Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Good Time Was Had by All

I'm back, as the old saying goes, like a bad penny.  :)

I flew over to Seattle on Monday and soon connected with my good friend Debbie Macomber at the beautiful Four Seasons hotel, where we dropped our bags, had a quick lunch, and lit out for Nordstrom.  :)  We both came out with lovely black raincoats, very nearly a match--our tastes have always been very similar. 

We did a little more power shopping, then decided to take in a movie.  We finally chose "Like Crazy", supposedly a romance, and settled in in the nearly empty theatre for a good time.  Lucky we didn't hold our breaths--this movie didn't have a plot, as far as we could tell, and the height of the excitement was the hero building a wooden chair.  I don't normally pan other people's creative efforts--I know, after all, how much work and heart goes into a project--but this one is an utter waste of an hour and a half of your life, which you will never get back.  If it comes to a theatre near you, move.  That said, we had a fabulous time, because we have fun wherever we go.  :)

Next morning, we headed to a nail salon down the street from the Four Seasons--Macomber is hell for fancy fingernails--and while I was waiting for her, I had a pedicure.  I took a picture, intending to tweet my feet (I'm a poet), but instead wound up leaving my phone behind in Debbie's car.  Fortunately, she's overnighting it back to me--thank heaven I didn't leave it at the nail salon, because nobody there speaks enough English to work out a solution.  :)

After the manicure/pedicure adventure, it was on to a smash of a Christmas party, with many of our long-time author friends, all smart, successful women.  It was a pleasure to talk shop and catch up on what everybody's been doing, and don't even get me started on the delicious food.  (Barb, I need the recipe for that chocolate/peanutbutter candy.  Or maybe it's better to just have one piece per year.  :))

I flew back home last night, and imagine my surprise and delight to find Bernicie right outside the gate, with Jen, waiting to greet me.  (We were prepared to swear up and down that she's a seeing-eye Yorkie if challenged.)  The Christmas tree is up, and there are lights strung around the railing of the back deck--very cheery.

I'm recovering from all that fun today, and throwing myself straight back into the book first thing tomorrow.

That's the news from my kitchen table, my friends.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Better Today

Except for what is probably a touch of stomach flu, I'm much better today.  Yesterday, I wrote a scene in the new book and finally caved in and called it a day.

Thanks for lending a cyber-ear--it's nice to know you're out there, though I do feel bad for whining.  I guess the song is right--even cowgirls get the blues.  :)

Then they get back on their horses and ride.

Weather is rainy, but the temperatures are mild, so plenty to be grateful for, now and every day.  I truly love my life, my kinfolks and many friends, my critters and my career, and certainly my country.  For all her troubles--and when have there not been troubles?--America is so blessed, like her sister, Canada. 

Thanksgiving will be quiet around here, but nonetheless sacred for that.  No big dinner, no fuss--after all, we're planning a MAJOR fuss at Christmas and besides, two turkeys in three weeks is too much for me.  If you're gathering with friends and family, savor the together-time.  It's ever so precious.  If you happen to be parted from loved ones this year, make somebody else smile.  I promise you'll feel better.

I won't be going out on Black Friday--I do the majority of my shopping online these days.  The tree goes up that day, though, and I'm looking forward to that.  It's so cheery to sit and admire the lights and the shining ornaments, each one with a memory attached.  It will be a busy season--I'm making a quick trip to Seattle on Monday to attend a party with Debbie Macomber and a flock of good friends--and of course there's the big rodeo coming up soon.  That's always fun.

May you and yours be blessed, during the sacred season and all year around.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Still Miss Someone

Maybe it's the approach of the holidays--which promise to be joyous this year--but I'm sort of teary today.  I miss my beagle-dog, Sadie.

I miss my friend Dale, and I miss my dad.

Yes, it hurts, but even as I cry, I'm smiling at all the precious memories.

Love the ones you're with, my friends. 

Love the ones you're with.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Letting It Snow

As if I could make it stop.  :)  It's quite beautiful, actually, but I'm not sure people who don't work at home, as I do, would agree. 

Bernice and I did take our walks, wading through the white stuff, on both Saturday and Sunday.  It was a slog for me--no plowing has been done yet--but Neecie-bear found a tire track and hit her stride right away.  It was so cute, the way she trotted along--pranced might be a better word--and when she encountered deeper snow, she did that hop-plunge thing dogs are so good at.  This morning, she stood on the deck with her head back, lapping up the flakes as they fell.

The food in Toronto was truly excellent, but, as expected, I am very glad to be back on the plan.  Looks like my weight stayed the same, which is good.  :)  My goal was simply to have a good time on the trip and to enjoy everything about it, and I did, without going overboard.  (Well, there was that extra glass of wine---) :)

I spent the weekend relaxing and keeping warm.  I'm reading Sue Grafton's new book, "V is for Vengeance" and enjoying it tremendously.  I've been with Kinsey Millhone since "A"--I love her dry sense of humor and her resourcefulness.  What's not to love about a gal who kept a pair of pantyhose under the seat of her Volkswagon and wriggled into them when she needed to dress up on the spur of the moment?  I think her dress was wadded up in her handbag.  :)

Note the jacket I was wearing in the picture I posted yesterday.  Would you believe I bought it on QVC?  :)  Love the Bob Mackie jackets.  Since it had horse spit on one shoulder when I got home from Toronto, I popped the thing into the washer and dryer and now it looks as good as ever.  The price was right, too.  Gotta love it.

Today, I'll be writing away.

And so it goes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

In Toronto

Posted by PicasaStill a ways to go with the D.I.E.T., but feelin' good!!!

Saturday Snowstorm

Arrived home from the Toronto trip exhausted but happy yesterday in the early afternoon.  I fed and fussed over Bernicie and the kits, ate one of my D.I.E.T. meals, took a hot bath and vegged in my beloved microfleece pajamas.  I also opened the several boxes that arrived while I was away--lots of beautiful new encaustic (wax) paints.  Yum.  After admiring the new supplies, I went to sleep early.  (It was only about 6 pm here, but 9 in Toronto, and I was still on EST.)  Excellent rest, then arising this morning to fluffy snow.

I took my time getting going--plenty of coffee, another BistroMD meal (even though the food in Toronto was fabulous, I'm so glad to be back in my regular routine)--a short chat with Chris, here to look after the horses on the weekends so the Canadian Wrangler can have some time off, and a brisk walk with Bernicie.  She's short, but we followed the tracks in the snow, and she trotted along like a pro.  She loves to be outside in all but the very worst kind of weather--a hurricane, say.  Or a tsunami.  Nothing else seems to deter her.  :)

Jen and I flew to Toronto, via Minneapolis, on Tuesday, arriving late.  We checked into our magnificent hotel, the Westin Prince, and ordered light room service.  Beautiful flowers awaited--roses, accent flowers of various kinds, and PEONIES.  My favorite.  In November, no less.  Obviously, my fabulous publishers, Harlequin, take very good care of me.  :)

We had plenty of time to ease into the day on Wednesday, had a nice lunch at the hotel with two of my favorite Harlequin people, Katherine (KO) and Michelle.  From there, we headed for a place called Sunnybrooke (spelled?) stables, which is right in the middle of Toronto, though you'd never know it to be there.  Seems like miles out in the country.  There, we took a whole bunch of new photos and even some video, which you'll be seeing soon.  It was very hard work, and a bit on the cold side, but I beamed the whole time.  I was in the company of horses, after all, which is heaven to me.  Margie Miller and her colleagues, Michael "Big Daddy", the photographer and Goh, the very charming video guy, make a fabulous team.  When the light was gone, we all headed for the Miller Tavern, where we did some convivial celebrating.  I had the game hen--delicious--and probably one too many glasses of wine.

Thursday was Social Media Day.  Jen and I arrived at Harlequin's impressive offices in the morning and spent much of the day learning about Facebook and Twitter, and also viewing some of the publicity photos taken the day before AND checking out the cover designs for "Big Sky Country" and the two books to follow.  Trust me when I say, "YEEHAW"!

That evening, my agent Irene Goodman and I went to dinner with Donna and Loriana, and it was luxury all the way.  I had sea bass--never had better.  It was unbelievably good.  The four of us shared a couple of desserts afterward--Creme Brulee and a truly exquisite coconut cream pie, the restaurant's signature dish.  

It was up early the next morning, in order to leave for the airport at six.  The flights home were pleasant and uneventful, which is the way I like them.  :)

It's good to get away--I feel refreshed and inspired--but it's even better to come home.

Bernice, the kitties and I agree--there's no place quite like it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Last Minute Preparations

Today, the last day before my big trip to Toronto, will be about the 2 million small things that need to be done first.  It isn't that I haven't been making preparations--I have--but in my experience, I'm never actually ready until the moment I walk out the door and leave for the airport.  :)

I'm down just under 30 pounds, thanks to the D.I.E.T., and a lot of my clothes don't fit.  I'm having new professional photos taken on this trip, and also doing a video interview, so while I do want to represent myself accurately, I also want to look good.  :)  It didn't make sense to spend a lot, because sizes are pretty transitory at this stage.  (Trust me, Oprah and I know all about the wardrobe ramifications of yo-yoing.)  So I bought nice turtlenecks to wear under Western jackets, a few sweaters, and some jeans.  (I went a little overboard with the jeans, to tell the truth, because I was so excited about getting into a smaller size.)  I'm still about five months from my goal, however, so some restraint is called for.  :)

I'm not very good at restraint, but we shall see.

That's the news.  I'll blog from Toronto if humanly possible--we're really going to be busy--and I'll Tweet some photos, too.  If for some reason I can't blog while away, I'll catch you up on everything as soon as I get back.

Listened to some good books recently--a novel called "White Truffles in Winter", by N.M. Kelby--a feast for frustrated foodies--how's that for alliterative?--and "Moonlight on Linoleum", a fascinating memoir by Terry Helwig.  Both were wonderful and I recommend them highly.

That's the news from my sunny kitchen table, my friends.  Be well, be safe, and be kind.  We need each other, particularly in times like these....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

To veterans and active-duty personnel serving everywhere in this troubled world, Thank You.

Thank you for protecting our freedom, and for being willing to pay the ultimate price.  Too often we take our liberty for granted, but you are a reminder that freedom most definitely isn't free--real people, with homes and families, friends and pets, heartbeats and breath, have sacrificed blood, sweat and tears to maintain it.

From the fields of Concord and Lexington to this present day, you've always done us proud.  After Pearl Harbor and September 11, we knew we could count on you, and you came through.  Other challenges will certainly come and you will meet those challenges, because that's who you are.

You are the bravest of the brave, the best of the best, and I am honored to honor you in this small way.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Writing Day

Today is a writing day--the most precious kind.

It's also my "free meal" day, which means I get my single glass of wine and whatever else I decide to cook for supper.  This is strange new territory for me, not to be hankering after one particular food, or wanting to hit a favorite restaurant--I could just as easily eat another pre-prepared meal as not.  There are so many things to think about in this modern age; it's great that food isn't one of them.  It will be interesting to see how the D.I.E.T. holds up during the Toronto visit and later in the month, when Debbie Macomber and I are getting together in Seattle to attend a holiday party.  So many of you have asked what program I'm on.  It's called BistroMD--daughter Wendy told me about it.  I've lost 27 pounds and I'm down a size in my jeans, too.  The plan is delicious, well-balanced, and fairly expensive--those are the bare facts.  It works for me, and that's all I can say on the subject with any authority.  :)

On the art front, I've fallen in love with encaustics--painting with wax.  I can get lost in it.  :)  Hence my strict rule: until the writing is done, no experiments in the craft room.  However, I get some of my best ideas when I'm brushing beeswax onto a surface--and the smell of the stuff is heavenly.

Bernice is just back from her morning walk with Jenni.  She gets so excited over these little sojourns, and is seriously cute following a recent grooming by the very versatile Mary Ann.  The Canadian Wrangler is down with a very sore throat, but Chris, our weekend man, is on duty, so the horses are well taken care of.  Now that it's getting cold, they like to go in at night, each one tucked up in a cozy stall.  When it's warm, forget it.  Those cayuses want no part of the barn--give them the wide open spaces.  (As in, their pasture.)

It's time to head for Parable.

Be kind.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

At Home in Parable, Montana

I'm hanging out with the Parable gang today--my favorite thing to do.  Yesterday's dental visit is out of the way--YES!!--and it's all systems go.  I want to get several chapters finished before I leave for Toronto next week, to visit my fabulous Harlequin family and learn to navigate social media (Facebook and Twitter) in a more efficient manner.  (Anything would be more efficient than the way I do it now.  :))  I'll also be having some new photos taken so the person on the back of the book will be a polished-up but nonetheless recognizable representation of yours truly.

Trips to Toronto are always whirlwind affairs, and this one is no exception--Jenni, my niece-assistant, and I will be hitting the ground running, as my dad used to say.  (If you keep in mind that he was once a bullrider, the concept of hitting the ground running makes a whole lot of sense.)

The big rodeo, the NFR, is coming up fast, and I'm sure looking forward to that.  I'll be on the Flint Rasmussen Show, and I hope you'll tune in.  It's a radio show, but there's an audience, and I usually get to share the stage with some handsome country and western singer (Luke Bryant and Tracy Byrd, so far) which is a kick, but it's the back-and-forth banter with Flint that I enjoy most.  (I knew Johnny Cash and his lovely wife, June, so I'm hard to impress when it comes to country music fame.)  Flint's a Choteau boy, and that makes him special because Choteau, Montana is my mom's hometown, Bleecker-central.  (Any resemblance Parable bears to Choteau is strictly not a coincidence.)  There are a couple of big to-dos going on with the Caesar's Entertainment people, who are teaming up with Harlequin to celebrate all things Western and, of course, I'll be hitting my all-time favorite trade show, Cowboy Christmas, several times over the course of my visit.  Other highlights include various visiting cousins, time with Wendy and Jeremy and my brother, Jerry, and seeing friends like Steve Miller.

Talk about hitting the ground running.  When I get home from Vegas, I'll be getting ready for a family Christmas, right here on the Triple L.  Unless, of course, there's a blizzard----

Too bad Bernice is so small.  She'd never manage pulling a dog sled.  :)

That's the news on this fine if overcast Tuesday morning.

Be kind. 

Monday, November 07, 2011

Snow? What Snow?

We had a lot of glorious, if chilly, sunshine over the weekend.  Bernice and I took 5 and a half walks around the pasture--on the 6th, we accepted a ride home from Jenni, who just happened to be driving in when we got to the top of the driveway.  On our sojourns, we encountered no moose, no pack of ravenous coyotes, no fire-breathing dragons.  :)  (As you can see, having a very well developed imagination has it's downside.)

I bought books--real books, with pages, no less--a biography of Charles Dickens, a memoir or two, a very short book on critical thinking.  There's humor in that, but I guess I haven't had enough coffee, because I can't seem to get the joke.  I just know there is one.  :)

Does anybody remember that comical scene in "Mr. Mom", when Michael Keaton is at the supermarket buying the groceries and other stuff for the household, while his wife works, and is mortified to be seen purchasing tampons?  The sales clerk holds the box high in the air and yells something like, "Price check!  Tampons!" at the top of her lungs.  I had my own version of that at Fred Meyer yesterday--I had chosen, among other things, a fake-fur vest to wear on walks with Bernice.  It didn't have a tag.  So the clerk--I swear, it's true--waved the thing in the air and practically screeched to a free-ranging colleague, "Price check on this vest!  EXTRA LARGE!"  I had to chuckle--and silently remind myself that my size, like the numbers on the scale, is headed downward, not up.

At the beginning of the weekend, I had this wild plan to spend two full days in my newly organized craft room, playing with various toys.  Didn't happen. 

Today, I'm working on the new book--and going to the dentist.  :(

Into each life, some snow must fall.

Friday, November 04, 2011

No Show Snow

The promised snow has not arrived, but I'm sure that's a minor detail.  The sky looks grayish, but it could easily clear.

Last night was my free night on the D.I.E.T.--I'm always ready to get back on the plan the next morning.  This is a totally new experience for me.  I don't yearn for any particular food or drink when I can't have it--not even that one glass of wine, which is rapidly losing it's charm.  Did it always taste like vinegar, or is it just me?

Although you might not think so from reading this blog--the references to art and to goofing off at the casino, for example--the wheels are always turning in my head, generating the new story.  When asked how many hours per day I actually write, I could honestly say "twenty-four"--and if I don't decompress once in a while, the process becomes much more difficult.  Writing does not get easier with experience--instead, my standards go up.  I always want the next book to be better than the last one.

I see a woman had a baby in an art museum--performance art?  You be the judge.

Have a good weekend, and I'll be right here on Monday morning, probably talking about snow.  :)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

On the Way to Skinny

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What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday, the weather was glorious here in Spokane--sunny and bright, with a crisp nip in the air--and today we're in line for snow.  :)  I'm kind of looking forward to it--very pretty stuff, snow.  In moderation.

The D.I.E.T. continues to be fabulously easy and successful, if slow.  I'm confident enough to wear jeans again, and I think I'm actually developing a waist.  :)  Tonight is my weekly free night, so I'm having one glass of wine (how I savor that one weekly glass) and buffalo mignon.  In other words, a small bison steak.

I have a very casual picture, taken on my phone, that shows what I really look like.  And I'm feeling just wild and crazy enough to post it.  Those of you who are expecting a skinny blond in western clothes are in for a suprise--those photos were taken many moons ago.  On an upcoming trip to Toronto, new and up to date author photos will be taken, and I am so happy about that.  I want to look like who I am, not who I was.  :)  After all, fat or skinny, I've worked very hard to get to the place I'm in now, as a person and as a writer, and I'm proud to have earned this face and this body.

A pleasant surprise awaited me yesterday, when I got home from decompressing (read, playing slot machines)--"Christmas in Stone Creek" is #6 on the New York Times list--and tied with #5!  WOW.  I did not expect this--wasn't even waiting to hear the news about the list, which usually comes in on Wednesday afternoons.

Over the weekend, my mom gave me a notebook containing some of my first published work--in the confessions magazines.  (True Romance, True Confessions, etc.).  I thumbed through and looked at the first story--and laughed out loud.  The hero of that story, published more than 30 years ago, is named--Hutch.  As is my current hero, the hunky cowboy heading up "Big Sky Mountain".  I guess if we like a name, it sticks with us.

That's the news for today.  Be safe, be grateful and be kind.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Decompression Day

I'm decompressing from all the excitement of arrivals and departures, so no blog today.  I promise I'll be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

It's November? You're kidding, right?

And here's me, still thinking of 2011 as a new year.  :)

Debbie goes home to Colorado Springs today--I will miss her a lot!--and I'll be driving her to the airport a little while from now.  Bernice and I have already been out for our morning walk--the weather is fabulous, though there's a chance we'll get snow by the end of the week.

Oh, WELL.  :)

I have a hair appointment this afternoon--badly needed. 

Not one single trick-or-treater last night.  I miss the old days, when all sorts of scary creatures rang my doorbell and held out a bag for a treat.  I guess it isn't safe anymore, and that's truly sad.  When I was young, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, we could trick-or-treat at every single house in town, and we did.  Some of the kids took pillowcases for bags and one memorable year, my cousin Steve got a piece of apple pie at one house--they'd run out of the regular stuff by the time he arrived, I guess.  Homemade popcorn balls and carmel apples were not unusual, and although it certainly must have raised the cavity count, it was fun.

In our hometown of Northport, WA, my dad was the marshal and also the 'road commissioner'--which meant he plowed and graded the mostly unpaved streets--he was also the water commissioner, but that's beside the point--and he took care of the stop signs around town, not that there were that many of them.  :)  Since a favorite trick of the older kids was to pull the stop signs out of the ground, my clever Dad spent a sunny October afternoon painting all the sign posts, while the culprits were still in school.  Since they were still wet with paint when the fun started, later in the evening, the miscreants were easy to spot--they had streaks of white paint on their clothes and hands.  Imagine the parental consternation when my brother came home in paint-stained clothes.

Those were the days.