Monday, July 29, 2013

A Writer's Life

Having recently returned from the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference in SeaTac, Washington, I am slowly getting my brain back to normal. Suitcase is unpacked. A tub is full of notes, business cards, and receipts, waiting to be cared for. The slick girly briefcase/shoulder bag is waiting for attention. The laundry is almost complete. And the manuscript is being edited. Again. And probably will be again. Before it is shipped off to a lovely editor and a cool agent I pitched to during the conference.

If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, or used to be a writer...this conference is very beneficial. Everything I have thought over the years was verbalized, expounded on, repeated, discussed, illustrated, shown, explained, questioned... Things like writer's platform, query letters, proposals, New Adult (that one I had never heard of, nor thought of, as adults are not usually new - since they have been growing as a human since birth), pitch sessions, contracts, agents, publishers, marketing, traditional publishing, self-publishing, hybrid publishing (missed the explanation on this one), and head shots. That is not all, but the brain is sorting the muddle as I type.

People watching was most interesting. Speaking with a wide variety and caliber of writers was enlightening. Personalities and stress levels were evident, to my amusement and agreement. I did not relax until Saturday afternoon, AFTER my pitch session was over. FYI, a pitch session is very similar to speed dating, except writers pitch to editors and agents in four minute blurbs of time. Observation gave me a slight shock as I realized that some writers actually resemble what they write! I guess that means I will (or do) look like a child. I know I am as short as an elementary student.

There is much to process from four days of long sessions and experiences.

But underneath it all, we get it. Writers understand other writers and the need to write. From an early age we have needed to express ourselves with words on paper. It is hard to write. There are times we must force ourselves to write and words do not come. At other times, words flow like a river of smooth ink. Procrastination is easier than butt time. There is always something else to do. But we must write. Our souls call us to create in our minds. Ideas sneak up as we are engaged in other activities. Words, phrases, and plans are jotted on a myriad of writing surfaces. Scribbles abound in unorganized form, longing to be placed in context.

So we write. Of course, we want readers to read and understand.

But even if readers are not available, we must write.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The New Toy

Three cousins finally met. One won't remember the occasion, possibly two. But for sure, the witnesses and the oldest cousin will recall the fascination with the newest member of the clan. He was cute enough to steal the show and hold the attention of all audience members.

Baby Donavyn

Sister and Brother check out the new playmate

Nana and Papa with all three of their grands

Two cousins could not get enough of Baby Watch TV

What a blessing new babies are! As they grow, they just mature into bigger and more energetic blessings.

One Content Nana

Saturday, July 20, 2013

$1 Store Rollers

What to do when it's hot outside?

Buy $1 store rollers. (50 cents each, folks.)
Fill plastic containers with water.
Give each kid a container and roller.

Roll away!

The grands had a great time painting the cement barrier in our yard. The rollers make excellent roads for cars and designs on driveways and sidewalks.

Only downside? For toy car roads...they dry very fast.

Upside? The children are busy, have fun, get wet, cool off, and don't ruin anything. Even replacing the rollers is pretty cheap.

Paint, babies, paint.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Chalk Paint Blackboard

Chalk paint. Not to be confused with chalk painting. Or chalkboard.

I was very confused with the specific terms as I started researching this on my encyclopedia of choice - Pinterest.

I was even more confused by the total number of different recipes, explanations, and guides. But after much consideration, I finally gave up and did my own thing with a few basic ingredients. Just in time for a sisterly birthday present.

paint in my (or your) color of choice (Valspar Secluded Garden)
plaster of paris
furniture wax (Minwax works great, and it's the ONLY one Lowe's had)
blackboard paint
old frame (check yard sales or Goodwill)
thin wood cut to fit inside frame

paint brushes
clean jar and lid
measuring cup (or plastic container)
rags for dusting and waxing

First, remove all the old stuff from the frame - staples, backing, picture, glass, hooks. Then gently sand to remove the slick finish.

Mix paint. I mixed in a jar so I could close it and use it later. I also used a little snack plastic tub for my measuring of ingredients.

3 parts paint
1 part plaster of paris
a few T. of water

Mix together. Add water until you get the consistency you want.

Paint the frame. I painted 2 coats on the front and back, drying between coats. At the same time, I also added 3 coats of blackboard paint to the wood for the chalkboard.

Lightly sand the edges. Wipe off the dust. Apply a thin coat of wax to the frame. Let sit for suggested time (on wax container) and then polish off. It will look awesome!

Prepare the chalkboard by covering with chalk and then erasing the chalk.

Put the chalkboard into the frame and connect. Add a hanger to the back.

Voila! A great gift.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Oh, the Bounty of the Valley

The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it. Proverbs 10:22

Summer is such a wonderful time to enjoy the bounty of harvest from the gardens of our beautiful and blessed Yakima Valley. How can one not feel rich with blessing? I do not feel sorrow, but joy, when I pick (or purchase), prepare, and delight in what has been grown by the Lord.

We were recently blessed by good friends who have a fruit ranch. "Do you want to come and pick apricots?" said the text.

There is no refusing that offer. Apricots are delectable! The pickers had already gone through, but there were plenty of tasty morsels to remove from the trees.

And to enjoy these yummy bits of sweet and tart sunshine year round, the dehydrator has been going nonstop. Winter will bring bursts of summer flavor when my apri-bits are added to pastries, breads, and other baked goods. Mmmmm.

Thank you!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sunday Loop

With gorgeous weather on Sunday afternoon, we saddled up the Honda and went for a drive. Once we were out of the valley, sharing ice tea to wash away the excellent but lingering flavors from pesto pasta and veggies, the weather cooled enough to be perfect. We ignored the looming thunderheads that danced along ridge tops.

Plan 1 was to head to Randle on HWY 12, going over White Pass. Plan 2 was to avoid hitting deer or elk. Kevin's plan 3 was for people to stop tailgating our Sunday drive.

Plan 4 was a change from the same return trip, instead going on HWY 123, connecting with HWY 410, and looping back over Chinook Pass and heading into Yakima from that direction.

Our first stop was at the Butter Butt Coffeeshop in Randle. We had to go, just because of the name! We split a delicious (pricey) bacon, cheese, green onion scone. We took our iced lattes to-go and hit the road after the Kevster confirmed the HWY number for connecting to HWY 410, as we did not have a map.

Beautiful weather. Refreshing trees. Lack of bugs. Tons of traffic. Great minds think alike? I adore the smell of pine forests. Wearing a helmet with the vents open kept me deep breathing most of the trip. If only I could capture that and bring it home. Canned pine is not good.

Helmet hair

We stopped at a creek bridge to finish our coffee. It IS possible to have a drink with a helmet on, but challenging. And the back seat person at times gets sprayed with what doesn't make the mouth.

Chinook Pass furnished scintillating alpine spring colors and scenes. We were over the pass about 2 weeks ago, and Tipsoe Lake was totally snowed and iced over on that chilly day. On Sunday, large swathes of icy water and thousands of flowers were on display. As evidenced by the lots full of traffic, travelers, cameras, and pedestrians. Mt. Rainier shone splendidly with a racing clouds and blue sky backdrop.

Most of my photos where shot as we traveled. It's a bit of a challenge, with the helmet mask in the way, and Kevin's head blocking 45 degrees of vision, but all I do it point in the general direction and click. I check for success when we get home.

As we came down 410, the clouds certainly seemed darker but theatrical. Not much later, we hit a light rain. We stopped at the Bumping Lake cut off, contemplated the side trip to the end of the lake, and considered the darkening clouds and sprinkles of rain. We quickly tucked away and camera and saved that adventure for a different day.

Just in time. Within a few miles, we hit real rain. The first real rain we've encountered on the bike. Enough to soak our socks and the front halves of our bodies. Kevin caught most of it while what missed him soaked me. We got chilly enough that I decided to make hot soup for dinner as soon as we got home. No pictures of the rain.

Once we hit Naches, poof. Oven and hot fan back on. Ugh. Yes, we dried up quickly. Except for the socks. But I do prefer the cool mountain air and evergreen freshness.

We had soup for dinner. Kale, hominy, black bean spicy soup with multi-grain chips. Mmmmm.

This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118:24)

Where shall we go next Sunday?