Friday, November 30, 2012

Pardon my Rant

I understand the separation of church and state, okay? I get that not everyone embraces the same religion or, in fact, any religion. In my experience, most people who do support religion know where to draw the line with regards to government.

What I'm complaining about today has nothing to do with religion, even though it might look that way on the surface.

An Oklahoma family wanted to donate a stone monument for the Oklahoma State capitol grounds with the Ten Commandments engraved thereon. The legislature voted in favor of accepting it; the governor agreed; the monument was erected.

And a group from Wisconsin is now threatening a lawsuit to get it removed.

The town of Buhler, Kansas, had a cross, among other things representative of their town, on their seal. The same Wisconsin group threatened a lawsuit. The town of less than 1300 residents changed the seal because they couldn't afford to get embroiled in court.

Should the monument have been erected? Should the cross ever have been included in the seal? Not the point.

The point is this: what business is it of the Wisconsin group what we here in Oklahoma and Kansas choose to do? What standing do they have to sue us (or threaten us) on any issue that takes place within our states? They don't live here. They don't work here. They don't pay taxes here.

Oklahomans are perfectly capable of running their own business. We have plenty of residents who can complain and threaten lawsuits just fine, no help needed from outside state lines. If you don't like the way we do things here, go home.

Oh, wait, you aren't here to start with. It's none of your business. Shut up and worry about what's happening in your own town/state, and leave us alone.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I Love Criminal Minds, But . . .

Is it odd that Criminal Minds has my absolute favorite cast of all shows on TV but I'm about to give up watching it?

I've been a fan from the beginning. I've seen every episode multiple times (except for the two-parter where the guy had a split personality and let his dogs rip a woman to shreds - I refused to watch it a second time). I think David Rossi is the sexiest guy on TV, I adore Spencer and JJ, and I bow at the temple of Garcia. (I even wrote a secondary character who was a thinly-veiled take on Garcia.) I like Prentiss and Hotch and don't even want to smack Morgan more than once an episode.

But  enough is enough, or I guess I should say too much.

Too much violence. Too much gore. Too much graphic ickiness. When a show makes me queasy, when the storylines routinely make my stomach hurt, it's time to change the channel.

It seems people are bored with regular bad guys, so TV shows/movies/authors have had to kick it up a notch. The villains can't just be murderers, rapists or terrorists anymore; they have to remove body parts, skin their victims, torture them brutally. The ick/discomfort factor has gone through the roof.

And so, Criminal Minds, much as it pains me to say it, you're off my must-see list. I'll continue the practice I started at the beginning of the season: I'll watch the first few minutes, but at the first sign of gratuitous, graphic violence, the first torture or dismembered body, I'm switching to PBS.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Life in Harmony

I used to have a sort of balance to my life. I wrote as much as I could six months of the year and did as much as outdoors work the remaining six. Then one summer I got laid up by a brown recluse spider, then broke my elbow. The next I broke my wrist and had surgery. The next I had two knee surgeries. The next I had a scope on one knee and a total replacement on the other. The next I had a tummy tuck.

You get the idea: I traded mowers, trimmers, matches, shovels, and chainsaws for doctors, anesthesia, and rehab.

This summer I got virtually no yard work done--too busy with the five books I contracted to write in one year. The fourth book went off through the ether to my agent and editor on Sunday, so Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I gathered gloves, goggles, matches, and tools and hacked my way into the jungle.

Oh. My. Gosh. I don't have anywhere near the stamina I used to have. Granted, I'm a few years older, but I've gained a few bionic parts. Shouldn't that balance out somehow?

After too many hours, all I can say is there's a 50X200' foot swath of front yard that's trimmed as neatly as any golf course and one of the brush piles has been burned to ash. The little side yard looks great, too, but Bob gets credit for that. Now there's only the remaining three acres or so of dead foot-high weeds, another acre of dead six-foot-high Johnson grass, and three brush piles, plus a half dozen trees to cut down.

By the time I work out there a while longer, I'm gonna be so happy to return to my desk and Book 5!

Friday, November 23, 2012

When All Else Fails, Check the Oil

My husband and I were watching a young woman and her mother outside the restaurant where we were eating. Daughter got in her car, turned the key, and nothing happened. Mom stepped up, gestured to her open to the hood, and very efficiently went about the task of checking the oil. She pulled out the dipstick, wiped it on a napkin, stuck it back in, then pulled it out and squinted to read it. Judging by her expression, low oil wasn't the problem. She put the dipstick back in, shrugged, and slammed the hood, Daughter got out of the car, and off they went to Mom's car.

I have to say, checking the oil has never been my first thought when I can't get so much as a click on turning the key. Then again, I'm no mechanic.

My response would have been the same, though: catch a ride with someone and make the non-starting car someone else's problem.  Isn't that what dads, husbands, brothers, and tow truck drivers are for?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

T'is the day to eat too much, watch too much TV, and have too much fun. (At least with my family.)

It will also be my first Thanksgiving since going gluten-free, so no dressing, no gravy, no Kings' Hawaiiaan rolls, no baked desserts and, worst of all, none of my bil's mother's chicken and noodles.

Wonder how successful I'll be?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Disappearing Act

I know, I missed the last two blogs, haven't been on Facebook, and haven't tweeted in a while. I'm in the final pages of  A MAN TO HOLD ON TO, the second book in the Tuesday Night Margarita Club -- a couple thousand words past my target with still more story to tell. It almost always works that way. Thankfully, it almost always works, too, that I can write far more words every day at the end than I normally do. It's a good thing, since scenes keep expanding and story threads keep whispering, "Go ahead and tie me up" or "I'm not done until the next book; keep 'em hanging."

Anyway, I'll be back here -- and everywhere else -- within the next few days. In the meantime, y'all have fun in your lives without me!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The New-Car Experience

Our son and daughter-in-law bought a new car last week, and he was waxing poetic over all the cool mechanical/electronic aspects of it. So many horsepower or CCs, some type of headlights, nineteen-inch something-or-other . . . And when he finished, I said, "Cool!! It's got retractable sunscreens!!"

I would so buy a car with retractable sunscreens.

The smell and feel of a new car, especially with all the high-tech options available, tempt me from time to time. But then I think about the new-car payments, and the new-car parking-in-the-north-forty, and the obligatory keeping-the-new-car-clean at least until the smell fades.

My truck is eight years old. It's got four-wheel-drive, which is necessary here on the hill in winter, and enough room to haul the puppers to and from the vet. It's already got dings -- one from sliding into a ditch one winter night when even four-wheel-drive wasn't enough and one from backing out of the garage. (I take the blame for that one. The rail for the garage door didn't look that close in the rearview mirror.) It's finally at the point where Bob doesn't automatically seek out the most distant space in the parking lot and I actually (don't tell him!) park up front when I find a space.

And keeping the faithful old truck helps us avoid the dreaded car salesperson.

I realize, people who live on commission have to be aggressive, especially when there's so much competition. South Memorial in Tulsa is turning into two giant car lots, one on each side of the street.

But I'm not the sort of person who does well with pressure or negotiating. When we bought the truck, we walked onto the lot, looked around a bit, took it out for a test drive, and I said, "I want this one." Bob glared at me behind the sales guy's back and asked, "Don't you want to look at some others?"

"Nope, I want this one."

Oh, the grin that sales guy was wearing as they went inside to "negotiate."

When the inevitable happens and we do have to replace the current vehicle, I may have to stay home while Bob does the looking, the haggling and the buying.

Because I'd buy the first one with retractable sunscreens.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Duc and the Ice Cream Carton

Back when we lived in North Carolina, I stood at the kitchen window one day and watched our son and his friend come up the street toward our house from the woods where they'd been playing. Every ten feet or so, they'd stop and look behind them. Turned out, they'd found a tiny little puppy in the woods and were coaxing him along. The kiddo wanted to be able to say, "Look what followed me home," rather than, "Look what I brought home."

When they reached the house, they rang the doorbell and were waiting with hopeful faces when I opened it. "Look what followed me home," the kiddo predictably said. "Can I keep him?"

I hadn't had a dog since before I got married. Bob was in the Navy, and we moved every few years. Rather than go through the hassle of buying and selling homes, we rented, and our rental agreement said in giant letters, No pets!!!! (Okay, the exclamation points are mine, but still ...)

Not wanting to be the bad guy, I said, "Ask your dad." Bob knew the lease terms as well as I did, and I'd much rather have him be the one to wipe that hopefulness out of the kids' eyes.

The kiddo summoned him to the porch, Bob sat down, and the wiggly black puppy climbed into his lap, licking his face all over, and Bob looked up at me. "Can we keep him?"

Duc was a black Lab mix on a bit of a bad hair day. If you scrunched up his face, he looked just like a Chow. He was one smart pupper. While running wild in the back yard one night, he broke a toe on the long back leg of an Adirondack chair. Don't let him climb stairs for a while, the vet said, so we carried him up and down the stairs in our tri-level house. Once the toe was healed and he had the okay to climb on his own, I went into the kitchen without him one day, and he sat at the bottom of the steps, pitifully whimpering and holding up his (formerly) sore foot.

He loved ice cream. Every time we went to Baskin Robbins, we bought a scoop in a cup to take home to him. Another day he sat in the kitchen and watched eagerly as I spooned the last of the ice cream from a carton that had been in the freezer. It was barely a scoop and I wasn't about to share, much to his disappointment. I threw the empty carton into the trash, then went into my office to eat at the computer.

A few minutes later I heard a scraping sound in the kitchen. Figuring he'd gotten into something, I went to the door and found I was right. I'd mopped earlier and left the empty bucket sitting in a corner. Duc had turned the bucket upside down, scooted it across the room to the other corner, where the trash bin with its swinging door stood. He'd climbed onto the bucket, bracing himself with one front paw on the counter and the other on the wall, and stood, halfway in the trash can licking the ice cream dribbles from the carton.

Problem-solving in a one-year-old dog. I always said he was smarter than a lot of people I knew, and I still believe it.