Friday, June 30, 2006

Get Out the Twilight Zone Theme Song . . .

It's baaaaaaack . . .

Like we haven't had enough fun this week, what with Daughter not being very *cheery* at cheer camp, and me holed up in my hot office with line edits, plus ALL day Wednesday being devoted to Granny Sylv getting her hair cut and a new perm (loooong story!!!!), the ghost is officially back.

Okay, for those of you just now joining the Altom household who aren't familiar with the ghost, check out my earlier blog on It should still be archived in the blog section. At the bottom of most entries for a period of maybe a month or two around October, you'll see a paranormal log that'll catch you up to speed.

We live in an ultra-modern house built in the seventies. Lots of tall ceilings, sharp angles and glass--not the kind of place most folks would associate with a haunted house. During the height of the *haunting* last fall, we had a friend of a friend who's psychic come over just to see what's going on. (We had lots of electronics go on and off by themselves, books flying, other small objects flying, ironing board falling, weird lights, etc.) She told us Granny Sylv is going into deep trances because of her illness, during which, she's having *visitors*. Like dead visitors!!!!!! :-O

Around that same time, unbeknownst to us, Granny Sylv was way sick and could very well have been unconscious at times we thought she was sleeping. Initially diagnosed with heart trouble, we took her to a specialist who said it wasn't her heart. Based on her weakness, he suggested taking her to the ER. There, they gave her two quarts of blood, and she's been awesome ever since. (There was a problem with her blood not carrying nutrients.)

Anyway, since the time she's gotten better, all weird stuff stopped. A week ago, however, it started back up with Daughter being alone in the master bathroom when the TV popped on. Next day, Hubby was alone in the living room when the master bedroom TV popped on. Next day, Son was in his room when his radio popped on--to a classical music station!!!! He likes rap!!!! We had a three or four day lull, when this morning I get up to hear son and Hubby having a pretty heavy talk in the master bathroom--at 6 AM!!!!

Son NEVER wakes before noon, and is a mini-version of my engineer Hubby in that he's practical, calm, and doesn't put much stock in the paranormal, so to have him upright and fully alert was a sign of trouble. Turns out, he's been up all night. Hubby and I went to bed about eleven, then Son settled in for a video game marathon, only he says he'd been playing for an hour when the couch moved--liked someone sitting beside him. He ignored that, then seriously cold air hit him. At which point, he said he ran upstairs to my office, which was, as usual, nice and hot. (He said during this whole time, the A/C didn't kick on.) Next, he said the computer started making hissing, crackling noises, then my office got cold. He now went back downstairs to his room to try going to sleep. The minute he got in bed, he said it felt like someone snuggled up against him, and put their arm around him. He said he laid like that for an hour, too scared to move!!!!

Poor kid has finally fallen asleep in our bed. I asked him why he didn't come get us, and he said because he wanted to see what would happen next. That's my little scientist!!! He said it was seriously creepy, but interesting.

Yeah . . . interesting as long as whatever it is stays away from ME!!!!!!!

In other news, Margaret and her hubby left today for Kauai. She doesn't get back till next week Saturday!!!!! :-O

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mansions and Ice Cream!!!

Okay, I admit it, I'm an AWFUL summer blogger!!!

I have no excuse, other than that there's just too much fun stuff going on to be in front of my computer!!! Oh--plus, my office gets too hot in the afternoon, so any writing I have to get done, usually gets done first thing in the morning, and then after that, the kids are up and I want to play!!

Speaking of which . . . Thursday, my gal Margaret and I went to the Parade of Homes. They were pretty and all, but it blows my mind that a $2,300,000.00 dollar home wasn't THAT big. I mean, first off, that's more money than I can even conceive of. The payments are over $15,000 per month!!!! At 6000 sq. feet, utilities are probably going to add another $1000, if not more. Yes, Tulsa's a big town and all, but how many folks around here make that kind of money???? And the reason I ask that, is because Margaret and I take this tour every year, and every year, they put up more and more of these financial giants, yet I haven't seen new multi-billion dollar businesses coming to town that would need appropriate CEO housing!!!

Now, the reason I describe the home as a financial giant, rather than palatial estate is that while, yes, given all the toys like the pool and theater room, I'd move in today, but the home was by no means a palace--I know, because I look!! LOL!!! Remember how I said one of my ultimate dreams/wishes/goals is to buy an old castle and renovate? Well, for 2.3 million, that'd get me a GORGEOUS European castle with a 1000 years' history. I just can't fathom spending that kind of money and having neighbors right next door!!!

Midway through our tour, Margaret and I needed a bathroom break, and other than those outside porta potty things, the nearest bathroom is Braum's. YUM!!!!! If you're not blessed with Braum's ice cream stores in your part of the world--sorry!!! Really!! Because they serve up all kinds of sinfully good treats from ice cream cones and sundaes to double cheeseburgers!!!

While ordering, because my purse had been stashed in the trunk while touring, I pulled out my cell to check messages, and had four. One, from Son wanting to know when I was coming home to take him to the pool, and three from Daughter, telling me my agent had called. Hmmm . . . Always an interesting development.

Trouble is, seeing how my agent's the ultimate Jerry McGuire in female form, this call could have been good or bad. She calls often with phone hugs!!! I LOVE her!!! Anyway, so I called Michelle, (Michelle Grajkowski of Three Seas Literary Agency) and asked what's up? Turns out, the call was great in that Harlequin was offering a new quickie contract for a dance-themed book and an anthology based on a Fourth of July class reunion. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The party was short-lived, though, as the next morning, Daughter woke with a 102 fever. Seeing how she NEVER gets fevers, I called the doctor. But remember how we no longer have a doctor? Well, we had to switch to another woman in the office, who was very nice, but it was weird seeing someone new. I've been battling MAJOR sinus headaches and congestion, etc., so I asked the doctor to look up my nose, too. Daughter had strep, and I had a massive sinus infection. No wonder, I've had the energy of a dead slug!!!! Anyway, we're both now on antibiotic and seem to be slowly perking up. A good thing, seeing how Daughter leaves for cheer camp at 8am tomorrow morning, and she hasn't even started to pack!!!!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Picture Experiment . . .

Chrystal--if this works, you're a goddess!!!! (Even if it doesn't, thanks a bunch for trying to teach me new tricks!!!)

Seeing how I'm thinking it just might work, these pics are of the eighth grade formal you all got to hear me grumble about. Seeing how pretty my babies turned out, I think the effort was worth it!! (Notice how when the kids are cute and polite, they're mine, but otherwise, they're all Hubby's doing!!! LOL!!!)

Trading in Hubby's Kids for Duck Babies!!!!

Happy Father's Day!!

Hubby and I are always on the hunt for a reason to celebrate (translation: go off our diets!!!!), so, like Mother's Day, we did the day up in style. First off, was a trip to Cracker Barrel for breakfast--YUM!!!! If you've never been to this fab little restaurant--go now!!!

We discovered this chain when the kids were babies while on a road trip to North Carolina. I told Hubby to buy stock, but alas, he didn't listen. Anyway, back to why this place is so great, they have Southern cooking that tastes just like you've been slaving for hours over a hot stove. As a bonus, they also have country stores attached with all kinds of cool vintage food items, clothes, housewares and gifts. In the winter, they have a gigantic fireplace with a crackling fire making the place feel way better than home!! LOL!!

Now, ordinarily, Hubby and I have a delightful time, because we make it a point to go without HIS kids. (I'm not sure where they came from, but as bad as they've both been lately, I had nothing to do with their creation!!! LOL!!!) Yesterday, being Father's Day and all, we thought it would probably be a nice gesture to take the kids with us. WRONG!!!!

Hubby leaves for work by 6:30, and there are lots of mornings I'm up working by 5:00, so to avoid the holiday morning rush, we figured why not go early? If, say, you moseyed in at ten, there'd be a forty-five minute wait. Okay, so at 6:45, I round up the kids, Hubby tramps off to feed the duck babies (more about them later), and we agree to rendezvous back at the front door in ten minutes.

Lucky me, both kids must've stayed up till 4 AM, as they both seemed to be in comas. I finally got them upright and dressed, but they weren't pleased. As for wishing their dad a happy day, all he got were a few grumbles.

At the restaurant, Son perked up nicely, but then he'd just given Hubby a new video game. Coincidentally, one that he'd (Son) very much wanted. Hubby and I later had a laugh over that. Well, the fact that Son had a gift and Daughter had forgotten, sent Daughter into a classic teen hissy. From then on out, the meal rocketed downhill!!!!!

Hoping to steer the conversation in a lighthearted direction, I introduced the topic of their upcoming birthday, for which we always have a blow-out party. (My pregnancy with them was HORRIFIC--including seven months of TOTAL bed rest, plus, I seriously damn near died delivering them, so considering how hard I worked to get them here, we always celebrate the day they finally popped out in grand form!! LOL!!!)

We talked party themes. Luau? Nope, did it last year. Pokemon? I got double sets of eye rolls. Strawberry Shortcake? Stone silence. Cowboy? Double glares. At this point, I switched to the topic of guest lists, and how this year, seeing how they have such different friends, I plan to introduce the veto rule. Daughter may auto-veto two folks on Son's list, then he will have the same right with hers. Oh, that went over real well.

From here on, while the kids launched WWIII over potential guests, Hubby and I consumed as many calories in white gravy, butter and cheese as humanly possible, yelled at the kids for not touching their meals that'd cost $40.00 bucks with all their fancy side-orders, then packed up the kids and ran!!!

Next stop, naps!!

Around one, we faced a new dilemma . . . Neighborhood pool or movie? I balanced the checkbook, and seeing how aside from snacks, the pool's free, we went that route. Only again, the troops dissented, as neither kid wanted to go. In the end, we forced them into the car. They both pouted and glared for a good thirty minutes, but Son then had two mystery girls fawning over him, so he perked right up, begged cash for a Coke and Frito Chili Pie, then we never saw him again. Daughter slept while listening to her I-Pod till it was time to go.

Oh--but she did briefly wake to again discuss party themes, and we got one!!! Toga! Toga! Toga!!! Seeing how Hubby and I met at his fraternity's annual toga party, I concurred.

Back to the duck babies, behind our house is a huge pond (I think there's a pic posted at my old blog), and all year we wait to see if we get any babies. This year's been dismal, until last week, Hubby said he'd spotted two. Sure enough, I finally saw them, too, and they're DARLING!!! The size of fluffy tennis balls!!! If Hubby's kids continue on their hateful streak, I'm thinking we should boot them out of the house and adopt the ducks!!! LOL!!!

P.S. Does anyone know how to post pics? I followed what I thought was the procedure with formal-wear pics, but they vanished!!!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Work-out Woes & Jaws

Okay, I've been SERIOUSLY working out since last week Friday and have gained three pounds!!!!! I tried on my too-tight jeans, fully expecting them to fall to my knees, and guess what? They were even tighter. I'm not sure what kind of cruel trick the Body Gods are playing with me, but do they realize I'm at least trying??? Would it be too much to ask to at least lose a token pound or let my jeans zip???

I bought some of those miracle belly fat shrinking pills, but am afraid to take them as it says on the warning label that they're not intended for folks under forty. What the label doesn't say is what, exactly, will happen if you take them and haven't yet reached that magic number? Do you blow up? Break out in hives?

I had planned to ask my doctor, but just got a letter stating she's leaving what I'd assumed to be a fairly lucrative general practice to work part-time at a midtown free clinic. Huh????? Granted, life isn't all about the money, but I wish she would've consulted me in this decision!! I've been with the woman for ten years and feel betrayed!!! Abandoned!!! Adrift!!! I'm not sure why this news is bugging me to such a degree, but it is. Maybe an ice cream bar would help??

In other news . . . The neighborhood pool is teeming with sharks. Girl sharks. Gnashing, meanie, slit-eyed girl sharks who have suddenly decided Daughter is not fit to look at, let alone speak with. I'm talking girls who have been friends since third grade!!! The whole thing's very hurtful and disheartening. I guess I was lucky in that I really can't recall any mean girls in my high school circle. Or was I flying so low under the radar, as to not warrant this kind of behavior?

Seeing how I'm hardly an expert, my only advice to Daughter has been to try not to let them get her down. She's smart, talented and gorgeous and should enjoy her true friends and forget about the rest. Okay, so now that she's doing great, having a ball with high school cheer and meeting new friends, why don't I feel better about the situation??? Hmmm . . . Maybe another ice cream bar would help??

Speaking of cheer, I just learned the high school coach is a fan of romance!! I promised her a *shout out*, so Heidi Weber, if you're out there, thanks for being such a fun coach and role model!!! Daughter and I both adore you!!!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A MAJOR Thrill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't know about other writers, but for me, I have a secret list of must-reach goals before I'll be happy. Big goals include driving a brand, spankin' new Jag, traveling first class to Tahiti, Monaco, Switzerland, England, Easter Island, etc., having one of my book babies debut #1 on the NYT Bestseller list, be invited on one of those "Read At Sea" cruises as a special guest author, go on a publishing house sponsored booksigning tour, buy and renovate an old castle--you know, the usual stuff dreams are made of.

Well, in addition to the Big Boys of dreams, I also have more immediately attainable ones. Selling a YA novel, hitting any bestseller list, selling a new paranormal novel, losing 5 lbs (Okay, I'd be thrilled with one!! LOL!!), being invited to be part of a continuity series, selling an anthology, seeing someone reading my book on a plane or poolside.

Imagine my surprise when--taa daa!!!! Saturday afternoon, Hubby, Daughter and I were schlepping our stuff to our fave neighborhood pool chairs, and had just gotten set up when I got the biggest thrill!!! Setting up right alongside us was a women carrying my April Harlequin American, His Bonus Baby!!!!!!!!! For about 2.2 seconds I was going to play it cool, but around the 2.8 second mark, I blew!!!!!

"Sweetie!," I cried to Hubby, jabbing his six-pack abs (not an entirely accurate description, but I have to live with the guy!!) , "She's reading my book! Look! She has my book!!" To the woman, I cried, "Not to be nosy, or anything, but this is such a special moment for me. I've always dreamed of being out and about and seeing someone read one of my books." At this point, she looks around, no doubt checking to see if she's on Candid Camera or Punk'd. "This book?" she says, holding out my baby. I beamed and nodded and in general made a fool of myself!!

Turns out, she was lovely and gracious and had a friend who was interested in trying her hand at writing romance, so I told her to have her friend send me an e-mail if she had any questions, and that was the end of my encounter. Aside from sitting there, broiling in the sun, stressing over whether or not she liked the book or found it just so-so. Some day--soon, I hope--I will learn to take any given moment for what it is and be happy!!

In the mean time, now that I've met that fun goal, I'm ready for another. I'm thinking the castle thing would be super!!! ;-)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Big Fun at the Not-So-Big Neighborhood Pool!!!

Oh boy, got some sleep and I'm back!!! Although the reason I got sleep is because my supposed best friend roped me into signing up at a new health club. I stayed two hours, trying out all the gizmos and gadgets and man, am I feeling the burn!!! I was zonkered by 8:00 last night--even missed all my fave Friday night ghost shows!!

BIG excitement at the neighborhood pool!!!!! Daughter has always been pretty, but all of the sudden, she's blossomed into a Victoria's Secret model!!! Even dressed in a perfectly acceptable bathing suit, she has, er, assets I've only dreamed of!! So anyway, we're (Daughter, her friend, and myself) broiling, eating M & Ms and basically bored because none of us are liking the books we've brought, when this teen god of a male strolls up.

This kid was so freakishly good looking and muscular and tanned and gorgeous, I was momentarily stunned!! So anyway, he and the girls start talking. He's two grades ahead of them, but knew them from school. He wants Daughter to go in the pool. Daughter's lazy and says no, she's tired and doesn't want to get wet. (Or, she may just be far more adept at flirting than I've ever imagined!! LOL!!)

At this point, Freakishly Gorgeous Guy picks up Friend's water bottle and squirts daughter. Shooting her this melt-worthy grin, he says, "Now, you're already wet. You have to get in." Daughter giggles and says she's not going to. At which point, Freakishly Gorgeous Guy scoops her into his arms, then carries her halfway around the pool!!!! I'm gaping, Friend's gaping, we're all gaping!! I expected Freakishly Gorgeous Guy to toss her in the pool, but apparently his momma taught him better as he gently set her on the edge of the pool, then gave her a nudge. Whew!!!!! This kid's got game!!

Yesterday, while my ex-best friend and I did lunch and a movie (see above for why Margaret's now my ex!! LOL!!!) Daughter headed back to the pool with another batch of friends. I asked if she saw Mr. Freakishly, and she said, "No, but an even hotter guy showed up and wanted to exchange cell numbers." Sigh. Oh to be fourteen again, only this time around to look like her!!!

Back to the movie Margaret and I saw, I'm still livid!!!! We went to The Break-Up with Jen A. & Vince V.. I hooted and howled and thought consistently, this is a FANTASTIC movie!!! Then, three seconds before the end, I was left with the most disgustingly sour taste in my mouth and wanted to toss popcorn at the screen. But alas, I'm on the pre-conference diet, so I didn't have any. It was the stupidest, most horrific ending for a romantic comedy I've seen since that Sandra Bullock/ Ben Affleck (sp?) flick about the two of them getting stuck in all kinds of bad weather. Darling, right up until the end. At which point, you just kind of sit there, thinking, huh?

What doesn't Hollywood get about the fact that we don't shell out big bucks to go to the movies to be depressed by a film advertised as being a feel-good movie? Stupid, stupid, stupid. I hereby predict that had this movie had a satisfactory ending, it would've made millions, but will now tank. Have I mentioned the ending was stupid???????

Happy Saturday!! I'm off to the neighborhood pool!!! ;-)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

No Sleep, But Plenty of Orange Hi-C!!!

Sorry about the vanishing act!!! But seriously, this has been one of those periods your momma told you about--you know the one . . . Goes a little something like if you don't have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut!!!

Thank goodness summer's here, kids are out of eighth grade and we've finally gotten a new batch of rain!!

Nothing much to report news-wise. The kids have been busy. The neighborhood pool opened last Saturday, so Son's there everyday and Daughter spent four days with a friend at their Grand Lake condo. They both turned out beautifully for the 8th grade formal. Not sure how to get photos posted on this site, but I'll sure try!!

I'm thinking part of my blah mood problem is lack of sleep. I'm exhausted, yet the minute I put my head to the pillow, my eyes pop open and I start worrying!!!! When I think of the horror that was going on at this time last year (we still hadn't yet sold our old house and had double house payments, etc.) I've got nothing to be worried about. Generally, lots of little things. Like each worry is a mosquito, whining around my head!!! Get five or six going and you have a problem!!! LOL!!!

Speaking of worries . . . Did anyone see Oprah's show on Bird Flu? Boy, oh boy, that looks like something to look forward to!!! And then there's the new Al Gore environmental film. Just watching the preview makes me want to puke!!! What was so striking to me was the photo evidence he presents about global warming. I'm thinking it was Mt. Kilamanjaro (sp?) he showed a pic of from like forty years ago, topped with snow, then now, with hardly any snow--ever. I'm hoping that the film doesn't just scare, but tell folks what to do to help on a personal level.

For years, I laughed at the whole global warning thing, but with the weather so odd lately, the issue very much concerns me. Here in Oklahoma, compared to when we first moved here ten years ago, our entire climate has changed. Rain used to be common, now it's something to pray for!!!

Okay, didn't mean to get a downer vibe going here!!! There are lots of things to be happy about!! Healthy, pretty, smart kids!! Darling dogs!! Handsome, smart Hubby!! (If he ever reads this, I'll catch hell for putting him after my puppies!!! LOL!!) Oh--and as of late, the number one thing to be thankful for, McDonald's french fries and Orange Hi-C!!!!! Don't ask how my pre-conference diet has been going!!