Decluttering my mind

1. Vomit blue ink all over the agenda book with how cluttered and chaotic the mind is until clarity ensues. It may or may not take 14 pages, front and back.

2. Take the Female Tax Deduction to her art class. Walk through the park barefoot in the grass (for the first time in years) to get to the art gallery. Think about taking a yoga class. Finish a cross stitch. When XX TD is finished with her art class, solve a glass labyrinth with her. Walk (in the grass) (barefoot) (this is crucial) up the terraces to the gallery. Talk to tourists and answer questions about the new exhibit (the Green Man-ish sculptures) and good barbecue. Stroll through the art gallery after having responded to nature’s call. Sit and let XX TD sketch a medieval knight on a horse.

3. Share pictures that don’t even come close to capturing the magic that was yesterday.

Comfort food: Trouble salad

Okay, it’s really macaroni salad and about as ubiquitous as can be, but there’s a story behind the title.

It was 1980. In Kansas City. In the summer.

The 1980 United States Heat Wave was a period of intense heat and drought that wreaked havoc on much of the Midwestern United States and Southern Plains throughout the summer of 1980. It is among the most devastating natural disasters in terms of deaths and destruction in U.S. history, claiming at least 1,700 lives[1] and because of the massive drought, agricultural damage reached US$20.0 billion (US$55.4 billion in 2007 dollars, adjusted for the GNP inflation index).[2] It is among the billion-dollar weather disasters listed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. […] In Kansas City, Missouri, the high temperature was below 90 only twice and soared above the century mark (100 °F/38 °C) for 17 days straight[…] [Wikipedia]

And we did not have air conditioning. No, we did not. But my grandmother, who lived about four blocks away, had a little window unit, so every afternoon, we would hie ourselves up there to sit in her living room for a while, then come home to sleep. If you can call it that. (Oh, and a little trivia: My room faced east, so I had the joy of the first blast of heat every morning.)

My mother would make dinner that we would bring to grandma’s while we sat in the cool. And one day she made this:

7 oz. dry pasta
1/2 c. Miracle Whip
1/2 c. sour cream
1 15-oz can drained sweet peas
1 c. diced ham
1 c. diced cheese
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. onion salt

Cook pasta while mixing Miracle Whip, sour cream, and spices. Stir in peas, meat, cheese, and pasta. Chill.

As you see, it involves a stove and boiling water. We three children (12, 6, and 4) were lined up at the door waiting for mom to bring the ginormous stoneware crock full of this so that we could go to grandma’s. Unfortunately, two steps from the front door, she tripped, dropped the bowl (which broke), and sprayed macaroni salad and clay shards everywhere.

My brother laughed.

He, um, got in trouble. (Turrble turrrrrrrrrrrble trouble.)

Hence the name. I don’t think my mother’s made this since and I have only a couple of times, but I love it and thus, the block party Saturday was graced with TWO dishes out of the Dude-and-Mojo household.

That’s what the fresh concrete in front of our beautiful porch says: Dude + Mojo = ?


Mommy, why don’t you smile anymore?

My son said this to me a couple of months ago and I’ve been guilting over it ever since.

Well, it’s because I’m stressed. My work life kind of exploded some time last summer when I decided to escape the (dying) industry I’d been in for the previous seven years in favor of the formatting work that was falling on top of me. I kept thinking I could do less work for more money and spend time with my kids, but… That’s not the way it worked out.

Is it ever?

In January, my career took a sharp upward turn when I was presented with an offer it’s taken me four months to stop resisting. (Details later, when it’s all finalized.) The deciding factor was time, because, in a totally unrelated twist, I was suddenly presented with a project I won’t be able to resist at all.

On the formatting front, I’ve got a backlog of work and I’m behind. I’m stressed. My house, until two days ago, was a complete wreck (thank you GroupBuy for that cheap house deep-clean). I have to do my taxes. My kids are after me for attention (as is their right), but they’re somehow easier to put off. I was sick most of December and February. Dude’s been sick for the last two months. I have a book coming out on Easter (in case you hadn’t heard). I’m publishing a book for someone else this month. I have another huge project for another client. I’m in charge of producing an important work from Peculiar Pages coming out June 30 and working on edits for the Monsters & Mormons anthology coming out in October. And we come around again to people who come to me for formatting their ebooks.

It’s exciting and nerve-wracking and stress-inducing and I haven’t been able to sleep without some serious medication, which happens to give me a hangover. I like it. I like helping people self-publish. I feel…important. Like I’m accomplishing something with my meager little life. I love it.


“Mommy, why don’t you smile anymore?”

So today I went to get the final item for the Magdalene Easter swag basket (spirit gum, if you must know) and it’s just down the street from Crown Center, across from which is a fountain.

Crown Center Square Fountain

(Well, in Kansas City, you can’t take two steps without falling into a fountain, so that’s not saying anything.) It’s 88F today, but the trees are still bare, which should give you an idea about how bizarre our weather has been.

I decided that, in spite of my backlog of late projects, I’d take the kids to lunch at Crown Center and then let them play in the fountain with about 40 other children. They didn’t have bathing suits on, but who cares? This is an issue of being spawntaneous.

They were happy. I was happy.

And I smiled.

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We’re gonna do stuff like this more often.

I’m outtie…

…for the rest of the year, most likely. I reserve the right to come back and rant. It is my blog, after all.

Many projects on the table, most of which I’m behind on (oh, there’s a surprise):

  • Re-doing my foyer and living room. What, you thought my DIY re publishing thing is a new development? No. I’ve been a DIYer at heart since I saw the first episode of This Old House when I was a wee bairn (as in, their first episode, too).
  • Christmas chores. You all know what they are. But I’ve recently got a yen to quilt us a new tree skirt. That will have to wait until next year.
  • Much cooking and cleaning in preparation for my family’s big Christmas Eve shindig. Moms, dads, inlaws, outlaws, aunts, uncles, cousins, and babies. Lots and lots of babies. Very fun having the biggest house in the family. Ah, but I love Christmas Eve, almost more than Christmas Day (you know, now that we are Santa). Also? I love my mom’s cookies. And I love my Christmas punch (see previous post).
  • Probably some yard work. I really need to get out and mow my lawn.
  • More weatherproofing.
  • Fandamnily outing to see the Plaza Christmas lights. (Photos by Eric Bowers, KC Photographer extraordinaire who also does a lot of Manhattanscapes—you must visit his blog and galleries and message board. Really.)

plaza lights 2009_0

plaza lights 2009 fisheye photo(This one? 47th Street.  If you read The Proviso, you know what Giselle did near here.)

  • And, last but not least, the Darling Day Job (feeling blessed at the moment).

My blue tree from the last two years turned red this year.

2009-12-09 (3)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Mojo, Dude, XX and XY Tax Deductions!

Evolution of a cover, part 3

Originally published at Publishing Renaissance on February 12, 2009.


Thank you for your continuing indulgence on the travails of designing a cover if you’re not a designer of covers. As I said last week, it took me almost a year and hundreds of hours of Photoshopping to come to the cover I did, which I affectionately call The Bewbies™. Originally, The Proviso was one book and it was enormous. I originally titled it Barefoot Through Fire. Then I figured I’d probably do better to split it out into 3 parts, 1 part per romance. This is the story of book 3.
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