Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Quiet Christmas

I hope everyone is having a warm, cozy family Christmas.

It's so quiet here. Every Christmas I wish I lived closer to home, though family and friends are so scattered. For the last two Christmases I was able to spend it in Maryland with my girlfriend's family but this year the job calls.

For all those I love and can't hug in person from California to Maryland, and Vietnam to Bolivia to Canada - JoAnn, Barbara, Clara, Ruth, Martha, Bonnie, Pete, Lesley, Maria, Gary, Cletus, Dean, Bob, Carol, Robin, Wanda, Doris, Mike, Chris, Angela, Karen, Jeanne, Stan and Janet, Richard and Suz.

Here's the hug. Merry Christmas and have a spectacular 2008!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Football -a girl's sport

As an only child, my parents each had their views of what a girl should be. Mom's vision was illustrated perfectly when she came to visit an antebellum home in Natchez, Mississippi and she saw a room decorated in pink satins, laces. She said, "oh, Martie, this is what I named you for."

Well she knew by then that it was wistful thinking. By the time I was 8 or 9, I was Daddy's girl. We went to Redskins and University of Maryland basketball and football games and Washington Senators baseball games. He taught me to golf, bowl - he even taught me to drive a stick when I was twelve around our D.C. suburb. His heroes were my heroes. I was memorizing sports statistics way before it was cool for most girls.

So now during football season, I'm the one saying - "You're going hunting today? But the Patriots are playing the Colts. What are you thinking!" And last season when it seemed the Saints were on the verge of something really big, I was the one saying, "You have to believe. They really are different this year. (Unfortunately, they've blown it this season.)

The thing is I see lots of women at those football games on TV, so I don't think it's so odd. I just hate it when February gets here and there's no football. I start counting down the months until pre-season. I'm going to get as much of my fix during bowl season and playoffs as I can, squirreling them away for the long Spring and Summer layoff.

Go, Redskins. Go, Brett. Go Drew. and for my neighbors' sakes, Go LSU.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Civil War shot of New Orleans

My friend, JoAnn and I were in New Orleans the same day Brad Pitt and Angelina were in the ninth ward raising money for the rebuild. (no, this was 2007, my camera loses the date everytime I change the batteries - aaargh!)

New Orleans certainly isn't what it was, with many many vacant house, subdivisions, businesses and roughly a third of the previous population.

This is a picture from our room in the early morning fog. Someone swore it looked like a Civil War battle.

Not much has changed about the Quarter though since our visit about four years ago. This time we stayed 29 floors up in the Marriott on Canal St. overlooking the Mississippi River.

What an intelligent elevator we had. Even with her extensive travel she'd never seen one quite like it. You go to the bank of elevators, press your destination floor, the system then tells you which elevator to take. Once you enter the elevator, relax and let it do the driving. There are no buttons to push, control is completely in the elevator's hands. Is that a good thing?

Anyway, that's not all that runs through your mind. As the elevator ascends, in this case, you will be entertained by the steady beep of the floors ticking off, well, maybe not entertained. It sounds exactly like the last 30 seconds of a bomb as it ticks...down...blrp...blrp...to...boom!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Remembering friends at Christmas

This is a time for remembering old friends and favorite journeys.

Several years ago I was lucky enough to be with friends from Salt Lake City who were extraordinary examples of friendship, family, and integrity. These two special people were actually married in the Mormon Temple, something which isn't done anymore. They introduced me to a tenor who sings with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and he got me in to sing with them which was just about the highlight of my life.

I remember seeing the snow pouring in over the rockies from the office window, the huge banners of athletes hanging on the sides of buildings from the 2002 Olympics, the Christmas lights on the Temple grounds, skiing for the first time in 20 years at Park City and so much more.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Iced Catfish

I know that a lot of people don't consider the South a cold place. I certainly don't. But the ice storm that hit Missouri, Kansas and other states lastweek reminded me of a cold spell we had in Louisiana in the 90's.

The Mississippi river had ice flows in it, our bayou froze over and the catfish ponds where my husband worked froze. It had never happened before so they didn't know what would happen to the catfish. We all assumed they'd die. Catfish are very tricky to raise. Everything about their environment is precarious. Air temperature. Water temperature. Grass in the water, feed, ammonia, disease, etc.

When the ponds started freezing the workers seined as many as they could for sale before the freeze. Afterwards, amazingly, even though the ponds froze over, the catfish thawed out like they'd been in a sci-fi cryogenic state, and most of them lived though quite a lot were weakened by the change in temperature. We ate a LOT of catfish that year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas around the world

It's so neat, isn't it, seeing the way people celebrate Christmas around the globe. From tropical climes to mountain hideaways, from hometowns to faraway cities, we all celebrate a time of friends, family, and giving.

Here's a picture of my hometown at Christmas. Isn't that beautiful?

I won't get home for Christmas this year because of work and I'll miss the special Christmas with my friend, JoAnn, her brother's family, and mom. Then there's my other 'mom' Clara who lives nearby. Last year I lived with her in her condo overlooking D.C. while I was working up there. She cleared out a room and a closet and made me a little home away from home. A hometown home away from transplanted home - Louisiana. And though the temperatures got into the twenties and it snowed, I never got cold like I do here.

I miss it.

Often Christmas at our house means men visiting to hunt, camouflage piled up three feet deep, muddy boots, lots of 'missed the big one' tales. But this year it will be pretty quiet though I hope My Hero does manage to get to the woods and get some meat. And maybe I'll get to Natchez to hear Alcorn University's Choir perform at St. Mary's.

Whatever a peaceful, happy Christmas means to you, I hope it's yours this year.
Get out and Celebrate the Season!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Way to Go!

Congratulations, Leah, on finishing your newest book and submitting it! The tough part is over. I just know you're going to get good news.

Party hors d'oeuvre

Struggling to come up with something different to take to a holiday party? I took this to our Post Office party recently and it was gone in no time. Easy to fix, doesn't matter if it gets luke-warm, and sometimes you have the ingredients oh hand.

Jalapeno Tortilla Cheese Spirals

6 White flour tortillas
10-12 slices ham patted dry
1/4 cup diced Jalapeño peppers, enough to sprinkle
8 oz Cream cheese softened

On tortilla, spread a layer of softened cream cheese, sprinkle with diced jalapeños, and top with sliced ham, keeping everything within 1/2" of the edges. Roll tortilla.
Continue layering and rolling tortillas until you have 5-6. Place saran wrap over them and chill for thirty minutes if possible. Slice in 3/8" pieces and arrange on large plate. Separate layers with wax paper. Pop a couple in your mouth the taste test. Only TWO!!

They're easy and quick so you might want to get enough jalapeños and cream cheese to do the whole pack of tortillas. Optional: sprinkle with pimentos.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I love my Macbook

I have had many laptops. Three Fujitsus, two Acers, a Sony, a Toshiba, I think that's it. But I used to trade laptops like I traded cars, every year. The Sony is four years old and the hard drive was making a lot of noise so I decided it was finally time to get a new one.

I made the leap to Macintosh two years ago when IMACs came out with the Intel processor - I purchased a 20 inch IMAC. So this time, I thought why not just go for the Mac laptop? Macs truly are easier to connect to peripherals and wireless networks and they don't tend to have the crashes and slow operation that Windows computers are famous for. And they have built in video conferencing. I used it one time when my critique partner and I were chatting.

My concern was that I might need some of my windows programs. But there's is this nifty new program, Parallels Desktop, that allows you to go into Windows on your Mac and install and use Windows programs, without going through a dual boot type of process. Virtual Windows!

So, I figured it would be the best of both worlds. So far, it has been.

Yesterday, I connected to my printer wirelessly where before I'd been unable to get my Windows laptop to print a document to it and went through a whole lot more setup.

Another big reason I love Macs is my new writing program, Scrivener, which was created for Macs. You can store research, sound files, pictures, organize, write forward, look at a storyboard of your draft, insert keywords to search for later. Just look for Scrivener at www.literatureandlatte.com. Or if you insist on Windows you can find www.celtx.com a Windows based writing program that has been suggested by writers containing some of the same features.

Do something wild and crazy! Next time you're in the market for a new computer, give Apple a try. There's a bit of a learning curve, but well worth the effort.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lagging behind

Well, it's been over a week since I posted. Bad, bad Marley. Between trying to finish strong in NaNo, reworking my entry for the contest, writing my first synopsis, working four days straight, critiquing, and getting the bronchial crud, I just haven't had the energy.

But all of those are coming along nicely. I wrote over 26K in November and revised and outlined about additional 'K'. I'm just about through with my contest entry and have done the first draft of my first synopsis - a long winding road through Brenna and Nick's world which I will have to revise down to a straighter shorter path and still manage to include all of the turning points, love scenes, crises, characterization, and resolution.

The crud is coming along as well, though I wear myself out from coughing and have to waste good writing time sleeping. All of this has to be finished and I need to email my entry by around the 22nd because I'm running the mail for the two weeks of Christmas holidays.

Oh, and I just heard I have to work again. Working sure does get in the way of writing!