Don't forget to visit my website! Jackie Coleman - Author

Friday, February 28, 2014

Fishtail Braid

My oldest daughter loves to play with hair ... her own, her sister's, her friend's, mine! When we were on the ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke, the girls went to the top deck. I stayed down on the bottom. Every time I looked up at the girls, my oldest had a different hair style!

When she was over the other night, she had her long, pretty hair in fishtail pigtails ... and of course, she wanted to braid mine. Not one to pass up someone pampering me (however small) ... I let her.

I need to have her teach me how to do this braid. I always wear my hair up at work so that it doesn't get in the way. Even hastily done, as in this picture, it's a pretty cool braid!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spring Has Arrived ... on Ocracoke!

Photo courtesy of Philip Howard
Yesterday, while I was waking up to a dusting of snow, a temperature of 14º, and a wind chill of -2º, the folks on Ocracoke were relishing the first blossoms of spring. Last week we enjoyed temperatures in the 50's and 60's, and the rain washed away what little snow we had left. The warmer temperatures were a rare show of kindness from an unusually brutal winter.

Ocracoke did get 5" of snow this winter ... once ... but apparently Mother Nature can't stand to cover up the natural beauty of the island for long, and she's giving them a break.

What little snow we got yesterday quickly melted in the sun, even though the temperature never made it out of the 20's. In late February and early March we are usually enjoying highs in the 50's, so this lingering cold seems particularly cruel. As bad as our weather seems to me, the northern states have really had their butts kicked this winter! I do believe I can hear all of America crying out a collective "Uncle!!!".

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I stopped for gas on the way home from the writer's retreat and snapped this picture.

Whoever thought to name a gas station "Chuckles" has a very twisted sense of humor!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Winter Just Will NOT Go Away!

After a beautiful week and weekend where we enjoyed temperatures in the 50's and 60's, winter is rearing it's ugly head again. Our weather won't be as bad as that of the upper midwest or the northeast ... we'll be in the 30's and 40's for highs ... but it's still discouraging.

I'm tired of being cold. I'm tired of wrapping myself in layer after layer. I'm tired of the landscape looking so dead and forgotten. I'm going to daydream about green grass, my pretty flowers, and Bird Girl ... surrounded by the colors of summer!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sick Kids

When I left town for the writer's retreat, I had one "kid" with the stomach virus that's going around ... fever, vomiting, etc. This morning I woke up to one of the kids sleeping in the bathroom, courtesy of the same virus. Fortunately my kids are all big enough to make it to the bathroom when an emergency hits, and they are old enough that they can clean up any mess they make if they don't ... not that they actually would, but they are definitely capable of doing so!

I had a stomach virus a few weeks back, but nothing like these two have/had. I'm hoping it's the same virus and I'm immune, but I'm not a very lucky person, so I'm not counting on it. I have one child yet to come down with it, and I'm hoping the two of us will be lucky enough not to catch it. But, this isn't a Disney movie ... and dreams don't always come true ... so I'll just wash my hands as obsessively as someone in desperate need of OCD medicine and surround myself in a Lysol bubble.

I hope this Monday morning finds you and your family healthy and happy!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Another Wonderful Writer's Retreat

I spent the weekend at a lodge tucked away in the middle of nowhere with my fellow romance writers. Every time I am with them, I am amazed at how supportive they are, how much they encourage each other, and how much I learn from them.

This group comprises the entire spectrum of writers ... there are best-selling authors and those who are just beginning their writing career, and thy all have one thing in common ... learning how to be the best they can be. When we have writing sprints and are asked to share what we have written, I am always amazed at how much talent is in the room.

The weekend was spent in workshops, fellowship, food, and fun. I always come away refreshed, and filled with determination. I always, always, always learn something from these women.

Barbara Samuel was the guest speaker this year. Her list of novels, awards, and accomplishments were intimidating, but she was as sweet and kind as the characters in her novels. She shared a wealth of information with us, and even those who are quite successful in their own right learned from her.

I think that's the best part of belonging to this group is that no one is jealous of someone else's success. Inf fact, it's quite the contrary ... even small successes are honored and rewarded with praise! We're not competing with each other, and everyone is willing to share their techniques and give advice to anyone who asks. I feel honored to know these women and count them as my friends.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Like Minds

A day of writing and learning with my fellow romance writers ... bliss :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Last Night's Storm

We didn't get the severe storms the experts predicted, but severe weather wasn't too far away. We did, however, get a lot of strong winds. We lost power around 7:15 p.m. ... right in the middle of the only show I watch on television ... Big Bang Theory!

The kids and I got out flashlights and candles and hoped the power would be restored soon. The alarm system has a backup battery, so that was good! The kids don't remember a time when we didn't have an alarm on the house, and sleeping without the alarm set was discomforting! But, it was working, so we were all happy.

The power came back on around 9:30, but by then I was too tired to do all the things I had planned to accomplish before going to bed. I got up early and checked off all the things on my to-do list.

I watched the news this morning and was happy to hear that the storm, while powerful, didn't leave a path of death and destruction in it's wake. This is the first of many storms we'll see this year. I hope we're as lucky all the other times as we have been in the past!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Family That Cries Together

I'm very sentimental. I burst into tears ... every time ... when I went to the last event at the kids schools ... and don't get me started on graduation! When the kids were little, they loved for me to read them the book "I'll Love You Forever". They didn't like it because they liked the story ... they liked it because I cried every time I read it ... at the exact same place. They thought it was great fun to watch me cry when reading. But, as fate would have it, it seems the girls inherited what they like to call "the crying gene".

My daughters and I bonded over wedding planning, which included listening to songs ... and we did a lot of crying! We discussed whether it might be wise for them to carry boxes of tissues in lieu of a bouquet ... or a bouquet of origami flowers made from tissue ... but if we did that, the bouquet toss would be a lonely event!

Our biggest fear is that in every wedding picture, the three of us with have red, splotchy faces and no make up on! As much as we are all looking forward to this day, my normally photogenic daughters are beginning to dread the pictures!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Very Sweet "Thank You" Surprise This Morning

There was a card and a box of cookies on my desk when I got to work this morning. The above picture is what's left of the cookies after my co-workers and I devoured most of them like a hoard of locusts! Below is a picture of the card that was with the cookies. I hung it next to my "You Are Awesome" sign that one of the managers laid on my chair after I helped fix a couple of issues several employees were having with their computers. IT works is often frustrating ... computers seldom behave like they do on commercials! Fixes, patches, and workarounds don't always fix the problem ... and sometimes cause even more problems! We're tasked with fixing problems we have never seen before ... every day. The corporation I work for often sends out emails to all employees, thanking every single department ... by name ... except for IT ... so it feels good when someone notices us and formally acknowledges that they appreciate what we do! What a great way to start the day!

(Click on images to enlarge)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Morning Steam

As I was pulling out of my driveway this morning, I noticed what a first looked like smoke, rolling over the top of the fence in the backyard. I knew it wasn't smoke, though it certainly resembled it ... it was steam. Yesterday's rains soaked the wooden privacy fence, and the morning sun was vaporizing it. I took a very short, very low-quality clip of it. It's not terribly exciting, but it's definitely interesting, and something I don't often see.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I've Been Naughty

My daughter is getting married in eight months, so I've been busy planning her wedding ... and I've been neglecting my novel. And I left my protagonist in a pretty precarious situation! Shame on me! But, this weekend, I finished purchasing the majority of the things we can buy in advance, so I'll get back on track and writing tomorrow. My dining room is getting pretty crowded, and once everything I ordered comes in, it's going to be packed to the gills! I won't be able to stand all that clutter, so I'm going to have to find a less intrusive place to store all the stuff I'm gathering. There are still purchases and decisions to make, but I've taken care of a good many of them, so now I can take a break ... for a while anyway.

I don't know how much wedding planners make, and I would probably faint if I knew, but there is a lot of planning that goes into a wedding, so I'm sure a wedding planner doesn't come cheap. I'm handling most of the plans so that my daughter doesn't fret ... and because I'm an obsessive planner ... but it's a lot of work! I don't even want to know how many hours I have invested in searching the web night after night after night, looking for the best price, or driving around looking for things we need. But, if you are patient, you can find some amazing deals!

And ... I'm happy to report my daughter is indeed using the Wedding Spreadsheets, not to the extent I am, mind you, but she's using them nonetheless!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Unsolicited Opinion On Celebrities

When I was growing up, I just knew I'd be a famous actress or singer. Problem was, I was painfully shy and couldn't hardly sing a note in front of others, and except for that one line I had in a play at church with our high school youth group, I never acted! So, my plans of being famous and fabulously wealthy went to the wayside. And somewhere along the way, I decided I didn't really want to be famous.

Celebrities don't seem very happy to me. Most don't stay married more than five years at best, and so many are addicted to drugs and alcohol. When you make the kind of money they do, there are always leaches. Everyone, they say, wants something from you ... money, an introduction to someone, fame by association, etc. They say it's hard to know who to trust, and I can see that.

It really breaks my heart when I some of see the ones who became famous as children now that they are adults. I won't name names, but we all know who I'm talking about. They wear barely-there clothing ... or none at all. They're seen smoking dope or drinking, even if before they were 21. They mar their perfect, beautiful, young skin with hideous tattoo's.

Some of these young stars enjoy shocking people ... with their actions, words, and the way they dress. Sadly, they believe the old adage "bad publicity is better than no publicity at all". What they don't seem to understand is that most of the "publicity" is completely turning off a lot of people to their music or films. They think that getting a lot of hits on the YouTube video of their latest song is a good thing, but what they don't seem to comprehend is that a lot of those hits are from men just wanting to leer at their body. The majority of people viewing their video's aren't potential customers, they're perverts or curiosity seekers. They're people like me who watch the video to see what all the hype is about and feel a little queasy watching this talented young lady prostitute herself to sell a few CD's. Or they're boys and men who wouldn't be caught dead with a CD by this person, but they don't have a problem watching her writhe around naked, or nearly so. Their antics cost them more fans than they gain.

These young women think they are marketing themselves for a long career, but when you're using your body to sell your art, you have a limited shelf life. At some point, it's inevitable that age will take it's toll, and then you're in for a life of plastic surgery, botox, and collagen injections. We've all seen the stars who go to extremes to look young, and they end up looking like caricatures or something out of a horror movie. We see people's faces stretched so thin it looks like they're peering at us with their face pressed against a sheet of glass. They're faces are frozen from showing any emotion, even happiness, and their lips look like they're having an allergic reaction to something and need to go to the Emergency Room!

Then there are the young, beautiful young women with no discernible talent, hell-bent on being famous. Most of them have near perfect figures and generous, God-given assets ... who then decide they need breast implants. They always get ridiculously large ones that look completely out of proportion on their slender frames, and they end up looking comical, not sexy. They're skin is stretched to the breaking point. Their new silhouettes don't look natural. Of course, when they spend that kind of money for a new chest, they want to show it off ... and they do, wearing tiny tops or dresses that are one sneeze away from public indecency. I think plastic surgery has failed if your first thought is "Yup, those puppies are fake." They don't see that, of course, and they assume the stares sent their way are looks of appreciation rather than the looks of pity that they are.

The media, and the population at large, reward these women for their bad behavior. Young girls dreaming of becoming famous watch their scripted "reality" shows and buy their books on relationships ... this despite the fact that most of these celebrity "authors" have never had a successful relationship ... nor do they actually write the book that carries their name! A little sour grapes there? Perhaps, but I think celebrities who write books just because they're famous and know they'll sell cheapens the word "author". For one thing, they don't actually write them ... someone else does, but they get the praise. There are celebrity authors who actually write their own books, and others who have a ghost-writer because they know they aren't a author, but they genuinely have something to say. I've read those kinds of books, but the other ones ... no thanks.

There are a few young celebrities who haven't fallen victim to their fame. Dakota Fanning and Taylor Swift come to mind. Fame and fortune doesn't appear to be what they were seeking ... they just wanted to write and sing songs or act in movies. That's what they enjoy doing, and considering how good they are, I truly think that's what they were put on this earth to do! Both of these young women make boatloads of money, are recognized everywhere they go, and they are in high demand ... and they did it all without using their bodies to sell their work. In the world they live in, it takes someone with high morals and personal integrity to stay true to who they are. I have a great deal of respect for these two talented young women. There are others, but those are the two that pop into my mind first.

I know Taylor Swift has taken a lot of flack for writing about the boys and men in her past. I heard one celebrity talk show host, when speaking of Taylor Swift, say "I'll bet she's still a virgin!' ... as if giving your body to whoever wants it is good, or acceptable, behavior! I don't think it's anyone's business if she is or not. She's quite beautiful, so I'm sure she's had a multitude of offers ... and kudos to her for not falling victim to these men! I do find some of her songs to be a bit juvenile, but you know what? She was a juvenile, or just barely wasn't when she wrote them! I love her voice and I love singing along with her, and I have no problem buying my daughter her CD's. I love it that my daughter looks up to her. Ms. Swift is beautiful, talented, down to earth, and from everything I've heard, wouldn't dream of making a salacious video to sell a CD. And I admire that.

I have only watched a handful of the films Dakota Fanning has been in, and she's been outstanding in all of them. I think it's safe to say that this young woman is going to be in demand for the rest of her life. She's one of those rare individuals who was born with the gift of acting. Some people learn how to act, but it seems she was born already knowing what it takes some people decades to master. She's grown up in a world saturated with drugs and alcohol, a world where promiscuity is rewarded, and yet she remains untainted. And I admire her for that.

A lot of young celebrities could learn quite a bit from these two ... either you have it, or you don't ... and if you have to use your body to keep your name in the press ... then you don't have it.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What NOT To Buy Your Wife/Girlfriend for Valentines Day

Did you happen to notice the price of these big teddy bears? The 3' bear is $89.99, the 4' bear is $9.99 ... and the 6' bear is a whopping $199.99.

I don't know a woman alive who would want a 6' teddy bear, especially if it cost $200!! There are a million things I would rather spend $200 on ... and a giant stuffed animal is not one of them. Where would you put it? It's big enough that it would need it own bedroom!

This just screams laziness ... or desperation. To me, it says one of three things:
    1) Here. Now you can't say I didn't get you anything.
    2) Please don't leave me! See how sweet I am?
    3) I don't care what you want for Valentines Day ... it was easier to order this.
A small stuffed animal is sweet ... once or twice ... but don't make it your go-to gift for every Valentines Day. If we love you, we'll want to keep it, and we'll think about you every time we see it ... but we're not 12! We don't want a pile of stuffed animals on our bed!

I got a Mrs. Beasley doll for Christmas a few years back from my sweetie, and I love her. She sits on a padded parsons bench in front of the window in my bedroom. The story behind this doll makes her a treasured gift ... but I don't want any more dolls!

Some women are selfish, spoiled brats who require extravagant, expensive gifts, and will punish their Valentine if he doesn't deliver ... but most women simply want an acknowledgement that they are loved and appreciated by the man who holds her heart. To me, Valentines gifts are simple gifts that say "I love you. You matter to me, and I'm glad you're a part of my life". They don't have to be big or expensive ... just thoughtful.

My Valentine doesn't like this holiday at all. In fact, he hates it ... but he knows I enjoy it, so he always makes an effort. Truth be told, he's so good to me throughout the year that a "Happy Valentines Day" text is all he needs to do to thrill my heart, because he makes it abundantly clear how much he loves me every single day. I love flowers and/or candy and/or jewelry for Valentines Day, but they aren't necessary ... I'm wined and dined and romanced all year.

Let this be a lesson to all you men out there ... if you treat your lady well all year long, a big display on Valentines Day is totally unnecessary. Not only does it make Valentines Day easier and less stressful, life in general will be better all the year through!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentines Day

Cupid was out early this morning, delivering Valentines Day presents. The deliveries made me a few minutes late to work because I ... uh, I mean Cupid ... got behind several school buses and then got stopped by a train!

Cupid didn't leave me photo's of all the presents, just the ones he made for three favorite couples. The above present is homemade strawberry pancake mix. I ... I mean Cupid ... couldn't find any strawberry pancake mix in the stores this year, so I had to make it. I mean, Cupid had to make it!  (I've got to quit doing that!) There's also some buttery syrup, a syrup dispenser, and two heart shaped pancake/egg molds. I was pleased with the way Cupid packaged the gifts, too.

My sweetie is out of town on this Valentines Day, but that's okay. He fretted over being gone and was going to cancel his trip or come home early to be with me on Valentines Day, but I told him not to ... the fact that he was willing to do that, and the fact that he knows Valentines Day is important to me was enough :)

We're supposed to get 1-3" of snow this afternoon, so the roads won't be so good around here for those going out for a special evening. I'll be warm and toasty in my pajama's, so I'll be safe and sound, but for those getting out, be careful so that you're around to celebrate another Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Remember This Picture?

I posted this picture a few days ago, asking for guesses at to what it is ...

It's a picture of the awning above the second floor windows at work. It's not a typical awning ... rather than being one solid piece of metal or fabric, it's four or five rounded, angled metal bars. It's a little too modern for my taste, and it does little to block the sun. I guess the architect was going for looks rather than functionality.

The icicles are long gone now ... good! It was in the mid-30's yesterday. It felt so good outside that I was too hot wearing my scarf and gloves during the afternoon. That's just sad ... it should never be so cold that the mid 30's feel good! It's supposed to be another "nice" day today, with highs in the upper 30's, then down to 26º tonight, with a chance of a couple of inches snow/wintry mix overnight and tomorrow morning. (Groan!)

They're forecasting it to be in the 60's here by next Wednesday. What a relief that will be!!!

In this part of the country, where we straddle the line between north and south, our winters are typically a bit schizophrenic ... one day we're frigid and the streets are snowy and icy, and a few days later the snow is gone and the temps are tolerably cold. Fortunately, our winters generally side with the south, and we are spared the snow and bitter cold that grips the north and won't let go. Like everyone else this winter, our temperatures have been colder than normal, and we've been below freezing most days ... but that's still better than up north where they've spent most of the winter below zero!

Spring is trying to come to us, but winter keeps stalking us like a jilted lover. After this awful winter, I'm hoping for a spectacular spring and summer!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Trip Down Memory Lane

One day last week I was on the other side of town, close to my old stomping ground, so I swung by to see the house I grew up in. It looks a little run down, which makes my heart ache just a bit. My father planted evergreen bushes in front of the house, and neatly trimmed boxwoods used to form the eastern border of the front yard. I think it looks lonely with all of Daddy's bushes gone. I'm not sure when, but whoever bought the house painted the siding blue (it was originally gray), and it looks to me like it needs to be painted again.

My parents bought the house right after it was built, moving in with their three young children. The house would welcome home five more babies in the years to come. My mother moved out after my father died, and the house sat empty while everyone took a chance to deal with his death and figure out what to do with everything.

I remember going to the house after work on many occasions. I'd walk through the rooms, looking at what we had yet to get rid of. There were memories in every square inch of the house, but I was looking for something specific ... I wanted something from the house that said "Daddy". I wanted something of my father that I could hold in my hands, and perhaps pass on to my own children one day, but every time I'd walk away empty handed. I kept going back, again and again, looking for something of Daddy to take and keep.

One time when I was at the house looking for something of Daddy, it dawned on me why I couldn't find what I was looking for ... all the stuff in the house was Mama ... Daddy was the house. Mama was the decorations and the all the fluff that made us comfortable ... Daddy was the structure that kept us warm and dry and safe. Once I realized that, I quit going back ... there was nothing of Daddy to take.

After I drove by the old house, I drove by the Tot Lot. It has a fence around it now, and all of the playground equipment has been removed, but in my mind's eye, I can still see the swings, and the merry-go-round that we would play on until we were too dizzy to walk. I can still see the metal, spherical monkey bars. I smiled as I drove by, thinking of all the picnics I had there as a child. We'd load up our bicycle baskets with sack lunches, and tote each other on our banana seat Schwinn's. I'd always sneak an extra piece of bologna and a thermos of water for our dog, who loved running beside us as we rode down the street.

We'd have our picnic, then play on the playground, or sit in the sun making jewelry out of clovers. Our parents had no idea where we were, but they never worried ... we knew where we were allowed to go and where we weren't. We were obedient children, and we pretty much didn't do things we weren't supposed to do. We were happy with our lives, and never really pushed the boundaries ... at least not during that particular time of innocence. What I wouldn't give for one more day like the ones I had as a child ... just one more day carefree summer day that stretched on for miles.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Picnic Anyone?

This is a picture of the courtyard at work. The icicles on the table are so symmetrical it almost looks like fringe!

Below is another picture from work ... can you guess what it is? I'll reveal the answer in a future post.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Tree House

When the kids were little and I was looking for a house, I knew our current home was the house for us the moment I walked inside. The century-old, thick, oak moldings were jaw-dropping gorgeous.

The beauty of the house aside, it was perfect. It was in the same school district (I didn't want the kids to have to switch schools). It had four bedrooms, so no one would have to share. It had a large, shady backyard with a privacy fence so that I could let them play outside and not worry about them wandering off. And, best of all, it had a tree house built around a gigantic pine tree ... or pine cone tree, according to the kids! Built off of the tree house were two swings, a trapeze bar, and a climbing rope with a bell at the top ... and of course, a basketball hoop.

Every time I look at the tree house from the dining room or kitchen windows at the back of the house, I can see my kids playing on it in my mind's eye.

I can see my son and several of the neighborhood boys climbing on the nylon ladder stretching between the branches of the split trunk.

I can see my oldest daughter sitting in the tree house, leaning against the trunk, reading on a lazy summer afternoon.

I can see my middle daughter with her dolls, sitting at the play table up there, and feeding them meal after meal of the delicious plastic food she is so famous for.

I can see all of the kids swinging and singing at the top of their lungs. I can see them climbing one of the two ropes that hang from the treehouse or climbing the rope on the swing set and ringing the small bell attached at the top. I can see them playing basketball at the goal attached to the end of the swing set. I can see them playing basketball, giggling with delight when they made one.

I can still hear their giggles and see the carefree smiles on their innocent little faces when they came in for a drink or a snack, flushed and tan from playing outside all summer long. I can see them jumping in piles of leaves in the fall, and making snow angels and snowmen in the winter. I can see them helping me plant flowers in the spring ... wait ... where did the kids go? I guess I should change that to ... I can imagine them helping me plant flowers in the spring! Actually, they did help (some) when they were little ... not so much when they were teens.

I don't need a house this big anymore, but every time I mention selling the house, the kids have a meltdown. They've spent their entire lives playing in that tree house, dreaming of how much fun their own kids would have out there someday. This house was a wonderful place for my children to grow up ... from the shady backyard oasis to the creaky swing on the wide front porch . If I do sell the house and move someday, it will be really hard to say good-bye to the tree house that dominates the view from my back windows.

I think I just might love that tree house as much as my kids do :)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A "Paper People" Feast

Several years ago I made miniature foods and sold them to miniature stores and at craft fairs (click on images to enlarge). I really enjoyed it, and as a bonus, I made pretty decent money doing it! My middle daughter wanted to play with some of the display pieces but she didn't have the right size dolls ... so she drew some "paper people". Aren't they cute?! 

My mother thought of the name for this venture ... "Petite Cuisine" ... and I thought it was terribly clever! My slogan was "Miniature foods so realistic you can almost smell them." I'd love to make these miniatures again, but my writing time would suffer ... and given the choice ... I'd rather write.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My First Love

This is the old Central Library in my hometown, built in 1931. This was my mother's favorite branch, and the one we frequented the most when I was a child. It wasn't just my mom's favorite ... it was my favorite, too. It was old and solid and ornate ... and I loved the sound of my shoes clicking on the marble floors. My heart would swell to bursting just walking through the door.

When I had children of my own, we'd frequent our neighborhood branch, but we spent the most time at Central. In the picture below, you can see the steps that lead down, outside of the building ... that stairway leads directly to the Children's Room. I wonder how many times my little legs went up and down those steps! When my kids were old enough, we'd ride our bikes downtown, passing our neighborhood library, specifically to go to this one. I loved this library!

They began construction on a new Central branch around 2003. My middle daughter broke her foot during this time. Normally I wouldn't remember something like that, but it was then that I discovered just how badly a new library was needed ... there was no elevator to the Children's Room in the basement at the Central branch. Since she had just broken her foot, she wasn't very confident on crutches, and was terrified of going up and down steps on them. We have stairs at our home, and she would navigate them by scooting down on her bottom, but I wasn't comfortable with her doing that on a public staircase, so I had to carry her down. The Children's Room at this particular branch would be inaccessible to a child in a wheelchair.

The elevator/stairs wasn't the only reason a new library was needed. Central had far too many books to fit on their shelves, far too many by the tens of thousands! They had a stack system that extended from the top of the building to deep in the bowels of the library, accessible only to employees. If you wanted a book from the stacks, they would have to retrieve the book(s) for you. It was inefficient, and not being able to peruse the books caused a lot of good books to go unread. Even though I saw the need for a new library, I hated the thought of not being able to come into this building again. Central Library was where my love of books was formed, and it's where I began dreaming of being a writer.

With much trepidation, I took the kids to the new library when it was completed in 2004. From the outside it looked so modern. I envisioned a sleek, barren, cold interior, the polar opposite of the warm, inviting feeling of the old one ... and I was quite surprised! It wasn't filled with metal and glass ... the floors were marble, and my shoes clicked and echoed in the silence. The bookshelves were made of thick, sturdy wood, and the walls were paneled with the same rich wood. It looked like a library is supposed to look, as opposed to the New York art-gallery-look I had feared.

The old Central Library was quickly sold and is now a children's museum. Since my children are no longer young, I have never gone, but I'm sure I'll go with my grandchildren one day ... when I have grandchildren, that is! And then, once again, I hope to hear my shoes clicking on the marble floors of that grand, old building so dear to my heart.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sheep Cookies

A few years ago I was asked if I would be willing to make sheep cookies for a baby shower. Despite the fact that I had never decorated a cookie (or cake) in my life, I quickly agreed.

I rolled out the dough and cut out the cookies and baked them. To my dismay, they came out looking more like buffalo than sheep. I played around with decorating them, and finally hit on a design that would turn the herd of buffalo encompassing every flat surface in the kitchen back into sheep!

It took several night of piping "fleece" ... dot by dot by dot by dot ... onto the naked herd, but I did it.  After making seven dozen of these guys, my neck and arms were killing me ... but they turned out so cute it was worth it.

I packaged them up in individual cellophane bags and tied them with pretty bows. Aren't they cute?!!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Raccoons Are Driving Me Crazy!

Last night I was in my office last night upstairs and heard something scratching above me. I froze. My heart was pounding and I felt like crying.

"Not again!" I thought, fighting back tears.

I looked out the back window at the part of the roof I could see ... and saw nothing. I went back inside and started working again, and heard the scratches. I touched various walls to see if I could feel a vibration. Nothing. When I heard the scratching again, I got up, put on my coat and boots, grabbed a flashlight and headed outside. Once again, nothing.

I kept hearing the scratching, but I couldn't tell exactly where it was coming from. I stood perfectly still touching one wall or another to see if I could feel a vibration. Again, nothing. At one point, I was standing on my desk with my hand on the ceiling, for a really long time, waiting for the scratching.

I got dressed again and went out into the backyard, looking in all the nooks and crannies of the roof line to try to spot the culprit. Again, nothing.

My middle daughter came home. She was in her room next to my office when I heard the scratching.

"Did you hear that?" I asked.


For the next forty-five minutes or so, I would hear the scratching, ask her if she heard it, and she always said no. Finally I told her to come into my office ... where we sat perfectly still waiting for the scratching. After what seemed like an eternity ... and while she was undoubtedly texting my oldest daughter that their mother had finally lost her mind ... I heard scratching.

"You heard that, right?" I pleaded, hoping she had ... that I wasn't delusional.

"Yeah. Is that what you'v been hearing?" she asked.

"Yes," I answered. I wasn't crazy! My daughter heard the scratches, too!

We touched the walls, the ceiling, and looked out the windows. It took a while, but we finally figured out it was a branch from the pine tree outside the window, rubbing against the roof and the house.

I'm exhausted today. I stayed up until 2:00 in the morning because of those stupid (non-existent) raccoons. When I'm an old woman and you pass me on the street, and I'm mumbling to myself, fidgeting nervously, and looking around with wide, frightened eyes ... it's a pretty good bet that the raccoons had something to do with it!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

This Is So Funny!!

I stop short of saying this is the funniest video ever, because people always say that ... and it seldom is ... but this one really is! Sometimes, when I'm in the middle of something intense and need a break, I pull this up and watch it again and it makes me laugh. Every. Single. Time! (I've been known to quote it as well!) This guy's voice and the accompanying music is perfect!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Key To Longevity

The key to longevity, according to one particular panel of experts, depends on whether you are a man or a woman. Sleep is crucial for men, while women need plenty of vitamin B6 and vegetables.

I hate to sound like a spoiled child, but that's not fair! Men already get to pee standing up and make more money! Why do they get to sleep while we have to eat vegetables? (I have a sneaky suspicion that there were no women helping to conduct this study!!)

Don't get me wrong ... I love vegetables. I can eat double my weight in almost any vegetable. I adore garlic roasted asparagus, green beans with bacon and onion, and broccoli with butter and seasoned salt. When I make a roast with carrots and potatoes, I use three times the amount of carrots and I eat them all! I salivate at the mere thought of a spinach salad from one particular local restaurant, and more than once, I've ordered nothing but broccoli when eating at a steakhouse we frequent. I love peas, and there is a broccoli/cauliflower salad that I would do most anything for. I even add celery and carrots to my chicken and dumplings, when I am not required to do so!

But I think I like sleep even more.

In all fairness, I do get to sit and "rest" while I pee. I guess you can't judge a man until you walked a mile in his shoes, had to stand in those shoes while peeing, and all while lugging around a heavy wallet.

I guess it's a good thing I don't live with my boyfriend ... I'd probably ruin the sleep so necessary to his longevity with the loud crunching of all the vegetables I have to eat!

Monday, February 3, 2014

I Found The Pics Of The Cake

Here is the picture of the other cake I made. I couldn't locate a picture of it when I posted my previous blog about Cake.

This was for my oldest daughter's birthday. Food Network won't be knocking on my door offering me a show, but that's okay ... that was never my goal! My goal was to see my daughter smile with delight ... and she did ... so mission accomplished!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Well, It's Official

Phil saw his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter. I expected as much, but I am sure disappointed.

Pardon my language, but ... POOP!

I guess it's a good thing I didn't get my summer clothes out or gas up the lawnmower!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Please, Phil ...

Photo courtesy of
Please don't see your shadow tomorrow!!

Tomorrow is Groundhog day, when Puxatony Phil predicts if we will have six more weeks of winter or an early spring. If he see's his shadow, it's six more weeks of winter. I'm really hoping that critter doesn't see his shadow. I am so ready for spring!

I know I shouldn't complain ... we haven't had the several feet of snow and the unrelenting bitter cold that has gripped the north for months, and we were spared the ice that clobbered the deep south earlier this week ... but gosh, it's been a colder than normal winter, and I'm tired of wearing a coat.

I'm ready for spring. I'm ready to get out and plant flowers, take walks, go swimming, and ride my bike. I want to ride in my sweetie's convertible and go on picnics. I want to sit outside in the evening in shorts and stare into the starry sky. I want to sit on the porch swing, late at night, listening to the crickets and frogs. I want to smell freshly cut grass and see little kids running around outside barefoot.

I'll get to do all of those things even if Phil sees his shadow ... but I'll get to do them six weeks sooner if he doesn't! I hope I'm wrong, but I have a sinking feeling he will see his shadow this year. I fear winter isn't through tormenting us just yet.