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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's the Little Things that Count

Some of my FB friends have been doing the daily posting during November of what they are thankful for. Not me. Not that I’m not thankful for anything, but I would probably forget to post one day or two days and ending up having to do like 25 posts in one day. To escape the tedium of wading through that, I wondered if blogging my grateful list would be more appropriate.

Well then, you know how I get when I get those annoying creative moments. So, I was thinking that we’re all thankful for things like family, friends, homes etc. And not that it’s boring to mention those things, but what if I just left off the short list of thanksgiving and trust you know what all those things are? What if my thankful list consisted of small things, everyday things that might not normally get a mention this time of year?

1.       Sweatshirts:  warm and fuzzy
2.       My recliner: perfect for snoozing with a purring cat
3.       Iced Tea: unsweet of course
4.       Lions Club: I get out of cooking twice a month
5.       Email: Non-intrusive way to communicate
6.       Purple: My favorite color
7.       My Kindle: portable library
8.       My garage door opener: I spent years getting out of the car, sliding doors, getting back in the car and resliding. Back in the 1970s no one had these gadgets.
9.       Flowers: My husband brings them to me for any reason and no reason at all.
10.   Caller ID: Don’t have to talk to the telemarketers
11.   Water warmer: My dog can drink all day without her water freezing or me having to break ice.
12.   Microwave: I can still remember when the only way to warm something was on the stove.
13.   Dishwasher: All those hours spent at the kitchen sink. Now all I have to complain about is loading and unloading.
14.   Small towns: where else does UPS deliver my packages to me at work just because they know I’m there?
15.   My Christmas blanket: I use it all year long.
16.   Hamburgers: When I don’t know what to make it’s something hubby will always eat
17.   Nolan’s laundry: Get to be mommy again when he brings it home
18.   Snow: without ice or snow days
19.   Air conditioner: enough said
20.   Christmas lights: Coming soon…

Your turn. What goofy things didn’t make your Thankful List but you’re still grateful to have them?   I know I’m not the only one…

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

25 Random Things About Cindy

25 random things you probably don't know about me (unless you're a stalker or related to me)

1. I love football. Not pro so much but college, especially if the team wears purple and plays in BSFS. The only time I can remember not liking it so much was when my sons played in high school. I spent the game making sure they got up after every play. The times when they didn't almost weaned me off the sport but they survived and so did I.

2. I do not watch TV. Ever. Sometimes it is on when I am in the room but I am not watching it. I don't even like watching football on TV ( See #1). I prefer to listen on the radio.

3. I dislike snikeys. No, that's too mild. I hate them. I am positively phobic about them. Btw, snikeys are those little gray rodents I have nightmares about. My son made up the term snikey so I don't actually have to say the M word. And that thing attached to my computer - that's called a "button."

4. Back in the days when I used to watch TV some (see #2) I was a Trekie. Yep. Star Trek TNG was my favorite. I knew every episode by heart. I haven't watched it in years but Will Riker still makes me sigh...

5. When I was in grade school I had a goal of reading every book in the entire school library. No, I didn't accomplish it but I made a gigantic dent in it. And then I discovered the public library - no more measly little school library for me. Playing with the big girls now.

6. I am slightly addicted to Diet Pepsi. I'm also partial to iced tea - the unsweet variety. I never get very far away from my purple cup and liquid refreshment.

7. I wrote my first story in second grade. I didn't know how to spell "supposed" and didn't want to ask. That would ruin how proud I was of myself. So, instead of Joe telling his dog "you are supposed to fetch the stick" I wrote "You are to fetch the stick."  My first lesson in eliminating wordiness. By third grade I was writing "plays" my friends performed before our classmates. I began writing my first real book at age twelve. When I finished it (sometime in high school) I had 400 some long hand pages on notebook paper. I got rid of it for fear someone would read it.

8. My very favorite food is Mexican. Morning noon or night. My worst is Chinese. I can't even stand to smell it. Some of the weirder things I really like are onions, garlic, fried okra, and stuffing.

9. My favorite holiday is Valentine's Day.

10. When I was in kindergarten I had lots of warts. They were mostly on my left hand and my left knee. When I learned how to tell my right hand from my left, I did it by knowing my warts were on the left side. To this day I have to glance at my hands before I can say left or right.

11. I love teddy bears and stuffed animals. I slept with my Rabby until he fell apart. (I might have been in jr. high). When my first baby was on the way we papered the room in teddy bear print and I stocked up on teddy bear clothes, blankets and the furry critters themselves. Alas, none of my children were into teddy bears. All three of them ripped the wall paper off the walls as soon as they could stand up in the crib.

12. For the most part I don't eat sweets. That's because I don't really care for sweet things. The one possible exception is fake sweet (see #6). But I'd rather have another piece of bread than dessert. Horror of horrors - call me un-American if you must - I don't even like ice cream.

13. My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice. My favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice. But let it be said here that I will always choose a book over a movie. You go Jane Austen!

14. Two of my sons are named after characters in Louis L'Amour books. Both named by their dad. I did get to choose the middle names which isn't quite as big a deal. But that's OK. I like the Sacketts too.

15. I am deathly afraid of heights. Ask my parents or siblings about an incident on KT mountain. They have spent over 30 years remembering every vivid detail and telling it to whoever will listen.

16. I do not like to travel, Sam I am. I especially hate flying. Given my choice of where to go on a vacation I would always pick "home."

17. My first real job at age 14 was knocking eggs in a feed store/hatchery. Even the internet doesn't seem to know what that is as I tried to look it up. Knocking eggs was when I tapped two eggs together and listened to the sound it made. A sharp click meant neither egg was cracked. A low thud meant an often invisible hairline crack. No point in putting that cracked egg in an incubator. It would never hatch a chick. Weird as this sounds - I was pretty good at it.

18. I have an agriculture (animal science) degree from KSU. Well, I have a business degree too but I'm not nearly as proud of that as I am of my agriculture diploma.

19. My favorite daydream is to be locked in a hotel room by myself for a month with nothing to do but read and write. Oh, and sleep. How cool would that be?

20. In kindergarten, i think I injured my finger requiring several stitches and big bandage that went all the way to my wrist. I proudly told anyone who asked that i stuck my finger in a mole trap.

21. As a child I collected rocks and napkins. I kept my rocks in a Barbie doll case and my napkins in a Russell Stover chocolates box. Wonder what ever happened to that stuff?

22. Without stopping to think about it first, I cannot properly pronounce the word "Envelope."
It comes out something like "em-ba-blope."

23. My favorite thing to cook is gravy. I never knew how to make gravy until I got married and my husband insisted I learn as it was one of his favorites. Now I am so proud of myself every time I am successful in making a pan of gravy, I do it often.

24. I attended first grade in Manhattan. We lived in Jardine apartments. Every morning I walked across an empty field to get to school. That field is now the very place where Bill Snyder Family Stadium stands. Who knew?

25. In high school my favorite activities were rifle squad, football manager and English class.

Tag - you're it. Tell me 25 random things about you that I probably don't know.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Grown-up Babies

I recently attended a baby shower. Did I ever learn a lot! I probably got last place in the game we played – guess the price of several baby items. Winner is closest without going over. If I’d bought those items I wouldn’t have brought enough money with me. Of course, I wouldn’t have bought them in the first place. I had no idea what some of them even were.  Apparently things have changed since I was in the baby market.  And no prize for last place.

If I thought I was out of my realm here, just wait until we got to the gifts. My friend sat in front of a crowd of people opening bag after blue bag of cute little baby items. At my baby shower, many years ago, no one had ever heard of gift bags. We put our gifts in boxes and wrapped them in wrapping paper. Really – this must be a ploy for tissue paper manufacturers. Scads of that stuff everywhere. Blue and white and printed with designs. Fortunately I was in step with the times enough to have brought my gift in a bag of tissue paper too, so I wasn’t showing my age - just yet. Anyway I’m not even sure if stores sell wrapping paper any more.

And if I felt dated before, what was inside some of those bags made everything worse. I’d never heard of something called a Bumpo seat, but I was assured every new mother must have one.  Swaddling cloths with Velcro closures. I could figure out the basics of what to do with those, but it was certainly something my children never had. We wrapped them in blankets as well as we could and called it good.  Baby monitors with two-way audio? Or video? Really? My baby monitor was like an oversized walkie-talkie with static pouring out that sometimes picked up neighbor’s telephone conversations. And my favorite – a blooming bath seat. Pretty and so fun looking. But my kids had an oblong shaped yellow sponge to lay on for baths and by the time baby #3 came along the sponge was in at least three pieces, soon to be more. It never even occurred to me to buy a new one.

My gift to the expectant mother was a hand crocheted baby blanket. Honestly, with all the new cutesy stuff everyone else gave her I felt like an old granny in a rocking chair, needles clicking and a ball of yarn unwinding at my feet. I suppose people still use baby blankets but they’re certainly not the staple they once were what with sacs, papoose carriers, hooded wraps along with the afore-mentioned Velcro-ed swaddling cloths. Well Ok then. I just admitted my age and distance from anything baby related by my gift.  My friend was nice enough not to mention the antiquity of my hand-made contribution.

But, is it possible I know something younger moms don’t know? Does she know the sweet little baby boy she’ll soon be dressing in all those cute clothes will someday grow up? Does she know he will grow taller than his mom, sprout whiskers and speak in a bass voice? Does she know he will go off to live his own life one day and take his mama’s heart with him when he goes? I suppose she knows all these things on the surface but deep down, way deep down, does she give these realities enough credibility to prepare for them? I know I didn’t.

I look back at my life from when my boys were little. Such sweet little boys, young faces and bright eyes forever emblazoned in my memory. Now they’re adults, even if I do still see little boy faces when I look at them.

My oldest son lives half way across the country with my beautiful daughter-in-law and obviously gets along quite well without Mom looking over his shoulder. How can that feel right to a mother’s heart?

Randon makes his home in heaven. He is safe, happy and secure forever. Does that mean I don’t think about him or miss him? Hardly.

My baby has matured into a college man. He still needs me for some things, primarily to do with my bank account. But, for all intents and purposes, he is his own person, independent and living his own life. My influence is part of him but it is what it is. He’s too old for me to continue to shape and mold him. He is his own.

Long story short – my babies are grown up but they will always be my babies. Every year on his November birthday I send a FB message to son #3, from the old Blake Shelton song that hits home every time I hear it. “I don’t care if you’re 80, you’ll always be my baby.” He’s gone from being embarrassed by it to a grudging acceptance. Last year I believe he even included a thank you in his response.

My babies may be grown men but they are still my babies. My friend’s new son will be her baby forever. I do believe if you asked my mother she will still say I am her baby. The definition of baby is not the tiny human being you hold in your arms after 9 months of pregnancy. It is what happens in your heart when you take your first look at them and carry with you for the rest of your days. 

Anyway, it’s not such a bad thing to be Mama’s baby. Someday my boys will get to inherit a gazillion books, boxes of half used yarn skeins and my great-grandmother’s napkin collection. It can’t get any better than that.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Firecracker's Fuse, A Tale from the Inside

No, not from the inside of the firecracker. I hear tell it’s just some stinky powder stuff in there. I’m talking about from inside the house. Yeah. The important word here is INside.
Perhaps a little background information is in order. Every July 1st through 4th my family (OK, my husband and son – leave me out of it for now) runs a fireworks stand from our garage. They do this for two reasons.

  1. My husband puts on a public display every year for our community. It is held at our church with a potluck supper, firecrackers for kids, military salute and the finale of a fireworks display set to music. It is quite a production, draws a big crowd and I am so proud of him for the fantastic job he does with it.  But, blowing up all those fireworks can get expensive, hence, the fireworks stand. We use the proceeds from our stand as funding for the public display.
  2.  They just plain love fireworks.

Running a fireworks stand is great fun.  Anything I might have been heard to say to the contrary should be ignored. It’s fun because I wouldn’t trade the community outreach of our public display for even a nice quiet 4th with nothing to do. The display is AWESOME!!!

Now, that said, let me go a little further. Heat is not my friend. I would go so far as to say heat is my enemy. We do not get along well. We don’t work and play nicely with one another. We don’t even try anymore. But because our founding fathers chose to sign the Declaration of Independence in the dead of summer, we now have this wonderful holiday forever stranded there as well. Long story short, I can’t sit in the fireworks stand for four days and swelter. Furthermore, no one wants me to. I hear tell I can get a little grumpy if I’ve endured the heat for anything longer than two minutes.

So, I stay inside. Yeah, I feel guilty. Well sort of. We have extraordinary help for our stand. They do much better than me, probably because they actually like fireworks. I’ve personally never been able to make that admission. But I have found things I can do from the inside that are helpful – or maybe they’re just humoring me?

I can make signs and price tags. I can count money and pay expenses. I can keep track of change, debit card machines and cash register paper. I can turn on the outside lights when it gets dark and I can help desperate little children find the bathroom when Dad has been gazing at artillery shells for a little too long.  Oh yeah – and I can cook. Our fireworks stand workers insist on being fed. Fortunately they like “to-go” burgers and fries and carry-out pizza. But I do cook for them too. This year I made brownies, tacos and red/white/blue rice krispy treats. I have an extra especially awesome Pinterest board for 4th of July with lots of fun recipes and decorations. But the main point here – it is all done from the inside.
Customers don’t see me. I don’t see them. If the Statue of Liberty stopped by to replenish her torch, I wouldn’t know it. (We did have someone bring their pet snake this year. Kind of glad to have missed that.)  I don’t know the difference between a missile and a shell. I don’t know why they call those square things a cake and don’t even get me started on the box/brick/case issue. No, I was meant to enjoy 4th of July from the inside.

My son and I were discussing our favorite months this past week. His favorite month is July. Mine is January. “Why?” I innocently asked. “Why would you pick July as your favorite month?” He started naming off the reasons. Summer, sunshine, warm weather, county fairs, no school, and – you guessed it – Independence Day!

I hated to admit it but those very same reasons are all the things that make July my least favorite month. Oh well. I’ve made it to August now. Just get through my second least favorite month then we’ll be on our way to autumn.  And that same son who loves July, I am fond of reminding him that he is the main reason I have unfriended summer. He was a summer baby – forever changed my thermostat. But that’s another blog.

And the meaning of all this (if you’ve read my blogs before you know there is always a moral to the story. I’m as bad as Aesop.) We’re all different. Some of us like things others of us don’t. And guess what. We’re both weird. We can’t point our fingers and call someone else strange because they’re different than us. It takes all kinds of people to make up our world. Just how successful would anyone’s fireworks stand be if not for the people “inside” the firecracker – where it’s nice and cool I might add. And btw, that’s supposed to be a metaphor. It applies to more than firework stands!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

When All Else Fails Try Popcorn

                It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a blog entry. Not because I don’t want to but because I’ve entertained the thought I have nothing to say about my life experiences that anyone would want to read about. I have not been skydiving (nor will I ever). I have not been lost in the mountains at night (like my friends David and Kim). I have not made a trip to the emergency room with a bleeding child (at least for many years now, such as my friend Bridgette did this week.)
                So what have I done since I last made a public proclamation about my life? I’ve completed edits on four of my books to add that dreaded male point of view (see last blog post.) I have been on a virtual writer’s retreat with my friends from Seekerville.( I have survived another 4th of July (and all that represents at the Regnier household.) I have joined Romance Writer’s of America. (woohoo!) I have had my beautiful over-furry dog shaved for summer (she looks like a sheared sheep.) I have overused parentheses (like a novice writer might use exclamation points.)
                Oh, I know. I have made peace with my broken microwave. Everybody ought to be interested in that.  Do kitchen appliances develop ‘habits’? If they do, I suppose I could call my microwave’s latest behavior a bad habit. A few months ago I noticed that occasionally when I closed the door, the light would not go off.  In turn, that meant the microwave would not work. I soon learned I had to open the door, shut the door and try it again. Not really such a bad thing.          Until this bad habit got worse. . .
 It happened more and more often. It took harder “shuts” to get the light to go out until I was almost slamming that door. But I would endure. I took the opportunity to get in touch with my microwave, understand its idiosyncrasies and how to work around them. The secret lies in letting it think it has gotten the best of me when I’m really only playing along. Which was all fine and dandy until others started noticing the problem. . .
 My husband, though incredibly patient and loving with me does not carry forward this characteristic to microwaves. He would become annoyed when his coffee didn’t warm up like he told Mr. Mike to do. My son, home for a respite from college called me at work. “Mom. What’s the matter with the microwave?”
                I explained to both of them how to solve the problem. A slam of the door, a kind word for Mike and he would usually straighten out his attitude. Nope. Didn’t work. For either one of them. Perhaps they don’t have the gentle encouragement my friend Mike needs to complete his work.
                Hubby calls Mike ‘stupid thing.’ Son claims Mike is ‘possessed.’ Both a bit extreme, don’t you think? With absolutely no smugness and in total humility I showed them both that indeed, I could sweet-talk Mike into doing what I asked. Needless to say, they weren’t impressed.
                Now, go with me back to firework stand week. It is the night of the big display, the whole reason we do a firework stand in the first place. Hubby and son have left to set up for said fireworks display. My fabulous, hard-working, heat enduring helpers Lance, Chelsea and Annie leave me alone in the stand for a few minutes while they go inside to make their supper. Warmed up leftover pizza. Yep, you’re a step ahead of me. That involves a microwave.
                I can hear them laughing from all the way outside. They’re having too much fun. No, they’re just trying to make Mike work and he is being particularly lazy. Lance pushes every button imaginable. Surely that popcorn button will kick Mike into action. Nope. Not even popcorn works. Chelsea hollers at me from the back door (amidst squeals of laughter). “Cindy, how do you work the microwave?”
                This time it even takes me awhile to undo all the button pushing they tried, but finally I get Mike woke up enough to warm their pizza. Those kids laughed about me and Mike all evening and the next few days. The story even made its way to facebook. (see photo of Lance and Chelsea – don’t they look perplexed?)
                But, even with this fiasco on record, Mike and I seem to be getting along fine. I can make him work when and how I want to with very little coaxing. Never mind that I’m the only one that can seem to convince him.
                I have such a wonderful husband. He took me out to eat a few nights ago and invited me to go microwave shopping. What? Send my buddy Mike to a microwave junkyard? No! I can’t do it. We understand each other. He trusts me. I can’t let him down.
                Maybe I’ll have to give in though. At least before next year’s fireworks stand. My dear Mike gets a little more cantankerous with each passing warm-up.
 And the moral of this story? So many times in life things do not go our way. It doesn’t work out like we planned. That happy ending we had in mind gets postponed or even canceled. Instead of becoming angry, stomping our feet or giving up, maybe we should just try again? Learn how to live within the boundaries of where life takes you. Reach for the stars but if you can’t quite touch one, reach for a sunbeam instead. Life takes detours every day. Guess what? It’s out of our hands. Trust the One who has it all under control. You still may not be able to nuke pizza but you won’t be sorry either.

Monday, February 25, 2013

What's Your Point of View?

Remember back in whatever grade it was when you had to learn point of view? You know, stuff like first person, third person, omniscient and all that. Boring stuff, huh? Unfortunately, some of us are a little different breed and actually get excited about things like this. I think I just admitted to one of my idiosyncrasies but you probably already knew it anyway.

Well, here’s the thing. I’ve wanted to be an author for a VERY long time. I think that ‘when-I-grow-up’ wish dates back to second grade – even before I knew about John Boy Walton or had met up with Laura Ingalls Wilder on the library shelves. That might explain why certain pieces of information that are fairly meaningless to most of us kind of stick with me and make an impact on future decisions. Case in point:

Several years ago – probably many years ago because I don’t remember when exactly, I read one of those pieces authors are fond of writing titled with some variation of “What advice do you have for those who would like to be writers?” I can’t remember who the particular author was either but the gist of her article – that I remember vividly.

The advice she gave to would be writers is always use a single point of view. Now this terminology is a little different from first person or third person thing. What she meant was to tell your story from only one vantage point, most probably that of your heroine. Therefore the reader would see only the thoughts and feelings in the heroine’s head without the advantage of “head-hopping” or going from one character to another to find out what they’re thinking. This author had been very successful with this approach. Her reasoning was that in real life this is the way it happens. In our own life circumstances we don’t know what others around us are thinking unless they tell us. More realistic then. Made perfect sense to me at the time.

When I wrote the eight romance novels that I currently list in my repertoire, I used this technique of single point of view. Some of you reading this have read some of those novels. You know what I mean. I never, not once, ventured out of my heroine’s head and hopped over to someone else’s, aka, the dreaded “male point of view.” I find myself pretty much unqualified to write from a male perspective. Who knows how a man thinks? Certainly not me. Any ladies out there, if you understand male perspective perhaps I could convince you to share some insights with me.

So, it took all this time, 8 books and many rejections later to figure out that THINGS HAVE CHANGED. Hello. Time to come out of the 1980s and step into the here and now. No one writes books from single POV anymore. I can’t name one fiction romance I’ve read, written within the last ten years (and I’ve read a LOT) that uses single POV. So, I had to be sort of hit over the head with this concept. I participated in an online editor chat a few weeks ago where this point came up. Industry standard is now at least two POVs (hero and heroine) with an approximate even split between the two. Most publishing houses won’t even consider anything else. A few are still out there that might, but when you’re a newcomer wanna-be like me, straying from the norm is not the most recommended road to travel.

First, I went through utter dismay. All 8 of my novels were trash. Hide them. Never let them see the light of day. It’s too embarrassing that I actually wrote like that. But, I couldn’t do it. Those are my babies. But what to do? I couldn’t send them out into the harsh real world without the proper upbringing.

I consulted with several of my author friends and also the highest authority I could find in my tight circle of literary advice-givers. My sister knows everything and doesn’t hesitate to tell me!  Jill, and every other author friend I asked including my 1K/1Hr group on facebook said the same thing. Just change your stories. Hmmm…. Easy for you to say!

One friend said this. Change the first story to make about half of it from your hero’s perspective but keep it the old way too. Lay them side by side and see which you like best. Or better yet, which one a future editor might like best. Good advice.

 All I could think of was how much time this would take and how awful it would be to decide how to cut half of my heroine’s story in favor of my hero’s. I hate cutting. I’m terrible at it. I jumped in anyway. Guess what? I had so much fun getting acquainted with my hero I didn’t want to stop. He actually turned out to be a pretty cool guy – though not nearly as perfect as what he seemed to be from my heroine’s eyes. I enjoyed it so much I was done revising my first book within a week. A week! That’s all it took. Of course I had some sick days and snow days thrown in there and I’ll probably have to go back to work eventually so the others won’t go as fast, but still. There’s reason for my scissors to plow forward. I can hardly wait to get connected with my other heros and find out more about what makes them tick. Sigh!  I’ll have those poor girls falling in love with them all over again in all kinds of different ways.

If anyone read my printed version of my first book from a few years back and picked it up to read it  today, you would not recognize it. Same story, same characters, told in a completely different way. But this is a good thing. And onward I go. 

Oh, btw, I will share more about this later when I have further info but check out this link and THANK YOU to all of you that voted!                   Family fiction contest