Monday, December 1, 2008

The Shadow Knows

Ever wonder how tall that tree is in your front yard? There's a relatively easy way to calculate, using the tree's shadow.

1. Measure the tree's shadow. (say, 60 feet)

2. Measure a yardstick's shadow. (say, 2 feet)

3. Multiply the tree's shadow by 3. (60 x 3 = 180)

4. Divide that number by the yardstick's shadow. (180 ÷ 2 = 90)

5. The result is the correct height of the tree (90 feet)

So, the calculations look like this: 60 x 3 = 180 ÷ 2 = 90.

Or another way: Tree shadow multiplied by 3, divided by yardstick shadow = tree height.

After years of struggling to find out how tall that huge black locust tree was in front of my house, I finally found this method and discovered the tree was 90 feet tall.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Gratitude Project

Sorry for the plain vanilla post today. Blogger is having the hiccups and won't let me upload pictures properly.

I want to alert you to something awesome happening over at Susan Wiggs's blog, The View From Here. It's the Gratitude Project.

From November 1 until Thanksgiving, she is posting 3 things per day that she is grateful for. She challenged visitors to the blog to do the same, on a daily basis. The results have been wonderful. And heartwarming. And eye-opening. And sometimes even hilarious. Do please stop by Susan's blog and click on "comments" at the top of each post to read all the wonderful lists of things readers are thankful for. If you feel inclined to leave your own list, do so! It is so uplifting!

Monday, November 10, 2008

When You Live Alone ...

I need a personal manager. Someone to following me around all day telling me what to do, and when. That's one of the bad things about living alone. You aren't accountable to anyone, so you slip into bad habits. You don't have someone in the house raising an eyebrow when you start to do something you shouldn't, like eating cold spaghetti for breakfast. With your hands. You don't have to be embarrassed by your housemate finding your dirty undies piled on the bathroom floor. There's nobody to remind you to go to bed when you should. Take your pills when you should. Go to the doctor when you should.

This is why people who live alone get weird. And lazy. Having another body in the house keeps you honest, makes you toe the mark. And right now, I need a personal trainer to help me organize my life better. Any offers out there? Warning: I'm a hard case! *g*

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Waiting for People

It seems more and more I spend my life waiting for people who couldn't care less about the fact I have rearranged my schedule to accommodate them. At times I have postponed errands while waiting for my doctor's office to call or a client to deliver a job. I've sacrificed sleep by getting up way before my usual time in order to be alive and alert for the person who ends up being several hours late to service the refrigerator or the telephone.

Yesterday I rose from bed after only 4 hours of sleep because the furnace guy said he'd be here at that time. He was 3 hours late, and I had a headache all day from lack of sleep.

Today I arose after 5 hours of sleep because two people were coming over today: the roofing man who, it turns out, arrived 4 hours early, while I was still asleep; and the carpenter, who was going to drop by "sometime" today to discuss the projects I needed quotes on. I've been hovering around the house all day and haven't heard from him, and now it's almost dark. It's also too late for me to run to the Post Office to mail some client packages.

If you're late for a doctor appointment, they get mad at you, but if the doctor is late seeing you, you're supposed to accept that. If you rearrange your schedule in order to have a block of time in the afternoon for the computer guy, he calls you at the crack of dawn and asks if he can come over in the morning so that he can have his afternoon free to play with his friends. If your car breaks down on the highway and the towing company says they'll be there in half an hour, they show up in 3 hours (as happened to me).

To me, being late shows lack of respect. When a repairman calls to rearrange a previously confirmed appointment so he can play, it shows a lack of respect. When you sit in a doctor's office for 2 hours past your scheduled time, it shows a lack of respect.
Am I being overly sensitive, or are my expectations out of line? What do you think? Have you ever been at the mercy of a time robber?

Friday, October 31, 2008

NaNoWriMo, Here I Come!

Okay, I'm taken the plunge, and I'm doing NaNo. Still haven't a clue what I'll write about! I brainstormed with my critique group, and came away with some fleshed out stuff on story ideas I presented to them. Most of these are stories I've had from years ago. They were in my "ideas" folder. But none of them are really outlined in any sort of detail except for one of them.

And the one my critique group liked is my second favorite. I'd actually been leaning toward my #1 favorite, because I at least had names and a plot for my characters, whereas with #2, I had nothing but the half-formed idea.

So wish me luck! It's the 11th hour, and I still haven't decided!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

National Novel Writing Month

I'm considering joining NaNoWriMo next month. When you sign on with NaNoWriMo, you commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in one month. That comes to about 6 1/2 pages per day. If you aren't a writer, that sounds easy, right? Well, if you are a writer, you know just how hard that can be.

In my case, it should be easier than it is for those who hold down a full-time job. I am self-employed, so I have more time for this sort of thing. I don't commute. My biggest obstacle is procrastination and a lack of stick-to-it-iveness. I always have stuff I need to do around the house, and I let that interfere.

Plus, I'm pretty busy with the editorial business right now. That will always be my first priority, because it puts meat and potatoes on the table and oil in the furnace and gas in the car.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? If so, how did it go? Any tips for a newbie?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mowin' the Lawn, Lovin' the Smell

Today I mowed the lawn with my reel mower. No gas exhaust or noisy engine--just the satisfying whrrr of the blades cutting grass while I labor behind the mower, pushing with all my might.

There is a part of my yard that has the most unusual and fragrant smell when you cut the grass. It's hard to describe-but the closest I can come to is a cross between new-mown hay and a subtle perfume. Yes, perfume. It definitely has a perfumey fragrance to it. The grass in that part of the yard is junk grass, not nearly as nice as the rest of the yard. But it has an incredible smell.

For the longest time, I thought my neighbor was using her clothes dryer, because I can always smell the fabric softener she uses. But I soon realized that lovely smell was coming from my own yard. I sleep with the slider open at nights after mowing the grass because I can smell it for about 4 days afterwards.

When I'm older and grayer and can't get around so well, I know this will be one of my trigger smells, reminding me of my younger days when I used to mow the lawn back at the ol' homestead.

Do you have a favorite smell? A trigger smell? Do tell!

Friday, October 24, 2008


I love mondegreens. For the uninitiated, a mondegreen is when a person says something, but you "hear" something else. Such as "What a friend we have in Jesus" being misheard as "What a friend we have in cheeses."

So today I was listing to KPLU, the local NPR station. They're having their annual fall fund drive, and one of the pledge gifts for those who donate a pledge is a KPLU tote bag. Only, I kept thinking they were saying "toe tag," as in a cadaver toe tag. In my vague absent-mindedness, I kept wondering if it was a jokey Halloween gag gift.

Not until they started calling it a grocery tote bag did I realize what they were talking about. This made me laugh. Okay, so my hearing isn't what it used to be, but heck, if you can't laugh at yourself, what can you laugh at?

Life is full of humor. It's there, free for the taking. Have you ever heard a mondegreen?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Another Moment of Grace

This morning I had another one of those unexpected moments of grace: drinking a good cup of coffee while standing in front of the slider in a patch of brilliant sunshine. You see, fall is finally here and last night we had our first frost of the season. I woke up cold. But standing in that bright sunshine, inhaling the rich aroma of coffee and taking occasional sips from my mug made the world right again. Isn't it funny how small things like that can have such an impact on our outlook? What was your most recent "moment of grace"?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One Thing Leads to Another . . .

I've been so busy I haven't had time to keep up with my blog. Shame on me!

And right in the middle of being terribly busy with client work, what should happen but I get a sudden urge to move furniture. Well, not an urge, really. You see, it all began when a friend gave me a sort of combination bookshelf/storage thing for my office. This resulted in rearranging a lot of furniture, sorting through piles of junk, and ending up with mounds of trash.

I got tired of climbing over and around the bookshelf thing I'd temporarily stored in the laundry room, and in a moment of frustration I moved it into my office. The only place I could put it was where the old rolltop desk sat. I used another desk for my work, and the rolltop was just a glorified storage place for office supplies. So I moved the rolltop to a spare bedroom. But that meant I then had to find room for the table that had been in the bedroom. It's an old ugly dinette table, so I decided to take it to the dump, since it wasn't eligible for Goodwill (I'd cut a big hole in it to accommodate an old sewing machine I no longer owned).

In typical Murphy's Law fashion, one thing led to another and another and another, and I ended up spending all day yesterday rearranging furniture, cleaning out desk drawers, moving contents to new locations, sorting through and tossing a lot of useless junk, etc. Until 4:30 this morning. Oy!

Now I'm in the process of removing the legs from the table with a screwdriver so that I can fit it in my car for a trip to the dump. I also have a mound of paper trash to burn, and boxes of stuff for Goodwill. Life is never simple, is it? Have you ever gotten involved in what you thought would be a small project, only to have it burgeon into The Project That Took Over My Life?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

If Your House Caught Fire . . .

. . . what's the first thing you would save? The second? The third?

Pets are a given--I'd open doors so the dog and 2 cats could escape. The first inanimate thing on my list, without question, would be my computer back-up disks. They contain my novels and my client work. (I'm a freelance editor)

The next thing would have to be my artwork. I'm an art freak with an eclectic (and much loved) mix, collected from antique stores, estate sales, folk artists, mail order catalogs, and Goodwill. Much of it is original and cannot be replaced. Not a day goes by that I don't give eye service to the beauty of my art objects..

Sad to say, I'd have to let my 5,000+ books burn. Though most are hardback reference books, they can be replaced. The one exception is my personal recipe book--a 3-ring binder containing not only my own culinary creations, but recipes collected over a 40-year span.

And then there are my wonderful trash cans. I haunt Goodwill, and over the years have collected an assortment of precisely perfect receptacles for collecting trash: the one that is exactly the right size for the weird place under my kitchen sink; the narrow one for under my desk where it won't interfere with my leg space; the tall skinny rectangular one that fits nicely into an odd niche and is big enough to hold 2 large sacks of dry dog food; the little bathroom wastepaper basket that is utterly perfect; the one that's the perfect size to fit into a small space by my craft table. What makes these receptacles so wonderful is that they are nonstandard sizes and you can't get them in any stores.

Oh, and I almost forgot my special coffee mug!

So, what would YOU rescue if your house caught fire? (We'll assume pets top the list)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Same Rose, Different View

I guess you could say I love my camera. After taking over 100 pictures of the same rose, I ended up with perhaps 5 really good pictures. Those of you who are photographers will understand.
Here's a picture that I particularly liked. Of course, it helps that I love the color pink.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Rose by Another Name . . .

. . . is still a rose. Or however that saying goes.

Yesterday I took over 100 pictures of a rose. That's one of the shots on the left. It's from a rose plant, one that consists of a single stem and one rose. I planted the rose in my garden years ago, and it has never grown taller than two feet. It has no branches--it's still a two-foot tall stick. And it has never produced more than one one perfect rose each year.

I love the velvet texture of roses, and their scent is divine. A rose is Mother Nature's gift to mankind.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Perseid Meteor Shower

I watched the Perseid meteor shower two nights ago, and it was fabulous. In 45 minutes I saw 17 shooting stars. It's all so wonderful and mysterious. When I see something like that, I am reminded of how much I take for granted. Mother Nature is amazing, the Universe astounding, and shooting stars are like the cherry on top of a banana split.

Have you seen the Perseid meteor shower? Did you think it was as wonderful as I did?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Funeral Duty

My cat, Christopher the Assassin, is a killer. If it moves, he kills it. If it's edible, he eats it. If it's not edible, he eats it anyway. I've never owned a more bloodthirsty cat.

Today, on my porch and sidewalk, there's an interesting array of victims: a rat, a mole, a mouse, a shrew, two birds, a snake, and (sob!) a baby bunny. And what does this macho cat do after he's spent the morning hunting and eating? Comes into the house and demands lap time, with accompanying purrs and kneading. Just as if he were a normal, law-abiding cat without feral tendencies.
But I guess that's okay. For the first time in 34 years, I don't have moles in my yard. Since Christopher began hunting moles, I've been mole-free for years.
Now it's time for me to go out and do funeral duty, which means picking up the various bodies and flinging them into the woods. How about your pets? Do you have any critters that are hunters like Christopher?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Making Beautiful Cards #7

This card was made using two stamps and one color--eggplant. First, I stamped the lace background, then sponged more eggplant color around the edges. Next, I stamped the goddess, then carefully cut out the image and glued her to the lace background. Then I glued it to lavender cardstock. I like the simplicity of the card.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Making Beautiful Cards #6

This is one of my more unusual cards. The "bubbles" were made by combining equal parts water and liquid dish soap, and then adding tempura paint. Then you take a straw and blow bubbles in the mixture until the bubbles foam up and form a large mound above the rim of the bowl.
Next, you place a piece of paper on top of the bubbles and press gently down. The result is what you see on the left. When the bubbles pop, they leave a lovely impression on the paper.
I love these bubble images! They are fun. They have depth and look almost three-dimensional. And they make interesting images for cards.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Loretta Chase Does the Bluestockings

The Bluestockings discussion board over at Candice Hern's site, that is.

Loretta will be the Guest Author at the Bluestockings the week of July 14. She'll be blogging about her latest release, Your Scandalous Ways, and any other topic that pops up. Visitors are welcome. Please drop in and leave a comment, discuss Loretta's books, chat with Loretta, and meet other Loretta Chase fans.

At the end of the week one lucky commenter's name will be drawn to win an autographed Loretta Chase book. See you there!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Life of Riley

Today I glanced out my slider and saw both my dog and my cat snoozing on the deck. The weather was beautiful, and both animals were dead to the world.

I absolutely had to take a picture of my cat. His name is Lord Byron, and he was lying on his back, hind legs spread, one paw flung out, the other curled on his chest. He was snoring. That's him in the picture. You can see my dog's hind legs in the left side of the picture.

I once had a very large orange cat who curled up inside a very small cardboard box for a nap and got stuck. He had wedged himself in so tightly that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't get out.

Animals are so entertaining. Nova, my Doberman, has a whole box full of expensive toys, but does she play with them? No. Her favorite toys are a plastic 1 gallon planter from the nursery, and half of a tennis ball that split open. What about your pets? Do they shun their store-bought toys in favor of something more rustic or unusual?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Moment of Grace

The other day I was driving to the grocery store and saw a DOT tractor in the highway median. The driver was mowing down the tall grass and scotchbroom. On the way back home, I saw that he had missed little spots here and there. I thought, Well, that man is just careless or lazy. And then I realized that he'd missed those spots on purpose. Because each "spot" was a foxglove flower, tall and pretty.

You could tell he had carefully mowed around the flowers, leaving them standing while mowing down the rest of the weeds. It brought a smile to my lips and happiness to my heart. I have carried that image in my heart ever since. It was a moment of grace for me that has had a lasting effect.

Have you ever had a moment of grace? Something like a beautiful sunset, a hug from a child, or unexpected kindness from a stranger?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Making Beautiful Cards #5

Here's another card I made using blue card stock. The horse part is stamped on glossy paper, which absorbs the ink so incredibly that it ends up looking and feeling like a photograph. You absolutely cannot smear the thing once it's done, even if you run your finger across the checkerboard surfaace.

I inked the checkerboard stamp first, then used a paper towel to rub away the ink from one part of the stamp. Then I stamped it on glossy paper. I then sponged a small amount of topaz ink off-center, for drama. Next, I stamped the horse.

Then I glued the glossy card onto dark blue paper, and glued that to the blue card stock

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Free Books for Reader Groups

Do you belong to a reader group or book discussion club? Do you know of any such groups? I am looking for legitimate reader groups that I can send free books to. My client is a well known NY Times bestseller. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and the free books are brand new reprints of her popular backlist. At the back of each book is a teaser chapter from her next book, which will be released in September. It is hoped that these books will introduce the client's work to people who haven't read her before, as well as create interest in the new book.

If anyone knows of a reader group I can send books to, please contact me privately at sholmes (at) (Replace "at" with the @ symbol, and no spaces before or after.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Loretta Chase at Book Smugglers

Come join the fun! Over at The Book Smugglers Loretta will be their guest for the next several days, starting today with a review of her latest book, Your Scandalous Ways. Today and tomorrow will be open for comments, and on Saturday The Book Smugglers will interview Loretta, and again, it will be open for comments.

Ms. Chase will be dropping in now and then to respond to reader comments, so if you've ever wanted to go one-on-one with Loretta, now's your chance! Bonus: leave a comment and be eligible to win an autographed copy of Your Scandalous Ways. Loretta will be giving away three copies. See you there!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

Friday I had 2 tons of hay delivered. It was so beautiful that I ordered another 2 tons, and today they delivered those extra 2 tons. But first, I had to clean out the barn to make room for the extra hay. I nearly killed myself doing it. The picture above shows a small portion of the 4 tons.

I'm not a packrat, but I had accumulated far too much "stuff" in my barn. Some of it I'm hauling to the dump. Some of it I'm burning. Some of it I'm giving away (my 2-wheeled horse cart and harness--sob!). It's liberating to get rid of junk, but it's depressing when your body just doesn't act like it's 27-years-old anymore. My feet hurt. My back hurts. My knees hurt. Getting old is not for the faint-of-heart.

To end on an upbeat note, here is a picture of Lord Byron, my cat. He is Official Hay Inspector. He likes to climb all over the bales, poking around and, I suspect, looking for mice. He sits on the bales and talks to me as I work. He's great company!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Making Beautiful Cards #4

This card I made for my best friend, Carol. Oddly enough, the darling little dragon blowing out a candle was a freebie given to me when I purchased some other rubber stamps at a stamp show. Vendors often tuck a little freebie in the bag with your purchase. It's a nice touch, and while the freebies are often something I wouldn't normally purchase (like the little dragon), I frequently end up finding many uses for them. This dragon is my "birthday" stamp. I've made many birthday cards with it.

Everything except the smoke is a stamp. The dragon and candle are one stamp. The stone floor is another. I made the smoke by tapping a Q-tip on my ink pad and drawing the smoke freehand with the Q-tip. Then I added "Happy Birthday Carol" with a gold ink pen.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Come Join Us & Win Free Books!

This is the official me doing my official duty. I have two announcements for today, 6/9:

1. Edith Layton is being interviewed today over at the Word Wenches blog in connection with the release of her latest, His Dark and Dangerous Ways. Come join us, and if you leave a comment you'll be eligible to win a copy of her book!

2. Today, Loretta Chase is joining The Romance Bandits blog to talk about her newest book, Your Scandalous Ways. Visit the blog and leave a comment and you'll be eligible to win a bookmark or a copy of Your Scandalous Ways!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Awwww . . .

I just had the cutest thing happen. I bent down to pet my cat, Christopher the Assassin, and he stood on his hind feet and reached his arms up, just like a toddler wanting to be picked up. I realized that's how I always pick him up: a hand under each armpit, fingers circling his chest, and up he comes, nice and comfortable. It's how I put him down, too, so he's very comfortable with that method.

He's actually been doing this for some time, now, and I just didn't realize it. I think it's so endearing, and shows a level of trust for a cat. Christopher is the Bwana, the Great White Hunter (thus the assassin part of his name), so it's a double pleasure to know that such a fearless hunter likes his cuddles so much that he practically begs for them.

How do your pets let you know they want a little affection from Mom? (Or Dad!)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Making Beautiful Cards, #3

This is a card I made for my friend, Jacquie Rogers, who writes totally fun books about faeries and dragons, and pirates and such. I printed out a copy of her most recent book cover and designed a card for her. She promptly commissioned me to make a couple dozen more! Now I have a sideline doing author cards featuring their book covers.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Making Beautiful Cards #2

Shock! I'm back the next day with another card to display. Not much news in my life except to say that while unloading groceries I opened a bottle of new shampoo I'd bought and sniffed it to see what it smelled like. Got a dab on my nose and wiped it off. Now I can't get the perfumey smell out of my nose! Have scrubbed & scrubbed with tissue. Headed for the shower now. Hopefully the smell will stay in my hair and not my nose.

This card shows my love of the Asian influence in art, and also my love of combining textures and patterns. Oh, and my love of monochromatic color themes.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Making Beautiful Cards

Confession: I am a rubber stamper. I make cards. I used to be an artist in my former life (oil, watercolor, pen and ink). And while I no longer have time for art, I still crave that creativity outlet. So I do the next best thing. I make cards.

I used to look down my nose at stampers, considering them second class citizens compared to REAL artists. Also, I was secretly afraid that if I got started, it could easily become a passion. But a client kept telling me how much fun it was and one day, she sent me a couple of rubber stamps and a set of ink pads. I was doomed.

Since I've been so darned busy, and haven't had time to post regularly to my blog, I thought I'd try posting pictures of my cards. At least it won't look like a barren desert here. The card above is one I'm particularly proud of. The Asian cat and Asian writing are stamped in a dark purplish-maroon color called "eggplant." The bands of color in the background were made using a sponge and Q-tips.

The images I'll be posting will be compressed, because Blogger doesn't like big files, so the pictures won't be the highest quality. But hopefully they'll give you a good idea of the types of cards you can make with rubber stamps. I'll try to post a new card every few days or so, schedule permitting.

What is your hobby? Any artists out there?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Up Your Nose!

Gross!!! Yesterday I picked a gorgeous spray of flowers from my rhododendron. It's a rare scented rhodie with a lovely, sweet smell. As I walked to the house, I buried my nose in the flowers and took a deep sniff. And came away with a hideous black garden slug on my nose and upper lip.

I'm not a freak-out person, but that got me good! I slapped it off my lip and hurried to the house with my upper lip stuck out so as not to contaminate my lower lip. I wiped it off with tissue, then soaped up a sponge and scrubbed my nose and lip.

Ahhhhh, nature. Sometimes, I think Mother Nature is a practical joker. Have you ever had anything unexpected happen to you as a result of Mother Nature?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Have You Seen a Funny Lately?

What's the funniest thing you ever saw?

I remember the time I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, creeping forward by the inch. I noticed a guy in the next lane whiz by me at 3 MPH, and he was laughing. So was the next guy. Then I happened to glance in my rearview mirror and saw why. A very professional-looking man in a business suit and driving a Beamer was directly behind me. He had a hand puppet that looked like a dog. This "dog" was barking at cars.

I burst out laughing. The "dog" saw me laughing and barked at me. I laughed harder. The dog stuck his head out the driver's side window and barked at a passing car. The driver pulled the dog back in with his collar, so then the dog scrunched up his face and pouted when the man shook his finger at him. Then the dog saw me continuing to watch him through my rearview mirror, so he crept below the dashboard and then slowly peered over the top in a peek-a-boo way. I laughed. He slipped below the dash again, then popped up quickly. Once more I laughed, and he ducked below the dash and then s l o w l y rose up so that all I could see was the top of his head and his eyes. He played peek-a-boo for a while, then rested his chin on the dashboard and did what was obviously an exaggerated sigh.

During the hour I was stuck in traffic, I had a blast watching this puppet dog perform his antics. Barking at passing cars was hilarious, especially as his eyes locked on like radar and he continued to bark as the car passed. You could see his head swivel and his mouth going. It was just too funny.

When our lane finally started moving again, I waved goodbye to the puppet dog, and he bounced around in his car barking excitedly. I've always wondered about that guy in the Beamer. Why did he happen to have a hand-puppet in his car? Did he have any idea how much I enjoyed his performance?

That's not the funniest thing I've ever seen, but it ranks right up there with the best. Have you ever encountered something similar? Or have you ever seen something that struck you as particularly funny? Or did you do something that was funny? Do tell! We need more humor in our lives!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Have You Eaten a Cockroach Today?

I did. Well, it wasn't a cockroach, but an ant. Every spring I get this hugely annoying invasion of ants. I hate waking up to find one crawling on me. I sit at my desk and they race across my keyboard or up my arm. I lean down to pick up a shoe and one falls out of my hair. I go to dry my face with a towel and find an ant staring insolently at me.

Well, I've been working at my desk all day, nursing my daily cup of coffee. Just one cup. No more. I can sip on a cup all day. So I reached over and took a couple swallows from the dregs of the mug, and something bumped my lip. I looked down. There's a drowned ant on the rim. A very disgusting drowned ant that looks like he's been there a long time.

I am NOT amused. I have little ant bait stations all over the house and they ignore them. They're supposed to eat from them, then go back to their nest and tell their buddies, who also eat from the bait station. Each time they return to the nest, they infect the nest with the bait. The theory is that eventually the whole nest gets poisoned from the bait and dies.

So far, the ants are winning. I even Googled ants, to find other methods of eradicating them. One popular and totally useless piece of advice on all the sites is to follow the ant to its nest. HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO FOLLOW AN ANT??? I spent 20 minutes hovering discreetly in the background, following an ant that rambled all over my kitchen counter, then the floor, then here and there, but never to its nest. So I picked another ant and followed it. After 15 minutes, I got tired of going nowhere.

We won't even talk about the rats that are eating me out of provisions in the barn. They go through rat poison like it was candy, and when I replace the little empty trays of poison with new stuff, they can't wait to get into it. I tell you, it's downright scary. I think they must be a strain of uber rat. I fully expect them to be waiting at the barn door one day, hands on hips, tapping their feet impatiently, chastising me for letting the bait stations go empty.

What about you? Have you ever inadvertently eaten a bug? What did it taste like? I accidentally ate a ladybug once. It tasted like green grass.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My First Photoshop Job

Happy me. I just completed my first job using Photoshop. I designed a bookmark for a client whose book is coming out soon, and the printer wanted a 1/8" bleed on all sides, to allow for slight trimming errors. In essence, a bleed is when you extend the margins of the bookmark beyond the trim area. That way, if the paper twists just a little, as often happens when cutting through a thick stack, you don't end up with a weird, cockeyed white border on one side.

This may not sound like a big deal, but it's pretty standard in the printing industry to require a minimum 1/8" bleed. And it is harder to do than you think. You can't just enlarge a bookmark and then tell them to trim it down, because enlarging it brings the text too close to the trim line and letters may be cut off.

So I'm a happy camper today. Not only did I come up with a spiffy bookmark, I also came up with a great (IMHO) book blurb. If I could figure out how to isolate the bookmark as a JPEG, I'd post it here, but I can't figure out how to do that. Do you collect bookmarks? Do you use them? Or do you turn down a page, like I do?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Random Acts of Silliness

The house is shaking! Earthquake! Leap from chair and run around in circles.

Oh. Wait. It's just the washing machine on the spin cycle.

Return to computer. Feel stupid.

P.S. More silliness: I was writing tags for this post, and I wrote "washington machine" by accident. Made me laugh, as I live in Washington State.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Learn and Grow

There's nothing worse than starting a blog, and then not being consistent in posting. If you expect followers to read your posts, they must be frequent and interesting and sometimes interactive. I've failed on all counts due to a heavy (read impossible) workload). So, apologies to the few loyal readers who check in every so often. I'll do better.

Why do I edit? What makes me think I can make a living as a freelance editor? Well, I love to edit. I can't explain it. As a kid, I used to delight in finding typos in books and newspapers. I think it must be an inferiority/superiority complex. *g*

But when it comes right down to it, I'm a natural nurturer, and helping fledgling writers makes me feel happy and worthy of existing on this planet earth and inhaling my share of oxygen. I love coaching writers, educating them, expanding their writing horizons. I love when they suddenly "get it." I love seeing their writing become better and better. And I especially love when they say, "I couldn't have done it without you."

I can't make a decent living at this job. It doesn't pay me very well. But it is satisfying, and I get to work from home and be my own boss and have my dog under the desk and my cats snoozing on top of the desk. And I have other clients who are published and don't need coaching, but they also give me the fun jobs like writing their newsletters and designing their bookmarks and setting up a mailing list database.

I get all my work from referrals from existing clients, so I must be doing something right. I have become friends with many of my clients. And I have been forced to grow, to learn new things, because I have to keep up with my clients. So, as I teach my clients, they teach me. Learning and growing--we help each other and we enrich each other's lives. And isn't that what life is all about?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Bad Handwriting

I just finished a job inputting an editor's edits into a client's manuscript. The editor had the worst handwriting I've ever seen. It was a real challenge interpreting her handwriting, and often I had to use intuition. What's more, her erasures were incomplete, so that when she wrote over the erasure, the bleedthrough from the erased bit made it very difficult to read the new text.

She also used pencil, and a dull one at that. After working on a computer all day, my eyes are tired. Trying to squint at bad handwriting written with a dull pencil just kills my eyes. At times, I had to put drops in my eyes and keep them closed for 15 minutes in order to continue. I also put a high-watt lightbulb in my desk lamp to help me read the handwriting better.

I think there are some jobs that one should have the courage to say to the client, "Because of the intense difficulty of this job, I will need to increase my rates." I've never worked so hard on a job. Toward the end, I was putting in 15- and 20-hour days. My eyes are still bloodshot.

But the worst of the job is done, and now I'm inputting line edits by the same editor. The handwriting is still bad, but the line edits are fewer than the original batch of edits. One must be thankful for small bits of happiness whenever they pop up. *g*

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It's raining and sleeting, and the temperature is reeeeeally cold! Yesterday we had a brief spate of brilliant sun, despite the cold. You could hear doors open all through the neighborhood as pasty-complexioned people ran outside to stand in the sun. My horse, who spends most of his time snuggled down in his clean, dry stall, actually poked his head out, then went down to the pasture to see if the grass was growing yet.

I am so ready for spring!

Mercy Me!

Hello, peeps! Long time, no see. I guess Blogger doesn't like me anymore, because it has suddenly decided that I am an illegal alien. In other words, I have not been able to access my blog! How rude is that, I ask you?

So I experimented and played around and found a way to trick The Powers That Be, and finally managed to get in. What a waste of time!

For the past 6 weeks I've been invovled in an incredibly stressful job. Big client, horrendous deadline, many parties involved, but we made it. The stress nearly did me in. Who'd have thought being a freelance editor would be so stressful?!! Have been putting in 15 and 20 hour days, and I'm looking forward to relaxing and getting my life back to normal.

So this is just a quick howdy to explain why I have been so quiet. If you never hear from me again, it's because Blogger black-balled me. (What did I ever do to them, I ask you!)


Sunday, January 20, 2008

On the Fly . . .

I've been so buried in work, with not a moment to myself. For the time being, I'm going to direct you to my Twitter account, where I write a very short (1-3 sentence) daily post. It's not much, but it will keep you posted on my scintillating, fascinating, amazing life. ~Sherrie