Thursday, May 29, 2008

An Early Father's Day Blog

I'm terrible about taking my dad for granted. It just occurred to me--today--as I was thinking about all of the essays I've written about my grandparents, and all the mother-daughter themes I've explored in my various essays and journals, that I've never really written about my dad. And make no mistake--I love my dad! I love spending time with my dad! He is smart, witty, and entertaining. And then it hit me--I probably owe him as much as anyone for my writing interest!

Daddy is a storyteller. I can't even begin to compete with his storytelling capabilities, so I'm not trying to recap any of the tall tales he shares with us. But he definitely has a way with words, and while I don't share the same oral capabilites, certainly his cleverness has helped influence my writing, at least my desire to share stories!

Here's to you, Daddy, a big THANK YOU and early Happy Father's Day!


Monday, May 26, 2008

What a MOP!

I'm really not trying to turn this into a house-cleaning blog, but I'm excited about this mop!

When Mr. Clean Magic Erasers first came out, I told everyone who would listen, "I wish they'd make a mop out of this." Well, everyone except the manufacturer :-) My kitchen floor has really stubborn scuff marks, and the only way I could get rid of them was on my hands and knees with Magic Erasers. And it's not a small kitchen floor! Needless to say, I've neglected those marks for months. Okay, years. Until today!

I spent my Memorial Day cleaning like crazy, FlyLady crisis cleaning style. So my floor had already been quick-mopped before I went to the grocery store, but when my eye caught the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Mop, I knew I'd be mopping again. It worked even better than I'd hoped! No hard scrubbing, just normal mopping and those scuff marks are gone!

If you hate cleaning as much as I do, try this mop!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I've Been BUSY!

I'm never really sure how much to write about my job online. In part I worry about accidently divulging proprietary information, and in part I worry about saying something that might offend my employer. So, in very generic terms, I've been getting busy and enjoying my job lately!

I'm currently involved in documenting some new processes for my team. I was asked to train for a new position as a back-up person, but it is beginning to look like the new position will be busy enough to justify two bodies. I hope it isn't too long before it is a full transition to the new job.

The downside of having an improvement in "working for the man" is that I have neglected my own ventures. Today I recycled several old artices for HubPages.. I also learned I've actually earned a few pennies! I really haven't worked very hard on the backlinking part of this process. I need to update my "social networking" accounts and start spending more time on forums where people might be interested in my articles. It is nice to see that even without such effort, my articles are generating a little money.

I'm almost as blurry-eyed after today's writing flurry as I have been every night this week. I had the late shift, and with the new job stuff, I've really had pretty concentrated work in front of the computer. I think I'll call it a day now and spend a little time in front of that other screen...watching the race :-)

Saturday, May 17, 2008


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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Spiffy Garage!

Thanks to my sister, Julia, my fishing rods are nice and neat instead of piled hap-hazardly in a milk crate. She didn't have to work today, and almost as soon as she finished the first cup of coffee, she said, "I need something productive to do today. I think I'm going to make Ken a fishing rod holder."

And she did!

She had a bit of scrap wood left from a job, and she pulled out her tools and started sawing and drilling and pounding, and I have a very clever organizer in the corner of my garage.

I told her after I saw the finished product, I wish we had taken before and after photos--maybe I could have written a how-to article for hubpages.

Let's see if I can describe it...As I said, it's in the corner. Ahhhh...nevermind. I can't explain it right now, without her help. Suffice it to say, Ken just got home and gave a nod of approval!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Wierd Dreams!

We had a great weekend--out late every night, lots of company, good food, plenty of beer :-) Sunday was our recovery day. We slept in and then napped, so we expected to have a hard time sleeping Sunday night.

At 4 am, the smoke detector woke us up...well, the adults anyway. Ken and I jumped out of bed and headed down the stairs. My sister had been on the couch, unable to sleep, and she called up to reassure us, "I don't know why it's going off, there's nothing wrong." By the time we made it to the first floor, the alarm shut itself off. We did a quick inspection of all of the downstairs rooms and headed back to bed. I remembered a recent news report about smoke detectors being ineffective with children and teens and decided to check on my sleeping daughter...sure enough, she was still out cold. The noise did not wake her up.

No surprise that I couldn't get back to sleep, huh? Disturbing enough that we seem to have a malfunctioning smoke detector, even worse that the report was true--I can't depend on the alarm to wake my daughter and step kids.

I seem to remember my dreams more often when I sleep fitfully, and this was no exception. First I dreamed about my darling kitten, Lucy...well, her and a bunch of look alikes! We were living in the basement of some sort of dorm. Lucy got outside, somehow, and when I caught her, there was another kitten that looked just like her--white with a tiny grey thumbprint on her head. I scooped up both kittens and brought them inside, and considered that Ken was going to be upset we now had two kittens.

Next there was some kind of registration for a drama class happening in our dorm basement living space, and there were FOUR look alike kittens, only one was dead, and had it's tail chopped off. There was lots of confusion with all of the people registering for the class. I was frantically trying to dust and clean, and was worried because we were not supposed to have pets in the dorm. We were all trying to figure out which kitten was Lucy, and I was beginning to worry that it was the dead cat.

Next I found myself on a "field trip" with the drama students (adults, by the way). We traveled through an area I knew, but ended in a strange destination where people's homes were situated on a series of canals. Boardwalks took the place of side walks, and residents had decorated the walkways with vairous potted plants. Some were so cluttered you could barely get down the walk, and we came to a point where you could hardly get by in the "public" section of the walkway because the plants were very closely placed cacti. My legs were full of needles and I was damaging the plants just trying to make my way through the cactus maze. A resident instructued us to use the "private" decks rather than the walkways and we came to a more open area where the canals interesected. Some of us were waiting for others to catch up when we noticed a giant snake swimming through the water. Other smaller snakes were here and there, in the water and on the boardwalks. Eventually the large snake swam up to the audience and stretched up out of the water to reveal that it was a man in costume! He gave us his sales pitch, encouraging us to hire him by the hour to freak out our friends by swimming in nearby bodies of water.

WIERD. My sister had just found out about the death of her dog (he had been living with her former roommate) before we went to bed, so I sort of understand the part about Lucy and suspecting she was dead, but I have no idea where the rest of the craziness came from!

Friday, May 2, 2008

I just posted a new Hub about one of my first award winning articles for my high school newspaper. It has me thinking about people who inspired me to write, particularly those who inspired me to write well. I'm sure I'll forget to name a few, but here's a little tribute to the first that come to mind.

I know I started early, though I don't remember the whys. I have a large manilla envelope full of early childhood crayon drawings, and a "book", that I gave to my grandfather, Don Campbell. DauDau, our grandmother, graciously accepted our artwork and taped it to her kitchen door, but Don saved these little gems from me in his own private collection. I received the momentos back after his death, and I don't remember anything about the specific experiences of drawing and writing those particular items for him. The fact he saved these things all those years is testament to me that he had an early influence on encouraging my creativity.

In later years, DauDau collected every article I ever had published by my our hometown weekly paper, The Roanoke Beacon. I started in junior high school as reporter for my 4H Horse Club. Our high school newspaper was actually a page in the regular newspaper, and in my senior year I landed a job as feature writer for the the Beacon. Today, handed down to me after my grandmother's death, that scrap book is my most comprehensive "portfolio" of my early writing.

Much later, several high school teachers had a huge impact on me.

Our freshman English teacher, Ginny Garrett, made us diagram sentences EVERY SINGLE DAY. We also journaled every day, sometimes writing about whatever we wanted, sometimes responding to prompts. Surely the daily journaling influenced by adult habits, but it is the diagraming that I appreciate more than I could ever have imagined. Often when I cannot decide for sure if something I've written is grammatically correct, I mentally visualize the diagram, the perpendicular line separating subject and verb, angled lines beneath for modifiers, etc. (I should probably sketch that last long sentence out right now and see if I need to edit!)

My beloved journalism teacher, Susan Wellborn, got me used to red pens :-) I am sure I never turned in an article that didn't come back thoroughly--and expertly--scratched with copy-editing marks. I would then re-write (or type) the article using her suggestions for improvement. This practice was not only invaluable, it got me used to criticism. At least when it comes to my writing anyway ;-) And of course having weekly writing assignments also helped firm up my regular writing habits.

Mr. William Morgan, my advanced placement history teacher, taught us the art of the essay. Bing, Bang, and Bongo (was that it? my memory isn't so good!). My best grades in college were always earned with written assignments, and I know I owe it to Morgan's formula-driven assignments.

If I had put this blog together before I re-read my article about visiting Poet Ellen Johnston, I probably would not have thought of her as an inspiration. I don't recall actually being in one of the classes she visited. But reading the article, I realized how familiar her motives seem to me. She had a drive to inspire. Deep down, I think I feel the same way. As a child, I wanted to be a writer simply because I wanted to offer others the same inspiration, the same escape into magical worlds, that other writers had given me.

I wish I could thank everyone who has inspired me, but I suppose the truth is that everyone has inspired me! Maybe everyone hasn't encouraged equally, but I'm grateful nonetheless.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Running Out of Time Again!

Ahhh....I'm really having to stretch to meet my goal of blogging once a day, and I think today I'm going to miss my other goal of posting a Hub each day. I've been busier than usual at work, and we are going out tonight for Karaoke.

I'll just have to double up this weekend when I have more time.