Search This Blog

Monday, December 26, 2011

Today I'm thankful for...

Enjoying the company of good friends on Christmas, and finding a book review of Marina Melee that I hadn't seen before! From Harriet Klausner - she'd also posted this on amazon, so I did see it there, but not on her blog site.

Friday, December 23, 2011

This week, I'm thankful for...

Welcome to another post in my waning attempt to focus on one thing I'm thankful for in my life every day for 1 year. Why? Because I'm a grumpy-ass curmudgeon who finds great pleasure in grousing. I fixate on what's wrong when I have so very many things that are right in my life. So, I thought I'd try looking on the sunny side for a change! Can I do it for 365 days--from Thanksgiving Eve 2011 to Thanksgiving Eve 2012? Well, we've found the answer to that already - NO. So, maybe not daily, but weekly. Let's see if I can keep it up...

This week I'm thankful for all of my wonderful friends at the Internet Writing Workshop.

I joined IWW while living in Germany, when I first decided to seriously work at the craft of writing, and knew I needed help. The IWW is an online, virtual community of practice with members from all over the world writing in different forms and genres. Members can join subgroups based on what they write - novels, poetry, romance, fiction (short stories), nonfiction, children/YA, etc. There are also discussion groups to talk about the business of writing, the craft of writing, or to analyze and discuss samples of writing. The practice group gives participants a chance to flex their writing muscles and try things they might not normally write. A weekly prompt gives a topic and word limit (usually 400 words), and everyone subs their work and critiques other submissions. The minimum participation requirement to remain active on the list is 2 posts/month, so it isn't much of a burden, but good online manners dictate that the more feedback you want, the more you'll give. People are likely to reciprocate a read/critique with one back.

I can't begin to tell you what a fabulous experience my 6 years of participating in the IWW has been, and how much it's helped me grow as a writer. My first non-scientific publications were thanks both to the lessons I learned, critiques I received, and market suggestions I received from fellow members. Same thing for Marina Melee - which was critiqued on the novels list, and specific scenes were honed on the practice list. And I found the publisher, Casperian Books, through the recommendation of a fellow IWWer whose writing I admired, who was published through them.

I am so very thankful that I found the IWW and joined. I'm thankful for the many friendships I've made through the list. At times, I forget I've never met these people face-to-face, only interacted with them online. Still, I feel so close to so many of them, turn to them for advice, and have even had long off-topic discussions with many of them. We've become Facebook friends, and email pals. They're a wonderful, helpful, supportive group. For any writers or aspiring writers out there, I'd highly recomment you look into them - us. We're a great group to be part of,.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Now I'm thankful for...

Well, I'm thankful that I don't get too stressed out about falling short of my goals or I'd be a mess over this blog! I made it for two weeks, more or less, writing my daily(-ish) item I'm thankful for in my quest to be thankful every day. I'm going to modify that to weekly.

One thing my very short-lived effort has made abundantly clear to me is I can be thankful 365-days a year for my husband. I am, but don't always express it. But when I sit down each day (or every 3-4 days) and try to come up with something I'm thankful for, on that day, the first thing that pops into my head is usually something Matt said or did. I do appreciate him always, and know how incredibly lucky I am to have him, but this has really driven home the point since it's always so easy for me to identify something specific about him to be thankful for.

This week, I had a lot of occassions to be thankful for Matt, but the biggest one was, of course, the Annual CMS Ladies' Ornament Exchange. We hosted it here...more correctly, Matt hosted it. I made the chili. Matt decorated, did much of the pre-party clean-up and prep, played doorman, bartender, and food organizer, and made everyone feel welcome and at home. I helped clean up afterwards, and did dishes. So, he really did do most of the work, and once again, made my life easier and made me look good.

Am I lucky or what?!?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

This weekend, I'm thankful for...

1. Harry Potter. Yes, seriously, I am. We're visiting Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (for the second time since it opened on June 2010). I read (multiple times) and loved the series of books, saw each film multiple times, bought them all, and still watch in TV every time ABC Family has a Harry Potter weekend.

JK Rowlings brought magic into all our lives with her wonderful characters. The tale of the boy wizard captured our hearts and minds, made children beg to read and be read to, drew families together to read and watch, and it was all written intelligently and thoughtfully. There was no talking down to kids, no pounding them over the head with the "message." Rowlings trusted kids to "get it." And they did. In droves. I'm very thankful that I shared in the excitement and joy of getting caught up in the wizarding world of Harry Potter, and thankful the kid in me can still be taken away by the written world to other places, times, and adventures.

2. I'm thankful for good coffee, and for the ability to tell the difference between expensive, but bad coffee and really good coffee. Don't know if it's because of my time in PR, Europe, or a bit of both. But, I've lived in "coffee cultures" where people believe in taking the time and effort to enjoy a truly good cup of coffee. I learned, in Puerto Rico, that strong coffee tastes full-bodied, rich, dark, that the aroma is of coffee - earthy, not bitter. I'm thankful I can tell when cream or sugar are used to enhance the taste of good coffee, rather than hide the taste of bad. I'm thankful I'm not gullible enough to buy into the hoax perpetrated on naive Yuppies, wanting to demonstrate their worldliness and discriminating taste, being convinced that burnt, bad coffee,  because it's expensive, must be "good." So, as with choosing VHS over Beta, IBM over Mac, and a dozen other times the American consumer, with more money than brains or taste, has been sold an inferior good in order to "keep up with the Joneses." For folks who really think Starbucks is good coffee, you need to go to a coffee-growing, coffee-drinking country. Go to Italy or France or Turkey - the only Starbucks you'll see is filled with American's who don't know any better. Europeans don't drink that rot. Go to Puerto Rico, Colombia, or Costa Rica - you'll taste strong coffee that's delicious and rich, and you won't have to get it loaded up with flavored creamers and syrups, topped with whipped cream and a shot of cocoa because the coffee itself won't bite back with a nasty, burned taste. The only time you'd find coffee that tastes or smells like Starbucks in a REAL coffee shop is if someone forgot to turn off the burner on the almost empty pot.

I'm thankful that I've enjoyed real, delicious coffee and know what it's supposed to taste like - and cost. I wish I had some right now, instead of the only thing this hotel serves to cater to it's tasteless clientele - Starbucks. (can you tell I feel strongly about my coffee?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Days 12-15: I'm thankful for...

I'm thankful for being such a phenomenal procrastinator. Some people search their whole life to find their one special skill, the thing they excel at. It's a blessing to know mine. I am a master, world-class, A-1 procrastinator. Why blog what I'm thankful for every day when I can do it in batches after procrastinating all weekend?

Okay, that's not really what I'm thankful for. On Saturday, I was very thankful for the Lowcountry Dog Agility Club (LCDA). What a marvelous group of fun, supportive people. I love doing agility with Muggle and know a big chunk of the reason I enjoy it is because of the great people.

On Sunday, I was thankful for my wonderful, beautiful, brilliant dog earning his first agility title in Starter's Snooker!! And also for how much Muggle loves his dad - enough to veer off course to say hello in the middle of an otherwise perfect jumpers run! So adorable, who cares if we missed the Q?!

On Monday, I really wasn't all that thankful for anything - it was an icky day. Rainy, overcast, and my mood reflected it. But, still, I'm thankful I got through the day, and had something to do (write) and a job to go to (NOAA), and a wonderful husband, pets, and house to come home to at the end of the day.

Today, I'm thankful for our CLEANING CREW! Simone et al are wonderful and I love when they come in, tackle our mess, and leave us with a delicioiusly minty-fresh smelling house!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 11: I'm thankful for...

Dog agility with Muggle! We had so much fun today! He did great in our Gambler's run. We missed our Q by 0.05 seconds!! Heartbreaking, since he ran so very well! But, we had fun doing it and I'm so proud of him! And he gave me my laugh of the day (week...month) in our Standard run. Usually he LOVES the table - he's all about jumping up there and chilling out in a "down" for 5 seconds. But, after Wednesday morning, when the table was so cold, he's changed his mind. When I at least got him in a "sit" he decided that was a good time for some ear scratching. He did great weaves - just one false entrance before running right through them - and we were almost at the end, 1/2 way down the A-frame with just the last jump ahead when we ran out of time. : (  But, he was saving his best for last and we finished with a Q and first place in Snooker. He did everything I asked, barked and yapped, and got his 37 points! That's my boy and agility, well, that's what we do!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 9 and 10. I'm thankful for...

Welcome to days 9 and 10 of my ongoing attempt to focus on one thing I'm thankful for in my life every day for 1 year. Why? Because I'm a grumpy-ass curmudgeon who finds great pleasure in grousing. I fixate on what's wrong when I have so very many things that are right in my life. So, I thought I'd try looking on the sunny side for a change! Can I do it for 365 days--from Thanksgiving Eve 2011 to Thanksgiving Eve 2012? Here I am not even 2 weeks into the endeavor and I'm already on my seconf 2-fer post, I guess I'm not doing so well at the daily posting, but maybe I can at least manage 52 weeks of most of the time posts?

Day 9: I'm thankful for our  neighbors, the Joneses. We love our house and our West Ashley neighborhood. It took a few years to really make friends in our old Summerville neighborhood. The few we did make became dear friends, but I was underwhelmed by all the "friendliness" that South Carolinians sprain their arms patting themselves on the back over. Seriously, our whole neighborhood was a couple roads that looped back around on each other. When I'd be on my morning run or walking the dog and pass the only other person on the whole street and say "good morning," more often than not, I'd get no response, not even eye contact. To a Yankee-gone island girl, that was totally foreign and unacceptable. In upstate New York, people might just stop to gripe, but they'd at least stop and have a conversation. And of course in the VI NOT giving a greeting of "good morning/ afternoon/night" is just not done! Germany was a breath of fresh air after the anti-socialness of Summerville!

Then we moved to West Ashley after our return from Germany and it's like moving to happy land. Walking the neighborhood when we first moved in was a non-stop wave-fest. People would make a point of calling out and waving from their yard when they saw you go by. My morning walks are interrupted with short gab breaks more often than not. And best of all, we landed next door to two of the best neighbors anyone could want. Misty and Terry have similar interests to us, they're fun and funny and active without being overwhelming. They have pets, and treat them like we do ours - as family. Having neighbors who are more than the people who live in the house next door, but friends that we look forward to doing things with is such a remarkable experience. We had that as kids growing up, but lost it in adulthood. It's so nice to have that back. I am so very thankful that we have such fabulous neighbors.

Day 10: I'm thankful for Animal Medical West.

Some days, what we have to be thankful for is apparent. After Spooky went at it with big-cat this morning, he was walking a bit gingerly. Over the course of a few hours, he got slower and grumpier. He couldn't get comfortable and didn't want to be touched. When I put him in the carrier, he made a sound I'd never heard from him before--a peep. If you know Spooky, you know he's vocal and makes some funky deep yowly sounds when he isn't happy. This sad little squeak was different--this was him in pain. And off we went to AMW, with no appointment. We had to wait a bit, but not much longer than any typical appointment. I was getting pretty panicky, though, because instead of growling and yowling, Spooky curled onto his right side (he'd been favoring his left side, wouldn't let me touch it, and couldn't lay on it) and closed his eyes while I scritched his jaw.

Spooky has 4 bite marks - top/bottom canines - on his back and side. The vet shaved around them so I can keep an eye on them, gave him an antibiotic, and some pain meds. We can't give him too much because of his kidney problems, but he's in pain. Thankfully, he's not seriousy injured, mostly just sore. Figures. I'd tempted fate when last week at his appointment, I said "it's been a while since our accident prone cat has had anything wrong." I knocked on wood, but maybe not hard enough. Now he has both feline chronic kidney failure and catfight injuries to deal with. Guess that makes up for those 3 injury-free years.

Today, I'm thankful that we found a vet I like, and seems like Spooky likes, too.