Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another Blog to Check Out: QuinnCreative

I am so incredibly lucky to live at this time in Earth's vast history!  The Internet is something I hope we never lose but keep making better.  It has opened so many doors for me and introduced me to so many wonderful, thoughtful, intelligent, and creative people.  And I could gush on for hours.

Within the past month or so, through one of the many (many) blogs I subscribe to in Google Reader, I was led to QuinnCreative.  Quinn lives in Arizona as do I.  Her posts have always been great reads - until today. 

Today was incredible.

Today she told me that she knows "me" - or of my life.  Being told which way to go - not asked what I wanted to do.   As a teenager who dreamed of college, I was told that was not going to happen.  My parents could not afford anything but a trade school after high school graduation.  (No one, not even my school guidance counselor told me of grants or scholarships.)  We had to learn something that would get us a job, not a career.  It had to be practical.

My sister, who was a very talented artist, was told the same.  She went into the army to earn that college journey and suffered for it, too.  Now she doesn't have the time for art.  She has three daughters, one with a life threatening disease, two grandsons that she watches quite often, and a husband who needs her close by.  Still, at 56 years of age, she is taking college entrance tests over and over again to get accepted into nursing.  Because it is practical.  There is no room for art.

I'm lucky that I have a job that I like a whole lot - especially in this economy!  Yet, I spend most of my weekends writing, or drawing Zentangles, or collaging pages.  I cannot afford to shuck it all to do art full-time and frankly, I'm not that good at it.  But art makes me very peaceful, happy, and the most like the real "me" that I can be.

Check out today's post at QuinnCreative.  See what I mean.  Read the comments, too.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I am Sam. Sam I am.

And we have cooked Green Eggs & Ham!  (When my daughter was young, on Dr. Seuss' birthday, we made green scrambled eggs & ham steaks for our dinner that night.  It was great fun.)

So, now I stare at the major portion of a spiral cut ham and try to remember all the recipies I know that would take ham.
"Eternity is a ham and two people”  -- Irma Starkloff Rombauer (October 1877 - 1962)  the author of The Joy of Cooking.
I look at the index of my New York Times Cookbook and see only a handful of recipes.  All of which my family probably wouldn't like to begin with.  Next I go online and find tons of recipes - all variations of the same things.  How many different bean/lentil soups can one person tolerate anyway?  Or scalloped potatoes?  **sighs deeply** 

I can't freeze the ham as it was already frozen once.  So I guess we'll be having ham sandwiches, salads with ham, bean soup, scalloped potatoes, denver omlets, ham salad sandwiches, fried ham, diced ham, slivered ham, lentil soup, fried ham and potatoes, ... 


You see the pattern, right?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Looking Out the Window

My office is next door to a mortuary. We usually get to see all sorts of ways to see someone off to the next phase of their journey. Beside the usual crowds of people, there have been bagpipers, military officers, and once, even a full-fledged tent-filled fancy-catered parking lot party.  With a band.

Today, December 23rd, I looked out our window in time to see a flag-draped coffin being loaded into the back of a hearse. The whole parking lot showed only a half-dozen cars slowly circling around into position to follow it out to the cemetery for the graveside service. My heart went out to that handful of people. Judging from the more than a few flower displays being carried out of the mortuary, this was a well loved person who had the misfortune to leave this side of life at the beginning of the holiday season so not many mourners could be present to lend comfort to the family.

My heartfelt wishes of peace and comfort go out to them.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Season's Greetings and All That Stuff

I'm not in a great mood.  We were supposed to have a rainy day today, but it all went to the north of us.  Major bummer for me.  Plus, it was 69 degrees F when I walked home from work.  In short sleeves.  Not very Seasonal, IF you know what I mean....

The Holidays are approaching rapidly and I find that although I no longer consider myself a Christian (click here), I'm getting pulled into the whole mindset anyway.  How do the Jews, Muslims, Pagans, and other non-Christians deal with this?  While we have not put up a tree, there is still the matter of the Presents and the Food and the Eve and the Day that we still must work around.  Very confusing and somewhat depressing.

However, I have come to the realization that Christmas is a secular holiday.  Let's face it.  It is economically driven if nothing else.  The retail establishment counts on it.  Jobs count on it - especialy in this horrible economy.  And, yes, I gave something to every bell ringer I passed.  I wasn't able to last year, but this year I had my travel/expense money from work that I saved up just for the season.  So we will go through the motions with family and friends and coworkers. 

2011 can only be better for us, eh?   By the way, are you going to make any resolutions this year?  Let me know in the comments.

Happy Holidays, my friends!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Characters Have No Character

The smoke from his mouth disappeared into the stiff breeze that ruffled his hair and played with the hem of his long coat. He pulled hard at the last bit of the cigarette and then with his latex gloved hand, he ground the stub into the ashtray. Nodding at a passerby, he stripped off the glove and stuffed it into the trash can under the ashtray. Shrugging his shoulders, he eased his overcoat to a more comfortable fit and walked on.
I love watching people. Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few interesting and downright quirky people (as was the guy above) that I would love to put in my writing. But I have problems finding the words to describe what I see. And, when it comes to making those characters “pop” in the scene, I fail miserably. I think my problem is that while I see what people do, I don’t understand their “why.”

My favorite books have characters that by the end of the story are almost solid. They are consistent. They have plausible personalities. They could be your neighbor (god help you). It’s like the author climbed into their bodies and hijacked them. I envy that. So, I’m off to try yet another character writing exercise.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And ANOTHER Giveaway: Goulet Pens!

Head on over to Goulet Pens to check out how to enter Brian's fantastic giveaway!  Thank you, Brian!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Giveaway at Notebook Stories!

Notebook Stories has a great giveaway in the works.  Daycraft has gifted several diaries and notebooks to Nifty.  Check them out and enter to win!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Poetry Open Mike: Phrases that Grabbed Me

Indian summer of my life

Is your imaginary friend really your spirit guide?

A head shake hits the reset button

Why is it that we can feel someone looking at us?

The teaching goes on

Random insults to someone I don't know

Wishing the ghosts would come back

Reflection of my shadow

Southwest of Americana

Mad scientist of Idaho

Saint Pantomime

Beauty to the Blues

Darkness where morning is already there

Pop culture the moon to the earth
and my favorite:
The Pope's stage name is Kevin

Friday, December 10, 2010

To My Hubby: I Love You!

Hubby and Chubby (me) are celebrating 22 years of marriage today.  They haven't all been bliss and bling but when I'm really honest with myself, I have to admit that I said "I do" to the right guy.

Happy Anniversary, Babe!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reflections on Change

As I walked to the store yesterday, passing house after house, either abandoned or for sale, the cold wind pushing at my face seemed to say, “I’m coming. My name is Change.”

Yes, the “c” word. Make that a capital “C”.

One of the main concepts I took from a brief foray into Buddhism is that nothing remains the same. Everything changes; be it the rocks under your feet, the car in your driveway, or the planet earth itself.

I’m a 54 year old woman. Change unsettles me. Yet, at this point in my life I welcome it. Why? Because things cannot go on as they were or are now. My family struggles financially. My husband of 22 years with a few health issues and my 20 year old daughter in great health **crosses fingers** are both uninsured. None of us has been to the doctor or dentist for several years. We cannot afford to go. Even though I am insured through my employer, I cannot afford the co-pay. 

That also points out how quickly we could add another house to that list of vacant houses in my neighborhood.  It wouldn't take much to push us over that edge.  I don't care what your political leanings are, it is grossly evident that we have to do something.

Yes, I look forward to change. Yet, I’m one of those people who avoid confrontation. I back down rather than fight - unless I see a grave mistake (like SB1070 was/is).  So the inclination right now is to pull in my oars and ride it out. Still, I won’t be completely passive. I will use my personal center of gravity, to lean this way or that, to steer my craft through the turbulence of change.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 30 - Winner!

Late last night, I crawled over the finish line.  Whew!  I won. 

The work is shoddy, crappy, incomplete, juvenile, ridiculous, laughable, trash, and if I work on it more, might actually become something readable.  Might.  Maybe.  We'll see if I even look at it again.

Anyway, life goes back to normal starting today.  Thanks for sticking with me.

Onward!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 27

I'm getting there!  I'm only 2 days behind and I have the story line still going strong.  Two characters were mercilessly whacked off and one is hanging in limbo at the moment.  I'll deal with him tomorrow, I think.

CONGRATULATIONS to those valiant writers who have crossed that 50K line!

Onward!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of the many things I am thankful for:

Happy Thanksgiving!

AND my total favorite:  DIDN'T WANT TO WORK SO the link is here.


The Internet is a wonderful, wonderful thing and I thank the millions/billions of people who make it possible to enjoy old TV shows. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Days 22 & 23

I'm writing again!  In a bold maneuver, I pulled a character out of the original story line and began another one and am slowly catching up.  30,155 words at the end of the day yesterday and I still have some scenes in my head to write this evening after work.

Onward!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 20 and a Fence

Good News and Bad News for you. 

The Bad News is that I'm nearly 6 days behind in NaNoWriMo.  I've lost the story and the rhythm of writing.  I haven't given up, however.  I plan on taking a walk this afternoon that will allow me to zone out into my story so far and figure out where to go from there.  Maybe I'll take a notebook with me and end up in the mall to write for a change of writing location.  One of the NaNo Pep Talks had that as a suggestion.

The Good News is that we FINALLY have our back fence repaired and reinforced.  We may be able to make it through the next monsoon without a section of the fence going down.  Repairing the fence in hot, humid weather is just not fun. 

Onward!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 17

It is with massive guilt that I report that I'm 3 days behind and probably will go 4 days before I can resume noveling.  Walls consisted of the following.

Monday: bill paying and a conference call for work,
Tuesday: a dinner meeting for work,
Wednesday: marathon grocery shopping (did fantastically well, though!), and
Thursday: getting in line for the midnight Harry Potter movie.

Sweet Friday, I can hear your noveling call!

Onward!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 14

Okay, so I'm on track as far as the word count.  And still somewhat lost.  Tomorrow is the half-way point.  It is really tough slogging right now, but I'm determined to keep going.  I had to stop and write out where I am in the story - a list of questions and possible scenerios. Tomorrow, back at work, I will print out what I have so far and read it through.

Jodi Cleghorn, if you're reading this post, how in hell do you do it?  How do you keep track of everything and everybody?  I've got the index cards for characters, the outline, the synopsis, but I'm still lost. 

Maybe once I read it through start to finish on paper, I can figure it out.  I can't keep introducing more characters everytime I come to a mini-cliff hanger.

Onward!

Friday, November 12, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 12

Whew!  I caught up.  I'm sitting at 20,279 words.  Needless to say that the story SUCKS and is incoherent at best, but I'm plugging along.

What's scary is that I've got all these balls tossed up in the air and I don't know which one(s) will be coming down first.  I've got an outline, but somehow it doesn't mean a heck of a lot right now. 

I've killed a duck and a dog.  I have a human character dying.  I have a mean bastard in jail about to get out and come visit my main character.  I've got a ghost, two accountants, the FBI, and an army general mixed in there, too.  We won't even go into what the hell these people have in common - 'cause I DON'T KNOW!

**deep, clarifying, calming breath**

Anyway, I have a morning at the botanical gardens scheduled tomorrow.  Perhaps some fresh air and beautiful scenery will help.

And there's always the "traveling shovel of death."

With Permission From the Poet:

.
stride and joy

by Gary Bowers

you go out the door
on a lucky day it feels like you're climbing into the sky
and you can't feel the ground when you step
or you can and your spirit does not accept the collect call from the ground

even in the airfouled valley
your lungs fill with gladness
your legs oars wheels thrusters orbiteers

destination stochastic
thoughts pleonastic pleonasms
graceous guttness grassy goldness stride pride ride pride strive strive i've
step step float duck duck gossamer

lamplines curve you into a new tomorrow of space
the asphalt concrete interface is a one-step staircase
you are the whacked tuning fork making its highpurr vibratory song
step step ease almost cry
with the relief of the simple universal

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 11 and Week Two Hurdles

NaNo update: I've made up one day of my 3 day deficit (from working a 3 day conference) so I'm now only 2 days behind.  And it is official: I have encountered the Week Two hurdles.  I can say that the majority of comments are right.  I've hit the mud-pits. 

However, most of my mud slogs are due to other stressors here at home.  Writing has been somewhat of an escape from them.  If I can just keep going, I eventually disappear into the novel.  Plus, by having done a rough outline and a plot synopsis, even when I deviate a wee bit, I'm still on track with the story. 

Slowly, I type.  Key by key.  Word by word.  I'll get there, by gummies, I'll get there!

I've also decided that my mouse is dying.  ---  That's the computer's mouse, not any cute little critter.  (I love rodents - and bats - and such.)

Onward!

Monday, November 8, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 8

Good morning everyone! 

I'm just back from a LONG weekend conference and haven't written a single character, let alone a word since Thursday night.  At that time I was on track.  Fortunately, after I spend a few hours at work today (conference clean-up), I have the rest of the week off to get caught up.

So, with that, I will leave you for now. 

Onward!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Write about packing a suitcase

It isn’t much fun anymore, she thought as she stuffed an extra pair of socks into a corner of the suitcase. The excitement has worn off and anxiety has taken its place. When did that happen? When did the glamour slip away?

September 11, 2001. That was when the fear of flying set in. That was when going to the airport laden with suitcases and totes brought not so hidden looks of suspicion from the crowds of travelers. Her scarf covered head and long sleeved dress, though expensive and tailored to perfection, once conveyed her dedication to a higher calling. Now it conveyed sinister intent.

While other people were advised to show up an hour ahead of the flight time, she learned to arrive two or even three hours early. Security slowed to a deliberate crawl. Her bags were double and triple checked. When the TSA added the full body x-ray, she considered quitting her job and maybe even abandoning the only comfort that remained: her beliefs.

No. She slammed the lid down on her suitcase, zipped it shut, and set it next to the door. If she quit, they would win. “This is who I am! Do you hear me world?” She stood up straight and looked at herself in the mirror. “I don’t care what you think. I did not hijack a plane. I did not use it as a missile. I don’t even know anyone who did.”

She felt the anger building in her chest again and shook her head. “No! No! I will not hate them for what they think of me! I cannot. If I allow even a speck of hate inside…”

The doorbell rang. Her taxi waits.


Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Begins!

Day One
Already frustrated: had to type up minutes from a meeting that happened last spring (can you say "procrastination"?) and just when I'm coming close to actually finishing them, my mother calls.  Then a pre-recorded political ad on the phone.  Then another.  I will be so glad when the election is over and they leave me alone.
Note to all candidates who use their trash campaign tactics over the phone lines and then don't end the call after I hang up and then call AGAIN later in the day - and you know who you are: you have lost my vote.  I don't want someone in office that runs their campaign on kindergarten playground tattletale platforms.  I don't want someone in office that is rude and inconsiderate of their constituants' personal space and time.  That just tells me how you will be in office: finger pointing and blaming everyone else for your problems.  Nope.  I will not vote for you.  Period
Anyway, I've gotten some writing done today, but not as much as I wanted.  I have a week's vacation next week so I'm keeping my eyes on that time to really build up a good word count to carry me through.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Phoenix: Night of the Walking Dead

Your Host for this Blog
(I wonder if I could have this
on my drivers license?)
Whew!   What a night.  Kudos to the Arizona Ghostbusters for leading us through the darkened streets and passed so many unsuspecting victims.  (It was funny how people not participating didn't want to make eye contact with us.)

Pictures are still flooding in from the scene in downtown Phoenix last night. While the first Zombie Walk had about 300 participants, this year I think it is safe to add a zero onto that number. It was almost too many people to really get that lurching gait going full swing. 

Anyway, without further ado, here is some of what it looked like:
The Zombie Team Extraordinaire!



The madman

They got Harry!

He'd lose his head if it wasn't attached.  Oh.  Wait.

One of us, one of us...


I don't think she understands
that this isn't real.

Limits.  Always limits.  Killjoys.

Proud Mommy Zombie & her daughter
Update 11/02/10:  More Zombie pictures here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Phoenix To Dos: Zombie Walk

Zombies!  Come join us for the Zombie Walk in downtown Phoenix on Friday night!  I hope to have lots of pictures to post by Halloween here on Daydreamers Welcome.

Road Maps

They guide us
They lead us
To destinations
We desire or not

To dreams
To nightmares
To fortunes
To disaster

Exciting
Boring
Exotic
Mundane
Maps

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Between You and Me and the Fence Post

My apologies for being somewhat tardy for the post, my friends.  I spent a good deal of the day still working on clean up from the hail storm we had a couple of weeks ago.  I worked at a conference all day yesterday and got home quite late.  So with only today off and a mountain of laundry to do at the same time - well, you get my point.

Today, hubby and I finally seated the replacement 4x4 post needed to repair the back fence.  It was tough.  I'm 54 and my hubby is 56 and both of us are WAY out of shape.  To top things off, we dug out half of the old cement that held the original post only to discover a mysterious black pipe running through from the alley.  I tracked its path visually and it led right to our gas meter.  STOP. 

Plan B.  We put the new post directly behind the cement stub.  Now we wait a day or so for the new cement to cure and then we'll go on to wrestle a new section of fence in place of the broken panel.  [I bet you're as tired of reading this as I am physically right now.]

So this is how I spent my one day off and tomorrow begins the countdown to my biggest conference coming up on November 5-7 in Tucson.  In the midst of all that, I plan on participating in the 2nd Annual Zombie Walk in downtown Phoenix.  That will be a post with pictures as I've already called dibs on my daughter's camera.  Somehow, she even agreed with that...

Anyway, off to bed.  As my hubby tells me every morning:  Have a glorious day!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Write about a postcard

It was a few days later that she found it. When it fell through the mail slot onto the floor, it glided farther than the heavier envelopes stuffed with invoices and promises of wonderful products and services. It landed under the armchair that sat next to the door and remained there until the vacuum cleaner grabbed a corner and started to whine.

“Oh crap,” she said as she switched off the machine and pulled the now tattered card from the brush-covered rollers. She tossed it onto the coffee table and resumed her Saturday morning cleaning routine.

It was a long weekend. Her job had kept her longer hours last week than normal. The chores she usually completed during the week piled up and consumed her weekend, leaving her feeling extra tired and somewhat melancholy. Another week such as the last awaited her tomorrow. And the week after that. The boss joked about “job security” and “get ‘em while they were to be got.” Not funny.

Sunday evening, she sat down on the sofa. Selecting not her usual side over by the lamp where she would turn and stretch out her legs but instead the very center. She vaguely wondered which side she should fall on: her right or her left.

It was then that her eyes fell onto the tattered card. It still lay on the coffee table between the fake floral centerpiece and the artfully arranged oversized photo books that no one ever opened.

“Oh crap,” she said again and picked it up. She rose to take it to the trash but before she tossed it in, she looked at it. Then she stopped. She read it. A smile slowly spread on her face and her eyes glittered with sudden possibilities.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's Jodi Cleghorn's Fault!

In case you didn't see them at the bottom of my blog posts, there along the right side, yes, there are the NaNoWriMo web buttons.  And, yes, I'm going to try it again this year.  And it is Jodi Cleghorn's fault.

Jodi wrote a blog post on daydreaming and writing and how inseparable they are.  That, of course, is what sold me.  Please click here to read her post and then come on back for the whining.  (I'll wait right here.  In the corner.  On the upturned pile of old manuscripts.) 

Back?  Okay, so I've started NaNoWriMo four times in the last 5 years.  I actually "won" in 2007.  That particular manuscript has not seen the light of day since.  It's embarrassing for me to read and yet I wrote it!  I started again the next year, failed, and tried last year.  Spectacular crash and burn.  I'm surprised that the fire department didn't respond.  **sigh**

Okay, so it's a new year.  2010.  The Year of Living Dangerously.  And therefore I will enter the fray.  My book title is all I have so far:  "Hypatia's Seal"  Don't ask for more 'cause I haven't a clue.  The rest will come as I (wait for it, wait for it...) daydream my way to and from work - which is safe for me, Jodi, as I walk.  ;=)

I have no way of knowing how I'll do this year, but I do know that I won't cross that 50,000 word finish line if I don't begin.  So, who's in with Jodi and me?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dreams

Dreams
by Langston Hughes (1902-1967), poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer, essayist and columnist
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Special thanks to Bleets at Scriblets for calling my attention to a great poet!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Pelikan Pelikano Goes To...

Christina! 

Send your mailing address to joni dot bowers at gmail dot com. 

This just may be a cartridge-only pen.  Fortunately, JetPens has Pelikan cartridges and Pelikan has great ink.  Let me know if you have better luck than I did!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Birthday John Lennon! We Miss You.

Imagine
Songwriter: Lennon, John

Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try
No people below us, above it's only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries, it isn't hard to do
No need to kill or die for and no religions too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger a brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing for the world

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
Take my hand and join us
And the world will live, will live as one


© LENONO MUSIC

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Check out Notebook Stories

Notebook Stories has a review of a line of notebooks from Turkish manufacturer Arwey that is quite interesting. 




While this is a somewhat mixed review on the pros and cons, the notebooks are unique in several ways. 

To read the review click here.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Okay, remember when I complained about the hot weather here in Phoenix? Well, it’s a case of “be careful what you wish for.” The Valley of the Sun was hit by some severe thunderstorms yesterday and several places, including my part of the city, had marble to golf ball-sized hail. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries, but there was plenty of damage.

At the height of the hail storm we accumulated drifts of the marble-sized stones in the back yard and the front yard looked like winter in Minnesota. The street flooded and water was standing up to my house. Yikes!

While neighbors all around lost large tree limbs, my trees kept the limbs but leaves were “pruned” and shredded. My large fig tree now resembles an ash tree. The big beautiful leaves are now down to the size of a quarter. The bougainvillea that shares a lot line with one of my neighbors is bare branches and a few sickly leaves. We also lost a section of our back fence. Again. (Guess what I’ll be doing this weekend. Ha-ha!)

On the walk to work this morning in the greatly cooled down air, I noticed several small trees in the mall parking lot were broken off and leaning. The sidewalks looked like a landscaping company trimmed the bushes and left the trimmings where they fell. One of the residential houses that I pass had their rock border slide down across the sidewalk.  I immediately pictured a bunch of little green plastic army men:
 


Sarge! Sarge, I’m slipping!
Hang on Private! We’ll get you. Alright men, form a line.   Men?  Men?  Aww, heck.  Hang on, I’m coming.



As we used to say in Minnesota, “I haven’t had this much fun since the pigs ate my little brother!”

Sunday, October 3, 2010

#200 and a Giveaway!

Yes, it is my 200th blog post.  Wow.  You have suffered greatly, my friends!  To honor you, I'm going to give away a pen.  I have a Pelikan Pelikano with an "A" nib, a converter, and an empty cartridge to refill.

I'll be honest with you.  I'm giving away this pen because I don't like it.  Why?  Thank you for asking.  I don't like it because:
  1. The nib is too wide and wet for my tastes.  Nothing wrong with that if you like 'em like that.  And some pen people do.
  2. The converter won't sit tight in the pen.  It's fallen out twice - right after I filled the pen.  [Very messy, I can tell you.] 
Yes, it is the correct converter.  I sent the pen back to JetPens for them to figure it out and they sent it back with the assurance that it is correct and it fits the pen just fine.  [No, it doesn't.]  That's why I saved the cartridge and refilled it once.  That worked much better.

So my pain in the tush is yours if you want it.  The rules are:
  1. Leave a comment by midnight Sunday, October 10th and tell me how you are following my blog.  But please don't enter if you aren't going to check back to see if you won.
  2. I will pick the winner via the random generator.
  3. The winner must contact me before midnight Sunday, October 17.
  4. You do not need to be a U.S. resident.  I will be brave and attempt to ship worldwide.
So.  #200 is in the books.  Thanks for tagging along with me!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yes, I Gush.

If you have clicked on my profile link you will note that two of my favorite authors are Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.  I follow Neil's blog and lately posts have been somewhat sporadic due to his writing project deadlines and such. 

Today's post had two WONDERFUL bits of candy for me. 

One:

From one old friend to another: Terry Pratchett and I met for Sushi in Cardiff the following evening, for Mysterious Reasons That We Are Not Announcing Yet. This is a photograph of us toasting Something Unexplained with champagne.

And Two:

It was a wonderful event, filled with enthusiastic schoolkids, and followed by a signing. I spoke last, and by the time it got to me, Jerry and Karen and Grace had already said everything there was to say, so I talked about the importance of daydreaming and why you should stare out of the window sometimes or actually a lot.  [Emphasis mine.]
**Sigh**  The man is a genius, don't you think?  For more pictures and the rest of his post, please click here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Autumn has arrived. It has?

At 8:09 p.m. on Wednesday, September 22, the autumnal equinox arrived. Autumn was here. The light had noticeably changed starting in mid-August from the bright harsh yellow white to the softer golden tones of fall. Now that it was official, we dared to think of cooler weather ahead. However, we are still dealing with record high temperatures in the mid to upper 100s.

Enough already!

Living in Phoenix is tough for at least eight months of the year. Then we get a few short months of cooler weather and approximately 2 days in January when we can wear a lightweight turtleneck sweater under our winterish weight coat.

I complain. Yeah. I grew up in Minnesota where the weather is the exact opposite. Eight months of shoveling snow just to get to work so you can pay your heating bill. And approximately 2 days of heat where you just want to explode. (Yes, you still need an air conditioner in Minnesota. They have HUMIDITY that will drown you some nights. It’s from those 10,000 lakes.)

There is no point to this blog post, folks. I am just venting as I sit in front of the fan I'm sharing with my laptop to keep us both cool.  Eventually the cooler weather will arrive and I'll be able to open windows again.  Eventually.  Yeah.

Have a great week at work and don’t forget to put up those Halloween decorations!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

3 A.M.

Dead time for ghost hunters
I lay awake
Staring at the black ceiling
The black walls
The angry red numbers on the clock
Like ghosts in the night
Sleep slips away
When you look directly at it

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Goodbye JB's! We'll Miss You

The background story to this photo montage is found here.

My sincere apologies for the poor photos.  Our camera is on its last legs and needs to be replaced.  That said, here are a few parting pictures of a long-time member of our community:








Friday, September 17, 2010

And another thing...

"Getting old is not for sissies."  
-- Bette Davis US movie actress (1908 - 1989)  

This morning I put on a new bra. It replaced one that had worn out in a particularly embarassing way - a hole in the cup where my nipple poked out - in public - with co-workers present. Yeah.

Anyway, this new bra was purchased because it has a feature that will prevent this from happening ever again. That made me feel very good, not only because I didn't have to worry about that but because it must have happened to enough women before it happened to me that the topic was addressed in the design team meeting someplace.

"Okay team. The next problem we need to discuss is the nipple poke through. How can we improve our product to prevent it? It will sell like hotcakes if we do it right."
Cool.

So I put it on this morning, secure in knowing I was safe from that embarrassment, only to discover something new. I was facing north but my boobs are now pointing northeast and northwest. Shouldn't they be heading in the same direction I am? Sigh. At least now they are level with the horizon and not pointing at my feet.

I hate gravity.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Yesterday’s Coffee



Yesterday’s coffee sits in the bottom of my cup
Cold, murky, slicked with oil
Images of mosquito-infested bogs lined with old trash
Flash behind my eyes
Then the haunts from the day before visit
Ill-chosen words, missteps, opportunity not grasped
A yawn returns the cup
Emptied and rinsed, it waits
For the fresh potential dripping into the pot

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Man on the Corner

The man on the corner tells stories.
He tells stories with sleeve tattoos and the
Open garage door spilling motorcycle parts onto the cement.
He tells stories with his rebel flag waving to rock-a-billy rhythms.
The man on the corner tells stories.
He tells stories with the tall red tool chest and
The smell of old oil mixed with solvent.
He tells stories with the upturned buckets for chairs and
The old milk crate filled with empty bottles of Bud.
The man on the corner tells stories.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Huh?

On a package of 8 fun sized Milky Way candy bars, the nutrition label reads:

Serving size 2 bars
Servings per container about 4

[Emphasis mine.]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

NotebookStories Reviews a Cantelope?

Daycraft sent Nifty some really cool notebooks!  One looks like the outside of a cantelope.  Check out the review at Notebook Stories and enter the giveaway like I did.

Good luck!

Down in the Basement

In 1960, she came in early to go down to the basement to tell Jack about her weekends. He would listen attentively.

In 1961, she spent her morning coffee breaks down in the basement telling Jack the newest office gossip. He would listen attentively.

In 1962, she spent her lunches down in the basement telling Jack of her projects and deadlines. He would listen attentively.

In 1963, she spent her afternoon breaks down in the basement telling Jack the latest thing she read in the newspaper. He would listen attentively.

In 1964, she stayed late and went tearfully down to the basement to tell Jack about her fears of endless lonely weekends ahead. He would listen attentively.

In 1965, she went down in the basement to tell Jack that she no longer worked there. She had to say goodbye. He turned to her and opened his arms. She climbed into his embrace.

In 2010, someone else came down to the basement. Jack’s door was opened. She was there. Her grin now as wide as his grin. Shrunken and dry, her mummified remains interwoven into his skeletal grip; she listens attentively.


http://beyondrace.com/images/stories/love_eternal.jpg

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Corporate America Strikes Again

Today I learned that my favorite restaurant, JBs (a sort-of Denny's) at Christown Mall here in Phoenix is closing on the 16th. Everyone is out of a job.

Super Target, their neighbor in the shopping mall, out-bid the Mom & Pop business for the lease and is going to tear the building down for more parking spaces. The waitress said that Target felt that JB’s was blocking the view of people to see the store. I asked, “What about the new bank on the corner?” She just smiled sadly and shrugged. She’s a single mom with 4 kids. [Insert swear words here.]

How is tearing down - destroying - a business and replacing it with very un-needed parking spaces helping in this economy?  Parking spaces do not provide replacement jobs for these folks.  My neighbors.  My friends.

Do me a huge favor, please?  If you can, tip that service person a bit more than you normally do.  Send out that good karma.  Remember, what you send out to the world returns to you threefold.

Thank you in advance!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How I Use My Notebooks

I’ve noticed that I have a peculiar character trait when it comes to using notebooks. The notebook itself determines how I will use it. I have some wonderful notebooks with the best paper in the world (Clairefontaine) and I have everything in between down to my Wal-Mart 10¢ Back-to-School notebooks (which are now 15¢ each). And I write almost exclusively in fountain pen.

Wal-Mart’s 10¢ Back-to-School notebooks functioned as my journal for years. I bought them by the case. Some of them I covered in fabric to jazz up their appearance. (I carried an army green messenger bag for a purse and the notebooks fit vertically in the back pocket so I could take it everywhere with me. I loved that bag! When the bag wore out, I reluctantly replaced it with a conventional purse and the notebook stayed home. I’ve been searching for another bag just like the messenger bag, but haven’t found a suitable substitute.)

Then I started using Miquelrius notebooks. The paper takes fountain pens beautifully. I used a full-sized Miquelrius notebook for the entire year of 2009 but as its page count wasn’t equal to the whole year I found myself pasting in extra pages and sometimes writing two days on the same page. I purchased a 400 page (200 sheets) notebook (in a close to A5 size) to use for 2010’s journal with the promise of a glorious unfettered year. Unfortunately, this made the notebook too thick and out of frustration of needing a paperback book of the same thickness to balance my writing hand and wrist to write the last third of the page, I junked the book at the end of June.

At the same time I was winding down with the thick Miquelrius, I was using a 10¢ notebook as my “junk writing” receptacle. While I could only use one side of the page due to the extreme show-through (but not bleed-through) of the fountain pens, I found I was unbothered by WHAT I was writing. I grabbed that notebook when I just needed to write down the internal crap or story snippet that popped into the little grey cells. When I scrapped the thick notebook, I turned to the cheap notebook exclusively until it was finished.

This is when I discovered that my local Target has a few Rhodia products. They are usually well abused while still on display due to the bottom-of-the-display-rack positioning and the large population of small children who roam the store unsupervised by their parents. (Another topic for another post - maybe.) Luckily, I found one in pristine condition.

So, now my current journal is an A4-sized staple-bound Rhodia notebook. It has the best paper in the world. It has 96 pages (48 sheets) of smooth writing surface and its larger format allows for larger thoughts and long stories. But, I struggle with my junk writing. I simply cannot put it in this Rhodia notebook. It doesn’t deserve to be filled with that kind of tripe. My regular tripe is bad enough as it is!

Author Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said in her book Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within:
Earlier I suggested that for freewriting, you might use a cheap notebook so you can let loose and be as wordy and rambling as you like.  Journals are just the opposite.  Journals tend to be for an audience, even if that audience is only you years from now.  You take more care in choosing a journal and tend to be more deliberate with what you write on its pages.  I choose journals I like the look and feel of and that have paper - usually unlined - with an appealing texture.
Therefore, I’ve made the decision to return to my 10¢ notebooks to keep my journal and junk writing together in one place.  I know myself well enough to know that keeping seperate notebooks just doesn't work for me.  And I cannot allow those random comments or descriptions or phrases or overheard remarks to be lost.  Who knows when they will work their way into one of my pieces?

Nevertheless, I won’t stop using the Rhodia or other Clairefontaine paper notebooks. There are some things that I write that must be put on great paper.

Update: 09/28/10  The author of InkyBlots agrees! 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

PAYPAL IS THE WORST COMPANY IN THE WORLD

John Cole has a modern day Catch 22!  Check out his story about PayPal.

This is why I don't have a PayPal account and I never will.  Not only do I get spammed regularly with messages about "your PayPal account" but I keep hearing stories such as John's over and over.

I'm pulling for you John!

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Webbie Winner Didn't Claim It - Second Winner Is...

Number 3!
Susan B. said...
Good for Joni for getting this done. Love the hand doodle.

Susan, contact me at joni dot bowers at gmail dot com with your address and I'll get the Webbie in the mail to you.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Weather in the Valley of the Sun

We were hit late yesterday afternoon with a hum-dinger of a storm.  I haven't seen it rain that hard in years.  We even got marble-sized hail!  My daughter tried taking pictures of it, but they didn't turn out.  Too much going on too fast.  At least we were side-by-side witnesses to the fury.

The ash tree looked like a big hand from above was smooshing it straight down.  Sheets of rain were blown first from the south and then from the east as the cell moved through.  It was wonderful - even though our back patio was totally drenched.  It is now a big gunky mess. 

The biggest blessing of all was that my back fence stayed standing.  What a relief that was!  Putting it back up has been an annual event for the last few years.  (Helpful hint: use long wood screws instead of nails in your fence.)

As I've mentioned before in this blog, we are usually by-passed due to our heat island effect.  However, the heat has backed off a wee bit, so the concrete and asphalt hasn't been radiating the horrible temperatures that it usually does. 

We have a month and a half more of our official monsoon season according to the local weather people who block it out on their calendars like the hurricane season.  But I'm hoping for an early conclusion.  I'm tired of feeling sticky.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's the Word I'm Looking For?

It's that person that observes human behavior and writes books about how stupid we're becoming thanks to technology.  That person could have had a wonderfully enlightening time watching me this morning.

We had a monsoon-caused power outage at my office building last night.  The power - transmitted through 40+ year-old infrastructures - came back on, went off, came back on, went off, etc. enough to cause our server to just throw up its "hands" and sit sulking until someone with sense could tell it it was okay to come back to life.

When our IT gal at work cajoled it back on this morning, we found one casualty:  Outlook.  The normal backup failed due to the yo-yo effect and we were told that Tuesday's emails were toast.  The IT "guru" worked most of the morning remotely restoring from the last backup.

Here's where the entertainment came in.  My normal pattern at work is to check my email and create a "To Do" list first thing every morning.  I can usually finish most of my list before the end of the work day with just a few projects carrying over.  (This is slowly changing, but for now: status quo.)  With the email down, I could NOT focus on anything!  I wandered here, there, chatted with co-workers and surely drove them nuts.  The IT gal finally asked me - in a very nice way - if I didn't have anything better to do than what I was doing/not doing.

(One thing to note: a few of my co-workers discovered that the Outlook on their smart phones didn't work when our server was down.  I keep a paper planner and was unbearably smug.  I think they forgave me.)

Eventually, I was able to sit down and work my way back into focus.  The great news is that as far as I know, only one email was missing and I was able to get it resent.  People trying to send emails to us were getting a "message delayed" and phoning instead.  I was able to talk to people I'd only emailed with before.  What a treat!

Anyway, we're back up and running.  The season of monsoon continues as well.

Monday, August 23, 2010

And the Webbie Goes To...

Number 16:

mar1a  said...
Christmas in August sounds cool. Even though it's FAR from cool...as in temps. Show me da Webbie!
Congratulations Marla!  Send me your mailing address (joni dot bowers at gmail dot com) before the end of the week and I'll put it in the mail!

Thank you to all participants!  If you'd like to try again for a Webbie, head over to Whatever and check in with Julie (Okami).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Next Steps in a Webbie Named "Beany"

I guess I can point at Spiritual Evolution of the Bean and Penchant for Paper among the many blogs that I read for my urge to art journal. I’m the first one to admit that I am not gifted in the visual art arena by any means. It runs a close second to my singing: I’m paid not to. (I can kill a good party buzz by saying “I want to” and “karaoke” in the same paragraph.) Nevertheless, the desire to try another creative outlet (besides writing) was strong.

Stephanie and Heather create beautiful mandalas and both have mentioned the meditative qualities drawing can bring. I thought I could do those easily. It wasn’t easy. So I went onto YouTube and searched for how-to videos on mandalas. That’s where I found the term “Zentangle.”  This is the video that sent me searching for more.

Zentangles are an art form that is new to me yet, when I saw it drawn around a large manuscript letter, I saw it as ancient. Regardless, it is patterns drawn in small areas of unconventional shapes to become beautiful works of art. And, they too mention the meditative benefits of drawing.

So this is a method of drawing that I think I can do in my new art journal. It looks childish and rough right now but with persistence and the Webbie that I now possess (thanks to Rhodia & Exaclair) I will gain confidence and an outlet at the same time.

Check out the art on the Zentangle blog and see what I’m talking about. Then pick up a pen, pencil, or what have you and start doodling!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Review: Rhodia Webnotebook & Giveaway!

Thank you to Stephanie (Rhodia) and Karen (Exaclair) for providing the two "Webbies" for this post!  Your generosity is unmatched, Ladies.

The Webbies actually came in the mail a couple of weeks ago.  Stephanie and Karen sent out quite a few of these to other blogs of note and I waited to see what others were saying about the notebooks.  Unfortunately for me, they were elequent and detailed.  There is nothing much for me to add to the conversation!  Therefore, I will say it all with pictures.  (Please pardon my photography.)

Gracie - My Muse
The Webbie













Just the facts Ma'am







Size Comparison with an A4







Black end papers






Creamy pages





The Test - fountain pen ink & Crayola markers

Show through
Okay, so there you have it.  All in all I like this notebook.  I'll avoid the markers, stick with drier media and journey onwards!

Now, for the giveaway.  Leave a comment on this post before midnight on Sunday, August 22.  Using the random gadget from random.org, I will pick a winner on Monday, August 23 and announce the lucky person at that time.  This will be limited to USA contestants only, please.

Good luck, and have a great week!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Note of Warning

Hi.  I had an experience today that left me feeling awful.  My Gmail account was hacked and used to spread a virus.  Google responded quickly and locked me out of my account until I contacted them.  I'm back and should be okay.

I sent everyone on my contact list a follow up email to let them know and advise them to run their anti-virus software.  If I missed you, please forgive me - and run your software!  I hope no one opened the link that was in the email.

Koodos to Google for their assistance!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Correction

Just as I hit the publish button on my last post, I knew. Too late. It was out there surfing the electronic waves. My optimism of the day would soon encounter what Wall Street is so cleverly spinning as a “correction.” I’m fortunate that it didn’t correct like the Crash of 1929 or of recent times. Instead, it was a simple and innocent phone call from my local blood donation center asking me to make an appointment.

I’m a long-time visitor to the United Blood Services facility to the point that I’ve developed scar tissue in and around my lucky vein. In fact, I’m there so often that they know I’m boring as hell and they auctioneer the interview questions. The only time I tripped them up was when the cardiologist told me to start taking the low-dose aspirin every day. However, recently they have been forced to add new questions. (I think it was to see if we were listening.) “Has your mother ever lived in or visited for three months or longer in Mexico, Central America, or South America?” This is where I’m in danger of peeing in my pants from holding back a huge burst of laughter.

My mother, like most men and women of her age in Arizona, actually believes Sheriff Joe. (See SB 1070.) He’s fired up the whole state into thinking that we will all be murdered in our beds by illegal aliens pulling trailers of lawn care equipment behind their beat up flying saucers. There is no way in hell that she would dream of crossing the border. “They’re murdering all the Americans down there!” (My mother, the ultra-conservative Bible-thumper, missed the whole Hippie era. Her “Summer of Love” was when Grandma and Grandpa bought us a riding lawn mower and because it was something that looked like fun instead of work, Dad took over mowing our immense farmyard instead of Mom with the push mower.)

So where was I? Oh, yeah. Blood donation.

At my last visit to the Center, I was scheduled to give platelets. This means that I’d be parked there for two hours. I don’t mind the time at all. In fact, longer is better. The clinical staff at the Center is thoroughly trained at the local comedy club. By time the draw is done, I’m weak not from blood loss, but laughter.

But that appointment was not good. My lucky vein is not lucky anymore. I settled myself into the chair. Joe, who is staffing the platelet section, wraps my upper arm with the blood pressure cuff and pumps it tight. Then he whips out his trusty purple marker and palpitates the crook of my left arm commenting on my needle tracks. “Those are all yours,” I tell him. He nods and makes two dots to guide his needle. When the skin is dry from the alcohol scrub, he takes the needle and jabs it in.

Let me state right here that I have a high pain threshold and am easy going about this part of the draw. I even like to watch. Fresh blood is the most beautiful color, I think.

This one hurt. Joe has a puzzled look on his face as he re-palpates the elbow. He partially withdraws the needle and jabs it back in. Rinse and repeat. After a few mutterings under his breath, he straightens up and calls Dan over to try his luck. Long story short, I end up with a tiny girl that is 36 months pregnant bending over my elbow with Joe and Dan looking over her shoulder. My hand is dark purple and I’m sweating with the effort of sitting still. Finally, after making Swiss cheese out of my inner arm, they give up.

“We can try your right arm,” Dan suggests. No, they can’t. I have carpal tunnel in that arm and two hours of squeezing the 1¾-inch alcohol wiped PVC pipe would not be a good thing.

Later that same day, my daughter is sitting in the same chair. Phlebotomists are bent over both of her elbows searching for a viable vein. They are palpating and prodding, and she is squeezing and holding. That’s when, she told me later, the gal who interviewed her walks past and says, “That’s Joni’s daughter.” In unison, the two phlebotomists backed away. They sent her home.

So, folks, today my daughter and I are scheduled for another go. This time we’ll just try for whole blood. It’s quicker and the needles are different. I can use my right arm for this one. Wish us luck.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's a Good Day

[Insert image of smiling cat here.]

I've had - and am having - a good day.  In the process of journaling about it, I realized that I'm usually complaining (and whining and bitching and - well, you get the idea) and for once I was writing about all the good things that happened today.
  1. After a year and a half of silence, the local school district called my hubby to substitute teach for 3 days and more than likely will continue into the next week.
  2. A second grant that I applied for has been awarded to the new specialty group I am now helping to administer.  (That's 2 out of the 11 that I submitted.  In this economy, that is HUGE!)
  3. I joined a co-worker in a spur of the moment jaunt up the street to visit an estate sale on our lunch hour.  (Yes, Brad, it was a "business" lunch.)
  4. Today's mail at home brought two Rhodia "Webbie" Webnotebooks from Exaclair.  One is to review on this blog and the other will be a giveaway!  (Stay tuned for details.)
And my day isn't over.  This is nice.  I want to make note of it.  I want a written, published record of it for those "other" days.

Enlightenment



tiny bright light
of idea
dancing and flickering
but
burning strong
on top of
words
rolled tight and tall
resting secure on
the page

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper!

Thank you to everyone who submitted to the August Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper! It was simply amazing to be the host. Many thanks to Nifty at Notebook Stories  for creating this monthly event!

Editor’s Pick
This was a tough decision, folks. I almost had to pull out the dartboard and choose that way. But to be honest, there was one I enjoyed over all. When Caitlin Burns submitted her post “10 money saving tips for starving artists” I not only loved it but with today’s economy (and my own tight budget), I adapted some of her suggestions in other areas of my life. Thanks Caitlin!
 
Pen
Patrick Sikes wrote a nice pen review on his "Pelikan Script 1.5."  I, too, love my italic nibs. My cursive is actually readable now. As a side note Patrick, I have trouble getting my converter to seat in my Pelikano, too!

lady dandelion called my attention to a great post from Bleubug called “Oodles of Noodler’s” I reviewed one Noodler’s pen but Bleubug did it right. Here’s an excellent and thorough review of the new Noodler's pens.

Tom from Goldspot Pens sent in "Montegrappa Miya Midnight Blue Fountain Pen Review" and I’m so glad he did. That is one fine looking instrument and someday, yeah, someday Tom, you’ll be mailing one of those pens to me!

Namiki Falcon Meets Diamine Ink is a post submitted by Margana better known from An Inkophile's Blog.  Margana says, "Namiki Falcon soft nibs come up often in pen discussions so here is a closer look at one of my favorite pens."  And I can see why.  I suggest you click on the pictures for an up close view and see for yourself.

Over at A Penchant for Paper Heather lists her "Worst Five Pens" which puts a nice spin on the usual "Best of" lists we usually see.  Good post, Heather!

Paper
Cynthia Niklas wins the It’s so simple why didn’t I think of that? award with her post “Moleskine Volant Daily Planner Hack.” (Has anyone seen the cute clips in Staples lately? You could take Cynthia’s cool idea and run wild with it!)

A review of "Moleskine Index Cards: Professional Memo Cards"  was sent in by Brian Greene from Office Supply Geek. I love the vertical orientation of the ruled cards as opposed to the horizontal lines on regular index/recipe cards. Excellent!

David Garrett from Seize the Dave has a great paper review: "rhodia dot pad." What handsome calligraphy, Dave!

First Glance: Read & Write Journal written by travisthetrout of Notes in a Book introduces us to some really cool repurposed paper notebooks.  Now this is not recycling, folks.  It's better!

Ink
lady dandelion tantalizes us all with her “review: iroshizuku fuyu-gaki – a winter persimmon perfect for summer”  Beautiful color!

Clement Dionglay from Rants of The Archer fame submitted an "Ink Review: J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage."  As you know, one of my favorite colors is green and this one is one that will definitely end up in my collection!

Misc
Julie (Okami) reports on the "Miami Pen Show 2010." Check out the pictures! I love people who take their cameras along and share their photos! Thanks Julie!

Dianeb sent in “Periscope Lighted Padfolio and Kindle Cover” and says, “I've fallen in love with this lighted Padfolio, and especially as I can fit my favorite notepads in the pockets. It's especially useful when I'm working in my middle room, where I've got low wattage energy saving fluorescent bulbs and no natural light.”

lady dandelion submitted the post “Man Luen Choon!” on behalf of Leigh Reyes: My Life As a Verb.  I think I want one (or two – or three) of everything! (Think “FedEx”!)

Peter Warrior from Tiger Pens Blog tells us "Why Your Car Should Have a Pen and Notebook in the Glove Box."  By the way Peter, I cleaned up the blog just for you. **grins!**

That’s all for this month, but stay tuned! Office Supply Geek  is hosting the September edition of this Carnival. I don’t know about anyone else out there, but I’ve discovered some of the best blogs through this monthly feature. So, keep sending in those submissions!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Consumerism and Moi

Living on a tight budget can be challenging for a person like me who grew up in the height of consumerism. It was in my lifetime that “disposable” became a desired trait to promote in advertising. No more fixing or making-do with the old stuff.

World War 2 came on the heels of our Great Depression and with all the servicemen returning to civilian life, there was an urgent need to employ them. Many of those servicemen, like my uncles, had come from the farms and had no desire to return. They liked the action found in city life. The economy needed a jump-start to get us back up to speed, too.

Enter the true age of manufacturing. All the materials that had been so closely tied to the war effort were now free for use here at home. The chemicals that had been used to create bombs became cheap fertilizers for the food industry. Plastics developed during the war were now available for any creative entrepreneur that had the wherewithal to put it to use.

To drive this manufacturing, the customer had to be enlightened on how great these products are. Why, no more waiting weeks to get that toaster fixed by the little bent man in the back room of the shop! Throw out that old one and buy new. Automobiles were cheaper. The ballpoint pen and TV dinners with their throw away containers arrived. Loans and revolving credit were easy to get so you could buy all sorts of items to consume your money and landfills.

We continue to do the same with cell phones, computers, PDAs, video players, fast food wrappers, and the list goes on. I challenge you to look in your trashcan to see what else qualifies. It gets ridiculous when you see what all you throw away.

Knowing all this and thinking about its impact on my life has made me decide to be a smarter consumer. I started with fountain pens. Unless I use cartridges, it will take quite a while for any part of that “hobby” to end up in the landfill. Bottled ink goes a whole lot further than a ballpoint pen and its cartridge.

Next, I’ve started reading about household life in the 1930s and 1940s before we became brainwashed. I remember Grandma saving sheets of aluminum foil, wax paper and plastic wrap to reuse until it couldn’t function any longer. When one of the sheep died giving birth, Grandpa fed the lamb from a washed out 7-Up bottle and a rubber nipple from the farm supply store. Grandma used a stopper with holes in it for another bottle to use to sprinkle her clothes with water before ironing. (I still remember how good it smelled.) Food scraps went to the farm dog, pigs and chickens. We had gardens and we processed vegetables for canning and freezing.

This is my challenge: how can I not only cut back on my spending but also make a smaller footprint in my world? Even with all this complaining about the modern mindset, I have to say that the Internet will prove invaluable in my quest. It’s free (so far) and full of great information and ideas. So using this technology, I send out my call. I need ideas and information from you for ways I can be a better user of this planet without spending a wad of cash to be fashionably “green.” (There’s paradox for you.)

Thanks in advance.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It happened again...

I'm sorry - stepped out for some air and lost track of time.  Seriously, it became a bit crazy this week.  Some of the things are usual and some are not.  But all are made of the stuff of life.

My friend and co-worker, Susan had a death in the family so work hasn't been as much fun as it usually is.  All the services are done and the family clean up operation is well in hand.  Time takes over with the rest of the process.

I have a large meeting happening in November that I'm preparing for. The momentum is starting to build now but the usual worry/panic hasn't hit yet.  I have more time to work on it this year, so maybe I can let that all go.

The cat has been naughty, too.  I came home today to the greeting, "There's a dead bird behind the recliner."  So I pull out the recliner and find TWO birds.  One was indeed dead and the other is alive.  I put the alive bird in the fig tree just as a rainstorm hit.  I'm not sure it will live, but it won't die being terrorized by a cat or in a dark corner of an alien prison.  (I love the cat, but she really frustrates me because I love birds, too.  So due to the cat, I pulled all the feeders down in the yard.  (Don't lecture me on "survival of the fittest" and "part of the circle of life" and "that's what cats do," etc.  I know all of that but it doesn't help.))

Update 07/30/10: The bird died.  In a way, I'm glad.  It was suffering.

But the BEST NEWS is that I've been writing!  Yay!  I got hit with a lot of clear daydreams that are working into a good story.  That's how they come to me.  Some weird thing will trigger them and then off I go dreaming.  I just wish reality wouldn't interfer with the process.  Ha-ha!

So anyway, I hope things slow a bit for the weekend.  Don't forget to get your submittals in for the Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper!