Friday, May 30, 2008

Good Stuff

Random thoughts on LOST:

1. I was not surprised Locke was in the coffin, because of how everyone felt about him at the end of last season. But Ben speaking made me jump as much as Jack did.

2. I think Ben has become my favorite character. He and Locke cracked me up. "You didn't find the anthuriums, did you?" "Well, I don't know what they look like!" That's "favorite character" as in "most interesting/multi-layered/fabulous actor" as opposed to "I love them and want to be part of their world."

3. I loved Sawyer's sacrifice. This season, since Kate left the Others compound, he has been tremendously compassionate and caring. Protecting Claire, going after her when the house blew up, not wanting to leave Hurley...and most of all, jumping off the helicopter.

4. Best part of the whole episode: Desmond and Penny reuniting. I hope that doesn't mean we never see them again (especially Desmond), but if we don't, at least we didn't have to wait two more seasons for them to be together.

5. Best quick moment of the whole episode: Jack's dad(!) telling Michael he could go now, but then him not having time to leave, so "go" meant dying, which is horribly tragic and I'm so mad that Jin is dead, too. I feel for Walt that he lost his father, but Jin's death is worse. :(

6. Speaking of death (and Claire): The explosion of her house seemed too big for her to have survived. So it's possible she was dead but didn't, like, realize it until her father came for her, and her spirit was what appeared to Kate, rather than her consciousness. On the other hand, how likely would it have been for her to be able to carry Aaron, for Sawyer to touch her? And wouldn't Miles have said something? He was traveling with them after the explosion. So I don't think she's dead.

7. How the hell will they find the island? Where did it get moved to? And how friggin' cool was that?


I just read a new book, A Little Ray of Sunshine, by Lani Diane Rich. I met her at RWA National in Atlanta two years ago. Her publisher was setting up for their signing, and she came out to entertain all of us standing in line forever. She was very personable and bubbly, so I got her books. And I really, really liked them, especially the straight romances.

I'm not sure after which book it was, but I sent her a gushy e-mail telling her I hated her for being so good, for making me devour her books so fast and having to wait so friggin' long for the next ones. I prefer to think the e-mail never got through, rather than that she was a diva who ignores her stupidgushy fans.

But then last year's books didn't click with me as well. The Fortune Quilt was a good book, but it was present tense, which I always find difficult, and the heroine picked the wrong guy. But that's a risk with having two potential love interests, and one I wouldn't trade for. That was also a problem with me, not with the book. Her regular romance wasn't as good, IMO, as the ones before it, but it was still enjoyable enough that I looked forward to the most recent one, the aforementioned A Little Ray of Sunshine.

OMG. I started it yesterday, and took the entire afternoon and much of the morning off to finish it today. I sat in Dunkin Donuts this morning and cried all over my bagel. And then again in my living room. My eyes were in a constant state of wellingness, my throat swollen, from the intense emotion in the story.

The book isn't a "romance" as usually defined. The focus was on the heroine's growth, the book all in her POV, and the "hero" off the page most of the time. But their reconciliation was a major theme that underlay everything else in the story, her becoming "worthy" of him. There was also a tightly interwoven subplot with her "angel" that was also excellent.

Anyway, it's the kind of book that makes you sorry it's over, and makes me marvel because so little happens. I gravitate toward action-oriented stories lately, and ones that concentrate so hard on relationships to the exclusion of external elements tend to bore me. Maybe I identified well with the heroine for some reason--or maybe it was just that well written.

Go get the book here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Random Entertainment Thoughts

On the end of the season...

The only show left that I watch that hasn't finaled is Lost. I probably have unreasonably high expectations because so many professional TV watchers are building it up. I'm dismayed by the spoilers I've let leak through, but they already killed my beloved Charlie. Since then, I've just been along for the ride, which means it's pure fun with no emotional investment.

It's really funny. I used to watch so little TV, finale week meant nothing to me. Summer drought wasn't a problem. Now, I've got my scheduled worked so that not only am I able to spend the time on TV in the evening, I don't have energy for anything else. Which means...summer drought is depressing. I've increased my Netflix by one disk as a result. I know. It's very sad.

Speaking of disks...

I've gone through a bunch of movies on DVD lately.

We Are Marshall was good. I was a little distracted by McConaughey's obviously put-on mannerisms to make him like the coach he portrayed, which doesn't mean they weren't well integrated. I used to wonder why it took them so long to make this movie, but the ending explained it. It wasn't the typical success story. In fact, it was kind of sad. But they still managed to make the final game intense.

For Your Consideration was weird. It was all one note, beginning to end. No real turning points, no black moment, climax, or denoument. Well acted, I suppose, but kind of boring.

The Departed was intense. And surprising. The elevator scene had be gasping and gaping at the screen for a whole minute, then being pissed, and then cheering at the end, but in a kind of nasty way. A friend from Massachusetts had mentioned to me the Boston accents, and it was fun watching them get dropped all over the place, especially from the one guy who's a native Bostonian.

Next up: A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Babel, and August Rush.

I also saw...

Indiana Jones last weekend, with Number One. It was fun. Shaia LeBeouf was better than I expected, and I already expected him to be good. Cate Blanchett was classic villainess. Harrison Ford was his excellent self. But the story could have been better, with a lot less borrowing from the Mummy franchise at the end. It was worth the price of the ticket, but I didn't leave the theater feeling exhilarated, as I should have.

Oh, but one cool thing about of the trailers was an extended one for Hancock, and it looks AWESOME. Jason Bateman is in it! I can't wait! (And when is that guy gonna do a romantic something? [Not in the near future, apparently, but at least he's busy!])

And finally, about the show that never leaves my mind...

I have pretty solid confidence that Kripke and company are not going to ruin my show. Granted, season 3 didn't engage me as completely as season 2 did, but that wasn't entirely their fault. There have been no real missteps with the brothers' relationship. The FBI thread could have been tedious and get in the way; instead, it got more awesome every time Henricksen showed up (RIP). Ruby was a very rare case of a performance that didn't live up to the caliber of nearly every other guest or recurring actor on the show, but I liked her, and I'm still intrigued by the questions she has brought up. I would have preferred Dean and Bela's relationship to be more "Bad Day at Black Rock" and less "Red Sky at Morning," but the way her part ended was excellent. And overall, the "war" that the network insisted on, plus the strike, meant less of a variety of storylines, but we got to focus on the main, most important one. And we got tons of humor, which I loved, and returning guest stars, which I loved even more.

The problem is, Kripke is taking evil delight in playing with us, I know it. There was a Mitovich Minute at TV Guide where he said Dean will be "cooling his heels" in hell for a while, and his bond with Sam will be forever changed. And now there's this:

Question: Thank you so much for the reassuring scoop about Jensen Ackles' return to Supernatural (as if any of us ever doubted it, come on!). But what I'm worried about is how much Dean is going to change. — Meredith

Ausiello: Yeah, well, can't help you there. Dean is going to change. Big time.

So here are some speculations on my part. They aren't spoilers, because they're all in my head. :)

1. "A While" can't really be very long, because they know how the fans reacted when the guys were separated in "No Exit." Granted, we complain less when the writing is better, and when the emotion is high, like in "The Usual Suspects" or "Mystery Spot." But we won't tolerate a separation of more than an episode or two. So it might be more of a referential thing, like we jump ahead in time a little when the season starts.

2. He said the bond is affected, and that Dean changes, but he doesn't say it's a BAD thing. Some possibilities: Dean gains some powers and that puts him on more equal footing with Sam; Sam rescues him from hell and ends his torment, removing much of the "I'm the big brother" perspective and putting them on more equal footing; Sam being away from Dean for a while gives him room to assert himself (did you notice, even when he tried to argue, and went around Dean, he still didn't actually override him to his face?), which puts them on more equal footing...well, I guess there's an obvious theme in my speculations. But doesn't that make sense? :)

3. I would like Bobby and Ellen to open the Devil's Gate for me and Sam when we he climbs out of hell after rescuing Dean. I also imagine one of those weedkiller chemical packs, you know, with the hose and sprayer? Sam will need one full of holy water when he goes into hell.

4. Bobby will need to keep Dean's body on ice while Sam saves him. Or maybe he should embalm it.

It's going to be very hard for me to get through the next wayyyyy too many weeks. It would be very nice of the CW to premiere this show in early September instead of early October, but they're too sadistic for that.

Oh, and one more thing. Not to end on a downer note or anything, but the rumor is that the CW may close next year. That would kind of kill a season 5, I expect. :(

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Coming Out of the Dark

I am a technology junkie, curbed only by budget and something my mother instilled in me that always makes me think, "yeah, you want it, but do you NEED it?" Once I give in and get stuff like satellite TV and DVR, FiOS Internet, an iPod, or a GPS navigation system, I never want to go back. I can't live without Internet access or e-mail for more than a day. I was excited to hook up my new DVD player/recorder to the new flat-panel TV on Mother's Day, even though I'm not supposed to have to do any chores on that day.

Add to that my degree in environmental studies, and it may surprise you that it's only been a week since I adopted online bill pay.

It's true. I have a great fear of digital loss. Paper can be lost, of course. Thrown away, ruined with water, eaten by the cat (my dog doesn't have any interest in paper, but Frisbee loves shredding anything we leave lying around). But it's harder. Digital stuff can go "poof!" with little provocation and not brought back.

So, like, a decade ago, when my bank started holding on to canceled checks, I opted out of that and required them to send them to me. Never mind that in the 16 years I've had an account there, I maybe needed a canceled check one time. Maybe. About six months ago, I finally went paperless with my monthly statements, with all the bank accounts. It felt safe. After all, the bank had to be keeping accessible records, so that even if we had, say, an electromagnetic storm (see my story, The TreeKeeper, they'd have my statement when I needed it.

Banks have offered online bill pay for years. And it's not like I've had any fear of making payments on the Internet. I do it all the time, when payday falls too close to the due date of the bill. But I have other fears:

  • Fear that the bank will fail to make a payment, I won't have proof, and I'll be labeled delinquent

  • Fear that I'll overlook a bill

  • Fear of a system failure, desktop crash, or complete loss of Internet

Last week, guilt overcame fear. I am tired of wasting paper--wasting even more of it when I pay a bill online at the payee's site--and even more, wasting time. It can take a few hours to enter the payments in Quicken and the checkbook (Quicken makes things easy, the checkbook is insurance against the aforementioned crash possibility and is easier to access to check something), write the bills, label and post the envelopes, etc. Not to mention, that horrible licky adhesive is probably giving me cancer of the tongue.

So I made the switch. And no gradual toe/ankle/knee-in-the-water progression for me. I set up a full bill pay account and entered all the bills, AND signed up for paperless billing wherever I could. And, of course, I love it. It's so much faster and easier and less wasteful, on both ends. It makes balancing the checkbook easier, because things clear faster. And it will save money, since I won't be spending it on postage or gas to go to the post office.

I'm still a little nervous. My routine is disrupted. The other day, I got a notice of a bill. Mid pay cycle. Printing the reminder notice would defeat the purpose, but I hate having stuff sitting in my inbox. Stuff in my inbox screams "handle me!" But if I took it out of the inbox, I might overlook it on payday, even though the reminder would be listed at my account site.

So I paid the bill.

Which means things are going to be totally messed up come payday. I mean, I'll pay the e-bills that come in, and that will leave maybe two bills on payday, and I'll feel like I'm missing stuff, and I'll panic, and I'll spend twice as much time researching what I'm missing as I would have spent under the old system in the first place!

Welcome to the 21st century, Ms. Damschroder. *eyeroll*

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reality Week, or Someone Stole My Brain

I don't watch reality TV.

Okay, there have been some minor exceptions. One of the HGTV fix-it shows, with a funny host, for a season because it was educational and funny and something I could watch with my kids without my brain leaking out my ears. And Dirty Jobs is pretty interesting sometimes. And I loved the first season of Queer Eye.

But all forays into reality TV were short-lived, and it's been a really long time. Four or five years. And I have never, ever watched American Idol.

But let me back up a little. A few years ago, when we got TiVo, my kids got into Dancing with the Stars. I thought it was good for them. Something really out of the realm of their experience. And it showed people working hard at something they might not be good at, and friendly competition, with a lot of respect and admiration for each other. When Drew Lachey did his freestyle, that was the first time I ever watched it. I've caught a minute here and there, but that's all.

Then Tuesday, Number Two read something in her book about 9/11 and asked about it, and she got sad and upset about all the death and loss, and wanted me near her. She also needed something to distract her, so she wanted to watch Monday's final dances. I had something to read while she watched, but...well...

Oh, come on! Jason Taylor is THE hottest man in the NFL! Look!

I couldn't NOT watch!

And then there's this:

Not only is he also very hot, he did serious damage to his elbow several weeks ago, so he's playing handicapped and in pain, and being a truly good sport about it all.

To top it off, it was pretty clear a woman was finally going to win. And she did!

None of that is really embarrassing. Here's the embarrassing part:

Wednesday morning. I'm at the health club, storming along on the treadmill, listening to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for, like, the eightieth time, and I glance up to see the three finalists on Good Morning America. I plugged in to listen. And...oh, the shame!...when I got home, I turned it on in the bedroom so I could see them dance a little on GMA.

*hides head*

That leads me to American Idol.

I have enough friends who watch the show, and I read enough People and Entertainment Weekly and blogs that I always know what's going on. I knew about the David vs. David showdown, and I didn't care. I mean, yeah, I like some of Kelly Clarkson's stuff, and I love Daughtry, but I've just never been interested in seeing them get to that point.

But this evening I was reading blogs, and saw this one and this one.

The latter actually had video embedded, but it was the description in the former that made me want to see a clip. As Cindy and Shannon are very different people, the clip on Cindy's blog was not the one that gave Shannon such...ahem...pleasure. So I had to find it. Which led to me watching not just 4 minutes, 11 seconds of American Idol but well over 10 minutes.

But I have to pretty much agree with Shannon. :)

So yeah, tomorrow I'll probably spend too much of my writing time downloading *gasp* AI tracks from iTunes. Maybe not even just songs. Maybe--oh, the horror!--video!

Geez, what's next? The Bachelorette?

Ack! Somebody please help me retrieve my brain!

But watch this first:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

TRS Studio Diva Continues!

The Romance Studio's Studio Diva competition goes on to round two!

Click here to see the list of competitors. Click on the links to their web sites (instructions for what you're voting on are on that main page) and vote on the one you think is best! The bottom five authors will be dropped from this round.

Have fun!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Latsa Stuff

Number Two has become something of a sports addict. Instead of turning on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, she flips to the Big Ten Network. I hit the "Now Playing" menu of the TiVo, and find college softball, NBA playoffs, and tennis.

And now, she has truly gone over to the dark side.

She's watching hockey.


Speaking of sports...

I've just read a bunch of stuff about the Patriots, and the transcript of Belichick's interview, and reports about Matt Walsh and the absolutely ridiculous assertion by Arlen Specter (a senator for my current state) that Congress should get involved in the whole investigation. I agree 110% with Kennedy (a senator for my former state) that we have a few more important things for Congress to be doing right now.

(For the record, I never felt Congress should be spending so much time on the baseball thing, either.)

This is the thing that impressed me the most, however. It's common to see a simple, unemotional retraction or regret for a journalism error. It's really rare to see something this complete and heartfelt. Kudos to Tomase. I wish him luck recovering.

Number Two had a soccer tournament today. She came home soaking wet and shuddering with cold, due to 50-degree weather and pouring rain. She took a long, hot shower and put on wintery fleece PJs. Two hours later she was in shorts and a T-shirt while we played catch in the sun and 70 degrees.

Welcome to April May in Pennsylvania.


I am home from retreat. I might post some pictures this week, once I get them uploaded, but a lot are not for public viewing.

We had tons of fun, laughed our a$$es off, ate too much great food we didn't have to cook or clean up, and were very productive.

Due to some editing of my novella and talking far too much too my roommate, I didn't have the most output this year. But I did get around 22/23,000 words written and wrote an entire novella in a day and a half. We did a cemetery run and had ghost cats in our room. Last year Megan dreamed someone was trying to shove her out of bed. This year it succeeded (in the dream) by pulling her big pillow out and dragging her with it.


I also would have likely gotten more writing done if we hadn't watched the season finale of Supernatural. Twice. Megan recorded it for us, and we watched it when she arrived Friday afternoon, and again after we went out for drinks Friday night.

Oh, my thoughts on it? How kind of you to ask!

In stream-of-consciousness order:

1. You could tell Kripke wrote it. There are a lot of really good writers on the show, and I know every script has some collaboration to it, but there was just the perfect combination of awesome lines (Antichrist superstar...Hell's other bitches...shut your piehole...totally should have been rocking "Eye of the Tiger" right there...and several more) and heartfelt emotion and violence and gore and creepiness and saving people, hunting things...I could go on and on but I'm getting tedious, I think.

2. You could tell Kim Manners directed it. Of course, there are also many good directors who have done the show. But Kim Manners just seems to get Kripke's vision, and he pulls the best performances from the guys and the guests, and he sets up great shots and times everything really well.

3. That little girl has a great future, if she wants it. MAN was she creepy! Her switches from dark to normal little girl were spot on.

4. It looks like we might be done with Ruby, or at least done with Cassidy playing Ruby. I mean, Bobby did shoot her in the chest.

5. I loved every minute of the show and can't wait to see it again tonight. DH hasn't watched yet, so I get an excuse. Not that I need one. :)

6. Dean getting shredded by an invisible hellhound was worse than seeing him impaled on a meathook, but not worse than seeing him crying for Sammy to help him.

7. Sam being able to block or withstand Lilith's power was AWESOME. I hope when Dean comes back from Hell, he had just enough time there to have some power of his own. That would be even awesomer!

8. Leave it to Kripke to turn something as piercingly exciting as Dean and Sam singing Bon Jovi into something piercingly painful. God, it hurt to hear Sam obliviously singing along, having reluctantly bought in to the abandonment of the song, as the lyrics hit home for Dean. Gah. *iz ded*

9. Watching with five other people is SO MUCH FUN. We screamed and squealed and moaned, and Megan pointed out yet again how freakishly often Sam says Dean's name, and they giggled over the bush in the middle of nowhere, the one with side mirrors, that no one would ever be suspicious of. (I wonder if that was a tribute to something? I mean, why bother hiding it? They were in a town. They could just park it in a 7/11 lot or something.)

10. Eighteen weeks is far, far too long to go without the boys. All I can say is that an actor's strike had really, REALLY better not happen. Suck it up, AMPTP!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Supernatural Denial

more cat pictures

Oh hai.

I'm on retreat. Doing great, thanks. Almost at 4,000 words for the day. But I'm having a little trouble at the moment...

See, it's Thursday night. Supernatural night. Supernatural SEASON FINALE night. And I'm on retreat. With no TVs.

There are four mega-fans on site right now. One who may be an even bigger fan than the rest of us! She keeps talking about the show, and hunting down a television tonight, or somehow downloading the show. The rest of us are a little more sanguine, because the plan is to follow last year's activities. Megan isn't coming until tomorrow. She's going to try to record the show so we can watch it on a laptop. If she can't, we should be able to get it from iTunes, but last week it wasn't up even late on Friday, so we might have a long delay. Worst case scenario, we have to wait until we get home on Sunday night. Not unacceptable, but certainly not the ideal.

And I took a nap this afternoon, and dreamed about Sam and Dean, so now that's all I can think of.

I don't think I ever posted my thoughts about last week's show. I loved it, of course. I knew nothing about what was going to happen, so it all rolled out perfectly.

I loved Bela's scenes, and her final moments, on the phone and facing the hellhounds, were incredibly poignant. I hoped she'd be part of getting out of Hell with Dean next season, but Kripke confirmed she's not coming back, so that's a bummer. Of the two, I'd so much rather have her than Ruby. Lauren Cohen is a better actress, she interacts more realistically with the boys, and it would be fun to see them teaming up again, still antagonistic toward each other but with the same goal, rather than opposing ones.

I also loved the brotherly tension. Sam's desperation and subsequent willingness to do anything. His tenderness with the girl, which showed that he's still the same Sam, no matter what, and his awareness of Dean's fear. And then Dean's fear, a mishmash of terror of what's ahead, and knowing he can only do one thing to avoid it without risking Sam's re-death.

I'm so afraid for tonight's episode.

I mean, of course Dean can't die for realz, and Kripke's comments of the direction of the story next season make me very, very happy, but someone said she's afraid the promo showed the last moments of the ep the same way they did last year (in the first half), and that will really piss me off/bum me out if that's the case. Cliffhangers a la season 1 are cool and all, but I prefer the way they ended season 2. Much more satisfying. And come on, the audience they currently have is going to come back. I want something much more surprising than that as the final shot.

But GAAAHHHHHH, I have to wait until whoknowswhenit'stoolatenomatterwhat.

I think I'll download last week's ep from iTunes, even though my laptop probably won't play it well.

Okay, enough angsting. Back to work I go! Aiming for 5k tonight...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Save Me!

Have you heard about Brenda Novak's 4th annual Online Auction to Benefit Diabetes Research?

In the first three years, her auction raised $250,000. Her goal this year is $300,000. The first $150,000 of that will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, while the additional proceeds above that will go to the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami.

So obviously it's a good cause. I've always understood the basics of the disease, but recently had occasion to do some article writing on various aspects of it, and gained a much deeper appreciation for the constant care and vigilance it requires. I got exhausted just reading and writing about it. And both versions of the disease are on the rise, or so we're told.

This auction contains everything from custom-made jewelry to one-of-a-kind art, giant gift baskets to designer purses, tons of books, autographed sports and celebrity stuff, and guaranteed 24-hour reads by editors and agents. There will be a prize for the person who makes the most bids, and I...well, when I started bidding in the first week of the auction, I kinda went overboard.

I just bid on everything I thought was remotely cool. I figured there was still three weeks of bidding to go (the auction ends on 5/31) and there was no way I'd wind up with anything I'd bid on, never mind everything.


While I have been outbid on 30 items totaling nearly $3800 (my limit bids for each item), I am still bidholder on 18 items totaling over $1400!

Help me!

Go here, register, and start perusing the items. Apparently I'm the only person brave enough to not hide behind a silly or coded username, so if you see Damschroder as the bidholder, PLEASE bid. For most items, you won't have to go very high to outbid me, and I'm too scared to bid again until I'm outbid on everything.

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Six Things Tag

I was tagged by Megan Hart to share six things about myself.

The rules:

a. Link to the person who tagged you.
b. Post the rules on your blog.
c. Write six random things about yourself.
d. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
e. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment at their blog.
f. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

So here we go:

1) Like Megan, I have never broken a bone. Officially. I think I broke my finger a couple of years ago, playing football, but I just borrowed a splint until it felt better.

2) I don't go to the doctor much.

3) Number One is taller than me now, by about a quarter inch, which obviously means she's taller than I was at age 12. She's also about two bra sizes larger (than me at 12). HGH, I'm telling you!

4) One of my favorite pieces of art is a pencil drawing my brother did when he was, I think, in high school. It's of a hand flipping the bird. It's not hanging on my wall.

5) I'm not very sentimental. I keep things because I feel like I should more than because I want to.

6) I use bath towels more than once. I mean, I'm clean when I dry my body, and it's incredibly wasteful to use a new one every time you shower. But I was roundly derided by my former boss when this came up in conversation (she was whining about having to do laundry for five people's towels every single day). She said "It's like wiping your butt and then wiping your face!" I didn't have a comeback at the time, but a dozen years later, I still think of that conversation nearly every time I get out of the shower, and wish it wasn't too late to say, "Ohhhh, I see, you don't CLEAN your butt when you shower!"

There you go. Six things about me I'm sure you are thrilled that I've shared.

I'll tag Shannon, Jody, Trish, Mary, Gail, and Cindy.

Friday, May 09, 2008


I have this quirk. It's kind of a multi-part quirk. And it starts—and ends—with whipped cream.

When I was pregnant with Number Two, I didn't really have cravings. But I hated tea with skim milk in it all of a sudden—it had to be half and half. Margarine was no longer acceptable; nor was nonfat cheese. Obviously, Cool Whip wasn't gonna cut it anymore. Unfortunately, I haven't gone back. I still eat the good versions of butter and whipped cream (though Fat Free Land O'Lakes Half and Half tastes as good as the real thing).

But, you know, you can't eat whipped cream by itself. It's an enhancement. Hence, my Whipped Cream Delivery Systems:

Whipped Cream Delivery System #1:

Café Mocha. I've developed a whole bunch of connections with this one. I don't like coffee, but I love café mocha. I get it when I'm especially tired, or when I go to the post office and drive by the best coffeehouse in 15 miles. It's something I used to do solely for myself, after my kids were both in school full time and my day was my own (and my boss's). When I quit my day job two years ago (I know, can you believe it?! two years!), the first time I went to Starbucks at nine in the morning was a landmark moment. I felt like a grownup. Kind of weird, as I'd been a mother and stuff for a decade, but it was more that I had independence and an identity solely my own. It's renewed slightly every time I get a mocha.

But all that aside, the best part is the whipped cream. You have to slurp it off the top of the coffee immediately, though, or it melts and the whole thing is a waste of time.

Whipped Cream Delivery System #2

Second best is homemade (as in, made at home from powder, not made from scratch—that's too much work) hot chocolate. I put a bit of kahlua or créme de cocoa in it with a couple of shots of half and half. Sometimes I splurge on gourmet hot cocoa. It's my nightcap, a signal that it's okay to relax after a rough or demanding or stressful day.

But. You know. It's all about the whipped cream.

Whipped Cream Delivery System #3

Ice cream.

Because! It's ice cream!


Whipped Cream Delivery System #4

The can.

It's my husband's fault. He likes whipped cream shots. I have no idea if he and/or the kids ever sneak a shot just to have a shot. Believe it or not, I don't. But when I use it on either delivery system 2 or 3, I can't help that one extra squirt. I don't know if it's the propulsion chemicals or what, but it never tastes so good.

I know. I'm exceedingly strange. But then, you should know that by now. :)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Magnificent May

May is my second (or is it third?) favorite month of the year. Maybe it's the first, but only in the spring, like October is my first in the fall and December is my first in the winter.

I love living in the Northeast. :)

Anyway, there are always lots of good things happening in May:

1. TV Sweeps and Upfronts

Even though things are a little anticlimactic this year, with the strike and resultant huge gaps in quality new television, I love when all my favorite shows turn up the heat and let the plots boil. This year we anticipate Dean's possible descent to Hell, the Oceanic Six's departure from the island, a Scrubs fairy tale, and who knows what Numb3rs has that might top Colby's shocking triple agentry?

At the Upfronts, the networks present their fall shows to the advertisers. I've only been paying attention to these for the last two or three years. This year, two of my favorite shows got early pickups, and that's nice (more for them than for me). But there's something exciting about seeing which other shows got renewed, and hearing about all the new stuff that has great potential.

2. Mother's Day

Possibly my favorite day of the year. My birthday comes close, but there's usually so much going on, being two days before Christmas and all, that relaxation isn't always at the level I want it to be.

This year, I want to do nothing. They don't have to make breakfast for me, because I don't want to schedule ANYTHING, including what time I get out of bed. I don't want to go anywhere, including dinner out, and I don't want to work, and I don't want any demands on me by child or animal. Since it means very little work for them, except the routine chores of feeding the animals and maybe doing the dishes, it's a pretty good deal for all of us.

3. The Retreat

This will be Central Pennsylvania's Fifth Annual All About Me Writing Retreat. We have a really sweet deal at Rhodes Grove, a Christian camp and convention center. They have a hotel-like facility (but no phones or TVs, though they do now have wireless Internet) and provide all meals plus the rooms for one low price. We don't have to clean or cook or anything. All we have to do is write. We have brainstorming or critique sessions if we wish, and hand out tickets for accomplishments that can be used to at the end of the weekend to win a prize pack. We have welcome kits full of cool things, and Saturday night we take a break and play a game.

We all love the retreat so much that last year we expanded it from Friday to Thursday. Last year was also the year I got an offer for representation from my fantastic agent, Nephele Tempest, while I was at the retreat. While I'd have preferred not to wait a year for a sale, it would be quite poetic to have it happen next week, while I'm with my friends who shared my good fortune last year.

What? The retreat is called "All About Me," after all. :)

There are a bunch of little things that happen in May, too. Concerts and pictures and soccer tournaments and the return of Movies Worth Seeing in the Theater. Not to mention lovely weather, which we've had all this week so far. Sunshine and temperatures that start at 47 and rise to 82 before dropping back to the 40s. Spring rains that bring peace instead of drear. Greens and sweet smells and clarity in the air.

Ahhhhh, May. My favorite month. :)

Sunday, May 04, 2008


It's been a long weekend.

Friday night I went to a superb but noisy dinner and saw Made of Honor with my daughter and mother-in-law. It was enjoyable. A solid B. I think my favorite part was how the male friends stepped up to help him win her over. They were great.

Saturday was all angsty soccer stuff. I won't detail it, but suffice to say we were all unhappy, and it carried over with anxiety into today. Today's game was better, but the basic issue is unresolved.

On a positive soccer note, Number One played with only 8 players yesterday, against a full field of 11 plus four subs. They tied 2-2, which is amazing. More amazing, they would have won 1-0 if not for penalty kicks in the box.

Last night I was supposed to go out with my husband to see Iron Man. He didn't feel up to going, so I went with Number One. She's going to be 13 this summer, so we've decided she's mature enough to handle PG-13 movies (we've slowly increased her exposure). Both the movies she saw this weekend were heavy, though. Made of Honor had a lot of sexual references she hopefully didn't get, and Iron Man had intense violence. Not Lord of the Rings type mass violence, but personal, torture-style stuff. She seems fine, so I guess I can relax the Mommy Mode.

Anyway, I liked Iron Man a lot. I think, for once, the Entertainment Weekly review was right on. I lovelovelove Robert Downey Jr., and Gwyneth Paltrow made me not be indifferent to her. I picked out the villain the instant he appeared on the screen, though I did not identify him (the actor) until he actually spoke. That was weird. The suit is super-sexy, the humor and action and drama well-balanced. I wasn't thrilled with the lack of resolution in the romantic thread, but have high hopes. Fan-boy comic geeks ABSOLUTELY MUST stay through the end credits. And even if you're not a fan-boy comic geek. I have no knowledge of the Iron Man mythology, and it still excited me. :)

Despite feeling pretty crummy today (which caused me to bag out on a birthday party this evening, for which I feel supremely guilty), I got some housecleaning done. Now I feel crummier, despite being pleased with the condition of my house for once. I also unboxed our new lawn mower and attached the handle. Number Two and I tried it out, briefly. It's an old-fashioned reel mower, and I LOVE it!

First, no gas, so lots and lots of money saved, especially now. Second, no walking along in a cloud of exhaust, knowing I'm killing the planet in six different ways. Third, it cuts the grass so cleanly there's no crushing, which means no green juice ruining my shoes. It takes a little more muscle to move it, but it's lightweight so it's a lot easier to maneuver around obstacles and turn around and stuff. I may try to mow tomorrow, if my workload stays manageable. So far, it's trying to turn this week into the same as the last three. *sigh*

Early night for me tonight. Hopefully I'll get rid of this headache...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Random Friday

I haven't had a random Friday in a while. Good thing I remember all the things I wanted to say!

Speaking of "I Remember," did anyone catch the Jason Manns song of that title in last night's episode of Supernatural? I totally forgot to listen for it!

Supernatural was fine. I was a little *gasp* disappointed, and I'm thinking that's because the biggest emotional impacts were in the preview and the clip that was circulating around. "And me." "That's all you've got?"--Lame writing, or does Sammy have something up his sleeve? Not a last-minute save, but doing something to try to break the deal so he dies and Dean doesn't go to Hell.

I'm a little confused about next week. It looks horrific and like it doesn't address Dean at all. I'd kinda hoped all these last episodes would be about his deal. Spoilers around the 'Net have indicated that the deadlines arrives in the season finale, even though Kripke had said he needed the full 10 episodes to resolve Dean's situation. But no doubt the season will end on a cliffhanger, now that they have a guaranteed pickup, so maybe the "resolution" won't come until 5 episodes into the fall.

Anyway...on to more important things.

"Jaynestown" from Firefly has been LOL'd in full. What? Funny is important!

Marley Gibson has a new series of books that launched yesterday, Sorority 101. Today, she's doing a Blog Talk Radio interview. Check her out!

But the most important thing I have to say today is that the Brenda Novak Fourth Annual Online Auction to Benefit Diabetes Research is now in progress!

There is something for everyone in this thing. Jewelry, books, gift baskets, and sports items, collectibles and designer purses. Writers can find 159 editor and agent evaluations, many with AMAZING guaranteed timeframes, and author critiques, as well as over 100 other items including mentorships, meetings, and more. The person who places the most bids, even if you don't win anything, will receive a huge prize package that includes a $1,000 camcorder! You definitely want to check this out, but make sure you have a little (or a lot!) of time to explore.

This year, I'm going for the big prize!