Friday, March 24, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things



Ugh. I can barely keep my eyes open this morning. I'm supposed to be celebrating...something. Need more sle...zzzz. 

Face slap.

Okay, I'm back. It's Friday and that means it's time to thank Lexa Cain for hosting this weekly blog-hop along with co-hosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker.

We've had lots of things flying about this month of March. First the winds knocked down our trees and power lines. Then it swirled 10+ inches of snow about. This week? It's nannies. One very proper and British-accented nanny in particular: practically perfect... 


Image: Tom Britt


If you live anywhere near Rochester, NY, you don't want to miss Greece Athena Middle School's production of this Disney Classic. There are three shows left today and tomorrow. The flying stunts are out of this world. Toys bounce, Mary and her wards zoom back and forth against a starry sky, and Bert goes for an upside-down stroll about thirty feet off the stage--while singing! 

I'm very proud to say that a member of our household spends several key scenes in the spotlight, working with nearly each and every one of the leads. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present our very own...



Benchy! 

My daughter is also enjoying her roles as a stroller in the park and banker--and my!--can she wield a clipboard or what? Do you want to know the hardest part? The songs? The dance steps? No! It's getting all twenty inches of her hair into a bun. (Followed in close second by the challenges of eye liner and third by all the missed sleep.)

What's in the air in your part of the world?

Monday, March 20, 2017

A to Z Blog Challenge Theme Reveal



Good morning blogoverse. Have you had your coffee? I've never touch the stuff myself. Seriously. I prefer to get my caffeine fix from


Image: madaise

Linda's Fudge Cake from the Cheesecake Factory. First time I shared this with my girls I slept less than 2 hours that night. Lesson learned.

Ever wonder why we get addicted to coffee and/or chocolate? Well, wonder no more! I just found out that caffeine has a chemical composition pretty much the same as cocaine at The Caffeine Conspiracy. But can you trust everything you read on the web? Gosh, I hope not because that post just informed me that decaffeinated green tea actually contains caffeine. The horror! The horror!


Et tu, green tea? (Image: Ruth_W)


So if you hadn't guessed, my theme this year will be: A 26-step program to kick your caffeine habit. No, no, no, that would be silly. Society would collapse into a useless stupor. It's conspiracies. And controversies. There's plenty to choose from: classics like the JFK assassination and whether the moon landing was fake to more recent conundrums such as 9/11 being an inside job and vaccines (health boon or health nightmare?) It should be fun. Or terrifying. Maybe both.


Image: totaledcow


This is my fifth go-round with this challenge, and frankly, I'm a little concerned about the whole toss-out-the-master-list deal. Will the poor schmoes (like me) who join in at comment 1,362 have any chance at snagging an audience? Is this some kind of conspiracy to jack up the comments on the master site? Hmm... Very suspicious, I say. VERY suspicious.

The fun starts on April 1. Are you ready? Have a conspiracy you'd like to learn more about?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things


It's Friday again? Why, yes it is! Have something to celebrate? Stop by and see Lexa Cain and join our weekly blog-hop. And don't forget the co-hosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker.

Last week was off the rails due to a highly unusual wind storm. School was cancelled for two days and the main thoroughfare to just about every place we go was closed due to several power poles (and lines) going down. 

I was hoping for a calmer week, but Mother Nature had other plans. She sent us this:



And this: 




These days, when the weather calls for snow, I roll my eyes and say, "Yeah, right. They predict three inches and we get a flurry. They predict eight inches and we might get one. Big whoop."
Well, this time I was wrong. The snowfall topped expectations! Hurrah!











Of course, with this much snow, there is a price to pay. Schools were closed, again, for Tuesday and Wednesday. My older daughter's play rehearsals were cancelled, again. I feel terrible for the director and other people in charge. Two major weather incidents right before opening. What a mess!

And then there's the shoveling. We do have a snow blower, but I won't let my husband use it. Shoveling is great exercise and after being stuck inside with arguing children, a 10 degree wind chill doesn't scare me. Two days later, however, my back and shoulders are screaming. 




See these snow banks? That's all me, folks. I'm a shoveling machine.



My younger daughter, just chillin'


Did you know that snow banks make very comfy chairs (provided you're wearing snow pants)?

Okay, so windstorm, snowstorm, then... What will Mother Nature throw at us next week? Stay tuned and let's hope it's not one of those

Image: Chris Hill


Has your March been wild?


Monday, March 13, 2017

Incense and Peppermints Blog Blitz





Good Monday morning, everyone! I have a special treat for you today. A gorgeous cover and intense coming-of-age tale set against the turbulence of the 1960s. Check it out:



Incense and Peppermints
Cathrina Constantine
Publication date: March 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Peace demonstrations, sit-ins, and burning the U.S. flag following the escalation of the Vietnam War are leading to a catalyst known to the world as the Sixties, and a musical revolution, flower power, hippies, marijuana, and drugs are carrying the generations—young and old—into a new decade. All the while sixteen-year-old Mary Monroe is caught between being an innocent good girl and an autumn of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

When her brother offers a solution to her dilemma in the form of a little pill, Mary ignores the rumba in her brain and takes a walk on the wild side. Plunged into popularity and a life she’s only imagined, she meets Michael Covington, the hot newcomer, and she’s instantly drawn in by his less than flawless exterior and bad boy sex appeal. Caught up in the danger and excitement as they drift from party to party, into underground fight clubs, and through a series of drug and alcohol fueled adventures, Mary follows her new crush into a world where young girls are never truly safe from the predators lurking in the shadows and young men are hiding from the harsh reality of war.

Feeling buzzed and as if her life is spinning out of control, Mary is assaulted by an unknown man at a party, and she’s left questioning if the enigmatic Michael is truly her hero or if he is the face behind the terrible attack. With every piece of information Mary learns about Michael, her doubts grow deeper, but with every minute she spends in his presence, so does her love.

With the war and her fear threatening to separate Mary and Michael forever, only the death of a friend, a crushing confession, and her own sensibilities can carry her over the threshold between adolescence and adulthood.


EXCERPT:
September 1969

The corners of my bedroom had dulled to a muddy gray by the time my brother leaned on, or rather wobbled against, my door. His glassy eyes floated in their sockets. Stoned, again.

“Whatcha doing, Sis?” Stevie, my older brother slurred.

My gaze slipped over his pasty chest, sprinkled with wiry hair, and past his jockeys to his stick-like legs. Did he realize he was only wearing saggy underwear? Normally, I’d say gross and mock him, but only because he normally treated me like a speck of toe scum.

“Nothing much.” I slipped my diary into my sock drawer, away from prying eyes. Our parents weren’t home, and our little sister was asleep in her crib on the other side of my room.

“You need to grow up,” he said. “Here, it’s party time.” Pinched between his thumb and finger, he revealed an ordinary aspirin as if he’d procured the magic solution.

“Uh… I don’t have a headache.”

“Hey, turd. It’s not an aspirin. Stop the nerd act and get with the program. Grow up.”

Our sibling behavior toppled into the belittling and ridiculing stage. Though I figured it was his way of helping me. Yet, staring at the pill, I was interested, but a hootenanny of cymbals clashed inside my head and my sensible side screamed.

You’ll puke! I hate puking. Wasn’t it only last week Stevie was tripping and heaving guts like a water hose?

Shaking my head, I declined his kind and strange offer and tried using simple logic to get rid of him. “Not tonight. Mom and Dad will be home any minute. Go to bed. It’s late.”

“They’ll be so-o plastered. I can’t stand them like that.” Dejected, his shoulders slouched, and his body seemed to deflate. Until he tossed the pill, saying, “Catch.”







Author Bio:
Cathrina Constantine is the Best Selling author of Don’t Forget To Breathe. Her book won Readers’ Favorite International Book Award for 2015 and The Literary Classics Seal of Approval and Literary Classics Gold Award. Her Paranormal Fantasy, Wickedly They Come has been awarded the 5 Star Seal from Reader’s Favorite. Tallas from her dystopian series received Literary Classics Silver Award and Literary Classics Seal of Approval.
Cathrina resides in Western New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and her cat, Bones. Author @chbbpublishing. Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. When not attached to her computer, she likes to take long walks in the woods with her dogs, drink way too much coffee, and is an avid movie watcher. She loves music and doesn’t need a dance floor to shake a leg.



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What were you like as a teen? Would you take the pill or refuse? Anyone else think of the movie poster for Almost Famous when they saw the Incense and Peppermints cover?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things



Hello and Happy Friday! Do you feel like celebrating something today? Doesn't have to be big. If so, click on over to our host, Lexa Cain, with co-hosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker, and join the fun. It's a great way to keep your blog refreshed each week. 

This week I'm celebrating something big - I survived the super-crazy windstorm of 3/8/17!! Here in Rochester, NY, we had strong winds all day on Wednesday topping off with an 80 mph gust measured at the airport. 

Image: Loralee Longdue, Greece NY



At first, I didn't think too much of the wind. I was at home alone, working on my stuff, working out on the elliptical machine. And then the phone rang--just a recorded message from the school that busses may be running late due to the high winds. Okay, no biggie. 

Then my older daughter called from her school. The power had been out for two hours. She wasn't sure about waiting for the bus. Could I come get her? 

Image: Christopher Playford, Greece NY


Her school is only a ten minute drive from the house, so I blithely said, "Sure, see you in a few minutes." Famous last words.

At the first major intersection, the road was cordoned off by two police cars and sawhorses. Every sawhorse was on its side. I could see a  major power line pole leaning at a 45 degree angle down the road. 


Image: Pete Fazio, Greece NY


First I tried to drive around the problem through a bunch of connected parking lots for stores. No dice. More police cars. Then I went went west. Several traffic signals were out of power. In this case, you are supposed to treat the intersection like a 4-way stop. Many people forgot and were whizzing through these intersections at 40 plus mph. I might have been one of those people--once. Or twice. Okay, okay--it was more like 4 or 5 times. But I was trying to get to my kid. 


Image: Glenn Johnson, Greece, NY


Less than 10 minutes later, I was blocked once more by a police barricade. Fiddlesticks! So I turned around again and saw a truck-sized tree limb lying in the street EXACTLY WHERE I HAD BEEN DRIVING 30 SECONDS AGO! The wind was so loud, I didn't even hear it fall. That freaked me out. 



Image: Lee Lejnleks, Webster, NY



At this point, I figured the highway would be a safer route and headed back east, winding my way around town. When I finally got to my daughter's school, she was nearly in tears because she was the very last soul left to be picked up (not only her middle school, but the high school that shares the same building). I felt bad, but I got us home without being crushed by a tree, having power lines drop on the car, or smashing into another vehicle at an intersection. Whew!

Image: Karl Mueller, downed high-voltage power line, Spencerport, NY


Even better, my younger daughter was safe at home and so glad to see us. So I rushed to the bathroom with a full bladder only to be blockaded by a police car my hungry, overfed cat. Move it, Dovely!

And how did my husband fare in all the chaos? That lucky so-and-so is currently in Boca Raton at a math conference. Grrrr.

Ever lose a tree in your yard or gain a trampoline to high winds? Want more pictures of the damage? Go here for WHAM 13 slideshow.

(Note: I am still answering back comments from last week's blog. I will get to them all as soon as I can. Both kids are off school with the roads in such bad condition.)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG and Celebrate the Small Things


Good Wednesday morning (afternoon, evening, whatever considering your time zone). It's time once again to discuss our writerly miseries and triumphs. A big huzzah to Ninja Capitan Alex Cavanaugh and the super-dooper co-hosts: Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield,and Nicohle Christopherson!

This week's probing question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Answer: Nope. Due to several bad habits, I can't even finished my current to-do list.

I might be spinning my wheels, but at least somebody in the family is writing some good stuff. My daughter was assigned a book project in which she wrote several journal entries from the main character's point of view. The book she chose, UnWholly by Neal Shusterman, is the second in the Unwind series.



Here's her take on the main character's conflict:

My deepest enemy is unwinding, having your body taken apart and divided up into different pieces, to be grafted onto someone else. That is why I work here, at the Graveyard, harboring hundreds of unwinds until they turn 17 and can not be unwound. The juvenile authority knows about us and is keeping a close watch on us and I am very afraid that they will soon attack. Everyone says that unwinding is a good peaceful practice that saves lives and benefits others, but they are not the ones being unwound. They don’t know how it feels to be painstakingly betrayed by your parents as they sign the unwind order or to be stuck in a harvest camp wondering how many weeks, days, or hours you have left. They don’t know what it is like to become a fugitive on the run, stealing, and possibly killing, just because your family did not want you anymore. That is why I must protect all of these poor kids so they can have a better future. – Connor Lassiter

I think she nailed the character's voice and produced something they could stick on the back cover. Go kid! 

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Since I'm co-hosting ISWG this week, I thought it best to combine posts today. Usually CTST is a Friday blog hop. If you're here for just ISWG, you can skip this part, but you'll be missing some cool images. 

Our host for this weekly shindig is Lexa Cain with co-hosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker.

A couple of hops back I shared an image of a wacky sculpture my husband put together with kitchen trash. Due to quick and dirty writing, many readers thought my daughter was involved in the construction of this silly joke. In reality, she had nothing to do with it. Sedona is a talented artist and ordered suggested that I show some of her work. Yes, ma'am!

First, I present two paintings, done with acrylics:




The above image is self explanatory, but this next one is a picture of our two cats at Christmas as seen through a wreath of pine boughs and pinecones. It's hard to see the details, but you may notice the stockings hung over a fireplace, a grey cat, a black cat, the Christmas tree, and torn bits of blue wrapping paper. The snowflakes around the edges are done in a glimmery paint.





Next, we move on to mixed media including clay (the bird and weeds), rocks, styrofoam, moss, and more. This is actually two projects. The one in the back is a model of the Roman aqueduct constructed for Social Studies. The bird and waterfall in the foreground were just for fun.






Sedona is also inspired by several clay artists on Instagram. Here is her versions of one such project: 





Finally, this is a wooden letter first painted and then decorated in pen. The T is for my name. This was a birthday gift.




If you do the Instagram thing, you can find more and better pictures of her art at Creative_Cat444.

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Have you heard of the Unwind series? Are you the only writer in your family? Have you ever posted something that annoyed a family member? Dable in the arts?


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things



Happy Friday (oops) Saturday y'all! Up here in the wilds of the north, schools are out this week for this crazy thing called Winter Break. Why would anyone want to be out of school in February instead of extending summer break during the best weather of the year is beyond me. Anyway, let's all thank our extraordinary host, Lexa Cain and her co-hosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker.

1. We took a mini-vacation up to Canada to enjoy a night a Great Wolf Lodge. The roller coaster water slide was a fave.




2. The next day we went to see the always magnificent Niagara Falls. The color of the water at the edge is so gorgeous (pun intended) that I could stare at it for hours (if my kids would let me, which they wouldn't. It was raining.)


Image: Lima Pix


3. At the end of our walk along the Canadian and American falls, we wandered into the tourist-y area and had an early dinner with elephants trumpeting into our ears every fifteen minutes at the Rainforest Cafe.

Image: Yortw


Have you done any traveling lately? Any place you like to visit?