Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Science of Giving

Matthew's Pennies
Originally uploaded by xxtickleticklexx
In an archival NY Times article, dating December 26, 1919, it was reported that if all the ants in the world gathered together in one place they would far outweigh all the elephants of the world. (This, according to a Statistical Naturalist. Who knew?)

It certainly gives illumination to "every little bit counts," doesn't it? 

From my newest book, Am I Beautiful? (09)-- a talking parrot and a little girl named Polly find themselves exploring the other side of a mirror. 

...Right then the sky turned to copper and it began to rain pennies!!  "Do you save your pennies for a rainy day? AWK?" the parrot asked.... 
"I have a piggy bank and an umbrella with lady bugs on it!" she replied proudly.  "Oh dear!"said Polly, as she placed a hundred pennies on top of a rabbit family's leaking roof.... 
Beautiful is sharing. 

And of course Giving has many faces. Sometimes Giving dresses up as a smile; or gives up parking spaces-- even though you were there first; or pays it forward;  or picks up a stranger's litter;  or walks the dog;  or makes dinner ('giving' begins at home;)  or shovels a neighbor's sidewalks;  or fills the bird feeder;  or forgives those who need it most.   Again.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Mark your calendars! Dec. 16 is National Chocolate Covered ANYTHING Day

It had to happen, didn't it? A day devoted to smothering, drizzling, slapping, sluicing, encrusting, encasing, ANYTHING with chocolate. We humans do love our cacao.

Every couple of months I leave a metaphorical skid mark outside Chuao Chocolatier's in Southern CA. Trust me, they smolder in chocolate, of the Venezuelan variety. But what's a Coloradan, 1,600 miles away, to do? 

Why... mail order, of course! at www.chuaochocolatier.com. Chuao coddles their fresh truffles and bonbons inside candy boxes and ships them overnight in an innovative cold pack. And their pairings and flavorings are sumptuous. Too many personal favorites to list, but here's a sampling: 
  1. Chevere: goat cheese, pear Williams and crushed black pepper buttercream. 
  2. Mondena: strawberry caramel with balsamic vinegar,   
  3. Picante: California raisin fondue and Napa Valley cabernet, spiced with pasilla chili and cayenne pepper.  
 Purrrrrrr.  Every couple of months I place my internet order for a box of dark bonbons from Chuao. ( I love the word BONBON, don't you? I love it so much that I think it will be the title of my next children's book. Doesn't it conjure up a lazy day spent on the couch? In pink spongey curlers?)

Okay... the rumor is true, there's another reason why National Chocolate Covered Anything Day snagged my attention. I have a history with chocolate covered cherries a.k.a. cherry cordials.  I use to hand make them for my family back when maraschinos were synonymous with the words "covered" and "chocolate." Now, like everyone else, I cover candied ginger and fresh strawberries, and brussel sprouts... not really.

I recall a shhhocking scene in the movie Chocolat when Vivian blends dark chocolate shavings into the gravy (oh my!) and serves to her partisans over pork (or was that beef.)  Those French!!  I wonder how many folks will celebrate National Chocolate Covered Anything Day that way?

Not me!  I don't eat red meat.  But I do eat chicken.... hmmmmm.

(Thanks to  Kristie for introducing my sister to Chuao, who later introduced ME... the fanatic.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007



Thats' right, folks. Throw away the pharmaceuticals and get ye a black sock!!

Let me explain. I've been having trouble sleeping at night.
(WARNING: sleep deprivation makes you a menace to society, well at least to a husband :)

I can fall asleep just fine. It's just that I wake up at 3 a.m. and can't go back to sleep. I've tried everything natural under our roof. (NOTE: I've said "NO!" to sleep drugs. They're not even under our roof. So there.) I've tried, sleepy-time tea, calcium tablets, aromatherapy, herbs, I've massaged oils into my feet and hands, taken warm baths,
quiet walks, avoided caffeine, organic sheets, gentle detergents, yada-yada-ding-dong.

Enter, THE BLACK SOCK. (That's right... in bold AND caps.)

My husband, ever the inventor type, tied a string, and toggle to one of his "clean" black socks-- thereby creating the first-ever melatonin inducing sock. In desperation (and lack of a real sleep mask,) I slipped the sock over my eyes. And slept (and snored) like a lazy languid lugubrious baboon until 6 in the morning.

Insomnia cured... by a sock. Folks, you heard it here first.

DISCLOSURE: Test first for sensitivity to wearing a ridiculous looking thing around your face. Remember to remove sock before walking to bathroom. And whatever you do, DO NOT involve the teenagers.

Monday, November 05, 2007

a home security system....

Concrete Angel
Originally uploaded by titancia
They were chiseled, blasted, and molded into shape by a consortium of craftsman. But my angel and cherub collection are not your ordinary bevy of celestials-- some are concrete, some are sand-casted or porcelain, while others are made of terracotta. Some are Italian. Some are Spanish. Many are hand painted. Others are primitive. (No cutesy found here.) Whatever the composite... all dazzle in their own right.

Years ago, I assembled my angels together in the foyer, like centurians guarding a compound-- to ward away
discontent or other would-be hooligans.
Or simply welcome. No one could pass without first dealing with the angels. It set a precedence. I think. Come in peace... otherwise, what the heck are you doing here???

When we moved into our new "old" house, the angels never quite made it to the entry. Instead, they were dispersed throughout our home. Which recently has made me ponder... were those angels, cloistered en masse, my home security system? Perhaps they were.

Now... after a recent break-in, and subsequent burglary, we installed a real home security system. It's laconic voice speaks to me whenever I open a door. "Sensor to garage door-- open--BEEEEEP."
What?? No smiles? No angelic winks? "Sensor OPEN...BEEEEP" Is that all my state-of-the-arts security system has to say for itself? I've been gone for hours! No "Helloooo, how was your day?" OR "By the way, no one tried to steal your stuff today!"

Oh well.. Although, we will gladly keep this newfangled wireless contraption, I think it's time to gather my angelic forces for a reunion... in the entry. At least then when I walk in, I will know by the warmth of their gelid glances, that all is, indeed, perfectly well. I've come in peace...


Happy Angel Day, Thea!!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hannah Montana??? Does this BOTHER anyone other than me?

Review headlines smacked:
HANNAH! HANNAH! HANNAH! Show In Tune With Good Fun!!


Am I the only mom that is disturbed by all the glamor associated with the Hannah Montana craze? A recent article in the Denver Post showed 12 photo examples of young girls aged 4-10 "glamming up" beyond their years for a Hannah Montana concert at the Pepsi Center. Won't this seed their jump into teenagehood with "what's a girl to wear?"
(Role model??? Fyi- Miley Cyrus' favorite hobby is shopping.)

Can't little girls (AND yes, I do mean 4 to 10 year olds!!) just be little girls?
Yah, yah yah, I know you've heard it all before, but here it goes again, "They're young for such a short time!!!"
What exactly is the hurry???

My daughter, Annie, is now 14. She was/is the inspiration behind my children's book series, Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? And the reason for my latest book, Am I Beautiful?(09) Annie is a vision of pure beauty and self confidence, stylish, centered. NEVER did she idolize a girl outside of herself. She was too busy discovering what it was like to run as fast as the wind. And learning what happens when you mix dirt with water-- especially between bare piggy-toes. (Thank you, Waldorf education!)
Sure she played dress-up, but within the context of her play kitchen.

Unplug the T.V., Mommies! Find some great books with alarmingly brilliant heroines for your girls. (Check out Beauty's Secret just released by Debra Gano.) It's never too early to learn about inner beauty-- help give her something she'll have for a lifetime.... herself.

And then, let true glamor begin.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mmmmmmmm....fried red tomatoes

fried tomatoes
Originally uploaded by ericjhwilson

Mom use to make them... but I don't know if she still does. Do you, mom?
While we're waiting for her answer-- here's what you do. Choose firm red beef steak or other type of tomatoes-- garden or farm market fresh from the vine. Slice into thick wheels. Dredge with flour and salt & pepper-- pressing genty to coat. Then fry 'em up in a heavy skillet with olive oil (hmmm-- I really should buy stock in olive oil) until soft on the inside, and crispy brown on the outside. Serve warm or cold. Very yummy over salad. Or just by themselves!

Now that I think about it. Mom now makes oven roasted tomatoes instead. Same idea... but sans the flour.

Variation: You can add all sorts of sprinkles before cooking-- dried basil, oregano, or parmesan... or perhaps spice them up a bit with some red pepper flakes.


porcini risotto
Originally uploaded by clairish
I did it!!! After years of saying I was going to, I finally made risotto. A yummy Italian comfort food which, according to the professionals, cannot be rushed. The Italians say "...the risotto does not wait for the guests, but rather the guests wait for the risotto." Well, for goodness sakes, let's NOT rush the rice.

Now the kids know why I was screaming for them to come down for dinner-- the RISOTTO was READY. And I wasn't about to upset the risotto. Pah-lease. Touchy-touchy.

Well risotto wasn't nearly as tricky (or touchy) to make as I thought. But I do have some suggestions:

*Use a wooden spoon- as opposed to metal or plastic
*Use quality cookware. Avoid using an aluminum saucepan
*Stir, stir, stir...
*Toast the rice before cooking. Add rice to dry saucepan and "toast" 4 min. just to warm the rice- do not brown!!
*Heat ALL liquids (including wine) before adding.
* Think about using Vialone nano variety of rice- said to be creamier.

Recipe for Leeky Parmesan Risotto:

4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium size leeks white part only (dice)
1 garlic clove (minced)
1 1/2 cup Vialone nano rice OR Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine- Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc
1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt plus a little more
1/4 teaspoon coursely ground black pepper
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan plus extra for topping off

Simmer broth in a saucepan. Warm wine in a separate pan. Toast rice as above.

In a medium saucepan melt 1 T. butter with 1 T. olive oil-- add diced leeks and garlic. Saute until transparent-- 5 min. Add toasted rice, stir and cook over medium about four min. Add wine and simmer until the wine is absorbed stirring frequently- about 5 min. Add 1/2 cup of warm broth at a time to the rice, stir. Do not add more broth until the last addition is absorbed. Repeat this process by adding a 1/2 cup at a time for 20-30 min. until the rice is firm but not crunchy. Add remaining melted butter and olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir gently. Stir in Parmesan. Let risotto rest on plate or bowl for a minute-- loosen with a fork to release the steam... then the rest is up to you. Buon Appetito!!

4 servings.

Working at the Happy Factory

Working at the Happy Factory
Originally uploaded by utahgha

The Happy Factory!! Surely, one of the best ideas I have heard in a long-long time. An extraordinary organization! Wood scraps are turned into glorious wooden toys for children in need. Cars, trucks and all things that zooooommm!
Their motto: "We may not be able to make a toy for every child in the world who needs one, but we're going to try!"

Friday, October 26, 2007

Stealing Santa Fe...

Santa Fe sunset
Originally uploaded by Brawn
A multi-layered five day journey... is done-- as told by this southwest sunset. (Fine artists and photographers galore try to convey the depth and breath of such a setting sun, and they do come as close as humanly possible... yet, it's one of those-- "you have to see it to believe it...")

We're home from the fiery southwest USA. Santa Fe- where dining, architecture, fine arts, world class shopping... and rabbit brush combined to conjure up a dream trip for four women (from three generations.)

Dinners at Tulip and Pasqual were the evening highlights (aside from that sinking sun.)

Pasquals: A plate of gourment french fries, spinach feta soup, warm brie, maytag bleu on romaine, wild king salmon with a rustic avocado sauce, heirloom tomatoes with pesto, pinon ice cream with caramel.
Note: Paquals delivers a coffee drink to the table that resembles the rich sandstone-brown layers of a southwest sunset just past dusk.)

Tulip: Chile corn bread, spinach salad with Colorado peaches, tuna with sobe noodles and smoked mushrooms, tiramasu with lemon ginger marscapone.

A must eat: dark chocolate bon bon with caramel and red Hawaiian sea salt on top- available at Todos Santos Chocolatier.

Our vote for Best Bakery? Sage Bakehouse-- hands down... actually our hands were up begging for more!

We return to Colorado with art... and earrings.

As the "leaving New Mexico" signs says....hasta la vista!

Sunflowers... gotta love 'em!!

During the months of August, Sept, and Oct., I fill Italian crocks with thick stalks of sunflowers. They like it best on the long farm style dining table-- never a lonely place with all the kids passing through.

I raise my glass to these extraordinary blooms!!


Friday, August 17, 2007

Lost and... found

It really wasn't lost. It was hidden. (Long pause.)
Okay. It really wasn't hidden. It was obscured. (Longer pause)

Treasures are often obscured in those deeply dark corners of life. Like beryl in it's unpolished state. This particular treasure was shadowed in a deeply dark corner of the garden shed (aka science lab) just enough out of the mainstream that my eye didn't see it for it's worth. Until one day, it bushwacked me- slapped my attention around a bit until I gave notice.  Hmmmm. Standing over five feet tall,  sunburned from excessive UV,  and delicately scarred by the whips of use.   Distressed as only a shabby could love.  I turned straight on to my new found slender green cabinet, and said, "I like you."

And that was it... I liked it. But not enough to face the spiders, snakes... and lions that were no doubt lurking on every shelf and underpinning. And so there my cabinet stayed... in the shed for years. Once in a while I would see it, and gave my regards, "I still like you." And off I'd go, not willing to deal with the creepy crawlies.

Until one day. I managed to convince a certain someone to lug it out of the shed and check it over for me. (I know...I'm an absolute wimp.)

After it passed inspection, I carefully scrubbed it clean as to not disturb its natural weather. With a little help from an old sand cherub for frontal detail- it now has an honored new life in my studio as my supply cabinet. My desk faces it while I write. I often catch myself glancing in it's direction- casting a whisper, "I do like you. Very, very much."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Becoming Jane... underrated by reviewers

Say what you like... my  opinion is based upon personal preference.  Not without flaws, I enjoyed Becoming Jane even more the second time around.  (And yes,  I have read all of Jane Austen's novels... several times...) 

Superbly acted.  A sweeping score.  Smart screenplay.   (Warning Spoilers- read no further if you don't already know Jane Austen's romantic travails.) 
Whether founded in truth or not, the story kept me engaged long after the credits.  Even haunting me while I slept. Was it the poignancy of her doomed romantic circumstances? (It takes two to...waltz.)  Or the admission that a female novelist can't have it all-  marriage, family and career?   I found myself relating to the peaks and valleys.   As a writer, a searing new story idea can tear me in one direction... and "what's for dinner" in the other,  and soccer chauffeuring  in yet another.    As 19th century as it sounds,  domestic commitment is a reality. 
For me.  (At least while I have school age children.)

I was swept up by the interludes- the misunderstandings,  the eye contact, the desperate kiss, the jeering arguments in the forest (How romantic these passionate arguments are on screen! In real life?  I'd smack him.  Well, she DID smack him at one point.  But it lead to a kiss, and hmmm- in the 21st century?... I don't know.  But hey, it works for me on screen!)  

Anne Hathaway- as Jane Austen.  She crafted this part exceedingly well.  A far step beyond Diaries and Prada.   Her longing,  anguish, and tears- genuine.  

James McAvoy- as Tom LeFroy.  Perfectly geeky, and yet, eye-chocolate in so many intelligent ways.  Cool to a tee.  Marvelous acting- in pitch and timing.  (He had ME convinced.  I was running away at dawn!)  
First up-  saw him in Narnia, and thought- this man is way too alluring for a faun... then, bring on the C4!  he's casted in The Last King of Scotland, Starter For Ten,  Becoming Jane,  Penelope,  Atonement, and Wanted.
Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, and James Cromwell all acted their chops off.  Very fine.  And Anna Maxwell Martin- something MUST be said about her performance- beguiling and demure as Cassandra, Jane's older sister.  Her bereavement scene was all too genuine.) 

One of my many favorite scenes:  

Jane is eagerly seeking Mr LeFroy at the Ball. But instead., her fateful search brings her to a dance with Mr Wisley- a suitor that she had recently rebuffed.  Midway through the dance she is suddenly swept into Tom's lead-   eyes locked upon one another in magnetic discovery.   Enchanting.  

Loved the screenwriters cunning references to situations in Austen's novels.  Contrary to what some reviewers had to say,  I think these clever references made it all the more fun.  Very fun indeed.   But not without "trouble."  (Bring tissues.) 

Quote during their first dance:  
Tom LeFroy:  "I think that you, Miss Austen, consider yourself a cut above the company... 
Jane Austen:  Me?
Tom LeFroy:  You, ma'am.  Secretly.

Take THAT, oh-ye-highbrow reviewers...


Saturday, July 14, 2007

COMING SOON!!! 3rd Annual Root Beer taste testing contest

ONLINE Root beer POLL CLOSED! Virgils brand root beer won first place!

Friday, July 13, 2007

How is it possible??

Well- it just isn't!! I must be dreaming. Because you couldn't possibly be eighteen years old! 36 hours of labor- ending in a c-section. (OR rather beginning with a c-section.)

I haven't taught you how to make marinara sauce yet-(wait a sec- that's not a good idea.) When you were little, I remember telling you to "SLOW DOWN!" You must have thought I meant not to run so fast. Actually, Nick, I was suggesting that you not GROW so fast.

Do all kids grow this fast? I mean... seasoned parents told me their kids did. But that was THEIR kids, not mine. (Hey, these were the same seasoned parents that warned me, "Before you know it, they won't want to be seen with you." What? That's not true- IS IT?- Nick? - Nick? Are you there? Where'd he go?)

Hmmm. I guess you didn't listen to my pleas to 'slow down.' Because here you are, Nicholas Teague Coyle, eighteen, registered with selective services, going on a pre-senior road trip with some buddies, working on a feature length film for a school project, and able to vote in 08.

And yet you have always been wise beyond your years. You were the one that at the age of 4 looked at my tummy and pointed, "There's a baby in there... and it's a girl!" And then 8 months later before Annie's birth you comforted me, "Don't worry, she's going to be able to get through the hallway, mommy." And she did.

I remember the first summer your voice changed into that of a man's. I was upstairs in my room and suddenly I heard Annie downstairs talking to a stranger. I ran down... only to see you, a cute little twelve-year old with eyes as dark as a couple of antique coins, sitting next to his sister on the couch discussing the latest Harry Potter book. No squeaking, faltering voice- you had caught a summer cold, your voice dove down to your toes... and it never came back up.

You've been my contant drip line of humor crossed with a bit of mad scientist. When you were 13, I remember instructing you to put the chopped celery into the soup at 5:30 p.m.- when 5:30 came along- you couldn't remember what you were suppose to do with the celery. So... you ate it. I can almost imagine the mind-talk on that one.

What a stunning man you are becoming! But there's work left to do- for example: dressing-up means more than clean shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, napkins are folded with the point facing left, and generally people bring their dirty dishes down from their room more than once a month.

I forgot to say, those seasoned parents also said... "you're a parent forever..." Now there's some advice I can live with.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Atlanta!! Veni Vidi Vici!

Recently we had a lay-over in Atlanta. (We came, we saw, we conquered... Food, that is.)

"I'm HUNGRY..." became my daughter's mantra an hour into the 3 hour plus flight. Never mind that she had a large breakfast an hour earlier. Never mind that I gave the kids travel bags filled with snacks before boarding. Never mind the paper-wrapper flavored cookie (or was that cardboard?) Delta gave us. She was hungry. (This is the same baby that the pediatrician once warned me about -'this ones going to need to eat every 20 minutes...' WHAT?)

Whenever I looked at Annie in 31A from my private window seat in 36E (sadly we had a little problem with seat selection,) she mouthed the words that makes every traveling parent cringe... "I'm..HUNGRY!" (When Annie was a toddler it mattered not how much she ate before we left the house- as the car engine flared and we got just far enough away from the refrigerator, she became "over-torturous" (inside phrase) with hunger and thirst.

"Well, eat your snacks," I mouthed back as the jet engine flared.

But with lips turned downward, she mouthed "I already did."

(Ut-oh, no frige in my purse.) We were in trouble. Annie is personality challenged whenever she's HUNGRY. Our little problem with seat selection wasn't looking quite so bad afterall.

Oh well. Without sounding like a food shnob- this shtory has a fairy tale happy ending because we located a divine restaurant in downtown Atlanta shortly after landing- Veni Vidi Vici.. AND it just-so-happened to be the most delectable meal we had on our entire vacation. Two of us had home-made twisted spinach tortellini- bunched together with in a softly singing citrus sauce. (Shnobby enough?) LaaaAAAaaaah. The other two of us had White Lasagna- thin sheets of durum perfection plopped into formation with cheeses from afar. Annie purred. We all did.
Our eyes rolled to the back of our heads. Yum. And dessert was just as... shweet. And so was Annie.

Veni Vidi Vici!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Heart Stomping Music

A-one and a-two and a... three "songs" that recently found me:

* Tamacun by Rodrigo y Gabriela -Latin Rock. (Intense guitar duet. )

* Fleur de Saison by Emilie Simon- French Rock. ((Sweet voiced- maybe it's just the purr of the French language...)

* Tobacco Island by Flogging Molly- Irish Pirate. (Gruff and gritty.)

All three are diversely different, culturally flavorful. Samples on ITUNES.

Monday, June 25, 2007

oh to be lovely...

It's been around for a while, I know. But just had to put Dove's Real Beauty Campaign onto my blog. Having been a member of inner beauty's not-so-secret society for years, I was drawn to post it- just to show my support. I haven't used their product for years, but what a compelling ad!

My latest children's book "Am I Beautiful" due out 2008, is my newest tribute to "whats-on-the-inside-counts!" A familiar theme? Hmmm... perhaps a life long lesson for this author?


The Evolution Of Beauty

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Here a weed, there a weed...

I'm reading a new book. I'm reading Spiritual Gardening to get ideas. Well, sort of. It's more like wishing for ritam. Abbra-Kadabra. Presto-change-o. Spin around three times and spit over your shoulder. POOOOFF! We have a tickley waterfall and pond with softly sculpted rocks... a wooden Monet bench sleepily tucked amongst the honeysuckle. Ivies dervishing up and around the garden shed (aka science lab.) A grassy knoll, a vintage fountain, birds lazily spitting out their latest tune. My verdanda chairs covered with sprightly cushions and there's a pitcher of homemade lemonade nearby. Ahhhhhhh. Life- after reading Spiritual Gardening. Ommmmmm.

POOOOOOFF! Ut-oh. I'm back. Wow... how long was I gone? It is as if every weed in town has sought assylum in our compound, burrowing beneath fence, wall and concrete just because I spaced out for a few.... months? (Actually we have the weed problem because apparently some weedy news team sent out a news flash. FLASH: "Them folks on Cherry St. don't use the "R" word." Round-up, that is.)

There is no Monet bench in my yard... yet. There is no gurgling pond or splashy fountain... yet. Or pickety fence. But there will be. One day. For now, what we do have plenty of are ... weeds, but you already knew that. (YES, of course, we pick them!!) It's just that they keep a'comin. So... I'm thinking of starting over. Spiritually scourging ourselves of the weeds- Tearing the place apart without the use of chemicals. We can do this! We have to do this. So the bench and knoll and fountain can come to life. POOOOF!!!

No offense weeds, but you gotta go.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Forever love

Hello… and goodbye

I awoke April 29 at 4:50 a.m., thinking of you. How could I not? A sweet throated bird was singing something of a birth announcement. Fourteen years ago at 11:18 a.m. day light savings time, you, Anne Dee Coyle entered the world- I know this because your dad had set his watch to atomic time- we wanted to know the exact moment. It’s a girl! Did you know your grandpa dropped off a bouquet of flowers for you at 5:18 this morning? His headlights glaring into the house like investigative eyes. That’s grandpa. How could I have known that fourteen years ago, when I first said “Hello impetuous one! I love you madly… forever…” that I would wake this day with tears squeaking from my eyes… times are changing. You expertly held the oxygen mask up to your face. My starlet. …wait a minute, Give ME that air!
Fast forward, it is time for goodbye- WAIT, didn’t we just say hello? It’s a girl!! Was it that last batch of chocolate chip cookies that pushed you over the edge? Or my latest question, “Is everything okay?” No one ever told me you would pull away… (yes they did, I just didn’t listen!) Will you be back anytime soon? (Shipoo puppies are warm, but they don’t tell the same stories. They don’t carry the same confident swagger in each and every step. Or bump-set-spike… like you do.)
Did you know that behind my smile, inside my throat, there was a twist of pain when you said, “I WISH I could go to boarding school in England for high school!” I thought, but did not say, “Who will make you macaroni and cheese? Or sweep aside the straggler hairs from your eyes?” Times are changing. There’s a fog in your stare- does this mean you won’t “tell” me what’s in your heart any more? Maybe that’s why I bought you the heart bracelet from Tiffany’s for your birthday this year. Maybe it symbolizes… MY HEART is with you always. Remember…when you said, with stars ejecting from your spirit, ”Do princesses have to wear hiking shoes?” It was a magical moment. There you go again- making my dreams come true. It’s a girl!! I wrote an entire book series… for you. Who else?
You must never know, ever, about the squeaking tears. Choking them back now… I hear that voice again. Remember? It’s that same one that tried to give me advice when you were tiny enough to catch - “she’ll be pulling away…” “No she won’t!” I said then.
“Yes, she will.” “No she won’t.”
“Yes, she will.”
“But…” the voice says, “She’ll be back.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

We're BACK!!!

A couple days of New Mexican sunshine, soaking and... whispering. Shhhh... Yes... 'twas I who reserved the two nights at Ojo Caliente Hot Springs in New Mexico. At Ojo Caliente they prefer whispering- over the use of soft voices. Tell THAT to two teenagers. "Ummmm. Kids. Mom made a little mistake... you can't talk here... Okay?"

I thought Ojo Caliente was going to be like Glenwood Springs Colorado- with the big hot springs pool, twirly slides, chaise lounges- and plenty of "CANON BALLLLLLL's!!"

Well. Ojo Caliente is a mineral springs. Which translates to "a place where people go for inner reflection- healing, solitude." It's a spiritual place. The Native American's discovered Ojo hundreds of years ago. It's now on BLM land. We saw wild horses (well, we THINK they were wild.) and wild rocks. (Inside joke) And we played a little car game... "the high desert is as flat as a...." (me, the writer, ever trying to inspire my children to think...the first things they came up with- a pancake! a line! wow... creative. It evolved- it ended with "as flat as a lizard under the tire.)

Ojo Caliente was glorious. We soaked ourselves silly. Our bodies marinated in an iron pool, a soda pool AND even an arsenic pool! (Yee-gads.) Which was the subject of great discussion... "Mom...wasn't there a movie about two little old ladies who kill people using.... arsenic?" Oh yeah- Arsenic and Old Lace. Hmmm. We drank waters from the Lithia pool- suppose to heal depression. Drink up mateys... and so I did! Mike and I kept toasting cups of our happy water and even brought some home. The kids said "YUCK it tastes like baking soda..." I kept saying "shhhhhh whisper!"

The food was pretty good. And that's saying something- because I'm a "registered foodie." (Is there such a thing? Should be.)

Three days with Annie, Nick and Mike- priceless.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It's SPRING BREAK! Woo-hooo. Actually, MY KIDS have spring break. Surely, the term "spring break" translates from Latin (or something ) into: I-agree-to-drive-them-all-over-the-city-so-they-can-still-see-their-friends-who-do-not-live-anywhere-near-our-house.

But that's okay. I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to bear children. (NO more spring breaks for you, missy.) I probably even signed a driving clause... or something- don't remember now. I do, however, remember signing that lovely release form at the hospital right before an emergency C-section. You know, the one they stick in your face when you've just gone from 10 centimeters to 5? (Maybe IT had the driving clause.)

No matter. This year I figured a way we can ALL enjoy spring break! We're going to take a little vacation over the break. Just a little one... a road trip. Hmmmm. There's something wrong with that.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

FIREFLY-FIREFLY... Ummmmmm- Where have I been?

There's something to say for techno teenage sons, and daughters. Besides being charming conversationalists, sometimes they give Nanos as gifts, and teach their technically challenged moms how to purchase and download music/books online. Rock!
"Kids, my new ipod is defective." Later... "Oh. You have to charge it first?"

They challenge her to the online S.A.T. question of the day. (FYI: I'm doing okay...)

They insist she own a Mac, to the point of threatening mutiny if she even thinks to buy otherwise. Aaarrrgh.

They teach her youthful phrases-i.e. being asked to "go out" with a boy does NOT mean you are actually going to go somewhere. (remember "going steady?")

They teach her the difference between BlueRay and HDTV. (Bet there aren't many moms out there that know that!)

And they bring home entertaining TV series on DVD like, FIREFLY. Where have I been?? I guess I was, I don't know... writing my latest book, maybe??

Sadly, the FIREFLY series came and went in '02 without even a blink from me. In all honesty I think I did hear something about it back then, but it was fleeting... two things came to mind: 1. bugs 2. wasn't there a Kevin Costner's movie by the same name?-(wait a minute- that was Dragonfly.) Firefly is a futuristic-western series loaded with handsome people, humor, action, romance... and yes, some unnecessary sex and violence... (Keep in mind that the person writing this has to close her eyes every now and then. But according to the teenagers, that's not saying much.) That said, 13 and older!

Check it out... at your library, Blockbuster, Netflix... or better yet... BUY it! Apparently there is some funky fan movement to bring the series back. I'm not sure though- I'll have to ask someone about that. I know! The teenagers!!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Nerves of STEEL!! A heart imploded. Could it get any more raw? You've toiled and spun over a body of work. You've given it a pulse. You've given it a name. You're ready to POP!

That's the skinny. The thick AND the thin. It takes nerves of steel to share your art with the great "out there". Well, at least it does when you're putting your work out there for the critical eyes of the universe to see. Publishers, agents, editors... relatives. Those kinds of eyes...

What will they think? What will they SAY?? Should I buy some bandaids?

Here's a synopsis of what I told my second cousin today when she was preparing to send me one of her unpublished children's stories...

"I have a stack of rejection letters from publishers that's probably 2 inches thick! Most of them state the obvious in the kindest way possible: "...Thank you, but we're not interested... at this time. Tah-tah!" At first those letters made me miserable. BUT that was ONLY because I allowed the misery. I learned a few years ago that the letters that made me feel the worst were also the ones that made me grow the most as a writer. Hmmmm.

WHY?? Because it helped develop my own critical eye. It forced me back into the rejected stories to humbly ask "why?" Granted, those early stories have not yet been published. But the beauty of it all is, I now know why! That's not to say I won't someday revisit them and tweak the day lights out of them, but the very process of "rejection" pushed me forward to write more stories- stories that were greeted by the industry with open arms. So rejection, by a new standard, really means
opportunity. But you've heard that before. Rejection=Opportunity. Risk=Success. Pain=Growth. Yada-yada-ding-ding. Please pass the bandaids. Power Rangers or Cinderella?

Rejection=Opportunity. It come down to... courage. Rejection takes courage because it means we've put our selves out there. How else would we get rejected? We've taken the risk. We must accept the outcome. No matter how bloody it gets.

Courage keeps you moving. No slacking. No detours. Full speed ahead. Don't look down... it's quite a drop!!

Whenever my agent gives me feedback about a project, I remind myself not to be too attached to her remarks. I imagine her an angel, hinting lofty things. I listen carefully to her suggestions and then I pick and choose what feels right. It's very humbling because we think we know what's best, but sometimes it takes a seasoned professional to help us become something... better. It stretches us. My favorite feedback from my agent or editor is when they say, "this word(s) doesn't work for me/us. Carmela, go back and find something...else" I especially like this reply because it allows ME to retread. I go back and find something astoundlingly right for my story... and this something has the charge to make the thing pop."

And it's all about the POP!!!