The process of creating my mosaic art pieces.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More floor installation pics 

This morning the crew got 2/3 of the new floor installed.

They will be back tomorrow morning and if all goes well, we'll be done by noon!

Children's Writing Workshop 

This message filtered through my mailbox today via FWA.
This is not a free workshop; it's $56.00. Not my genre, but if you're interested, click on!

How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books workshop and brunch:
10 a.m.-1 p.m., Sat., July 24,
Garden Gate Tea Room,
142 East 4th Ave.,
Mount Dora.
Learn to write and illustrate the children’s book you’ve always dreamed of publishing.
Writer’s coach/children’s book author Diana Scimone and children’s book illustrator/author Valerie Kosky will teach you practical steps and techniques to help you find the book inside you and put it on paper. For budding and experienced writers and illustrators of children’s fiction and non-fiction.

Portion of registration fee goes to The Born2Fly Project to stop child trafficking. $56 advance; $66 at door; includes brunch. 407-333-3030 (writers), 407-321-9100 (illustrators).
Register at www.HowToWriteABook.biz, or mail check payable to Peapod Publishing, Inc., PO Box 951599, Lake Mary, FL 32795.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Evening So Far 

No where to sit and watch Last Comic Standing!

New Floor 

My Monday morning so far...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hot! Hot! Hot! 

I'm not saying the weather's hot, I mean, I promised I wouldn't complain after the long cold winter we had, but the water temperature in the swimming pool is 92!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A 240 word story from prompt word DREAMS 

I walked to the end of my driveway and caught a freighter bound for China.

“Welcome aboard,” piped the captain who wore a Fu Manchu and a starched white shirt with golden epaulettes. He escorted me one deck down to the mess hall where we sat at a stainless steel table. A geisha in a red kimono served us jasmine tea.

The captain offered me a piece of black tar heroin as big as a sugar cube.

“I prefer fresh lemons,” I said.

A nurse, who looked like Betty Davis, sausaged into a too-small uniform, crowned by a too-big cap with a Red Cross, wrapped her manicured fingers around the captain’s skinny, tattooed arm. She escorted him to quarters.

Because she winked at me, I disembarked in Dubuque.

“Is this the sea of yellow wheat where the pirates go?” I asked the librarian with a bustle and pince-nez .

“Pshaw, young man,” she whispered, “it’s the Stairway to Heaven.”

She forced me at gunpoint into the poetry section. I slid a James Tate volume off the shelf and headed towards a mahogany table. My chair squealed on the grey linoleum as I pulled it out and sat down. I opened to a random page.

Quit trying to copy me, Bill” it said.

I slammed it shut.

The Chihuahua sitting next to me barked, “Welcome aboard.” He removed his horn-rimmed glasses, slipped a copy of Nietzsche under his arm and left.

Friday, June 25, 2010

FWA Editing Workshop in Lady Lake 

What a day on Thursday!

I left the house around 8:30 AM and arrived at the Lady Lake Library at 9:30. All traffic was good except for Leesburg. I hit every light red. Sigh!

Still, I had time to wander through Lady Lake’s stacks.
I looked for any titles by Ron Carlson. None.
I looked for any titles by Tim O’Brien. Lady Lake had “July, July”. I enjoyed relaxing a few minutes and reading the first chapter.

Then I moseyed over to the Lady Lake Community Building and settled in. The lady in the green shirt was so welcoming. She is from Maryland (Hi Aunt Terri!) I hope I have a chance to say hello to her again at the convention in Lake Mary.

I had a minute to snap this picture.

Looks all quiet and relaxed, right?
Within minutes the place was abuzz! Almost 25 writers showed up.
I had driven an hour north and three ladies had driven an hour south from Ocala. One of them is a retired professor form Syracuse University.

FWA has a regular group that meets at the Lady Lake library. Here is the blog of the leader. Watch this link for meeting announcements.

Yummy snacks! And what a healthy group. There was lots of fresh fruit. Watermelon chunks, cantaloupe, grapes, pineapple. And folks were eating fruits and juices more than cookies and sodas.

The editor Kaye Coppersmith started with my story “Pepper Patrol”. She scoured me on formatting and I loved it! That is exactly what I need to know to compete. I was lacking drop down spacing, headers and numbering! What a mess. The first thing I did when I got home was clean up the two stories I am submitting to the FWA contest! Now I have a better chance.

On the next person’s manuscript, she gave a clinic on use of italics. I took copious notes. I needed that like crazy. Kaye recommended owning Elements of Style by Strunk and White. On the way home, I stopped by Books-A-Million and bought one.

The next manuscript treated us all to a short course on avoidance of “filters”, adverbs, and non-specific modifiers.

Filters are a form of passive writing. Eg. “My parents would help me with homework” is weaker than “My parents helped me with homework.”

Adverbs: “Pshaw,” she said condescendingly. (The condescendingly doesn’t belong.)

Non-specific modifiers: The mirror was large. Vs. The mirror filled all the space over the mantle.

Holy Moly! That was good!
And I could have spent the whole afternoon taking notes and studying craft, but time was up! Then I zipped…

To Lowe’s for caulk and spray paint.
To Target to scout for topiary forms
To Dollar Tree to scout for floral for Jenn’s wedding table arrangements.
To Book-A-Million for the Strunk and White.

I arrived home to find that…Simplex had removed our screen room! Yay!

The good news is we can now address the roof issues.
The bad news is we had wood rot on the deck issues we didn’t know about. Sigh.

This was a really, really stellar good day!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Editing Workshop 

If you need me today, you can find me at this Florida Writers Association Editing Workshop at the Lady Lake Library this morning.

Twenty members have submitted five pages of work for critique. I submitted "Pepper Patrol". It is a flash fiction that Plant Daddy always loved. However, I have submitted it to three venues and it is rejected each time.

Maybe today I will find out if it has a fatal flaw that needs correcting. Maybe there is something about the story that can be fixed. The critiquer is a professional editor. There will be lots to learn today!

Besides, I haven't been north of Leesburg since 2001, when LME was in the Leesburg Hospital. I haven't been to Lady Lake since the late 1990's!!! Adventure! Reprot later!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jenn Centerpiece Idea 

Please let me have some feed back on this.

If you like it, I can start making them now...one a week for the next 10 or so weeks. It takes 40 to 50 cones per centerpiece.
The cranberry spray paint can be applied darker. I had a partial can and used it all up, but can easily get more if selected. It is actually the spray paint LME used on her senior project at Stetson!
Where you see the magnolia leaves, white carnations can also be added.
Candle color can be changed.

Do It Yourself Bird Seed 

Early this morning, Plant Daddy harvested all the sunflower heads and laid them out to dry in the shed. He had planned to leave them a few more days. The weather is going to be hot and dry, and he wanted seeds as plump and full as the stalk could grow 'em.
But this morning Mr. Squirrel was raiding the sunflower heads, so PD brought them in. When they dry down, we'll clean them up and feed them to the blue jays that visit.

Last night I read a short story by Ann Beattie, titled Janus. It was pretty amazing and got me thinking...If I were a household object, what would I be? What would you be? Great writer's exercise, huh?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Things They Carried 

This book by Tim O'Brien is the best book I've read in a long, long time.

The use of language betters Nabakov.

It is a text book for how to write memoir.

It is a war story that will bring you to tears.

It is a psychology text.

I put it on the bookshelf in my reference section.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nest of Hornets 

Plant Daddy had a very Happy Father’s Day.

Thanks to Kid, he got Mesquite Charcoal and Applewood Charcoal. I gave him a cast iron griddle. He is set for grill work now. He wants to do a chicken to test out the new goods.

We spent the afternoon on wasp jihad.
Every time PD and I walked to the Z shop we were getting stung. PD got hit on the top of his head. I got popped in the left elbow and right bicep.

We finally found the culprits…under a leaf in the magnolia tree along the Z shop path.

A little Raid took care of this problem…and the nest by the Panda Vine on the building and the three nests in the propagation greenhouse and the three nests on the soffit of the Hut (outhouse) and one on the front porch.

I got a nice call yesterday from a lady looking for manuscript critique. So I directed her to the Palm Group meeting tonight at 6:00PM at the Sorrento Library. I forgot to tell her abput this workshop through Florida Writers at UNF in August. http://www.unfwritersconference.com/

We are getting a bunch of collect calls from the Lake County Jail. They are obviously a hoax, but they are as numerous as wasp nests so we have disconnected the answering machine for a while.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Writing Contests 

It’s Writing Contest Season.

I have just finished two 750 word stories for Florida Writers Association Flash Fiction Contest. One was about a guy crossing an intersection. The second was about a guy attending a funeral.

I also finished a 500 word entry for Tallahassee Writers Association. It starts with a snake falling off a tree and landing in a canoe. I have a little time yet before the entry is due in Tallahassee, so I might write another 500 word entry there…however…

We have a really busy week ahead. Plant Daddy has a Teach the Teachers Conference on Monday. I have a painter due out for an estimate on Tuesday. PD has another big meeting Wednesday. On Thursday I attend an editing workshop with Florida Writers Association. And Friday…

Friday night is martini night at our house. We’re going to need it by then!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Outrageous! Florida Lottery! 

I saw an ad on TV for a new Florida Lottery scratch off game.

It is to be called "The Price is Right" and will somehow model the scratch off sequence and prizes in the fashion of the Price is Right TV game show.

Not so bad...but the prize you can win is...wait for it...A trip to...


Yes, folks at a time when the Florida tourist economy is tanking because of the Gulf Oil Spill, the Lottery Commission is going to send state winners to NEVADA!!!

Here's the story in the Orlando Sentinel...which as you will note...does NOT see the insult in sending tourists away!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bottle Dating 

What to do on an afternoon when there's record setting heat outside?
Stay indoors and clean the fridge.

When I open a jar of mayonaise or bottle of salad dressing, I take a marker and write the date on it. That way I know when it's time to toss.
I don't have to guess by way of sniff testing.
I don't risk a $1000 emergency room visit over a $2.00 bottle of sauce.

All these have to go. They are at or past the 30 day mark, but...
you will note, the slaw dressing got shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten. Way past time to toss that one...it's almost 8 weeks old. Blech!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mom's Apron 

The area where a driveway meets a road is called an apron. Ours has been chewed up for months...but this morning...Yeah! a crew arrived to patch it up and make it nice like it was before all this started.

This Friday night, the road out here is going to be closed. The road boys will be working a couple of overnights to pave down by the bridge. We won't be coming or going at all for a few days. Lay in supplies, sit tight. Hope to heck this won't be the one weekend we need the fire department since they're on the other side of the bridge!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

B P 

Tonight on the telly, it was reported that sales at the local BP gas stations are down.

Ya think!!!???!!!

The owner of the eleven BP service stations in Orange county is sad.

“Don’t boycott BP,” he says.

“This will cost local jobs,” HE WHINED FROM HIS MANSION IN ATLANTA!

Here is some advice Mr. Rich BP man in Atlanta. Sell all your BP stock immediately. Sell off your BP gas stations and take early retirement!

Fun time at the bank 

I went to Fun Bank in Eustis today.

I hate going to that bank.

Fun Bank in Eustis makes you conduct all your business in the middle of the lobby. That means that anyone in earshot can hear your business.

I signed in with the “hostess” at the podium. I had to tell her that I had a tax problem. Now everybody in the lobby knew I had a tax problem. They stared at me. I took a seat.

I am a business customer. I was waiting on Mr. and Mrs. Retiree to finish chuckling with the bank worker about vacation plans and open a money market account.

“You understand that the minimum deposit is $10,000?” asked the bank worker, winking at the couple.

(Great! If I were targeting a victim I now knew the size of their pocket book!)

There was a man standing in a peach colored shirt at the teller line. And he stood there and stood there and stood there.

After 10 minutes of listening to Mrs. Retiree talk about how she’d ask the neighbor named Helen to water the plants, I got up and asked the hostess if I could go ahead and get into my safe deposit box. She told me to go get in the teller line, so I did.

I was behind a man who was trying to get Fun Bank to clear his debit card so that he could spend money. He was about to go out of the country and apparently you have to have permission to spend your own debit card if abroad!!!

My turn. The teller told me I was in the wrong line and to get in the safe deposit box line.
Couldn’t the hostess have told me that???

The man in the peach shirt was still there.

While I was getting into the box, to fetch the passports, the safe deposit box gal says, “Have you gotten your notice yet?

“What notice?”

“You’re in an old style box. You are going to have to get a new style Fun Bank box.”

I told her it wouldn’t be a problem. I told her I didn’t like conducting my business in a bullpen. I didn't tell her I was now seriously considering ditching this banking company.

I got my paperwork and got back in the line for the pit. Mr. and Mrs. Retiree were still at it. I did not look at my watch. I knew I’d drive my blood pressure up if I did.

Another bank worker opened a second line and invited me over. I explained my tax problem. She got that solved…I think…Then she looked into my account to see if I could be eligible for on-line banking which might make it easier to communicate with the government.

No, it seems my (free) account is so old, it would have to be upgraded (for a fee) before I would be eligible for on-line banking (for another fee).

I said I’d think it over.

A third bank worker was apologizing to the man in the peach shirt and was handing him some fancy paperwork of some sort. That poor man…at least I had a chair.

I left and went over to the car tag office to pay the annual car tax. I was in and out, easy breezy and why can’t every bank and government office run as easily and happily as that car tag office always does!!! Why???

The only negative was that there was a crack whore and pimp working the parking lot of the car tag office. And that took real balls because all the sheriffs eat at that Sonny’s BBQ. Sigh.

I went over to Publix and bought myself a Neptune salad as a reward. I went home and reported to the accountant “mission accomplished, I’ll mail you the paperwork”.

When Plant Daddy got home, I told him about my adventures at the bank. He says banks do not actually want to see their customers anymore.

He had a problem once and went to Bank of Merica. He waited half an hour to talk to a worker. She took him to a chair and gave him a telephone and an 800 number!!!

Plant Daddy dialed the number and it disconnected him, every time he tried.

God bless the happy state of customer service in these banks.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Orlando Sentinel is Just Stupid! 

Here is a headline from today's Orlando Sentinel On Line...

"Relieve Beatlemania, yeah, yeah, yeah"

and yes that does say "relieve" not relive.

The article was written by Debbie Manis and get this...

It's an event to promote the Bland Library!!!

It's embarrassing. It's just embarrassing.

Record High Temperature 

Today in the mosaic studio the temperature read 100 degrees.

That broke the old record at 98 degrees.

Which is only to say, I won't be working out there much until the rains come back and cool things down.

I know this winter was cold and I said I wasn't going to complain about the heat, but...Plant Daddy and I run outside, 15 minutes at a time, and move hoses and sprinklers, then run back inside for water and A/C. It's brutal.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's Not the Heat 

Well, yes it is!

My Toyota has a built in thermometer. Yesterday in the parking lot at Target at 3:00PM it read 104!!!

Today promises to be a scorcher too, so I'll just stay indoors and write.

On a different note...I heard ABC wants to solicit questions about the oil spill. Their purpose is to send their investigative reporters to get answers...much like the local tv stations consumer helper reporters. Anyway, here are my oil spill questions...

How will the oil slick affect sea water evaporation and how will that impact weather systems throughout Florida and the Southeast?

How will the oil slick affect water temperature and how will that affect weather systems?

I doubt they will answer those.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sunny Day Sunflowers 

The sunflowers are at their peak...and a few are setting heavy seed heads. We call that "Do it yourself Bird Seed".

Notice that there's not a cloud in the sky. It is hot, hot, hot...mid-90's and no rain. Hose-draggin' weather.

This time last year when it turned so hot, we abandonded the sweet potatoes...and then were disappointed in the puny harvest come October (duh!).
This year we are determined to slug it out and save the crop. Get me a hose! and when I get back inside, I want a huge glass of iced tea!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Evening Garden 

Here's the back garden in the evening.

We love the Sunflowers and the bright orange Cosmos (in front). The sweet potatoes are doing well, although wilting in the max heat of the afternoon...it's 95 degrees and blazing bright...
So today I stayed indoors and wrote a story for the Florida Writers Association competetion. The deadline's the end of the month. One story down and one to go.

First, I am amazed at writing a story at 750 words limit. That's a fat boy in my 500 word count world. Second, they are accepting TWO 750's for the entry fee...so I can get cracking on a second. Maybe a matching set?

Today's story was based on the road bubbas! I took notes while they were backing up traffic in front of the house. Yes, I'm making up stories about people in cars. Didn't you ever wonder where all those cars are going? What those people are doing? What they are eating!!! Thanks road worker fellas for stopping them so I could collect data!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

New Floors 

Is it allergies or a cold? My nose is running so hard I can’t type one sentence without stopping to blow.

The Quisquallis is in full bloom, but the newcomer, therefore more suspect, is the Pandorea. The Panda only has 4 little puny flowers, could they really be that potent?

Tylenol Sinus held it back pretty well today, and I just took a Coricidrin HBP which will make me drowsy, but generally does a good job.

I bought some nice vinyl flooring today from the decorator, but now we have to find an installer. Her choice of installer came over and wanted to lay new goods over old. I said no, I wanted the old sheet goods taken out. So we have to find another floor guy. Sigh.

Here is the floor sample

It is Burke Flooring

Also yesterday Simplex gave us a bid to take the screen room down so the roofer would be able to get at the soffits for repairs.
Home maintenance…it’s always some damn thing or another.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Roasted Vegetables 

This is the moment that makes all the sacrifice and hard work pay off...my dinner...

You are looking at tomatoes, onions, garlic, green bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, red potatoes, eggplant, okra, zucchini and rosemary. Drench in olive oil add a little basalmic vinegar, salt and pepper...yeah!
The only things that aren't home grown are the garlic and the red potatoes. The rest is right out of the back yard baby!

Phone service 

A nice fellow showed up yesterday to fix the phone. He said it was not frogger's fault. He repaired a few wires here and there and we are back in business...until the next lightning storm...

so it's ok to phone now...
as if we'll actually answer it...

Art Teachers 

When Little Mind Escape was in Middle School, she had a very strict art teacher. The lady kept tight reins on the kids ...good training to develop thinking of art as a discipline not as a play time...and even tighter reins on the budget. Each kid could have only one piece of paper for drawing per day. If they messed it up, that was it...you fail. She was a character, we loved her.

After LME moved on to High School, budget cuts closed the art program at the middle school and this teacher moved to an elementary school for many many years.

The art teeacher at the high school is now retiring. Guess who her replacement will be??? You got it...one piece of paper at a time. That's it!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Frog Phone 

Yesterday, PD and I heard the phone ring 2 times then stop. We thought little of it. "Solicitators." we said in unison.

Well, Little Mind Escape emails today to say the phone is dead. So we lift the receiver and sure enough...dead!

I trot out to the junction box and plug in the extension. The line to the house is fine. So the problem is ours not Sprint's. I grab the screwdriver and open the junction box...

and a huge, kerwonkin' green frog stares back at me angrily.

I chase him out, then I have to clean up a pile of frog doo-doo that frogger has left in the housing. Crap...I mean really...crap.

So I get that done and now I have a busy signal. What does that mean?

I was in the middle of running that down when a thunderstorm rolled in. Sigh!

So if you want to reach us, email!

Meanwhile we are on a rat jihad! Enough of their 3:00AM party in the ceiling. Grrr. So we have given them a pile of peanut butter "snacks"...a special party mix made with D-con...Yum! Eat up, boys!

I have had it with the wildlife around here! Nature is over-rated sometimes.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

White roses 

My cousin in California has planted some beautiful white roses.

They look georgeous...and will stay that way since the climate is dry in California. Here the summer rains have begun and every leaf on every plant out there has some form of rust, or black spot, or mildew...Grrr.

Anyway, I forgot to ask him if they were fragrant. Very pretty. Nice back yard.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Mosaic Studio Remodel 

More remodeling and clean-up in the mosaic studio...

These were conveyors that we used in the nursery for loading trucks. They retired to become shelving for boxes of tile and Bisazza...

Most of the boxes on these shelves were only half full anyway, so it was just a matter of tightening up and repackaging.
Now that they're cleaned off, they will retire further to the Z shop.
This is the main desk so far...

It really needs a clean-up. I have just piled stuff onto it with a "sort it later" attitude. Bad.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Here's our back garden...

With sunny sunflowers and sweet potatoe vines!

Tonight I will harvest the first of the okra. Yum. There are still eggplants and bell peppers surviving this heat...mid-90's...and a very few berries still hanging in there. But this starts our long hot "winter" season in which we are glad we put fresh peas and carrotts into the freezer cause there's not much left to harvest. (Those sweet potatoes won't be ready till October!)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Just Hang Up the Phone! 

I was visiting a fellow the other day and his phone rang.
"Hello?" he chimed.
Then he almost immediately cradeled the receiver and hung up.
"When no one immediately starts talking," he said,"I hang up. I know it's a sales pitch."

Great advice. Here's another...

Today I got a call.
"Hello?" I chimed.
"Hello, this is Selena, returning your call about health insurance."

But I had never contacted anyone about health insurance.

I reasoned if she'd lie to me on the sales pitch...what would customer service be like when I really needed something?

No need to argue, I just hung up!

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