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Saturday, January 31, 2009

As promised the real photo of the real soup!

I found a way to show you my soup. I don't know why I didn't think of it last night, but then again, I don't think well late at night. It's funny that I can write well at that time, but thinking and doing, not so much.:) I decided to take a picture of the soup in a bowl- with my phone. :)

Finally, here it is and by the way. Wish you could have had some.:)

Take a big virtual slurp of this soup. To steal the Campbell's slogan: "Hmmm hmmm good!".

So I finally got to see one of the movies I wanted to see last weekend, "The Wrestler" and everyone should see it. Mickey Rourke is amazing in it and so are Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. Darren Aronofsky did a fantastic job of directing, because he directed both men and women well. There are some scenes in here that would be killed by a bad director or bad acting. Everything works together and creates a great movie. The scene is set in the beginning when you learn about the main character and his amazing wrestling career. But the story gives you a peek into the actual wrestling world and how they support each other. If you wanted to learn about wrestling this is the film for you. I won't lie and say everything works out okay in the end and then again, I won't spoil it for you and tell you the ending. You know how I hate that!!! But after the ending listen for the Bruce Springsteen song, "The Wrestler" which he wrote especially for the movie. It's very powerful. Yet as most Springsteen songs are, hummable.:)

Mickey Rourke's performance is so nitty-gritty you'd swear he was a professional wrestler. It's honest and somehow dignified. Rourke even has a few semi-comedic moments here too. And he really is buff for a man his age.

One film down and three left on my must see list: The Wrestler - Seen
Slumdog Millionaire
The Reader

Of course, besides these I have a couple that aren't going to be blockbusters, but they are the kind of movies I like. They're either romantic comedies or they're exceptional in some way. So add: He's Not That Into You
For Keeps

So I'll try to see those too. But getting back to The Wrestler the acting was so good and if you didn't know this, Mickey Rourke did his own stunts. When you see the movie you're going to say no way is that right, but it's true. Also a lot of real wrestlers took part in the making of this movie either in front of or behind the scenes. It's very authentic.

I'm skipping the weekend for highlighting blogs, but will return to this on Monday. Hope everyone is having a great weekend. I'm feeling almost like a new person with my hair done. I'll try to get the pics of me in my new hairdo for you. My daughters and I crazily stood outside in the frozen sunshine to take some pictures and then we retreated into the warmth of our still running car.:) By that time, though my hair was so windblown I'm not sure it looked good in any pictures.:)

Off to read more blogs. Nothing about politics today. I'm so shell-shocked from recent news so I'll digest it and be back on Monday. Well, one quick response to Obama's new shirtsleeves policy. If everyone thinks about it, when you get to work don't you take off your jacket and work in your shirtsleeves? I think the reason Bush wouldn't let people take off their jackets is that he didn't want any real work done.LOL. It's time we concentrated on getting work done rather than keeping up a formal and ridiculous for this century, dress code. Change is here!!!!!

What is wrong with people?

Before I talk about what's wrong with people, because that is going to take way too long, I wanted to highlight another blog tonight. This one is about what I like a lot, cooking. Gabi Moskowitz has a blog called "Out of the Pantry". It's funny, because both of us made vegetable soup today.:) She used her whole pantry and I used most of my fresh vegetables. I hate calling them "veggies" which has become the standard way to refer to vegetables. 

So she uses whatever she finds in her pantry and gives the recipe for everything she cooks. In between she tells us about her life and her friends' lives while introducing us to some unusual dishes. Now tonight's soup was not exactly unusual, but it was a different way to make vegetable soup. Mine, which I will tell you about soon, is entirely different.

What I like about this blog is her total disregard for whether or not something is going to taste good. She just drops in ingredients and hopes it will work. I think some of the recipes are a little more planned, but I like the spontaneity and I think you will enjoy reading this blog. The post before this one used food to describe a romantic situation. And then she described how though apples and oranges don't work in dating, it might be the opposite in cooking. She then gave a recipe for Pizza Dough Papusas where she substituted pizza dough for masa harina which is the traditional dough for the papusas. She didn't have any and made them anyway. See the recipe on "Out of the Pantry" and you can subscribe there too. I think you will enjoy this one very much. I like the layout too. It's a good color and easy on the eyes. 
So it was funny that we both made vegetable soup and here is a virtual bowl for all of you, but especially for Paula  of "Paula's Soul"  

I tried to give it to you, but my computer is not cooperating. I may have to post it in a separate note or email. I will post it on my Facebook page for everyone. Anyway, I've tried and can't do it. It was pretty awesome. My husband said it was delicious.:)

Anyway, will play around with it and see if I can't get it to you.

I've frittered away the time trying to post that picture, but instead I will give you the recipe:

Barbara’s Tomato Vegetable Soup

½ large Vidalia onion chopped
3 stalks celery - chopped
3 small carrots – chopped (not baby carrots, don't scrape them)
4 cloves garlic – chopped
3 cans San Marzano tomatoes squished
dried thyme – about a tbsp
garlic powder – about 2 tbsp
dried basil – about a tbsp
dried cayenne pepper – about a tbsp
dried oregano – about a tbsp
1 pkg frozen peas
1 pkg frozen corn singles or half a pkg of frozen corn ( 8 oz)
broccoli crowns
French green beans kitchen cut in thirds
½ bunch parsley chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter
sea salt
ground fresh black pepper

In large soup pot, sauté the mirepoux (carrots, onions, and celery) until celery is bright green and onions are translucent in the oil and butter. Add garlic and mix together. Cook a few minutes. Add juice of tomatoes from all 3 cans and mix together. Then squish all tomatoes and add to pot. Mix together and add 3 cans of water. Fill each separate can so all the tomato goodness is there. Add salt and pepper and cook until it comes to a boil. Add dried seasonings except oregano. Add broccoli and green beans, peas, corn. Let mixture come to a boil and then add garlic powder, thyme and basil and chopped fresh parsley. When the mixture has been boiling for about an hour add the oregano and continue letting mixture boil for another hour covered. Serve with grated parmesan cheese and croutons.

Hope you enjoy it.

Now, what is wrong with people? I'm talking especially about Republicans. They seem to want our president to fail. People like Rush Limbaugh and some Republican Congressmen refuse to get with the program. When Democrats were in the minority they had to take whatever was handed to them. I remember people who were as esteemed as John Conyers had to hold hearings in the basement, because Republicans refused to open a real committee room for them. Are Democrats that way? No. President Obama went out of his way to try to listen to Republicans and even brought them to the White House and bent over backwards to try to compromise. Yet even then, a bill that will benefit every single person in the country could not get a Republican backing. No Republicans voted for the Stimulus bill. What is wrong with those people? Do they not represent people who need money and jobs? Or are they so stubborn and bent on destroying our government that they refuse to vote for a bill that will help their constituents? It's shameful!!

The other thing is the horrible murder suicide of that family out West. The parents didn't have a job, but why did they have to kill their children? What happened to the spirit of let's try and make the best of things? No, they had to kill themselves and their children and so helping population control, but snuffing out the lives of innocent young people. What is wrong with them? Didn't they want their children to live on and have lives? Or were they just too selfish to think about that?

It makes me sad to think of the waste of life. Let me know what you think. Also, try the recipe and tell me if you like it. You have to use San Marzano tomatoes, because they give it such a great flavor. If you don't use them you'll have to add chicken broth to give it more flavor. Also you can add any of your own vegetables, if they're raw, start them early. Good luck.

One more thing. Tonight we had a crescent moon. It looked like a smile in the sky. In fact, it tickled me so much I wrote a poem called "Cheshire Moon". I was reminded of my favorite book when I was a girl, Alice in Wonderland and Alice's encounter with the Cheshire Cat who kept disappearing leaving only it's smile. But in my poem I thought of President Obama as the Jaberwocky. Kind of bizarre, but he did smite the Republicans with his mighty pen.:)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gathering interesting tidbits of information

I'm starting my post tonight with something that was forwarded to me. I think it covers two very important topics that we have all been thinking about. I haven't talked much about my political beliefs here, but I have always been against torture and for science.:) I think this cartoon combines the two feelings in one very well done package. Tell me what you think.

It's a little early for me to be posting, but I have so much to tell you that I decided to try to write when I was more alert. So here goes.

First of all, welcome to all of the new readers who have joined since yesterday. It's great to see so many people here. Please leave a comment and let me know who you are. If you have a blog, please leave me the link so I can read yours too. Apropos of that I want to let you know about a great contest for a DVD by Dr. Stan Gardner, on the blog called "Not Entirely British". This DVD is not out yet and will sell for $49.99. Go and check it all out and enter if you want it.

*Just a note here. 
I want everyone to know that I am not supporting the beliefs of this blog, though I respect her beliefs. I am Jewish, so this is not my belief. But we are all bloggers together here and I'm supporting a fellow blogger. I am interested in learning more about other people's beliefs. Being a writer means that you want to learn as much as you can about everyone and everything. So go and see her blog and enjoy it.

I can't believe it, but I have joined another writing group. This one is on Facebook and it is called: the Children's Writers and Illustrators Group.

When I got there I realized that most of the group contained my friends. :) If you are a writer it doesn't matter if you are published or not you can join in either case. If you are published you can post and put your cover or your artwork on the board. If you aren't published you can tell about your book there too. The group just started so I have no idea where it is going, but it's good to have a group for children's writers here. Simon Rose, who is a member of one of my favorite groups, Real Writing Teachers, put me onto this and I joined immediately. The group has hundreds of members already like Real Writing Teachers, which was started by Robert Redmond who started his group with only about five people and it's grown to over fifteen hundred, a group can grow! So if you're on Facebook and you're either a writer or an illustrator for children here is the place to show your work. Go over and see if it's for you.

Time for the blog I am highlighting today and it's going to be: Heart's Desire Jewelry by Anne Marie. Her last post is for men who need help finding the perfect jewelry gift for their sweetheart for Valentine's Day. I loved her choices and could have spent a great deal more time clicking on each of the pictures. The photos show off the jewelry beautifully. I can honestly say that I would take any of those pieces of jewelry as a gift. 

Anne Marie is very talented and she has won prizes for her work. She has been nominated for an award and has posted the photo of the piece of jewelry on the blog. I love this piece and though I think it might be a little too large for me to wear, it's beautiful. The work is delicate and the colors remind me of the sea. She calls it "Ripples on the Floor of a Reflecting Pool" and it has been nominated as a semi-finalist in the KGI Worldwide Design Contest 2009. I could go on and on about the jewelry pictured here, but go and see it for yourself. 

She is also having a contest for a beautiful heart pendant necklace and if you are interested in entering this go right away and do it. I forgot and when I got there she had 185 comments all for entering the contest. I don't blame them. The necklace is really beautiful with a copper pendant and pink crystal bead necklace. Go and see it.  Also while you're there read the earlier posts, because Anne Marie is already a double winner for another jewelry contest! Congratulations Anne Marie. 

Just heard about a horrible bus accident with thirteen cars that was a mile long pile up. How horrible was that? There's no real word about it, but my heart goes out to all the people involved in that accident. I've been in too many accidents myself and even a tap can cause a problem. I'll never forget I was driving a much-loved Saab on the highway and it was bumper to bumper. I was exhausted and when the cars stopped I closed my eyes for a little cat nap, opening them when traffic started again. Well, I guess I put my foot on the wrong pedal and inched up with my foot on the gas instead of the brake. There was a huge SUV in front of me and I tapped it. Well that tap didn't do any damage to the SUV, although the driver got out and wrung his hands finding a tiny scrape. But my poor Saab was too low and it caused a dent in the hood. Not thinking much about it, I started driving without exchanging any info with the driver. I was in the middle of traffic and there was no policeman around. Plus, I was on my way to work as a teacher and didn't want to be late. So we let it go and as soon as I started driving the hood popped up blocking my view. I wound up tying it with a borrowed bungee cord. I can't imagine how awful these people feel. I hope there are no major injuries. But a mile long fender bender accident has to have been devastating for the first few cars. More tomorrow. Or else you will probably hear about it. More about my other accidents in the future.:)

Please leave a comment and let me know your feelings about anything here. 


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What I can learn from other people

Today I spent the whole time joining more blogs and becoming part of an awesome network, the women's blogger network.

This is a great idea started by Alana Roberts. I am proud to be a part of it. Thank you for putting my blog in your network.

Also, as promised, I'm going to highlight another blog here. I wasn't sure until I found it on my reader, but after seeing the two posts from today I am telling you about Girls Rule, by Ashley Rice.

It is such an awesome place. Ashley Rice who is the owner and author of this blog has such an inspirational tone to the posts. The first one I read highlighted Elizabeth Alexander's poem: "Praise Song for the Day." Inherent in this poem is the spirit of kindness. You hear it in the words and the images bring forth the joy of being kind to each other. So at the end of this post Ashley discussed the idea of remembering to be kind. Then she left a link where you can find a kindness ring. There are a variety of rings that have strings through them. The strings are different colors to remember to be kind for different reasons. I 'm giving you the link here too, since this is such a great idea. She suggests that we pass it on. I am doing that here:

The second and last post today gave me such inspiration I was ready to send it to everyone who needs a little bit of a boost. She addresses us all and asks what we want to accomplish. It's standard motivational speaker stuff, but somehow Ashley makes it sound a little different. At the end of the post is a kind of quiz to see where you are with questions like:

"What personal legacy do you wish to leave behind?

What “story” do you most need to be told?

What does your life, your own work or today mean just to you?"

These are just three of the six or seven questions she has there. I think everyone should at least go and check it out. We all need a boost every now and then. I know that I certainly do. We live with people who sometimes don't appreciate us and we work in places where maybe we're not getting the attention we deserve. Or maybe you have a dream that is stuck somewhere and you're not sure you'll ever attain it. Or perhaps you never started your dream, but it's still there in your head to do. Whatever the place you are in, this post will help you become more motivated to maybe go back and try it. I didn't get a chance to do them, but I'm going there to do them soon.

This is January and the weather is getting worse and worse in most areas. Why not give yourself a boost and pick up your ego. As a writer, I get down sometimes. But today, one of my Facebook friends read the submission of my YA novel, IF I COULD BE LIKE JENNIFER TAYLOR, and her comments made my day. When she read it, she got what I was saying. If you remember, that was the topic I talked about last night. Does someone get what you write? Well this person did get it and her comments made me believe that an editor might get it too!! Oh my fingers are so crossed!!! Anyway, go and check out "Girls Rule" and see if you agree with me.

So that was the second blog that I have highlighted and I have no idea which one it will be tomorrow, but with so many blogs that I'm following I'm looking forward to the choice.:)

The other thing I wanted to say is that a lot of my friends are SCBWI members. If you don't know what that is it's The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I am also a member and got my new card today. They changed the color a little bit. It used to be a deeper blue. This organization is having it's NY Conference coming up this weekend. I remember attending my first conference. I came on Friday night to meet some friends for dinner and we wound up sitting around in the hotel lounge with Linda Sue Park and her agent. She had just won the Newbery for A Single Shard and I being a new writer was so excited to be meeting not only a published author, but someone who had won the Newbery. She was exhausted after her whirlwind day of interviews. She'd been on The Today Show and other TV spots, but what I realized when we all hung out there together, and I think that Agy Wilson was in that group. If she wasn't I'm sorry, was that speaking with Linda was like speaking with any of my writer friends. In that little group sitting around in the bar I realized that I was a writer. I didn't need to feel inferior because I wasn't published. I was a writer and I was serious about it and I belonged there. At that time I had not had anything published, but in the next couple of years I did get several stories published and sold a children's story all online. But there is no difference when you see your name and your words in print either on paper on a computer screen.

Anyone who is interested in seeing my work can go here and read my children's story: "The Trouble with Follow the Leader". It's actually based on a true story that happened to me.

Growing up in Brooklyn during the 1950's a girl had to pretty much fend for herself once you reached a certain age. My parents worked all day and so I spent the time after school either in the store or at a friend's house or on the streets depending on the weather. We played games like "Red Light, Green Light", "Hit the Penny", "Potsy", and last but not least, "Follow the Leader". When all you have are gated apartment houses and backyards overgrown with weeds with entrances through dark alleyways, Follow the Leader becomes a much more dangerous game. But kids didn't think about that, so climbing on ledges and walking across narrow spaces was the norm. This story captures that daredevil feeling and shows what can happen when kids will do anything to follow the leader.

Okay, enough shameless publicity for my story. Imagine what will happen if I ever get my book published?:)

Thank you to all my new readers and I hope you will leave me a comment to let me know what you think of this crazy meandering blog. That's me a meanderer.I don't go in straight lines. That would be too boring. I move in and out of things, much more exciting. Hope you can follow the leader.LOL

Joining Blogs and Meeting New People

Tonight I spent practically the whole time joining blogs on the Facebook network of blogs. While I was going around and checking out all of these different blogs I met a lot of new people and learned a few new things. I realize it wasn't exactly the brightest thing to try to join as many as I could in a night, but it was fun!

One thing I learned was about ketchup. Who knew that ketchup was invented by the Chinese? Come to think of it, what wasn't invented by the Chinese?:) But this ketchup wasn't anything like the one we have today. By the Middle Ages it had evolved into a little different mixture, but it wouldn't be what you want to put on your hamburger or french fries today. Check it out on Marie's blog:

So this is probably a good time to welcome all my new readers. It's because of you that I decided to post tonight. I should be sleeping. Although some people probably get up at this time.:) Writers get used to being alone at night. It's cozy and no one bothers you. I did a lot of my serious writing at night and still do. I leave the TV on so it won't be so creepy and quiet, because being a writer I have a weird imagination and any little noise will make me jump. At least with the TV it's like white noise. This has nothing to do with anything, but when my daughter was studying for LSAT's the study guide recommended that she study with some kind of noise in the background. It actually helps you to focus on what you are studying. 

I'll try to highlight at least one of the blogs a day so you each get a turn. Marie's is really amazing and I hope you'll check it out. She has all of these old fashioned postcards and she gives their history. Quite remarkable, I think. I love those old fashioned pictures of cherubic little girls for valentines. So I'm looking forward to seeing what she'll be showing around that time. Come to think of it that is only a few weeks away.:)

I got some great comments on my YA novel, IF I COULD BE LIKE JENNIFER TAYLOR, today from someone who read it for me. She's an author, so that's really great to hear. I've been working on this book for over five years and I'll bet at least thirty people have read it at one time or another. I think I told you that it's out to a publisher now and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Leave a comment if you want to know what it's about or check out earlier posts. I think I said something about it in one of them. See how organized I am.:) But this kind of feedback gave me such joy! You always want people who read your books to understand what you're trying to say and enjoy the story. But when a reader just "gets" what you are writing that is the best! You then know that the story is in the best possible form it can be. Hey, it only took five years!:)

Now onto another important thing that happened yesterday. The ALA, American Library Association, came out with their awards yesterday. They're the ones who do the Newbery's and other important literary awards. I am very happy to say that two of my Facebook friends won awards. One is Kathi Appelt, who won an Honor Newbery for her book, "The Underneath", and Laurie Halse Anderson, who won the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. I have read her first novel, "Speak" and she certainly deserves this award. Check out all of the winners here:

There's been a lot of talk about the Newbery Award books and how maybe kids shouldn't be reading them in the earlier grades. Many of the earlier Newberys were given to very literary novels that don't ring a bell with kids today. Some teachers felt that last year's winner did not fit the reading level for some kids. It's a running discussion and I would love to know what anyone thinks about children reading Newbery books on their own. My feeling is that yes, the books should be taught, but maybe there needs to be a lot more teacher direction and oral reading both to and by the kids. Now on the other hand, one of my friends and fellow writing group member, Cynthia Lord won the Honor Newbery and several other prestigious awards for her novel, "Rules". This book does have a twelve year old character and is written in clear and direct fashion.

Well that's about it for now. I'll highlight another person's blog tomorrow.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Check out this blog

A friend of mine, Chris, is hosting Lea Schizas on her blog. Lea has written new book called Bubba and Giganto about bullying. This is always a hot subject for me considering how much bullying goes on in school today. Go and check it out:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The state of movies and movie theaters

I've been wanting to see a movie for weeks, but because of various reasons we didn't go. We usually go to the movies almost every weekend, so this was very unusual. Meanwhile the movies being released were of very high caliber and a couple were so good they've already received awards. When you are only one of four people in a family it's difficult to do everything you want all the time. We usually take turns on what movies we'll see, so I at least get to see the movie I want every fourth time. But the movies I wanted to see have piled up and now I have to classify them so I'll be able to see most of them. 

The first movie on my list was "Slumdog Millionaire" for many reasons. Although there are no recognizable stars, it was one of those movies that has already won two or more awards including, the Golden Globe for Best Picture and it has been nominated for an Academy Award. The movie played in our favorite theater, the Jacob Burns Center in Pleasantville, NY, for weeks. So tonight, when my husband and I finally found a time to go out together, we were going to see "Slumdog Millionaire". He wanted to see "Gran Torino" or "The Wrestler" and though they wouldn't be my first choice they are on my movie list. So we got to the Jacob Burns Center and didn't reserve on the computer beforehand. We got there in plenty of time to see the movie, but they were sold out for the 7:30 show and the other movie we wanted to see, "The Wrestler" was also sold out.  

One thing you should know is that we are members of this theater. Most people who go to it are members. The theater is usually clean and well run and though we have stood on long lines for first run movies, we usually get on line. But not this time and so we went to another theater that does not have membership and would not be my favorite theater. On the way we were looking for another theater that was showing "Slumdog Millionaire" and this one was showing it in about twenty minutes. So we got there in plenty of time and yes, it was sold out too! I thought what the f#$%! I didn't even like the theater. Here's the reason: The last time I had been at this theater I had broken a tooth on their popcorn and the manager never even refunded our money for the popcorn. Besides that he was kind of mean and the theater just sucks! They took a larger theater and cut it up into four or five littler ones. I was still hopeful that since they had renovated that the theaters might be better. But they weren't. 

We decided to go to see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" mainly because of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. We were told to come a little early due to the popularity of this movie.  

Since it was so cold out, in the teens, we ate dinner in a restaurant close to the theater and got back to the theater in plenty of time to get a good place in the line we thought would be forming. When we arrived we were the only ones there and they set up the ropes to start the line. We waited a few minutes and then as we were waiting in this tiny lobby, an usher was vacuuming up the layer of popcorn in front of us. She didn't do a good job and kept stopping every five minutes to talk to someone. The other usher told us we didn't need to wait and let us through to the theaters. But we couldn't go into the actual theater, so we had to stand in this tiny hallway that could fit maybe four people at a time and wait until the movie that was playing "Hotel for Dogs" let out and they could clean the theater. Finally the movie let out and hordes of kids and parents trickled out. When all had gone, and it probably took at least ten minutes to clear them all out, the usher went in and began to clean a theater that held eighty people by himself. Obviously, no one wanted to empty the garbage on a night in the teens, but the garbage can in front was overflowing and there was another popcorn-layered carpet here too. 

Another problem this theater had was its size. The seats were arranged in sets of four and three like an airplane. In fact, my husband said it was like airplane seating. The seats themselves did not move back and forth like airplane seats, but they were leaning back. The reason is that this theater has their movie screen high on the wall. It's necessary to lean back to see it if you are too far in front. The fact that there were only three seats on one side means that two couples can't sit together on that side. Most of the first two seats were filled and only the singleton seats were left. One man had to leave his family to sit next to us. But another two couples who couldn't get seats together gave up and got their money back. My husband looked at me and we both decided that these people were way too picky about their movie experience. I mean, you are seeing a movie through only one set of eyes and yes, it's fun to look over at your husband or daughters and throw a phrase to them every now and then. But it's only a movie and you can live without them for a couple of hours. We've done it ourselves in tight situations. 

Now to the movie itself. I would describe it as a cross between "Forest Gump" and "Little Big Man". Only it's in reverse. You meet Benjamin Button as a baby whose father wants to kill him, but he leaves him on a step instead. If not for a wonderful woman who saves him and becomes his mother, Benjamin would have died. The story is told from a diary that Daisy, Benjamin's lover, has her daughter read to her on her death bed. It's interesting that Daisy is dying during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where the story begins. 

I'm not going to say anymore, because anything more I could say would give away the ending and I always hate that. Go and see it to learn more or read another review that gives everything about the movie. All I will say is that this story becomes farfetched toward the end and though I am a person who will cry easily when there is a sad scene in a movie, I surfed over the scenes without feeling a thing. I felt that I was being manipulated and that will quench any tears I might have had. I'd be interested in other people's reactions. So please, if you have seen this movie, I'd love to discuss it with you. For me, this seems like a great vehicle for Brad Pitt, who does look very hot in certain scenes, and a great opportunity for Cate Blanchett who plays the younger and older Daisy. Some of the special effects are kind of amazing too. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Inauguration Excitement

I'm practically jumping out of my skin. That's how excited I am about tomorrow's inauguration! I only remember being this excited a few times in my life. The first one will show my age, but I remember watching JFK's inauguration on my family's black and white TV. I was a senior in high school and we were given the day off to watch it. There was no recording, no Tivo, no videotape, so you had to watch it when it happened.:) I remember the pomp and the ceremony of Eisenhower getting into the limo and Kennedy shaking his hand. I remember Kennedy's speech and how excited I was about what he said. No one in government had ever asked me to do anything. Here was Kennedy, probably the handsomest government official I'd ever seen, and at 16, which I was at the time, he was the equivalent of a rock star to me. He and Jackie were the super stars we worship today. They televised the ceremony, of course, and the speech. Before that afternoon I had never paid much attention to what presidents said. After all I grew up during Ike and Mamie and things were always at a very low pitch. But here comes this firebrand guy with great hair that falls in his face and I was hooked. I couldn't stop watching it, even in black and white. So when he started speaking and in his speech he said that phrase that everyone now knows by heart: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.", I was ready to go to Washington. 

I didn't have much of a chance to do anything for my country, since I was in high school and then went to college. But even after the tragedy of his assassination, the spirit he instilled in me was still there. When I graduated two years after his death, I wanted to go into the Peace Corps. In fact, my husband and I decided to go and we were accepted and ready to go to Ethiopia when something stopped us. I mean we had everything from the Peace Corps and were slated to go for training, but at the last minute we said no. Instead I wound up teaching for two years in Cincinnatus, NY. It was a very small rural school district with all grades in one building. That in itself was another experience, but not quite the Peace Corps. 

When I saw president-elect Obama asking people to go out and do service for the country for and with their neighbors I felt the same kind of spirit begin to build in me again. It's been a long time coming, but I hope that the young people of this country start to feel it too. We didn't need to help in our own country then, because things had been so good for so long. But today we are in real need in America. Too many people have fallen into a ditch of economic despair and they have been there too long. They have become accustomed to their lack of economic strength to the point where whole neighborhoods seem downtrodden. 

I hope that Obama will enliven everyone to take a good look at these places and that the people who live in these neighborhoods will also realize that they can help themselves. A kind of inertia happens when you realize that no matter how hard you have worked you are not going to be where you want to be. A kind of depression happens when you work so hard with no real returns. It isn't the fault of these hard-working people. Instead it is the fault of a government that has ignored them and given its time and effort to people who don't need help. I'm so glad that Obama decided to make yesterday, Monday, a day of service. I'm also happy to see that he didn't just give lip service to the idea, but he pitched in and did the work. He's finished campaigning, so this must be for real.:)

I'll be watching tomorrow with people I know. We've all worked hard for over four years to make sure that Bush was going to be gone and replaced with someone who had the hearts and minds of every American in his programs. Maybe we won't get a miracle, but at least we have someone who cares and thinks. I'm just so excited. Oh, yeah, the second and last time I felt this way was the night before my wedding day! I hope it works out like my marriage did. We're married forty-three years, although not all of them were sunshine and roses. But can you believe that I am feeling this way? Aren't you all feeling this way? If you're reading, please leave me a comment. I'd love to know how other people are feeling. It's a new day for America, and not the Reagan kind.:)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thoughts about traveling and boredom

I probably could have watched the Obama train experience all day. There were commentators sitting on the roof of a building in Washington, DC who had been there for 10 hours just commenting on the events going on with the slowest moving train in history!:) But I was lucky and it was my daughter's birthday. So we had to leave the house around noon and didn't get home until around sixish. We got the tail end of the trip with the train inching into Union Station at a foot a minute. The cameras never left the train and recorded every excruciating minute as the train came into the station. Then they trailed Obama from the train and watched as he shook every single hand of every person who was guarding him and then showed us the procession as he left Union Station and went on to Blair House for the remainder of his time as president-elect. Yet the atmosphere around him and the reverence with which the commentators spoke of him was as if he were president. 

Did they get a glimpse of the soon-to-be first lady dancing on the train at her birthday party? Michelle Obama and my daughter have the same birthday. Sara celebrated by having us go to a diner that is an hour away from us. We had to travel over roads we have traveled before and see things we've seen a number of times. XM Radio kept us all sane and helped us forget our rumbling stomachs. But it was worth the trip. The diner is near Poughkeepsie and actually on the outskirts of Hyde Park almost right across from FDR's house. 

Yesterday Sara and my other daughter put the Wii together, although it was mostly Sara and she spent hours playing on it. She wanted the Wii Fit and we also got the Sports Bundle in case we wanted to play other games. So she played and since we only had one remote I couldn't do anything but watch. Watching someone play a virtual game has to be one of the most boring things to do. Second only to watching water to see if it will boil or waiting for the timer to go off. And then my other daughter, Rachel, decided we needed Dance, Dance, Revolution. So today after we had stuffed ourselves with one of the best breakfasts I have ever had we went shopping. I had The Eveready Breakfast: 2 eggs or in my case egg whites in an omelette; 3 huge pancakes covered in powdered sugar; 2 slices of bacon; 2 links of sausage which I seriously wanted to marry they were so good. This was accompanied by both strawberry whipped butter and regular whipped butter and for a little extra, real maple syrup in its own jar. 

After I finished this breakfast, adding 2 cups of coffee, black I had so much energy I wanted to go skiing or at least sliding down a snow-covered hill. But instead, we had to go shopping for guess what? More Wii accessories. We needed another 2 remotes and of course the Dance, Dance Revolution, and an HD cable to attach everything, plus a charger so everything will be ready for our virtual experience. I can't wait to use the Dance, Dance Revolution. I love to dance and this should be fun. I hope. But the best thing about this shopping experience was that with all of the people out of work, as we are, and the whole economic picture of stores laying off people and going out of business, Best Buy was jumping with customers and they had boxes of Guitar Hero's in the aisles. People were crowding around the Wii games and lining up at registers. There is a Wii craze and our family is finally in it!  One boy eyed our Dance, Dance Revolution II and said, "I didn't know they made a Dance, Dance Revolution II." The look of reverence in his eyes was amazing.

So now that so many of us are out of work we can still get our virtual exercise.:) Plus the Wii has so many other features like World News and Weather. It also has some TV channels and Internet hook up so you can see websites if you want to. You can also hook up your computer and see your desktop on Wii. Except for the balance board, which needs to be treated gently, everything is small and the Wii itself is as thin as a DVD case. But even though Best Buy was jumping and the shopping center was filled for Target and a few other stores I knew that there was a Circuit City there too. Circuit City, if anyone doesn't know by now is going out of business and has to liquidate all of its stores. This would have been the place to try to find the Wii accessories. We might have saved money. But the depression of going into a store that is going out of business is severe. We stopped into a Circuit City before Christmas and it was not a fun experience. I can't imagine what they look like now. We went into CompUSA a few days before it closed and the atmosphere is almost funereal. People scrambled to find bargains and shelves began to be disheveled as bargain hunters grabbed what they could and left the shelves in a mess.

What I did to keep from being bored was look around at the scenery on the way home. Up there the Hudson River is frozen in most spots. I have never seen such cold weather for so long up here. Usually we have a thaw and then it freezes. Then it snows a little and melts and it starts all over again. Not this year. We've had snow on the ground since New Year's. Anyway, I wasn't bored as I imagined a Currier and Ives scene in case the Hudson froze around New York City. It used to be frozen on the river there all the time and people skated there. If you've seen the Currier and Ives scenes you have seen that one with the children and women in victorian costume skating on the frozen river. We have come a long way from that time. People go shopping now on cold winter afternoons instead of playing in the snow. Kids get excited over virtual games instead of playing winter games themselves. Anyway, just my thoughts and I'd take that trip again up to Hyde Park for breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you are near any of the places I mentioned, I live in North White Plains, NY, but anyone who knows the Taconic Pkwy and Rte 9 can get there. Just get off at Fishkill and follow Rte 9 through Hyde Park and you'll see the Eveready Diner on the right! Go here for more info:

With about an hour to go we turned to the one channel on XM that will help on a trip: The E Street Station which plays all Bruce Springsteen all the time, 24 hours a day. Today Darren Aronofsky, the director of the movie "The Wrestler" was on for an hour, since Bruce Springsteen wrote "The Wrestler" for his movie. Mr. Aronofsky is not the person you would think about to host a show of Springsteen greats. But he had on his friend who is a long time fan and between the two of them they played about 7 songs, playing "The Wrestler" twice. I didn't mind, because the one thing you want on a trip is Bruce Springsteen music. Listening to this show I didn't notice the time and as we pulled into the driveway with the show still on I was reluctant to leave the car. Of course, temps in the teens and snow covering ice might have something to do with it. 

I thought I'd stay home in the warm house, but that was not to be for me. I realized we didn't have a birthday cake, so I had to go to the grocery store to get one and of course, I didn't like the one with Happy Birthday written on it already. So I decided to write it on myself. I had gotten a cake covered in chocolate pieces so it was difficult. I managed to get Happy written and Birthday, but that left practically no room for Sara. I realize I really, really suck at writing on cakes.:) We can't all be perfect. She didn't care and Carvel cake is always good. But I couldn't believe I had to go out in that frigid cold. Seriously, I must love that girl!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Haven't posted much, because from Sunday to now I've been really busy. But I can't really explain what made me busy. It's more updating computer things and answering email. I should be writing more but haven't really been doing that. 

One thing I want to tell you about is a new video blog from Nikki Strong. She's done two posts and she is funny and cute. She's on Facebook so if you're there go check her out. I think you will probably have to be her friend to do it. I'll try to share it here if I can. She is great! Go to my Profile page on Facebook:

I'm still keeping my fingers crossed about my sub out to Boyds Mills Press. Anyone who sees this please keep your fingers crossed for me. It's been five years of revising and getting it ready and if they don't want it, then I'll send it somewhere else. I am determined to get it published.

I need to read the novel I wrote for NaNo. I have a lot of research to do for it so it will not look so lame when you read it. But that will take so long and I don't know when to do it. So much to think about and it's so ridiculous to do it. Am I raving? Yes I am...

Anyway, writing needs to be more of a priority for me. I wind up doing everything else but writing. Except when my sub needs to be there and then I'm writing my chapter and getting it sent to my critique group. That reminds me that I got back most of the comments on this last chapter and still need to write the party scene. I have recorded My Sweet 16 to see what kids are doing. I'm shocked at the themes they have. But I'll have to choose one of the themes for Amber's Party.

Counting the days until the Obama Inauguration. It's starting to sink in that we are actually going to have a president who is not such a dick. LOL. Seriously, I am hoping that Obama is going to change things for the better. I'd like to believe that after eight years of things sucking that we are going to be better off in this country. I signed up on Facebook for the inauguration feed from CNN. I'll be watching it on TV as much as I can. We wanted to go to Washington, DC for it, but it's going to be chaos there. I was there for a demonstration and I know how crazy it can get there. But still, watching it on TV will be just as good on HD.:)

One thing I wanted to say is how wonderful it is to know so many writers who are friends of my friends. I am hoping that I will be learning more and more about you as we get to know each other.

Everyone stay warm.  Many of us are in freezing and below freezing temps now. We're going to have snow again!! More tomorrow.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Using your life in your writing

Writing has a way of sneaking in the events and feelings in our lives that we'd rather keep hidden. You're writing about a character and the events of this character's life aren't anything like yours. You're writing dialogue and suddenly you realize you've put in a flashback to an event in your own life. The character is reminiscing about your feelings concerning an event that has already passed. When that happens it can be pretty creepy. It's as if the character was searching around in your brain waiting to pick out relevant events and reclassifying them somehow. The events happened to you, but maybe not in the same way. Or the outcome is different. 

This happens to me frequently. My characters have discussions and use the parts of my life that fit with them. I never think about which events they'll choose. It's like real conversation. You say something and it reminds you of something else. My own life gets woven into the story even if I didn't have that intention at all. But I find that when I do this it gives my characters a little more depth. 

It's difficult to go back to being a teenager and the feelings I had when I was younger. But it's also a look back at the teenager you were. It's  a way to almost rewrite your life as a new character. But it's also a way for kids to see the hopes and dreams of your own teen years. Authors connect with readers in a very intimate way. 

I am in the middle of reading the seventh book of The Dresden Files. The author has me so hooked I must read on through each chapter. Occasionally, I'll find a chapter where I can stop reading, but the story is so compelling it is difficult to stop reading it. I am sure that though this is about a wizard in Chicago the author, Jim Butcher, has put parts of his own life into it. I'm thinking about the family scenes and his feelings about children. But it is also as if you, the reader, are able to peek into these various lives, especially the wizard's life. As writers we need to do this to bring our readers into the story. I think that is why I am so in love with this series. That and the fact that the main character is not bad looking. I'm a sucker for a good looking guy.:)

Happy Weekend everyone. We're probably going to be snowed in this weekend.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Writing the Party Scene

I have decided to post this at and here. I have a blog there, but I'm liking this blog better. So if you want to read earlier posts go to: to see them.

So as far as writing goes, I've subbed my chapter for the month to my critique group and waiting to hear back about the comments. Meanwhile I'm constantly occupied thinking about Amber's Sweet 16 Party. Anyone who is reading this, please, if you have been to a Sweet 16 recently would you let me know what kinds of themes kids are doing these days? I can't seem to find one that would fit a 16 year old today. I've been to parties, but they were 10 years ago and would be dated for the book.

Amber is a bit of a spoiled brat, so she will probably want to match what she is wearing to her party's theme. But again without a theme for the party, this is difficult. I'll do some research myself as well to see if I can find a theme. This is the climax of the story, so it's very important that it is all going to go right. Here is where Amber, who hates both Lauren and Jenny, finds that her little plan is not going to work after all and Lauren's life gets way more complicated. If you don't know any of these characters, but they intrigue you I am happy.:) That means the book will appeal to many people.

Meanwhile, please send me your suggestions. I have a whole month to write this scene, but I'm not going to take that long. Once I find a theme I'll be able to write it. Help!!!

Looked for writing jobs on craigslist today and many of them just aren't for me. Also, so many of them aren't worth doing for such a small amount of money. I'll keep looking. I did find a few tutoring jobs too, but also way too small an amount for me. Would love to just write, but need to have an income too.:)
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