Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Got Tagged!

I feel all accepted now because Ami tagged me. Of course, I have to participate.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Prefer gift bags because by the time I wrap, I am completely out of energy. But usually go with wrapping paper because it looks better.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Real so far but looking forward to the day kids are grown and gone and we can do artificial without disappointing anyone.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Ha. . gets later each year. About the 15th of December or so.

5. Do you like eggnog?
If it has rum in it, I do.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Kleenex box stuffed with $20 bills in between the tissues.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
My mother in law. She wants nothing and uses nothing I send her.

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Besides me???? My youngest daughter.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Nope. It would be a tad hypocritical I think.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail. Lots of them. LONGGGGG Christmas letters.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Porn store, last minute, not funny gift.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
When the guilt overwhelms me . . or the first week of December for those I have to mail miles away.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Of course.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
My husband's standing rib roast. Oh mi gawd.

16. What decorations are on your tree?
Ones dating all the way back to our childhood . . . those that survived the move. Ones representing our new life here.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
Silver Bells for my mom. I'll Be Home for Christmas for my dad. Personally, anything by Mannheim Steamroller.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home?
Oh, home, home, home.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Maybe if I've had enough egg nog . . .

20. Angel on top of tree or star?
Santa actually.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Stockings on Christmas Eve and rest on Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Grumpy people in the stores .

23 What theme or color are you using when you decorate?

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
See above standing rib roast. Just learned to like roasted chestnuts too.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
The smiles on my kids' faces. Being with those I love. Coping with missing my parents. Another year with my husband.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving to all, of course.
(It's going to get happier here now because my hubby just brought me a glass of wine and it isn't even noon . . . . )
Like everyone else, I am focusing on the things I am grateful for today and I decided to share my list with you:
I am grateful for:
1. My husband of 26 years who continues to be my best friend, my anchor, my partner and my soulmate.
2. My children: one who I rarely see in person but who is always in my mind and heart, one who is becoming an adult and standing on the precipice of adventure where she should be (but damn, I wanna rope and tie her so she can't take the next step sometimes), one who is turning from boy to man so quickly that I sometimes don't recognize him when I see him out of the corner of my eye and one who has already left behind all vestiges of kidness and is heading right into teenagerhood.
3. My career: Although it sometimes makes me tear my hair out, cry (see last post), rage (see last post) and lose sleep, I love my work. That it continues to come in despite the economic craziness is also worthy of gratitude. May it continue to do so.
4. My location: We moved here 7 plus years ago and we are still grateful on a daily basis. It is such a beautiful city with wonderful people and for us, it truly is the epitome of HOME.
5. My health: It has been a long two years with health issues. The surgeries are done now though and I can tell I am getting better slowly but surely. About @(*$)((*### time!
6. My parents: I have lost them both in recent years and their loss still makes me tear up (especially at holiday time) but I am also so grateful that I had them because they were wonderful, loving parents and that is such a gift.
7. My friends: Since I moved here, I have made some wonderful friends that I truly cherish. I feel so lucky to have them in my life (and you know who you are!). My heart still holds a few important people from before I moved (Elsie, Bev) and I am also grateful that despite thousands of miles, we are still close. For my darlin friend Shayne, I am grateful that despite your dire diagnosis, you are still here with us a year later.

For each of these things, I am deeply thankful. I hope that whoever reads this is also filled with appreciation for similar treasures. After all, for most of us, this holiday is not so much about cooking turkey and thinking about the pilgrims but about spending the day focusing on the people we love.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sucker Punched

I've been in the writing world for a long, long time.
Today, I was told I was no longer welcome at a company I have worked with for more than 10 years because they found my writing "too close to the original source". In other words, bucko, we are accusing you of plagiarizing.
In the world of writing, there is no larger insult.
I feel like someone just walked up to me and punched me in the stomach. It hurts mentally and physically.
I have never, ever, ever plagiarized a word in my life. After 20 plus years in the business, I think I know better. In fact, I've caught others who had done so and been hired to repair their mistakes.
At the same time, I got this email, I was also emailed by three editors, all praising the work I had sent in and asking for more.
Guess what?
It doesn't hold a candle to the punch I got.
Gee, you know, I needed inspiration for something to write about but this sure isn't what I had in mind. Pass the chocolate, please.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Better Late than Never

Well, I have a bunch of excuses for why I haven't blogged lately and most of them are pretty good but what's the point? I haven't taken the time and as the French cleaner fish says in "Finding Nemo", I am ashamed.

So anyway, life here at my house . . . . I've been working on some really big projects and so haven't had much down time. I did take Coryn and Nicole to see "Jekyll and Hyde" at the local high school last night. We renewed our mutual passion for theatre . . . .Nicole developed a new crush . . . Coryn got mad at me for bringing him to another play that features a person he likes who dies . . . and I sat and marveled at how talented some young people can be. The whole family had gone to see "Speech and Debate", a locally done play last week. It was excellent also, although the seating was horrible. I also have come to accept that Joseph and Caspian will just never be the kind of live theatre fans that Nicole, Coryn and I are. Sigh.

Caspian, my darlin rebel boy that he is, decided last week that he wanted to see what it was like to fast. He had seen Joseph and I do it before and he was challenged as only teenage boys can be. So he quit eating. Well, you know what? That boy has endurance and will power. Today it has been a full week since he has had anything but water. (Yes, of course, we are keeping a close eye on him. He drinks plenty of water, gets extra rest and is doing fine.) We plan to have him end it soon--he knows what he is capable of now, so experiment over. It was a good lesson for him though. I think it even improved his self esteem. We have seen his personality change as he has done it, but I miss him at meal times.

That is about all the news "that' fit to blog" for now. I am writing a 70,000 word vocabulary book that is slow going but kinda fun. In today's economy, I am just grateful that I continue to get projects from companies. I love my life of working at home and I don't want to change it if I don't absolutely have to. One experience working in retail a few years ago was enough to scare me away from it for the rest of my life.

Sorry for the long time gone. I will try to do better now . . . I promise.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Turn

For about two weeks, I have played the role of sympathetic mother to my children as they, one by one, got a rotten cold. Nicole dealt with it . . . Coryn complained all the way through it . . . Caspian tried to pretend it didn't exist . . and then the hubby got it and muddled through, coughing and sniffling. And guess what? Now it's my turn.
So, I've got a monster sore throat and watery eyes and a runny nose and I'm tired, plus I still have this damn scar thing on my neck from the surgery that makes life challenging. I'm feeling pretty pissy about all of this. Mostly I just want to curl back up in bed and sleep until the cold is alllllllllll gone.
Okay, complaining part is over.
On the brighter side: Nicole had a great birthday and it is extended because she has several presents coming through the mail yet. I have gotten five new jobs in the last week or so which, in today's economy, is reassuring. Being a freelancer is wonderful most of the time but it's hard to never have a Friday paycheck to count on. Instead, all of the kids have learned to just ask if it was a good "mail day" or not. All of the new jobs look decent and not terribly taxing. Of course, first I have to write a 70,000 word vocabulary book but that is the kind of work that I actually enjoy. Yea, I know. Get a life, Tami.
Well, I'm off to a hot shower in the hopes that it makes me feel better, at least temporarily. If you feel driven with compassion, you are welcome to send flowers, chocolate or naked men to serve them both to me. Just a thought, ya know.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

18 Years Ago Today

18 years ago today I was not sitting nearly this comfortably in my chair. I was, however, up and about, after having given birth to the most darlin' Nicole Katrine Orr at 3:19 a.m. She was my "miracle baby" because after having her older sister in 1984, I was unable to get pregnant again. We did all the fertility testing stuff and I had a miscarriage that about unraveled me completely, so when I had her, I was one grateful mama. I had her at home--all 9 lbs, 13 oz. of her. She was beautiful, of course, but I had no idea how beautiful she would turn out to be as she grew.

Nicole is not only my daughter, but my best friend. We hang out together a lot and laugh and talk and yea, even cry now and then. We have the same sense of humor and often communicate without words, something the boys refer to resentfully as "mom and Nicole's eye talk". Joseph and I are just amazingly proud of this young woman and who she is becoming. As a former Habitat for Humanity volunteer and now a Search and Rescue worker, she is compassionate and hard working and very dedicated to making the world a better, safer, happier place. Prejudiced me is sure she does that just by being on the planet. Next year, when she either takes off for either Australia or National Civililan Community Corps, I will mourn her absence as much as I cheer for her independence and opportunity.

So, please, if you stop by here to read, could you send a quick email to and just say Happy Birthday to my gorgeous offspring? I know she would appreciate it. She has a full day ahead of her with cake, her favorite dinner, presents and shhhhhh, a massage. I am just feeling blessed that I get to spend the day celebrating with her.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Very Portland Weekend

I have had a very Portland-ish weekend and it has reminded me of why I love living in this city so much.

On Saturday, we went out to eat and to a show with another couple. We had such a good time. We laughed and chatted and had a great evening. After years and years of living in Indiana where it seemed like no one liked us (except my darlin Bev and our neighbors), it is still a thrill to spend the evening out with others like that. The four of us saw a show called "The Comedy Coexist Tour" which was a comedy routine done by an atheist, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian and a Buddhist. It was extremely funny and enjoyable. It was also so liberating to be able to attend a show with all of those ideas and philosophies and not have anyone angry about it or offended.

Today, I went to a coffee shop with Nicole and we sat there for a few hours working on our laptops together. The very eclectic Portlanders wandered in and out giving us plenty of people watching to do. It was drizzling outside in a very Oregon manner and I loved every minute of it. I didn't get as much work done as I had hoped, but it was worth it. It was just so Portland.

I love this city. I love living here. I love the people. I love the experiences. I am so friggin lucky and so appreciative of every moment.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Green Eyed Monster

Last night (and still today) I have been grappling with an emotion I rarely feel . . . . envy. Oh sure, I sometimes see a woman who is 5'10 and slender and has long, perfect hair and wonder why I wasn't built like that . . .or I experience tech lust when I see a new piece of electronics that I am sure would make my writing career more effective and efficient . . . but that's about it. I have most everything I want in life, so why be jealous?

Not so last night. I was wandering through Powell's young adult section, looking for titles that I thought my kids would either like to read or I'd like them to read (grin) and there it was. HER BOOK. The book written by someone I've known for several years and consider a friend, albeit an absent one most of the time. Her book was right there on the shelf with a little sign that said "See _____ _______ at Wordstock". For those of you not in this area, Wordstock is a huge annual gathering of authors. They sit at tables signing books and answering questions and generally being idolized by fans. Wordstock is not interested in me. I've written more than 160 books to date but because they are not "retail" books and instead are "educational", they don't really have any interest in my being part of their show. (Yes, I know this as I tried and was rejected.) She wrote ONE BOOK and she is there. My teeth began to grind together. My heart beat sped up. I could feel jealousy wash over me like the unexpected dousing you get from standing too close to a mud puddle during high traffic. (And hey, come on, with metaphors like that, how could Wordstock NOT want me??)
For the rest of my evening, I argued with myself internally. Everyone wants me to try my hand at fiction and clearly, a fiction retail novel is the ONLY way to get recognized in many ways, so why don't I do it? Scared? Yes. Feeling incompetent? Very. Intimidated? Completely.
I went to bed with these thoughts running around my head. I dreamt about them. I woke at dawn with them. I then said, Hey . . I know what I could write about . . . .And now, my head is spinning with the idea of a potential young adult novel. I'm having trouble concentrating on what I need to think about (a vocabulary book testing 600 words--riveting eh?).
So, I'm jealous but maybe I'm motivated? Or maybe this idea will just fade out when I try to put it on paper. Maybe I just changed the course of my career--and maybe I will throw this whole idea out with today's trash and forget it all ever happened. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today's Lunch and the Undead

What we ate is irrelevant.
What struck me was that we ended the meal have a relatively serious conversation about the meaning of the word "undead" and the proper ways to kill a zombie. We went through different weaponry possibilities, the stupidity of zombies and how, if they haven't surrounded you yet, you just have to run. They don't move too fast.
As I listened (and chimed in) to this discussion, I wondered . . do other families do this at the dinner table? I know I talked to my parents in depth at dinner, but we had to catch up on each other's day since we had all spent it in separate places (home, work and school respectively) and had a great deal to share. I can guarantee you, however, that killing zombies was never a conversation topic. That would not have been on the okay to discuss list.

I am feeling better--actually SLEPT in bed all night last night and it was wonderful. The scar is looking better and I can eat without having to stop and rest from the difficulty of swallowing. I am still a bit weary but I can see that I am definitely improving with each passing day.

Good thing too. If I'd gone on much longer, the family might have classified me as undead and pulled out their weapon of choice--an aluminum baseball bat.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Of Power Outages, Crowd Aversion, Impossible Sleeping and Missing Children

Now, in the opposite order.
For Halloween, all three of our kids were out of the house ALL NIGHT. That is AMAZING. The boys were at a all night video game lockdown. Nicole was at her NaNoWriMo kickoff. Joseph and I cuddled in bed, nibbled on some chocolate, read until we couldn't hold our eyes open and then went to sleep. It was peaceful.
Sadly, sleep did not follow well to me. This incision in my neck is very swollen inside and it makes me feel like I constantly have something stuck in my throat. I have a very rattly cough also and between the two, if I lie down flat, I feel like I am choking. I swallow and swallow and swallow and finally sit up in a mild panic. Nope, not fun. I haven't slept for more than two hours at a time since the surgery. Let's hope it's better tonight.
Today, I attempted to do a few things like stop by Goodwill and have a bite to eat. I quickly discovered that I am simply not capable of handling crowds right now. If I started down an aisle with people, I just stopped, frozen. I have never felt this before. I think my body was trying to tell me to go HOME. It made me rather miserable though.
This evening, while sitting down at the table for a dinner where I took each swallow very carefully, the power went out. Just BANG! Gone. We were in the dark. Nicole gathered candles and lit them. We finished dinner by candlelight, musing on how much our evening plans had depended on electricity--reading, working on the computer, watching a movie, etc. And then we spent a truly lovely hour sitting there, telling stories of our childhood and laughing. Joseph read one of his favorite storybooks out loud to the kids and they saw him actually tear up ( you can count how many times that has happened in 25 years on one hand and have fingers left over). It really was a wonderful time that would never have happened if the lights hadn't gone out.
Now, we're sitting around, watching a stupd scary B-movie and I am doing some work although what I really wanna do is curl up on the couch and doze off . ..
A long day of ups and downs. I'm just hoping for more sleep . . because that will make the downs a lot easier to handle.