Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Shift

I felt it yesterday. It's a mind-shift that happens when I've really made up my mind about something, like quitting smoking or taking off the after-stopping weight.

As you know if you read yesterday's blog, my intention is to eat mindfully. Consciously. I know how to do that, and I'm sure you do, too. Forget dieting.

And so another journey begins.

Our autumn weather is keenly beautiful--the blues seem bluer and the trees seem greener, and out front the aspen leaves are changing color, too. The crisp apple I ate as part of my mid-morning snack was incredibly delicious. I actually held that fruit and looked and it and wondered when was the last time I enjoyed an apple that much??? Maybe it took my tastebuds three months to come back, I don't know.

Here's what I do know. There are other shifts I need to make in my life. Maybe there are in yours, too. And that's okay.

Darn, that apple was good.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Will I Ever Learn? :)

I'm smart in a lot of ways, and I say that without bragging. I'm not, it would seem, the brightest bulb in the box when it comes to changing my diet.

Here's what happened. I quit smoking, and I started to put on weight. Since I'd kept my last weight loss off for nearly two years, I wasn't happy about that. I like wearing little jeans, and not just from vanity--I'm not actually a very big person, bone structure and height-wise. I don't feel like myself when I'm heavier.

So, okay. The most important thing is, I'm staying a nonsmoker, for good. I decided I was ready to stop the weight gain and--here's where the dim-bulb comes in--I wanted to do something that would be easy, a no-brainer, so to speak. (Truer than I am comfortable admitting, my friends.) I ordered Nutrisystem. After all, Marie Osmond looks pretty good, right? (Of course, she always did, didn't she?) In my imagination, I saw the steaming lasagna, the hamburgers, the good stuff. What arrived (because somehow I didn't find the good stuff option, which of course involves up-ordering) is a bunch of dry "food" packaged to last into the next millenium. Well, that's my plan. I'm keeping it in the garage in case of disaster.

What was I thinking? Will I never learn?

I would have been better off to buy Weight Watchers frozen entrees, which I at least know and like, until I got back in the portion control groove.

This blog is in no way intended to dissaude you from trying Nutrisystem (my brother-in-law has had great success with it and likes the food), if that's your thing. I'm just telling you about my own experience: this is not for me.

I need to learn to trust myself again, where food is concerned, and I can do that.


And again.

And a few times more after that.

It is interesting, being me. :)

Make it a good day.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Back to Work

I wrote on Saturday, but on Saturday evening, late, my long-time friend Vicki Webster and her long-time friend, Sandy, arrived for a visit. (Sandy is now my friend, too.) I intended to work all day Sunday, as well, because Vicki is the type of friend to understand these things, but in the end, I didn't. I needed this time with my friends, whether I could spare it or not, and I'm glad I took it. We had breakfast at Northern Quest Casino--played slots for an hour or so--went to Walmart, came home. Later, we headed out again, to Michael's, where I bought more of the Gallery Glass paints I've been using on the piece I call my Renaissance Showgirl. I ended up doing her entire headdress in various colors and the effect if striking--stained glass. Except for finishing off the edges of the canvas and spraying the whole thing with some kind of protective coating, in two weeks, when the paint has cured properly, she's finished.

I so love this piece. In fact, if I'd seen it in a shop or a gallery, done by someone else, I would probably have bought it.

Check her out on my Twitter page:

There are few things I love more than painting--writing leaps instantly to mind. It's hard work sometimes, no denying that, but it is also such a joy. I can go and live in my story world, with my story people, and then slip back out into my own, to rejoin loved ones, dogs, cats and horses. To enjoy friends and breakfast and slot machines and visits to Michael's and all manner of good things.

I feel restored this morning. Ready to return to Blue River, Texas in a big way.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Read all about it!

On October 1, a wonderful contest begins. The winner will be flown to Las Vegas to attend the National Rodeo Finals with me!

Watch the website for info.

Inner Mean Girl

I spotted her this morning when I was journaling. My inner mean girl, I mean. Although she has the occasional critical comment to make about other people, the truth is, she mainly picks on me. And I have gotten so used to her voice that I usually don't even question what I'm hearing.

M.G. has plenty to say about the weight I gained after I quit smoking ("How could you have let this happen--again?? Don't you ever learn?") There's no credit for the accomplishment of breaking the nicotine habit, though. M.G. says: "That's what you get for starting smoking in the first place."

My most cherished dreams are fair game, too. When I dare to hope that I might meet a nice man, one I could love and respect, and he might love and respect me right back, M.G. says: "All the good ones are taken" or "Men your age want younger women."

I've got to tell you, I was raised a small town/country girl, and if anybody outside my own head ever talked to me like that, I'd probably tie right into them, make them a new face. Rip their lips off. You get the highly exaggerated idea. :)

And I'd be stooping right down to Mean Girl's level, if I replied in kind. So I'm taking a compassionate approach, because I think, deep down, M.G. truly believes she's protecting me. She probably just needs some love and reassurance.

Do you have an inner Mean Girl/Guy?

Careful. They can be very convincing. :)

Make it a great weekend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Light of Fall

Autumn has its own special quality of light, doesn't it? I'm searching for words to describe it, but so far, they elude me. Northern Italy has its own unique brand of light, too, which is why it is so popular with artists, and the same is true of Paris.

Yet another reason why fall is my favorite season.

Early October always brings the Lael Reunion--and I'll be there for sure, despite another big deadline. This is the only time I see many of my relatives, and our numbers have been dwindling over the past few years. My Aunt Lil, Uncles Jack and Wes, and, of course, my dear dad. He always enjoyed the reunion so much--friends, family, fun and flowers, those were the things that were important to Dad.

Much love to all of you. I must get back to Blue River, where Garrett and Julie are waiting to tell their story. :)

Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I stepped on the scale today. I have SO been in denial.

I knew I'd gained some weight--I quit smoking 3 months ago today, after all.

Well, it turns out I gained about twice what I thought I did!

Here's what I feel good about, though. I can do something about this. I can be BOTH a slender person AND a nonsmoker.

I've done Weight Watchers so many times and, frankly, with my current deadlines, I just don't need another commitment on the calendar. What to do, what to do?

I'm taking a page out of Marie Osmond's book. I signed up for Nutrisystem. I admit it, I want something that works quickly and doesn't take a lot of thinking, because all my energies are going into my book at this point.

Darn it, I have a big time coming up at the rodeo in Vegas this December, and I want to look good in my jeans.

So, no more recipes for a while. No more Boeuf Bourg. in the immediate future, but that's okay.

I'll keep you posted on my progress, of course--you can expect to read more about the art, the critters, and the preparation of my deck garden for winter.

I love knowing you're out there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Every Day, In Every Way...

I am getting better and better! Recently, my Doc weaned me off one kind of med and ramped me up on another, and for a while there, that was one mean bull to ride. :) I managed to make it to the buzzer, though, and I might even be in the money. (Whole lotta rodeo jargon rolling out today.)

The weather is beautiful, again. It will be hotter today than yesterday. I know I will write, participate in a conference call, and visit my dentist. (Into every life, a little rain must fall.)

I posted an ATC on my Twitter page today--I've only got five, but I'm looking for trades. There will be other editions, in other colors, but this is numero uno. Send me a picture of your proposed trade on Twitter if you're interested in a swap. If this proves to be a viable and wieldy way to trade, there will be many more offerings. Just one rule: ATCs must be 3 1/2 by 2 1/2. Go wild!

The Showgirl painting (aka What I Do When I'm Working Through a Story Problem), is coming along nicely. I keep adding to her magnificent head-dress. She's so gorgeous, she's inspired me to do another version in reds and golds. Renaissance Showgirl is 30x30, mostly in green, copper and blue. She's a dandy! When she's completely finished, I'll post her on my Twitter page again. I'm planning a full length piece now, a Renaissance lady with a very elaborate gown and head-piece.

Since I'm a country girl, I'm starting to wonder where all this European stuff is coming from. :) (Not that I don't love Europe. I've been there many times, and Sally and I are going back, this time to Barcelona, in March.)

Maybe it's a past life memory. :)

Or not.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Belated Blog

I generally prefer to blog in the mornings, but today it just wasn't happening. I couldn't get online--until now, that is. I'm on a break from "Garrett" and munching on blue M&Ms. (Not a good thing. I quit smoking 3 months ago and my jeans are getting too tight.)

We're in for a week of good weather, here in Spokane, and I'm appreciating it big-time. It's neither too hot nor too cold--as in perfect--and the sky is that poignant shade of blue that makes your breath catch and the backs of your eyes burn. Out in the pasture, the horses are rimmed in gold, feeding under the towering pine trees. It's darn near too beautiful to bear up under, all of it.
I went to Costco yesterday--yes, Costco, on a Sunday afternoon--and loaded up on various things, as one does at Costco. Lean, ground turkey for the dog's food--Sadie is holding at a sleek 31 pounds--stew meat for the next round of Boeuf Bourginguon, etc. I made Coq au Vin--chicken cooked in red wine, basically--last week, and it was delicious. I did have a hard time getting past the fact that that chicken was purple, though.

I'm just a country girl. :)

More tomorrow.

Friday, September 18, 2009

To Blog, or Not to Blog

That is the question.


My plans for the weekend include writing, writing and---writing. :) Probably some cooking and some art, too. Maybe I'll plant some daffoldil and tulip bulbs for next spring--I have some dandies on hand.

The weather is blue-green, beautiful. Tomorrow, it will rain--and that's good, too.

The plants in my deck garden, with the exception of the zinnias, are starting to thin out and slow down. While I will certainly miss the summer flowers, I do appreciate the cyclic nature of things. Winter is beautiful here--although I DO hope we won't be buried by snow again--and you can bet I will be looking for all the positives I can find.

Snow is beautiful.

Snow is beautiful.

Snow is....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sunshine through Rain

As I write this, a light rain is falling, and although the sun has ducked behind the clouds now, moments ago, it was shining right through the shower. It was an incredibly beautiful sight, and I tried to capture it for my Twitter page (, though frankly my iPhone photograph didn't do it justice.

I'm sure the wild turkeys are hiding out in and under trees, waiting for the rain to pass by, but we see them almost every day--often just on the other side of the front door, or passing the fence in back. Yorkie-Bernice is fascinated, sometimes yapping wildly to alert us all to imminent invasion, sometimes standing with her front paws against the fence, tiny tail twitching back and forth, and you know she's wondering in her little brain, what the heck are these things? Her partner in crime, Cha Cha the cat, is usually pressed against her side--literally. I've been trying to get a picture of those two standing shoulder to shoulder, but so far I haven't been fast enough. Cha Cha is a long-haired kitty, with a fat fluffy tail, and she curls it around Bernice's shoulders once in a while, like a boa.

The rain continues, with thunder added for atmosphere and drama. Cha Cha waits impatiently to go outside, which is her favorite thing do do. In her mind, she isn't an ordinary house-cat at all, far from it. No, she's thinking, the jungle cat never sleeps.

The horses, meanwhile, are getting a free bath. :)

Be kind to a person or an animal today--or both.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


While I was out for an appointment yesterday, cousin Mary Ann filled the house with fat, lovely dahlias in pink and yellow--splendid zinnias in clusters--a glorious sight to see. We'd been discussing the state of the flowerbeds earlier--an embarrassment of riches, you might say--and in that take-charge, do-something way she's always had, she started filling vases. Upstairs, downstairs, billows of color and shape and texture of the sort that only God could design.

A plentitude of any one thing--in this case, flowers--seems to attract more of the same, in some strange universal alchemy. For no reason at all, except that she thinks I'm a 'peach', my long-time agent and friend Irene Goodman sent me a bouquet! Star-faced yellow lilies, interspersed with pink roses and a carnation or two--wonderful. As Irene is wonderful.

I'm fighting the flu today. Sadie-pie is her old bright-eyed self, though she'll be on her meds for a while, just to make sure.

We have sunshine and heat here in Spokane, but the flowers and vegetables are starting to wane, and I can feel autumn in the air. It is a time filled with pleasant memories for me--bonfires, the approach of Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas, all of which were very distinct from each other when I was a child--less so now, I think. But that might be a misperception on my part. Who knows.

I'm having internet problems again, so I'm going to post this now, in hopes that it sticks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sadie Report

The beagle-dog is on antibiotics, and much improved over the last 24 hours. (I'd tell you what was wrong with her, but believe me, ignorance is bliss in this case.) Suffice it to say, nothing serious and she's on the mend. Since she'll be ten on October 22, and is graying around the muzzle, it's fair to say Sadie likes to spend a lot of her free time snoozing anyhow. :) She has her frisky side, though--especially if she thinks food may be involved.

I'm so thankful for Dr. Bauer and his wonderful, caring crew, for Joni Bories and the miracles she works with overweight dogs, for Dr. Harari, (I have probably misspelled his name), the gifted and compassionate surgeon who gave Sadie a new knee. Isn't it a wonderful thing that there are so many different callings, so many different kinds of people out there?

It would certainly be boring--not to mention grossly inefficient--if we all wanted to live in the same place and the same way, do the same job, read the same book. Good heavens, think of the fighting. :)

And so God made us both the same and completely unique--like snowflakes.

Only God could pull off a trick like that.

Be blessed. He loves you, and so do I, and we're going to get through these hard times together, being as we're pardners and all. I'm a great believer in showing up--I think it's 98% of the whole game--just turning out with the rest of the team, ready to play if you're called onto the field, ready to cheer for the home-team if you're not on the roster that day.

I'm pretty sure Sadie agrees. It's hard to tell sometimes, since she always wears the same expression. Once in a while, she curls up part of her lip and makes me think of Elvis. The king would probably say she ain't nothin' but a hound-dog, but she's a lot more than that to me, of course.

Have courage. Keep showing up. And above all, be kind.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Life is What Happens

....when you've made other plans. John Lennon was certainly right about that.

For instance, I planned on a full, uninterrupted day of writing today. The reality? Sadie-beagle has some kind of infection of the beagle-butt and needs to go to the vet. We're leaving in a few minutes.

I was in an art/cooking frenzy all weekend, and I also finished reading Jennifer Niven's marvelous, "Velva Jean Learns to Drive." It's been a very long time since I enjoyed a novel that much--I've already pre-ordered Niven's next book, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on it. (Please don't think I'm slighting romance here--I love my genre, but I don't read a lot of romance because it's a busman's holiday for me.)

I've posted a picture of the 30x30 piece I call my Renaissance Showgirl :) on my Twitter page, along with a shot of the composition-notebook journal I'm painting. This is an involved process--I read about it in Somerset Studio's new magazine, "Art Journaling". Pages have to be glued together and then gessoed, and it takes FOREVER to dry. An exercise in patience.

Yikes. Patience is not my strong suit. Which means the Universe provides plenty of opportunities to test it.

Be kind. We're all in this together.

I made BOTH Boeuf Bourg. AND Coq au Vin over the weekend--both were delicious. I will probably gnosh on the BB for the rest of this week--I froze the Coq au Vin. The recipe for the latter came from an excellent cookbook called "The Food of France", purchased at Williams and Sonoma. I had C au V for supper and WOW, it was good, if I do say so myself. :)

I have gained a little weight since I quit smoking, no question about it. But I have a theory about food. It seems to me that if I actually cook, thus eating better food, I will be content with less food.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Musings on Fall

I have always loved this time of year--there is an indefinable quality to the air or the light--or both--that seems so poignant to me. The drive along the Columbia River, toward Northport--for me that will always be the road home--turns spectacular during the autumn season, as the leaves turn every color from palest gold to brassiest orange to deepest crimson. The sight is breathtaking--each leaf seems to shimmer from within, as though lit by some other sun, in some internal universe.

There are birch trees in my front yard--or cottonwood. :) I'm not sure which. I do know this much--they are beautiful, with their sleek white trunks and dancing, coin-like green leaves, shimmering in every breeze. The sight always makes me think of the sequin-like bangles trimming the costumes of gypsies and bellydancers.

I probably shouldn't drive much around this time of year. :) I'm too fascinated by the scenary to keep my eyes on the road.

And so, fall is here, whether the calendar agrees or not. It gets a person to thinking about cycles--this year's flower and vegetables plants will eventually land in the compost bin, and return next year as food for new flowers, new tomatoes, new herbs...

In the words of Louis Armstrong, "And I think to myself, what a wonderful world..."

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Today's Sunrise

Is a beauty! You can get a look at it on my Twitter page.

There is a definite feel of autumn in the air, even though we're in line for more hot weather. There are more tomatoes and green peppers in my deck garden than I can rightly use, and we still have plenty of bees buzzing around, that's for sure. (I've heard bees are endangered. Not to worry. They are all congregated on the Triple L, outside Spokane, WA.) I have raised exactly one eggplant, small but perfect. The zuchinnis, on the other hand, are spooky, the way they grow. One day, they are four inches long, the next day, I swear, they're HUGE. Next year, I'll use compost and all that experience has taught me this year. :)

Still thinking about that next recipe to try. The bread doesn't count, because that's something I've made before. Never made lasagna, though...

Our county fair is this coming weekend. I might just have to attend--or not.

Here is the great thing about being me. I have a lot of responsibility, yes, but I also have a lot of freedom. :)

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Thank God for the Geek Squad!

I have been plagued by computer problems for so long now that I seriously considered holding a drum ceremony and lighting sage-bundles to expel evil cyber-spirits. I was sure the place had to be haunted.

Alas, the Geek Squad guy came on Sunday (yes, Sunday), and banished all the boogey-men. I can post to this blog, get my email and tweet with ease! Hallelujah.

I'm into "Garrett", big time, the second book in my Texas McKettrick series.

Over the long weekend, I made another batch of Boeuf Bourgingnon (sp?) and it was SO delicious. I froze most of it for later consumption and enjoyment. My bread experiment, as I may have mentioned, wasn't great--the loaves tasted okay, but didn't really rise they way they should have. It turned out that, as with so many things I do, I tried too hard. :) Remembering when I last made bread (am embarrassingly long time ago), it came to me that I had used a much simpler recipe. So I bought myself a Betty Crocker Cookbook, like the one I had as a young bride, and sure enough--easy, simple bread recipes. Needless to say, I plan on trying again soon. I'm also planning on trying some special sauces for fish--I love fish, and it's healthy, but let's face it--it's pretty bland without something to dress it up. My nephew, Mike, and niece-in-law, Sara, do marvelous things with tuna, soy sauce and a touch of brown sugar.

I also painted over the weekend--my big 30X30 painting is coming along well. I added green Gallery Glass to the headdress, and it looks great if I do say so myself. I painted a few backgrounds, too. At some point, I will probably put the above-mentioned picture up on my Twitter page.

And now, back to doing what I love best: writing.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Abraham Lincoln once said that most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. I guess the simplest stuff is the easiest to forget.

I've had a lot of great experiences in my life--and there are more to come. Still, I get the most joy from the simple things--the company of my beloved dogs, cats and horses--a book, painting or recipe that works--talking shop with my writer-daughter, Wendy, witnessing a comeback, like the one Whitney Houston is making on Good Morning, America even as I write this. A voice like that one should never be silenced.

I'm trying a new (for me) recipe, and it's quite a process. It's white bread, from a Paula Deen cookbook--I haven't made bread from scratch in YEARS. It begins with a starter, that sits at room temperature for 24 hours, and then for another 12, before I can even start the kneading and rising process, let alone the baking. Look for a picture of the finished product on my Twitter page in a couple of days. :) Lately, I've been posting dog pictures and flowers from my garden. I cut some zinnias today that are so beautiful, I almost can't stand it.

Sister Sally, the non-nun, pointed out that I gave the wrong title for the wonderful Julia Cameron book I mentioned yesterday, and I corrected it on that post, but I want to repeat it. This is an important book and if you're struggling spiritually, or you know someone who is, you need to read it: "Faith and Will-Weathering the Storms in Our Spiritual Lives."

Books. Flowers. Cats sleeping in the sunshine.

It's the simple things, gang.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Blog Goblins

According to Sister Sally, who is NOT a nun, she would have you know, I gave you a bad link for my Twitter page. It's:


I am a Twitter pest--I post pictures of my dogs, my flowers and I am considering a shot of my Boeuf-B next time I make it. Which will probably be soon.

My beloved friend and editor, Joan Marlow Golan, is down with strep throat today. Everybody send white light! Get well soon, Joanie.

Today, I'm writing the outline for "Garrett"--I've been working on it for a day or so. Yee-haw! I'm so excited about starting this new book, with a brand new hunky hero and a fiesty lady to show him who's boss. :)

What I'm reading:

"Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)s" by Candace Pert.

"The Real Wizard of Oz"--a biography of Frank Baum.

"FAITH and Will" by Julia Cameron--one of the best books on spirituality and creativity I've EVER read. I've been a fan of Cameron's work since the release of the landmark, "The Artist's Way", and I still use the Morning Pages exercise.

I'm listening to Dean Koontz's "Relentless" on my iPod. Scary and incredibly creative--I'm not sure I can handle the suspense. Koontz is the master, and