Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I've been cleaning and decluttering in preparation for my company coming this weekend.  In the process I've begun to do some things that I put off doing years ago; for example, hanging pictures in my living room, hanging pictures in my hallway, and clearing out the TV entertainment center (it's going outside Saturday for sale or pickup).  I've disliked the entertainment center for a couple of years now but inertia caused me to just sit and hate it instead of getting rid of it.  Let me introduce you to - The BUTS.  So I'm sitting in my living room glaring at the entertainment center and thinking,

"I hate that entertainment center; it leans away from the wall and that's just so unattractive.  And I have something I like much better to put in its place."  Uh oh, here come The BUTS:
  • BUT there's so much stuff piled on it; I'll never find a new home for everything.
  • BUT even if I could find a home for everything, I'd never be able to move it by myself.
  • BUT even if I could move it by myself, I can't have a yard sale with just one item.
  • BUT even if I decided to just junk it at the side of the road, I couldn't drag it all the way out there by myself.
The BUTS are related to procrastination; they are the mental voices that discourage me from even trying to do some activity.

I thought that blogging about BUTS would be helpful, but instead I have killed almost an hour on this stupid topic and still have quite a bit of work to do.  Stupid BUTS.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


OK, don't freak out, but I've signed up for Google Adsense.  A friend suggested it for earning extra money.  It sounded too good to be true, of course, so I did a lot of research this afternoon.  Results are mixed.

I immediately read as many complaints and as varied problems as I could.  Most of the complaints were from webmasters who earned up to the minimum $100 that Google requires before issuing a check.  They claimed that just when they were expecting their first check, Google accused them of fraud and closed their account.

Aha! said my cynical side.  Typical corporate scam; however, most of the webmasters went on to complain about all the time they put into getting more ads and getting more hits, etc. 

I had almost decided NOT to do it just because I was sure it wouldn't be worth the trouble, AND I already had the Cable TV monopoly and the cell phone behemoth to deal with - I didn't need another company ripping me off.  Then I decided...... I decided to take a leap.  I am so darn conservative and I don't do a lot of things because the results are not guaranteed. 

I thought about it and decided I would only do it if I put NO EFFORT WHATSOEVER into it.  So I filled out the application and it was short and only mildly annoying.  We'll see.  They promise that I can veto up to 200 advertisers (that I may view as objectionable).  We'll see.  If I go through with this you are free to do what you want.  Whoever advertises is chosen by Google, not me.  I'm just letting them use some of my space.  And if I don't like it I'm promised that I can get out of this arrangement quickly and easily.

So call me a sellout.  Whatever.  I need more income.  I am going to try more stuff.  I am going to take more chances.  And so what if it doesn't work out.  At least I tried.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I have not mentioned this NO TV project to my two daughters; I knew they would just think it was another weird thing about their weird mother.  I'm finally getting it that they don't get me and that's OK; I really didn't "get" my  mother either.  That's why we have grandchildren.

Mary Lee (my older daughter who lives here in St. Augustine) noticed Saturday my cable wire was disconnected from my TV and asked me what was wrong with my cable.  So I told her I wasn't watching TV for a year. 
"Why?" daughter asked.
"Because I just wanted to see if I could do it."  mother answered.

"Cool."  daughter comments.  
"Bullshit." mother is thinking.
 I know that's not the end of it.

So I guess the two daughters put their heads together.  I'm sure Mary Lee reported this aberration along with  the new bumper stickers on my car:  EVE WAS FRAMED and DON'T PISS ME OFF - I'M RUNNING OUT OF PLACES TO BURY THE BODIES.  I mean, come on!  My beloved Cabrio is 10 years old and I'm finally only carrying Liability Insurance and I'm driving it as long as I can and have no plans to sell it so if I want to put bumper stickers on it now, so what!  Anyway, they're always comparing notes to see if it's "time".  You know, time to "put me away".  I'm only 55 and they've been preparing for "putting me away" for a decade already.  I've told them both I've got a one-way ticket to Tahiti that I'm using with the last of my strength.  Actually, it's for Nome - I think it would be better to freeze to death on an ice floe than to die all hot and sweaty on a tropical island. younger daughter Melissa calls me tonight.  She's driving down from Atlanta for a long weekend with me.  (BTW bringing 2-yr-old Noah - woo hoo!)
"So I hear you're like not watching TV for a year," daughter says.
"That's right,"  mother answers...waiting.
"So does that mean like no one can watch TV?  Like I can't watch Survivor or Amazing Race while I'm visiting?"  daughter asks with her 3-year-old voice.
"That's right, no TV at all.  After all Tim will record everything for you anyway."  mother is screwing with daughter....because she can.
 "Oh... yea...that's right.  Well, that's fine."  daughter sounds pitiful.
"Well, I guess I could hook up the TV in the bedroom and you could spend time with the TV instead of with your mother."  God, this is great.
"No, no, you're right, Tim will record everything."  Daughter is being so nice.  I know it's killing her.
I did let her off the hook, but it will be weird to be all together and not watch TV.  I will have it hooked up so my friend LuAnn can watch while she's here visiting for a week, and it will be hooked up this weekend in case my daughter wants to watch, but I won't use the opportunity to watch.  That would

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Christmas stuff, Dancing Poinsettias and PUSH DA BUTTON GRENAH!

I finally put my Christmas boxes away in the attic today.  I know - first of all - what the hell were my Xmas boxes doing out in September and why bother to put them away now when October comes this week and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  That's what my friend Susan said when I told her. 

I wish there was a sarcasm font available.

Here's why my Xmas boxes were still stacked in my hallway on September 27, 2009.

Last year during the Thanksgiving weekend my daughter Mary Lee and my then 2-yr-old granddaughter Kinsey helped me get all the Xmas boxes out of my attic.  (I don't have attic stairs and have to stand on a 6-foot step ladder.) Mary Lee was so sweet and climbed up there and unloaded all my boxes for me. I have 6 containers of Xmas stuff - down from the 30 I had when I moved here from Atlanta. Then she took several strings of weatherproof lights and outlined my windows and climbed on my roof and lined the roof and the eaves and even made an outline of a Xmas tree on my roof.

Kinsey and I played in the yard for awhile and handed Mary Lee stuff she needed and caught the stuff she threw off the roof.  Then we went inside and started unloading Xmas boxes.  It was a gorgeous day so we had all the windows open.  We heard Mary Lee shriek one time when she was replacing a bulb and touched a live wire.  Kinsey and I ran outside but by then Mary Lee was OK.  She didn't appreciate my giggling.

At some point I pulled my dancing poinsettia out of a Xmas box and the inside decorating stopped.  When you push the button the poinsettia starts wiggling back and forth, and reveals a little bird with a Santa hat.  The little bird sings Rockin' Robin (only it sings Merry Christmas instead of the words Rockin' Robin).  When you push the button again it sings Jingle Bells.  KINSEY LOVED THIS.  She wouldn't touch it herself, but she wanted me to play it over and over again.  So over and over... and over and over... and over and over again I pushed the button and played the music while Kinsey danced around the living room.

Up on the roof Mary Lee heard the music play, then a VERY LOUD VOICE say "PUSH DA BUTTON, GRENAH! PUSH DA BUTTON, GRENAH!" then music, then "PUSH DA BUTTON, GRENAH!", then music over and over again.  Mary Lee told me after she climbed down that "PUSH DA BUTTON GRENAH!" was echoing all over the neighborhood.   :o)

Altogether I put up 5 small Xmas trees and decorated EVERYTHING in anticipation of the Xmas Season.  I was really excited because Melissa and her family (Tim and then 18-month-old Noah) were driving down from Atlanta for a week for Christmas.  I wanted my condo to be a Christmas Wonderland for my grandkids - and it looked great!   Everything they could reach was baby-safe and fun for them.  Even the Xmas trees they could reach had unbreakable decorations.  Everything was just perfect.  I should have known.

My Atlanta family arrived on Thursday and I left work on Friday at noon for my week's vacation.  One hour after leaving work I sneezed.  By that night I was running a fever and feeling like doodoo, but I still rode the Holly Jolly Trolley downtown with the grandbabies and family.  Not to be a big crybaby, but that was the last real fun time I had until March.  The rest of Xmas week I was either suffering in the living room and blowing my nose and coughing, or I was sleeping on my futon in my guest room.  My family spent Xmas Eve and Xmas at my brother's house.  My poor Atlanta family ended up driving home a few days early because I every time I started feeling better I would just get worse in a couple hours. It was a disaster.

I spent all of January being sick.  I would start to get better then relapse.  It was some kind of virus and it just wouldn't let go; and, yes, I went to the doctor a couple times, but all tests results pointed to a virus.  I spent most of February inside recuperating.  I didn't start feeling like myself until March.  So what does this all have to do with my Xmas decorations?  Well, they stayed up throughout this time!  

My daughter and Kinsey came over in late spring to take the outside lighyts down.  While Mary Lee climbed up on the roof, Kinsey and I laid on the warm grass and looked at the sky.  That was a nice day.

Sometime later I boxed all the decorations and trees, but I just couldn't face dragging those containers up into the attic.  The next time Kinsey visited she asked me where all my Christmas went?  She liked Grenah's All-Christmas All-the-Time.  She had played with that dancing poinsettia every time she visited; and would PUSH DA BUTTON all by herself.

So now we're up to September 27, 2009.  I had all this "free time" with no TV.  AND I was fed up with squeezing past my red and green Xmas containers stacked merrily in my hallway.  AND I had company coming Friday, October 2nd.  So I got out the 6-foot stepladder and, even though it was probably 200+ degrees in the attic, I climbed up there and put all my Xmas stuff away.

My hallway is really huge now.    I better take that container to the Betty Griffin store while the sun is shining, because it only fits in my car with the top down.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Growing Up with Kinsey

Kinsey (my granddaughter) is spending the night with me tonight.  Her 3rd birthday is this Thursday and I have really seen a lot of changes in her in the past few months.  Her vocal skills have gone from gibberish to clear sentences.  The "why" questions have started; they're almost a reflex with her now.  The big surprise is the fear that has shown itself at unexpected times.

Since she was a teeny tiny thing she has loved the carousel and always ridden on a horse with an adult standing next to her and holding her tightly.  That is until a couple months ago when she and I picked out a horse and suddenly she didn't want to ride it.  We tried another one, but that didn't work either!  For the first time in her life she wanted to ride sitting on one of the benches and me holding her tightly and reassuring her that she was OK. 

Last week I met my daughter and Kinsey at the park and we went right to the swings.  Again she has loved the swings and always wanted to go really high.  Her mom put her in the swing and started to push her and she freaked out, "No!!!!!!!!"  That afternoon she only wanted to swing very slowly and have "little pushes". 

I seem to remember this "stage" with my own girls- it's like all of a sudden their awareness of the world around them kicks in and they realize the world is a big, scary place.  Tonight we went out to my car after dark to put the roof up (it's a convertible and it was sunny and in the 80's this evening so we cruised a bit after dinner....) and we were talking about seeing the moon and stars and all of a sudden she had her face buried in my waist and she wanted to be picked up.  She hid her face in her hands like she was scared of the dark.

What a conundrum for her!  Just as she is truly mobile and vocal and ready to explore the big, wonderful world, the world becomes a very scary place!  It's a tough job for parents to guide them through this stage - too much protecting and they may remain timid and tentative throughout childhood - not enough understanding and kindness and they are now scared and can't count on anyone to protect them.  Glad I've already been through the parent thing.  It takes a LOT of patience.  As her grandmother (or Grenah as she calls me) I can listen to her and love her and cajole her - and then in the morning give her back to her mom.

I can so relate to her fear.  As an adult it seems ridiculous that last week she was fine outside after dark and tonight she was clinging to me like a tree frog.  Yet it seems ridiculous to me that I can have feelings of anxiety - vague feelings of dread - when I'm driving home from work.   Or even at work.  Or anytime.  So I am learning to listen to myself, love myself, and cajole myself...and not INDULGE or OVERINDULGE myself.

It's almost bedtime and I've got to put a waterproof mattress pad on my bed, so I'll be going.  But will share a couple pics from tonight.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Procrastination & A Fork in the Road

Since disconnecting the 3 TVs I have found a lot of freedom and a lot of free time.  I don't feel that pressure to fit my activities to a program schedule - even down to the potty break commercials.  I have read A LOT of books. Fiction and nonfiction.  And I've written two short stories and a query letter.  Excellent.

BUT (you knew there was a but coming, didn't you?) I have found that I'm spending more time surfing the Internet, and just kind of "messing around" on the computer.  And what I'm doing is killing time.  This is also known as PROCRASTINATION. We all know what procrastination means but I wanted more than a definition. So I checked Wikipedia:

Procrastination is a behavior which is characterized by the deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite procrastination as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision. [1] Psychology researchers also have three criteria they use to categorize procrastination. For a behavior to be classified as procrastination, it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying.[2]

Interesting.  So I analyzed (This in itself could be called procrastination, but since I'm blogging about it AND I stopped to fold a really large load of laundry, let's not call it that, OK!) :  What actions am I deferring? Housework. Dishes, Kitchen cleanup, Vacuuming, Dusting, de-Cluttering. etc. (oh I feel the  anxiety now)  OK.  Now I have to look at the behavior itself:  Surfing the Net.
Counterproductive?  Well, it's not producing anything.  except possibly anxiety.
Needless?  Sometimes.  Yes.  When I'm just procrastinating...
Delaying?  BINGO. 

So I think I have reached a fork in the road.  Back to Wikipedia:
 A fork in the road is a metaphor, based on a literal expression, for a deciding moment in life or history when a major choice of options is required.
 A major choice of options.  A .. major .. choice .. of .. required.  Otherwise you're standing still and digging in your heels or just spinning your wheels....or going back from where you came.

In the past few days I have not been enjoying this free time and I've been looking for ways to fill it.  And it's not that I'm being all "I have to be doing something productive all the time!" either.  I could go to the library and get an armful of books and put off changing my behavior.  I have one movie from Netflix.  I could watch that, then watch the DVDs I already own.  And those behaviors would be  counterproductive,  needless, and delaying.

I didn't give up TV so I could read until I go blind or so I could watch movies every night.  I gave up TV to change something major in my life.  And now it's time to change another. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I skipped blogging yesterday.  I had an AWFUL day - a truly BAD HORRIBLE day and just couldn't do it last night.  I sat in front of my laptop last night and said, "Forget it."  And I went to bed.  And then I nurtured myself.  See, I had ordered a set of DVDs from a couple weeks ago - the 50th Anniversary set:   The Best of Lassie.  I was very tired but not sleepy, so I watched a couple of episodes.  They were the original ones with Jeff & Mom & Gramps.  Not my favorites...I didn't start watching Lassie until Timmy came along in 1957, but I did find out how Lassie came to live with Jeff in the very first episode broadcast originally in 1954.  After I turned off the DVD player I still tossed and turned a while, but I was more relaxed.  Why?  Lassie, of course.

I think my parents started letting me watch Lassie when I was 2 or 3.  It came on early enough that I could watch it right before bed.  And I loved it.  I mean, I REALLY loved it.  Dad told me later - several times - Dad always told me stuff several times - one of the things I miss about Dad - he told me that he and my mother actually discussed keeping me from watching Lassie.  You see, at the end of the show, that mournful whistled tune would begin and Lassie would sit there in all her (his) beauty...and the music swelled to a crescendo...she would lift her paw.  And, at the end of every show, I would sob hysterically because it was over.  I would cry and cry and cry.  My parents actually worried it was hurting me to be so upset, but then the next Sunday would come and they worried about how much more upsetting it would be for me to lose Lassie.     

Lassie (and Timmy) were on until 1964; then Timmy was replaced by some stupid forest ranger.  The show lost quite a bit of its appeal to me - who wanted to watch Lassie and a GROWN-UP?!  In addition, I was growing up myself and becoming interested in other things.  Like the Beatles and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  I gradually quit watching Lassie

I looked up the Lassie TV show in Wikipedia and was amazed to find out that it's one of the longest running dramatic TV shows of all time; it ran continuously from 1954 until 1973 - ironically I was born in 1954 and married in  Even first dog was a collie.  A gift from my paternal grandmother Essie Maxwell, who for the only time in her life, did something totally outrageous without asking my parents first.  She gave me a collie puppy.  She rocked my little 6-year-old world that day.

I want to share Lassie with my almost-3-year-old-almost-potty-trained granddaughter Kinsey.  First of all, she needs to know what a real dog looks like and acts like.  (No offense, Harley.  Thank God he can't read.  He's just now getting over the shaving episode.)  Kinsey is spending the night this Friday night and I'm going to try a couple of episodes out on her.  And I'm prepared for her NOT to like them.  If she doesn't we'll just watch SpongeBob Squarepants, the Movie.

And after she's asleep I'll watch 1 or 2 episodes of Lassie.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Query Letters and Shaving the Dog

I was very blessed to meet an agent at the Florida Heritage Book Festival.  And she said she would love to read the first 5 pages of my manuscript.  WOW.  So she asked me to send her a ....  Query Letter!  AAAAUUUGGGGHHHHH!  No - not a query letter!  Ask me for a novel, a short story, even a poem!  Ask me for a research paper, a speech, an editorial!  But not a Query Letter!  

I tried a Query Letter last year when I submitted my manuscript to a small publishing house in San Francisco.  It was agreed that my letter was awful, but would be overlooked - it was even said that the best writers write the worst query letters.  I didn't get it!  It looked OK to me!  I've read every article I can find on Query Letters and tried to emulate what others have written and it just sounds so stiff when I do it.  I think it has something to do with selling myself and my work.  whatever. 

I spent 2 hours last night and 2 1/2 hours tonight working on the Mu&*#$&#%^#&fU&#&*$#& Query Letter and still feel like I was just basing my whole writing career on a long shot!  Jeez Louise.  Well, it's done and it's sent.  Along with the first 5 pages of my book.  By the time I finished with the letter even my book was sounding lame.  Talk about a confidence-killer.  You know what the worst part is?  In procrastinating finishing the stupid letter tonight I even shaved my dog!

Now don't panic.  He's not like naked.  He gets kind of wiry looking - he has two coats - a short thick undercoat and then this wiry overcoat that sheds like crazy.  So I was going to shave him outside and the stupid electrical outlets wouldn't work!  What's that all about?  Another home repair - on the long list.  So I brought him into the bathroom and the two outlets in there didn't work!  I checked the circuit breakers - all were fine.  Another item on the home repair list.  So I plugged in an extension cord in the hallway and still was able to cut Harley's hair in the bathroom.

He looks much neater.  And I combed and combed him so he shouldn't shed for a day or so. 

Boy, is he pissed.  He's not speaking to me and I know he's plotting his revenge. 

So I got the Query Letter done - and may have destroyed any chance of getting published - and my dog looks much neater.  A productive evening without TV.  And I thank God I was never a fan of the show Heroes because they must have played that commercial on the radio every 15 minutes today.  If I was a fan it would be killing me!  OMG - I hope they don't play Amazing Race commercials....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

OK, I just had my first real pang of "OH NO, I'm going to miss that!" because I thought of Amazing Race. Oh, crap, oh darn.  For fans of Amazing Race I don't have to explain its attraction, but for those of you who have never watched, oh, my, I do love that show.  I love to travel and I can travel the world just by watching this show.  It has taken me to India several times and I feel like I'm right there in a crowded market, or driving on the streets crowded by cars and motorcycles, or riding on the one of the crowded trains watching the countryside go by. 

I've been zip-lining in Costa Rica, bungee-jumping at Victoria Falls, and tried to put together a bookshelf at the Ikea headquarters in Sweden.  I've entered a temple devoted to cockroaches in India, chased sheep in New Zealand, climbed mountains in Romania, and visited a building where Africans where kept before being loaded onto slave ships.

There is the typical reality-show-drama stuff that can be fun and/or annoying, but the locations are what make the show so much fun for me.  Hong Kong, Viet Nam, China, Japan, Mongolia...the scenery and the people are fascinating.  The tasks are often to do manual labor jobs that are done in those countries, so teams have had to harvest salt from the sea (Africa - I forget which country), and take food orders in Mandarin and repeat them to the Chinese chef. The teams have had to ride and/or drive all kinds of vehicles or carry large loads on bicycles.  They've had to hitch all kinds of animals up (from horses to donkeys to llamas to camels) and then drive them to a destination (I will never forget the teams trying to pull donkeys along and the donkeys sitting down on the road.  I think that was Ireland!).

This year I will miss it.  And I'm a little sad about that. 

Saturday, September 19, 2009

This is my 3rd Saturday with no TV.  I don't miss it.  I think Harley (my precious little mixed terrier AKA the freakin' little bastard) is relieved, though, that I don't watch TV - especially on Saturdays.  I used to make him watch It's Me or the Dog on Saturday nights.  Victoria Blackwell - a dog trainer from the U.K. - would go into people's homes, observe the utter chaos that their dogs were causing, then sit down with the owners and explain how stupid they were being in spoiling their dogs.  She would then train them how to train their dogs.  She'd leave them after a couple of sessions to do it themselves, but would monitor them with a camera crew.  Then watch the footage and bemoan their mistakes.  Then return to chastise them, and urge them to continue training. 

Harley seemed to enjoy the chaotic bits the best.  He would run to the TV and jump up and bark at the dogs who were fighting or lunging on their leashes or tearing up furniture.  I think he wanted to join them.  When the training started he tended to get busy licking himself .  I would point out certain good behaviors I wanted him to emulate, but he would usually ignore me. 

The similarities between It's Me or the Dog and Supernanny cannot be overlooked.  The shows follow the exact same pattern:  Trainer/nanny arrives, observes chaos, sits down with owners/parents, teaches them how to train their dogs/children, leaves & monitors, returns for reinforcement.  My daughter used to let my granddaughter watch Supernanny with her, but she quit when she realized that my granddaughter was copying some of the bad behaviors - particularly the very entertaining temper tantrums. 

Maybe they should combine It's Me or the Dog and Supernanny.  Then the trainers and nannies could team up and help people who have both spoiled children and spoiled dogs.  I know that when my sweet precious granddaughter Kinsey comes to visit, and I put her almost 3-yr-old personality in my condo with the freakin' little bastard's personality, I never know what to expect!  Harley usually spends the entire time in his crate.  Kinsey wants to chase him around and torture him - which he does deserve - but if he ever hurt her then I'd have to kill him.  Since I don't want Kinsey hurt and I don't want Harley dead, I keep Harley crated.  Then, when Kinsey and I leave, I let Harley out of his crate, and he either pees in the laundry room, or poops in the bathroom, or tears up the garbage.  Or he just plots.

The other evening when Kinsey & I were working so hard on her potty training, I did not have Harley crated because I had Kinsey restricted to the toilet seat.  So Harley stayed in the bathroom with us and kept licking Kinsey's nose and she kept cupping his face with her little hands saying how precious he was.  It was so cute.  And so phony!  Those two are trouble and they can't fool me!  Luckily I've learned enough from watching past episodes of It's Me or the Dog and Supernanny to handle them both.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tonight I keep wanting to switch on the old TV.  I'm tired and bored and just listless.  TV is perfect for that.  I can sit and watch without thinking, or I can channel surf and look for something better on the next click of my finger.

Instead I've been reading Black Cloud by Eliot Kleinberg.  He is one of the authors who stayed at the St. Francis Inn last weekend.  I also attended his presentation about "Weird Florida" last Saturday.  The book is much more somber - it is about the 1928 hurricane that leveled West Palm Beach and then drowned thousands when it roared across Lake Okeechobee.  It's an interesting read, but not doing much for my mood or energy level.

I'm in between movies on NetFlix.  It's 9:30 and really too late to start a movie anyway.  I could listen to music, but, nah, don't want to.  So I'll blog...I know...I'll post a couple pictures of my darling granddaughter Kinsey!
Please note her mother's handbag and the Disney Princess shoes.  She is ready to go out!

Later at Carousel Park (this was Wednesday of this week) her mother was trying to take a smiling picture of Kinsey on the swing and her grandmother was making goofy faces at her and instigating trouble. 

OK that's all I've got tonight.  Back to 1928 and the Hurricane.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Friends...Imperfection...and No TV for a YEAR ... Bring it On!

We have friends because we have shortcomings.  Let's face it, if we were perfect what would we need friends for?  We wouldn't have to ask if we were handling an uncomfortable situation correctly - OF COURSE WE WOULD BE!  We're perfect!  How do I look in this?  PERFECT!  How was your day?  PERFECT!  So when a friend emailed me about my blog and solved a dilemma for me, was I surprised?  NO, that's what friends are for.

So here's what my friend Regina from Charleston wrote to me; I will quote verbatim because she just said it so....perfectly. 

I loved your expression of how "free" you felt.  I think we almost feel an obligation to our shows and our TVs.  When the new shows start you have a weekly map of what to watch and which night and even when it feels silly we are a slave to that night and really don't want to talk on the phone or go out anywhere while our shows are on!  Before we could record them I can remember some pretty silly excuses if my night was a fav show night!  But if you think about it we have been that way ever since our parents decided to get one of those boxes.  I used to literally RUN home from school to watch Dark Shadows.....hey flowing white lace dresses in the dark of night with a man out to find you was pretty risque for a fourth grader.  I used to think boy my mom would whip my tail if I was sneaking out in the dead of night and in white even!!!  LOL.    How about sports - guys can't be interrupted from their games and how many funny movies and shows have been made about guys and their TV.
 It was like Regina turned on a bright light in a very dark room!  Of course....staying up too late to finish a show, not answering the phone because I'm watching TV, not getting up for that 2nd cup of coffee until the next commercial.  Timing everything that day or evening or weekend around TV shows, commercials, movies, events, WHATEVER.  I didn't even realize how much energy that was taking from me or how much stress that was laying on my already overloaded mind.  Thanks, Regina!  You hit the proverbial nail on the head!!!

Of course Regina said a lot of really complimentary things about my blog, too, but I didn't want to copy all that stuff because that would be, like, bragging and all....Thanks for all the nice stuff you said, Regina, you know, like
Ok I have to tell you that I am LOVING your blog!   I try to enjoy it every night for the previous day but sometimes I have to wait a couple of days.
 I so totally admire your resolve to find another way to spend your time.  Delving in to the book world and writing again is fabulous.   My favorite so far has been the Kinsey story!  Kids are just so there in the moment!
 So please keep up your blog - I say eat a candy bar and suck on a soda while you are writing it!!!
 Thank you very much,  Regina.  Now...on to my "friends" and "relatives" who keep taunting me with reminders of what TV SHOWS ARE far not getting to me.  I don't like Dancing With the Stars.   Don't like Bones the TV Series; do like the book series.  Still can enjoy the book series.  (MELANIE!)  so nannynannybooboo

Oh, I wrote my first complete short story this week.  I want to enter it in a contest; has to be 1500 words and I started with 2000.  Have whittled it down to 1700.  So I'm going to whittle now.  :o)

* I skipped blogging last night because I was tired and extremely crabby.  A dear friend suggested that might just be the best time to blog.  So when I do IT'S ALL ON HER!  (Susan)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time for an Accounting

I'm starting my 3rd week without TV.  So I thought it was time to look what's around me and what, if anything, is different.

  • I have not lost a pound. 
  • I am not exercising any more or any less than I was before I quit TV.  
  • My house is pretty much the same disaster it was 2 weeks ago.  (Only 2 weeks!)  Is that right?  Yes, I just found a small calendar on my desk and that is correct. 
So in 2 weeks what IS different?  
  • I feel different.  Lighter - hey, no fat jokes out there!  I feel like a weight has been removed from my shoulders.  The burden of TV?  I just feel freer.
  • I nap either the same amount or maybe more...not really surprised.  It's a good avoiding technique and often I am very tired.  (Probably from a crappy diet and lack of exercise.)  OK who said that?!
  • I blog every day.  Publicly.  Scary.  Fun.
  • I've  worked on my novel - and it had lain dormant for months.
  • I've started a short story.
  • I attended a book festival and met several people in my preferred field.  
What have I learned so far?  Well, I guess TV isn't the REAL reason I eat a poor diet and don't exercise and don't keep my house shipshape.  It certainly wasn't helping, but getting rid of it hasn't been a magic cure.  (Kind of like my ex-husband.) 

The mystery to me is why do I feel different?  Where did this lightness come from?  This feeling of being free?  Will it continue?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tink Seats, Sore Seats, and Commando Babies

Tonight is my turn to babysit granddaughter Kinsey while her mom goes to night school.  Instead of picking Kinsey up at her home as planned, I had to meet Mary Lee and Kinsey at the pediatrician's office because their appointment ran so late.  So I didn't get to pick up Kinsey's potty chair; instead I got the portable, foldable, crappy Tinkerbell seat - or as Disney calls it - the Tink Seat.

Now this stupid thin piece of plastic folds up so you can take it anywhere!  Woo hoo!  However, when  you unfold it and put it on an adult-sized toilet it slips and slides like some kind of adventure ride at Disney World!  No kid - who is already scared of that huge toilet and falling in - feels secure sitting on that stupid Tink Seat.  So after we get home I ask her if she has to pee and she says no of course.  I suggest sitting on the *$%#$#$#$%$@%#$ Tink Seat and she goes into panic mode.

"NO!!" she screams.  "I don't need go pee pee!"  When I try to lift her on the seat she glues herself to me like the newly-hatched creature in Alien.  Against my better judgment I soothe her and tell her we'll try later.  She runs into the living room, hops into my leather seat, and starts crying.

"What?" I ask (like I don't already know). 
"I peed," she says so sadly I can't even think of being upset.  Besides, it's leather. 
So I get her all cleaned up and put clean panties on and we play, and we eat dinner, and we play, and she's it's time to try again.

We were in there an hour and a half - at least.  I gradually got her from the step to sitting on the edge of the Tink Seat where she looked into the gaping hole for probably 30 minutes.  We discussed all kinds of topics during this time, including the water in the toilet and where the pee pee goes and the sound it makes.  FINALLY I get her to sit with her butt over the hole!  YEAH!  I think I've made it now!

But that she is truly centered on the &^&$*$#&$^ Tink Seat all she has to do is wiggle just a bit and the freakin thing slips and slides and eventually an edge or side slips into the hole.  So even though she is positioned perfectly for #1 or even #2, we have to keep adjusting the seat and adjusting her on the seat and adjusting the seat.  Finally I decide to get a folding chair because 1 hour sitting on the side of the tub has crippled my butt.  I get the chair as close to her as possible and we sit there hugging each other and the impossible happens.

"I peed...," she says quietly.  And I hear just a little tinkling.  We celebrate.  We sing.  We dance.  We wash our hands.  We get ready to play, but she starts wiggling again.  Oh no, #2.  We start over but she lays her head on my leg and I stroke her back and then I realize...she's sound asleep.  So I pick her up and wrap her in a quilt - yes, commando, because she only has 1 clean pair of panties left - and lay her on my (leather) couch. 

I'm tired. 

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Florida Heritage Book Festival - Part Deaux

Sunday - Today's a day when I wanted to have the TV on for company.  I can start to see now where a year might be a long time.  Instead of turning on the TV and then having to confess publicly, I listened to NPR this morning and then read Hammerhead Ranch Motel by Tim Dorsey.  I have got to pull some quotes out of that book for future use!

I learned A LOT at the Book Festival yesterday.  I'm going through my notes today to reinforce what I learned and to share some other writers' experiences.  As soon as I finish blogging I am going to send a very sincere THANK YOU to Nancy Haddock, writer of La Vida Vampire and Last Vampire Standing.  She was so gracious and so friendly and so very helpful.  I asked her about writing classes (there are several on-line and few in an classroom), and she told me about the Florida Writers Association and the various chapters and genre/chapters in the area, then she took me by the arm and pulled me across the room, and introduced me to Vic DiGenti, the Director of the FWA.  Thank you, Nancy!

Vic explained the meeting schedule and took down my name and email address so I could receive the FWA newsletter.  I've already had an email from him with links to his own web site and to the FWA web site.  Thanks, Vic!

As I mentioned yesterday Lucienne Diver invited me to send a query and 5 pages of my manuscript to her.  Also very gracious!  And funny!  I can't wait to start reading Vamped.  And I hope to get some feedback on Bucksnort.

I attended three presentations yesterday afternoon.  The first was given by Eliot Kleinberg (That's Eliot in the picture above - Kelly is the blonde waiting for him to sign her book.) who writes for the Palm Beach Post and who has also posted several books.  Check out his web site: eliotkleinberg .  I purchased his nonfiction book Black Cloud The Deadly Hurricane of 1928.  In addition to writing historical books he writes about how weird Florida is, and that is what is presentation was about.  We all spent the hour laughing at (ourselves) and Florida.  He was very entertaining.

After a delicious lunch at La Herencia with Kelly (and two very potent glasses of yummy sangria) I grabbed a glass of ice tea to go at the Hot Shot Bakery and made my way back to the Ringhaver Student Center.  (A big thank you to Sherry at Hot Shot Bakery who told me I could park in her parking lot instead of feeding dollar bills into the meter!)  I had almost an hour to kill so made the financial error of visiting the Marketplace again.  $45 later I had 3 more books and totally blew my budget this week!

The next presenter was Tom Cavanaugh (no, not the actor who played in the TV show Ed) but a Florida author with 3 books published.  His presentation was very low-key and all about the trail he followed to get published.  It was also a lesson that you haven't "made it" until you've "made it" like John Grisham or Stephen King.  Tom had just been informed by his New York publishing house that, even though his book Head Games had won all kinds of awards, they were no longer going to continue to publish his works.  He was back to square one.

He had also received a ticket on his trip over from Orlando.  He was stopped just south of St. Augustine on I-95 and given a ticket for having tinted windows that were too dark.  No kidding.  And the cop told him that he had already given out tickets for the very same offense several times this month on the same stretch of highway.  The cop pointed out that if a citizen had windows that were too dark and they were hijacked, the "po po"  (rhymes with doe doe) couldn't help them.  "Po Po?"  Where did this cop come from?  I am so staying off I-95 south!

Back to Tom's writing and publishing history.  He sent in his first book Murderland to a contest and won; the prize was being published by a small publishing house.  His research turned up many complaints and almost a scam-type operation so he voided that contract.  He did point out that the publishing house was very gracious about allowing him to cancel.  He then submitted it to some small print houses and succeeded in getting it published.  He said that although it was published it made very little money; one of his largest checks was for $40 and it was not uncommon to receive a check for $3.00.  He determined that his next book would be published by one of the big publishing houses if at all possible.  The small publishing house still has the rights to any sequel he may want to do in regards to Murderland.

In order to get a Big Press Publisher he needed an agent.  He said the typical agent is nonresponsive and not to take offense.  He knows he is not his agent's biggest earner; he does appreciate that his agent is very responsive to him.  His agent submitted his manuscript to 25 houses and got 25 rejections.  They were about to approach the smaller publishers when his agent suggested trying one of the rejecting houses again; the person who had rejected the manuscript had been replaced, so his replacement probably wouldn't know that the manuscript had already been rejected.  And that editor offered him a contract!

That book Head Games won many literary awards and was successful enough that the publisher offered him another contract for a sequel.  He had six months to write it, and he pointed out that like so many of us, he has a "real job" that supports his family, so he spent every spare second writing to make that deadline.  That meant writing every night from 9pm to midnight, and when he traveled for work - which was frequently - wrote during his flights and in his hotel rooms.  The second book Prodigal  Son was published.  Then his contract was dropped.

He was very pragmatic about being dropped, pointing out that the publishing business is based on numbers and formulas.  His Head Games manuscript was 95,000 words originally, and the publisher told him he had to reduce it to 90,000 words to make it viable to sell.    So many pages cost so many dollars to print - the expected profit on so many pages would equal so many dollars, etc.  So even though he is back to square one and has to start over with sending queries to publishing houses, he did not seem bitter or angry. 

He also pointed out that even though he has a degree in screenwriting, connections in Hollywood, and experience writing scripts for Nickelodeon, NONE OF THAT HELPED HIM TO GET PUBLISHED.  He said it was a combination of luck and perseverance.  He read the first chapter of Head Games aloud to us and I now want to read it - excellent.

The last presentation was by Tim Dorsey (pictured above).  If you are a fan I need say nothing more.  If you've never heard of him then check out his web site .  He has been compared to Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard.  His writing is wacky, funny, violent, vulgar, offensive, and entertaining.  He told book tour stories during his presentation.  And he was wacky, funny, and entertaining.

All in all a great experience but I have a lot of homework.  And last year during the First Florida Heritage Book Festival I spent the entire weekend indoors, watching the stupid TV, and cursing myself for being too chicken to attend.  Hurray for me!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cowgirls and Writers

Yesterday I went off on a tangent about horses when I really started off writing about cowgirls.  Even at my age I could still go out and buy a horse and stable it and ride it, but that would not make me a cowgirl.  And IF I had a 2nd go 'round I'd want to come back as a cowgirl.

You know the type - think of the movie Castaway and skip to the end.  Tom Hanks is looking at a map which is spread out on the hood of his jeep (I think it was a jeep).  Coming up the road is a beat-up pick-em-up-truck that slows and turns onto the road where he's stopped,and a friendly face peers out from the open truck window.  She puts the truck in park, opens the door and hops out, and asks him if he's OK.  She gives him directions by pointing in each direction and telling him where he'll "end up" if he stays on that road long enough.  She is a cowgirl - from her hat to her jeans to her boots to the big old friendly-looking dog riding in the back.  She's confident, friendly, and looks great.  Wow.  What a package.  That's the kind of cowgirl I'm talkin' about.

Today I enjoyed myself immensely at the Florida Heritage Book Festival held at Flagler College.  I arrived early and parked my car on Riberia just a couple blocks from the Ringhaver Student Center.  Since I was more than 30 minutes early I stopped in the Hot Shot Bakery and Cafe (  Hot Shot Bakery reviewed on ) and got a cup of Barnie's Coffee to go.  Sherry (the owner) told me that Barnie's was a Florida-based company which I did not know.  I do prefer Barnie's to Starbuck's (BLASPHEMY!) and I told her that we served Barnie's at the St. Francis Inn.  We talked a bit and I told her I was attending the FHBF and somehow we got on the topic of "old Florida" and Florida natives.  Turns out she and Bubba (Bubba was handling the cash register) are both natives and Bubba could remember when Hamblen Hardware - a staple on King Street - was on Artillery Lane, and Artillery Lane was a real road!  Artillery Lane is now a cobblestone alley that connects Aviles Street with Charlotte Street.  I told them I'd be back to hear more about old St. Augustine - I love those stories.  Sherry pointed toward the back door and told me I could go in and out through there and I'd be closer to Flagler College and Anastasia Bookstore - one of the sponsors of the Festival.  Cool.  Loving the shortcut.

I hurried out Hot Shot's back door and across the small parking lot and arrived at Ringhaver Student Center with 20 minutes to spare.  Nancy Haddock had told me in her email that she would be there between 9:30am and 10:00 am to sign books and meet fans.  When I walked through the door of the room being used as the Marketplace I was a little overwhelmed.  There was a yellow lab - yes, a real live dog - sitting over to the right next to his owner, a woman in a Victorian outfit with a Volunteer badge, a young woman dressed as a witch...and that is what I saw when I first scanned the room.  Also rows of tables with books galore and posters and people everywhere.  I walked in slowly and right in the middle of the room I saw her - Nancy Haddock.  Chin-length blond hair, a smiling face, and a name badge that said...Nancy Haddock.  I walked up to her and she looked at me and asked, "Karen?"

WHAT?  She remembered my name from one email?!  AWESOME!!!  I was smitten immediately.  She introduced me to the lovely woman sitting next to her, Lucienne Diver.  They were both so open and friendly and funny!  Nancy said that Lucienne was not only a writer (she was promoting her book Vamped), but an AGENT.  (trumpets sound, lions roar, holy smokes a real live agent)  I didn't IMMEDIATELY mention I'm a writer, but I got it out in the next few minutes.  I told them my manuscript was about a road trip with two friends that goes really wacky.  And the worst part were the long days in Tulsa.  Nancy laughed - although not heartily - and asked, "What's wrong with Tulsa?  I'm from Tulsa."  HOLY CRAP.  I explained that the book was based a true road trip and that my observations about Tulsa were based on personal experience.  She asked if I had visited the Gilcrease Museum, but I told her, "No, we were too busy visiting the other sights like the giant Oil Derrick and Oral Roberts University."  I am so glad she has a great sense of humor; she threatened to make me return to Tulsa just to see that museum.  NO WAY!

The best news is that Lucienne asked me to send her a query and 5 pages of my manuscript.  Cool.  I  need some feedback; I'm already thinking that it's too short for a book.  I learned today that most mysteries are 80,000 words and mysteries are relatively short; Bucksnort is only 40,000 words.  So I'm excited about getting to know these two wonderful women.  I purchased Vamped! and Nancy's sequel to La Vida Vampire: Last Vampire Standing.  Check out these cool writers at:  Nancy Haddock  and Lucienne Diver.

There's lots more to share but I am beat and will share more tomorrow.  Hasta la vista, baby!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Even cowgirls get the blues? I doubt it!

In my next life I want to be a cowgirl.  Now...I know I don't get a "next life"... and even if I believed in reincarnation, I'd be more worried about coming back as a goat or a cockroach or some other lower life form - like a politician.  No, I'm just talking here about choices and fate and the always-popular "what ifs".  You see when I was a girl I was in love with horses.  My cousin Melanie and I shared this love of horses and her mother (my aunt Luanne) even gave me a subscription to a horse lovers' magazine one year.  I enjoyed receiving it and pretending, just for an afternoon or so, that I owned my own darling horse and it was right outside in our barn.

At this time my family and I lived south of Miami in the suburbs.  No barns.  No pastures.  Streets were laid over drained swampland; houses were built and 3 saplings were planted in front of each house.  There was a field behind my house, but it didn't belong to us.  The only purpose it seemed to serve was to separate our house from US 1.  Later on my dad and adjoining neighbors started mowing into the field - extending our backyard and theirs - and the field became a softball field for us. 

The closest horses to me (I believed at the time) were the pony rides that visited Cutler Ridge Shopping Center from time to time.  I was so horse crazy that I begged my parents to ask the owner if I could work for him taking care of the ponies.  You know - scooping poop and bringing them water.  They said no.   I was 11.  My world was very small then.  Little did I know that just south and west of me were acres of horse ranches.  I thought all the horse ranches were "out west". 

Melanie lived "out west" in Oakland, California.  When I found out her parents had gotten her a pony I was wild with joy and envy.  She was so lucky!  She and I wrote back and forth and she told me all about her pony and I told her how cool it was that she had one.  Why, oh why, couldn't I live "out west" where horses were as plentiful and available as dogs or cats?!  Someday I was going to live where I could have not just one horse, but a whole stableful of horses!

The summer I was 16 my parents let me fly out to visit Melanie for two weeks.  I was beside myself with excitement.  Flying by myself!  Two weeks in California with my cousin Melanie!  And the icing on the cake was that I was going to help Melanie with her summer job:  exercising her neighbors' horses!  This suburban girl who had only ridden ponies around in a ring soon found herself roaming the hills (we'd call them mountains back east!) on horseback.  Melanie taught me how to saddle up and how to ride.  Up hill and down.  And how to take care of a horse - not get them all lathered up and hot - not run them - take care of them.  It was great training and a real high for a horse lover like me!

So what happened after that?  Life.  High school.  Boyfriend. College/Marriage/Kids.  My dream resurfaced when my older daughter Mary Lee showed an interest in horsebackriding when she was about 10 or 11 years old.  I found a stable that not only taught kids to ride, but also taught them how to brush and take care of horses.  Mary Lee gave it her best but finally told me tearfully that the horses scared her and she didn't want to go anymore.  I was heartbroken for her and for myself. 

We moved out to the country a couple of years later and my dream flickered alive again.  There was a nearby boarding stable and I started to do the numbers and came to believe that we might just be able to afford to buy and board a horse less than a mile from our house.  What happened?  Life, work, divorce, etc.   

Today I live near the beach in a condo.  I'm filling my car's tank with gas and a great big old pickup truck pulls in.  A man gets out and starts filling the truck with gas.  And a woman gets out of the passenger side - she's wearing a cowboy hat and jeans and flipflops.  (Hey, it's Florida, ya'll) She grabs the window squeegee and hops up on the truck's running board and starts cleaning the windshield.  The license plate says Florida/St. Johns  County and I assume they live on some property west of St. Augustine where there are potato farms and horse ranches.  I can tell it's a work truck - there's a toolbox and equipment in the back and I even think I see some hay.  And I start wondering...what if?????

Thursday, September 10, 2009


My second week without TV seems to be going well.  I'm getting used to the quiet atmosphere of my condo.  I don't even turn on the radio some nights.  I still nap too much, but I'm reading lots more!  Since I love to read this has been a true bonus.  I'm still leery about the future.  After all, all I've really missed is a bunch of reruns and some political speeches.  The new TV season is launching soon and then the holidays will roll around.  WHAT!?  NO MACY'S PARADE ON THANKSGIVING?  I didn't think this through!  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!! 

This weekend brings the Florida Heritage Book Festival to St. Augustine.  This is my first conference - my first Book Conference - and the first that I will be attending as a writer.  I was scared to death.  Was.  An eerie calm has overtaken me.  I may act like a boob, a fool, an idiot; I may not.  I am not worried.  I wish I knew from where this calm came, I would stuff it in a capsule, sell it to Merck, and retire to my oceanfront compound.

Two writers will be staying at the St. Francis Inn.  Both check in tomorrow.  One is Tim Dorsey, author of the weird series with two anti-heroes that you can't help but kind-of-like and fear.  Yes, fear, because Serge or Coleman could be in the car next to you on US 1.  Serge would either be medicated and fairly safe, or off his meds and totally insane!  Don't look!  Don't look!  And Coleman - he better not be driving because he is either drunk or stoned or both at all times.  Yet I can't help but like these two; they didn't ask to be what they are and they are just your typical screwups most of the time.  I've only read Tim Dorsey's first book in the series - Florida Roadkill - and I'm hooked.  His antiheroes and stories remind me of both Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard - two favorite authors of mine.  What I truly enjoy is that the bad guys get what they deserve!  Tim Dorsey will be speaking Saturday and I will be there.  I hope to meet him either at the Inn or at the event.

The other writer is Eliot Kleinberg who writes for the Palm Beach Post.  He has also published several books and his topics center on the essential weirdness of Florida.  I believe Weird Florida is also his topic during his presentation Saturday.  I look forward to his presentation and meeting him also.

In addition Nancy Haddock will be there signing books in the morning.  I've already emailed her to confirm she will be there and she has been so nice and so friendly to correspond with me.  Her La Vida Vampire is one of my favorite books now. 

I went by the Dollar Store on my way home hoping to find some tacky Florida souvenirs to put in a Welcome Basket for Misters Dorsey and Kleinberg.  I found NOTHING.  Not even one blasted pink flamingo!  How can a Dollar Store NOT have tacky souvenir stuff!  I think they should have their license pulled.  I know of a couple other places to look, but I was hoping to stay in the DOLLAR range.  (stupid Dollar store)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

9-9-09 Surgery for Dogs

I have a cousin who signs her emails "9".  Her name is Nina (prounouced Ni' nah) and she is named after my mother.  I wonder if she is enjoying this very special day - September 9, 2009.  Although it's not as cool as September 9, 1999 must have been.  "Mike from work" pointed out to me that next year we would have 10-10-10.  Cool.

Carolyn from work reported today that she and her husband paid more than $3,000 for her 3-year-old Labrador Retriever to have surgery on his leg.  I forget what was wrong with his leg; Carolyn rattled off the medical terminology but all I could hear was THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS.  I'm skipping my colonoscopy this year because my not-so-fabulous health insurance deductible is $3,000.  I'm hoping by next year this time I'll have more money in the bank and be able to pay for the wonderful thrill of having a camera stuffed up by butt without leaving me short of cash.  As for paying $3,000 for surgery on my pet....I told Harley he better STAY HEALTHY.

If I was watching TV I would be channel-surfing to avoid watching President Obama's speech.  I'm not being political here; it's just that when the President is giving a speech all the networks shuffle up their nightly lineups to fit not only the speech, but the talking heads' BS afterwards.  I used to be political but I got tired of all the polarization.  "Why can't we all just get along?" Rodney King asked.  I agree.  If we could set aside the RightWing and LeftWing BS and channeled all that energy into solving problems like health care, the problems would get solved instead of just made worse.  

Since I'm not watching TV I'm reading The Oasis Project by Art Adkins, the author I met last Friday night.  I'm enjoying the stories and the characters.  His style is very masculine - strong men and supportive women - but also very 21st Century.  Maybe I just think that because I've been reading women authors for the past few months and have been immersed in vampires.  I know that the story is well thought out and rings true.  And I enjoy the setting of Cedar Key, FL.  It's now on my list of Places To Visit.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

WEEK 2 - Yawn...

I feel uninspired tonight but I will try to perk myself up to some kind of acceptable level of performance.  I just finished eating a nice big helping of cold fresh watermelon.  That's been the highlight of my evening.  I spent about an hour farting around with "gadgets" on the Google Blog Tools and finally gave up on the countdown gadget.  Talk about getting distracted.

I finished La Vida Vampire by Nancy Haddock this afternoon.  I emailed Ms. Haddock last night and asked if she would be available Saturday at the Florida Heritage Book Festival.  She replied and said she would - between 9:30 am - 10:00 am.  GREAT!  I'm looking forward to meeting her.  She really has a great story-telling ability and makes the city of St. Augustine come alive.  I like her characters and I'm glad there are more books with Cesca the vampire.  I'm going to get another copy of her book and send it to my niece Savannah.  Savannah originally turned me on to vampires with the Twilight series and then the series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  I hope Savannah enjoys La Vida Vampire as much as I did.

As far as TV...well I was tired when I got home from work, but decided to lie down on my couch and finish my vampire book (as mentioned above).   I really don't miss the TV shows...I really don't miss the TV as company as much as I thought I would.  This is a weird and strange experience - - totally unexpected.  I thought I would be CRAVING TV and sad and upset and ...well miserable.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Day 7 - Labor Day

In a town where the number one industry is tourism few people get Labor Day off.  It's not so bad where I work (a Bed & Breakfast) because guests are almost always in a good mood and the general atmosphere is happy.  I feel for the people who work at the grocery stores, drug stores, other retail stores, gas stations, etc. where each day must seem like the last. 
Last night when I was walking on the beach with my girlfriends and we were surrounded by people enjoying themselves I kept having a dark nagging little pull of envy.  I wanted to have Labor Day off LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE! 
Kind of like when I quit college to get married and work, and realized I no longer would have summer vacation and Christmas break and Spring break.  WHAT!  I wanted a "do over".  So many times I wanted a "do over".  Go back to college like my friends where books and tests and studying vied with partying and meeting guys and having fun. 
Instead I had the 8:00-5:00 workday, housework, bills...OK I had sex with my husband whenever I wanted which was a plus, but my friends didn't seem to be doing without.  It was only a couple months after I married that I started thinking I might have jumped into growing up a bit too fast. 
I don't sit around and pout (not too much anyway) like I did when I was 19. I live in a great place - work a great schedule - and have a manuscript sitting at a publishing house.  Life is good.
Today marks 7 days without TV.  Last Monday night I watched my last shows for a year.  Last night I couldn't sleep.  All my muscles ached and I was too tired to even read.  So I opened my first movie from Netflix:  The Jane Austen Book Club.  It felt like cheating to turn on the TV (all I got was static because, yes, the cable is still unplugged!) and insert a DVD and watch a movie.  I thought I'd watch it until my Ibuprofen eased my aches and pains, but I ended up watching the whole thing.  Not an Oscar nominee but entertaining, and hey, it was about reading. 
That reminds me; I  need to find a writing class.  More on that later.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Day 6 - Time Management, Cousins, and the Beach

I am so tired I was going to skip tonight, but that would not be fair. What a great day! But I feel every muscle right now and just want to put my head on my pillow and sleep. OR sit in my big fat chair and channel-surf! That's right, tonight was the first night I was really tempted to watch TV. Anything special I wanted to watch?
Anything special I was trying to avoid?
Why then?
Because I was bone tired and sitting in a big fat chair channel-surfing or just watching whatever's on takes less energy than just about anything in the world. Good thing I disconnected the cable TV wires. That sounded like too much work to hook them back up.
So, Sunday morning I usually wake up, stretch, and click on FX to watch reruns of The Practice. Then it's time for Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood which I really do enjoy. Then reruns of The Sopranos on A&E and by then it's almost noon.
Today I woke up around 9:30am and continued to read La Vida Vampire by Nancy Haddock (a local author). I really enjoy her writing style and the story is very entertaining. The characters are fleshed out well and, well, I like it.
Harley hopped up next to me eventually and I got dressed and took him for a walk. When I returned I thought I'd make a pot of tea and make some blueberry pancakes, but FIRST I was going to check my email and facebook accounts. That led to checking my Blog to see if I had any new followers and any comments. That led to me reading the comments and checking out my cousin Melanie's Blog. TWO HOURS LATER I realize it's after noon and I'm hungry and half the day is gone! I had laughed until the tears came while reading about her exploits and just enjoyed it so much I had lost track of time. I called her and left a long message on her answering machine telling her that and also telling her she owed me my Sunday morning back.
Harley and I hopped in my car for a quick trip to Wendy's for a quick lunch and I remembered I hadn't left my phone number for Melanie. So I called her back and she answered. We talked and talked and when I arrived at Wendy's I pulled into the shade of some trees and turned off the car and continued the conversation. AN HOUR AND 15 MINUTES LATER I finally hung up. HEY MELLY, YOU OWE ME A SUNDAY AFTERNOON NOW! It was great comparing notes and hearing about her family - her parents just relocated from Massachusetts to Portland - and all the adjustments and upheavals.
Harley & I picked up a burger & baked potato and headed home. Harley was especially grateful because it had gotten a bit HOT in the car and he was panting. He lives in air-conditioning and is a bit spoiled, you know. I gave him a big bowl of fresh cool water when we arrived home and then ate lunch.
Later on I met Arlene and Betsy at Playa Chac-Mool on the corner of A1A and D Street. We caught up on all the news and enjoyed a great and authentic Mexican meal. Then we went for a really long walk on the beach. It was beautiful out there and lots of people walking, surfing, playing volleyball or touch football; it felt like a holiday weekend.
I can hardly believe I've made it almost a week with no TV. I'm loving my life.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Day 5 - Putt Putt and Commando

So Saturdays I usually make some coffee and watch A&E's Sell This House - and cooking shows on PBS. Of course I channel surf and watch parts of movies I've already seen and parts of movies I'm not totally interested in. Saturday night I like Animal Planet's It's Me or the Dog.

But not today. I slept in until 9:30 when Harley the horrible hound launched himself into my bed and started licking my face. I took him for his walk - and it was surprisingly comfortable outside. Usually by 9:30 it's hot enough to give you a sunburn in just minutes, but today it was a bit overcast and really nice. When we returned from our walk the condo was r*e*a*l*l*y quiet. So I turned on the radio and there were my boys - Car Talk! I fed Harley, made some hot cereal and did laundry and chores until about 11:30.

Time for a treat and some real writing. So I packed up my laptop and drove up to Starbucks. Got a skinny vanilla latte and found a nice corner and started working on my book (working title Peanut Butter Beach). The music was great - old early 60's Beatles - and I was smokin' on the keys. Laughing to myself, too. I worked until my battery threatened to quit and then drove home. More chores and a quick shower and it was time for babysitting.

I had agreed to babysit my almost-3-year-old granddaughter Kinsey while her parents went to dinner and a movie. I figured putt-putt would be fun and I also had invited my niece Darian (who is 11 and VERY competitive) to go with us. One of my co-workers, Mike, had heard me talking about it earlier in the week and said he would meet us there, too. Mike loves the putt putt. Unfortunately for Mike, he got a repair call - he does maintenance work at the Inn where I work - just after the 1st hole and he had to leave. We were all bummed.

That left me alone with a wild toddler and a tween-ager. And they wore me out. Kinsey insisted on holding her putter like it was a pool cue, and Darian was so bent on beating me she starting shaving points. It was wild. The course has a lot of stairs and climbing up and climbing down - one of its attractions. At the highest point you can see the beach. Darian believes in short cuts and, of course, Kinsey is monkey-see-monkey-do so instead of walking sedately to the next hole on the sidewalk, they would be climbing a hill or jumping through a bush. And if I heard myself say "Off the green when it's not your turn!" one more time I was going to kill myself!

At least I won. Well, we gave Kinsey the official win by letting her score par, but I beat Darian by 5 strokes. Go Aunt Karen! I didn't brag toooo much. The course has a nice deck area and we cooled off there with some sodas. I relaxed for about 30 seconds and then Darian announced that the lemon-tea she was drinking made her burp. Darian is renowned in the family for her loud and unsettling burps. I knew we were in trouble. Actually, I knew I was in trouble. It started - a weird cawing-burping sound would erupt from Darian, Kinsey would giggle loudly until I thought Sprite was going to come out of her nose, and I would hide my face. Kinsey at one point said, "Look - that baby is looking at us!" And that baby was looking at us! No kidding!

Afterwards I gave them each a dollar and 6 cents (hey big spender) and took them to the Dollar Store where they picked and chose and discussed and put back and finally decided what treat they wanted for themselves. Darian picked out purple hair extensions and Kinsey picked a soft ball with things pointing out of it. We drove Darian home with the top down on the convertible and woo-hooed all the way back.

I watched Dan play Civilization on the computer with his daughter Savannah (on-line - she's in Boise) and Darian and Kinsey played dress up. Kinsey is being potty trained so it was inevitable that she would have an accident and she did. I cleaned her up and helped clean up the carpet and then she pooped her pants. I cleaned her up and took the toxic trash out to the outside trash can and told Dan I thought we might have overstayed our welcome. Nah, see ya! That was Kinsey's last clean pair of underwear so I let her go commando on the way home.

I remembered we had nothing to eat at home and made a side-trip to MacDonalds. While I was ordering Kinsey kept shouting at the speaker, "I want ice cream!" so I did a knee-jerk grandmother thing and added a MacFlurry to the order. As I was paying at the window Kinsey ordered 4 more ice creams. The cashier ignored her. We drove home as quickly as was allowed but the MacFlurry was a MacMelty and the fries were cold by the time we sat down to eat.

My daughter and son-in-law arrived a little while later. She couldn't believe I had let my granddaughter ride around St. Augustine "commando" and that I had filled her up with sugar before bedtime. Kinsey just grinned at me and I grinned back at her. We had a great time.

And no TV. none. zippo.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Day 4 - The Oasis Project by Art Adkins

Today, instead of driving home after work and watching Judge Judy and assorted reruns, I threw my purse into the trunk of my car - minus my car key, debit card, and cell phone - and walked up historic St. George Street to check out the changes (stores/restaurants opening & closing), get some physical activity, and be a tourist. It was a very comfortable 81 degrees with a nice breeze and lots of shady spots on the sidewalk. I only tripped once - and managed not to wrench anything AND managed not to fall down. I wish I could claim it was a loose cobblestone, but it was me being distracted by a couple of tourists when I should have been watching where I was going. No harm - no foul.

My original purpose in going downtown was to meet an author. I subscribe to and I get regular emails announcing who's going to be in the area signing their books. Most of the time they are in Jacksonville, but today Art Adkins - a cop who has written and had published a thriller - was going to be in St. Augustine downtown at 100 St. George Street at some Photography Studio. That address was on the northernmost side of St. George Street about a 20 minute walk from my work - up by the Old City Gates. (isn't that cool - we really do have City Gates.)

So I moseyed up St. George Street, noting the For Rent signs in the empty shops and checking out the new businesses (mostly stupid touristy tee-shirt shops - yuk). I checked out a store selling African Art (closed for the day - WHAT? It's Labor Day weekend!) and then made the fatal error of walking into a children's clothing store and finding the PERFECT BIRTHDAY GIFT FOR MY DARLING GRANDDAUGHTER! I whipped out my debit card and it was declined twice. What? Oh yeah - I always go to the bank right after work on Fridays and deposit my check. And I use up every bit of my checking account by Thursday because I'm transferring all my spare cash into an Emergency Fund. OOPS. So I asked Marsha -the very nice sales clerk - to hold it for me - and continued on my errands.

I stopped by the new Bubble Room Restaurant to talk to the manager about gift certificates (for the Inn where I work- mixing business with pleasure) and just missed her. I wandered into the old MetalArts shop (I don't know what the new name is) to see a friend's daughter's art work; it seemed pointless since I could not purchase anything until I ran that damn bank errand and put my paycheck into my account. Frustrated, I walked back to the Inn's parking lot, retrieved my car, and drove to the bank. At this point I remembered the main purpose of my walk - to find and meet author Art Adkins! The original point of my trip!!!! I might have said some bad words out loud at this point.

After depositing my check I returned downtown and lucked into a central parking space. I returned to the children's shop and purchased the ABSOLUTELY PERFECT GIFT FOR MY GRANDDAUGHTER. Then I headed north up St. George Street looking for a Photography Studio and anything advertising author Art Adkins.

Only in St. Augustine can you have two different buildings on the same street with the same numbers. I stood between the two and looked at the Kilwin's building (#102) and the Gift Store/Snacks Building (#101 and #102 both appeared on that building - I swear). I walked around the buildings - checked out the 2nd floors - nothing labeled #100. No studio. No author. Frustrated but this time also amused, after all, I've learned that St. Augustine is not an exact kind of town, I headed back down St. George Street to find something for supper.

I had spotted a new Taco Shop and was a bit leery of it - there's a lot a crap on St. George Street - but I thought I would check it out. I was cheered at once by large blackboards with colorful chalk words about FISH TACOS and BAJA TACOS and VEGGIE and VEGAN burritos. Plus the staff were all surfer-type dudes - slender and athletic, wearing baggy surfer shorts & tees and sandals. Everyone knows that for the best tacos, burritos etc. you either look for Mexican cooks or surfer cooks.

I ordered a veggie burrito (black beans please and Medium heat) and some chips and guacamole. Very good guac and excellent burrito. I must have made some sound when I tasted the burrito (I may have moaned audibly) because one of the guys caught my eye and said, "Good?"

OH YEAH ... incredibly fresh tasting. yummo! Robin - a very pregnant due any minute Robin - was finishing up the decorating with paper lanterns. She said they had a shop in Flagler Beach and this was their 2nd store. They had been open a week. I think they were popular with the Flagler College students - the wall where customers were allowed to write was already almost full! Robin gave me some brochures for the Inn and I wished her the best with her baby boy.

I headed back to my car - checking my voice mail on my cell - thinking about what a great afternoon it had been - when I spotted one of those poster signs set up on an easel. I saw a picture of the book The Oasis Project by Art Adkins and realized I'd found my author! I didn't even try to figure out the whole address snafu - it was what it was. There was a small garden with a building built in a U around it. I walked up the sidewalk in the center of the garden and spotted a table and books outside of a shop. There he was!

It was a great meeting. Art was friendly, outgoing, and talked a mile a minute about writing, publishing, marketing. I can't even begin to go into all the experience and wisdom that he shared with me over the next 30-45 minutes, but I am very grateful. Most of what he said confirmed what I'd been finding in my research about publishing - how marketing was really up to the authors now and not the publishing houses - and that lent him a great deal of credibility. He shared his card with me and offered to come speak anytime to my writing group or class. ("Uh, I've been meaning to get one or join one or take one.") He's very passionate about writing and I really got a lot from listening to him. I had already researched his book a bit on the Internet and was intrigued by the story, so gladly bought one of his copies. He signed it and shared more of his experiences and horror stories with me.

And just think...I gave up Judge Joe Brown and Oprah for this! WOW!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 3 - What's going on ?

I really expected to miss my TV. I scheduled my life around Sunday Morning, Soprano reruns, even It's Me or the Dog. Except for some physical herky-jerkiness that I will explain later, I'm suffering no withdrawal pains. That scares me - maybe it takes a few days or a week then hits like heroin withdrawal!
No nap today. I had a hair appointment and so totally enjoyed it I ended up staying late and chatting until almost 7:00 pm. And my appointment was at 3:30! I seem to have all this enthusiasm and self-esteem (from following-through with a project?) and I'm either suffering a severe manic episode, or really coming out of my shell.
Robin and Gail, the owners of Fringe, where I get my hair cut & colored, had traveled to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in late June/early July. My all-time favorite vacation was two weeks spent with friends touring, you guessed it, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Robin shared her photos on her laptop while my hair sat in its chemical bath. New Age music played on the Satellite Radio system and I was once again traveling in Cape Breton, and rafting the river while the Bay of Fundy tide rolled in, and hiking the beaches with rocky shores and dangerous cliffs.
After the color, shampoo, cut, and style were complete Robin and I sat in her newly decorated lobby - complete with a beautiful painting she did herself of a lion -and talked about Canada, friends, health, writing, traveling, flooring, moving, etc.
I finally remembered I had a dog at home waiting to be let out to pee and left. Once I arrived home I let Harley out immediately and, after he took many minutes to relieve himself, then took him for a walk to apologize for being late.
I set about cooking dinner and booting up my laptop and felt the urge to turn on the TV - habit more than a desire to watch anything. I turned on the radio, cooked dinner,caught up on my email and facebook, read some more of Tim Dorsey's Florida Roadkill, and before I knew it, it was bedtime.
I cannot believe how short the evenings are. I cannot believe how long the evenings seemed to be when I was slouched in my chair channel-surfing. This is weird.
By the way I apologize for the misleading title to yesterday's post. I meant to explain it but then I forgot. Last night when I took Harley out for his night-night pee-pee (hey, that's how he talks, not me) there was this HUGE UGLY kind-of GRAY SPLOTCHY FROG on my patio and he was all sprawled out and didn't even move when Harley sniffed at him. I bent over and looked more closely and saw it wasn't ONE HUGE UGLY SPLOTCHY FROG it was a smaller ugly splotchy gray frog on top of the large ugly splotchy gray frog. I could only think of one reason for this position, but they weren't moving at all. Had we caught them in a post-coitus stupor? I don't know but just the thought of it grossed me out.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

DAY 2 - Frogs Making Love?

Another rainy day and another feeling icky day. My muscles were all kind of achy this afternoon so I took another nap when I arrived at home. Maybe I'm just going to sleep away my TV-less time.

Let's see, it's Wednesday so it's Criminal Minds night. I do enjoy that show - about the BAU team that tries to out-think serial killers. I like the various actors and the characters are interesting. The plots vary from ho-hum typical TV plots to really interesting stories that keep my on the edge of my seat until the end. Right now it's in reruns and I've actually been catching up on old episodes that play on Friday and Sunday nights on A&E. No more, though. I'll look forward to catching up next year...or maybe I won't.

I received my box of books today that I ordered from Barnes & Noble so I have two Tim Dorsey crime/humor books and La Vida Vampire written by local author Nancy Haddock. This is part of my homework-networking to become a published author. This kind of homework I like - reading!

Still not suffering from TV withdrawal - napping and radio have both helped me through so far. NPR's evening music ain't so bad. And there's always Flagler College radio.

I've had supper--wait--no I haven't! I ate a salad and pulled a couple hot dogs from the freezer and forgot to cook them. Hey! Maybe I've found the perfect diet! I forgot to EAT!

So while my hot dogs pop in the microwave I will share that my food urges have really disappeared with the absence of TV. Sitting in front of the TV creates food cravings in me - it's not just the endless food commercials - although they contribute to the cravings - but the inherent boredom of sitting there and doing nothing. Because TV doesn't take any participation. Unlike a good movie that keeps you engrossed TV just kind of occupies one part of your brain - the DUH part - while you are still bored. And when I'm bored - I don't know about you - but when I'm bored I want to eat.

So - excuse me while I eat my dawgs and then I'll be going to bed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day One - Not So Bad!

Last night I unplugged all the coax cables from my three TVs. Before that I watched my last TV show for a while: a rerun episode of The Closer. At least it was one of my favorite shows and not something lame like Intervention or Parking Wars (OMG those A&E shows are so weird).

One of my first thoughts this morning was "NO TV!" although I don't usually watch TV before I go to work. And I didn't think about it much during the day. I got a headache this afternoon while at work and looked forward to going home and closing my eyes. I plugged along until quitting time and then drove home wondering how I'd do without Judge Joe Brown, Judge Judy, Oprah, Ellen, and NCIS to keep me company. I curled up on the sofa and closed my eyes.

I heard the refrigerator running. Good grief. I've napped before and never noticed the refrigerator running. hmmmmmmmmmmm. I closed my eyes and tried to relax. Usually before I take a nap I watch a little TV until I get sleepy. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I started thinking about how much a new refrigerator might cost, and how much more energy efficient a new, smaller refrigerator might be, and when was the last time I cleaned the refrigerator. hhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Crap! My eyes popped open. I stretched and curled back up and closed my eyes. hhhhmmmmmm. smack. grindgrindgrind. smack. I had given my dog Harley a chewy snack bone (for his dental hygiene, don'tcha know) he was obviously enjoying it. I sighed and closed my eyes. slurp slurp slurp. Now Harley was topping off his snack with a drink from his water bowl. hhhhmmmmmm. burp. Harley's signature burp signified the end of his snack time. I put my hands over my ears to shut out the noise of my quiet home and drifted off to sleep.

I awoke up an hour later and my headache was gone. I warmed up some leftover pizza and took it over to my big comfy chair to enjoy it. My left hand reached for the remote automatically. I smiled at myself. I always watch TV when I eat. I got up and turned on the radio. I sat back down and had another bite of pizza. My left hand reached for the remote automatically. I decided to put the remote in its new home - a drawer in the entertainment center.

After my quick supper I sat at my laptop to catch up on my email, etc. Talked to a couple girlfriends on the phone. Folded a load of laundry.

It is so QUIET in here. Even with the radio on. The blank screen of the TV looks like a black hole. Another universe exists in there; one that I'm shutting out. Its gravitational pull isn't strong tonight. I don't even want to watch TV. I just don't like that big black screen staring at me. It's a bit creepy.

So day one of No TV is almost complete. And I survived. And actually did some laundry. I'll be in bed by 10:00 and see what tomorrow brings.