Hello, peeps! Blogger has eaten my posts twice, and like an idjit I'd composed them in Blogger instead of in Notepad. Thus, my creative efforts were lost forever. I'll try to do another post sometime in the coming week, and let's hope this time it sticks! ~Sherrie
I just finished watching Cinderella Man, starring Russell Crowe (the man with the velvet voice) and Renee Zellweger. It was a great movie, and it inspired me with ideas for about ten million new stories I want to start writing this very minute.
I'm a very visual person. When I write, I envision the scenes like a movie playing in my head. When I play out the scene in my head, I often stop to visualize camera placement, lighting, sound effects. Each element clicks into place like pieces of a puzzle, and then the scene and actors are set, and my fingers start flying.
I often wonder if readers do the same thing. When I read a book, my internal movie is always running. How about you? Do you visualize as you read, like a movie in your head? Or is it the actual words that do it for you? How do you experience a book?
I just read a blog by a young man who'd spent several years depleting his bank account with extravagant spending. He had an epiphany and decided all of a sudden to go Extremely Frugal. He made a list of the things he's being frugal about: never eating out, buying food in bulk, riding his bicycle instead of driving the car, etc.
Bless him for his efforts, but he's missing the boat. I speak with knowledge on this subject, because I know how to live frugally where it counts. This young man didn't list the more obvious (and green) things one can do to live frugally, such as lowering the thermostat on the furnace, combining errands during an outing, taking shorter showers, drying one's clothes on a clothesline in the summer and a wooden clothesrack in the winter. (If you like your towels fluffy, toss them in the dryer for 5 minutes, first.)
By turning my thermostat down and being frugal in the use of electrical appliances, I have lowered my energy consumption by 29%. By growing my own fruits and vegetables, I have lowered my grocery bill. I carpool to my weekly writers' critique group with a fellow writer.
And I recycle like crazy. In fact, I only have to go to the dump with "real" garbage a couple times a year because I recycle the rest and burn my paper trash. The real garbage comprises one or two brown paper grocery bags per year.
Are you frugal? What are you doing, frugal-wise, that has made a difference in your life? Please feel welcome to list any tips!
Long, long ago, when I was a kid, going to the garbage dump used to be an eagerly anticipated family event. Back then, the dump attendants didn't mind if you plowed through piles of garbage looking for cool stuff. To us kids, going to the dump was like a massive treasure hunt. There were the regulars, too, people who went to the dump on a routine basis, looking for things they could take home and fix up for personal use or to sell. They collected broken lamps, tricycles, clothing, chairs, hubcaps, knick-knacks, record albums . . . you name it. It's astonishing the amount of stuff people threw away that had nothing wrong with it.
There aren't that many open-air, dump-on-the-ground, garbage dumps left, and that's a good thing. Nowadays the handling of garbage has gone high-tech. For one thing, recycling has helped reduce the amount of garbage thrown away each year. Many dumps have been turned into solid waste transfer stations, where garbage is hauled away. Sanitary landfills now have liners to prevent contamination of ground water. They have systems to collect the methane gas generated by rotting garbage. Liquid leachate is collected and sprayed back onto the garbage to hasten decomposing. Some landfills use gigantic 59-ton trash compactors. Others incinerate their trash. Still others bury garbage with tons of dirt, compressing the garbage so much that they gain an extra 30-40 feet of depth when they scrape off the dirt 6 months later to add more garbage.
New York City produces 25,000 tons of garbage every day, which they send to other states and cities. Americans produce 330 million tons of garbage every year. Thankfully, people are becoming more diligent about recycling. Now that I recycle, I only have to go to the dump once or twice a year, with a brown grocery bag full of unrecyclable/unburnable trash. The rest is recycled. And while I love the idea of being a greenie, I have to confess to a nostalgic longing for the fun and excitement of the garbage dump days of my childhood. Which is probably why I still love flea markets and garage sales.
What about you? As a kid did you know your garbage men? Did you ever go to the dump? Did you ever remove a treasured something from the garbage that your mom had thrown away?
Taking another break from the nostalgia series to tell you about a funny that just happened. I am looking for pricing on new windows, to get an idea what it would cost to replace my old single pane jobs. I Googled "window prices" and came up with a least a trillion hits. So I clicked on the Home Depot link and suddenly this man in a Home Depot shirt pops up on my screen and starts talking to me about windows. It was REALLY startling, because he was looking right at me and chatting in a chummy way, and there I was sitting in my chair in front of him . . . buck naked and trying hastily to cover myself. Yes, I know he couldn't really see me, but it was still a shock when he suddenly appeared and started talking! Here's the link if you'd like to see what I mean: http://tinyurl.com/373oh3
I think I've become paranoid because of all the companies that use hidden surveillance devices. I didn't realize how widespread it was until I got hooked on YouTube and saw all those video clips from surveillance cameras. Most of them were funny or alarming, of the bungled bank robbery or high-speed car chase variety.
But it has become evident that Big Brother is out there, and you'd best not pick your nose or scratch your butt when you think no one can see, because chances are, there's a surveillance camera recording it. They're everywhere: restrooms, shopping malls, ATM machines, fitting rooms, gyms, taxis, nursing homes, you name it. If you don't believe me, go to YouTube and check out all the video clips from surveillance cameras.
Certainly they have a place in this day and age of terrorism, theft, and other nefarious deeds. For instance, surveillance cameras were instrumental in identifying Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing. Surveillance videos can help the public identify criminals when they are broadcast on news stations.
Where things get dicey is when the person monitoring a surveillance camera abuses the position. A JC Penney store manager sued her employer when she discovered that male employees monitoring a camera zoomed in on her breasts, and then shared the pictures with their friends. I read a recent article by a man who discovered naked pictures of himself on the Internet. He'd been showering at the YMCA, and the person monitoring the surveillance camera posted the pictures on the Internet.
Have you ever found yourself monitored when you didn't expect it? What do you think about grocery stores that show a TV monitor where you can watch yourself entering the store? How do you feel about Big Brother?
Lesley's comment to Nostalgia #4 reminded me of the time I fell down the stairs as a teen. It was the only time I ever told my mother to shut up and lived to tell of it.
We lived in an old Craftsman style house with a long and steep set of wooden stairs leading up to the attic bedroom I shared with my sister. As I started down the stairs one day, I missed my footing and sat down with a thud. I immediately made a rapid descent, shooting down the stairs on my butt. Bump-bump-bump-bumpbumpbumpbumpbump ...
I landed unhurt in an ignominius heap at the bottom of the steps, where my mom had witnessed the entire episode. All she could do was laugh and sputter like a hyena. When she asked me if I enjoyed my ride, I gathered all my teenaged dignity about me and said, "Shut up!" and stormed to the bathroom to massage my wounded posterior.
At the time, I was too embarrassed to see the humor in the situation, and I resented my mother's obvious glee. I got over it fast, however. Not too long after that, my brother did the same thing, and I was right there at the bottom of the steps to laugh with everyone else.
Do you have an embarrassing childhood memory, one that perhaps haunts you to this very day?
We interrupt this nostalgia series to bring you this important announcement: Sherrie Holmes has baboon butt. Sherrie Holmes is not a happy camper. Sherrie Holmes is in PAIN!
Yes, I have a flaming red backside and backs of my thighs, thanks to 6.5 hours scooting around on the wet roof on my butt. I was scraping off moss with a screwdriver and broom, then wetting down the roof with the garden hose and broadcasting Tide laundry detergent over the entire surface. (Tide is an excellent moss control for roofs)
Unfortunately, I discovered that scooting around on a wet composition roof (think sandpaper) makes your jeans very wet. And scooting around on a wet roof in wet jeans while grinding laundry detergent into the tender nether regions gives you a painful (very painful!) detergent burn on baby-tender skin.
I am typing this standing up. I cannot sit down. The skin is raw and weeping in places. I tried putting soothing Lubriderm Advanced Therapy hand lotion on the inflamed skin, and all it did was make me do the Mexican Hat Dance. Talk about sting! I looked at the ingredients on the lotion bottle. First ingredient - water. Second ingredient - ALCOHOL!
So now I'm walking spraddle-legged in my undies because I can't bear anything to touch my skin. And I have a flaming red baboon butt and flaming red thighs, plus a flaming red calf on one leg for good measure. I'm too old for this. I'm going to bed, since I can't sit.
Have you ever done anything stupid like this? I would dearly love to know I'm not the only one who does stuff like this.
One of my most nostalgic childhood memories was when my sister Lori and I used to go for what we called Walks. These weren't ordinary walks. When we said we were going for a Walk (capital W), it meant we'd be gone for hours, exploring the woods and different neighborhoods, picking blackberries, admiring pretty houses, and talking about our dreams. I always took my turquoise Instamatic camera or a sketch book. We walked everywhere, and never worried about boogeymen. Nowadays, no right-thinking mother would let her adolescent daughters go for walks in strange neighborhoods and be gone for hours.
The worst that happened was the time my sister and I were picking blackberries on a little bluff that overhung a large, briar-filled gully. I leaned out too far trying to reach some plump berries in the briars, and fell face-first and spread-eagled on top of the huge briar patch. Despite being suspended 15-20 feet above the ground by painfully wicked briars, my sister and I got the giggles at the sheer idiocy of the situation. Besides, I looked funny spraddled out on the briars.
Lori was able to push a flat board across the briars and I managed to ooze my body onto it. Then I inched backwards to safety along the board, poked full of a million holes. Had I taken a drink of water just then, I'm sure I would have sprung a dozen leaks.
What kind of favorite nostalgic memory do you have? Did you ever do something idiotic as a child? (What child hasn't!) Tell us!
Today I had a blast doing the sister thing. My sister Lori and I spent the day making and baking. I made a corned beef hash casserole and she made a zucchini casserole. I made squash bread and she made salsa. We sliced and diced and laughed and reminisced. It was quality time. And it fits right in with my Nostalgia Series, because what we did today was build memories.
And boy, were we tired! After spending all day working in the kitchen, we were too tired to bake the chocolate chip cookies at the end of the day. We divvied everything up--each of us getting 2 casseroles, squash bread, salsa, and cookie dough.
I'm sitting here at 10:30 at night, full of good food and happy memories. Do you have happy family memories? Are there certain meals you fix that make you nostalgic? Perhaps it was a meal you loved as a child. My favorite nostalgia meal is meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. Comfort food. What's your comfort food?
When we were little kids, the highlight of the week was garbage day. My sister and brother and I would crowd about the bedroom window and wave madly at the two burly guys who rode standing up at the back of the truck. After they had emptied our garbage can in the alley behind the house, they drove to the end of the alley and circled around, coming past the front of the house. We'd race to the front window and wave madly once again. They always waved back.
One rainy day, we'd thrown away an old umbrella that only had the handle and spokes left--no cloth. After the garbage men emptied our can and drove through the rain to the end of the alley, we ran to the front window as usual, to wave goodbye. One of the men had pulled that old umbrella out of the garbage, and as the truck drove by in the rain he was standing at the back of the truck, holding the skeletal umbrella over his head and grinning like a fiend. We thought that was just about the funniest thing we'd ever seen. How we laughed!
I wonder if he knew how much pleasure that one incident gave our family over the years? To this day, we still talk fondly about it. It seems to me that spontaneous acts like that were a way of connecting with others in a friendly way, without worrying if you were being intrusive or, God forbid, offensive. I miss that. Do you have memories from your past that you treasure?
I've been trying to write a blog post for over a week, and it just keeps getting longer and longer. No way could I post something that long, and no way could I cut anything, so today I had an epiphany: cut it into smaller sections and make it part of a series on nostalgia. I will try to post a new installment every 2-3 days or so. This is my first installment. ~Sherrie
There's a nostalgic part of me that wants to go back to the way things were in the 1950s when I was a little kid. We lived in a neighborhood where no one locked their doors. The neighbors all knew each other, and the stay-at-home moms often got together for coffee and gossip in the mornings. We kids played from sunrise to sunset in the summer, and the mothers kept an eye on us (community mothering).
When color TVs came out, one of the neighbors got one. On Sunday night our whole family would go over to their place to watch The Ed Sullivan Show, and the Walt Disney Hour, and sometimes Lassie. On Saturdays we kids watched Fury, My Friend Flicka, and Sky King ("From out of the clear blue of the western sky comes . . . SKY KING!").
On Saturdays we always cleaned house and baked cake or cookies, because Sunday was the day for drop in company. Nowadays, no one would even contemplate dropping in on an acquaintance unannounced. Back then, it was perfectly acceptable, and even looked forward to with pleasure. I think the custom came about because people went for Sunday drives after church, and often found themselves in the neighborhood of an acquaintance. (Does anyone go for a Sunday drive anymore?) On Sundays we lived in hopeful expectation of surprise visitors, and when we kids spied someone parking at our place, we'd always yell, "Company's here!" to mom.
I miss those times. I miss the happy feeling that came from visiting with folks we hadn't seen in awhile, but who dropped by because they were "in the neighborhood." I miss the homemade coffee cakes and cookies. I miss the openness and innocence of that bygone era. We live in the fast lane, now, and I think kids growing up today are missing out on a social opportunity that was very very special. We're losing our connection with the past, and kids are being raised with a different set of values.
Do you remember something about your past that makes you nostalgic? Is there a tradition from the past that you wish you could resurrect? (Sunday drive, anyone?) Do you have mementos from your past that you've kept for the sentimental value? Please share your stories!
Oh dear. I'm crazy busy, and need to be more efficient, so I'm doing a minute-by-minute time sheet of everything I do for the next several days. I'm finding enormous time wasters. I could be grouping some tasks for better use of time, and I'm doing stuff I shouldn't--eating at computer and playing FreeCell while I eat, under the guise of "it's my lunch break." Naturally, once lunch is over, I discover I've played several more games of FreeCell, and before I know it, I've wasted half an hour. Bad. Very bad.
I need to set up routines, too. I'm always forgetting to take my vitamins or wash my face in the morning because I get involved in stuff and forget. Have you ever done a time sheet on yourself? If so, did it help to identify problem areas? And how dedicated were you in addressing those problem areas? Did you start out with good intentions (I'm going to wash my face first thing every morning) only to fall back into old habits?
A few weeks ago we had a doozy of a thunder/lightning/rain storm. Before the rain came, the skies rumbled and grumbled and flashed for hours as the storm moved closer and closer. It was hot and muggy, and I was outside much of the time, hanging freshly laundered dog blankets on the clothesline. Naturally, the moment I hung the last blanket on the line, the skies opened up and I got drenched running back to the house. It was fun. I felt energized by all the sweetly fresh air and the abundance of negative ions that a storm always brings. Negative ions are a Good Thing. Here's a link that explains it better than I could: http://tinyurl.com/26ezx6
I find storms invigorating, so much so that I have a "Thundering Rainstorm" CD that I play when I'm writing. Of course, a recorded storm doesn't put negative ions in the air like a real storm, but it does evoke the happiness and energy of a storm. In fact, I listen to it only when I write, and it's become something of a conditioned response now, like Pavlov's dogs. If I am stuck in a writing slump, I put on the storm CD and suddenly I am inspired again. Now I'm looking into an air ionizer to put on my desk so I'll be surrounded with negative ions.
Do you have a favorite CD you listen to that energizes or inspires you when you write? Do you have a ritual that gets you in the mood, such as drinking tea from a special mug or lighting a scented candle or wearing your lucky sweatshirt inside out? Do tell!
For those of you as old as I am, do you remember the "You Bet Your Life" game show where Groucho Marx would waggle his cigar and eyebrows, saying, "Say the secret word and win $100"? Then a stuffed bird would drop down from the ceiling holding a sign with the secret word written on it.
Well, last night as I was going to bed I had something drop down from the ceiling directly in front of me, and it wasn't a bird with a sign. It was a honking big spider, and it was descending rapidly, coming to a stop inches from my face. I nearly walked into it. I let out a huge scream, which made the spider jump and begin climbing hastily back up its rope. I dispatched him between the covers of two DVD movies, which was the closest thing at hand. No way was I going to let a monster that size hang around in my bedroom and crawl on me as I slept.
I know people who go out of their way to gently escort spiders back outside, and I say good for them. Really. I mean it. As much as I loathe spiders, I leave them alone when outside--where they belong. In my house, it's a different matter.
Now with colder weather here, and fall just around the corner, I'm suffering through the annual spider migration into the house. I hate it. The most alarming are the huge hairy black ones in the bathroom. They pop out of bathtub drains or hang out on the ceiling, scaring the daylights out of me. My scream reflex gets a workout when they startle me. And I hate, hate, hate going down the hall or through a doorway into another room, and walking into a spider web, usually right across the face.
I wish I knew how they got into the house. Anybody know? And how, for heaven's sake, can they get into the plumbing from outside???
The weather has changed and fall is definitely here. It's cold and rainy, and I've been hunched up all day. I get cold sitting at the computer, as my desk is in a corner, against 2 outside walls. I keep warm by climbing into one of those funky body wrap "snuggle bags" that look like an oversized sleeping bag. You know the kind--you step into it and zip it up to the waist, and the rest drapes around your shoulders like a shawl. Toasty warm, if a bit awkward to get into and out of. I tried staying in the snuggle bag and hopping around when I needed to get somewhere, but that was too undignified, not to mention exhausting, so now I just unzip and climb out.
I had to go to the kitchen to make lunch a few days ago, so I unzipped the bag partway and climbed out. I left it draped over my chair so that when I returned, all I had to do was step in, sit down, and zip up. That's when the fun began, because I didn't realize that in my absence, one of my cats had crawled into the bag and curled up at the foot. So when I returned, I climbed into the bag, getting irritated that my feet seemed to be tangled up in an excess of material at the bottom, while simultaneously marveling at how much of my body heat was still trapped in the foot of the bag. That's when something attacked my stockinged foot in an excess of kitty playfulness. And that's when I realized there was SOMETHING ALIVE in the bag with me!
What ensued next was worthy of a Mack Sennett Keystone Cops movie. Have you ever tried to claw your way out of an overlarge snuggle bag that contained a suddenly startled cat that is also trying to claw his way out before you? I fell off my chair and somehow ended up clinging by my fingernails to the ceiling. My cat was beside me hanging upside down by his claws. We looked at each other, then down at the demon bag. Then we dropped down from the ceiling, straightened our clothes, and tried to act nonchalant. Since then, my cat won't have anything to do with the Snuggle Bag That Eats Cats. Can't imagine why!
Have you ever had an experience where you were startled/frightened by a varmint, domesticated or not? Ever had an encounter with a wild critter? What happened? Do tell!
Have been buried with work and this is the first chance I've had to post here! So much for my every-other-day schedule! Out the window when you're swamped!
So instead of something humorous or profound, how about I tell you something interesting I learned the other day? While I cooled my heels in my doctor's waiting room, there was a big screen TV blaring away with some silly women's show. I don't watch that stuff, and in fact, I don't even watch TV, but I became interested in the topic.
It had to do with germs harbored by women's cosmetics. They took random samples from the make-up kits of several women, including professional models with high quality cosmetics, and examined those beauty aids under microscopes. The results were horrifying. Germs! Nasty germs and wiggly things! Those cosmetics were infested with vermin. To prove their point, they showed enlarged photos of the vermin
They advised throwing away old cosmetics and replacing them at regular intervals with new. Now that I work from home I seldom wear make-up, so I did something else. I washed my stuff in antibacterial soap--the mascara wand, the foam eye shadow applicator, and the blusher brush. I sharpened the eyeliner pencil and dragged my lipstick across a paper towel to get rid of the germy outer layer.
Probably not the best solution, but better than doing nothing at all. And guess what? My eyes no longer burn after a couple hours of wearing eye makeup! Go figure. Amazing what a little soap and water can do.
How long do you keep your cosmetics? Were you aware that they can become infested with all sorts of nasty things? I sure wasn't!
Dilemma: Do I remove the string hanging out of my cat's butt or do I let nature take its course?
My cat, Christopher the Assassin, has an eclectic appetite. He relishes bugs, enjoys the occasional flower, scarfs grated carrots and sauerkraut, and generally eats anything that looks interesting. Like string. Thus his current problem. String and thread are hard for a cat to spit out due to the way their tongues are constructed. Cats have sandpaper tongues because their papillae are backward-facing hooks, and these hooks are partly keratin (think human fingernails). These little hooks help a cat hold onto struggling prey, and they're also a great aid in grooming. But because the papillae are backward-facing, cats end up swallowing hair as they groom themselves. If they happen to sample an interesting bit of string, down it goes. And then out it goes. But sometimes not all the way.
So I finally grabbed a big wad of Kleenex, got Christopher in a headlock, and took care of matters. He was quite blase about the whole thing, and while I disposed of the string and tissue, Christopher stuck his hind leg in the air and cleaned his butt. Then he came over and tried to give me kitty kisses. Eeewww! No thank you!
Does your cat have interesting eating habits? Does he or she eat bugs? How about begging for food? Do you feed your cat special treats? 'Fess up, now!
I'm trying to make myself go to bed earlier, because for the past couple of years I've gotten into the habit of going to bed anywhere from 2:00 - 4:00 a.m. It's because I always seem to get my second wind in the evening, and then I'm good for another 8-10 hours.
I'd dearly love to be able to go to bed around 11:00 p.m. so that I can get up around 7:00. I love the quiet solitude and emerging awareness of early morning. Seven o'clock in the morning is pleasantly early. Six o'clock in the morning is more like torture.
I have two cats with different sleep cycles. One of them gets up when I do. The other one is a slugabed--he doesn't get up until an hour or two after I arise. Then, he comes out of his bedroom looking sleepy and rumpled and in bad need of coffee. If I could manage to insert pictures on this blog without it always trashing my posts, I'd add a picture of Christopher the Assasin and Lord Byron in their kitty beds. For now, you'll just have to go to my Flickr page to see them.
What about you? Are you an early-to-bed-early-to-rise person, or are you a nightowl like me? What time do you go to bed and arise? Is that part of your normal rhythm or is it forced because you have a job and must suit your cycle to the demands of work?
This is the second day in a row that I've typed a really great post and Blogger ate it before I could post. Sorry, folks, but I'm mad now, and don't have time to try recreating yet another masterpiece. (pout) It won't let me post pictures, either, so I'll just have to try again tomorrow.
Most of my writer friends have cats. I think cats are very good for the creative soul. My two cats, Christopher the Assassin and Lord Byron, often keep me company when I write. (That's Lord Byron on the left) Usually, they sprawl on my desk and offer editorial comments and get cat hair in my coffee. They are great company, as is my dog, Nova.
Writing is a solitary profession, and writers tend to be hermits. That's probably why so many writers have cats or dogs--for the companionship as well as for the calming influence. As a reader, I love nothing better than to curl up on the couch with a good book in my hand and a comfortable cat in my lap.
If you're a writer, do you have a cat or dog or some other pet? Do they hang out with you as you write, and do you find their company a help or a hindrance? (All those who have cats that drape themselves over your forearms as you type, raise your hand!)
Today I was turning my compost pile because it had quit "cooking." It made me think of how a compost pile is much like writing. In the beginning, you have a mish-mash of items such as grass clippings, manure, dirt, straw, potato peels, etc. Each is an interesting item by itself, but how can you throw them all together and end up with nutrient-rich dirt?
Starting a novel is much the same. You have characters, settings, plots, goals, conflicts, etc. You can throw them all into a pile, but unless you do it properly they won't cook, and the result will be less than optimal
Once you've started your compost pile or your novel, you can't ignore them or work only when you feel like it. Turning a big compost pile is hard work. So is writing. And if you blend your ingredients properly, the end result will be just what you wanted.
There is, however, one big difference between compost piles and writing. When you add manure to a compost pile, it just gets better. When you fill your novel with manure, it just gets worse. Sometimes it's hard for a writer to identify literary manure. That's where an editor comes in. Writers often have a difficult time evaluating their own work. They're too close to it. They wrote it and they love each word. An editor can help you identify manure. That is only a very small part of what an editor can do for you, but it's a very important part.
Composting and writing are hard work. It takes perseverance to be a good at both.
I'm retired from freelance editing and living the good life. I love not working for a living! I live on a small farm in rural western Washington State where I reside with my dogs, cats, and horses. I have a warped sense of humor and I'm joyously silly most of the time.