Friday, 28 November 2014

Word Search...Odd Fashion Items

I like to do word search puzzles, and find it interesting, all the topics they find to create a puzzle with a theme. Today it was Odd Fashion Items.

A couple were old fashioned as well. The hoop skirt like from the Gone With the Wind era, or spats which I think are from the roaring twenties. Then there was the girdle, something young women today know nothing about. When girdles were in style, so to speak, women did not have butts that jiggled and shook. Panties were also on the list, something else that seems to be out of style, leading to more jiggling and shaking. I don’t get the thong or no underwear thing, but then I’m old and old fashioned.

Hot Pants. I remember hot pants were big in the seventies. My sister-in-law, whom I love dearly, wore them the first time I met her, and I hated her on sight. She had that ‘thing’ some women always look so well put together and make it look effortless. That day it was a navy hot pant suit, navy hose, tight light blue turtleneck. She wore a fur coat and over the knee white boots. Of course I hated her, he looked like he was in love and she if she wasn’t careful she could break his heart. Lucky for him, she didn’t, and they’ve been married for 38 years. Funny, how clearly I can remember that day. First impressions, eh?

Back to the list. There are a couple of male fashion items listed, chaps...having a moment here, ok done...and cummerbunds. How many guys remember being groomsmen and wearing a tux with a cummerbund colour coordinated to the dresses in the wedding party? But it looked so good in the pictures. LOL

How many of you know or remember these? Rompers, muffs, bandeaus, or skorts?

Dickies were on the list, not so odd I’m thinking. Maybe that’s because I just made one for my son. The old style dickie was a fake turtleneck thing you wore under shirt, covering the neck but without the bulk of long sleeves and a full shirt. They were lame even when in style. The one I made is crocheted and can be worn under a winter coat, giving the wearer better neck protection than just a scarf. We do have a lot of cold and snow coming our way.

Some of the items are popular today...tank tops, uggs, and shrugs.

There was one other item, I’ve never worn them, or even seen one up close and personal, but I think we all have a visual, some more than others I imagine, the item is pasties.

And on that note, I’ve reviewed the list and am ready to do the word search puzzle.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

In Times of Need, Call Grandma

I had one of those wake up calls yesterday; literally, my daughter called and woke me up, needing a favor. Seems her daughter had been up frequently in the night, coughing, complaining of a sore throat. It had been going on for more than a week, so I think it was more a case of Mother’s Guilt than anything else. And we all know how heavy a burden that can be.

My daughter was doubting herself because she hadn’t taken her sick kid to the doctor, and here she was heading out of town, for an appointment of her own, feeling stress, and compounding it with Mother’s Guilt. So a call to Grandma was needed. How nice it is to still be needed.

The aforementioned child was dropped off to me and I was to take her to a doctor’s appointment, and watch her until her Mom could pick her up later in the day. I love these one-on-one days with the kids.

We started off with snuggles in bed, and watched the show Master Chef Junior that I had taped on my DVR. These are some amazing cooks, and some of them are only 8 or 9 years old. As I used to cook, more bake, with this girl, we had lots of comments about food, shopping and kitchens.

We dressed to go out and started our morning at Tim Hortons, for tea and a donut, its availability limited to the season, covered in candy cane sprinkles. We still had time before her appointment so we dropped in to Home Hardware. I found a couple of things, perfect for Christmas gifts, and as we weren’t so enthralled with the paint and hardware we didn’t risk being late.

Still early, we sat in the waiting room going through the fashion magazines, looking at pictures, selecting which item was our favourite dress, hair do, nail polish colour, you get the picture. Then we were in to see the doctor, very nice and understanding, who declared, of course, that our girl had a virus, and yes it’s going around, it will have to run its course etc. But he did give us a script for puffers that would help with the night time cough.

Next stop, get the prescription filled. I chose Walmart over a conventional pharmacy, so much more to do and see while we waited. And wouldn’t you know, it was lunch time and there was a McDonalds right there.

We had lunch and conversation and then toured the store. I picked out a couple of additional gifts for those on my list, but got tired and decided to sit on the bench in the aisle not far from the pharmacy. I had the pager thing and was waiting for it to signal our prescription was ready.

My granddaughter became my personal shopper as she flitted around picking up ornaments, hooks and other Christmas decorative items for my perusal. She brought me singing ducks, bears and penguins that had us laughing. She found one item that we agreed was perfect for her uncle, and we had to get it, figuring it to be the hit of our holiday get together.

We picked up the prescription, paid for our selections, including some grocery items, and came home. I was tired and glad to sit. We watched a movie and played games on the computer, a nice and quiet end to a busy day.

After she was gone I looked about my place, surprised at how much mess there was, or maybe more disarray is a better word, when we had spent so little time here. My crocheting was stuffed away and out of sight, the wrapping paper, tape and tags all set aside, the TV table pulled from the closet. Oh well, it was worth it.

First thing I did was check Pinterest. She was looking at hats and I showed her how to pin the ones she liked to my Knit and Crochet board. But she’s a smart kid; she started searches of her own and found sweaters, scarves, slippers, and moved on to kids’ rooms and decor.

I feel I owe her mother an apology; I may have created a monster. Next thing you know she’ll have her own boards and her own pins. It should be interesting, she has very eclectic taste.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Movie...Catch and Release

I watched one of my favourite movies yesterday, a romantic comedy called Catch and Release, and as always it left me feeling melancholy.

Here's the link to the movie trailer.

I love the scenery in this movie, the small town in Colorado at the base of the mountains. If I traveled, this place would be on my bucket list.

In the opening scene, Gray, played by Jennifer Garner, is at the funeral of her fiancé, after his untimely death during his bachelor party weekend. So, instead of getting married, she’s thrown into no man’s land, neither a widow nor a wife.

Gray moves into the house her fiancé shared with his two friends, all of them struggling to deal with their loss. Complicating matters is Fritz, played by Timothy Olyphant. He was a childhood friend of the dead man, who had moved to LA and found success. The two men had stayed close, often meeting on the west coast when the fiancé traveled for business.

The plot thickens, as all plots do, when Gray discovers her fiancé had a great deal of money in the bank, and was paying out a substantial amount of that money every month. No one knew where this money was going, until Gray finds that a woman in LA is frantically trying to get hold of her fiancé.

The ‘other’ woman arrives in Colorado, looking for the money that has been supporting her and her son for the last few years. Gray is devastated to learn her fiancé had fathered a child, during the time they were a couple, and kept it a secret.

This is one of those movies where the lead character has to rebuild her life. During the process she discovers who she really is, a plot that seems to appeal to me. The romantic interest is between Gray and Fritz, an unlikely pairing as she found him too cavalier, compared to her more uptight and less adventurous persona.

But the pain, for Gray, is more than the infidelity and the resulting child. It’s learning that her fiancé felt he had to leave her to be the fun loving guy he seemed to be when he was on the coast, when he visited Fritz. She starts to act out, and Fritz is there to help her find her more easy going nature.

All their relationships change during this time, the friend who had secretly been in love with Gray, the other friend who never took anything seriously, and Gray and Fritz.

Of course it has a happy ending, so no spoiler alert kind of warning is needed. Gray takes a chance and travels to the coast looking for Fritz. She finds him on the beach in front of his ocean side home, and suffers a moment of insecurity, questioning her actions.

I love the last line, when Fritz smiles at her and says. “What took you so long?”

I seem to be drawn to books and movies where people find this deeper understanding of themselves, and have the courage to change, to go after their dreams. I like to think it’s because I’m a romantic, but I fear it’s more of a sense of longing. I regret that I never took that chance and now find some comfort in stories where others took that risk and were rewarded with their “happy ever after”.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

I'm a Plotter

I’ve come to realize this past year that I am a Plotter.

That’s a writer who plans out their book, who knows going in all the major plot twists and turns, the who-done-it, how the story ends. That’s the opposite of a Pantser who writes with no real plan, who just writes and is never sure where it will all end up.

I’m not so die hard that I can’t make changes as I go along, but I write better when I at least have a gleam of where I’m heading.

I’m almost finished my book titled “Where the Forest Meets the Corn”. I was inspired by the title, sent to me by my son who was, at the time, sitting in that very spot. It was last November and he and his wife were out deer hunting, sitting on the edge of the forest. Marvels of social media, they came up with the title and sent it to me on Chat.

I was hip deep in my NaNo book at the time so I made a note of it and set it aside until “Hiding From the Night” was complete, first draft at any rate. When I finish a draft, I set the book aside for a couple of months, maybe let others read it so I have some feedback when it comes time to start the edits.

I was free to start a new story and I had the beginning, well, right from the beginning. As soon as I heard the title I had the idea of a body being found in a winter cornfield. It had to be winter because, for some reason, I like to start a book in the same year and season I am experiencing. Don’t ask me why.

So, winter scene, a cornfield next to some woods and a man out looking for his lost dog finds more than he bargained for. I had the opening chapters written quite quickly, the old farmer, his dog Max, the young woman dead in his field. I even wrote the scenes where the police began their investigation.

I had the detective, my lead character, but I didn’t have any idea why this woman had been murdered, or who the killer was. I had to start the work of filling out the details, which when I had a better idea where I was going, meant some back tracking to make things mesh.

I wrote all summer, but the story kept getting lost on me, and okay, life got in the way of my doing any consistent writing for awhile. But this fall it’s been better, and the story is coming together, one chapter at a time, one scene at a time. Basically I...ha, ha, ha...made  it up as I went along.

I sent the recent chapters to my friend, left her on a bit of a cliff hanger, and sent another chapter last night, same deal. I couldn’t send anymore because I don’t know how I’m going to end it, have too many ideas and need to think on it some more.

Yes, I’m a Plotter all right. If I’d started this book with my usual prep, I’d have had it finished long ago. There’s a lesson to be learned here, for me at any rate. I don’t have to have all the details so that I lose the spontaneity, but I do have to have an idea where I’m going.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Free Book Offer

Writing about NaNoWriMo made me think about the first book I wrote in the 30 day format. It was called "Left in Sorrow"

It was inspired by a widow I met that fall, a woman who was struggling to adapt to life alone, her changing relationships and her unknown future.

I felt sympathy for her, and began to research articles on loss. It was from that beginning that my story developed, all fiction of course.

I decided to offer the book for free, through Amazon for Kindle, from today until November 24th. Please take advantage of this offer, and if you do, I hope you enjoy the story.

Just click on the direct link to the right to be directed to Amazon.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

November, National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short, or amongst friends...NaNo. It’s a worldwide challenge for writers to complete a novel, minimum of 50,000 words, in thirty days. And it is quite a challenge, boils down to writing an average of 1600 words a day.

What I like is the sense of community that it creates for writers. Last year a group of us met before the start date to discuss plots and characters, and then met again for group write-ins at the library. Since writing is usually a solitary activity, NaNo provides like minded individuals an opportunity to meet, on their web site, by offering forums to chat, get feedback, or find help.

I have always been a bit of a math nerd, what can I say, I love numbers. Every day the writers are to enter their word count for the day, and miraculously, on their personal page, they are shown a graph of their progress, total word count, and the average number of words they need to write everyday to complete the objective of 50,000 words. If one writes in fits and starts, that number can be daunting.

I’m proud to say that I completed the NaNoWriMo Challenge in both 2012, and in 2013. Both of those books have been published with Amazon for Kindle E-readers.

This year I had my new story idea, had pages of notes and research, but did not finish my book in progress before November 1st. I found myself in the same predicament as last year, and that time I shelved the incomplete work in favor of the new story. Metaphorically speaking, I shoved the unfinished manuscript in a drawer and forgot about it.

Just like with sewing or knitting, I hate going back to a project I’ve set aside. It’s hard to gather the same kind of enthusiasm. And with writing, you can get out of the feel, the mindset of your characters so you lose your edge. That unfinished book is still unfinished.

The one thing I truly hate about NaNo is the timing. You start November 1st, end 30 days later, often ignoring much of what’s happening in the world outside your novel. Things like Christmas.

The first year I woke up from my NaNo experience and was shocked to find I had little more than three weeks to prepare for the holiday. Talk about pressure.

The next year I did much of my shopping before November, determined not to be caught unprepared again. Who was I kidding? I’m a grandmother, my shopping is never done. There is always that ‘one more thing’ that would be just perfect...for someone on my list.

This year, for several reasons, I decided to opt out of the challenge. I want to finish the current book before starting another, and when it’s done I’ll have a good portion of the prep work done for the next. I have most of my Christmas gifts wrapped and ready, an ongoing source of curiosity for the grandchildren as they poke, squeeze and shake the presents in anticipation.

I find I’m looking forward to the holiday, feeling less stress about getting everything done. And, as a point of pride, I hate leaving work unfinished, whether it’s a novel, a painting or a crocheted afghan. At my age, and with my health situation, I need positives in my life. It’s amazing the sense of accomplishment I feel when I can get projects finished and out of the way.

For now, I’m going to plod on in my own fashion, with no looming deadline. But, to all those Na No writers, nineteen days in, more power to you, keep up the good work.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

"There's No Sun Up in the Sky"

Yesterday the sun was shining and the skies were a bright blue. With the temperatures hovering above zero it was cold, but bearable with no wind chill. Still, at this mid November date, it seems winter is impatient, and not willing to delay its arrival.

The weather channel predicted snow or rain for the next few days and I can see the snowflakes fluttering down, a light dusting of snow on the ground. The skies are grey, an ominous sign of snow and more snow to come?

I can feel the change in the atmosphere, in the headache and joint pain I woke to. How quickly those colourless skies can affect one’s mood, making one feel dull, dreary and depressed.

It makes me think of that old song “Stormy Weather” sung most famously by Lena Horne. “Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky, stormy weather    gloom and misery...can’t get myself together...weary all of the time.” Granted the bad weather in the song represents the singer’s sad mood because “my man and I ain’t together.”

I was talking to a neighbour the other day and mentioned that I hoped the bad weather would stay away long enough for me to get my Christmas shopping done. Apparently, as I have almost completed buying for those on my list, the Winter Wizards decided they could give us a taste of things to come. Oh, joy.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Techno Peasant

Years ago I worked with a woman who was not enthusiastic about the new technology, and was not about to jump into the age of computers willingly. Her term, for herself, was techno peasant.

I bought my first computer when my daughter was in college, but never got into it until years later, and even at that point it was only E-mail and some internet play.

When I began writing I learned how to do research, how to format my work and of course had E-mail, but I avoided any other social media venues. I’ve gotten better, but it’s been by trial and error. I’ve had lessons from my children, lessons they’ve had to repeat, which is totally humiliating.

I had help from a friend who encouraged me to broaden my scope and try a blog. I followed her direction but at home I was confused. The book “Blogging for Dummies’ was a big help in getting me through. And now, here I am with two blogs.

Face book was something I didn’t have much of an interest in. I figured I was communicating with friends and family just fine on E-mail. Then my daughter sent me a ‘friend’ request. I tried it, looked up and old co-worker and reconnected with a friend. I was sold.

I’ve been getting the hang of it, but not doing it just right. I got an E-mail from my brother with a lesson in tagging which I appreciated. Last night my son was here and I got another lesson.

I’d never experimented with what all those options down the left margin. There’s one..Messages. He clicked on it and showed me that I read chat messages but don’t mark them as read. Oops, sorry about that. There was also an option Other that we checked and lo and behold I had two messages. One from a woman I worked with in the eighties, and another woman from the east coast who liked the stuff I pinned on Pinterest and wanted to connect, artist to artist.

I sent a message to the woman on the east coast after checking her web site. She is very talented and shows her work, art quilts, across the country. The other woman and I had a chat and caught up with each other’s lives.

The internet truly makes the world a smaller and friendlier place. I’ll be more tempted to try new stuff, click on those options to see what’s out there. Let’s just hope I don’t royally screw everything up in the process.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

21 Day Organization Challenge

I’ve been a little obsessed lately, trying to get my Christmas presents organized. I start my shopping early and cram everything into whatever cranny I can find.

I now have boxes full of presents, all wrapped and tagged, ready for my son to pick up and store until the holiday. My place may be small, but the kids have homes, and they’ve kindly given me a corner to store my overflow stuff in.

I need to reorganize my space, but find the thought of it daunting. Then I found this chart on how to be organized in 21 days. Thought I’d give it a try. Hmmmm 21 days from now is December 3rd, maybe it’s not the right time to start a three week long program.

I think it’s a New Year’s resolution kind of thing. I’ll print it off and post it on my fridge, mark off every day when done.

I’ll be so organized it brings a tear to my eye, just thinking of how proud my neat freak (and I say that with all love and admiration) daughter will be.

Funny, I can hear her voice in my head saying “ain’t never going to happen” and it’s probably true. But everyone can dream can’t they?

5000 Page Views

I’m late.

I’m late...not in the way you might think, that kind of late is way beyond my realm of existence. But I couldn’t help starting out that way.

My original thought was to begin with “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date,” the date being the 5000 views to my blog. A cause for celebration for me. 

Thank you to all who have made it possible.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Transitioning into Christmas

Autumn is a kind of transition month, summer into fall, fall into winter, but that’s just the weather.

Take sports, more transitions, baseball into football, into hockey. But some transitions occur all at once, as in October when we had the World series ending the baseball season, playing against the midseason NFL and CFL football leagues, and the beginning of the NHL hockey season. That’s a lot of sports.

Then there are the seasonal television shows. As Halloween came closer there were any number of scary movies, horror shows, and references to the ghosts and goblins, supposedly winding down with the big event on the 31st. Or so one would think.

I participated in a local fundraising bazaar on November 1st, and expected to have a quiet recuperative day on the Sunday. I was amazed to see some channels still hip deep in the horror genre of films. Cujo and Scream 3 were frequent offerings.

What did surprise me was the number of Christmas movies also being played. Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Defending Santa. Please, please, please, tell me we are not going to be inundated with Christmas movies for the next 2 months.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and I have my favourite movies that are a must see over the holidays. Over the holidays, the last few weeks of December, not November.

I’m not an American, but I use the American Thanksgiving as my marker, the earliest marker, for all things Christmas, almost. I refuse to put my tree up before December 1st, though that’s not such an issue anymore as I haven’t had a tree in years.

The stores have all their Christmas decorations out, alongside the Halloween stuff. Now it will be all Christmas until New Year’s and then maybe we’ll get a wee break before it is all hearts, chocolate and Valentines. But that’s commercialism I suppose.

In some ways I can’t complain, if the store hadn’t been offering Christmas stuff I couldn’t have bought wrapping paper and therefore have a number of my gifts wrapped and set aside.

I may get tired of the movies repeated over and over again, the carols playing in the stores and on the radio, and the commercials constantly flogging the newest must-have gifts, but I think Christmas all year long, shopping wise, as I start immediately after the new year.

I firmly believe in buying the perfect gift when I see it, have learned over time that even if I remember that gift idea, I’ll never find it again. It’s a bit of I have it right...trump as you go.

The up side to that practice is my costs are spread out over the year, the down side, and now that I think about it the down side may outweigh the good. One, I can’t resist that last minute shopping when so many cute things are displayed, and are often on a preholiday sale, and two, I have to store all those early purchases and often lose track of where I’ve stashed them.

That’s why I’m wrapping early, searching through all my usual storage spots so I don’t miss anything this year. I have a few bins I’m putting the wrapped gifts in and will send it all to my son’s, as that’s where we’ll be opening presents this year. It will be his problem, LOL, keeping the kids from the usual touching, and shaking and begging to open just one.