Tuesday, September 30, 2008

THE RUSTLER by Linda Lael Miller

HQN Books
October 2008
ISBN 978-0-373-77330-5

Where does an outlaw go when he’s ready to turn straight? For Wyatt Yarbro, reformed rustler and train robber, Stone Creek is his place of redemption. And lovely Sarah Tamlin is the perfect angel to help him clean up his act . . .

But Sarah keeps a dark secret behind her prim and proper fa├žade, even as her heart is lost to charming, sexy Wyatt. When a vengeful enemy prepares to unleash havoc on the peaceful town, Wyatt and Sarah will discover that they can’t hide from the past. To win the fight, they must believe in something they never trusted before—the hope of tomorrow.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Petticoats and Pistols One Year Anniversary!

Yep, the Petticoats and Pistols Fillies are going all out in celebrating our very first birthday right over in Wildflower Junction. The fun lasts all week long. We’ll be having two blogs a day, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon, and we want as many as possible to join in the celebratin’! We’re hoping everyone will jump right in with comments all week long. The Fillies will be keeping track . . . because what’s a party without presents?

That’s right. LOTS of presents! And we’ll be giving them away to YOU!

Here’s a list. Oh my goodness, they’re fine and dandy!

TWO - $20 Amazon gift certificates
Western charm bracelet
“Duel in the Sun” western DVD
“Big Jake” western DVD
“The Invasion of Johnson County” western DVD
“Live Like You Were Dying” Tim McGraw CD
“Yuma” with Clint Walker, western DVD
“Little Moon & Jud McGraw” with James Caan and Sammy Davis, Jr, western DVD.
Rustic Hanging Tin Star and a Stacey Kayne autographed book
Autographed book by Karen Kay
“3:10 to Yuma”, with Russell Crowe, western DVD
“Broken Trail” with Robert Duvall and Thomas Hayden Church, western DVD
“Last Stand at Saber River,” western DVD
Forteen prizes for forteen winners! Yee-haw!

Every last one who comes to our party will be eligible, but we won’t know you’re there unless you give us a holler. So whet your whistle and CHAT with us all week long! Get a move on now.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Email Scams

My spam filter catches dozens of these a day, but a few always manage to get through. Be aware of the scams and don't click on links in emails from senders you don't know! Here are a few popular scams:

F.B.I. Vs. Facebook
Yes, there are more important matters to worry about than Facebook's recent redesign -- namely, an e-mail with a message that says "F.B.I. vs. Facebook," which includes a link to download the Storm Worm botnet, that nasty piece of malware that connects infected computers and uses them for identity theft and spam. Make sure not to open any e-mail with this subject and make sure to delete it immediately. If you do accidentally open this e-mail, don't click on any lnks within it and delete it immediately. Lastly, before you open another e-mail, make sure you have some sort of anti-virus software installed.

CNN and MSNBC Alerts
Rather than stick with sensational headlines, swindlers are now manufacturing fake custom alerts from CNN and MSNBC that looks pretty legit at first glance. The subject line says "CNN Alerts: My Custom Alert." If you click on "Full story," you'll be taken to a video player that tells you to download Adobe Flash, but instead turns out to be malware. The easiest solution is to delete it without opening it, but MXLab's Web site has more information on dealing with this nasty bit of e-mail.

The Hitman
Unfortunately, this old con is still going on, only with slight differences. The FBI sent out another warning a month ago, saying that now recipients are being threatened with kidnapping (instead of just killing), and that the new e-mails contain more personal information that fool some people into thinking it's a valid threat. The best solution to this e-mail? Just ignore it, but the FBI also encourages people to report any threatening messages they receive, which you can do via the FBI's Internet Crime Center.

Hurricane Charities
Sadly, disasters encourage scammers to prey on the charitable. Naturally, recent hurricanes Ike and Gustav spawned dozens of fake e-mails designed to rip you off. Pretty much every standard scheme has been repurposed for these storms.

Airline Tickets
If you're not flying anywhere, be on the lookout for any ticket messages from airlines, including major ones like JetBlue, Frontier Airlines, and US Airways. E-mails are going out saying that your credit card has been used to purchase a ticket contained in an attached Zip file. If you open it the file, it downloads malware that can be used to steal your personal information. Should you receive an e-mail like this, delete it immediately and contact authorities if you receive it or have already opened it.

Search Engine Optimization Offers
Whether it's business or personal, having your own Web site puts you at risk from scammers. Currently, companies offering better search results for your site are offering their services for a fee, although there's no real company. Like any unsolicited e-mails, don't respond to them without looking into the business first and don't give away anything personal before you find out if it's legit. In this case, the lack of company information and bizarre e-mail addresses are the most telling signs that it's phony Search Engine Optimization Offers

Holiday E-mails
Major holidays means it's time to be wary of any greeting cards from unknown senders. Many of these e-mails provide a link to see a message or download some sort of file, but really all you're doing is downloading the Storm Worm. Be sure to keep a lookout for the creepy skeleton e-card with Halloween right around the corner.

Time Warner Cable Threat
If you're a customer of Time Warner (which is the parent company of AOL and Switched.com), outages might not be your only problem. Clients in San Antonio, Texas, all of whom used the Road Runner Internet service, recently received e-mails sent with the company's name and logo asking them to provide account information or they would lose service. Time Warner says that people receiving these messages should delete them and contact the company.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Couldn't resist - Dr. McSwimmy

Petticoats and Pistols Celebrates One Year!

Next week Petticoats and Pistols is celebrating having romanced the west for one whole year! During the week of Sept 29 to Oct 3rd, we're holding contests and drawings for prizes all week long. Prizes range from books and DVDS to amazon gift certificates. This is just a heads up, and I'll remind you again by Monday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

PETA goes after Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream...Seriously?

Seriously. But I don't think this is a sight you're going to see soon--women in line to give breast milk to Ben and Jerry's.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., urging them to replace cow's milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk, according to a statement recently released by a PETA spokeswoman.

"PETA's request comes in the wake of news reports that a Swiss restaurant owner will begin purchasing breast milk from nursing mothers and substituting breast milk for 75 percent of the cow's milk in the food he serves," the statement says.

PETA Urges Ben & Jerry's To Use Human Milk

PETA officials say a move to human breast milk would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health.

"The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn't make sense," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "Everyone knows that 'the breast is best,' so Ben & Jerry's could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk."

"We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child," said a spokesperson for Ben and Jerry's.

And America applauds Ben & Jerry's polite approach to dealing with idiots.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dancing With the Oz Stars

I've been focused in on the end of the book I'm working on, so I haven't been posting about NATIONAL STAY AT HOME WEEK, but I'd love to hear what you're watching in the new season.

I'm totally hooked on Fringe. It's freaky wonderful, and I hope it stays the same. There's a new twist every week. Tonight we found out the dead guy Jim is probably being brought back to life. The characters are super. I especially like the research scientist they sprang from the mental insitution.

On the Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sarah and John are doing some pretty unmotivated stuff that I'm shaking my head at. Why doesn't she tell him what's going on--like when she went to save the ex-boyfriend's wife? Why did he bring a girl home when he knows his life will never be normal? How does the paramedic fit in now that his wife is dead? Not that he won't come in handy, what with them getting blown up and shot all the time.

Dancing With the Stars - I'm totally bummed that one of my faves - Etyda went home on the first vote off, but we saw it coming. Poor her to get stuck with that dud. I'm loving Misty and also the 18yr old fella. He lucked out getting Julianne!

You know you want to laugh at the Dancing With the Oz Stars photo I took for you. Go ahead!

Bones has been FUN. I miss the young fella, and last season I hated Sweets, but now I think he's funny. I had to watch the season opener on the web cause I missed it. It was funny.

I've missed all of Burn Notice.
House - the whole thing with Wilson is ridiculous.

Still to come - Gray's Anatomy. Do you think Derek is the one dying in the commercials? And Rose is pregnant with his baby? How soap opera can we get?

I'm all discombooberated cause GA and House aren't on the same night any more. And they put House opposite NCIS. :-(

Let me know what you're watching and what you like so far!


I took this in the back yard while a storm was rolling in.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Temptation leads to moderation?

Don't throw the candy out: Temptation leads to moderation
Banishing tempting goodies may not be the best way to keep from eating them.

Tempting foods can actually increase willpower, according to new research in the Journal of Consumer Research. Although it seems counterintuitive, consumers show more self-control after they've spent some time in the presence of a treat.

Authors Kelly Geyskens, Siegfried DeWitte, Mario Pandelaere, and Luk Warlop (all Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium) conducted a series of studies where they created temptation situations for study participants. They found that the presence of actual M&Ms (as opposed to pictures or smells), improved participants' self control.

"In three experimental studies, we demonstrate that "actionability" (that is, the opportunity to consume the temptation) of the prior food temptation is the pivotal variable," explain the authors. "It appears that the self-control strategies that are marshaled to deal with the conflict in the previous tempting situation linger into the subsequent temptation situation, and hence helps consumers to control their food intake."

According to the authors, previous studies have not distinguished between actionable and non-actionable temptations (ones where the person can actually consume the item vs. ones where the person sees or smells the tempting item but cannot physically consume it). The researchers compared various situations (including putting participants in a room filled with the aroma of fresh-baked brownies) and found that they were best able to control their eating when the temptation was real.

"The results of the three studies imply that tempting consumers with real food may help them to restrict their food intake on a subsequent consumption opportunity. This suggests that having candy in large stocks at home thus might help women with their attempts at controlling their food intake, whereas seeing pictures of food in magazines or on television might lead them to eat more when given the occasion," the authors conclude.

Kelly Geyskens, Siegfried DeWitte, Mario Pandelaere, and Luk Warlop. "Tempt Me Just a Little Bit More: The Effect of Prior Food Temptation Actionability on Goal Activation and Consumption" Journal of Consumer Research: December 2008.

Mary-Ann Twist
University of Chicago Press Journals

Sunday, September 21, 2008

One More Chance: Badlands Bride

Here's an opportunity to get one of my books you may have missed! Harlequin is reissuing a classic: BADLANDS BRIDE

ISBN: 9780373361892 (#34)

Reporter Hallie Wainwright's introduction to the Wild West included traveling with a bevy of mail-order brides and shooting bandits. But it was the intimate "hello" in the arms of Cooper DeWitt that truly sent her heart racing—and made it all the more difficult for her to tell the brawny plainsman the truth….

When she jumped from the stage, shining with true grit and spewing tall tales, Cooper thought he just might have struck gold. Raised with the Sioux, Cooper needed a wife who could brave the frontier and corral his restless heart. The problem was, his would-be bride had no intention of marrying him!



Ignoring the reflection of the businesses across the street behind her and the words The Daily meticulously painted in gold and black lettering on the glass, Hallie Claire Wainwright observed herself in the window of her father's newspaper office. She adjusted the jacket of her carefully chosen two-piece fitted dress and smoothed a hand over her dark hair, fashioned into an uncharacteristically neat bun.

"I think I've earned the responsibility of reporting on the boxing matches," she said to her reflection. The sporting event would make the front page every day for weeks, and Hallie could think of nothing more exciting than seeing her name beneath the headline.

"I'm sure I could get interviews with the participants," she said convincingly. "Perhaps they'll share insights with me they wouldn't give the men." Forest green curtains obscured the interior of the newspaper office, but she didn't need to see in to picture her oldest brother, Turner, setting type and her father in the office beyond.

"I've been doing the menial jobs without complaint. It's time you gave me a chance. I'll do my best." Hallie gave her likeness a last confident nod and opened the door.

The reassuring smells of ink, paper and grease, which she'd grown up with, boosted her confidence. Turner didn't glance up as she strode pass the Franklin press to her father's office. She rapped twice and opened the door.

Samuel Wainwright glanced up and immediately returned his attention to the papers on his desk top.

"Father, I—"


Her mouth dropped open. "How do you even know what I was going to say?"

"You have that stubborn look on your face."

"I want to cover the boxing matches." She placed her fists on her hips. "Evan—" her lip curled around the name of the new apprentice "—gets all the good stories."

Samuel shifted his smoking cigar stub from one side of his mouth to the other and leaned back in his creaky leather chair. "Now, Hallie," he cajoled. "Don't get in a huff. You know it wouldn't be acceptable—or safe—for you to take up with that rowdy crowd in the Piedmont district. Any female in Boston with half a brain in her head wouldn't set foot within a mile of the place."

She rolled her eyes. "That's all the brain you give any woman credit for having."

He harrumphed, then shuffled through a stack of papers, finding one he wanted and ignoring her while he checked the list in his other hand against the sheet.

"Hello, Precious," Turner said, entering.

Hallie winced inwardly.

He'd rolled his white shirtsleeves back, and his dark hair stood up on his head in finger-combed waves. He handled the office work, overseeing the typeset and presses. "I want to check this against your copy," he said to their father.

Samuel extended a paper, and the two men concurred. Used to being ignored, Hallie sat on the corner of the ink-stained oak desk and crossed her arms over her chest, unwilling to acknowledge her father's wisdom in this particular case. So what if he was right for once? Her father and brothers, Charles and Turner, always came up with some inane reason that she couldn't handle a story, and ninety-nine out of a hundred times the real reason—the infuriating reason—was that she was a female.

Turner reached for a strand of Hallie's hair that had fallen loose. "You're a sight."

She batted his hand away.

"What are you pouting about now?"

"I'm not pouting."

He laughed. "You're mad as a March hare. Still in a fix over Evan? He says he can't sleep nights for the ringing in his ears. For the last week at supper, you've managed to discredit everything about the man, including his parentage."

Hallie uncrossed her arms and shot a glance at her father. He wore a smile of bored amusement. "I keep hoping someone around here will notice that he's not any more capable than I am."

"And as we've told you a thousand times," Turner said, raising a superior brow, "Father needed Evan."

She tried her best to swallow her resentment. Her father did need help, and she'd worked so hard to prove herself. Samuel had hired the young man to assist Charles with the reporting, so he could devote himself to the book work and editing. It hurt immeasurably that none of them had considered her for the position. And it frustrated her beyond words that they refused to listen to her reasoning.

It was one thing to constantly defer to her brothers, but now an outsider had displaced her! "Perhaps if I put on a pair of trousers, the lot of you will notice I have a whole brain in this head."

Turner scowled. "If you put on a pair of trousers, the men around here will notice more than that. And I'll have to turn you over my knee and discipline the object of their attention."

Hallie resisted the urge to stick her tongue out. Just because they treated her like a child didn't mean she'd give in and behave like one.

"Did you turn in the piece on the quilting society?" Turner asked.

"Now that was an unequaled challenge," she replied, tracing a worn scar on the desk top with an index finger. "Think it'll make the headlines tomorrow?"

"Look," her father said, interrupting. "Remember those classifieds we ran a while back? Here's more of the same."

Turner bent over the desk and read aloud. "'Bride wanted.' Another one—'Wife wanted to cook, do laundry and care for children."'

"What kind of self-respecting woman would answer an ad like that?" Hallie asked, frowning her distaste.

"A woman who wants a husband," Turner replied, directing a pointed glance at his sister. "Unlike you."

She ignored the familiar taunt. "It's barbaric."

"But newsworthy," her father added. He caught his cigar between two fingers and squinted at her through curls of blue-gray smoke. "Some of the young ladies at Miss Abernathy's Conservatory answered the last ads. Why don't you do a story on them, Hallie?"

"Really?" she asked, jumping up.

"I haven't seen anything in the other papers," he continued. "Maybe, for a change, we can print a story before they get the idea."

The assignment filled Hallie with a new sense of importance. The Daily was always trying to get the jump on the bigger papers, and even though the other newspapers always managed to edge them out, the Wainwrights had increased circulation over the past year. Any newsworthy story that first appeared in The Daily was a feather in their journalistic cap.

"I'll work on it right away." She kissed her father on the cheek and smugly tilted her chin on her way past Turner.

Samuel and Turner exchanged conspiratory grins. "How long do you think that will keep her out of our hair?" Turner asked.

Samuel ran a hand over his balding pate. "Let's hope until Evan has a foot in the door. It's hard enough being a cub, without having to deal with Hallie when she's got her hackles up."

"Well, then, we'll just have to keep her busy."

"Isn't it just the most romantic thing you've ever heard?" The young woman with golden hair and ivory skin ignored the cake and tea on the tiny table and stared vacantly across the front of the lace-decorated establishment where the ladies of Boston came to socialize over afternoon tea.

Hallie thought traveling to God-only-knew-where to marry a man she'd never laid eyes on was the most asinine thing she'd ever heard, but she politely refrained from saying so.

"Where are the northern Dakotas, anyway?" Tess Cor-dell asked, coming out of her dreamy-eyed trance. "One of the girls said up by the North Pole."

"I don't think it's quite that far." Hallie tried to recall her geography lessons. "It's far to the west and up north. Quite remote, I'm sure."

Tess took an envelope from her reticule and carefully removed and unfolded a letter. "His name is Cooper DeWitt. He has a stage line and a freight company, so he must be very wealthy." Her pale blue eyes took on that dreamy quality again. "The only thing he requested in a wife was that she be able to read and write. I think that's good, don't you? He doesn't sound like a demanding sort of fellow."

"Or discriminating," Hallie added.

"Right," Tess agreed, the comment apparently sailing over her head. "He's not superficial like most young men who care only that a woman be from a good family."

Hallie heard the resentment in her voice. Obviously Tess was not from a well-to-do family, or she wouldn't have responded to an ad from a desperate frontier man. "Does he say how old he is?"

Tess frowned at the paper momentarily. "No." Her expression brightened. "But he does mention that he's never had a wife, so he must be young."

Or uglier than a buck-toothed mule, Hallie thought more realistically. What was this poor girl getting herself into? She almost wanted to offer her assistance if the girl needed someone to provide for her so badly she was willing to do this. But she held her tongue. Her family had told her often enough that her thinking was not that of a typical twenty-year-old woman. Tess was obviously delighted with her plan. "What else does he say?"

"Only that the country is beautiful and that I would have everything that I need."

"How romantic." Hallie made a few notes on her tablet. "Are you worried about being so far from anyone you know?"

"Well..." Tess chewed her lower lip. "I don't have family, but a couple of the other girls have accepted positions in the same community, so we'll be traveling together. I'm sure Mr. DeWitt will see that I can visit from time to time."

Hallie noted the term accepted positions for later reference. "Are the other girls as excited as you?"

"Oh, yes!" Her pale eyes sparkled. "This is an adventure of a lifetime!"

"I want to speak with the others, too. Can you give me their names?" Hallie scribbled a list and thanked Tess for the interview.

Hallie met the other young women, then hurried home to write her article. The enormous, masculinely furnished house was quiet, as usual. She slipped into her father's study and seated herself in his oversize chair, arranging paper, pen and ink on the desk top. She loved the room, did her best thinking among the familiar heavy pieces with the Seth Thomas mantel clock chiming on the half hour.

Nearly three hours passed before Hallie noticed the time. Double-checking the information, wording and neat printing, she blotted the pages. Her father would undoubtedly cut it in half, but, pleased with her work, she delivered it to his office.

He read the pages while she waited. "This is just what we wanted, Precious," he commended her.

Gladdened at the acknowledgment, she ignored the patronizing nickname.

"Keep on this," he said.

"You mean...?"

"I mean follow up. Go with them when they shop for the trip, watch them pack, all that. We'll run a series on the brides, right up until you wave them off at the stage station."

Surprised and more than a little pleased, Hallie nodded. "All right." She patted the edge of the desk in satisfaction. "All right."

Hallie read her articles in print each day, delighting in the fact that her father hadn't cut more than a sentence or two. She was so delighted, she didn't allow the fact that her father's new apprentice was covering the boxing championships and making headlines nearly every other day upset her—too much.

The day before her subjects were due to leave, she stepped into the office early. On the other side of the partially open mahogany door her brothers' voices rose.

"I'll take this sentencing piece," Charles said. "I'll be at the courthouse this morning, anyway."

"Right," Samuel said. "Evan?"

"I still have the lawyer to interview and, of course, the matches tonight. I'll try not to take a punch myself this time."

Male laughter echoed.

"That's some shiner!" Charles said.

"Great coverage, son." Samuel added. "You'll do anything to get an unusual angle. That's the stuff good reporters are made of." The aromatic scent of his morning cigar reached Hallie's nostrils, and she paused, a hollow, jealous ache opening in her chest at her father's casual praise of Evan Hunter. "How many more matches?"

"Another week," Evan replied.

Hallie reached for the door.

"What're we gonna do with Hallie?" Turner's voice carried through the gap beside the door. "Her brides leave tomorrow."

Hallie stopped and listened.

"That turned out to be an excellent piece," Charles commented. "We've had good response."

"Plus we got the jump on the Journal," Samuel agreed.

"Who'd have thought that when you came up with something to keep her off Evan's back during the matches, we'd actually get a good piece of journalism?" She recognized Turner's voice.

They laughed again.

A heavy weight pressed upon Hallie's chest. Hurt and self-doubt squeezed a bitter lump of disappointment into her throat. Of all the patronizing, condescending, imperious—

They'd handed her the story like presenting a cookie to a toddler they didn't want underfoot! And now they gloated over their own superiority. Hallie had never felt so wretched...so cheated...so unimportant.

"Do we have any sources in the Dakotas?" Charles asked.


"The real story is on the other end of that stage line."

A moment of silence followed Charles's comment, wherein Hallie imagined them nodding piously at one another.

"Yes, when the men who sent for those gals set eyes on them," Samuel agreed. "No. We don't have anyone that far west."

"Too bad," Turner said.

"Too bad, indeed," Charles said. "We could have had a real follow-up story there."

"Let's just hope the Journal doesn't think of it." Samuel added.

Heartbroken, Hallie gathered her skirts and trod stealthily back out the front door. She walked the brick street without direction. It never entered her mind to go home. Her mother would only tell her as she always did that her father and brothers did such things for her own good. Clarisse Wainwright had been born and bred to be a genteel wife and a mother to Samuel's sons. The fact that Hallie had come along had been an inconvenience to all of them, or so Hallie saw it.

Hallie hadn't been born the proper gender to take a prominent place at the newspaper, as much as she wished to, as much as she knew the same amount of ink flowed through her veins as her brothers'. They'd patted her on the head and sent her on her way since she'd been old enough to toddle after them.

The truth lay on her crushed heart like lead. They would never see her as good enough, as equal, as valuable or necessary.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lions and Tigers and...Flying Monkies?


I wish I had read my 4 Photoshop books. That's so on my to do list. Because this picture doesn't do the genuine color of my flying monkey justice. I'm laughing my head off because it's such a hoot. You know I obsessively collect all the McDonald's Madame Alexander dolls, and they've done The Wizard of Oz yet again. I know, twice is weird, huh, when they could have done Grease (wouldn't that be the coolest?) or High School Musical or, well, just about anything. And yes, they are different than the last set.

Die-hard readers of my blog will remember my Glinda panic, when I couldn't find a Glinda. But alas, I did and all was well in the kingdom of Cheryl's silly collections.

So anyway, we're up to 5 of these babies right now. I'll post them all later. But for now, I just want you to see my flying money. You know, I might need more than one -- what kind of a WoO scene could I have without a whole--um--flock of flying monkeys? It's called Winged Monkey on the package. So if anyone gets a flying monkey and doesn't want theirs, send it on to me, will ya? I'll give him (or her) a good home.

He is on top of my monitor because he makes me smile. But picture him darker blue. SInce I don't know how to Photoshop him. I'll get right on that. Probably not.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Remodel Update

It's slow going, but one more thing was finished over the weekend.
We selected the great old window before the doorway was closed over, and Mr. Wonderful made the opening to fit. He took out the original imperfect glass, cleaned it and reglazed - and the living room side here is painted white like all the trim.

We left the kitchen side its original old layered paint color, but he sanded it. I wish you could see how great it looks up close. Maybe I'll try a close up photo on a sunnier day.

To see the remodel from the beginning, visit The Kitchen Project Blog.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bones Anyone?

Third episode of the season was on tonight. Is anyone watching??

Mary DeSive Laughs at Dude, Where's My Car?

Among writers, the discussion often turns to movies--in fact last Saturday at my Heartland Writer's Group chapter meeting, vice-president Eve Savage used 25 word blurbs from movies for her workshop, and we had to guess the movie. My friend Mary DeSive won, of course. She's the reining movie maven in the group. Mary had once shared her favorite comedy, so I asked her to blog about it for my Movies That Make Us Laugh episode.

Among some of my friends, "Mary Movie" applies to any costume drama, usually British, usually a snore fest for anyone with a y chromosome. A Room With A View is the gold standard for "Mary Movies." You don't pass the ARWAV test, we may not get along so well. Friends call me to decipher Jane Austen and Shakespeare. I saw Titanic five times in the theater. But I have a dirty little secret. I LOVE "stupid" movies, and one of my favorites is Dude, Where's My Car?

DWMC follows Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Seann William Scott), who have apparently spent the previous night getting so stoned that they don't remember anything about it. They do know that there is now a lifetime supply of pudding in the kitchen, it's their anniversary with "The Twins" (played by Jennifer Garner and Marla Sokoloff) and they're sure they bought presents, which must be in Jesse's car. The only problem is, they can't find the car (didn't see that one coming, did ya?). They spend the rest of the movie looking for the elusive car, while being pursued by some "Hot Chicks," a pair of "Alien Nordic Dudes," a group of jocks, and the followers of Zoltan (sporting awesome bubblewrap ensembles). All are convinced that Jesse and Chester posses the Continuum Transfunctioner, a "very mysterious and powerful device" whose "mystery is exceeded only by its power." I think it may be the goofiest MacGuffin in movie history.

I love Monty Python, Mel Brooks and pretty much anything Mike Myers has ever done. DWMC has elements of all of these. There are shades of Abbott and Costello, as well: The scene with the "Dude" and "Sweet" tattoos could be the equivalent of "Dude, Who's on First?" No matter how many times I watch it, there are parts of this movie I laugh myself sick over. And apparently it's seeped into my brain enough that when I saw a license plate that said SWEET, my first thought was "Dude!" Conversations in our household have been known to devolve into repeated "And then?" comments.

Chester has occasional flashes of brilliance. One wonders what he could accomplish if he didn't "shibby" so much. Jesse, on the other hand, shows little promise other than being the cute one (Ashton Kutcher is that guy I wish I didn't think was hot). In fact, Jesse continues to insist that the ostriches they encounter are llamas, despite all other evidence.

DWMC has some great cameos by Kristy Swanson, Brent Spiner, Fabio, and Andy Dick looking even worse here than he does in his mug shots, if that's possible. I'd actually seen the movie several times before I recognized Brent Spiner, which reinforces what a great actor he is (and that's not just the closet Trekkie talking...oh, wait...that's another confessional blog post).

I completely see why critics didn't like this movie, but I rarely pay attention to reviews anyway. The movie is supposed to be stupid, people! I love to sit back and forget, for a couple hours, about which politician is giving me hives this week and watch two goofy guys have a completely impossible adventure. And then? I'll watch it again. And then? Um, could I get an order of shrimp fried rice?

Bio: Mary DeSive works in a medical library and wonders why all the heroines she's written in the last seven years are healers. She's currently editing and revising a paranormal romance. She blogs at Mary's Ramble when she's supposed to be doing other things.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Pickle Jar - A Story

The pickle jar as far back as I can remember sat on the floor beside the dresser in my parents' bedroom. When he got ready for bed, Dad would empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar.

As a small boy I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins made as they were dropped into the jar. They landed with a merry jingle when the jar was almost empty. Then t he tones gradually muted to a dull thud as the jar was filled.

I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar and admire the copper and silver circles that glinted like a pirate's treasure when the sun poured through the bedroom window. When the jar was filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and roll the coins before taking them to the bank.

Taking the coins to the bank was always a big production. Stacked neatly in a small cardboard box, the coins were placed between Dad and me on the seat of his old truck.

Each and every time, as we d rove to the bank, Dad would look at me hopefully.
'Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill, son'.
You're going to do better than me. This old mill town's not going to hold you back.'

Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins across the counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly 'These are for my son's college fund. He'll never work at the mill all his life like me.'

We would always celebrate each deposit by stopping for an ice cream cone. I always got chocolate. Dad always got vanilla. When the clerk at the ice cream parlor handed Dad his change, he would show me the few coins nestled in his palm. 'When we get home, we'll start filling the jar again.' He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar. As they rattled around with a brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other. 'You'll get to college on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters,' he said. 'But you'll get there. I'll see to that'

The years passed, and I finished college and took a job in another town.
Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their bedroom, and noticed that the pickle jar was gone. It had served its purpose
and had been removed.

A lump rose in my throat as I stared at the spot beside the dresser where the jar had always stood. My dad was a man of few words, and never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance, and faith. The pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more eloquently than the most flowery of words could have done. When I married, I told my wife Susan about the significant part the lowly pickle jar had played in my life as a boy. In my mind, it defined, more than anything else, how much my dad had loved me.

No matter how rough things got at home, Dad continued to doggedly drop his coins into the jar. Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the mill, and Mama had to serve dried beans several times a week, not a single dime was taken from the jar.

To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring catsup over my beans to make them more palatable, he became more determined than ever to make a way out for me. 'When you finish college, Son,' he told me, his eyes glistening, 'you'll never have to eat beans again - unless you want to.'

The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born, we spent the holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each other on the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild. Jessica began
to whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad's arms. 'She probably needs to be changed,' she said, carrying the baby into my parents' bedroom to diaper her. When Susan came back into the living room, there was a strange mist in her eyes.

She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and leading me into the room. Look, she said softly, her eyes directing me to a spot on the floor beside the dresser. To my amazement, there, as if it had never been removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already covered with coins.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dragonfly and Moonflower

The garden caught my eye while I was fixing supper, so I ran out and snapped a few shots. It was usual for the moonflowers to be open in direct sunlight.

another of my purchases

Here's the shelf that Mr. Wonderful made over the back door. I love the cottage style it adds. It holds pretty plates and white cream pitchers, also a couple of vintage teapots. The door was a new addition when the room was remodeled. That space used to be a window in our old dining room.

The pitcher on the right is the new one. It's old ironstone and cost me a whole dollar at the fundraiser sale. How I love a bargain!

Anyone else collect pitchers, creamers or white ironstone?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Celebrating Birthdays

We celebrated two birthdays today. Adam and Eric are brothers and have birthdays several days apart. We met at the Pizza Hut in a little nearby town and ate pizza.

This is Eric:

And this is Adam. Anymore it's a challenge to get a good shot of the kids when they're not being rambunctious or silly.

Other special people celebrating birthdays this month are Barb Hunt, *lizzie Starr, Renee Ryan and Terry Oswald!

Happy September birthdays!

Friday, September 12, 2008

the midwest's largest garage sale

It's hyped as the midwest's largest garage sale, and shoppers do flock from miles around. It's the fundraiser for the Blair Hospital, and it's staffed by volunteers and held at the Arlington NE fairgrounds. This is the fourth time I've attended that it's been raining, and the rain doesn't keep anyone at home. In fact the place is packed at 8am on Thursday, and then gradually thins out through the morning and the rest of the weekend.

Each barn holds something different, and the dish barn is the first place I head. My friend Dee always goes with me, and this year her sister Mary Alice came with us. I'm afraid we wore her out. I'll show a a few of my bargains!

Last year the sale raised $72,000!! And that's quite an accomplishment with items randing from 10 cents to five dollars. Personally, I'm all about the 10 and 25 cent stuff.

So, here's one of my kitchen insets.

This is the new item. Yes, 10 cents.

In this pic, the salt and pepper shakers have been added to my collection of vintage Pfaltzgraff.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Garrett at Preschool

Here's my friend Chris's little guy on his first day at preschool. I can't believe he's this big already. It looks as though he's getting an A in sandbox!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ginger Simpson Dishes on Meeting "Stars"

First, I have to tell you, when I asked Ginger to blog for me, I sure didn't think she was going to blog about ME! It's a little embarrassing, mind you. My blog is usually about someone else. LOL Anyway, Ginger is a great lady who never fails to make me laugh. She remembers the details of our first meet, I just remember I made a great friend that day. So with no further ado, please welcome my friend, Ginger:

Imagine me, Ginger Simpson, making an appearance on Cheryl St. John’s blog. That’s like a local priest waving from the balcony at the Vatican. Everyone below is saying, “Who the heck is that? It sure doesn’t look like the Pope.”

Okay, so I’m not a mainstreamed published author, and you can’t find my books in stores along with Cheryl’s, but you know what? That doesn’t matter to her. Shoot, I wish it didn’t matter to me. Even though I really like her a lot, I’m getting a crick in my neck from looking up at her on the pedestal where I’ve put her. *smile* I’m more excited to say I’ve met her than I was to sit next to Clint Eastwood in a neighborhood bar one day.

Yep, it’s true. I remember it like it was yesterday. My then husband and a bunch of his off-duty police buddies had stopped for a drink. I got this frantic call from my husband. “Guess what? Clint Eastwood is here. You should come down.” So I did. I pawned the kids off on my neighbor and raced to the pub to see what this big celebrity looked like in person.

Mr. E sat at the bar with a friend. Actually, he looked pretty much like he does in the movies, but, in my opinion, my husband was much better looking. The guys wanted to buy Mr. E a drink but all were afraid to ask, so I volunteered.

I sauntered over, sat on the stool next to him, and tapped him on the shoulder. “Mr. Eastwood?”

He turned at scowled at me. “No autographs, please.”

I’m sure my brow furrowed into ruts. “I don’t want YOUR autograph,” I snapped.

Hell, I’ve never been impressed with a piece of paper with someone’s name on it. How do you prove who wrote it. Seems silly to me. How dare he assume I wanted him to scrawl his name on a napkin?

His jaw dropped. “You don’t?”

“No. What would I do with your autograph? Now if you want to sign a check…” I chuckled then pointed across the room to the group of guys with their mouths gaping. “Those fellows are part of the local police department and would like to buy you a drink.”

Mr. E. smiled and waved at them, then shook his head. “I’m afraid if I took them up on their offer, they’d stop me on the way out of town and ticket me for driving under the influence.”

His weak laugh and failed attempt at humor left me cold. After that day, I never watched another Clint Eastwood movie, although I’m sure he never gave me a second thought. So, now that I think about it, comparing Cheryl to him wasn’t such a compliment, but I think you get my meaning.

My meeting her was much more impressive. We met at a Romantic Times convention. I was a new author, published by a small Internet company, and to say I felt out of my element was an understatement. I’d never been to a gathering of authors, let alone one so big and impressive. I’m not a shy person, but I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t know anyone, but found myself impressed by the Mainstream names I recognized there. I sat in the reception room and mingled, put my promo materials alongside everyone else’s and tried to blend in.

Although we were all there for networking and fun, there were those who liked to look down their noses at what I believe they felt were ‘underachievers’. “Oh, you’re an Internet author,” is something I heard several times. If you picture a jumbo jet questioning a gliders ability to fly, you might understand how insulting it was. My books are available…you just have to go to a little more trouble to buy them. Some people actually think I’m worth it. *smile*

But back to the point. Cheryl and a group of her friends were in the lounge. I can’t remember exactly how we introduced ourselves, but I was impressed with her genuine friendliness, humor and how she made me feel welcome. She doesn’t realize what a big deal it was, but it’s something I won’t ever forget. She’s a role model but she doesn’t know it…she’s famous, and she doesn’t show it, and she’s one of those people who would probably say, “We all put our panties on the same way.” I’m not sure; I’ve never watched anyone else put on their panties. Do we?

I keep getting off topic. What I want to say is Cheryl is tons nicer than Clint Eastwood. Although I didn’t want his John Hancock, I do have Cheryl’s in one of her books. I can’t prove it’s her handwriting, but I was there when she signed it and that means something to me. Clint Eastwood has nothing on us. Heck, some people have even asked for my autograph, and now I see a whole lot more value in them. *grinning*

I really appreciate Cheryl for allowing me to blog today. In case you didn’t comprehend my rambling, the point of the post was to say how glad I am that Cheryl is my friend. And…any friend of her’s is a friend of mine. I’d be most honored to have ya’ll (that’s a Tennessee word) visit my blog at http://mizging.blogspot.com, and if you’d like to see what kind of work an ‘underachiever’ writes, please stop by my website at http://www.gingersimpson.com. The welcome mat is always out.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Her Montana Man

You saw it first here!

Life Update

Last week I did edits all week long. This week I'm finishing the book and have lots to accomplish. This is my Love Inspired Historical The Preacher's Wife. I'll post more about it later.

Elijah is home recuperating from having his tonsils out last Thursday. Kristin has today off with him and then she's back to work, so I'm trying to get as much done today as possible.

We finally had champagne, strawberries and chocolate Friday night. My critique group was so busy over the summer that we never got everyone together. So that was our RITA finalist celebration - and we toasted to next year's bottle! LOL We are real party animals....