128 – and the beat goes on

Oh my word, I haven’t posted here since August. Since no one is protesting, I’ll just have to assume y’all haven’t missed me. That should make me sad, but it actually makes me feel a little less pressured.

So, since August, I:

  • Completed the contract at the restaurant, and handed it over to a new manager. My opinion of him will remain unwritten–he’s still there as I’m writing this, so it’s been seven weeks, as he started right at the beginning of October. I hope, for the Mitchell’s sake, he makes a success of it. Scuttlebutt around town is not good, but then, it seldom is about most things.
  • Am 11,000 words into Flak Be Nimble, the sequel to This Little Pig, which makes me very happy and annoyed at the same time. I used NaNoWriMo to jump into it, and have struggled to get in gear. I did great for the first week and a half, and been just eking it out ever since. Minor proof is… I’m writing in this blog for the first time in THREE MONTHS, because I’ll do anything to not be writing in the novel. I should be 40,000 words in, and I’m just over a quarter of that…
  • Bought a warehouse with Corey. And an RV storage lot, as the property came with a half-acre lot, hurricane fenced, triple-strand barbwire headed. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Still standing empty… but that’s not really why we bought the property anyway.
  • Stopped writing my column for the 90 days I was at the restaurant–as I know I suck at multi-tasking and might not have time to do the column justice. Jody Bailey Day, one of the most amazing people I know, ably stepped in and did a Mayberry serial, which was awesome.
  • Went back to writing my column a couple weeks back, and totally spaced that this week was Thanksgiving, so just wrote an everyday column to turn in this Sunday… 🙂 Corey and I don’t really plan to do anything but bake a ham on the day, and otherwise kind of ignore the whole thing. He is busy-busy with stuff for the ranch and will probably work through the four-day weekend… and I have to be in town on Friday evening anyway.  Hmm…

So, it’s been an interesting 90 days. Life never stands still, does it?

127 – mumblings from the mountains

Sitting looking at a smoke-hazed mountain outside my best friend’s back door. It’s beautiful, even in the fire-induced fog. The sun is trying to climb over it–she often doesn’t get actual sun on her house until upwards of 10 a.m. because it lies in the early morning shadow cast by that mountain.

Happy to be here, feeling a sense of accomplishment–a quilt that I worked on for almost a year has been given to the newlyweds, and the bride was my friend’s youngest daughter. The bride and groom are off now to Hawaii. Now a couple days just for us, the vacation we both sorely needed–and a quick visit with son John in Great Falls before we head back to super-heated but not-on-fire West Texas.

attic window quilt
attic window quilt

Got a nice, long visit with Kelsey and Brian and the kids the last week of July, got to know Miss Haley Leann a little bit better, and had tons of fun with Tyler.

Also took on a consulting job shortly before that, getting operations turned around at a restaurant in the 8000+ population town 45 minutes from the ranch. The same folks who own the ranch own the restaurant, and when their general manager asked if I’d take on the challenge, I couldn’t resist. That was July 17, and from there until we flew out to come up here for a week, I’ve been running with my ears laid back. It’s in much better shape now, with tons of help from Kels and Brian as well as Corey, who jumped in with the staff to do the massive cleaning that was the first step to getting the place back on track. It’s a 90-day contract, minus the time here in Montana, so as of October 16, I’ll be back to entrepreneuriality, if that’s a word. And November is NaNoWriMo.

Oh… and we bought a warehouse. 🙂

126 – Can’t believe it’s been a month!

So much going on of late… An old, old friend came to visit the first week of June, unexpectedly, but most welcome. We had just come back from watching one of my favorite people in the world graduate, Vivyan Sauls, niece extraordinaire. Got to see my sis for the first time since a quick visit in March, and Viv’s older sister, Elizabeth for the first time in five years. It was totally awesome to hug her neck and talk, as well.

Annette (at right, with me in one of the hunting buggies), who was part of a couple that were very close with me and the ex-, looked amazing, hadn’t aged a day… Hadn’t seen her since I was super-heavy, and had spoken to AnnetteAndMeher a couple times since the divorce, but hadn’t actually seen her. It was really awesome to see her and talk to her. Some things don’t change–old friendships that you can take up without missing a beat are pretty danged awesome.

Also got to see daughter Kelsey, husband Brian and both kids for nearly a week. It was an awful lot of fun having a little one to play with, and Tyler got a chance to play with the owner’s grandson, slip-and-sliding an afternoon away.

Writing is booming right along, as well. The print and Kindle versions of my second book of the summer, “She’s Thinking Out Loud,” are live on Amazon.com. Haven’t got a ton of response to it yet, but haven’t had near the marketing time that I had with “This Little Pig.” It’s also of much more local interest, as the vast majority is my op-ed columns written for The Fort Stockton Pioneer.

Am 4,000 words into the sequel to Pig, “Flak Be Nimble.” Synopsis: Flak’s been asked to be maid of honor at her college roommate Cynthia’s wedding to the heir to a West Texas homestead. She accepts with pleasure, as well as taking on teaching a summer class on small town law enforcement at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, so she can stay in the area while Cyn and her soon-husband honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta.  But Flak first has to puzzle out why her oldest friend, who should be blissfully happy, is instead scared to death. Before long, bodies with a peculiar symbol etched on each one begin to show up everywhere, from unmarked graves in what outsiders believe are the barren wastelands of the High Chihuahuan Desert to extremely public places in the small towns scattered a day’s hard ride apart. None of it seems to make sense. But the body count just keeps getting higher, and that will not stand. Not where Flak’s concerned, anyway.

I’ve signed up for Camp Nanowrimo, shooting for 3,000 words a day… I’d really like to have a first draft done by the end of the month of July – I wrote Pig in 30 days, should be able to get FBN drafted in that amount of time. We’ll see.

I’ve also lost 31 pounds in the last 90 days. Deliberately. Shooting to lose about 40 more by the end of the year. 🙂 It’s been a good spring and summer so far.

125 – happy insomniac

Up at 4 a.m. this morning. Promised Corey I’d never say 4:13 again. He finds that kind of precision funny. I would say I don’t know why… but I do, ’cause I find it funny when other people do it, but only when they add vague qualifiers to it, like “almost 4:13.” We are weirdly alike for two people that on the surface are not so much… But that’s probably what makes us work as a couple. At any rate, woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I figured I’d rattle off a few paragraphs.

Not a lot of plans for the weekend, other than to get into town in time to check the mail, pick up some ranch stuff, pick up some grocery stuff… get back home and work on the craft project that I’m up in the middle of–it’s a gift, so my lips are sealed. Am taking pictures.

My only other ambition is to get our van up and listed on a couple of websites. If you know anyone who might be in the market for an extended body 2002 Ford Econoline E350 cargo van, with a 7.3L diesel engine, let us know. It’s in good shape, two brand new tires and two good ones, just passed inspection a few months back. It’s very clean inside because we’re clean freaks. We stripped it down to the metal inside, repainted the inside floor and put it back together again. It does have a ladder rack for the top. The picture below is not a picture of THE van, it’s a picture of A van, same year model, same body type, frame, etc. I’ll replace it when I get a moment to get out and take pictures, if it’s not raining once the sun’s up this morning.

We had planned to kit it out as a weekend camping van, and it has room enough for a 2002-ford-econoline-cargo-van-058-p3queen-size bed in it, but we are just too busy to get it done… and enjoy just exploring the ranch on the rare weekend where we have time to just enjoy the weekend together. Plus, we like sleeping in our own bed now that we’re older. Camping, bluntly, kinda sucks.

But, I digress.

We’ll be listing the van for $6,500. Someone will want it just for the engine, according to my mechanically expert husband, who says it has 3/4 of a million miles of run-time left on it. Don’t know the mileage offhand, but I gather these engines run for decades. I know jack about engines, but know Corey wanted the van because of the engine, with eventual intent to tow a bumper-pull trailer, use the van for extra storage and the trailer for living space.

All I know is, rather than let it sit, someone who can use it ought to be using it. So if you know someone who might be interested, flag me down and let me know.

123 – reaching for serenity

Serenity has always been something I’ve strived (striven?) for, which in and of itself is an oxymoron. You shouldn’t work for serenity, right? You should be able to simply sit, breathe, and serenity will just plop itself right down in your lap like a kitty cat and start purring.

Well, yeah, it hasn’t worked like that in my experience. It’s like most cats I’ve ever known, pet them one, then two times, and then the third or fourth time, and you never know which, all of a sudden you have a huge glove made of cat, and all four legs are stretched up your arm, all claws out, trying its dead-level best to see what your muscles and tendons look like under your skin. cateyes

Well that escalated quickly, didn’t it? And that’s exactly what happens when I reach for serenity.

And yet, I woke up feeling, well, serene this morning.  Maybe because I finally quit reaching, and started finding it in things I’m already doing.

Like activity at levels that I’ve honestly never even thought of…

I just hit three miles on my running yesterday. On 55-year-old, crapped-out knees, I ran three miles. Yesterday. Me. Admittedly my version of running… and an arthritic 70-year-old could probably beat me up the hill running backwards, but I don’t care. Because I’m doing it. For three miles.

And I got the copy edits completed on my second book of the summer yesterday… and it’s NOT perfect, and I let it go to the reviewers anyway. Because I’ve finally stopped letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. It’s never going to be perfect, but it’s good. And it’s going to sell. And if I can sell enough of “She’s Thinking Out Loud” and “This Little Pig” to hire a copy editor for the next book, I will be a happy, happy woman next year… ’cause I’d just as soon never edit my own work again. That is HARD. But it is done… and that makes me feel very serene.

And I got the design completed last week for a project that I’ve been thinking about for SIX MONTHS. That I can’t actually talk about yet because it’s a gift, but I’ll take pictures and post. That’s my afternoon’s work out ahead of me, and I’m really enjoying the thought of it, instead of dreading it. That’s helping the serenity bit, too.

And I was invited to read from This Little Pig at The Garage, in Fort Stockton, on June 11.  Which makes the whole thing a real-io deal-io, you know? And so many friends have grandmamosesstepped up to push This Little Pig all over Texas, out to friends everywhere. It’s been an amazing trip.

Some people just apparently do not blossom until they’re older.

Me and Grandma Moses.  Late bloomers, baby.  That’s her painting, “At the Bend in the River,” painted in 1948, when she was 88 years old.  She didn’t even seriously start painting until she was 78… I’m like 23 years ahead of that.  Just the thought of that makes me take a deep breath and smile.

Good company, at least, and some paintings are worth upwards of a million bucks. Something to think about when you come to get your signed first edition of This Little Pig at the reading, you know. Just saying…

And Corey Matthew Hannon, love of my life. That’s where serenity lives. Whenever I’m feeling like I’m going to jump out of my skin, I just go find him… and that kitty-cat look that you can see at the top of the page starts to fade from my eyes. I can feel it.

Time to go run. In the mud.

My favorite.  Like being five again… 🙂

122 – trying to tell me something…

There are times in this life when you feel like you’re doing the right thing. And yes, if you’re thinking, “Seriously?” even at the grand old speed limit of 55, I do wonder.

Last night, I got a message from a soldier, just out of Basic and on to his Army Initial thislittlepig-profile-pbTraining, about a column I wrote in the Fort Stockton Pioneer a couple  weeks back. His mama sent it to him. His message will be going in a frame on my wall.  It moves me to tears every single time I read it–and that’s not as easy as you might think! I work with words, I manipulate them every single day. But a few simple, heartfelt words on his part make me fall apart every time I read them.

And, last night, my oldest friend–someone I’ve known since I was in middle school–told me what she thought of This Little Pig, my first novel.  She grew up in the area where the book is set, knows the accents, the way the language is structured. Her comment on the book, and I quote: I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!!!GREAT AWESOME SPECTACULAR …. JOB!!!! The only reason I’m not naming her is because she also wrote a review on Amazon, and they will take them down if they think you solicited them, which I most emphatically did not.

That alone would have made my night, but then she went through her Facebook address book and proceeded to share my book image and link with every single one of the folks we went to school with, individually, and tell them how great it was. People like this come along so seldom, and if I could have gone to her house last night and hugged her, I would have.

Oh, to hell with Amazon.  Kathy Whitaker Figueredo, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You remind me that old friends, the ones who knew us first, remain the most valuable throughout our lives. Hopefully we can see each other at that 40th high school reunion if they hold one in 2017!

Holy crap, we’ve been out of high school for nearly 40 years. Okay, I refuse to let that bother me. Yet.

Last night reminded me that I write because it’s what I do and because it’s who I am, and it’s who I’ve always been.

Kathy knew that–and she’s known me since I was 14. She says she told me in English class I’d be writing a book someday.

Hey, Kathy! You were right.

121 – my brain hurts

I am trying to fix everything about everything at once, and it’s starting to make my brain hurt. I know this because I’m starting to lose my homonymns. You know, the ones that sound the same, but are spelled different and mean different things?

Anyway… this website’s fixed, my other, professional website’s pretty much fixed,when the print version of This Little Pig comes out end of next week, it will be in great shape. Oh, did I creepysmileyfacemention the book will be out next week?  Can you see that grin all over my face? Yeah, maybe not.  Well, there is one. Not as blissfully silly as the neon pink one at right… but still.

That’s number one. I have another sitting right in front of me, just waiting for me to start marking it up… and a whole LIST of things to do along with it.

And oh, people, if I get any happier… well, you know the rest, don’t you?

Everybody at once, now!

If I get any happier, I’m going to have to sit on my hands to keep from waving at people.

Time to stop looking at this buggerty thing for today. The computer, that is… Go do something retro, like crochet. Happy Mother’s Day to me – along with the children that my amazing and delightful husband gave to me, at the ages of 15 and 17 years old, respectively, I have just given birth to a freaking BOOK.  It only took, oh, a bit over 12 years from conception to delivery.

So I’m slow!