Monday, May 30, 2011

What Was I Thinking?

Remember we were looking for a companion for our wonderful dog Homer? I blogged about it right here.

After bringing one dog home that didn't fit in (it chased my cats terribly) we decided that with personal and professional obligations, maybe we should just forget adding another animal to the family right now. Especially a dog because, ya know, they're a lot of work.

But then I came across this little black dog that someone had just found and almost hit in the road. They wanted to find it a good home, so I went to look . . .

and of course it was adorable, and a female (which we wanted) and . . .

very playful.

And Homer seems to like her.

And she's smart, and she listens, and even my husband thinks she's cool (yay!)

He named her Penny.

But I woke up this morning, and I knew I'd let my heart do the talking, and just like that song by Dierks Bentley, I wondered "What was I thinking?"

Because Penny was smelly, and full of fleas, and of indeterminable breed, heritage, or history.

So . . . today she had a bath . . .

And a 7-way vaccination, and a she has a new red collar.

She looks better, don't you think? I guess we'll keep her.

So my question to you is: What combination of breeds do you think Penny is?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nature's Springtime Glory

I haven't been blogging much lately. I've been gardening. Spring comes so slowly to the Northwest, when we finally get a sunny day or two I race to the nursery to buy plants, eager to get my hands in the dirt.

I've planted tomatoes, zucchini, crookneck squash, as well as geraniums, pansies, bacopa, million bells, ceonothus, azaleas, violets, nasturtiums, and more.

But I'm not immune to the show that the wild plants are creating right around me. At the edges of our property, on ground not tended by humans, Nature puts on its own springtime show, and I've been watching.

The first to bloom in the spring is Indian Plum. This one grows at our fenceline, backed by huge native red cedar trees.

This one is Red Flowering Currant, growing next to our driveway. A native shrub, it's so pretty that nurseries also cultivate it, so you might find it for sale at your local plant outlet.

Just outside our vegetable garden is a huge Red Elderberry bush (below.) In the summer it will be filled with red berries that the birds love. Elderberry wine, anyone?

And finally, at our back fenceline, Wild Iris bloom profusely in the meadow.

After a long winter, I've not only been planting, but outside enjoying Nature's free show.

See why I haven't been blogging?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Writing Lull

Okay, I'll admit it. I've been in a writing lull.

Not exactly a Writing Hiatus, which I previously talked about.

Not Writer's Block, or the Writing Doldrums (oh, that sounds dreadful, doesn't it?)

But definitely a Writing Lull.

With three completed manuscripts (which could always use another round of edits) the concept of "write something new," is not appealing at the moment. With the state of the publishing industry in so much flux, and writers trying to decide whether to pursue traditional publishing (with or without an agent,) e-publishing (with or without a publishing company) or self-publishing (which some writers are calling "indie publishing" because it sounds well, so much cooler) there are so many directions it's often hard to find a direction.

Last weekend I was visiting my family, and a family member asked me how the writing was going.

"What writing?" I said, scraping my foot on the ground.

"Want to come over and see what I've been working on?" he asked, grinning broadly.

"Sure," I said.

And when I got there, he pulled out book after book (those black composition books, you know?) that he'd filled (by hand) with family memories, day-to-day observations, even pasting trivia and newspaper articles into the pages of these books.

He was a writing machine! Going at it at all hours, whenever thoughts came to him, he felt the urge to get them down, get them down, get the words down before the thoughts were gone from his brain.

I was impressed and amazed. He is a True Writer.

As for me? I felt inspired, and also a little ashamed. I am supposed to be the "writer" in the family, and all I've been doing is moping about the "lull" in my publishing career -

when WRITING means so much more than BEING PUBLISHED.


I think I needed that little reminder.

So - Bring on the Black Books. Let's get this writing thing going again!

The heck with Publishing. I need to fall in love with WRITING again, and maybe then I'll get out of my Writer's Lull.

Has this ever happened to you? Ever grown tired of something you once loved?

Ever suffered burn-out from chasing after the brass ring so hard?

What made you fall in love with writing again??

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fred the Bad Kitten - the Ambush

Fred the Bad Kitten is growing up. He's ten months old now - is that still a kitten?

He plays outside during the day, and catches voles and mice (good kitty.)

He hasn't learned how to catch birds yet (thank goodness) but he's trying.

His newest method - The Ambush (as demonstrated below):

If I sit here perfectly still, I know a birdie will fly by.

(They can't see me, can they?)

Waiting. Waiting . . .

Oh well. Bor-ing. Think I'll get down now . . .

except this is harder than it looks . . .

Maybe I'll just wait down here on the ground for the little birdies.

Here Birdie, Birdie . . .

Friday, May 6, 2011

The First Saturday in May

The First Saturday in May is one of my favorite days of the entire year. Why? It's Kentucky Derby Day, and this year, it's tomorrow - May 7th!!

One of the oldest horse races in America, it began at Churchill Downs in 1875. Run over a distance of 1 1/4 miles, entrants are selected on graded stakes earnings to date, in a race showcasing the best 3-year-old Thoroughbreds.

With a field of twenty horses that leave the gate like a cavalry charge, it's often hard to pick a winner. This year is no different, with many of the favorites dropping out early, including the two-year-old champion Uncle Mo, scratched as of today. So this year's field will be only nineteen horses.

If you want to find a horse to root for, you might try a couple of the current favorites including Dialed In or Nehro. And there's a lot of longshots to holler home also, including Twice the Appeal, currently at 20-1, ridden by Calvin Borel, jockey of 3 of the last 4 winners.

If you care about women riders or trainers, you've got a lot to choose from this year. Rosie Napravnik, only 23 years old, is riding a horse called Pants on Fire (gotta love that name) and if they win, she'll be the first woman jockey to ever win the Kentucky Derby. How cool is that?

And two trainers hope to capture the title of first woman to train a Kentucky Derby winner. They are: Kathleen O'Donnell, saddling 50-1 longshot Watch Me Go, and Kathy Ritvo, who trains Mucho Macho Man.

Whatever happens, you'll definitely know you are watching the most exciting two minutes in sports!

Be sure and tune in tomorrow to watch the 137th Run for the Roses. It will be broadcast on NBC between 1:00 and 4:00 PM Pacific Time. Don't forget to adjust times for your area.

Do you watch the Kentucky Derby?

Have a favorite this year? (Okay, okay, for me - it's Nehro or Pants on Fire - Go Rosie!)

Ever actually been to the Derby? Yeah, I want to go someday, too. *grin* It's on my bucket list.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kids and Books

As a true book person - one who loves the smell of ink on paper, loves the feel of opening a new book and carefully unfolding the pages, and adores getting caught up in a story and being swept away - it saddens me that some people think that books are somehow becoming antiquated, or a concept whose time is limited and will go the way of the Hula Hoop - (once popular, and now only an oddity.)

I recently heard of a couple who bought their ten-year-old a Kindle, noting that she wouldn't need books from now on. Worse yet, they remarked that they didn't need to vote in favor of a new library, because libraries themselves will not be around for long. What? As someone whose love of reading developed from frequent trips to the library (Thanks, Mom!) and from the privilege of carrying home (for free) stacks of library books to peruse at my leisure (therefore solidifying my own taste in reading) I find this short-sighted and Just. Plain. Wrong.

I have no problem with e-readers, and if some people prefer them, that's great. But the fun of sorting through bookcases, carts, racks and stacks, of perusing and pulling out and opening all kinds of different books is a freedom we should not only allow, but encourage in every child today. Experiencing the variety of covers, sizes, shapes and smells of books can (and should be) one of the great joys of a child's existence.

Let's not take that away from them on the grounds of "being modern."

What about you? Do you read on an e-reader or do you favor actual books?

Do you think libraries filled with real, tangible books are important to kids today?