Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dressing Down America

I am anything but a fashion-plate. As one of my daughters will attest, I don’t keep up on the latest fashions and am very comfortable wearing the same blazers I wore in college and jeans that are so old I can’t even remember when I bought them. However, she is kind in her criticism and helps me out now and then by sending something new to perk up the dusty old closet.

That said, I am not sloppy about how I appear in public. Those long ago lessons ingrained in me by my mother to “dress decently” when going somewhere still hang around. I can hear her voice nudging me when I am tempted to run into town in the sweats and t-shirt I wear around the house.

I thought about that when I read a recent column by Froma Harrop. She bemoaned the fact that American culture today seems bent on promoting what she called “the Slob-Down of America.” She described a few of the sloppy outfits she saw on folks at Chicago’s O’Hare airport that included dirty shirts with vulgar messages, women wearing scanty tops that had cleavage threatening to overflow, tattered jeans, and stained sweat pants.

Froma wondered what George Washington would think if he lived today and saw this unholy mess. He promoted a text that was called “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” One of the edicts in the text had to do with cleanliness. “Wear not your Cloths, foul… or Dusty, but see they be Brush’d once every day.”

We’ve fallen far short of that edict today. I don’t necessarily hold to the old standards that had a lady never leave the house without gloves and a hat, but I do agree with old George. We should respect ourselves and others by not going along with the “anything goes” grunge look.

It used to be that a person had dress-up clothes for weddings and funerals and other special occasions. Then there was Sunday-best that made us presentable for church, if one went to church. Children had school clothes and play clothes, and never the twain should meet.

Even though dress codes have been relaxed in recent years, I still hold to some of those fashion standards – although I do like the Texas-casual style that lets folks wear blue jeans to a lot of places where they weren’t accepted in the past. But I even have a special pair of jeans for those occasions. They are my dress-up jeans. Not the ones with frayed cuffs that I wear 90 percent of my normal days.

My husband thinks all those codes are silly. He also thinks it is silly that I change into my go-to-town clothes when I leave the house. I think it is common courtesy.

What about you? Do you think we are too sloppy in America? Do you think that has contributed to the decline in civility we see all around us? That is one of the points Froma made and I could see a correlation because it is all about respect.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I'm getting ready to go to the "Take 190 West Art Festival" in Killeen, Texas this weekend. I have never been to the event before, but I've heard it is terrific and I'm really looking forward to it. The festival is free to the public and runs on Saturday, Feb 27th from 10 to 4. I will be signing copies of One Small Victory. Other authors will be there, too, and you can check the Festival Web site for a full list of participants.

In addition, there are lot of talented artists who will be exhibiting their work, and it is always fun to spend time with others in the creative arts. Some people believe that all artists: performers, painters, musicians, writers, sculptors, photographers -- share in one creative consciousness. There is no scientific data to support that theory, but I do know that I am much more productive in my work after I have spent a weekend with others of the creative bent.

If you are near Killeen on February 27th, stop by the Killeen Civic and Conference Center and meet all the artists and authors.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is Spring Ever Going to Get Here?

I saw the daffodils poking their lovely little yellow blooms up along the dry, brown roadways in the last few days, so I thought spring was definitley coming.

Now, I'm not so sure. Snow is falling, and it is predicted that we might have accumulations of several inches. A prediction that worries me since I have not cleaned up after the last snowfall two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, our cat, John, simply does not care about the weather. "Just give me a comfortable place to sleep."

I want to be a cat.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Having Some Fun

Since I didn't have a clue what to write about today, I thought you all might enjoy a little fun from my friend, Tracy Farr...

This is part of his blog today titled: What the World Needs Now is More Hoopla

In the interest of being politically political for politics’ sake, I denounce my association with the Democratic Party, I shun any connection to the Republican Party, and I will not sit and be pandered to by the TEA Party, the Green Party, the Red & Blue Party, or the Tupperware Party.

Instead, I shall endeavor to style my own political party, herewith referred to as the Hoopla Under Farr Party (HUF), and turn it into a new grass-roots movement fashioned upon beliefs, values and principles that I hold near and dear to my heart.

Those beliefs, values and principles include the following:
1. If snow is falling anywhere within a county, parish or territory, officials in said county, parish or territory are legally bound to declare a Snow Day.

America did not ascend to its supremacy among countries by being dogmatic and narrow-minded. It got there through thinking outside of the box, through imaginativeness, through finding unique solutions to problems that didn’t even require answering, and more importantly, through spontaneity.

If America is to remain the greatest country on the planet, it behooves us to teach our children, through example, that being spontaneous is okay; that the world will not end if we do something out of the ordinary; and to embrace the unexpected is to embrace the future survival of our species.

Declaring a Snow Day is spontaneous. Staying at work or school when snow is falling is narrow-mindedness. Therefore, the HUF party advocates the immediate impeachment of all elected officials who do not declare a Snow Day upon the first drop of the fluffy white stuff.

To read the rest click HERE and go to his blog. If you take a few minutes to laugh, it is good for the soul, and your blood pressure.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Who's Turn is it to Kick?

I realized today that it has been a while since I shared an excerpt from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck. The following is from a chapter on soccer, a sport that dominated our lives for many years. Enjoy....

Long before anyone heard of Soccer Moms and Sarah Palin, I was spending several days a week at soccer games or schlepping kids to practice. For a number of years our lives revolved around the soccer fields and trying to make it to two or more games on a Saturday, sometimes scheduled only fifteen minutes apart and at opposite sides of town.

Three of our kids, David, Michael, and Dany, played regularly for several years. The other two did not enjoy soccer. Anjanette stayed with swimming and diving before getting into gymnastics and dance.

Paul made a valiant effort to hold to the family tradition and tried the sport for one year before deciding he just didn’t care for it. He tried baseball after that, and didn’t care for it, either, finally realizing he wasn’t really the athletic type, which doesn’t mean he wasn’t in shape. One year he won a Physical Training trophy in JrROTC for doing the most sit-ups in a minute – over a hundred. I’m not sure who was the most surprised, Paul, me, or the buff kid he beat out.

David was the one who started the craze at our house. He took to the sport like he was a Pele clone and played for two years before Michael made his debut. David has always been a good athlete, and he really liked the competitive spirit of the game, so the only problem he encountered on the field, was trying not to trip over the sole of his shoe that we tried to hold together with Duct tape. He was also lucky enough to start off on a good team, with good coaches, and they twice vied for city champs.

So I became a Soccer Mom before it was a status symbol. I loved to watch the games, and I usually ended up hoarse from cheering and exhausted from pacing up and down the sidelines. I never thought that taking an interest in our children’s activities would be so tiring.

As soon as Michael was old enough, he wanted to play, so we signed him up. On the way to his first game, he was very excited about his new soccer shoes, his jersey, and his shorts, and I started to wonder what he thought the game was all about. He asked me if I would yell and cheer the way I do at David’s games, and I told him of course, that’s a mother’s place in the scheme of things. But I’m not sure if the following fit the definition of cheering:
“Michael, kick the ball. Don’t just stand there!”
“Michael, get up! If you’re tired, your coach can put somebody in for you.”
“Michael, you’re not out there to pick flowers, you’re out there to play soccer.”
“Yes, Michael, I saw you kick the ball. Now get back into the game.”
“Michael, if the coach says come out of the game, come out. Don’t stand there arguing with him.”

And so the season went, with the kids playing what some of us called “chicken soccer.” That’s where all the players flock together around the ball and seem to move up and down the field in that cluster. Once in a while one kid would break loose and make a run at the goal, only to stop when the goalie said, “Stop.”

Obviously, this was not a team intent on winning a championship.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Award

Carole Kilgore over at Under the Tiki Hut gave me this lovely Picasso Award the other day. In her blog, she said it reminded her of spring, a season that many of us who have had lots of snow are really looking forward to.

I appreciate her thoughtfulness in passing this on to me. Now I am supposed to tell seven things about me - and this time there is no true or false - and pass the award on to other bloggers.

So here goes.

1. I was once a roller-skating car hop. If you ever see a rerun of Happy Days, that wasn't me in the opening credits, although I wish it were. Just think of the residuals I could still be taking in.

2. I watch all the Olympic events, even if they are sports I would never otherwise be interested in. I'm a real sucker for the competitive spirit, although I wish the commentators would shut up sometimes. Actually, a lot of times.

3. I won my first writing award when I was 12.

4. So, it's not a surprise that I have wanted to be a writer since I was a child.

5. My husband is my best friend.

6. I love to work outdoors and can spend hours playing farmer. That is why the cold weather has got to go away. I am ready to dig and plant and sow and reap.

7. I was bitten by the acting bug a few years ago and now you can't keep me off the stage. Except when practicality wins out and I realize I should stay home with my best friend instead of going to daily rehearsals for six weeks.

Now I will pass this on to a few other bloggers:

LuAnn Morgan at Reading Frenzy
Ginger Simpson at Dishin It Out
Terry O'Dell at Terry's Place
Morgan Mandel at Double M's take on books, blogs, dogs, networking & life

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Guest Blogging

I'm a guest today on Ginger Simpson's blog, Dishin' It out. She is devoting her blog all month to topics revolving around romance to keep the spirit of Valentine's Day alive for more than just one day, and she graciously invited me to share something about romance.

I wrote about how I came up with the character of Frank, the hero in Play It Again, Sam, and how I dealt with the romance between an older couple. Now when I say older, I don't mean senior-citizen type older -- although some of them have some pretty romantic times -- but Sam and Frank are on the brink of 50. That is a little older than most of the characters in popular romance novels.

Anyway, if you get a chance, pop on over and join in the discussion about romance.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

You’re Never Too Old For Romance


I’m participating in a blog carnival today with other authors at the ClassicRomance Revival site, and the theme is Moments in Time. Authors will be offering prizes - winners drawn from visitors commenting on their blogs.

Grand Prize: An ARC hamper from participating authors. To qualify for the prizes you must be registered for the contest - so we can contact you when you win (a lot of prizes go unclaimed due to incorrect contact information) To join in the fun visit the Classic Romance Blog

There are lots of Moments in Time that I could write about, but I thought because this is Valentines Day, I should write about love and romance.

Some people dread the approach of what is billed as the most romantic day of the year. This can be especially true for some of us of a certain age.

There were times long ago that I could really get into the spirit of Valentines Day. I did special dinners with candlelight and music. I had a body that actually looked good in a slinky little thing with lace and silk. We discovered that whipped cream didn’t always have to be used in the kitchen. And we were still young and fit enough to spend more than fifteen minutes on bedroom activity that didn’t involve sleeping or reading. But after we had thirty or so years into this relationship, I thought those things were just history. That getting older meant we didn’t focus so much on the romance of the relationship.

That thinking changed when I wrote Play it Again, Sam, my woman's novel that features an older couple finding love again. One of the best Moments in Time for Sam and Frank was when he was making up for being a total jerk after their first date. It starts with Frank taking a quarter-page ad in the Dallas Morning News inviting Sam to a special event at the skating rink at the Galleria Mall the following evening.

The next day, Sam receives a single red rose and another message, “Please come.”

That evening, Sam arrives at the rink to discover that Frank has rented the entire rink, hired musicians and had a special dinner catered. Their “making-up” dinner is witnessed by shoppers who look down on the rink and cheer as Sam is seated at the elegantly set table.

As Sam’s friend, Margaret says, “I like the way this man says he’s sorry.”

So don’t ever make the mistake I did and think you are too old for romance.

One of the fun aspects of this Blog Carnival is the opportunity to win free books by visiting the sites of the authors participating in the carnival. I'm giving away a copy of Play It Again, Sam, so overwhelm me with entries. LOL

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fun in the snow

While I've been busy cleaning up broken branches and fallen trees, some people have actually had time to enjoy the recent snow in East Texas. My friend, Tracy Farr is one of them.

Here is just a snippit of the blog he wrote today about building snow people with his daughter. If you get a chance, hop over to read the rest.

"My daughter built her first snowman yesterday. It was a dapper young gent, complete with scarf and pinecone eyes, a cute little baby-cut carrot nose, and rock-hard abs (she insisted).

I built a snowgal with big boobs, but she turned out to be a little too frigid for me.

It's not every day you get to build a snowman. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve built one. And I’m not talking about one of those pipsqueak snowmen you build on the hood of your car. I’m talking about a World Federation Wrestler-size Snowman—a snowman so big it would laugh in the face of a sunny day, if it could laugh."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Record Snowfall in Texas

The winter storm that blanketed much of North and East Texas in snow overnight Thursday surprised even forecasters. After watching the latest weather report Thursday at about 10, I went to bed expecting to wake up to three or four inches of snow.

Then in the middle of the night I heard the ominous sound of limbs breaking. This after I spent a good hour knocking as much snow as I could off branches that were getting weighed down Thursday evening.

We got a record eight to eleven inches of snow, and while it is beautiful to look at -- and made for some lovely pictures -- it created havoc on a lot of levels. Many people were, and still are without power, and roads were slippery.

This morning I went out to assess the damage and found numerous large branches down. Some too big for me to even try to move. Two trees came down, too. One on my front fence and one on my back fence.

My very nice neighbor who used to help me move trees that fell -- he had a huge tractor with a front loader and could pick those trees up like they were nothing -- has moved away. So I guess I will have to find someone who is handy with a chainsaw and wants to earn a little extra money.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Whole Truth

As promised the other day, I will now fess up to which of my outrageous statements were true and which were lies. But first, I want to share some pictures of our glorious snowfall. We don't get much snow here in East Texas, so this is a treat for someone like me who really likes snow.

As long as it is in manageable amounts and I don't have to shovel.

Our dog, who had never seen snow before, didn't mind it at all, except when her tennis ball became a snowball. She wasn't quite sure what to do with it.

The goats were totally disoriented. The darker brown one stood in the middle of the pasture for the longest time just looking at this strange white stuff. The horse didn't care. Give him some hay and he is a happy horse.

Now on to full disclosure:

1. I was a roller-skating car hop like the ones on "Happy Days." This one is true. I worked at a little drive in and that is where I first met my husband.

2. I've broken almost every bone in my body. Unfortunately, this one is true, also. I won't bore you with all the details, but let's just say that horseback riding can be dangerous. As is pole-vaulting and baseball.

3. I once went backpacking in the Rockies. Not true, although I wish it was.

4. I was a trail rider at a riding stable. Yes. I worked one summer at a stable on Detroit's Belle Isle. Classy stable - although I wasn't so classy - and that's where I met and bought my first horse.

5. I was an executive director for a film project. Yes. I had a partner in a film project based on a screenplay I wrote. We almost had the deal together when the oil market did a semi-crash in the late 80's and we lost our main investors.

6. I was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Is there such a thing as a semi-truth? I'm not sure if this qualifies as an official nomination, but my publisher at a regional magazine submitted a feature story I had written about riding patrol with police officers. It was an in-depth feature, and one of the best pieces I've ever written, and the publisher thought it was worth the award.

Okay, there you have it folks. This was fun and I need to check the blogs of the folks I passed this award on to to see what outrageous things they have to say.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Guesting today

Today I am the guest blogger at Chris Redding's blog. She features recipes on her blog on Wednesdays and invited me to be her guest today.

The recipe I posted is for my chili, that I call Gringo Chili, because it is milder than most chili one finds in Texas. I had a friend who made the real deal, and I had to have a glass of milk handy to sip on in between bites that scalded all the way down. What can I say, I'm a wuss.

Hop on over to her blog if you get a chance and see where the recipe came from and how it connects to my book, One Small Victory.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Blogger Award

Helen Ginger gave me the “Lesa’s (Bald Faced Liar) “Creative Writer” Blogger Award. Helen has the wonderful blog Straight From Hell, and is also a partner in editing at The Blood Red Pencil blog, and it was quite an honor to receive the award from her.

It was great fun to read about how the award was given to Helen and her six outrageos lies about experiences in her life. Of the things she mentioned, readers had to guess which were lies and which might be the truth. Did she lie six times and tell the truth once, or lie once and tell the truth six times?

So, following in that sense of good fun, I hereby list some things you might not know about me. Truth or fiction? You be the judge.

1. I was a roller-skating car hop like the ones on "Happy Days."
2. I've broken almost every bone in my body.
3. I once went backpacking in the Rockies.
4. I was a trail rider at a riding stable.
5. I was an executive director for a film project.
6. I was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

I will post the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on my blog, Thursday.

The rules for this award are fairly simple. Recipients must -
1. Thank the person who gave this to you. ( so I officially thank Helen)
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Tell us up to six outrageous lies about yourself, and at least one outrageous truth. (or the other way around)
5. Allow your readers to guess which one or more are true.
6. Nominate seven "Creative Writers" who might have fun coming up with outrageous lies. (or as many as you would like)
7. Post links to the blogs you nominate.
8. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.

I gleefully pass the award on to:

Beth Groundwater
Katie Hines
Anita Davidson
Chris Redding
Tracy Farr --- (couldn't do something this much fun and leave him out.)

I hope this does not put an undue burden on the authors and is fun for everyone.

Monday, February 08, 2010

More Fun From Tracy Farr

I am pleased to once again share some of the odd twists of mind my friend, Tracy, has. We all need a good chuckle now and then. Enjoy.....

Rain, Rain, Go Away! And That's an Order!
By Tracy Farr

This is to inform you that I've put in a work order concerning the rain problem we seem to be having, and I suggest that if the matter is not looked into in a timely manner, we form an ad hoc committee to address the issue with the All-Powers That Be as soon as possible.

Personally, my complaints concern: (1) access to my humble abode, which is currently surrounded by water, and (2) the use of "the facilities," which really means the NON use of "the facilities."

In reference to "access" -- I would be better able to access my humble abode if given some kind of floating apparatus that is large enough to comfortably transport a family of five. I'm not suggesting something as grandiose as an Ark, but a U.S. Marine Corps Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV), might just fit the bill.

In reference to "the facilities" -- Because my humble abode sits on an acre out in the country, I do not have access to the public sewage utilities. Instead, I must use the tried-and-true septic tank system, which truly works well in dry weather, but I just tried it a few minutes ago (I needed to go after drinking two cups of coffee) and all functionality is at a standstill. Therefore, I have just raised our Alert Level to "Def-Con One."

Def-Con One: All personnel must adhere to the "Pee-Little Principle" until further notice. Number Two is off limits except for emergency situations. Chemical Warfare Gear is advised until Flushing is reinstated.

Personnel not adhering to Def-Con One face persecution under the Uniform Code of My Justice, with possibility of monetary fine, jail time and reduction in rank.

Tracy Farr lives in East Texas with his wife and children and a number of goats. You can find more of his humor at his Web site He is also a regular columnist for

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Random Thoughts For a Sunday

I didn't plan to do much work today, as Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but I usually do a quick update of news on on Sundays. Then I will often to a little bit of promoting for my books and taking care of tasks like updating my Web site.

Today I decided to check statistics for my Web site. I like to see if I can figure out what promotional efforts might be paying off in terms of driving traffic to my site. It was quite a surprise to find I had a huge spike in hits the week of January 3rd. I'm talking a jump of 500 percent.

As far as I can recall, I did not do anything special that week in terms of promoting, so I have no idea what caused the increase in hits. I'm just thrilled that it happened.

But, back to my random thoughts...

The clouds have gathered over East Texas for the fourth or fifth day in a row. I've lost count - can't even remember when I saw the sun last.

It's a good day to read a book. So maybe I will. And maybe I'll just find a nap hiding in the sofa.

All my cats are napping, so why can't I.

Friday, February 05, 2010

A Flea's Best Friend

One thing you’ve got to love about dogs, they are loyal. Even in those worst-case scenarios we sometimes read about where dogs are neglected, or mistreated, or even horribly abused, 99 percent of the time they keep loving the abuser.

I thought about that today as I tried for the millionth time to get our little dog, Misha, to stop licking and biting herself. This has gotten to be such a persistent habit with her that I have started giving her a little nudge with my foot when I see her going at it with full vigor. My husband accuses me of kicking the dog, but I am not kicking the dog. I just give her a nudge because she can no longer hear me tell her to quit and the constant biting and licking leaves her red and sore.

Misha, seen here in her younger days when we first moved to Grandma’s Ranch, is about 16 years old. She spent half of her life in Omaha, Nebraska where her yard was not even as big as our house, and adapted to being a farm dog quite well. Although she wasn’t sure about the horse at first.

What she has never adapted to are the fleas. She has been allergic to them all her life and when she was the only pet we could keep them under control. Not so out in the country with so many animals. In addition to the horse, we have two goats – that don’t have fleas as far as I know – three cats and another dog, all of which do have fleas. Trying to keep them all free of fleas is quite a challenge, and I never seem to win the battle even though I do put flea deterrents on them regularly. Our veterinarian is a strong believer in using Revolution, but we need something stronger. I’m thinking something along the line of an artillery strike.

The sensitivity Misha has to fleas seems to have increased along with her age, although I suspect all the licking isn’t just due to the fleas. Old dogs do develop some pretty annoying habits. And this is big-time annoying.

It’s a good thing this loyalty business goes both ways.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Calling for a true Statesman

One of my favorite political columnists, Froma Harrop, who writes for the Providence Journal, had a piece in the Dallas Morning News recently. In that piece she laid down the gauntlet, "Is there anyone in Washington who regards governing as a means to accomplish anything other than win the sterile game of Democrats versus Republicans? Every day, American soldiers risk their lives for their country, but people in Congress won't even risk their jobs to pass legislation essential to the nation's economic future."

I stopped and read that several times. That's what I do when I find something I think is particularly thought provoking. Then I read it to my husband who agreed that it was a good challenge. My cat didn't seem to care.

A little later in her column Froma pointed out that there are one or two exceptions to the folks who won't risk a politcal future for the good of the people. But out of a House of 435 members and 100 senators, it would be nice if there were more than one or two noble statesmen in the crowd.

I think all politicians should be forced to watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and take notes. Once in office, a congressman or senator, or governor, or president should be focused on governing, not ratcheting up political points. If they take an oath to serve the people, they ought to be serving the people, not the party they belong to.

Are we so deep into the current political system that we can't dig our way out?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Six more weeks of winter?

Today is the day -- Groundhog Day -- not as auspicious a holiday as some others, but one we can have fun with. And my friend, Tracy Farr, is having lots of fun on his blog today. Hope you can hop over there to read his whole piece.

If the groundhog was here in East Texas today, he would not see his shadow, as it is overcast this morning and supposed to be that way all day. Problem is Punxsutawney Phil is in Pennsylvania and I think the sun is shining there. That means he will see his shadow and we will have six more weeks of winter. Bah Humbug>

I am ready for spring. I am ready for the outdoor work to begin. I am so ready, I am planting onions and potatoes today and spitting in Punxsutawney Phil's eye.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Friendship Award

Patricia Stoltey, a fellow author, recently gave me a friendship award and I will fess up that I have been remiss in acknowledging the award. For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know that last week started out badly, and it didn't improve much from there. I am so far behind on everything, I'm not sure where to even start. I might even have to start with making a list of what needs to be done and prioritizing the items.

Egad! That would mean I am getting organized in my old age.

But back to the award. I am honored that Patricia chose me as one of the recipients. Unlike some of the other awards circulating on blogs, I don't have to tell a number of things about myself, but I am supposed to pass this on to five other blogging friends. It was hard to chose just five out of the many blogs I visit and enjoy, but I did figure that some that are written purely for business might not have the time or inclination to play along. So I picked some that I know like to play.

Ginger Simpson at Dishin' It Out

Helen Ginger at Straight From Hel

Terry O'Dell at Terry's Place

Elizabeth Spann Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder

Elsbeth Antonelli at It's a Mystery

I hope you can visit these blogs sometime. It is always fun to be introduced to new people and new voices in the blogoshpere.