Cough Syrup Drenched Feelings

Last week a nasty head cold invaded my throat and threatened my lungs, the medicine I was taking to stop the “Cold of Doom” made time roll itself into one continuous cough ball. If any of you are getting knocked down by a cold, seriously just listen to your body and rest, it will be over so much faster. Thankfully I am doing much better now, but still suspicious of the tickling feeling on the top of my throat from allergies. Yay Spring!

Though honestly since moving to the East Coast Spring has become my favorite season to see. I enjoy the cooling and the warm colors of Fall and the stillness of Winter (still not a fan of Summer), but Spring has such a wonderful fresh feeling, like a new beginning. Also I adore Spring veggies.

While I was lying in the ditch of my couch with a stream of old “Bones” episodes playing I pondered the whole writing thing. It is completely possible this story will never see the light of day or the fluorescent bulbs of a book store, so I wondered if it’s worth it.

I decided it is.

I’ve found the stories I have been kicking around in the back of my head only get louder and more annoying if I try to ignore them. It’s like a Top 40 song from the 90s, you pushed it aside and think you’ve moved on from it but then.. Bam! you are minding your own business in the grocery store and the tune starts blaring at you for attention and now it’s stuck and you find you still know all of the words. I also enjoy the challenge of getting something that seems perfect in my head on to paper and seeing it for the moth-eaten curtain that it is, then filling in the holes.

In the downtime my cold caused I realized I need to move on from the book I have been working on for the last year, it’s time. I fixed the beginning of the book shortly before I got sick and sent it out to three of my friends to get their take on the changes. In the midst of a particularly bad afternoon of “sick” I got an email back from one of my friends telling me the new beginning worked. She also said a few more things that got my cough-syrup-drenched emotions all verklempt, and it was what I needed. I am still trying to an agent, but now I need to poking at it.

So today I am starting a new book, not the sequel to the Witchy Women story but something completely different. It will be a Women’s Fiction novel, no paranormal characters in sight. This one will be about rock-n-roll, heartbreak, devotion, art, identity, and hopefully love. It will require some interesting film and article research.

I hope everyone is enjoying a happy and healthy Spring, and like Bailey stopping to smell the flowers every once in a while.

tulipsmell.jpg

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The Books & Booze Room

Happy Friday All!

I told you how after Porter and Kudra’s visit I renamed the library “The Books and Booze Room”, because somehow in a fortuitous miscalculation in size and our lack of desire to have a formal living room, we ended up putting the two together.  I mentioned this name change  to one of our local friends Poppy last weekend and she said that sounded like a great idea for a real business.  I have to admit if there was a bar that was made up of comfy couches and chairs that you could just curl up with a book and sip on your spirit of choice without the bar atmosphere, I might be inclined to check it out.

Just think of it, there would a wide selection of books and you could reserve a chair with an adequate amount of reading light around it.  The place would be quiet, but not as invasively quite as a library.  Waiters/Waitresses would come by and quietly ask if you needed a refill on your bourbon as you read Elmore Leonard’s Fire in the Hole or get you another glass of Pinot Noir while you read My Life in France by Julia Child.  There would specialty drinks created to best suit the book you pick. There of course would be food offered, little nibbles to pad your chosen intoxicant.  Maybe there would be a room set up to the side (with sound proofing) that local writers or guest speakers could come and chat with others.  Oh, if only…

But until I find some investors 😉 here is our version of The Books and Booze Room, which as you can see currently has two kitties napping off a catnip hangover.

Book and Booze Room 1

 

Books and Booze Room 2

The Books and Booze 3

 

The Reformatted Beast

Lately the weather has had its fun of yo-yoing between Winter, Spring, Summer, and then back to Winter. It seems just as soon as you feel like Spring days are here to stay, a cold snap moves through and makes us worry about our freshly planted seedlings in the garden.  I am trying to roll with it and use the cold, dark days as an excellent excuse to shut myself into my office and finish (as I lovingly refer to it) “the damn book”, but sometimes sitting still when it’s cold does not sound appealing.  Nonetheless I have made more progress and I even let John read a few chapters.   That was nerve-wracking.  He is not really the audience for the book but I respect his opinion and I know he will gracefully give a critique (and chocolate or bourbon if needed).

A funny thing happened a few days after he read the first chapter, he quoted it back to me not realizing where he had gotten it from.  We quote random lines from movies and books all of the time, but it took me a moment to realize he was actually quoting me.  Sometimes we share a brain, but I know I had never said that to him before outside of the book.  I laughed and teased him about it, but I took as a sign that the writing wasn’t as bad as I feared if he had committed something to memory from it, but we shall see.

While John was researching various things (like he does) he discovered the writing program called Scrivener.   It is a program that will be helpful for both us.  Seriously, you need to check it out.  I had been writing my novel on LibreOffice and while it is pretty much like Word, it has some serious formatting issues when you try and send it anywhere.   It had always been in the back of mind that someday I will have to reformat it, but since I already had a chunk of the novel in Libre I figured I would keep it there and reformat it in one big swoop.  Then I found out from just from sending a few chapters to John that was going to be a larger task than I imagined, but yesterday I put the novel into Scrivener and it took care of a lot of things for me.  I even got to see a preview of it in E-book format.  It was so cool! *wipes tear from corner of eye*

Beyond the formatting benefits it also allows you to organize your chapters, scenes, characters, photos, or any other documents you reference right there on the binder next to the text you’re writing.  It has given me a completely new perspective on the book.  Instead of it being this large beast that I have to navigate by using the command F function, I have my chapters broken down by number and scene.

If I want to change the conversation my main character had with her mother, oh look here it’s in Chapter 16 under the a notecard with summary of the scene.  Awesome!  It also help me realize that a problem I thought I had for the last month with some character development was not a problem, though I found another-darn.

I am only scratching the surface of what this program can do, but give me some time and some more YouTube videos and I’ll have it mastered.   In the meantime it’s nice to only have only one “beast” on the desk.

Hitch is watching

Guest Room Revisited

Last weekend we had our friends Kudra and Porter stay over. We actually knew them back in San Diego, they had moved to North Carolina four months before we did.  In fact when they moved we had no idea that we were going to be living in the same state again so soon.  I would have taken better notes of Kudra’s moving methods if I had known.

And while we are in the same state, we are in different regions so we actually had not seen them since San Diego.  We had an excellent time with them last weekend; taking them to some of our favorite restaurants, one good brewery, one okay one, and lots of talks.  I didn’t get in the walk I wanted to take with Kudra (former Walking Buddy) but hopefully we will see them again soon (next time at their place!).  I found it telling that they gravitated to the front room downstairs, that we refer to as the library (though now I’m calling it the Books & Booze Room, since we ended up putting the bar in there too).  Most people like to be in the back room next to the kitchen that has the TV and stereo.  I liked getting to spend time with friends in the B&B room, no distractions from conversation except the occasional pouncing kitty.  Hitch made incredible strides in bravery the weekend by actually coming downstairs and visiting with “strangers” in the house.  In the past he just hides until they fall asleep and then sneaks into our room.  Hopefully his bravery will continue for future guests and visitors.   I swear if I didn’t have so much photographic evidence of him, our friends would think we’re making him up.

Of course this visit was a wonderful excuse to fix up the guest room, a project that had been bugging me for some time.   When Firefly stayed here last summer the room wasn’t actually ready for her, but she came three days after we moved in so there wasn’t much we could do before hand.  A few weeks back, in a random 48-hour period of warm days I finally painted over the dull, mute blue walls and dark blue molding with a light gray and white.   Then I said good-bye to our old mattress, that had been retired into the guest room,  so we got a new one that didn’t require a chiropractic appointment after use.  With a sale and membership enrollment we got a pretty good deal on it, as a bonus the delivery guys took away the old mattress for free. Which is good because the large pick up service here sucks and I didn’t want to be the neighbors with a bright pink mattress on the lawn for a week. We got a night stand and some mirrors for the wall  but all the rest we already had. 

I had painted the artwork above the bed last Spring when I discovered the show “House of Cards” and had to find something to do while I watched.

GuestRoom1

I am not a knickknack person, so when I have to decorate new spaces it is usually a challenge.  I don’t want to go out and get something just to fill an empty spot, I want it to be pretty or mean something; so I had to get creative to fill some of the blank spots in the bookcase.

GuestRoom2I got some California flowers for our California friends and knitted them each a scarf (that’s what the dark things are on the bottom shelf).  It was kind of like a belated Christmas gift, though as a joke I did consider telling them the scarves were there because the heater in their room was broken.  I got the yellow lantern and the white frame from Ikea when we got the night stand, all the other knickknacks were repurposed from other rooms.

GuestRoom4I put in magazines that I knew Kudra might want to browse through (they are settling into a new house as well).  But honestly I wanted to read them too, I just gave them first dibs.

GuestRoom3Since there was still room on the bookshelf and I was out of vases, I put a selection of books from our library that they might enjoy.  They garden but like us they have had to adapt to the new climate.  Then I put a light-hearted book by a Southern writer and a semi-haunting book by a known author that takes place in a North Carolina amusement park.  There was a theme I swear!

And then since I always seem to forget something when we travel I put out a basket with things they might need.

GuestRoom5

 

I think they enjoyed the trip and hopefully they will become frequent visitors.

 

 

 

Balance & Over Prepping

For the last few weeks I have been keeping to myself.  Occasionally I would think of something fun to post, but either the timing or the inspiration fled by the time I got to the Add New Post page.  Maybe if I get in the habit again those posts will find their way to the publish button.  I’ve been doing good and on occasion great.  I have been focusing on the “novel” part while trying to balance with the “housewife” part. On the days I am at home and not running around with grocery shopping and errands, I try and split the day in two with part of it devoted to the house and other housewives things and the other part on the novel or other creative endeavors.  I have been able to pull this off a few times for the last few months, but you know things happen.  Like yesterday when I tried to replace the toilet seat in our bathroom, something that should be a ten minute task tuned into an hour and half battle that required six tools and many cleaning supplies.  By the time the new seat was installed (I won!) I was grimy and feeling an early Spring Cleaning itch.  Somewhere around four I gave up scrubbing and mopping and took a shower, but before I did I scrubbed the shower floor too.  Since yesterday ended up being completely devoted to housewife stuff I am trying to make today a mostly novel/creative stuff day.   I don’t know about you but I wrestle with trying to make time for not necessarily fun stuff, but stuff that soothes the soul.

The novel has been coming along pretty well, I have made more progress on it in the last few months than in the years before it.  It’s funny when time passes with a thought or idea, it evolves and reflects the changing of ideals that comes with that time.  Pretty much the book I started writing is not the one I am writing now, which I think is a good thing.  Of course other ideas for other stories have visited me in my dreams or popped in when I was least expecting it.  It is tempting to put my away the story that has been living in the tense muscles in my shoulders and move on to something  little lighter and fun, but I know that the story would always still be there ruining my posture and aching after a bad night’s sleep.  So I have been carefully trying to to coax it out and keep on moving forward. My light hearted story can wait.

Last week I was snowed in for the first time.  Yes, you heard me-in the South the city pretty much shuts down if there is more than two inches of snow.  Before we moved we looked up our cities weather averages, it had 4″ of snow expected annually.  Not too much, just enough to say “hey, look it’s snowing” but not enough to make you curse the winter.  I never looked up the final totals from last week but I would bet it around 6″ of snow and ice that fell in a 2-3 day period.  I saw how crazy grocery stores get before a snow storm, my usual empty 9 am store looked more like a 6:30 on a Thursday night.  I was sure that we had milk and bread (because that is apparently what you must have during a snow storm).  I got food that didn’t need refrigeration and ingredients for a pasta casserole that could feed us for days if we loss the use of our electric oven.  Snow Feb 2014

Honey worked from home the majority of the week, I wrote a little but not as much as I could of.  I had sealed up the extra bedrooms (including my office) to keep the heat concentrated in the main rooms and energy output down.  Not having my office space with a chair and desk to write at made writing awkward.  The couch would eat me and the cats would lay across my lap and onto my keyboard to keep warm. The scene outside was also very beautiful and I often found myself day dreaming while looking out the window.  It didn’t help matters that the newscasters were pretty much telling us power loss was eminent, so I was keeping every thing that needed a charge hooked into the wall while obsessively checking news and weather websites.  It was my first snow-in, cut me some slack.  I was worried about loosing power because then we would loose heat and I had heard of people being without electricity for days out here.  But we never did loose power, the pasta casserole I made fed Honey and I for three days, we never ran out of milk, and we didn’t even touch the bread.  After Honey was done with his work day we would walk around the neighborhood and play in the snow.  We stayed off the roads like the Governor and Mayor told us to and thankfully had an uneventful set of days.

We even tried to make the best of it by having a treat or two, hey we didn’t want the cheese to go bad if the power went out. 😉

By the way I think we gave Hitchcock the right name, he seems to do a cameo in every picture we take.

Happy Halloween!

Greeting Ghouls and Gals!  I hope you have a wonderful and safe Halloween!

It’s been fun, yet overwhelming to decorate this year on a new canvas.  I was at our last house for almost eight years and I was running out of new ideas to doll up the place for Halloween, but now I get to start fresh.  We waited until this weekend to decorate outside and I think I have unfortunately started a competition with our neighbor across the road.  They had a grave yard and some skull lights for weeks but once we put out our grave stones and orange lights, along with my Skeleton Three Tenors they started decorating more.  Now there are individual lights on the gravestones, cobwebs in the bushes, and a skeleton projector on the garage.  All within the last three days.  I stuck to my original decorating but I did bring the fog machine out of retirement to mist up our graveyard.  If I can manage it I’ll take pictures outside tonight (a neighbor informed me we will have over 100 trick-or-treaters)… but in the mean time here is what it’s been like inside.

Boris & Bela

With the way I cook I could have that poster up all year.

With the way I cook I could have that poster up all year.

My Spooky Corner

Halloween hallway

My Monster

Luckily he is still a sweetie.

Luckily he is still a sweetie.

My Little Monster

My Little Monster

 

 

 

Addition

It’s always bad when WordPress logs you out due to nonuse, I get it WP- it’s been a while.

I have been keeping busy with the new house, it seems as though the decorating and organizing will never end.  We are also preparing the yard for our first fall because now we live in a place where seasons actually mean something.  We have also been trying to keep up in the midst of birthday season.  In just our little area here we have 8 birthdays from mid August to the first days of October.  Luckily people don’t mind sharing a celebration, but still.  And the other thing we have been keeping ourselves busty with is the new addition to our family, Hitchcock or as well usually call him Hitch.

Hitch

Photo by John

I have always had a thing for black cats.   My first real pet was a black cat named Sheba, I think part of my attitude in life came from her.

shebaIt was only as I got older that I found out what a bad rep black cats have.  I thought they were always beautiful and refined looking but black cats are the least likely to get adopted of their more colorful litter and kennel mates.  They don’t stand out as much in dark cages and of course there are the superstitions.  When we got Bailey from my mother’s house there were four kittens running around: three brown tabbies and one black cat.  I had preferred the black cat but it ran away from me.  Bailey looked me right in the eye and didn’t run away, I figured he liked me and we took him home.  Since then I have mentioned on more than one occasion that when the time came I would want to adopt a black cat because I knew we could give it a good home.  It wasn’t until we moved here and Bailey was an only pet for the first time in his life that we had an option to.

We debated on getting another cat for a while, Bailey was so sweet and affectionate with us now and we didn’t want to jeopardize his attitude by bringing in someone new.  But then he started to get a little weird.  He would cry for us if we left the room, he would wail when John went to work, he had to sleep between us in our bed like a darn chaperone, and then the days I was out for hours at a time he would seem morose for the rest of the day.    We figured it was time for him to have a buddy to play with.  We went on and off this wagon several times.  A few weeks ago when we were on the off wagon I went by the grocery store and by chance decided to look at the adoption board that was propped up in front of the next door pet store.  The cats are from a rescue organization at this store, like the one I used to volunteer with.  I had poked my head in in once or twice to visit with the cats, but I had yet to see a black kitten or cat.   I looked on the board that day and saw they had a black five moth old male kitten.  I bit the bullet an went in to see him.

By chance one of the volunteers was there cleaning the cages and we talked for almost a half hour.  She let me hold him and pet him, he made eye contact with me too and nuzzled my chin.   When I told her about my love of black cats, my volunteer work, and that I am at home most of the time she encouraged me to fill out an application.  Then she saw the black cat tattoo on my ankle she made a phone call to the origination’s leader on my behalf.  She too was a big black cat fan.  I called John and told him I had filled out an application and sent a picture, it turns out he was playing it cool but he said if I wanted to get him I could.  Turns out he was really excited about getting a new kitten.  Several hours later after the Rescue had called Bailey’s vet to make sure he was in good health and up to date on shots. I got a phone call and I had an interview with the Rescue Leader, ten minutes in she said we could adopt him if we wanted.  We definitely wanted to.  We picked him up the next afternoon and have been enjoying his personality and energy ever since.

So has Bailey.

Bailey and HitchAs for the name, well that was tricky for me.  I am bad with names, seriously I rename my characters constantly and I have always been jealous of the brilliance people have in naming their pets.  We had a list of various names, I wanted to give him a literary name or after a famous author (Neil, Harlan, Stoker),  then when went towards the more traditional black cat names like Midnight or Shadow.  He seriously was like a little black shadow running around the house and hiding in various, unexpected spots.

Hitch on the stairsWe even toyed with Moonshine for a while because well he is Southern and nontaxable, but it was too long of a name to call him with.  Guinness was on the list too, but if we named him that we would be obligated to name our next cat Whiskey. For a day he was called Binx after the cat in Hocus Pocus, but I didn’t like naming him after a cursed creature-black cats have it rough enough.  Hitchcock had been on the list throughout and I liked calling him Hitch, but I didn’t want to name him that just because I liked the director I wanted his name to reflect him.  Poor Hitch was referred to as “Kitten” and “Little One” (because Bailey will always be “Baby”) for his first four days here.  When I found his favorite new spot was in shower of the guest bathroom, behind the shower curtain and he loved darting out of the dark hallways to surprise us I figured he had earned the name.  He cemented the naming by dunking his head in my thankfully cold cup of tea, how British of him.

We are enjoying him in our lives and we are all slowly adjusting to the new pace of the household, which is much more lively now.

Hitch in the window