Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer Clearance

Have you noticed? Summer's over.

It ended about two weeks ago, at least as far as most stores are concerned. Time to blow out those needless bathing suits, beach towels and flip-flops.

Never mind the fact that here in the High Desert, we're in the midst of the year's first full-blown heat wave. 109 degrees? Must be a figment of our imagination.

I know, it's a well-worn rant. Still, why is it that stores can only stand to have current seasonal merchandise for about two weeks before they usher in the next season? It must work out all right for the retailers, or they wouldn't do it. But really, who buys this stuff? I've seen Valentine candy for sale the day after Christmas. Christmas decorations on display right across from the Halloween aisle. And of course, right now, fall is busting out all over.

I'll admit to a sneaking fondness for this one, however. In Southern California, where summer looms hot and long, it's nice to look forward to the promise of snuggling up indoors. A time when warmth is something to be enjoyed, instead of a blazing sun to cower from. Fall is the season of home and hearth -- of scented candles, pumpkins and rust-colored pillows.

But when they bring in those pastel shades the first week of January, I want to smack someone.

Maybe we all have a built-in resistance to living in the present. We like looking forward to what's around the next corner. When we're not doing that, we're being nostalgic. Just turn on the radio and notice how many of the songs are oldies.

What's the answer to this perversity? Do we embrace the summer heat? Or give in and start stocking up on sweaters?

Me, I'm hiding indoors with the air conditioning.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I've Been Tagged!

Oh, this is so exciting. I feel like I've been asked to my first prom. (Long overdue, since I didn't go to mine in high school.)

Fellow Avalon author I.J. Parnham has tagged me. I'm new to this -- can we say "long overdue" again? -- but here's how it goes: I answer the questions below, which Ian posted on his blog. Then, I "tag" four more people, asking them to post their answers to the same questions. It's not a big pressure thing -- it's up to them if they'd like to respond, and up to them if they'd like to pass it on.

But I wanna play! So here goes:

Four Movies that I can see over and over.
1. Casablanca
2. Return to Me
3. Frankenstein ... or Young Frankenstein ... or any of the classic monsters of the '30s and '40s
4. Galaxy Quest ("Never Give Up! Never Surrender!!!")

Four Places I have lived.
1. Colorado Springs, Colorado
2. Covina, California
3. Los Angeles (about 2 blocks from Farmer's Market -- sigh!)
4. Victorville, California

Four TV shows that I love to watch.
1. Wonder Years
2. I Love Lucy
3. The Andy Griffith Show
4. Carnivale (one of these things is not like the others....)

Four places where I have gone on vacation.
1. Yosemite
2. Bryce Canyon
3. Mustang, Oklahoma
4. San Francisco

Four favorite foods.
1. Chinese/Mongolian Barbeque
2. Hole-in-the-wall Mexican food
3. Lobster (rarely, but I can dream!)
4. Popcorn

Four websites I visit daily
1. Facebook
2. Yahoo Mail
3. Bank of America
4. The blogs I'll list when I do my tagging!

Four places I would rather be.
1. On a walk with my husband
2. Bodacious Bundts, our cozy local coffeehouse
3. Barnes & Noble
4. The Golden Gate Bridge

Four things that I would like to do before I die.
1. Write a bestseller
2. Take my husband to England -- a visit to Abbey Road is a must!
3. See my children happily married (and maybe grandkids?!)
4. Finish knitting that sweater I started in August '05!

Four novels I wish that I was reading for the first time.
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Lucifer Cove series by Virginia Coffman
3. The Stand by Stephen King
4. Cold Tea on a Hot Day by Curtiss Ann Matlock

Four people to tag.
1. Stephanie Newton
2. Jennifer Shirk
3. Curtiss Ann Matlock
4. Cathy Pegau

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Hate When This Happens

That blank TV screen over there is ours. It's been like that for four days now … and not for lack of trying to turn it on.

See, we bought a Toshiba DLP television set in 2004. It has a nasty habit, about once a year, of blowing the light bulb that provides the picture. This time we replaced the bulb, but it still doesn't work. That means the problem may be the "ballast," whatever that is, which we replaced about 2 years ago. (I don't know how much the situation has improved, but if you're shopping for a Toshiba TV, be sure to check out the consumer satisfaction reports.)

The worst part of having a broken TV is realizing how much we depend on it.

I hate that. Because it blows my delusions. We used to say, "We don't watch that much TV." And we don't ... if you're talking about current TV. A little Jeopardy, a little news, the occasional David Letterman or SNL, if there's a guest we're interested in.

What we have found, since we got our problem TV, is that our family of four does watch a lot of "pre-recorded" TV. DVDs of favorite movies, rentals from Netflix, episodes of classic TV shows like The Twilight Zone, the Honeymooners and The Andy Griffith Show. (Yes, we're very retro.)

It's a little alarming to discover how tough it can be to spend a family evening at home without That Box. On the plus side, TV is something we share -- we don't go to separate corners of the house and watch separate sets. But we never realized how much the television acts as a social center for our family. Board games are great, but sometimes they take a little more "oomph" than my husband and I have at the end of the day. And I love to read, but when everyone's together, it feels kind of antisocial. We've yet to try sitting in a circle, all ensconced in our own books.

Instead, the other night we found ourselves in front of the computer, searching YouTube for old TV commercials featuring Muhammad Ali, while I read selections from a book of David Letterman's Top 10 lists. We went to bed early.

The next day my husband and I were out for a walk. I asked him, "What did people do at night back in the '40s?"

"Listened to the radio."

"Okay. What did they do in the '20s?"

"Scrubbed clothes on a washboard. Came home late from the factory. Drank bathtub gin."

Hoo, boy.

The TV repairman is scheduled to come today. If it's not good news ... anybody got a recipe for bathtub gin?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

What Is So Rare As A Day In June?

(with apologies to poet James Russell Lowell)

In the High Desert, a day like this in June is especially rare. While people in other parts of the world look forward to the summer sun, I hug on to cloudy days like this with all my might.

See, we desert denizens know what's comin'. Summer is ruthless here, and it's long. We continue to get some blasting hot days through October, although cool breezes come by and kiss us more often by then.

Rain is even more rare than clouds, but when we get it, it can be pretty dramatic. Like the thunderstorm that hit this afternoon, about twenty minutes after I shot these pictures. (How's that for timing?) We had some huge thunder cracks, about thirty seconds of hale, then some great big drops of rain. Toward the end, it was raining through bright sunshine.

Earlier today, I went for a walk with my husband and discovered this peculiar tree. What the heck is it? A gold star to anyone who can tell me! (For a closer look, just click on the photos.) The fronds look like something from the willow family. The buds of the yellow flowers look like little green peas before they open. And by the way, they smell great.

Whatever the tree is, I doubt very much it's from around here. It's funny how much we've tried to adapt the desert to ourselves, instead of the other way around. (Except for central air. That's a MUST.) But then, I don't think most of us actually planned to live in the Mojave Desert.

I suppose, like my mystery tree, we all find a way to bloom where we're planted!

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Time Sucker, Revisited

About a week ago on this blog, I confessed my Internet addiction and vowed -- publicly! -- to change my ways. I would stay offline between 10 AM and 4 PM, the period when I'm most likely to succumb to temptation. (The rest of the time, my household is pretty active, so there's less chance to get lost in cyberspace.)

Three days later, a kind and attentive friend CAUGHT me when I posted a new blog entry during the forbidden time zone.

Whoa. Talk about accountability.

I learned an important lesson that day. If I'm gonna cheat and go on the Internet, I'd better not post and get caught.

But in all honesty, how have I done?

Well, accountability is a wonderful thing. Knowing that my sharp-eyed friends may notice if I contact them in my "down" hours, I've pretty much avoided any posting or e-mailing during the Forbidden Zone. I won't say I haven't broken the rules at all, but I've discovered it's hard to go online and stay quiet. For me, anyway.

So I plan to stay the course. With more self-discipline, I hope to report lots of productive uses for all those new-found minutes. Today, for starters, I finally put away all those clean clothes that were piled up in the laundry room. Well, almost all. I've got it down to one REALLY scary basket of socks. Tomorrow maybe I'll find out if any of them belong together.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Crime and Punishment and Me

I just found out I'm a sociopath.

This morning I took one of those online quizzes: "What Work of Literature are You?" Here's the disturbing outcome:

Your result is Crime and Punishment.
You have an unimaginable ability to rationalize your own wrongdoings. You see the world through your own eyes. Laws weren't made for you, no, they were made for those who are not destined for greatness, and no matter what "wrongs" you commit, in truth it's all for the good of the world, right?

Now, I've always thought of myself as a pretty mild-mannered sort. This sounds like there must be bodies stashed in my basement. And I don't even have a basement! I've been framed, I tell ya.

So I went back over the quiz and tried to figure out which of my responses could have tripped the amoral-psycho button. Here's what it asked me, followed by my answers ... and my defenses.

Q: If I could live at any time and place in history, it would be...
A: 20th Century Europe (never mind the blasted war!).
I chose this one only because "here and now" wasn't an option. And hey, some mighty fine music came out during that blasted war.

Q: Which passage most appeals to you?
A: "The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and she called me a lot of other names, too, but she never meant no harm by it."
I liked the folksy style of this one immediately, even before reading far enough to recognize it as a line from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. You can't go wrong with Mark Twain. Or so I thought....

Q: Your best friend is...
A: My family.
Hey, what could be nicer than that?

Q: When confronted in life by difficulty, your attitude is...
A: There are some things which are surmountable, and some that are not. Isn't it strange that what some of us perceive as difficult and impossible, other perceive as simple, or character-building, or valorous. I wonder, where do these perceptions come from?
Okay, that's pretty pretentious. Maybe that's the one that nailed me. But the other choices ranged from Super-Teflon-Woman to helplessly wringing my hands and dunking my head in a bucket.

Q: Of the following films, which has been your favorite?
A: Chinatown.
Yeah, this one could have gotten me into trouble, too. But my unlikely alternatives included Star Wars, Milo and Otis, Love in the Time of Cholera, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (another Jack Nicholson film likely to set off the psycho buzzer).

Q: Your preferred mode of transportation would be...
A: Anything that brings me homeward.
See? See what a nice, loving homebody I am? I admit, I did flirt with "a steam engine, rolling through the hills and jungle." But it sounded kinda hot and sticky.

Q: What gets you through the day?
A: The pursuit of greatness, despite humble surroundings.

Maybe this one pushed some closet-megalomaniac button. But the other available choices didn't include anything close to "a hug from my husband," "a good book," or even "coffee -- and lots of it." So, I settled for the dream of being a bestselling author living in the heart of suburbia.


The charge of "soulless anarchist" is a hard one to defend. Kind of like the accused witches of Salem. The more you try to deny it, the more guilty you sound. So I'll leave the verdict up to you.

If you're reading this, you have two obvious choices:

A) Don't believe everything you read in quizzes.
B) Don't sit anywhere near me at a dinner party.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Time Sucker

I don't know about you, but my computer has tentacles that reach out and grab me by the face whenever I sit down to use it.

I wish I could tell you those tentacles belong to my Muse. That when I sit down, I create page after page of compelling prose, dragged forward by characters who won't let me go until they live happily ever after, or at least until the need for food drags me away from my chair before I fall over.

But this tentacled time sucker goes by another name, and I think you and I both know what it is.

The Internet.

This wonderful source of information and communication has a sinister dark side that most writers know all too well. Sit down to write? Better check my e-mail first. And my other two e-mail accounts. I'll reply to this one. Oh look, here's a link to a review of that new movie. And while I'm at it, I've been meaning to look up that familiar face I saw on a movie two weeks ago on IMDb (the Internet Movie Data Base, which really is a gold mine). Wonder who's on Facebook. And what's going on with my favorite blogs? Oh, and maybe I've gotten a reply to my reply....


That's the sound of my face being sucked into the computer, along with a lot of my time and very possibly some of my brains.

For a person who often complains about not having enough time, I surrender a lot of it to this brain sucking beast. The thing is, unlike writing -- or doing the laundry or cleaning the house -- the Internet requires almost no effort. No discipline, no prep time, and hey, it'll only take a few minutes. (HA!!) Do monitors have cathode rays that lull us into a near-hypnotic state? Whatever it is, for me, it's way more addictive than channel-surfing.

Now that I've made a public confession, I feel a need to follow through and clean up my act. So here it is: I hereby limit my Internet hours. I'm going to shoot for nothing between 10 AM and 4 PM -- that's when those "quick checks" seem to gobble up the most of my time. 'Course, I'm breaking my own rules by posting this now, but after all, the rules are brand new. Watch me from here on out, and see if I can stick to my guns.

And the same goes for the Internet's wicked cousin, Spider Solitaire....

Friday, May 15, 2009

Keep Your Hands Off My Bodice

I'm blogging today at the Avalon Authors blog! Come share your thoughts on that inescapable phrase, "bodice ripper,"

Avalon Authors: Keep Your Hands Off My Bodice

See you there!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone

or, Frank Sinatra Remembered ... Again

How can Frank Sinatra be dead? He was singing in my living room just the other day, sounding as big as life on my home stereo.

I've got you under my skin....

Nevertheless, May 14th marks the eleventh anniversary of his death, and I couldn't resist the desire to say a few words about him. Even though it's hard to find say anything about Sinatra that hasn't already been said.

When somebody loves you, it's no good unless he loves you
All the way....

Every time I put on some of his music, I'm struck anew. Popular music may not change the world very much, but still -- the world sounds better because he was in it.

The world may forget you as time goes passing by
The stars will remember, and so will I.

That last set of lyrics comes, ironically, from a forgotten song Sinatra recorded in 1947, "The Stars Will Remember," written by Leo Towers and Don Pelosi. (If you can hunt it down, it's a beauty.) While Frank Sinatra is in no danger of being forgotten any time soon, he is in danger of being oversimplified. Too many people today know him only as the Rat Pack guy, the finger-popping dude who did songs like "Luck Be a Lady" and "New York, New York." That's one side of Sinatra, and the razzle-dazzle style is hard to forget. But there was so much more. That fourteen-carat voice gave us some of the most amazing melodies ever sung, and he knew just how to caress the words and make them glow.

In this world of overrated pleasures
Of underrated treasures
I'm glad there is you....

Frank Sinatra didn't write any of the lyrics I've posted here. But he was one of the first to re-record many of the songs we now know as standards, songs that came before his initial heyday of the 1940s. Without Sinatra, we might not know "I've Got You Under My Skin," "I've Got a Crush on You" or "The Way You Look Tonight." Or songs he made famous in his era, like "All the Way," "I've Got the World on a String" and "Young at Heart." That's what I love about Sinatra. His work embodies so much of the greatest music ever written.

So, in that way, Sinatra lives, alongside great songwriters like Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen. He brought their music to life, for me and countless others.

And I guess that's as close to immortality as you can get.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Best Part of "Sleepover" ...

... is "over."

To be fair, the boys were actually very good. And we shortened the living room invasion by taking them to a ball game first. Even better, the home team won. 9-1. Woo-hoo, High Desert Mavericks!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Preparing for Home Invasion

You read it right. I'm preparing for a home invasion.

In a few hours, my house will be overrun by four extra teen boys. My son turns 14 on Monday, so it's time for his third annual birthday sleepover.

Hold me.

When my husband and I started this now-ingrained tradition, it sounded like a welcome relief after all the years of Chuck E. Cheese parties. (May I add that it was HIS idea?) But every year, the boys get a little bigger, and we become more aware of what to expect.

A living room laden with sleeping bags, soda and popcorn. Sounds of explosions from Naruto Ultimate Ninja, Transformers and James Bond. While my husband and I hide in the bedroom, and my nine-year-old daughter huddles with us, looking at me piteously for her share of the attention. The grinding of our teeth when the video game marathon stretches past midnight. The agonizing over where to draw the line on this semi-supervised anarchy.

Could be worse, you parents of older teens are probably saying. At least we know where they are.

Oh, YEAH, we know where they are.

And right now they're still polite to us. I should be counting my blessings. But I've figured it out. They know that putting up with dorky adults is a necessity. At least until they're 16, and big enough to get their hands on the car keys.

Will there be a 15-year-old sleepover? I'm not sure yet. But when I think of what happens when he hits sixteen....

Hold me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sibling Rivalry

This photo sort of sums up the relationship between my two dogs.

I'm trying to take a picture of our old girl, Taz, wearing my Colorado Rockies t-shirt. Then, new boy Bela butts his head in.

For the record, I don't usually dress up my dogs in people clothes. Or even dog clothes. But we gave Taz her spring haircut last week ... and then it turned cold again. She shivered around the house, giving us pleading looks. So I donated my treasured, but weathered, Rockies shirt. I think it looks good on her, don't you?

It does appear to have given her self-confidence a boost. Bela still butts in when she's getting attention -- he answers to her name far more quickly than to his -- but she's standing her ground more these days.

Just like any good ball player. Even at fourteen and a half, she keeps on sluggin'.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Uh-oh ... I'm not THAT Sierra Donovan!

I was Googling myself yesterday and nearly fell out of my chair when I read this:

"In Southern California, Sierra Donovan is stunned by the photos she just received of her naked except for chocolate syrup...."


The fact that I live in Southern California added an extra, bone-chilling element. Did some cyber-stalker sneak a webcam into my house, spot my emergency stash of Hershey's kisses, and get the wrong idea?

Peering nervously over my shoulder, I read on. Turns out the piece is a review of an upcoming Harlequin Blaze novel by Tawny Weber. And the fictional Sierra Donovan isn't any more of a chocolate eclair than I am. Those nasty photos in the story were doctored up by some bad guys who are out to blackmail the heroine.

But how'd the heroine get my name? If she had red hair and an addiction to Spider Solitaire, I might start hunting under my bed for that webcam.

So I contacted author Tawny Weber to ask how she ended up turning me into a dessert. (We've bumped into each other on author websites a few times, but let's just say her name is more recognizable than mine.) She explained that when she was looking for a last name for her character Sierra -- named after her dog!! -- "Donovan" sounded right. She just didn't realize it was the ring of familiarity.

Hey, I've always been pretty partial to the name myself. And I know what catch-alls our writers' brains can be.

Since the book is coming out in black and white next month, I can look on the bright side. It's always nice to see my name in print. And I can certainly think of worse fates than being rolled in chocolate. It couldn've been Crisco. Or peanut butter. Or killer bees. (Although, come to think of it, where there's chocolate, the bees might not be far behind....)

If you're curious about Tawny's book, you'll find an excerpt here. You'll find that her Sierra Donovan is a smart businesswoman (dark brunette, by the way). As a Blaze character, she may be a bit more adventuresome than my heroines ... but a truffle she's not.

So here's to Tawny, who put me in print without my having to lift a finger. Can't ask for better publicity than that!

Although, fair warning, girlfriend: My sister once had a golden retriever named Tawny....

Saturday, April 04, 2009

GUILTY PLEASURE: Beyonce's "Single Ladies"

"If you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it...."

I admit it: I can't resist this song. I love that big hook line. But the lingering feminist part of me can't help feeling guilty.

On the surface, it's a gal celebrating her freedom, because she got away from some guy who wouldn't commit. In your face, commitment-phobe!

Why I feel guilty:

1) A single lady shouldn't think of herself as an "it" -- a piece of property to be branded if a guy wants to keep a hold of "it."

2) Single ladies are now putting their hands in the air at some club to advertise that they're up for grabs. (We're not really supposed to believe they're just there to dance with each other, are we?) Seems like they're in an awful big hurry to find some other guy....

3) Single ladies should know this is EXACTLY how they're most likely to meet up with ANOTHER guy who's not gonna put a ring on it.

But man, it's catchy.

Bet you a quarter: In less than a year, there'll be a romance on the shelves with a title based on that hook!

Thursday, April 02, 2009


I haven't been around for a little while, partly due to illness. No, I haven't been sick. Just half of my four-person family. My husband had strep throat, my daughter had an unidentified virus, and we were watching my son like a hawk.

Me? Nothin'.

It occurred to me that I can't remember the last time I've been incapacitatingly sick. Not that I'm Wonder Woman. In fact, I'm quick to whine about the lousiest little symptom: "Honey, I've got a sore throat. I think I'm coming down with something." My husband has learned to take these complaints with a grain of salt, because the illness never seems to materialize.

Hypochondria? Or is it possible I've defeated a hundred different maladies before they really hit?

Last week, I would have been a prime candidate to become a germ farm, with all the time I spent in close quarters with my husband and daughter. Sure enough, this Monday -- after both of them were out of the woods -- I piped up with, "Honey, my throat feels funny...."

You guessed it. Nothin'.

I've concluded that moms acquire a natural immunity, because someone's got to take the temperatures, dispense the Tylenol and keep those fluids coming. Maybe I should be worried. What if all those bugs come back at once, after the kids are grown up and out of the house?

I think I'll polish up a little silver bell to ring my husband for room service, just in case.

Monday, March 16, 2009

One Day Later ...

... I saw just ONE little butterfly on the way home from church yesterday, flapping across Highway 395. Headed east.

I guess the rest of them got where they were going?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Butterfly Launch Day?

When I was out driving today, I noticed a lot of small objects dive-bombing through the air. Too small for hummingbirds ... too big for mosquitoes ... yes, they were little butterflies, flitting down the road, narrowly missing my windshield.

I remember noticing this phenomenon last spring. It might have lasted about a week. But I swear, they weren't there yesterday!

The butterflies seem to come in little flurries -- or is it flocks? packs? gaggles? -- of about ten or so. At a guess, I'd say I was passing through at least a hundred butterflies per mile.

But where do they all go? If we had this many full-size butterflies veering through traffic, it would get pretty tough to see. It seemed like they might be traveling east. So is Victorville some kind of butterfly commuting hub?

Monday, March 09, 2009

PERFECT TARGET by Stephanie Newton

Don't you love it when something good happens to someone who totally deserves it?

It's good news for readers, too. Because today's the day PERFECT TARGET, Stephanie Newton's first novel, hits the shelves.

I have to admit to a certain amount of pride. And smugness. Yes, Steph is my friend. Yes, I've been reading her work for about five years now, before the rest of the world had a chance to get their mitts on it. A book's path from manuscript to store shelf can be a twisty-turny thing, as Steph will attest. But I knew it was just a matter of time before she'd be in print.

Man, I love being right.

PERFECT TARGET is an inspirational romantic suspense novel about a heroine who's survived years of being tormented by a stalker. Now it's starting again ... and this time, in addition to the menacing cards and gifts, dead bodies are turning up. Her neighbor, a sexy cop, is offering her protection ... but she's not so keen on strong, protective males after years of being cooped up with bodyguards. The story is a terrific blend of suspense and romantic tension, with a believable relationship and great characters to root for.

I highly recommend that you read PERFECT TARGET. Not just to prove I'm right ... but because you'll be missing out if you don't.

Friday, March 06, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

... or, why you may start thinking twice about reading my blog!

1. My favorite drink is milk with about 1/4 coffee added. Really.
2. Ever since I became a mom, happy endings in a movie turn me into a sniffling sap.
3. I can still get embarrassed remembering some stupid thing I said in first grade.
4. I can twitch my nose. Not as well as Elizabeth Montgomery in BEWITCHED, but I've tried.
5. My husband is a songwriter and musician, and I love the music he brings into our home.
6. I've been almost halfway done knitting a sweater for about 3 years.
7. I don't follow sports, but I still love baseball, thanks to all those Dodger games I watched with my mom.
8. I started writing a Dark Shadows script when I was ten.
9. My first (unfinished) book was a romantic vampire novel.
10. I'm half German on my mother's side.
11. I'm part Cherokee on my father's side, which he used to claim explains the red in my hair. Huh?
12. I love to read, but I buy books way too fast to keep up.
13. When I was eight years old, I wanted to marry Johnny Cash. (He was a lot younger then, too.)
14. I've gone parasailing.
15. I just finished using a can of baking powder that was dated May 1996.
16. Fall colors are my favorite.
17. I once pet (petted?) a full-grown, live tiger.
18. When I was a teen, I wanted to be Erma Bombeck when I grew up.
19. It freaks me out when people suck helium out of balloons.
20. I still think Cary Grant was the handsomest man ever invented.
21. Johnny Depp and Hugh Jackman, take heart. You're almost as good and you're not dead.
22. I used to think doing my very own laundry would be a thrill.
23. Before my boy was born, I wanted a girl.
24. Before my girl was born, I wanted another boy.
25. When I got the opposite of what I wanted, I was overjoyed both times.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Are Fantasies Made Of?

This afternoon at Target, I cruised by the category romance lines ... and an overriding theme in the titles hit me upside the head.

Somehow, in this post-feminist world, it looks like we've become obsessed with wealthy heroes. And this trend didn't start with the recession -- it's been around for a while. Maybe it never went away?

But on the racks in front of me, I counted two tycoons, two princes, three millionaires, four billionaires and one C.O.O. (I'm not sure what C.O.O. stands for, but I bet he's rich.)

Holy E.R.A., Batman! What's happened to us?

I know we've come a long way, baby. And I'm sure for every one of those rich, powerful men, there's a strong heroine who's going to stand her ground and teach him a thing or two, rather than crumpling in front of his ruthless Italian loafers.

I know Gloria Steinem didn't have all the answers. Somehow we've reached a place where the two-income household has become the rule rather than the exception -- not always by choice, but often by financial necessity. Maybe that's what's got those rich dudes looking so good.

And I know these billionaires have their own set of issues to work out. A lot of 'em are pretty lovable guys. But in a pinch, he's the kind of guy who whips out the plastic and treats our heroine to a decadent shopping spree, a la Pretty Woman. (And how I love the heroine who says no thanks ... except for maybe that one really nice pair of shoes for her fatherless child.)

I KNOW it's all fantasy. But are those fantasies getting a wee bit greedy? Or do I just think small?

After all, I'm the type who tends to pick up the stories about PTA moms and single dads. If you want to talk fantasy, I'd be more likely to go for titles like
The Bride Paid Off Her Car. Or, based on a recent plight, The Sexy Mechanic Who Fixed Her Engine For Free. Heck, I'm happy with The Dad Who Loved Movies. And while most of us would probably back away slowly from The Sensitive Accountant Who Made Tea, I might give him a shot. Especially if I was already on the couch with my feet up.

Of course it's all entertainment, and we surely don't need to apologize for our fantasies. But I'm curious. Am I the one who's out of step? Are rich heroes a hot-button for you?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Home Sweet Home

My friend Steph, who strolls her home beaches of Florida for writing inspiration, was wondering how my own High Desert might compare.

Well ... I'm afraid the desert makes for prickly strolling. Plus, it's hot in the summer, and it can be cold and crabby in the winter. In short, the rough beauty of our area might best be enjoyed from behind a climate-controlled car window. But I did find this, taken when we were shooting photos for one of my husband's CDs.

Those are Joshua trees, by the way. They grow in only two parts of the world: the Mojave Desert and Israel.

So, yes, beauty is where you find it. Although if you tried to find a place in this picture to sit down and take it in, you'd probably end up saying OW!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Puppy Love Vs. Kitty Love

Last night while I sat on the couch, one of my dogs curled up on the floor and rested his head on my foot. It seemed like a nice, warm gesture of affection.

This morning, I spotted an article online: "Do Our Pets Really Love Us?"

Oh, dear. Now I have to wonder whether my animals are sincere?

Fortunately, the article has good news. Experts believe that dogs and cats are capable of true affection, and not just because we feed them. The author points out, for example, that the presence or touch of a loved one has been shown to reduce pets' heart rates, a sign of bonding. It goes on to cite the story of a dog who mourned for an owner who passed away, waiting by his master's grave year after year.

Here at home, on a less dramatic note, I often come out of the bathroom to find one or two dogs waiting for me in the hallway. If that's not love, at least it's a sincere desire for companionship.

But I'm getting more dubious about my cat.

The article suggests that, as signs of affection, a cat may "become slightly depressed when you leave, and greet you enthusiastically upon your return." What? And get up from her nap? She may also "send subtle cat signals of affection to you throughout the day ... staring at you adoringly, then squinting or slowly closing her eyes." Uh ... can't say I remember seeing her do that.

One thing I'll say for Tallulah: She's a lap cat. With a vengeance. The day we brought her home, she followed me around constantly, meowing. At first I thought she was just confused about her new surroundings. But whenever I sat down, she'd promptly settle on my lap. Then she was happy.

Well, it never stopped. When Tallulah wants a lap, she wants it NOW, and in no uncertain terms. She also loves to nap with me ... but she won't lie closer to my face than waist-level. Personal space issues? Fear of intimacy? Frankly, I'm beginning to suspect that for Tallulah, it's less about companionship and more about comfort. With a little bit of body heat thrown in.

Or, as my husband put it, "If you keeled over and died, she'd come over and lie on you until your body cooled."

Now, THAT's love ... kitty style.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I read a blog entry today that's gotten a lot of fur flying. Seems that Stephen King, a bestselling horror writer since the 1970s, doesn't think too highly of Stephenie Meyer, author of the TWILIGHT series.

Let the fur-flying begin.

To take the remark within its context, you can check out The Who's News Blog by Lorrie Lynch. But basically, the interviewer asked if King thought his success had paved the way for writers like Meyer and HARRY POTTER author J.K. Rowling. In his answer, King managed to volunteer his opinion of the two authors: "The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn. She's not very good."

The blog entry is drawing hundreds of posts taking sides, pro-King vs. pro-Meyer. (Please, let's don't start that here!) King goes on to assess the talents of such writers as Erle Stanley Gardner and James Patterson ("terrible"), Jodi Picoult ("terrific") and fellow horror writer Dean Koontz -- "who can write like hell. And then sometimes he's just awful. It varies."

My point here isn't to take sides in the battle, though I will agree that J.K. Rowling is excellent. I also believe King is a fine writer himself. (I haven't read Stephenie Meyer yet, so I'm safely in the neutral camp there.) I do find it ironic for King to evaluate other writers in such black-and-white terms, when he's so often been dismissed by critics himself over the years.

But what I think King may have meant to say, and didn't quite get around to saying, is that there's a difference between good writing and good storytelling. To quote him in Lorrie Lynch's blog once more: "People are attracted by the stories, by the pace."


If a book tells a story that speaks to the readers, it's doing its job. The subtleties of language and style can add a lot of richness – but without a story, all those efforts would be hollow. King knows this. It's what's kept him on the bestseller lists for over thirty years.

Could he have been less blunt in his opinions on other authors? Well, I say yes. But fortunately, there's a world full of books out there, for all of us to read and enjoy and make up our own minds about. More power to Stephenie Meyer for getting more teens to pick up some of those books … and I think King would agree with that, too.

Friday, January 30, 2009


I'm 5'3" and weigh about 122 pounds (depending on what kind of week it's been). Not exactly a Skinny Minnie, but not too hefty either. At least for "a woman my age."

So why does my new driver's license photo make me look like The Linebacker That Ate Pittsburgh?

Probably because I was hunching on two crutches at the time. A few days before the picture was taken, I messed up my knee when I tripped over my dog in the middle of the kitchen floor.

So really, I guess I'm more like The Linebacker Who Fell Over Her Dog.

But at least Pittsburgh can rest easy.