Friday, July 15, 2011

Guess I'm Just Not a Classy Author

Do you know the difference between “classy” authors and working writers?

Classy authors never show their toes in public. Writers go barefoot as often as they can.

Classy authors are always dressed up. Writers don’t comb their hair before lunch and wear sweat suits while they’re working if no one is coming over. Because I live in Florida, I’m usually in shorts with bare feet.

Classy authors never yell. Writers get excited and scream when their kids are pounding on the door, the printer won’t print, or the power goes off unexpectedly. We used to live in a rural area where our power transformers were mounted atop high telephone poles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been hard at work, heard a large kaboom, and stepped outside to discover that a squirrel had committed suicide on my telephone pole. Being a dedicated female writer, naturally I went back into the house, called Florida Power, and went shopping.

Classy Christian authors only read newspapers, the Bible, and My Utmost for His Highest. Writers read those things, too. But we also read the comics first thing in the morning and wistfully peek at Best Seller lists. We read other authors and gleefully note grammatical errors in the margins.

Classy authors do not eat except at banquets where they’re always the speaker and guest of honor. Writers snack all the time and consequently gain two pounds per book—unless they learn to chew sugarless gum instead.

Classy authors have housekeepers who cook for their families. Writers make tons of spaghetti and memorize the phone number for any pizza man who’ll deliver. I’m happy to report that the Schwan man and I are now on a first name basis.

In 1983, when I started writing, I wanted to be a classy author. I’d dream about people standing in three-mile lines for my book signings and people stopping me on the street and saying, “Aren’t you--”

But five years later, I actually wrote a book that a publisher wanted to buy. And the night after I got “the Call,” I lay awake thinking that the time had come to get serious, people were actually going to read what I wrote. And it might change their lives the way some books have changed mine. (After all, I learned how to flirt by reading Gone with The Wind.) And that God had just given me an awesome responsibility. . .

A few summers ago I went with my husband’s youth group to a camp where they have horseback riding. I mounted my hot, sweaty mare and leaned forward to brush the horseflies from her face. “What’s this horse’s name?” I asked the trail guide.

“Classy,” he said.

I grinned. I knew that was as close to classy as I would ever be.

Tee hee.  Of course the above mini-speech is all in fun; I actually know many classy authors who happen to also be Real People. So that's what I try to be. Real. Honest. Transparent. In my writing work and in my life.

Because it's really the best way to be.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wildlife photography

Those of you who enjoy wildlife photography should enjoy this short talk by a National Geographic photographer. Great pictures, too!

Sorry for the long time between posts--I've been visiting my new granddaughter!  She's adorable!


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Dear Photograph

My friend Deb Raney sent me a link to this site--dear    As you'll see from visiting the site, it's a collection of old photos and present places, along with a note from the sender to the photograph. Some of these will make you smile, others will make you teary-eyed.  But definitely worth a visit, and who knows?  You might have a photo and place you need to revisit, too.

P.S.  Taking a picture of a picture is much harder than it looks!



Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A Freaky Fourth--Special Alert

Charley, our 200-pound oldest mastiff, doesn't like thunderstorms or fireworks.  In fact, the older he gets, the less he likes those things.

So on July fourth, my husband and I took the dogs into the bedroom, closed the blinds, and turned up the TV loud.  We tried to act as though nothing were out of the ordinary (and missed a lot of fireworks) so our dogs would stay calm.  This approach worked pretty well until it was time to turn off the TV and go to sleep.

I had hoped most of the noise would be finished by eleven, but a few stubborn merry-makers kept the firecrackers going--some right behind our house.  Charley did what he always does when he's frightened--he threw himself on the bed, but he's only able to throw the top HALF of himself onto the bed.  When this happens, I always wrap him in a blanket to make him feel secure (see photo).

At about 11:30, though, my hubby pulled Charley off the bed and we went to sleep.  Charley stuck his head under the bed and everything seemed okay.

Now you have to understand something for the rest of this story to make sense. Our bed is one of those very heavy (I'm talking more than 500 pounds, certainly) foam mattress sets, the kind that last forever and weigh a ton.   Plus, it's very tall, even though there are only about ten inches of empty space between the floor and the edge of the bed frame.

So all is well, but I wake up around 2:30 a.m.  I hear odd scratching sounds, and it sounds like one of the dogs are under the bed.  I can't see a thing, but I don't want the poor dog to panic, so I turn on a light and wake up my hubby.

Uh oh.  We see that Charley is under the bed, but only his front half is really beneath the bed frame.  His back legs and rear end are sticking out.  So I try to grab him around his middle and slide him out--no way.  He's too heavy, too wedged, and I can't budge him.

So hubby gets up and tries to help me.  We can't move the dog.  We try to lift the bed, but it's amazingly heavy.  With one of us lifting and one of us pulling the dog, we seem to only wedge him in further, and now I can see that the bed frame is actually pushing into the dog.  I begin to worry about internal injuries and wonder if dogs can get bruises.

Finally the adrenaline kicks in.  Hubster lifts the bed in a superhuman effort, I pull on the dog, and Charley is free!  He's stunned and still frightened, so I grab his security blanket (yes, he has one), and call him over to it.   Within minutes, he's shaking the blankey and getting into his regular bed.

Hubby is moaning and groaning about his back, and my own back feels a little worse for wear.  But we've saved the dog.

And next year, I'm stuffing all my quilts and blankets under the bed to fill that empty space. I don't want to go through this again.


Purple Rain . . .

It's July (can you believe it?) And it's time to focus on crepe myrtles. If you're not from the south, they are decidious trees that have delicate lacy blossoms that furl on the end of each branch like an artist's fluffy paint brush. They come in many colors, but the two at the front of my house are purple--lavender, to be exact.

After the tree puts forth its blossoms, the purple flower falls off, leaving a seed pod that goes from green to dark brown before dropping its seeds . What some people don't know is that if you snip the seed pod off right after flowering, the branch will hurry to send forth another shoot with another plume of flowers. As soon as my trees begin to flower in May, I'm out there snipping seed pods, and I get flowers and more flowers and more flowers . . .

And do you know why I love them? Not only because a flowering tree is prettier than a green one, but because you can stand beneath a crepe myrtle, grab a hold of a branch, shake gently, and find yourself in a glorious downfall of purple rain.

A few years ago, the little boy who lives across the street came over and I let our trees "rain" on him.
My kids are too old for purple rain, but I'm not. Here's hoping that you'll find some time to enjoy something as lovely as a crepe myrtle this week.


Monday, July 04, 2011

Patriotic Quiz in honor of July 4th

And a glorious July 4th to you!  I'll be working, but maybe we can take some time to throw something on the grill.

Take this quiz to see how much you really know about the government of our country!  I got 25 right, but I think I got cocky and overconfident at the end . . .

How did you do?


Friday, July 01, 2011

Dog: Please throw my stick? Pretty please?

You dog lovers will adore this--an otherwise brilliant border collie type tries to get a stranger to throw his stick so the dog can fetch it.  So sweet!