Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year - A New Blog Design

In keeping with my New Beginnings attitude, I decided that I wanted and needed a new blog design. I searched for finally found the one I liked the best! You are looking at it! It's a free template called Book Tree Template from Blog Templates. What could be more perfect for me? It has books, coffee, papers and a tree!  

It might take a while longer to change things around a bit and try to get it exactly the way I want it, but for now, I'm pretty happy with it.

Again, I wish you all a Happy New Year, filled with joy and bliss!

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." -- Edith Lovejoy Pierce


Happy New Year! And thank you to everyone who reads my blog, whether you comment or not, and whether you're a follower or not. I would like to say Thank-You to my newest followers, though.....but I'm not sure who I welcomed last! I'll just include the last six, and that should cover everyone....I hope!  Welcome Anila, loveablehomebody, Karen Pledger, Joyful, Garnet and Pink Apple!

To continue with yesterday's theme of regaining my passion for writing, I'd like to share some other information.

** While Googling for information the other night about "finding my muse", I stumbled across a very interesting blog Image & Verse. Rob Kistner and his wife Kathleen are a multi-talented couple. They write poetry, essays, and short stories. They are also artists of furniture design, collages, various artwork, etc. There are quite a few blogs listed for writing prompts and one for photography. Please visit their blog and find inspiration, as I did!

I contacted Rob to ask permission to post the following poem, which he graciously agreed upon. It can also be found in his archives here: Image & Verse (archives)  (Please do not reprint this anywhere without receiving Rob's written permission.)

Fickle Muse

Wee hours,
with the sane asleep,
this poet’s steeped
in conflicted inspiration.

Promptings vague,
I am filled with doubt,
words tossed about
the unyielding empty page.

I start, then stop,
to write, then not,
now clear, then caught
in merciless hesitation.

Fickle muse,
let’s be off with you!
I’ll start anew
when free of quandary’s cage.

rob kistner © 2007

Ah....oh, so true! Thank you again, Rob, for allowing me to share your poetry with others.


** My second piece of information is this: A New York friend, who is involved in the publishing industry, knows of my writer's block angst. We spoke on the phone recently about it and in her desire to help me, she offered a gift that is so unbelievably generous and from her heart, that I'm pretty sure I squealed when she said it. When I complete my book, she is going to take me to lunch..... in New York City!! Woo-Hoo!! I think I was speechless for one of the few times in my life! Can you say "in shock"?? (and don't even think about commenting or e-mailing, asking me who this person is, because I would never divulge her name!...Plus you probably wouldn't know her, anyway, but she is special to me!)

I ended yesterday's post with "Look Out World, Here I Come."

How about...Look Out New York, Here I Come!!

"A friend is what the heart needs all the time." -- Henry van Dyke

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Finding My Muse, Once Again

My writing brain finally kicked back into gear yesterday. It's been stuck for so long. I'm consciously aware of some of the reasons.....the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, losing Tiger Girl, trying to force a couple of stories for contests and calls for submissions, promoting three anthologies, etc. And then there are those often times lurking thoughts of Who am I kidding? I don't have enough talent to be doing this! etc.

But while cleaning up the kitchen and listening to the radio, the old gears unclenched and I felt my muse returning. It began when I heard Darius Rucker singing. I love that man's voice. He first became hugely successful with the group Hootie and The Blowfish back in the early 1990s. I don't know the story, but somehow he wound up being a country music star now. I say Congratulations! I greatly admire people who reinvent themselves. That's a big part of what I believe about my life.

Encarta Dictionary says this about reinvent: to invent something again, or bring something back into existence, use, or popularity after a period of neglect or obscurity. to change radically the appearance, form, or presentation of something or somebody.

I didn't discover my passion for writing until I was...uh....kind of old! Sometimes I wish I would've discovered it when I was a lot younger.....but things wouldn't have been the same. I wouldn't have the wisdom I have now....what I know about life.....what my life is and has been about. And it took the near death of my estranged father (in May 2001) to trigger those deep, hidden emotions, which flew from my fingertips to my keyboard...and voile'.....a writer was born.

So, I'm getting back to being organized about my writing deadlines and what I want to write about. I've found my muse...again. And I'm reinventing myself, somewhat....again.

And a HUGE Thank-You to Julia Christie for leaving a sweet comment on Tuesday's post which included these words: "...looking forward to a wonderful new year and hearing that your book is finally available!"

How can I not be excited and eager to finish my book, when I read something like that?!

Look Out World -- Here I Come!

"I believe that dreams—daydreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain machinery whizzing—are likely to lead to the betterment of the world."-- L. Frank Baum

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

* Tea Cup Tuesday *

I'm very pleased to join Terri of Artful Affirmations, and Martha of Martha's Favorites for Tea Cup Tuesday!

(I posted these photos earlier this year, but wanted to show them again now, since it's the last Tea Cup Tuesday in December.)

I bought this darling set at a thrift store for $3.00!

I love the "poofy" parts of the cup!

The stamp says: Royal Albert, Bone China, England.
Flower of the Month Series. Set of Twelve.
"Holly" No. 12

An appropriate pattern to show on this December 28, 2010, Tea Cup Tuesday!
Happy New Year, everyone!

"Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons." -- Ruth Ann Schabacker

Saturday, December 25, 2010

** It's Christmas Day - 2010 **

We have a beautiful White Christmas!

I wish you all a warm and cozy day, wherever you are. And as some of my far-away blog friends say, Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

** White Christmas **

I can't remember the last time I awoke on Christmas Eve morning to the sight of falling snow! I truly believe it probably hasn't happened since my childhood. Yes, I've seen quite a few white Christmases over the years, but snow was usually already on the ground.

(Trying to capture the falling snow. Not too bad considering I took this photo from inside my family room.)

(this is obviously our deck!)

(I took this from inside the laundry room)

I realize none of these pictures portray the real beauty of the snow, nor do they show the 3 inches we ended up with. Ah...but again, the battery ran out of its charge so quickly......
Dear Santa, I sure hope you're bringing me a new camera!!

Merry Christmas, dear friends, 2010.

"Close friends become family and family is the true center of the universe." -- Dave Marinaccio

Thursday, December 23, 2010

* I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas! *

(google image)

I look at this photo and I feel happy, peaceful, & serene. The beautiful house, decorated for Christmas. The warm glow of the inside lights at dusk. And of course the magnificent, glorious snow!

This is the kind of house I dreamed of living in when I was a young girl. I assumed the only people who could possibly live in such a grand house would be doctors or lawyers and their families!

Although I don't live in a house that looks like house is my home. I feel happy, peaceful and serene inside of it. And I'm definitely dreaming of, and aniticipating.....a White Christmas! (thanks to the weather forecast in my area!)  ** Update: Weather guy on channel 11 noon news/weather predicted a 100% chance of snow and a White Christmas!...and yes, I want all of us travelers to be safe, too! **

~On a side note: I'd like to say a huge thank-you to Robert Brault for his very kind post of December 15, 2010 AND to all his fantastic followers who stopped by...just because Robert suggested it! I'm truly honored and grateful to all of you.~

"Cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, filling it with a steady and perpetual serenity." ~ Joseph Addison

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

* It Doesn't Seem Like Tuesday...Again *

The progressive dinner Sunday night was tons of fun, but I was really worn out after everyone left. Part of me just wanted to go to bed and leave the mess for the next day, but the sensible part won out. I turned the TV channel to the Traditional Christmas Music station and sang along. It didn't take long at all and I enjoyed myself while I worked. The dining room and kitchen were sparkly and clean when I came down the stairs Monday morning......

Monday morning.....a week since we said goodbye to Tiger Girl. I still miss her so much, but I'm doing better than I thought I would. Of course, something will happen, or not happen...and then the sadness resurfaces. I know it will just take time......

Time......Just yesterday, I had a feeling come over me that I wished I could throw a lasso over Time and stop it, or at least slow it down for a little while. I've never felt quite that way before and I don't know if it's just because of my age, or the fact that we just lost Tiger Girl, or what.........

What I love about this time of year is all the Christmas music, TV shows and movies. I can't seem to get enough. It doesn't even matter if I've heard or seen something a zillion times.....and sometimes, my favorites are the ones that are so corny......

"You know, it sounds corny, but I believe in myself. And I work hard." -- Arthur Godfrey

Sunday, December 19, 2010

* Getting Ready for Progressive Dinner *

I LOVE to have friends over for dinner, but we do it way too seldom. That's one thing I plan to do more of in 2011. My cooking definitely is not gourmet, but at least I can set a pretty table!
Tonight's progressive dinner begins at S's for appetizers, then here for the main course, and on to J's for dessert! (Yes, the table is set for eight. We're not stopping at R's house this year.) I hope all of you have had the chance to participate in one of these evenings. It is so much fun, especially during the holidays...seeing everyone's home decorated so beautifully!
More photos later tonight........

Now, I just hope Santa brings that new camera I really, really want! Wouldn't you agree that I need one?!

"If you make it plain you like people, it's hard for them to resist liking you back." -- Lois McMaster Bujold

Friday, December 17, 2010

* Staying Busy & Looking for Joy *

“The key to success is often the ability to adapt.” -- Unknown
"Believe in love. Believe in magic. Believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don't, who will?" -- Jon Bon Jovi

"Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends." ~Margaret Thatcher

(All photos taken by Becky Dec. 2010)

I'm trying to stay as busy as possible, so I don't have time to sit around and miss Tiger Girl too much. It gets a little better every day, until something happens to trigger a specific memory. I know we did the right thing and she's in a better place....but that doesn't stop me from missing her constant presence. 
I hope to get back to my "normal" self post often, to write again, to not have an ache in my heart.

"Dogs are miracles with paws." ~Attributed to Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy

Monday, December 13, 2010

* Tearful Goodbye to Tiger-Girl *

We had to bid a tearful goodbye to our beloved Tiger Girl this morning. She has been my constant companion for almost 14 years and I can't begin to express how sad I am. She was such a good and sweet dog. She had ovbiously slowed down the past year, but was doing fine, for an older dog. Then the past couple of weeks, she wasn't eating well and was sleeping more. This morning, we knew something was terribly wrong. Fortunately, I was able to reach Mark, and he came home to go to the vet with us. We held her close, and told her goodbye at approximately 11:00 am, CST.  The following photos are from various years, mostly the past two or three. One of my favorites is of her, napping on her bed, complete with her special pillow. *NOTE: I forgot to mention that we got Tiger at a shelter when she was only 6 months old. After we'd had her for only a couple of weeks, she was diagnosed with Parvo. Not able to see our regular vet that night, I was told we should just "give her back" before we "get too attached to her"! Can you imagine? We already were attached to her, so she got the treatments and obviously survived!

I will miss her so, so much. There will never be another dog like my Tiger Girl.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

* Old Man Winter Has Arrived *

My part of the Midwest isn't buried under record snowfall, thank goodness, but we did get a bit of the white stuff here....about 3 inches of powdery snow. The wind has been strong and steady, too, making the wind chill VERY cold! Luckily, I didn't have to leave my nice, warm home at all today. I continued working on my Christmas cards, baked a couple dozen chocolate chip cookies (oh yeah!), did another load of laundry, wrote a few e-mails, lit and enjoyed the flickering & aroma of candles, read a little while, watched some TV, took a nap, let Tiger out....let Tiger in....let Tiger get the idea! All in all....a very blissful day!

*One other note: For some reason, I seem to have lost a follower. Just when I annouced and thanked my newest followers, reaching the fabulous number of 150.....I look at my blog this evening and there are only 149. I don't know what happened and I'm sorry if I upset someone.

"O Winter! ruler of the inverted year, . . . I crown thee king of intimate delights, Fireside enjoyments, home-born happiness, And all the comforts that the lowly roof Of undisturb'd Retirement, and the hours Of long uninterrupted evening, know." -- William Cowper

Friday, December 10, 2010

* Anthologies, Friends, Book Store, Food Bank *

Patchwork Path; Treasure Box has arrived! I really love this book. The patchwork design on the cover and back is so unique, and the quality of the entire book is great. It has quotes here and there all throughout the book, and y'all know how much I love quotes! I've only read a couple of stories so far, but enjoyed them very much.

    Here's one of the unique things I like. The photo below is a portion of the back of the book. I took the picture this way because I wanted everyone to see my name, plus my wonderful blog friend, Claudia McKinney Mundell's name!! Besides the fact that we're both in this book, Claudia's story is the one right before mine! I consider that one of my serenditpitous happenings!! Congrats again, Claudia! I'm happy we share yet another thing in common! (love of books, writing, doilies, tea cups, etc..)

Speaking of friends and anthologies; a lot of you may have already seen Linda's and/or Tammy's blogs where they mentioned participating in a book signing tomorrow. Well, now it's my turn to mention it, too! (Theresa doesn't have a blog.) The following part is taken directly from Main Street Books website:

Four St. Charles/St. Louis area Chicken Soup for the Soul writers will participate in a multi-author book signing on Saturday, December 11th, 2010 from 1-3 p.m. at Main Street Books, 307 S. Main Street in St. Charles, MO.

Customers may bring in a canned good to be donated to a St. Charles food pantry and receive 20% off their entire purchase that day!

Participating authors include: T’Mara Goodsell, Linda O’Connell, Becky Povich, and Theresa Sanders.

Although I have stories in previous editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul books, I'll be signing the Thin Threads and Patchwork Path books this time. And as I've been mentioning the past couple of weeks, I'll donate $5.00 per book to the local Habitat for Humanity office, for every Thin Threads book I sell.

Those of us who have a warm home and plenty of food to eat most likely have never had to endure a time without having these necessities of life. Please come by, bring a canned good or two and buy at least one book. You'll be helping many people! Happy Holidays!

(Also, thanks to my four newest followers! I am excited because with the 4th one: Miss C.C., I have reached an unbelievable number of 150 Followers!! Thank you everyone, so much. I truly appreciate each and every one of you! The four newest are: C.C., Pam, Stephen Tremp, and a name I just love....Bill, The Old Fart!)

*Speaking of followers, here's something really cool. I was just recently one of four winners on Lydia's "500 Followers Contest". I received a $15.00 gift card to what I commented my favorite independent book store was....and yes, you guessed it.....Main Street Books! Thanks again, Lydia! I'll most likely spend that money tomorrow! Go check out Lydia's blog: "The Word is My Oyster" and you'll see why she now has over 540 followers!!

"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around." -- Willie Nelson

"There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quite joy." -- Ralph H. Blum

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

* That's Not Very Lady-Like! *

You know about going to a dollar store intending to buy just a couple of things?? Well, when I went to Dollar Tree today, my "couple of things" turned into about 35 things. They were all vital necessities, gotta believe me....except for this little lady below. She's one of those 6-inch-tall-ceramic-pieces-of-art that I normally would not care to buy....but she made me laugh, so I had to bring her home, too! AND, she was among other little statuettes that were priced 2 for $1.00.
 Look how she's standing!! She looks like she's SCRATCHING HER BUTT!!
Plus, she has a look of discomfort on her face!! I swear!!

Nothing like a 50¢ item to just make my day...and hopefully yours, too!

“I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn't itch.” -- Gilda Radner

Monday, December 6, 2010

Classic TV and a Ridiculous Warning

You get what you pay for! I found the DVD pictured below at Dollar Tree, probably at least 2 years ago, put it with the rest of the DVDs and never got around to watching it....until, that is.....Friday night. For the mere price of one dollar, this little gem contains three "classic" television shows from the 1950s. If you think you see Betty White on the cover, you are correct. She and the actor with her (Bill Williams) were in a short-lived TV show called A Date with the Angels. (Don't you just love Betty White?? I hope I'm still doing what I love and still enjoying life as much as she is when I get to be her age!)

They played Gus, an insurance salesman and his new bride, Vicki. They aren't "real angels"....that's their last name. Gus and Vicki Angel. If you're a baby boomer and have never heard of this show, don't feel bad. I'm a 1950s TV junkie and had never heard of it, either. Probably because it only lasted one season. Anyway....this particular Christmas episode, Santa's Helper, was really cute and typical of a 50s TV sitcom. Besides the two main actors, the guest stars are very recognizable actors, too: Burt Mustin, Richard Deacon, and Nancy Kulp. Very cute episode, which I just discovered can also be seen on You Tube.

The other two shows on the DVD were truly awful, in a hilarious sort of way. I won't even go into them, because it would take up too much room!


The Ronald and I have owned a Bunn coffee maker for a couple of years, but I never took the time to read the Warnings on the carafe until this morning. (Why, you make ask? Well, I just assumed I would know all the wrong, bad, stupid things a person should NOT do with a glass carafe.) Ahhhh, but I was wrong! I did not know this particular one: "Do not hold over people." Wow! Thank goodness they put that important message on there! OMG! Now I know not to hold it over people!! BUT, do they mean while it is empty? Full of hot water? Full of cold water? Full of hot coffee? And do they mean "don't pour it over people's heads? Or do not threaten to break it over people's heads? I just don't get it.... I think we people who buy coffee makers need to have the warnings spelled out a little more clearly! I don't want any accidents to happen, because I wasn't cautioned properly.

“I am so busy doing nothing... that the idea of doing anything - which as you know, always leads to something - cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.” -- Jerry Seinfeld

Thursday, December 2, 2010

* Thin Threads Continue to Connect *

Late last night I wrote about having an amazing, magical, serendipitous day. (I always think of you, Lisa, when I hear or use that "S" word!)

When I woke up this morning, I realized I can't write about it yet. I need to hold it in my heart a while longer. Then, maybe, I can possibly share it.

**NOTE** My friend, writer, and blog buddy, Donna Volkenannt, wrote a beautiful post on her blog this morning about (what was just) the beginning of my serendipitous day yesterday, which she witnessed and was part of! Please hop on over and read it. Donna said it all much better than I could have! Thank you, Donna. I'm really glad you wrote it and said such nice things about me, too.

I do have a new call for submissions that I can share! Kiwi Publishing has a new book in the works for their Thin Threads Series and they need your stories! It's called Women and Friendship. Doesn't that just have OUR names in it already?! Deadline for submissions is March 1, 2011, so no need to fret about having enough time, especially in the midst of holiday celebrations. No submission fee and if your story is chosen, you receive $100.00.

Please meet: Mary Jones. Mary is a writer and motivational speaker. Mary has her own radio show, does podcasts & TV segments & hosts workshops. I just "met" Mary and she will be working with Kiwi Publishing on this book. I know she will be wonderful to work with! Here's info from Mary's website about Thin Threads:

We invite you to contribute a true story or anecdote that will bring hope and happiness to all those who realize the possibility in each moment. We are looking for personal stories (800-1200 words) that are real, capture the essence of a thin thread event, and evoke an emotion from the reader. Events related to friendship that changed you forever.

Friends hold a deep, special bond and connection for women. We are looking for your story. A story from your heart. A story that will bring a smile or tear to others. For example, the story of how a friend was a lifeline for you, or a story about your life at a time that you realized the power, strength or value of a woman friendship.

I've also gotten to know Stacey Battat really well through our numerous e-mails and recent phone calls! Stacey is co-founder of Kiwi Publishing and is the President and Editor-in-Chief of the Thin Threads series.

I just love the definition of thin threads:"Moments, events, setbacks, crossroads or encounters that connect us to a person, place or opportunity and change our lives for the better." (As I said, those thin threads have really been weaving their magic around and through me lately!)

"Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living." -- Joseph Campbell

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

* A Serendipitous Day! *

♫♪ What a day this has been! What a rare mood I'm in!
Why, it's almost like being in love!
There's a smile on my face for the whole human race!
Why, it's almost like being in love!
All the music of life seems to be like a bell that is ringing for me!
And from the way that I feel when that bell starts to peal,
I could swear I was falling, I would swear I was falling,
It's almost like being in love. ♫♪

Today was such an amazing day. I honestly need to reflect on it some more and then maybe try to write about it tomorrow. It was as if one magical thing after another happened to and/or around me. I'd say there were definitely some Thin Threads moments going on!

"What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. Right now." Unknown