Saturday, November 29, 2008
I've just updated this blog spot so those of you reading it can quickly "rate" each entry. It'll help me know what to write more about, or less about...
Your individual comments are also helpful, but I don't get nearly enough of them to gauge the overall "interest quotient" of my writing. What would you like to hear more about/less about?
Let me know how I'm doing when you spend time with me, will ya? Am I spinning my wheels, or actually communicating?
I'm ready to find out! Let me know!
I'm not stuffed. I was a very good girl this year and ate appropriately. That's because my weight creeps up whether I eat a lot or not, so I figure the less I eat, the less it'll creep. That's the theory, anyway...
Lizzie, Casey and I just walked two and a half miles. They hung on me about a quarter of the way so I'm calling my walk a five miler. Lizzie weighs about 60 pounds and Casey weighs a little over 80. Lizzie is lean and lithe, Casey is thin, but a lot taller and with big bones. She'll grow into a six footer like Michelle Obama, I'm pretty sure.
Lizzie "imagined" a ghost in an empty house along the way - raising and lowering some blinds - so that's why they hung on me for the last leg of the journey, and why I decided we weren't going around again. I can't handle another encounter with the "ghost house" if it means I'll be carrying two half grown kids the last quarter mile...
The two are in my living room now holding the guinea pigs. I made the mistake of telling them there are guinea pig harnesses at the pet store, so they're all jazzed about that. I said, "Not 'til spring, girls, because it's too cold outside and I don't want them on the rug inside." The guinea pigs have to either be sitting on towels in laps, on towels on the couch, or in their cage until spring, then we'll get them a toddler wading pool for inside (when we can find one for a few dollars) and the harnesses and leashes for outside.
I just had my best Elance week ever -- made $500! Woo hoo! That isn't much, in the grand scheme of things, but it's pretty darned good for someone who started out less than a year ago as a freelancer at Elance. By the end of December, I will have made more than $3K. Lowering my price five dollars an hour seems to have opened the flood gates.
We have industrious moles in our yard now. We've tried Juicy Fruit and bubble gum to try to gag 'em (we heard it works), smoke bombs to smoke 'em out, and a water hose in their most recent holes to get them to either drown or pick another yard. Don't know who's gonna win the battle - them or us or an exterminator - but we're fighting the Battle of the Bulges at a rate of about eight to ten new bulges per day... I love critters, but wish my cats would take care of these subterranean troublemakers so we didn't have to. It seems cruel when we do it. If the cats would do it, it would seem more natural! (I can't help it. I love critters.) I notice they're pushing up some of the richest, best-looking soil. Maybe I should transport it to the garden... make some use out of their industrious labors!
What else? Billie Rae Walker sent me an e-card for Thanksgiving but the Hallmark cards website has been down for two days, so I'm still waiting to access it. "When you care enough to send the very best... it may take the recipient as long to receive it as it would take to mail!" hee hee hee I'm patient, though. One of these days Hallmark will get its act back in gear. I hope their webmaster is enjoying the holiday.
Oh! Just a heads up. I'll be horse-sitting three horses and dog-sitting six dogs from Wednesday morning to Friday afternoon this coming week while their owners travel to southern Oregon for a funeral, so I won't be able to blog on those days. I'll be making $65/day to critter-sit, though, and if I can land a typing or writing gig before then on Elance, I'll be able to work on that (on my laptop) while I'm there. (There's just no Internet connection, yet, where I'll be staying. There will be by the next time I critter-sit, though.) Most Elance projects have more than a three-day turnaround, so being away from the Internet that long is no big deal, except that I'll miss blogging to y'all!
Maybe I'll blog onto my laptop and transfer it to blogger when I get home. There should be a lot of critter stories after I've been there three days!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
My head is spinning. I've been writing Elance articles just about non-stop for three days. Lots of different topics: medical tourism, design studio trumpeting, and finishing off the doctor's biography, which has really been fascinating! The doctor was 13 when Saigon fell and he and his family were among the "boat people" that the 7th fleet fished out of the water and brought to Guam, and thence to America in 1975. The funny thing is that he's so humble, he didn't think he had much of a story to tell... HAH! How does one go from being a teenage immigrant refugee to being an MD? He says he sort of "fell" into the profession after a couple of false starts. He thought he wanted to be something else a couple of times... but God had other plans for him! It's an amazing story and I was honored to be able to bring it to light.
Oh! And talk about putting cream on the coffee! He's getting married this Friday and Saturday (a Viet wedding on Friday, a Christian wedding at a church on Saturday) and it turns out that his bride-to-be is a huge, lifelong STAR TREK fan! He found out I'm a former DeForest Kelley fan and friend (while we were comparing and contrasting our life stories) and he's going to order the hardbound version of my book for his lovely new wife for Christmas! I've already mailed him a hand-written, personalized inscription (on a sticker) for him to insert into the book before wrapping it for her for Christmas. He says she's going to be thrilled.
Then today I got an assignment to reformat an interview into an article about a woman whose medical condition (spine) was deteriorating so rapidly that she was told she would have to undergo a complete spinal fusion. After trying out what life would be like with spinal fusion for six weeks (she was strapped into a full body cast 22 hours a day), she became desperate and started looking for spinal fusion alternatives on the Internet and found a German hospital that had been doing amazing things with artificial disc replacements for twenty years. She went for it. Her story is fascinating. And I get the honor of being paid to bring it to the attention of the general public!
It's all good!
Casey's birthday party on Saturday and her dinner on Sunday were well attended. I gave her all the aforementioned "writer stuff" that I wrote about several or more blogs ago, and she was thrilled.
Tomorrow Jackie and I will be at Casey's home again because her mom and dad host Thanksgiving at their place. It's a big place and multiple families show up for the afternoon. I've printed off a couple of holiday-appropriate quizzes from the Internet and will foist them off on the adults tomorrow afternoon at some time and see who knows the most about turkeys and Thanksgiving. It ought to be good.
Last night I sat on my bed and made some home made Christmas cards. The problem is, they're so pretty I don't think I'm going to be able to part with them!
They were super easy to make. I bought Christmas-related card making supplies at Wal-Mart and just cut some squares with fancy serrated scissors and glued them to a folded card and then glued the pre-made presents, trees, wreaths, angels and the like to the front of the cards. Then I took the scraps with serrated edges and slapped some glue on the back of them and laid them around the pre-made goodies. Instant Martha Stewart-looking results. It was embarrassingly simple. And I love them. And I have to wean myself from them so I can let them go at some point.
Now you know why I don't allow fecund cats, dogs or guinea pigs to come under my roof (everything's neutered!): I can't even part with freakin' hand-made greeting cards! Before a year was out, my place would resemble Noah's Ark!
It's a sickness, I tell ya!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Millions of Americans who watched Mr Obama's appearance on CBS' 'Sixty Minutes' on Sunday witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox verbal tic, which had him employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth.
But Mr Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.
According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, some Americans may find it "alienating" to have a President who speaks English as if it were his first language.
"Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement,"says Mr Logsdon. "If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist."
The historian said that if Mr Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches the public may find itself saying, "Okay, subject, predicate, subject, predicate - we get it, now stop showing off."
The President-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.
"Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can't really do there, I think needing to do that isn't tapping into what Americans are needing also," she said.
(Thanks to Bobbie B for forwarding this to me. It made my day!)
Monday, November 24, 2008
I wrote a couple more eHow articles today:
How to Supprt Your Favorite Charity or School for FREE
How to Find Barack Obama Paraphernalia
And I have three new Elance clients! WAHOO!
Things are lookin' up!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Another perk about working via Elance is that I get to meet and work with some of the world's pre-eminent movers and shakers. It's an honor and privilege to be able to provide something to them that they either don't have the time, or the copywriting expertise, to accomplish on their own.
Right now I'm working with an MD who's absolutely brilliant. Back in the early 90's he devised a way to provide amino acid supplementation to hospitalized patients who were unable to eat solid foods before or after surgery. In the old days (before he came up with this new way) patients risked choking to death while being fed protein drinks via feeding tubes. The method he developed took years of research, but now he's becoming well-known and his liquid amino acid supplements are on shelves in America at Whole Foods, Gelson's and Albertsons and in other countries. During the bird flu epidemic in Asia a few years ago his amino acid supplements were credited with saving lives! If I were him, I'd be busting my buttons and shouting it from the rooftops! (Okay, maybe I wouldn't... shy thing that I am in person. I can't even self-promote my books in person unless someone first mentions being a TREK fan or a wanna be writer or an animal lover -- it seems too pushy!)
This amazing doctor contacted me to write his biography because he doesn't feel comfortable blowing his own trumpet. I'm happy to do so! I'm also going to look over his website and see what I can do to bring it down to the level of the average Joe, because it's very technical and doctoral in scope and emphasis right now. (I was overwhelmed by the medical terms; didn't understand a good third of them, and I'm no dummy.) Since he isn't marketing any longer just to other doctors and hospitals, I suggested that he revise the copy on his website to make it understandable to most lay people, and also suggested that he send out a press release about his company, discoveries and successes. So we'll be working on these after we get his biography squared away in the next day or so...
It's an honor. Wouldn't De be thrilled? I wonder if this doc is a TREK fan... He's an immigrant in love with America, that's for sure! Talking with him made me want to pick up a huge flag and march down the street signing I'm a Yankee Doody Dandy!
America really is a land of opportunity for those with a dream, a skill and the tenacity to make it all happen.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Let's get 'er done!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Why not join the crowd? It's fast, fun and FREE!
How to Bathe a Cat (No Kidding!):
How to Discover Your Bank's Soundness Rating:
How to String Words Together: The Art and Craft of Effective Writing:
How to Give Great, FREE Gifts Without Appearing Broke or Cheap:
How to Build a Small Animal Cage:
How to Decide What Kind of Pet to Get:
How to Win An Argument:
How to Find Out More About Frugal Living:
How to Make a Great Impression on Your Favorite Celebrity:
How to Give a Great Speech and Remain Calm:
Now... write your own eHow articles and earn some extra money! Everyone should have three separate streams of income. This is a relatively easy, FREE way to bring in some extra cash.
If you don't know about Shambala, please take a virtual tour now: www.shambala.org
Just go to www.goodsearch.com and be sure to enter "The Roar Foundation" as the charity you want to support. Just 500 of us searching four times a day will raise about $7300 in a year without anyone spending a dime! And, be sure to spread the word!
Please Note: You can also add other favorite charities or schools that you want to support. This option isn't limited to Shambala.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Casey's mom and dad gave her the go-ahead to get a guinea pig, so she and I went "hog wild" this weekend and built a large cage, stocked it with guinea pig essentials, and then tracked down two juvenile guinea pigs. They're happiest in pairs or small same-sex groups, so I got one, too. Casey's is shiny black with spiky hair (an Abyssinian); mine is a tri-color smooth coat.
Searching for names, I came up immediately with Barack and Joe, which Casey vetoed just as promptly. She decided on BJ for hers; mine is still Joe until I come up with something better, but he'll always be Joe to me! (I coulda lied and told Casey that Barack is Swahili for "Black Knight," but just couldn't bring myself to do it...)
We did the research (for Casey's benefit, as I've had guinea pigs before) so that she'd know her responsibilities and what her new little charge likes and needs. I printed out an ASPCA care sheet and had her read and then listen to it while I read it, and then asked her what she remembered from it. She remembered nearly all of it.
She has promised her mom to do an extra ten dollars' worth of work around their house per week (in addition to her usual unpaid chores) in order to pay for the upkeep for her guinea pig. (A single guinea pig costs about $400/year to feed, house and care for properly.)
The cost to set up the two came to $150.00. We saved money by making the large cage ourselves. I had two, 2' x 2' drawers that were left over from the remodel, so I nailed them back to back, cut out about three inches of the back ledge on both of them to provide a passage way between the two (then figured, DUH! I didn't need to do that since they could just hop over the ledge!), and then put cage wire around the whole shebang. We attached a large water bottle to one side, made "hiding boxes" for them, poured in the appropriate ground cover, and put them in.
They're pretty timid right now, but not overly so. They'll come out and bat around while we watch. They'll even whistle, chuckle and squeal as we watch -- but not to us, yet, just to each other. Mine's the overly-chatty one. When they begin to recognize us as their people and their feeders, they'll start "talking" to us, too. And when we scratch them, they'll "purr."
They're better'n tribbles, 'cause they're real!
Friday, November 14, 2008
I have lowered my hourly fee at Elance from $25/hour to $20 hour. I'm feeling the pinch because of the economy and know most other folks are, too. I think lowering the fees will help me win more projects. And since I don't have to drive to get to work, I can work for less and still pay the mortgage, health and life insurance obligations, eat, and feed my kitties. Right now, that's more than a lot of people can do, so I'll count my blessings and see if I can help someone else out who's struggling by offering them a price break for my services. Seems fair enough.
Raise your hand if you agree with the following statement: "Men can't tell time."
Our lawnmower man (the one who sold us his used mower last week) called more than an hour ago to say he'd be here in ten minutes. He still hasn't arrived. He said the same thing last time he was on his way. He also told Jackie he'd be by two days ago, and never showed.
My dad was like that (except for the "no show" part). He could no more guess what ten minutes should feel like than he could guess what childbirth would feel like. I knew if he told me we'd be leaving in ten minutes that I'd be able to get through thirty to seventy additional pages of a book, if I had brought one along... or I could WRITE the first chapter or two of a book before we'd be on our way.
What is it with men? I don't know why they even bother with wrist watches. They don't have a clue how long anything is going to take them.
Okay, okay... not all men are like this. I'm sure Barack Obama is not like this. (I say this because I'm giving him the benefit of every single doubt right now... even though he was at least 40 minutes late for the Seattle Key Arena appearance in February. But he has handlers... and policemen... and Secret Servicemen directing him. And two small daughters, and a wife who sometimes the whole world had better stop for, if he wants to be a good father and spouse. His time in not his own!)
Talk me down off this ledge. I'm ready to strangle a mower guy but willing to cut Obama all kinds of slack. Maybe that's because I'm not waiting on Obama with my garage door open, letting all the heat out of the building.
That could be it.
Lucky guy, Barack. Except that the whole world is waiting on him right now... but at least they have their garage doors shut. They don't expect instant gratification.
If they do, they'll be disappointed. Turning this economy and our other problems around is going to take time. A helluva lot of "ten minutes"-es!
So in the meantime, let's do something other than hold our breath! We don't want to turn blue and pass out... Let's all do what we can to boost the economy. Give discounts. Hire someone who's out of work to mow the lawn, shovel the snow, or wash the car. Give someone else a little hope today that they didn't have yesterday.
Why not pretend/rehearse that we're in another Great Depression and start acting like concerned relatives rather than disinterested parties? Let's not fiddle as the embers begin to glow beneath Rome. Let's get a bucket and see what we can do as individuals to help put out the fire!
We can all do something to help. And working together, we can certainly get 'er done!
Tell others about what I can do for them and I'll tell others what you can do for them. Let's network and bond as we never have before. We're in this for the long haul and having people we can trust and love and "do for" gives us something to do besides stew.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Talk to God about what is going on in your life. Buy a lock if you have to.
3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to__________ today. I am thankful for______________'
4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in factories.
5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, broccoli , almonds and walnuts.
6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
7. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the present moment.
8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out credit card.
9. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
11. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
12. You are not so important that you have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
13. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
14. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
17. Forgive everyone for everything.
18. What other people think of you is none of your business.
19. GOD heals everything - but you have to ask Him.
20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
21. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will.
22. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
23. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for__________. Today I accomplished_________.
24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.
25. When you are feeling down, start listing your many blessings. You'll be smiling before you know it!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
This is blog #701. Can you believe it? I can't.
I started this blog in late February of 2007, so it's possible I'm averaging a post a day, including weekends... but you'd have to do the math to prove it, because I don't do math to the degree it would have to be done in order to "prove" this claim. Or do I?
365 days in a year...
So from Feb 28th, 2007 to Feb 28th, 2008 would be 365 days...
From Feb 28th of this year to November 12th of this year is how many days? If this wasn't a leap year (and I don't think it was), there have been 297 days this year so far between Feb 28th and today...
365 plus 297 equals = 662 days.
Hey! I'm averaging better than a blog a day!
You must be exhausted.
Take a rest. I'll try to think of something else to do until you recover, you poor thing...
Thanks for sticking with me. It has to be a challenge!
I finally got the portfolio section of my profile at Elance to accept samples of my writing. Don't know what I was doing wrong before, but I never could get anything to load there and stay put.
But there's plenty there now, so if you know of anyone who needs a copywriter, please let them know about my profile and portfolio at Elance so they can check me out and actually read some samples.
Why not go there yourself right now (click on my photo, to the left) and take a look at the samples? That way you can feel confident (I HOPE!) that you're referring friends, business associates and others to an exemplary writer whenever you hear of them needing one to write letters, brochures, ads, blog posts, banner ads, speeches, web content, or anything else...
I need all the help I can get to put the word out about my Word-Smith-ing skills and availability. By this time next year I would love to be working from home full-time and no longer sweating every bill that comes due!
You can help me make that happen. Wont'choo be my agent -- whenever you can?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
1) When I die, I want to die like my grandfather--who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.' -- Unknown
2) Advice for the day: If you have a lot of tension and you get a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle: 'Take two aspirin' and 'Keep away from children.' -- Unknown
3) 'Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.' --Drew Carey
4) 'The problem with the designated driver program, it's not a desirable job, but if you ever get sucked into doing it, have fun with it. At the end of the night, drop them off at the wrong house.' --Jeff Foxworthy
5) 'If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there is a man on base.' --Dave Barry
6) 'Relationships are hard. It's like a full time job, and we should treat it like one. If your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to leave you, they should give you two weeks' notice, there should be severance pay, and the day before they leave you, and they should have to find you a temp.'
'My Mom said she learned how to swim when someone took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat. I said, ''Mom, they weren't trying to teach you how to swim.'' --Paula Poundstone
8) 'A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: 'Duh.' --Conan O'Brien
9) 'Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant?? I'm halfway through my fish burger and I realize, Oh my God....I could be eating a slow learner.' --Lynda Montgomery
10) 'I think that's how Chicago got started. Bunch of people in New York said, 'Gee, I'm enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just isn't cold enough. Let's go west.'' --Richard Jeni
11) 'If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.' --Johnny Carson
12) 'Sometimes I think war is God's way of teaching us geography.' --Paul Rodriguez
3) 'My parents didn't want to move to Florida , but they turned sixty and that's the law.' --Jerry Seinfeld
14) 'Remember in elementary school, you were told that in case of fire you have to line up quietly in a single file line from smallest to tallest. What is the logic in that? What, do tall people burn slower?' --Warren Hutcherson
15) 'Bigamy is having one wife/husband too many. Monogamy is the same.' --Oscar Wilde
16) 'Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.' --Mark Twain
17) 'Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Afghanistan ' --A. Whitney Brown
18) 'You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'' --Dave Barry
19) Do you know why they call it 'PMS'? Because 'Mad Cow Disease' was taken.
-- Unknown ... (presumed deceased)
20) 'Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer.' --W. C. Fields
And finally: Why the hell should I have to 'Press 1 for English?' -- Every American and Englishman living in their own country
I told her that all mammals are capable of bonding and having close friendships with their owners, and that they miss us when separated from us, while amphibians, reptiles and birds don't have the part of the brain (the neocortex) that fosters bonding. I explained, "Even though you can tame a bird, a toad and a snake, or a salamander, so that it knows to rely on you for food, the attachment will be mostly one-way -- your brain will have an affection for the pet that the bird, toad or reptile won't share. They'll respond to you to receive favors, food, and adequate treatment, but they won't do anything purely to please you. They'll take from you and birds will 'trade' with you at times the way they'll trade with another bird, but they aren't givers in the same sense that mammals are. And if they get out and get lost, they won't miss you in the way a mammal will, although birds will sometimes try to come back to an owner if they get loose because they recognize that their owner feeds them, and because life in the wilds is no picnic."
That led her to feeling a little sad. She can't have any pets at home because Jamie has asthma and is allergic to all domesticated pets. I told Casey, "If your mom and dad agree to it, I can always keep a small pet here for you to own and take care of, since you love them so much and want to learn how to be a good pet owner." She lit up like a Christmas tree. We talked some more and settled on a guinea pig as her "starter pet" -- because I already have the proper habitat and I love guinea pigs, too.
When Wendy got back from the store, Casey stated her case and her desire to get a guinea pig, telling her she'd keep it at my house and that she would promise to read a book on the pet and take care of it every time she's in the neighborhood (which is usually at least three days a week); I assured Wendy I would take care of it the rest of the time.
So Wendy is going to talk it over with Phil and see if he agrees with the plan.
She's such an animal lover -- just as I was -- and the thought of her having to grow up without an animal makes me very sad. So this is a viable option. We'll see what her dad says...
Cross your fingers for her!
At VistaPrint I ordered Casey a t-shirt in two different sizes. It has a pretty horse on the front and I had them print below the horse, "Casey Hope McNiven... When I write, I'm not just horsing around!" I'll tuck the t-shirts inside the 3-ring binder I made for her and present everything to her in person on her birthday (if I'm not horse-sitting the weekend she's being feted).
I watched Casey, Jamie and Zachary (one of Wendy's wee wards on some days) while Phil and Wendy worked in the kitchen. We hauled a bowling ball and three pins (all real, not kid toys) out into the reception area from the back room and they "bowled." I was the pin girl. The main part of my job was to stand behind the pins (after setting them up each time for the next bowler) and be sure the ball (which was rolled, not thrown) didn't hit the wall behind the pins. No, my shins aren't black and blue this morning; I deflected the oncoming 12 pound ball each time with the heel of one foot.
As the moms, dads, and more kids arrived, I put the bowling ball and pins away and repaired to the kitchen to see what else I could to to get the prepared foods, utensils and plates placed on the tables.
Not long after there was a general rush for the food and lots and lots of laughing -- and a couple instances of spilled food. I helped Jamie get her food after her first attempt landed on the floor -- very early on (She had a tortilla with a little cheese on it that went ker-flop). (Jamie likes to do things by herself, but sometimes she discovers she needs a little help!)
After dinner, Wendy awarded each of the soccer girls with a small trophy, a certificate showcasing their special, most outstanding talent (Most Improved, Best Left Foot, Real Go-Getter...) and spent at least three or four minutes explaining to the audience of moms, dads and a few bigger brothers how much the player contributed to the game this year and why they were being singled out for a special certificate of achievement as well as the trophy. Wendy is FABULOUS at this, as she is as a coach. She genuinely cares about and loves every one of these kids (ages 6-7) and it shows every minute. She's a blessing without limit. One of the moms presented her with a special album (very professional) of the kids playing soccer this year and a gift card to a restaurant so she and Phil can go out and have a dinner "on the team."
Just an aside that needs mentioning: Wendy could be making real money coaching high school and college soccer players, but while her kids are young, she's sticking with teaching the younger set because she loves them all so much and loves watching them grow as players under her tutelage. Because she is, they'll be among the top players as they get older. She teaches them right, and expects them to play by the rules... but she does it with such love and patience that it astonishes me. I'm awfully patient with kids, but Wendy is close to sainthood with them, in my eyes. All they ever see out of her is love.
After the banquet and awards ceremony, dessert was served consisting of three kinds of special treats (ice cream, striped delight, and cookies). Most of the kids and adults enjoyed at least two of the three options, so the room became very boisterous afterward as dads watched kids racing all over the church and moms cleaned up in the kitchen.
It was a good evening.
This morning when I got up, Casey was standing at the doorway to my side of the house (Wendy, Casey and Jamie stayed overnight at Jackie's) with a folded piece of paper behind her back, grinning. I asked her, "What'cha got there, girl?" and she handed it to me. It was a huge *aaaawwwwwwwwww* to me.
She drew borders around the piece of paper and then, using colorful splotches of color intermittently, she wrote an ode:
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Didn't do a lot today. After I got home from the store, I fell asleep in the recliner for a couple hours. That wasn't the plan (I planned to read for a while) but what the hey!
I got grand niece Casey a pink three-ring binder for her upcoming birthday (November 22nd) and created a cover for it that reads, "Casey's Creations." I put subject dividers in it and added 100 pages of lined school paper. It looks really cool. I think she'll be pretty thrilled to get it.
She is the talk of her class because she has started to write original stories and the teacher and her classmates are getting drunk on her cork. She brought me her most recent story. It pretty much blew me away! It had a beginning, a middle, and an end and went on for a good twenty pages!
Her teacher asked her to illustrate it, so she did that, too. I was SO proud of her that I thought I'd get her a binder to keep all her writings in.
She says she loves to write. A girl after my own heart, I tell ya!
Guess I'd better tell her she's related (as I am) to the lady in Germany who told her stories to the Brothers Grimm two or three centuries ago (which they wrote down when they grew up and learned to write), so she knows it's in her genes. I'm not sure she knows that yet...
What else? Nothing much, I guess. That's pretty much it for the day.
One flat news flash, huh?
Better luck on the morrow!
Ciao for now!
Saturday, November 8, 2008
If animals don't go to heaven,
I'll take my chances wherever they DO go!
Hey, if the title of this blog didn't get your attention, you must be dead!
HA HA HA HA HA
I went to the soccer field at Central Avenue School this morning to watch grand niece Casey, almost 8, in her final game, but ended up pushing her sister Jamie (you met her in yesterdays' blog) and another wee one named Addison (a total stranger whose parents were watching another soccer game in a different field) on swings. I stood between the two swings, more or less, and pushed first one, then another, leaning back and forth each time either of them came my way. Tonight my arms feel like they've been tweaked pretty significantly -- by tomorrow I may be in the throes of serious regret for pushing them both for over 45 minutes. "Higher!" "Higher!"
When I well and truly wore out, I told them I had to stop, so they decided to go to the play area with different kinds of slides, where both girls -- and a third, older and heftier girl -- began to slide down a fireman's pole. All three were scared at first, so I had to reach up and be sure they were firmly attached (hands and feet) around the pole before I allowed them to slide down by letting go of their rear ends. We did that a good 25 times each (at least I was using different muscles for this new task); then Addy's dad came for her (introducing himself, thanking me, and asking me how much he owed me for babysitting! Funny guy!).
Then Jamie and the hefty girl wanted to swing from the monkey bars. Both were too little to make it from bar to bar without some serious help, so I was back and forth with them, holding them by the heels so they could do their thing.
After the other gal was taken home by her parent, Jamie decided we should play "keep away" in a soccer field that had been relinquished by another team. So we did that for a while. I had to keep chasing Jamie down... only managed to get the ball from her about three times, because she has been well-trained (already) by her mom, Wendy (a great soccer player and the girls' coach). Because I couldn't get the ball from her, I didn't have much chance to control it and slow down, so I was all over the bloody field, wondering when Jamie would get tired. She never did. T'was me who got tired!
So if I need help getting out of bed tomorrow, it will be no surprise! I spent an hour and a half playing with kids who wanted to get things done -- with lots of help, of course!
This afternoon I sat in the recliner to watch a little TV and within three minutes was fast asleep!
If I'd just do this kind of thing every day, I wouldn't have a weight problem, would I?
The weather was sensational today. It was 62 degrees... almost a record for this time of year up here in the Pacific NorthWet. (The record is 64 degrees.) It felt like a Chinook wind was blowing most of the day.
I fear we're going to get some serious rain and cold soon, though. These are the waning days of fall. It's pitch dark by five at night and doesn't get light again till close to six. On December 21st (shortest day of the year) we'll only get eight hours of daylight in this latitude. Not a lot of fun, but during the summer we get sixteen hours of daylight, so it all balances out. It's just hard to remember this time of year. Jackie has SADS (Seasonally Affecting Disorder, or whatever it's called), so I have to keep her spirits up by acting like a silly lunatic whenever I go over to her side of the abode. She started playing Christmas movies and plays Christmas music in the car starting about mid-October as the sun sets earlier, to keep her mood up. She loves Christmas and said if it didn't come in December she doesn't know how she'd get through winter. So we're fa la la la la'ing and laughing all the way... and walking when we can. It's helping us both, although I don't have SADS. I have the HAPPIES because Obama will be our President in less than three months and until then I can just watch his young family and grin, and grin, and grin... and house sit for critters and their people, and write... and... play with the grand nieces whenever they come within range...
If I wasn't so broke, I'd be the happiest lunatic on the planet! So here's proof that you don't need to be well off to be happy. You just need to be in the thick of things and count your blessings!
If I started counting my blessings right now I wouldn't reach the end of my list until May 18, 2010! You, too?
Happy days are here again!
Friday, November 7, 2008
A relative called to tell me about a couple that attends her church. They were looking for someone to house sit when they have to be away from their home on business or pleasure. They have three horses (two quarter horses and an Arab) and six dogs (three large, three small). My relative told them about me, and me about them, because I grew up with horses and dogs and just about every other kind of Pacific Northwest critter.
So I drove over and met the couple yesterday and will be their house/critter sitter sometime this week for a day (overnight) and then in a few weeks I'll go there for several days. I'm very much looking forward to it. It'll be a lot of fun, and I'll get to hang with horses again after many years of being without them. If I remember, I'll take a camera and get some pictures of the animals to post here...
I've been getting small projects at Elance. It's such a blast to work this way. I've written the content for websites in Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Malawi) and Ireland this week. Last month I wrote an e-book for a lady in Queensland, Australia. My reviews are super. And I've broken the $2K barrier! That's not a lot spread over ten months but most of it has come in the last couple of months, so I'm making headway. As I get more projects and make a good impression and have more examples to share, I get a larger percentage of the projects I bid on. It takes time to build a business this way, but it's happening faster than I anticipated it would.
Barack looked mighty presidential at his first press conference post-election today, as expected. A lot of hopes and dreams and prayers are hanging on him. He'll do as great as the situation allows in every situation, I'm sure. He's very thoughtful and deliberates carefully before deciding. He reminds me a lot of DeForest Kelley in that way -- never in a hurry (except on a basketball court), careful when deciding, compassionate when disagreeing... He's the full meal deal, methinks!
My unemployment is just about to run out, so I need to find other ways to supplement my income; hence the house-sitting. I'll get a good letter of reference out of it and then post my availability on craigslist in the Tacoma area and see what comes of it. As long as the house where I'm sitting has an Internet connection, I can continue to write while I house sit because I have a laptop I can take along... I may get an Internet connect card for it (if my model isn't too old to accommodate one), so that I can house sit and keep writing for Elance clients even if the place doesn't have Internet...
I'm still applying for other local jobs, but the job market is pretty lousy. I'm concentrating on looking for writing or administrative assistant or reception jobs, as I have a background in all three. Would love to find a position that's part time and has health benefits; right now I'm paying for my own health benefits and it's expensive.
Our riding lawnmower died so we got a second hand one that's in good shape. The fellow who owned it has a mower shop and it was his personal mower. He said it should serve us for another ten years as long as we get it serviced every year, which we will. It's a John Deere and runs very well. He donated our old one to Bates Technical College so their mechanics students can work with it and try to get it going again.
This afternoon I watched my grand niece Jamie, age 4, for a couple hours while her mom Wendy cleaned the home of a neighbor. Jamie made three greeting cards and then we walked about a mile. After that she "remodeled" me with her toy beauty salon, adding a hair band, ear rings, a finger ring, and putting invisible, non-existent toenail and fingernail polish on me with utmost seriousness. And then she slathered me with at least 14 kinds of kids lip gloss -- flavored. After the first six layers, I asked her how many more she was going to put on me. She said, "Just a few more..." Pretty soon my multi-flavored lips were so slippery, sticky and heavy that I told her it felt like she had put a truck on my lips instead of lipstick. She laughed and laughed. Then I told her, "But it sure is a good-tasting truck!"
Then she said she wanted to clean up her "virtual" bedroom, so I suggested, "How about we clean up your REAL bedroom instead?" (the one in Jackie's side of the house, where we were), and she said, "Okay!" So we picked up the few things that were on the floor and she brought the real vacuum from the closet and I helped her run it. (It's massive and she's just a wee one.) She was very proud of the results.
At about that time, her mom came home and they had to run to pick up Casey (Jamie's older sister) from school, so off they went.
Jamie's a very well-balanced DISC personality (on the DISC personality scale). She's exemplary in all four areas. I recognized that she was a high C very early on: she knows where everything belongs and takes pains most of the time to be sure everything is in its place. Getting her to clean her room or tidy a table is no trouble at all. Her D is in full play, too: She's a good director (in a cute and charming way), telling everyone where to sit at the table and when to pray. Then her S (sensitive) nature is very well-developed, too. She really picks up on people's feelings and emotions and is right there to soothe and support when needed. And is she ever an "I"! She has no problem becoming the center of attention. She doesn't have a shy bone in her body, but is not "over the top," either (as I was as a child).
As we walked today, she was telling me that she was "worried" about coloring the greeting cards just right as she was making them. I told her, "Honey, don't ever be worried about making art. Art should always be fun to do. Worry is for other things, like being sure to look both ways before you cross a street and when you walk where there are a lot of cars. Worry is for times when you could get hurt by not paying attention. Art and writing should feel like play. There is not a lot of worry in most kinds of playing, is there?" She sighed and said, "I just worry sometimes." I said, "You should leave worrying to grownups, like mommy and daddy." She nodded and said, "I do, mostly." She's obviously very sensitive and has a passion to get things "just right." Nothing wrong with that. I think she really just meant "concerned" rather than worried, but doesn't know the right word for it yet. She comes across as just about the least worried child I know! She's seriously "concerned" about a lot of things, but not in a worried way. She's just full-out living life and knows that small dogs need special care and handling, and stuff like that. A super great kid. (Like all my grandnieces and kids of almost every stripe!)
Before we cleaned her room, she said, "You can help me!" I joked, "I didn't mess up your room, why should I help you clean it up?" She looked at our contractor (working in Jackie's bathroom painting a cabinet) and said, (joking), "'Cause I didn't make the mess all by myself. The worker did some of it!" She grinned and I said facetiously "Excuse me? I very much doubt the worker was in here playing with your dollies!"
Ray (the contractor, in his early 60's) responded, joking, "No, I gave up playing with dollies more than a week ago!"
Jamie laughed and said to me, "Well, it's not impossible!" So I said, "Okay, fibber, let's get in there and clean up the mess without blaming innocent people!" She giggled and went right to work. BUSTED! (She wasn't being serious when she "accused" him at all. She just thought it was funny.)
She's really a crack-up!
I think you'll be glad you did...
Head lights dimmer switches on the floor.
Ignition switches on the dashboard.
Heaters mounted on the inside of the fire wall.
Real ice boxes.
Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards.
Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner.
Using hand signals while driving cars (turn signals didn't exist).
Windshield wipers that weren't programmable (you got one speed)
Older Than Dirt Quiz:
Count all the ones that you remember, not the ones you were told about.
Ratings at the bottom.
1 Blackjackchewing gum
2. Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water
3. Candy cigarettes
4. Soda pop machines that d ispensed glass bottles
5. Coffee shops or diners with tableside jukeboxes
6. Home milkdelivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers
7. Party lines
8. Newsreels before the movie
9. P.F. Flyers
10. Butch wax
11. Telephone numbers with a word prefix (OLive -6933)
13. Howdy Doody
14. 45 RPM records
15. S&H green stamps
17. Metal ice trays with lever
18. Mimeograph paper
19 Blue flashbulb
21. Roller skate keys
22. Cork popguns
25. Wash tub wringers
If you remembered 0-5 = You're still young
If you remembered 6-10 = You are getting older
If you remembered 11-15 = Don't tell your age
If you remembered 16-25 = You're older than dirt!
I passed this quiz with flying colors.
I am officially am older than dirt, but those memories are sublime.
Sorry you missed out if you are younger than dirt.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I think you'll like him as much as I do (which is a LOT!)...
I couldn't agree more, or have said it better...
Although I'm not black, I have had a burden laid on my heart for the black race for a very long time. I understood and shared their beautiful, long-held tears last night.
America has come home to live out her creed "and justice for all."
But we're still in the foothills. It's a process and will take time. This economy and the other messes we're in won't be fixed overnight.
At least I feel we've made a smart start -- and today, my heart is singing praises!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Like I haven't voted ALREADY and called over 500 other people in the past four days to remind them to vote!
Did YOU vote for Barack?
Monday, November 3, 2008
It's the night before the American Presidential election. All polls indicate that Barack Obama will be our next President. This makes me very happy, but I know it gives others a case of the blues and a case of the fears.
I just want everyone to know -- whoever they vote for tomorrow -- that God is in control and He is allowing whatever happens tomorrow to happen. That said, I feel every kind of assurance that whatever he allows, he will take good care of. That's been his signature since time immemorial. There is no step we can take, for good or for ill, that He will not bring good out of.
He allowed His own Son to be nailed to a cross -- and look at all the good that came out of that!
So... I hope after tomorrow's election, we'll all try to find ways to heal and to come together and behave like kindred Americans. We're all in this together and the divisions and the paranoia that have kept us apart are illusory.
Let's commit to getting along. If we will just do that, there is nothing we can't do. And it's really all God wants -- that we should love one another, and treat each other well, even when we disagree.
Good luck tomorrow, whoever you support. I am praying a hedge of protection around all of our candidates and their families tonight and tomorrow as they wrap up their campaigns and as they retreat to their respective states to await the outcome.
It's up to us now. We get to choose. What a wonderful, wonderful country we live in, even when it needs a lot of fixing up and re-directing.
It's up to us to decide who to follow. That's HUGE!
Thank you, so much, for giving Barack the roots and the wings that have brought him to where he is today, Grandma! I'm sure you'll be watching from heaven from now on to be sure he stays on track and makes you proud!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I decided to write an e-book I can sell myself. I've written enough ebooks for other people the past few months; I figure it's time to start concentrating on getting a few out there with my own name on them!
I read a book called Red Hot Internet Publicity (by Penny Sansevieri) (http://www.redhotinternetpublicity.com/) a day or so ago and learned quite a bit about how to place e-books on-line so that I can get paid something when people download them. I might do the new De book that way next year, instead of going the tree-bound (hardbound and softbound) route. I'll look into it a bit more before I place the new e-book, but at least I have one ready to go! I can follow it up with more specifics. It could be a series of ebooks, actually.
It's called STRINGING WORDS TOGETHER: The Art and Craft of Effective Writing. (The title is copyrighted, so it's safe to reveal it before the e-book is available.) I wrote it for people who want to write but feel paralyzed whenever they try, and for people who aren't particularly afraid of writing, but want to know how to structure a piece so it will read well enough to get published somewhere.
I'm helping lead a Christian writing ministry at my church. We had our first critiquing session on Saturday and I'm re-discovering the common mistakes that new writers make. (I made all of them, and many more, all those years ago when I started out, so it felt like a homecoming of sorts!) My first e-book covers the common mistakes that new writers make and how to overcome them. I was surprised that the whole thing -- 16 pages -- took less than six hours to write. (Any research I needed was already stuffed into my brain!)
Leading the class has really crystallized for me what needs to be communicated in my new book. We have some AMAZING communicators in the writing ministry. I was moved to tears and to chills three or four times during the hour and a half we listened to "our very own" writers, none of whom have actually been published yet -- BUT WILL BE! (I have NO doubt!)
It's all very exciting. I'm looking forward to finding out what else the writers in the ministry need to know so that I can dredge up the answers and place them into e-books. The class is a terrific way to pick my brain and trip lazy synapses so my noggin can download what it knows -- because then I can get to it again, instead of just feeding off it unconsciously!