23 February, 2010

Customizing Blogger

Hey ho!

I'm trying to make an affiliated blog for my sewing and things, but I'd like to customize the sidebar with badges and links to various quilt sites and forums that aren't official blogger 'widgets'. Does anyone know how to do that? I keep trying and it's not working, either my html code gets rejected, the link/pic doesn't show up, or it's in a weird place. I know diddly about coding, so if anyone has instructions oh how/where to insert code so that it goes in a sidebar, that'd be AWESOME!!

22 February, 2010

Movies. And Books.

I used to be a voracious reader, consuming pretty much anything but westerns at the rate of roughly a book a day. That pace slowed considerably after our daughter was born, and I finished college, and went to work full time, and, well, life happened. But I still read lots and lots, a couple of books a week or so anyway.

Until I 'became a writer' in more than the casual sense and began to understand how good prose works, and grammar and layering and theme and all that stuff. Selling (and going through the process of being professionally edited) pretty much ruined me for reading, at least for reading like a wild thing. It became WORK and there was that rotten need to red-pen everything, just like I had to do every day with my own prose. I had a great deal of trouble separating my writing brain from my reading brain because, for me, the two are incredibly linked.

19 February, 2010

Fear and Confidence

Two of the huge, crushing issues I struggle with every dang day.

Including today.

Why does this have to be so freaking HARD?!?

17 February, 2010

House for sale

There's a house in another little town that's, well, CHEAP. How cheap? $6,000 cheap. Yes, Six. Thousand. Dollars. No mortgage kinda cheap. Dirt freaking cheap. Laura - who spends most evenings watching House Hunters and Property Virgins and My First Place - is just about to quiver out of her skin.

Bill has tons of experience in remodeling fixer-upper houses, especially crap-tastic ones - our previous house, where we happily lived for 12 years, was just about a tearer-downer when we bought it. If the roof's not caving in, the plumbing and foundation are decent... she might just be buying a house. Maybe. I'll know more after she discusses the deal with her dad and after (if) they go look at it with Amy, our Realtor.

16 February, 2010

Mutter mutter

Blogger has decided to make my typeface freak out, adding extra carriage returns and changing fonts and things, and I don't know why. So I cut the two posts in question, not that either one was very interesting.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

10 February, 2010

Nothing's certain but snow and taxes

I did our taxes last week and helped Laura do hers today, so that's done for another year. The state seems to think we need to pay them more money, the bastuds!

Iowa currently has an average state-wide seasonal snowfall of 40 inches. I think we're a bit higher here in the north, around 50-55 inches. We have about 30 on the ground right now, give or take, and that's including a lot that's been packed down by time - snow settles - and occasional ice/sleet/drizzle. More snow's forecasted for later this week! I am VERY concerned about flooding this spring. Not for us so much, since we're on high ground and all, the worst we'll likely see is a little random basement seepage. But south of us, especially in the lower Des Moines area and other points along the Des Moines river (and further south yet into Missouri, Arkansas, etc) it might get REALLY bad. I wonder why no one's talking about spring run-off and flooding yet. This winter might make '93 and '07 look like kiddie parties.

08 February, 2010


I have a fairly minor character in the book - the MC's neighbor - who is a crankly old hag. She's also, to be blunt, racist and downright hateful.

How right, or wrong, is it to write her dialog accordingly? Are there any words off limits? Any sentiments? I like to explore what makes people how they are, and I love dichotomy. How can the lady one one side be so nice and helpful while the other so nasty? What makes them the same, and what makes them different, and how does all that play into my character's own struggles with her own identity as her life is completely shattered?

But I worry that my tendency to explore the dark side of humanity will once again go too far. Can an easy-going white gal from the midwest write about race and prejudice?

What to do, what to do?

Let's Bowl!

On the Wii, anyway.

Laura wanted Wii Resort for her birthday and she and Bill have been one-upping each other even since. Sword fighting. Frisbee throwing (complete with cute digital dogs). Water skiing. Archery. And Hundred-Pin Bowling. Bill's on top, then Laura is. Then there's much trash talking and tongue-sticking-out as they vie for top spot. Again.

Last night, Laura was obliterating her dad's high score practicing hundred pin bowling. I asked if I could give it a shot, so we played against each other.  I won, just by three pins, but it was enough to smack them both down, dangit! It helped, of course, that I was new and the game wasn't making itself tougher yet. But, still.

Kicking their bowling butts by whipping my arm around made me mess up my shoulder. It feels much better tonight but is still achy. And, as an added bonus, I have a numb spot on the tip of my thumb (with a lesser one on my index fingertip) which, apparently, is a common set of 'video gamer injuries'. Bill says I need to develop a better callus on my button hand. I'd rather have full-feeling in my fingertips, thanks anyway.

Bill and Laura have since removed me from the high score list, dang them! But for one shining moment, I was the best bowler in the house. ;)

05 February, 2010


Sign Sign everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

Forty years ago, a group called the Five Man Electrical Band wrote this song (Bill hates it, I love it)

Lately, it seems like there are signs just for me and my current brain-dwell du'jour. I see connections in conversations, TV shows, blogs, emails, news articles, magazines... All over. Connections that say I need to suck it up and get it done already.

Now if I could only convince myself - and my timidity - to get to it.

04 February, 2010


A friend recently facebooked about buying books from non-Amazon online retailers to support Macmillan's side of that particular equation. I just had to comment because here, in the wilds of Iowa, we HAVE NO BOOKSTORES.

The BDalton in a nearby mall closed before Christmas. That leaves the Borders in Ames or Bookery in Mason City as the next closest (grocery stores, Target, and WalMart have a few titles, but very limited selections). It sucks, driving nearly and hour and a half just to pick up a friends' most recent paperback.

So. Anyway. PLEASE patronize your local bookstores if at all possible instead of Amazon or BN.com or whatever. Keep books local, and jobs local.

03 February, 2010


My daughter turned twenty today - Tuesday - and I'm totally cool with it. Unlike my mother who gets very, um, emotional - yeah, let's call it that - whenever I hit an age with a zero at the end. Why? Because SHE will hit a 20-year higher age about 10 weeks later. Least I think that's why. Me turning twenty meant she'd turn - gasp! - 40! She wouldn't let Kelly and I look at her wrist-band at the eye surgeon's yesterday because it had her age on it. God forbid anyone saw that number, even though Kelly and I both knew exactly what that was.

I tuned 45 last June. Laura turned 20 today. And I think that's just fine. I've earned every gray hair on my head, every wrinkle on my face. I'll even claim the saggy parts, creaky bits, and faint age-spots slowly darkening on the back of my hands. I've never understood why someone's age is shameful or a big secret. It's just a number. My mother bawled when *I* turned 30. For me, it was just another birthday. Same with 25. 40. 45. Every age. My daughter's birthdays, however, are a different story for me. They're happy, cheerful, delightful days. I made her favorite skillet chicken-tomato-pasta dish for supper, baked her favorite lemon-poppyseed cake, bought her favorite cookies and cream ice cream. She even got to open a present she really wanted - picked it up while I was in Des Moines yesterday. We teased her all day about 'Happy GroundHog Day!' - which we always do. Laura's birthdays rock!

Two decades ago I gave birth to a remarkable, amazing, brilliant, funny, beautiful, creative, kind, intelligent, sweet, gorgeous, and much loved human being. She's twenty, all grown up, and we couldn't be more proud. Hope you had a great birthday, punkin!

01 February, 2010

2-for-1 medical special!

My mom had cataract surgery this morning. The whole procedure was totally uneventful, other than Kelly and me flipping her crap while we sat around waiting, mostly because it's really fun to flip Mom crap. She calls it 'giving her a measure of shit' and I particularly liked the part about how her new clear eye patch they taped onto her face to keep her from rubbing her eye is the Mom equivalent of a cone around a dog's neck so they won't lick their stitches. So, Mom, do NOT lick your stitches!

Edna had her breathing tube removed this morning and I went there after Mom was done and heading home with Kelly. The tube removal was not a success because her throat is so enflamed and bruised that it kept closing up. So, tomorrow, they're putting in a trachea tube. They'd drained some fluid off her lung Friday and she looks LOADS better, thank goodness. I got to chat a bit with her locally-living boys Chuck and Clark, and daughter Becky who is up visiting from Texas. Was nice to see them. Edna held and squeezed my hand the whole time I was there. I got a hug. Was a nice visit, even tho it was in ICU.

Being Monday in one of the most problematic winters in recent memory (one where every Monday seems to bring an ice storm or blizzard), of course I was in Des Moines, a hundred miles from home just as another winter storm decided to hit. Was supposed to be flurries, and, at first, it was, but by the time I crossed Hwy 30, heading north, it had turned icky. And was icky all the rest of the way home. I drove from just past Hwy 30 to Hwy 20 - about 28 miles - right behind a plow/sand/salt/spray truck, and I was happy to stay there. Visibility is awful, but it's not slick at all behind one of those. I just wish he could have moved a smidge faster, I really wanted to get home before dark. Slow road-conditions truck and all, I made home safely, with about 45 min to spare! Wooohoo!!

Now, tho, I'm off to nap with my sweetie! Hope y'all are staying warm and safe! {{huggs}}