Sunday, November 29, 2009

Redesign in Progress!

As you can see, we're undergoing a revamping here at the dish. A new look always takes some tinkering, so be looking for expanded book and blog lists as the days pass. Let me know what you think about the new look!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Not. Going. Shopping. Today.


If I'm smart, I won't even get out of my pajamas.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Overflowing With Blessings

Etymology: Late Latin, from Latin 
cornu copiae "horn of plenty"

This year, like every year, I have so much to be thankful for. This year, like every year, I get so busy worrying about what's wrong, I forget to be truly grateful for all that's right. Here are some things I'm thankful for today:
  • A family who sticks together, even when we get on each other's nerves.
  • A house that's a mess, which reminds me of the abundance in our lives.
  • Friends who cheer your triumphs and comfort you in times of need.
  • Neighbors with friendly smiles and a cup of flour when you're in a pinch.
  • A table overflowing with good food.
  • Children who understand true giving, like Frick, who helped cook and serve a meal for those less fortunate and learned how friendship really isn't about income, and Frack, whose giggle is enough to make anyone's life better.
  • A husband who puts up with a lot and still smiles whenever I come in the door.
  • So many more gifts I can't even count. That is the meaning of true blessing!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Queen, Meet the Muppets

Freddie Mercury would be proud, methinks. Check out this CLASSIC version of "Bohemian Rhapsody," featuring all of our favorite muppets:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Beginnings

Today, our new senior pastor preached his first sermon. I had a feeling, since he's from SC originally, he'd remind me of my father. He did! Listening to that voice wasn't a stretch. He's a good speaker, avuncular, I think he'll make some people happy.

Of course, since it was his first day, we had a pretty full house at the services. That's good...and yet, I was a bit cranky. You see, a chunk of those folks filling the pews were returnees--members who bailed when things got tough, when the interim stretched longer than we thought, who basically took their toys and went home until things suited them.

I'm torn. On the one hand, I know I should probably be all "prodigal son" and kill the fatted calf and celebrate their return, but on the other hand, I want to ask them in a really loud voice WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? The church still needed people. The missions the church supports could have used their hands. The work goes on whether you're having a hissy fit or not. DH and I could really have stalked off with a clear conscience, considering that we were good friends with our former pastor and his wife (who some of the returnees treated horribly), but we stuck it out. We were invested in the church, you see, not worshiping the pastor.

Let's hope the new guy gets a better deal than the old guy. The way we treated him wouldn't meet many good definitions of "Christian."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Revision Blues

I used to be so positive about revising. I loved printing out copies of a draft on the backs of old paper, whipping out a favored pen--in purple, turquoise, hot pink, or some other fun color--and having at it. Revised pages had notations, additions, scribbles up the margins and on the back, arrows pointing hither and yon as I moved around sentences and paragraphs. With my first book, my key revision tools were a pair of scissors and a roll of Scotch tape. I literally cut-and-pasted the opening to that book to cure a bad case of backstory dump.

Now I'm in the doldrums, to borrow an image from one of my favorite children's books. I can't seem to move forward or back. My tools have upgraded since the scissors and paste days (all hail Scrivener!), but now the process is bogging down. I'm not sure exactly why, but I suspect the culprit is (gulp) NaNoWriMo.

A peek at the sidebar lists three books, all in the revision stage. These three books were all birthed during the frenzy that is NaNoWriMo. None is complete. Their stories are--I did manage to get to "The End" on all of them, but they're in varying states of crazy. Read long enough, and you'll find plenty of all-caps notations like SOMETHING NEEDS TO HAPPEN HERE or NEEDS A BETTER TRANSITION or something like that. My mind knew where to go, but NaNo doesn't provide you with enough time to mull over things, and let me say, my natural writing process involves lots of mulling. I spend twice, even three times as much time thinking over a chapter as I do committing it to paper.

I think the problem lies in the discovery. I am a seat-of-the-pants style writer. I have a general idea of where I'm going (usually a very clear opening scene and an equally clear closing scene, with a lot of mist in the middle), so I've found it easy to write a general synopsis of the book. As I go along, ideas will pop up that I incorporate into that bare skeleton. I used to cut up the synopsis, too--I'd tape pieces onto separate sheets of paper representing future chapters, then when inspiration struck, I'd scribble that dialogue snippet or piece of business on the appropriate chapter and go on my merry way. In that way, Scrivener works as an electronic replacement of my battered red clipboard. I can jot ideas on a new card and rearrange at will as the book takes shape. I'd keep at this, chapter by chapter, as surprises revealed themselves, characters did unexpected things, and odd bits of business found their homes. Writing that way, every book built momentum toward the conclusion I'd already envisioned, and first drafts were darned close to finished length. Then, out came the pens.

Now, I have three "finished" plots, thanks to NaNoWriMo, and the revision has been painful. I think my brain thinks those books are complete and doesn't really want to fool much with them. Of course, when you reread you find all kinds of wrong that need fixing, but it takes so much longer than it used to (or seems, anyway). It's not fun. And I used to be the "Revision is FUN!" poster girl. Hmm.

So, do I abandon NaNo and the rush of getting something completed, or go back to my old, slow ways? Anyone else out there have the same issues? mimi could use some help.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Sometimes low tech is the way to go. I keep a little notepad by my sink--the last place I look before I leave the house--to remind me of stuff. This is the notepad I grab when one of those late-night squirrels runs through my brain right when I'm trying to go to sleep. It's an interesting collection of are a few of the entries (in no particular order):
tix/hotel DC
Gator grad?
K--cancel in evening!
birthday present
stuff off table
Sam Flax
Visor out of car
badge to D
Pack for Jax
lasagna throwdown Sun.
softball when?
baseball when?
piano 7:30
hotel folio
email proposal
youth potluck food
G testimony
M/T--when to Clemson?
pack for Thurs.
Call M
pack camp
Wed--stuff 2 Dream Agent
So, totally weird brain, or what?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Today, the vampire bats of education flapped down our hallways and invaded our classrooms. Yep, it's visitation day. We've been at Defcon 2 for a couple of weeks now. It apparently isn't enough to give Florida schools a letter grade based on one set of test scores; now we have a "level" to go with. Our level means that we get bat teams a couple of times a year to make sure we're teaching right or something. Honestly, it feels like we're living through the education version of Dean Wormer's "double secret probation."

I am SO SICK of bureaucrats who think they have the magic answer to our education problems. There's no telling how long it's been since they've been in a classroom, if ever. But man, do they have some crazy ideas about how learning's supposed to happen. Case in point: write the state benchmark, complete with its arcane numbering system, on the board in one particular place. Guess the magic key to reluctant teen readers is to slap an "LA.A.910.9.blah.yada" up front, and the clouds part, the angels sing, and hood rats suddenly develop a craving for John Irving. The kids in my room know what we're doing. Benchmarks? They don't need no stinkin' benchmarks!

Given our abysmal state grades, I think the bat brigade was expecting a scene out of Lean on Me, complete with graffiti and freshman getting trapped in lockers. Surprise, surprise...we have a close community that's working hard, kids who respond to their teachers, homework. You know, school. Here's your clue, folks: generational poverty. When you find it, you find academic issues, pure and simple. Doesn't mean our kids can't learn or aren't intelligent, it means they don't have backup. These kids aren't going to museums and computer camps in the summer. They don't have laptops and Internet access and books on the shelves. If they're lucky, they got Sesame Street when they were little instead of Jerry Springer and inattentive babysitters. Many of them aren't. Hence, our issues.

*sigh* One more adventure in our high stakes environment. Are we ready to have a substantive talk about testing pressure, please??

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Cookie Cookie Cookie Starts with "C"


In honor of Sesame Street's 40th anniversary, Google has created custom logos of the classic Muppet characters. Here's today' favorite guy:

Yesterday featured Big Bird. Wonder who else is showing up? I'm betting on Elmo, but I sure hope Oscar the Grouch and The Count get some props. And Mr. Snuffleupagus. Then again, how would we know he's there, since only Big Bird's supposed to see him? Dang, I love revisiting my childhood!!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Emo Vampires

My thoughts exactly. Sort of. "I'll be back when the world grows a pair...of fangs." *snerk*


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