Friday, March 30, 2012

The Lucky 7 Meme

I recently received this award from Sherry who writes the Mama Diaries blog. The Lucky 7 Meme award is for writers, and it's a chance to showcase your latest manuscript. Here are the rules ...

1. Go to page 77 of your current manuscript.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy the next 7 sentences exactly how they're written. No cheating!
4. Tag 7 other writers to pass this meme on to.

Here is an excerpt from page 77 of my manuscript, ENCROACHED ...

Thinking about my sheltered life, I felt foolish, so I changed the subject. “I’ve been up here with Jimmy a lot of times. It’s steep now, but it’ll level out soon.” We continued up the mountain, stopping occasionally to rest and catch our breath. We must have been climbing steadily for about fifteen more minutes when Mitch suddenly came to a halt in front of me.
I stopped instantly, nearly bumping into her. "What's wrong?"

Here are 7 writers I'd like to tag. Please check them out!

1. Kelly Polark
2. Peggy Ehrenkranz
3. Kim Kasch
4. Green Girl in Wisconsin
5. Bish at Random Thoughts
6. Terry Lynn Johnson
7. Elysabeth's Emerald City

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Can I?

I've always loved the Rosie the Riveter icon poster. The whole thing is a fascinating story, from the poster to the real-life Rosies who worked in factories. Click here if you'd like to read more about it. There is even a national historic park near San Francisco dedicated to support America's entry in WWII. I have two tee shirts with the Rosie the Riveter image. Ironically, the image was never called Rosie the Riveter during the war. It was known only as the We Can Do It! image. Contrary to what people think, it was not about women empowerment. That didn't come up until the early 1980s, after the image had disappeared for nearly 40 years.

I don't know why I'm blogging about this. I haven't had a good day. In fact, I've been in a pretty pissy mood. For some reason, many people have made me feel stupid or lazy today. Maybe they didn't do it deliberately. Maybe it's just how I perceived things. I made a comment about a photo of someone who was exercising. I said something to the effect of wishing I could do what the person in the picture was doing. Before I knew it, the person replied back saying I should stop wishing and just do it. He made me feel like I was some fat, lazy housewife. He also made a snarky comment about how the person in the picture couldn't pick up his baby back when his health was poor and how he was in such great shape now. It rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, he couldn't pick up his baby because he had a bad back. I get that. I've had four children that I carried in my belly for nine months each. Trust me, I know back pain. He was trying to be encouraging but came off cocky instead.

Like I said, he made me feel like I was just some lazy housewife. I wanted to say I had gotten up at 6:30am, homeschooled two of my four kids into the late afternoon, did several loads of laundry, picked up countless dirty dishes on my trips up and down the stairs, am trying to edit a novel in my free time, and still managed to exercise for a full hour and a half. After that, I collapsed on the couch and ate a bowl of Greek yogurt with some Kashi cereal for dinner because I was simply too tired to cook for myself. However, I didn't say anything. Why bother. He's only trying to sell a book, which ironically, I own already. I've just been too busy to actually sit down and read it yet. Yeah, maybe he's right ... maybe I need to stop wishing I can do things and just do them, right? I don't get paid for being fit like the person in the picture does. I'm just a housewife. Maybe I'll change my name to Peggy Bundy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Goodnight, Moon!

I took this picture of the moon last night. Jupiter was really bright also, but my pictures didn't turn out that well because they were so far apart. I was just using my little Canon camera. I didn't have it on any special settings or have it set up on a tripod. Not only that, but it was cold outside. I was standing on the porch worrying that the cats would run out the door without me seeing them. So, with all that to think about, I gave up and went inside and took this one from the window. Ha! Considering my window was filthy, I was surprised it turned out at all. My favorite moon picture that I've taken is the one below. I took that one inside Yellowstone National Park one evening while Rick was fly-fishing in the Madison River. The boys were chasing bugs and I was fiddling with Rick's camera and zoom. It's my favorite.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ub Iwerks

I've been sitting around trying to think about what I wanted to blog about today. Birthdays are always fun, especially when it's someone famous. So, I look up what I think is today's date on Wiki and find the name Ub Iwerks. I'm not familiar with the name, but it catches my eye because he's listed as an American cartoonist. I click on his name and am totally surprised by what I find. Mind you, for some stupid reason I thought today was the 24th, but it's actually the 25th. But really ... that doesn't matter.

Ub Iwerks wasn't just any American cartoonist. He was one of Walt Disney's closest friends. As if that wasn't enough, he's also the one credited for creating the one and only -- Mickey Mouse. Wow. I had no idea. I'm a big Disney fan, but I really don't know all that much about Disney history. If you were to ask me, I would have thought Walt created Mickey. Of course, some of you die-hard Disney fans probably knew this, but I didn't.

Anyway, yesterday was Ub Iwerks' birthday. He was born in 1901, which ironically was the same year Walt Disney was born. Iwerks died in 1971, which was the same year Walt Disney World opened. Walt, on the other hand, died in 1966 and never got to see the opening of his second amusement park. If Ub Iwerks were alive today, he would have celebrated his 111th birthday yesterday. If you'd like to read more, you can find it here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

St. Paddy's Day Ribbits?

We were supposed to make shamrock shaped cookies in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Me, being a loser mom, didn't get around to making them on time for the holiday. The boys were still really wanting to make cookies, so I decide to help them the other night. I dug through our box of cookie cutters to look for the shamrock one. I dig ... and dig ... and dig ... and dig. You'd think I'd have a shamrock cookie cutter with all of these stupid things ...

Nope. I couldn't find the stupid shamrock. I'm wondering what I'm going to do with all the green icing I'd bought when I see a frog shape. Well, it just happened to be the first day of spring. Frogs are spring-like and they spring around, hopping from place to place. They would be perfect. So, we've got most of the frogs cut out and on the cookie sheets when Neil starts digging around in the box again. What do you think he finds?

TYPICAL! Isn't that how it always is? I swear, I dug through that box from top to bottom. Oh well. It was three days past St. Patrick's Day. Shamrocks are boring anyway, so we had a frogs instead. Of course, these are just a few of them. I didn't include the ones the boys decorated holding toothpick swords or the ones with super sharp teeth. Sheesh -- boys are so weird.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A BED of clams ...

... labeled their jams. But, of course! After all, what else would clams do to keep themselves busy at the bottom of the sea? This is just one of the illustrations from my newest picture book, Rhino Crashes & Critter Classes. I've finally created a short book trailer to go with it. Please check it out ...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Some Critters ...

They're real animals, but sadly no longer alive. These were just a few pictures I took when we were in Helena for my homeschool convention. We went to a museum one day and they had a few animals on display. The badger reminds me of our cat, Denny. I swear, when he lies down, he looks just like that.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Poetry Book Finds

I found these two old poetry books at the Salvation Army the other day. I paid a quarter for each one. I don't have many poetry books. Most of mine are teaching books. Since I love these old, hardcover books, I couldn't pass these up. They have that musky, old book smell -- mmm -- I'm weird, I know.

Poetry for Holidays is a collection of poems selected by Nancy Larrick and illustrated by Kelly Oechsli. It was published in 1966 by the Garrard Publishing Company. One poem that got my attention is called "This Is Halloween" by Dorothy Brown Thompson. It has an uncanny resemblance to the Nightmare Before Christmas song of the same title. Odd, considering this poem was published in 1966. Inspiration for Burton, perhaps?

How to Eat a Poem & Other Morsels was put together by Rose H. Agree and illustrated by Peggy Wilson. It was published in 1967 by Pantheon Books. It features poems by a variety of authors, as well as some traditional ones. There are poems about toasters, strawberries, Christmas cookies, breakfast, picnics, and even about minding your manners at the table.

Great old books! You just never know what you might dig up at a thrift store.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rhino Crashes & Critter Classes

I'm pleased to announce that the fourth book in the Critter Series is now available. Rhino Crashes & Critter Classes includes twenty-one more critter groups. The books are written in short rhymes, and are designed to teach animal congregations using adorable characters. The reading level is for ages 4-8 years, but kids of all ages will enjoy the colorful characters.

Ginger Nielson has done an amazing job with the last two books. I really appreciate how she kept the look so similar to the first two books, which were illustrated by Nikki Boetger. All four books are available directly through my publisher, 4RV Publishing, LLC. They're also on Amazon, Barnes & Noble Online, and Books-A-Million. Or, if you prefer, you can order them at any local bookseller with the ISBN numbers ...

Rhino Crashes & Critter Classes -- ISBN-13: 978-0983801818
Pony Strings & Critter Things -- ISBN-13: 978-0983801801
Stork Musters & Critter Clusters -- ISBN-13: 978-0982642351
Lemur Troops & Critter Groups -- ISBN-13: 978-0984070893

I hope to have a book trailer for Rhino Crashes & Critter Classes out soon, and possibly one for the whole series after that. I don't know if there will be another book in the series just yet. I haven't spoken to my publisher about that, so we'll have to wait and see. If you have any of these books, I'd really appreciate if you could leave a review on Amazon for me. Thank you.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cathedral of St. Helena

After my workshops were over on the first day of my convention, the boys wanted to show me the cathedral they had driven by earlier. I've seen it from the outside before, but we decided to go in and check it out. It's a beautiful church. The construction began in 1908 and was completed in 1914. There are 59 stained-glass windows. They're absolutely incredible.

We only stayed a few moments. Catholic churches make me nervous in a funny way. This goes back to the mid 1970s when my mom worked at a Catholic convalescent hospital. A lot of her friends were brothers and nuns, so she got on this Catholic-kick and had me and my sister converted. If you've ever been through that, you know it's not an easy process. It's pretty complicated. I even went to Catholic school for a year and a half. Sadly, my mom got out of her Catholic-kick almost as fast as she had gotten into it.

I truly appreciate the beauty of these old cathedrals, even though they make me nervous. I always feel like I'm going to do something wrong or have someone yell at me. I joked with Rick about how I felt and even asked him if my eye was twitching. Some of those experiences I had with the nuns in Catholic school were not that great. Even so, this is a beautiful cathedral in Helena, Montana. If you'd like to learn more, you can visit the website @ Cathedral of St. Helena. It has a fascinating history, including being damaged in earthquakes and during a nearby explosion. There's even a link just to view the stained-glass windows.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Big Medicine

This big guy isn't alive, but he was at one time. He was born on May 3, 1933 at the National Bison Range in Montana. His mother was naturally brown, but as you can see, he was a white bison. He was first nicknamed "Whitey", but was later known by most as "Big Medicine". Although he was a white bison, he was not a true albino because because he had slightly pigmented, light-blue (instead of pink) eyes and tan (instead of white) hooves. The topknot of dark brown hair made him unique among other white bison.

White bison are extremely rare animals. They say only 1 in 10 million births are white. Native Americans on the Great Plains depended on bison to survive. They considered these white ones sacred and believed them to have supernatural powers. The Blackfeet tribe also considered white bison to be the property of the sun. Any man who killed one received his power from the sun and the "good medicine" held by the white hide extended to the hunter's family and his entire band.

On average, a bison can live about twenty years. Big Medicine spent his entire life on the National Bison Range. Special care was given to prolong his life. His fame spread throughout the world. He grew to more than 1,900 pounds, was 6 feet tall at the hump on his back, and measured almost 12 feet from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. Big Medicine died on August 25, 1959 at the age of 26 years. Following his death, Big Medicine's hide was sent for tanning in Colorado and then shipped back to Montana to a taxidermist. He now resides at the Montana Historical Society in Helena.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Some paintings ...

We went to the Montana Historical Society today during my lunch break from the homeschool convention. Rick and the boys went yesterday, but since admission was free today, they decided to come back so I could see it. The museum had a lot of fascinating things. I managed to get quite a few photographs. However, it's late and we just got home from a 4-hour drive, so I'm just going to post some of the paintings we saw. I'll blog about some of the other things over the next few days. The top one was my favorite.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Great Northern Carousel

After my day at the homeschool convention, Rick, myself, and the boys visited the Great Northern Carousel in Helena. It features 37 unique, hand carved Montana animals. Some of the ones included are a grizzly bear, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, rabbit, frog, Cutthroat trout, otter, bobcat, bison, and horses. It's really cute and the artwork is amazing.

Neil loves cats, so he wanted to ride on the bobcat. This is him below. You can't see it, but on the back of the bobcat is a rabbit. Each of the animals seemed to have something else carved in them. The trout had a dragonfly and the bear had huckleberries. My favorite was the mountain goat.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hello from Helena!

I'm in Helena right now for the Montana Homeschool Convention, which begins tomorrow and runs through Saturday. No less than ten minutes of leaving the house we saw this bald eagle sitting by Flathead Lake. I managed to get three pictures and then -- wouldn't you know it -- the battery in my camera died. Grrr! At least I got a few, and chances are if I had stood there much longer he would have flown off anyway. I posted a different picture of him on my Facebook page. This one I cropped harder to show him better.

We have a suite at our hotel, so the boys are in heaven with the fridge and microwave. It's non-stop snackville here tonight. We just got back from the pool. I spent about 45 minutes in the gym working out while Rick and the boys swam. What kind of weirdo am I turning into? In all my life, I had never been to a gym until last summer when we were at WDW. It's weird, but I love it. I joined the guys in the pool for a second, but the spa felt better.

I'm being engulfed by the smell of Hot Pockets, lasagna, and macaroni & cheese right now. I think I'm going to hit the sack and let these guys have their food-fest. The convention starts at 10am, but I have to get there a little early to find my way and register. I haven't been to a homeschool convention since about 2007, right after we first moved to Montana. I'm looking forward to coming out of the workshops refreshed and full of new ideas.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gem of a Picture Book!

I've got awesome kids. Even though they're older and pretty advanced readers, my kids still love reading picture books. I think that's great, especially since that's the genre I write most. Yesterday Nathan read The Runaway Teddy Bear to us in class. I think I might have gotten this one from the Salvation Army. Knowing me, I just saw the bear and grabbed it without even looking at what it was about. My daughter didn't recognize it, so I don't think it's one the girls picked up during their time in private school. I must have grabbed it at the thrift store, and probably for a dime.

But wow -- what a dime well spent! This is just the cutest book. It was written and illustrated by Ginnie Hofmann and published by Random House in 1986. The pictures are bright, colorful, and full of detail.

The story about about a little teddy bear named Arthur who belongs to a boy named Andy. Andy likes playing with his friends. Arthur doesn't like being left behind all the time, so he decides to run away and live with real bears. He packs his bags and tiptoes out of the house to set out on his adventure. He soon finds himself living among real bears and doing all the things bears do -- like sleeping, looking for food, eating, and running away from people. Arthur tries hard to keep up with the bears, but he can't. He falls into the river and becomes lost. Soon Andy comes along and rescues the poor, little teddy bear. They return home, both happy to be reunited. 

One of the best illustrations in this book is when Arthur enters the forest. All the forest animals are peeking out from behind the trees, staring at the little, teddy bear with great big eyes. It's hilarious. Another funny one is when he gets scowled by a big moose. Then a porcupine chases him up a tree and eats Arthur's lunch. Great illustrations! However, my favorite one is when Arthur and the bears hit up an unattended campsite. The picnic table was set for lunch and the bears just go nuts gobbling everything up. Funny stuff.

After Nathan read this book, I decided to look it up online and found that Ginnie Hofmann wrote five books in this series. This particular one is the second book. In the first book, Who Wants an Old Teddy Bear?, Andy's grandmother sends him Arthur for his birthday. He wanted a rocket, so he was pretty disappointed. But seeing there are more books in the series, I'm guessing Andy came to love little Arthur finally. I'll definitely be on the look-out for the other books in the series.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Blast from the past ...

I was reading through the replies to my post below about Bloop and Bleep when I came across Adrienne's comment about the Funny Face characters. Funny Face didn't ring a bell at first, but as soon as I saw Rootin' Tootin' Raspberry I knew exactly what she meant. Wow. I had totally forgotten about these guys. My mom used to buy this drink mix for me as a kid. I think I was more attracted to the characters than I was the drink. I guess that's the point when it comes to advertising. I can still name all the Otter Pops without even having to think about it much. Sad. Here are the others ...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Poor, forgotten Bloop.

Does anyone remember Bloop & Bleep from Magic Mountain? I'm showing my age here, but these were troll mascots of the amusement park way before Six Flags bought it and took over with Looney Tones. I was just on Facebook and was replying to a friend who was asking what my favorite things were of the 1960s and 1970s. One of her friends and I got talking. He mentioned being at Magic Mountain on opening day. Whoa! Talk about a small world. I was there on opening day also.

I grew up in Ojai, which is only 45 minutes away from Valencia where Magic Mountain is. We went there often as kids. It's too riddled with gangs now, so it's not a place I'd visit if I were to go back. The last time I went was on Homeschool Family Day when they shut the park down to the general public. That was fun. The employees loved working that day. I remember one guy telling me how nice everyone was. It's too bad the park has gotten such a bad reputation over the years from fights and gang problems.

Bloop and Bleep were troll mascots in the park. There was a baby troll called Blip, another called The Wizard, and King Troll. It's funny how I remember them so vividly. When I look online, very little information comes up. I had this patch below. I also had stuffed dolls of Bloop and Bleep that looked just like the one on this patch. They looked different in real life. There's more information here on the troll mascots, if you want to take a look at it. I even had that pin that's pictured on the link. I loved them, but they were short-lived. Looney Tunes took over in 1985. I wish I still had my dolls.

Wow -- talk about a trip down Memory Lane!