Monday, December 15, 2014

Naughty or Nice? Read all about the Writing Wenches here...

Naughty AND Nice, those Wenches. 

On December 1, a group of women (and one man they affectionately call “the barkeep”) who call themselves the Writing Wenches pulled off a pretty major accomplishment. They released an anthology collection of twenty-one holiday themed short romance stories, in a single volume, called Unwrapping Love.  It became available for sale on Cyber Monday of this year!

The book is huge. It's got 738 pages. I was one of several proofreaders and take it from me, there is some serious talent in this group of 21 authors. I am extremely proud to be a part of this anthology.

The book couldn't have been completed without the help and guidance of PageCurl Publishing and Promotions. Unwrapping Love was published under their imprint, and they provided editing, formatting, marketing, and cover design services. 

The following Writing Wenches are hosting a blog hop. Each of them is hosting a giveaway, and telling you a bit about her part in Unwrapping Love! You can stop by each website to learn more about the anthology and enter each individual giveaway, which will be posting over the next several days. 

Kay Blake contributed Winter's Gift. 
Kay Blake
Kay's cover!! so cute!
Christine Cacciatore...that's me!! wrote Noah Cane's Candy.

here's my cover...can't wait!
Patricia D. Eddy wrote On The Eve of Love.
Patricia Eddy

Here's another Christmas short from Patricia, available now on Amazon
C. S. Kendall is the author of Second Chance Girl. She would love it if you would visit her at her website.
CS Kendall
here's her cover!

Tami Lund is the author of The Perfect Christmas.
You can find her here . 

Misti Murphy contributed Christmas Candy, and you can find her here.
Misti Murphy
Quenby Olson wrote First Position, and you can visit her here.

Keisha K. Page contributed Rhythm of Love, and you can visit her here.
Here's Keisha!
Grace Ravel wrote Shut Up and Kiss Me, and you can visit her here.
Grace Ravel
Grace's cover

Jennifer Ray wrote Declan's Special.  Visit her here
Jennifer Ray
Here's Jennifer's Christmasy cover!

Jennifer Senhaji is the author of Angels in Disguise. Visit her here!
Jennifer's cover for Sweet Dreams
A.E. Snow contributed Miles and Mae, and you can visit her here.
AE Snow
cover for Miles and Mae!

Sheri Williams wrote Numb. 
Sheri Williams
Numb (in Neon!)

She is sharing the blog hop from the Writing Wenches main website at

S. K. Wills wrote Hanley's Secret, and you can find her website here

Allison Winfield is the author of Stay With Me. You can find her at here.
Allison Winfield
aw. Cute cover.

Other stories in Unwrapping Love were contributed by: 

Melody Barber

Sonja Frojendal

Melina Gillies

Michael Simko

Beth Stanley

K.R. Wilburn

***As part of my blog today, leave a comment in the comments section about what your very, very favorite holiday movie is.  I'll pick one at random and the winner will receive a $10 gift card from, where you can purchase Unwrapping Love, or any of the other books various Wenches have for sale!  Including mine I wrote with my sister...Baylyn, Bewitched and Cat, Charmed!

Good luck!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Spoiler: It's not Maybelline

The Hair

In October (which seems like a lifetime ago) Joe and I were in our garage, getting it all cleaned out for a party.  We heard one snuffling, leaf rustling sound, then another.  We paused in our sweeping to listen a little harder.  The noise was just outside the garage, coming from the back yard.  Like an animal was back there.

I look at Joe in a panic, thinking our dog was loose. "Is Cooper out?"

His eyebrows come together. "No, he's in the house."

Amongst other things, Cooper is our black lab.  He's definitely blog worthy.  He's also a gigantic pain in our respective butts.  Read about it here.

The reason I asked if it was Cooper back there is because he's been known to take luxurious, albeit unauthorized, field trips around the neighborhood, usually in the early morning hours.  Mostly when I have on only a t shirt and bad hair. (I have run braless down my street, throwing baloney and cheese at him to come back. Asshole dog.)

But I digress.  Our dog wasn't out there, but there were two new dogs running around in our back yard; smallish beagles, belonging to the neighbors across the street.  We round them up, slap leashes on their collars, and deliver them back to their owners.

Back at home, in preparation for costumes, we got out the bag o' wigs, one of which Joe slapped on his head and promptly forgot about.  The wig was cut into a bob of longish red hair and looked like something Annabelle might have worn in her movies.

The Wigged One was happily grilling hot dogs for our guests when again the leaf rustling took up but this time, there was only a thin screen door between Cooper and the interlopers and our dog saw them and desperately wanted to play.  Still in the garage, I turned to yell at Joe that the little beagles had once again escaped and were back in our yard, but he was one step ahead of me.

Joe spied the two doggie trespassers and in full red-headed, wigged glory dramatically ran toward them in the back yard, while his hair flowed in the breeze.  It was practically in slow motion.  But his hair.  Oh, my holy goodness.  But it wasn't his hair, as he keeps it to a respectable 1/8" cut year was the hair of this silly wig, which had slipped down and wasn't even on right.

Watching him sprint heroically, grilling tongs waving in the air, to the back to rescue the two beagles, with his hair-not-his-hair flowing in the breeze, I could no longer keep my laughter in and I absolutely lost it.  I dissolved.  My knees went weak.  I could not catch my breath for anything in the world and in fact, couldn't even walk up the back steps into the house because I was laughing so hard at the picture he made in the back yard.  I think I peed my pants a little (who am I kidding, I had to run in and change) and the funniest part of all?

Joe had no idea what I was laughing at because that wig on his head had somehow, in his mind, morphed into just a hat keeping his head warm.  He wasn't even wearing a wig anymore, in his mind, just a toasty head warmer.  He stood there, shaking his wigged head at me, like I was the one who was nuts.

But I knew better.

My handsome Bear, in his "hat", and a sample bite of hot dog in his mouth


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Flying? I can't even.

It’s not that I’m scared to fly.  I’m just worried the plane will crash while I’m on it. 
It was just a thought I had when my husband, daughter, and I started our Florida vacation by flying from Milwaukee to Pensacola with a 2.5 hour layover in Hot-lanta.  That was bad enough.  The fact that we had to drive from Rockford to the Milwaukee airport, park, shuttle to airport, board, deplane, layover, board, deplane, then rent a car and finish the drive to our destination was what made it a little more challenging.  By challenging I mean we were tired, cranky, and hungry.  We were barely recognizable by the time we got to Grayton Beach, Florida.
After just one spectacular, sunny day on the beach, however, we forgot all about the previous day’s travel difficulties.  I forgot how much I hate to fly.  After a week of the beach (our friend Captain Morgan was there!) the trip down seemed like a bad dream.  A blurry fog.  A mere memory!  
Until the night before we have to leave, when we realize it’s our last sleep in this beautiful beach house and worse, that the very next day we have to repeat last week’s travel nightmare in order to get home.  That’s ok, though, because the flights on the way down were lovely, floaty things.  I almost wasn’t scared.
The next day, on the way back home, our second flight is the Atlanta to Milwaukee part.  Despite pleading with the gate agent she can’t seat us all together, so my husband is back several rows.  I usually break hold his hand while we fly.  It’s 10:12 p.m. and I hope to sleep during the flight, but whee!  There’s a lightning storm our pilot tries unsuccessfully to avoid and I feel like I’m in a bouncy house.  My stomach is in knots.  I shoot six drinks in succession but remain stone cold sober. 
It was then for some odd reason it feels as if the pilot has hit the brakes.  Hard.  To say it is unsettling is an understatement, as I would hope there wouldn’t be any red lights or stop signs this high up.  We lurch forward in our seats.
Daughter latches on to my arm and says, “Why does it feel like the plane’s slowing down?”
I tell her, “Oh, that’s normal.”  She’s unconvinced and gives me the side eye.  I curl my lips up in my best recollection of what a reassuring smile looks like but I’m afraid it’s more of a grimace. 
After our plane endures another severe shaking, she says, “Are you sure that’s normal?”
I am in a cold sweat but still have the presence of mind to lie to my child.  “Yes, of course.”  It’s nowhere near normal, as far as I’m concerned.  And I’m not sure why we slow down in midair either.  I am convinced we’ve been hit by lightning and we’re going down.  All I can think about is our drink cart hasn’t even come with the microscopic bags of pretzels and a meager cup of juice, so I’m going to die on an empty stomach…something I vowed I’d never do.  I’m freaking out a little bit.  Like, “there’s someone on the wing” freaking out.
However, I school my features into confident, soothing mom mode and tell her as long as the flight attendants aren’t worried, we don’t have to be worried either. 
It was at that point the pilot makes an announcement over the crackling loudspeaker.  “This is your captain speaking.  The plane is going down.  Please find your seats and buckle up because stuff just got real.” 
My husband tells me later that what he actually said was, “Flight personnel, please find your seats because we’re about to encounter some turbulence.”  Between you and me, he never hears things right.
My daughter and I both watch, horrified, as the flight attendant hurtles past us, drink cart rattling, rushing to secure the cart and fasten her seat belt.   This isn’t just turbulence.  Our plane ride has turned into a hayrack ride on a country road of potholes. 
I don’t even want to look at my daughter.  I’ve let her down.  I finally sneak a peek at her and—you know how horses look when they get scared?  You only see the whites of their gigantic eyes, their sides are heaving, their nostrils flaring?  Then you have a pretty clear picture of what my daughter’s face looked like at that moment.  The Xanax she has washed down with rum does not seem to be helping.
Tina Phillips,
This is where I would normally say, "Like this, except not this bad." Except it's pretty close to what I actually saw. 
But what an exciting ten minutes followed!  I believe that if the Guinness Book of World Records had a category for speed-reciting the Lord’s Prayer, I’d be the record holder.  Through the buzzing in my ears I heard someone swearing like a sailor then realize it’s me.  My daughter’s fingernails leave gouges in my arm. 
Finally, the plane stops rattling.  She releases her death grip and pretends to read a book.  I am faking sleep and watch her turn pages with shaky hands. 
My nerve endings are completely shot.
At last we land safely.  I have obviously kept the plane up in the air single handedly with my prayers, although the ungrateful rabble we flew with doesn’t realize it.  They are rushing the door to leave like there’s a Black Friday sale on TVs at Walmart and not waiting their turn so that I, their champion plane-keeper-upper, might depart the plane.  I am petulant and crabby, naturally.  If Bruce Willis had saved their plane, they’d be letting him off first. 
Finally, after what feels like forever, my exhausted family is able to get off the plane, collect our luggage and we’re on our way back home.  None of us are looking forward to the two hour drive home but we are on the ground and quite frankly, right now there’s nowhere I’d rather be.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rumpty Dumpty

It was inevitable that I would eventually write about poop.  

After all, the word is part of the name of my blog.  I have written about periods here, and surgery here, and gas here; but only touched on the “poop” subject here.

However, this story rocketed to the top of my “stuff to blog about” list when my husband called me at work with a tale that needed to be told. 

Apparently there’s a light out in the bathroom he normally uses at work.  He found that out when he went to use the facilities and there was no response when he flicked the light switch.

Since he had to go, however, and since he was already there (and his bladder somehow recognized that he was near a toilet) he needed to use THAT bathroom.  Right then.  Immediately.  Thinking quickly, he whipped out his trusty 3G Droid smart phone, upon which his thoughtful wife (that’s me) had installed a flashlight app.  Thanks to the bright light of his phone screen, he was able to find the toilet stall in the dark, locate the bowl, remember where everything was and tidy up accordingly, all by holding the phone with its handy flashlight under his chin.
by Gualberto107,
like this. except on your phone.
That day, we had a good laugh over this when he called me to tell me the story and thank me for the app.

Things deteriorated a few days later.  Mr. Forgetful waited until it was almost too late to make his frantic morning jog to the same bathroom referenced above.  This time, however, he was racing against a couple cups of my strong coffee and his morning bran.  He grabbed his phone almost as an afterthought on the off chance he needed to make a phone call, text someone, check the Cubs standings, or for the flashlight app if by some strange circumstance the bathroom light was still out. 

It was.

That’s fine, he thinks, as he struggles to unbuckle and unzip quickly, as he ran in the general direction of the stall door.  I have my fancy phone with the flashlight app.

However, for some reason, despite repeated, desperate attempts to pull up the flashlight app, the app has disappeared and due to extreme gastrointestinal pressure, he gave up trying to get it to work and attempted to go it alone, in the dark.  In all the fumbling with his smart phone trying to get the app to work, though, he has waited a little bit, a tiny bit, a hair too late to get his pants down fully.

It should be noted that on the best of days, he is not Mr. Technology.  Under pressure, however, his difficulty with smart phones is exponentially worse. 

If this were a bad script, I would at this point write “hilarity ensues” but in all actuality he didn't find this at all hilarious, as he was forced to go to the bathroom in the dark, then attempt to clean up after himself in the dark.  Between you and me, reader, he has a difficult enough time when it’s his OWN bathroom, with sufficient lighting to rival the sun and a brand new container of baby wipes. 

In the dark, cold, empty bathroom at work, he does the best he can under the third world circumstances. 
He is forced to make the drive of shame home and change pants, losing yet another pair of undershorts to such an ordeal which, praise God, seldom occurs.
anakkml on
Kids, need a gift idea for Dad for Father's Day?
Luckily, the badly mutilated underwear in question went directly into the garbage because otherwise if yours truly was sorting the white clothes I would have assumed he came face to face with a Yeti. (I hold NO RIGHTS to this photo)
sort of like this one, which would make ANYONE crap their pants.
Later, he also told me that the majority of the bathroom accident from hell occurred because of two things:  a) the fact that he fucked around so long trying to get his flashlight app to work that he almost lost control right then and there on the floor and b) because of the low lighting from his cell phone screen he sat down on the bowl at the wrong angle and needless to say, not all the “kids” got dropped off at the pool.

He showered four or five times that night, just to make sure.

A few days ago, he visited the same washroom, which now has a working light and Joe was not only able to seat himself comfortably at the correct angle, but also have sufficient light with which to cleanse himself afterward.

 Lucky for him and his underwear drawer.  (and me, and probably the Yeti too.)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

She's learning. And it's amazing.

The smartest grandchild in the world

The grandchild came over to spend some time on Sunday and again last night.  I get her approximately once a week for about a half day, and watching her grow is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. 

I think back to when I was a young woman and my children were small and I wish I could have all that time back.  I see Alyssa, my 13 month old granddaughter, doing these grownup things and I think, "when did my kids do that?"  And I DON'T REMEMBER.  It makes me sad.  I'm sure it was amazing at the time, and I bet I called my mom or my sister and told them what Child A B or C did, but I just don't remember anymore.  And those of you thinking, "look it up in their baby book"?  Well, I only did a few pages of each child's baby book, but lost all of them in the flood of 1996, when we were living in the Joliet area and the water in the basement crept up to almost the third stair from the upstairs.

Good times.  Lost in that flood were pictures, favorite toys, favorite blankets, ultrasound pictures, and all of my faith in storm drains.

While at my house, Alyssa left the living room to wander down the hallway toward the bedrooms.  Most of the doors are closed off to her because she certainly doesn't need to be in the bathroom (she throws everything she can find into the tub, and would play in the toity I'm sure if she got the chance) and there's nothing in the other bedrooms or closets she would be allowed to play with.  (besides our my husband's Sing-a-ma-jig, but she spilled coffee on it and Joe took it back.) 
Alyssa, Grandpa is keeping this all for himself.  Sorry.

I called for her and could hear her voice in "her" room, where we have her books, toys, and a rocking chair.  I came around the corner and she came running at me with her favorite Usborne book, smiling with anticipation, then ran back to the rocking chair and patted it with her tiny fingers, her book in the other hand.

She wanted me to sit down so I could read her a book.  She communicated with me.  Grandma, I would like you to read to me.

Ermehgerd. Alyssa has realized where we go to rock and read books.  She knows that Grandma loves to read to her.

My mother pointed out that Alyssa first communicated the second she opened her mouth and cried for the first time.  That is true, but this time she had purpose.

At what point do they eat people food? 

I did daycare for 11 years and took care of a lot of children.  (ah, those were the days.)  I can remember moms coming in while their children were in the high chairs and hearing them say happily, "hey, I didn't know they could eat that yet!" to cereal bars, or cut up bananas, or yogurt.  Last night Alyssa was at the house for dinner and I smashed up the corn, chicken, and potatoes from a can of Progresso Chicken Corn Chowder.  Smashed fine enough, it made the perfect dinner, with an accompaniment of a graham cracker and applesauce and a fine house juice.

When my oldest was 1, I had some friends over for dinner, and they noticed me feeding my son in a high chair.  I distinctly remember my friend's husband asking, "when do they start eating people food?"  It's been 25 years but I still remember that like it was yesterday because it was so funny to me. 

Grandma, I can reach up high now.  Watch out.

A lesson I learned last night, because I must learn everything the hard way, is that Alyssa is not only walking around (and has for three months now) but she can reach.  She stands up on her tippy toes in her pink sandals and her adorable painted toes, and reaches up onto the counter and table for everything she can get.  She also likes to open my drawers in the kitchen to get out items specifically not meant for children of her or any age...baggies and steak knives among them.  Looks like I have to do some baby proofing, I believe.  (she said, as she writes down outlet covers on her grocery list)

I'm not as young as I used to be.

After having her for only three hours last night, I was exhausted.  I harken back to the long, ten hour daycare days and now I realize why I was so tired at night.  I was licensed for 8 children, most 6 and under, and all day I ran after them, swept and mopped the floor a kajillion times, pushed on swings, played in the sandbox, cleaned off counters, faces and hineys all day long.  (not at the same time, thankfully.)  It was a lot of work. 

This is just one child and I was as tired as if I had taken care of 6.  It's why I work in an office now, and don't run a daycare. 

At my age, I have to save my energy for just the one child.  Because she sure is saving it up for me.

shall I talk on the phone, or bang my drum?  Or BOTH???  Let's do both.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Black Balloon Publishing. No coincidence.

To town

A few weeks ago, my daughter Annie and I went into Plainfield/Channahon for a visit.  We talked about everything and nothing, and as we drove into Plainfield and saw the “Welcome to Plainfield:  Mike Collins, Mayor” sign.  We joked about how surreal it was to see my dad’s name on the sign.

First to my mother’s house, where we admired her garden and visited with her and dad John and relaxed.  Then it was on to my brother’s new house in Channahon to visit with his kids and fur babies and my sister and her nieces.  It was unrushed.  We don’t often get to have visits like that one so we treasured every second.

Back to mom’s, where we had an amazing dinner of shishkabobs, all while having a watchful eye on the weather because it was going to pour later.
It was still light out when we departed for the 90 minute drive back to Rockford.  We headed back down route 126 heading to 47.

There are no coincidences.

As we’re driving, Annie looks out the window to her right and there is a solitary black helium balloon with a string floating across the field that will eventually cross 126.  If balloons could have intentions, I would say this one was determined to be seen.  As we passed it, we looked at each other, shocked. 

How random, Annie says.  What the eff was that all about?  What kind of sign was that supposed to be? 

Relax, I tell her.  It’s not a sign at all, just a balloon that escaped from someone’s Over the Hill party and happened to be blowing across the field right while we were driving.

But I can’t stop thinking about it on the way home.

Once there, I feed the husband and pet the dog; or was that feed the dog and pet the husband?  Either way, once I open my laptop, that black balloon is at the forefront of my brain and I immediately look up the term on Google.  It tells me there’s a song called Black Balloon, by the Goo Goo dolls. 

No, never heard of that song and I don’t like the Goo Goo dolls.  Next.

If I were dreaming, a black balloon would mean I’m depressed.  That’s not it either.

But then…guess what I came across.

Black Balloon Publishing. I click on it and the first thing I see is their motto:  “We Champion the Weird, the Unwieldy, and the Unclassifiable”.  In other words, stuff that I would write.

I don’t believe in coincidence, but I do believe in jumping to conclusions, and in this situation, I jumped higher than I ever have.

Immediately I “liked” their Facebook page and then went over to Twitter, where I began following them.  Unable to resist telling them how I found them, I sent a message.  What follows is pure magic.

And to rachet up the squee factor a little bit more, when you click on the YouTube video they sent me, it’s Mariah Carey’s song “We Belong Together.”

Like I said, there are no such things as coincidences.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Blackhawks and blinders. How much fun can a human possibly have?

A while back, my stepsister Michelle asked my husband and I if we'd like to accompany her and her boyfriend Guy to a Blackhawks game.

Not just any Blackhawks game, though...this one was in a suite.  A penthouse suite.
Yeah, we're that cool.  Well, at least we know someone who's that cool.

We drove in from Rockford to pick both of them up, leaving our car in Willowbrook and proceeding into the big city.

Our first stop was at Frank's.  For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a shrimp house.  While in the car, our hosts decided that one pound of the fried shrimp would be adequate, especially if there would be food in the suite.  Joe and Guy went in while Michelle and I chatted in the car, and soon they were back with an enormous sack each of the biggest, best fried shrimp I have ever eaten in my entire life.

Thanks, you two, for ruining any other fried shrimp for me.  Forever.

After that, Michelle and I were instructed to close our eyes and keep them that way for the duration of the trip.  Why?  To protect us from the trauma that is his driving.  We heard several times on the way to the United Center, "Don't look.  Don't look."  When I dared to look I realized we were driving a six foot wide car down a five foot wide path.  How we managed to avoid knocking off our side mirrors or the side mirrors of other drivers, I'll never know.  Because I wasn't looking.

Once at the United Center, with our too-cool-for-school parking pass, we accepted the free Blackhawks binder given to us via binder night.  We then took the elevator up to the penthouse suites, found ours, and OH MY GOSH.

It was the most amazing thing.  Michelle greeted our host, while we all stared goggle eyed at the scene before us.

We're not in Kansas anymore.  We're much higher than that.
And food?  There was a hot dog station, a nacho station, an Italian beef station, and all the beer you could drink.  Mixed drinks.  And don't even get me started on the dessert cart, but I'll just say this...I had a turtle the size of a hamburger patty.  And it was delicious.
Going to the railing overlooking the rink was a little off putting for me, as I have some weird type of reaction to heights, i.e. I feel as if I'm being pulled off my seat by my crotch for a quick trip off the railing headfirst.  A quick consult with the sister found that she had the same problem.  I'm glad I'm not alone.

I couldn't actually take a picture looking straight down without gagging.  This is as close as you're going to get.

The Blackhawks won, of course. 
actual proof.

The game was amazing.  The company awesome.  The food delish. 

actual hockey players, although from our vantage point, they looked like black ants as opposed to Blackhawks.

The only fly in the ointment was sitting in the parking lot after the game waiting for it to clear, watching a carload of white trash punks pick a fight with someone who was not only probably 20 years older than them, but also an off duty police officer.  Who didn't need duct tape to hold up his car windows like the youngsters.

In this day and age of concealed carry, do you really want to pick a fight with a stranger?  I vote no.  Making it more difficult to watch and understand was that the carload of kids only spoke the language "motherfu*ker" and at one point told the police officer "congratulations on living past your prime."  I was certain there would be a shooting and ducked in anticipation.

That same carload of idiots realized they could get through the parking lot by backing up and driving around instead of cutting in front of the cop.  The only problem with that was that we were in the way.  We once again closed our eyes against the certain impending crash, but it never came...although that car was truly less than a half inch from ours.  If my phone battery hadn't died out I would have gladly recorded it for all of you.

Joe and I had such a great time.  Should we be so lucky to go again, I will:  buy more shrimp, wear blinders, and secure myself to a seat with a bungee cord.   Just in case my crotch should pull me over the side.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Snarky McSnarkster. A/k/a I'm Grateful.

(our last prompt in Prompt Club was to write 1000 words starting with the words, "I'm grateful.")

I’m grateful, truly I am.  Roof over our heads, food on the table, money to pay the bills and from time to time visit a fancy restaurant like Chipotle or Granite City.  I have three healthy kids, a beautiful granddaughter and a husband who still wants to hold my hand all the time.  I have been on the opposite end of the financial and romantic spectrum, so suffice it to say I know whereof I speak.
I’m also grateful for things other people might not think of as worthy of appreciation—for instance, my gift of sarcasm.  So when we drew the prompt where you had to start a story with the words “I’m grateful”, I immediately snarked it up.
I’m grateful that years ago before a doctor’s appointment, I was able to help my middle daughter learn to pronounce “vaginal” correctly without laughing. 
I like to think I spared her the embarrassment I endured when my 7th grade science teacher asked our class what the hangy thing in the back of the throat is called. 
Turns out “vulva” was not the answer he was searching for.  That day, I comforted my 12 year old self with the thought that I didn’t need social acceptance and popularity anyway. 
Fast forward 35 years, and guess what…that social acceptance and popularity thing is on its way because my youngest daughter just told me that in another week or so her six new puppies will be winged.  If that’s the case we’ll all be so popular we’ll have to move.  I’m grateful I have days off coming because puppies are a lot of work to begin with, but flying puppies and a nine month old—that’s a recipe for disaster. 
I’m grateful for the fact that I got shingles right before my daughter’s 21st birthday, so that I was forced to cancel plans to take my granddaughter for the weekend like I had promised months prior so she could celebrate.  I’m also grateful that I didn’t have to worry about sleeping while I was suffering with that wretched condition, because that gave me plenty of time to worry about a worrisome secondary rash and the mushroom of a cold sore on my lip.  It also gave me extra time to drunk-google late at night terms like “duration of shingles” or “shingles rash” or “should you drink when you have shingles” or my personal favorite, “how many people die per year from shingles”. 
Actual shingles that were on my back.
ps. Good news.  I didn't die.  But it sure did burn. 
I’m also really, truly grateful that when I finally was able to give my husband the seductive come-hither green light after the whole shingles/cold sore fiasco, Aunt Flo decided to come for an extended visit.  She didn’t just bring an overnight bag like she normally did but in fact the biggest, bulkiest suitcases she owned and jammed them in my uterus but good.  I’m plotting her demise and she will be grateful when her death finally arrives.
I’m grateful for the snowfall that prevented our family from a 2 hour drive into Plainfield on New Year’s Day for a delayed Christmas celebration to see family I don’t see often.  I hadn’t gone grocery shopping because I knew we’d be in Plainfield, so there was hardly anything edible in the house.  However, it’s good to experience true hunger once in a while.  Thankfully we were able to gag down all of those old, questionable leftovers and dry Christmas cookies whilst face-timing with the Plainfield crowd, watching everyone eat spinach dip and cheese potatoes.
I’m also really grateful they didn’t let me know ahead of time they were going to call, because it’s good for my family to see what I look like with no makeup, glasses on, and hair scraped into a brutally oily ponytail.  In case they weren’t buying all those gorgeous selfies I post online.   
I’m grateful for the guy who maintained a 4 inch distance between the front of his vehicle and the rear of mine the other night as we drove through blinding snow during rush hour.  Your thoughtlessness kept my mind off of how slick the roads were that night.  Especially helpful was the rage that kept me warm all the way home.
And speaking of slick, I’m grateful for the Kenyan sprinter masquerading as our black lab.  It’s good to test my own speed slalom skills in the back yard from time to time while being dragged behind a speedboat of a dog.  It keeps me limber.  He also helps me keep the ligaments in my shoulders stretched as he sprints off the icy back porch, yanking me with him.
And with all the things I have to be grateful for, I need to stay in the best shape possible.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Smoky Eye

On cold days like the ones this past weekend, when it’s so bone-chilling, teeth-chattering cold, there is one thing you can do that really, really feels wonderful.  (No, not that.   That’s a whole different post.)
Take a hot bath.  Soak.  While the bath is pouring and you see steam curling out from under the bathroom door, take time to make a cup of hot tea in your favorite mug.  Put a little sugar in it.  I did that and it was a brilliant idea.  When I got out I was squeaky clean and warmed up, had comfortable sweats to put on and an afternoon that stretched out in front of me.  With a manuscript to work on and blog posts to address, that was an excellent thing.
I love coconut oil and to that end slathered some on my feet before putting on my cushy socks, then on my hands and arms, and hey, since I was going to stay in, I put a little on my face as moisturizer and brought that up into my hairline for a little extra shine. 
 Some days are good for trying out a new smoky eye look.  I thought that day would be one of those days.  I had purchased a beautiful muted violet color of eye shadow and our neighbor who represents MAC makeup had sent home some mauve eyeliner, and since I had nowhere to go, I applied eyeliner where I never had before.  I was going to wear glasses all day anyway, so if I emphasized my eyes a little more, it wouldn’t really matter.
by nixxphotography
except a lot darker.
Also experimented with coloring in my brows a lot little.  Going for a little bit of a Sandra Bullock look.
It was striking.  A lot darker than I thought, though.  Good thing I hadn’t planned on going anywhere, because I had 11:00 p.m. makeup at 11:00 a.m.
I checked Facebook, Pinterest, and my AOL account, then checked them again just in case something new and exciting had shown up.
It hadn’t.  Time to get to work on writing.
Attention deficit disorder kicks in and within ten minutes of writing I had the bright idea that now would be a good time to do the exchange I needed to do at the department store.  It was cold, sure.  But I was already dressed warmly!  I was showered, had shoes on and more importantly, had some extra time to do the exchange.   We needed milk anyway.  I decided instead of having to deal with fogged up glasses I’d wear my contacts.
In addition to having ADHD, apparently I also have a faulty memory.
After making an even exchange at the store, I also addressed with the returns clerk the fact that I didn’t get the 15% discount that I was supposed to.
To make things easier, she refunded the entire thing and then resold it back to me, and somehow instead of a little 15% discount, she handed me a gift card for $24.  I tried to explain to her the error in her thinking.  I really did. I’m maternal.  Patient.  Kind.   Apparently it was a little too mathematically challenging, and as she explained to me condescendingly, the cash register is never wrong.
 So, store which shall not be named, thanks for the extra Christmas money and hey, I tried to get your employee’s drawer to balance but she wouldn’t listen to me.
I give up and leave with a gift card of $24.22.  She sends my daughter a sympathetic look as we leave the store.
Daughter and I drive on to another store to pick up milk, Coke, and two frozen pizzas and some ice cream to get us through the afternoon.
It’s not until later on the way home that I check the rearview mirror and realize that because I put in my contacts, everyone could see that smoky eye I worked so hard on in the privacy of my bathroom.  In fact, thanks to the sun’s harsh rays, I look like a cold raccoon.  My cool factor, already at an all time low, drops even lower.
I then realize with a sinking heart that my stay-at-home hair, which actually looked like it had a lot of coconut oil in it and not the little bit I thought, was still in the just-showered clip I threw it up in.  Oily strands were hanging down to attractively frame the special violet eye makeup. 
That’s just great. 
But I had planned on staying at home.  Perhaps what I needed to do was slow down and look in the mirror before I left the house to make sure the few people who would see me on this cold day wouldn’t run away screaming.  Maybe slap on a hat?
The realization stuns me, because I then understand why the girl at Kohl’s gave me back the extra money.  It was because she felt sorry for me.  Look at her.  Poor thing.  Doesn’t get out much, with that oily hair, and certainly doesn’t know how to apply eye makeup.
I think I’ll buy a nice hat with that money.  For sure some good makeup remover.