What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

31 December 2010

Holiday Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

This challenge was a lot of fun. I joined in on a whim, thinking that I wanted to do some reading over my holiday break anyway, and I ended up reading seven books that I wouldn't otherwise have bothered with. (Plus bits of a couple that I shouldn't have bothered with.) Many, many thanks to Nely at All About {n} for hosting this brilliant challenge.

30 December 2010

Tidying Up

So, here we are at the end of 2010. (You know, in case you hadn't noticed.) I hope your year was magnificent.

In an attempt to get ready for a New Year full of writing and earning all A's and sharing my various journeys with you, I've been stalking all of you (but you already knew that, right?) to see how your blogs are organized. And while I'm not ready to give up the "post every day" thing quite yet (it really is fun for me), I am going to keep a regular schedule of topics (at least for a couple of months) to see how I like it.

29 December 2010

A Texas Legacy Christmas

My final read for the holiday challenge! Sneaking it in just in time.

This book, like most of the others, was an impulse pickup at the library. It's historical fiction, set in the early 1900s in small-town Texas. A newspaperman who has spent a couple of years in New York moves back to his hometown to run the local paper. On the eve of his return, he is the unwitting victim of a pair of 6-year-old pickpockets, and he feels directed by God to adopt them and bring them home with him. Back home, he is reunited with a friend from his schooldays; she now works in the boardinghouse where he and the children are staying.

Sesame Street, I Miss You

Update: Timbra won the guess-how-old-my-dad-is postcard! She guessed 57; the correct answer is... 55! And now back to your regularly scheduled nonsense.

This delightful video has been circulating among my Facebook friends:

28 December 2010

Finding Noel

I'm still squeezing in these last few books for the Holiday Reading Challenge! (I've had to abandon the December Author Birthday challenge. Maybe next month!)

I read another Richard Evans book, Finding Noel. His books tend towards the saccharine, I have to say, although this one is not so bad. It's much, much less happy and loving than The Christmas Box. It's the story of two young people, Mark and Macy, who must address their respective pasts if they want to be able to handle the future. And I have to admit, I cried through pretty much the entire book. But I'm sappy and sensitive like that. (Warning: Kinda spoilers after the jump.)

Smiley & Festive Blog Awards

Kittie over at The Block gave me this award... quite possibly the happiest one I've seen so far:

This one doesn't come with any rules, so far as I can see, so I'm just going to hand it over to some bloggers that make me smile (but first, must obsessively check who Kittie gave it to so I don't double-award, then try to remember who I've given awards to already... forget it, here we go).

Faith @ Literary Coldcuts on Toasty Buns: has given me plenty for my TBR list and also renewed my hope for the Christian literature industry;

Mia @ My Literary Jam and Toast: hands out writer wisdom, giggles, and brilliant illustrations;

Thelma @ WidowSphere: Just go read it. Everything she writes is lovely;


Grandpa @ Life on the Farm: Breathtaking pictures and brilliant storytelling about a whole bunch of stuff I know nothing about.

So, my comrades-in-blogging: Enjoy it, display it, re-give it... or just pretend like you never saw it. Whatever you like. :)

And I also got this very Christmas-y award from Catherine at Kangaroobee:

But I'm not passing this one on, since Christmas has left us behind for yet another year. However, if you really really like it, by all means, take it with you. :)

27 December 2010

Happy Birthday!

These people really need to stop having birthdays. And by "these people", I mean my relatives.

Dad's the tall one.
I don't have any more recent pictures of my father. So here's what he looked like a few birthdays ago. (I look more like him every year, although I sincerely hope to avoid the hair loss.)

So! This is my dad's mumbleth birthday! Way, to go, Dad; we always knew you'd make it to mumble! Bet you don't feel a day older than mumble, huh?

For the record, I do actually know how old my father is. (And I mean old! Wow! Ahem) Despite all my objections to the contrary, I can add. A little bit. I'll tell you this much; he was too young to serve in Vietnam (for which we are all very grateful), but too old to care about Sesame Street. Feel free to have a guess in the comments. Closest guess gets a postcard! (Relatives are disqualified.)

Okay, this post was supposed to be about my dad... His name is Bill. As in, "Did we pay for the electricity this month?" But not William, as in "Watch me shoot this apple off my son's head." Technically, it's Billy, as in, "That move where Adam Sandler plays a spoiled rich kid is on."

Since his birthday comes so close to Christmas, it was pretty much ignored throughout his childhood, which is really depressing. Especially since his siblings-- all 7 of them (my grandparents were crazy)-- had the traditional birthday fuss for their special days. So, he's spent my whole life telling us that he hates his birthday. We've all seen through the façade, and know that he in fact loves his birthday, but it's fun for him to pretend that he hates it. And if he should happen to read this blog post, he is certain to rant for 45 minutes about me putting it on the internet. Sorry, Mum.

Who am I kidding? He doesn't read my blog! Ha ha! I can post about the time I got stung three times in as many minutes and how it was entirely his fault (really, it was) and totally get away with it! Brilliant!

The other half of the balloon fiasco.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, Dad's siblings. So a couple of years ago my sister and I were decorating for our mum's birthday, and we had some balloons attached to a table, and we debated for a little while about moving them so that the kids couldn't get to them. Then we decided that it was no big deal if the kids did play with them, actually, and left them where they were. Come the day of the party, the "kids" played with them all right: Dad and his younger sister pummeled each other with balloons, while everyone under 10 never even touched them. For that matter, no one under 40 touched them. Ah, sibling love.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

26 December 2010

Christmas Gifts, The Earth, and No Impact Man

I'm taking the day off for Boxing Day.

Ha! I've been taking the day off for two weeks. Today will be no more lazy than usual. :)

So, my Christmas gift to my husband was a compost bin, and all the stuff needed to get started. I realise that this sounds like the most bizarre Christmas gift ever, and in some ways it is, but there is an explanation.

25 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

THE Tree

The older tree, also known as "Grandpa's Tree"

The doodads under the tree

No gifts in these pics, because I took them after decorating on Christmas Eve and as Chad's gift was, ahem, "differently wrapped" (I stuck a bow on the side), I couldn't get out until Christmas morning. And my gift is coming via UPS, who do not work the same hours as Santa, so I don't have it yet. Happy Christmas!

24 December 2010

White Christmas

Yeah, we're not likely to have one of those in Austin. Apparently there's a cold front expected, but the forecasted low temp is 32 F (O C), so yeah, no snow for us.

Image from Wikipedia.
But never mind that! This post is about the movie White Christmas. It's been one of my sister's favourites for years, and by virtue of repeated exposure, it's now one of my favourites, too. AMC was kind enough to play it all weekend long a couple of weeks ago, so I watched it about four times.

23 December 2010


Chad joined Toastmasters a couple of months ago, and has since been badgering me to come along, try it, and join in myself.

I have no intention of diverting my attention from writing to speeching, however.

But, I did go along to their last meeting of the year, which included a holiday potluck, and as a bonus I brought along Chad's (okay, my) contribution to the spread. And it was a great spread, by the way; the food was fabulous.

22 December 2010


Chad wakes me up 15 minutes early.
I say "Grr-mmmhh-aarrrgh," which is Su for "If you don't stop poking me I'll pluck your nose hairs."
Chad goes away and then comes back to ask if I'm really going to sleep for 15 more minutes.
I give in and get up.
Chad informs me that a cup of tea does not qualify as breakfast.
I ignore him.
He continues to harass me.
I give in and have half a peanut butter sandwich.
I turn on my computer and cash in my 250 tabs in Chrome for a Cause. (Charity: Water. Which one did you choose?)
Chad says it's time to go.
I check the clock. He's right.
We race down to the bus stop and wait for five minutes.
We're still waiting.
Bus arrives. We get halfway to church and the driver gets off and goes for a stroll.
After church our gang discusses where to eat. Tres Amigos wins.
We discuss hunting, ethanol, and whether the migas are any good.
Someone from church at another table buys lunch for the six of us. Awwww!
At home I make a grocery list and check the bus schedule.
We almost miss our stop.
We check Sears for the presence of Christmas bears. None there.
We go into HEB and then back out because we forgot a basket.
We're going the wrong way around the store so we get our frozen stuff first. Oops.
We stand in the tea section for five minutes and then leave with no tea.
We stand in the eggnog section for five minutes and then leave with no eggnog.
We wander in the produce section for 20 minutes and leave with a stack of vegetables.
The bus stop is across the freeway.
Good thing there's a pedestrian crossing at the underpass.
A bus comes. It's the wrong one.
We get on it anyway.
Chad insists that even though there are five Cameron Road stops, we shall only refer to one of them as The Cameron Road stop.
The bus lets us off at the Cameron Road stop.
We wait for the next bus. It's late.
Chad tries to talk to the deaf people next to him but he only knows a couple of signs.
He starts playing Shadow with me and gets on my nerves.
I move so he can't watch me.
He rings the bell for our stop.
Time for wassail.
But first I need to unload the dishwasher.
And put away the groceries.
I get the wassail going in the crock pot.
Chad needs clean laundry for work.
I berate him for leaving a trail of dirty socks around the house.
Time to write a blog post!
My Facebook friends are funny.
Ooh, a book to read.
I just thought of another blog post.
The laundry is washed and needs drying.
Is the wassail ready yet?
Mmmm. Citrus-y.
Chad doesn't like the wassail.
More for me!
I hang up the laundry so Chad doesn't have to wear wrinkled shirts.
Another cup of wassail.
I think I just swallowed a clove.
Should I check WebMD to see if I'll die of clove poisoning? Nah.
I have a clever Facebook status.
Holy smokes! It's 10 already?

21 December 2010

The Christmas Box

When the movie The Christmas Box came on TV in 1995, my whole family tuned in to watch. That's because we are all pretty tremendous fans of Richard Thomas (yes, I had to look up his real name; I've called him John Boy since I could talk), and also because my father, who has a reputation for being Ebeneezer Scrooge, also has a soft spot for Christmas movies. It's strangely incongruous.

So, the movie came on, we watched it, we liked it, and life went on.

Many many many years later, I found out The Christmas Box was a book first. Who knew? It's been lurking on my mental to-read list ever since, but I finally took it off the mental list, went to the library, and read it.

It was brilliant.

20 December 2010

New Year Blogfest

My original post about the blogfest didn't get a lot of interest, so I was all set to say, "Oh, well, never mind"... and then that entry skyrocketed to the top of my "most popular" list. Goodness. Knocked Megan right out of the spot she's had for two months.

So, I'm proceeding. If it turns out some random spasm of Google sent people to my Blogfest post instead of the cute kittens or whatever they were looking for, well, then I guess we'll cancel the blogfest later, yes?

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest

Do you remember me mentioning that I joined every blogfest going? Yes? Good.

The Rules (from Jen's blog):
1.Blog Post to be posted on December 20th (whatever time you desire)
2.Show pictures of your decorations, holiday lights & Christmas tree!
3.Share your favorite treat (Recipe included, chance for others to steal the yumminess!)
4.Share your favorite drink (Recipe included, chance for others to steal the alcohol – or non)
5.Last but not least… visit others!!! Take part in their holiday cheer!

Note: For those who don’t celebrate Christmas, you’re welcome to share any other holiday you are celebrating in this year!

19 December 2010

The Snow Globe

I'll be done with the book reviews eventually, I hope promise. In the meantime, the Holiday Reading Challenge is keeping my reading life active and trips to the library frequent.

The Snow Globe, by Sheila Roberts, is absolutely delightful. It's definitely a feel-good, happy-ending chick lit book, but it's not sappy or maudlin-- the characters are very real-life people, with real-life problems. I will definitely be reading more from Ms. Roberts.

Actually, this is one of those books that I wish I'd written. I don't think it's intended to be a comedy, but I did laugh a few times while reading. It's a story about romance, friendship, and making your own happy ending.

This book is a new release, just in time for this holiday season. It's not too long-- I read it on a bus ride home (of course, the bus did get caught in a traffic jam). For something fun, uplifting and inspirational, get your hands on The Snow Globe.

18 December 2010

Politically Correct Holiday Stories

I love this book. Love, love, love, love it.

I was introduced to James Finn Garner's Politically Correct books by my junior English teacher, who told us how funny they were. She was correct.

17 December 2010

More Holiday Book Reviews

I don't usually look at the reviews on Amazon before buying things, because people put dumb stuff on the internet. But I did go back and look at the reviews for Stupid Christmas after I finished reading, and I gotta say: This book will not appeal to all senses of humour, and the reviews confirm that.

It's a collection of the dumb stuff people do around Christmas-- altercations with mall Santas, Nativity Scene thefts, burglary by people in Santa costumes, and other things that make the season bright. It wasn't bad, but not terribly funny, either. That is to say, I didn't laugh out loud, although I did snicker a few times.

This book is free on Amazon Kindle.

16 December 2010

Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas

This book is fabulous. It helps that it includes many of my favourite Christmas songs, of course, but I loved it. It's not a novel, of course, but rather a collection of stories of the origin of each of the songs.

If I were to choose a weakness for this book, it's that it verges on the maudlin from time to time. But the stories are lovely and enjoyable enough-- for me-- to overlay the sappiness. Of course, I'm pretty sappy as it is; the story of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" had me a bit teary.

If you love Christmas music, this book will probably be enjoyable for you. It's available for free for the Amazon Kindle.

**Note: When I tell you that a book is free on Kindle, that's really just to tell you where I got it, and to save you a little money, if you like. I am not getting anything from Amazon. But if you're from Amazon and you want to pay me to mention you in every post, let's talk!**

A Spanish Story, Again

I was quite flattered that the Runner from A Runner's Life requested the Spanish version of the story I posted a couple of days ago. So, if there are any other Spanish-speaking readers out there, here's the original! You can read it in English here (unless you're anxious to get Google Translate some work; in that case, on you go).

15 December 2010

Happy Birthday!

I had this as my FB profile pic for a
while, and Chad's friends who don't
know me kept asking if Denise was his
wife. I changed the pic.
My brother and sister have birthdays so close together it should be illegal. My parents didn't do it on purpose, but these two have holiday-ish birthdays while I'm way off on the other side of the year.

Not that I am complaining.

14 December 2010

The Gift of the Magi

I've (finally!) started the Holiday Reading Challenge, and now it's time to share my reviews with you.

Okay, so this first one isn't actually for the Reading challenge, being as it isn't a book, it's a short story, and I read it in about three minutes. But it bears repeating. And it's about 100 years old, so if you've never read it, don't worry about spoilers: STOP READING THIS BLOG RIGHT NOW AND GO READ THIS STORY WHO LET YOU OUT OF SCHOOL WITHOUT READING IT ANYWAY IT'S FREE ON AMAZON KINDLE GO GO GO!!!

Right, now that we have that sorted out, let's begin.

A Spanish Story

I wrote this story for an in-class composition for Spanish class, decided I didn't want it going to waste, so I published it on Facebook in Spanish. However, the majority of my FB friends (and, I suspect, blog readers) are not Spanish speakers and therefore couldn't benefit from my mad storytelling skills. ;)

I'm actually really proud of this story, because I wrote it directly in Spanish. For my essays, I generally write in English first and then translate to Spanish (because my Rhetoric brain wins over my Spanish brain pretty much every time; I have to get the ideas down in one form or another, and English is the easiest way to do that). But since this was a fiction story, and my first Spanish writing since I was in high school, I was über-happy with it. And I got an A on it, which is always a bonus.

So I translated it to English to share with you.

13 December 2010

There's an Extrovert in Here Somewhere...

Senior yearbook.
Yeah. They didn't know
me very well. :)
Once upon a time, between the ages of about three and ten, I was quiet and timid and known, if people noticed me at all, for being really shy. I still give people the impression (correctly, to some extent) of being reserved when they first meet me. That's because I am being "reserved"; I'm "reserving" all my cheek until they've had a chance to get to know me. I think it's unfair to unload the snark upon someone the first time I meet them.

12 December 2010

New Year, New Blogfest!

Yes, I gave in. It didn't take much, really. I saw all those blogfests, and decided I wanted my own. And since Christmas is already SO well covered, I'm going for New Year. Plus, it's a special holiday for some other reason... what was it? I'm sure my husband knows. I should ask him.

Thanksgiving Blogfeast!

Today's the day for Erica's Blogfeast! Go here to read the rules (in case you'd like to make a last-minute entry) and see all the other entrants.

My entry, Gordon and Mollie, is already up, so click the link to go read it!

11 December 2010

Luna in America: Harry Potter Blogfest

Harry Potter BlogfestMichael at In Time is having a Harry Potter blogfest today! Yes, these blogfests are getting around! (Stay tuned... I'm announcing my own tomorrow. Everybody's doing it!) Drop by his blog and check out all the entries in the Blogfest.

In my entry, Luna Lovegood is spending Christmas-- and Boxing Day-- in America with her Muggle-born boyfriend, who she met last summer in Diagon Alley, and his family. I wanted to do a "wait-- we don't celebrate Boxing Day"-type thing, and Luna seemed the most likely character to spend the holidays out of the country.

Natasha and Clayton: A Midwinter Blogfest

Marieke is having a Midwinter Blogfest! Here's the description:
What does your MC do for Midwinter? Any special celebrations? Yule, Christmas? Celebrations for a midwinter solstice? A Festival of Light? A Wild Hunt? Perhaps something else completely? Christmas on the beach or winter in June? Maybe your MC has good memories of a winter’s day past when life was easier before the story you as Evil Writer wrote?
If you'd like to enter, it's not too late; skip over to Marieke's blog and throw your hat in. Or whatever the saying is.

So, this scene is (kinda) from my NaNo novel; that is to say, it's planned, but this is all that I've written of the Christmas chapter. It was kind of fun to skip waaaaaaaaaaay ahead and write a scene!

10 December 2010

A Glimpse

At our local NaNoWriMo wrap-up party, we each brought a paragraph from our novels. We hung them up on a clothesline, and the idea was to take one and find the writer, by asking questions like, "Do you have a character called Natasha?"

The following is the paragraph that I took with me. It was remarkably well-received, so naturally I'm hoping that's more because I'm a writing genius than because the people around here are really polite. Truthfully, I'm sure it was a combination of me picking one of my good paragraphs and people being encouraging. :)

Anyway! This scene, in the original, is from Clayton and Natasha's first date. In the rewrite, I'll be keeping the conversation but moving it to earlier in their friendship, before they start dating.

09 December 2010

Beth's Epic Contest

Apparently it's going to be two posts a day throughout December. :)

Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe, is having a tremendously large giveaway on her blog. Scoot on over, ooh and aah at her prize packs, and enter to win!

New Genre for Me!

A real, live schoolroom from the time
of the school story heyday.
 For years, I've been obsessed with school stories.

At some point in high school, I realised that I was only about 50 years behind the times with my favourite genre, since apparently the heyday of school stories was before World War Two. One of my favourite series, The Chalet School by Elinor Brent-Dyer, is indeed from this time period. EBD's writing style influenced mine a lot for a while, which is kind of a bummer, because it's not really a modern-day voice (and as much as I like her stories, her writing is actually kind of wonky), but I think I've managed to shift her out of my immediate consciousness and found her a place in the composite of authors who all influence me a little bit.

Moving to Britain was a revelation, since there are a lot more British school stories than American, and I could get my hands on a lot more of them. And thanks to the genius of JK Rowling and Harry Potter, the school story as a genre has been brought back from the vaults. Yay!

08 December 2010

A Running Story

I'm on a running kick, to make up for all those weeks of neglect, I guess. So here's a running story that has nothing to do with anything, for your reading... yeah. And probably for the amusement for a 13-year-old.

Chad and I volunteered a couple of times at an area-wide lock-in night for the church youth groups in Lubbock. These events had basketball, soccer, racquetball, a mechanical bull, a rock-climbing wall, and all sorts of bouncy inflated things.

07 December 2010

Sorta Like Sprinting

I'm beginning to feel guilty, because there are people who drop by here thinking they'll get a running blog. And I guess they do, a little bit, but since my last running post was back in October, anyone who wants to read about running has probably been bored.

Actually, that's kind of funny, because whenever I list this blog somewhere (Networked Blogs, BlogHer, wherever), I always list my "tags" as running, writing, college, and Christianity, because in my head, that's what I write about. In real life, that's not what happens, because real life doesn't fit neatly into four tags, no matter what Networked Blogs says.

06 December 2010

Coming of age

And another thing I've learned since going back to uni:  It's fun watching people take their first steps into the adult world.

I'm beginning to see the appeal of teaching at this level, and it's scary, because I've never wanted to teach at university. And I still don't, but... it's fun to watch.

Watch what, you ask?

05 December 2010

Coming Soon...

In my joy at returning to the land of blogging (following the end of NaNoWriMo and with one final left to take in my semester), I've gone a bit mad and entered all the blogfests and challenges that grabbed my fancy. Can you say "crazy"? Part of it is exuberance, as I said, and part of it is that the creative and I-love-writing juices returned in full force during NaNoWriMo. I can't believe how long it's been since I've written for fun on a regular basis (instead of every now and then). Now I remember why I loved it.

Anyway! I've already posted my entry to Erica's Thanksgiving Blogfeast; you can see it here. It runs until Sunday the 12th, if you'd like to join (and really, more people should!).

Next up, on this coming Saturday (the 11th), is Marieke's Midwinter Blogfest. The challenge is: What your MC celebrates in winter (Hanukkah? Christmas? Kwanzaa?), and what he/she does to celebrate.

Also on the 11th (I think they all got together, or something), is Michael's Harry Potter blogfest. Write a 500-word scene with any HP character and a winter holiday. I have no earthly idea yet what I'm doing with this one, apart (perhaps) from making it a Boxing Day adventure.

And, just for good measure, I'm participating in the Holiday Reading Challenge by Nely and Angela's Author Birthday Challenge. Which means a trip to the library is in order, as soon as I get my last paper written.

That ought to hold you for a while, right? Should you need any more challenges, just keep your eyes open; I've passed up a few just in the past few hours. There are blogfests all over the place! I may have to get my own.

Gordon and Mollie: A Thanksgiving Blogfeast

Erica is having a Blogfeast for Thanksgiving: Participants are each writing 1500 words mixing Thanksgiving and family secrets. Read on and enjoy (and I had a hard time staying under 1500 words!):

04 December 2010

A Blog Award

Megan over at The-Write-At-Home-Mom very kindly gave me this blog award:

And the reason you haven't heard about it before now is that she gave it to me during NaNoWriMo. So, Megan, my apologies for the delay, and many thanks for thinking of me and continuing to read my blog! (And if you aren't yet reading Megan's blog, scoot on over there and see what you've been missing!)

03 December 2010

Heard At University

This is a (slightly) more grown-up version of the "Heard in Journeyland" posts I've amused myself with from time to time. Today is the final day of my first semester at UT. So here I have, for your reading enjoyment, amusing things I've heard on campus since August:

02 December 2010

Rhetoric and the Classmates of Crazy

I love the rhetoric major. I love that essay-writing is a major part of my grade in my rhetoric classes. You know what I don't love? Peer reviews.

Now, I've never really paid much attention to peer reviews, even in middle school, but from time to time I get good information from them. That has generally not been the case this semester, which causes me angst and also a swelled head, as discussed on Tuesday.

01 December 2010

NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up

You know, I love how there's a looooong list of blog posts in the sidebar on the last day of a month, and the next day, it's back to teeny-tiny again. New months are fun.

Anyway! At about 11:30 PM on November 26th, during an online word war with my Austin NaNoWriMo buddies, I typed my 50,000th word.

The overly-large grin that crossed my face at that moment was comparable to finishing my first marathon, or watching my brother get married, or seeing my husband graduate from college. I stopped writing-- just for a second-- to go back to the chat page and type "50K!!" (thus messing up everybody else's word war, since they stopped writing to offer congratulations). I don't expect to get that level of exhilaration and happiness from 50K words on any future NaNos, now that I know I can do it. Because going into this, I didn't "know". I've been looking at the "verify & win" link on the NaNoWriMo page since early October when I signed up, wondering if I'd ever get to follow that link and put in my novel.

30 November 2010

Rhetoric, Writing, and Narcissism

I had an amusing conversation with my rhetoric instructor Red Ball last week, in which we admitted to one another that we worry sometimes about being narcissists. It's hard to study figures in history whose personality disorders changed the course of millions of lives, to read their words and see their rhetoric, and not think, "Oh, no, I do that, too."

There's a big humongously thick line between essential human survival instinct (which leads us all, at times, to be a bit selfish), and a brain flaw that leads one to believe that one is at the centre of the entire universe all the time. We only have slices of the historical figures that are causing me angst, and sometimes the slices hit too closely to home. And so I wonder, "Am I more self-centred than necessary?" And the answer is: "Probably."

29 November 2010

We Interrupt Your Regularly-Scheduled Ranting...

Again. :)

This time it's a blogfest. I usually don't enter these, but this one sounded a bit more "up my alley" than usual, so I'm in.

Isn't this little turkey cute?

Anyway, Erica is running this BlogFeast, and giving away prizes, and you should so go and enter, because it's a good way to get the creative juices flowing and meet other bloggers. And also to prolong the Thanksgiving fun, and let's be honest, who wouldn't like a few more days of pie, right?

So! Visit Erica's blog, sign up, and write 1500 words involving family secrets and Thanksgiving between now and December 7th. The two stories I've read so far have been all kinds of brilliant, and I'm a bit nervous to be competing with that, actually, but what's the worst that could happen? Someone saying, "This story is crappy, Su!"? It's not like it would be the first time. ;)

Okay, I now return you to our usual Cheek.

The One Where It All Makes Sense

Yes, this is the final installment in my holiday-related series. I hope some of what I've said has been at least marginally helpful. If nothing else, I hope it causes you to step back from the edge of the "Merry Christmas" cliff, take a deep breath, and consider what you're really trying to accomplish. So, here is tip #3:

28 November 2010

Okay, I'll Play

Yes, I'm joining the 'look at this list of books from the BBC' craze. Except this is an older list that I've had kicking around my computer for a while. Starred ones are ones I've read; italicised are ones I've started; underlined are ones I've seen the movie (or at least a movie version) but not read the book. Yet. For overlaps, read trumps watched.

Hold the Tar and Feathers, Please

2. Bar Santa from the house.

Yep, here's the unpopular one. And of course if you have children between 3 and 10-ish who have always had Santa, this is not a route you will be able to take. But you know those families I mentioned in idea #1? Yeah, they do this, too.

27 November 2010

And Now the Good Stuff

Do I have any readers left? Yes? Great!

So now, having given my thoughts on all the ranting, I offer three ways to keep Christ in Christmas. (One at a time, of course; can't have you getting greedy!)

26 November 2010

Also Appearing this Month

So, now let's get to the other December holidays. Being a Protestant, I’ll leave off some of the Catholic holidays that I’m not planning to take part in (or, likely, even be aware of), but if I have any Catholic readers please do fill us on on what we’re missing.

25 November 2010

A Day of Gratitude

I'm sitting on my couch, in my warm apartment. My NaNo novel is in front of me, with only 10,000 words to go until I win (and a lot more writing and revision until it is complete). My chicken and vegetables are in the crockpot, getting ready to give our little family a few days' worth of meals. And I have a stack of homework waiting for me to finish out the semester in the other room, that I'm planning to work on as soon as I finish watching the parade.

And speaking of the parade, I still love it as much as I ever have done. Just about every act brings tears to my eyes, whether of amusement, nostalgia, or just plain gratitude. (And the St. Jude's Hospital advert actually had tears running down my face.) I spent years watching the parade with my family on Thanksgiving morning.

On this Thanksgiving day, my family is scattered across the country: My grandma is in California, with my mum's older brother and his family. My parents are driving back to Indiana from West Virginia (and I hope to goodness they are driving carefully), where they spent yesterday at a funeral. As is the wont of funerals, they turn into family reunions, and I'm so happy for my mum that she got to spend some time with family she doesn't often see, even though it was under sad circumstances. (Mostly sad; I'm sorry to lose my great-aunt, but she's been ill for years and it was time for her to go to her reward. And I know that she is spending Thanksgiving with my Grandpa and the rest of the family who have gone before and are watching over us.)

And that would be the cue for my cousin Deb to start crying. :) If it helps, Deb, I started crying while writing it.

24 November 2010

Do We Have This Backwards?

I briefly mentioned the “Happy Holidays” people and the “Merry Christmas” people yesterday. And I’ve pretty much expanded on them all that I intend to do, except for one detail: It’s important to remember to take what the media says, or what you see on TV, or what you read in your email, with a grain of salt. And in today’s climate, perhaps with an entire salt shaker.

23 November 2010

Happy Holidays

There are a lot of people who I love very dearly who go completely insane between Thanksgiving and New Year.

They are the "Merry Christmas!" people.

22 November 2010

Su's Guide to a Happy December

It has started already.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, rejoice in your ignorance. For about five more seconds, because I'm about to tell you what I'm talking about.

The Great Happy Holidays v Merry Christmas debate.

21 November 2010

Fuzzy Socks and the Truth About College

 Today's guest blogger is, miraculously enough, not from Lubbock. She's my baby (Ha! She's been taller than me since she was about 10) cousin, who is from Greenfield but is currently in... wherever Ball State is. 

Muncie, Indiana, Google tells me, is where Ball State is. So, that is where Amanda is as well. She introduces herself in her post, so I shall leave her to it, along with her take on life in college.

20 November 2010

The Library

Yay! Another guest blogger has stepped up to save my sanity!

Today's guest is Kate, who lives in-- you guessed it-- Lubbock. She's a homeschool mum, a non-trad student at Lubbock Christian, and all-around fun person. The first time I saw Kate and her gaggle of red-headed children, I wondered who let the Weasleys in (unfortunately (for me, not for Kate), there are no twins among them). For the record: Kate and the Kate-lets have never dressed up as the Weasleys, but I understand that is on the cards for Halloween next year.

So, Kate's views on that most sacred of places: the Library.

19 November 2010

NaNoWriMo Update

My potential guest bloggers have bailed on me... I have to write an actual post! During NaNo and end-of-semester crazy! What??

So, with 11 days remaining in NaNoWriMo, here I am: I've written 29,201 words, meaning I am 2466 words behind at this moment. (I'm going to a write-in later this afternoon, though, so I plan to be caught up-- or even ahead-- before I go to bed tonight.) So far, I'm averaging 1537 words per day, except that's not really what I'm doing-- I've had three different days that were 6000+ words, and other days when I wrote nothing. Those are the breaks.

18 November 2010

Job Search

Today's guest post is from my friend Kathryn, another one from Lubbock. (I do have friends outside of Lubbock, but thus far none of them have answered my pleas for a guest blog post.) Kathryn and I have many interests in common (including, but not limited to, our sci-fi geekiness), and I often say that I'm going to be Kathryn when I grow up, because of the frequency with which she says aloud what I am thinking. It's really pretty fun for both of us (or so she tells me).

Kathryn shares with us today her thoughts as an almost-empty nester.

17 November 2010

Holiday Reading Challenge

It's that time of year again; the time when I think to myself, "Geez, why can't I ever think of a good idea?"

Bookwormy Girl is having a holiday reading challenge at her blog. I'm planning to spend the whole of my Christmas holidays reading and writing anyway (there may also be some cookie eating and hot cocoa drinking involved), so I decided to join in. If you want to get in on the action, too, the contest is after the jump.

16 November 2010

Strong Enough

Today's guest blogger is my friend Menie, also from Lubbock! Or, as we also like to call her, the pink-haired woman. :) Yes, I am totally jealous of Menie's amazing hair!

So, today's post is Menie's reflection on the life God has given to her. Read on and be encouraged!

15 November 2010

November is Going by too Fast!!

Good morning, faithful readers! In the interest of finishing NaNoWriMo-- and, you know, the semester-- I've rounded up some guest bloggers for this week.

To kick us off, I'd like to introduce Linda, who is a good friend as well as being the secretary at the church where we attended before we moved. Linda wanted to share something that's been bugging her a bit this week (and give us some food for thought-- please feel free to leave (kind) thoughts/encouragement).

14 November 2010

Ceud Mìle Fàilte

To my ever-growing list of reasons why I love Austin, I have added another: The Austin Celtic Festival.

The Keebler Elf and the Unicorn
Last weekend, the Princess of Unicorns and her father, the Keebler Elf, arrived in Austin to join us at the Celtic Festival, and a weekend of hilarity, cupcakes, and Irish accents ensued. 

Yes, the Unicorn Princess runs on cupcakes. I had no idea. Okay, I had some idea, but didn't realise how serious it was until she got out of the car and immediately asked for the nearest cupcakes. Good news: We found some. And they were fabulous.

13 November 2010

Somebody's 30!!

I refuse to feel old while writing this post.

At his wedding. You know, in case the
white dress & tux didn't tip you off.
Yes, my sweet little brother is 30 today. Yikes, that is just obscene. My earliest memory is of us bringing him home from the hospital: I was 2 1/2, and a bird got in the house while my dad got my mum & Billy in, and then the suitcases (I was old enough to get up the steps myself). And of course, the bird went straight to Billy's room, where it flew around in circles. I remember watching my dad trying to get it out, and I've been told that I was encouraging him not to hurt the birdie.

So, that was the beginning of life with Billy. It's gone uphill since then. :)

I will begin by saying that my brother was the cutest baby in the nursery when he was born. In fact, he's probably still the cutest baby I've ever seen, and I would scan some baby pics & post them, if our scanner weren't so irritating to use. I think it was the look of panic that was always on his face that I find so endearing; he had wisdom well beyond his couple of days to know that life was best approached in a semi-panicked state.

12 November 2010

Austin: Just a Little Weird

I love this city. No, really, I do. It's fabulous. Every day I find something new to be amazed by, or giggle at, or just plain wonder why I didn't move here ages ago.

A few examples of the fun, the weird, and the otherwise-brilliant of life in the Texas capitol:

11 November 2010

Lest We Forget

I think I post this poem on Remembrance Day most years, but goodness knows it bears repeating. (If you'd like to read a different poem, and see Brisbane's really beautiful Remembrance Day display, go to L'Aussie's blog.)

10 November 2010

Thank You, Mostly-Forgotten Classmate

Jen at Unedited asked an interesting question a few weeks ago: "How do you label the bully in your middle grade/high school years? Who were you in high school? ... Do you use someone you remember as a guide for your stories?"

A question worth answering, methinks. Or, rather, three questions worth answering. And, I guess this is as good a way as any to find out if anyone I went to high school with is reading my blog. ;)

09 November 2010

A Generation Gap

I've volunteered for UT a few times now, and some things always strike me:

1. These newly-minted adults are so willing to give up their free time, without too much complaining.
2. They are very eager to help with whatever needs done.
3. They are actually a lot of fun to be around.
4. We always have an amusing conversation, one way or another; either about majors, or life, or the funny thing the parents/roommates/classmates/teachers said, or "Wow, you really don't go out? Oh, you're married? Whoa, how old are you?"

08 November 2010

How Many Books Can I Read at Once?

I glanced at my "reading" sidebar the other day, only to discover something astonishing: I had not finished very many books on the list. Given my usual track record with books (pick one up, read in a couple of days, repeat ad infinitum), this is pretty astonishing: Of the ten most recent books I've picked up, I finished three. Four of them I put back down again, and the others are still in progress.

07 November 2010

Have Thought, Must Blog

I'm pretty intent on conservation in my own life; such ideas as taking care of what I have, making the most of my possessions, using things as long as possible, etc.

Hence the reason I follow (although not in a participatory sense, just yet) such things as the 100 Thing Challenge and Living on a Dime. The two sites don't have the same mission, nor the same message per se, but both address realities in my own life: I don't want to be a slave to my stuff, I do want to use my money wisely, and I have a low budget.

06 November 2010

Election Day

One of my life goals was realised on Tuesday: I worked the polls on Election Day. (Of course, when working out this life goal as a 16-year-old, I had supposed I would be working the polls in Indiana--c'est la vie.)

Election paraphernalia at the LBJ
This opportunity came about because an acquaintance of Chad's was an election judge at his local precinct, and last weekend one of his clerks backed out on him. The guy sent out an SOS email, Chad forwarded it to me, and I quite happily signed up.

05 November 2010

Remember, Remember

Parliament, as you can see, not blown up. Although it was
under construction when we were there last.
So, I do a lot of British things, as a result of living in Scotland for a couple of years (where I basically adopted the things that I liked). And some of those things carry over to my writing, although my current British writing quirks are more the by-product of continuing to read the BBC news on a regular basis than they are from living there 10 years ago.

The biggest one, of course, is the spelling. I spell like a Brit. I get lots of comments on Facebook, and teasing from various family members, for spelling like a Brit. My uncle recently sent me a Tweet: "When in Rome, spell like the Romans do." I replied, "But I don't know Latin!"

04 November 2010


There's a great debate, or so it seems, between the "just folks" people and the "swallowed a dictionary" people. If you've missed it, I would like to request that you let me know whether there are any houses for sale on your street, because it's really annoying me and I'd be happy to escape.

Not that I think this debate is anything new; I was already being mocked for being "book smart" (by adults in my own family, mind you) before I was out of middle school. Which is funny, really, because there's no other kind of smart to be in Greenfield, Indiana; suburbia does not offer a lot of opportunity for gaining street smarts. Especially not tiny-town suburbia.

03 November 2010

Writing a Marathon

... would probably be easier than running one was. Maybe.

So, in the past couple of weeks erica and christy posted about running and writing having a lot in common. And then sparquay also mentioned the two in the same sentence (although he would probably like for me to point out that he didn't actually draw a metaphor or make any kind of link between them). Since I am nothing if not a bandwagon joiner (that doesn't sound right), I am today fulfilling my duty as a running writer (or perhaps a writing runner) by telling you some things that the two have in common.

02 November 2010

Old People On Campus: More tales from the Non-Trad Trenches

If only I could get away with this
sort of behaviour on campus...
So, with just over a month left in the semester, what have we learned?

1. College students are delightful.
Okay, I didn't just learn this. I knew this already. In fact, I've been crazy-spoiled into expecting all college students to be like the kind, thoughtful, reasonably intelligent, engaged, completely-fun students I know from South Plains. Imagine my joy at finding similar people at UT. I haven't given them all nicknames yet, but you may hear more about Sprained Ankle, Moderately Amusing Freshman, More Non-Trad Than Me, Happy Spanish Student, and Free Spirit. They are making my days so much fun.

01 November 2010

Banned Books

I'm a bit late to this party, seeing as Banned Books Week was a month ago, but I'm just now getting around to sharing my thoughts. Because I'm slow-moving. And was thinking about other things. And... never mind, let's just get to the good stuff.

31 October 2010

Ready... Set... Write!

Ah, yes, NaNoWriMo is hours away. Am I ready? Of course not.

So, my blogging buddies, the point of this little post is to tell you that I'm going to be neglecting you all for the next 30 days. :( I'm still posting here (thank goodness for the Blogger post-scheduling feature!), but I won't have time to read all your brilliant blogs and comment, as much as I'd like to.

I'll see you in December. Try not to do anything interesting while I'm gone.


I have already mentioned that I'm participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time ever this year (starting tomorrow-- yikes!). I had intended to participate in NaBloWriMo as well, thinking that it was also in November.

It is not.

So, it's too late for me to sign up for NaBloWriMo now, since it's over and all, but hey, look! I've managed a blog post every day in October, anyway! Excellent.

I participated unofficially last year in NaBloWriMo, or so I had thought, by blogging every day in November. And the year before that. And now, after two hit years in a row, I find out I got the wrong month. Nice. So, I've participated unofficially this year, too, and managed to hit the intended target this time.

And I'd like to know what else we have a Na------Mo for.

30 October 2010

Megan's Guest Post

Today's post is brought to you by the winner of my 700th post giveaway, Megan Bickel. We already heard from Megan on Thursday & got to know some random things about her, and today she shares another piece of herself with us. Megan is a picture book author and blogs at The Write-At-Home-Mom, which you should certainly go check out after you finish reading her post here.

29 October 2010

Meet the Penciler of Songs

As part of my 700th post giveaway, the winner and the runner-up both agreed to an interview similar to the one employed by James Lipton at the end of Inside the Actors Studio.

The Penciler of Songs, who I also refer to as the Songstress, is a long-time friend from Lubbock. I'm so glad she took part in this interview, because it was fun for me to read her answers to the questions, and I hope it will bring happiness to you, too. As a bonus, the Penciler of Songs is about to be published; a song she wrote will be in the upcoming edition of The Paperless Hymnal. (That's right; "Penciler of Songs" is a description, not just a clever nickname!)

28 October 2010

Meet Megan

As part of my 700th post giveaway, the winner and the runner-up both agreed to an interview similar to the one employed by James Lipton at the end of Inside the Actors Studio.

I learned how to make a screenshot
just for this post!

Megan Bickel, the winner (whose guest post is coming on Saturday, by the way; stay tuned!) is writer of The Write-At-Home-Mom and my fellow Hoosier. :) I've only "met" Megan on the internet, but I am so glad that I did, because her blog is such a delight to read! Her interview brought me all kinds of smiles, and I hope it will do the same for you:

27 October 2010

Mrs. Malaprop

You may not know this about me, but I'm a regular Mrs. Malaprop.

Actually, I'm not. I didn't really know what a "Mrs. Malaprop" is until I Googled it a moment ago, and found out that I've been using the expression incorrectly for a while. What I mean to say is, I'm really bad at pronouncing a word the first hundred times I see it, but I don't think there is an amusing literary character for that. Perhaps I'll write one.

26 October 2010

A Potential Christian Novelist?

When last we met, dear readers, I was lamenting the state of Christian literature and how most of it that I have run across is complete rubbish. Alas.

So today I shall discuss: What I do about it.

25 October 2010

Christian Literature

When I was in high school, I would pick up the odd Christian fiction book, read for a while, decide I didn't like it, and put it back down again. And then go around feeling guilty for not liking a Christian book.

After all, I liked Christian music, Christian t-shirts, Christian posters... but the favourite thing in my life, reading, didn't have anything Christian that I liked to plug into it. For years, I wondered what was wrong with me. And I have finally found the problem:

It wasn't me; it was the books.

24 October 2010

Post # 700!

It all began here at Cheekyness back on October 1, 2004. Here is my first-ever paragraph, reprinted for your reading enjoyment:
Wow, this is exciting... I finally have my very own weblog. All I need now is broadband internet, a PDA, a cell phone (perhaps even one with pictures), a laptop, and one of those memory-stick things that everyone is using instead of floppy disks now, and I'll be right up-to-date with the rest of the country. :) 
I'm happy to report that I have all those things now, except for the PDA. But darned if the rest of the country didn't go and change the "up-to-date" standards on me in the meantime. I guess I'll carry on as best as I can. Again.

23 October 2010

Oooh! Blog Awards!

So, it happens that this week, some of my new blogging buddies that I've met through the Crusader Challenge have given me some pretty pretty awards.

I'm awarding this one to:
Lesley @ Chad and Lesley's Adventures
Denyce @ Denyce's Posterous
Carolyn @ 4 the Love of Boys
Heather @ Swallowed Up
Andrea @ In White Fields

From Clarissa:

This one goes to:
Paige @ I'm on BASE!!
Timbra @ McWiist Family
Jenni @ Talking Hairdryer
Olivia @ The Nelsons

And, from Faith:

And I'm passing this one on to:
Ashley @ The Pittman Family
Amy @ Ellyson Four
Shannel @ The James Family

While I do know men who blog and do a good job of it, these are pretty girly awards. So, I'm only giving them to women. Since all my writing-blog friends have pretty well passed these around between themselves for the past couple of weeks, I'm going a different direction with this blogroll. Also, there were some sort of rules that went with these awards; you will note that I have ignored those rules, except for the part about spreading the joy abroad.

So, go give these ladies a spike in their page hits today! (I hope they tidied up their blogs for the company that is coming over.)

Wanna win the first-ever giveaway on Cheekyness? That's right, to celebrate my upcoming 700th post, I'm having a giveaway! Comment, follow or link to my blog to enter the drawing. Contest ends at 9 PM (CDT) TODAY!

22 October 2010


Terry Pratchett expresses so well how I feel about academia messing with things that I like to read:
"Susan hated Literature. She'd much prefer to read a good book... She listened with half an ear to what the rest of the class was doing. It was a poem about daffodils. Apparently the poet had liked them very much. Susan was quite stoical about this. People could like daffodils if they wanted to. They just should not, in Susan's very definite and precise opinion, be allowed to take up more than a page to say so."
I agree with Susan. (I'm fairly certain that Pratchett did not have me in mind, but if he did, I'd like some royalties.) Mostly agree, anyway; I'm happy for people to take up as much space as they'd like to write about daffodils or indeed any other subject, so long as I am not required to read it.

21 October 2010

Well, This Is Depressing

I'm reading In Retrospect, by Robert McNamara, for my rhetoric class. And it's depressing.

This is not a book review: I still have to write a paper over this thing, so I'm not interested in reviewing it. But here's a quick synopsis: McNamara was the Secretary of Defense for the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and was a big part of the decision-making process leading to the Vietnam war. Of course, the whole big mess was already in process when Kennedy took office, and it just went downhill from there for a variety of reasons.

20 October 2010

Running on Town Lake

Well, running by Town Lake. Running on Town Lake would require a fishing boat, a storm, and Jesus in the flesh to extract me from the water after I tripped over a passing wave.

So, running the trail around Town Lake has been on my "to-do" list since we moved here. But until better motivation arrived in the form of Sarah being in town for the weekend and wanting to get a run in, I didn't manage it. We got up early enough to get downtown before dawn, managed to figure out the way there between the two of us, and started out.