Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me--Now Get to Work!!

A very content me last year in St. Thomas.  If possible, Birthday Fairy, I want to go there RIGHT NOW!! :-)
It's my birthday and I'm feeling a smidge philosophical.  I should be cleaning for the arrival of my parents and prepping for Thanksgiving dinner, but what fun is that??!!

It's been a strange year I'm glad is officially over.  If there's been any overriding theme I can't ignore, it's that health has got to take center stage.  I'm putting it out there that by my birthday next year, I WILL lose at least fifty pounds.  Yesterday, I picked up a seventeen pound turkey and nearly couldn't do it.  Not cool, but it is what it is and lord willing, by this time next year I'll be doing laps around Super Wal-Mart with my Honeysuckle White.

Another area of personal housekeeping I vow to work on is organization.  I've given ten bags of clothes and misc. household flotsam to Goodwill in the past couple weeks, and would love to give more.  One of my fave TV shows is Hoarders, because it always inspires me to tidy.  Like if they can clean those huge messes, I can tackle the junk drawer and closets!!

One big goal in regard to my writing is to be more like my amazing friend, Margaret Daley.  And I'm not just saying this because she's taking me to birthday lunch!!  LOL!!  Margaret plans her days down to the minute and gets more done than anyone I know.  In the time it takes me to write one book, she'll write three.  Her secret?  Consistency.  She writes EVERY day.  I think I'll put a pic of her on the wall beside my desk, always reminding me to write by the Margaret Method.

Other small things I must tackle during this, my forty-fourth year:

  • Weed our front gardens. 
  • Read more.
  • Lunch or coffee more with friends.
  • Sleep more. 
Whew, that's plenty for now, and even if it weren't I seriously need to get on with Turkey Day prep.  To all my friends I've been been neglecting--I'll be nagging you soon to go play!!  Until then, here's to hoping we all have an extra special Thanksgiving!! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Seat Stealers--I'm Watching You!!!

Hubby and I with our Hannah.  She's our fave Ice Girl!!!

Tonight is date night as Hubby and I are headed to an Oilers game!!  This is big for me as I actually do my hair and he's charming and attentive and buys me onion rings while lots of hot guys skate within a couple feet of my seat.  Sounds perfect, right?!

It would be if not for a breed of people I will now call the despicable "Seat Stealers".  Some back is a corporate sponsor of the Tulsa Oilers.  I figure what better product for a romance writer to sponsor than men.  Along with my sponsorship, I get a pair of REALLY great seats, but they aren't exactly cheap.  Because of the price, during some games, not all of the glass seats are occupied, making way for the Seat Stealers.

Now, not all Seat Stealers are inherently bad.  A couple behind us who also have season tickets send down their little boy who politely cheers on our guys and doesn't litter.  He's cute and well-mannered and doesn't bother me a bit.  Drunks are always welcome, as they up the the night's entertainment factor by setting their beers on the little ledge under the glass.  When players ram into that section, the beer splatters and voila--beer soaked drunk people.  Great fun!!  Especially when they're happy drunks!!

Unfortunately, sweet little Trent is the cream of the crop when it comes to Seat Stealers.  We had a game Sunday and I arrived a little later than usual.  (Hubby was out of town.)  I get to our seats and there are already TEN people in our row.  I think it only holds fifteen and our seats are seven and eight.  First, this crew refused to let me in.  They all just stared like I should climb over them.  Finally through, I set my purse and blanket in seat twelve, politely asking the girl in MY SEASON SEATS if she has tickets.  She says, "No, we got in free."

I say, "That's great, but you're sitting in MY SEASON SEATS."

This girl gives me a death stare I found chilling, then shrugs.

Fuming, I sit in seat twelve, trying to figure my next move.  Then a strange thing happens.  The guy in seat one seems to be the group leader announces they have to move.  So six of them move to the glass seats in section 101 and four stay with me, moving to seats one through four, the whole time glaring like I've done something wrong.

Oh well, at least I've got my seats, right?  Ha!  Next to arrive?  AN ENTIRE PEEWEE HOCKEY TEAM!!!  Well over a dozen rowdy, sticky, spilling, dripping, jumping, horribly behaved kids fill in the rest of the row.  More kids file in behind them.  Where are their parents??!!  These kids were so bad, I moved closer to the original Seat Stealers to attempt getting away. 

During the first period intermission, two of my adult row mates start making out so hard I thought I might need a condom!!!

Some time during the third period, thankfully, the bad kids ran off.  Sweet little Trent appeared and what does he do?  Starts picking up all the trash the other kids left!!

Sadly, most every game, this scenario plays out in some form.  Like I earlier said, if people are polite about it, it's not a big deal, but by far most Seat Stealers lack basic human manners.  Tonight, I plan to speak with the BOK Center usher of our section.  I'm highly doubtful this will accomplish anything, but for my own sanity, I have to try.  We've got a long season ahead of us . . .

Lets go Oilers!!!! :-)             

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hockey is Waaaay More Fun Than Lounging on the Sofa!!

Remember our Romance Road Trip? Gorgeous Louisa and her
super-talented Oilers goalie, Ian, are still an adorable couple!!

After a freakishly hot summer here in Oklahoma, it's cooling down and time for Oilers Hockey!! I've been sick for so long with that *&^%$ mystery tummyache, I was beginning to doubt if I'd even make it to the first few games. Finally, the last test with the last specialist showed a not-so-little problem that landed me in surgery a few days later.

Fast forward a little over a week and while I tire easier than I'd like and still have twinges of surgical pain, the mystery knife pain that's held me prisoner since May is gone. Can I get an Amen?

I'm not just being a drama queen when eluding to pain being the ultimate warden. After a while, I felt caged. Pain pills made me nauseous, which only made me feel worse. Thus, I've spent months on the sofa and it was getting old. Now that I'm sprung, I've been deep cleaning the house that's felt dormant and at least trying to catch up on laundry. Hannah and I went girl-shopping Saturday afternoon and I did lunch with Russell Sunday afternoon.

Another task Hannah and I tackled is buying silverware--more specifically, forks. We were down to three. How does that happen? Where did they go? We now have a nice, new set I'm counting after meals!!

Wish I had some clever moral to this story or a definitive reason for what I went through. I have gained a new respect for anyone suffering from chronic pain. Having had one doctor tell me it was all in my head, don't take that sort of disrespect!! Only you know your body and insist the search for the problem doesn't end until you say!!

Quick shout-out of thanks to my amazing family and friends who've suffered this with me--Big Terry, Little Terry, Hannah & Russell, Mom & Dad, Margaret, Winnie, all of my fab Facebook friends local and far away, and of course Sweet Pea, Cocoa and Daisy--at the worst of this, you all made life worth living.

As for my Oilers, they're doing great!! Yesterday, since Hubby's out of town and Hannah was doing her Ice Girl thing, Louisa and I cheered them on to a HUGE win over Wichita!! Let's Go Oilers!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

An Ode to the Renaissance Woodbridge--and Two HUGE Complaints!!!!

The wall in this lounge was glitter, people!!!! 

Let me preface this by saying I've been to a lot of hotels.  I LOVE hotels!!!  I write better, my hair looks better, I'm sure I'm thinner, and in general life is sublime.  While this hotel in no way compares to say a fancy schmancy resort hotel, for a conference hotel, I was blown away!!!  Anyone who knows me, knows I'm at heart an interior designer wannabe and the designers of this place should win a MAJOR award!!!  The theme?  Mod chandeliers, traditional chandeliers,crazy Willa Wonka oversized furniture, bowls with floating mums, wild floral motif carpet done in hot pink and red and purple and blue.  Sounds like a hot mess, but it's so right, I can't stop gasping!!! 

Interestingly enough, I mentioned my wonder and joy of the decor to the fab Renee Ryan who also writes for Harlequin and she said she didn't like the decor.  She's from Savannah and found it all a tad too much--you know, how a true Southern belle would say?  She's so stinkin' gorgeous and gracious and talented, I have to love her even though on this issue we disagree.  My roomie Winnie Griggs hasn't shown much opinion at all, other than standing patiently while I take pics to send to daughter Hannah.

Now, on to the complaint section . . . Only one mirror in our room--and that's in the bathroom.  Um, Mr. Marriott, I might wear sweats and have icky hair 341 days  a year, but at conferences, I want to look good!!  Since there wasn't a mirror I could stand next to in order to apply mascara and eye make-up, I had to sit on the commode lid using my powder mirror set up on the vanity!!!  Not very elegant, but it got the job done.

Second complaint . . . Not enough outlets.  Mr. Marriott, I travel in packs of romance writers.  We schlep laptops and cell phones and hair dryers and hot rollers and straighteners and curling irons and netbooks--all of which utilize this amazing thing called ELECTRIC!!!!!!

Okay, rant over, time to go ooh and ahh over more pretty light fixture--oh, and we're giving a workshop today, too!!   

Monday, October 17, 2011

Breaking Up is Hard to Do . . . RHONJ Style!!

 The Real Housedogs of Casa Altom after they'd just shredded something . . .

I'm putting it out there--I'm a Real Housewives fanatic.  Any city, any time--except Miami.  (That one didn't so much much work for me.)  The New Jersey season just wrapped and even the morning after the reunion, I'm sad.

I've watched RHONJ since the first episode and last night was the start of a train wreck of MAMMOTH proportions!!!  I've always been a huge Teresa fan as she's everything I'm not.  Thin, big hair, fun sparkle-fur clothes and never afraid to loudly say what she feels.  I'm a huge Caroline fan because she's most like me.  Not flashy, wears sweats while preparing Christmas dinner and is a lioness when it comes to loving/protecting her children.

These two have been allies against common enemies for years, so to see them last night attacking each other was jarring.  Thank my lucky stars, knock on wood, turn around three times and howl at the moon, but so far I've only experienced the total annihilation of one close friendship and it still makes me sad.  Last night's show brought back those icky feelings I have no wish to revisit.

My plea to the housewives is to play nice!!  Life's too short for this level of animosity!!  Teresa--apologize!!!  Caroline--calm down and don't take yourself so seriously.  Obviously, I don't know these people, most likely will never meet them, yet they enter my home on a regular basis and for whatever odd reason, I care about all of them.  And as much as I love it, I wonder if reality TV is the devil?

Wonder if anyone's done documentaries on these people as to how being part of a reality show has hurt/helped their lives?  Like the lottery winners who think their every dream has come true only to discover winning brought nothing but pain.

Have sooooo much to do today that in no way involves RHONJ, but because I didn't fully believe what I was seeing last night, I watched it again and sure enough, Teresa has been voted off the Jersey "island" due to a couple of lines in her new cookbook.

I also blame her editor/agent/publicist for getting her into this situation.  If I say anything that could remotely be construed as objectionable to anyone my editors have always urged me to reword or delete.  My agent catches things before they even hit any editor's desk.  I'm assuming the lack of editing done in this case was more about the almighty dollar than anyone caring about these families.  Teresa, girlfriend--call me.  I'll hook you up with genuinely caring people who have your back!! 

If there's anything to be taken from this sad situation that I can use in my own daily life, it's that from now on I vow to never write in one of my books that a character is only 1/16th Italian!!!  

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Harley and a Girl Named Gypsy . . .

Sweet Pea, who at the ripe old age of 98 dog years is the senior citizen of our family!!

Happy Friday!!

So excited for a mini-road trip to Arkansas I'm taking today with my kiddos and Daisy to meet a new family member--Gypsy!  But before I tell you who Gypsy is, you have to suffer through the back story of how this 9lb baby entered our lives . . .

The last book in my Buckhorn Ranch series, A Baby in His Stocking, is released next month.  UPS brought my author copies yesterday and I got all misty over the dedication.  (I turn in books a good six months or more before they're published, so a lot of times what the dedication is has nothing to do with my current life, but was meaningful to me when the book was turned in.)  We're a dog family, so I dedicated this story to Noodle, my parents' dachshund who lived to the grand, old age of eighteen.

When you think about how much happens in our lives over eighteen years it's mind-boggling.  Our kids grew from infants to college, I think we've had three presidents, MTV stopped playing videos, cell phones are now postage stamps instead of bricks and TVs are flat as stamps!!  Raise your hand if you remember how exciting seeing your first big screen TV was!! 

Noodle the Wonder Wiener was there through it all, most importantly the passing of both of my grandparents and my favorite great-aunt and uncle. . . . Here I go again, making myself all weepy.

Losing Noodle was crazy hard on my mom.  I think if she'd had her way, she'd have gotten a puppy right away, but my parents do a lot of traveling and Dad put the kabash on getting another dog.

Fast forward more than a few months and Dad is out riding his Harley--yes, you read right!!  Mom loathes it, as the helmet musses her hair, but she does have all the latest Harley fashions that she sported for Fayetteville's Bikes, Barbecue & Blues.  (I cannot keep that name straight, so sorry if I got it wrong.)  Anyway, Dad's on his bike and sees this little dog weaving out of the weeds on the side of a country road.

He was in a fairly desolate area, and since it looked like a dachshund, he got off his bike to investigate.  Sure enough, he'd found a starving, dirt-covered wiener!!  Mom reports her being skin and bones, but still wriggling and kissing in true dachshund style.  They asked all over Farmington if anyone had reported losing a dog, then took her to a vet for a check-up and to see if she had an ID chip (those weren't around when Noodle was born, either!).  With no chip and my mother already in love, the vet urged them to give the dog a new home.

Mom called to discuss names and decided the usual Heidi and Pretzel wouldn't do.  Dad refused to stand in the front yard in his robe yelling for Cupcake or Cutie so I suggested they name her something that told the story of how they found her.  A few hours later, Mom called back and made the formal announcement that our new family member shall be christened Gypsy!!

Welcome anyone to your family lately? 

Friday, September 23, 2011

You've Never Tasted RANCH??!!

The morning's view of fog rolling off the Mississippi. 
In the far left corner, you can just see the bridge.

When my dear friend and fellow writer, Winnie Griggs, had no roommate for the ACFW conference in St. Louis and offered me a few free nights at the Hyatt, I was instantly on board!!  Not only do we have kinks to work out on a two-hour workshop we're giving at New Jersey RWA's Put Your Heart in a Book next month, but something about nice hotels makes me write like the wind!!  (Already sent a fun new project to my agent last night!!)

Anyway . . . We got adventurous for dinner last night and walked a few blocks west of the hotel to this place called Calicos.  Anyone who's a fairly close friend of mine knows I have a thing for ranch dressing.  All right, let's call it more of an obsession, but I'll claim it!!  I LOVE RANCH!!! 

We get our menus and what do I see?  Beer-battered Zucchini strips--be still my heart!!  Angels sang!!!  Only one problem--how was the ranch?  Homemade with buttermilk?  Or from a big jug of Great Value Imitation Ranch?  As any respectable ranch lover would, I asked our waitress what kind of ranch they serve.

She got a blank stare, and I swear to you said, "I don't know.  Never had ranch."


At this point, I felt a little faint.  She had to be twenty-something.  How had she made it this long in the world without ever learning the joys of a superb buttermilk ranch?  I got a little panicky, thinking it might be time for a ranch intervention!!

My dining companion talked me down, assuring me the ranch would be fine.  Being from Louisiana, though, she felt my apprhension.

My food comes and the zucchini is beyond extraordinary!!  Long, lovely quartered strips with just the right amount of batter.  In the center of the dish is my ranch.  Hands trembling, I go in for the first dunk.  Anticipating the tastes of Tulsa's Hideaway Ranch or Ron's, you can't imagine my displeasure to find it wasn't real ranch!!!  It wasn't just from a jumbo, industrial-sized bottle, but had to have been part glue.  Chef Paula Dean would've died on the spot.  Chef Gordon Ramsay would've told the chef to piss off then shut the whole place down!!!

Sigh.  Waitress appeared, so I asked for an alternate dip.  She brings an imitation of the sauce Outback Steakhouse uses for their Bloomin' Onion.  It was okay, but still not what I wanted.  I managed to eat a little, but I wasn't happy!!!

Making matters worse, twenty minutes later the waitress gave me the stink eye, asking in a snarky tone if I was enjoying the new dip.  NOOOOOO!

Winnie and I salvaged our evening by snagging free Dove Chocolates from one of the publishing house giveaway tables!!

Never tasting ranch . . . Pffft.  Ridiculous.    

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

 Me and Tulsa City Councilwoman Karen Gilbert!

Last night was a first for me--attending a candidate watch party after an election.  The candidate--Karen Gilbert--has been a friend since our kids were in third grade.  They're sophomores in college now, so you do the math!!  Over the years, we've spent hours together at PTA meetings and school open house nights.  I write about doing things, but Karen is one of those people who actually does things.  Everything!!!  She's a fireball I greatly admire.  Any goal she sets, she doesn't just meet, but exceeds, with grace and integrity and great wardrobe flair.  (Always a plus!)

Throughout the years, for as much as Karen has done for Tulsa Public Schools, I've urged her to go bigger.  She's the kind of woman who inspires and isn't afraid of a challenge.  She tirelessly fights for what she believes is right and is a champion of the underdog.  She launched an anti-bullying campaign for which she was recently awarded by our governor.  Karen worked SO HARD on her campaign for a seat on city council and as is usually the case when she sets her mind on accomplishing something, she got the job done.  My dear friend is now to be addressed as Madame Councilwoman and the whole thing has me more than a little teary.

Why?  Simple answer--I'm drawn to dreamers.  There's nothing more thrilling to me than folks who have big dreams and aren't afraid to go for them.  Karen put herself and family on the line in taking on this campaign.  Sure, had she lost, no one would've died or anything, but it still would've been hard.  Even knowing that, she trusted enough in her resolve to take on the challenge. 

Tying all of this in to writers, or athletes, or anyone working for a job promotion, last night was a reminder that dreams seriously do come true.  My sweet and funny friend is suddenly putting her talents to work on a pretty big stage and I couldn't be more pleased.

About a month before Karen announced her candidacy, I complained of a stomachache.  Months later, after surprise gallbladder surgery and more unpleasant tests than I care to count, I still have a raging stomachache.  Having been sick for months, I'm noticing a trend in myself that's distressing.  I'm forgetting how to dream.  I spend my days on the couch, nurturing this pain the way I used to nurture my family and friends and career.  I despise this new side of myself and want to fix it.  My next specialist appointment isn't until October, but if there's anything last night taught me, it's that I can't just shut down until doctors figure out what's wrong.

Karen's happiness and drive are contagious and fed me a huge dose of resolve to not let this temporary setback in my health beat me.  My goals for today are writing five pages, unloading the dishwasher and cooking Hubby and myself a healthy dinner.  Not much, but it's a start toward regaining normalcy.  Another thing I'm going to do is make a fresh list of dreams.  Some giant, some small, some a little nutty, but all mine and all achievable as long as I give them that initial seed.

What are your dreams?  What are you doing to make them come true?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Still stuck on the couch instead of my big, green chair!!

In the hospital, my toes were the only thing looking good!!

Where to start . . . Right after returning from NYC, I finally went to the doctor about a nagging stomachache that'd been dogging me for a few weeks. My doctor ordered a gazillion tests, most of which came back fine. Meanwhile, my formerly nagging tummy was now screaming!! Weeks and more tests passed and I had surprise gallstone surgery. I was actually pretty pleased about this, as now that I finally knew what was wrong, I could finally get back to living instead of frowning on the couch!! The surgery was a great success and soon I was back on my couch, only with the promise that in a matter of days I'd be mostly back to normal. Hubby was a fantastic nurse and my dogs even managed to stay off the worst of my ouchies!!

Fast forward a week and I'm off pain meds and guess what's back? My original stomachache!! Screaming louder than ever!! Grrr. Meanwhile, Hubby landed an amazing new job, which is great, but the downside is a transition in health insurance. Do we even have it? Once we got documentation proving we're insured, back to the doctor I went, and next week I'm all set up for a flurry of new tests with a new specialist. Yay!!

Daisy pouting when I wouldn't let her sleep on my tummy!

Until then, I'm still on the sofa instead of my big green chair. Seeing friends for a few hours at a baby shower yesterday reminded me how much I'm missing my usual life. Being upright for three hours might as well have been running a marathon. I went straight home to sleep. So far, the only good thing to come of all this is losing a few pounds, but as a diet expert, I know there are far easier ways to diet!! LOL!!

Have any of you had a mystery illness? If so, if you don't mind my asking, did it ever get fixed? I could really use a happy ending about now!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy Birthday to my Twins--Hannah & Terry!!!!

My wonder twins--Hannah & Terry!!

Today, my twins turn nineteen, and I'm feeling a little misty.  They're still in bed, but I've been up for an hour, putting up a few streamers and trying to figure out what to do today.  As the temp in Tulsa is predicted to be hotter than the surface of the sun, the zoo is out.  We've seen all the movies.  Maybe the aquarium--which always leaves me craving a nice, buttery seafood lunch??!!

Hannah and Terry were miracle babies.  It took Hubby and I nearly two years to conceive, then I had trouble from the start.  Horrible nausea led to dangerously high blood pressure and too many incidents of premature labor to count.  I was on bed rest for months and months--only allowed up each day for a brief shower and the potty.  During the delivery, I almost died from a bizarre complication.  Long story, but after an 8:30AM c-section, I didn't get to hold my babies until late that afternoon.

Because it was such a struggle getting them into this world, I've always tended to go overboard on their birthday.  We've had blow-out parties featuring live bands and Jupiter Jumps and Safari Joe with all of his critters.  As much as I complain about some of their not-so-fun teen idiosyncrasies, all-in-all, this mom couldn't be more proud. 

I love my Hannah and Terry more than I thought it was possible to love, which is scary now that they're getting so "old".  I'm struggling with letting go, but Hubby's helping, reminding me that's what we raised them for--to lead happy, fulfilling, independent lives.  The thought of which just starts me crying all over again!!!! 

Anyway . . . Sniff, sniff.  Today, we will no doubt manage to find BIG, high-caloric fun.  Tonight, as of my latest Intel, both kids are hanging with friends.  Which again, is how it's supposed to be.  Hubby and I will share a quiet dinner and reminisce, wondering where the years have gone . . .

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Top 10 Petty (and not so petty) Annoyances!!

                                                                       I miss winter!!

It hasn't just been one of those days, but one of those weeks. In that spirit, rather than bore you with details of how every single day has been chock full of ick, I figured why not compose a list of general annoyances and see how many of them bug you, too!!

10. Stomachaches

My stomach has hurt for a solid month!!! I've tried every kind of antacid and potion, but nothing helps. My mom keeps telling me to go to the doctor, but I know it's stress. I'm worried about so much I'd need a Top 20 to even partially cover the angst in my life--and we lead a fairly calm life. My heart goes out to any of you who have really horrible stresses!!

9. Magazines that Look Great in the Check-Out Lane, but Don't Really Say Anything

Petty, but annoying. I LOVE all of Bravo's Housewives series, so when I saw a copy of In Touch with New Jersey housewife, Teresa, opening up about her husband going to prison for ten years, I was on auto-grab!!! I HAD to know what was going on!!! Alas, nothing was going on other than a possible lawsuit that hadn't yet happened and probably won't. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy she won't be without Joe for ten years, but I'm now without $2.99, because In Touch got a little too aggressive with their cover story.

Another magazine gripe while I'm on a roll--the diets promising to lose ten pounds in a week!!! LIES!!!! (But I'm a dufous and fall for it every, stinkin' time!!)

8. Cleaning the Bathrooms

We have three of these beasties in our house. The master, the guest and the kids', which I haven't set foot in for three years!!! Honestly, it's only been a couple weeks, but even that's too much!! I trust the kids are tidy down there, but who really knows? I try so hard to keep the rest nice, but why can't someone invent a cleaner that does everything? I'm tired of needing separate cleaners for the toilet, shower, marble counters, laminate counters and mirrors. I'm also tired of toothpaste spots on said mirrors. Why does someone in my home feel the need to brush so aggressively that toothpaste explodes all over the mirror??? Warning--I WILL find you, and when I do, get ready to scrub!!!

7. Fleas

I just adore this summer treat that seems to invade every May--NOT!!! This May, I bathed all three dogs in Frontline only to still have fleas. $70.00 more dollars and another month later, I repeated the drill. Still we had fleas. My mother lives in Arkansas and swears by a new flea product called Comfortis. It's a miracle!!!!!! I've tried getting it in Oklahoma, but our vet says it doesn't work. I say, bull. We will from now on be setting up an anti- flea pipeline to Arkansas.

6. Exercising

I could literally walk eight hours a day and gain weight. We joined Gold's Gym and weigh more now than when we joined a year ago!! I've tried Wii Fit, but hate that, too. Now, if I could snorkel, scuba, hike-in-a- real-forest-that-isn't-a-hundred-miles-from-my-house or snow ski here in Oklahoma, then I'd be happy and skinny. Until then, I will protest all forms of movement--especially in the heat of summer!!!

5. Dieting

This should probably top my list, but I have so many other things bugging me right now, that this one doesn't seem so bad. I loathe counting calories or points or carbs. Hubby and I were just talking about when the kids return to school, we'd like to purge the house of anything naughty. Lately, I've been using watermelon as my go-to treat. It's good. But then I have to pee a lot. Which reminds me I need to clean the bathroom. Which gets me grumpy all over again!!

4. The Yard

We live in the kind of neighborhood filled with mostly rich, retired people who have nothing better to do with their time or money than worship their yards. They have grass people and flower people and tree people. I have three, lazy teens and no money. (I'd do it myself, but my eyes would be swollen shut for a week!)  I offer to pay them and they say they make more at their real jobs. I've tried being nice about it, but no more. If the backyard isn't mowed by this weekend--for free--I'm turning off cell phones. (Hubby and I pay for the front yard to be mowed by a nice man who actually does a lovely job. If only he weeded flower beds and/or trimmed bushes and trees . . . )

3. Kids who Don't Pay Their Bills

On the fridge, I keep a markerboard that has a running tab of how much The First National Bank of Mom and Dad is owed. All three kids owe monthly for cell phones, car insurance and two owe for car payments. Some months we get paid, some months, we don't. I understand if something important comes up and they can't pay in full, but when two months go by with no payment, it makes me crazy. Again, I'm thinking it's time to get ugly. 

2. Insurance

If added together--car, home, health, life--we pay WAY more for insurance per year, then we do for our mortgage!!! Combine that with agents who don't return calls and bills and fees that make no sense and I'm losing my mind!!! This could launch a whole new debate, but as a kid, I don't remember my parents even having medical insurance--let alone dental. I was paying bills the other day and it dawned on me that a huge portion of our income is consumed by fees for technologies that didn't even exist when Hubby and I were kids.

2A. Thieves

This week we experienced bank fraud. I'm pretty sure my bank is covering our losses, but not for a while. I have the info available on my statement to track down these people in their California lair. That said, why can't my bank find them? Cuff them? And put them in jail forever?

1. Heat

I HATE excessive heat!!!!! I'm a typically calm and rational, good-humored person. Hit me with weeks and then months of temperatures over 100 and I feel crazed. Our AC never stops running and I'm still hot. What happens to folks who don't have AC or can't afford it? In the winter, I can put on a coat to stay warm outside, but with this kind of weather, I feel so helpless. Usually, this type of heat doesn't strike Tulsa until the end of July, but we've had HOT, HOT, HOT weather now since early June. I water my porch plants at six AM and by noon, they're already drooping. I'm ready to move. NOW!!! Only first, I'd need to mow and clean bathrooms and change insurance and I'm pretty sure even exercise, since I'd have to pack boxes.

Okay, whew . . . That's pretty much it. But if #1 dropped to eighty degrees, I'm guessing all of my other complaints would vanish!!!

All right, come on, people!! Tell me what's bugging you!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

. . . Feeling like a Disney Villain!!!

Prim and proper Daisy

**Warning, if you're not an animal lover, turn back now!!**

Not sure if I told the blogosphere, but last month my mom lost her dachshund, Noodle.  She'd had him for eighteen years, so it was a tough loss.  With that in mind, when Hannah and I started planning the Romance Road Trip, our first concern was who's going to watch Daisy?  Yes, the boys will be home, but only sort of.  Hubby works all day and I don't even want to know what Not-so-Little Terry does all night!!  Russell has moved on to that great land called TU Apartmentville, so that left Daisy alone and crying for the two weeks Hannah and planned to be gone.

Knowing my mom was hurting and Daisy loves nothing more than to be loved and adored 24/7, I figured who better to watch her than her great-grandma?  Mom agreed.  The day before leaving for the East Coast, we met up at the BK Lounge halfway down the turnpike and made the exchange.

The next day, we were somewhere in Illinois when I got the call from Mom that Daisy had fleas and needed a haircut and her nails trimmed, but Mom was on it.  That dog was primped, pampered and plucked within an inch of her life, but came out of the operation looking more like a prim and proper Yorkie than the hairy little beast we all love.  She's still adorable, but in a different way.

As the days went by, each time I called Mom for a report, I heard more about how much Daisy loves barking at golfers and refuses to eat hamburger, but she LOVES salmon!!!  Um, so do I!!!  Mom and Dad have a raised bed, so Mom slept in the guest room to make sure Daisy didn't fall.  The more cute stories I heard, the more my stomach churned.  When we used to leave the twins with my parents when they were babies I didn't hear this much cooing!!

Yesterday was the big day for us to meet back up at the BK Lounge to take Daisy home.  When we arrived, Mom cried to give her up.  I don't mean a sniffle, but cried.  My heart ached.  Had it been up to me, I would've given Mom the dog. 

Don't get me wrong, I love this dog like crazy, but I also have two other dogs, two cats, my own kids, drop-in kids, a high maintenance Hubby and wonderful friends I don't see near enough of.  My heart is full enough to share.  Trouble is, Daisy isn't my dog, but Hannah's.  And from the second we walked in the door from our trip, all Hannah has wanted to know was when we were picking up Daisy? 

I now feel lower than low to have even asked my mom to watch the dog.  Never in a million years did I see this coming.  I offered to buy Mom a puppy, but she sort-of laughed and said she didn't want a puppy, she wanted Daisy. 

When I was a kid, all I wanted was to be grown-up.  Everything would be perfect if only I were sixteen and then eighteen.  Twenty-one.  Now that I'm forty, I sometimes feel as if decisions are hurtling at me like hailstones.  And now, I'm the one crying.  And Daisy doesn't really seem herself.  And I wonder how much time I have left with my parents and was this one of those decisions I'll later look back on thinking, if only I'd done something differently? 

To clarify, for me this issue isn't just about a dog, but my responsibilty as a daughter to my mother. 

My family is terribly small.  Mom and Dad, Grandpa Alisch and a couple uncles and distant cousins--all of whom live in different states.  Dad has this uncanny knack for making friends wherever he goes.  He's thrilled wiling away days tinkering on his boat or Harley.  Mom reads, watches Y & R, and gets her hair and nails done.  I constantly worry if she's lonely.  When she had Daisy, something about her sparkled.  Daisy seemed to give her purpose.  All of which lessened my worries over living two hours away. 

One tiny Yorkie.  Seems like such a small thing for me to have such an awful stomachache over, yet here it is, and I feel like a villain for even suggesting Mom watch the dog.             


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mean Lady in Green Shorts!!/Contest

Please help find my missing book!!  This is what it looks like!!

Good morning!! Hope your summer is off to a way cooler start than ours here in Oklahoma!! One summer ritual I've had for a good ten years--probably more, but I'm too old to count--is my annual trek to the Romance Writers of America conference. This year, we're back in Manhattan, which means extra pressure to look polished and professional, rather than like I-haven't-left-the-house-in-three-days-and-dribbled-Spaghettios-down-the-front-of-my-shirt!!!

As part of the last push to prepare for my trip, I've been going to the gym--a lot!! I think my butt's a little smaller, but other than that, I haven't seen a whole lot of results. Anyway, yesterday was a half treadmill/half weight day, so Hannah and I schlepped from the movie-treadmill room to the ladies weight area.

In the ladies only area was a woman wearing annoying green shorts. They were bright, ill-fitting and kinda ugly considering how gorgeous she was!! If I had her body, you'd better believe I'd be wearing something seriously hot all the time!! (See what kinds of crazy ramblings fly through my head while on those horrible weight lifting machines??)

I'd just finished strengthening and toning my luscious thighs when the woman sneezed. As I would with any human--usually my dogs, too--I told her, "Bless you." Not only did she not reply, but she gave me a squinty little glare!!!! What was that about?? Was she an atheist? Or just generally not in the mood to be blessed?

Literally, a minute or two later she left, and we never saw her again. So now, I'm asking you--am I wrong in blessing folks when they sneeze? I appreciate every blessing I can get, and assumed everyone felt the same!! Comments? Other blessing experiences? Grrr.

In happier news, I supposedly have a book out this month called, A Cowgirl's Secret. That said, I have yet to see it here in Tulsa, because all of the May releases are still on the shelves. If you've seen my sweet story anywhere--Poughkeepsie, Mongolia, Detroit--please let me know!! First person to tell me where they found their copy wins their choice of any two books on my backlist, plus a romance-themed charm bracelet!! (Amazon doesn't count!! LOL!!!)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

It's Raining "Man" at the Tanning Salon!!!!

Not a good likeness to Tanning Man, but hunky all the same!!!  LOL!!

In case you somehow missed one of my eight thousand posts about daughter, Hannah, being an Ice Girl for the Tulsa Oilers, she was/is one (tryouts for next season are in July).  Her Ice Girl coach, who just won a double-header of beauty titles and accompanying crowns announced right after Christmas that the girls needed to tan, as tan fat looks better than white fat.

While I have no scientific proof for this statement, the coach is stunning and tan and while preparing for my annual trek to the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference, it has come to my attention that I may have some jiggly white stuff in need of attention!!!  I know tanning's not good for me!!  I'm Czech and whiter than white, but in lieu of actually losing weight, this is my only hope of looking like Penelope Cruz in a little over two weeks. 

(I am faithfully going to the gym every day, too, but in case I fail to spontaneously lose 400 lbs in two weeks, tanning's my only hope!!)

Okay, so that's the background on why I'm tanning.  Hannah's tanning so she will look hot on the Jersey Shore with her hockey-playing Guido.  A sucker for love, I'm driving to RWA so Hannah can see Antonio and her friend, Louisa, can see Ian (we're dropping off Louisa in Ohio!!)  More on the Romance Road Trip to come, but back on today's topic--the hot tanning man!!!!

Yesterday afternoon, I left my little tanning room to see Hannah.  She made an odd excited, eye-jerk, for me to look behind her.  (She tans on a different hall.)  I didn't think too much about it, when WHAM!!!!  This bronzed god steps behind her.  Like, I literally couldn't close my mouth and neither could she.  He was all muscled-up and of course, tan.  Wore some kind of manly shorts and a T-shirt and had longish blond hair pulled back in a ponytail--totally not my usual type, but OH MY!!!!!!!  He carried a Louis Vuitton backpack that had to be pushing $5000 and climbed into a navy BMW.  The whole ride home, Hannah and I couldn't stop giggling and daydreaming about what this amazing alien creature was doing in a Tulsa tanning salon!!!  If anyone in Tulsa knows this hunk, please give him my number!!!!! ;-)      


Saturday, June 04, 2011

Is it Monday Yet?

It's official--the worst week I've had in a while has been crowned by the worst weekend.  Surprise bills, dental work, angsty kids, dead fridge and now, a neighbor I'd like to drop kick into the next county.

Since the lovely gentleman doesn't even know my name, I feel free to vent.  Last Fall, he replaced a retaining wall that tore our side yard to shreds.  It was a nightmare for days and days and days.  A loud, messy mud pit that resulted in our master sprinkler box being crushed by the same back hoe that damn near slid into the house.  His crew finally fixed the box, but not before our water bill went up by a hundred big ones.  To polish the project, he literally tossed down a few sheets of sod and that was that.  All these months later, with half of our side yard still dirt, I figured it was high time his team finish their job. 

I just caught him outside and asked very politely, when he had a chance, could he please have one of his crews--there are at least half a dozen each week--finish sodding our side yard.  Here's how that conversation played out:

"What's wrong with it?  There's as much grass as there ever was."

"Sir, with all due respect, before, there were at lease green weeds to mow.  Now, there's only dirt."

Big sigh.  Huff.  Stomp.  "It looks better now than it ever has."

"Yes, but half our side yard is dirt.  When we allowed you to tear our yard apart, you promised to make it right.  This isn't right."

"Fine.  Whatever.  I've got to have work done next week.  I'll have'em do it."

"Thank you."  I turn to head into the house.

"Those vines are ruining your house.  You need to take them down."

"I like them.  They add character."

"They're ruining your house.  Gonna make your roof leak.  If that's what you want . . ."  Big shrug, huff and bonus sigh.

"That's what I want.  Thanks."

I'm sooooooo angry.  Why do people have to be this way???  Seriously???  I thought I might make the tail end of the ladies' weekend I've been planning to attend literally all year, but at the rate this week has gone, I'd crash and burn on the toll road. 

Instead, I'm off to mix a nice adult beverage, plop down in my big, green chair and focus on wishing for my neighbor to vanish from my life and prosper elsewhere.  Oh--and did I mention he had no shirt on?  Yum--NOT!!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tulsa has vampires!!!

Hannah and Louisa before an Oiler's game!!

After much daughter drama and finally buying Netflix only to watch more buffering than movie, I didn't get around to even trying to go to bed last night until 12:30.  Before reaching the bedroom, Hannah charged up the stairs, proclaiming her friend Louisa had run out of gas and she was going to rescue her.  When she invited me to tag along, I figured why not?  I'm always up for an adventure.

Louisa was stuck across the street from Whataburger near Cherry Street and Lewis.  Since we're way further south than that, I just took Lewis all the way up.  So there's hardly any traffic and lights are green and I'm thinking we're the only people crazy enough to be out this late, right?  WRONG!!! 

We hit Brookside to encounter five cop cars with flashing lights and sidewalks filled with packs of twenty-somethings in tight black dresses and heels high enough to be weapons!!!  For three blocks, people were everywhere--dancing on balconies and on the side of the street.  I had no idea all of this was going on so late.  Were these folks vampires??? 

While I got all excited, looking for drunk people and/or hookers, Hannah rolled her eyes, explaining its always like this--a fact I would know if I stayed up past ten!!  A few blocks later, we once again owned the road.  We found Louisa and put gas in her hot little BMW convertible.  (Yes, I'm jealous!!  LOL!!) 

Hannah declared Louisa more fun than me and I drove home alone, still wondering how so many people willingly stayed up so late??!!  And in spiky heels??!!!  Maybe I've watched too many episodes of True Blood?  Maybe my eyes don't work like they used to?  Either way, I know some of those partiers had fangs!!!  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I found other fat people!!!

Me on a Death March in St. Thomas.  I puked twenty minutes later!!!!

Those of you who know me understand I'm somewhat gifted in pounds, but also in love!!  LOL!!  In my never-ending search for new weight loss methods, I'm now walking at a 15 degree incline on the treadmill, but for only thirty minutes--I used to force myself for an hour, but it hurt and I quit.  I really like this thirty minute thing, and while I've only been doing it for a little over a week, I do feel better.

That said, my biggest problem at the gym is the other people.  I typically go to Gold's in the afternoon.  On any given day, there will be at least a hundred half-naked Gods and Goddesses strutting their stuff, looking more like they're at the gym to see and be seen than work out.  I'm the token fat, old chick and it's getting on my nerves--which should make me eat less so I can emulate all of them.  But all it really does is make me want to drown my misery in the ooey, gooey warmth of a Big Mac!!!!  (I have, however, valiantly resisted this urge, thank you very much.)

Anyway, I find the presence of so damned many freakishly perfect bodies a tad depressing.  So this morning, when kid-car-usage forced me into going to the gym early, you will understand my glee at finding others of my kind!!!  They were fluffy and had grey hairs and even wore sweats instead of the latest in skin-sucking, neon Lycra!!!!!  From henceforth, I will be going to gym early, because for once, instead of feeling like the perpetual ugly duckling, I walked and sweated amongst swans!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm Stuck in Hitchcock's The Birds!!!

Cocoa has volunteered to date the bird!!  Or maybe eat him. 
A lady reserves the right to change her mind!!

I'm basically a nature-loving girl, but if the bird pecking our living room window doesn't knock it off, he may find himself knocked out!!!!  I'm guessing he's trying to "date" our deck door.  His song is lovely, but then he scrapes his beak against the glass, sending the dogs into a yipping, yapping frenzy!!!  This has been going on for three days.  I've shut the blinds, but every time the bird pecks, the dogs yap.  Combine this with my already bluh mood and I've written one, whole paragraph of my new synopsis!!  Maybe I should take my laptop out to the car?

In other news, Hannah is now a nanny!!  Her charge is a four-year-old Turkish boy whom she describes as being adorably spoiled.  Yesterday, he dribbled cereal and milk on the iPad he was playing with that was housed in a Louis Vuitton cover.  Wonder if this family would adopt me?  I'm a very neat cereal eater.  Just sayin'.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mayhem or Magic . . . You be the Judge

At the start of yesterday, it seemed magic was afoot in Casa Altom.  By the end of the day, I was just plain ol' ready for bed.

By 6:30AM, I was already hard at work.  Had a synopsis to write, farm to harvest and a frontier needing to be tamed.  I needed a cookie for sustenance, but alas, there were none.  In the midst of all of this heavy labor, Mother Nature was putting on quite a show.  Thunder and lightning and rain pounding the skylights so hard I couldn't hear my sheep baa!! 

Last Saturday, we had a neighborhood yard sale, during which, I went haywire, snatching up as much junk as I could from every corner of the house.  (Stay with me, this is all going to tie together soon!!  LOL!!)  Eyeing the scum-filled tank of death--otherwise known as the $1000 fish tank all kiddos promised to help clean--I knew this was my time.  Most of the fish had long since been cannibalized or sucked up the seafood-loving filter.  Three, hearty souls remained.  To them, I promised a new, scum free world. To my eldest bundle of joy, I said, "Get that thing and all the crap that goes with it out here to the garage STAT!!!  I want it out of my house!!!"  He complied.  Although, wondered what to do with the surviving fish.  I told him--or maybe screeched, it was 42 and blustery in May--to just stick the fish in a bucket.  I'd deal with them later.  As an aside, the fish tank still sits in the garage.  As of yesterday, the three fish still sat in a pitcher on the bar.

Back to the thunderstorm . . . Our ancient mutt, Sweet Pea, was shivering from the thunder and a lightning flash revealed the last surviving fish.  Holy Crap!!!  In my joy over never having to see that filthy tank again--unless, in the unlikely event I looked in the garage--I'd forgotten those few remaining souls. 

Rain hammering our home, I jumped from my big, green chair and set out on a mission to save the fish.  I found I'd already had one more casualty, but two more remained!!  They must be saved!!  In particular, the neon pink tetra who somehow escaped the cannibalism and outlasted his brethren for at least two years.  Can I get an Amen?!  Since we still had the old itty bitty tank, I washed it out--lightning cracking so hard I wondered if I'd get struck as punishment for all the fish death.

After a successful transfer of the last black molly, I went for the sainted tetra.  He wasn't having it.  This little guy is like the Navy SEAL of fish.  Finally, I resorted to dumping out all but a mud puddle of water at the bottom of the pitcher.  My plan was to then scoop him up.  Um, that's when something went horribly wrong. He leaped from my hands and jumped right down the GARBAGE DISPOSAL!!!!!  Pretty sure I actually screamed!!!  Lightning still flashing, I went into Wonder Woman mode, sticking my arm down that disposal, pulling out pasta and potato chunks and some mystery stuff that scared me plenty bad.  Finally, I found the fish, tossed him in the tank and can you believe it, he lived!!!!!

The clouds parted, the sun came out and angels sang--then it rained again, but anyway a happy ending!!!  It is now my mission to keep this little guy happy and out of the disposal for many years to come!!

In other news, I dragged my big butt out of my big green chair to go to the gym.  My reward??  Oilers player, Derek Eastman, a regular visitor in front of my glass side seats, happened to be lifting weights.  Whew.  And I thought he looked good in his hockey suit.  Ducking behind our resident Ice Girl, Hannah, I whisper-squealed, "OHMYGOSHISTHATDEREKEASTMAN?" She rolled her eyes and confirmed my suspicions.  Alas, the couple times I've talked to handsome, talented Derek, he wasn't especially loving the fan attention.  And contrary to what you probably believe, I've never ambushed him, but only approached him at bona fide fan functions where he was being paid to be nice to me!!!  Whatever.  As you can tell by the two hunks in my profile pic, I've moved on!!  LOL!!!

Next on my agenda, helped our oldest kiddo, Russell, move into an apartment at TU and I'm actually a tad jealous.  It smells heavenly with not a trace of cat or dog and drum roll, please . . .  Directly across from his place some seriously yummy, giant football players were moving in.  If only I were back in school at my fun & flirty weight!!!

In today's news, Happy 23rd Anniversary Sweet Hubby!!! Out of all of my boyfriends, I love YOU best!!!!!




Thursday, May 19, 2011


My head used to be so happy back before the great thaw!!!

Dear Spring, PUH-LEEEEEZE stop hurting my head!!!  Thanks--Laura Marie :-)

Now that that's out of the way, my head REALLY hurts!!  Everyone here in Tulsa is complaining that this is the worst allergy season we've ever had.  I concur.  If it's not crazy pressure, it's dripping and coughing and sneezing.  Almost makes me ready for winter!!

It's been a busy day.  Had some fun news that I can't share just yet, but hopefully, will be able to soon.  Got a little more updating done on my website.  Picked my May book winner--yay, Ruth Vick!!!  Worked on a synopsis for the proposals I'm feverishly trying to get out.  Ran out to get printer paper only to arrive home to discover we're out of ink!!  Even managed to get to the gym.  I also managed to cram five cookies into my mouth for lunch. 

Lots of kid drama.  Bickering amongst the kids.  Me, yelling at the kids, etc.  Can't believe I'm saying this only a few days into summer, but now that they're in college is it too late for sleepaway camp?  LOL!!  I love my children, I love my children.  If I chant it enough, maybe everything will calm down and we'll once again have clean towels??!!  Seriously, my kids mean the world to me, but it's frustrating to buy a case of Sprite intended to last me a week only to have it vanish in a couple hours!!  Oh--we also lost five frozen pizzas in the same periodl!!  

Can I get an Amen for tomorrow being Friday?


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Enough already!!!

Goose babies at the park near our house! Crazy cute!!

All right, Blog Nags (You know who you are!!), I'm back and you'll probably end up being sorry!! LOL!!

Just finished edits on Book #4 of my Buckhorn Ranch series!! YAY!!!! Not sure why, but at one point, I was pretty sure this book might be the death of me. (I know, I say that about every book!!) But this one was seriously hard. Making matters worse was a harsh review on my last book that broke my heart. The grown-up in me knows to take reviews with a grain of salt and move on, but honestly, I think this was the kick in the britches I needed to get back in the habit of sending advance copies to lots of reviewers--at least then I'll have a fifty/fifty shot of finding love!! LOL!!

For once, I'm thrilled with who won Survivor!! Rob has never been a fave of mine, but this season, he showed a lot more heart. I felt for him in having tried to achieve a goal for so long and always just missing. (Case in point, my RITA scores!!) For me, there's always next year to try, but for Rob, I'm guessing this was a last shot situation.

Today, I'm alternately working on updating my website and getting new proposals to my Harlequin American editor. I've gotten a general "go ahead" on a new series idea, and am now in the uncomfortable position of writing up three storylines. LOVE brainstorming. Loathe cramming ideas into a neat and tidy salable package.

With the annual RWA conference looming, I'm worrying about weight, but so far that's the extent of my efforts. :-(

Lots more rambling to come, but for today, I'm back to wrestling with html!!!!