Thursday, December 31, 2009

Don't let the screen door hit you

2009 started out with such promise. I was back home again, with only a few more trips planned for work. In February, I spent three weeks in cold, rainy Belgium and took a quick trip over to Vienna. In June, I spent a week in Toronto. Personal travel was limited this year: We went to Alabama in January; North Carolina and Virginia in August; and back to North Carolina for Christmas. Quite disappointing after 2008's 100,000 miles. Yet maybe it was time to stay home for a while? There's a season for everything, right?

Thanks to staying at home, I was able to finish my book. It was published in October (and republished in November!) I've sold about 60 copies since November, and I had my first book signing last week in North Carolina. That was cool.

Of course, I broke my leg in September, and that was the real reason I had the time to finish the book!

2009 had a tragic side, starting with two deaths in the family in January. My cousin Jimmy passed away unexpectedly, followed a few days later by Sandy's Dad. Our excitement over the new U.S. President was overshadowed by these sad events. But sadly, those would not be the only deaths this year. Sandy's Aunt Betty passed away in May, and my Aunt Lib died in July. Several long-time family friends also passed on, including two while I was visiting North Carolina for Christmas. I can't remember so many deaths in one year. I don't recall ever feeling so aware of my own mortality.

The economy sucked in 2009, but at least we have jobs - for now, at least.

Fortunately, we've both been around the block a time or two now, and long enough to see that life is a big cycle. It can't be good forever, and it can't be bad forever, either. The thing about a New Year is that you get a chance to start over, and that's why I'm excited about 2010. I'm going to shake the proverbial dust off my feet.

Adios, 2009: don't let the screen door hit you as you leave. Welcome, 2010! Welcome, New Decade!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A room of one's own - sort of

With S's Mom now permanently back in Alabama, we've got the other half of the house back. We decided to keep the back room as a guest bedroom, so the question was: what should we do with the front room? I told Sandy that I used to dream of having a "library" - a cozy, warm room with bookshelves and wall art and comfortable seating where I could hang out with a book and a cup of tea or coffee. I've also wanted a room where I could bring my laptop and write my blog entries, book reviews, brilliant Facebook and Twitter updates (haha), and other creative works without distractions.

S, who probably should have been either an architect or an interior designer, has been trying hard to make my dream come true. Last weekend, we moved the massage chair, the futon, and my funky Sumo bean bag into the room. Today, S has been hanging pictures and tomorrow we'll add the bookshelves and books. We had our first "tea" this afternoon, and now I'm writing this from my "new" reading/writing room!

It's still a work in progress (isn't everything "under construction" - really?) but it's slowly becoming my favorite room in the house. Now, if only I could get some decent lighting in here . . . don't worry, S is on it. In fact, I think she's already narrowed down a few floor lamp choices from Lamps Plus. So it shouldn't be much longer before the reading/writing room is complete. I guess then, I'll really have no excuses for not writing that second book . . .

Monday, December 14, 2009

Twitter surprise

I've been using Twitter for just over a year now and have been really fascinated with how it's used. Sure, people send messages to each other (what they're doing), but it's also used by companies to promote their products or services, by groups to promote events, and by individuals to share their thoughts on movies, music, trends, or whatever.

I try to "tweet" something everyday . . . not that anyone really cares, except for maybe the few friends of mine who are also on Twitter. Last week when I was reading the book On What Grounds, a cozy mystery about a murder in a Greenwich Village coffee house, I tweeted that I was reading the book and enjoying it so far. I didn't really think anything about it . . . after all, it was just one of my daily tweets.

Today, I got a Twitter message from the author, Cleo Coyle. It was a Reader Shout-Out and wishes for happy holidays. To me! How cool is that?!!

By the way, I *loved* the book, and have already ordered the next five books in the series (and this was before I got her message). For those of you who love mysteries and/or coffee, I hope you'll check this series out. Thanks to OWG, I can now use my screw-top espresso machine! Woo-hoo!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hibernation mode

It's been very cold here in the Hoosierland this week. On Thursday, it was a mere 13 degrees (F) according to my car's digital thermometer. Today was warmer, and by tomorrow, it should be warm enough to get my car washed. I hope so, because it's horribly dirty.

Anyway, it's that sleepy time of year, when the sun doesn't come up before your alarm clock goes off in the mornings, and goes down long before you get home from work. By the time I get home, I'm totally wiped out from exhaustion! All I want to do is eat dinner, watch a little TV by the fireplace, and read in bed. I especially love the latter because I have a wonderful heated mattress pad that I can turn up to 6 or 7 and it gets the bed all cuddly and cozy. (Don't worry, I always turn it down to Lo - or maybe 1 - before I fall asleep.)

OK, I should write something more interesting here. I will. Maybe tomorrow. For now, I want to hibernate.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Paperback swap

I'm enjoying my latest obsession so much, I feel compelled to share it. Do you have a bunch of books that you no longer want? Trade 'em! On Paperback Swap (www.paperbackswap.com) you can list books you don't want anymore. When someone wants your book, you mail it to them (you pay the postage, but you can buy postage through the Web site with Paypal, and you can print postage-paid wrappers or labels). When the person on the other end receives the book (or when you mark the book mailed, if you used the pre-paid postage option), you get a credit. You can then "shop" the approximately 4 million books listed and choose your book! The sender pays your postage. List 10 books that you want to get rid of, and you will get 2 free credits which you can use immediately.

For someone like me who reads a lot, but only likes keeping "special" books on my shelves, this is a great way to feed my addiction. Check it out, and if you sign up, write my name in the section where it asked how you found out about it. I'll get a credit for referring you. Can't beat that!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Time flies



Here we are on the first day of December. I don't know about you, but I can't believe how quickly this year is going by. It seems like just a few weeks ago, Sandy and I were celebrating the arrival of 2009 and meticulously planning how we were each going to lose 50 pounds this year. I can't speak for Sandy, but in eleven months, I've managed to lose exactly 6 pounds. So I guess that means I have only 44 to go. I kinda doubt I'll be able to do that before December 31.

We've been having some beautiful sunsets lately. Thought I'd share the view from the backyard one recent November evening when I arrived home from work before it was completely dark outside! I for one am ready for Winter Solstice, when the days start getting longer again. Tomorrow in Helsinki, the sun rises at 8:59AM and sets at 3:20PM. By December 21, they will only have 5 hours and 48 minutes of sunlight. So I won't complain.

Thank you, Google, for fixing the Blog Feed issue. All is right with the world now.