Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Discombobulated

I'm feeling "discombobulated" today. That's one of my grandmother's words. It means "having self-possession upset; thrown into confusion."

(For some reason, that word makes me think of Cinderella's fairy godmother. "Bippity, Boppity, Boo!" Yes, I'm random this morning.)

The world has turned upside-down yet again, and I woke up in a panic in the middle of the night. I know it's just my subconscious just trying to adjust to another continental shift in my world.

But, never fear, it's a good one! But even good adjustments are still adjustments.


The Big News is:
I have found gainful employment, and will start working full-time as of August 23rd.
This will be very good for us in the long term, as it will relieve a lot of the financial pressure we have been struggling under.  But it will require significant changes, obviously, in our day-to-day life.  DS will have to be in child care all day, the dogs will have to be cooped up in the house all day, and I will have to get used to commuting at rush hour in one of the most congested traffic areas in New Jersey outside of a major city.  

New Jersey is much too populated for its own good.

And of course it will put a damper on many of the family activities we have hitherto enjoyed due to my flexible part-time teaching schedule.  But we are explaining to DS that if I do this, we will be able to do some of the things we have been talking about for a long time but couldn't afford, like going to Disney World.  And I have promised DS that DS he's been asking for.  A Nintendo DS, that is.  We got him a PSP for the better graphics and bigger screen but all the other kids at school have DS's, so our DS has no DS with which to play interactively with the other kids in after care.  So this way he can participate more.

By the way, this morning I looked up how to program the PSP for the internet lobby mode in which he can create his own games and interact with other players on the Internet.  I seem to recall that at his age I was making doll house furniture out of toothpicks, jewelry boxes and scraps of fabric.  ???

I am nervous about how this new job will affect my ability to write.  But, truth be told, I may actually have MORE time if I'm not spending my weekends crafting lectures and grading papers.  I would like to strangle the person who told me what a great family-oriented career teaching is.  B--- S---!  You may be physically home at the same time your family is, but you have to spend that time doing so much extra work that you might as well just have a regular office job.  And this office job pays three times the salary of my teaching. Which is just wrong.

This new job looks very interesting and challenging, but not as stressful as my pre-DS career was.  I am branching out into a new specialty and learning new techniques.  I will also be working pretty much independently, creating my own position as I go. It's going to be a nice change to do things my way and be in charge. 


And of course this is all happening just as I am about to be "invaded" by family members for a week-long visit, so I only have a few days to prepare for their visit and for the new job.  I say "invaded" gently, because I am very much looking forward to their visit. It's just that there is always chaos and confusion when you have six people and two dogs jostling around in our little "cottage."  That's how I romanticize our small home. It's an American "cottage."

But that's life... never a dull moment. I'll be fine, I know it.  It's just a matter of coping with a little discombobulation.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

100 Followers Contest

Hello Everyone!  I have a very special announcement: The Writer's Hole, my spin-off writing blog, is growing steadily.  I am having a 100 Followers Contest with some really great prizes.  Please stop by and enter today! 

The Writer's Hole Contest

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ninety Nine Candles

We had a very special celebration this week.  My grandmother turned ninety-nine years old. This is what the cake looked like.  I was drafted by my mom decorate it.  She insisted we put 99 candles on it.  I think she's evil.


This is my grandmother, blowing out her candles.


Grandma is most cheerful and contented elderly person I have ever known, bearing old age with grace and dignity.  She still lives at home, with my sister and her kids, and still does a little light housework. She also has knitted countless baby blankets for the local chapter of Birthright, an organization which helps unwed mothers. Even with failing eyesight and athritic fingers, she still knits on. 
She is constantly "reading" novels, that is, listening to them on tape. Mom says she takes out about 14 audiobooks a week from the library for her!  She is a huge baseball fan.  She never misses an Indians game.
 

Isn't she fabulous?  I hope I have those genes.

And, there was another special event: my cousin Dave was in town. He plays bass guitar for country singer Justin Moore.  Mom and I went to see them perform, and then he joined us out on the lawn while Brad Paisley played.  This photo was taken just a short while before the torrential rains started!  Argh!
But it was still a great night.  Any time I get to spend time with Dave, it's a great night.


Tomorrow, Mom and I are taking the kids to Cedar Point. My unfortunate sister has to work and can't come with us. I am the designated Roller Coaster Riding Auntie.  I can't wait!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Not Cute

So.... The Cutest Blog on the Block decided to remove my background and leave me (and thousands of other users) out in the cold did they?

Not Cute. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some Gardening Photos

Falen posted some photos of her garden, so now I have a serious case of garden envy and am posting a few of mine.  This is the front walkway border.  It faces south and is the main flower area.  This is how it looked towards the end of May, when the raspberry peonies and hybrid sage were in bloom.


This is how it looks now. Unfortunately, the lilies are done. I had some gorgeous pink, orange and yellow ones.  The butterfly bush (tall plant by the flag) has a few blooms on it but I expect it will be prolific quite soon.  The sage just finished blooming, but I trimmed it back and it will rebloom.  Everything has been getting lanky in this heat and I've been cutting it all back severely.

Petunias and gerbera daisies on the porch.











Some snapdragons from along the driveway, and the blueberries and raspberries we picked at a local farm on July 2nd.
 
The first harvest from our Cub Scout garden. No, that beautiful, tan, dark-haired woman is not me, but Sara, who allowed us to use her yard for the garden.  I don't have a good photo of the garden, as it's just sort of a messy plot by the road, but I've been quite surprised at how well the plants are growing.  Sara and her son have been taking excellent care of it for us.  It's been hard to get all the scouts in our den together to tend it regularly.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.
~ Oscar Wilde

Monday, July 5, 2010

"The unexamined life is not worth living. " -Socrates

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sometimes love is an act of courage.
~ Miss Marple

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.  
~Henry James

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.
- Charles Swindoll

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each." 

- Henry David Thoreau 

"Despair, or folly?   It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end  beyond all doubt.  We do not.  It is wisdom to recognise necessity, when  all other courses have been weighed."
 

- J.R.R. Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Ring

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Update

I said I would check in with y'all to be accountable about my progress in my personal goals.  Well.  *sigh*  I was a very bad girl the past week.  For some reason, making the decision to go on a diet seems to switch on all my cravings.  We also had out-of-town guests this weekend, and took them to the beach and the boardwalk.  We had a great time, but we also had ice cream, funnel cakes, pizza, fries, cotton candy and saltwater taffy.  I didn't order all of those for myself, but of course I "helped" them eat it. Then we went out to lunch the next day and I just could not resist the buffalo chicken wrap from Pat's Pizza.  That is my absolutely favorite sandwich from Pat's.

It was also my son's birthday, so we had cake and ice cream, and grilled hamburgers and hot dogs on Friday.  Mom brought steaks which we grilled on Sunday.  Monday was the Cub Scout cookout to celebrate the end of the year, so that was our dinner.  Our guests left an almost whole bag of barbeque Lays potato chips.  A whole bag.  Just sitting there on the counter. I ate it.

Not all at once, mind you, but in spurts.  A few for breakfast, a few for lunch, some after work.  I've also been making a dent in the candy for the kids' party tomorrow, and the bag of Oreos I bought for my son's lunches.  I'm not a binge eater. I just nibble, nibble, nibble.  Like a fat, happy rabbit.

I gained a pound and a half.

I suppose it's a miracle that I ONLY gained a pound and a half.

I did exercise. I had two long sessions on the Nordic track, and I also had two exciting chases around the neighborhood looking for the beagle.  That counts, right?

"I promise I won't do it again, Mom.  Just let me out for 
one little minute, please???"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Monster Lily

My stargazer lily bloomed today.  This monster flower is 8" across, and the stalk is 5 feet tall!  I have no idea how it got so big.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

As I Turn 40

This is a hard post for me to write.

I will be 40 in a few months.  It's hard to believe.  Here is a photo of me and my maternal grandmother, taken at Easter.  She will be 99 in July.  My dad is 83 and only just starting to slow down. So 40 isn't even halfway in my family.  I've got great genes.  I shouldn't be too concerned, right?


I attended a party on Memorial Day where all the other women were about my age, but shapely, tanned, well-dressed and well-manicured.  I felt like a white, sloppy lump of blubber.  Did I mention it was a boat outing and we were all in bathing suits???  I thought it was just going to be our friends and the kids, so I wore my usual garb: JCPenny brand swim suit, baggy shorts, faded K-Mart tank top and flip-flops the dog chewed at the edges.  I didn't do much with my hair, just pulled it back in a barette and hid it under a ball cap. I figured there was no point in fussing, because we'd be swimming anyway.  I didn't know that the host had also invited a bunch of lawyers from his office!  I was mortified.  But it really got me thinking about my physical shell.  The so-called house of my spirit.  It needs some maintenance.

Due to my sedentary lifestyle and love of food, I am slightly overweight, medically-speaking. In layman's terms - I look like a mommy.  I am always tired, my back and neck ache all the time, and my fingers don't grasp things the way they should due to excessive computer use.  So I constantly drop things - shampoo bottles, coffee cups, pens.  I guzzle coffee the way an SUV guzzles gas.


This must change.

I have to cut down on the caffeine as it puts me at risk for osteoporosis.  But in order to do that, I have to figure out how to wake up feeling refreshed instead of tired.  In order to sleep better, I need to exercise more. In order to exercise, I need to reorganize my time.  This means spending my summer planning for my classes in the fall, so that I'm not staying up late at night doing lessons when school starts.


I also need to finish that novel and get it out of my head and out of my life. Time to "Just Do It."  I need to get over my perfectionism and start producing results.

I've never been a disciplined person, but it's time to grow up and smell the coffee.

No, wait!  I mean, not smell the coffee. I mean, the herbal tea.  Yeah, that's it. (Right.)

I also want to start pampering myself a little more with things other than food.  Bubble bath.  I love bubble bath!  Especially that eucalyptus-mint stress relief scent from Bath and Body works. 

MySpace Comments


So, here are my goals:
  1. Better sleep
  2. More exercise
  3. Eat healthier
  4. Be better organized
  5. Pamper myself
  6. FINISH THE DARN BOOK!!!!!

I will post my progress every week or so, because I need to keep myself accountable. I know this may not be terribly interesting for you to read about, but I feel I need to do it.  So, thank you for listening and for your support.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tattered Wings

This is a repost from three years ago, but I just felt it was fitting this week.

A friend of mine is an avid photographer, and recently she has been emailing me stunning photographs of butterflies in her garden. I was ecstatic on a recent morning to see a tiger swallowtail land among my zinnias. I rushed inside for my digital camera and snapped a dozen or so pictures, hoping at least one of them would come out well enough to send to my friend.

It wasn’t until I downloaded the photos and began cropping them that I realized something. The beautiful butterfly that I was so eager to photograph had tattered wings. The larger top wings were intact, but part of the lower wings had been clipped off somehow.

Nevertheless, the butterfly had posed for me as elegantly as any of its kindred, completely unconcerned with its deformity. The way the tips of its antennae curled up while it was drinking reminded me of a Victorian lady crooking her little finger as she sipped her tea. And surely no lady was ever attired as stunningly as this little creature, with such bold and intricate patterns on its parchment-thin wings.

Staring at those photographs on my screen, I recalled all the times that an injury I suffered affected the way I carried myself. I thought about all the failures, real or perceived, that still haunt me in unexpected moments and cause me to doubt my worth. I wondered how many times I could have sailed through a difficult situation by simply carrying myself proudly, knowing that my righteousness is in Christ, not in Christine.

I have printed this photo out and pinned it up in my office. It is a reminder that one can still fly with tattered wings.

“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” – Romans 1:17

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Protecting Your Border

I know: Write first, blog later.  But I just had to put up a photo of my flower border.  It's not too big, but it has been a labor of love for the last six years or so.

Gardening is always challenging and changing, as plants grow bigger or die back and have to be pruned or replaced accordingly.  Not unlike stories.

Anyway, mine seems to be in the midst of getting eaten by I know not what.  All the plants close to the ground, especially the dahlia and the marigolds, have lacy holes in their leaves.  Pest control is not my forte.  I put things in the ground and water them, but am clueless about diseases and bugs.  Other than buying the cheapest toxic compound I can find at Home Depot and spraying my plants with it, do you guys have any suggestions?

I did try the "dish of beer on the ground" to kill slugs a few years back.  All that happened was that some flying insects died with a "buzz."

Friday, June 4, 2010

Write First, Blog Later

I can hardly believe my six-week "break" is half over, and I've done so little on my book. I've spent a lot of time thinking and revising and getting feedback, but my word count has hardly gone up at all.  However, I've passed the 50 follower mark at The Writer's Hole.  That is so exciting to me!  Part of it is certainly due to all the blogging - writing and commenting on my own posts as well as on others' - and due to the critiques I've been doing. I've probably spent as much reading other people's work as I have reading my own. This is an entirely new experience for me. I would not have had anything to say a couple of years ago. I've learned a lot, but I still have a long way to go.

I must admit, I'm not the best critique partner in the world. I tend to say what I think without stopping to ask myself if there's a softer way to phrase it until AFTER the critique has been sent.   I have always been that way - more of an idea person than a people person.  Let's debate ideas - don't take it personally.  But people always do, and I should know that creative ideas are the most personal kind of all.

I'm planning a 100 followers contest and a blogfest at TWH, but not until I've done some more on the book.  I was hoping to have it mostly finished by the end of June, but I doubt that will happen now.  I need to write first and blog later.  But man, there is just so much good stuff out there! Blog posts to comment on, stories to read, critiques to give.  It's like a whole culture of its own: the Wannabe Published.  But I never will be if I don't actually write.

My son is turning eight this weekend.  I can't believe how grown-up he's becoming.  Guess what we are doing to celebrate?  Attending a WWII re-enactment weekend.  (I'd rather stay home, but he wants me to come.)  He's also definitely turning into a writer. He will lay on his bed with a pencil and paper, composing stories for me to read.  He also has a diary that he keeps under his pillow. 

Have a great weekend, everyone. And don't forget to "Write First, Blog Later."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Five Questions

Michelle Gregory tagged me for this, and since I haven't done one in a long time, I figured I'd play along.

Question 1 - Where were you five years ago?

- I wasn't working, but very busy with my young son and the Mothers of Preschoolers ministry.
- I had just started to write again after about a decade of not writing at all.

Question 2 - Where would you like to be in five years?

- On a book tour!
- I'm sure I'll still be here in NJ, and perhaps by then my colonial dollhouse will finally be finished.  It's been sitting half-finished since I got pregnant with DS.

Question 3 - What is on your to-do list today?

- Sunday School, church, a little laundry, take DS fishing with the Cub Scouts, and work on my pages for my critique group.

Question 4 - What snacks do you enjoy?

- nachos (I microwave some chips with taco-flavored cheese on them and a little Tabasco sauce)
- chocolate chips
- mixed nuts
- dried pineapple bits

Question 5 - What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

- Hah!  I would never be a billionaire.  I'm not that enterprising.
- Okay, so just suppose I got incredibly wealthy as a writer.  I would support Christian charities to help women and children around the world, particularly those suffering from religious and social oppression
- I would buy a nice, big house with my own writer's loft in it
- Take my family to Disney World
- Hey, maybe I could even buy one of Nicholas Cage's spare castles as a vacation home.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just Sayin' Hi

Hello!  I just wanted to pop in and let you know I'm still alive.

I've been trying to be more productive both work-wise and writing-wise, which means less blogging. But maybe I'll actually finish this manuscript soon.

Things are pretty busy now, with the end of the semester fast approaching, and the first summer session coming hard upon its heels.  Then I'll have some time off in July and August.  But, when I'm off, so is my son, which means the endless "I'm bored! What are we gonna do today?"

Summer is never as productive as I hope it will be, so I'm trying to get my manuscript done before he gets out of school.

How are you doing... productivity-wise? What's happening in your life?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Loveliest of Trees


Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

-A. E. Housman

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Am Officially Insane

I counted the number of copies of my novel that I have stored on various drives. I have... wait for it... forty-one copies.  Forty-one!  And that just includes the laptop and portable flash drives where I store my backup copies, not the PC itself. It also doesn't include all the files with chapters, chapter notes, and other material.

You know you used to work in clinical data management when....

I've got a paper trail, baby!  If anyone wants to audit my files, it's all here.

I had to create yet another new copy today, because, based on the results of last weekend's First Page Blogfest, I've decided to cut the first three chapters off the novel and start it where it used to - Chapter 4. That is the "waterfall scene" for those of you who are familiar with it. So now I have the huge headache of trying to weave all that great character and background info through the rest of the book.  I'm going to miss the nightstalkers in the snow.  I really am.  Maybe I can put them in the next book.

Why did I make this decision? Because I realized that the inciting incident occurs in that scene. So if I want to jumpstart the narrative, I have to put that first.  I have to make Raynor the focus of attention from the beginning.

Sorry, Michelle G., the kissing scene has to be cut, also.  I got icky responses from my male readers.  That really seemed to turn them off.  It wasn't really working for me, either.  I think it's going to have to be a flashback. In fact, I think I'm going to have to put several flashbacks in there.  And find a new way to introduce Harth and his prowess with a bow, and to emphasize his and Faldur's friendship.  I don't know yet how I'm going to make that work.

Why is none of this getting any easier?  Okay, I guess it's a little easier in that I'm more confident about my decisions. But I still can't understand how people can pound out novels in a month or two, revise them and send them off to agents lickety-split.  Am I too careful, or just mentally challenged?

I want this book to be done.  Oh, how I want it to be done! But done well.  And that, as they say, takes time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Virtual Tea Party

Spring has burst upon us like confetti.  Suddenly the trees are decorated with green dots of leaves, and the cherries and dogwoods with white and pink petals.  My flower border is a jumble of yellow daffodils, red tulips and pink and purple hyacinths.  We have long, warm evenings - at last!

And naturally I feel like celebrating.  When I was a member of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) we had a spring tea every year.  Now that I have graduated to the post-preschooler level, I don't get to go to that tea because apparently I am no longer in need of emotional support.  They must think I am HIATByN  (Have It All Together By Now). Ha!


So, I thought I'd have a virtual tea party.  Bring your favorite brew (coffee, tea, or other) and a little snack to share, and let's chat.  I have made a pot of Darjeeling and some mini-quiches, cucumber sandwiches and zucchini-raisin bread.

Tea anyone? How is life going for you?  Anything good, anything bad, any wishes or hopes?

My biggest headache right now is that my husband got into a fender bender, which will probably result in some not so minor repair bills.  The other driver hit him when he stopped for an approaching fire truck.  The other driver's insurance company is represented by a class-A grouch who was extremely rude to DH when he called about the claim. Not only that, she was so belligerent to the rep from our insurance company who also tried to talk to her, that our rep had to hang up on her.  DH, who has no stomach for this kind of thing, wants to pay the deductible and let our insurance handle it, but I am unwilling to sacrifice that much money just because of that woman's poor behavior, nor risk getting dropped when it's time to renew our policy. I am going to be hitting the phones tomorrow to try to get some results, but I'm not looking forward to it.

So, I hope this works out so that we can avoid paying a deductible. 

Some people are so unnecessarily rude, aren't they?  It makes things so much more difficult than they need to be.  Perhaps I should send that woman a copy of "Emma" to read.  Jane Austen always makes me quite ashamed of my manners.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter!

"Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices that they had prepared. When they found the stone rolled away from the entrance, they went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus, and they did not know what to think.

Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. The women were afraid and bowed to the ground. But the men said, "Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive? Jesus isn't here! He has been raised from death. Remember that while he was still in Galilee, he told you, 'The Son of Man will be handed over to sinners who will nail him to a cross. But three days later he will rise to life.' " Then they remembered what Jesus had said.

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women were the ones who had gone to the tomb. When they returned, they told the eleven apostles and the others what had happened. The apostles thought it was all nonsense, and they would not believe.

But Peter ran to the tomb. And when he stooped down and looked in, he saw only the burial clothes. Then he returned, wondering what had happened."

Luke 24:1-12, CEV courtesy of BibleGateway.com 

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

John 3:17

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On Charity

The government has no means of its own. It cannot give to one person what it hasn't already taken from someone else.

This is why enforced charity, in the form of huge entitlement programs, are inherently flawed and inevitably corrupt. The church shouldn't expect nor allow the government to feed the poor, clothe the naked, nor care for the sick.

If the government is taking over these tasks, then we, the body of Christ, have failed to be His hands and heart to the suffering world.

Monday, March 29, 2010

President Obama as Robin Hood: Is this a good or a bad image?

I try really hard not to get political here in the cottage, but such momentous things are happening in our nation, that I feel I cannot let it go by without any comment at all.  The "unprecedented" (on of the President's favorite words) health care legislation that passed the Senate last week is going to significantly impact life for everyone in this country, for good or bad, for many generations to come.

Fox News has been consistent in decrying the legislation, pointing out the huge gap between the promised benefits and the funding, the suspicious back-room deals and the false promises, more of which come to light each day.  (For example, that children with pre-existing conditions would be guaranteed coverage, which they are not.) (click highlighted green text for links)

Liberal outlets, such as the New York Times, are actually praising the bill as a way of redistributing wealth in America, something they feel is long overdue and correctly the role of the federal government.

Is it?  Really?  Is the equal distribution of wealth part of the American philosoply?  I don't think so.  Do you?

Even if we could guarantee everyone health care and (by extension) a fair share of the wealth at the outset, there is little doubt that the legislation is underfunded and will, by nature of the system it is creating, grow very quickly beyond its projected scope.  The constant bickering about people losing their current coverage is ridiculous.  Supporters (including the President) repeat over and over that you can keep your current coverage if you have it.  Yes, that is true, opponents say, but only until your employer figures out that it's cheaper for him to drop your coverage and pay into the government plan, in which case you will have no choice but to accept so-called "Obama Care."  Anyone who pretends not to see this, is lying.

You're going to get charged no matter what.  If you have good health care coverage already, you will have to pay a tax to the government for the value of your plan.  If you don't have health care, you will have to pay a tax as a penalty, to help cover the cost of your free emergency care.  Either way, you pay.  Even union members, after a temporary grace period.


Personally, I don't think the federal government has any business getting involved in half the stuff it does, especially health care.  I believe that the powers of the federal government are pretty clearly outlined in the constitution:  to coin money, run the post office, maintain roads, to maintain the military and defend the country in time of war, to uphold the laws of the land (via the Supreme Court), etc.  Read it here.

I know that the "commerce clause" is used to justify all sorts of things, and that there is social inequality in the land.  But the statement "All men are created equal" doesn't mean that we are guaranteed to always possess equal amounts of wealth.  On the contrary, Jesus told us "the poor will always be with you," implying that charity on a personal level (not a government level) is a mandate for all Christians.  The fact that all men are created equal means that we are due equal protection under the law, not under the dollar.

Many of my friends - both Christian and non-Christian - feel that this legislation is necessary on moral grounds.  While I understand and sympathize with their arguments, I disagree with the underlying assumption.  I absolutely, positively believe that everyone should have access to health care.  I know that there are some tragic holes in the current system.  I want those holes to be fixed... but not this way.

I believe it is morally wrong to place a burden upon the citizens of this country, both those living now and those living generations from now, that we cannot possibly pay for.  There is no doubt that many new taxes will have to be levied to pay for it, and in the midst of this recession that will only make a very bad situation even worse.  The worst is the national VAT (value-added tax), which we cannot avoid now.  My fear is that we will end up like Denmark, which has a 25% VAT, or Great Britain, which has a 19% VAT tax and 50% income tax.

Think about it... right now middle-class Americans pay around 5-10% income tax to the federal government, after all of your deductions for mortgage interest, charitable giving, dependent children, etc.  In NJ, we pay 7% sales tax.  Can you imagine if your federal income taxes were, say, 25% of your income?  So, if you earned $800 a week, $200 went right to the federal government?  Then you would have to pay whatever your state and local income taxes are on top of that. Then you go to buy a cup of coffee, which costs $1 at McDonald's, and are required to pay a 10% VAT tax on top of your 7% state sales tax.  So the dollar cup of coffee now costs $1.17.

So you stop buying coffee at McDonald's because you can't afford it, along with millions of other people.  McDonald's profits go down, which means that your retirement and other investments, which include McDonald's stock, also go down.  McDonald's has to raise the price of the coffee to compensate, which hurts them even more and they start laying people off.  Those people go on unemployment and the new federal health care plan, which means the government needs more money to take care of them, so they raise the VAT tax to 12% and increase the income tax even further.  And so the cycle continues.

And I didn't even include the effect of the mandatory insurance McDonald's will now have to provide all its workers, which will also raise the cost of the coffee and add more layoffs.

"But," you argue, "ten cents more for a cup of coffee isn't that much if it guarantees health care for people who need it."  Well, let's look at something more expensive, something you can't live without.  Like tires.  My car needs them, and my husband thinks it will cost at least $600 for a set of four, probably more.  So assuming we can get them for $600, with 7% state sales tax, the price would be $642.  Add 10% VAT tax to that, and the price becomes a whopping $702.  If the VAT tax was 25% as it is in Sweden (and don't think that it will never go there, because in 20 years or so it very well might), then the cost of those $600 tires now becomes $792!

See why this is a bad idea?  The Christian Science Monitor said in its article  "New Health Care Bill:  A Robin Hood tax with a twist"   that   "In a decade or so, we'll know whether the new healthcare plan took from the rich to give to the less fortunate – or just mortgaged the future for all of us."

So, what do you think?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Live in Concert: David Dubas (and Justin Moore, too)


This weekend I finally got to see my cousin David perform live with rising country star Justin Moore.  David is is playing bass guitar in Justin's band and even doing some backup vocals.  They are currently in the midst of a 200-city tour with Brad Paisley but were in town by themselves at a local country club this Saturday.  So we went and had dinner and got to see the band perform up close and personal.



I must say I really enjoyed the show.  Justin is a dynamite performer, and David cuts quite a striking figure. He's tall and lean, with long hair, a fancy red guitar and an open-necked shirt.  No cowboy hat however.  C'mon David.  At least a belt buckle?  Some boots?  Just kidding, you looked awesome!


 My only complaint is that Justin kept getting in the way of my attempts to photograph Dave.  What a ham!


After the show, my husband and I took David to a quiet corner where we drank coffee and talked until 1 a.m. It was great just getting to sit and talk with him.  Mark hasn't seen him for about five years.  I think the last time I laid eyes on the lad was last August when I just happened to be visiting his parents on his birthday.  He only gets home a few times a year, and now with this big tour he's traveling almost constantly.  We talked about everything he's done to get to this point in his career and how glad he is that he went back and finished his music degree, and what his plans are for the future.  As well as family stuff and all that miscellaneous talk that happens when you're with someone you know well but rarely see.

Two things really struck me about our evening and our conversation.  One is how absolutely, breathtakingly ordinary celebrities are. The other is how lonely life on the road is.  But, he's doing what he loves to do and seems very relaxed and comfortable both on stage and off. I'm so happy for him!  He's hooked up with a quality performer in Justin, who's got a good head on his shoulders and the right attitude as well.

We can't wait to see David, Justin and Brad in concert in June.  It's still a bit hard for me to believe that this strapping guy with the guitar is the little kid I used to play with.  Seeing David again inspired me that if you pursue your dreams with dedication and perseverence, they really can come true.



Saturday, March 20, 2010

Time for Spring Cleaning

Spring is here, which means it needs
Caring for the grass and weeds.
Tend to one, pull up the other.
How I miss the snow's white cover!

(And the pollen from the trees
Itches my eyes and makes me sneeze
One of these days I swear I'm gonna
Buy a house in Arizona)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Finding my comfort zone

I've done quite a bit of revising over the past week, and it seems that I have finally found my comfort zone.  Perhaps it's more appropriate to say that the story has matured to the point that "it is what it is."  All of my ideas about changing it seem to dissolve in the context of the actual scenes.  I find that I am just rearranging words on the page, nitpicking over structure.  Should I put the "said" tag before or after the dialogue?  Should the speaker be standing or sitting? Who the heck cares?

It seems that there comes a point where the story becomes bigger than the author, and truly does have a life of its own.  I know that I could change it if I had to, but it would be like performing surgery on a loved one.  I don't see any need to at this point.  As I've said before, it's all about confidence in our words and in our vision. Whatever I might think this story should be, it has already decided on its own what to be. I have gone from being an author to being a recorder of events.  And that is a very, very good place to be.

To read a brief excerpt, and post one of your own, visit The Writer's Hole: A Grand Day to Be Braggin''.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

42,354 words into the revision of my novel. Separate plot lines have commenced.

Daydreaming in Obscurity

I was writing in my journal this morning, an event which only occurs about once every three months. I've joined the "Experiencing God" study at our church.  I know this is an awesome Bible Study and a lot people have gained great insights from it.

The focus of the first week's lessons is on knowing God's will and having a servant attitude towards doing it.  Time and again, I keep coming back to my novel.  It's difficult for me to acknowledge that God could use this story for anything.  I truly have a hard time believing my talent and concept are sufficient to impress an agent or publisher, let alone a readership.  But every time I try to lay it aside, the spirit of God presses on me:  Finish the book.  So I'm finishing it, little by little.

It's much easier to daydream in obscurity than to actually accomplish something and put it out for the world to view.  I have a pithy little volume called "The American Frugal Housewife" written in 1833 which contains not just a wealth of information on housekeeping, food preparation, and the treatment of illnesses, but some advice on how to manage one's time and money as well.   I think it should be required reading for all public high school students.  It would certainly put modern life in perspective.

In the chapter "Hints to Persons of Moderate Fortune" the author describes a situation in which one woman complains that her friend has become "the idol of the literary world, while I am never heard of beyond my own family unless someone happens to introduce me as the friend of Clio."

"Why not write, then, and see if the world will not learn to introduce Clio as [your friend]?"

"I write! Not for the world.  I could not bear to pour my soul out to an undeserving multitude; I could not see my cherished thoughts caricatured by some soulless reviewer, and my favorite fancies expounded by the editor of some stupid paper." 

The author of course points out the hypocrisy of this response, and goes on to say, "All of us covet some neighbor's possession... Yet most of us could obtain worldly distinctions if our habits and inclinations allowed us to pay the immense price at which they must be purchased."

As I said, required reading.

(Of course, this leads me to wonder, did people really talk that way two hundred years ago, or was it just the literary vocabulary of the upper classes?  Would a young woman in Jane Austen's time really have spoken as her characters do?  While researching the colonial period, I was fortunate enough to obtain a book from the University of Pennsylvania library that included actual newspaper pages from the pre-Revolutionary war days and it was astonishing how formally even the classified ads were written. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Staying up late has its advantages

41,104.  I'm a revising fool.

PG Sex Scene Blogfest

Please check out my entry at The Writer's Hole.  Your comments are welcome!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Update

I haven't done any writing in several weeks.  I'm just so tired and busy and not feeling well.  This winter has been one virus after another, and I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Why is it that the more I do, the more there is to do?  When I finally start getting a few things done around the house, that leads to more things.  If I let the clutter rest undisturbed, I wouldn't realize how much is lying in wait for me. I thought I'd get so much accomplished in this break between classes. I am doing quite a bit, when I'm not lying on the sofa feeling miserable, but just not the things I wanted to do most.  Like making progress on my novel.

The good news is that I finally got my computer and am typing on it right now. After much research and debate, I decided on a 13.3" HP Pavilion notebook.  It's just the right size to carry around and the battery supposedly lasts 5 hours with energy conserving techniques such as turning off wi-fi, etc.  It's really a sweet little machine.  I've named it Silver, because of silver case and the fact that it's like my trusty steed... "Hi, ho, Silver, away!" 

Yes, I did watch re-runs of The Lone Ranger when I was a kid.

Anyway, here's wishing everyone good health and productivity!  May we all find time to write in the midst of the swirl of activity that is life.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The End

I have suddenly realized how my novel must end.  It's not the direction I wanted to go, but I have at last come to the understanding that it is necessary in order for the book to speak to the audience I want to reach, at the level where I want to reach them.

Oh boy.  Now I just have to write it.

This is gonna be hard.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm Gonna Get My Laptop!!!

Woo-hoo!!! I am so excited.  I'm going to get my laptop.  Finally!!!!  Praise the Lord, I can have my OWN computer to write my novel... just for me and nobody else to use.  Hallelujah!

I really feel blessed.  Several opportunities have arisen for me to earn some side money, and I just logged on to my credit card's rewards website (which I've never bothered to check before) and found out I had a nice chunk of change waiting to be redeemed there, too.  So when I add that to the birthday money my family gave me last year, and counting up the coins in my Laptop Fund jar, I should have enough for a modest machine.

Now, what kind to get?  Suggestions?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Beat the Winter Blahs

Let's play a game, and see how far it can go.  List ten things that make you happy.  Post them on your blog, with a link to it in the comment section below.  Or, just mention that your blog is on your blogger profile.

Ten Things that Make Me Happy

1. Sleepy hugs from my son
2. A warm beagle
3. A really good cup of coffee
4. Finding a gem I needed in Webkinz World (I finally found the lemon drop today!)
5. Writing a passage in my novel that even I have to admit is good
6. When the seeds I planted in a tiny pot on the windowsill finally sprouted today
7. A really gorgeous blue jay or cardinal at the bird feeder
8. When a student says they love my class, or want to know if I'm teaching another class they need to take
9. Sleeping in
10. Being around other couples.  DH and I go out so rarely, it's really wonderful to have a "grown up" evening.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Respect the Writer

The house is quiet this morning and I can finally use the computer. The dog followed me in just now and I said, "Okay, but only if you behave yourself.  Respect the writer."

That's my new motto.  Respect the writer.

I took a job yesterday. My third part-time job. I'm going to clean house for a friend's elderly parents.  Their regular cleaner is retiring and they don't want a stranger for fear of that person stealing from them.  So when my friend asked if I could recommend anyone, I decided to do it myself.  I'm hoping that I can save up enough money to buy a laptop in a few months, and after that, perhaps start saving for a writer's conference.  I figure that my teaching income is household income, so I can't justify "blowing" that on writing.  But if I do the cleaning on the side in my spare time, then it's "my money" to do with as I like. 

Some people might think that cleaning another person's house is beneath them, but I was raised to believe that nothing in life is free and that anything worth having is worth working for.  So I am going to clean these nervous, elderly people's home as well as (and probably better than) I clean my own, and be as kind and reassuring as I can to them.  I know my friend is grateful to have this problem solved.

Now, I haven't met them yet and it's possible they'll decide I'm unsuitable or that I didn't get all the dirt out of the corners.  In that case, I'll keep looking and praying for a way to get my laptop.  I tried to get some tutoring jobs, but that didn't work out.

When my son is old enough to understand a little more about money and work, and I'm rich and famous (*grin*), I'm going to tell him the story of how I saved for my laptop.

What have you done for your writing, or for anything else you really wanted in life?  When have you risked something for the sake of a bigger goal?  How did it benefit you in the end?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Blogging Break

Keyboards and chalkboards are conspiring against my fingers.  I'm having trouble doing simple things with my hands, so I need to take a blogging break in order to save their strength for writing.  I did meet my JanNo goal in time for the deadline, so I'm very proud of that.  30,000 words down, and only 70,000 to go!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Yes, And Sometimes The Worst

I took my son to the library tonight, even though he had just been to the one at school today, it's freezing cold and is threatening snow any minute.  Afterwards, as he was curled up with one of the books he brought home, I put my arms around him and said, "Am I the best mom or what?"

"Yes, and sometimes the worst," he said, turning his face to kiss me.

Wow.  I even got a kiss

"You, too," I said.  Then I corrected myself.  "No, you're never the worst."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's January 31st. What are you doing tonight?

I can tell you what I'm not doing. I'm not participating in the Scribblerati write-a-thon, trying to squeeze out my word count for JanNoWriMo. I should, but I'm not.

I'm tired. Really tired. I've been staying up late all week trying to get those words out. Last night DH and I babysat for friends. We had a great time with the kids, but didn't get to bed until almost midnight. Of course the dogs still woke me up at the usual time this morning.

I've been a good girl all day: I went to Sunday School and church, helped DH clean out the kitchen drawers (This man needs a job soon! OMG - He's sorting through utensils, pot holders, and old recipes and he doesn't even cook!), organized some stuff in the cabinets, made lunch, cleaned up the kitchen, had one of my son's friends over to play, walked the dogs, made dinner, made coffee, and made a fire in the fireplace. I didn't do any laundry or sort through any mail. Nor did I write. But it's 7:45 on Sunday night, the fire is crackling cosily in the other room, and I'm not going to spend the rest of the evening in this horrid, uncomfortable chair in front of the PC.

I think I'll go watch "Prince Caspian," since I'm reading the Chronicles of Narnia again, and go to before eleven o'clock, for a change.

How about you?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Paralysis by Analysis

To see this post at The Writer's Hole, click here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My "Cottage" and winter in New Jersey

Christine Havers at 1,000 Words A Day has been posting such lovely snowy photos of winter in the British Isles that I feel compelled to post some of South Jersey, USA for comparison. We went for a walk in the park today and this was the typical scenery that greeted us.  Brown and yucky.  I know snow is inconvenient, but it does dress things up a bit.



I did capture a photo of two deer behind the college Thursday afternoon, however.  I was quite surprised to see such large does crashing carelessly through the woods just behind buildings swarming with humans.



Here's the partially frozen pond in the valley behind the college buildings.  The deer were on the other side of it.



I also have some photos of my "cottage."  That is, our house.  I realized that this year our house is fifty years old, which makes it not just old but an antique.  Whenever I am tempted to complain about it, I remember how many people in the world have no homes at all.  And I think of it as a modern cottage.  We don't have any quaintly thatched or timbered cottages here in the U.S., but we do have suburban leftovers from 1960 such as the one DH and I own.  (Technically, the bank owns it, but lets not go there.)

I remind myself how easy it is to clean and how nice it is that I can see the backyard from the kitchen, the living room and the office, enabling me to keep an eye on children and/or dogs.  We have very little entertaining room, as the entry, dining and family room are all one space.  But the yard makes up for that in summer time.

Here are some photos of the living/dining area, cleaned up today for company.  We are planning to paint the white walls a light, mossy green.  The built-in shelves are very cute.


The best part, though, is the corner fireplace.  As the Irish say, "There is no fireside like your own fireside."  Sitting in the leather recliner by the fire on a cold evening, with a mug of hot tea and a book, is one of the best comforts for the soul in the world.


Are We Just Crazy?

Today I am more than 6,000 words behind my goal for JanNoWriMo.  The only thing saving me at this point is that I am revising and much of what I've already done requires little editing.  However, it's also getting pretty boring the fifth time around.  I keep finding excuses not to work on it.

Which isn't to say that I need any excuses, as there certainly is enough for me to do around here at any given moment of the day.

Which brings me to the age-old question:  Are we crazy?  Why do we push ourselves to write?

Vikk Simmons has an interesting post about the psychological phenomenon of optimal experience, aka "flow," which is supposedly the truest form of happiness.  She postulates that writers, like all other artists, do what we do in order to experience flow - the suspension of time and place that comes from total immersion in our art.

I agree that in the first draft - when our imaginations are in high gear - there is definitely that suspension of reality that produces a euphoric high.  But by the fifth time around, writing is more like drudgery.  What we are doing, however, is fine-tuning our work so that one day, if all the planets align and the publishing gods smile upon our efforts, our readers can experience that same suspension of reality.

The author of the book that she cites, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, has this to say:
"The best moments usually occur when the person's body or mind is stretched to the limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult or worthwhile.  Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen."

So, let's make it happen.

I think that  the best way for me to do that is to stop going over the same old ground, and jump to the end of the last batch of revisions.  I stopped about 1/3 of the way through the book and went back to the beginning after my flogging.  I think I should pick up where I left off and focus on completing the entire manuscript before I revise again.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

JanNoWriMo Update

It is January 21st, halfway through my participation in JanNoWriMo.  (I joined on the 11th).  I was doing really well until Tuesday, when my semester began again.  Suddenly I'm brain-dead.  You would think that a part-time job wouldn't tax those little gray cells that much, but I've been completely unable to write the past two evenings.  Nor can I get up early.  Well, I got up early this morning but didn't write.

Instead I fooled around in Webkinz World.  Yes, Webkinz World. There is something invaluably soothing about a virtual world with cute, smiling creatures where you can get money just for playing arcade games and spend it on all kinds of furniture, food, etc.  With all that is happening in the world, and with the financial crisis, I'm not ashamed to admit I really enjoy spending pretend money on anything I want.  Or finding pretend gems in pretend caves.

But, I have a lot of catching up to do today.  It amazes me how quickly I can lose the thread of my story to outside pressures.  At least my classes are going well, for which I am grateful.  This semester seems easier than the others so far.  Perhaps I'm starting to find my groove.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Review: Flogging the Quill

I discovered the Flogging the Quill website last April and have been a faithful follower and participant ever since. Where else can you get a professional critique of your first page by a real, live editor absolutely free?  What keeps me coming back is that the advice is not just free, but that it is good.

The one disadvantage to the FTQ website, however, is that submitting to a public "flogging" of our words is always difficult.  No matter how much we psyche ourselves up for criticism, it's tough.  As Seargant Major Harper said after being flogged in Sharpe's Enemy, "Jeez, it hurts like hell. I don't think I could have stood any more."

Now, you don't have to.

Ray Rhamey has taken all of the wisdom, humor and encouragement of his website and packed it into a highly readable workbook-style guide titled Flogging the Quill: Crafting a Novel that Sells. I am not a fan of most writing books because they all seem to say the same things: Show, don't tell. Create believable characters. Keep your plot moving.

Rhamey doesn't just tell you what to do, he *shows* you with concrete examples and a humorous touch. I learned more from this book than I have from all the other books on writing I've read so far combined. The bigger page size definitely helps with readability, as do the cartoons and illustrations sprinkled through the text. Every section ends with a practical exercise, and there are additional samples on which to practice your new-found revision skills at the back of the book.

To make it even more fantastic, Ray is giving a free critique of your first three pages, or a free half-hour phone call (one hour for groups) to discuss writing topics, with the purchase of each book. You can't beat that for an incentive.

This is truly the best fifteen bucks I've ever invested in my writing.  Go ahead and try this at home.

The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. I have not received any compensation from the author.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Professional editing - pros / cons?

I am seriously wondering whether it's worth it to have a professional editor review my novel prior to querying agents.  There are plenty of editors out there offering help for a fee, and I am not one to deny that their time and experience are worth their hire.  But I can't help wondering whether I'd regret the expense later, assuming I can even come up with it.

What is a better use of my (hypothetical) writing funds... editing, or a laptop of my own?

Has anyone had personal experience with any of these services?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Contest: Name my muse

Ever since fellow writer Vikk Simmons posted a photo of her muse, an adorable pug statuette, on Facebook, I've been wanting to find a muse of my own. I finally found him/her - a little Siamese cat.  I'm not sure whether it's a he or a she.

Anyway, I can't think of a name for... it.  So I'm taking ideas from you guys and then next week we'll have a vote.

Here s(he) is.  Awwww, how sweet.  Yes, it's a Kinzclip, but somehow, that little stitched face speaks to me.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cuteness

I can't resist posting this.














"Happiness is a warm beagle" - Charles Schultz

Monday, January 11, 2010

What is with the sexy demons?

I've been venturing into the YA (young adult fiction) blogosphere lately, and am more than a little disturbed by what I'm finding there.  I don't hang out in bookstores. I have no teenagers in my life at the moment.  Well, I have a nephew but he's reading The Lord of the Rings, not Twilight.  So, I'm just realizing what is out there for young people.

As a Christian, naturally I find this current obsession with occult beings like vampires, incubi, succubi, fallen angels, and so on distasteful, but not surprising. The dark side of of the spiritual world has always fascinated humanity, and secular culture will always try to twist or counter God's truth.

What I do find surprising is the prominence of such hugely sexual themes in books targeted at very young women.  What are these publishers thinking???  As a parent and teacher, I'm appalled.  It was enough for me to keep my thoughts pure when Cary Elwes said "As you wish" to Robin Wright in The Princess Bride, or when Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert tempted Rebecca in Ivanhoe.  Not only would I have been forbidden to read a lot of the stuff that's being published now, I would have been ashamed to even consider it.  It would not have appealed to me, and I would blush to think of anyone else reading it.

Another surprising fact is that many of the authors of these works claim to be Christians. I'm really scratching my head over that one.

So I'm wondering, what do YOU think about these trends, especially if you write YA?  Why do you think this stuff is so popular?  What do you think is a good way to provide alternative entertainment for young people, especially girls?  Or is it not a problem for you?

Am I the only one who thinks that modesty and purity are still virtues to be cultivated in the young?

Let's talk.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Finally, A Breakthrough! (updated)

Being sick this week has given me a good excuse to sit around and write.  I've been quite a busy little hamster, spinning my wheel around and around on Chapter 1, and have finally come up with a version of my first scene of which I'm quite proud.  It's here.

I've also finally broken through on my query letter.  Before anyone says that it's too long, let me quote literary agent Nathan Bransford, who claims that "there is a sweet spot in query word count between 250 and 350 words. Anything shorter than 250 usually (but not always) seems too short and anything longer than 350 usually (but not always) seems too long."  Mine is 284.  So there!

Sunday update:  Second scene is done now.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Rime of the Aching Scribbler

I've sacrificed a half a day to headache and a virus
And though my brain might split in two I must take my papyrus
For days at home alone in peace are few and far between
So I'm lowering the brightness on my computer screen
My hero waits to know his fate, his lady's in distress
A tiny germ must not delay this daring authoress

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First Page Rewrite

I have rewritten my first page yet again.  It's here: First Page Rewrite

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Writer's Hole Has Moved

The Writer's Hole has moved to its own url:  thewritershole.blogspot.com  And I've found a totally awesome template.  You've got to see it!

Please join me at the new address.

P.S. I have spent way, way, WAY too much time today fooling around with blog templates and backgrounds, trying to get just the right look.  Apparently, my monitor is too old and/or small to get the full benefit of these fancy backgrounds, so I had to pick some with narrower margins.  I apologize if this blog (and the other) look too fussy to You Who Have Technology.  I'm just seeing the very edges of the designs. But boy was it fun playing around with them!

Friday, January 1, 2010

That was SO last year!


Okay, now we can say it.

Sparkly vampires? That was so last year, darling!

Writerly angst on agent/editor websites? So last year.

Obsession with interactive character websites? Last year.

Runaway beagles? Last year.

Too much chocolate? Last year.

Procrastinating? Last year.

This year...

I turn forty.
I stop doubting myself.
I finish the dratted manuscript.
The dog decides he's got it good and stays. in. the. yard.

So, what is "So last year" for you?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *













* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
 This I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him." 

~ Lamentations 3:19-24

* * * *  Happy New Year!  * * * *

Stupid Dog Update 1:55 p.m.
The beagle decided to scale the fence while he was still tied.  Thankfully, the picket broke and he didn't hang himself.  Time for a drink for me, and a dose of melatonin for him.