Saturday, July 17, 2010

Holy Smokes are Winners!

Holy Smokes of St. Jude have done it again -- taken first prize for chicken, ribs, and People's Choice and third prize for pork shoulder!

Thanks to all our Knights!


Friday, July 16, 2010

Followers and Friends

It being summer and all, I've not checked out some blogs, but realized they were still on my "follow" list. A while back, when I discovered the follow feature, I thought it would somehow be an easier way to read everything I wanted to read, but the better way is to have an RSS feed. The follow feature is independent of it. I hate clutter and redundancies so decided to "unfollow" everybody. This was no easy feat because there was no such button ... I did find it eventually buried under the features of the blogs I follow.

I can't believe how cantankerous I am. I don't like words like "friend" or "follow" when all you're doing is reading someone's blog. What's wrong with "reader"? I only have a handful of friends, the rest being acquaintances or colleagues, and so I like to reserve the term "friend" for those special people. And as to follow, I only want to follow Jesus Christ. Words are so important to me, and when people use them casually, it irritates me. I won't go into turning verbs into nouns and vice versa ... they grate on my ears, even though I know language is always evolving.

Anyway, I got rid of the "follow" thingie on my blog as well because it makes no sense to me. Besides, my paltry numbers (20 or so) make me feel terribly unpopular (not that it's anything new). Nathan Bransford as 4,000+ followers. Wow! But I wonder how many of those followers actually read his posts. I was reading his stuff for a while when I was considering getting an agent and even entered one of his contests, but what's the point of saying I follow him when I am no longer reading his blog? Sorry Nathan, if you're reading this. When I am ready to look for an agent, I will most likely go back to reading his posts because they are full of agent-wisdom.

I've seen many contests lately about collecting more followers. I must be the only person on this planet who doesn't get it. Can someone enlighten me? For me blogging is about making a connection with my readers, and I enjoy the company and community of those who are sincere. But this entire "friends" and "followers" business feels more like a popularity contest than anything else. It's high school all over again ...

And now I'll probably lose the 20-odd followers and the 5 or so friends I do have ... but that's okay. I really am a crankypants. I'm nothing if honest.


Thursday, July 15, 2010


Meet the newest members of our family. They are nearly three months old, a brother-sister pair we found at our local shelter. The other critters have not met them yet but we will introduce them slowly, one by one. They know something's up! There's been a lot of sniffing beneath the door of my daughter's bedroom, which is officially the kitten room ... and guess who's sleeping with the kittens tonight?

Happy sigh. It reminds me of the time when we brought our second cat home. The first one is fiercely attached to me, so my husband slept in the guest room with the kitten. A week later, they were both in bed with us, and the kitten's size and weight mirrored my son's growth in my womb. The kitten spent many hours on my growing belly and I could imagine how big my baby would be. Turns out the kitten grew faster ... My son was 8 lbs at birth and the kitten 10 lbs when she was 9 mo. old. Here's a picture of her checking out the new baby. Oh, how quickly they all grow up ... both the kids and the critters.

Let the chaos begin!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reading and Writing

I just finished Escaping the Tiger by Laura Manivong, based upon her husband's years in a refugee camp. It is not an easy read. I cried several times, but they were tears of understanding -- I, too, have had an empty belly, been called a dog and told to go home, and even in the face of huge disappointments, stayed optimistic. These characters rang so true for me, I felt as though I could sit and share sticky rice with peppers with them. I laughed near the end when they marvel at the beautiful, white, dimpled flesh of Americans. I remember wanting to be fat like that too (and now I am).

This book will resonate not just with refugees, but with all people who have no home, who have been marginalized by society simply because of the culture they were born in, and who keep faith and hope alive and survive. Our country is so much richer for people like Troy (Laura's husband) and Laura, who take the time and the trouble to tell their stories.

My son is devouring this book right now and ever since I told the kids that I *know* the author via the Blueboards, that this book is based upon her husband's childhood, they are mightily impressed.

I'm also reading the Collected Works of Flannery O'Connor. It includes letters and essays as well and I am in awe of this woman who took a great deal of time to encourage others, even though she was gravely ill and dying from lupus.

Here's a quote from Mystery and Manners: People without hope do not write novels. Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I'm always highly irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it's very shocking to the system. If the novelist is not sustained by a hope of money, then he must be sustained by a hope of salvation, or he simply won't survive the ordeal.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Writing Retreat

So, I alluded that I had some extra time last week. That's because the children were with their grandparents. We live in the suburbs, so a rural setting is quite the change -- a large garden to weed and pick from, a tractor to ride, movies to watch. The kids had a grand time and I was grateful for the gift of time.

And never will I complain about not having enough time to write because this whole week, although I had the time, I still only spent only a couple of hours each day on my writing (ahem, half of it was in day-dreaming) and the rest in other activities. I cooked wicked spicy Indian food, read a lot, played the piano, prayed the rosary, danced along with a dance video, took long walks, and even had a date night with my husband -- dinner at a Thai place followed by Ironman 2 (I love all these movies based on the old Marvel characters). It gave me a taste of what it's going to be like when the kids fly the nest. Quiet, but nice.

Which got me thinking about writing retreats, where all your needs are taken care of so that you only need write. The funny thing is that when you most need this sort of time, you have to have child-care if your spouse cannot take time off from work. And by the time the kids are grown, you don't really need it ... because you can create your own retreat at home. Don't be like me, though ... I enjoy too many other things besides writing.

I am very, very lucky that I won a couple of scholarships to writing workshops before my children started school because once they did, I've not wanted to be away from them for too long. Our time together is short ...

Banana Splits and Fireworks

Sharing some pictures from my son's perspective.

Grandma made decadent banana splits nearly every night.

Our dog ran like the wind on the large property.

Why is fire so mesmerizing?

Cars, cars and more cars!

Grandpa sings in a barbershop choir, The An-O-Chords, and this was their old car.

I think this is a P3 -- Sound of Freedom.

It was freezing out on the beach so my daughter and I opted not to go to the fireworks. We cuddled in bed instead.

I hope you're all enjoying your summer. Finally, finally, we have sunshine and I have our clothes and bedsheets and pillowcases flapping in the breeze. A strawberry-rhubarb sauce is simmering that I'll freeze ... to have later this afternoon.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Abwoon D'Bashmaya

Testing YouTube embed feature. I have the words below for singing along. I can sing it halfway before having to look them up. I can't explain why it makes me feel so good to be able to say these words ... I think in English, for heaven's sake! The translation of each phrase is a couple of posts down ...

Abwûn d'bwaschmâja
Nethkâdasch schmach
Têtê malkuthach.
Nehwê tzevjânach aikâna d'bwaschmâja af b'arha.
Hawvlân lachma d'sûnkanân jaomâna.
Waschboklân chaubên wachtahên aikânadaf chnân schwoken l'chaijabên.
Wela tachlân l'nesjuna
ela patzân min bischa.
Metol dilachie malkutha wahaila wateschbuchta l'ahlâm almîn.