Wednesday, December 31, 2008
What a year this was! Who said getting older was so bad? As long as you have your health, your ambitions, your goals, your passions, life is great. My kids are healthy, I'm healthy (well I could stand to stay off the sweets for a little while), my business is running great, I live in the most beautiful place in the world....but...
It doesn't mean a thing unless you feel it in your heart to love life for all its worth.
Life hasn't always been like this but I had a goal. Took me well into my forties before I realized what I wanted to be when I grew up. Sometimes it does take that long because a series of events must pass for you to get there. Reminds me of the song..."...it's a long and winding road..." It sure is. But on that long and winding road I left a piece of me behind to remind me to never take anything for granted. Not your business, not your wealth, not your health. I am so thankful I am in the place I want to be.
But...life is not over, you know. The goals and dreams are just getting bigger, that's all. Hard work and a love for life, that's what will keep you alert and living a long, long time.
I'm sitting here a few hours away from that ball dropping at Times Square. I'm looking out my window and the trees are swaying in the fierce northeasterner winds that are ravaging the island right now. Across the street, the waves are rolling towards the house, but I feel safe. And happy. And loved.
My kids are the most important things in my whole life. I don't care if I starve, they shall eat. I don't care if I have to give them my last dollar, I am still happy. I love them so much.
And when you have love in your heart, you have everything.
I hope everyone is having a Happy New Year and are out there celebrating the arrival of a new year of hopes and dreams realized. I'm sitting back watching it unfold around me. I don't need the glitz, the pageantry, the pomp and circumstance.
I just need to be....me.
Happy New Year everyone!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I had stayed up until three cooking my country ham (btw, I've had better...I think I cooked it too long), but anyway, I stayed up until three cooking my country ham so I think that's why I slept until 9:30. What was really weird about today was that here we are smack in the middle (or I guess it's the beginning, isn't it?) of winter and it was warm outside...so warm, I had all the windows open on the east side of the condo. The sun was pouring in...it was surreal and I couldn't help but to imagine this must be what it's like for people in Florida at Christmastime.
So, the sun is pouring in and it's warm and beautiful and Melissa comes down from upstairs saying she's going to get her brother like they were kids again. We tried the opening presents at night thing last year and it was horrible, so they might be 30 and 25, but the Thompson tradition of opening presents is set in stone no matter how old everyone is.
What really made this a strange Christmas, though, is that we had invited Melissa's dad (my ex) to have Christmas dinner with us.
Oh, I'm over all that baggage and I think he's somewhat over it, so I figured everything would turn out fine and, you know, it turned out better than I expected.
So Melissa went to get Ryan and we opened presents and Ryan took his new hip boots and he and Melissa went out to the dock and found oysters, scallops and one baby mussel. Isn't that the neatest thing? There weren't many but it was so nice out, they really enjoyed it.
They came back in and by that time, the ex rolls in and at first I thought he looked a little uncomfortable (first time eating dinner with the kids and I in about 13 years I think), but once he got in the living room and saw the new pool table, he started playing pool with Ryan and things just went natural after that.
The feast included turkey, country ham, crabcakes, macaroni, corn, baked corn, baked yams with marshmallows on top (ymmm), stuffed mushrooms (which my daughter made...I don't like mushrooms so I have no idea how they turned out but they devoured them), macaroni and cheese and asparagus. De-li-cious.
Dinner conversation was not stiff like I thought it would be and laughter filled the room. I wouldn't go as far as saying it was like old times because it was nothing like old times..it was like...new times. The barrier I think has finally come down.
He thanked me for dinner and I told him we'd do it again.
If I ever could envision the perfect Christmas, I don't know if I would quite envision sitting at the table with my ex, but it was really weird..he was like the person I wanted him to be but he never knew how back then. If that makes any sense at all and it's a long story.
After he and Ryan left and Melissa headed over to a friend's house, I sat down on the couch and if you could just imagine the inner peace I felt. I looked around me and I knew it wasn't so much the material things at all, but a feeling of complete inner peace. If only all the days of the year could be spent just like this one.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and remember to give your kids a special hug tonight. One of my friends lost her son three days before Christmas. Please put her in your prayers and be thankful your family is healthy and could gather around the Christmas tree today.
Merry Christmas everyone and I'll have pictures tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
So, tonight I get home and I knew I had to start some type of cooking. Any type. The first thing I thought of was perhaps the easiest.
I haven't made applesauce cake in years - maybe about ten for the simple fact that I had no oven in the last place we lived. It was a rental and the landlord wasn't exactly too keen on keeping up with what went wrong. We ended up replacing the original stove ourselves but when that oven went up, I vowed he was going to fix it or we'd do without.
So without was the outcome.
This year, we have an oven in this wonderful condo we've called home for the last nine months. So what do I do but buy everything you can think of to bake for Christmas. While I had something to bake it in, what I didn't count on was how much time would be involved if I were to have everything done in time for Christmas.
Oh, I bought stuff to make applesauce cake, stuff to make 3 candy cane coffee cakes, cookies, ham, turkey, you name it.
So, tired as I was after working, I knew I had to start as Christmas was day after tomorrow so I started with applesauce cake. Well, when it was done, the recipe called for taking it out of the pan to let it cool. When I took it out of the pan, it fell apart. It looked horrible but smelled dreamy, so I doctored it up with icing and wrapped it up in tin foil and set it aside for sampling when it cooled.
But, while I was doctoring up my applesauce cake, I keep hearing a siren. I threw the door open to see if I could see where it was coming from or at least if I could smell smoke, but nothing. Thinking it was the TV, I went back to cooking.
Remembering the turkey needed thawing by tomorrow night, I pulled it out of the fridge and threw it into a pot of salted water so it would thaw quicker. After I did that, I read the instructions on the ham (read yesterday's post about that) and I figured I'll just go by the instructions because I didn't know what in the hell I was doing as I've never cooked one before.
While I was trying to figure out my plan of attack, I heard that sound again. It couldn't be the TV as there was a different show on by that time.
I threw the door open and could hear it in the distance. It was definitely a fire truck. I didn't smell smoke, thank God, but I couldn't help but to think of the poor family who were perhaps without a house after tonight.
I sighed, went back in the kitchen, fed the dogs, and started cleaning up my mess. I'm really really tired by that time just thinking about having to get up the next day, go to work again when normally I'd have the day off, and try to figure this ham thing out. I knew I wanted to bake cookies and was tossing around the idea of doing that, then the ham tomorrow after I got home from work. Things were just going through my head so fast, I was getting dizzy just thinking about it.
And there it was again. The same piercing sound of a siren obviously coming from a fire truck.
But, this time, it was coming from the front of my house.
I ran out on the deck and could hear it approaching me. Then I could see it approaching me. A humungous firetruck going a little too slow for comfort in front of my house and I started to panic. There are only 2 other families in this whole condo complex and I didn't know if maybe one of their condos maybe caught on fire and we were next to go???
My heart started pounding.
The dogs started barking.
It was getting closer and closer and closer and...
It got right up in front of my place and....
It was freaking Santa Claus waving at me. Freaking Santa Claus on a freaking fire truck riding by me like this was the most normal freaking thing to do in the freaking cold at freaking 7 p.m. at night.
Anyone have a clean pair of underwear to spare?
Monday, December 22, 2008
Take it away, Marta...
A Midlife Dream
© Marta Stephens 2008 all rights reserved
What I would say to someone interested in pursuing their dreams later in life? Go for it! No matter how small, large, or unattainable the dream may seem, it’s always within reach if you want it badly enough. People can find a million and one excuses for why they haven’t accomplished a goal—age shouldn’t be one of them.
Crawl out of that comfort zone, feel the edge of an uncharted path beneath your feet, and push forward. Life is a series of stepping stones, each leading to a new challenge and the next level of development. The jagged edge that trips some people is the fear of the unknown. “Should I stop while I’m ahead, or move on?” Regardless of the decision, in twelve months you’ll be a year older. The question is, will you be a year older and adding to your list of excuses or on your way to living a dream?
I began to write fiction in 2003 at the age of 49, and although my degree in journalism/public relations gave me the foundation and discipline I would need to succeed as a writer, fiction is an entirely different process. However, it has been invaluable as I plan my marketing/promotional strategies.
The first three books in the Sam Harper Crime Mystery Series began life as a set of three novellas. I joined online author groups, followed discussions on plot, pace, characterization, etc., and participated in writing workshops. I also read every how-to book I could get my hands on and applied all I had learned to my writing. The turning point came in 2006 when I joined an online critique group and decided to expand each of the novellas into novels. Participation in this group was not for the thin-skinned individual. Comments were often harsh, but the honest, constructive critiques forced me to push my writing to the next level.
The challenge for me was to learn the intricacies of the craft, find my voice, develop a complex plot, create believable characters, polish the prose, and turn SILENCED CRY into a marketable piece. Seven months after joining the group, BeWrite Books (UK), who I had queried a year before about my series of novellas, requested the expanded manuscript. SILENCED CRY was released in April 2007, and went on to receive honorable mention at the 2008 New York Book Festival. The second book in the series, “The Devil Can Wait” was released on November 3, 2008.
But how does one get from the solitude act of writing to getting published? Networking and dedication to the craft. In this day and age of global marketing, Internet sales, online reviews, interviews, and e-zines, blogging is a writer’s lifeline. I've been blogging for several years through my website, a personal blog, and my authors’ group blog, Murder by 4. At last count, I belong to about 26 online writers’ forums/groups.
Keeping up with some of the blogs is time consuming and I’m often asked how I manage to find time to continue to work outside the home, care for my family, home, write novels and network as much as I do. Unlike a hobby, writing isn’t something I do when I have time—I make time. Call it prioritizing or time management, what it means is that I haven’t cut out all my television viewing, I simply don’t watch it every night. I may not be able to work out in the yard all weekend long like I used to do either, but that’s okay, because when it comes right down to it, I’ve always made time for the things I wanted to do and right now, my focus is on writing. I can’t say that I’ve cut anything out of my life. I simply take things one day at a time and focus on what needs immediate attention.
All the work aside, the best part of this business is meeting people. Being published has opened doors and has given me a chance to get to know people from all walks of life and nationalities that I would have never met otherwise. My publisher is based in the UK and has an international reach, a global author pool, and full-time professional editorial and technical staff in Germany, France, Canada, USA, and Australia. This has given my books world-wide exposure and readership. The proof is that in the year and a half since I launched my website, over 21,000 unique visitors from 110 countries have visited the site. That's not only amazing; it’s what makes the experience fun.
So what’s the most exciting part about getting published in my 50’s? What I leave my children; proof that learning is a life-long process and the understanding that dreams can come true, regardless of age, if you put your mind to it.
Marta Stephens is a native of Argentina who has made Indiana her home since the age of four. This mild-manner lady turned to crime with the publication of the first in her Sam Harper Crime Mystery series, SILENCED CRY (2007) which went on to receive honorable mention at the 2008 New York Book Festival and top ten in the 2007 Preditors & Editors Reader Poll. The second book in the Harper series, THE DEVIL CAN WAIT, will be released by BeWrite Books (UK) on November 3, 2008.
Stephens holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism/Public Relations from Ball State University (IN) where she is employed in human resources. She is a member of Sisters in Crime International, Sisters in Crime Speed City Indiana Chapter, and the Midwest Writer’s Workshop.
Stephens believes learning is a life-long adventure. Aside from her writing, she is trained in graphic and web design. She co-designed the award-winning book cover of her debut novel, SILENCED CRY with friend Scott Parkison (IN), created the book trailer, and designed/administers her website, www.martastephens-author.com, her personal blog, http://mstephens-musings.blogspot.com, and the authors’ blog, MURDER BY 4 http://murderby4.blogspot.com.
Stephens lives with her husband, daughter (22), and son (20). She enjoys oil paintings, gardening, the family’s pet Boston Bulls and mini Daschunds, and shared moments with family and friends.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Actually, I think the odds are quite lower than that.
I was watching a Christmas movie the other day. It was quite flaky, but a husband and wife - excuse me - wife and husband was stranded in the middle of the mountains just days before Christmas. They were like four or five days there and except for blistered lips, you'd never know they'd been out in the elements (oh, there was a blizzard going on, too) for days. They played and frolicked in the snow as they tried to find their way back home. I mean, think about it, you've been without food and water (except for snow of course of which there was a lot of) and you barely look parched? Hell with playing...let's find some way to unthaw the toes, you know?
Well anyway, it might have been a little flaky but I love Christmas movies.
Speaking of Christmas, how close are you to being ready? Let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've gone out among the masses of last minute Christmas shoppers the weekend before Christmas. Trolls everywhere. That's what my daughter calls people who never get to the mall except Christmas.
They just act weird. And you can pick'em out in the crowd every time.
It was cold. No snow on the ground, but it was cold. We started by going in Boscov's so my daughter could buy her father a sweatsuit. Of course, nothing looked right. After fifteen minutes of weighing the odds, she decided on a sweatshirt and sweatpants that in her words "just had to do."
So her father tells her he wants this computer game. We look all over Walmart, Best Buy and the game store in the mall. Nothing. As it turns out, this game is years old and the only way we could get it would be over the Internet.
Keep in mind there are trolls everywhere. They're bumping into you and zapping your energy. You want out. The only way out is the exit door which means no more shopping for the night. We chose the exit door after stopping off at one the vendors to buy my daughter a calendar.
Back out in the cold, my son is complaining of backache so he sits in the truck while we run in Pier 1. As it turned out, Pier 1 had less trolls than anywhere and our energy level returned. My daughter found a candle thing and a candle for her father, then when I oohed and ahhed over it, she bought one for me, too. It was so neat...I'll have to take a picture.
Then, my daughter wants me to buy her...well, the only way I can describe it is wire art. I'm walking out the door with my purchase muttering, "I just bought a thing of wire for $35." According to my daughter (don't ask me because I thought it was ridiculous no matter if is is art or not), it's something to hang on the wall. A wired-up monstrosity that substitutes as wall art.
Anyway, we head back home, stopping at Dunkin' Donuts.
Five days until Christmas and unless the trolls follow my scent, I'll be safe at home away from the hustle and bustle of last minute holiday shopping that would wear on anyone's nerves.
How about you? Are you finished?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
As you know, John Walsh launched the television show, "America's Most Wanted" after the tragic death of his son, in his hopes that he could help other families who are searching for their own missing children.
Watch this heart-breaking video...
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
"While the future of social security may be uncertain, some (baby boomers) who are retiring now are forgoing southern beaches in favor of western mountains. Reports in recent days have noted a new trend in baby boomer retirement: they're choosing to settle in the West..."
While this baby boomer isn't anywhere near retirement age (in mind at least), I found that to be interesting.
I live in an ocean paradise. It's an island completely surrounded by water and the only way off? One bridge that connects us to the rest of the world.
And there are a lot of retirees here.
The reason? The slow pace, maybe. The fact that it's a world off to itself, maybe.
Honestly, I never thought I'd want to live on the water. The fact I can't swim might have had something to do with it, but my main dreams and desires were to live in a cabin in the middle of the mountains. Any mountains, it didn't matter.
I have visited the mountains many times and each time I leave them, I swear that's where I want my ashes scattered. The air is different, the scenery is grandeur beyond grandeur and it's, well, just paradise.
And, then, I moved to this island completely surrounded by lapping waves, crying gulls, the strangest birds and wildlife I've ever seen, and I never realized just how beautiful it is living so close to the ocean.
If you step out my back door and the wind is just right, you can actually hear the waves crashing upon the shore. I can stand on my deck and watch how high up and how low it comes to my dock and I can judge if it's high tide and low tide without listening to any radio report. I can watch egrits walking in my front yard and geese flying in a V-shape in my back yard. And I can watch the most beautiful sunsets that were ever put on this earth. You haven't lived until you've seen a winter sunset. You think summer sunsets are beautiful? Wait until a cold front has passed through and look at the sunset then. You'll marvel at colors - purple being the main color.
So for this baby boomer, and I never thought I'd say this, I choose the ocean, but don't tell that to my beloved mountains because I still hold a special place in my heart for them, too.
Which do you prefer - ocean or mountains?
Come spend one Saturday morning with me in this mountain village, Talpa de Allende. My neighbors are decorating their houses for the coming Christmas holiday. They are planning their posadas and piñata parties.
Today is Dia de Tianguis. Tianguis is like a street market. Local vendors and people from big cities like Guadalajara bring their goods to town every fifteen days and set up stands on a pre-designated street. My shopping list is made; I’m dressed in a warm sweater that I can take off when the sun burns off the fog. In a shopping bag I have packed my watch that stopped running last week, the blender that I dropped yesterday morning and a piece of fabric that I want to take to the dressmaker.
Memo, the watch fixer is close to the front of the line of vendors. He has a shop in town, but always sets up his stand in the street on Tianguis Day. We greet each other and I ask after his children. He tells me to leave my watch while I do the shopping.
We pass the fisherman’s truck, several fruit and vegetable stands that we will visit on our way back up the street. The cassette stand is blaring out mariachi music; the lingerie stand has some mighty sexy underwear on display and the potted plant man has huge poinsettias for the equivalent of $3.00. He has brought in scarlet, pink and white ones this year. I like red in my house at Christmastime. Perhaps you’ll pick the pink.
Further down the street Chela and Raul are dicing mango, papaya and watermelon. You can buy a 15 ounce cup of a mixture of your choice for 1.00. Chela offers to squeeze fresh lime juice over it and sprinkle with hot chili powder and salt if you like.
We stroll on down past the shoes, socks and handbags. The next table is loaded with herbs and spices and next to that is my blender man. He has run an electric cable from a friend’s house behind his stand so he can check out the appliances. He works on blenders, hair dryers, irons and sewing machines. The next table is loaded with brightly colored yarns, threads, stamped cloths ready to be embroidered, needles, zippers and scissors. I pick out a spool of thread to match the fabric in my bag and you spot some funny iron-on patches to cover the hole in your kid’s britches.
Manuel has brought his espresso coffee machine to market today and the smell is enticing, but we’re still munching on fruit.
Time for the heavy stuff. My favorite produce man is Roberto. His helpers are still unloading his truck parked behind his stand. Cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, bean sprouts, tomatoes, onions, peppers and lettuce pile up before him. You pick out snow peas, strawberries, bananas and pineapple. Robert weighs our purchases on an old scale, and he calls out the total as he goes, “Quince, treinta, treinta dos, cuarenta.” We have bought enough fruit and vegetables to last us almost all week for about $9.00.
I pick up the blender. Cost for new jar: $5.00. My watch needed a new battery. Memo tells me, “My price to you is the equivalent of $3.00 and a smile for the work.”
We check out the fisherman’s truck. It all looks and smells fresh. I choose a big red snapper for $3.50 and you offer to fix your favorite shrimp recipe for lunch. One kilo in the shell, a bit on the large size for what he calls medium costs ten dollars. That’s enough to serve four easily.
We continue on our route, stopping at the chicken man’s store buying chicken and fresh country eggs. We stop by the meat market with the red banner flying out front that indicates there was a fresh kill this morning. Pork ribs, chops, ground round and beef for a stew rounds out our shopping.
In total, we have spent under $50.00 for enough food for four people for a week. Throw in a bit of rice, beans and tortillas or bread and you might go to $55.00.
Yes, I believe Baby Boomers can still live well in Mexico.
Jenny McGill is the author of the memoir, DRAMA & DIPLOMACY: IN SULTRY PUERTO VALLARTA. You can visit her website at www.mjmcgill.com.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Puerto Vallerta is a great vacation hotspot, but what can it give retirees in the U.S. who might not want to cross the border?
Jenny is here with us today to explain why Puerto Vallarta happens to be a fantastic place not only for vacationers, but retirees, also.
Baby Boomers in Mexico by Jenny McGill
Before the world economy fell on its nose in late September 2008, Baby Boomers were dreaming of retiring in Mexico. “Why would anybody want to live in Mexico?” you ask.
My husband & I have lived in Mexico thirty-five years. I hate the word ‘ex-pat’, and I’m not one now. Nobody gets more patriotic that I, especially when I hear patriotic music and see Old Glory flying. And I’ve hosted many 4th of July parties in Puerto Vallarta and in Talpa de Allende, where we now live.
For those coming from the harsh cold, Mexico offers the best year-round climate of anywhere in the world. Granted, costal towns can be on the hot side in the summer, but it can get pretty miserable in the U.S and Canada in July and August also. You won’t find snowmobiles on any of our streets. It actually snowed for about thirty minutes in Guadalajara a few years back. It was a great photo-op. I’ve seen frost in December and January here in the mountains. It is a wonderful opportunity to huddle a little longer by the kitchen fireplace.
We’re into the holiday season, but there’s no scurrying back and forth like you might be doing. There is plenty of time for baking and decorating the house. My fruit cakes are already getting their daily dose of liqueur, but we haven’t done our major shopping yet.
Guadalajara and Lake Chapala areas have been popular spots for retirees since shortly after World War II. Disabled or retired veterans could live much better on their pensions than anywhere else. And the Mexicans were friendly and helpful to them.
Times have changed, but some things never change. The number of zeros after the dollar $ign may have changed, but the friendliness, the temperate climate, fresh vegetables, delicious fruit and fish caught this morning are good reason to keep dreaming. You can’t call Mexico primitive or a third-world country anymore.
You would have to go deep into the jungle or to a remote corner of the country not to find electricity, telephone and telegraph service, television and Internet hookups, medical facilities, good transportation, financial institutions and schools from mandatory kindergarten to optional universities.
Very few private homes have central heat or air conditioning. We don’t need them; therefore, our utility bills are low. Property taxes and water bills are low.
I still think Baby Boomers can see their dreams come true.
Jenny McGill is the author of the memoir, DRAMA & DIPLOMACY: IN SULTRY PUERTO VALLARTA. You can visit her website at www.mjmcgill.com.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Mexican beach, where do I retire, retirement in Mexico, retirement hot spots, baby boomers, boomer chick, Jenny McGill, Drama & Diplomacy, virtual book tour, virtual blog tour, book blog tour
Friday, December 05, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
I wanted to blog today because Morgan Mandel gave me a great idea on what to blog about being as my bronchitis-filled brain is on overload from tours just starting and the other million things I have to do on here that never get done.
Anyway, Morgan's post today is about garbage picking. I guess in the south, it's called garbage pickin'.
Now it depends on who you are, how you've been brought up, what kind of person you are today, but garbage pickin' probably isn't on anyone else's blog today but Morgan's and now mine because if one does partake in garbage pickin', they wouldn't want anyone to know it. And if they're the kind of people that would, then I'd hate to see what their house looks like.
But on Morgan's blog post today, she mainly focuses on the homeless and what they would do to keep fed, but on mine today it's what anyone would do if something was free for the taking and it was something they would love to have.
It's the perfect antidote to shop lifting.
But the crazy part about it is, and this is saying something about mankind in general, if something was on the side of the road for the taking, you would at least give it a moment's thought about taking it.
Leave a used TV on the curb with the word "FREE" attached to it and watch human behavior at its finest. Some will walk by, look, but keep on walking. I figure they're the ones who don't want to be caught in the act. But to me, they're the Johnny Come Lately's and like the saying goes, "The early bird catches the worm;" if you don't take it, someone else will.
When I read Morgan's post this morning, the first thing that came to me was when I was eight years old and living in Burbank, California. A girlfriend and I were walking home from school and we spotted boxes of toys that one of the wealthy homeowners had left out on the curb for trash pick up. Both of us looked briefly, then kept on walking. I don't know if she was thinking what I was thinking, but we were both cool about it . After all, who would want someone else's trash?
I got home and raced back to the boxes and grabbed what I wanted and fled.
This does not sound good for me to say this, but at least I had the moral decency even at eight years old not to want anyone to see me grab someone else's trash and take off with it. Even kids have pride, you know.
So, with all that said, I have a used big screen TV with a bad picture tube I'm going to put out front. Wonder how many people will walk on by and how many will actually wait until dark to come get it?
Sunday, November 30, 2008
For those who don't know what v-logging is, it's simply blogging using video. There are quite a few v-loggers out there who are doing nothing but videoing instead of writing the text out in their blogs.
While it might not be for everybody, for the owner of a book promotion company relying solely on online book promotion for her clients, this is like a gift from heaven and a dream come true. Now, our audience will be able to "see" our clients talking about their books which will take their Internet experience to a new level, a virtual level.
When I discovered this great online book promotional tool, it was like a lightbulb went off. Why can't we do this with our books?
I immediately emailed all my clients who are virtually touring in December and got some pretty enthusiastic responses. Lloyd Lofthouse, author of My Splendid Concubine, will be v-logging with not just one v-log, but 4, and promises more on the way. Kelly Epperson, author of When Life Stinks, It's Time To Wash The Gym Clothes, our first guinea pig...errrr...willing client....will be v-logging at The Writer's Life tomorrow. Dean Briggs has finished two v-logs, with more on the way. There's no stopping these guys!
V-logs are fun, innovative and what a wonderful way to put not only a voice, but a face, to someone whose work you admire!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
So, daughter is at work and I'm lying in bed and I got to thinking about Black Friday. I didn't go, I had to work which is one reason why it's turned into the Plague. But anyway, I digress.
So who went? Did you go? Everyone in their mama at work went which is why I was the chosen one to keep the ship afloat and my daughter scoured the Internet preferring her Black Friday shopping be done online.
But, I wondered with the economy is bad as it is, did shoppers go out in droves like Black Fridays in the past? And if they did, did they spend as much as they had in the past?
So, I went to Google and find out.
According to this website, early data showed a strong turnout and they say consumers spent more than 3% than last year. I'm not getting it.
If we're as poor as the news tells us we are, then how did we spend 3% more? Are we not listening? Hello?
But you know, on the Boomer Chick's homefront, I am spending more this year than Christmas' past because I want to get this cool gift for my daughter and it's not because she's 7 and pleaded for it and it's not because she's spoiled. She's 30 and does so much for me, you wouldn't believe and besides, I plan on playing with this special gift myself.
I don't feel guilty about it because I had planned for this months ago and saved for it. Otherwise, I wouldn't have ever been able to come up with that much money that fast.
Did you go out on Black Friday and did you spend more or less than last year?
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
However, my family is not quite...how do I want to put this...the norm.
I'm not going to call us dysfunctional because despite all our handicaps, we're quite functional and have no idea what we are doing is a little bit odd. I'm sure there's a name out there in some of those medical textbooks for us, but for now, let me give you the story of how my Thanksgiving in my new digs is shaping up this year.
We moved to the island last March. The most beautiful place we've ever lived. Sunsets over our dock every night, all the clams and oysters you'd ever want to eat just beyond our front door, cool breezes off the Atlantic...it was paradise.
At first, it was BF, my daughter and I until BF and my daughter got in a little name calling in-your-face confrontation, and it's now my daughter and I, and our three pooches. Oh, don't feel sorry for me. She'd been wanting to get rid of him for some time, only it took a damn showdown where the cops were finally called for it to happen. Turns out BF called the cops because my daughter dared him to and the cop that came out was actually friends with my daughter, even had the hots for her, so that worked out pretty well. And they said it could only happen in the movies. Pffft.
Now, BF still comes over but there are strict rules. He cannot be here when I'm not here, a rule we broke and I caught hell for so that will not happen again. Daughters, don't underestimate their ruling power.
Anyway, so basically, it's just my daughter and I living in our little island paradise and I wanted our first Thanksgiving here to be special. The tree is up, the turkey is bought and except for a few supplies, it's going to be a great Thanksgiving.
I learned yesterday that we're we're going to have house guests which I'm guessing looking to the future, this is going to make a good American Lampoon holiday movie.
BF is coming. BF's daughter (demon daughter) is coming. My son is coming. My ex is coming. A girl who used to live with us years ago is coming.
But...listen to this...
My daughter doesn't get along with BF, his daughter or the girl who is coming. My son hates the girl who is coming, hates BF and hates BF's daughter even more. The ex hates BF, too, probably would hate his daughter and doesn't know the girl who is coming who used to live with us before and he's probably better off. Any more hate on our first Thanksgiving and I'd have to get an exorcist.
So, I'm throwing this all at my daughter as she was taking me home from work last night and that's when she started throwing the "I want my own place" speech. I don't know why she wastes her time with that because she's not going anywhere.
Since I hate people hating each other and I hate being in the same room with people hating each other, I have it all figured out. We will be having our special Thanksgiving holiday dinner in shifts.
The ex, the son, the daughter will eat at noon before she goes to work. They will leave when she goes to work. The next shift, BF, demon daughter and the girl who used to live with us. The girl who used to live with us will go back to her father's house before daughter gets home, BF's daughter should be snoozing on the sofa bed and BF will be up in the bedroom watching football.
But you know, it's not fair. Why can't people just let bygones be bygones?
I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving. Are you planning on cooking, visiting, refereeing?
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
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Monday, November 17, 2008
Why in the world don't they realize all the money they will save? All they have to do is learn how to market online and it's not all that difficult. I do it and if I can do it, why can't the bigwigs of these companies below do it, too?
Here's the email my friend sent me and a few words of warning just in case you're using store money cards and gift cards:
Watch those store money cards and gift cards.. and credit slips! Stores that informed the Security Exchange of closing plans between October 2008 and January 2009.
Circuit City stores... most recent (? how many)
Ann Taylor- 117 stores nationwide are to be shuttered
Lane Bryant,, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine's to close 150 stores nationwide
Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January
Cache will close all stores
Talbots closing down all stores
J. Jill closing all stores
GAP closing 85 stores
Footlocker closing 140 stores more to close after January
Wickes Furniture closing down
Levitz closing down remaining stores
Bombay closing remaining stores
Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January.
Whitehall closing all stores
Piercing Pagoda closing all stores
Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January.
Home Depot closing 15 stores 1 in NJ (New Brunswick)
Macys to close 9 stores after January
Linens and Things closing all stores
Movie Galley Closing all stores
Pacific Sunware closing stores
Pep Boys Closing 33 stores
Sprint/ Nextel closing 133 stores
JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores.
Wilson Leather closing down all stores
Sharper Image closing down all stores
K B Toys closing 356 stores
Lowes to close down some stores
Dillard's to close some stores.
Pfaltzgraf (Hope I spelled that right) all stores & outlets to close (mail order business will continue)
Faberware to close all stores & outlets (will do mail orders only )
The secret to staying afloat if you are still able to do it at this point? Low prices and online storefronts.
And, I'm wondering, of the stores mentioned above where there will be still some afloat, where in the country would they be located? Would we have to drive for miles and miles to buy something from them or rely on the few remaining stores left in our neck of the woods?
It's getting crazy and scary.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
And there I lied, slept and groaned.
I'm not sure what was wrong with me except maybe a 24-hour thing because I feel great today. I took the dogs out for their morning walk, found a really neat trail in the woods down someone's lane (yeah, I tiptoed through there) and got some well-deserved fresh air.
But while I was playing dead on the living room couch yesterday, I had the TV on and it - okay, are you sitting down - was a day-long marathon of the top 101 SNL shows. I'm sick right, but through one eye, I saw the characters who I hung out with in the early 70's again - Roseanne Roseananadana (video below), Buckwheat (anyone remember him getting shot?), The Ladies' Man (I don't remember him very well), Cajun Man and Canteen Boy (get'em Adam Sandler!), The Coneheads (loved'em!), Baba Wawa (Gilda Radner at her best!), The Blues Brothers, Church Lady, Lyle, the Effeminate Heterosexual, Mr. Bill, Pat (girl or boy?), Sumarai Man, oh too many to name.
Back in the early 70s, every single Saturday night, my newly wed husband and I would visit his sister's house just down the street. There'd be a party most times with people spread out all over the place (and wasted) just waiting for SNL to come on.
Of all the characters I loved to watch, Steve Martin had to be at the top of the list with his rendition of Happy Feet and Gilda Radner with her Roseanne Roseananadanna sketches. Remember them? We would HOWL.
Anyway, I was watching this show on TV yesterday with one eye opened and they showed a piece from one of the early shows (which to me were the best) and it was Gilda Radner playing Roseanne Roseannadana. EVERYONE in their mama knew who Roseanne Roseannadanna was. But, in case you never heard of her (shame on you), I found a video of an audition of hers which I'll let you watch while I get back to work. I'm not sure if this was to audition for SNL, or what, but it's funnier than hell. I tried to find a Roseanne Roseannadanna sketch (if you know of where I can find one, let me know and I'll post it), but this one is great, too.
Gilda Radner is no longer with us, but she is remembered by all boomers in the fondest and most enjoyable way.
Nothing is better than revisiting SNL when you're sick or otherwise, so enjoy the show. ;o)
Monday, November 10, 2008
According to this article from NY Times...
"Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios will kick off the partnership by posting episodes of its decade-old “American Gladiators” program to YouTube, along with full-length action films like “Bulletproof Monk” and “The Magnificent Seven” and clips from popular movies like “Legally Blonde.” These will be free to watch, with ads running alongside the video."
They're saying the initial lineup might not be too compelling, but I figure if it catches on, they'll be in a better position to offer more.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Now that the campaign is over, there are people drifting around, with no purpose in life. They had a drive. Now that drive is over and until something else comes along that will take up all their days and nights, they are walking zombies with nothing to look forward to. Reminds me of the aftermath of the American Idol competition. Now there's no real reason to sit by the TV every Tuesday and Wednesday night and root and holler for your favorite contestant.
All that is gone.
No more Tina Fey (say it isn't so!)
No more watching McCain's funny arm jerkings and eye rollings.
No more hearing about Sarah Palins clothing expenditure, luggage purchases and "I can see Russia from my back door!"
Someone has captured the Obama election results aftermath and it's not a pretty picture. Maybe something else will come along to give us focus. A reason to get up in the morning. Who knows. Meanwhile, enjoy this video. It's not a pretty picture. Downright pathetic. Please, if you recognize anyone in this video, give them a hug. Feed them supper. But keep them away from the TV. They need to get their lives back. Me included. Enjoy...
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Before I finish my blog post, please watch as Barack Obama thanks the people who voted for him last night:
Does that give you chills or what?
I was brought up by both my mother and grandmother. My mother instilled in me that it doesn't matter what color your skin is on the outside; it's what's on the inside that counts. Rosie Zimmerman was my first initiation into the African American heritage. Rosie was one of my mother's best friends; and at the time, the country was divided on the color issue. It didn't matter to her, she knew that Rosie would always be there for her as she was for Rosie. It didn't matter that she would be ostracized by her fellow white counterparts, she only knew that Rosie lit up her life.
I remembered visiting Rosie at her house in Burbank, California. We had been stationed at Fort Ord, California, back in the early '60s. Keep in mind this was a very violent time. Racial riots were happening, Martin Luther King was assassinated. Blacks were finally stepping up to the plate and wondering why they could not be equal and much violence ensued because of it.
From a white standpoint, I'm thinking the good old boys were afraid of the blacks overcoming the whites. This is the way their parents taught them and their grandparents before them. Not all whites thought this, but there was still a lot of bigotry and prejudice among white peoples.
The moment I stepped into Rosie's house (keep in mind this is the first time I'd ever stepped into a black person's house), being eight years old at the time, I was fascinated by the pictures she had hung on the wall and the African artifacts on the tables. I remember thinking of Rosie as "one of us" and it really made me stand back and realize that Rosie was an African American with an African American family and relics from the nation her parents and the parents before them made me also realize that despite my impression of Rosie, she was still linked to a group of people that many of my own race considered inferior.
But, that didn't change my feelings toward Rosie in the least.
Upon arriving on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in my tenth year, I saw prejudice for the first time. Blacks were sitting at the back of the bus and lived in the poor section of town. Integration happened in the early 70's and it was mandatory that all schools had an even amount of blacks and whites. Violence erupted among whites and blacks even on the school ground.
But we all had to grow and that was part of the growing process. In order to understand each other, both peoples have got to get rid of the bigotry and find out what it is you can learn about one another so we can all grow as a nation and in the right direction to make sure that this wonderful country can become a better place for our children and grandchildren. It doesn't matter what the color of your skin is. What matters is finding a way to join together to make this country the most powerful country in the world.
I never knew what happened to Rosie, but I thank her for helping a child learn more about peoples of other countries and that even peoples of other countries - while they may be different - can find a place in your life to help mold it into a person whose goals are to bring out the best in themselves and in so doing bring out the best of everyone.
I congratulate Barack Obama for winning the highest office in this country and I pray that his intentions to help the peoples of the United States of America will not falter and that everyone stands behind him and lets him carve the way to make this great country of ours a place that is safe, free from greed and poverty as well, and helps unify the country in a way that's never been accomplished before.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Can you believe it? Down to the wire. A very exciting time mainly because it will be history in the making - Obama being the first black man to become President of the United States and McCain the oldest man to become President of the United States. A very exciting time to be alive, but what makes it more exciting are the numbers of people predicted to vote this year. Young Americans are suddenly involved in politics, which I'm really happy to see.
I feel like it's the night before Christmas, don't you?
And Sarah Palin, watch out...Boomer Chick already has buttons made for 2012. ;o)
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
My daughter just got up and was standing at the toaster. I was hanging out the back door killing my lungs with a smoke and she said out of the blue, "Look, I can jiggle."
She proceeded to stand on her tip toes or something and make her backside do a little dance.
Being as I had a little more to my backside than her, I decided to do try to see if I could do it. I knew I had no rhythm, but why when everything else jiggled, my backside looked as stiff as John McCain at his campaign rallies? Not that there wasn't enough there to shake, I just couldn't get my groove on as much as I tried.
If there is a secret to this, will you please let me know?
In case you don't know what a tip drill is, here's a video clip I found on YouTube...
And Boomer Chick tried and failed. It's just not fair.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I've been there, done that. I know what it's like to be the helpless mother of two who was thrown into the working force because of a marriage breakup. I know what it's like to have to count pennies and rely on food stamps. I know because I was there and didn't like it one bit.
But instead of continuing to play the poor me act, I learned how to stand on my own two feet. It wasn't easy but once I declared my independence from poverty, things took an upward climb and I've never looked back.
Maybe it was luck, you say?
Hardly. I worked hard to get where I am today and it didn't happen overnight either.
But for some, it just isn't happening. And I can understand the economy is putting a financial burden on much of the United States and that's why we're either heading into a recession or as one commentator mentioned today, we're already in one.
That I can understand...we're all feeling it.
But there are also people out there who are looking for government agencies, churches, you name it, to bail them out when they are down on their luck and it's not because they've had a disaster strike, or they have children to feed or for any other reason besides the fact they just never learned how to stand on their own two feet and go after what they want instead of knowing in their back of their heads that people will bail them out. That's looking for disaster and not good for them in the long run.
One person who comes to mind is a co-worker I've mentioned before on this blog, I think. She's always complaining about not having money but yet wouldn't do anything about it. She's always complaining about her rent being late and she'll probably be homeless after XX amount of years, but yet she didn't do a thing about it. Don't tell me that she didn't know how to change things around because I had told her on numerous occasions that she needed to stop the sad act and take positive action - a tough love approach. I figured if I drummed it in her head that she deserved more than she was giving herself credit for, she could turn things around and you know what she told me? "It's too late." The woman is 2 years older than I am!
Well I go into work Friday and this woman isn't there. In fact, she's late by an hour and that's so not like her. She had her phone turned off because she couldn't pay, so there was no way to contact her.
I was worried and told a customer who came in that night who had been asking about her. Concerned, they drove out to her trailer and knocked on her door. The smell of cat feces was coming right through the door, that's the way this woman lived. I've had cats and I know they just don't go in the litter box, no way of getting around it.
She finally, according to this other woman, dragged herself to the door and when she got to her feet, she couldn't hold her head up but kept it lowered to the ground and I mean literally. Her hip had finally gone out on her. She had told me previously she had some kind of hip disease and the doctors told her she had to have an operation, that was the only way she could cure this. Instead, she relied on pain killers to ease the pain. The reason why she wouldn't go to the hospital? The cats wouldn't have anyone to feed them as she had no family or close friends who would take care of them.
The woman was concerned and went next door and someone came over and carried her to their house where she made a phone call to work to explain why she didn't come in. They told her she needed to go to the hospital but she kept saying she had no money, that she was late in rent and would get evicted if she had to lay up in the hospital for an undetermined amount of time.
She ended up going to the hospital but was released the next day.
I've not heard anything else, but I'm racked with guilt. I want to throw out all my convictions of making her understand that she has to help herself and not rely on others to help her, but I'm at a stale mate with this.
I think it's too late for her as she told me over and over again but I refused to believe it.
But when it's too late, the downward spiral begins and never stops until you are forced to live on the street and I don't want that to happen to her either.
The woman needs an operation to survive, yet she won't be able to work and will lose her trailer and her cats, which are her only loved ones at this moment. Her mother who used to live with her died about three years ago and she has no one. The sad part about this is that no one wants to have her over because of her roach problem and that's another thing she never got around to fixing. Instead, she wears them in her hair, they're all over her car and God knows what it's like in her trailer.
So what do you do? How do you help someone who lets themselves get this low? Did I mention she's still paying child support for a daughter that was taken away from her?
I love her to death and I feel sorry for her, but what do you do? I still refuse to believe it's too late for her.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Two weeks ago, I had something happen to me that happens to a lot of people, only it hit me as rather strange. Eye-opening. Intense. Dramatic. Life threatening.
My daughter and I had gone to Ruby Tuesdays for lunch and on the way home, I got excruciating pains and literally passed out right there in the passenger seat. According to the story, I was slumped over in the seat with my eyes open and breathing funny. She thought I had died.
She tried calling 911 but because it was one of those new touch cell phones, she did something wrong. Anyway, the call didn't go through. She said she straddled me and started yelling my name. My eyes at some point started to close and my breathing took on a new slower pattern.
I finally came to and I remember her saying, "You have food poisioning and you're going to the hospital," and all I could think about were new tours going out in 2 days. The last time this happened was about 15 years ago and I ended up in the hospital for a week. No way Jose was I going to let that happen again, I don't care how close to death I am.
I told her to just get me to the bathroom. She helped me up the stairs and into the bathroom on the 2nd floor where it came out of both ends. She then tried to help me to my bedroom on the 3rd floor but we didn't make it past the 3rd step. She put me on the couch in the living room and pretty much the first couple of hours I was there, she kept a vigil on me.
What I didn't know was how upset I had made her.
It's an awful thing to be in the situation where you might even "think" one of your loved ones is dying. I was the first person to see my own mother dead and it has haunted me to this day.
But not only was it a moment in her life that she will never forget, it was also a moment in my life that changed my silly notion that I was invincible and that nothing bad was ever going to happen to me. At least not right now in the prime of my life when everything else seemed to be going great.
How silly of me.
It's times like these that make you realize how fast you can go. I didn't even have time to put my head between my legs - pfff I was out.
But I am here today, alive and kicking, to wish my daughter, Melissa, the happiest 30th birthday ever. She was there for me that day and I know how much I worried her and really hated that that situation ever happened. But maybe sometimes we need reality checks. Maybe we need to see how fragile life is. Maybe we need to see we're not the invincible person we think we are and that shit happens all the time.
To you, Melissa, I wish you the happiest birthday ever.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Courtesy of Political GraffitiI was sitting on my deck watching the tide as it rolled in past the shoreline and into the marshes alongside the walkway leading out to the dock. It's so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. Earlier, I watched as two lines of birds headed south - one line forming the infamous V pattern flying high, then the second lower near the shoreline and in a straight line.
One wonders why some birds chose the higher road to travel and others chose the lower, closer to the shoreline. I'm not a bird expert by no means, but it does ground you in the fact that not everyone flies the same route or walks the same walk. And that's what makes America the beautiful place it is - our right to be ourselves and express our opinions and differences and not be condemned about it.
That is, unless you're a politician running for office and your opponent is out for blood.
If you're a politician running for office, you better have a thick hide and have a plan of attack because your opponents - colleagues even - are going to stick it below the belt whenever and wherever they can.
One thing that's popping up all over the Internet was a comment Obama made to a guy they're calling Joe the Plumber. Joe mentioned his business falls into that 5% that Obama is going to raise taxes to help the middle class and the poor. Joe didn't like it one bit and, of course, McCaine used this in his strategy to persuade undecided voters last night to vote for him.
I, like a lot of Americans, am tired of hearing these back and forth attacks. It's not going to make me vote for the one doing the attacking but only make my approval meter slink lower than a blue-tailed skunk.
The subject of these attacking ads came up and I think both candidates handled it pretty well. "It's just the way these things go," was sorta the opinion I got after listening to both. Reminds me of a movie I once saw of two grammar school kids - one boy one girl - who was running for office and each was determined to convince the voters to not vote for the other by bribing them with treats, etc. Did it work?
Not in the end because in the end, the blue tailed skunk finally shows its true colors. We can only hope the American people sees through this when they go to the voting polls in November.
I have watched all three debates, plus the one debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin and I am not undecided. I know full well what candidate I want to represent us in the White House and I decided this before the name smearing campaigns began. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who would be for the middle class (as I am) and who would try to be but wouldn't do as well a job, in my opinion. I did listen to the issues from both sides and at one point my vote did sway toward the other side and that was when there was a documentary on one of them and I got to see their personal side, something I never saw before, but I straightened back up and said, "Boomer Chick, vote for the one who represents you, the middle class majority, and who will do the best for you."
I have nothing against the upper class and I do not wish more taxes on them (I don't think that's the answer either), but Barack Obama made a good point. He said something to the effect of "No one likes taxes. I don't like taxes, but it's a part of life." My grandmother once said there's two things we can be certain - death and taxes - and even though we don't want our taxes raised, the money has to come from somewhere to help change America and put it on the right path.
So, with that said, if Boomer Chick was president, I would go through Washington and find every single politician who is making the big bucks by lobbyists' contributions and make them pay for these new reforms that Barack Obama will put in forth once he gets in the White House. Make them pay for new forms of energy to help us rid of our dependency on oil from foreign countries, make them pay for new jobs so that families can afford to heat their house this winter and send their kids to school on a full stomach, make them pay to bail out home owners who are losing their houses because of mortgage institutions foreclosing because they can't pay, but more importantly, make it so that it never happens again. That's a pretty tough bill to follow, but it's time Washington got a Fall cleaning in November and time for the American middle class people to finally have a voice.
And that's the only system I know that will work.
debate, Joe the Plumber, Obama, McCaine, middle class America, undecided voters, smear campaign, White House politics, lobbyists contributions, Boomer Chick