Monthly Archives: May 2014

Treasured Days!

I wrote a post a while back about my mum’s work with the Chernobyl Children’s Charity. Now my mum, being quite the master persuader (as they so usually are), ropes me into things before I even know what’s hit me. You may remember another post last year where I found myself buddy to some of the children while they were here on a visit, and spent a day at the funfair terrified as my little charges whisked me off on roller-coasters and other nerve-racking rides.

Treasure Hunt 3Well, last weekend was a lot less nerve-racking than the funfair. We did a treasure hunt to raise funds for the charity, which brings a group of children over to the UK each year for respite. Apparently, one month of good air and good food can add years to their lives. The day was a lot of fun, even more so because I got to team up with my cousin Margaret. We don’t see each other very often, but when we get together it’s as if we have never been apart.

Treasure Hunt 6The treasure hunt took place in Portsmouth, my home town, and each team was presented with a sheet of tasks which included visiting museums, train stations, the harbour, the international port, all in search of clues. Each one had to be photographed with one of the team, so we had hard evidence of achieving the task. We also had to collect things along the way, such as a theatre flyer, pub drinks mat (we stopped off for a very welcome glass of vino to collect this one), a library card application, a free sample, something sticky, fluffy and pink (a candy floss at the funfair) an empty crisp packet, something cold, something hot, etc.

There were plenty of other things to collect which included an expired parking ticket. We had to wear fluorescent jackets in order to carry a collecting tin, and as I went into a nearby car park searching for the expired parking ticket a lady came rushing over assuring me that she was only a few minutes over time and please would I not give her a ticket. She thought I was a parking attendant! Needless to say, her relief at not being given a ticket prompted her to pop some coins into the collecting tin 🙂

Treasure Hunt 1Since we still searched for the elusive used parking ticket, we decided to accost people walking back to their cars along the seafront. We spotted a couple of handsome young men getting into their car and decided to ask them for their ticket. My cousin, never one to let an opportunity pass her by, asked the driver if we could take a photo of him as we were searching for something hot and he certainly fit the bill 🙂 He promptly got out of his car ready to oblige and since Margaret was holding the camera, I was the lucky member of the team who got her photo taken with him. Oh well, someone had to do it, right? His friend said that we just had made his day and had certainly boosted his ego. He said his friend would be milking it for a long time to come!

We didn’t win the Hunt, but managed a healthy score. It was huge fun and we’re already planning our strategy for next year. I learned an awful lot about my hometown and marvelled that I’d lived there for the first twenty five years of my life and didn’t know things like King Charles the second’s bride, Catherine, arrived in Portsmouth from Portugal in 1662 and their marriage also took place here. Apparently, our tea-drinking tradition owes much of its popularity to Catherine whose love of the drink made it a more fashionable and widely drunk beverage.

Treasure Hunt 4Portsmouth is rich in naval history and it was lovely to revisit places I enjoyed as a child. We always visited Navy Days at historic Portsmouth Dockyard, where we would take a tour of HMS Victory. I loved the smell of the ship and remember being awestruck that I could stand on the very spot where Nelson fell during the Battle of Trafalgar having been shot by a sniper. Today the Dockyard also houses HMS Warrior (1860) and a museum displaying the wreck of the Tudor carrack, The Mary Rose.
Then there is the Charles Dickens birthplace museum, and the house were Peter Sellers was born. So much to see and rediscover.

A great fun day and a lovely opportunity to spend some special time reminiscing with my lovely cousin as we roamed our childhood haunts and discovered new ones.

Smiling my way through Spring

So, I think I talked earlier this month about getting the deck furniture out. I thought I’d show you our pond this week. We got it up and running for the summer just before getting the furniture out. It’s not rock, it’s plastic (too good a price at Costco), but I love it. It sounds amazing, and looks amazing, especially with the Azalea blooming behind it.  (Pay no attention to the dirt to the right of the picture. We had to dig up part of our sidewalk this winter.)

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It was a family effort, putting this pond in ten years ago. My husband had major back surgery and wasn’t lifting anything much yet. So the kids and grandkids dug the hole and got the pond set in place. I think that’s another reason I like it so much. 🙂

I’ve always said that I love all the seasons pretty much equally. Right now, though, as I sit out on deck in the sunshine, listening to the waterfall in our pond, smiling, I have to say that Spring is really feeding my soul.

I hope you all have had a wonderful month filled with the sights and sounds of Spring.

Book Review – Death Angel

2067180I love romantic suspense and this one, while dark, is quite a plot with a surprising cast of characters.

Drea Rousseau has made herself into a no brains blonde to reap the benefits of being a drug lord’s mistress. The image she throws up presents no threat to the very dangerous man.

The assassin is high priced and in demand. After doing a job for Rafael Salinas, the drug lord offers him a one hundred thousand dollar bonus. He turns it down and instead says he wants Drea. Rafael says he doesn’t share to which the assassin replies that he doesn’t want to keep her, just — one time.

Okay so not the most endearing hero and heroine and this all happens within the first 4 pages. A fast start to end all fast starts. And, it all works, by the end of the story I was loving both the assassin and Drea.

Linda Howard has again woven a tale of second changes. In Death Angel ‘bad girls’ can learn to trust their hearts and ‘bad boys’ can fight for good and dying can make the impossible happen.

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Who’s Afraid of…Public Speaking?

I write stories for a living. I do that because I’m better at writing than I am at speaking. Much better, and it’s not that I’m bragging about my writing ability here. It’s that I’m trying to explain just how … Continue reading

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Hello Spring!!

My goodness, where has spring gone? I thought I was just saying how glad I was that it was finally spring and now we are almost finished with May. Here in Western Oregon we don’t even have our gardens planted. … Continue reading

I’m Home! And a Bit of a Rant.

Jillian here. I was at the Romantic Times convention in New Orleans (didn’t get to meet Marie- alas)- and had a great time for the most part. It was awesome to see old friends and to meet some I hadn’t known before in person. I also was able to connect to some readers who I have been chatting with on social media. That part was awesome to the max.

The bad thing was the way the organization split the writers in the book signing and the way they ushered readers to the NY published authors. We all paid the same fees to be there and we were treated horribly. They had the NY pubbed people on the left and the small/medium presses and indies to the right. I am small and medium press published and two of my publishers sponsored events at this convention and yet we were shuffled off to the side. We didn’t even have any customers for the first 45 mins of the book fair.

As the volunteers let people in, they ushered them to the NY side and even told some people not to go into the other room as it was the “overflow” room- I even heard one person was telling people that the published writers were to the left and the aspiring authors were to the right.  HELLO??? It was unreal. I had one lady who had already bought my book and brought it from home to get me to sign it and she finally found me- she was upset as she didn’t know if she ever would. And I heard from someone else that they never did find me. So, how many sales did we in the other room lose out on? I won’t be going back unless this changes.

RWA already treats us non-NY pubbed writers as persona non grata and now RT does as well? Makes you think, doesn’t it? Makes me sad/mad at the same time. One NY pubbed gal I know said she didn’t see a problem with the way they did the split. I told her that was exactly like the days of “separate but equal”- the white folks didn’t see anything wrong with it because they were the elite. Harsh? Maybe, but I think the analogy works.

I had a dream last night that Lavada was in_ I think I was fretting over being late to blog (haha)_ anyway, she was trying to help me sew (which I CANNOT do at all) and when I got frustrated, I said, “I can’t do this like everyone else so I quit.”

I think that was a psychological leftover from being treated as a second class citizen at RT. What do you think?

Not Cool to Bully On the Ice by Valerie J. Patterson

If you’ve been listening to the news or any sports talk show, then you know that Milan Lucic–the Boston Bruins left winger–said, “I’m going to [insert expletive] kill you next year”, a threat he delivered to the Montreal Canadiens, Dale Weise while making his way down the hand shake line after the final game of a Stanley Cup playoff series in which the Bruins lost to the Canadiens.

Why is this an issue?  Isn’t hockey known for its violence?  Its brawls?  Its “let’s get even” on the ice attitude?  Yes, all that’s true.  However, this is an issue for many reasons.  For one, hockey is probably one of the few professional sports out there where there even is a hand shake line, a last ditch effort to lose graciously, leave the grudges on the ice, and congratulate the winners.

Secondly–and perhaps more importantly–Milan Lucic and his wife as recently as March of this year released a children’s book that teaches children NOT to bully others.  Lucic has been quoted as saying:  “I always feel like — and still to this day — that you should treat people the way you want to be treated.  That’s why I feel strongly about this issue. It’s unfortunate it’s still an ongoing issue.”

And he’s also been quoted as saying:  ““Teach [kids] to respect everyone, respect themselves and respect your peers. I know that’s what I was brought up to believe in growing up. My parents did such a good job with myself.”

Such excellent advice coming from a man who, in essence, bullied Weise when he threatened to kill him in the upcoming season.  Apparently, Lucic doesn’t exactly practice what he preaches…or publishes.  And, he’s a poor loser to boot.

In interviews with Lucic regarding the threat he’s said everything EXCEPT that he’s sorry.  According to Lucic, what’s said on the ice stays on the ice and he’s not sorry for what he’s said.   “I’m a guy that plays on emotion, and this is a game of emotions. Sometimes you make decisions out of emotion that might not be the best ones. That’s what it is.”

And how is this any different from being a bully?  Different “playground” perhaps, but same concept.

Additionally, Lucic said, “It’s unfortunate, because what’s said on the ice stays on the ice, and unfortunately that code is broken and it’s unfortunate that it blows up to what it is now,” Lucic said. “I’m not the first guy to do it, I’m not the last guy to do it.”

Neither of these statements make him credible as a player to look up to or as a writer of a book against bullying.  The excuse that he’s not the first nor will he be the last guy to do it simply shows he can’t or won’t accept responsibility that his actions and words were not appropriate.  Can’t a bully claim that what happens on the playground stays on the playground?  Yep.  But it still doesn’t make it right.

Bullying is a real problem.  This man–in my opinion–blew up his credibility as someone trying to teach children that bullying is wrong.  If children are to look up to professional athletes as role models then they need to clean up their own acts and live by what they attempt to teach children.

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So sorry this blog was late today.  Had no Internet service this morning and then took a much needed nap after work.

Hope all enjoy a lovely and bully-free weekend.  Until next time…

Fountain Of Youth

imagesAging has been a topic for like forever. For one thing most of us will do it or if not the alternative isn’t one we want to think about. At one time men searched for the Fountain of Youth. Now we are looking toward science instead of an elusive pool of magical water, but the search goes on.

May 4th 60 Minutes ran a report on aging or more specifically the over 90 crowd which are now the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.

It was an interesting report. For one thing life expectancy in this country, has since the 20th century, increased by 30 years. In 1900 it was 49 and today it is 79. Currently a groundbreaking research study called “90+” is being conducted to find answers to questions like what kind of shape we’ll be in if we do live past 89. And, what can we do to up our odds.

Some of the research findings I found interesting were;

• The men and women in the project have a rich social life and many date.
• One lady was asked what her secret of long life is. She answered, “I wish I knew.”
• No surprise: smokers died earlier than non-smokers.
• People who exercised definitely lived longer than people who didn’t exercise. As little as 15 minutes a day on average made a difference. Forty-five minutes was the best. Even three hours didn’t beat 45 minutes a day. What I liked was that it was found that it didn’t all have to be at once. It could be, for example, 15 minutes of walking and then later in the day gardening or something. And it also didn’t have to be very intense exercise.
• And non-physical activities — book clubs, socializing with friends, board games — all good.
• People who took Vitamins, E, A, C and calcium didn’t live any longer than people who didn’t take them.
• Up to two drinks a day led to a 10-15 percent reduced risk of death compared to non-drinkers. A lot of people like to say it’s only red wine. The research showed it didn’t matter, beer and mixed drinks gave the same results as red wine.
• For coffee drinkers. Caffeine intake equivalent to 1-3 cups of coffee a day was better than more, or none.

And, this one I think is my favorite.
It turns out that the best thing to do as you age is to at least maintain or even gain weight. (However being obese is never good.) And being overweight as a young person wasn’t good either. But late in life, they found people who were overweight or average weight both outlived people who were underweight.

Conclusion; It’s not good to be skinny when you’re old.

The Day After Mother’s Day

Since all but one of our kids do not live close anymore, my Mother’s Day is a wonderful mix of visiting with my own mother and relaxed conversations with the kids over the phone or Skype.

I love that contact. One of the few fun things about aging is getting to see our children and their families thrive. It’s an amazing thing to watch.

I also love that my husband gives me the best gift every year on this day…weather permitting. This is the day we get the deck furniture out. I can sit in our swing and work, or read, or just watch the grass grow. I call it our swing very, umm, quietly, since this is also Dude’s favorite day of the year, too…and his favorite piece of furniture. He is 17 pounds and king of his domain and will lay on that swing for hours keeping watch. Okay, so maybe he naps more than he keeps watch. Lol.

Speaking of Dude, we’ve had some issues lately. There are a couple new tomcats in the area and Dude has been defending his territory with sound and action. I didn’t know these noises could come out of a cat! First, that low, low growl. Then, as the fur flies, that high-pitched screech. Ugh. I can’t get him to understand pacifism. He’s such a laid back kitty normally, but he’ll not tolerate having to share his space, I guess. I’m praying it settles down, though. Dude is my cuddle-bug (please don’t tell him I called him that), and I don’t really want him to turn aggressive.

Well, that’s about it for our neck of the woods for now. I hope you all had a nice, sunshiny weekend and got to play in the dirt (with the flowers) or do something that feeds your soul.

Have a great week!

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Time to Travel

I’m getting ready to take a trip to New Orleans.  And it’s a business trip. Since I’m a writer, there are times when I have to leave my writing cave and travel to conferences.  Next week I’ll be heading to … Continue reading