The Oracle's Writ

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Baby NaNoWriMo!

Posted on November 18, 2011 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

NaNoWriMo update: both my kids are doing it this year with me!  I find it absolutely incredible that my son, 5 years old and in Kindergarten, is doing it.  My daughter signed up on the actual NaNo site, so her goal is 50k.  Unfortunately, she's letting life and a love of reading get in her way of writing and so she's stuck at just under 5k.  My son didn't want to do it until I told him it was a contest and he could win.  He loves to win and when he asked what the prize was, I told him it was nice certificate that said Winner!  Needless to say, he got very excited and we signed him on the Young Writer's site.  His writing goal is 200 words this month, and despite starting late, he is just over half way with 117 words.  He's written two short stories based on Mario of Super Mario Bros fame.  Read them, corrected by me, the originals are hand written and in lovely Kindergarten script, spelling and gramar in its original form.

******

My Mario Book

By Dylan

 

Mario flew away. Mario is now up to fly to garden.“Weeeeeee!” Mario is now in garden ready to go to the Lava galaxy. “Yippy!” Mariois at the Lava Galaxy. “Oh no.” Mario decided to go back. Mario won the game.The end. “zzzzzzzzzz”

 

My Mario Book 2

By Dylan

 

Mario went in the engine room. Mario is ready togo. Mario is flying to the Spiky galaxy. “Weeeeee!” Off he goes. “Yippy!” Kick,kick, kick.  Mario falls… kick, kick,kick. “Wooooooooo!” And dies.  “Woao.”Mario is dead. That’s ok, Mario was just knocked out. “Zzzzzzzzzz,” Mario fellasleep. “Zzzzzzzzz” Mario goes back to the Spiky galaxy. “Weeeeeee!” The end. “Woohoooooooo!”

 

*******


His next book, My Mario Book 3, will be written soon and added to the word count.  My book is still coming hard, but at least I'm currently on track.  I still need to put in my words for today and we're contemplating dinner.  But as I have a 24 hour write-in tomorrow, I am confident I will not only catch up, but get ahead.  Watch the next blog as I will post my Machine of Death story.

It's Getting to be That Time Again

Posted on October 25, 2011 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

First of all, I can't believe it's been since August that I last wrote.  Wow.  But then it doesn't look like I have much traffic, so maybe you don't notice, or care.


Secondly, I finished a novella for an anthology. For the Love of Pete will appear in Wicked East Press's Bag of Fantasy Tales, due out later this year.  I will update you when I know more details.


I will stop numbering now as I have a few more things to update.  I hope to hear in a week or two on the status of my Machine of Death submission.  If they don't take it (they got nearly 2000 submissions and they want 35 for the book) I will post my story here.


I'm now taking a short break to prepare for NaNoWriMo.  November 1 is only a week away.  I'm getting excited!


Oh, I'm taking a break, but I feel like I owe Squishables a blog.  They aren't paying me for publicity or anything, but I did say I would blog about 81's trip to the club.  Aside from the pictures I put up, I haven't written about anything from that trip.  And yes I joined a health club.


I got a new job too, working as a homemaker.  I help people who can't clean their houses due to disabilty or age.  I just need more clients.


Lastly, I'm going back to school.  I'll be starting a Photography degree program in January.  More on that as I get into it.  So until, November, have a great week, and have a great Halloween!

Take Your Squishable to Work Day

Posted on August 26, 2011 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Yesterday was Take Your Squishy to Work day, and for those of you who might read this and not know what that means, it means I took 81 and friends to work.  Oh, and it was for charity.  According to the Squishable.com site, they have this special day once a year and use it as an excuse to have a lot of fun and donate to charity.  This year, they’re donating to Dress for Success.  For every picture sent to them, they will donate $1.00 up to $1,000 total, and I’m sure they got there.

 

I’ve mentioned before that I clean at night.  Well, my job just took a dump and I’m now only cleaning 2 nights a week.  It sucks.  So if anyone is hiring, please shoot me a line.  In the meantime, Wednesdays I pretty much clean alone.  It’s a 4 hour job, and it can drag on, or get gross, (see an old facebook status update ify ou really want to know,) and I will jump at any opportunity to have a little fun, even if it means I take 4.5 hours to do a 4 hour job.

 

When I read about the event, and realized it fell on a night I worked, I told 81 he was going with me.  The others sat there and waited for me to tell them they were too, but 81 is my blogging squishy so I was only going totake him.  However, when I explained that this would be 81 at Work for Charity, the others practically attacked me.  They insisted that if this was for charity then they wanted in on it too.  So, last night, we piled into the car and headed off to work

 

 

We had a great road trip.  Simon and Garfunkle played on the radio, (myCD,) and the traffic was good.  81 wantedto ride the HoV lane, but I was sure the cops wouldn’t really consider the 4squishables in my car actual occupants, so I abstained.  That is until I saw the sign that said, not acash amount, but open! So the open road, slightly faster than the other traffic(HoV is not an excuse to speed,) and we were really on our way.

 

 

They were excited to get to work.  Once there, they sat patiently waiting their turns.  I have a routine, so it really was just a matter of fitting them in. First, I stock the bathrooms and empty the women’s “special” trash, and yeah, there were a few stalls that needed it. But, carrying paper towels and toilet paper is heavy work for a Squishable.  Also, while in my supply area, I fill the mop bucket.  I decided Cerulean, being a big strong dragon, was the best choice for this part.

 

 

Then I go through the whole place and empty the trash.  This includes every desk, and some of these people don’t really know what a trash can is for, the kitchen and break room and all 4 bathrooms.  The only problem with this part, is that this is not an accessible building.  There is no elevator.  Anyway, it was early yet and Justin wanted to help before his bedtime, so I took him trashing with me. 



Poor thing, he had such a good time trashing (he even sat on a bike) that he got tired out. Cerulean took her baby and they waited the rest of the evening in the car.  After trashing, I clean the bathrooms and the break rooms.  Knowing this is a tougher job that takes hands, I took Tuesday with me.

 

 

He was really excited to give the job a try and hecleaned the counter nicely.  I didn’t lethim try cleaning the toilets, though he was ready to.  Instead, I let him try mopping a bit once theroom was clean.  In the break room, hereally took the job seriously and practically stuffed himself in the microwaveto get it clean.  After the main floorwas done, it was time to go upstairs.  Idon’t have a vacuum in my car, so I left that part to my boss.  On the way upstairs, I mop the front entryand the stairs.  Here is where I took81.  He tried to mop the stairs.  He also tried to trash.  In the end, he was best suited for taking abreak.

 

 

By the time we were done cleaning, my boss finallyshowed up with the vacuum.  By then, mySquishables were tired and ready to go home, so I left my boss to finish up andtook them home.

 

 

The night went well.  But then, after putting a few pictures up onSquishable’s facebook page, my phone rang. It woke my husband and my daughter. By this time it was near 1:00 am. My boss left his phone in Edge! And I have the only key.  I did not wake my Squishables, not even 81, but with the promise of an added hour, I headed back out and let my boss back in to get his phone.  All in all, I got to bed about 2:00 am.  Quite a long night, but oh so much fun.  They’ve already told me, the Squishables have, that next year they want to do it again.

 

Thank you, Squishable.com for running this.  It was great.

Towel Day and a New Book

Posted on May 26, 2011 at 1:53 PM Comments comments (0)

Huzzah for Towel Day, and what could make it better than a new book (except for maybe a new book by Douglas Adams.)


While the parenthetical is impossible, the new book that came to me was simply the latest anthology that my work appears in.  I was very excited for this contributor's copy as there are a lot of fine authors in here.  How disappointing then, it was, to retrieve a large envelope from my mailbox only to discover that it is indeed from Wicked East Press, but the envelope is torn.  Carefully, I opened the envelope in the conventional way to pull out the book.  It's nice and shiny.  But as you can probably not see from this shot, the bottom of the cover is bent, with a small crease.  It is not damaged enough to consider it destroyed.

Here's a shot of it from the side, and yes, I stuck in a tight place in my bookshelf for the night to see if it would flatten out.  No I haven't opened the book except to show my husband the location of my story.  (Second one to the last, :D)

I'll admit that I fold the covers of my books when I read them, and I even bend the binding.  My point here is that I buy my books (well, get my books) in good shape and mangle them myself as I voraciously devour their tasty insides.  I am disappointed in our postal system and must add that this makes me leery to send out my book anyone.  However, that said, you will get my book supported by at least one piece of cardboard, in a ziplock back, tucked into a bubble wrap lined mailer.  Paranoid?  Perhaps. But that's the way it goes.


On to the rest of the day.  To explain Towel Day, you have to at least have heard the name Douglas Adams, and perhaps be familiar with the movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  There are books, too, and a radio show, audio books, an old movie, etc.  To be sure, Douglas Adams was one of the best science fiction/comedy writers I have ever read.  I was devastated by his death.  But his fans have rallied!  And Towel Day was begun in his honor.  I haven't really participated before, but this year, I decided, what the heck.  I loved this author and carrying a towel is a small tribute.  If you are really interested, you can read about it on the wikipedia page, here.


My observance started out with a shower, where I thoroughly enjoyed toweling off.  Then, since I had to work that night, I hung up the wet towel and took a dry one to the couch, where I covered up and took a nap in anticipation of a late night.

If you know me at all, even through this site, you know that everything I do, practically, I add a squishable element.  So of course, Cerulean is reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to the rest of the Squishable gang, while sporting her dragon towel.

Then it was off to work.  Well, I've got two things stacked against me for truly sporting my Towel.  One, I'm a cleaner, in offices, after hours.  Not much opportunity to share why I'm carrying a towel.  Two, I'm a cleaner.  It's really not that unusual to see me at work with a towel hanging out of my pocket.  If that makes me an ideal candidate for trans-galactical hitchhiking, then sign me up.  I'd even hop the next Vogon ship out of here as long as the Heart of Gold could pick me up, no matter how improbable that is.  Anyway, here I am, taking my own picture (lame I know, but what's a lone cleaner gonna do?) sporting my towel, and um, my towel.

My day came to an end about 12:00 am, so it was a full day.  Took me a half hour to get home, then another half hour to get lunches ready for the rest of the house when they wake.  Then, Lord help me, I wasn't all that tired, so I got on facebook.  :roll:  It turned out to be fortuitous though, as my son came out of his room needing a tissue.  What turned into maybe ten minutes online, became about forty-five minutes of getting him to the bathroom, medicated, kissed, and back to bed.  Of course I also kissed my sleeping daughter and put my own pj's on.  Then I finished watching the video I had started.  All in all, I got to bed about 2:00.  Typical night.


My writing isn't suffering too badly.  I'm still editing Between a Rock and Oblivion.  I'm also wondering how The Magic Key would look as a novella.  And of all things, my mind has begun picking actors for the roles in The Other Side (no it hasn't been optioned.)  I'll be listing them on my facebook page, so https://www.facebook.com/JensBooks" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">follow me here, I think some of them might surprise you, that is if you've read the book.  If you haven't read it yet, why not?

Merry Christmas!

Posted on December 21, 2010 at 1:43 PM Comments comments (0)

As I sit here, trying to get into the mood to bake, I listen to mu children torment each other in the basement.  Truly, my son came upstairs and said, "Mom, now she's telling me that there's a spider in my brain!"  I asked what he meant by that, to which he replied, "She said it crawled in my ear and is now in my brain!"  I thought of all the wonderfully wrong things I could say to that and simply calmed him by telling him that his eardrum would stop any spider that tried to get into his brain.  He asked me what the spider would do then.  I was nice and told him it would crawl out again, thwarted in its attempts to get to his brain.  He seemed satisfied and ran off again to tell his sister what I had just told him.


So go the days of winter break in this house.  I hate release days.  I really do.  As much as I love my children, I don't like them together for any length of time.  Not even the promise of making gingerbread cookies could calm them.  And now when I pull out the ingredients for oatmeal scotchies instead, they'll complain and ask why we aren't making gingerbread.  To which I will resist with all that is within me saying, "Because naughty children don't get to pick what they bake, in fact they don't get to bake at all.  Now go away and let mommy release the frustrations you have built by beating out some cookies that you can't eat."  Oh well.  I will tell them because we will run out of time now between now and when I have to leave for work.


In the meantime, I wrote a Christmas story.  I did not write it today, but a couple of weeks ago.  I posted it on my facebook, but no one read it.  I sent it out in my Christmas cards and I've gotten some good feedback.  I post it here, not as a way to get out my frustrations with my children, but only as a Merry Christmas message to you all.


It is told from the Innkeeper's wife's point of view.  I know it's been done before, but not by me, and this is all my ideas.  I hope you enjoy it.



The Innkeeper's Wife

by Jen Steffen


Elizabeth wiped sweat from her brow as she stirred the pot.  “Esme, please take that tray to room four.”  A pretty girl of eleven nodded and picked up the tray of bowls. Elizabeth watched her daughter fondly as she hurried out of the kitchen.


When Paul had suggested opening an inn in Bethlehem, Elizabeth had been dubious, but now that Cesar had called for a census, it seemed like business was more than either of them could handle.  Yes, they were making good money, but the Romans who stayed with them made the others nervous.  She blew hair out of her eyes and dished up another tray of stew, setting full bowls in a circle to fit as many on the tray as possible.


“Abby!” she called out the back door.  Abby was tending the straw in the stable across the yard, but Elizabeth needed her to take this tray to room six.  Hungry people were waiting for their dinner.


Instead of her younger daughter, her husband stormed into the kitchen.  Bless him; he always looked uncomfortable around the stove and the preparation table. He pulled off his hat and looked all over the room.  She stopped stirring and put a hand on her hip.  If he had nothing to say, he needed to leave or he would be in the way.  And they were full to capacity with tired and hungry travelers.


“What is it my love?  I need Abby to take this tray to the family in room six.


Paul cleared his throat, fiddling with his hat. “I took in another family,” he said quickly.  “Abby is tending to them in the stable right now.”


Elizabeth’s mouth dropped open.  Another family?  Wasn’t it enough that she was already making stew for ten families?  Or that the Romans ate enough to feed three families themselves?  “Paul,” she steadied her voice so she would not yell and scare any of their guests. “What were you thinking?  We have people in every room and each room has far more people in it than should be there.  Curse the Cesar for calling such an immediate count!” she spit on the floor in frustration.


“Don’t say that,” Paul rushed to her and put his hands on her shoulders.  “This wasn’t the Cesar’s doing.  The couple in the barn is a young, newly married couple, and his wife is ready to give birth.  Abby is helping them get comfortable and as soon as she knows what the woman needs she will be in to get it.  And Liz,” he eyes twinkled as he looked into her face, “there’s something about this couple. I had to let them in.  When Abby comes in, you need to go see them.”


Then,looking over her shoulder, he dropped his hands and left the kitchen.  “Don’t resent them, Liz.”  He turned back before returning to his desk.  “They’re special.  I know it.” Then he disappeared in the crowd of people that insisted on sitting just outside the kitchen door.


Abby rushed in at that moment, panting as she took down a bowl.  “Mom, she’s ready to give birth.”

Elizabeth handed Abby the tray she had prepared. “Is that so?  Well, you take this to room six.  I’ll see to the woman.”


Abby looked crestfallen, as though she thought she was old enough to deliver a baby.  The poor thing was only nine.  She put a hand on her daughter’s arm.  “I’m sure I’ll need both you and Esme out there.  Now take that stew to room six and tell your sister to start getting towels and blankets ready.”


As her daughter took the tray with a disgruntled look, Elizabeth scooped stew into another couple of bowls and took them out the back door.  The scant grass of the yard scratched at her ankles as she scurried to the stable.  A low light inside was the only indication of occupants other than the animals.  The door pushed open slowly as she shoved it with her shoulder.


Immediately inside, the stalls were all full.  The Romans had their horses in the first stalls, and then there were donkeys from a few of the families in the inn.  Toward the back were her own chickens and a goat. In the middle, huddled around the light, sat a man with a worried look on his face and a woman looking very much in labor.  He had piled straw up around her to make her comfortable.  Bless Paul, he had at least sent Abby out with a blanket.  The woman was between contractions at that moment and smiled up at Elizabeth.  Paul was right.  There was something special about this couple.


“I brought you some stew,” Elizabeth said, setting the bowls on a milking stool.  “I have my girls getting towels and blankets for you.  There is freshwater in the barrel over in the corner, but I will put some on to heat for you when I go back.  Are you comfortable?  I’m sorry there is no room inside.”


Goodness,she was babbling.  Was she the one giving birth?  Lord knew she was done with that phase of her life.  The man took a bowland tried the stew.  “Thank you,” he saidto her then turned to his wife. “It’swarm, Mary.  Would you like a bite?”


“No,thank you,” she replied, her voice sounded weak, but her countenance held strong.  Another contraction hit and Marysqueezed her fists around straw.


Elizabeth blinked and dropped to her knees.  “Let me check.  I’ve delivered my share of babies.”


They looked at her and Mary nodded.  Elizabeth put her hands on the swollen belly and felt the child within.  It was positioned for birth.  That was good.  It meant no complications.  She lifted the woman’s skirts and put her hand between Mary’s legs.  No man other than her husband should ever touch a woman like that, but Elizabeth needed to know if Mary was ready to birth this child. “Not quite there yet, miss.  I’ll get that water and be right back.”


The contraction passed, and Mary nodded. “Joseph, don’t leave when she comes back. “

Elizabeth closed the door to give them privacy and hurried back to the house.  Mary hadn’t been quite ready, but she was very close.  She guessed that sometime after the next contraction or two, the woman would be ready to push.  The kitchen gave off a plume of steam when she opened the door.  First things first,she put a pot of water on the stove to warm. Then she wanted to see if anyone would give up their room.  Lord knew the Romans did not need that much space.


Hurrying to the main room, she began to search the faces of the people gathered.  The chatter of the guests filled the space and she raised her hands.  “Quiet,people!  Please, is there not one of you who would give up your room?  There is a woman in the stable ready to give birth. And she is couched in the hay!  Surely,you wouldn’t want that to be you, or your wives.  Won’t anyone give up their bed?”


The people murmured to themselves, many pretending they hadn’t heard.  Elizabeth stormed up to the Romans.  “You of all people can appreciate the fact that we have a woman about to give birth in the stable.  Couldn’t you spare your room, just for the night?”


The soldier stood and crossed his arms. “I’ll forgive that insolence if you turn now and leave.”


Elizabeth narrowed her eyes, but turned on her heel and stomped away.  Paul met her by the kitchen door.  “Liz, what are you thinking?  You can’t talk to the Romans like that.”


“Well,I did.  Rude buggers.  I wish you could put them out on their rears.”  She checked the temperature of the water on the stove, knowing it wouldn’t be warm enough yet.  “If you hadn’t felt compelled to take in this family in the barn, I wouldn’t feel compelled to talk to the Romans like that.”  She patted his arm and turned him to the door.  “Don’t worry; I’ll make the barn feel like the best room in the house for these people.  You go and be the innkeeper.”


She followed him out of the kitchen, but turned to the chest by the wall.  Taking a blanket and a pillow, she left through the kitchen again.  The water was taking too long to warm.  “Abby!  Esme!” she called as she left the kitchen.


“Inhere,” Esme called back from the barn door. “She’s really ready, mom.”


“I’ll be the judge of that.”  She waved Esme back into the barn and handed her the blanket at pillow.  “You get her more comfortable.  Stupid Romans wouldn’t offer their bed.  For that matter, you’d think a barn was the perfect place to have a baby.  None of them wanted to give up their beds.”  She dropped to her knees again and checked Mary for readiness.  “Oh my,” she drew her hand back.  “You are ready.  Next time you feel the urge, you need to push.”


Mary nodded, gripping Joseph’s hand tightly.


“You can hold my hand, too, if you need to.” Abby sat beside Mary and touched her tenderly on the shoulder.


Mary smiled at her and took her hand.  Just then,another contraction hit.  Abby bit her lip as Mary squeezed her hand.


Not taking her eyes from the birthing, Elizabeth motioned for Esme.  “There is a pot of water warming on the stove inside.  Get it and bring it here.”


Esme sighed, upset to be leaving in the middle of the action.  Nevertheless, she went.


Mary grunted as she leaned forward, pushing.


A crown appeared with that one.  “Oh, good show,”Elizabeth smiled up at Mary.  “You’ve got it now, when it comes again, push hard and maybe we’ll get this baby out before midnight.”


“Does it hurt?”  Abby was watching Mary’s face,worry on hers.


“Not so bad,” Mary managed to say.  “I’ll tell you a secret,” she whispered.  “This is the son of God.  I think He’s blessed me with an easy child birth.”  She squeezed her eyes shut as another contraction hit. She pushed again, grunting, and then yelling as she gave it everything she had.


“Yes,”Elizabeth breathed, holding her hands out for the child.  “You’ve got it.  The head is almost out.  One more push and we should have a baby.”


“Here’s the water, mother.”  Esme returned to the barn.  Her mood improved considerably when she saw there was no baby yet.


“Set it here,” Elizabeth said, patting the floor near her side.  “Sweetie,” she addressed Mary, “your mother didn’t come with you?”


Mary was breathing hard, but the contraction had subsided for the moment.  “She isn’t from Bethlehem.  I only came because of my husband.”  She grunted the end of that, squeezing here yes shut as the next urge to push overwhelmed her.


“That’s it,” Elizabeth put her hands on the baby’s head.  “It’s coming now.”  She worked the shoulders free of the birth canal and the baby fell into her hands. “Oh, my darling, you are beautiful.” She turned the boy on his head and cleaned out his mouth.


The child cried out once, clearing his lungs then was quiet.


Elizabeth placed the still bloody infant on his mother’s breast and turned back to catch the afterbirth.  “You have a beautiful son, Mary.  There will be one more push,then we can get him cleaned up and wrapped, and you can relax.”


“What are you naming him?” Abby asked, her gaze fixed on the child.


Mary smiled, looking at her baby.  “Jesus.”


She barely bucked with the final push, and Elizabeth took the afterbirth.  “All right, let’s get him cleaned up.  You have clothes for him?”


Joseph turned to their packs and pulled out a bundle of cloth.  Elizabeth took the baby and nodded at him.  “You get that ready while I get him clean.”


Holding him close, she took her snips and clipped the cord.  Then she gently washed him.  The water had cooled, so there was no danger of burning him.  She washed his hair and cleaned his skin.  The baby watched her in silence, taking in her face as she worked. He was radiant.  Then, as she bent to rinse her rag, the baby reached up to touch her.  Never in all of the births that she had assisted had a baby touched her.  His touch was the gentlest, softest touch she had ever felt.


“Sweetie,”she breathed.  “Lord.”  Wrapping the infant in her apron to dry him,she took him back to his parents.  His mother took him in her lap and swaddled him. Then she put him to her breast to suckle him.


Abby and Esme knelt beside her to look at the baby. “He’s special,” Elizabeth said, kneeling beside Abby.


“I know,” she whispered.  “He’s the son of God.”


Their heads turned as the door to the stable opened. Three shepherds stood in the doorway, two with sheep over their shoulders.  Behind them stood more men.  “We came to find the child,” the man in front said.  “The angel told us to come to the stable and we would see him.”


“Girls,”Elizabeth tugged at Abby’s arm.  “Let’s give these people some room.”  She pulled her daughters away and nodded at the shepherds as they passed.


“Here he is,” she heard Mary say quietly.


A reverent hush fell over the stable as the shepherds entered.  Elizabeth shooed her girls back to the house.  “Keep this quiet,” she said.  “Mary will announce it when she’s ready.”  The girls nodded and scurried inside to attend to the other guests.  Elizabeth stayed in the kitchen.  If visitors were coming, she needed to be prepared to feed them.


She put a clean pot on the stove and began adding vegetables and water. The more stew she had, the happier the people would be.  The stable would be a busy place tonight.


_________fin______________


Merry Christmas!


81 at Camp

Posted on June 22, 2010 at 2:07 PM Comments comments (0)

Well, another year and another camping trip.  We had a great weekend, great weather and hardly any bugs, although my legs tell a different story (about the bugs.)  Other than Father's Day and my birthday happening this weekend, it was also 81's birthday.  Yep.  One year ago today, 81 came to me.  It was a rather harrowing trip as we had had our mail held so no one would see this tempting box on our step and take it before we got home.  When I went to the post office, they handed me a few envelopes but no box.  I asked about it, but she shook her head and said there was no box with our mail.  She was persuaded to go check again, and that time came back with it.  I was very excited and opened the box in the car.  Oh, that new whale smell!  And so began our adventures.  Perhaps you've seen some here... 81 at Valleyfair (no, he won't be going back this year, not with me on crutches.) and 81 on Retreat.  Well, here is the next adventure, and it has me thinking.  If Squishable.com would allow it, I would love to write a story and use pictures of 81 to illustrate.  Of course I would also get photo release forms for the other people who would end up being in the shots.  I think it would be great fun.  Anyway, let me get to our camping weekend.


We packed up Thursday night so we could leave right away Friday morning.  For the most part, we got of town when we wanted to.  Camp is about three hours away with a reasonable stop in there somewhere.  But we made it up shortly after lunch, and with some help from others camping with us, got set up fairly quickly.  It was nice.


81 waits in the tent while the rest of us spend our first afternoon getting reaquainted with our favorite camp site.  Star Lake Family Camp has been our destination of choice since I was born.  It's a beautiful wilderness camp area in the Crow Wing National Forest on Duck lake.  Actually, it sits between Duck and Big Star Lake.  They also have a youth camp area on Big Star.  Sometimes we've gone over to Big Star to swim as they have a better beach.


This year our group was small, nine people.  I really hope the Star Lake experience doesn't die.  Back to the weekend...  Friday afternoon, we just sat around enjoying the campground, watching my children go crazy with freedom, and generally talking about what we wanted to do, or not do, this weekend.  81 was content to come sit by the fire and just enjoy a relaxing weekend.


Saturday, we went hiking and found a wild stand of Lady Slippers, our state flower here in Minnesota.  They were so pretty.  I'd never seen one in the wild before and 81 wanted a picture to remember, since it is illegal to pick them.


After the hike, we went into town.  There are a lot of small towns close to the campground, but NIsswa is sort of a tradition with their touristy main street.  We had some really good pizza and some even better ice cream.  81 had a lot of fun looking at the shops, be sure to check out the gallery to see all the pictures.  When we got back from Nisswa, my mom and my daughter and I went out in a canoe.  Yes, 81 came along too.


  Saturday night, we did a bonfire with s'mores and popcorn and koolade.  With only nine of us, and the sad fact that 81 has no audible voice, we went without the campfire songs. *sigh* 


Sunday was my birthday, so after some community time, we had cake.  Oh, it was Father's Day too, so I guess I could share my cake.  I still feel like it was for me and 81 mostly.  I had thought about bringing a party hat for him, but in the end, I figured it would be crushed and left it home.  Sunday afternoon we went out on the canoe again, giving my son his first canoe ride.  81 opted to stay back and nap.  We looked for the local loons, but all we found was a couple of eagles flying away.  My mom loves loons and was minorly upset.  Especially since I went out again with another in our group and *oops* we found the loons, mama, daddy, and one juvenile.  We got suprisingly close, although mama did yell at us to get back to a more comfortable distance.  We respected.


Monday, we were expecting rain, so we packed up right after breakfast.  It had been a good weekend.  My husband got to fish.  My daughter lived in her bathing suit.  My son caught his first fish (he was so proud.) and 81 had a nice time trying different things.  It wasn't raining yet by the time we were ready to go, making it that much harder to say goodbye.


  We never did drive through rain, but had we stayed, we wouldn't have left until after lunch, possibly getting rained on then.  It was a smooth ride home.  For more pictures of the camp see my facebook album.

Wow, it's been a month??

Posted on June 6, 2010 at 9:56 PM Comments comments (0)

I can't believe it's been a month since I've updated.  Well, I think it's been worse.  But well, just a quick post here as I was planning to update either tomorrow or Tuesday anyway.  I've had surgery on my leg and have been recovering these past few weeks.  Hobbling around on crutches is no fun, especially with a crazy wild toddler in the house.  My follow up is tomorrow morning and I plan to ask for copies of my x-rays which I'll post here to show you what happened.  I'll tell the story there too.


As for what I'm working on, well, I'm finishing up the formatting of Finding Elise for my proof copy for my daughter.  It's also going through a crit group right now, so maybe you'll here it being entered into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award next year.  Maybe.  Anyway, I'm keeping busy, and trying to relax so my leg heals right this time.  More on that tomorrow or Tuesday.


So good night for now.  Thanks to those who've visited and looked around.  Sign the guest book or leave a comment to let me know you've been here and let me know what you think.

81 on Retreat

Posted on May 2, 2010 at 10:03 PM Comments comments (0)

Hello everyone, I have tried to fix some of my site.  If you still encounter errors, please point them out.  And an error is simply something you don't remember, something you're not sure about, something that seems redundant.  Thank you for your cooperation and patience.


In the meantime, I went on retreat! And 81 came with me.  So, here are the details of the retreat as 81 remembers them.  And he had a great time.

***

The women of the 2010 Park Ave Women's Retreat were not at all put off by the presence of a male.  Ever since Jen put in the enrollment, 81 has been excited to go.



He tried to fit in the suitcase, but as you can see, he ended up riding in the car.  It was about an hour and a half driving, and he slept most of the way.  But once we got there, he got quite comfortable on the bed.  He slept through our first session that evening.  But that was all right.  Our guest speakers for the weekend, Neta (pronounced like Anita without the A) Jackson and Pam Sullivan, were introduced and the icebreaker for the weekend was explained.  Then Neta came up and talked to us about her books, The Yada Yada Prayer Group Series, and what Yada actually means.  It means to know.  That night, Jen came back to the room and explained it all to 81, showing him the socks for the icebreaker.  We were to find the pair to the mismatch we had.  It would be a way to get to know everyone on the retreat as you searched for your socks.


The next morning, 81 came to breakfast, ready with his sock to do the icebreaker.  He did need his hot chocolate before actually participating.



Morning session was fantastic.  Neta gave a talk on how Christians are a lot like tea.  Some like to "get saved" and go, ending up like a cup of dried up tea leaves.  Others will attend church, but not really pray, or participate in bible study, not really grow.  They end up like a cup of tea that has only just been poured.  The tea is weak, with only a hint of flavor.  What we want to strive for is to be steeped in the word.  God wants us to be strong and full flavored, but that takes time, study and prayer.  Like a good cup of tea that takes a while to brew in order to be full flavored, we also need time to "brew" to become the women that God has planned for us to be.



After the session, Neta was kind enough to allow 81 to get his picture taken with her.  He took some time to look over the books she brought with, but since he didn't bring any money, he was unable to buy any of them.  He did take a bookmark which he is using in the book Jen is currently reading.


Lunch was a fantastic croissant sandwich along with a salad, and after lunch there was an entire afternoon of free time.  81 chose to attend a workshop and then take a nap before dinner.  The workshop was very informative.  It was on "Going Green, a Christian Perspective on Creation Care."  A friendlier way to say environmentalism.  But also a more biblical approach to the whole idea of taking care of our environment.  81 was very impressed.



The workshop was facilitated by the very beautiful and more than capable, Diane Chenowyth and Carla Urban.  In all actuality, everything discussed is quite logical, especially to a whale.  God gave us dominion over the earth to act as stewards.  We weren't forbidden to eat animals, or cut down trees, or even to build houses.  But we were called to take care of the earth.  It's all about moderation.  Jesus was born into a family of carpenters.  He worked with his earthly father making furniture and such.  They cut down trees for their work, but they didn't decimate a forest to do it, neither did they work one species of tree into extinction.  Jesus, after his resurrection and ascension, showed Peter a room full of animals and told him to eat.  Peter asked how he could eat unclean animals, being a Jew and forbidden by law to eat certain things, such as pigs.  Jesus didn't say, "Well done, faithful apostle, now go and start PETA and convert the world to veganism." (I'm not saying anything bad about PETA, really.)  No, he told Peter that he hadn't created anything unclean, and Peter should eat whatever God presented him with.  Likewise, we are to respect what God has made.  God created the universe for himself, we are put here to take care of it.  Just think, when you see a wild daisy, or an awesomely tall pine tree, they are both praising God with their very being.  They are fulfilling their purpose just by growing.  Nature is beautiful.  Anyway, needless to say, the workshop got 81 quite excited.  He very much needed that afternoon nap.



After his nap, 81 decided some outdoor fun before dinner would be good.  After all, with such fabulous food, he was in danger of gaining a lot of weight with no exercise.  This play structure wasn't at the retreat center last year, according to Jen, but 81 didn't care about that.  What mattered was that it was there now, and if the girls playing on it were any indication, it was a lot of fun.  He agreed with them.  The girls were very nice and wanted to know what 81 enjoyed most on the structure, and told him he was more than welcome to join them.  It was hard pulling him away for dinner.  But the promise of the evening's session was enough to get him off the slide.



This is how 81 got around most of the weekend.  Everyone at the retreat was so nice.  Here 81 is on his way to the evening's session.  It was a wonderful presentation culminating in women coming forward with things they were led to do, things they felt God wanted them to do, such as dance.  Colett gave a wonderful dance performance to the song He Knows My Name.  She is small and thin, and very flexible.  It brought tears to 81's eyes to watch, as it did for many who watched her dance.  After the evening session, which lasted a long time, with everyone in worship and fellowship, we moved on to a bonfire, games and snacks, and a movie.  It was a very full night, and 81 went to bed late, exhausted.


Sunday, after breakfast, we had a worship service with communion.  By this time, most of the women have formed friendships, and the Spirit moved among us.  I feel like I'm repeating myself, but it was beautiful.  Pam Sullivan gave a very touching and personal talk about what it is to a daughter of the King.  81 fell in love with her and could have listened to her all day.  But Sunday was the last day, and after morning session, we had a good lunch.  Then it was time to pack up and go home.  Pam was very gracious and allowed 81 to get his picture with her.



It was a very relaxing, wonderful, Spirit-filled weekend, and 81 was very glad that he was allowed to participate.  It was sad to say good-bye, but in his heart, 81 is an urban whale, and once on the road, he looked forward to coming home.  He does want to do this again, but next year is a long way off.  He is hopeful, if only because everyone kept asking if he was like the garden gnome and went everywhere.  That remains to be seen.  Please see the other pictures 81 took while on the retreat.  The pictures in this blog link to the album.

I'm feeling a bit silly

Posted on April 9, 2010 at 1:38 PM Comments comments (0)

Talk about egg on your face, I feel really silly.  I "just" discovered that Microsoft Word 2007 will export to PDF.  How long have I been using that program?  Just since it came out.  My hubby is Mr. Techno Gadget Man and likes to get the cool things when they come out, so he didn't wait too long to pick up our copy of Microsoft Office 2007.  What has me feeling silly, is that I never realized it exported to PDF, so I've been using OpenOffice to format my manuscripts.


I like OpenOffice and not just because it's free.  It has a component to match every program in Microsoft Office (except Outlook, which I don't use anyway.)  The files are compatible with Microsoft Office.  So I can at this moment (and have actually) go into Word and open an OpenOffice document and use it, alter it, change it, and even save it with the .odt extension.  My main issue has been the limits within the OpenOffice word program.  I'm stuck with the line spacing choices of single, 1 1/2, or double, and while I used 1 1/2, it makes for wide lines, as those of you have bought my book can see.  Also, while I use Times New Roman font, I don't have as many choices of font, should I want to change it.  Really, that's my only complaint.


I have since uninstalled OpenOffice.  I feel bad about that, but Word is doing the same thing with more flexibility.  So, when The Other Side is re-released, it will look slightly different, but hopefully better.  I have since put Between A Rock and Oblivion (Oblivion) aside and taken up refining and reworking The Other Side.  Now, I am putting The Other Side down to finish refining Finding Elise (Elise) since I have a finished cover now, and my free proof is only good through June.  I think I mentioned that I've gotten some ideas for Elise from Mary's site at Kidlit.com.  She has a fabulous category in her blog for the work shopping she's done with 8 different beginnings.  I love her.  I wish she'd done mine, but I read her call too late.


Anyway, so I'm keeping busy, especially so now that I'm reformatting again in Word.  And the kids are insane and so driving me insane.  I go through phases where a certain song feels like my theme song, and at the moment it's Linkin Park's One Step Closer, but that has been my theme song for a while.  That along with the Zouton's Pressure Point..  Rather telling about me, but I can't really escape it.  So yeah, busy, busy, busy.  And I'm still trying to submit some of my shorter pieces to magazines.  I'll let you know when the flash is available and I'll put a link here for it in the web store.


That's all for now.  Off to feed my urchin, um, I mean my son, lunch.

The ABNA is back, and I'm entering!

Posted on January 14, 2010 at 11:12 PM Comments comments (1)

The ABNA, or Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, is back in it's 4th year, although I think they are calling this their 3rd official year. (I have my proof copy from the first year though, so I can show you this is the fourth year.)  This year they have opened the entries to self published works, so yes, I am entering The Other Side.  I have just finished reformatting the manuscript for entry and now I need to write a pitch.  I will confess that I have been slow to actually get into the pitch writing.  Last year, I entered a non-polished manuscript, but I worked hard on the pitch.  Needless to say, the pitch didn't pass the first phase of the judging.  So, I'm a little intimidated by the pitch writing process.  Unfortunately, entry starts January 25th, so I'm running out of time.  I promise myself, and you, I will get to it this coming week.  If I pass the pitch phase, I will let you all know where you can see my exerpt, if they're openening them up for that.  I will keep you updated.

 

In other news, Happy New Year! I am also working hard on formatting my current WIP, Finding Elise, so I can get my proof of that for my daughter.  I also have my first WIP that I plan to go back to and rewrite.  I'd like to get into that in February.  I did sign up for JaNoWriMo (January Novel Writing Month) but I haven't been doing it.  There's just been too much going on with other projects to think about writing a new one.

 

So stay tuned for the (probably disappointing) news on my ABNA entry, and possibly an update on my proof.  Also, if you don't look back at my blogs at all, I won the "Name that Dragon" contest.  I'm so excited.  My dragon should arrive in the next couple of weeks, and then Salome the Daydreamer will officially be apart of my family.  I will post pictures as soon as I have them. :D


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