Thursday, April 29, 2010

Noah's Ark

I hear they might have found Noah's Ark, at long last. (That would be SO exciting.) Given how much rain we've been getting in Spokane this spring, we might need an ark!

I'm bundled in the prayer shawl sister Sally made for me a few years ago, and feeling very cozy and grateful in my warm kitchen.

I watched a movie on my iPod last night, after writing and supper. It was "Georgia O'Keeffe", and I enjoyed it a lot. I was in a movie watching mood after that, on a roll you might say, so I decided to que up another film from my iTunes library. I launched "Coco Before Chanel". (Obviously, I love stories about real people.) Well, turns out "Coco" is in French, with English subtitles. I wouldn't mind that normally, but, well, reading subtitles on a two-inch screen? Not without a magnifying glass. :)

I still have "Crazy Heart" and "The Young Victoria" and "It's Complicated" on DVD, so I'll probably throw a one-woman film festival this weekend. Especially if it's still raining.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Planting Zinnias

You know me and zinnias--I love them. For me, they're in the same league as peonies and roses, so vibrantly colorful are they. It's still too early to put seeds directly in the ground, at least as I understand the process, but I'm itching to plant. So, in addition to my strawberry starters, which seem to be doing well, I've got two large plastic "greenhouses" on my windowsills, flower seeds germinating even as we speak. :)

Last year, I had quite a container garden going out on the deck; this year, my plans are even more ambitious. I will grow herbs again--sage and basil and mint, to name just a few. I'll grow tomatoes in my big "tomato tree" rigging--making sure I buy plants for full sized tomatoes as well as the cherry type. In my world, you can't have too many fresh tomatoes.

I'll be raising dahlias again, and trying my hand at some sweet corn, too.

The new book is turning out to be a delight. I'm already in love with the hero. :) He's strong, he's smart, he's a rancher, he loves kids and animals. What's not to love?

Our weather is still pretty gloomy. I just keep reminding myself that April showers bring May flowers.

Like zinnias.

Be well.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rain on Strawberry Plants

Yesterday, after working on my new book (YES!), I planted eight strawberry plants in a special pot recommended by my aunt, Billie Wiley. The weather has been spring-like, naturally, this being Spring, changing often. It ranges from glorious sunshine to dreary drizzle, and manages to strike virtually every note in between. I've come to love something about each phase--the cozy, tea-by-the-fire days, the wow-let's-plant-roses days, all of them.

Whatever the weather, I'm thinking, Today is the best day of my life. It's the only REAL day, isn't it? The past is a story, the future is a dream.

Today, there is rain on strawberry plants. There are two beloved cats and two priceless dogs in my household, all exerting their very different personalities. There are books to read (and write) and movies to watch and art supplies to experiment with. There is yarn to knit or crochet.

This is the day the Lord has made.

I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Creed In Stone Creek

Today I start a new book, the story of Steven Creed and Melissa O'Ballivan. The only thing better than starting a new book is finishing a new book. :)

I spent the weekend lounging, mostly, and listened to a great new book called, "The Girl Who Chased the Moon." It was magical, and I loved it--can't wait, in fact, for the next installment. I'm tuned in to Mary Higgins Clark's new one now, "The Shadow of Your Smile".

I made some new ATCs for a trade online and went out for groceries once, but that was about the extent of my ambition. It was all very restful.

Sadie was down to 30 pounds even on Friday--cause for celebration. Don't want her to go any lower, however. After all, she'll be eleven on October 22. Maybe I should get myself a trainer!

That's the update from my kitchen table.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Strawberry Marauder

This is one of my two kitties, Cha Cha. She's the imperious one, Miss Attitude. (Can you tell???) She's been nibbling at the leaves of my baby strawberry plants.

Note that bright sunshine pouring in through the window! It's a glorious day here in Spokane, Washington!

All these exclamation points remind me that I finished revising "Willow" and am now waiting to hear the editor's verdict.

The dogs are snoozing, and Sadie will be visiting her wonderful trainer later this morning.

And I feel a distinct Kneed to Knit. What's THAT about? Debbie Macomber is the knitter in my set, and a fantastic knitter she is, too. Me, I knit panels--straight garter stitch rows that I hope to felt eventually. I still have that crazy yen to knit socks. I listen to several of the knitting podcasts available on iTunes and I've become a devotee of the Yarn Harlot. (Yes, that's what she calls herself. Her real name is Stephanie Pearl McPhee and she is a hoot!)

You know you're hooked on knitting when the first place you want to go, after surfacing from a week of jet-lag, is a yarn store.


I'm not even good at it, though. Go figure.
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rain, Rain...

We're getting a good Spring dousing here in Spokane this morning. I sit here at my kitchen table, looking out over the trees and the big back deck, feeling grateful (I could have been stranded in a foreign airport, like so many other travelers). I'm warm and cozy. The dogs and kitties are here, and the horses are snug in their sturdy barn, waiting for the Canadian wrangler to show up with breakfast and then turn them out to pasture. There's fresh coffee to sip and, best of all, today (good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise) I will be finishing the polish I did on my early book, "Willow". Yipee!

Don't get me wrong. I love this book--wish I had time to rewrite it from the ground up, because it's a very strong story. At the time I wrote it, around 1987 I think, there was a paper shortage on and my publisher asked me to cut the length. (It should have been a much longer book.) Hence, the writing seems spare to me and the love scenes make me blush. :)

I'm happy to finish "Willow" because that means I can start the new Creeds trilogy right away.

I plan to celebrate by--? Who knows? I haven't decided yet. I have new books by two of my favorite authors, Linwood Barclay and Joy Fielding. Riches! The only difficulty is choosing which to read first.

And then there are the new movies I bought last Tuesday. "Crazy Heart" and "The Young Victoria". Decisions, decisions. Rainy days are perfect for watching movies, in my opinion. When I lived in Port Orchard, where we had LOTS of rainy days, thank you very much, I used to snuggle up on my chaise lounge with a fire going and watch Tracy and Hepburn for hours. Talk about chemistry! Those two could banter like nobody else. When I needed a change, it was bring on the Cary Grant, John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart collections.

Modern actors and actresses are pretty impressive, but the stars of the forties had a very special cache, all their own.

So, books to read, movies to watch. Dogs and cats snoozing within petting distance, and horse-energy just across the road.

It's a good life.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Another Thrilling Weather Report

I know most of you are on the edge of your seats, wondering how the weather is in Spokane. :)

Yesterday was breathtakingly beautiful. Today is rainy and overcast. In other words, it's a typical Spring.

I bought a few strawberry plants at the grocery store yesterday--it's still too early, but I just couldn't resist. Darn it, I want to grow something! Anyway, last year I waited too long and couldn't get any strawberry plants, so there you go. Might be a good day to start some tomatoes, too.

After I write, of course.

And I hope there will be time for some art therapy, too.

Whatever happens, I'll be glad and grateful.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Crazy Heart

Gotta get that movie. It looks great! I'm a Jeff Bridges fan, big-time.

I had plans to work yesterday, but I was still pretty tired from the great weekend in Scottsdale, meeting and greeting old friends and new ones.

Today, I'm definitely working.

I promise.

No, really.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Desert Dreams

I had a fabulous time in Scottsdale, at this year's Desert Dreams Conference. My only complaint? I didn't get to stay longer! I certainly didn't get to spend time with all the AZ friends I would have loved to see. (Pat, thank you so much for the Carol Burnett DVD!)

I love my place here in the Great Northwest; there is so much space--30 acres--and I was born here, after all. Raised in the town of Northport, just 120 miles up a beautiful road that curves alongside the mighty Columbia River. I even love the snow we get in Spokane--until I start feeling trapped. Then it's, "Houston, we have a problem."

It seems to me that the sensible solution is to become a snowbird; I plan to lease a house in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area, a refuge from a bad winter, but also for a change of scene.

In August, I hope to attend Art Unraveled, in Phoenix, (August in Phoenix. Yikes) and look at some housing possibilities. Must haves? A fenced yard, for the small, furry people, a pool for me, and at least three bedrooms, because I like having lots of company. A place to write and store art supplies.

I'm putting it out there. That's my own personsal Desert Dream.

Before closing, my sincerest thanks to Cathi Lombardi, Cathy McDavid, Patty Osback, and everyone else who worked so hard, for an incredible TWO YEARS, ladies and gentlemen, to make this conference the outstanding experience it was. The whole shindig was beautifully organized, the food was good, there were a lot of very accomplished writers there, offering their expertise to aspiring writers. I was absolutely thrilled to be invited.

I'm also thrilled to be home. :)

It's a good place.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

This Time Together

I just listened to Carol Burnett's new book, "This Time Together", on my iPod. I've always been a fan, but listening to this latest memoir increased my admiration for this amazing woman even more.

I laughed out loud at several points--I still chuckle, all these years later, whenever I think of that scene from "Went With the Wind", when Carol came downstairs wearing the green drapes, with the curtain rod still in them. Brilliant! Harvey Korman and Tim Conway broke me--and each other--up with every new routine.

At times, Carol's stories made me cry. And, as with every book--it's one of the many reasons books are SO worth our time and energy--I learned something.

As many of you probably know, Carol's daughter, Carrie, passed away at a young age. She'd already done some big-time overcoming, this talented gal, and then she was hit with a terminal case of cancer. Friends, family and the hospital staff were all amazed by Ms. Hamilton's cheerful smiles and good humor. When they asked her how she could manage, in the face of so much pain and her own imminent death, and she replied thusly:


Good advice for all of us, methinks.

And, by the way, though the trademark phrase heading up this blog belongs strictly to Carol Burnett, I'd like to say that I feel the same way about all of you.

I'm so glad we're riding the same trail.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


It turns out I have a fan club on Facebook! There are over a thousand members, which blows me away. I'll be stopping by there on a fairly regular basis to answer questions, etc.

Me, the kid from Northport, with a fan club?

This life constantly amazes me. :)

I'm off to Phoenix for their Desert Dreams conference this weekend, leaving Friday morning. I absolutely can't wait to see all my AZ friends again--I don't get to stay very long, but I plan to make the most of every minute. I will definitely post at least one picture when I get back home.

As I wrote yesterday, I'm finishing up the updates on "Willow", expecting to complete them tomorrow. It's fun to read one of my oldest books, but I've had over 25 years of experience and practice since I wrote that story, and I'm a little embarrassed by how many sentences end with an !!!!!!! "Willow" is written VERY sparely, so I'm mainly just fleshing it out a little. And, on the other hand, I'm pleased to see how good it actually is.

The next project will be the beginning of a new trilogy, "A Creed in Stone Creek", featuring Steven Creed, a cousin to Logan, Dylan and Tyler, and Melissa O'Ballivan, whom you've met in previous books published as Special Editions, among them last year's "At Home in Stone Creek". Steven and Melissa's book will be full-length, and followed by "Creed's Honor" and "Creed's Legacy", featuring Steven's young cousins, Connor and Brody, who happen to be identical twins. !!!!!

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I'm in the process of updating one of my early books, "Willow", and I must say, it's a lot of fun. It's also a challenge.

Sadie and Bernice both had veterinary appointments today, with our beloved Dr. Bauer. Bernice has a respiratory infection; makes a scary wheezing sound when she breathes. Sadie is on thyroid medicine, and this requires periodic blood tests. Jen and Mary Ann squired the girls to the doc's office and back--Bernicie had a shot and will be on antibiotics for a while.

On a completely different subject, why is it that when you replace one major appliance, all the others start to break down? First, it was the washer, then the fridge. Then the microwave. And now it's the dishwasher! Since the stove-top and oven are still standing, I wonder if I should just save time and aggravation and replace them, too?


When I'm not writing or making ATCs, I'm reading or listening to books on my iPod. The latest listen was "Dead End Gene Pool", by Wendy Burden, a descendent of the Vanderbilts. I love a good memoir, and this one was fascinating, but it made me feel sad, too. A whole host of problems come along with that kind of money.

I listen to a number of podcasts regularly, too. It's almost like traveling back in time, to the heyday of radio, listening to "Our Miss Brooks" and "The Great Gildersleeve". I think it's so great that these crackly old productions are being preserved. In many ways, I like radio more than television--radio stories require imagination. It's almost like participating in the drama or the comedy or whatever.

Tonight, I'll be tuning in to "Caught", by Harlen Coben. He's a favorite.

And that's the state of things.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hello, Real World

I seem to be back in the saddle.
I've caught up on my rest.
I've done some theraputic art work--mostly those ATCs I mentioned, that had to be done for trades I'd signed up for before the trip.
I've bought groceries. :) (Yikes. It really took me a while to work up to that one. Alas, Sadie and Bernice wouldn't have understood why there was plenty of red wine but no dog food.)
I have packages to send out--gifts bought in Spain--and the like.
And I'm writing again.
That feels so good.
My life. It gets hectic sometimes, but it's mine, and I love it.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Return of the Traveler

I'm back. No, I mean, REALLY. :) Although I'm getting a late start today, I think I'm over the jet lag, finally, and ready to move on.

I have a hair appointment today, one I would cheerfully skip because I hate sitting still for so long (go figure), but I'm attending the Desert Dreams Conference in Phoenix next weekend (yeehaw!!!) and I can't go looking shaggy. I'll take my knitting along--a plain black panel of garter stitch that will one day be a felted tote bag--and work on that during the non-drippy parts of the hair-styling process.

I came home from Spain to find lots of lovely ATCs waiting, from traders met on and Swapbot, and I'm putting in extra art-therapy time so I can reciprocate.

Plans for the weekend include reading a manuscript I will be revising soon, and planting a few seeds, in anticipation of gardening season. I have some of those nifty indoor 'greenhouses'--the things with plastic lids and little plugs of potting soil in them--and waiting will be hard. Patience is not my strong suit, as you may have guessed.

Today, the weather is deceptively beautiful. I mean, it looks and feels like JUNE out there. But only a couple of days ago, it was snowing, and we're probably not out of the woods yet.

So I will be patient.


Have a good weekend. :)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Snow and Daffodils

I spent all of yesterday recuperating from the three-airplane journey home from Barcelona. Although I'm not fully recovered from my jet-lag, I'm doing a little better today. Plan to do a small amount of work and play with my art supplies a little. That's the extent of my ambition. :)

The dogs and one of the cats were very glad to see me, and threw a party when I came through the door at 1:30 Monday morning. The second cat, Cha Cha, remained disgruntled over my long absence and wanted me to know she didn't approve. She's just beginning to warm up to me again--I might even be forgiven one fine day. :)

Through my back fence, I see one brave daffodil growing on the other side. As you may know, we got snow in Spokane yesterday, and a few skiffs again today.

As I write this, Sadie and Bernice are conked out on the bed---you'd think they'd been the ones to make the long flights from Barcelona to JFK and from JFK to Seattle, and finally, to Spokane. It's still fairly early; but the sun is up and the sky is cloudy and who knows what the weather will be? I don't really care, because the old saying is true. No matter where I roam, there really IS no place like home. Besides, the birds are singing and the horses are grazing in the pasture.

Much as I love traveling abroad, I am also intrinsically American.

I love it here, problems notwithstanding.

Monday, April 05, 2010


I'm home.
I opened one eye, saw that it's snowing out, and decided to go back to sleep.
Something intelligent when the jet lag subsides, I promise.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Day 21, Part 2

Sally and I attended the flamenco opera and WOW, it was sensational. So much grace and passion; I almost expected the stage to ignite. It was absolutely wild, watching the woman manage the long, ruffled train on her dress while never slowing her pace.

Oh, for a body like hers.

Is it too late to take up flamenco dancing? :)

On the walk back, we encountered a marvelous religious procession, this being Good Friday. Sally is still back there taking pictures--she's taller and younger--but I could only see the tops of things.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Barcelona. It's hard to believe.

We've had such a wonderful time here, but there truly is no place like home.

Day 21, Barcelona

We're vegging today, as most things are closed, this being Good Friday. We fly home on Easter Sunday, so our time in lovely Barcelona is dwindling.

Tonight, we have tickets to attend a Flamenco Opera on La Rambla, which is within easy walking distance of our hotel. My ATC for today will, no doubt, feature dancers in ruffles. :)

In some ways, it's hard to believe we've been here three weeks today. The time literally FLEW by. I feel wonderfully rested, restored and reinspired. I'm ready to go back home, and I know Sally is, too.

In the meantime, flamenco...

Market Scene

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Taken April 1

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Thursday, April 01, 2010


back at the ranch....
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Note the sign

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Sally and the Brain

A transplant, perhaps?
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Day 20, The Three Angels

Today we checked off the last place on our Barcelona Top 10 sights to see--the beautiful Parc de la Ciutadella.

There, we saw the most gorgeous fountain, and a statue of an enormous mammoth. We had refreshments--a diet coke for Sal and a cafe Americano for me--and enjoyed the lovely weather and the families and the happy dogs trotting alongside their people. (Barcelona is extremely dog-friendly.) We snapped pictures of strange trees yet to be identified and took in all the sights except the zoo.

We have been warned repeatedly about pickpockets since our arrival nearly three weeks ago now, and we try to be careful all the time. As we were leaving the park today, we were juggling our bags and cameras to shrug out of our jackets, and three young girls stopped to speak to us. The language barrier was nearly insurmountable, but the spokesperson of this unlikely trio forged bravely on, glancing back nervously, working hard to get the message across. It finally distilled down to this: the girls had seen some thieves targeting us, and they'd been brave enough, and persistent enough, to get the message across to us.

If these girls are representative of our young people, and I sincerely believe they are, we can trust their leadership and their character.

There are always thieves, that's true.

But there are also angels.

Day 19, Barcelona (March 31)

Yesterday was "museum" day. Sally and I slept in--we've been doing a lot of that lately--and then took a cab to the first of two museums we planned to visit: Funcacio Joan Miro. (There should be accent marks in that name, but my keyboard doesn't have them.)

The day was beautiful, and there was a long line to wait in. We enjoyed watching people loll on the lawn, beyond the 'keep off the grass' sign, while we stood around. :) Once inside, we bought our tickets and headed straight for the first exhibit, bearing the title, "Murals".

OK. Call me unsophisticated, call me just plain ignorant, but I cannot for the life of me understand why some of this stuff is called "art". Two of the murals were enormous blackboards, for instance, and the artist had drawn little flying saucers and other spacey things on one, and the second was composed of a brainstorming cluster-type diagram of all the things he was afraid of. All this was done in white chalk, and resembles nothing so much as a first grade art project.

The second museum, Museu d'Art Contemporari, I believe it's called, boasted an all-black canvas with undertones of blue. People stood around, looking intellectual as they were contemplating the meaning. Hint: the Emperor is not wearing new clothes. He is, on the contrary, bare-a** naked.

I'm trying not to be such a rube, I really am. Picture me contemplating the meaning of black with blue undertones...