Showing posts from July, 2009

Thoroughbred Groupie

One of my big regrets about my racetrack veterinarian mystery series not finding a publisher is the fact that I no longer have an “excuse” to hang out at Mountaineer. As in “I need to do some research for the book. Gotta go to the track.” Well, tomorrow, I’m going to the races, not for research (although we writers never really know what will spark a future story), but to see Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Mine That Bird run in the West Virginia Derby.

There have been rumors simmering for months. I had my doubts. Mine That Bird? At Mountaineer? Forty-five minutes from my house? Yeah, right.

But it’s TRUE. Don’t believe me? Click here and scroll down to the eighth race.

My friend, trainer Jessi Pizzurro wrote an article about getting to see the champion racehorse and talk to his trainer. Very cool.

Back in the late seventies, early eighties, I worked at Lowry’s Western Shop, which was frequented by the Steelers. The ORIGINAL Superbowl Steelers. The Steel Curtain Steelers. Just a …

The Bathroom Remodel: Part Six

Subtitle: Along came a spider…

If you are sick to death of this bathroom remodel series, you can imagine how thrilled I am to be living it.

At last report, we’d decided to expand the tiling all the way to the door. That required ripping out the remainder of the bead board paneling.

Which created a mess.

Next, more tile work.
Next came grouting. Hubby applied, I wiped. That was last week and my body has yet to recover. But it looks kind of nice.

Right now, we’re at the sealing phase. The second coat has just been applied. I think we’re getting very close.

Which is good. I haven’t been able to use my tub for a week and a half. Thankfully, my mom lives a couple doors away. We’ve been using her basement shower. I haven’t minded walking over there with my duffle bag of clothes every day. But last night, as I closed the shower curtain and adjusted the water temperature, a leggy creepy-crawly spider skittered up the wall.

I knew they were there. It’s a basement after all. But I’ve been trying to ig…

No Complaints

I admit that I tend to spend half of the year complaining about being too cold and the other half complaining about being too hot. There’s just no pleasing me.

However, this summer, I haven’t been the one complaining. Leastways, not about the heat. There hasn’t been much of it. We had what we thought was a taste of summer back in April. Instead, it seems that WAS summer. It lasted a week and we’ve been dealing with autumn ever since.

We’ve had temperatures in the seventies and rarely in the low eighties. Low humidity. We had a long dry spell and now we’re dealing with rain and dreary skies. But we NEEDED the rain. My garden REALLY needed it.

Basically, I’m loving the weather. I’ve been able to sleep. We haven’t had to run the air conditioning much, which is nice for the electric bills.

Plus I’m at “that age” where I carry my own internal heat source around with me. I don’t really need 80 or 90 degree days to build up a healthy sweat.

So here I sit, on a dog day morning in July, feeling a c…

Big Ben and the Working Stiffs

Those of us in the Pittsburgh area LOVE our Steelers. So when someone makes accusations as severe as rape against our star quarterback, we get a little concerned. But the way these charges have been filed raise questions that won't be answered any time soon. We're talking about it over at Working Stiffs today.

The Bathroom Remodel: Part Five

No, it isn’t done yet.

Saturday, in the midst of my zucchini fest, Hubby laid tile. All. Day. Long.

It looked great.

In fact, it looked so good that the piece of old bead board paneling that he’d intended to leave there looked awful. It didn’t match. It seemed lost and out of place. An orphaned three foot square piece of wall butted up against some very nice tile.

(You can see a tiny bit of it--the wood--in the lower left corner of the above photograph. The piece of "white" between the wood and the tile just wasn't tiled yet when I snapped this photo)

But I knew Hubby didn’t want to do any more tiling. He was so happy when it was all done. So I decided to keep quiet. Maybe I’d get used to it.

By Sunday morning, I wasn’t getting used to it. In fact, I pictured myself hating it with a passion six months from now. And we had leftover tile and the goop used to glue them to the wall.

Taking a deep breath, I simply stated, “I don’t understand why you didn’t rip out the rest of the be…

A Lazy Saturday?

Today is NOT what you might term a “lazy Saturday.” Hubby is in high gear tiling the bathroom. And I spent the day trying to keep out of his way by dealing with the zucchini population explosion around here.

How do these monsters manage to hide? I look every single day and still, one or two duck under a leaf and reemerge, like Superman from a phone booth, baseball bat size. Here are a sampling of what has slipped past me. The one on the far right is a normal-sized one, so you can compare.

I only used the two biggest ones today. I had plans to do more, but I discovered I was low on some ingredients, so one batch of zucchini bread was all I accomplished. Plus zucchini fritters (zu-critters?) for lunch. And several Ziploc baggies of shredded zucchini in the freezer for future baking projects.

Here are the fruits of my labor.

Pretty, aren’t they?

As for the bathroom…

To be continued…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I'm on a roll with the work-in-progress! I've topped 200 pages and the plot is heating up. Since I'm so focused on making sure all the puzzle pieces come together, the topic of plotting is on my mind. And not just on MY mind as it was a hot topic at last night's Pennwriters meeting. It's also my topic of my post on Working Stiffs today. Come over and share your thoughts on the plot process.

Country Mouse in the City

Folks who live in the city escape to the country to get away. Those of us who live in the country often seek out more urban settings for our weekend escapes.

Our usual vacation spot, Confluence, isn’t exactly urban, but as I’ve mentioned in past blogs, I can jump on my bike and ride into town anytime I need to mail a letter or pick up a few things for dinner. Here at home, shopping involves a half hour drive to get anywhere worth going.

This weekend, I went even more urban, though, when a writing friend of mine, Mike Crawmer, invited me to meet him and a co-worker for a bike ride around Pittsburgh.

Mike is what I’d have to call a “serious bike rider.” For his fiftieth birthday a few years back, he biked across Pennsylvania.

Me? Fifteen miles is a long ride. I think my maximum was 22 miles one day.

Parts of the ride were considerably different than my usual route. We rode along a graffiti-covered wall, past the county jail, and into the city. We crossed the Smithfield Street Bridge and skir…

Let the Shopping Begin

If you mention “Back to School Sales” to most kids, you get to watch them turn green and sickly before your eyes. I remember those days. The darned sales started two days after the last day of school. I knew it must be a sinister adult plot to wrest all the joy from summer vacation.


If you mention “Back to School Sales” to most writers, you’d better stand back because we will run you over to buy a crate of notebooks at ten cents each even though we have a closet full of blank notebooks at home already.

Tis the season. The Back to School Sales are upon us. Today I purchased 20 of those notebooks, although I didn’t want to drive ten more miles to get to the store that had them at ten cents each, so I paid 15 cents. I will store them for the next time we plan a Pennwriters workshop.

I’m also planning a trip to Staples this weekend to take advantage of their one-cent sale. Truthfully, the GOOD stuff is a DOLLAR, but still…

And I have coupons.

If I play my cards…errr…coupons…right, I mi…

Working Stiffs Making Excuses

I'm over at Working Stiffs again today, making excuses for why I don't think I'll have my first draft finished by my self-imposed deadline. Are you good at making excuses? We writers are always looking for new ones to use. Come on over and share you best with us.

Officially Off the Hook

Nowhere is it written that as 2009 Pennwriters conference coordinator, I am responsible for making sure there is a 2011 Pennwriters conference coordinator. They can’t make me do it again if I don’t find someone else to fill the position.

Yet, I am thrilled to announce that Pennwriters does indeed have a 2011 conference coordinator who is NOT me. The job has been accepted by a fellow local writer who is more than capable of completing the task: Meredith Cohen.

I joined Meredith last week for lunch at the Marriott with Michelle, who is charge of the hotel’s end of things. The dates have been set. All is in order.

And I am free!

Of course, I already was, but now it’s official.

I am taking on a new role in the Pennwriters conference planning world. I am now “Conference Yoda.” I created the title myself. Basically, I intend to sit in my cave in my swamp and offer suggestions and advice and answer questions.

Meredith likes the idea. As long as I don’t start talking like Yoda. I think I can h…

A Garden Plot

Vegetable gardens have always been a part of my life. I remember my grandma’s garden on the farm. It was huge. The plot of rich black soil was enclosed by chicken wire with a wood picket gate. That fence was supposed to keep out the rabbits. I suspect it was also aimed at keeping out small, unsupervised grandchildren.

Within that fence, Grandma grew lettuce, carrots, beets, beans, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lots of onions. Around the perimeter, rhubarb, horseradish, and dill thrived. This was the kitchen garden. Separate patches were set aside for sweet corn, more tomatoes, and more cucumbers. Plus there was a large potato patch. Back in those days, that bounty fed the family all winter. The root cellar held the potatoes and onions (and apples from the orchard!). Grandma pickled the beets and cucumbers and canned tomato juice and green beans. Cabbage became sauerkraut.

And, oh, the horseradish! I weep just thinking about it. Really. Weep.

My folks had a good sized garden,…

Editing, editing, and more editing

Remember that 9,000 word short story that I had to whittle down to 4,000 words? If not (and if you even care), click here for a reminder.

Well, it’s still in the running. Three weeks ago, I received a letter of requested revisions from the anthology’s editor. Of course, three weeks ago, I was on a roll with my novel, so I put off the revisions for a little while.

Granted, I had that letter and the comments bouncing around inside my head. Finally, I sat down during our vacation to give the story a serious once over. Some of the changes were easy. A few took more thought.

This is my first REAL editing letter. I’ve made tons of revisions to projects based on critique group comments. With those, I always have the option of vetoing the other person’s opinion if it doesn’t mesh with my own. But I’ve always said if someone who is in the business of helping me make money on my work wants something changed, dagnabbit, I will change it. Jump? How high?


There’s also the little matter of maki…

My Town...

...sort of.

We finally pulled off a relaxing vacation without the usual rain. I'm over at Working Stiffs today blogging about my second home: "my town" of Confluence.