Posted in daily life

When you wish real life was a fantasy

When you have nothing to write about

lost-in-a-book-2You know, I wanted to write something significant today. Something that would make people say, “yeah,” or “wow,” or make people think. Something to elicit an emotional reaction.

I wanted to write something about writing. I mean, I’m a writer after all. You’d think I’d have more to say about the craft of writing than I do. But no. All I can say there is practice, listen and learn from the experts, and have fun. That’s about the sum of my writing advice.

I wanted to write about something I read. It’s been a while since I critiqued a book. Unfortunately, I haven’t really read anything different–though my husband just finished reading Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books. All of them. Now, watching that was fun! But plenty of people have read and critiqued his books, and he doesn’t need me to do it again.

So where does that leave me? With what’s been going on with me?

Well, let’s start with Jim Butcher, shall we?

You watch someone else read books

My husband is not a big reader. At all. He’s a computer guy. Would much rather play computer games.

However, he is into big, ridiculous plots, grandiose characters, and puns. Harry Dresden has all of that.

So I managed to convince him to read the series. He did.

And it was so much fun watching him read a series of books I’d always loved and enjoyed. He’d read them when he was supposed to be working. He’d stay up to two AM to finish reading one. Every twenty minutes he’d laugh at something Harry said or did, and come running down stairs to tell me about it. He acted like a cross between a kid in a candy story and a kid at a comic convention. It was great to watch. For his birthday, I got him a Dresden t-shirt. Polka never dies.

And that got me to thinking.

And you wish your life was a fantasy

My knees hurt. Have been for months. Don’t know why because I can be a stubborn lady and haven’t gone to the doctor yet. I’ve been working out at the gym. Trying to lose weight. Succeeding, to my surprise. Lost 20 pounds. Legs still hurt.

It’s not the only things in my life that hurt. We’ve been trying to get some land. Bank approved our loan. We were all ready to sign the dotted line, when the appraisal came in and said, “land’s not worth that much. You’re going to pay too much.” So we’re back at what feels like square -20, waiting for the appraisal to go through. So the bank knows how much to lend us. So the seller knows how much he can sell it for. So we know what the price is going to be. And we’re stuck with no one talking to each other and no one knowing what is going on. And our contract has been extended twice and I can’t help but think, “we’re going to lose the land through no fault of our own!” And we have no idea what’s going to happen.

Through all this, my husband and I decided we want to have kids. Been trying for a year. No baby. We’re telling each other, “it’s okay. You got time. There’s nothing wrong with you.” But we look around and all we can see are kids. Cute kids, pudgy kids, screaming kids. Kids playing baseball. Kids in Halloween costumes. And they’re all so cute and precious . . . and not one of them is ours.

And this is why

If our lives were a fantasy, then our problems could be solved overnight. I could get bitten by a radioactive spider and be gifted with super-powers. Overnight I’d get buff and healthy and my legs would stop hurting. If I ever did hurt, it’s because I decided to go out and be a punching bag for someone.

Insta-heal. Insta-health. It’s the superpower everyone wants. Too bad it’s a fantasy.

If our lives were a fantasy, I could go to a mystic or psychic or the local wise woman, and she’d be able to tell me exactly why it’s taking so long for us to buy our land.  She could also give me a glimpse into the future, tell me exactly when we’ll sign the dotted line, when the wait will be over.

Speaking of waiting. While she’s giving us predictions, she could tell me about my future kids. Will I have them? How many? Boys or girls? One, two, five or ten? And if her answer is no, then I could ask why? Is it not in God’s will for me to have kids? Is there something with me? My husband? Is it a problem that could be fixed?

And because my life is a fantasy, of course the problem could be fixed–maybe with a magical healing potion. Or maybe with a deal with a crooked fairy or something. And then I’d only get my kid at the expense of half my soul or something horrible like that.

Which is why life isn’t a fantasy. And why fantasy isn’t life. Real life is worse–and better–than fantasy. Because real life has God in it. God is the ultimate problem solver. I just gotta remember that.

So never ask God to give you patience. He just might give you a bushel of trouble instead.

Posted in daily life

Things only adults do

Have you noticed there are certain things you do that feel very ‘adult’?

Your First Real Job

And I’m not talking about your summer/weekend job you had as a teen. I’m talking about that full-time job you work all year long. The one you’ll either love and do for the rest of your life, or the one you’ll hate but endure because something has to pay don't want to workthe bills.

Paying Bills

Speaking of. You didn’t do this when you were a kid, did you?

Leaving Home

Ah yes. The ultimate sign that your an adult. Leaving home to make it on your own in the big, wide world. You now have a job, a house, and maybe the hand-me-down car. You are now able and qualified to live on your own. Congratulations. Now the real adult things start.

Getting Married

cabin 2There’s nothing much more adult than hitching yourself up to another person for the rest of your life. It’s takes a lot of maturity and work to make a marriage last. It’s a shame people don’t take it seriously. I wish I could put Sex and Kids on this list, but let’s face it–if there’s something people take less seriously than marriage, it’s sex and kids. That won’t change your life, but getting married will?

Buying Insurance

Now here’s one you won’t see coming. For the entirety of your life, you’ve been on your parents’ plans. Now you’ve outgrown them and have to get some of your own. Who do you get? Do you go with what your job provides. Hopefully they do, and hopefully it’s good. If so, congratulations, the pain is done once you’ve filled out the appropriate forms. If not, then maybe you’ll go with what your parents used. If not . . . then I’m sorry. Now you’ve got to shop around and see what’s best for your family. And heaven forbid you make the wrong decision, but in today’s world of Obamacare, trust me–you won’t be able to switch easily. Even if you wanted to.

Doing Your Taxes

What’s more painful than handing your hard-earned money to someone else to use/misuse? Having kids? Passing kidney stones? Dying? I’m not sure. Let me know if you think of anything.

Shopping for Doctors

doctor-shoppingIf there’s something worse than shopping for insurance, it’s shopping for doctors. At least with insurance, you’re limited to a handful of companies, depending on what kind of insurance you need. That’s not the case with doctors. If you’re lucky, you’ll just use the same doctor your family has used for generations. Or maybe you live in a region isolated enough that you only have one or two choices when it comes to choosing who you go when your sick. But if you move to a big city where you literally have hundreds of options, all taking your insurance? Personally, I found it easier to plan my own wedding than choose who I want to be our family doctor. Totaling my own car was less painful. How do you make a decision? Chose the closest one to you, and the first on the list? Go with what everyone recommends? Go with the one with the most medals and credentials to his name? Go with the one in the private clinic because he’ll spend more time with you than the one in the hospital? Gah, just shoot me now. I’ll endure my bum knee for the rest of my life, thank you very much.

Setting up your own doctors appointments

Now that you got your own doctors, you have to call in your own appointments. Tooth hurts? Guess what, your mom’s not going to call it in. You are! Welcome to adulthood, where you have to do all your own dirty work yourself.

Posted in writing

I Plan to Participate in Nanowrimo

penNext month is November. For most everyone, that means Thanksgiving turkey and travel time. For writers and aspiring writers alike, November is National Novel Writing Month. Nanowrimo for short.

During November, writers of all skill levels put pen to paper, hunker down, and try to write as many words as they can. 50K works is the goal. Basically, write a novel in a month.

It’s been a few years since I’ve participated in Nanowrimo. For the past few years, I’ve been too busy with other things. But I’ve just finished re-editing my current story, and I want to get started on book 2 as soon as I can. Nanowrimo is the perfect time to do that.

Of course, writing that many words in a month is hard, and if I want to accomplish that goal, then I need to prepare first.

Preparing for Nanowrimo

The first thing I need to do–after finishing editing book one (I got maybe a week’s worth of work left on it)–is brainstorm. I got ideas about what my story is going to be about, but I need to write them down before I forget them. Organize them into something resembling a plot. If I’m lucky, I’ll hammer out the plot of book three while I’m at it.

And that’s it.

Ok, it doesn’t look like much, but believe me, having only two weeks to brainstorm and hammer out an outline for an entire, 100,000 work novel? That’s a lot of work for two weeks. A lot of time to waste on self-doubt and double guessing. More than enough time for my muse and inspiration to get drowned out by doubts and fears.

Thankfully, that’s one thing Nanowrimo will be good for. Writing 50,000 words is hard, especially around Thanksgiving. I plan to be too busy writing those words to let doubt cloud my judgement. Or my book.

So, to everyone else planning on doing the same as me next month, good luck. You’re going to need it.

Posted in daily life, Loosing Weight

People You See at the Gym

golds-gym-logoI joined Gold’s Gym about two months ago, not sure whether or not I’d like it. In my experience, gyms tend to be hot places with not enough air flow. I sweat and get hot when I exercise. But this one was brand spanking new. I hoped it would be different.

It was.

I’ll go ahead and get the glowing review out of the way. The people who work there are pleasant, fun, and encouraging. They have programs for every level of fitness–from the “I’ve never exercised a day in my life” people to “I could bench press cars” fanatics. I wouldn’t have lost the weight I have without them.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

I’m writing this post to tell you about the kind of people you see at the gym.

All kinds of people go to gyms. All kinds. A lot go in the hopes they’ll look buff and lose weight in just a day or two with minimal effort. There are people, I’m sure, who could do that. Yahoo for them.

But the ones who are there every day? They are the real interesting ones. The kind that might get immortalized in one of my books one day.

The Fashion-Challenged Exerciser

We’ve all seen this person. Could be guy or girl. Any level of fitness. But they seem to go out of the way to wear the most unfashionable outfit possible. And this is saying something, considering people at gyms tend to wear whatever is comfortable. I mean, they aren’t there to win beauty pageants–they’re there to get sweaty.

There’s this one guy my husband calls “Shorty Shorts Guy.” I haven’t seen him, but apparently, not only are his shorts short, but they bulge two inches past his waist, like he’s stuffed them with Styrofoam or something. And no, I’m not talking about the crotch area. I’m talking about his thighs. Why would anyone want to wear poofy shorts? And tuck their shirt in to boot?

Madam Marathon Runner

I can’t tell you how many older ladies–and gentlemen–I’ve seen exercising at the gym. Most, I will admit, are just trying to stay healthy. But there’s always one or two there who look like they could bench press their teen-age grandchildren. Then go run a marathon. You know, just by looking at them, that they’re just as serious about what they eat as they are about exercising.

I’ll admit these old ladies really impress the heck out of me. They’re in better shape than I could ever hope to be. I’ve seen them do pull-ups. Pull-ups, people. If I could do half of what they do, I’d be ecstatic. But let’s face it–I’m too lazy and like to eat too much to put that much energy into being that healthy.

Mr. I Can Bench Press Cars

There’s this one guy I see all the time. Don’t know his name. But I’m pretty sure he lives at the gym. He doesn’t work there, but he could probably teach any class. If he doesn’t, I’d be seriously surprised.

This man, he looks like he’s in his late 50s, and his hair used to be blond. His muscles are bulging and sculpted, and he wears tight fitting clothes. This morning, I saw this man doing pull-ups like it was no big deal–then pause in the middle of a pull-up, point his toes, and then lift his feet over his head. He pointed his feet to one side of his head, then the other. This lasted for like thirty seconds.

I have no idea what that exercise is called, but it’s got to be the hardest, most impressive thing I’ve ever seen a person doing at a gym.

Mr. Strange

Every now and then you see someone that, for whatever reason, just looks weird. It could be what they’re wearing or some other feature, but you look at them and think, “what?”

There’s this guy who, I swear, looks like a black version of Bane, the super-villain from Batman. He’s big, he’s buff, and he wears a mask that covers half his face. He sounds like Darth Vader when he breathes. I haven’t seen him cart an oxygen tank or a funky backpack with tubes coming from it–but it’s the kind of mask that looks like it should. I have no idea what it does, but I would really like to know.

Posted in daily life, gardening, Loosing Weight

How Has my New Years Resolution Fared the Year?


State of my Weight

So, at the start of the year, I made a New Years Resolution. Like many Americans, my resolution included losing weight. My goal was 20 lbs by Christmas.

At the start of the year, I was 200 lbs. As of last Friday morning, I was 182 lbs.

I’m so close I’m starting to wonder whether I set my goals too low. Maybe I should shoot for 175 instead.

I can’t tell you how excited I am. I haven’t had this easy a time losing weight since I was 19. Then I lost 17 lbs in five months. This year, I’ve lost almost 20 in almost six. (I was last 200 lbs in March.) Three of those pounds I dropped in the last week. I wasn’t going to count those pounds, but they stayed off, so I guess I can!

I’m going to attribute my success to well, number one, God. Without His support, I wouldn’t have had the hope to persist. The next person I’m going to thank is my husband, for being such a good, competitive sport. Thirdly, to the wonderful trainers at Gold’s Gym. They’ve helped and encouraged me, listened and given advice, and help me find exercises that are easy on my sore knees.

And I have no idea why I have sore knees. But they’ve been hurting all summer, and the people at Gold’s Gym have been great about working around it.

Our Finances and Garden

Money wise, we’re good. God’s blessed us so much it still boggles my mind. We’re in the middle of trying to buy some land, and we’re waiting on the loan to go through. I tell you, never has waiting been so hard!

My garden is still alive. I pulled up my tomato plants a long time ago (they didn’t fare very well through the summer), but my okra plants are thriving and giving me more okra then I can use. I’ve frozen almost a gallon Ziploc back full, and the plants show no signs of slowing down any time soon!

I did plant green bean plants at the end of August. They’re about a foot tall now, still growing and green. Not as leafy or bushy as I like, but I also planted a different breed then I’m used to. I have no idea how these guys will turn out or how they will be different than Blue Lake, but I’m eager to see. Hopefully they’ll continue to grow, and here in a month I’ll have some fresh green beans to enjoy.

Posted in daily life

Where was I on September 11, 2001?

september-11-911When 9/11 happened, one of the most popular questions to get asked was, “where were you?” Everyone wanted to know where you were when you found out about the attacks.

So here’s my story.

Me on 9/11

Like most everyone else my age, I was in school. I was in 10th grade, and about to go into history class. I heard about some kids talking about it in the hall and had no idea what they were talking about. Some kind of plane crash? Then, of course, I got to class and found out exactly what was going on.

Sort of.

You see, unlike a lot of other school, my high school was just a poor, small country school. We didn’t have TVs in every classroom. To tell the truth, we didn’t have TVs in any classroom. A lot of our classrooms didn’t even have radios. It didn’t occur to me until later that other schools would.

So, I didn’t see any footage of plane crashes or buildings collapsing until that night, when I got home and watched the news. Until then, I had to make do with listening to the chaos on the radio and try to figure out what was going on. It was kind of hard, actually. I had no idea what the Twin Towers or the Trade Center was.

Pentagon, yes. I distinctly remember hearing about the Pentagon and thinking, “They got the Pentagon?” I thought the place had gotten bombed. I had no idea about planes or terrorists until later that night.

Honestly, I don’t believe anyone knew what was going on for several days at least. But we all expected to go to war any second. We all were wondering when the president would dig the nuclear bombs out of storage and who we would drop them on. And don’t you know if it had been a country instead of a terrorist organization, we probably would have done exactly that.

When we found out it wasn’t a country, I know some people were disappointed. Many wanted to drop nukes anyway. We were that angry. Me, I was confused. Terrorists attacked us, not a country? Why? I was so naive, I’m not sure I knew what a terrorist was before then.

Of course, I know better now. I know a lot more things now than before.

How that event changed me

I don’t know if I can say how exactly that event changed me. I was fairly young when that happened. The best I can say is I was educated in a lot of things I wasn’t before. I became less naive. The world and far off places suddenly took on new, vivid meanings. I suddenly started to care about politics. And hate for a group of people I didn’t know existed came into being.

Not in me. I don’t hate the terrorists, or Islam or anyone else Americans like to associate with those atrocities. I know I’m one of the few people who can say that.

But I see that hate in so many other people. Get most any American to talk about September 11 and who was responsible for it, and they’ll speak just as nastily about them as others would about Nazis and the concentration camps.

That was one of the worse ways America was changed. And I find that sad. We don’t love or trust as we used to. We can’t go back, but wouldn’t it be nice?

Where to go from here?

It’s been fifteen years. For many of us, this event is still fresh. For others, this event is already just another page in our history books. One day, that’s all it will be. Maybe it’ll become a memorial day, like Pearl Harbor day. By then, we who remember will be old and gray and out of touch.

Then one day, we’ll all be dead and that event will be forgotten completely. Other tragedies will take its place.

I have to keep this in mind. Tragedies will always be out there. Bad things will always happen. Something worse may be in store for me, personally, and I won’t have any idea that it’ll happen until it does.

But I can’t get hung up on those far off events, or on the things that have already happened. I have to keep my focus on God. He’s my guide and my God. He lights my way.

Posted in daily life

We are in the buying land

Land Ho!

Christmas 2014For the past year or so, my husband and I have been wanting to get out of the apartment. At first, we thought, “let’s get a house.” This was, of course, back when we lived in San Antonio, and the prospect of buying any amount of land was laughable.

Then we moved, and possibilities opened up.

My mother-in-law lives on about 10 acres with her new husband. I love the place. It’s quiet, surrounded by farmland, has trees and even a seasonal creek. If I had the money and the opportunity, it’s exactly the kind of place I’d want to live.

Then God gave us both the money and the opportunity. We first saved up enough for a down payment, and then one of my MIL’s neighbors decided to sell his land in 13 acre lots.

We decided to pounce on the land while it was still there.

Long story short? The seller said yes, we’ve signed some contracts, and now we’re mostly waiting to land us a loan for the land. (My husband demanded I put in the pun. Here it is. You’re welcome, honey.)

Granted, it doesn’t have a house, a creek, or even trees on it, but it’s land. Those things can be added. For now, it’s flat, it’s not swampy, and it’s already being farmed. Also, right off the interstate and just a mile or two from my in-laws. All good points in my book.

So, come our anniversary, we’ll be the proud owners of a nice plot of land! Yahoo!

And in about 18-24 months after that, hopefully homeowners. Happy face! God’s been so good to us!


Posted in daily life

How to keep the peace when you’re husband is a know-it-all

Mornings with my husband

This past week, my husband and I took the opportunity to talk about what we planned to do this week. “So what?” you’re thinking. “What’s so special about this?”

Well, anyone who knows my husband knows he is physically incapable of saying or doing anything normally. So naturally, such an every day, normal conversation wouldn’t go as planned.

  • Him: So, what do you have planned today?
  • Me: Well, I gotta sign the contract and call the bank. We got that guy coming to clean the computer later today. I got dishes to do, blogs to write–oh, and I got to do something with my hair. It’s one giant knot.

(cue uncontrollable laughter)

  • Me: What’s so funny?

Apparently, my husband finds my train of thought hilarious. And sure, I can see the humor of it. But he’s not the one who wakes up with a giant rat’s nest attached to his head every morning. It don’t matter if I sleep with it up, down, or in a braid. It don’t matter if I go to bed with it dry or wet–I’m gonna wake up with knots in my hair. It’s the curse of having long, curly hair.

So, after he finishes making fun of me, the conversation continues.

  • Him: So, what are you going to write about?
  • Me: I don’t know. Haven’t really thought about it.
  • Him: Why don’t you write about wifely duties? The Bible has more to say about wives than it does husbands.
  • Me: (Tries to hit him. Doesn’t work. Tries to tickle him. Doesn’t work.)

Yes, that was an insulting comment, but in all fairness, he was only saying it to make fun of feminism and overbearing husbands . . . because his mind just works that way at 7:58 in the morning. It doesn’t help that he, of course, is right about the Bible verses (though I plan to double check, just to make sure). Or about most everything else.

So my husband can be a know it all–I’m okay with that. Mostly.

It can be kind of frustrating–never winning an argument or discussion because my husband usually knows the answer. Oh, not the important things. We try to come to an agreement on that. It’s the little things, the little competitions, I can never win.

His mind is so much quicker and more agile than mine. If I let my competitive self out too much, I’ll get disappointed when I inevitably lose. And when I lose too much, I get disappointed. And when I get disappointed, I get jealous. And jealousy is such a nasty thing.

My solution? Learn to become a gracious loser. So much easier and takes a whole lot less energy.

Besides, my husband likes to debate with me. And I like sparing with him back. Who am I to mess that up?


Posted in writing

The Crowthistle Chronicles–a critique

iron-tree-cvrOn and off for the past two weeks, I’ve been reading on Cecilia Dart-Thorton’s books. I’ve only read books one and two of her Crowthistle Chronicles, and if the library has books three and four, I hope to finish out the series soon.

The Crowthistle Chronicles follows the Jovanson family, starting with Jarred Jovanson. Jarred leaves his desert homeland in search for adventure, and falls in love with a girl from the marsh. His heritage, however, continues to haunt him, as he is the grandson of a powerful and evil sorcerer, and the world will not leave him alone. Nor will it leave his daughter, or his granddaughter, or any of his other family, alone.

Dart-Thorton is a talented writer, who kept me turning pages well after my bedtime, and who made me cry at the end. I also marveled at all the research she had to have done, because her world is full of faeries, trolls, witches, and every other folk-tale creature that goes bump in the night. These creatures are many and varied, and she weaves them into her story seamlessly, creating a full-bodied universe I would love to keep exploring.

I really hope the library has the other two books, because I want to know how Asratheil, Jarred’s granddaughter, breaks the family curse. If not, well, I guess I’ll have to suffer. Or order the books.

Posted in daily life

Our Weekend at the Frio River

Our Vacation at the Frio River

viewSo, last weekend, my husband and I spent the weekend at the Frio River with a few families from church. I have to say, I’ve never been to the Frio, so I was pleasantly surprised. For one thing, the vacation home we rented was nice. Like, seriously nice. This first picture is the view from the back porch. That alone was worth the price of renting it for the weekend. To top it off, it had lots of bedrooms, a game room, and a pool. Oh, and places to grill outside. Trails for hiking. Deer blinds if you decided to come back during deer season. Oh, and it was out in the middle of nowhere–which meant that at night, you could actually see the milky way. I’ve never seen the milky way. Unfortunately, such isolation comes with a price: bad phone connection, and no internet. That’s great for getting away, bad for anyone addicted to Facebook.

ready to swimThis second picture is of all of us getting ready to float down the Frio. We’re all decked out in our swim suits, slathering up with sunscreen, and trying to round up the kids. I wish I had more pictures. By the time we finished slathering zinc sunscreen on our faces (which looked exactly like bad lipstick) we looked like extras from Braveheart. The river was beautiful, not too high, and we enjoyed it before everyone else did. I floated down it twice, once on Friday and again on Saturday, with my husband.

poolAnd did I mention there were kids? Yeah, my husband and I were the only couple not to bring their kids, but only because we don’t have any yet. And boy, did they have energy. Like, endless. The oldest was 12, youngest 16 months. And they never quit running. I’m pretty sure they even ran in their sleep. Once we got done with the river, we enjoyed the pool. Two hours on the river, and three in the pool. Games of chase. Another hour at the pool that night. Next day, hiking and three hours playing in the river. If I had half their energy, I’d loose 30 more pounds. Easily.

flying bats2Also, another detail. It was 10 degrees cooler there than San Antonio or Dallas area. I don’t know how that happened. Did we just get lucky and just catch a three day cool front? Or does the Frio River affect the local weather? I’m betting on the last, actually. Whatever the reason, I loved the cooler temperatures. I can’t wait for fall. High of 90 and low of 68 sound heavenly right now.

bat on shoe 2However, my favorite thing we did was go to the bat cave. No, not Batman’s bat cave. This cave houses more than 12 million bats, and every night at 8 they come out to eat mosquitoes. Which explains why there were no bugs on the river. According the the game and fish guy who were there and answered our questions, it takes three hours for all of them to fly out. Also, apparently bats are migratory. Didn’t know that. They fly to Mexico for the winter and come back over spring break to raise their babies.

bat in hand 2These were the little bats, not big ones, and so were not creepy. In my opinion, I think they’re cute. A couple of bats fell out of the sky while we were there. One of them landed pretty much right in front of me and then decided I was a stalactite. This little guy just hurt his wing. The game and fish guy couldn’t tell if he broke the bones or if he just broke the skin. He release him not long after we took the picture. Hopefully, our little bat friend made it and is now flying with his friends again.