Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sowing the Seeds

I hope you all had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend and paused for a moment or two to give thanks to those who have given their lives for our freedoms, and to those who are continuing to serve here and overseas.

We spent it outside preparing our garden, and then planting on Monday, which really felt more like Sunday for me. I'm all screwed up this week, but that's nothing new! LOL!

Since the weather was spectacular (70's, slight breeze, some thin wispy clouds above and mostly sunshine), it was a crime to spend it in the house for any reason. We accomplished a lot in the last few days and are paying for it now. As my Aunt Naomi said, "Damn this getting old hurts!" Amen to that.

The vegetable garden isn't very big, but big enough for us. I have eight (8) Roma Tomato plants, four (4) Jalapeno pepper plants, some Dill, Thyme, Cilantro and Rosemary planted and soon to be added, some Okra. Most people here in the Northern Territories haven't a clue what Okra is or how on Earth you cook or why you would in the first place.

Okra is mainly a Southern plant, but it does grow up here, and my Mom chops it up and puts it in a batter of flour and cornmeal and something else and fries it. Some people fry it in bacon grease like my Aunt Treva. It's an acquired taste to be sure, but it's just something fresh and different.

We also planted most of the flower garden, but ran out of plants so there is a round, bare spot that needs to be filled in with something. I'm going to do that next week when the flowers go on sale and have Cannon help me plant them.

As I pondered what we accomplished in the last few days, I couldn't help but think of the symbolism of sowing the seeds and planting in the hopes of a good harvest. All around us the seedlings are starting to shoot up and all the insects and birds are taking advantage of the bounty while they can. I've seen honey bees, butterflies, cardinals, blue jays, humming birds (I'll be putting a couple of feeders up for them on my new double Shepard's hook QH gave me for my birthday), and we even rescued a baby bunny rabbit from an over excited Black Lab named Zack, owned by my landlord, Mike.

So, now the task is to weed, water and feed my precious little plants and hope they all make it and we have an abundant harvest this fall.

I'll also be seeding the market for more writing work. I still have my contest going until July 1st, so go to my business blog and enter your manuscript with the $10 entry fee! You can't win if you don't enter, so plant your seed today!

In the meantime, I'm also going to pray for rain. Or, I'll speed things along by washing my car! LOL!

Have a great week!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Contest Changes, Part 2

I've re-done the contest page at at the urging of several people who said it might look like a rip off, or a scam.

Ok. Point taken.

Check it out and send to everyone you know who writes, who might want to write, or might want a chance to win some cash.

This is it, kids. No more changes. It is what it is.

As for who is judging the contest, I will be judging along with a few other of my "reading panel", people I know who will give me their honest opinion.

If you are interested in being a judge, please let me know at and I can possibly use one more person. However, if you are a judge, this eliminates you from competition. Keep that in mind.

I'm looking for good stories, with minimal spelling and punctuation errors, basically something I can publish immediately on the website or in an ebook. Yes, there will be an ebook with the winners and honorable mentions. Possibly a print book in the future.

But I can't have any of those unless I have stories to read! Yes, that means you!

You can't win if you don't enter! So, the ball is in your court!

I've also posted a separate post with buttons for the Thank You Card Drive for Operation Minnesota Nice.

Now, I have work to do, so have a great day and enter today or donate $5 for a good cause.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Contest Changes Effective Immediately

If you go to my business blog, you will see I've made some drastic changes to my writing contest.

Go to for all the details.

If you don't want to click on the link, I will just give you the short version here.

I've decided to open up the age group to include anyone sixteen (16) years of age and older, meaning if you are all the way to 99 years old (or older), you can enter the contest if you submit a great manuscript with the
$10 non-refundable entry fee for each manuscript submitted.

Deadline is July 1, 2009, with winners announced on August 1, 2009.

This was requested by several writers who let me know that they would love to enter the contest, but couldn't because of my age limitation.

Ok. I'm flexible, so I opened it up and extended the deadline and I hope you all flood my Inbox and my P.O. Box with entries that will knock me out of my chair.


And since today is Armed Forces Day, in honor of our Troops, I am offering a Thank You Card, handwritten, for $5 each with every penny going to Operation Minnesota Nice, my favorite charity.

On July 1, 2009, I will present each card, signed with your name, along with all the money raised to this wonderful organization in time for the Independence Day celebrations.

Operation Minnesota Nice adopts soldiers of all branches of the service and sends them mail, packages and gifts that their families are not able to provide due to financial or other reasons. It's a small way to say thanks for them serving our country and with the postage hike that took effect on May 11, 2009, they need all the help they can get.

If you want to just donate, you can do any amount you like. Even if it's just $1.00, it will add up and make a difference.

Please pray for our troops and their families, and thank a service member no matter what branch they serve for keeping us free.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's Great News, and Boy, Did I Need It!!

The last couple of weeks have been challenging to say the least. At every turn an appliance was dying or dead and it seemed like it was not going to end.

It's also been an expensive week.

First, the vacuum cleaner would not turn on at all. Nothing. Tried almost every outlet in the house thinking I had a blown breaker or something, but nothing. Ok.

Next, I'm baking my famous cherry chocolate bars when QH asked me, "Why is the light in the oven flickering like that?"

"Um, the light isn't on." I opened the oven door to witness sparks like the 4th of July spewing out of my oven element. We literally watched it spark and fizzle itself out.

The bars were finished on the grill and had that slightly smoky taste, but they disappeared just the same. Ok.

Then, the washing machine was in mid-cycle, when it started making a noise equivalent to someone dropping ball bearings on my tin roof. The repairman came out and diagnosed that my 9-year old washer blew the transmission and snapped off the motor coupling at the same time.

Cost for service call: $80.
Cost to fix the washing machine: $380.
Cost for a refurbished washing machine: $135.

Because QH went all the way to St. Paul to buy it, pack it in the truck and bring it home: priceless *

*(oh, wait, the equivalent to a 2009 Harley Davidson Ultra Glide)

Then our bathtub drain plugged up.

No, it wasn't because I shaved my legs, either!

We think a little plastic cap from the faucet washed down the drain and was plugging it up. The plumbers showed up and fixed it in less than 2 minutes. The bill went to my landlord. I don't even want to know.

So, I guess I shouldn't complain, because everything was fixable. The vacuum was dead because of a blown fuse, which my friend Jessi fixed for me (thanks so much).

The oven was replaced by one my landlord had in his garage (it was an electric oven and he replaced his with natural gas). I spent Saturday in the garage inhaling oven cleaner fumes, but after one and a half cans of oven cleaner, some hot water, and some hard scrubbing, it looks brand new. Mike revealed that he'd used the oven for 2 years, never cleaned it and then just put it in the garage. My shoulders are still sore!

Now we need a microwave, a small one, because the old oven had the microwave attached to it. (It was Kenmore that was about 30 years old). Hopefully, we have a friend who has a small one we can use. In the meantime the stove top is reheating everything.

Oh, and in my rush to get the oven clean, I threw the knobs in the bucket to let them soak. I then proceeded to take the bucket, dump the contents into the toilet and flushed said knobs down the toilet.

We made a trip to Menards and spent around $70 on knobs, drip pans for the burners and a new burner (one was broken).

I'm close to putting a donation button on this blog to help defray some of the costs of the last two weeks! Seriously!

I was starting to get down about all this. When it's one thing after another after another, it gets to you. I wanted to just make it stop. Enough already.

But I got a jolt of perspective yesterday when I read my email.

My dear friend and fellow writer, Sandy Lender, emailed to let us know that her scans came out all clear and she is now cancer free. I immediately burst into tears, and thanked God and all the saints and every good thing in the Universe that she is now 100 % healthy. I felt the same way the first time my mother was given the all clear following her masectomy and she has been cancer free for over 9 years.

Sandy has been through every circle of hell there is and still has that same sweet smile, still takes care of all God's creatures great and small, and thinks more of others than she does of herself. Through all of this mess, her heart has grown more and she is an inspiration to me and all who know her.

She's also a talented writer and her books are proof of that, just go to and buy them and read them for yourself. I just have to warn you, make sure you have nothing else planned because once you start, you can't put it down!

You can read more about her at her website Today the Dragon Wins and her books.

Now, I'm going to stop whining, get the house cleaned and make dinner for my QH, and be grateful for all the good things I have in my life. Including my friend Sandy Lender and the fact I know have Fridays off.

If you really want to help, I do have a writing contest for young adult writers going on until June 1, 2009. Just go to my business blog at and check out the details. You can even enter via email and pay the $10 entry fee through PayPal.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Happy Birthday, Alex! (And Happy Cinco de Mayo, too!)

Twenty years ago today, I held a small little baby boy in my arms for the first time. It was 3:20 am at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, and I was 19 years old and scared out of my wits.

The one thing that kept me from losing my mind was the faith that everything would work out, that somehow, someway, I would be able to raise a healthy child and raise him to be a successful and productive adult.

Everything did work out, and he is a wonderful person, pursuing his life on his terms.

Of course, I can't take all the credit. I did all I could to surround him with people who loved him, cared about him, and wanted the best for him. My parents, my brother and sister and their spouses and children, and of course, QH, who has been a wonderful father when his biological father made the decision not to participate in his life.

I may not agree with Hillary Clinton's politics or policies, but I do agree with her on one point: It takes a village to raise a child, especially now.

This birthday is a little strange and a little heartwrenching. This is the first birthday my son has had to celebrate without me. I know it may not be a huge deal to some people, but it is to me.

I can't send him a cake, or hug him or throw him a party. He's on an aircraft carrier in Virginia, serving his country in the United States Navy. Mail takes about 2 weeks to get to him, no matter what, and with the security measures in place what is sent is put through a ton of inspections. I don't think a cake would survive unless it was a pound cake! If anyone has any tips, I would like to know how to send stuff to those in the service that would hold up and survive security inspections! Please leave a comment here or email me at

And then Mother's Day is this weekend too, so I'm trying to keep busy through the next few days, and shedding a few tears here and there, but I'll be fine. I have to be, I'm Alex's Mom, after all. And this situation is just temporary.

And to all of you, may you have a Happy Cinco de Mayo also! When Alex was born, I had no idea he was born on a holiday, and I think it's kind of cool.

And who knows, we may be able to spend his birthday together next year, maybe in Florida, on vacation as a family again.

I have faith everything will work out.