No, not the Kelly Clarkson CD.  I much prefer the second one, anyway.  Half those songs are on my Release Point playlist.  🙂

Now’s the typical time of year for people to think about what they’re grateful for.  It’s really something we should (and need to) remember all year long, not just at the end of November.  But as long as we’re thinking of things we’re grateful for, I thought I’d toss my list out there.

1.  I’m grateful for Ryan getting a 6-month reprieve from surgery.  In addition, I’m grateful to Dr. Davidson for not just being one of the best pediatric orthopedists in the country, not just for the time he devotes to Shriners Hospital (for which I’m pretty sure he gets paid a lot less than CHOP pays him), but for not pushing me when he knew I wasn’t excited about the idea of putting Ryan through surgery again.  I’m also grateful he made me realize during yesterday’s visit that the idea of having preventive surgery now will make Ryan’s life easier for the next 20-something years.  Now I’m beginning to think that we should really give some thought to doing this next year.  AFTER he finishes school. 

2.  I’m grateful for the fact that at this moment in time, we have not one but two homes.  Not for long, thankfully.  (I hope the Reyes family gets settled into a new place soon.)  I can’t wait to get into the house.  This time next month, we’ll still be looking for things we packed but we’ll be living in a wonderful, warm, cozy, welcoming little place with a yard and SO much potential.  Thank you, Mr. D, for selling it to us, and thank you to Kim Douglas, realtor extraordinaire, for insisting we take a look even when I said, “Ew, not there.”  I was SO wrong.  I promise, we’ll make good memories there.

3.  I’m grateful for my yarn.  It’s a silly thing but since Laura’s inspired me to knit more, I’m obsessed.  I’ve made baby hats, larger hats, mittens, and I’m working on a hat/mitten set for my niece, whose 1st birthday is in a couple of weeks.  (Where did the time go?!?)  (I’m also so grateful that little angel is happy and healthy!)  Lately I come home and I can’t wait to get my hands on my latest project.  Unfortunately that’s not a writing project, but I’m sure I’ll get back to that.  I probably, then, should just be thankful for creativity.  Without it, I’d be a crazy person right now. 

4.  I’m grateful that my Golden Heart entry is in the mail.  (I sent it along with my package for the Reyes family.  Different addresses, of course.)  Now I just have to pray it gets there before next Tuesday’s deadline.  Why did I not ask for receipt confirmation?  <sigh>  I know where the rest of the story is going now that the synopsis is firmed up, and in my not-so-humble opinion, I don’t think the story’s ever beeen as good as it is right now.  Hard to believe I finaled in the NJ contest when the beginning badly needed to be edited out.  Thank you to the judges for judging me on the writing, not on the story. 

5.  I’m grateful for my health.  My dad has long said, Be thankful for your health, because without that, you have nothing.  I say this as I sniffle through another case of activated allergies (thank you, Shadow, for sitting on my sweater) and homicidal dustbunnies that have been roused from hibernation by all the packing we’ve done over the last few weeks.  But it could be a whole lot worse, and once in a while I think back to my biopsy in March, and once the PTSD fades, I’m grateful that we’re all mostly healthy.  Physically, anyway.  Mentally…eh.  😉

6.  I’m grateful for my family.  Both the family I have here at home (John, Ryan and Alex), the family spread out across the country (you know who you are), and my Valley Forge Romance Writers family.  The next few days are going to be difficult without an email-from-Laura fix, but we’ll get back to normal by Monday, if not earlier.  Robin and Robin, I wanna just hug you both.  All my VFRW sisters, I can’t WAIT ’til the party next month.  We’re going to have SUCH a blast!!  Billy Joel said it best:  Home is just another word for you.

One last and most important thank you to the benevolent Creator who put me here and maintained the sense of humor enough to let me stay here this long.  I’m so glad we believe in each other.  I hope I can one day make You proud.


What a Small World, Part 2: Contact

Yes!  CNN wrote back to me:

“Greetings from CNN,

Thank you for your compassionate spirit and your desire to help Jonathan Reyes, the little boy whose family lost everything in the California wildfires.  As you saw in our story, Jonathan also lost his hot wheel cars which were very dear to him.  As a child with autism he found solace in his playtime with his hot wheels.  
Because you’ve written asking how you can help we want to make some information available to you.  Kara Finnstrom’s story on this family made us all aware that they lost their home and all their belongings in the fire.  Therefore there is no home address to which donations and such can be sent.  We’ve reached out to let them know that some of our viewers have expressed a desire to help them.  They were very touched by your kindness and now have a P.O. Box address.  That address is:
The Reyes Family
 P. O. Box 922157 
Sylmar, CA  91392 
Donations, packages, and/or well wishes can be sent to them at this address. Again, thank you for your heartfelt desire to help this family and their child.  We are proud to know we have viewers like you.
CNN Viewer Communications Management”

Let’s DO something!!!

What a Small World

I read this article on CNN about a family in California that lost their home in the fire.  Complicating matters was the idea of how to explain the situation to their 7 year old son Jonathan, who has autism.  I spent half an hour trying to find out how to contact the writer but I couldn’t find anything other than the CNN comments section, so I sent a message that way, offering the boys’ outgrown clothes that I found and boxed as part of getting ready to move.  I can send a crocheted afghan and I’d love to send some Hot Wheels if it makes him smile again. 

It made me think about what a small world autism is.  We take care of our own.  We’ve all stood in those shoes and heard the diagnosis and thought, “Okay, now what?”  We’ve all put our children on The Bus and watched The Bus pull away with precious, precious cargo.  Some of us have been lucky enough to hear our child call us Mom or Dad; some still dream of that day.  (Some may never get it.) 

The Reyes family is going through something I pray I never have to experience, but autism?  We have that in common.  Whatever they need that I can send their way, along with our prayers that they get settled again soon (if only for Jonathan’s sake), I’ll be happy to do it, because I know if, God forbid, the same happens to us, some other mom out there will be happy to do the same for us. 

When I hear about donations or sending supplies, I’ll pass the word along.  In the mean time, please say a prayer for all those who lost something in the fires.  And remember to say Thank You while you’re at it.

Update 11/20/08:  I tried another route to get in touch with Madison Park, who wrote the CNN article; I’m hoping I can get through to her soon.  It’s possible there’s a charity group collecting money or clothes for the family, or maybe a local business or bank has a fund set up to help.  When I know how to send help for the Reyes family, I’ll post it.  Thanks to all for your kind responses!  We CAN and WILL do something!

So What

I’ve been informed that there’s “too much damn baseball” on my blog.  (I love ya anyway, Stevie.)  So what.  I can’t apologize for the things I feel passionate about, and I don’t expect anyone else to apologize for their passions either.  Unless, of course, their passions happen to be against Federal, State, or local laws. 

I have too much yarn, pattern books, and knitting/crochet supplies.  In fact, I just sent my husband the link to something on my Christmas wish list:  a set of gorgeous, interchangeable circular knitting needles.  I’d feel bad about it, considering we’re moving and we need stuff for the house, but I’ve tried these needles out and they’re SO light, comfortable and smooth that I fell in love at first stitch.  With them, I can make things that will outlast me.  Sure, I can make the same things with lesser quality tools.  So what.  I don’t need them, but I want them anyway.

I spend more time writing than I do cooking.  So what.  My kids aren’t starving.  (And I could certainly stand to drop a pound or two.) 

I’ve packed things up from the apartment that I haven’t yet unpacked in the house.  So what.  Right now there’s no place to put them.  When the big furniture is in, I’ll go through my knick-knacks and chatchkis and decide what goes and what stays.  Right now, it all goes to the house.  (Can you say “Yard Sale”?)

I love mocha.  So what.  There’s a lot worst substances to be addicted to.  This one happens to be legal, and I can drive while drinking a mocha.  (Maybe I drive a little faster.  So what.)  If my mocha addiction keeps someone at Starbucks employed, isn’t that a good thing? 

Over the last few months I’ve learned that I have value, and I have every right to walk the halls of anywhere I am with my head held high.  It took me over 40 years to accept and embrace that thought .  I love who I love, and I care about the things I care about.  If you or anyone else has a problem with that, So What.  And if I sounded like Maxine just now…you know what’s coming next, right?  🙂

Double A

As opposed to AA, which Laura was certain I’d need after the NJ conference.  I was actually pretty well behaved.  It’s a trade-off for not singing Monkees karaoke with the rest of the VFRW.  Of all the things I regret doing in my life, that’s not one of them.  🙂 

I was listening to the iPod this morning when a song came on that Robin Lanier recommended, Dave Potts’ “If I Broke the Record”.  It’s perfect for Release Point because it mentions wanting to play the game clean and pure, the way it was meant to be.  I started noticing a connection between writing and baseball, and I came to this conclusion:

Writer with finished novel, no agent =  A ball

Writer with finished novel and an agent =  Double-A ball

Writer with novel, agent, and major contest win =  Triple-A

Published author = Major Leagues

In single A, you’re good (how many people say they’re going to write a book, but they never get around to it, much less finish it?) and you know what you want, but there’s a long road ahead of you.  In double A, you’ve got someone else believing you can do it–or else you wouldn’t have stepped foot out of single-A–but you’re still a long way from The Show.  In triple A, you’re getting your name out there, people notice you; you’re really close but you’re not there yet.  In The Bigs, The Majors, The Show, you’re there and you’re going to have to fight tooth and nail to stay there.  But once you’re there, you might wind up back in the minors but you’ve been to The Show and you know what it’s like.  You’re among the Best of the Best. 

Me, I’m in double A, and I’m happy to be here (“and I hope I can help the team”).  I’ve cleared one hurdle, and it feels damn good to know someone else believes in what I can do.  (Someone I’m not related or married to.)  But I want to be in the majors, just like the rest of us down here in the minors.  We’re not all going to make it, not all of us have what it takes, but we’re damn well working on it. 

I would’ve written for meal money.  🙂

I Don’t Feel Tardy

Sorry, I was thinking of Van Halen when I opened the blog and that’s the first thing that came to mind. 

If anyone’s wondering where I am, I’m trapped in moving/deadline hell.  It’s fun, though; there’s an awesome sense of accomplishment when you look at a large stretch of carpet laden with dustbunnies, and you can say, “I moved the furniture that used to be there.”  Things in the old apartment are really narrowing down, while the boxes in the new house are really piling up.  But we have 4 sets of shelving in the basement, a new wine cooler (not the bottle kind, the kind that keeps your bottles cold), and a new sofa/recliner set.  And they’re NOT earth-tones!!  I consider that a major fait accompli. 

I’m also working on rewrites of Release Point for the GH contest.  Money is due next Monday, entries are due 12/3.  I’m determined to get the entries in the mail by the 22nd, only because I don’t want to wait ’til the last minute and have to FedEx my entry.  Over the last week, I’ve learned that if 5 people tell you to excise the beginning of your MS, they’re probably right.  I heard it not only from the final round judges from the NJRW/PYHIAB contest but from my new critique buddy, Robin Lanier.  (The baseball sister I never had, but I’ve got one now!!)  Her input was invaluable, and after I quit grumbling about having to “kill my darlings”, I realized that the new beginning is going to make a lot more sense.  If anyone wants to see the “deleted scenes” after RP gets published, I’ll be happy to share them, because all the stuff with Paul and baseball at the beginning of the story is now on the cutting room floor.  <sigh>  It’s not amputation, it’s surgery. 

I need a nap SO bad, I can’t believe it, but my new treat in the middle of all this moving and frantic writing is a mocha at Wawa (or anyplace else that has it).  I picked the wrong time to discover coffee.  🙂

A New Day

Welcome to Bizarro World.  The Phillies have won the World Series; a black man was just elected President; and today, John and I are buying a house.  What could possibly happen next, that I sell a book?  Right now, I believe that absolutely anything is possible.  As Laura said last night, “Tomorrow we will wake up to a new America, and I can’t wait“. 

It’s a new day, people.  It’s a new world.  Republican, Democrat, or Independent, I think we’re in for good things in the next four years.  I can think of a few people who I hope will be pleasantly surprised.  (No, Dominic, Obama is NOT going to take away all your guns.  Just the ones that blow deer to smithereens.) 

For the first time in eight years, I’m excited to see what we have ahead of us.  I don’t dread tomorrow like I did under W.  Today I believe anything is possible.


It’s still early on Tuesday morning and the polls in PA just opened less than an hour ago, but I’m already hearing (from someone who tried to vote, saw a line of 40-something people out the door, and walked away) that lines are long for polling places.  If I didn’t know he was going to try again at lunchtime, I’d tell him, “Vote anyway.” 

Schools are closed so kids are home for the day.  I slept in an hour later than usual and I still have a pounding headache.  Probably because tomorrow is Closing Day.  If McCain wins, I’m going to bite my lip and pray things work out in spite of him.  If Obama wins, I’m going to smile and pray things work out in everyone’s favor.  Today I have to get the check for the title company, then run a few errands.  I’m going to vote somewhere between when the lines go down because everyone’s gone to work and when the lines heat up again because work has let out for the day.  Then I’m going to Starbucks and telling them, “I voted!” and I’ll get my free tall mocha.  I was going to vote anyway, but a free mocha just ices the cake for me.

Every year in our house, we got The Speech about the imperative to vote, and how it’s not just a right, it’s a privilege.  My father came to the US 50 years ago (last September) with barely enough money for a hot dog once he got off the boat.  As a teenager, he walked away from the only life he knew because he’d seen life in East Germany and he wanted something better than that.  That’s all any of us wants, right?  We don’t need to have too much; just enough, enough to keep food in our bellies and a safe shelter over our heads, enough to educate our children and see that they have more than we had.  To ensure we keep “enough”, we vote for representatives who we hope will speak for us.  Time sometimes shows us that some speak for us and some don’t, but first it’s out job to make that decision on who represents us in making the rules that govern the land.

So even if you’re voting Democrat and your neighbor is voting Republican doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote because you know your vote will get canceled out.  Vote anyway.  So what if it’s raining; vote anyway.  So what if the lines are long; vote anyway.  Maybe you have to take the kids with you (as I do) and they get antsy waiting on line; vote anyway.  (I plan on showing Ryan what the polling booth looks like; he probably won’t get to stand in with me when I cast my ballot but I want him to see what it looks like in there so he’s not intimidated when it’s his turn in 5 years.)  Even if you don’t care one way or the other–this year, I can’t fathom anyone thinking that–or your guy hasn’t got a chance in hell of getting elected over Obama or McCain; vote anyway.  Maybe you’ll find out you really do care, or maybe the guy you voted for doesn’t win, but you can at least say you let your voice be heard. 

Sarah Palin’s been saying a lot about patriotism over the last week or so, and while I’m not her biggest fan, in a way she’s got a point.  Maybe more than serving in the military, voting is our patriotic duty, and one each of us should undertake with a conscious, thoughtful effort.  History has shown that people have died for this privilege, not just those with guns and Army boots but those on homemade rafts floating with the tide to the Florida shores; those who’ve hidden away in containers on cargo ships; those who packed boats pulling into Ellis Island.  People die trying to come here for the privilege of having their voices heard.  Are we going to let these peoples’ deaths be in vain, or are we going to honor their valiant efforts by speaking up?

Go vote, people.