Sunday, August 25, 2013

This Summer On The Farm

It's been a long and interesting summer, and it's not quite over yet folks.  I do have a bunch of random pictures taken during the height of it to share. But before I get into that, let me just announce that I now have two sister blogs, up and running, which is something that I've been thinking about doing for a long time. I decided that this weekend—when I have two deadline writing projects done and in editing, and just finished the first draft of my latest novel—was a good time to dedicate to getting my blogs going again. So I've been blogging in between putting up vegetables from the garden.

First of all, COMPANION DRAGONS TALES, which has been on a long hiatus, is back on the web, with a brand new focus, now that the first book of the series is in print. I plan on sharing news and snippets from the books, as well as interviews with co-authors and possibly even a few words from the artist(s) whenever they have the time. Waxy and Lazlo (they are small dragons), along with some of their other little friends, will be making occasional guest appearances.

Secondly, I finally decided I need a separate author site, so I set up a blog for primarily handling my writing news. WRITING FROM HOME was the name of a forum I had as a moderator for the old Books & Writing Bulletin Board on Prodigy Communities. That's where I met Roger and Lee, who share this blog with me, and also co-write the COMPANION DRAGONS TALES. It just seemed logical to keep the name going, since in between newsy posts I plan on sharing my perils of writing in a busy household. I do hope you'll go check them out!

And now, on to the pictures!

 Ariel The Wonder Dog welcomes you back to the farm, where she is kept busy most of the time scouting for potential problems from the swing out by the garden. She does manage to get up there by herself now. Ever vigilant, no chipmunks, squirrels, bunnies, woodchucks, coyotes, deer, or zombies ever make it past her before they are sent running for their lives. She's very alert!

June is the month for wild buttercups. The snow was plentiful over the winter, the rains came regularly through mid-July, and the grass was loaded with them. Two years of regular mowing and we have a much more green and lush wild 'lawn' in the fields around the house this year. I didn't get ahead of us as badly as it has in the past. Lots of white clover in it now too. 

Storms were a regular occurrence throughout June and into early July, and most of them brought copious rain. I seldom had to water. Thank goodness I built raised beds! Most people lost their gardens to storm washout. 

I did hang the feeder out by the garden again. We have several in the yard and a feeding station up by the house. The blackbirds came daily and emptied them for us. These are brown headed cowbirds, but it was the redwings and grackles who were the biggest pigs. They cost me a fortune in birdseed, but they were fun to watch. Now in August they've mostly moved on to nearby farm fields.

I did mention the storms! They were frequent and intense at times. Very dramatic cloud mass moving up from the northwest at sunset. That is the barn, and the projecting part of the building is the old milkroom which is now my garden shed. I got that organized back in April, and used it often this summer for potting plants and other projects.

The same system boiling up around the house, which sits on a knoll just above the barn. That is the ell, which holds the kitchen, and the dining room at that very end. My PC desk is in that end of the dining room, and that little string of icicle lights you can just barely see hangs from a big chestnut beam behind me. They throw enough light to work in the evenings.
 The early June garden, still pretty orderly at that point. It's a weedy, tangled mess now, but we are getting plenty out of it. We are just finishing the last of the romaine lettuce. I have not bought salad fixings all summer. I gave quite a bit away too. The cauliflower didn't do too well, but we got a few heads. Broccoli has been fair, and cabbage is very abundant.

The lush foliage of summer. The big field looks so good this year! If you look close enough in this pic, you'll see a deer out there. They were frequent visitors in the mornings and evenings, but this one came out on a nice afternoon..

We do get some spectacular sunsets. Those big, moist layers of clouds look like pastel fleece blankets. 

I have one big hummingbird feeder up by the porch, and this smaller one down by the garden. That's a male ruby throat having a sip. A male house finch looks on rather dispassionately. The garden birdseed feeder would be to the right.

Not easy to catch these guys when they're not in motion. He was a regular customer all summer, and did U-shaped 'display' flights around the feeder, claiming the territory as his. He even chased off his own mate! She'd still slip in for a nip, now and then. They nested somewhere in the big white pines along the road again. Those trees are a bustling community of bird life.

I know that the red dye nectar is not as healthy, but this was a gift from a family member, and one does not ignore those who augment your obsessions. LOL! The hummers seem OK with it, they raised two nestlings again this year, and both come to the feeders and hanging plants now.

We seemed to have a pretty good sized population of cowbirds this year. These are juveniles and females. Cowbirds or Buffalo Birds as they were once known, lay their eggs in other birds' nests, and the foster parents have to feed them. Since they are migratory birds following animal herds, that makes sense. But how do they learn to be cowbirds instead of wrens or warblers? So much about animal instinct we don't understand...

The deer came out more during the later afternoon and evenings in the summer. This fellow is almost across the field. They don't mind us if we stay quiet, but Ariel doesn't like them very much. She barks and barks, and then acts very proud once they go bounding away. We're safe for another day.

Cropping the picture showed this was a buck. I'd say heading toward his second year, with those forks in velvet, and the lengthening body. Beautiful creature!

Yeah the buck stops here, and quite often too. They do some grazing and a lot of browsing on tender brush tips on the edge of the clearing. That white stuff in the background is multiflora rose.

Sorry the cropped pictures are fuzzy. Ariel finally saw this guy and loudly expressed  her opinion that he should leave immediately. He agreed. That redwing blackbird was a lot closer, and decided to photobomb the shot.

The next time he just kind of casually walked off. I guess he figured the noisy little dog wasn't going to come after him after all.

He still seems reluctant to leave. Young and inexperienced, on his own for the first time, he's eager to stay and graze. 
 In early July, I had tire size lettuce clumps. We ate most of it. The orange buckets were for stones, which I hauled out of the garden in the small white one on top.

Poor Dumpy died out there, his dumper broken and his fuel tank on the ground. We had to haul him off with the tractor. He'll get rebuilt  later on.


Evidently, we're good for more that just dining. Sometimes the hummers would just hang out with us a while.

Such dainty little creatures but they can be fairly fierce. I've watched them drive off far larger birds who were encroaching on their territory. This is either a female or a juvenile. The males have the ruby band around their throats. Rubythroats are the only hummers here in CT.

This one was a regular ham, it sat and posed for me quite a while. Late summer, and you see the hummers all the time. I had my feeder by the porch out back in early May, once I saw the first ones come looking for it.

As July spun out, the weather that had been so terribly hot and humid, began to dry and cool down. It was a welcome relief! I'd had viral bronchitis through the worst of it, and so was indoors a lot with the AC. I snapped this one after a rainstorm came through. 

The days are still fairly long, but there is a noticeable difference in the sunset time. I love that gorgeous backlit look, and the way it reflects on the barn cupolas.

Someone to the south might have been getting more rain, but we stayed dry. We had some seriously severe storms in July. 

Some of my potted plants up by the house. The storms often brought torrential downpours and the plants did not do well in that. I lost a few. That's a supertunia on the left, lantana mix on the right, and verbena in the background.

Some of those petunias have a very heady scent. I love that! Another supertunia and a zonal geranium.

A box full of French marigolds. They need deadheading.  

A tub of lantana next to mint.

Ornamental peppers. They last forever on the plants, which are even more loaded right now.

More supertunias and lantana. 

A rescued six pack of coleus fills a porch box with some shady cheer. These plants were in with a throw-out pile at the nursery, but they looked fine to me. Evidently, they were.

As the sun sets my mind turns to indoor things. I'd love to paint this scenery some day, but I don't think I could do it justice. My skill is more with words than with a brush and pigment, though I do love to dabble.

And finally, Ariel says that this is THE END of this blog entry. She hopes you enjoyed your brief tour of summer on our farm. We'll have even more pictures for you next time.

In the meantime, we will keep busy, living and loving every moment of it.

Now you go do something meaningful with your life, even if all it is taking off your shoes and walking barefoot in the grass. Leave the computer and the TV for a while. Read a book under a tree, or go talk to someone you care about. Maybe bake a cake or teach a kid to ride a bike. The important thing is to realize there's more to living than what we can manufacture or have to pay for. No one can make a hummingbird or a sunset in a factory. Don't miss seeing one if you get a chance. There's an entire world out there waiting for you, and it's wireless and energy efficient. You only need step outside your door and look. Even if you live in the heart of a big city, there's something to see if you open your eyes, your mind, and your heart.

Peace to all,

Year 14, Week 31, Day 0ne (week 677)

Year 14, Week 31, Day 0ne (week 677)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
08-24-13 Saturday
    86 in the morning, with humidity and a light breeze. 94 in the afternoon, drier with a slightly stronger breeze. Clouds were mixed with high feathers plates and haze, and some lower puffs around the horizon. Thunder puffs built up over the Everglades and the edge of civilization late in the day. One thing I notice about this time a year is that in the past month, Dawn is arriving later. I remember not long ago that I was driving to work with the sky even to the west being light. Now, when I arrive at Mom's house at about 6:30 in the morning, there is a very slight glow on the horizon. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department Of Tourism.
    On Thursday, I made some home made noodles. I made four batches of noodles. Each batch is about two servings. The mixing of the dough takes the same amount of time, whether it is a single batch or ten batches. The time consuming part is rolling the dough out in sheets so it can be cut. I ended up with a good number of noodles.
    Since I was going to a meeting where it is basically pot luck meals, I cooked up the noodles at Mom house with hamburger and seasoning, and took it with us. I ended up at the end of the night with a healthy single serving of noodles left. It was popular.
    We hit several yard sales, but I only spent a dollar. I picked up a paper towel holder. It is wood with a metal rod to help tear the towels. I could live without it, but I have a roll of paper towels floating in my kitchen and this gives it a place to sit where it is not getting buried.
    I walked out side, wanting to do something but not knowing what. I pulled out the little lathe and settled down with a stick of oak. I don't need another oak rod but decided to make one anyway. I had to cut it to length to fit on the lathe, and then made it round.
    I had the cut-off sitting next to me. I decided I would make something called a banana bowl, but this one would be about an inch across.
    I quickly found that since it was about half an inch thick, I could not reach the piece with my tail stock to hold it in place. I needed to extend the point of my tail stock. I now had a project to do.
    The first thing I did was to dig into my chowder box. In metal working, the chowder box is a box of bits and pieces of metal that might be used for some project. In this case, I found a rod that was slightly larger than I needed. This rod  had part of the end cut out so it would eventually become a cutting tool. For this project, that had to go.
    I placed a cutting bit in the tool rest, with most of the rod inside the tube that the chuck is attached to. I started cutting the rod and had a nice groove, then got an idea that would work better since the cutting tool was a whole lot wider than I needed. I took a hacksaw and started the part turning. I simply held the saw against the metal, moving it in and out until it felt like it was digging in and then waited. It took a little bit but it sliced the rod in half nicely.
    I measured a couple times, and then started removing metal from the sides of the rod. I wanted it to go all the way into the tail stock to help keep it straight, and I did not want it much smaller than needed. Just barely slip in was the idea. I measured with the calipers several times, and also took it out of the chuck and put it to the tail stock several times. I was surprised when it slipped in the last time. I was likely a heavy sanding too narrow. that, for my purposes, was good enough.
    I then swapped ends on the rod and turned the head stock onto an angle. I tried to make a conical point, but I could not get the angle I was after. I ended up making it a stepped cone with a really fine point. It would do.
    Finally, I was able to try my banana bowl. My new point reached over the tool rest so I could do a little work. I then ran across a problem I had before and had not gotten around to solving. I was using a bit of pipe to hold the wood slightly away from the chuck. I found that it had no grip, it slipped the instant the cutting tool met the wood.
    I guess I had better get around to making a drive spur for this little lathe. I roughed up the edge of the pipe but there still was no friction or bite.
    I did make the extended point for the tail stock and that should come in handy on other projects. I have no idea how it will work with metal.
    It was hot, even with the fan, and I had done enough, so I packed up my projects and called it a day.
    I have no idea what I will do tomorrow. The weather is not supposed to be quite as good.
    I will see what I actually do tomorrow.
Year 14, Week 31, Day Two (week 677)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
08-25-13 Sunday
    High interlocked feathers and plates, medium grey puffs that appear to be so pregnant that they were dropping liquid sunshine. It was almost reminiscent of Seattle weather, except that you could see blue sky and it was 84 degrees. It got up to 86 degrees after the dripping stopped. The sky did not look any different the rest of the day. This weather report is brought to you by the City of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
    The weather eliminated any chance of a Sunday yard sale. It also eliminated any idea of using my big lathe, which has to be out in the open to be used. I did not feel like using the little lathe today since that was what I did yesterday.
    I decided to test my wrist by doing a carving with the knife. The last time I did this, my wrist bothered me the rest of the day.
    I have ideas for a Christmas ornament but needed to make a test carving first. it required me to make a "go by" to see if I had the design right and could even make them. The earlier I start my Christmas ornaments, the better. I can come up with more designs and get more of them done. I am also not so rushed that it is all I work on towards the end of November.
    I cut some two by two lengths, my band saw allows about twelve inch long max, and then drew the design on the wood. I veered from the drawn design almost from the fifth cut. the design did not look like it was working for a very long time. I instantly knew I had made some mistakes but went with it anyway. it really wasn't until I was almost deep enough in the wood that I could see that this would actually look like something.
    My original design was supposed to be a penguin skating. I showed it to my mom and she said it did not look like a penguin. I carved the face to look more like a duck and she said it still does not look right.
    Since I had the basic form right, I decided to leave it like that for now and work on it some other weekend. I can now see what my original design was supposed to be. I will likely finish this carving and try it again. My intended design can be assisted by the lathe. I just have to get the first successful result to see what is needed to be done.
    As for my wrist, It was not bad while carving, not as bad as it was last time. It bothers me some as I type this but again, not as bad as last time. I will have to see if strengthening it more will help.
    I did find that I don't have any callouses on my hand and ended up with sore spots on my hand from working the knife. This always happens when I pick up knife carving after a long period of not carving at all.
    After over a year of not carving by knife, I think I did fairly well both in the act of carving and the results.
    I didn't do too bad this weekend. I would have loved to work on other projects but that is not happening right now. Have lots of projects to work on, but physical complications, weather, time and other projects are not allowing me to get to them.
    I have no idea what I will do next weekend, so I will have to see what happens.

 paper towel holder I got at a yard sale
 extended point in tool rest.
extended point and oak rod side by side. That is a tooth brush I use for cleaning the lathe in view there.
 Front of skater carving
left side of skater carving

 Back of skater carving
Right side of skater carving

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Year 14, Week 30, Day 0ne (week 676)

Year 14, Week 30, Day 0ne (week 676)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
08-17-13 Saturday
    86 degrees early morning with a humid feeling, 95 in afternoon but felt dryer than in morning. very good mix of puffs racing each other across the sky, with some blocking the sun for a very short time. Strong winds kept the air moving nicely, feeling cooler than it was. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of tourism.
    We hit several yard sales in the morning after Breakfast. At one, I got a baggy of jewelry, mostly earrings with some necklaces and some rings. I am thinking of them as decorations for some carvings.
    At another yard sale, I hit the mother-load. A guy was moving. He had messed with sheet metal working about 30 years ago. He had his tools and books in a metal box he made. I got the whole batch of tools for the price I expected to pay for one or two! Once in a while we would like to do something with sheet metal. Of course, I will let my brother have first dibs on them.
    In the morning, I settled down outside and sanded on my crochet hooks. Once I sanded them, I had to give them another coat of varnish. The way I did the handles was to set a gap in the vice and set them with the rods down in the gap, and sprayed them.
I then had to do the rods. I remembered the wooden clamps I got last week so I dug a pair of them out. One can put them on a slight angle by how tight you set each screw. I put the smallest handle in one end of the vice and the largest in the other end and clamped down on them. I was then able to put all the rods that would fit in between them. I had to use a second vice for the rest of the rods.
    That held them up well enough that I was able to give the rods a good coat of varnish. I sanded them with 600 grit after they had dried and am leaving them at that. I should wipe them with varnish and rub them until they are dry to give them a good clean finish but doubt that will happen.
    I had started crocheting a roll case for the rods. It dawned on me that because I am using fine yarn (almost a string) and a small hook, this was going to be too long a project to get the dimensions I need.
    I remembered that Jo-Ann's cloth world has small swatches of fabric for sale. I headed there a bit later in the morning. I picked up two pieces of cloth, 12"x18". I will fit the rods in the cloth and tack with thread where I need it stitched. I will then see if I can get my mom to sew it up with her sewing machine. With that, the set will be done.
    I stopped for gas at a place that was nearly ten cents cheaper than most gas stations. I drove off and got to the store that was my next stop, and realized I left my cane at the gas station. I drove all the way back and it was right where I left it! I tend to touch the truck when walking around it and that is why I did not realize I had left the cane. The truck was my cane at the time.
    Later in the day, Mom and I went to the Festival Flea Market on Sample Road near the Turnpike exit. We went to the Dollar And Up store which has items for a dollar and other things that are more than a dollar, but you cannot seem to find them anywhere else, or at that price.
    I've been wearing a cowboy hat as my hat for months. I got it at this store when it was owned by someone else. that hat has finally had it, the brim, which once had character, now looks sick. I had a replacement hat already but decided to get another one. It was cheap enough. I also got a good wallet there at a good price.
    It was a bit of walking there as it is a mall with several rows of booths down the middle and stores along the side. We walked to the opposite end of the place. My legs let me know they were not too happy with all that walking, but much better than they could have on a bad day.
    I am not sure what I will do tomorrow. I have loads of projects in mind but won't know which will be done until I do them.
    I will see what I do tomorrow.
Year 14, Week 30, Day Two (week 676)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
08-18-13 Sunday
    95 degrees, good strong breeze, well mixed puffs of clouds racing across the sky, mostly sunny and I did not notice any time the clouds were in front of the sun. I did drive through some wetness on the way home. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach department of tourism.
    I saw only one yard sale on the way to Mom's house and he did not have what I couldn't live without. Disappointing!
    I had to take care of a couple things on my truck before I got started. The screw that holds my wooden shifter knob on the stick shift of my truck came loose a second time. This time I used the right screwdriver and really tightened it tight. I will see how long that lasts.
    I went out back and thought about a project to work on. about a month ago, My brother gave me some LIVE OAK branches. I cut a section off I mounted it in the lathe and started turning. I knocked off a branch first, then made a tenon on one end. I turned the piece around and started turning a goblet. I wanted to have the bark on the edges of the lip and base of the goblet.
    As I started hollowing it, I would get a catch and the piece would get out of balance. the tenon was breaking. I would make adjustments and continue to hollow. I had to stop and rest for a while, having lunch in the process, because my legs got real tired.
    I got the inside about as good as I was going to get and started working on the outside. Being out of practice, I had a couple catches on the outside and the tenon gave a little more.
    I THEN MADE A BEGINNER MISTAKE!!! We tell all beginners to rotate the work by hand before turning on the machine to see if there is any place it might contact something. I did not do it. I adjusted the piece and then flipped the start switch. It turned once and the bowl hit the tool rest and broke!
I've kept the pieces for now. In prior times, I have made goblets into flowers. This one ended up a bit thicker than it should have been so I do not know what I will do with it.
    It was nice to do a little bit of wood turning on the big lathe. I just cannot stand very long, especially after the time, walking, standing, it takes to get everything set up to start working. Then there is the clean-up.
    I baked some bread today. This was dough I froze up last week. I needed to see what it would take to make bread from that point, rather than also mixing the dough. It takes several hours as you have to let it rise, but you can do things while waiting. The place smelled pretty good. Being in a condo, I kind of hope I am driving people crazy. More than once I have changed what I was planning to have for dinner because of some smells I caught while walking through the place.
    I have loads of projects to do, but will have to see what I do next week.

 Sheet metal tools and books I got at a yard sale.

 Wooden clamp holding crochet hooks so I can spray varnish the rods.

 Finished crochet hooks. Black walnut rods, Oak handles. Now I have to make a case.

 What the goblet was sort of supposed to look like.

What the goblet actually turned out to be.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rambling Thoughts From Nancy...

Writing, reading, editing, gardening, putting up veggies, spending time with family, cooking, crocheting now and then, and cleaning house when it gets ahead of me. That is how the days go by. And this year they have gone by far too fast for me. I've been chronically ill a couple of times. I just got over a three week plus bout with viral bronchitis, which hit me in the worst possible weather—mid to upper 90s and very humid. So glad to have that murky stuff behind us. August has been far more tame than July was, when if it wasn't hot & humid, it was pouring rain. 

Work on the house is stalled for now, as we've been paying off bills most of the year. It was a tough winter and spring for that sort of thing. Glad to be moving past that too. I don't like running up substantial debts, but old houses need work. Still have some monetary things to deal with, but the fall and winter are looking far rosier at this point. I sure hope so, we could use a break! I am still going through things we've moved over here, now with a far more critical eye. Things are getting donated, recycled, and tossed, and other items are out of mothballs and being used again (or finally in some cases). Life on the farm this year has become more of a harmonious rhythm than a bunch of discordant pieces that never seem to fit together. That's a good thing too. For too many years I have bounced from one interpretation of who I am and what I do to another. Being able to integrate them all certainly makes things easier. 

I have not been a very regular blogger because between the garden, my writing, and being ill off and on, I am playing catchup on a lot of stuff. I didn't do anything much for thrifting this summer, and I have not even taken as many pictures as I would have in the past. But I do have some summer pics of the garden—when it still looked good and was weeded—as well as wildlife and assorted nature shots to post the next time I get here. I will have more after that too, as I have plenty of produce coming in from the big weed patch, and some lovely things that other people have given me. Gifts from the heart are always a nice picker-upper. 

Two big changes this summer are I am now writing for the town newsletter once a month, and the birth of my next grandson is imminent any time. Little Mr. Zachary Connor Hansen should be making his debut within the next two weeks. Looking forward to reliving that miracle once more.

Family has become very important to me now that we have 4 generations that regularly get together. Besides the small fry, my mother is still in very good physical health, though she is far more frail these days, and starting to show some troubling signs of memory loss. I have her here on the farm for a day or three almost every week, and because she lives less than 15 miles away with my adult sons, DDIL & Grandson #1; I am updated regularly about what is going on in her life. We were fortunate several weeks ago to have one of my cousins from Long Island volunteer to drive her mother (mom's sister) from upstate NY to my home, and they picked up an uncle (brother) along the way. I had the three of them here in my kitchen yakking away and having a good time, and I brought in as much family as I could get together. I'm glad Kathy did that for us, my days of driving might be over now with the poor eyesight, and they all needed that. While this old farm might be a bit tattered and timeworn, it's still happy to host whatever holidays and special occasions I can pack under this roof. 

So it's been an introspective year, as well as a busy one. I've had to reevaluate how I want and need to spend my time. Over the last three years, writing has taken over so much of it that it's become the biggest part of my day. Being sick off and on, watching the family grow and age, I started realizing I was pushing myself so hard, I'd forgotten how to enjoy life. I'm learning that I have to pace myself, choose my projects wisely, and that a variety of interesting activities makes for a far more contented me. I don't want to wake up one day and realize I wished I'd spent more time doing this, rather than that—especially poignant when it comes to loved ones and friends. Life does not stand still for anyone. As I said to someone recently, I want to be both a human being, and a human doing things. There's no 'either/or' in that equation. I want to experience all sorts of new creative outlets, but I also want to spend time with people I care about before something happens to tear us apart. It's all about balance.

Thirty years ago on August 7th, we lost my dad very suddenly and unexpectedly. He would have been 52 the next day. I never had a chance to say goodbye. He never met either of my sons. I was five months pregnant with the oldest at the time. It was the worst day of my life. Dad said one thing to me before he suddenly stopped being able to breathe, the result of a pulmonary embolism that caught us all off-guard. He said, "I'm not working any more overtime." I know a lot of those years when I was growing up he had to do that, because we were a one income family that was barely scraping by. The wolf was always at the door, when I was growing up. My life has improved a whole lot since then. But I never forgot those words, and what they meant. He had been so busy doing things, he didn't have time to enjoy life. The problems that put him in the hospital were dad's wake up call, and unfortunately, it came too late for him. 

I saw this year, what over two years of pushing myself, burning the candle at both ends, trying to be everything to everybody, and impress my potential audience to the utmost, can do. I had two very debilitating brushes with illness within 4 months. What's even worse than that though, is the time that passed with all sorts of wonderful and important memories in it, that I barely took a moment to enjoy before putting that nose back to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel. Writing is a wonderful outlet of creative expression; and being published, read, and enjoyed is the penultimate thrill. But like any hobby turned vocation, it can take over your life. I spend a lot of my time when I'm not writing promoting my work, and networking with other writers. It began to take up so much of my day, I had little time for anything else. Not only did my physical health deteriorate, but I felt plain old burned out. Life wasn't 'fun' anymore. Now that is just plain wrong!

Life isn't always going to be fun, but we need to grab the best moments any time they present themselves and just enjoy. Even the small quiet times mean a lot. I hear people say they don't like Christmas because it's so commercialized, or don't see the point in celebrating birthdays because who wants to be another year older? Well... that's one way of looking at it I suppose. These days, I see any excuse to get people together as a good thing. Who cares what the occasion is, we'll make some food and sit around swapping tales of days gone by. That's how you pass on what you know and have been through to the next generations. With these grandkids cropping up, and my mother having trouble remembering who did what and when, I know I have to keep the home fires burning bright. It's just as important to be the family historian and enabler of good times as it is to be lauded for my work ethic. We're making memories, and when our lives are dust, those memories will go on to kindle the home fires of the future.

As a writer I'm doing what I love. I have the gift of making stories that sound interesting. As a middle aged family member, I want what I have seen, done, and learned passed on. That means I have to actually be there with the ones I love, or make sure they have some way to spend time with me. Doing and being—you can't have a full life without both. I have to work as diligently at making good things happen in my private life as I am working on making a name for myself. Otherwise, the people out there who encounter me through my work will know me better than my own flesh and kindred; and that's not right. Another type of balance to achieve.

So that concludes today's rambling thoughts. I promise the next post will have more pictures and less words. LOL! 

In the meantime, here is my latest published work. This story is the first in a series of books for kids, from peepers being read to through the years of our second childhood. It launches a wonderful collaboration with my two bestest friends in the whole wide world—who just happen to share this blog with me—Mr. Lee Houston Jr. and Mr. Roger Stegman. Companion Dragons Tales #1: A Familiar Name, featuring Lazlo Dragon, is now live and for sale! 

You can read all about that here:

 This was a long time coming folks, as Roger started writing his initial stories back in 2005, and Lee and I jumped on board with our own tales to round out what is now going to be a regular series of very funny and exciting stories featuring little dragons and their adventures with their human companions in otherworld places where chocolate is more valuable than gold or oil, magical things exist right next to the most mundane, and the worst puns you could ever imagine are a staple of everyday life. You're going to love them!

Yep, live some and write some. My new motto.

¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨) 
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ *Nancy