Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hiding from the Gigantic, Medieval-looking Corkscrew Device!!!

Whew, the book's gone, the play's over, Mom and Dad went home and after being gorgeously, top-to-bottom cleaned and polished, the house is once again trashed and I feel run over by one of the steam rollers parked in front of the mail box!!!!

Seriously, I've got the energy of limp and sticky overcooked pasta!!!! Now, on any ordinary weekend, this wouldn't be an issue, but on this particular weekend, Hubby's got a ten-pound bee under his bonnet. Ugh. Seeing how our backyard is a mud pit (dust pit if it hasn't been raining for three days!!), we're all wanting a deck. This is a pricey, labor-intensive goal I'm willing to wait five or six years for. Hubby, however, wants a deck NOW!!!!!!! Like today!!! Well, actually, he wanted it yesterday, but after he'd spent his Christmas Lowe's gift card on posts and concrete, then rented some gigantic motorized corkscrew thingee for digging post holes, it poured. No--it didn't just pour, freshwater lakes fell from the skies in gushing torrents.

In Hubby's defense, he had just watched the Weather Channel, and it looked as if the rain was moving out, otherwise I'm sure he would've tabled the project one more weekend.

But seeing how my goal for the day was hiding in my office playing my new Sims 2 expansion pack, I was loving the rain--that didn't move eastward, but stalled directly over our house. Pouring and pouring. At which point, Hubby paced the house, rumbling and grumbling about how much the medieval-looking, gigantic corkscrew thingee was costing and how was he going to ever get it back in time, etc. etc. Never have I been gladder to have a son, as the two men of the house stayed out there working until lightning started. At which point, Hubby stormed back into the house to scowl. He did perk up after a trip to the grocery store for cheeeezzzzy-potato and grilled burger fixings. YUM!! Meanwhile, Daughter, Cocoa and myself tried hiding as much as possible!!

Now, I thought once darkness fell, I'd be safe from toil. Wrong! Both kids had parties to be picked up and delivered from. Plus, Son's party was a birthday, meaning I had to go get cash to hand out to kids I've never even met!!! Hubby, meanwhile, had collapsed somewhere in a muddy heap. Poor guy. He did look beat. Plus, I'm pretty sure he broke his toe, but is too manly to go to the doctor. Speaking of his manly ways, he looked sexy wielding that massive power tool!!! LOL!!! ;-)

At eleven, rain still falling, it was time to pick-up the kids, plus one extra who needed a ride home. He had the sniffles REAL bad, and I'm praying it was allergies and not a contagious head cold, seeing how I've got another stress-filled week ahead. Will this school year ever end????

In the mean time, I've got to go find a new hiding place!! Hubby's got the medieval corkscrew thingee till noon, and I can't chance getting caught, then roped in to help!!! I'm a girly girl!! I decorate decks, not help build them!!! (Snort!! In my dreams!! Actually, as an only child, I spent many loooong weekends acting as my dad's *son*!! I know my way around tools a little too well!!!) ;-)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cliff Notes Version of a Quickie Catch-Up!!

Feels like forever since I've been here, and pretty much it has!! ;-)

Wow, where to begin? Seeing how life's still going at a much faster pace than I'd like, guess I'll give the Cliff Notes version of what's been going on!!!

For the most part, writing, revising, writing, revising, etc. Ugh. I've crammed so much writing into the past week, I feel like my eyes are crossed!!! Good news, last night at 7:45, I got my book shipped off!!! Bad news, our Fed-Ex guy said that branch is closing, as is every other branch aside from the Tulsa airport. (A million miles from my house.) We'll still be able to use Kinkos, but seeing how bless their hearts, but the poor Kinkos people don't have a clue what they're doing when it comes to international shipping, this is NOT good news. I work with the Harlequin office in Toronto, Canada which, as far as shipping from Tulsa, might as well be outer Mongolia!!! My manuscript cost $67.50 to ship, but Fed-Ex is the only way to get it quickly through customs. Otherwise, I've had it take up to two weeks to arrive!!! My editor at the time was lovely about it, but still, that's not cool!!

Other good news, not only do we have a partially black-topped road, but real live concrete curbs!!! Bad news, we have no driveway and must park on the road at the top of the hill for two more days until all concrete work is finished.

Good news, the house is painted. Bad news, I'm not sure I'm thrilled with the color. Don't get me wrong, it's a perfectly acceptable beige, but I wanted something darker and richer than standard beige. I gave darker chips to Painter Joe, and he about had a heart attack. "Oh no, Ma'am, you don't want to go that dark." Um ... Now that my latest book is out and I'll have nothing better to do than obsess over the house, yes, I very much did want to go that dark!!!!!! Oh--and the doors were supposed to be cranberry. They're not. Again, they're okay. But not my ideal. In other bad paint-related news, Painter Joe is done, but he was seriously broad-chested, strong-shouldered eye candy I no longer have access to. The day he painted my office door (there's a small deck off my office), he had to have the door open to paint, and he was quite flirty in a painter-sort-of way. Under a spooky green Oklahoma sky, in a dead calm, his last words to me were, "Thank you, Sugar." Five minutes later, we had a raging hail storm.

Today is my best bud Margaret's birthday!!!! I am ROTTEN with dates, so Tuesday night, she reminded me!!!! Thank goodness, because I would've forgotten. I also forget my anniversary, all parental birthdays, etc. I'm thinking this is because outside of deadlines and school functions, I usually have no idea what the date is. Anyway, I hope she has a happy day!!

Also today, is the big premiere of the school play my babies are starring in!!!! It's called Who Done it, and to Whom. I think. I'm always getting the title wrong. Anyway, my folks are coming to watch and spend the night. Oh my. Last night, we went on a whirlwind cleaning spree, as when I'm approaching a book deadline, I stay in my office 5 AM till 12PM and the house pretty much falls apart around me. Hubby cleaned carpets and scrubbed bathrooms. I picked up general clutter, dusted, and supervised kid work--of which there was hardly any, seeing how they didn't even get out of play practice till seven. Then, Son had acting class till 8:30. Meanwhile, Daughter and I picked out plants for my deck, in an attempt to make the ugly beige house color go away. Have I mentioned I really wanted the house to be darker?????

Whew. I think that's it. Next week starts Daughter's high school Cheer tryouts. I'm not sure if my stomach or heart can take it, but at least for the moment, I'm tress-free from writing!! ;-)

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Easter Bunny Brought Rotten Eggs!!!

May I please have a do-over on Easter?

Yech, what an ultra-crappy weekend. Well, I suppose a portion of it was all right. Friday night Son slept over at a friend's and Daughter had a friend come to our house. Saturday started off calm enough, but ended on a doozy of a sour note.

First off, have I mentioned the bedroom AC is broken? If not, it is. Tulsa is in some Twilight Zone weather-wise and the heat we've been having is nuts. Scary, scary stuff!!! Anyway, after calling literally a dozen AC service companies (our usual was so busy, they couldn't come till this week Thursday), we found one to come Saturday. The guy said he'd be there between 10 & 12. He got there a little past 3. Not a problem, we didn't have much going on anyway. Now, remember how we got that surprise money last week? And how thrilled we were to finally get a chance to get ahead?

Apparently the motor is out on the AC. The part is $450. God only knows what labor will be. Talk about putting a downer on Saturday night. Ugh.

Forcing ourselves to get over it, it's only money, yadda, yadda, yadda, we went out to rent movies. Lounging in our disgustingly hot bedroom, we watched One For the Money starring my boyfriend, Matthew McConaughey. (Remind me later to tell you why we couldn't watch in the lovely, arctic-chilled TV room--looooong Granny Sylv story.)

Okay, so there Hubby and I and dogs are on the bed, window fan set on gale-force, when our bedroom door slams open, and in strolls this pale, zombie-like creature looking suspiciously like our son, sobbing, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm--" Right away, your stomach sinks, cause you know this can't be good. Apparently, he didn't feel good, and didn't merely throw up, but projectile vomited down a fifteen-foot hall, then proceeded into the downstairs bathroom, where he did it again--everywhere but the toilet. (To emphasize what a truly dire moment this was, a couple hours earlier, he'd feasted on pizza rolls and Raviolios. Seeing how I puke at someone saying the word, puke, Hubby stepped into hero mode and tackled the mess--right outside Granny Sylv's room--while I medicated Son and got him into the tub, trying to calm him down. Good lord, was he sick.

Okay, thinking this was just something Son ate, hours later, we put him in bed and finished our movie, only to have the whole scene repeated around eleven--only this time, he'd projectile vomited in his room, all over the carpet and clothes and the other mountain of crap lurking beside his bed. Hubby reaches for the carpet steam cleaner, only to find we're out of cleaning solution. We hop in the car and head to Wal-Mart--open another forty minutes until they're shut down for Easter.

We made it in time, and by nearly one, had this latest mess tackled. Son, meanwhile, had been banished to our bathroom floor, where I made him a cozy, sleeping bag nest alongside the commode. Seeing how he was feeling hot, I checked him for fever and sure enough, he had 102!!!!!

When he was a kid, he had 104 a couple times, so I wasn't in full-mommy-panic-mode just yet, but getting close, especially since this now meant there was a great possibility he's contagious. Hubby and I had HELLISH throw-up flu like a month ago, and no way were we ready to go through it again. Not only that, but seeing how Son just got back from China, Hubby launches into this never-ending story about how there are bizarre foreign diseases out there where folks come home supposedly fine, only to weeks later come down with mystery sickness.

Anyway, it was a bad, bad night. Wake up Easter morning to do the whole egg routine and Daughter had fun, but Son still had 102.2. My stomach was churning. Seeing how it was just the five of us for Easter, we'd bought a beautiful ham and LOTS of fixings to console ourselves. What a waste when I just knew I'd be puking any second.

Finally, around two, well after I'd made all of my assigned dishes and still hadn't yacked, I got brave enough to make a plate and kept it down fine enough to brave seconds. Whew.

Meanwhile, no one else--knock on wood--has come down sick.

But wait, in an hour, the painters and road crew and AC guy all converge on our house!! Talk about making me sick . . . ;-)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Yaaay For Fun News!!!

Yaaaay!! I've felt really awful about being so cranky lately, and apparently the Big Guy Upstairs must be sick of hearing me whine, too, seeing how we've finally had some fun news!!!

And no, our road still hasn't been paved and the painters and jack-hammerers are still pounding away!! :-(

First up, some folks who owed us money paid--early and nearly double what was due!!! Seeing how after paying taxes, we're still on a starvation diet of Ramen noodles, getting surprise money was a VERY good thing!!! Easter dinner is saved!! Second--and while this may not seem like a big deal to a lot of folks, I was pretty, darned excited!!!

Drum roll, please . . .

Yesterday, I was slogging away at my daily pages, hot as the devil, seeing how all the doors and windows had to be closed due to road dust and I'm too cheap to turn on the AC this early in the year, I was barely awake when I heard the fun little click signifying I'd gotten an e-mail!! Yaay--entertainment!! (Yes, my life really is that dull!!! )

Anyway, the e-mail was from the top editor of the series romance line I write for--Harlequin American. **Back story alert** Every year at the national Romance Writers of America conference, there's one, giant book signing hosted by a literacy organization, proceeds of which go to help promote literacy. Then, throughout the conference, publishing companies host lots of baby signings just to give away books to promote their authors and the publishing house. A lot of times, they're also used to promote new lines within a publishing house. Usually, they involve Big Name authors, and whit Harlequin, lots of fun promo goodies and food are given away along with the signed books. Conference attendees LOVE free stuff, so the lines are usually pretty long. Anyway, the Powers That Be at Harlequin have decided to host a signing to promote Harlequin American. This all by itself is HUGE, and speaks well for the general health of the line!!! Now, here's the REALLY exciting part . . .

Apparently, only the four American authors who have books out in July are participating--and I'm one of the four!! EEK!! Now, I've been told this was a significant month for the line, but didn't really think all that much about it. Guess I should've listened!! Wanna know who the other authors are??? Pamela Britton!! (Totally cool, adorable, talented best-seller!!) Mystery author. (She was listed in the e-mail, but I think it's by pseudonym as I didn't recognize the name. I'll let you know soon as I find out.) And--if you have a weak heart, fortify yourself now--Debbie Macomber!!!!!!!!!! In case you've been off visiting Mars, she's a multiple, multiple New York Times best-seller and amazingly talented and savvy and ultra-sweet to boot!!! I'm not worthy of breathing her air, but am very much looking forward to it!!! Oh--and to getting my free promo goodies without even having to stand in line!!!

In other news, Hubby's safely back home and Daughter's first cheer clinic went great, but have I mentioned I'm getting to do a book signing with Debbie Macomber????

Oh my gosh--now, I have to start a new diet and decide what to wear!!! ;-)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Black Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday . . .

Gimme a G

Gimme an R

Gimme another R

And another R

What's it spell?


Which pretty much sums up the past few days!!!! Let's see, where we last left off in the Altom's continuing saga, one of the youngest Altoms--or, would that be Altours according to the painter?? --was trying out for high school Pom. Well, that mission was a bust.

Daughter was pretty bummed through the weekend, but has since rebounded--thanks in large part to massive quantities of sleepover guests and junk food--and now wants to go for the cheerleading squad. I'm not sure my heart can take it!!

Meanwhile, the road crew has torn our road down to bedrock--literally. I've never seen a road constructed like this--outside of say, maybe backwoods Peru. Every day, trucks come to dig up more dirt, haul it out. Bring more in. Haul it out. Another big dozer thingee then comes to rake it into these giant crumbles it's tough to even walk through. My car literally hasn't been out of the garage in a week. Thank God Hubby's out of town, so I can use his Jeep. Sadly, the road is in such horrendous shape now, that the Jeep couldn't even make it down.

I lunched with Margaret, and to get back to the house, had to park a half block away, trek through a forest area, hop down the three-foot dirt ledge to our road, then scramble up three feet to get to my front walk. Our nice, custom stucco mail box that matches the house has been wrenched out and is now in the middle of the front yard. As are the sprinkler heads.

The road is so bad, the painters left early, because they were afraid they wouldn't be able to get out. Now . . . Painter Joe is fairly hot, so he can stay, but the rest have to go!!

Feeding Granny Sylv her lunch, it occurred to me that if she needed an ambulance--which she has since she's lived with us, they couldn't get down the road!!! They'd have to airlift her out!!! I told her I was going to call someone just to rant. What's she do? Start giggling and ask if she can watch!!!!

I did manage to find someone to talk to, but all they could do was forward my number to someone else, promising they'd call back real soon. Right. We live on a mega-quiet street with only four houses, so I'm thinking they seriously don't care when our road gets done. It's great that we're getting new roads, really, it is. But does it have to be this painful???? ;-)

Oh--and have I mentioned the road is now empty with no work being done? It's just a big pit of giant, impassable crumbles of red clay. The new neighbors have a landscaping truck that's pinned in. Guess they'll be staying the night. Hmm . . . Wonder if any of them are hot??? (Don'tcha know male eye candy makes everything better!!! )

As for writing, I'm so wound up over so many things, it's a wonder I've gotten anything done, but have managed to get a few chapters further into my May 1st book, so that's good.

Sorry to be such a whiner, I'd just really love for something happy to happen--like maybe seeing the blacktop truck come barreling down the hill!!! ;-)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Please God, Let Them End--Pom Tryouts, That Is!!

Okay, it's 5:20am here and I'm so angst-filled I couldn't sleep--my raging sinus headache wasn't helping, either!!! Anyway, I figured I might as well get up, knock out a quick fifty pages, or so, then I won't feel so bad about my looming deadline, right?? Heh, heh, heh.

Thank you for all those silence prayers!! They must've worked great as the road crew has mysteriously vanished for two days!!! (Although all the scary road worker machines straight from Mad Max are literally still parked at my front door!!!)

Yesterday morning, it rained for a whole ten minutes, so the painters knocked off, too. I had four delicious hours of silence yesterday afternoon, and did manage to get ten pages done, but I needed more like thirty. Oh well. I am pleased with what I've got, but I need to twisto/chango something plot wise to give my characters as much angst as I have. Hopefully, please God, that'll come today!!

In other news, Daughter and I have been at school every night this week from 4:30 to 9:00, which is probably why I'm exhausted--reality show withdrawal!!!! Plus, last night, Hubby said the vast majority of my Survivor tape was preempted by tornado warnings. Which leads me into another angst-ridden topic . . .

Last night was the first of the two-night Pom process. Like the compulsories in ice skating, last night, the girls did technique-type stuff. How many times they could leap while twirling, etc. They paired up, got in two rows, then went at it. Sometimes all across the floor at once, sometimes individually. Sometimes, Daughter nailed her stuff. Other times . . . Well, let's just say I was craving a green appletini REAL bad!!!

Right in the middle of me leaning over to whisper to my pals Karen and Dixie that if I fainted to please remember to call my Hubby to remind him to tape Survivor, the tornado sirens went off!!!!!!!!! Like the situation wasn't already tense enough???!!! We had to have a tornado arrive in the middle???!!! Interestingly enough, we took shelter in some fancy, schmancy auxiliary locker room under the bleachers that must only be used by elite male athletes. This place was seriously swanky!!! Plush navy carpet, lovely oak uniform cubicles, shiny new weight equipment, posterity photos of bygone teams. I felt like I was in the school Twilight Zone. Someone please remind me to fire off a stern letter to someone about injustice of this room!!!!!

Anyway, where was I? Oh--back to the twirly part of tryouts that resumed once the tornado apparently got sucked back up into the cloud . . .

Tryout attire: Since none of the tryout ensemble I'd selected for Daughter was deemed acceptable, I checked her out of school for lunch and her planning period, so she could pick out her own suits. We ended up at Victoria's Secret!!!!!!! Who knew they have cute workout clothes--not me, seeing how I couldn't fit one arm into the itty-bitty shorts she picked!!! If they're bonus points for cute, she wins!!! Yaaay!! As for those jumpy, pointy, split-thingees, I'll let you know as tryout results are posted tonight. Dear God, is 5:30 am too early for that green appletini???

I hate that I'm so wrapped up in all of this. I don't like to think of myself as *that* kind of mom. But what it comes down to for me is seeing how excited Daughter is. Whatever choices she makes in life, I want her to be happy. If she does make it, we'll have a big party, then, by next week, I'll probably be grousing about too many parent meetings and everything costing too much. If she doesn't make it, she's been scouting cute tennis skirts, and seeing how the high school tennis coach we met at incoming freshman open house is waaaay cute, as are the guys on the team, I'm sure she'll be happy with that, too!!!! As an added bonus, all the money we'll save can fund more green appletinis!!!

See? I'm feeling better already. Sudafed's kicking in, my breakfast bowl of Ramen noodles are ready for consumption. All is well--or would be, if only the painters and road crew weren't due at my front door in an hour!!!!! ;-)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Grumble, grumble . . .

Ever have one of those days--okay, weeks--where you just want to crawl under the covers and hide???!!!

I mentioned we're getting the house painted, what I didn't mention is that the whole neighborhood is getting the roads redone--I'm talking, scrape the pavement off to bare red clay. It's nasty, dusty and creates a high-pitched scraping noise twenty feet from my office that would wake several thousand dead!!! At the same time, they're jack-hammering the road twenty-five feet from my office!!! At the same time, I have men scaling my house and roof like Spidermen with high-pressure washers. Those who aren't wielding the big automatic car wash-sounding machine, are scraping. Scraping, scraping, scraping!!!!! To round out the noise jubilee, is the further construction going on at a nearby hospital parking garage. More jack-hammering that shakes the whole freakin' house!!!!! Oh--and I forgot the most fun part which is having the dogs barking NON-STOP!!!!! Oh--and the doorbell ringing every five minutes. "Miz Alltour, do you have a hose hook-up? Miz Alltour, can you open the garage door? Miz Alltour, Can you close the garage door? Miz Alltour, we're really gonna need that garage door open again. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!!!

Meanwhile, I take Granny Sylv her breakfast and lunch and both times, she grins up at me and says, "Sure is quiet around here. What's goin' on in the world?" Double ARRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!

Doesn't anyone on the planet know I have a book due in 25 days?????? It's a small world, and lest she stop by, for fear of freaking out my sweetheart of an editor, I'll refrain from saying just how dire the situation is, but if we hadn't had to pay all of our money we ever made and hope to make between Uncle Sam and the painter, I would now be hiding out in a nice, quiet motel typing till my fingers bleed!!!!!

Meanwhile, it's Pom tryout week. For those of you who've experienced this special brand of angst--hugs!!! My poor baby practices from 4:30 to 9:00 each night. She's adorable, but that's no guarantee of making the squad. Last night was the first Pom Mom meeting, and all the new high school moms were sooooo cool!!! HIGHLY efficient and ran the meeting like a real live meeting. I wanted to get dibs on the fun jobs like making competition noisemakers and decorating the school showcase, but alas, you can't volunteer till your darling makes it.

Me and my best non-writing buds, Dixie and Karen (fellow middle school Pom Moms) have spent more time together this week than the whole past year!!

Anyway, pray for me!!! Between the AWFUL noises outside our house and Pom week, I just may come out needing even more psychiatric help than I already do!!!!!! ;-)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Son's Safely Home!!!

Yaaaay!! Son is finally home!!! He gave all of us the most AMAZING hugs at the airport--like he really does love us!! His plane was supposed to land at 10:25, so we left in plenty of time. Got there by 10:15 (we never go too early now that you have to pay for parking over thirty minutes, plus, there's nothing to do and no place to sit now that security is so tight). Anyway, we were just parking when Daughter's cell rings and it's Son, asking where we are. He's been there since 10:00!!!! We were the only parents not there!! :-( I guess since Hubby travels so much, we're used to the airport, and Hubby NEVER gets in early.

We had a pretty bad storm about thirty minutes later that started just as we rolled in the driveway from getting Son's requested Taco Bueno!! Hubby thinks the pilots deliberately gunned it as to miss the line of storms. Thank goodness, as the airport was damaged!!!! An airport hotel even had to be evacuated!!!

Back to Son's happy homecoming, though, he brought us all kinds of wonderful goodies, as did his host family. Lots of pretty silk scarves and jewelry. My fave is a little kimino-shirt for my cell phone!!! Daughter got a cell holder, too, but hers isn't quite as cute as mine. Seeing how I rarely even use my cell, I told her she could have the cutest, but that I reserved the right to snatch it back for fashion-important events!!! Snort!!! Like I attend sooooo many!!! LOL!!!

Oh--MAJOR trouble brewing in that a certain female friend of Son got a VERY cool Mao Tsetung (sp?) backpack/purse. It's camo green, and just ultra cool in a weird sorta way. Me and daughter both want it BAD!!!!!!! Goal of the day is to figure out how to get Son to give something else to this girl, so me or Daughter can keep the awesome backpack!!!!

Shout-out time to my best bud, Margaret Daley!!! (She writes inspirational romance for Harlequin's Steeple Hill line of books, and should've been listed as one of my fave recurring cast members!!! .) She called yesterday to tell me she'd finalled in the Holt medallion--a VERY hoity toity awesome writing contest to be a finalist in!!! Yaaaaay!!! I didn't get a call--booooo!!! But then, seeing how I didn't enter, I'm not too torn up. Contests are expensive, plus I ran out of books, meaning just to enter, I'd have to pay entry fees, plus buy twenty bucks worth of my books, so since money's been disgustingly tight this year due to Granny Sylv issues--looooong story--I'll just live vicariously through Margaret's glory!!!