Thursday, April 25, 2013

V Is For...Very Interesting

I'm still finished with that challenge. It's just that I had something to say, and it happened to fit in the challenge's parameters. It's a coincidence.

This is day 7 of me not being on a diet and meaning it. My brain is finally starting to believe me, just a little bit. And an interesting thing is happening. Today, I stood in line at the grocery store and thought about buying a candy bar. And then I turned to look at the magazines and forgot all about the chocolate until I was walking to my car. How did that happen??

This is my theory, and I'm crossing my fingers and toes that I'm right. My subconscious knew I would buy a candy bar if I wanted to. It knew I would buy one WHEN I wanted to. I wasn't feeding it some ridiculous story about this being the last hour I was going to allow myself chocolate until next month, and then only a mouthful.

I think that every time I told myself I wasn't going to eat badly any more, my silly subconscious BELIEVED me. Believed me and panicked. Every day for years and years. Foolish, foolish subconscious. Or foolish, foolish me, for doing that to myself for so long.

Maybe it's just a fluke. But I hope not. I may never lose weight, but today I ate 1/4 cup of watermelon sherbet for dessert. I told myself that I might have a bowl of Boston Red Sox Fenway Fudge ice cream later, if I wanted to. But guess what? I don't think I'm in the mood.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U Is For...You

I was feeling pretty discouraged yesterday, and decided to give up the A-Z Challenge, even though it wasn't really the challenge that was making me discouraged. I still feel really great about that decision. And yet, here I am. What's up with that?

Well, one of the things that made me sad about this challenge is not having enough time to look at all the other amazing blog posts. I'd quickly glance at six or seven, try hard to think of comments and give up. I'm not great at comments.

So, this morning, it hit me. I could spend a little more time perusing the other blogs on this challenge and post links to two or three of my favorites here on this blog. I'm still not going to read dozens of posts, so don't be hurt if yours isn't on here. I'm sure I would have loved it.

The Prosers: Yeah. This is my other blog. But the ladies I work with over there are amazing. Check out T Is For Toothless by MaryAnn.

U Is For Unhealthy Relationships from In Which We Start Anew is a great blog post. In Which We Start Anew has been a great find for me during this challenge. It's not the kind of blog I usually read, but maybe I should.

Patience, Persistence and Perspiration is about a woman struggling to lose weight. I've been so impressed with her journey, which seems to be just beginning. I plan to continue following her efforts for a long time. U Is For Understanding.

Now, From Sarah, With Joy is exactly the kind of blog I usually look for. She's a talented writer, she's very committed to her goals, and she's very nice. My favorite. Her latest post, U Is For Unarmed, was exactly what I needed to hear today. is a new find for me (T is for Turkish carpets.) So is whose latest blog post is called U Is For Opposites. You'll have to chek it out if you want to know why.

So, this took a lot longer than I thought it would. Goal for tomorrow: put a time limit on how long I have to search.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T Is For Top 10 Tuesday

And all the other memes I think I want to participate in with blogging. Top 10 Tuesday bloggers post top 10 lists of books every week. This week, for example, the theme was:

Top 10 Books You Liked More/Less Than You Thought You Would

So, first of all, you've got to come up with a list.
Then, you've got to explain why.
Then, you should probably put some pictures in, and maybe links to the books so people can get more information.
Finally, you should sound incredibly chipper about the whole thing.

This is a book meme for people who review books as their hobby. I've tried reviewing books for a hobby. Maybe someday I'll try it again. It's not where I'm at in my life. So why do I feel so compelled to join everything?

I thought this A-Z Challenge would be a great way to get back into blogging. And for the most part, it's been good for me. But yesterday, and even more so today, I'm feeling done. I don't want to give it up, but I think it's time, at least for this blog. It's been a party over at The Prosers. We're all having a good time with it, and we've met some friends, and it's been awesome.

But I'm done over here.  So, if you come to visit, please follow this link over to The Prosers, where the alphabetical bash is still going strong:  The Prosers.

Monday, April 22, 2013

S Is For...Sleep

Which I'm not going to get enough of if I stay up to write this post, since...

S is also for...swimming, which I've got to get up bright and early and do before school.

S really was going to be for sleep. If I've got enough time tomorrow, maybe I'll fill in the gaps. If not, T will be a much, much better post. I promise.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R Is For...Ruins

Ruins is the name of the book I'm reading right now. I'm only about 1/3 of the way done. On the other hand, I only started it last night.

Book 2 in the Pathfinder series
by: Orson Scott Card
published in 2012 
544 pages

Summary (from amazon):
A complex fate. A deadly path. Book two in the New York Times bestselling series Publishers Weekly calls “an epic in the best sense.” 
When Rigg and his friends crossed the Wall between the only world they knew and a world they could not imagine, he hoped he was leading them to safety. But the dangers in this new wallfold are more difficult to see. Rigg, Umbo, and Param know that they cannot trust the expendable, Vadesh—a machine shaped like a human, created to deceive—but they are no longer certain that they can even trust one another. But they will have little choice. Because although Rigg can decipher the paths of the past, he can’t yet see the horror that lies ahead: A destructive force with deadly intentions is hurtling toward Garden. If Rigg, Umbo, and Param can’t work together to alter the past, there will be no future.
     The adventure, suspense, and time travel continue in this second installment in the critically acclaimed New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestselling Pathfinder series.

My Review:

You can find my review for Pathfinder here. Or I can just tell you: I loved it. Rigg reminds me more of Ender than any other character I've ever read, and that is high, high praise from me. I can't really review Ruins yet, because I'm still reading it. But let's just say that so far, I LOVE IT. This is science fiction at its best. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q Is For...Quotes

Q Is For...Quotes

Specifically, quotes about happiness.

This is something I need to work on.

I only have one pair of pants that fits well. It's been like that for years. I know that if I just lost 15 pounds, I would have an entire wardrobe of clothes. So I only allow myself the one pair, and I wash it a lot. I either wear my pajama bottoms or squeeze into something uncomfortable while I wait for that one pair of pants to dry.

If I forced one of my children to wear the same thing over and over until they looked prettier, it would be considered abusive. I've been planning to lose that weight for a long, long time, and it hasn't happened. I still want it to. I still plan to do it. Deep in my heart, I hope that weight loss is a side affect of happiness. But, in all my soul-searching, I'm finally realizing that trying to beat myself into good health is backfiring. It is making me miserable AND I'm steadily gaining weight.

So, here are a few quotes from The Happiness Project about being happy.

  • The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It's more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. No one is careful of his feelings or tries to keep his spirits high. He seems self-sufficient; he becomes a cushion for others. And because happiness seems unforced, that person usually gets no credit.  -Gretchen Rubin
  • What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.-Gretchen Rubin 
  • When I find myself focusing overmuch on the anticipated future happiness of arriving at a certain goal, I remind myself to 'Enjoy now'. If I can enjoy the present, I don't need to count on the happiness that is (or isn't) waiting for me in the future.
  •  ... one flaw throws the loveliness of [everything else] into focus. I remember reading that Shakers deliberately introduced a mistake into the things they made, to show that man shouldn't aspire to the perfection of God. Flawed can be more perfect than perfection. -Gretchen Rubin
  • Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain. -Unknown
  • A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires. -Paulo Coelho
  • Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking everyday. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life with become a continual feast. -Norman Vincent Peale
  • Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have. -Unknown
  • I have been running so sweaty my whole life, urgent for a finish line, and I have been missing the rapture this whole time.
    Of being forever incomplete – Alanis Morissette
  • Exercise for sanity, not vanity. -Gretchen Rubin
This one is from Hungry For Change:
  • Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life. -Anthony Robbins

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P Is For...Panjandrum

pan·jan·drum  (pn-jndrm)
An important or self-important person; a pompous self-important official or person of rank; 

[After the Grand Panjandrum, a character in a nonsense farrago written by Samuel Foote (1720-1777).]

For the Letter O, my good friend Susan wrote a post about out of print books that reminded me of a story my children discovered in one of their grandmother's books a few years ago. It tickled their funny bones so much that they memorized it and would just start spouting it at random. This would usually make them laugh so hard that they couldn't catch their breath, or speak, except to gasp out, "a cabbage-leaf! (much mirth) To bake (gasp, gasp) apple pie!" "WHAT?!? No soap!!?" I have such happy memories of this poem that I decided to share it with you. You'll just have to imagine my children though. WHY didn't I take a video? I guess I thought those days would last forever.

The story was published in 1755 to test the memory of the actor Charles Macklin, who claimed he could read any paragraph once through and then recite it verbatim. It was published as part of an 1820 novel titled Harry and Lucy concluded (vol. 2) by Maria Edgeworth, and again as a poem in a picture book by Randolph Caldecott in 1885, with a few minor changes in wording ("grand Panjandrum" changed to "great Panjandrum" and she went down the street, instead of up the street.) My children memorized the 1885 version:

The Great Panjandrum
So she went into the garden
to cut a cabbage-leaf
to make an apple-pie;
and at the same time
a great she-bear, coming down the street,
pops its head into the shop.
What! no soap?
     So he died,
and she very imprudently married the Barber:
and there were present
the Picninnies,
     and the Joblillies,
          and the Garyulies,
and the great Panjandrum himself,
with the little round button at top;
and they all fell to playing the game of catch-as-catch-can,
till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Help Ben Wolverton

If you are looking for my A-Z Challenge post, it's directly below this one. 
Here's a copy of Lee Falin's post from April 10, 2013:
Help Ben WolvertonFor some time now thousands of other aspiring writers have been benefiting from the advice that author and teacher David Farland (aka David Wolverton) gives away for free via his Daily Kicks newsletters, as well as many other services he provides for aspiring writers.
Last week his 16-year old son Ben was in severe accident, sustained several life-threatening injuries, and is currently in a coma. Like many other self-employeed individuals, Dave and his family don't have health insurance, and Ben's medical bills are expected to reach the six-figure range.
So to help support the Wolverton family, several people in the writing community have organized a book bomb, an event where as many people as possible purchase a book on a given day in order to help support an author.
The two books being "bombed" are: Million Dollar Outlines, a great book for aspiring writers with lots of tips for making your stories stand out; and Nightingale, Dave's award-winning young adult fantasy novel.
If you don't have any interest in these books, you can donate directly to help Ben.
If you're short on cash, you can help spread the word via twitter, facebook, or any other way you can think of.
Ben and his family greatly appreciate your support.
Give away
To help support this effort, Lee Falin purchased 50 copied of Million Dollar Outlines. To get one, just help spread the word about Ben and the book bomb, and email him a link to your tweet/blog post/facebook message. The first 50 people to do so get a copy of the book.

O Is For...Oz

We went and saw Oz The Great and Powerful yesterday, and I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe that's because I hadn't heard anything great about it. Most of the reviews I read focussed on the cleavage issue--which really wasn't bad, IMO. I was sitting next to my 14 year old son, and really, after everything I'd read, I expected to squirm a little, and I didn't.

Instead, I really loved it. It was the first 3D movie I ever saw that didn't leave me feeling like I needed to vomit and take migraine medicine at the same time. Whether that's because they are getting better at 3D or because my eyes are adapting is a topic worth studying more in depth. But not now.

Instead, I want to discuss world building. What is it about a world that leaves it open to inifinite storytelling possibilities?

Everyone knows about The Wizard of Oz, but it doesn't stop there...As a child, I used to love reading Frank L. Baum's series of books about Oz. There are 14. There's The Wiz, starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, (which I never saw, actually). And of course there is Wicked, both the book and the Broadway play. I didn't enjoy the book, but Wicked the broadway play is lots of fun (at least the music is.)

I love Tortall, the world Tamora Pierce spins most of her magical stories in. Her stories span the centuries and travel across the world. Star Trek, Star Wars...what is it about all of these worlds that lends itself to page after page of storytelling?

I'm sure there's a more definitive list somewhere, but here's what I've got:

  •  a simple and relatively fluid magical system--yes, there are rules, and some of the rules are definitive. But some of the rules can be broken from one story to another. On the one hand, this bothers me terribly. On the other hand, it seems to work.
  • A story line that focuses on exploration. When merging with rule 1, you get characters that don't quite know what they will find around the corner--for example, the rules governing each world on Star Trek are different.
  • Rich, complex characters--Did you ever wonder why Oz seemed like such a recluse and yet was revered as a great wizard? When you read the Wild Magic series (What? You haven't??? You should. Immediately!) did you ever wonder about Alanna? Lucky for you, there's a whole series about her. Every character has a story, and one story can't go into all of them. When characters are interesting enough that we want to know stories are born.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N Is For...93 Million Miles

Oddly enough, when this month started, this was the only post I was sure I wanted to do, because I had just discovered this song, I love it, and I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

M Is For...Massachusetts and Marathons

M Is For...

My City.

Boston,  Massachusetts.

My family doesn't think this counts as an M word, because I've never actually lived there, but Maine is close enough. We root for the Patriots, the Red Sox, the Celtics and the Bruins. After 9/11, my husband and I fled to the comfort of the Boston LDS temple, and wished everyone could feel the peace that was there. Every year, we go to Boston for our anniversary. I've walked the Freedom Trail all by myself and with other people. We've played in the Duck Pond, and I cried with everyone else when Vinnie T's went out of business.

Or how about Marathon? There's an M word. Do you have any idea how many of the pep talks that run through my head involve marathons? My love and prayers go out to everyone affected by today's tragedy.

Here's my facebook status from earlier today:
There are so many things I want to share, about how much I love Boston, and how my heart hurts to think of what happened there today; and about J..., who is leaving for New York in the morning. I guess I'm especially grateful for this feeling of peace about letting her go. Given my propensity to worry, this is an unexpected blessing. The world is a crazy place, where terrible things happen sometimes, but it is also filled with good people.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L Is For...Line In The Sand

Do you love the point in stories where the nemesis (or the jaded ex-hero or the cynical sidekick--actually it could be anyone who is not helping the hero's cause)  hits the line in the sand? I especially love to see it when someone who seems evil says "Woah. I won't get THAT evil." The step they take away from that line always seems to be more of a giant leap than a tiny step back, as though the line in the sand is actually a catapult in disguise. That is the point when the plot really picks up speed, our adrenaline sings with hope, and we start having a really good time.

I hope it is like that in life too. That there are lines in the sand that can send us rocketing back to the right path. I keep thinking I've gotten there with my health--but habits are incredibly hard to break, and bad things have already been done to this poor old body of mine. I feel it sometimes, with family relationships. But how about housecleaning? Will I ever reach a line in the sand that will catapult me into the clean home of my dreams? If so, I'm ready. Someone draw a line in the sand for me.

Friday, April 12, 2013

K...Is For Kissing

I am sticking to one blog post today, and you can read it over at The Prosers.

FYI: I am not proud to say that I watched this show, and I can't, in good conscience , recommend it. BUT...this kiss. I should write this good a kiss someday. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J Is For...Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

It's too bad today's letter wasn't T...for Torpor, because that's what I've been in. I woke up early with an insurmountable to-do list running through my head. So I wrote it down, because often, once I see it on paper, I realize it's not quite as long a list as I'd originally feared. It didn't work. It was definitely insurmountable. That would have been such a good word for I.

I got going on life, getting the kids out of bed, packing lunches...then my husband called. I'd forgotten I was supposed to pick up my daughter from seminary this morning. I dashed out of the house in pajama bottoms and a jacket, and hurried from one thing to the next until I got home from swimming at 9:00. I settled down to read a manuscript I need to have read before a meeting tonight and somehow ended up watching an episode of Alias instead.

I made a few of the phone calls that were on my list, and then found myself mindlessly scrolling through my facebook page. I decided to go on a walk, and realized I was still wearing my pajama bottoms. Drat.  It's too ridiculous for words, the way sometimes I just LANGUISH when I should be thriving.

Finally, I decided to clean the kitchen (which wasn't on my list, but still had to get done) while I thought of a good J word.


I was half-way through the Joseph soundtrack before I realized that I was dancing and cleaning and back on track. Music is magical.

I have subtle issues with the whole premise of Joseph, to tell the truth. I believe Jacob was a prophet, not some indolent man reclining on a chair while women danced for him. Still, I can't help but love this show, especially the talented Maria Friedman. I can't help but belt it out when I'm singing with her.

Thanks for the energy Maria. I needed it today.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Is For...I'm Yours

This is my cop-out post. Life was full of "Oh. I wasn't planning to do that" moments today. Here's another one. I wasn't planning on discussing Jason Mraz yet. But I've run out of time for doing anything that would take more time, so here we are.

I'm Yours was my first Jason Mraz song, and it belongs at number one on my list of Top 5 Summer Songs. Enjoy.

As long as I'm sharing "I" music, here's a more recent hit by Imagine Dragons. It's a sign of how crazy this day has been that I'm not going to have time to listen to either of these songs until tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H Is For...The Happiness Project

I know the list of goals I wrote yesterday seemed a little ridiculous. You should have seen the on-going list in my head though. It was at least 5 times that long, and I regularly beat myself up for not making a bigger dent in it. I never realized how long the list was until I started writing it down.

At least this current list is do-able. It's really only 5 goals, with a checklist of the next thing to do on each one. I could really add a section for preschool and education, but I didn't, since that isn't a part of this blog.

My inspiration for updating the blog and writing that long list of goals came from a book I just read called The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin.

Here's the amazon blurb:
Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project. 
In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.
I really enjoyed this book. I'm a "memoir of happy things" fan anyway. It was one of those serendipitous book finds that helped to shape some changes that I was making in my life. There is also a fun and engaging website, if you are thinking about starting your own happiness project.

Monday, April 8, 2013

G Is For...Goals

Lots and lots and lots of goals. I am focusing on Book Projects, My Home, Relationships, Joy and Health on this blog, and in my life. Each main goal has several smaller ones, most of which I've been working on haphazardly for years. 

Book Projects:
1. Straighten up all my files so I know exactly how many books I've got in the works and where they are.
2. Combine all the pieces of Lost Magic into 1 rough draft and begin editing.
3. Read all of Ironwood and make notes for my meeting on Thursday.
4. Keep waiting to hear back from the editor about Hidden Magic.

My Home:
1. Buy paint for the family room and dining room.
2. Box up my family room bookshelves for their trip downstairs.
3. Paint the family room and dining room.
4. Buy new couches, a new entertainment center and a few other odds and ends.
5. Get the deck attached to our house.
6. Buy the rocks for the patio, benches and fire pit.

Strengthening Relationships:
1. Make an effort to stay off the computer while the kids are at home.
2. Keep reading with the kids, cycling who I pick the next book for.
3. Do more projects together.
4. Do my visiting teaching every month.

1. Sign up for 2 classes.
2. Make a list of the things that bring me joy.
3. Write in my journal for 2 minutes every night.
4. Find more things that bring me joy.

1. Sign up for the 5K on June 8.
2. Train for the 5K: 
     Swim on T, Th
     Strength Train on M, F
     Walk on W, Sa
     Yoga every morning
3. Remind myself where I am and where I am headed.
4. Take vitamin D for 10 weeks and get all my blood tests retaken. Deal with the results.
5. Get off of aleve and still have no shoulder pain.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F Is For...Fred Rogers

I watched Mr. Rogers as a child, and admit I wasn't really all that into him. But when my third child was preschool age, I was having a really hard time. She's a strong-willed little girl, and I felt like I had used up any residual strong-willedness inside of me. I just wasn't a match for her anymore. I prayed about it, and got the oddest answer to my prayer--watch Mr. Rogers with her. So we did, and it worked.

In my opinion, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood is actually a parenting class disguised as a children's show. We learned a new language for communicating with each other. And I held her tight for half an hour every day, which I soon realized was something she needed every bit as much as she needed food.

His show isn't as easy to find as it used to be. At least in my neck of the woods, PBS doesn't play Mr. Roger's anymore. (This is a crime, IMO). But you can still download his shows from amazon.

I own several Mr. Roger's quote books, and his insights on both relationships and creativity are pretty astounding.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • You rarely have time for everything you want in life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.
  • I believe it's a fact that what we have is less important than what we make of what we have.
  • There's something unique about being a member of a family that really needs you in order to function well. One of the deepest longings a person can have is to feel needed and essential.
  • I like to swim, but there are some days I just don't feel much like doing it--but I do it anyway. I know it's good for me and I promised myself I'd do it every day, and I like to keep my promises. That's one of my disciplines. And it's a good feeling after you've tried and done something well. Inside you think, "I've kept at this and I've really learned it--not by magic, but by my own work.
  • Try your best to make goodness attractive. That's one of the toughest assignments you'll ever be given.

Friday, April 5, 2013

E Is For...The End

If you are following both The Prosers and my personal blog, you should know that although the beginnings are similar, the 2 posts are very different, so keep reading!

I'm a great starter. This afternoon I sorted through my many Word documents and found at least 11 manuscripts in various stages of being edited. I made up my own quiz, which you can take over at The Prosers, and ranked each story. Here's the list:

(Partially) Completed Novels by Melanie Crouse

1. Hidden Magic--I got a 7/8 on this story.
2. Lost Magic--The sequel to Hidden Magic. This got a 3/8.
3. Lost Magic--Another sequel to Hidden Magic from a different point of view. Nearly finished, but will it be added into the first Lost Magic or turned into a 3rd novel? Ack! 3/8
4. Lost Magic--again. Can you see how this book has given me fits? This one is probably mostly backstory, but I'm still rather attached to it. 2/8
5. Nanowrimo 2009--Tess's story. A completed rough draft. 3/8
6. An Old-Fashioned Girl--a partially completed screenplay 2/8
7. Pathway Through Insanity--Ick. What a dreadful title. Still, this gave me shivers of joy to find, because it was a fantastic story idea, and I didn't think I'd ever written it down. It turns out, I hadn't just written it down, I'd actually begun working on it! Partially finished. 2/8
8. Nanowrimo 2011--Amye's story. A completed rough draft. 3/8
9. Ironwood--My most recently completed rough draft, and my first attempt at a collaboration. It is in the beginning stages of being edited. 4/8
10. Ironwood--the sequel. I've written chapter one. 2/8
11. Lark Meets Alias--Not really a title, more a description. 1 ½ chapters written. 2/8

Somewhere, hidden either in this computer's memory or only in my head, is a story about a boy and a girl who hide out in her deceased uncle's home. The uncle was a hoarder. 1/8 

I also have plans to compile a Prosers e-book one of these days. (1/8)

Do you see how few of these projects are finished? Hidden Magic is the only one, and every now and then I still think of things that I really ought to tweak.

I became aware of the direness of the situation when Sheena, Sabrina and I finished the rough draft of Ironwood, and for some reason, I was completely pumped up about starting the sequel--immediately. For various reasons, which probably included sanity, Sabrina and Sheena were not ready to dive right into another book, and there was only so far I could go without their input (to be precise, I could write one chapter.)

In an effort to direct all that energy somewhere, I brainstormed a whole new story, which became novel number 11 on my list. It was great, and I was delving into my character's families and backstory and having a fantastic time when I stumbled upon some correspondence from several years ago. I was struck by one thing--my writing career hasn't really changed much over the years. There's really no excuse for that, except that I've become a chronic starter. A finisher? Not so much. One of my main goals for this year is to change that. Compiling this list was a huge leap toward...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for...Diet

Definitions from urban dictionary

a four-letter word that often leads to deprivation, frustration and, ultimately, failure 

n. A food consumption pattern lazy people take up in the place of regular exercise in order to lose weight  

A form of torture, hence "Die" with a "t" 

The statistics are in, and I would weigh a good 30 pounds less if I'd never been on a diet. It's true. Some people are terribly passive-aggressive about things like diets, even diets they put themselves on. I'm not certain how many of these people actually walk among us, but I know there is at least! I gain an average of 5 pounds every time I put myself on a diet.

Diet books warn people that this might happen. They say something about how if you lose weight quickly, you'll lose muscle instead of fat, and when you inevitably go back to your old eating habits, your metabolism will be lower, and you'll gain weight back--more than before. But me? I'm efficient. I simply skip all those interim steps and move right to the "gain more than before" part.

That's the beauty of being over 40. I can look back over the past 2 decades and see exactly what I've done wrong. I hope that means I'm done with all those shenanigans.  I still think it would be nice to be drop-dead gorgeous, but being healthy enough to enjoy life has finally ousted it from the number one spot.

That's why I love this book:

It's a book about filling your life with eating routines that add joy. Most of the book is recipes, and I've only tried a few--the gingerbread straws and the biscotti. The important part is the story of her journey to a diet-less life. It's harder to copy than I'd realized, but it's worth it.

The A-Z Challenge

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C Is For...Carriage Roads

Hadlock Brook Carriage Road

In 2011, I made a goal to hike all the carriage roads at Acadia National ParkI love the carriage roads. Some of my best novel ideas have come while traversing them. For me, they are the perfect mix of walking and hiking. I'm still chipping away at the goal a little at a time.  I didn't keep very close track last year, but I think the list looks something like this:

1. Eagle Lake Loop - 6 miles(bike)
2. Aunt Betty's Pond Loop - 5.9 miles 
3. Witch Hole Pond Loop - 6.8 miles

4. Jordan Bubble Loop - 8.6 miles 
5. Jordan Stream Loop 4.0 
6. Day Mountain loop - 5.5 miles 
7. Little Long Pond - 3.5 miles 
8. Redfield Loop - This is one of 2 trails you have to hike to get to. I can't remember the other trail. This trail is 4.3 miles, but when you add in the additional hiking, it's closer to 5.5
9. Hadlock Brook - 3.9 miles  
10. Ampitheatre Loop - 4.9 miles 
11. Giant Slide Loop - 8.2 

The underside of the Cobblestone Bridge on Jordan Stream Loop

A little history of the roads:

John D. Rockefeller bought a summer home at Seal Island, Maine in1910. It was the beginning of the era of the automobile, and he feared that automobile roads would ruin Mt. Desert Island. His dream was to create an elaborate system of auto-free roads and bridges that would provide access to the most beautiful parts of the island, which would later become Acadia National Park. Between 1913 and 1940 he worked tirelessly to oversee construction of 51 miles of roads, 17 bridges and 2 gatehouses. He presented the carriage road system and much of the land that would become Acadia as a gift to the people of the United States. The roads are made of broken stone, and follow the contours of the land to take advantage of the scenic views.
Today, you may occasionally see a horse drawn carriage or a horseback riders on the carriage trails, but you are more likely to see bikers, joggers and hikers. They are both accessible and beautiful. It's quite a drive from my house, but I'm still hoping to cross one or two off my list before the kids get out of school for the summer.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B Is For...Blue

I'm going to paint my living room blue. This is a relatively new idea, and might possibly fit into the category of "passing fancy" or "whimsy," but I'm going to do it anyway. I found a gorgeous living room somewhere on the internet, all done in robin's egg blue with dark brown accents, but attempts to find it again have failed, making me wonder if it was all in my mind.

If so, that would be a remarkable turn of events, because, although I'm typically what you might call a creative person, I've had absolutely no ideas of the home d├ęcor variety.

I've always been more of a greens and earth tones kind of woman, but this has an extremely dark winter for me, and the earth tones just aren't cutting it anymore. If I'm going to be afflicted with seasonal depression, I'm going to do it in a house that screams "SPRING!"

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for...American Pie

The song. Not the movie.

It's a little late in the game to say this, but I'm not sure where I'm going with this whole A-Z challenge thing. On the one hand, I really want to do it. On the other hand, I just got this blog all up and organized to work on my 5 Paths To Happiness, and this doesn't really fit. Until I work that all out, I'm going with my original plan, which was to write about music.

It was the fall of 1989, and I was a freshman at a tiny college in the middle of nowhere. My greatest joy was listening to a friend of mine play his guitar and sing, songs like One Tin Soldier and American Pie. I remember buying the sheet music just so I could tell him the lyrics he didn't know for sure. I typed them out on our old typewriter and gave it to him--that might have been the last thing I ever used that typewriter for, come to think of it.

Summer of 1990, and he and I end up working in the same building--I worked in a gift shop, and he was a host at a fancy restaurant. I would accost him when things were slow and ask him to sing American Pie to me without a guitar. The next year, at a bigger college, my roommate Suzi and I would meander around campus, singing American Pie. I love those memories.

Fast forward a decade, and I had children of my own. American Pie was always part of their life, but it was fun to have them grow up and start understanding the symbolism. When you catch that, it's like hearing it for the first time again. Then we found the Weird Al Star Wars version. Now we sometimes sing both versions at the same time to see who messes up first.