Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

I just want to thank you all for visiting and commenting during the past year.  It's been fun sharing things with you.

Wishing all my friends a 

Joyful and Blessed Christmas,

Happy Holidays

of every kind,


 the Best of Everything in 2012.

Merry Christmas.

(No groaner today.  Consider it my Christmas gift to you.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Hump Day - and Head To Maria's

Happy Hump Day.  I'm over at Maria Zannini's DIY Christmas today sharing a family favorite recipe.  Hop on over and check it out.  Leave me a comment so I won't feel lonesome.

But I can't leave you without a little something to help you over the hump so here's a sign of the times.

This is the story of the Nativity - electronic style.

Have to toss this one in, too. 
Finally, a Microsoft Windows message we can use.

Have a happy hump day.  Don't forget to stop by Maria's

Groaner of the Day: A guy goes to his dentist for a checkup.  After a brief examination, the dentist exclaims, "Holy Smoke! That plate I installed in your mouth about six months ago has nearly completely corroded! What on earth have you been eating?"

"Well, the only thing I can think of is... my wife made me some asparagus about four months ago with this stuff on it - Hollandaise sauce, she called it - and doctor, I'm talkin' DELICIOUS! I've never tasted anything like it.  So for the past four months I've been putting it on everything...meat, fish, toast, vegetables, you name it - I'm eating it with Hollandaise sauce!"

"That's probably it," replied the dentist. "Hollandaise sauce is made with lemon juice, which is acidic and highly corrosive. It seems as though I'll have to install a new plate, but made out of chrome this time."

"Why chrome?" the man asked.

"Well, everyone knows that there's no plate like chrome for the Hollandaise!"

(I'm so sorry.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Better Late than Never?

Okay, this isn't exactly Monday morning, but it's still Monday so I'm not officially late on this post.

Actually I have three pretty good reasons for being slow posting today. 

First, I'm still working my way through all the great posts and comments from last Friday's Deja Vu Blogfest.  Finding lots of new and interesting blogs as I go.  (Hi to all my new friends.)

Second, I took some time this morning to drive a couple of my grandkids to a local family homeless shelter.  The kids had sorted through their "pre-loved" toys and stuffed animals and set aside several bags to give to the children who were spending Christmas without a home.  A good reason, don't you think? (Yeah, I was proud.)

Third, I was up until 3:00 this morning doing my annual search for pictures for my Christmas letter. (Yes, I'm just now writing the letter, so you see this post is not the only thing I'm behind on).   This would seem to be an easy task.  I'm a regular shutterbug, especially with the family, so there are lots of shots to choose from.  But therein lies the problem.  Which pictures best reflect everything the family has been up to all year?  And then there's that other issue - God forbid I end up with more of one kid than another.  This is serious stuff.

Serious stuff I should have been doing several weeks ago. (Darn home improvement project.)  So I'd better get back to it.

What do you think?  Christmas letter material?
 How about you?  Ready for Christmas or frantically scrambling?  No doubt which mode I'm in.

Groaner of the Day: Two men were out hunting in the woods. One of them was a fanatical huntsman. The other was his friend, a peaceful nature loving fellow who didn't really want to hurt anything.

They had been out in the woods for some time when they picked up the tracks of a deer. They soon caught up with it, and it was easy to tell why the animal had been so easy to track.  The deer had been injured and obviously could not see out of one eye.

The hunter started to take aim but his friend begged him to stop.

"It just wouldn't be fair," he said.  "Can't you see that's a bad eye deer?"

Friday, December 16, 2011

Deja Vu Blogfest Presents:

Yea!  It's December 16 - Deja Vu Blogfest Day.

I've got to admit it was interesting, wandering through my past blogs, hunting for the one I wanted to re-post today.  I've only been blogging about a year and a half  (a little over a year as Linda Leszczuk and the last four months as LD Masterson) so there was no ancient history involved.  No gems to be found in the first few months and then we had a run of family losses that cast a shadow over most of last fall so I starting finding more posts of interest in early 2011.  This one is from March 7. 

I know more authors who have gone the self e-publishing route since I wrote this but I'm still very much on the fence.  What are your thoughts?

By the way, the groaner is also from the original post.

 As Clear as Mud - The New World of Publishing

It's There is a line in the long running play Chorus Line, spoken by a young dancer, which goes something like, "Don't tell me Broadway is dead. I just got here."

Sometimes I feel a little like that. I finally have the chance to throw myself full time into my life long dream - that of seeing my book on the shelf of my local bookstore - and all I hear is bookstores are dying and good old fashioned books aren't far behind. The reality of the future is the e-book.

I'm trying to adjust. I have a Nook. It's not my favorite way to read but I do use it. And I know several authors who have books out that were published in e-format only. It's a legitimate form of publication. But hope springs eternal and I'm still hoping to someday see my words in print. Old fashioned print...on paper.

Unfortunately, everything I'm reading these days says the sad state of the brick and mortar bookstore is impacting the publishing world as well. With less store shelves to fill, publishers will be publishing fewer books, especially from new and mid-list authors, and many may be published in e-format only. Also, publishers are expecting authors do to more self-promoting and marketing these days. This is leading a lot of authors to consider the option of self-publishing online. Cut out the middle man (the publisher) altogether. Increase the author's profits.

I see the logic in it. But to me the whole idea of "being published" has always meant someone, a professional in the publishing business, thought something I wrote was worth publishing. That was a biggie. Even if it wasn't a best seller (hey, we're talking dreams here) I would still be able to say, "Yes, I had a book published." Putting it out there myself would feel a bit like selling my work at a garage sale because it wasn't good enough for a store.

I have concerns from a reader's perspective as well. When I go into a book store or a library looking for something to read, I know I'm choosing among books that some professional editors/publishers thought were good enough to print. Will I always agree? Of course not. But I will have a baseline level of expectation. If I'm shopping online in a sea of self-published books, how much time will I have to waste separating the carefully crafted novel from sloppy first draft someone threw together and figured was good enough to put out there? If this becomes an issue, will e-book sellers offer readers the option of shopping for "published" e-books only and, if so, what would that do to the self-published market?

Lots of questions. Very few answers. What are your thoughts?

Groaner of the day: A hungry lion was roaming through the jungle looking for something to eat. He came across two men. One was sitting under a tree reading a book; the other was typing away on his typewriter. The lion quickly pounced on the man reading the book and devoured him.

Even the king of the jungle knows that readers digest, and writers cramp.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Hump Day - Ho Ho Ho

Happy Hump Day!

My apologies for not posting on Monday but I was off line due to the carpet installers. Now I'm in the process of moving everything back into my new "office".  Trying to establish order amidst choas.  I'm not there yet.

Something a little different this week, in keeping with the season.  This is a wonderful video of pre-school and kindergarten students explaining the story of the Nativity.

Wasn't that great?  That should help you over the hump.

I'm enjoying lots of Christmas concerts this week.  Fourth grade choir and seventh grade band (back to back) on Tuesday and seventh grade orchestra on Thursday.  If that doesn't get you in the mood for the holiday, nothing will.

Speaking of Christmas music, here are a couple questions for you - which do you prefer, modern or traditional; and what's your all time favorite Christmas song (include the artist if you have a preference).

In place of today's groaner, I want to share a true funny.  Conversation at my son's house involving Dad, Mom, Daughter G, and Son C:

D - Who has a favorite Christmas carole?
M - I like The Little Drummer Boy.
C - I like Jingle Bells.
G - I like the Dreidle Song
D - Um, G, I know you learned that song at school for the holidays but that isn't really a Christmas song.  That song celebrates the holiday of Hanukkah.
G - Huh?
M - You remember, that's the Jewish holiday where they light the menorah, the special candles, to remember-
C - [breaks in] I know!  I know the song you sing when you light the special candles.
D - You do?
C - Sure. [starts singing] Happy Birthday to you...

Have a wonderful day.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Happenings at Maria Zannini's

Whoa! Where is my head these days?  On Monday, November 24, I told you about a great upcoming blogfest I found over on Lydia Kang's The World is My Oyster, but I forgot to post the logo/link on my sidebar.  It's there now.  This is a one day event, happening on December 16, so there's still plenty of time to join in.

Now for the bigger oops - I totally missed announcing the start of Maria Zannini's Christmas blog series, Do It Yourself Christmas. 

Maria's lined up a great series of guests who are posting on Christmas food, crafts, and traditions.  Even better, many of the posts include special giveaways.  What more could you ask for?  It started Wednesday so you'll want to go back and catch them all.  My contribution will be posted on December 21.  It's a recipe my family has loved for generations so I hope you'll come by.  The link to this one is also on my sidebar so you won't forget.

Is everyone getting ready for Christmas?

Groaner of the Day:  An enterprising journalist decided to get the scoop of the day by photographing the fearsome phantom that lived in the spooky old mansion house at the edge of town.

When he entered the house, armed with only his camera, the ghost decended upon him, moaning and wailing and clanking chains.

"I mean no harm; I just want your photograph," the journalist said bravely.

Surprisely, the ghost liked the idea and posed for a number of shots.  The happy journalist rushed back to his darkroom and began developing the photos.

Unfortunately, they turned out to be so underexposed that the ghost couldn't be seen.

The journalist was so distraught, he went to a local pub to drown his sorrows.  Some friends happened by and asked what was wrong.  With a sigh, he told them,

"The spirit was willing, but the flash was weak."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Hump Day (back on schedule)

Okay, today we have an all puppy collection.  I'd love to claim credit for the captions but they were already on the pictures when I received them.

Happy Hump Day, my friends.

What?! I didn't.....I....I was just thirsty.


Go on - tickle me. You know you wanna.


Heh heh heh. I went through your bag, man, and I found this little bag of green stuff. So I totally ate it. Awesome. Heh heh heh.

Why don't they want [sniff] to play with me?

My apologies to all you cat lovers.  Some Wednesday I'll do an all-kitten post.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Groaner of the Day:  A botanist was trying to research some details about a particular kind of fern, the braken variety.  He sent a request to all his collegues, asking them to send him any information they had about it.

Unfortunately, he didn't word his request very well and all the botanists he'd contacted thought he was looking for details about any ferns, rather than just the one species. So within just a few hours, his fax machine was churning out piles of useless documents about all kinds of ferns - there were tree ferns and wood ferns, ostrich ferns and cinnamon ferns... but very few about the particular type he wanted.

In desperation, he sent another message to everyone asking please...

if it ain't bracken, don't fax it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Knowing Who to Root For

Have you ever watched Harry's Law?  It's a TV show about a quirky group of lawyers staring Kathy Bates (the first reason I started watching it) and set in Cincinnati (the second reason). 

Last week's episode had a couple legal cases that made me glad I wasn't on the jury of either one.  One was a couple of parents taking legal action against their son's school after he died from injuries recieved in a high school football game. Their stand was that football is too dangeerous and should be banned.  Ridiculous, huh?  Until a number of recent studies were sited that showed the long term brain damage associated with playing football, especially with young players, even if no serious injuries were ever diagnosed.  Harry's closing argument was that she personally loved football, it's part of our culture, but...if medical studies prove the sport is far more dangerous than it was believed to be, should our youth still be allowed to play?

It was a good, thought provoking, not-sure-which-way-I'd-vote, kind of show.  I like those.  That is, I like those kind of stories on TV.  But for some reason, I don't like them in books.  When I'm reading a book, I want to know who to root for.  I want to know who the good guy is, or which is the right cause.  Maybe a little uncertainty for the sake of suspense, but I want it clear at the end.  I don't want to come away from a book thinking - you know, I would have been just as happy if the other guy had won, got the girl, whatever.

Maybe reading a book requires more emotional investment so I want a definite payoff.  I'm not sure.  How about you?  Do you want a story to have a clear cut right and wrong?  Is it different for TV verses books?  What about movies?  Do you want to know who to root for or do you like more gray and less black and white?

Groaner of the Day: William Penn, the founder and mayor of Philadelphia, had two aunts - Hattie and Sophia - who were skilled in the baking arts. One day, Penn was petitioned by the citizens of his town because the  bakeries in the town had, during the Revolution, raised the price of pies to the point that only the rich could afford them. 

Not wanting to challenge the bakeries directly, he turned to his aunts and asked their advice. When they heard the story, the two old ladies were so incensed over the situation that they offered to bake 100 pies themselves, and sell them for 2 cents lower that any of the bakeries were charging.

It was a roaring success. Their pies sold out quickly, and very soon they had managed to bring down the price of all kinds of pastry in Philadelphia.

In fact, even to this very day, their acheivements are remembered as the remarkable -
Pie rates of Penn's aunts.

(think Gilbert & Sullivan)

Thursday, December 1, 2011 After Hump Day

Okay, I'm still way behind. My computer is now on the floor, as am I at the moment, while I relocate the desk.  I haven't visited anyone's blog this week - please forgive me - and I missed my Hump Day post.

I haven't had time to dig up some good pictures for you so I offer this instead. I'll bet some of these strike a chord.


1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

8. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

9. Bad decisions make good stories.

10. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

11. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection ... again.

12. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

13. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this - ever.

14. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

15. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day.  What a waste.

16. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

17. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

18. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid " routing option.

19. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.

20. I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

21. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

22. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

23. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent an a ** from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

24. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Jeans? Jeans never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

25. Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every year?

26. There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

27. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

28. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my behind everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

Disclaimer:  Not all of the above reflect the opinion of the management.  But most of them...oh, yeah.

Don't give up on me, I'll be back to visiting you all again soon.  Promise.

Oh, one picture for you.  Yesterday, I was wondering why the birdfeeders in my yard were all unoccupied.  Then I spotted this guy. 

He was at least a foot tall, sitting directly above a finch feeder, waiting for lunch to fly in.  Beautiful, but I still went outside and suggested he try somewhere else.  Wish I could have gotten a picture of him flying off.  Awesome wingspan.
Groaner of the Day:  A mother skunk gave birth to twins, whom she named In and Out.

One day In was out, so she aked Out,"Out, go out and find In. In's out and I want him in."

"What?" said Out.

"In's out and I want him in. I've been looking for ages and can't find him, so I want you to go out, Out, find In and bring him in."

So Out goes out to look for his brother In, and within seconds of leaving, he comes back with In in tow.  His mother asks, "Out, how did you find In so quickly?"

"Easy," answered Out. "In stinkt."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Where the Heck is She?

Yup, I missed last Friday's post (planned) and yesterday's (unplanned).  Let me tell you why.

It all started a couple months ago when I realized my hubby and I needed more desktop space.  We were always having to move eath other's papers out of the way to use the desk/computer.  But there really wasn't room for another desk or work surface in our office/guest room so I decided to change our two spare bedrooms from office/guest room and grandkids' room to office and grandkids' room/guest room. 

Since we were going to do all this moving, it seemed like the perfect time to give the room a major face lift.  New paint, new molding, new carpet - the works.

Step one was to empty the office/guest room of everything except the computer desk (have to keep the computer up), including the closet.  This led to a massive purging of old clothes and the dumping of furniture and stuff into every spare corner of other bedrooms.  The paint was picked and purchased, as was the floor, door, and window molding.  We got to this point early last month.  And stopped.

I'm not sure why.  Part of it was my fear that I'd picked the wrong color paint and would hate it.  Part was...well...laziness.  But there we were.  Everything ready but no forward progress.

Then two things happened.  One, the weather turned cold and I had to bring in all the plants from the deck that I keep inside for the winter.  Two, it was time to put up the Christmas decorations.  But the places I always put the incoming plants were occupied by all the stuff from the almost empty room, as were the places I usually store the things I take down to make room for Christmas.


Two choices.  Dump everything that needed a temporary home into the "office" or finish the blasted project.

On Saturday, we ripped out all the old molding and removed the closet doors (full wall closet - big doors).  Then I painted (hubby isn't much of a painter) the ceiling and the inside of the closet white (two different paints).  Sunday,  I painted all the walls.   Yesterday, I painted all the molding and the window.  The molding was easy, the window required the usual scraping and cleaning.

Now everything gets to dry for a couple days while we order the carpet. Then the new molding gets installed, followed by the carpet and I can start moving things into our new office.

But this is my current work space:

Not too comfortable since I have to keep the window open so it won't dry closed (remember what I said about the weather) so my trips to the computer are short lived.  Please forgive me if I fall a little behind visiting your blog and leaving comments for a few days.  I'll get caught up as soon as order is restored.

Hope things are a little calmer in your world and all my NaNo-ing friends are breaking through that 50,000 word mark.

Groaner of the Day:  Although he was a qualified meteorologist, Hopkins ran up a terrible record of forecasting for the TV news programme. He became something of a local joke when a newspaper began keeping a record of his predictions and showed that he'd been wrong almost three hundred times in a single year.

That kind of notoriety was enough to get him fired.

He moved to another part of the country and applied for a similar job. But in the interview for the post, they asked him the one question he was dreading: "What was the reason for you leaving your last job?"

Hopkins replied, "The climate didn't agree with me."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Yes, it's supposed to be Happy Hump Day but with Thanksgiving tomorrow and so many people off work one or more days this week, I didn't think we needed that mid-week boost.

Instead, my favorite all time Thanksgiving Day cartoons.  If you've been with me since last Thanksgiving, you may remember these.

Gotta love it.

And this one always gets me.

Okay, simple minds are tickled by simple things.

Adding this one (new this year).

But I think my best laugh this year came from the sweatshirt a friend was wearing last weekend.  A turkey carrying a picket sign that read: "EAT MORE PIZZA"

Okay, I guess that will do it for the turkeys.

A question for today, Black Friday - do you or don't you?  Personally, you couldn't pay me to fight the shopping crowds on Friday.  How about you? 

But I do have a busy day planned Friday so I'm giving myself the day off blogging.  Please come back and see me on Monday.

Groaner of the Day:  In keeping with the holiday, I offer these (really bad) riddles.

Why did the turkey cross the road?
It was the chicken's day off.

If the Pilgrims were alive today, what would they be most famous for?
Their age.

What are the feathers on a turkey's wings called?
Turkey feathers.

Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?
Yes - a building can't jump at all.

How can you make a turkey float?
You need 2 scoops of ice cream, some root beer, and a turkey.

Which side of the turkey has the most feathers?
The outside.

Happy Thanksgiving Day to you all.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Déjà Vu Blogfest!

First I'd like to thank everyone who offered advice and/or moral support on my cry for help last Friday.  I think I've got the basics figured out at least enough to join and promote the Blogfest I was talked about.

It's a cool little Blogfest. I found it on Lydia Kang's blog The World is my Oyster.  It's the

The idea is to dig out one of your favorite past posts - a big news post or something especially fun or informative, whatever - and re-post it on December 16th.  This should make December 16th a "Best of" day for everyone who participates.  How fun and how easy is that?

Okay, if I've figured out Mr. Linky at all (and this is still questionable), you should be able to sign up here:

If not, just hop over to Lydia's blog and join from there.
And thanks for not laughing at my technical ineptitude.
Looking ahead, our family is celebrating two holidays this week.  Thanksgiving, of course, but also on that day, I become the grandmother of a *gasp* teenager.  My eldest grandson is turning thirteen.  Wow, I feel old.
Then (first birthday)

and now.

Happy Birthday, Drake.
Groaner of the Day:  A debt collector knocked on the door of a country family, that made their living weaving cloth.
"Is Jack home?" he asked the woman who answered the door.
"Im sorry," the woman replied. "Jack's gone for cotton."
A few weeks later the collector tried again. "Is Jack here today?"
Once again the answer was "No, sir, I'm afraid he has gone for cotton."
When he returned for the third time and Jack was still nowhere to be seen, he complained, "I suppose Jack is gone for cotton again?"
"No," the woman answered solemnly, "Jack died yesterday."
Suspicious that he was being tricked, the collector decided to wait a week and investigate the cemetery himself. But sure enough, there was poor Jack's tombstone, with this inscription: ...
"Gone, But Not for Cotton."

(oh, that's so bad)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Blogfests and Linky Widgets and...HELP!!!

I've never signed up to join a blogfest.  Usually I've been a little intimidated by the number or frequency of posts required.  But I saw a nice little one over at Lydia Kang's blog that I thought I could handle.  One post and not even a new one at that.  Oh yeah, that's my speed.  So I decided to give it a try.

I entered my name and URL, clicked on Subscribe and, lo and behold, my name was added to the list.  Then I was magically tranported to the Mister Linky site where I followed the steps to set up an account.  So far so good. 

Not quite sure what to do next, I went back to Lydia's blog and saw a link to Get the Code.  Clicked there and found myself back at Mister Linky, who gave me the code but told me I needed to click on Subscribe to subscribe to that meme.  There didn't seem to be any magic Subscribe buttons on that page so I went back to Lydia's blog and tried Subscribing again.  Now my name is in the list twice.  Back to Get the Code and Mr. Linky still says "you've selected a shared meme to which you are not currently subscribed."  

I've left a comment on Lydia's blog apologizing for my woeful failure as a blogfester and asking for help, but since I've already revealed my ignorance I might as well ask here, too.

Can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong? 

Groaner of the Day:  Animal activist Bo Derek was horrified to learn that the Queen of England wears antique sable coats.  She decided to confront the Queen over the issue, and arranged to get herself invited to an event which the Queen was also due to attend.

A month later, they were at a high class tea party.   Rich people everywhere.  Bo started looking around for the Queen. Sure enough, there she was, and wearing sable.

It was time for the confrontation!  Bo marched up to the Queen, stated her cause, and demanded an answer.

Queen Elizabeth responded haughtily: "Some wear old fur to reign, Bo."

(Betcha had to say it out loud to get it.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Happy Hump Day - and We Have a Winner

Happy Hump Day.

First, let me congratulate the winner of last week's Caption Contest, Sarah Allen.  Sarah, I'll be contacting you by e-mail so you can chose your prize.  Thanks to everyone for playing.  You always come up with some great captions.

Something a little different today.  The following series of pictures show debating church signs.  Yes, they are obviously fake and I mean no disrespect to anyone's faith or church affiliation - but this made me laugh out loud so I'm sharing it with you.

For my own part, I offer this quote from Will Rogers:  "If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."

And since I can't ask you to get through Hump Day without at least one "aw", I offer this little face...

You said it.  I know you did.

Groaner of the Day:  (I've got a theme going today)  There was a young boy who lived with his family on a farm in the countryside. One building on the farm was a large ice-house, where produce was stored until market day.

One day, the boy was playing near the ice-house, and happened to notice that a family of wrens (small birds) had got themselves trapped in the building. The boy opened the doors, and tried to coax them out, but oddly, they didn't seem to want to come.

The boy was very worried about the little birds because it was so cold in the ice-house, and checked on them every day.  To be certain they'd be okay, he included them in his nightly prayers...

"...and God bless all the little chilled wrens."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just Rambling on a Monday Morning

Okay, you're my loyal followers.  I can't lie to you.  I got nothing.  Been wracking my brains for a good blog topic for today and it's just not happening.  No great information to share, no deep insights to offer.  Just some rambling thoughts on a Monday morning.

I bought my first Christmas presents this weekend.  One real gift and a few stocking stuffers for the kids.  Guess this is not going to be that year I get all my shopping done early so I can relax and enjoy the season.

Missed my early morning walk this morning.  Pouring rain and high winds.  Mother Nature is doing her best to strip the remaining leaves from the trees before winter arrives. (It's a shame she didn't do that for our friends in the northeast.)  It's unseasonably warm today but that's about to change.  According to last night's weather forecast, the low tomorrow is supposed to be 47 and the high on Wednesday will be 45.  I'm trying to figure out how we get past 46.  What do you think?

Things are supposed to warm back up a bit next weekend.  Hubby and I agreed to put up the outside Christmas lights then even though we don't turn them on until the day after Thanksgiving. 

My eldest called me today to let me know younger grandson's wrestling season begins on Sunday.  I love to see the grandkids play, perform, compete, whatever.  I happily attend games, meets, matches, concerts, performances, and recitals.  Wrestling meets are not my favorite.  Don't get me wrong, I love watching him wrestle, but have you ever been to a wrestling meet?  His are always on Sundays, somewhere between an hour to an hour and a half away (from my house, not his), and begin at 9:00 a.m.  He usually wrestles in three to five matches which last approximately one to five minutes each and are spread over most of the day.  So it's get up early and drive,  find a spot in the bleechers and wait, cheer like mad for a couple minutes, buy an over priced cup of something to stay awake, more waiting, cheer like mad for a couple minutes, walk around to get the circulation moving in my rear from those wooden bleechers, more waiting...  Well, you get the idea.  Swimming/diving meets are pretty much the same (I go to a lot of these, too).   I've tried taking a book to read but it seems rude not to at least pretend interest in the other kids' matches.  Any wrestlers, swimmers, divers, etc. in your family?  How do you handle the long meets?

Okay, I'm sticking in this picture just because I like it.

I took this a few weeks ago.  How could you not want to capture that sky?

Okay.  Nuff rambling for today.  What's wandering through your mind this Monday morning? 

Check back on Wenesday for the winner of last week's Hump Day Caption Contest.

Groaner of the Day: Kenny Rogers and his entourage are aboard their tourbus on their way to a concert in Denver, when they get a flat tire. The mechanic jumps off the bus to fix the flat, but because they're already behind schedule and in a hurry, he neglects to double check that the lug nuts are properly tightened down.

Shortly thereafter, as the bus goes around a curve on a twisty mountain highway, the entire wheel comes off. The bus veers off the road, and plunges down the side of the mountain.

Everybody on board is killed, except for a young "roadie" who happened to be lying in his bunk, and was somewhat shielded from the crash by his mattress.  The kid is lying in his hospital bed being interviewed by the press, and one reporter asks him if Kenny Rogers had said any last words?

"Yes," said the young man, "he did." As the bus went over the edge I could hear Mr. Rogers singing -

"You picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheel..."

Friday, November 11, 2011

To Say Thank You

Veterans Day.  One of those lesser holidays.   You may or may not get off work.  The kids may or may not get off school.  Heck, most of the stores don't even bother to have a special sale.  After all, it's just Veterans Day.

But maybe we could take a minute today, to stop and reflect.  To honor.  To say thanks.

I have a couple veterans I'd like to honor.

To my father, Frank Masterson, who served our country in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Thanks, Dad.

Thanks also to my uncles - George Masterson, U.S. Army, WW II; Leslie Masterson, U.S. Army, WW II; and William Masterson, U.S. Army, Korea.

Thank you to my brother, Frank L. Masterson, who served our country in the U.S. Army in Viet Nam.

Thank you, Frank.

And may we never again treat our returning servicemen and women as so many of you were treated when you came home.

Thank you to my husband, Stan Leszczuk, who served our country in the U.S. Air Force for twenty years.

You made me proud to be an Air Force wife.

Thank you to all those men and women who stepped up when their country called, ready to give whatever was needed - up to and including their life.

Please, take a moment today and thank a veteran.

Groaner of the Day:  A Grandmother was surprised by her 7 year old grandson one morning when he had made her coffee.

She drank what was the worst cup of coffee in her life. When she got to the bottom there were three of those little green army men in the cup. She said, "Honey, what are the army men doing in my coffee?"

Her grandson said, "Grandma, it says on TV-'The best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup!'"

(If you don't get this one, you're too young to remember the commercial it's based on.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Hump Day Caption Contest

Happy Hump Day.  It's time for another Hump Day Caption Contest.  You know how it works - give me a caption for one or more of the five pictures below and your name goes into the hat (one time for each caption) for a drawing to win a free book.  The winner gets to chose from a list of titles. 

We've had some great captions in past contests. Let's see if we can top them.






Ready, set, go!

And don't forget to leave me your e-mail address so I can contact the winner.

Groaner of the Day: This piece of string walks into a bar. Before he gets halfway to the bar, the bartender calls out "Hey! String! We don't serve your sort in here."

Not to be deterred, the string tries to order a drink, but when the bartender pulls a pair of scissors out from behind the bar, the piece of string decides to leave, running for the door.

Hours later, the piece of string is still frustrated at not being able to get a drink anywhere. He's all twisted up and his ends are coming loose from being thrown out of so many bars.

Before going into the last bar, the piece of string ruffles his ends up even more and contorts himself even more.

As he goes into the last bar, the bartender calls out "Hey! You!" Looking carefully, he asks "Are you a piece of string?"

Feigning ignorance, the piece of string says "No, I'm a frayed knot."

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm an Idiot!! (The Tale of the Garage Door Remote)

A couple months ago I started having trouble with the remote control on my garage door opener.  Sometimes I'd hit the button and the door would immediately go up (or down, as the case may be), but sometimes I'd have to play this little game.  Shake it. Hit the button. Groan. Smack it against my hand. Hit the button. Mutter. Rap it on the steering wheel.  Hit the button. Curse. Repeat cycle while debating at what point I was going to give up, leave the car in the driveway, and enter the house via the front door.

I mentioned this problem to my beloved spouse who decided the remote needed a new battery.  We have a spare remote but no battery for it.  Since the remotes use a very funky little battery, he took the spare to the store to get one installed.  But when he brought it home, the spare remote wouldn't talk to the door opener.

"I know," he told me.  "After putting in a new battery, the remote has to be programmed to the same frequency as the opener.  You need to pull out the manual to see how to do that."

I went to the file drawer where we keep the forty two thousand manuals for all of the forty two thousand electronic devices we have ever owned and went through them, one by one.  I found the manual for the boom box we bought our now 39 year old son when he was 16.  I found the manuals for for three different microwave ovens (we only own one).  I even found the manual for the eight-track player we had in our old car (how many of you even know what an eight track is?).  I did not find a manual for the garage door opener.

The search for the missing manual fell by the wayside while the shake, hit, smack, and curse dance became more and more frequent.  Our electric garage door opener, unfortunately, does not have an external entry key pad.  It works one of two ways - by the remote or by the button mounted next to the internal door leading into the kitchen.  So if you're outside, coming in, you're pretty much limited to entering the house via the front door, going through the kitchen and hitting the wall button on your way through the garage to bring in the car.  If you're leaving and need to close the garage door behind you, you can do the same thing in reverse or, if you're very quick and very agile, you might be able to hit the button, race to the front of the garage and leap over the safety sensors before the door comes down on your head.  I am neither very quick nor very agile.

Thus has gone the last couple weeks.  The remote in my car had given up the ghost.  The remote with the new battery was waiting to be programmed.  The manual was still missing.  And I was going in and out by racing through the house to open and close the garage door.

Now you may be asking yourself why I didn't just leave the car outside.  The answer is I drive a ten year old Saab convertable that has yet to see her first scratch or ding.  She is my baby and I am very protective of her.  You might also ask why I didn't simply move the new funky little battery from one remote to the other.  The answer to this is because I assumed that since my beloved spouse took the remote to the store with him to get the new battery, it must require some sort of special installation (see title of post).  

Jump to this weekend.  While looking for something else entirely I found the missing manual (please don't ask where).  Instructions for programming a new remote involved opening the big box thing hooked to the big track thing on the ceiling in the garage.  I moved my car outside - after opening the door using the button on the wall - got on a step ladder and managed to open the box.  Aha! There was the little button that would send the signal to the new remote so they could start playing together.  I followed the instructions step by step.  Press the signal button in the box.  Red light begins flashing.  Check.  Press button on remote.  Red light should stay lit but stop flashing.  Nope.  Still blinking.  Cancel procedure and try again.  Several times.  Spare remote will not answer signal from big box.

Okay, at this point I'm getting pretty frustrated.  Back in the kitchen, I start examining the stubborn remote and end up opening the battery door.  Yes, it's a funky little battery but there is nothing, if you'll excuse the expression, remotely difficult about the installation.  A simple 'slip in between two contact points'.  I go outside, retrieve the dead remote from the car, and open the battery compartment door.  One of the contact points is bent, not touching the base of the battery.  I give it a little push, gently bending it back in place.  Then I aim it toward the garage and hit the button.

And the garage door goes up.   


Epilog - The first remote is working fine.  Both the funky batteries are good so I've stashed one away as a spare.  The extra remote is still useless.  And I'm an idiot.

Groaner of the Day: A thief broke into the local police station and stole all the toilets and urinals, leaving no clues. A spokesperson was quoted as saying, "We have absolutely nothing to go on."

Friday, November 4, 2011

What About Talent?

I'm trying to write this post on my son's laptop, over at his house, watching the grandkids.  Parent teacher conferences today, no school.  This is a bit problematic since all my post ideas, notes, pictures, etc. are on the PC at my house.  So this will be an off-the-top-of-my-head post.

My local writing group met last night.  We listened to a guest speaker, local author Liz Coley, then broke into smaller groups for critique sessions.  As usual, the work being read ranged from wonderful to...well, not so wonderful.  I was especially discouraged for one of our members whose work was riddled with cliches and long-winded flowery passages. The group was gentle and offered useful advice but I knew she'd be back next month with more of the same.  She listened to what everyone was telling her but never seemed able to apply it to her work. 

We all talk about learning our craft, developing our skills. Even the most talented writer must learn how to channel that talent.  Right?  But I found myself wondering last night - can anyone learn to write?  With the right books or classes or teachers, can anyone become a good (or even great) writer?  Or does there have to be some natural talent underneath?  Is writing well a gift, a learned skill, or a little of both?  Can you have one without the other?

What do you think?

Have a great weekend.  Do something fun.

Groaner of the Day:  At New York's Kennedy Airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square and a calculator. Authorities believe he is a member of the notorious al-Gebra movement.

He is being charged with carrying weapons of math instruction.

(hee hee hee)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Hump Day

Happy Hump Day!  Between Halloween and the beginning of NaNo (for those of you taking the plunge), this week had quite a jump start, but by now you're probably lagging a little and need a chuckle or an "aw" to get you over the hump and on the downhill slope to the weekend.  So here's my contribution to the cause.


I love the expressions.

This is your "aw".  Does it work for you if it doesn't include a kitten?

This one is for my friends in the northeast who got dumped on big time.

Somebody's gonna be maaaad.

Can you? Great!  My work here is done.

Did any of these tickle your funny bone?

Groaner of the Day:  [Note: I was hunting for a bit of information I thought was in one of my blogs from last year, so I was rumaging through them and came across this groaner.  It's a re-run but still made me laugh so I decided to give it another go.]
There is a monastery where monks have taken a vow of near-silence. Each day begins with morning worship. The service starts when the head abbot comes in and chants, "Good morning."

The monks chant in reply, "Good morning."

They say not another word until evening vespers, when the head abbot comes in and chants, "Good evening."

The monks all reply in unison, "Good evening." Not another word is spoken until the next morning.

Several years ago one of the monks decided he had to break up the boredom of this routine. The next morning when the head abbot chanted, "Good morning," all the other monks responded, "Good morning", except the one bored monk who chanted, "Good evening."

Quickly, the head abbot sang in reply: "Some-one chanted 'evening'. He must be a stranger."

(did you like it?)

Monday, October 31, 2011


Last Friday I was wrestling with the question, to NaNo or not to NaNo.  I offered up my quandry and asked for your advice.  My sincere thanks to all who responded.

As is so often the case, hearing opinions on both side helped me figure out what I really wanted and needed to do.  This is what I came up with:
  • I would like to do NaNo.  It would be fun just to be part of it and challenges are very helpful for me.
  • It's more important that I stay focused on my WIP until I finish the final polishing and start actively querying.
  • None of the projects I have pending are at the "start writing" point.
And a biggie I hadn't really considered:
  • November is a ridiculous month to devote to a major writing challenge. (Remember, I admitted last week that the other thing that always sneaks up on me is Christmas.)
So, I've decided not to do NaNo. 


I don't seem to be the only one who isn't quite ready for NaNo and/or who can't give up a month in the middle of the holiday season for a writing challenge.  So here's what I propose:

In November, instead of donig NaNo, I'll figure out the details on setting up a writing challenge, which will take place in January - after the holidays, when we need a little spark.    If you're interested, you've got two months to pull that new project together so you're ready to go with the New Year.  We won't be quite as ambitious in our goals as NaNo and if you want to start writing your story before we start, that's fine, too.  This will just be a support and encouragement challenge.  With maybe a little added incentive thrown in (give me time to see what I can come up with).

I'll post the details of the New Year Challenge around the beginning of December and if you're interested, or know someone who might be, perhaps you would help spread the word.

What do you think?  Sound like a plan?

This picture has nothing whatsoever to do with today's post.  I just thought it was funny.

Groaner of the Day:  Two robins were sitting in a tree.

"I'm really hungry," said the first one. "Let's fly down and find some lunch."

They flew down to the ground and found a nice plot of newly plowed ground that was full of worms. They ate and ate and ate till they could eat no more.

"I'm so full, I don't think I can fly back up into the tree," said the first one.

"Let's just lay back here and bask in the warm sun," said the second.

So they plopped down, basking in the sun. No sooner than they had fallen asleep, when a big fat tomcat came by and gobbled them up.

As the cat sat washing his face after his meal, he thought...


Friday, October 28, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

It snuck up on me.  The way Christmas sneaks up on me every year.  Even though I know the date.  Even though I'm surrounded by signs of its coming.  When it gets here, I'm still not ready. 


I want to do it.  I've planned to do it. 

I thought my current book would be at query stage now and I'd be ready to move on.  But I'm still getting feedback from my beta-readers and crit partner so there's work yet to be done.

And the novel-to-be isn't exactly ready to go.  I've got one story with a plot that's coming together nicely but the characters are still pretty sketchy.  I've got another one with most of the characters ready to go but the plot isn't there.  (No, the two wouldn't merge at all.)  And then there's a decades old 85% complete sci fi I found recently with a decent plot and some characters that are probably worth a total re-write.

NaNo would be good for me.   I've been a bit unfocused in my writing lately and I reponse well to challenges.  But with the prep work I still need to do - I'm a total plotter, not a panster - there's not much chance I can get a 50K complete story done in November.

Do I sign up for NaNo and set myself up for failure?  Or maybe take on a modified challenge, i.e. I will get the plot/character design finished and the first 30K written.  Or do I just pass on the whole thing and work on getting the WIP polished and start querying.

What do you think?  Door number one, two, or three?  If you think I should go for it, which story should I tackle: good plot with sketchy characters, definite characters with unformed plot, or old resurrected sci fi?

Looking for your good advice here.  Help me out.

Groaner of the Day: The Lone Ranger and Tonto walked into a bar and sat down to drink a beer. After a few minutes, a big tall cowboy walked in and said "Who owns the big white horse outside?"

The Lone Ranger said, "I do, Why?"

The cowboy said, "I just thought you'd like to know that your horse is about dead out there."

The Lone Ranger and Tonto rushed outside and sure enough, Silver was down from heat exhaustion.

The Lone Ranger got water and soon Silver was starting to feel a little better but the heat was still oppressive.

The Lone Ranger turns to Tonto and says, "I want you to run around Silver and see if you can create enough of a breeze to help cool him down".

Tonto agrees and begins running circles around Silver. Unable to do anything except wait, the Lone Ranger returns to the bar to finish his drink.

A few minutes later, another cowboy struts into the bar and asks, "Who owns that big white horse outside?

The Lone Ranger says, "I do, what's wrong with him this time?"

The cowboy looks him in the eye and says, "Nothing, but you left your Injun running."