Monday, December 06, 2010

Winter Wonderland 2010

This picture was taken a few years ago at my MIL's place, and it still awes me how beautiful winter can sometimes be. This weekend we ended up with a few more inches of snow, and now that NaNoWriMo is finished for another year, I am getting anxious to tackle another writing project. But first, I have a lot of editing to do on some of the books and articles I have already written. One thing about the cold weather, it's a great gift to those of us who write. Sure, we are sometimes out in the snow and the cold, but when the wind whips up and the snow starts to drift in, there is nothing better than to be sitting in front of the computer with some great tunes and some hot chocolate. If the power goes out, then do it "old school" and write by candlelight and use a pen and a notebook. It's amazing what you can get done in the time you have.

When I was younger, I lived in North Dakota, where it seemed it snowed much more and more often than it does here in Minnesota. I remember the excitement of knowing a blizzard was coming so I would make sure I got to the public library and visit Mrs. Zimmerman who worked there, and I would check out as many Nancy Drew mysteries for myself, and some Agatha Christie mysteries for my mother, or maybe some Stephen King if she and Dad had not read his latest one in paperback. Then we would read, or cook something really good for dinner, like chicken and dumplings, or beef and noodles, or even hamburger gravy on toast, which my sister, Kelley would call "hamburger maybe on toast." We would be inside, safe and warm, and this was before the days of cable television and we would play board games, like Connect Four, or Sorry, or Uno.

I miss the days when we would get out of school early or if we were really lucky, there would be no school at all and it would be a Friday so we would have a 3-day weekend. Then we would go out in the snow and play and make igloos or carve a cave out of the drift of snow by the house or play "King on the Hill."

A lot of these memories came back to me this weekend when I was out shoveling at my MIL's house and out by my own garage. We had to put a new tire on the snow plow and I stood out there and marveled at how beautiful it all was covered in pure white. I hope you take some time this week to check out the marvels of this winter wonderland.

Have a great week, and stay warm!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Thanksgiving Gift of 50,204 Words

Total Word Count on Day 28:  50,204 verified! 

As you can see, I have completed my goal of writing over 50,000 words in a novel in the month of November. True, I didn't write every single day or I would have finished this goal a few days ago, but I still feel like I accomplished something.

Is the novel finished? No. I still have a few things to do to complete the story. I have a lot of loose ends to tie up and a lot of chronological plot points to fix, not to mention, I lost complete track of what chapter I was on and just wrote "Chapter Something Something" to start off and end a section. The lesson in doing this is not to have something written that is "perfect," in the words of Fred Gleeck, "Done is better than perfect." I totally agree. I had to keep writing and keep going and just let the words flow out. To stop and edit, well, that would defeat the purpose and slow me down. Editing is for later. Get the story written down. Whatever you don't like about it, you can cut out and rewrite, or you can change it or if you love it and can't make it fit, then you can keep it, and find a way around it. There is more than one way to write a novel.

Congratulations to everyone this year who met and exceeded their goals, whether you participated in National Novel Writing Month or not. If you even wrote an article, a journal entry, a paragraph, or just a note to your spouse expressing how much you love them and you received a positive response, then you deserve congratulations. Writing is a very solitary and underappreciated undertaking. Most people who are not writers wish they could be, and most of the people who are writers know they can't be anything else.

Thanks to all my family and friends, writers and non-writers who cheered me on and told me to keep going. I appreciate all of your love and support and encouragement. Without that, this would never have happened. I truly appreciate all you have done for me, not just this month but every month this year. 

I hope all of you had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday and I will be posting soon about the novel and what I plan to do with it, so stay tuned. It's not completely over just yet! :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Skipping to Day 23

NaNoWriMo word count as of Day 23:   45,065

Ok, I know, my updates haven't been as frequent or as timely. My apologies to all of you. I've been a bit busy.

I promise to let you all in on the details later, but for now, rest well in the knowledge I have not given up and I am still writing. :)

Have a great day! And stay warm. :) 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Days 12, 13, & 14

Total word count:   32,675

I was looking at my previous posts and realized that most of them were not matching up with the dates. I am on Day 14 of my National Novel Writing Month novel. I have been writing on and off all weekend, and watching a lot of "Dexter" Season One and Two. Now I'm watching "Stargate: SG-1" on the television, not on Netflix.

We still have snow, but it's not like it was yesterday. It's really wet and heavy and if it warms up tomorrow, a lot of it will melt. The ground isn't even frozen yet. It's been nice to be home just hanging with my son, Alex, and my honey, QH. We had Pappa Murphy's All Meat Pizza with cheesy bread and cinnamon wheel for dinner. That's been the only time I've gone out of the house all weekend.

I have to get back to my writing.

I hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Day 11-Whoohoo! Snow!

Total word count as of Day 11:  30,469

Today is Friday. My day off. I usually have Fridays off, and I love and appreciate that fact, especially today. Why? Well, I take Fridays as my running around day: errands, cash my paycheck, grocery shopping, and usually, I am so tuckered out, the thought of cooking supper (tonight it was chinese from the China Buffet here in Zimmerman) or sitting down to write make me want to just take a shower, put on my jammies and call it a night.

Instead, I got home around 4:00 pm and was happy to still have a few minutes to settle in, get my stuff put away and then order dinner. The love of my life, QH, was home, and my son, who isn't feeling well and called in sick today, we all got to sit down TOGETHER and have a nice dinner. Since I work nights, it's usually rare that we are all home at the same time, let alone home together long enough to sit down and have a meal together that isn't breakfast on the weekend.

I just peeked outside and it is snowing. This is the first snowfall of the season here and I feel that I am not ready for snow yet. As QH pointed out to me, this is November, after all, and ironically, in the novel I am writing for NaNoWriMo, there is an impending snowstorm coming that will work into the plot and may be a background character in this novel. I can't change the weather, so I guess I will have to embrace the snow.

Most everyone wants me to post some of this novel, but I need to polish it up a bit before I can do that. And I want to finish it first. I want to have it all done before I start putting chapters out there for people to read.

In answer to the next logical question, "Are you going to publish it anywhere?" That's a good question. If I can't find someone to publish it in the traditional sense, I am playing with the idea of publishing it myself. Mainly because I have always wanted to learn what that whole process is about, not just by posting it on my blog or anything, but by going through the whole idea-to-book-to-print book form. I can publish it myself as an e-book, but I'm not sure right now what exactly I will do with it. I'm still playing and having a fabulous time doing it.

But more than just the Fun Factor, because I am doing a discipline, an adhered to writing schedule, a ritual, if you will, I can see that the rest of my life is falling into place. I have learned this before in the previous NaNoWriMos I have done in the past, even the ones I didn't win at. When you find something you really love to do, like write, sculpt, knit, play guitar, sing, or shoot targets, it doesn't matter what activity it is, if you can really lose yourself to it and time just flies by for you and you feel renewed by doing it, it is exactly what you need to do more of. Life is short. You may not wake up tomorrow. Will you really say, I'll really miss working today? Most of us don't like the jobs we do. My jobs have always enhanced my writing because I have been able to transfer the skills I have and apply them to my writing and vice versa.

And there is no greater boost to you or your mood when you accomplish a goal you set out to achieve. I was shooting for a minimum of 2,000 words per day. Today, I exceeded my expectations, and I feel fantastic: Whoohoo!

Stay safe, stay warm and go play in the snow tomorrow, if it sticks around long enough to play in or make a snowman or two!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Day 9 & 10 Past the Halfway Mark

Total word count after Day 9 & 10:    25,358

I was hoping I would get past the halfway mark after today, and I am proud to say I have met my goal. I was feeling a bit under the weather, mostly I think due to the time change. For some reason, it seems to be affecting me more this year than in other years. I don't know why. Maybe because I'm an old woman! :)

Anyway, I did write some words on Day 9, but I wasn't in the mood to write last night and tonight, I just sat down and let it all go and when I couldn't see the keyboard anymore and I kept making mistakes, I decided to see where my word count was, and there it is above.

Now, I'm heading to bed. More writing tomorrow. I want to see if I can finish this before next week. :)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Day 8 The Fingers Are Flying!

Total word count as of Day 8:   20,961

I cannot believe I am almost halfway done after one week! I did write a lot today, I had a few plot points I wanted to get into my novel and they did, and my characters are becoming more real and more clear as I am writing this. I know that I'm going to have to edit A LOT if I want to sell this or publish it myself, but I am having so much fun!

I have a lot of respect for people like Stephen King, James Patterson, John Sandford, and Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich and Patricia Cornwell. I can see how much writing takes and if you have a job, like I do, and a family, the writing has to be scheduled or it won't get done. I feel much better this last week since I started doing National Novel Writing Month than I have in past years during NaNoWriMo and even this last year! I feel almost guilty for enjoying this so much.

Now, it's off to bed. I have a lot more writing and other stuff to do tomorrow. I will keep you all posted, so please check back tomorrow or leave a comment. And thank you for your support.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Day 6 & 7

Total word count after Day 6 & 7: 15,316

Here I am, ready to fall asleep at the keyboard. I got up at 7:00 am this morning thinking it was still 8:00 am this morning because I forgot to set all my clocks back. Thank goodness my cell phone did it automatically and we were able to get everything synchronized to the correct time. I still feel like it's later than it really is, and I know from past experience that it's going to take me a while to get used to this new time change.

This weekend the weather was beautiful and it was also a bit hectic. We took care of a lot of things around the house and the yard, including washing my windows inside and out. I also had to take a trip to the Humane Society of Coon Rapids because someone dumped six small kittens off at our place. They were about 8 weeks old, all had their eyes open and were mewing and crying and scratching all night to come into my house, then the next day into the garage. We don't like cats, but we were not going to put with them running around mewing and crying and getting run over by one of us or become owl food out here in the great outdoors I call my backyard. I had a hard time sleeping that night because I could hear them crying and scratching and I wanted to let them in, but I knew if I did, that would be it. Saturday we picked them up, they were not afraid of us, put them into a box and I took them to the Humane Society, the same place I had adopted my Eesha girl over 15 years ago.

I brought them in, and told the nice lady what had happened, she checked them all out and filled out the paperwork. They are old enough to be spayed/neutered, and will have the surgery this week, then be micro chipped and finally put up for adoption on Wednesday or Thursday. Maybe sooner, depending on how things go. I can check on them online because they all were assigned a number and there is a website so I will know when they are adopted. How cool is that?

One more thing.

I want to make this clear to everyone.

I don't want any cats.


I'm a dog person and I don't want a dog right now either.

I have a crazy work schedule and a crazy writing schedule and I barely have time to spend with the love of my life, QH, and my son, Alex.

I have no time for pets, and this is not the humane society or the animal shelter. If you have a pet and are not responsible enough to have it fixed and think dumping off the litter someplace out in the woods by some houses is a great idea, you are dead wrong. Take them to the humane society where they can be put up for adoption. Be more intelligent than your animals. You have opposible thumbs for crying out loud. If you haven't had your pet fixed, do it! And don't give me that, "I can't afford it get them fixed." If you can't be responsible and help keep the pet populations down, then you don't need to be a pet owner.

Now, I'm getting off my soapbox and going to bed. Have a good Monday. :)

Friday, November 05, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Day 5 Back In The Saddle Again

Total word count as of the end of Day 5: 10,149

I guess that two day break did me a lot of good. Today was my errands day and I spent it also seeing my nephew, Cannon, who is four years old. He is in preschool this year, and he was telling me all about school, and Star Wars, and his new video game and trick-or-treating and all other sorts of stories. I love being around him and I miss him so much. I used to babysit him from the time he was 6 weeks old until this spring, and he brings so much joy and laughter. You miss that sometimes in your day-to-day when you don't have small children around. (I am not going to be birthing any babies. I enjoy other babies so I can spoil them and send them home to their parents! Sorry, Mom.)

I also stopped a my parents house to see my Mom and Dad, but Dad was at the doctor's office. Mom was glad to see me, and we had a nice visit. I'm going back to their house tomorrow so I can see Dad and pick up my jars so I can make jelly.

The funny thing is, I have been just so busy today and I was really tired, but then I said, I have to write my 2,000 words, at least, and then once I got started and got the music cranking in my headphones, I just flew through the words. Amazing. I guess it's like exercise, that you may not feel like doing it, and you whine about it and then once you start doing it, you feel like a million bucks because you didn't wuss out and fall asleep in front of the television, AGAIN, drooling on yourself watching something like "The Men Who Stare At Goats."

I feel much better now, and I'm really tired. More tomorrow. :)

NaNoWriMo: Day 3 & 4

Total word count for the past 2 days: 0 (zero)

Now, let's talk about this. I know I promised I was going to write 2,000 words a day or more. So far, I have met or exceeded that goal. Now I have two days with no words written on my novel. I'm ok with that.

Part of being in this writing challenge is to know when you need a break, not a long one, but a short one. I have a job, a family, a house to clean, laundry to do, and a voice in my head that begins to wear on my nerves when I am not taking care of these things. The voice turns louder and becomes many voices and nags at me until I DO SOMETHING about the situation or the laundry or makes dinner, or in my case, makes cookies. I also had to give myself time to work things out in my plot.

I know, it sounds like I'm copping out or making excuses for procrastinating, but the truth of it is, I usually get a little worn around the edges when I start out with such a lofty goal and hit it really hard right out of the gate. I did need a break. I was pooped. And since I am working a full time job while I'm doing this, I have to make sure nothing is slipping in my performance at work. 

If you are concerned for my mental well being, I appreciate and acknowledge your concern. Thank you. But I am on medication and I'm fine, voices and all. I also have had a long "conversation" with my characters in my novel and they are promising to make things interesting for this novel challenge. This one might be published. Who knows? You never know until you write it. And that's a more important lesson for any writer out there. If you don't write it out, you won't know if it works or not. Even if it doesn't work, you didn't lose anything at all because you learn so much from going through the process of writing.

Now, I'm going to take a shower, relax and go to bed. And then I'm going to wake up to another beautiful day tomorrow (I hope), and will write my butt off.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010: Day 2

I'm now at 6,747 words total.

I'm flying through this novel. I feel like a runner in a marathon, and the high they talk about as they reach a mile marker and know they are well on their way to the next marker.

I never run. Most of you who know me personally, know that even though I should, I never run. Exercise is the "E" word to me, but I can walk. I love to walk. And now that things are starting to settle in my life and in my writing, I feel the urge to walk. Especially this week.

Last week the weather was like walking out in a hurricane. The cold and the wind and the rain and the dark clouds made you just want to climb back into bed and sleep. This week, the sun is shining and the temperatures are cooler, but the sky is that bright brilliant blue that it only gets in the fall, and with the white puffy clouds, it feels like a perfect day. The leaves make noise underneath your feet, and the trees have bared their hands to heaven. Smells like wood burning and a pumpkin pie baking or some banana bread warm and out of the oven, just make you want to bottle days like this and save them.

Writing is my way of recording what I observe, make sense of what I see, taste, smell, hear, and most importantly, feel. I have always been an observer. I've been content to over hear conversations, to look and watch to see what happens. I was blessed to find a partner in life who enjoys "people watching" like I do and we love when we can just sit back and see how people interact in large crowds, in public, with their families, and their kids.

We also like reading the T-shirts.

One of the most important lessons I take from doing an exercise like NaNoWriMo is the fact I can write whatever I want and it can be the worst crap in America.

And that's ok.

For many years, I thought to be a good writer, you had to struggle and you had to perfect every word, every sentence, every paragraph. You don't have to be that rigid. You can just write. Write your ass off. Write because you feel like it. Write because you are happy, sad, confused, hurt, or bored.

One of the best lessons from Mrs. Fliginger was to just write something, anything, until you write something else. If we couldn't think of something to write, then she would say, "Then write 'I don't know what to write' until you think of something better to write."

I have had to do that to get through my articles, to finish my NaNoWriMo novels in the past when I have let the perfection run me right into a writer's block. It's a trick that works so well. It's so simple and so easy. You almost think it has to be more complicated than that to work. Stop complicating it.

Just write. Be happy, and just write.

Monday, November 01, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010

I was debating this year if I would participate in National Novel Writing Month and after some thought, I decided I would. I was more anxious to get started this year than in other years, maybe because I've had the plot of the horror/thriller novel I've started writing in my brain for a few months. Just like in past years, I didn't have the whole plot, but just a rough of what I wanted to write and I would just write it, editing later or letting it sit in limbo in my harddrive. But this year, it's been clear to me more than ever before that the reason I was so anxious to begin is because I've been repressing my writing tendencies for the last few months. I've let life get in the way of my writing.

First it was my new job, which has helped me organize my thoughts and the rest of my life and I've been busy there helping them get things together for events that have come up. I'm looking forward to being hired on full-time, but having a process, a discipline if you will, has helped my writing, when I've taken the time to do it, immensely. I've been able to clarify my thoughts, organize my thoughts and to manage my time much more efficiently. I've been able to write in my journal, sporadically, but I have to write at least a few times a week or I get really crabby.

My English teacher, Mrs. Fliginger, always told us that to be a better communicator you must write at least 2 pages per day, that's 2 notebook pages, front and back, wide ruled. I sometimes write more, sometimes I write less, but I shoot for at least 2 pages in my journal, and it's wide ruled. Thanks to her, I can't write in a college ruled notebook. It just seems wrong.

But the one thing this NaNoWriMo does for me, is the equivalent of running a marathon. You push yourself to see how far you can go. You set goals for yourself and with each word you write you come closer to the finish line. It make take me all month to write this novel, it may not. But thank goodness I have the opportunity to see what I can do. I feel so wonderful after I've "won" a NaNoWriMo and last year, I bragged and told everyone I was going to win it in the first week. Instead, I failed miserably, fell flat on my face. I was so embarrassed by my ego and my lack of organization I didn't even finish my novel nor did I post how many words I wrote. Not this year.

This year, I will post my daily word count on my blog here and on the NaNoWriMo website. If you want to check up on me there, go to and look for Laura Crawford.

To my fellow writers and NaNo participants, Good luck and Happy Writing!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October Days

This is sunset on Lake Mille Lacs near Isle, facing Father Hennepin State Park.

This has been serenity for me and QH, the love of my life, the last few weeks. We drive an hour to get there, and an hour to get back home, but the last few weeks it has been worth it. The weather has been phenomenal, even though the fishing hasn't, but when you can see bald eagles diving for fish, loons diving and surfacing and a sunset like this that pictures don't do justice, it's worth the work and the miles to be there.

I'm sad this season and this month have gone by so fast. Fall seemed to be here suddenly and going just as fast. But I feel like I've enjoyed more of it this year than I did last year. And while I didn't do as much canning this year, I know I've accomplished a lot in the last couple of months, much more than I believed I could or expected I could.

With winter coming, I know things have to be done to prepare. The windows need to be covered in plastic. I need to find the boots, the winter coats and gloves. The winter car kits needs to be re-assembled and put in the vehicles, not to mention the cars themselves need to be attended to: oil changes, tire rotations, and checking of the antifreeze levels.

Outside, the tomatoes are gone. The flowers are dying more with each passing frost. The hummingbird feeders are now clean and drying and waiting for spring.

I know most people think the fall season is depressing, but I find it rejuvenating. Halloween is coming and there is something special about the bare, dark arms of the trees stretching into the night sky, with a full moon, as if they were hands reaching up to hold it there in the sky. The brown and dry corn fields, the scarecrows, the pumpkins, the rustle of leaves as you walk through them. The smell of wood burning in a bonfire outside, and the call of ducks and geese as they gather and fly overhead.

I think of all the things I accomplished this year, and all the things I still want to accomplish. I went to the Grand Opening of the new bookstore in town called the Reading Frenzy Bookshop, and I was like a kid at Christmas. A place for me to buy books, donate the books I have read, and soon, to have my own book sitting on that shelf for sale. I saw myself in there at my own book signing, and dreamed last night of holding a writing class there. All things I have yet to accomplish in the physical world, but still alive in my imagination. It may take a month or two to make it happen, but I will accomplish my writing dreams. 

October is a time for me to check my yearly "To-Do" List and see if I am where I want to be.

I love this time of year, and love the sights and sounds of all the October Days.

Cherish them while you can.

Monday, September 27, 2010

You Just Never Know What People Are Struggling With

Tonight started like any other night at work. Later, it would change in a direction I never expected.

I heard the story on the news about a man in Siren, Wisconsin, who was killed after shooting at people randomly, wounding 3 people, including a sherriff's deputy who was shot in the arm and ended up firing on the suspect. The suspect was shot in the throat and died on the way to the hospital. The full story is here at this link:

When I heard this story on the news, I thought, "What the hell is going on in this world?" I was glad to hear that nobody else was killed or seriously hurt. Then you think, "What on Earth could be so bad that you have to start shooting at people because they are there? There had to be something really wrong with that person (the suspect) for them to just go out shooting like that."

For the people who were shot at, it had to be terrifying. I can't imagine what they must have gone through, especially the van with a family and children in the vehicle.

I feel sad for the family who lost their loved one in such a manner, wondering what could have been done to help them. What were they going through that was so terrible? Did they just lose their job? Did they break up with a significant other? Did someone they care about recently pass away suddenly? You just never know what people are struggling with, which is why it's best to try and be kind to people, even if they aren't very kind to you.

Mike Ritchie was someone I only knew a few short weeks at my new job. He was a set-up tech, and was usually the first one in with the start ups and a smile. He usually brought us Jolly Rancher candies or butterscotches and was happy to tell us stories about Siren, Wisconsin, where he drove home to every day from work, and then drove back to work each day to Anoka, Minnesota. I knew he liked to hunt because he talked about deer hunting and bear hunting.

The last day I saw him, he looked like he was upset about something. He didn't smile and joke like he did before. He didn't say anything. He just came in with some paperwork and then turned around and left. Not like him at all. I remembered him saying his cat had died, and he was upset about that, but I didn't know if that was troubling him or if there was something else. I didn't know much about him.

I didn't ask.

It was none of my business.

I just chalked it up to he was having a bad day and thought, "He'll work it out for himself."

Nobody but Mike and God know what was going through his mind on Sunday morning at 11:45 a.m. when he began shooting randomly at people in Siren, Wisconsin. No autopsy in the world will be able to rerun the last thoughts going through his brain. It will say if he was on drugs, alcohol or under the influence of some other substance. But for his family and his friends, the question will still be, "Why?"

Mike, I hope you find peace, wherever you are. And I'm sorry I didn't ask what was bothering you. I don't know if it would have made a difference or not in what happened on Sunday. I'll never know.

My prayers go out to those people Mike shot at. I hope you all can overcome this terrifying incident and can still find the good in people.

Please, everyone, be kind to one another. And if you see someone is not acting the way they usually do, please, ask them if they need to talk, or if there is something they need. Sometimes people just need to vent and sometimes just knowing somebody acknowledges they are there means the difference between triumph or tragedy.

But if someone is depressed and in trouble, make it your business, especially if they are a friend or a relative. You may save more than one life just by asking a simple question, "Are you ok?"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cooler Weather, Fall Cleaning and Chicken Feet

Fall is my favorite time of year, always has been, always will be. I used to look forward to shopping for school supplies, new clothes, and new shoes and the changing colors of the leaves on the trees. The weather here is considerably cooler than it was 2 or 3 weeks ago and I am welcoming it with open arms. Soon I will be cooking and canning and preparing what I can for the winter to come. There is a sense of accomplishment, love and pride when you look at all those jars, big and small sealed and full of something spicy or sweet.

The funny thing is, when I was younger, I hated helping my mother with canning. Now, I think it's the greatest thing!

The last couple of weeks have been really out of control and I've done what I can to cope. I can't control what's happening around me to the ones I love or what will happen later on down the road for them, but I can control my own environment. Fall Cleaning Bug has hit me hard, not just at home, but at work as well. Out with the clutter, and the stuff that is just collecting dust and taking up space. I'm beginning to feel a lot better, better than I have in a really long time.

I keep asking, "Why the hell did I hang on this? What the hell was I thinking?" The answer is simple. I wasn't thinking. I was impulsively buying stuff I didn't need or stuffing crap in boxes or tubs or containers and stuffing them under my bed or my closets. I still feel a bit guilty for throwing things away, but most of the stuff I have I know I can take to Goodwill or the Salvation Army and it can be put to good use by someone else. I just have to stop and live with the empty spaces. No matter how uncomfortable it feels at first. I know I can't let things clutter up like I have in the past. It's not healthy to hang on to things you don't use or love anymore. I have to learn to let go. It's hard, because I've lost so much in my life, and using the stuff to fill the voids was comforting for a while, but now, it's annoying me, and I realize it's rather sad. I don't want to live like this anymore.

And I really don't want to end up on the next episode of "Hoarders."

It was during my lastest cleaning binge this weekend that I had one of the most humorous moments in the last month. It was Sunday, and the weather was beautiful, so I had the windows and the doors wide open. I'm on my hands and knees scrubbing my bathroom floor, and I got up to shake out my rugs and sweep and mop the kitchen and the entryway. I came into the kitchen and saw a spot of red behind my kitchen chair. I looked under the table. Guess what I saw?


My neighbor has chickens and they have been spotted roaming around the road and the driveway. I don't really know they are around, but that morning, the rooster made his presence known under my open bedroom window. After a few "choice words" I heard the window shut and I went back to sleep. And now, here I am looking at Mr. Rooster's feet under my kitchen table!

Alex was sitting in front of the computer with his headphones on, watching a movie, so he was oblivious to what was going on. I got his attention, and asked him to help me get the chicken out of the house.

We tried to shoo the rooster out of the doors, but he ended up going behind my couch, then under the end table. Finally, he found his way out behind the recliner. All the while I'm trying to whistle, coo, click and wondering, "What the hell do you say to a chicken to get their attention?" I'm a country girl at heart, but I've never had any experience with farm fowl, so I was improvising the best I could.

He finally exited and I shut both the doors.

It's too bad I didn't have the camera going. It would have been hilarious on YouTube!

I hope you all have a good week!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Good News-Times Four!

Here are the updates on the family. It's all good news (I'm an optimist)!

The update on my Dad: The test results came in on Friday. He did have cancer. The mass was contained in the section removed from his colon. Only one (1) lymph node out of twenty-seven (27) showed cancer cells. This means the cancer hasn't spread to any other organs and he will have to go through treatment once he recovers from surgery. I can't tell you how lucky he is, or how lucky we are this is how things turned out. Now we just need to get him to cooperate with what the doctors want him to do, like no heavy lifting, following instructions, etc. He may be coming home on Tuesday.

The update on Virgil: QH's brother came through his quadruple bypass on Wednesday and may be home on Tuesday as well.

The update on Alex: The pins were removed from his right hand on Tuesday (the same day as Dad's surgery). He's continuing with hand therapy and still on work restrictions, but the doctor is pleased with his progress so far. He may have to have a second surgery to straighten out his fingers. We'll have to wait and see.

The update on Jesse & Patrice: On Friday, September 10, they welcomed Lillian Mary Milless into the world. We visited her and her parents on Saturday. She is beautiful and healthy and is going to be well loved, like her big sister, Ava Jeanne.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers, well wishes, and good thoughts. We all appreciate your love and support. Now I can't wait to go back to my regular schedule, with a few improvements. But I feel like we won the lottery the last couple of months. Things could've been so much worse, but I am so grateful they turned out the way they did. Now to put this all behind us and keep moving forward.

Have a great week and remember to count your blessings!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Goal for Today: Live

This Labor Day weekend didn't pan out like we wanted. I'm telling all of this here for my family and friends, so they will know what happened.

Saturday afternoon, my mother called to tell me my father was in the hospital. I was shocked, but not surprised. Dad hasn't been feeling well for months. He has had digestion issues, and twice that I know of, he's been suffering from bowel obstructions. This time he had one again, and he surrendered and let Mom take him to North Memorial in Maple Grove to the Emergency Room.

Sunday, Mom called to say Dad would be having surgery. She added, "Your Dad has colon cancer." I felt the blood drain down to my feet. His sister, Colleen, had colon cancer. She lived with a colostomy bag for the rest of her life, which ended way too soon last year in August. I got ready and Alex and I went to the hospital to see him.

Dad didn't look good. He was in pain, and still trying to pass the obstruction. The doctors had a large bottle of clear liquid with some pineapple flavoring that he was supposed to drink by the end of the day to help things along. We didn't stay long so Dad could rest. My brother, Andy, and his lovely wife, Lisa, drove all the way to Minnesota from Oklahoma and arrived on Monday.

Monday, Dad was scheduled for surgery, but it was post-poned to Tuesday. We saw Dad at the hospital and he was looking better than I'd seen him in months. He was smiling, drinking coffee and sitting on the edge of the hospital bed. I was hopeful, this might actually turn out okay. Please God, let this turn out okay.

Tuesday, surgery day, I called my very understanding employer and told them what was going on, and that I would not be in and why. I was there with Mom, Kelley, Andy, Lisa and Alex. Alex and I had a busy day already because Tuesday was the day his pins came out of his hand. He called it a "declawing" and now I can't call him "Wolverine" anymore. It was a relief, for both of us.

The surgeon, Dr. Kern, was a striking resemblence to my cousin, Nick, Jr. He explained in plain English what he was going to do and how, and what his goals were, best case and worst case. I imagined him in a uniform as a military surgeon, like he just got home from Iraq or Afghanistan and walked right back into performing surgery on civilians. Dr. G.I.Joe.

Mom all through this was shaking, all the time. She wasn't going to be distracted by anything or anyone. She couldn't take her mind off of what was happening. Neither could I. I don't think anyone of us has slept right or eaten right or paid much attention to anything the last few days.

The surgery started around 2:10 p.m. and it was over when Dr. Kern walked out at 3:40 p.m. to explain how things went. Better than expected. Dad was able to keep his spleen, no colostomy bag, and Dr. Kern was able to sew together both pieces of his colon and he took the mass they found, and a few lymph nodes to send for testing for cancer. We should hear by Friday, September 10th, what the results are. As he left, and walked out of the lobby, Mom collapsed into tears.

"It's over, it's over, it's finally over," she sobbed into her hands. We all gathered around Mom, hugging her and crying.

Before Dad went to surgery that day, I looked at his board. It tells his name, the date, the name of his doctor, etc. Down a little lower, it reads: "Goal for Today".

Dad wrote: "Live."

Mission Accomplished, Dad. Mission Accomplished.

Those of you out there reading this, please, if you are not feeling yourself, or if you have a high risk of colon cancer or prostate cancer in your family history, don't let economics get in the way of your health. If you have to beg, borrow or steal, or sell a few things, please, get your colonoscopy exam after age 50. Get your mammograms and your pap smears. Don't die of embarrassment or because you think you can't afford it.

Goal for Today: Live.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cooler Sunday

Last night we were at the Wolf Den for the Annual Pirate Party when we noticed the weather changed quite drastically. There was a small shower that passed through and then it was like all the heat and humidity was sucked out by the blowing wind. I was ready to head to the car to get my jacket, but I braved it out until we went home. It was so nice and cool and refreshing! I didn't want it to end! And the breeze was keeping the mosquitos at bay so it was wonderful to be outside.

Today we spent most of the day with the windows wide open and the air conditioning off. Man, what a difference that makes! Much cooler Sunday, makes for a more productive and happier me. I was going to spend the day in the house cleaning and cooking and other things, but instead, Alex and I went to the video store in Zimmerman to rent some movies. Then we headed to my parents house to see my Dad who just returned home from North Dakota on Saturday night. He's the last one to see Alex's hand, and we gave him some excellent black grapes we bought at Jim's Market in Zimmerman. Mom and Dad sent home some homegrown potatoes, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes along with a piece of smoked fish and some salt water pickles.

In telling the story of what happened to Alex on Thursday night, we noticed something. Thursday, August 12, is George's birthday. George is QH's Dad who passed away in January of 2009. And the name of the surgeon was George Landis. I believe QH's Dad was watching over Alex the night of the accident.

I am still so very grateful he didn't have a worse injury than what he had. I'm still fighting that mother's instinct to do everything for him because he's my baby and he's hurt. But Alex is a grown man, and not a baby anymore. He wants to do as much for himself as he can, and yes, just like his mother, he won't ask for help unless it's absolutely necessary, meaning, as a last resort. I know that if I baby him, he'll be worse off, and he will not heal. If he meets the challenges he's facing on his own, in his own way, he will speed his own recovery, and hopefully stave off any depression or feelings of uselessness he might have with only being able to use one hand. It's a hard lesson for both of us, but we will be stronger for it.

This has been a hard week for lessons. In the town of Zimmerman, a young man named Glen "Bubba" Bye died in a car accident two weeks ago. He was the quarterback of the Zimmerman Thunder football team and a baseball player with a very bright future. He was on his way to work when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a tree. A Good Samaritan was with him after finding him, so he was not alone when he died, according to his mother on a recent news report.

I cannot imagine what pain that family is going through. My son is home, he's broken right now, but he's going to be okay. I worried about him being on the ship when he was in the Navy, when he went to Haiti during Operation Unified Response and when he was in South America. I imagined all sorts of horrible things happening that didn't happen, and then he comes home and this happens.

In true Crawford Tradition, if things are going really well, start worrying. Something's coming and it ain't good. I was hoping and praying Alex would be unscathed, but it was not meant to be. I know he must be playing the "What If?" game, "If I'd only done this, not that, then I would be ok." Well, those games don't change what's happened. The best use of your energy and time is to heal from what's happened and move on, remembering the lessons learned.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

More Gray Hairs

I came home Thursday night after work, looking forward to a nice, long shower, the air-conditioned comfort of my house, and a fun weekend. What greeted me as I arrived was QH with a worried look on his face. Uh-Oh.

My son, Alex, broke all four fingers on his right hand in a press brake machine at his job. He was taken by ambulance to North Memorial Hospital and had to have emergency surgery. QH said the fingers weren't crushed, just broken, and they were still attached, both good news, but he had trouble finding my new work number and wasn't able to call and tell me sooner. My cell phone works sporadically at best in the shop, so there was no way for him to reach me. Since Alex was in surgery, he decided to wait up until I came home to tell me.

I jumped into the shower, changed, and gathered some clothes and Alex's eyeglasses (he wears contacts), and pretty much ran out the door. QH was exhausted, and had to work the next day, so he went to bed. I drove in a wild thunderstorm to Robbinsdale, praying Alex would be okay. I wouldn't know how bad it really was until I saw my son.

When I was nearing Maple Grove, Alex called me and said he was out of surgery and in a room. He gave me the room number and I could hear he was groggy and tired, and I told him I was on my way with his clothes and his glasses. I got to the hospital, checked in with information, and made my way up the elevator to his room.

When I walked in, I saw his hand propped up on a pile of pillows, wrapped in a splint. His finger tips were visible and were nice and pink, not black and blue. I did see some dried blood, and he said it did bleed when it happened, but he said he could feel his fingertips and his thumb was ok. He said he heard the bones break when it happened, and they cut his T-shirt off when he got to the hospital. He also said he felt really stupid. I told him to get over that. Beating himself up over something he can't change was not going to do him any good. I told him it was an accident, and to concentrate on resting for now, and healing from this later.

His bosses at work were at the hospital earlier, checking up on how he was doing. Telling him he still has a job when he's ready to come back to work.

The nurses came in and gave me a few blankets and a pillow to settle in for the night. I slept in the recliner, watching the storm rage outside the window. I was thankful he would be ok, as I drifted in and out, but knew until I spoke with the surgeon, I would not relax until I knew for sure.

We spent the day at the hospital yesterday, and finally the surgeon, Dr. George Landis, arrived. I was immediately relieved by his presence, he was very kind and explained what happened with his hand, how he repaired it, and what his prognosis would be. I felt relief when he said there was no nerve damage and minimal tissue damage to his hand and with some therapy, he would get the full use of his right hand. He said Alex could come home and set about discharging him with instructions.

In 21 years, I've never had to go through Alex having a broken bone, or a trip to the emergency room. I told him 21 years without a broken bone wasn't bad, considering I had 6 broken bones before 2nd Grade, 4 stiches in my knee at 9 years old and a concussion at 15 years old.

I am grateful to the surgeon, the medics, and the nurses who took care of my son before I got to the hospital and while I was there. I can't say enough about the excellent job they did, and my gratitude extends to the supervisors Alex worked with who called 911 and put ice on his hand right away.

He's got a lot to think about in the next few weeks, and getting around with one hand is going to be a challenge, but my son is my son. He will come through this stronger than he ever thought he was, and while he will have some scars, I know he'll be a better man for it.

Thanks to my family and friends who have sent their well wishes for Alex and for me and QH. I have a few more gray hairs, but my son is still here and he will heal.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Flying Without A Cape

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July holiday. We spent it together with friends and family and a good time was had by all. Thankfully, the weather cooperated so the fireworks were amazing.

The heat and humidity have been up and down, and when it's up, I'm hiding in the house in the air conditioning. When it's down, I've been out weeding the tomatoes and the flower beds. I feel so much better being outside, but the heat just makes me nauseous. Ever since that last temp job, I can't handle the heat.

Speaking of jobs, I feel a bit like Wonder Woman or Super Girl flying around without a cape. I haven't worked in a few weeks, and I'm trying to stay busy, and positive at the same time, but there is still the worry that I won't have another job. There are a lot more jobs being posted, but most are things I'm overqualified for or under qualified for, or I have zero experience.

I'm beginning to think I'll have to invent my own damn job. Hmmmm. Sounds like fun! :)

I'll keep you posted with my progress.

A quick shout out to my old classmates from Garrison High School in Garrison, North Dakota (Class of '87). I'm sorry I couldn't make the All Class Reunion this year, but maybe the next one. I hope all of you are doing well and are safe, and if you are on Facebook, look me up: Laura Crawford.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!

Thanks to my Dad for always being there for me and for my son, Alex. You taught me so many things, including how to fish, and I cherish all those memories I have of us in the boat on Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota. You raised me as your own and I am grateful to still have you in my life.

Thanks to QH, who has been Alex's Dad for the last 15 of his 21 years. You have also been a great Dad to your own sons who still call and ask you for guidance and advice. You've also become a wonderful grandpa and I love you more each day when I see you melt holding little Ava in your arms.

Thanks to my grandfather, Julian (Bud) Crawford, who passed on when I was fifteen. He gave me the best advice anyone has ever given me, "Trust your gut." Coming from a World War II veteran, it's proven to be the wisest and truest thing I've ever heard. I've always regretted when I've gone against this advice. Thanks, Grandpa.

Thanks also to George Hathaway, QH's Dad, who passed away last year. Your son is fond of saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff," which is your advice. We all miss you and your laugh, especially when we watch Bugs Bunny, or Yosemite Sam ("Whoa, Camel!"). Thanks also for being my "reading buddy."

And finally, thanks to the father I never met. There have been times in my life when I thought I hated you for abandoning me and Mom all those years ago. I also wondered over the years why you never looked for me, or why I never looked harder for you. If you are alive or have passed on, it doesn't matter to me anymore. I've forgiven you for abandoning us, and have decided to let that fantasy of a tearful, Oprah-moment reunion go on and be part of my past. I can't carry that around anymore, I have much more important things to do. I've had a good life, and will continue to have a good life, with or without you. After all, you are the one missing out.

If your father is alive, or estranged from you, or passed on, find a moment to thank them, or forgive them (which is for your benefit, not theirs), or send a prayer to them. Dad's don't get the recognition they deserve, and often don't get shown the love and support they need to be active, loving parents. The court system often ignores the rights of fathers in divorce and custody hearings, when all they want is to be part of their children's lives, not just financially, but physically and emotionally as well. As a country, we need to stop putting all the power in the hands of the courts and the bias against fathers needs to end.

Thanks to all the fathers who have stepped up, taken responsibility and raised their sons and daughters to do the same. And a special thanks to all the Dads who are serving our country in the armed forces, both at home and abroad.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Observations On Birthdays, Classic Cars and Temp Jobs

Since my last post, I've turned a year older (June 11th). Considering how the last year was, I'm grateful I'm still alive and kicking. I'm also grateful I still have everything and everyone in my life.

Ironically, one year to the day I lost my full time job at the plastics factory in Rogers, I was cancelled at a plastics factory in Maple Plain I was hoping would be a temp-to-hire position.

It was more devastating than the first time because as hard as it was to lose my job and the friends I had there in Rogers, it was even harder this time because I had such high expectations. I talked to the staffing agency and asked what on Earth happened. No reason, really, just that's just the way the temp job-ball- bounces. As my son is fond of saying, "Here's your straw. Now suck it up."

I can't help taking it personally, and I also can't help getting attached to the people I work with. I'm a social butterfly. If you think about it, we all spend more time with the people we work with than we do with our own immediate families. When you click as a working unit and you all get along and help each other, it's a great thing, not just for the company's bottom line, but for everyone. I loved the hours, I didn't mind the drive (about a 35 to 45 minutes from my doorstep to the plant). I even had a lady who was car pooling with me who lived a few blocks away from me! That never happens in Zimmerman, Minnesota!

But then, I ended up working last week in a thermoforming plastics plant in Elk River. It was plastics, larger parts and windshields and stuff, but I had no idea what I was in for. All I knew was I needed a paycheck coming in. Thursday morning, my lightbulb moment occurred.

After four nights of working there, the last night I nearly passed out from the heat. In order for the plastic parts to be formed, there are sheets that must be placed on a tray and put into an oven set at volcanic. The sheets come out of the oven, and are pressed into a mold and then you trim them and package them. They are not running at full capacity on the 3rd shift...yet.

I decided after surviving that final night cutting out windshields in a corner with no fan and next to one of those ovens, I would be dead in another week. Heat exhaustion is not fun. I'm so surprised I didn't end up in the emergency room. I came home, took a shower then turned the cold water on as long as I could stand it because I was so overheated my skin looked like I had a sunburn.

As the cold water ran down my head to my feet I had a life altering thought. "I'm not going back. There is a better way to make money that won't kill me. I'll do whatever it takes, work any other job, but not this one or anything like it, ever again."

I got out of the shower, dried off, put on my PJ's and called the staffing agency and told them I would like a different job, please. I told them I would not be able to perform the job effectively because of the heat and the physicality of the job itself. You need more strength to lift those heavy and awkward sheets of plastic, and if I was 100 pounds lighter and 20 years younger, I might be ok. But the realization set in I'm not, and I can do so much more than kill myself at a job I can't perform as well as they want, nor, do I want to.

I say it's the equivalent of hitting bottom. I know now what I will do and won't do for a paycheck. You won't hear me complaining about flipping burgers, asking if you want fries with that or scrubbing toilets. Any job right now, will be a blessing.

Since then, I've been severely dehydrated and drinking water as much as possible to keep from getting sick. My hands are swollen, but I'm hoping it will pass once my system is flushed out. Ok, enough whining. On to more fun things.

This weekend is Back to the 50's weekend at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. I'll be posting some pictures at my website,, and you can get a taste below of some of the more unusual cars on display.

Alex was still feeling under the weather, but QH and I did our fair share of walking until our feet hurt. Because we had a dinner date at Jesse & Patrice's, we came home about noonish, had a sandwich for lunch and then took a nap until it was time to head out to their house.

Ava, who is now 15 months old, woke up when we got there. She was so funny walking around barefoot in her little summer dress. I read to her, and we played trucks and "peek-a-boo." I always seem to get my perspective when I visit her.

I'm a bad Gamma because I don't visit her enough. That's another lightbulb moment I had, was realizing how fast she's growing up and her little sister will be arriving in September, and I need to spend more time with her.

I look at Alex, my son, and can't believe he's now 21 years old, has served in the Navy, done all the things he's done, and seen all the places he's seen. It's hard to look back at how short the time is when your kids are little. You think at the time, they will always stay the same, they will always be your kid. And in a lot of ways, he still is, but he's now a young man. I'm so proud of him and regret the times I wasn't there for him. I hope he doesn't hold it against me.

Spend more time with your kids, please, because it flies by faster than you think.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cruisin' Again

The Pink Ride is out of the garage and hitting the streets!
Cruise nights are underway again. Tonight we drove to Anoka for the Anoka Car Show. There were quite a few people there, but not a packed event as we've seen it before. I think the big, ugly clouds overhead kept some cruisers from coming out.

Today started out with thunderstorms, and we are expected to have more tomorrow with highs in the 90's and dewpoints over 50. I'm glad we went to the show today and we were able to have nice evening before all the humid air blew in.

Alex is adjusting well to being home. This weekend is his first weekend serving as a Navy Reservist. He will be home on Sunday. I'm so glad he's here and at times it seems like he's never been gone.

Stay cool.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers, fathers acting as mothers, adopted mothers and stepmothers. I hope you all had a fabulous day!

I, being the blessed person I am, received my Mother's Day present early. My son, Alex, arrived home on May 3, 2010, from San Diego, California. He's home for good and now in the Navy Reserves. I cannot tell you all the relief and joy I feel to have him here at home.

We didn't have much time during the week to catch up since he decided to drive to Oklahoma City for my brother Andy's graduation from college. He left Thursday with my sister, her two sons, and my parents, in separate cars, of course. I'm very proud of my baby brother for graduating as a Respiratory Therapist. He now has the hurdle of passing his boards, but if he can finish school, the boards should be no problem for him. I hope. ;)

Thank goodness I'm still working steadily, even though I'm still a temp. The weekly paycheck is a blessing and I am really working at getting a full-time position at this new company I am working for. I'll keep you all posted with updates as they happen. Please continue to think good thoughts and pray I get a steady gig soon. Thanks in advance for all your help so far.

The writing dream is still alive. I'm working on some new ideas for the websites, and for articles and ebooks to write. I'm finding that the more structured my work life becomes, the more structured my writing life becomes. The ideas flow much easier when you aren't miserable or worrying about finding a job. I don't think I can write without some sort of a "day job" because I'm so used to fitting my writing time around it.

When I had all the time in the world to write, I hardly ever did. I was always distracted by housework, cooking, emails and errands that seemed all too important at the time, but were just a way for me to procrastinate what I really wanted to do---WRITE! I know it sounds weird, but I can now understand how my friend Beth could write and finish her novel while working at a big box store part-time. There is just something about having to adhere to a work schedule and a writing schedule that makes everything else fall into place, like the perfect pieces of a puzzle.

I'm also reading more fun stuff, not just marketing and writing stuff. That seems to have opened in me a whole new door to writing and ideas. I feel like someone who has been in a coma for a long time is just discovering they liked to read and eat chocolate. It's weird, but I haven't felt this comfortable in my own skin in a really long time, and I'm really liking my discoveries, so far.

I'm also expanding my knowledge by listening to instructional CD's in my headphones at work. Sure, I can listen to music if I want to, but while I'm there, I feel my time is better spent learning something while I'm working. Most of them are from Bob Bly, the master copywriter, and I'm learning something new everyday as I listen to them over and over. It's fabulous! My favorite so far is "The Internet Marketing Retirement Plan." I hope to begin implementing some if his techniques in the very near future. Keep tuned in for further updates!

In other news in the family, Baby Ava is now walking and jabbering away and will become a big sister in September when Lily will be born. We are all excited about that! Hopefully, Andy and Lisa will be announcing a bundle of joy arriving in their future very soon. Praying for you both, bro. Keep the faith. It will happen. :)

In the meantime, we had SNOW on the ground yesterday morning. Those who doubt me look at the pictures of my patio below.

Today there wasn't a snowflake in sight, but it was a cool, and sunny day, and I did get a chance to read some magazines on my patio. I can't wait to get the gazebo up so I can have my "writing room" back. I seriously need to find some space for an office. But I have a lot of other priorities to meet before that can take place.

The lilacs are blooming and filling the air with their sweet scents. I love the flowers in the spring. We may have purple irises in our flower bed, donated to our little garden last year by Shawn and his wife. No flowers last year, but I see buds this year and if they are purple irises, they will be gorgeous. :) I'll share pics as soon as they bloom.

This week, please remember those who lost their mothers this year, and give them a call. I'm fortunate to have my mother still in my life, and while she and I butt heads once in a while, I'm still grateful to have her to talk to, and get a good hug when I need one.

I'm also grateful for my MIL, Charlene, or Grandma Chuck as she is known to the kids. I love her as much as my own mother and I am grateful to have her in my life and as my "shopping buddy".

Have a fabulous week!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Happy Easter!

I know I haven't posted in a while. My schedule is crazy and unpredictable right now. I went from having a bona fide job offer to no job to another job in a different place. But I'm still temporary help, so if it slows down, like it is now, I'm not making any money. I'm ok with that. For now. Eventually, I want to be someplace full-time, permanent hire, but I know right now the markets are still unsteady in every career field. I did take a positive step in that direction by applying for a full-time position where I've been temping at, so keep your fingers crossed that it all works out and I can stop whining about it. :) Much to the relief of those of you who commented to me off-blog about this subject matter. :)

I'm still a writer, and I still want to be a writer when I grow up. But a steady paycheck and a work routine keep me from falling back on bad habits. I want to continue moving forward, not backward. That's the plan and I'm sticking to it! :)

This Easter holiday snuck up on us. I'm used to Easter being in the second week of April, like closer to my Dad's birthday (April 12). This year I've been so busy with working nights, then days for 2 weeks and then nights, I didn't have a inkling the holiday was right around the corner. Whoosh, here it is! Wow. We are going to my parents house for fish and potato salad. I made my famous cherry cheescake bars and my 7-layer bars (aka, Naughty Bars). I had them done by 8:30 pm which is a record for me because in the not-so-distant-past, I was usually up cooking them until 2:00 am or 3:00 am, or the next day, just hours before we go to dinner. Now that I have my chemicals in balance, I don't want to put off anything anymore. That makes the Hubby very happy, because one of his biggest pet peeves with me has always been my procrastination. I'm not perfect yet, but I'm working on it. :)

The weather has been great, a little windy, but we are praying for rain. We had a bit of a sprinkling on Friday, but it was just enough to clean the dust off the birds and green the grass up. We need a couple of days of "Million Dollar Rain" the kind that will come down nice and gentle and just soak right on in. Fires are popping up all over, even close to home. I saw a huge black cloud of smoke north of us this afternoon and on the evening news, it turns out it was closer than I thought. Here's the story: Central Minnesota Grass Fire

Sadly, fires did more than just claim some acreage outside of Princeton. In Minneapolis, six people died in a devastating fire in Minneapolis. It's been the worst fire since 1986. Three of those who perished were children. Please pray for those who died and for their families this Easter holiday. Hug your kids a little closer and please be thankful for all the blessings you have and all the blessings you are receiving, not just in this life, but in the next. And remember Easter is about a lot more than just chocolate eggs and bunny rabbits. Remember why we celebrate it in the first place.

This will be another holiday passing without Alex home to help us celebrate, but I did receive an email that he is getting closer to home. He will be in San Diego, California, very soon and then shortly after that, he will be home. I can't wait to see him again, and I can't wait to have him home. My prayers and blessings to all of you who have loved ones in the military or who are far away from home. My prayers to all of you who have lost a loved one and miss them terribly.

Thanks to all of you for keeping me, Alex, and my family in your prayers since the deployment of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). We truly appreciate all the kind and wonderful thoughts and those who have just said, "Thank your son for his service." I'm so proud to be a Navy Mom, and hearing that makes me even prouder of my son and this country.

Enjoy the weekend and the weather, and I'll post again soon. Until then, have a very Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday, Ava!

On March 17, 2009, Ava Jeanne was born.

Today, March 20, 2010, we celebrated her first birthday. She is a beautiful baby girl, who has two doggies, Brody, a Yorkshire Terrier, and Tank, a Husky with one blue eye and one brown eye, and two wonderful parents who love and adore her. The house was standing room only as it filled with family and friends to celebrate the first year of this blessing from heaven.

She was dressed in a white shirt with white leggings trimmed in lace and a purple flower on the front and a purple Tutu made by Mom. She had a purple bow in her hair. She was all smiles and waving and was a little shy at first until the presents.

We left so she could take a nap.

You never know how precious life is until you become a parent and then a grandparent and hold that little life in your arms for the first time. Your heart fills with love you didn't know it had and it fills your whole body and soul to the point it almost aches. It's a feeling I have each time I hold that little girl, or my nephew, Cannon, or hug my son, who is now a grown Navy man soon to be 21. If anyone goes through this life without ever experiencing that feeling, you haven't really lived. I feel sorry for you.

Today the sun came out and it was bright and clear, even if it was a little colder than a few days ago, but we were all happy the weather was nice at least for her party and the shoes could all be kicked out of the house on the front step instead of in the doorway.

Thanks, Patrice and Jesse for throwing your baby girl such a wonderful party, and I'm glad to see she loves chocolate as much as her Grandma Sissy!

Ava, Happy Birthday honey! Pappa and I love you very much. :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Job, New Schedule, New Outlook, Part 2

This has been a really crazy week.

Monday I got a call from my temp service that the company I was raving about working for had cancelled me.

I felt like someone hit me right in the gut.

No further explanation, just that's it, we're done with you.

As I was attempting to process this news, and fighting back the tears in the meantime, she tells me, "There's a job available at 6:00 am to 6:00 pm tomorrow at XYZ Company, if you can make it there, I'll call them and tell them to expect you. It will be Tuesday, Wednesday and then Thursday from 6:00 am to 12:00 pm (noon). Can you give me an answer before 6:00 pm tonight?"

I thought at first that I should ask the Hubby if he thought I should take it, and then I said, "Sure, I'll be there." He was on a motorcycle ride, and I figured bad news/good news could wait until he got back.

I didn't know what to do or what to think, but then I realized, this is what life is like as a temporary worker. You have no idea from one day to the next if you are going to be working or not working. Who am I kidding? Even permanent workers don't know from one day to the next if they will be working or not in this "new economy." What the hell makes me exempt? Not a damn thing.

Hubby was not happy to hear I lost a job, or knowing the drive was about 45 minutes to an hour for the "new job" and it would pay a dollar an hour less than what I was making at ABC Company, well, at this point, you can't turn anything down. We went for a drive in the Pink Ride and I cried a bit as we drove through the Refuge. I was already attached to the people I worked with and I was mourning the loss of them as much as the job itself.

I do know this much: I am happier working than not working. I feel my life, the planets and my whole Universe came into alignment once I realized I work, therefore I am, and accepted I need a job to structure my life.

My good friend, Beth Erickson said it best when I talked to her Monday, before I knew my Universe was going to shift once again, when she said, "It's different now that you're not running from a job you hate."

Amen, Beth!

That's exactly what I've been doing. I've been trying so hard to make the writing career work, or find any way to make money so I could be "ok" with not working a traditional job. I didn't realize I was doing it so I didn't have to work at my old job and it became more like hell on Earth with each passing day. It wasn't so much the job, like I've said before, it was the ENVIRONMENT.

My friend, Wendy, who works at XYZ Company and worked at ABC Company as a temporary worker, asked me, "Now, that you've worked at 3 different companies, which one do you like best?"

I couldn't argue with her, and this will blow your hair straight out, but the XYZ Company was Best out of all 3! Yes, the one where I drive farther (mostly back roads, lots of horse farms, trees, rivers, streams, a nice big lake, etc.), and I make less money than my old job, or even the one I had at ABC Company! Go figure.

I've realized this, and I told Beth this on the phone before the "bad news", that it's not about the money. It's not even the job. It's just feeling like I need to contribute in some way, no matter how small.

I'm grateful to be able to work, physically, and mentally it does a lot more for me than I realized. But even if I never hit the bestseller list, even if I never win a Pulitzer, I'm still a writer. I still want to touch people with the words I put on the screen, on my blogs, or in my notebooks. I want to write books and e-books, and teach writing to those who want to learn. I want to give seminars and workshops. Even if I don't make a penny off of it, it will be worth it to me if someone says they learned something or it helped them come out of the "closet" and be brave enough to write in the light of day.

And all of this would not be possible if it weren't for two very special people in my life. One is the Hubby, who I met fifteen (15) years ago today at Bob and Kathy's house, standing in the kitchen, with a Bayfront Bluesfest T-shirt and I felt like my knees gave out from under me. After 15 years, I still get that feeling when I realize how lucky I am to have that man in my life.

And the other person, is my son Alex, who came into my life whether I was ready or not and taught me I was stronger than I realized. Both have restored my faith in love and the belief that love really does conquer all and will never die.

As I look ahead, I know I can't count on this "new job," but I'll take what I can get and this place is wonderful, even better than the job I raved about before. I think it's funny how one minute you get the worst news, and the next day, you realize it truly was a blessing and it was how things were supposed to work out, not the way you wanted or expecte them to work out.

On Wednesday, my granddaughter, Ava, celebrated her first birthday. She is so much different than she was a year ago. It's so amazing the changes we all go through in each stage of our lives but the first two years are so full of change, you just have to go with it. Best advice I can give new parents: Adapt to the baby's schedule, don't try to make the baby adapt to yours. You'll deal with things a lot better if you realize it coming right out of the gate.

Good lesson to follow at any age: Go with the flow. Stop stressing out.

Take it day by day. It's all you can do.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

Yesterday I woke up from my "nap" at about 2:30 pm, and was amazed the sun was out and shining warmly out my windows. This last week, the weather has been gray, dark, dreary and soggy. We've had rain, rain, fog and more fog. I was beginning to wonder if my zip code had changed to somewhere in Washington state.

But no, the sun was out. It's out again today, and I can't tell you how much it has improved my mood and outlook. I know we need rain, but with the flooding problems around Minnesota and North Dakota, we need a few days to dry things out.

Yesterday, I got busy cleaning off my deck (proof is in the photo above). I swept all the leaves and pine needles and dirt off the outdoor carpeting. I got a bucket with some hot water and some Mr. Clean (Lemon Scented) and washed off the patio chairs, the patio tables and the railing. I looked in my flower bed and saw green things growing, but they are weeds, but I didn't have the heart to pull them out just yet. It's green and growing and until I get my plants all figured out for this year, they can stay for now.

About the time I finished, the Hubby came home and I moved my car and the green car out of the garage so we could take the '56 Chevy (the Pink Ride) out and fire it up. We turned the furnace down and opened the doors and windows up to air out the house, took the plastic off the door to the deck, and opened up the garage to dry out the garage floor which was damp. He swept out the garage floor and I was amazed that except for a couple of the bigger banks, most of the snow is gone. Last week I wasn't sure if the snow would ever melt. Now I'm wondering when I can sleep with the windows open!

It was a wonderful day, and I was glad I didn't sleep through the whole day. I'm going to have to rearrange my sleep schedule for the spring and summer so I don't miss wonderful days like yesterday and today. I was so excited I was tempted to put the gazebo up, but this time of year, we could still get a dumping of snow, and that would cause a collapse.

Once I have the gazebo up (above), I have my "writing room" back. I take my coffee, my notebook and go out on the patio to write to my little heart's content. I listen to the birds and the squirrels, and in the summer I love to watch the hummingbirds, the bumble bees and butterflies as they buzz and fly and feed around my feeders and flowers. Sometimes, I even nap out there.

But more than anything, this time of year signals that Alex will be home soon.
I know he's having the adventure of a lifetime, and I would love to see his ship come into San Diego, but it won't be possible for us with finances and my new job. But even if we can't see him in San Diego, I will be happy when he comes home.

Today, if you can, take your lunch outside, or go for a walk, or just spend some time outside in the warm sunshine today. It'll do your body and soul some good. It has for me. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Undercover Boss?! Why not? What are you afraid to find out?

For the 2 or 3 readers of my lovely little blog, you know in the past I have been unhappy (to say the least) with my former employer.

Well, actually, it was the ENVIRONMENT that said employer allowed on the work premisis. It was not a happy place, and I've noticed quite the difference between the former work environment and my current work environment and I can say with all honesty (because we all know I'm on the right path again), I simply LOVE MY JOB!

Let me say that again: "I Love My Job!"

Let me relay the reasons why:

1. This new work environment doesn't feed the rumor mills, in fact, they do everything they can to stop negative rumors dead in their tracks and ask the employees what can they do to make the work experience better not just for the regular employees, but for the temporary employees as well.

2. Everyone is kind, generous, helpful, and we all pull together as a TEAM (yes, I know how cheesy that sounds, but it's true).

3. There is a common positive bond between all of us on our shift (3rd shift Rocks). We all joke around and kidd and tease each other, all in fun, and if we see someone is having a bad night, we do what we can to make it better for them, even if it's just making some boxes or grinding some runners.

4. We are a diverse group and instead of riduculing each other for our differences, we accept and are open to discovering the wonderful things that make ourselves and lives different. We capitalize our strengths, not prey upon our weaknesses.

5. There are incentives to the employees to do well with the production numbers, and they are rewarded and acknowledged. It's not just about the bottom line, and while problems are brought to light, they are taken care of as soon as possible, not just added to the bottom of a long list that will never be done.

It's not just the fact I'm working and collecting a paycheck again that has boosted me to this level. I feel I'm where I belong, and I want to stay as long as I can and do everything I can to help the company and especially the employees succeed.

The sad part of this: I used to feel this way about my former work environment.

I couldn't wait to get to work so I could see what we could accomplish, what I could accomplish and I was proud of the work I did. Then when things got more about the bottom line, and the negative energy was encouraged to permeate throughout that work environment, I became a different person. A person I didn't like.

I didn't want to go to work. I couldn't wait to get home so I could escape all of that.

I still did my work, but I feel like my efforts to make the environment better for myself and my fellow co-workers was riduculed and I was made to feel like I was less than those who had a title or a diploma on the wall.

Even when I did exceptional work, it was never recognized or acknowledged. All I remember hearing was how bad things were, or how we all screwed up. No positive feedback at all. Nothing to build on because they had torn us all to pieces, bit-by-bit.

Workers weren't out to help you, in fact, if you needed help, you were on your own. Only a handful of them would actually take the initiative to come and help you or anticipate your need to finish up your tasks before the next shift.

The place was always a buzz with the latest gossip or rumors and often times that took precedence over getting the actual job done.

Waste, waste, waste. Machines making bad production were not fixed in a timely manner and they were left to run bad production wasting time, money and materials. In the end, it was either the fault of the QC (Quality Control), which was ultimately passed onto the operator and the operators were reprimanded.

Listen up!

Those who have employees or run any kind of business: How does it feel when you walk into the door? Do you feel happiness? Do you feel positive energy? Yes, I know this depends on if you or they have had their coffee yet, but overall, take a look around you.

If the same problems are popping up over and over with your business, maybe you should take a page out of my favorite television show, "Undercover Boss" and go deep to find out what's really working and what's not working and see what you can do about it. Knowledge is power, and in the end, if you learn things could need a tweaking here or there, then you've learned something valuable. Or even saved your business from going down the grinder chute.

I'm sure I haven't seen the bad side of things at the new job, and I'm still in the "honeymoon phase" of working at a new place with new people and none of the same old crap, and I hope I never do see that side.

I don't know everything about anything, but I do know the difference between night and day.

And I'm loving the sunshine, baby!

Have you seen my shades??

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Did I Write That Out Loud?!

In this age of "too much information" I have to apologize to my readers, friends and family, but mostly to the Love of My Life for exposing too much information in my last blog post.

Not everything needs to be put out there for the masses to read, and yes, some things need to be private and should stay that way. I crossed the line, and now there are people emailing him, writing him, and asking, "What the hell happened?"

For those enquiring minds, if you have a question, call me, email me, write me a letter, whatever. Please leave my honey alone. He's had enough to deal with and would just like us to move on from here.

I will say this and shut up about the whole thing. I am the most blessed person on the planet. I have the best friends and family and most of all, the best life partner I could have ever asked for. The love and support of all of you has helped me realize what is truly important in life, and I appreciate all of you.

While we never ask for bad things to happen, or to create them ourselves, the lessons learned from making it to the other side make you appreciate the good in your life much more. I have a lot to be grateful for, and I promise not to take anything for granted ever again.

In the meantime, I promise not to expose so much on my blogs or anywhere else. Not everything I do is so spectacular that it bears reading. I'm just a writer living my life in the woods of Minnesota, and enjoying every minute of it. I may not ever end up on the New York Times Bestseller List, or plugging my book in bookstores or on television, but then again, it's totally possible. Life is unpredictible, and that's a good thing.

Now, go and enjoy the sunshine! :)

Monday, March 01, 2010

New Job, New Schedule, New Outlook

The last couple of weeks I've been working as a temp in a plastics factory not far from my house. This is not the factory I worked at and was laid off from in June. This is a whole different place, and my hours have gone from second shift (3pm to 11pm) to third shift (11pm to 7am). My days have changed from Monday through Friday to Tuesday through Saturday.

I seem to be adjusting to the job and the schedule, but more than that, I'm trying to adjust to the new outlook. I didn't realize how much my identity and my self-esteem was tied to my job until it was gone. I need the discipline of having a regular job schedule and it helps me put the rest of my life into perspective and on a schedule as well. Sure, in a few months I might complain I need a day off or two, but for now, I am so happy to finally be working, earning a paycheck, and feeling like I accomplish something at the end of each shift. It's a gift I am so grateful to have.

My new outlook has also spilled over to the rest of my life. This new work environment has brought out the best in me. Everyone I've worked with has been kind, encouraging, helpful, and a lot of fun to work with. It reminds me of my old job when I loved to go to work there, before everything got so far away from treating the employees like they mattered.

It's also brought me to a turning point. I've been carrying around a lot of secrets. Things I've done that I'm ashamed to admit I've done. Nothing criminal, but things that have hurt my family and my friends. I've had to make some painful decisions lately. Decisions that have spurred me on to tell the truth and be a better person, a better mother, a better life partner and a better employee and a better writer.

I don't want any sympathy, I don't deserve it, but I do want those who love me and who are scratching their heads wondering, "What the hell was she thinking?!" I was not in my right mind, obviously, when I did some of the things I did. Just to say, "I'm sorry" will not make better what I did, but I am truly sorry, and will do everything in my power to make things right. I expect I will lose family members, friends, and the love and respect of some of those around me, and that will hurt, but nothing will come close to the pain I have been carrying around for a long time now.

Wrong is wrong, no matter what your problem is, whether it's alcohol, drugs, gambling, food addictions or severe depression. The "stinking thinking" gets you believing what you're doing is ok, and that you'll make it up to them later.

The good news is, I will be getting help for my severe depression, real help, not just a pill to take everyday. What I have is more than just a chemical imbalance. I have some serious issues I've been procrastinating, spending money that doesn't belong to me, lying like a rug, and avoiding anything that I don't want to do. I've been sneaky, and angry, and I've let things get to the point of being overwhelming and when I had backed myself into a corner, I had to decide if I was going to continue living like this or end it all. I decided I couldn't take the easy way out.

When I get to the point of being better, I will be working to help those who feel they have no hope, who are spending way too much time on the "dark side" feeling there is only one way out. Please, as hard as it may be, get help, talk to someone, anyone. You don't have to live in the dark, the sun is on the other side.

And so is forgiveness.

Update on Alex: He's currently in Rio de Janero, Brazil. Sounds like he's having a great time!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Alex In Pictures

100220-N-2953W-182 USS CARL VINSON- At Sea- On board USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Hull Technician 3rd Class Alexander Crawford cuts studs using a grinder in the shipfitter and machine shop. Carl Vinson is currently taking part in Southern Seas 2010 as part of a scheduled homeport shift. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adrian White/ Released)

As you all know, I've been looking for my son in all the photos posted to the USS Carl Vinson page on Facebook. I checked tonight and the photos have been updated and a lot of patience later, I found Alex in the last photo (above) in the album posted there.

In an update tonight, they will be crossing the equator, but won't be going through the ceremony for the "first timers" until they cross it again on the other side of South America.

Alex's last email said the ship would port in Rio. I'm hearing DuranDuran singing in my head right now. My friend Sandy Lender, the fantasy author, is now laughing in Florida, because she knows what I'm talking about. :)

I was so excited to see him, since he hasn't been home since January, and he may not be home until May. It's a great picture, showing the work he does, and I've just completed the second article on his trip to Haiti for the local paper. The first article made the front page and took up two more pages in the paper. I was pretty proud of that, but not as proud as I am of Alex.

This has been a great week. It's good to be back to work again. I'm working at a local plastics company, and it's third shift, but my body seems to be acclimating to the schedule much easier than I have from previous times I've worked these hours. I think part of it has been my attitude. I was ready to go back to work. I was driving myself crazy not working. I didn't really have anything that anchored my days or my nights. I felt adrift and lost. Now it's like everything else is falling into place, and my writing has improved much more than it did when I had all the time to write during the day or night.

I'm blessed I've been given this opportunity and it must have been meant to be for it to come so out of the blue like it did. I'm working as a temp for right now, and once my contract is fullfilled with the temp service, I have the opportunity to be hired. I'm excited by that. The people I've worked with have been very gracious, kind, patient and a lot of fun to work with. They have also been extremely helpful in making sure I understand all the procedures and paperwork. I have a lot to learn, but I have a great vibe from this place. I hope I don't disappoint them.

As for my writing, I am writing more, like I said, and planning on selling more e-books and writing some print books as well. I have to update my websites, and figure out exactly where I want this career of mine to go next, but I'm still determined to be a paid, professional writer. I will be announcing some of my plans very soon, so check back later for further details. ;)

In the meantime, please support our troops and pray for them and their families who have sacrificed so we may have the freedoms we have.