Friday, July 31, 2009

Today's choices ...

Life is so good for me today that I am able to make choices of the things I want to do! Believe me, I don't take these days for granted!! The writing prompt for this morning is,k "The next time the phone rings, what would you like to hear when you pick it up?" and I sort of let my mind wander a bit to answer it. I'd really love a publisher to be on the phone telling me that they have decided to purchase my book!! "What book", you might ask ... and my answer is "the one in my head". Therefore, this truly is a fantasy phone call. But it did lead me to make a choice to spend some time today working on the character of said book .... and maybe someday I will get that call :)

What choices are you making today?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Talk about shiny balls ...

... my mind is all over the place this morning! On our quilting blog, Living in Stitches, Nonja talked about achieving perfection in her quilting, and her quest to take it easier on herself, to enjoy the process as well as the finished product. I've spoken about my epiphany before -- the time I realized that I was way too stressed over "getting it perfect" and that this was actually preventing me from enjoying the process of learning!

This new awareness happened during a week in the autumn in Vermont, when I visited the Shelburne Museum with my friend Kerry who was visiting from Australia. The museum has at any one time over 100 of their 400 quilts on display so we went to view the selection. Well, of course they were gorgeous -- they were in a museum, for heaven's sake!!! But what I really noticed was that not all the seams matched up, not all the points were perfect, and even the quilting stitches weren't totally even. Wow! And these quilts were in museums! They had stories ... made for parish preachers, made for friends moving away, moving to keep warm during the cold winters, some had even been entered in World's Fair competitions ... but they sure weren't perfect!

Later in that same week, Kerry and I traveled down to Bennington, Vermont, where the Jane Stickle quilt is on display for one month only each year! This quilt was made during the Civil War and has been made famous through the charting work of Brenda Papadakis in her book, "Dear Jane" ... The blocks are about 4 1/2" finished, and Brenda did a great job "normalizing" the blocks so that they all fit together. Thus, when I actually viewed the quilt for the first time, I was absolutely shocked lol!! Not horrified -- just surprised!!! Some of the blocks in the actual quilt are different sizes, and she added muslin strips to them to make them fit. The applique is wonky at times, and perfect at others; the seams work well sometimes and sometimes not. It was such a relief to see this beauty in person!! I've seen many, many reproductions by friends in the quilting world, and they are absolutely gorgeous and perfect (to my eyes, anyway), but seeing the original somehow gave me the freedom to learn, to grow, to experiment, to just try!! And I'm so fortunate that these memories stay with me so that I no longer fear trying something new, or giving myself permission to do something even though I'm not skilled enough to do it perfectly. So, thank you to the generations of quilters before me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

African Violet Progeny

I'm so excited!!! Remember the 60 violet leaves that I set down to root back in the late spring? Well, finally, after two months we've got "mouse ears" as the new plants are affectionately called. Most of the May leaves and some of the June leaves have sent out their first plants and they are looking great. Each leaf can produce many children, so I just leave them to grow and grow until they fill up their space. I've had as many as 10 baby plants off one mother leaf. Once you take out the mother leaf to separate the babies, you'll often find babies that haven't emerged yet ... so it's always exciting! The little plants stay with the mother leaf until they are about the size of a nickel. At that point they are generally strong enough to survive on their own and they get put into little thumb sized pots by themselves ... that's when the plant rack really looks like a plant nursery ... Of the 64 leaves I started, I've only lost two, which is a good success rate!

Stopped in at the garden center yesterday to pick up some spray calcium for the tomatoes (blossom end rot .. ugh) and they had a whole stand of little violets outside looking hot and tired and pretty sad. Well, what a bonanza they were!! All named violets! I picked up a few and then thought they were such a great deal that we went back for more. So I have 8 more little violet children to add to my collection! Today I have to spend some time organizing them on the plant stand. They sure love this hot humid weather in Virginia!

Vampires at Large

Are you a Twilight fan? Is that your first foray into the world of vampires? During our party weekend a number of friends were talking about vampire stories and I gave a few authors that I enjoy. Then I started thinking that there are probably more that didn't come to mind, or that I didn't even know about. So I started doing some research. Here, for your reading enjoyment are some books/authors that sound intriguing.

Adrian, Lara - Midnight Breed series (romance)
Kiss of Midnight
Kiss of Crimson
Midnight Awakening
Midnight Rising
Veil of Midnight
Ashes of Midnight
Shades of Midnight (December 2009)

Davidson, MaryJanice - Undead (Betsy Taylor) series (humorous, lightweight vampire chick lit)
Undead and Unwed
Undead and Unemployed
Undead and Unappreciated
Undead and Unreturnable
Undead and Unpopular
Undead and Uneasy
Undead and Unworthy
Undead and Unwelcome

Feehan, Christine
The Carpathians and their Dark Series (shapeshifters, wild and exotic animals, romance)
Dark Prince (first in series)
Dark Desire
Dark Gold ...
Dark Slayer (most recent, book 20 in series)

Frost, Jeaniene
“If Buffy and Angel had a daughter, she’d be just like Cat Crawfield, a vampire hunter with some vampire blood and an attitude.”
Halfway to the Grave (first in series)
One Foot in the Grave
At Grave’s End
Destined for an Early Grave

Galenorn, Yasmine (check out her mystery series, too ... great writer!)
Sisters of the Moon series (vampires, shapeshifting, witches) urban fantasy genre
Dragon Wytch
Night Huntress
Demon Mistress

Hallaway, Tate - comic vampire romance
Tall, Dark and Dead
Dead Sexy
Romancing the Dead
Dead if I Do

Hamilton, Laurell K - Anita Blake animator (raises zombies) and vampire hunter series
Guilty Pleasures (first in the series)
The Laughing Corpse
The Circus of the Damned
The Lunatic Cafe ...
Skin Trade (Book 17 in the series)

Harris, Charlaine (anything by her is a real treat to read!!)
The Sookie Stackhouse series (HBO’s True Blood based on this book series)
Dead Until Dark (first in series)
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World ...
Dead and Gone (most recent, book 9 in series)

James, Dean
Simon Kirby-Jones is a gay vampire living in England.
Posted to Death
Faked to Death
Decorated to Death
Baked to Death

McCarthy, Erin - Vegas Vampires series (humorous, lightweight vampire chick lit)
High Stakes
Bit the Jackpot
Bled Dry
Sucker Bet

Neill, Chloe - Beautiful coed unwillingly turned vampire. Romance/Mystery
Some Girls Bite
Friday Night Bites (due Fall 2009)

Raye, Kimberly - Dead End series (romantic vampire chick lit) (she also has a Harlequin Blaze vampire series that I didn’t include here)
Dead End Dating
Dead and Dateless
Your Coffin or Mine
Sucker for Love

Whiteside, Diane - vampire romantic suspense thriller based in Texas
Bond of Blood (first in series)
Bond of Fire
Bond of Darkness

And here are a couple of websites to check out:


Friday, July 17, 2009

Left brain/right brain

I woke up at 2:00 this morning thinking about right- and left-brain dominance and how it has always fascinated me. Oh, well what do you think about when you get up in the middle of the night? The thoughts were probably generated by the book, A WHOLE NEW MIND ... WHY RIGHT-BRAINERS WILL RULE THE FUTURE, by Daniel Pink, that I picked up on reserve at the library yesterday. Besides just controlling which hand one uses, the left and right brains dictate how we process thoughts and ideas. As a refresher (I'm sure you've heard this before):

Left brainers are:
  • logical
  • sequential
  • rational
  • analytical
  • objective
  • look at parts
Right brainers are:
  • random
  • intuitive
  • holistic
  • synthesizing
  • subjective
  • look at wholes
Understanding which side of your brain is dominant can help you work more effectively in any relationship. If your boss happens to be a left brainer, and you're a right brainer, your random thoughts on a solution may not sit as well as those of someone more concrete. On a more personal level, if your every dream is to be a lawyer, and you are a right-brained person, you need to develop some strong analytical brain blips.

For years I've tested out equally right-and left-brained. I guess that means I could be an artistic accountant? ... If you've never been tested, or want to see how you measure up today, here's an easy quiz for you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Two Week Gap

The past two weeks have gone by in a blur -- culminating with my wedding to the most wonderful man in the world -- Howard Smith (of the Boston Smith's hehe). He is my heart mate and our day was full of fun and joy. Leading up to the day, we had our niece Jenny and grand-niece Sophie here from Texas for their summer vacation. They arrived on July 1, and we had a full week of activities scheduled for them!

July 2 - getting acclimated and settled in. We all went through Tish Boyles "The Good Cookie Book" drooling and choosing our favorites. We did have to narrow down our choices from 40 to 6 to make it realistic. The goal was to fill all the cookie jars in the house with a different cookie. We almost succeeded!!

July 3 - was a special day for our little friend Dylan who turned 6 years old. We started the day on the beach at Fort Monroe with a group of friends. Enjoyed lunch and swimming until the jellyfish stung the little ones and then we headed for the pool. We ended the day in a wonderful Japanese restaurant where Jenny and I shared Sushi and we were entertained by the hibachi chef.

July 4 - the birthday of our country. What better place to spend it then at the site of the last battle of the Revolutionary War -- Yorktown, Virginia. We wandered the historic town, dined in historic buildings, clapped for the Fife and Drum Corps and enjoyed the best firework show ever!!!

July 5 - not ready to slow down yet, we rose early and headed for Washington, DC, for a touristy day. Sophie had seen the movie "Night at the Museum - Battle of the Smithsonian" and the museum curators put together a treasure hunt of sites shown in the movie for each of the museums. We started at the American History Museum, to the Natural History Museum, on to the shuttle past the Capitol Building to the Air and Space Museum, then the Hirshorn and finally the Smithsonian Castle. We then boarded the shuttle again, rode past the Lincoln Memorial and got into our car. Drove to the White House, and finally waved goodbye to Washington near the Jefferson Memorial. What a full day ... but wait! We're not finished yet!! We drove out to Fairfax, Virginia, to the home of nephew Darby Carter, wife Kim, son Joe and new baby Rainey Miranda. We all got to snuggle baby, hug family we haven't seen in a long while, and enjoy laughing and visiting. Back on the road (after locating a Starbucks!) and home by 11 p.m. It was a wonderful 16 hour day chock full of fun!

July 7 - beach day
July 8 - Colonial Williamsburg
July 9 - beauty day
July 10 - ready to party
July 11 - our lovely wedding day

Photos and more stories are on webshots.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer Fun in Virginia

Since we have several different age groups of children visiting this summer, I did some scouting around for fun places ...

Richmond, The Science Museum of Virginia "From bugs to space and what's inside human bodies ... explore!" They also have the largest planetarium in Virginia. Good for all ages. Very interactive. And don't miss the Children's Museum of Richmond is for toddlers-12 and was voted 11th Best Children's Museum in America by Child magazine! See the Waterplay exhibit as well as explore a cave, climb to an eagle's nest and tinker in an inventor's lab.

Williamsburg is loaded with choices for every age! There's Colonial Williamsburg where kids can wear colonial costumes while they visit the authentic 1700s village. (The whole historic triangle -- Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg is worth visiting often!). Move on to Busch Gardens for amusement part fun, or the Water Park Treehouse. The Pottery Factory has been a huge outlet center for all the years I've been in the area (a looong time!). And for the older kids Water Country USA boasts the most get-wet action. Check out the twistin', turnin', spit-you-out river rafting adventure, along with 415-foot flumes propelling you to a pretty quick 25 mph!

Norfolk has the Nauticus National Maritime Center with more than 150 interactive exhibits. Also in Norfolk is the Virginia Zoological Park, which boasts more than 350 animals, such as elephants, Siberian tigers, monkeys, reptiles and birds. There's also great shopping at McArthur Mall downtown!

While in Hampton, be sure to visit the Air and Space Center where children can experience flight controls and wing walking, ride in a World War II bomber and become an air traffic controller. Very cool place to spend some time with kids!

Newport News - The Virginia Living Museum is the place to go if you're wild about wildlife. See the combination native wildlife park, science museum, aquarium, botanical preserve and planetarium!

The Children's Museum of Virginia, in Portsmouth, is the largest children's museum in the commonwealth. The most popular exhibit here is the antique toy and model train collection, one of the largest on the East Coast. And don't miss the Bubble Exhibit! While in Portsmouth, visit the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame & Museum. Full of simulators and interactive courts to test your skillz, the museum showcases 20 sports and more than 200 Virginia athletes, coaches and other influential sports figures.

And you can't visit the Hampton Roads area without a visit to the fabulous oceanfront where beaches stretch for several miles and the water is fine! Take an excursion into the Atlatic Ocean with a Dolphin or Whale Watching cruise from the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. While you're there, check out the six-story-high IMAX® Theater! Spend the day in the museum with exhibits and activities for all ages. The Ocean Water Park is right next door when everyone is ready for more action! If you're visiting in late August, do not miss the 47th East Coast Surfing Championship between 2nd and 9th streets on the oceanfront!