Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Night before Christmas or How to Survive the Gifts

                The big event every year is the Christmas Eve party at Granny’s house, followed by the New Year’s Eve party given for the grandkids and their friends. The parents are free to party with their friends on New Year’s Eve and the kids, left with me and their grandfather, get to do their own celebration.  There is a plan to this madness, which I’ll go into at the end of the post, but let’s start with Christmas Eve.
                Unfortunately only seven of the grandkids make this event, the other two live in Wyoming, but it sounds like all nine are here and it can get a bit loud. As each family arrives, gifts in hand, I direct them to the basement where the gifts are placed on the pool table. While I try to get the food on the table the youngest follows me around, playing the game “20 questions”.
                “Were you able to find that game I asked for, Granny?”
                “What game?” I reply, trying really hard not to laugh.
                “You know the game for my X Box.”
                “I don’t remember,” I reply, and chuckle to myself as he walks away shaking his head.
                The youngest always gets me in trouble with his Mom, my daughter. While she was on her second honeymoon, I blogged about this, Nathan asked me to get him Gears of War for Christmas. He’s pretty slick for nine. Happy to have an idea on what to get Mr. Finicky, I went shopping. After purchasing the game, I called my daughter and told her what I bought.
                “What did he ask for?”
                “Gears of War,” I reply, quite innocent of the rating system.
                My daughter let out a yelp. “He can’t have that game, it’s X-rated. You have to bring it back.”
                So back I went to the store to return the game. The salesperson was very helpful in showing me the rating system and how it worked, and after I picked out a new game, I called my daughter from the store.
                “My daughter wants to know if this game has any sex, curse words, or bloody decapitations?” I asked the poor salesman.
“No, it’s safe,” he replied. The game passed the “Mom test” and off I went a much wiser granny. 
When it was time to open gifts, we had the youngest go first. Nathan was happy with the Nerf dart shooter, clothing and gift cards, I gave him, but he was looking forward to the final package.
“I got you something a little different,” I said, and waited for his reaction.
Wrapping paper torn away, he gave me a sheepish smile and said, “I really wanted this one.”
I had succeeded in finding a replacement for what was asked, but not right for him. It was a flight simulator, with lots of action, but no blood and guts. I had succeeded in pleasing all seven grandkids, points for granny.
On New Year’s Eve, all the grandkids come over with their newest board games. They’re allowed to bring friends, and everyone brings a sleeping bag. Parents are not allowed to pick them up until the next day around, midafternoon. We spend the night playing board games, eating, playing WII dance, eating, and any game we can make up on the spot. The ages run from nine to twenty three, but they all get along great, and if there is a disagreement, it is settled quickly.
I’m worn out by the time they’re all asleep, but there is a payoff. The next day, after they’re given a good breakfast, they help take down all the Christmas decorations, inside and out. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.   Have a happy, safe, and healthy New Years.




Friday, December 23, 2011

Why I love Steampunk

            A little more than a year ago, my granddaughter, who had graduated from Moore’s College, invited me to join her at an event in center city.
“Granny, I’ll be wearing my Victorian outfit, and I also have one for you to wear,” she instructed. Me, loving any kind of fun adventure, agreed to go.
That night after dressing at her house, I looked into the mirror and said, “Isn’t this a lot of black?”
“No granny, trust me,” she replied.
Donned in an ankle length black skirt, topped with a frilly long sleeved black shirt, and over that a dainty black vest, all I needed to add was the Victorian bonnet, I held in my hand. Feeling like a character from Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, we headed to Philadelphia. It was nowhere close to Halloween, so imagine the stares from fellow drivers.
Once we reached the hotel and entered the Ormandy Ballroom, I was transported into the world of Steampunk. People were dressed in all styles of Victorian clothing some even included futuristic accessories.
“Are we in Oz?” I asked, mesmerized by the beautiful array of Steampunk fashion.
“No granny, relax,” she replied, adding, “They have food and drinks, so let’s find a table.”
We lucked out and found a small table close to the stage. Settled, I watched all the performances scheduled for the assembled crowd. The music, entertainers, fashion show, Steampunk vendors, and the friendliness of the guests, won me over immediately. I was hooked on everything Steampunk.
The man who produces this event every month is Gil Cnaan, and the name of the event is Dorian’s Parlor, which is held at the Doubletree Hotel. The cost is minimal considering the excellent talent, which is on stage every month. Check it out.
I hope to have a chance to interview Gil, soon. So look out for the post. Also there is a site you can check and learn more about the genre from G.D. Falksen.




Monday, December 12, 2011

Pull Toy Granny

     So the other day, I was with my fellow writers, and the conversation turned to the different adventures, my grandchildren seem to involve me in. Some good, some strange, and some physical. My problem, there is only one of me and nine of them. Two of the grandkids live in Wyoming, so they don't get the chance to play "Pull Toy Granny.

     I try to give equal attention to all, when I'm not working or sequestered in my room writing, but like I said, there is only one of me. Have they improved cloning yet?

     I'll start with the girls.The youngest is interested in writing and introduced me to a wonderful writer's group. I became involved with Steampunk, thanks to the eldest granddaughter. I never knew there was anything like this and I fell in love with the concept. Once a month, we head to Philadelphia dressed in Victorian or vintage Steampunk clothing, to an affair held at the Double Tree Hotel. I intend to interview the amazing man who runs Dorian's Parlor and try to explain Steampunk in a later post. The middle girl is into everything Japanese including Lolita. Don't ask, this is for another blog, but I will say it has to do with unique clothing.

     Whenever I'm able to take all three shopping at the mall, I play the game,"Pull Toy Granny." To play this game, you must be able to go into three different stores at the same time without upsetting anyone. One of the girls wants to go into Hot Topic, the other to H&M, and the third anywhere the other two aren't. I had two choices, have them pulling me in three different directions( think of the slinky dog from toy story) or tell them to go to their designated stores and I would hop from store to store to check on them. I survive the game by running from store to store and this works...sometimes.

     The boys are into the martial arts. When I walk into my daughter's house, the middle grandson grabs my wrist, asking, "How would you break this hold?"
    
     "Can I first take off my coat ," I ask.

     He's into Aikido and tries his best to teach grandmom how to defend herself. Quite a feat when you consider, I can't walk and chew gum at the same time. The older grandson is into mixed martial arts and he is pulling on the other arm, saying "Try to punch me in the face."

     "Are you crazy?' I reply.

     He needed to practice some defensive move and there I was in the middle, both of them pulling on my arms, the slinky being stretched beyond repair, until the youngest came in and asked me to play a card game. Self defense was put on hold as we all played a game of 500 rummy.

     Do I mind being a pull toy? Hell no. I have to be inventive and able to give each of them equal time and attention, but they have opened my mind to new adventures.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blog Contest: Just how good is your character's voice?

Lucy was helping her brother pack the cardboard box with some of the dusty remnants of the home they had shared. Both quiet, their father’s violent passing, a stark reminder of their troubled life, dying the way he had lived, his death brought a sense of relief, a closing to a bad story, they were written into.

“I could use a cup of tea right now. Let’s take a break, she said.

“What?” Michael asked, distracted from a broken toy he held in his hand,

“I could use something warm to drink. I’m going to make a cup of tea. Do you want a cup?” she urged not wanting to go into the kitchen alone.

“Do you remember our safe place?” he asked, answering her question with one of his own.

“Yes”.

“We might be able to squeeze through the opening. Want to try it?” he urged.

The safe place, she thought to herself as the vision of their hiding spot returned, startling clear in her mind. “I’ve always wanted to come back, to… see, but he was here and…..” she left off, some memories better left in the grave. “Do you think the passage is still there?” she asked, wondering if her memories were only a figment of a troubled mind.

“Hope so,” he whispered, “come on, I… need to see it one more time.”

He went into the closet first, not too surprised to find it had shrunk in size since he was last here.

“What are you waiting for?” she asked, blocked from seeing inside because he was so much taller than her.

“He nailed the door shut,” Michael replied, a sick taste in his mouth.

“I hope he didn’t…” she was unable to finish.

Without saying a word he left the closet, searching for a tool to pry loose the nails separating them from the refuge they had discovered. Lucy stepped into the empty closet, the dust irritating her allergies, the metal hangers nothing more than a framework for cobwebs.

“This closet was much bigger,” she said, as she rubbed her hand along the smaller door, which led to the attic located over the room.

Let’s see if this works,” he said, moving her to the side, lifting the claw hammer to pry loose the nails from the door, which was a little more than three feet high and not so wide when you’re no longer a child.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Where can I buy one of those?

      It's been awhile since I posted, busy with Thanksgiving and shopping for Christmas presents. November and December are hectic for me, especially since there are close to twelve of my immediate family members with birthdays within the first two weeks of December. Can everyone say "Birthday Cake Overload".

     Last night as I was running around my house pulling out the Christmas decorations, I overheard a commercial for a wearable blanket called, and I kid you not, the forever lazy blanket. Thinking my husband was watching Saturday Night Live on demand, I walked into the living room to see the people in the commercial wearing these one piece jumpers. Think of the blanket sleepers we put on babies too young to be covered by a regular blanket.

     "This is funny," I remarked to my husband, adding, "Is this one of the SNL phoney commercials?"

     "No, it's a real commercial," he explained.

     "No way," I replied, and then sat down to watch the rest of the commercial.

     Not only was the advertizement saying how comfortable the 'forever lazy' was at home, but people were able to wear these blankets even outside the home. Now call me crazy, but when and where did it become permissable to wear a blanket sleeper as outside clothing?

     The highlight of the commercial was the mention of the specially placed zippers, which enabled the wearer to be able to go to the bathroom. The first thought,which came to mind was the old movies with Ma and Pa Kettle. Pa Kettle wore longjohns similar to the 'forever lazy' and he was also able to unbutton the back of the longjohns to go to the bathroom.

    Are we evolving into a new breed of couch potato? Do we now need special clothing to sit mezmerized in front of the T.V.? And are there other products on the way to compliment the forever lazy blanket?

     I can see it now, products for the 'forever clueless', or maybe the 'forever greedy', I even have an idea for a certain someone, called the 'forever dumb as shit'.

     "You want me to buy you one for Christmas?" my husband teased.

     "Do you want dinner, tonight?" I replied. My message delivered.

     I won't be wearing one of these blanket sleepers, my sweater works fine, thank you, but if someone innocently buys me one, I'll use it, like I did the snuggle blanket, I was given two years ago. They make wonderful tents for the grandkids.
    

       

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Show a little love for your Zombie

    This is a strange blog, but be patient and I'll explain the title of this post.

     Thursday night at 10 p.m. I went to the midnight showing of Breaking Dawn part one, based on the fourth of the Twilight books. I went with my daughter ReRe, and my niece Beverly, great niece Samantha, and their friends. You'll realize how devoted we are to the Twilight movies when I tell you, we have been to every midnight opening for every movie.

     I and my daughter are Team Edward, while others in our group lean towards Team Jacob. What can I say, I love the books and the movies. I enjoy the feelings of togetherness at these midnight showings. Everyone is happy, and strangers act like old friends while at the theatre, all is well in the world. I'm also a True Blood fan, enjoying the books more so than the HBO version, but let me return to my title.

     The next day, which was Friday, I picked up the three grandsons Jimmy age 17, Joshua age 15, and Nathan who is 9 but thinks he's 21. I took them out for ice cream and while waiting for our order we talked about the movie.

     "Vampires don't sparkle," Jimmy reminded me, adding "It's a dumb movie."

     "Don't worry, no one sparkled last night...but," I replied, and then updated them on what happened in the movie.

     "Were the monsters always handsome, and did they have fan clubs for vampires when you were young?" asked Nathan.

     "Well...no...they were scary and ugly. We never thought of them as handsome," I replied and then began to think of the movies which were showing when I was the age of the boys.

     When my sisters, brother and I would go to the Broadway Theatre on Broad and Snyder in South Philadelphia on a Saturday afternoon, we went there to be frightened, and believe me, we got our money's worth. You paid fifty cents to watch two films and a cartoon. The vampire movies we watched were either the old ones with Bela Lugosi, or a newer version presented by Hammer Films showing Christopher Lee as Count Dracula. These actors portrayed Dracular as something to be feared and not viewed as a lover. Sorry to say, there was no team 'Bela'.

    Even later, the vampires and werewolves on film and in books were the things which kept you awake at night, and trembling under your covers. Here is just a small sampling: Nosferatu, Salem's lot, Lost boys, Fright night, American werewolf in London, and Dog Soldiers.

     "So grandmom are the zombies in your second book going to be sexy?" Joshua teased.

     "Who would love a zombie?" I asked, telling them about the best zombie movie ever, "The night of the living dead" a film by George Romero released in 1968.

     "Well, they can be funny. You liked Shaun of the Dead," Jimmy reminded me.

     "Funny, yes. Sexy, no," I said, my mind working on how to present a likable zombie.

     The older boys are into the Walking Dead, a well written zombie show, and as I noted in my past blogs, are into the zombie apocalypse. I've recently joined a group, which use the premise of a zombie uprising,to teach large groups to prepare for all types of natural disasters, such as Katrina. We can't always depend on the Government to help, especially if all lines of communication are down.

     "Come on grandmom make your zombies, fun," Nathan urged.

     "It would be easier to make a toothache look like fun," I mumbled, but after spending some time thinking about the poor mindless rotting lumps of flesh, who would play a part in my second book, I promised the boys I would do my best to add some personality to my zombies.

    "So lets hear it for the Zombies! They're dying to love you, as their next meal. Share a little love with them."

    

    

    
  

    

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

GilbertCuriosities: I hate to cook, but love to eat

GilbertCuriosities: I hate to cook, but love to eat: Normally when I post, I try updating my facebook friends of my continuing search for an agent, but this week, I needed to vent about cooking...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Don't talk to strangers

     "Don't talk to strangers", a warning spoken by many parents, in their attempt to prepare their children for the predators whose path they may cross, but I often find myself on the receiving end of this vital mantra.

     This is usually said by my daughter, when we are out together. How did I land in this position of constant scrutiny, you are most likely asking yourself?

     Well to be be fair, I have caused her enough embarrassment over the years to warrant her frustration because of my free form practice of a social butterflying.

     I am a people person and find it rather effortless to begin conversations with anyone at any given moment, unless of course my first impression of you is warning me that you are a (Dexter in the making) which will cause me to keep my mouth shut and eyes averted.

     "Stop talking to people," she would plead, face red, as I explained to the woman next to me on the Septa bus, my daughter's unhappiness with the doctor we were on the way to see.

     "But, you learn so much by taking the time to converse with people," I replied, but her steady stare showed she did not agree.

     "Do you have to talk to everyone, and stop telling them about my business," she admonished as we exited the bus, followed by a chorus of "Good luck."

     Her views of my networking slowly changed as the information I gathered from strangers even helped find a doctor, she was happy with.

     Now, when we are together at the mall and she is unable to find me, she sends the boys to search with the instructions, "Look for a group, deep in conversation, Grandmom is probably there."

     The extent of my networking came in effect last November, as my oldest granddaughter and I tried to get some last minute shopping done. It was a weekend, the mall crowded, tempers short, and we had entered Hot Topics, to buy a gift card.

    "Hi grandmom," the young man at the register called out, when he caught sight of me.

     "Is he related to us?" she asked as he ran over a gave me a hug.

     "No, we became friends, after he asked me for advice, the last few times, I shopped here," I replied.

     "Stop talking to strangers," she whispered, adding "It's not safe."

     "He's not a stranger anymore, and my advice helped him," I countered, as my purchase was handed to me, with an extra hug from the sales person.

      All in all, I think my family has finally come to terms and acceped, although hesitantly, my ability to talk so easily with others, and they know it's not that hard to find me when we are out, I'm usually busy in a lively conversation with another fellow traveler on this big blue globe.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where are you Zeppie?

A few weeks back, I posted about watching my grandsons while my daughter and  son-in-law went on a second honeyomoon. On the second night of babysitting duty, after playing Judge Judy and designating who was going to play what on the large flat screen, I left the 17 year old down in the living room while his brothers and I called it a night.
I awoke to hear him yelling. Who was he speaking to? I found him in front of the T.V. carrying on a conversation.

"Who are talking to?" I asked, curious since it was only the two of us in the room.

"Dominic," he replied, his attention on the screen.

"Okay...," I replied, wondering if I should bother the parents to inform them their eldest was speaking to the television.

"Dominic, said hello," my grandson informed me.

"He can see me through the T.V?" I asked, and waved to the set.

"Oh my God," he replied, laughing his head off as he informed Dominic that I was waving to the T.V. set, and then turned around to show me the head set he was wearing, and after he explained how he was simutaneously playing this game with several of his friends, I made my way back to bed, my geek level at a new low.

The next day, the two younger boys were showing me a game called the legend of Zelda, the twilight princess.

"Who kidnapped her? Does Link get to marry her when he saves her? Can you talk to your friends on the T.V. when you're playing this game?" I asked a lot of questions, but their stunned expressions confirmed that I was game challenged, so I left the room and went to make myself a cup of tea.

This brings me to Zeppie, my webkin puppy. A few years ago, the youngest grandson asked me to buy myself a webkin so I would be able to send his webkin, e-mails and gifts. I did what any grandmother would do for a grandchild, and bought myself a webkin. What he failed to tell me was I had to take care of this puppy on line. Not only was I forced to buy furniture and sign Zeppie up for after school projects, but I had to do farming to feed this puppy. If I failed to keep the puppy well fed and entertained, I was called into the Doctor's office. It's really embarrassing to have a cartoon doctor tell you that your cartoon puppy is sick.

I found myself stressing out when days would pass, and because I was busy in real life, my imaginary plants would begin to die and I would have to rake and water and nurse the farm back to health. On top of this stress, my oldest granddaughter who was in college at the time, asked my to join her vampire group on facebook.

I had to fight zombies, werewolves, and other vampires to move up the ranks, and would send out requests to my facebook friends to please allow me to bite their neck to enable me to gain more points, but only a few agreed. Between trying to find the time to care for both my online dependents, I even considered using the vampires to to do the farming for my webkin site.

Busy with work, I went on my sites less and less, until one day, I could no longer pull up my webkin puppy, and God only knows where my level six vampire went to.

So for my facebook friends, please don't take it personal when I don't help you with farmville. I'm having major guilt trips as it is, and all I can hope for is that Zeppie is happy in Webkin heaven, and that my vampire got a bit part on True Blood and is doing well.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween and the real monsters among us

Well I'm all set for the little ghouls and zombies who will be arriving at my door, little bags opened and waiting for the goodies I have to share. This year, I bought lots of candies and for the wee neighbors which live on either side of me, I bought special gifts.

As you know from my last post, my grandsons and I are very into the zombie apocalypse, and the methods of survival if a national or world wide disaster ever occured. I've been doing research on zombies because they will be featured in the second book of my trilogy.

Unless you're an Eagle scout, Army Ranger or a member of the Navy Seals, most people don't have a handle on how to survive if communication is halted, along with the delivery of food or fresh drinking water. People need to prepare by stocking the basic supplies, such as water, food, first aid supplies, clothing, bedding, tools, etc. I will get back to you with more info on this in my next blog,

The History Channel had a special on the history of zombies, and of course I watched, hoping for some further research material. It was very informative, covering what to expect if there was an uprising of the living dead, how to protect yourself from someone who is trying to snack on you, as if you were a tasty cupcake, and what weapons of choice best served the permanent disposal of said zombie before they sank their teeth into you, ouch!!!

The show also covered the medical possibilities of a zombie apocalypse. Think biological warfare and a new scary word, prion. Watch the show on demand if you can. Well anyway they mentioned this group called the Zombie Squad, don't let the name fool you, this is an organization which prepares for disasters, and they also host disaster relief charity fundraisers and seminars and are looking for responsible volunteers. I put in my application, today.

Okay, back to halloween and the little cutie pies who dress as monsters and go door to door. Bless them all, I love them, but if you've been keeping up with the news, you soon learn there are real monsters around us, no costume needed for them to destroy. I'm an advocate who fights against human trafficking as you can tell by my facebook profile. The story which has been in the news is about a form of human trafficking, used by the woman, Ann Weston, who kept people in chains as she colleted their social security checks. I'll leave her fate to the court and the jury, but we can all help by being aware of the signs of human trafficking. Go on the website of Somaly Mam and learn how to  stop all forms of human trafficking, and check out the Zombie Squad site.

Happy Halloween to all my little zombies and remember chain saws do work when in a pinch.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Caring for the desparados while my daughter and her husband are renewing their vows

 My daughter and her husband wanted to renew their vows in Vegas, and made plans to spend six glorious child free days, seeing the sights, going to shows, gambling and on Sunday, renewing their vows with the aid of Elvis.

"Elvis?" I asked, "Isn't he dead, yet?"

"Mom," she replied with a sigh, "Yeah he's dead, but this is an actor who will be doing the ceremony and afterwards, Elvis will fly us on a helecopter."

"I would feel much better if it was Clint Eastwood flying the helecopter, but have fun," I wished them both as they left for their trip.

She had left a list of times for me to get the boys up and ready for school, plus what time they were to be in bed at night.  Apparantly, the boys did not review the list. Jimmy is seventeen, Joshua is fifteen, and Nathan is nine going on twenty one.

I stayed over at her house to make life a little less complicated, and on Thursday night, after a nice dinner, they all went to bed at their assigned times, homework completed, and clothes for the next day picked out. THEN IT WAS FRIDAY, and the list went out the window.

After coming home from school, the Wii came out and the two youngest played until dinner. After dinner, the oldest wanted to play X box 360 on the large T.V. in the family room. It was a battle between Zelda the Twilight princess and Gears of War three.

After much screaming, stomping, and throwing a tantrum, I finally talked them into a compromise. Mind you, I was the one screaming. Jimmy would have the T.V. Friday night and Josh and Nathan would have the large T.V. on Sunday.

I sat on the sofa, with a cup of hot tea, watching Jimmy play Gears of War. I hate war, even if it's a fake war on video.

Boys are from another planet. I have scientific proof of this.

Saturday, Joshua and Nathan, my sister Lucy and her granddaughter Alexionna and I all went to a museum. We had a great time, and next week will visit the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Saturday night, the boys talked me into watching Scott Pilgrim vs the world. It was really funny even though I kept calling the main actor, Jesse Eisenberg.  It wasn't him. My error. The actor was Michael Cera and the movie is based on a graphic novel about a young Canadian musician who falls in love with a girl called Ramona Flowers. I was surprised at how good this movie was. It even had a funny fight scene between Scott Pilgrim and a psychic vegan musician.

Sunday, I told the boys, no games, "We go for a long hike."

We walked for a few hours, and it was fun to get a chance to talk to them without any interruptions from Zelda, or soldiers in strange outfits, shooting at each other.

Sunday night, they helped me with my story line on zombies for book two. We all love zombies, so there were no arguments over the T.V.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gettysburg: History and Ghosts. Oh My!

    After cancelling our trip, once before because of bad weather, our team leader, Jean decided it was now or never to make our way to Gettysburg to take in the historical sites and to do a bit of ghost hunting.
    The already cloudy day, when we began our drive, had turned into a "chance for showers" by the time we had reached our hotel, but armed with umbrellas we headed out Friday night to our first ghost tour. Having picked out a company which offers the needed equipment to search for spirits, we headed for the bridge.
    Sach's bridge is a covered bridge, and we were informed by our guide, it is known for paranormal activity. After spending some time on the bridge, we then headed up the trail, towards an old house which was used as a makeshift hospital during the three day battle at Gettysburg.
    It was late at night, cold, and the air heavy with the promise of heavy rain. Left alone to explore at our own pace, I headed towards the hill, not far from the house, with my ghost buddies, Jean and Rita.
    I was scanning the area with my flashlight, when I passed over a shape at the top of the hill. My reactions slow because my hand was cold from the chill of the night, I aimed the flashlight at the spot where I had seen the shape, but it was no longer there.
   Wanting to make certain, I had seen what I did, I turned to ask my comrades to shine their lights on the hill, but I was alone because everyone in the group had moved back towards the  house. After finding my friends, I asked Jean to take several photos of the hill in hopes she would catch something on film, but nothing showed in the photos taken.
    We finally called it a night and returned to our hotel to get some much needed sleep fot the next day's activities, but I was unable to close my eyes, because the memory of the confederate soldier kneeling on one knee, rife in hand, kept me awake and curious.
     Saturday, we decided to visit the Gettysburg National Military Park, surrounding ourselves in the history of the Civil War, and the 1863 battle of Gettysburg. The Museum and Visitor Center was worth the trip, and we had the chance to view the Cyclorama, a state of the art light and sound show depicting Pickett's Charge.
    Jean had purchased an audio CD and map for us to find our way around the many points of interest at the park, but unfortunately she gave the map to me. As my family knows from experience, never give the map to Marie, my sense of direction so challenged, I'm amazed I was even able to find my way through the birth canal.
   After several episodes of driving around in circles, we finally found Oak Ridge and from there
big round top.
   We braved the cold air and climbed to the top of big round only to be forced back to the car because of the heavy rains. The parking lot was deserted as it was closing time for the park and after climbing into our van, we were upset to find the battery dead.
    Girlscout that I am, I announced to my friends, "We'll be okay. We have snacks, water, and look over there, an outhouse. We can survive until help comes."
    My friend, Rita, not one to panic, calmly pointed out, "We have cellphones. We can call for help."
Lucky for us, two very nice gentlemen came to our aid and jump started the battery, and off we went to sign up for two late night ghost hunts, one at the Jennie Wade House and one at a former orphanage.
    Sunday was spent at the Soldier's National Cemetary, where Lincoln gave his speech at the dedication of the cemetary. Quite solemn, when you see all the unknown markers at the gravesites
    All in all, we had a great time, although a soggy one, and we'll be doing this again next year. This Saturday coming up, I'll  be attending a Witche's Ball, and will post about this soon.
  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ghost hunting

 So, this weekend, I'll be heading out with some friends to Gettysburg, ghost hunting. Looking forward to the adventure, I packed what I need, to survive. Equipment will be given to us and we'll be working with professionals, but I always bring along my own tools, such as my rosary beads, holy water, and my St. Michaels medal. So far, I've never experienced an encounter with an angry spirit, which is good, since I have to tolerate angry living people, in my journey through this world, but...it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

My family is blessed? cursed? with this ability of awareness, sensing things before they happen, sensing people's true intentions, enabling us to sometimes escape a bad situation, so it was a natural for me to say yes, when friends of mine invited me to participate in the different ghost hunting trips. I have the best time and learn so much about the history of the place we visit. We're amateurs, but participate in organized groups led by professionals.

I'll let you know in my next blog, if we met with any spirits.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

How the hell, did I get this old? or Receiving the 'CARD'

Okay, so around two weeks ago I received a letter from our government, the envelope stating official business.

"Now what?" I asked myself, as I pulled open the tab, only to find 'the card' inside with a book of instructions.

"Welcome to the band," my husband, who has been on Medicare for three years already, teased.

"Wait, I think there's some mistake. I'm not ready for Medicare," I replied, while mentally subtracting my date of birth from the present year.

He watched silently, as the realization hit me, knowing after thirty-one years of marriage, not to say a word, when steam begins to seep from my ears.

"Well this sucks," I said, throwing the unwanted information onto the dinning table, grabbing my purse and keys before announcing, "I'm going to visit the boys."

The boys are three of the nine grandchildren we have, and are experts at diversion, and I needed diversion to take my mind off that damn card. After picking them up, we went for ice cream and talked about their upcoming school year, music, zombies, and my writing. Finally, I brought up the card, explaining how it upset me.

"Well grandmom, you were born around the time of the Dinosaurs," the eldest teased, knowing I had worked at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

"Yeah, didn't you get to see the first moon landing?" piped in the second eldest.

"I'm surrounded by clowns. Thanks for perking me up," I teased back.

Finally the youngest spoke, saying, "I don't think you're old, because you do fun things, and always play pirates in the back yard."

"Yeah, you're a fun, grandmom," the older two chirped in, "You take us hiking, fishing, and you love zombies."

"Hey yeah, we do have fun. Thanks guys."

They accomplished what I wasn't able to do own my own, they helped me look at the whole picture,
when I returned home, after spending time with my advisors, I took the time to read the instructions   included with the card.

"You okay, now?" my husband asked, catching me reading, treading softly, in case I was still in a bad mood.

Yeah, I'm fine," I replied, and I was.

I was born in time to see the space program begin, watching the first landing on the moon. I got to see the Beatles live in 1964, took part in the peace marches against Vietnam, protested for equal rights, lived and worked during the feminist movement and loving every bit of it. I'm surrounded by a large and growing family, and I'm still on the go.

Even though, I'm retired from the Academy of Natural Sciences, I didn't retire from life, and in fact, I'm doing more than ever. I advocate for Unicef and Somaly mam against human trafficking, I finished my first book of a Paranormal trilogy, I'm into steampunk, going out once a month to Dorian's. I've joined a ghost hunter's group and will be going on a three day haunting this month, I took my granddaughter to see Lady GaGa, getting a super box, front row seats. I loved the show and became a GaGa fan. My next concert will be with Usher, next time he's in town, per Nathan's wishes.

So, the Medicare card, no longers upsets me. It's a 'token', telling the world, "Watch out because you're dealing with a boomer and we kick butt."

The only down side to this story is the tons of advertising coming to me from insurance companies eager to make me a member.

I'll end now with a quote from Spock. "Live long and prosper."  Amen to that.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I hate to cook, but love to eat

Normally when I post, I try updating my facebook friends of my continuing search for an agent, but this week, I needed to vent about cooking. While food shopping early this morning, I spent the hour at the market dodging the bottled water marathon( because of upcoming storm), and running to the safety of the makeup section, happy not to be trampled on, as carts zoomed past me at break neck speeds, heading for the bread section. Apparently, looking good while surviving a hurricane, wasn't on the top of most shopper's lists, and I took advantage of this little known fact to hide among the Cover Girl and Maybelline products.

Now shopping is not one of my favorite things to do. Hitting two markets, spending an hour in each until all items are found and purchased, and unloading the groceries after I reach home, is to me equivilante to getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist, necessary but dreaded, but as much as I hate to shop for food, I hate to cook even more. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some dishes, which I still take pleasure in preparing, but unfortunately, my husband balks at eating the same think every night.

I wasn't always this way. As a young bride, I looked forward to preparing the evening meal, grateful, when compliments flowed my way, but I'm almost Medicare age( another painful subject, which I'll go into with another post) and by my estimations, I've done forty years of cooking. That is a lot of pasta, soup, pot roasts, and chicken cutlets.

I know what you're about to ask, "Does your husband like to cook?"

My reply, "Hell, no."

Which leaves me with a few solutions until we have food replicators, like the ones used on Star Trek. You know what I mean, Captain Kirk or Spock ordering their food already prepared, the way they like it, no one slaving over a hot stove, no dishes to wash, my type of cooking.

My number one solution is to eat out, but this can be expensive, so I found a second solution which is these prepacked frozen meals for two in the freezer section of the market. They're actually good, and they can be cooked in one pan, but my dream is to get my husband interested in cooking. Right now he has no interest in boiling water, but I'm planning on using subliminal messaging to trick him into trying. I'll let you know how this goes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Some hints for new writers like myself

 I had mentioned in my last post, how much I enjoyed attending the Philadelphia Writer's conference. The instructors were amazing and gave some great advice. One of the instructors, K. Simmons, gave the workshop on Novel plotting. Here are some suggestions that helped me and hopefully will help you.
1. Give the reader a character, they will enjoy, even if they don't like that character.
2. Take the character on a journey.
3. Give the character something they want.

K. Simmons gave us a guide to help with our novels. She called it "Sailing the 7 C's of Story Plot"
1.Combustion-creating a premise of interesting characters, and high stakes at the beginning will create a natural flowering of your story.
2.Coordination--getting the action, voice, and premise to go together.
3.Conflict--creating conflicts between characters to fuel the plot.
4.Characters--make your characters believable. Character has to grab the reader's attention from the beginning.
5.Conclusion--wrapping up the plot in a satisfying way.
6.Complettion--Too many plot points? Know when the plot is done.
7.Commitment--Where is the story coming from and are you being true to the story.

Does your story have tension? check conflict and combustion.
Premise:
1. Where are we?
2. Who is the lead character?
3. Who tells the story best?
4. What do they want?
5. What needs to be said first?
6. Why should we care?
7..Where are we going?

I'll have more on my next blog.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The benefits of attending a Writer's Conference

     I had the opportunity and pleasure of attending the Philadelphia Writer's Conference on 6/3-6/4-6/5. It was the best move I have made since I decided to seriously begin writing my novel a year ago. I've completed the first book of the trilogy, and right now I'm in the process of editing. I've also started to outline the second book of the series.
     The amazing instructors that spoke at the workshops encouraged, gave insight, common sense solutions, and much more to all that attended, and I will attending this conference again next year.
     The series that I'm working on right now is a supernatural romance and deals with the biblical and off world battle between good and evil.
     I'll be keeping all my followers updated on my ongoing adventures to get published.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Read before taking

Well, I'm finally feeling somewhat human after the last few months of pain. I came down with shingles which situated itself with a vengeance to my sciatic nerve. Hit with severe spasms, I was given all sorts of medications to ease the inflammation and pain. "NOTHING" worked. The pain was such, that I had started to take an extra dose of the strong narcotic that was priscribed, just to breathe without the spasms beginning a new attack. Never using any thing stronger than aspirin, I hadn't noticed how disconnected from reality, I had become. I continued to edit my book and send out a few query letters. Once the pain had reached a point where I no longer needed the narcotics, I reread my work, and almost needed another Doctor visit. Here is some good advice. They tell you not to drive or use heavy machinery when using certain medications, but that also goes for sending out your work to agents. God help me!!! I had a good laugh, rewrote and revamped and I'm back in player's mode.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Eileen's Travel Blog: Shells

Eileen's Travel Blog: Shells: "This morning started off with a thunderstorm announcing a cold front that stretched from southern Florida to Maine. It was somehow com..." I love the shells!! Save your posts because you could probably write a little travel guide.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Enjoying the answer "no"

Okay, I've sent in several query letters, and have just received two replies. Although, both replies were a positive "no", I felt encouraged to plug on in finding an Agent. The Writer's group that I belong to, have a great outlook on receiving rejections on your written material. Your sending your work out to be seen and that is the first step. "Onward and Outward will be my new mantra.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sending in my manuscript part two

Just sent in my third query letter, synopsis, and three chapters. I have many more to send out.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

beginning

Okay, I have my query letter and first chapter ready to mail out to an agent. I will be dancing my way over to the post office. Well maybe not dancing, since I'm still trying to get on my feet from the "attack of the sciatic nerve from Hell." Wish me luck.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sending in my manuscript

Well, I'm taking my first baby steps, and have submitted my first chapter and a synopsis to be critiqued for the Philadelphia Writer's Conference. I have also used what little spare time I had this week to do a draft of my query letter.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

query letters

Why is it easier to write the novel, and yet so hard to put together the query letter for an agent???

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Entering the world of writers

I have always been interested in writing, but it wasn't until I worked at a Natural History Museum, that I had the chance to develop my love for writing. I'm interested in writing about the supernatural events that abound around us and somehow tying it in with the natural events that we are all familiar with. I have just finished my first novel, book one of the trilogy, and right now I'm in the process of looking for an agent. It is a supernatural romance and the idea came about after reading an upsetting account of human trafficking. I began to volunteer and advocate for Unicef and advocate for Somaly Mam. I wanted to help the victims caught in this horrible practice, but it wasn't enough and I soon found myself questioning the theory of good and evil. Well this was the fuel that lit the fire and the desire to write was all consuming. I had the best time writing the first book, and have already started the second of the trilogy.

I'm interested in learning what events inspired others to write.