Tag Archives: musings

Happy Thanksgiving!

22 Nov

Hmmm, there’s a layer of dust on the old blog. I’ve been away for a while, and until I get some things settled in regular life, I can’t guarantee I’ll post very often in the next few weeks. But I did want to take a moment and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! (Yes, I know some of you are not Americans, but just go with it. Thanksgiving is as much a state of mind as it is a historical remembrance.)

I love this holiday. It’s relaxing. Especially this year, where it worked out that we are staying home and no extended relatives are coming here. I can’t recall the last time we had a Thanksgiving day with just the nuclear family and I’m really looking forward to it.

I am thankful for so much in my bountiful life. I have a dear husband and great kids, wonderful friends, and a career that I love. I have gained readers this year, for whom I am exceedingly grateful. I live in a place free of war, where there is plentiful food, clean water, and warm housing. I am free to follow my dreams and to worship as I please. Life is good, and I am blessed.

I wish all the best for you and yours, for today and for always. Off I go to put in the turkey!

What are you most thankful for?

Exploring Yellowstone in the Fall

19 Oct

The last week really got away from me. The Helvetican and I went to Yellowstone for our anniversary trip. Most everything inside the park was closed for the season, and the town of West Yellowstone, where we stayed, was clearly wrapping up the tourist season too. Some of the restaurants were closed and several shops advertised clearance sales. However, having been to Yellowstone during the regular season and now, in the off-season, I much prefer going when there’s not so many other people around. It’s much quieter and the pace is slower. Good stuff.

My trip didn’t end on such a grand note, due to food poisoning the last night that made the drive home the next day a bit uncomfortable and exhausting, and left me kinda under the weather all week. But let’s not let that get in the way of good memories. On to the photos!

One of the great things about visiting Yellowstone in the fall is that you can look around the park as you’re driving and see steam rising from all the thermal features in the park. It’s amazing to see. However, it made taking photos of said features a bit tricky.

Emerald Pool is one of the many colorful thermal pools in the Yellowstone caldera. Most of them were impossible to photograph because in the cold air, the rising steam obscured the colors.

One of the many bubbling mudpots in the park. Many are reduced to hissing out steam rather than frothing with mud due to lower water/mud levels this time of year.

 

I got a kick out of this mudpot. Found in the Artist’s Paint Pots area, this one looks like bright white paint bubbling in the ground.

 

Definitely don’t want to jump in this pool for a soak. See the boiling going on there?

Got close to a bison just off the road. A good-sized herd of probably 50 bison, including babies, were fording this river, two at a time, for grazing hills on the other side. Reminds me of Peg-leg! (see Mending Fences)

There is a craggy canyon carved through one section of Yellowstone, where the river has been busy wearing away rock for millennia. This is the Upper Falls in that canyon.

Around a bend in the river/canyon, is another, the Lower Falls.

I met these two cuties at the lookout for the Lower Falls. The tree roots they’re playing on have had the ground eroded from below. There’s a drop almost straight to the bottom of the canyon beneath these cute critters.

Here’s the Helvetican! He brought his little telescope to better enjoy the features of the canyon.

This pretty elk stopped traffic to grab a bite along the road.

 

One of my favorite parts of the trip was a visit to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. The wolves living in their packs are gorgeous animals. I loved getting so close to them, separated via a platform a few feet in the air and an electric fence. Apparently, if you stay in the hotel across the street, you can hear them howl at night.

That’s probably enough photos for now. I didn’t post geyser photos, mainly because there are photos of Old Faithful everywhere online. I may post more on here later, but at some point, it becomes rather like the old days of friends inviting you over to watch their home movies, you know?

Have you been to Yellowstone? What was your favorite sight?

Lucy’s Monday Musings & Heading for Yellowstone

8 Oct

It’s 11pm on Monday, and I’m FINALLY getting a chance to sit and catch my breath. Oy, what a weekend! The Helvetican had a few days off, but ended up sick. Poor thing. And you know, I love men, but they are the worst patients when they get sick…

Oh, come on, you know it’s true.

So, in addition to playing Nurse Lucy, I edited two magazine issues (only one of which I expected to land in my lap), and dealt with son #4. What’s his problem? He hates high school. Here’s a kid who is popular, smart, athletic…the kind of kid who is supposed to float through high school, everything going his way, everyone adoring him. He has all of that, and he doesn’t want it. For two years, he’s wanted to be be done already, free to move on to college. Now, as a senior, when he’s supposed to be having fun and breezing through his last year, he’s decided to bear down and earn credits outside of the regular school day so he can graduate early, at mid-year.

I admire his determination, but I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with a kid who wants to buck the system…especially since it will cost a pretty penny to get those extra credits. I like the school year to run in an orderly fashion, and he’s shaking it up. I have to remind myself that it could be far worse. He could have decided to simply drop out. Yeah, given that option, I think I’ll just happily take paying for extra credits for a kid who’s finally driven to do something.

So, it’s been a very full few days. Tonight finished off with a scramble: grocery store, running several loads of laundry, attempting to check in online. I have to ensure that the kids are all set with whatever they might need before I leave in the morning. The Helvetican and I are heading off to Yellowstone for a couple of days. It’s our anniversary trip, and I plan to unplug, unwind, and enjoy.

Take care of yourself, have a lovely week, and I’ll be back on Friday with lots of cool (I hope) vacation photos!

Happy Anniversary! Lucy’s Real Romance

5 Oct

Today is my wedding anniversary! After raising five kids with my Helvetican Hero, you can imagine how many crazy, fun, dramatic stories I have stuffed in my memory. But the best story of all is how we ended up together.

I was divorced and dating a few different guys. One particular guy was introduced to my profile by the woman running the dating service we’d both joined a few months earlier. This pre-dated online matchmaking, and while a computer would suggest members with similar interests within a particular age range, we still had to look through binders full of hand-written profiles and photos. I had already viewed his profile, really liked what I saw, and had given permission for him to contact me. He liked my profile as well and called me one week before my birthday.

We talked for an hour on the first call. He asked me out and we met for dinner and a long walk a few days later. By the time he sent flowers to my office the next day, I was hooked. We talked every night on the phone for hours, because we lived in different cities and getting together was tricky.

He had other plans on my birthday, but he called me late that night, and as we talked, the conversation turned serious. Suddenly, the perfect moment struck, and he asked me to marry him.

I’d known him a week. We’d seen each other one night. I hadn’t even kissed him yet. But I knew. Lightning had struck, and I just knew.

I said yes.

Oh, I did finally kiss him when I saw him the next day. A lack of chemistry would have been a deal-breaker, but when his lips touched mine…wow! Every nerve ending in my body hummed.

One month later, he picked me up and we eloped to Vegas. We were married by the Reverend Belinda Rhodes at the Little White Wedding Chapel, the one with the drive-through window. It was the start of an amazing ride together. And after all these years, he can still make me weak in the knees with a kiss.

I don’t recommend this approach to finding a mate to anyone else, because the list of ways it could’ve gone terribly wrong is a mile long. But for us, it worked.

Now you know why I write romance…because underneath the ups and downs and doldrums of regular life, I’m blessed to live Happily Ever After!

The Madness of My Yearly Roller Coaster

2 Oct

Everyone’s year comes with ups and downs. Sometimes that means a long period of a gentle, smooth ride with a few kiddie-thrill hills tossed in. Sometimes it means a year filled with corkscrews and double loops. Heaven help you if you’ve experienced the latter this year, and remember to count your blessings if it is the former.

However, a year for me always comes with two tracks. The first runs January 1 through about the third week of August. Anything can happen, of course, but generally it’s a pretty smooth ride from January until May, when madness and few races up and down hills hit due to that being the wrap-up for the school year and, lately, one child or another graduating. The track smooths out again for the summer, with an occasional car repair or holiday thrown in to make things interesting.

The new ride kicks in as August is fading, when I climb that first hill of getting kids back to school. The first hill is a doozy, chugging upward, multiple stories high, over those weeks until it crests on my birthday at the first part of September. The coaster train pauses there at the top for a little bit before plunging into the steep, terrifyingly fast maze of twists and turns that make up the remainder of the year.

Between my birthday and New Year’s Day, life is littered with family birthdays, my wedding anniversary, and the three biggest holidays of the year (the biggest we celebrate, anyway). I learned long ago that once my birthday hits, I have to just hold on and try to occasionally catch my breath, because it’s going to be the end of the year before I know it.

I’m in the middle of the most maddening section right now, the triple-barrel-roll-loop formed by having three of my children’s birthdays and my anniversary all within a 17-day period.

I expect the rest of the year to finish out with more than the usual frenetic pacing. I’m packing additional stuff in there, including releasing Finding Refuge in paperback, publishing Taming Scrooge, and wrapping up the third book in the Heart’s Redemption series for release in January.

I clearly did not think through the timing of all that in conjunction with the rest of my life. But I will do what I always do as my roller coaster tears through the end of the year: Hold on tight, breathe, and enjoy the ride!

How does your year flow? Do you have an annual crazy section?

Do you remember?

11 Sep

My mother called that morning, eleven years ago, waking the Helvetican and me on a rare day off. “Turn on your TV,” she said. “A plane just hit one of the twin towers.”

The first channel visible when the TV came on showed the smoke pouring from the torn side of the tower. My heart lodged in my throat. How could such a terrible thing happen? It must be an accident, a horrible, impossible accident… And then the video filled with a second plane and the horror engulfed us, watching the plane deliberately fly into the side of the second tower.

I remember wishing fiercely that I could wake up for real and escape the nightmare.

I called my best friend, with whom I’d lived in upstate New York years before. With whom I’d explored the amazing, singular borough of Manhattan. She turned on her TV as I related what I knew so far, which was little. Together, linked by the phone, we watched the towers fall and cried for the city that held such a special place in our hearts. Later, as the magnitude of the day registered, as we learned this was far bigger than New York, that it was the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania–that it was our country–the emotions grew into something encompassing and surpassing sorrow and fear. Patriotism took hold, but more than that: a binding of countrymen that gave us all strength, and, for a while, made us all better, a collective loving and lifting one another.

We live directly under the flight path for planes landing at the airport. The silence felt so wrong. I’d tuned out the sounds of jets passing overhead long ago. To have them absent spoke volumes. Days later, when the first plane finally took that path, the whine of the engines shook me. Life returned to something resembling normal with the passing of that plane, though true ‘normal’ would never really come back.

And now, we find ourselves in an election year, each side tearing down the other, politics as usual. The economy has left us with yet another semblance of normal, while, for too many, true ‘normal’ has not returned, and may never return. And on this anniversary, when we mourn those lost, when we mourn all that followed, when we rub at the scars left behind, I can’t help but wish we could have held onto that sense of love and concern for one another, as fellow Americans. I wish we could grow that again, without suffering a tragedy first.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Public Affairs 2nd Class Mike Hvozda (Public Domain)

Musings: Last time for this life milestone

23 Jun

Yesterday, my youngest child, the Princess, obtained her driving learner’s permit. That’s the last time I’ll go through that particular milestone of life, hooray! Nothing is scarier than going through the process of teaching kids to drive, so I’m glad she’s the last one.

Life with the Princess has long been full of final milestones. With her, I’ve celebrated the VERY LAST diaper. (Well, until grandchildren. But you know what I mean.) The very last baby learning to crawl, to walk, to talk. The last bottle and binkie. The last time through the Terrible Twos and Tantrum-ridden Threes. The last first tooth lost. The last first day of school. The last graduate of elementary school. The final middle school student. The last time through every other measure of growth and change children go through to this point. She’ll be my final high school graduate in a couple of years.

I enjoyed those milestones with my firstborn, filled with wonder, because they were new accomplishments. I enjoyed them with sons 2, 3, and 4 because it was a measure of where they were in life, a sign they were growing up, that we were all moving along. But it’s different with the Princess. Partly because she’s female, and let’s face it, so many of those experiences are handled differently by boys and girls. So in a way, even though I’ve been through these things several times, with her they are new.

It also feels different to pass those milestones when you know it’s your last time. There’s a poignancy to tossing that last bottle in the trash, a wash of memories that accompanies the final act of the Tooth Fairy. Most of all, as her adulthood speeds ever closer, I leave behind more sure things and stare out at vast possibilities. Because when your children are growing, there are certain things you can count on. Certain experiences, milestones, that everyone passes through. You know, as much as you can ever know in life, that particular experiences are built into the timeline. There’s something stabilizing about knowing a bit of what to expect in the lives of your children. Once they graduate high school, the way-stations along that timeline become fewer. College or other post-secondary training options. A career. Marriage. Children of their own. My children may experience each of those, or only one or two. Or some more than once. It’s all unknown, a voyage of discovery.

I’m already there with my oldest three. Son 4 has one year left before he graduates and flies into the unknown. I’m glad I have a while longer with the Princess, to savor the last of the measured portion of her life, and of my own. After all, once she reaches adulthood and the world of possibilities opens before her, so will it open for me. Once I have completed the work of raising my children, and with my Helvetican still fully engaged in his career, I’ll find myself with nothing but a few vague possible milestones (grandchildren?) and a whole landscape of choices and opportunities. I’m going to have a blast!

If you’ve reached that point in your own life, what have you chosen to do as you move forward? If you’re not there yet, what do you dream of doing?

Book cover poses and the people who test them

24 Apr

My daughter gave me a hard time about the cover of Mending Fences when she first got a look at it. She zeroed in on the way the woman’s shoulder and arm look. Something about the top line seemed unnatural to her. It wasn’t until I took her in front of the mirror and positioned her like the cover that she saw, yes, indeed, that’s how her own arm looked in that pose.

The discussion reminded me of an awesome post back in January by Jim C. Hines. Mr. Hines is a fabulous writer. His series about Jig the Goblin is delightful, unique in its choice of hero, and very funny. His Princess Novels are another stroke of creative genius, twisting old fairy tales, using their darker origins, and turning princesses (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty,  and Snow White) into fantasy versions of Charlie’s Angels. Seriously, if you like fantasy or fairy tales, check these out. You will not be disappointed.

Now that I’ve told you a bit about Mr. Hines, I’ll explain how this relates to the book cover poses. Mr. Hines decided to discuss the frequently unnatural and downright ludicrous poses of women on fantasy and urban fantasy novels. Since pictures are worth a thousand words, he posted with photos of him mimicking the poses beside the actual book covers…and then discussed the pain involved in getting into those poses. And the post is a scream: http://www.jimchines.com/2012/01/striking-a-pose/

Now he has decided to take on male poses on UF and paranormal romance novel covers! http://jimhines.livejournal.com/628418.html His analysis of what is expected of men and women on covers is great.

Equally brilliant, I thought, is a post by Anna, a book blogger, who ran with the idea and did a side-by-side comparison of men’s vs. women’s poses. http://genrereviews.livejournal.com/371367.html

Really great stuff! I have only occasional flashes of brilliance myself, but I’m happy to take the opportunity to share the good things I stumble across.

What book cover poses have made you think the model must have been in pain or Photoshopped because a real body couldn’t possibly achieve that position?

Nora Roberts Hits a Milestone

18 Apr

Nora Roberts’s three decades of writing have led to 200 books – The Washington Post.

La Nora, the queen of romance, hit an awesome milestone with her latest release. 200 books published! What an amazing accomplishment.

My favorite quote from this article is an excellent response to people who belittle romance readers and writers:

Roberts claims not to care about what she calls the “literati war on women.” Just because many women “like to read about emotions,” she says, “doesn’t mean we don’t have intellect.” And anyway, she adds, “Why is it not healthy to believe in love? Why is it not valuable to write about strong, healthy women finding a strong, healthy relationship?”

I love that! I’ve long despised the dismissive attitude toward the genre of romance, the view that it is something less than worthy of a reader’s time. Even worse, that romance is bad or dangerous to women. Really? Reading about people falling in love and working against the odds to create a solid relationship is a problem?

I’ve heard the anecdotal claim multiple times that reading romance makes women dissatisfied with an otherwise fine relationship in real life. I’ve never seen that. If anything, I’ve noticed that lovers of romance novels tend to have strong, happy, fulfilling relationships.

Let’s take the claim to its logical end and see if it holds up: If romance novels can harm readers, what about the effects of thrillers on readers? Or, novels about serial killers? Mysteries? If a reader spends too much time in the shoes of a homicide detective hero, are they going to start trying to solve crimes in their spare time? Turn into a computer hacker bent on world domination? Start killing off their enemies and burying them in the woods? Ludicrous, isn’t it?

I started reading Nora with Irish ThoroughbredDo you read Nora Roberts/JD Robb? What is your favorite of her books?

The Wednesday of Impending Doom!

4 Apr

Okay, not really impending doom, but today is the last day of school before Spring Break, when my teens and all their friends will fill up the house, have lightsaber fights in the living room, and consume all the food like locusts. They’ll pile up blankets and pillows all over the TV room floor, layered like sediment with empty chip bags, candy wrappers, and empty soda cans. They’ll fall asleep in the wee hours of the night without turning off whatever horror movie is running, so I’ll eventually have to drag in there and try not to stumble over bodies to shut the system down… Yep, I had it right at the beginning. Impending doooooooom!

I really don’t mind, though. If they’re all here, I know where they are and I know what they’re doing. Always a good thing with teenagers.

Make sure to stop in Thursday or Friday. I’m participating in a 60-author blog hop in honor of paranormal romance author Carrie Ann Ryan’s birthday! Each author is going to talk about birthdays or why they love (or hate) them.

What does that mean for you as a reader? Each author is giving away a prize at their blog AND we’re giving away TWO grand prizes.

  1. A Kindle Touch
  2. A $60 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card

You can comment on each blog and every comment is an entry for the grand prizes! How great is that? The hop begins tomorrow, April 5th, and you have until 11:59PM on the 6th to participate!

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