Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
There is the strong, youthful raven ...
The old, frail raven ...
The punk rock raven ...
And finally, there is the Angelina Jolie raven ...
Yeah, I know, you'll never look at a raven the same way again. ;)
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Hands are fascinating. They separate us from animals. One of the first things we do as babies is wrap our hand around our mother’s finger. Our parents hold our hands to keep us safe. Children in Sunday school use their hands to sing songs like “This little light of mine” and “He’s got the whole world in His hands”. Without hands, the Itsy Bitsy Spider would have never climbed up the water spout. Imagine a world without paddy cakes. We speak with our hands. We use them to wave hello and say goodbye. You can say the alphabet with your hands. As children, we’re taught to be creative by using our fingers to paint with or our hands to mold clay into shapes. We clap our hands when we’re pleased. We use our hands for friendly gestures. We use them for unfriendly gestures too. We’re taught to handle animals with care. Some people offer helping hands, while others prefer a handout. Life gives us hands-on experience with nearly everything we do. Handbooks give us information. Our hands are used to pray and worship with. As a kid I was given hand-me-downs from my sister and we often shopped at second-hand stores. We were told not to ride on the handlebars of a bike and to always hold the handrail while going down stairs. We played handball in school and were asked to raise our hand before speaking. Have you ever gotten caught with your hand in the cookie jar? We get on our hands and knees to beg for forgiveness. Sometimes we get a hand swat on the behind. You should never bite the hand that feeds you. Handheld gadgets keep the world close in hand with cell phones, iPods and blackberries.
When our hands are dirty, we give them a good hand washing with hand soap. If that’s not available, we use hand sanitizer. If our hands are dry and cracked, hand lotion is just the thing. Without hands, we couldn’t wear mittens or gloves. Our watches would fall off. We’d have no fingernails to paint or to chew off or to scratch on chalkboards. We wouldn’t wear rings, like wedding rings to show our love for another. We couldn’t hold hands with the one we loved or run our fingers through their hair. We use our hands to check for fever in our kids, or to hold them back when we stop suddenly in a car. Most women would be lost without their handbags.
Doctors use their hands to perform life saving operations. Dentists use their hands to get into the tiniest of places. Policemen use their hands to direct traffic and rely on handguns and handcuffs to do their job safely. A cop wouldn’t be the same if he didn’t yell, “Put your hands in the air!” Carpenters use their hands to build homes, using hand tools like handsaws. Kids enjoy Handy Manny and his talking tools. Farmers have ranch hands and cow hands. We even measure horses with our hands. Writers use their best handwriting to write down wonderful stories. Artists create beautiful handicrafts and handmade items. Soldiers use their hands to salute each other. We put our hand over our heart when we say “The Pledge of Allegiance” to our flag. A priest uses his hands to bless with. A gymnast uses their hands for handstands, handsprings and to keep a tight handgrip on the bars. Without talented hands, we would have never had such great works such as Mozart, Beethoven, or even Handel’s “Messiah”. The Walk of Fame in Hollywood wouldn’t be as fun without seeing all the famous handprints. We might never have heard Eric Clapton’s “Slow Hand” album, or listened to the Beatles sing “I wanna hold your hand” or even James Taylor’s “Handyman” song. I’d be lost without my favorite band, Powderfinger. Johnny Depp might not have gotten the lead in “Edward Scissorhands”. That would have been a shame for such a handsome man. Where would the Addams Family be without Thing? The world would be a less scary place without films like Oliver Stone’s “The Hand” and “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”. Children wouldn’t be able to “point their fingers and do the twist” with The Wiggles or even wave to Wags the Dog.
Hands down, hands are pretty handy. Therefore, I leave you now, in good hands of course, as it is time for me to offer my hand in school. I hope you have a wonderful day, and whatever you do, be thankful for your hands.
Monday, January 26, 2009
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2-1/2 cups raw peanuts
- 1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Sunday, January 25, 2009
"Here I glide, swanlike," he said, "while earth is bathed in wonder and beauty. Now, slowly, the light of day comes into our sky. A mist hangs low over the pond. The mist rises slowly, like steam from a kettle, while I glide, swanlike, while eggs hatch, while young swans come into existence. I glide and glide, swanlike. Birds sing their early song. Frogs that have croaked in the night stop croaking and are silent. Still I glide, ceaselessly, like a swan."
I stop to reflect on what I just read. There's something odd about that paragraph. I ask the boys, "How would a swan know what a kettle is?" They both look at me and Nathan replies, "Maybe he looks in windows when he's flying." Oh dear. That struck me funny and I cracked up laughing. Hmmm, maybe they do. Come to think of it, I've had turkeys looking in my windows. I've had bears press their nose up on my glass doors. I know the squirrels have seen me and a few times I've been chuffed at through the window by deer outside. I can't say I've seen any swans watching me fire up the tea kettle, but hey, anything is possible, especially in Montana!
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
By Nathan Jones, age 9
Monday, January 19, 2009
Elysabeth -- Thanks for having me here with you today, Rena. I must say you really made me put on my thinking cap.
Rena -- What was your inspiration for writing State of Wilderness?
Elysabeth -- The first story I wrote, Train of Clues, and entered in a contest in 2005 was the inspiration for the series. I had never really written anything before and when I received a shared second place win, I felt that the story had potential to do more.
Rena -- Did you see it as a series when you started or a single book idea?
Elysabeth -- After winning the shared second place mentioned above, I saw this as a series. I wanted to do something on the lines of the first story, Train of Clues, by giving clues for each state. First, I sent the story to an editor with the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and asked for her opinion on how to expand the story out as a series. She sent me some great advice. After receiving her advice and the directions she suggested I could go, I started doing research to find info that could be used for the "clues." I found some clues on the Educational World ® website and then I found a website, quite by accident, that had some trivia type of information for landmarks in every state. I gathered my information and let the idea brew, trying to figure out the best format for the series, that the reader's wouldn't get tired of and that would really be what I wanted from the series.
Rena -- How often will new books in the series come out?
Rena -- About how long does it take you to write one of the books?
Rena -- What gave you the idea to make the stories like a game?
When I put it aside for a couple of months or so and after speaking with my illustrator Aidana Willowraven online for a bit, the idea came to me on how to get it across without preaching to the readers. I wanted to make something fun and that the readers would want more of. I have teenagers and figured I could tap into the market that they can relate to, so the Junior Geography Detective Squad game came about.
Rena -- Do you ever tell people not to peek at the end to guess the state?
Rena -- How long have you been writing and what inspired you to start?
Rena -- What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Rena -- How do you market your books?
Rena -- What were some of your favorite books as a child?
Sunday, January 18, 2009
- GRAND TETON -- This has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. Sadly, most people drive by it, barely seeing the park, as they rush into Yellowstone. It's a great place to see moose and bears. The mountain range speaks for itself and is probably one of the most photographed ranges of all time. Ansel Adams knew a good thing.
- YELLOWSTONE -- If you like wildlife watching, this is just the place to be. The place is swarming with bison, elk, eagles, bears, etc. The thermal features are amazing. You never know what you'll see here. We've seen elk giving birth, baby bison walking across the road that couldn't be more than minutes old, bald eagles fighting with osprey, even a grizzly and her 2 cups taking down an elk. It's a wild place!
- YOSEMITE -- This park is absolutely gorgeous. The waterfalls and rock formations are something you just have to see. It's amazing to look up at Half Dome or El Capitan and see the rock climbers. You can see their lanterns at night when they're sleeping. Looking down at Yosemite Valley is breathtaking.
- GLACIER -- This is my playground now. We are less than an hour away from this park, so we go here often to kayak, hike, camp or look for animals. The Going-To-The-Sun Road is an absolute trip. In the winter, this road shuts down due to 30 feet of snow. The highlight of the park are the mountain goats, which is also what inspired me to write children's books.
- GRAND CANYON -- I love this place simply because of how it takes my breath away every time I walk up to the rim. It's so big, so rugged and so complex. The North Rim is less visited than the South Rim and it's definitely worth visiting. On average, most people only spend 4 hours here or less. The last time we were there we spent 4 days. There's just so much to see here.
- ZION -- Whenever we would travel north to places like Yellowstone and Teton, we always stopped for a few nights in Zion. The canyon is stunning with the Virgin River running through it. We saw our first porcupine here, sleeping up in a treetop.
- DEATH VALLEY -- Some people simply have to visit this park in the summer just to experience the fury of the place. We went in January. This is the most unusual place. It's like being on the moon. Within minutes of driving through the park, you go through several different ecosystems. We spent an hour looking for any sign of life, even a bug. The sand dunes are amazing here. On our way out of the park we finally saw some wildlife. We saw a roadrunner, and right after that, a coyote. Imagine -- just like Looney Tunes.
So, that's 7 national parks I love. Of course, there are tons more I'd like to list, but I can only put up 7 of them. Below is a short slide show with a picture from each park.
I also have to nominate 7 people to receive the Kreativ Blogger Award --
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
"Turn Me Loose" is on my 1950s playlist and last night I looked to see if I could find a video clip of the song. Watching the kids clapping in the audience is hilarious, especially when you see how robot-like they are. Almost all of them are chewing gum too. But what's kind of cool is seeing Fabian himself, especially when you remember he was only 16 years old at the time and tossed into the business simply because he was cute. That would be hard for anyone to live up to. The video clip is really fun to watch and check out Dick Clark! It's definitely a blast from the past ...
Monday, January 12, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I wanted to share one of my favorite songs of present. Powderfinger is a band from Australia and they're one of my top favorites. I've been listening to their newest CD almost non-stop in my car for about a year. It might be because my kids moved my CD case to the back and I can't reach it. Or it could be that I just can't get enough of this song. "Lost and Running" is my favorite on this CD. It's funny because I don't like watching the video as much as I like listening to the song. Either I'm getting old in that respect, or I've just heard the song so many times before I saw the video. Regardless, it's a great song and I wanted to share it. They have some really cool music and most is available in the USA now. Check them out if you like!
On another note, we went shopping today and barely made it home. As we were driving up our road, the tires on our van started spinning. We weren't going anywhere and when Rick had to stop, the van started sliding backwards down the hill. A car was coming up behind us too, so it was pretty freaky for awhile. We have a big diesel van and it usually does good on our road with the studded tires we put on in winter. This one spot was just too icy, so we had to stop and get the chains on. Those were giving Rick a hard time and it took us awhile just to get home. Once the chains were on, the van did okay. We're expecting snow tonight, so I hope they add gravel to the road if they come by to plow in the morning. They're usually pretty good about that, but this one section was solid ice. I couldn't even walk across the road because it was too slippery. I was walking in the snowbank, holding onto the roof of the van, hoping it wouldn't take off down the hill. We finally made it home -- whew!
Friday, January 9, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
I'm a big Elvis fan. When I started this blog back in August, I talked about about my mom taking me to see Elvis concerts. Click here if you want to read that. Seeing Elvis Presley shows were definitely highlights of my life. No one put on a show like he did, but I have some regrets. I regret I don't have any of the programs or scarves they sold at the concerts. I regret I didn't let those Japanese girls toss me onstage like they wanted to. I regret I didn't see more of his shows. Regardless, I'm grateful for being able to see him in the first place. I'll never forget the excitement in the room right before he came on stage. Or how the lights turned red while he sang "Fever" and how the women all went wild. Or how he'd give kisses to ladies who walked up to the stage, or even rings off his fingers. He was a true entertainer.
I belong to another message board that did a poll once asking if people preferred Elvis or the Beatles. Not surprising, the Beatles were more popular, but I think it had to do with the average age of the members. Most are probably 10 years younger than me. I grew up with both. My mom was a huge Elvis fan and my sister loved the Beatles. They were great in their own way, but I still think Elvis was a better performer. There are many great singers in the world, but not many of them can sing well. Elvis could sing well, even without training. He had that gift. Here's a question -- what's your favorite song by Elvis? It's hard for me to pick just one because I like all of his music, but I do have one true favorite -- MOODY BLUE. So, in honor of The King's 74th birthday today, here is my song ...
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Did any of you watch this TV show on the USA Network? It ran from 1997-2001. I rarely watch TV, but I was really into this when it aired. It was one of those shows I couldn't miss. La Femme Nikita was a spy drama, very similar to Alias or 24. Unlike those shows, Nikita had a smaller budget. What they couldn't do in expensive action scenes, they made up with drama, good acting and complex characters. Peta Wilson and Roy Dupuis were incredible together, as were all the other characters. The episodes either left you in suspense or sent chills down your spine. Not many shows do that for me. I was really into this one. About a year ago I bought season 1 on DVD. Just the other day I ordered season 2. I'm going to start watching them in order soon. It's one of those shows you almost have to watch in order or you'll get totally confused. Click here to read a pretty good summary on what the show was about. If you go to You Tube, you'll find lots of clips from the show. There were 5 seasons and I was really sad when it came to an end. Did anyone else watch? I hear it has a cult-like following.
On another note, a few days ago I received the payment check for the craft project I submitted to Highlights for Children magazine. It's pretty cool to get paid for doing something fun. I also started working on part of my NaNoWriMo project last night. If you remember, I wrote about my cat. Part of the project included a fictional version of his story as a picture book. I finished that last night. After not writing since November, it felt good to work on something new. Today I'm mailing out several photographs for a contest in a local magazine. That will be Photojojo's Photo Resolution #6. I'm also mailing out a recipe for the same magazine and hope they publish it as well. Lots of fun stuff -- but for now, I must get ready for school.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
Seriously, I saw it online -- today is Happy Mew Year for Cats Day! Uh huh. You're probably starting to think I make these up, but I don't. SEE! As they say, cats are people too and need a special day of their own. If it means I can mess with my cat's picture and make her look silly, it's a good enough reason for me. I've always loved cats. Cats and I go back a long time ...
I got my first cat when I was 5 years old. Her name was Missy. She was an ordinary striped tabby cat with short fur. She was good at math. Missy multiplied to 4 cats, and those multiplied into 8 cats, and those multiplied into 12 cats. We had a lot of cats. Missy's first litter was funny. The first born was Fatface. He had this round little face and a short stub of a tail. He was my brother's favorite. Then there was Quail, which my sister pronounced with a rolling sound in her throat. Quail had a little longer tail than Fatface, but it was only half the length of a normal tail. The last was Princess, who I obviously named, being the baby of the family. Princess looked a look like Belle here, minus the moustache and top hat. Princess had a normal length tail. That was a strange litter. Oh, there were many others too. Elvis, the little grey kitten who loved to sing. Squeeze Parkay, Elvis' brother, who was kind of sickly and would leave a yellow mess on you if you held him too tight. Mosh, Nica, Abby -- the list goes on and on and on. My favorite was CJ, of course, which you've all heard about before. He was one of those once-in-a-lifetime cats. He was absolutely the best cat!
Now we just have Belle, who is sitting here with her furry rump on my keyboard as I type this, and our other cat, Kitty. Kitty was born outside near our house in California and she was as wild as can be. My girls started feeding her and she eventually became a member of our family. Maybe I'll blog about her sometime. She's cute, but kind of skittish. So anyway, if you're a cat owner, give your kitty a little hug today and maybe an extra treat or two. After all, it is Happy Mew Year for Cats Day, you know.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
- Go on a few snowshoe hikes this winter.
- Improve XC skiing skills.
- Get back on my treadmill routine.
- Start submitting my MG novel.
- Begin outline for sequel to MG novel.
- Follow some of Photojojo's great ideas, here.
And finally, New Year's Day wouldn't be complete without a picture of an old man and a baby, so here's me and my grandfather. At least I think it's me and hopefully not my sister. Regardless, it's an old man and a baby, so that's close enough.
I wish you all much happiness and success in the year 2009. God bless.