good one since he'd been so nice, putting up with my shenanigans as he had. My friend? He thought I was amusing but he was used to me misbehaving. His only comment was that he bet the kid never forgets that song. Me too. Hey it still makes me smile every time I hear it.

It wasn't until hours later, when we had a waiter in the lounge tripping all over himself that I considered the possibility of a security camera. Do you think I might still be famous somewhere?

Update Tour de France -
inner Stage 1, July 5 - Valverde of Spain
Winner Stage 2, July 6 - Hushovd of Norway
Overall leader - Valverde of Spain

Friday, July 4, 2008

Le Tour de France 2008

Sorry, I have to rant first.

Fireworks...I love professionally done shows. It's the amatuers that I have problems with.

Technically, any fireworks other than sparklers and snakes are illegal in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately no one other than me seems to know or care. It's to the point where I dread all holidays. The inconsiderate men, and I use that term loosely, in the blocks surrounding my house started yesterday before 8 AM and continued until after 2 AM. I assume that's either when their lighters died or they passed out. You can guage their level of drunkenness by the volume and understandabiliy of the shouting that accompanies the fireworks displays as the day progresses.

I looked out at one point and the parking lot across the street from my house was shrouded in haze. Yes, that's how many things were being ignited. Thank goodness it rained this year. I'm sorry it did because it ruined so many plans, mine included. I didn't get to go to the concert in the park but I'd rather give up that than have a fire in my yard from all the incorrectly launched explosives. No, the only thing to fear this year was a direct hit that might get lodged beneath a rain gutter. Nope, not exaggerating. There are always several house fires in Reading every Fourth of July and an occasional one on an alternate holiday.

In defense of the local police it is impossible for them to contain these people. This is a city-wide problem, not just in my block. I haven't read the paper yet to know how many hands were blown off yesterday. Not that it will make any difference to the rest of the bunch setting off fireworks. The Fourth is over but around here they don't stick to that one day. They started mid-week and will continue through the weekend at least. And then in two months it'll be Labor Day and they'll do it all over again.

On the other hand, should I ever decide to become a war reported I doubt I'll have much trouble adjusting to the noise of being in a war zone. Hm, have to think about that one.

Now for what I really wanted to talk about, Le Tour de France.

"Running from Saturday July 5th to Sunday July 27th 2008, the 95th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,500 kilometres.

These 21 stages have the following profiles:
10 flat stages,
5 mountain stages,
4 medium mountain stages,
2 individual time-trial stages.

Distinctive aspects of the race
4 mountain finishes,
2 rest days,
82 kilometres of individual time-trials,
17 Category 1, Category 2 and highest level passes will be climbed."

For additional information Click Here.

Overall, I'm not a sports person. You all know ice hockey is one exception. This is the second. I'll tell you about the third when the time comes.

This race just plain fascinates me and it has nothing to do with Lance Armstrong or any of the other individual racers. Have you ever watched any of it? I sit in awe of these athletes. Day after day they go out and put their weary bodies through the most physically grueling torture possible. They ride 3500 kilometers which is over 2100 miles in three weeks with very few rest days scattered throughout. I can't even begin to imagine that.

Seriously, these guys ride up mountains and then virtually fly down the other side whether it's raining, snowing or sunny and 100 degrees. They ride through little towns over narrow, winding streets with crowds screaming so loud they can't hear the team radios in their ears. They crash with each other, fall on their own due to equipment failure and just pick themselves up, often with bloody and raw skin exposed through their torn uniforms, and keep right on going. And then, just for fun, every so many days they force their battered bodies to pedal even faster during an individual time trial.

I have yet to grasp all the rules and strategies associated with this whole event and frankly, I don't really care. I like to watch just because I do. It seems to be one of those things. Last year's race was frought with scandal. I hope this year's isn't because having the announcers dwell on the various nefarious situations detracted from my overall enjoyment. I want to relax and soak up the scenery the racers are zipping by, not listen to non-stop speculation of who's cheating and how.

As I said, the race begins today. You can catch part of it almost daily over the next few weeks. If you have a spare moment, take a look. Maybe you'll be as inexplicably interested as I am.

One last thing - I spent some of my holiday speaking with Amarinda Jones. On the phone instead of just through email. It was quite a conversation and I'm so glad it happened. One thing I'm sure of, should we ever meet in person we will be very dangerous. There, you've been warned! What do you think, AJ? Is the world ready for us combined?