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Welcome to our first grandchild!

28 Mar

Sunday was my two-year anniversary of blogging.

I started slow with only a couple of post a month, but five months in, I took an online course and ever since I’ve posted three times a week, without fail. I’ve tried to keep a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule because I like the way the little blocks line up on the calendar to the right. Occasionally, I might post a day late, usually due to time zone issues, but always, three times a week.

Being somewhat compulsive, ever since I made the commitment to my blogging routine, I’d not missed a post. Not when I was sick, or on vacation, or experiencing total writer’s block. I might post a cartoon or short message but, by George, I posted something three times a week…until Monday.

Total silence.

No Internet connection.

I suppose I could have done it from my i-Phone, but I was hoarding my phone-charge for messages and e-mails with family.

We arrived in Honolulu 8:30 Sunday night. At 2:30 Monday morning, our daughter-in-law’s water broke and she was having contractions. And they were progressing. Fast. We grabbed her already packed bag and headed to the hospital. By 7:30 she’d dilated to 8 cm. That’s cranking! Then nothing. And more nothing. About 5:30 p.m., they decided to do a C-Section because the baby was so large.

 Our grandson was born

Monday, March 26 @ 6:54 p.m.

8 lbs, 15.5 oz.

20 1/2″ long

lots of blond hair; bright green eyes

Beautiful and ready to conquer the world

My stepson is deployed to Afganistan, but was present much of the day and evening via Skype. One of my most treasured moments was watching Hubby as he watched his son talking to our grandson via Skype.

The best I can figure (with time changes) we were awake about forty out of forty-three hours from Sunday morning at 5 a.m. until Monday at midnight. Of course, math was never my strong suit and I’m still sleep deprived, so my numbers may be off.

I’ll post more pictures where you can see how beautiful he is when mom and dad say it’s okay, but for now I went for the doting grandparent shots. Suffice it to say, he is the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. He’s laid-back in temperament and super cuddly. Can you tell this grandmother is already head over heels in love?

So, no post on Monday ’cause we were busy getting this baby into the world. (Well, all I did was wait and pace, but that had its place, too.) And you know what? I don’t even care that it messed up the perfect little blocks on my calendar.

If you aren’t a grandparent yet, let me tell you. There are no words, even in my writers’ bag of creative description, to adequately express the feeling of grandparenthood. Needless to say, I’m walking on cloud nine–even if I’m WAY  too young to be a grandmother.

Aloha,

~Kay

 
 

Tiptoe through the tulips…or daffodils…with me

24 Mar

Hubby and I are making a brief stop in the Seattle area for a brief layover on our way to visit our first grandchild. Wait. Wait. Wait. More about him soon.

We spent last night in Bremerton, Washington, with our six-year-old godchild, Xander and his family. His older brother, Dawson, performed his magic act in the school talent show and their sister, Trysta, was his lovely assistant. Their mom told only Dawson of our pending arrival so when we got there, the two of them slipped us into the media room so Dawson could zap us into the living room for the other kids. Now that was some magic trick!

 

We stopped by this morning for pictures with all of the kids. Count ‘em. Yep! Six. The youngest one is only on loan, but they’ve fostered her since birth. It’s going to be tough when it’s time for it’s time for her to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we migrated to my sister’s home north of Seattle. We took the long way via the Tulip Festival in Mt. Vernon, but only the daffodils were blooming. The Festival is officially the held in the month of April, but I’d hoped some of the tulips would be over achievers. I’d been to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival perviously, but Hubby had only experienced it vicariously through my reminiscing. We took lots of photos of the daffodils. A few of our favorite tulip pictures (from prior years, of course) are from the festival website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope your weekend is a beautiful as these flowers!

~Kay

 
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I’m attending police academy

21 Mar

Well, sort of. It’s Citizen’s Police Academy and it’s way cool.

For eleven Tuesday nights from six until nine-thirty, I join other citizens from my county to learn how the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department works from the inside out. Did you know it’s the third largest police force in the country? I didn’t!

My class is the twenty-fifth session since the academy began in 1995. Currently two classes are held per year.

A couple of our classes are conducted off-site. At one, they will do an aviation overview, demonstrate hazardous devices, show the canines and mounted horse patrol, and the SWAT team will be there. The other off-site will be a tour of the Emergency Communications Center (911). We may invite our families to the former, but everything else is restricted to class members who were carefully screened prior to the sessions.

Last night was focused on terrorism and emergency preparedness. (This kept me awake for hours, and when I did go to sleep, it was nightmare city!) Future classes will include education about Internet crimes, safety recruitment, drugs, gangs, youth services, domestic violence, forensics, ID, the E1 Protector Program and the Judicial System among other topics.

In addition to the classes (and perhaps the most exciting part of all), we have two optional activities. First, we can sign up for a time slot at the shooting range and shoot any of the guns in the Metro arsenal. Note to self–get earplugs. The other is a ride-along at any of the precincts on the shift of our choice: day, evening or overnight. I did a ride-along on a Saturday night many years ago in another city–much smaller than Nashville. It was downright scary. Anything that happens–you’re right there in the middle of it. I think I’ll go for a daytime ride this time. I want to see how every thing works–all the cool gadgets in the car and their super duper computers. And I want to SEE where I’m hiding if I get into a precarious situation.

During orientation and in our pre-course materials, they made it very clear we may not arrest any one nor are we representatives of the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department. I guess we could get away with this. Citizen’s Arrest 

But this class is a big deal. At the first session, the initial speaker was the mayor, followed by the Chief of Police. And when I say speakers, don’t think boring. At orientation, we learned about how the department works, facts and statistics about our city, and, believe me, these speakers know how to work the room.

When applying for a spot in the program, I had to state why I wanted to participate in the class. I kept it simple and said something like: I’m a writer and would like to portray scenes involving the police as accurately as possible. One other writer is in the class. Most of the participants are Neighborhood Watch, lawyers, volunteer chaplains, and people wanting to give back to the community. I’ve already jotted down notes for one story line based on something I heard, and I’m sure the contacts I make will be great resources when I have procedural questions in my writing. Oh, the guy from last night, Mr. Scare-me-to-death, he’ll be getting my calls!

Do you have a program like this in your community? I’d love to hear if other areas are also educating their citizens in this way. Oh, by the way, the course is “free” or rather a great use of our tax dollars. Plus it’s just plain fun. And how often do you get to have fun?

~ Kay

 

 
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Up on the rooftop…again

19 Mar

You might recall a little over a month ago we got a new roof. Almost everyone in our neighborhood replaced their’s during the fall and winter. The houses are about the same age and a hail storm came through last summer that did enough damage to warrant new roofs for most of the homes.

Our property backs up to Corps of Engineer land (lots of trees) so we are somewhat protected from storms coming in from the west (as this one did).  We knew we had damage (there were chunks of siding and roofing all over the deck and back yard—should’ve been a clue). Yet, we were still surprised to learn the extent.

Our insurance adjuster came today. Not only do we need another new roof, but we have a little siding on the back of our house and it’s riddled with holes. Our gutters are going to have to be replaced, our deck stripped and stained. All of the windows on the back were damaged. I’m not sure what else is on the list. He couldn’t even calculate the damages on site. Now, remember he works for the insurance company, not a roofing company.

I have a stack of roofing company flyers in our kitchen two inches tall and neighbors are asking companies to put signs in their yards before work is done to keep other companies from contacting them. It’s crazy.

I knew it was a bad storm. I was home, cowering in the basement. I didn’t stop trembling for two days. Lots of people lost their homes and close to forty lost their lives.

Though it seems like a long list to us, I’m grateful it is is all we have to do. It is, however, a strain on the pocketbook to pay two deductibles in two months for new roofs. And our deductible is structured at 1% of our home’s value. Ouch! It’s more than our annual premiums.

Our across-the-street neighbors’ insurance company dropped them after they replaced their first roof. They found a new company, sent in their premium and were covered when the storm hit. Their cars were parked in their driveway and were also totaled. We’re being told to expect to insurance rate hikes. You think?

Because of the volume (and we don’t have any leaks) it’ll be a couple of weeks before they get back to us. We asked if we should wait until the spring storms have passed to do the work, but the adjuster said the damage was severe and needed to be done as soon as possible.

This is one of those cases where the story has to be true because no one would believe it in fiction. Does anyone else have a double jeopardy nature story to share? Misery loves company.

~Kay

 

 
 

Rainy day and taxes

16 Mar

It’s pouring buckets in Nashville–I know because Hubby and I had an 8 a.m. appointment with our tax account on the other side of town and drove through downpours both coming and going. According to the weather channel, we’re in for more of the same all day.

I’m aware there are people who wait until April 14th to start their taxes, but you’d have to commit me to a mental hospital if I did that. I don’t know why gathering the data is so stressful for me–perhaps because I keep very thorough records and there’s so much to plow through. I just know when that basket of “stuff” goes out the door to the accountant, my stress level goes down with it.

I finished putting together the numbers yesterday, then Hubby and I ran some errands. On the way home, this is what we saw:

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope your Friday is filled with (in the words of the great Leslie Gore) “Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, everything that’s wonderful is sure to come your way… Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, that’s how this refrain goes; so, come on, join in, everybody.”

Have a great weekend!

~ Kay

 
 

Critique Retreat

09 Mar

Are you in a writing critique group?

I’m in two.

My online group will post pages (no more than fifteen) twice a month (between the first and fifth, then again between the fifteenth and twentieth). We critique in between. The group, Step by Step, fluctuates between four and eight active members depending on who has a work in progress. Inactive members remain in the forum and are still welcome to critique whether or not they have something to put up themselves. We have few rules but do have a moderator in case there are problems. A couple of times I’ve thought things might come to blows–hard to do online–but it’s always settled down when other group members chimed in with opinions and compromises.

I’m fairly new to my flesh and blood group, Quill and Dagger, but they’ve been around since the early 90′s. I confess this group still intimidates me a bit. We have two agented, published, successful novelists. At least one group member is self published. A couple prefer short stories and jumping from project to project. We have dark and we have darker. (I’m not so good with dark.) One member is a journalist currently working on her MFA. It’s a diverse, eclectic and extremely bright group with nine members. I know, I know…how’d I get in?

This group meets twice a month (Tuesday nights) in the back corner of a Shoney’s for dinner followed by discussion of any pages submitted. (The wait staff know our drink order without asking.) Sometimes only one or two will have sent something in. Other times almost everyone will have a submission. Most print the pages (tress be-damned), make their comments, and return them to the author after the discussion. A couple send their notes online.

The style of critique is as varied as the group itself. We have grammar, punctuation and word nazis (me included) balanced by those who ask the tough questions. What is your character’s motivation? How is this chapter moving the plot forward? Is this character (story line, whatever) necessary? Put it all together and it works.

Quill and Dagger has been around so long (‘cept me) they even know each other’s families. They have a summer pool party and a December holiday party that includes significant others. How cool is that?

Tomorrow we’re doing something that’ve not done before. We are having a retreat. It it works well, we’ll probably have three or four a year. One person has become our subject matter expert on structure and we’re going to her house to learn all about it. We’re to take the outline of out latest WIP (so much for us pantsers) and we’ll go from there. She’ll have snacks; we’re taking more snacks. I can’t wait.

How does your writers’ group operate? Does it have any quirks you’ll share?

~Kay

 

 

 
 

Ups and downs aren’t limited to writing

07 Mar

Finally, I know up from down…mostly.

I’d been fighting vertigo for several weeks. It’s not unusual for me, when the barometric pressure changes to have inner ear changes as well. Usually, it’s not too severe. Until Monday, I’d gone to tap class and (though some might disagree) done just fine.

Last Friday, when I woke I knew a big storm was a’coming. I had to hold on to the walls to walk. Sweet, sweet Hubby moved all of my work stuff from my nook upstairs to the main floor so I wouldn’t have to navigate stairs and left strict instructions not to drive. As if!

Around four Friday afternoon, he called and told me to go to the basement immediately. He’s not normally so bossy, so I hopped to it — as best I could with the limitations of vertigo. I stuck the house phone in one pocket, my cell phone in the other; unplugged my laptop, stacked my iPad on top of it and put the bottle of water I’d been drinking in my nearby purse. All of this took about ten seconds. I gathered my cache in my arms, headed to the stairs, about ten feet away, and manuvered my way to our lowest floor.

About two-thirds of our walk-out basement is finished. We have a game room, a guest room /den and bathroom. The bathroom is completely underground and our designated spot for safety.

Hubby called back before I could unload and get the basement television turned on. He was at a conference in downtown Nashville and said the storm had already passed through there with sixty miles per hour straight-line winds and was over the airport when he called earlier. There is only a lake between our home and the airport.

I told him to let me get settled and I’d call him back. I tried to find a flashlight–I’d forgotten one from upstairs–but to no avail, so I downloaded an app to my cell phone. (We now have two flashlights in the basement.) I began tracking the storm on both the television and my laptop when, all of a sudden, it sounded like machine-gun fire. Okay, no. I don’t know what machine gun fire sounds like, except for TV and movies, but that’s my description. I sat on the cold tiles of the basement bathroom floor, watching the weather map on my laptop screen, trying to hear the television news from the volume I’d turned way up, but all I could hear was hail plummeting above me. I had two floors between me and the roof; I was sure they were gone because the hail sounded as if it was right on top of my head.

I phoned Hubby back and he could hear the hailstorm over the phone. He cautioned me NOT to go up the stairs, even to see if the house was still there. Another front was following this one and he was staying downtown until it was safe to get out and wanted me in the basement until they’d passed. I readily agreed.

As quickly as the noise started, it stopped. Like it’d been unplugged. Still swooning with vertigo, I climbed the stairs, (I know, I know, but it was my house!), opened the door and verified it hadn’t blown away. I didn’t even leave the stairwell before I retreated to the basement. The newscaster said the hail was so thick it looked like snow on Interstate Forty. Hummm. I ventured to the windows and here’s what my back deck looked like ten minutes after the storm. The temperature outside was in the sixty’s.

You can’t really see the individual chunks, but Hubby took some photos when he got home, and they were larger than a quarter. Big. Damaging. Hail.

Remember how almost everyone in our neighborhood replaced their roofs during the last six months? Remember our new roof? The one put on last month? The insurance adjuster hasn’t come out yet, but the roofing company that installed the roof came by the day after the storm. We not only have roof damage, but damage to our gutters, screens, siding, downspouts, decking and window trim. Damn. But then I read the newspaper about how people lost their entire homes, their lives, everything. I consider us lucky.

My hands trembled until Saturday from the experience and typing about it makes them quiver again. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it has to be for the true victims of this devastation.

Sunday’s newspaper said wind speeds west of here got as high as 135 mph making it an EF2 according to the weather service. That’s like a hurricane!  A tornado that ripped through a community where a friend lives had winds of 90 mph. The measly 60 mph straight-line winds that roared past here—well, they were still 60 mph winds! This was just in Tennessee–one of the lesser hit states, with no loss of life. May peace be with the families of the thirty-eight victims who died in neighboring states.

In the southeast there were eighty tornados spotted on Friday, March 2. The weather channel said seventy-six is average for the entire month of March. This could be a long month. Wherever you are, make sure you have safe shelter.

Oh, and guess what! The room is spinning again. Damned vertigo.

 
 

Not Today…

05 Mar

Severe Vertigo Attack

 

 

 

No Post Today

 

Back Wednesday,

~ Kay

 
 

Literary Nashville

02 Mar

Thank you, Ann Patchett for representing independent bookstores and Nashville in such a classy way on the Colbert Report a couple of weeks ago.

This Southern lady proves she can out-wit the wittiest. She leaves him speechless.

I hope you enjoy this clip as much as I did.  (Sorry about the opening ad — it’s short)

                                                  

 Have a great weekend.

~ Kay

 
 

AN EXTRA DAY THIS YEAR

29 Feb

 

 

Enjoy!

~ Kay

 
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