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Archive for the 'Potpourri' Category

Sleepless Night

I had trouble sleeping last night. I don’t know if it was because I read Margie Lawson’s guest post about sleeping at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales or if it was a sign of things to come. Margie’s post was very interesting and included suggestions about ways to aid sleep. It’s worth reading if you have a chance.

Normally, I sleep really well. Last night I was tired. I slept a few hours and woke. Unable to go back to sleep, I applied my brain cells to the problems I’ve been having with my current work-in-progress. Problem fixed! I know how to end my story in a way that isn’t as lame as my original idea. I must have drifted back to sleep and I woke about seven, feeling really tired. According to hubby I was grinding my teeth. I haven’t done that for a long time. It’s something I usually only do when I’m stressed.

If anyone has listened to a person grinding their teeth they’ll know what a horrible sound it is–way worse than snoring. I don’t know why hubby didn’t wake me up.

The good news is that I remembered all the plotting I’d done during the night–it didn’t fade away into dreamland. Here’s hoping I sleep better tonight, but if I don’t, I have another story I need to start plotting.

What do you do if you can’t sleep? Is anyone else tired of 2009 and ready for 2010 to begin?

Almost the Kitchen Sink…Examining Handbags

I met two girlfriends for coffee this week and the subject of handbags came up. I’ve been thinking about doing a blog post on handbags and their contents for ages so I con…ah, persuaded them to let me photograph what they were carrying in their bags. Note – they both censored their contents a little!

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This is what my friend Tessa Radley had in her handbag.

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This is what my friend, Jo had in her handbag.

I’ve been carrying around my briefcase this week. It contains my alphasmart, wallet (credit cards, driver’s licence etc), house keys, flash drive, camera, Palm PDA (e-reader), small makeup bag, canvas bag (instead of using plastic bags), chewing gum, about five pens, notebook, a library book about Distance Relationships, bus ticket, iPod, tissues, sunglasses, business cards in silver case, and cell phone.

Maybe you should call me Gadget Girl. :grin:

The typical handbag of a typical woman in 1945 contained:

One or two lipsticks
A compact(the won’t close)
1 fresh handkerchief
2/3 crumpled handkerchiefs
A package of letters
The laundry bill
3 tickets from the cleaner
1 nylon stocking to be repaired
1 address book
1 pack of cigarettes
3 packs of matches
1 leather picture folder
All ration books (including expired ones)
Several cards with address of a furrier,
a wholesale place for children’s coats, a beauty parlor, a graphologist, etc.
2 scraps of paper with telephone numbers
and no names
1 hairnet
1 bottle of vitamins
3 samples of slipcovers
1 fountain pen
2 pencils
1 parcel of V-mail letters covering
several months held by a rubber band.

The typical handbag of a typical woman today:

ATM Card
Cell Phone / Blackberry
Change Purse
Checkbook
Crumpled Tissues
Hand Cream
Hair Brush
Keys
Lip Balm
Nail File
Makeup case filled to capacity
Pens
Wallet and credit cards

One bag is not enough
Our contents spill over into our totebags,
where you will find:
Agenda
Bottled Water
Paperback Book/Magazine
Newspaper
Shoes to change at work
Umbrella

I thought the differences were quite interesting.

Source: Accessory Web

Do you carry a handbag, and if so, what do you have in it? (note – if you’d like to send me a photo of your handbag contents I’ll post them next week)

A Stroll Through the Past

I’ve had a bit of a rough week and took myself off to the doctor today. Since I’m not feeling too clever, I thought it was the perfect time to revisit some of my favorite posts from the past.

1. Classic Romance Plots – The secret of writing a great romance is to take a classic plot and twist it to make the story unique…

2. Penises in Paranormals – the curious case of interesting bits…

3. Gifts for writers – is there a special person in your life who writes?

4. Collaborative Writing Partnerships – the wonderful Josh Lanyon and Laura Baumbach share their experiences…

5. Marcia James shares her views and ideas about promo for writers…

6. Do you like paranormal romances featuring feline shapeshifters? I discuss some of my favorites…

I leave you with a puzzle of sorts. Male writers are from _______, Female writers are from _______.

What would you put in the blank spaces?

Happy Flying

I love this ad and stop to watch it every time it comes on the screen. I love the expressions on the faces of the crew and passengers. At first they seem confused, and then they get into the groove. We flew Pacific Blue when we went to Samoa. It was a good flight, but they need to make sure they have more change for people who make purchases!

I fly a couple of times a year. The more I fly, the more I dislike it. I’m always very pleased when I stand on terra firma again.

Do you like flying? What do you think of the ad?

The Pubs With Expensive Beer

Some of you might have heard the song about the pub with no beer. A pub is a sad place if it runs out of beer, that’s for sure. Last night on the news there was a story about a shortage of hops, which is forcing beer prices to skyrocket. A few years ago there was a glut of hops on the market. This meant many growers ripped out their crops, swinging the pendulum in the other direction. A shortage of hops meant an increase in prices and some brewers stopped making varieties of beer that used lots of hops.

Hops are a little like grapes. The crops from different regions taste different and bring different properties to the beer. They contribute to the aroma, flavor and bitterness of the beer.

I know one person, namely Mr. Munro, who will complain if beer prices rise too much. I like to drink beer when it’s a hot, sunny day. There’s nothing more refreshing during the heat of the summer. I’m not a fan of English ale, the beer served at room temperature in British pubs, but I do enjoy lager. After several years of working in English pubs, I’m a dab hand at pouring a beer.

And speaking of crops, I’m doing my monthly blog at The Raven Happy Hour today and talking about crop circles, UFOs and my book Romantic Interlude.

Do you like beer? If so, what sort do you prefer? Will a price rise worry you?

It’s All About the Fizz

About two weeks ago, my sister told me about this new program she’d started watching on the Living Channel about organizing wardrobes and cleaning. My first thought was “Huh! There’s no way I’m getting excited about housework and cleaning!”

While our house is reasonably tidy, it’s not spotless. My opinion is that life is too short to obsess about a clean house. I tend to let things slide when I can, preferring to do fun stuff instead.

Fast forward a few days, and I was channel surfing. I came across the program called Lush House and settled in to watch it. Each week features a different family, along with their cleaning and organizational problems. They might have carpet stains, severe clutter, disorganized rooms, poor ventilation, problems in the garden and other cleaning nightmares within the house. Along comes Shannon Lush to solve all their problems. She uses natural methods of cleaning and dispenses lots of cleaning tips. By the end of the show the family and their pets are organized with their houses all spick and span.

I was fascinated with her basic cleaning supplies—all natural products and inexpensive. I thought about all the expensive cleaning materials underneath my kitchen sink and decided I’d try some of Ms. Lush’s methods. It wasn’t as if I was wasting a lot of money if they didn’t work.

During my next shopping trip, I purchased a packet of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and a bottle of white vinegar. What you do is sprinkle baking soda on the area to be cleaned then spray it with white vinegar. It makes a very satisfying hissing sound when the two items react, lifting dirt and grime at the same time. I was pleasantly surprised at the way it cleaned my sink and stovetop. I’ve also used the baking soda/vinegar to clean my oven with some success. The grime is a bit baked on in my oven so it will take two or three cleaning sessions, but it does work. The baking soda/vinegar can also be used to clean dishwashers, toilets, baths, and showers. I tell you it’s miracle stuff, and the child in me really enjoys the hiss and sizzle the baking soda and vinegar make when they react.

Here’s a link to the fact sheets and the various cleaning problems Ms. Lush has tackled to date.
Ms. Lush has also published several books on cleaning the natural way. I tell you—I’m a believer. I really like using the more natural products. It’s got to be better for the environment and it’s sure easier on the pocket!

Do you like housework? What is your favorite cleaning product?

Participation v Winning.

WinnerThese days people place a lot of emphasis on participation. In schools our children are asked to participate and are rewarded for joining in with the sport or activity. Often they receive certificates or rewards for merely participating.

What has happened to winning and striving to excel? What has happened to fostering the burning need to win?

When I was at school they taught us to join in, but winning—that was where the real reward was as far as we were concerned. Every Monday morning the captain of each sports team had to stand up in assembly and tell the rest of the students how the team had performed during the weekend. That was a really good incentive to try hard and win because none of us wanted to report a loss.

I hate losing. Coming last or toward the bottom makes me want to try harder and do better next time. It doesn’t make me give up. Winning and losing teaches me skills to take forward into life, inspires me to achieve the best possible result. Winning or doing well makes me strive to maintain that level of excellence. Winning means something. I remember coming first and feeling a sense of pride and achievement but how many times do you remember participating? Years down the track I remember the successes more than anything else.

I don’t agree with the political correctness that says we should reward people for participating. I’ve lost before and have been disappointed at my losses, but it hasn’t wounded me so much that I’m frightened to try again. I think it’s important to foster a society where we recognize winning. Competition is good because it teaches us to reach for the stars, it gives us a challenge and rewards for those who perform best.

What do you think? Is participation better than winning or losing? Should someone always win?

Fear!

FearFear–it’s the gut-wrenching anxiety that strikes us all in moments of extreme stress, when our limbs tremble, our face goes pale, and we scream until we’re hoarse.

Some people dislike flying, Indiana Jones hates snakes, and I fear fairground rides. I’m sure you know the ones I mean—rides where you hurtle down steep hills, turn upside down and spin around against gravity. An adrenaline junkie I’m not!

When I was a child, one of our middle-age aunts visited Disneyland. She loved it and her description of the hair-raising rides and the way she’d said naughty words while screaming her head off made us bug-eyed with astonishment. It was difficult not to laugh at the vision my aunt painted.

Fast forward several years to my visit to Disneyland with my husband and sister.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” my husband asked.

“I’m at Disneyland,” I said firmly. “This is what people do when they come to Disneyland.”

I should have known better. While I was projecting confidence, I should have been crying “Fool! Fool! Stay far, far away. Run!”

So we queued up with everyone else for Splash Mountain. The entire time I laughed and chatted with my husband and sister, told myself I would be fine. No problem. If Aunt X could do this then so could I. We came to our turn and climbed into the hollowed out log. Off we went…

From the moment the ride started, I wanted to get off. My hands didn’t rise jubilantly into the air like everyone else’s—they held the safety bar in a white-knuckle grip. Even now, countless years later, I remember the paralyzing fear that squeezed me when our log went down the final steep incline. While everyone else shrieked with enjoyment, my throat constricted so tight that not a sound emerged. I closed my eyes and hoped for the best. At the bottom, wet but still in one piece, my legs trembled as I scrambled to stand on solid ground again. The contents of my stomach sloshed around uneasily, and I swallowed a lot…you probably get the picture without more graphic descriptions.

I don’t remember any of the rides after Splash Mountain. Actually, I think my mind blocked the horror of it all, but I was determined to try the different rides and get my money’s worth. Yep, it’s the curse of the thrifty farm girl. I had to finish what I started even if it scared me half to death.

Of course, no one is getting me on one of those rides again. I’m older, wiser, and not afraid to state my terror. No, I won’t stop my husband going. I might even go with him, but I’ll be hanging out in the kid’s zone and chatting to Mickey Mouse. Really, no one is talking me into going through that again!

What do you fear?

When Scribbit: a blog about motherhood in Alaska posted details of a contest about Fear, I decided this was the perfect time to confess my greatest fear. If you would like to do a post about Fear it’s not too late to enter the contest, which closes on 21 October. Here’s the link to the details.

Recipe For A Family

Today I’m participating in a mass blogging! WOW! Women on Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about family relationships. Why family relationships? We’re celebrating the release of Therese Walsh’s debut novel today. The Last Will of Moira Leahy: A Novel
(Random House, October 13, 2009) is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost they were teenagers. Visit the Muffin to read what Therese has to say about family relationships and view the list of all my blogging buddies. And make sure you visit www.theresewalsh.com to find out more about the author.

Family –there’s no doubt families can be fun, irritating, supportive, encouraging or they can be a pain in the neck, causing total misery. When it comes to families the saying the good, the bad and the ugly certainly fits.

My own family is complicated. My parents divorced when I was a teenager and that marital split changed the design of our family. I think this personal history shows its face in the sometime theme that shows up in my writing. I tend to write about people seeking security and often that security takes the form of a newly formed family. It might not be a traditional one, but it’s a family none the less.

Most of us would define a family as a group of persons with a common ancestry, but Webster’s dictionary says a family can also be a group of individuals living under one roof. That’s right! Individuals don’t need to be related to each other in order to become a tight-knit unit or family.

Robyn Carr writes the Virgin River series, which is one of my favorites. The first book Virgin River (Virgin River, Book 1) tells the story of Melinda Monroe, a nurse practitioner, who starts afresh in the township of Virgin River. It’s a small town and as the series progresses, it’s a joy to experience the sense of family that Robyn Carr evokes in her books. Only a few of the characters are blood relations but they learn to depend on each other in both good and bad times. This is to me what a family is about.

I have a new release called House of the Cat out on Wednesday. My hero Ryman Coppersmith is adopted into a loving family as a child. Unfortunately there’s jealousy bubbling under the surface, his stepbrother sets him up and he’s accused of a murder. Ry is forced to flee for his life. We first meet Ry several years later. During the passing years, he’s become captain of a spaceship. He’s a good man and tends to collect people who are down and in trouble. They usually end up as part of his crew, their loyalty to Ry and each other blending them into a family. When Ry decides it’s time to take revenge on his brother and clear his name, they’re there for him one hundred percent. Ry and his crew will do anything for each other. It’s all for one and one for all. A true family.

How would you define a family?

Scootin’ Along

When we were in Phuket the first thing we noticed was the large number of bikes and scooters. They were a very popular mode of transport and it was a common sight to see the entire family–father, mother and two kids–all loaded up on the bike and scootin’ off to their destination.

Students used them to travel to school. Parents picked up their kids after school. Workers used them to travel to work. I even saw a man and his dog off to conduct their business with the dog calmly sitting on the front. They even ride them when it rains, wearing cheap blue raincoats to keep off the worse of the water. The parking areas were always full of bikes.

Bikes and scooters are also popular in many of the Pacific Islands and you’ll see some quite large people squeezed on them, their bodies sort of overflowing…

Here are some of the photos I took while in Phuket.

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Father and daughter on bike

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Mother, father and daughter.

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Modified bikes for trade.

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Bikes for hire.

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Pretty Pink!

Have you ridden a bike/scooter?

Newsflash: Tomorrow I have an interview with agent Holly Root from the Waxman Literary Agency. I hope you’ll stop by and visit.