Deus volt; Deus mittit me.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bird Fashion Show

Just so you know, none of these birds match the paragraph.

I think I've always had a thing about the wee birdeens--watching them, making up stories about them, talking about them, reproducing their calls, feeding them, finding their eggs, teasing them, eating them. I just don't hang around with binoculars and a bird book and catalog them.

I even have several posts on here about birds. Eagles, hawks, chickadees, doves, mockingbirds, possibly peacocks, and the ones who hide dog food in our jeans on the clothesline (cactus wrens) figure in somewhere in past blog posts. I'm not sure what's so appealing about watching and listening to them other than that it's soothing, like watching tropical fish.
What? You don't carry your duck on your head?

This subject came to mind because I was out hanging clothes at 1am and there was a mockingbird, newly returned to the neighborhood, out there singing away. He reminded me of a drunken Irishman singing one of those endless drinking songs, each verse different. Some people hate them, because they don't have a filter. They'll sing in the middle of the night right outside your window and keep you awake for hours imitating car alarms and ambulance sirens among a zillion other things. I love them for their creativity.

I love hawks and eagles for their raptor sharpness and sleek grace. They kept me company while I ran in the park I used to run in. It was always fun to watch them go from hopping around on the ground, to that maiden flight from the trees when they launched all raggedly knocking branches off, to that singing glide up to the park lights to take their thrones.

Watching the chickadees who have inhabited our birdhouse for generations (sometimes three a year) reminds me of raising kids by how they squabble over what they think is theirs when it's been someone else's while they were away growing up. Those little things can get vicious!

There are the trailer trash birds like the doves who are so stupid they'll build their nests in palm trees among other places. The first decent wind knocks their nests right out of the downward-tilted fronds. We've nursed several baby doves back to life after they plunge to the ground. We have one right now who always builds her nest in our hanging planter and freaks out if we open our front door precipitously. The thing is, she's loyal. She won't budge from her eggs (unless they're smashed on the ground, that is) for anything. She just plants her feathery butt right there next to our door and gives us the evil eye if we dare go in or outside.

I love to tease the cactus wrens by reproducing their calls. And they tease me back by filling the jeans on the clothesline with dog food chunks. It took me a while to figure that one out. I kept blaming my husband's old roommates, who, strangely, still seemed to be following us around to various places of abode to play their tricks on us.

The Gambel quails are scurrying across the road pretty much every time they see a car go by. I think it's a prerequisite of being a quail. You must take your whole family in a heart-stopping sprint across the road every time you see a vehicle approaching, regardless of speed. Maybe it's how they weed out the slow kids.

Well. So it's the first day of spring, which means the birds are back in droves. The gem-like humming birds are dive bombing the aloe vera stalks. There are conferences of fluffed out birds congregating on every power or phone line. They sing in the daylight and the dead of night.

I'm thankful for birds. They cheer me, entertain me, and fill me with wonder. And now, I think I'll go put one of their children in my pancakes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

ANWACON15

                           Veni Vidi Vici.
Sorry, it had to be done. Christina Hibbert, 
me, Brandon Mull, and Dave Eaton.
Lisa Mangum of Shadow Mountain, 
Jenevieve, Donna Gonzalez (my roomie)
ANWA Con15 was wonderful! I had a blast being plowed under by the avalanche of information. Perhaps after I run through several other items on my Cinderella list, I'll be able to dig out a little and ingest a little information snow.


I got helpful information on my pitch for LETTERS FOR STEPS from Lisa Mangum of Shadow Mountain.

Makenna as Captain Hooker(?) 
Always a buccaneer.
I ran up a pitch for THE DAY IT RAINED GLASS and used some of it to pitch it to Makenna Gardner of Netherfield Publishing. She wants a full manuscript! I'm so electrified! I hope it's an in for my Sci Fi books.

I also gleaned all kinds of info about marketing and improving my craft. These people are so talented and wacky and brilliant. I came home and immediately upon waking up, thought of two more books. One of them is a sequel to GLASS. Before I couldn't really see a sequel. This one looks promising.

Steph Abney, Joyce DiPastena, (?), Lisa Mangum, 
Regina Sirois with Janette Rallison in the background.
The other one is a suspense one. Unfortunately the phone rang and I woke up before I could find out who the nasty little chubby boy was and why he was trying to kill me. That'll have to spring from somewhere inside. Maybe another dream?

What if...?
Mrs. Elton, Captain Hooker, me, the Indian 
in the Cupboard, and (?)
Me and Peggy Forman of Xchyler Publishing

The Con was about taking my garden plot. People of all sorts planted amazing seeds and now I must water and nurture them and hope something fabulous will grow (not like my less-than-stellar abilities with houseplants). I'm hoping I'll need to re-pot them shortly.
I love Regina's ON LITTLE WINGS.

I got to meet up with friends, make new ones, and forge new relationships with some authors I'd idolized before. Regina Sirois gave a keynote speech that had us all quiet enough to hear the snow melting. "Climb your own mountain," she said. "Revel in the feeling, and then climb back down, because you can't live up there in that rarefied air."
Brandon and his newest fan

Brandon Mull gave us the heart to go for it. He talked about writing for years and not getting anywhere with it. I'm so glad he "made it" and that people supported him even though he was a 40-year-old guy writing about fairies. He told us loads about making his Fablehaven, Beyonders, and other series'.
Donna as the White Witch, Me as Regan, and 
Deb Eaton as (I'm sorry I forget).

The food was fab, the chocolate chip cookies rocked, and the Antagonist party was a blast. I went as Regan from Shakespeare's tragedy, King Lear. Nobody guessed it. In fact, most people had never read or heard of that play! I was floored. It's one of The Bard's most famous tragedies, after all.

Raejean's a bud I always look for there.

What if...?

I always come home bursting with possibilities. For that, I'm grateful. Can't wait for next year. And next year, maybe I'll sell more than 3 books...;o) It's my goal. That and winning the Beginning Of Book contest. I also hope to be selling THE DAY IT RAINED GLASS, SUMMERHOUSE, and SUNRISE OVER SCIPIO books and having a hard time keeping them stocked.
The Red Queen and Cindi Williams, one of 
the scariest clowns ever!



Monday, February 16, 2015

Back of the Line

I'm getting a jump on April's poetry run with a song I wrote. So here goes:

Back of the Line

Ah you run around in circles
Chasing the Great White Dream
Of love and glory and honor
But you live your life in the stream.

It's little deeds and littler thoughts
Clogging the hole in your head
Yeah where is your next excitement
Your drink or your toy or your bed?

Chorus:
Pay attention to life's little mysteries
Give thanks for the things that you've got
Remember the ones on whose shoulders you stand
There's a price for what you have bought.

And then at the end of your lifetime
When the fires are burning down low
You find you have squandered your time away
And you've got nothing left to show.

But there in the back is the one who cares.
She's been watching you all along
She's waiting to carry your heart away
For the price of a tender love song.

Chorus:

She's the one who has always been there
Always at the back of the queue
She's not stunning or sexy or loaded
But her eyes say she's been there for you.

Why is it you never have noticed
How loyal she is, and how kind?
She's talented, funny, resourceful
And she has a magnificent mind.

Chorus:

But you've always chased after flashy
The lights and the shimmering way
When really you had it forever
If only you'd bothered to stay.

Suddenly all of it comes clear
The running, the life, and the race.
All of it ends with this person
She's the one with the love in her face.

Chorus:
© 2015 by H. Linn Murphy

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Paint Your Runner!


We're still clean--no prerace paint dumpage here.

Recently the Hubs and I did a paint run. I have to say it was a blast, or would have been if I'd have eaten anything beforehand. The thing is, nobody really wants to see a whale explode. (Okay I'm wrong. People would probably pay to see a paint-covered whale explode everywhere. Heck, I watched one on the Internet and laughed for days about it. And there was no paint anywhere.) Let's just say I didn't want to see me explode.

Pre-race shenanigans
So this was the deal. We got these tickets from our daughter's Best-guy-in-the-world-who-isn't-a-fiance-yet
for Christmas. I thought it would be a lark and the Hubs will jump at almost any chance to run in a Saturday race right here in town for free. 

I'll be right up there with the front runners.
So there we were in the park along with a whole bunch of other freaks awaiting our chance to run through bronchitis-inducing clouds of colored cornstarch. I felt considerably under-dressed wearing exercise pants and the race T and a bandanna in case paint-y sweat got in my eyes (ludicrous since by fairly soon it was covered in paint anyway). I wasn't sporting a Where's Waldo get-up, crazy socks, a tutu, a wedding gown, or even a stroller full of screaming kid. Clearly next time I run in armor. Or maybe goggles and fins.

B, my personal photographer and me
So after warming up, doing the Macarena and the Cha-cha Slide and downing a half bottle of water, we lined up at the starting gate. I knew ahead of time I'd never see the Hubs again, 'cause when he runs, he actually moves forward at a fairly steady clip (though he did get passed by an older lady pushing a wheelchair. Hah!)

I, on the other hand, am regularly passed by old ladies with walkers. I did see one large woman I knew I could probably take. (I should stop saying that. I prove myself wrong every time.) 

Personally, I set my sights low. I wanted to beat at least five people, preferably six. And I wanted to run more than walk. Last race I only ran around the corners. I know, lame, but I'm working up to it from a life of not running unless someone was chasing me with an ax and a bad comb-over.
We're in there somewhere

So at the gun I started a glacier-slow lope. Grass grows faster. I've checked. All too soon I felt like death stalked me at every step. Why hadn't I choked down at least some kind of breakfast several hours before the race? Madness I tell you. I chugged some water and just tried to beat the woman with the stroller who kept out-pacing me to fetch her five-year-old.

At one point I looked back and saw just a few people. That proved to be a mistake. It appeared that I had been beaten by...well...about everybody. I have to say that totally rotted. I was puffing like it was the last mile of the freakin' Boston Marathon instead of 100 yards into a 5K paint run. I swear I saw a guy lap us (I've seen him win other races, so I know he hadn't been behind me all that way unless he started in Guadalajara, Mexico.) That chubbier woman I mentioned before? Blew past me at the starting gate and I never saw her again. Yeah. Shots fired.

Anywho, I did my best to make up for the fact of no breakfast thus no energy. Also the fact that I didn't have my kindle, which always accompanies me on my runs so I don't have to think about how icky I feel. I didn't want to get paint all over it. Plus the lack of anybody at all to talk to. And lastly the paint stations where people tossed paint on you were fun, but there were clouds of paint a panting person sucks right down into their lungs for their breathing pleasure. While I did want to be fashionably paint-y, I didn't want to be hacking blue muck for the rest of the month.

Really. I was running full-out.
Somehow I managed to save something back for the last sprint across the grass. Just as I was about to make the turn in, the Hubs came and ran a few steps with me to give me a boost or something. He'd been hanging out at the finish line for about a day and a half and was likely bored. Must have run out of reading material or something. (He came in somewhere like 40th or something. He said he only took 28 minutes so it must have been a shorter course than they said. Didn't feel shorter to me.) I was marshaling my reserves for the last gasping lumber through the gate, so I didn't get all chatty and pour the tea.

I don't even look like I'm running.
I picked it up to roughly the speed of drying paint. I could see my goal in sight: shade and a bottle of chocolate milk. Oh and the finish line. I charged across the grass like a punch-drunk snail, weaving only slightly in the baking sun. My arms came up in preparation for my shower of blue paint. I must have looked like a very happy Special Olympics runner at the end of a long haul.

The blue cloud at the end
I turn, then, and Behold! Not only had I reached my goal of passing six people, but there were a LOT of people behind me! I asked and found out I was in the first 1/3 of the runners! I nearly died a second time of amazement. Boy did that feel good, I tell you.

Reminds me of elephants in the Serengeti
The kids converged with more bags of paint ('cause we were insufficiently paint-y for them, apparently) and dumped them all over us, including down my back and in my ears. Then we went over and the race officials dumped the rest of the paint from the stations on us all. It looked like Woodstock there (except none of us that I know were naked).

I survived!
On our way to the car I spotted Waldo and forced him to take a picture with me. You have to do that if you actually find him. It's in the rules of Waldo somewhere. I never did find his cane, though.
Found Waldo! No cane.

It took me a solid week to get all the blue paint out of my ear.




Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Snatch of YEAR OF THE HONEY BADGER

Here's a smidgen of YEAR OF THE HONEY BADGER:

The next morning Sabra went for a swim, riding the waves like a gull. She was out beyond the breaker line when she noticed a curious thing. A tent-sized kite rose from the beach in lazy circles. She looked down the strand wondering who was flying such a strange-shaped kite. But there was nobody other than a few bathers and some children building a sand castle. A wave broke over her head, filling her eyes and throat with salt water. When she got back up, the “kite” was bouncing back up into the air in a slow twirl.
    “Holey Cheese! That's my tent!” she screeched and beat back to shore. When she got to camp the vagrant tent had climbed about a hundred feet into the air. Stray papers floated lazily down from it. “My research papers!” Sabra yelled. She scampered around trying to gather them up before the wind blew them away.
    That's when she noticed the frowning man standing on a bluff overlooking the beach. He just stood there watching her scramble. “What?” she asked shortly as she ran past him. He probably didn't even speak English the way he simply stood there watching the papers fly around. “Any chance you could give me a hand?”
    The man smiled dryly and clapped.
    “Jerk,” Sabra said under her breath. She jumped for another wayward paper.
    “I was under the impression most people slept in their tents. This is an interesting new sport,” the unhelpful man said. He didn't even try to hide his amusement.
    “Oh, then, you aren't deaf and you speak English,” she said, out of breath from jumping around.
    He snorted. “Among seven other languages.” He reached down and put a pebble on another wayward paper. “There you go.”
    “Don't knock yourself out, Sir Speedy Helpsalot.”
    The tent had blown further along the beach but was now coming down again. Sabra broke away and flew down the sand to grab at the material as it headed back up and now out to sea. She made one last leap for the rain fly bungee. One fingertip caught the cord just as the last clip worked loose. She yanked it down, grabbing at the nylon. Her fingers slipped on the rip-stop, but she managed to catch at a tab and haul the tent and its fly back to earth.
    The man walked over and tossed a stone into the offending tent, anchoring it.
    She glared at him. “Thanks.”
    “Nice.”
    “What do you mean?” Then she looked down and saw that she was still only wearing a bikini. Yeah, it must have been a dandy show. Jamb your eyeballs back in your head, Dirtball.
    The annoying guy looked out to sea and then back at her face. “You've still got stragglers.”
    “I know. I know.” She tore off after another couple of sheets. That's when she noticed her sleeping bag washing ashore in a tide pool. She swore under her breath and dragged it out of the water. Now to find her clothes and pillow. One shoe lazily turned in another pool, its laces dragging the barnacle-encrusted rocks.
    The man plodded down the beach with a couple of papers clutched in his hand. “Hey, you wouldn't have seen a man around here—kind of geeky, looks like a scientist?”
    She stopped running and turned. “Why do you ask?”
    “I'm supposed to pick up my new research assistant and the guy at the airfield told me he was down here.”
    “You're from Niassa?” She had a sudden boiling feeling in the pit of her stomach.
    “Yeah. Sort of.”
    “I'm it.” She snatched her papers out of his hand and stuffed them into the tent along with the ones in her fist.
    “What?”
    “I'm headed for Niassa.”
    “The heck you are! I'm looking for a man.”
    “Good luck with that. You don't look the type.” She favored him with her own wry grin.
    “Johns Hopkins sent you?”
    “Only the best.”
    He threw out his hands, scowling at her. “Johns Hopkins sent me a bimbo for an assistant? How are you ever going to survive? We live with real wildlife, like right in the middle of it. We are the zoo. There's no way you'd be able to handle it. Go home and send the real assistant. Preferably someone who can handle a gun.”
    “What are we doing out there, shooting and stuffing them or studying them in their habitats?”
    “You won't be doing anything because you won't be there. Go home and send a guy back, fast.”
    Sabra stepped right up to the guy's chest and looked him in the eyes. “Look, mister. I don't care what your preconceived notions are about what women can or cannot do. They don't apply to me. I've been in this line of study since you were in diapers and I'm not about to go crying home again before I've completely finished my studies. I've got a—“ She stopped, not feeling like tossing him any more bones. She wanted him to twist in the wind for a while, hopefully until his air ran out. “Never mind.” She ran after a couple more papers and added them to the mound in the tent. By that time her hair was starting to dry in salty, ropey hanks and there was sand down her trunks.
    “Come on, then.”
    “Pardon. What?”
    “Come on. The jeep's waiting. I've got chores to do. I'm out of here.”
    “But I've got to get all these papers corralled. I need to change. I need to find my other freaking shoe for crying out loud.”
    He looked her up and down. She wanted to smack him but didn't want to wreck her chances for getting to Niassa even though the guy was one of the last men on earth she wanted to spend a bumpy ride with, let alone a year.
    “You've got fifteen minutes. I'll be in the jeep.”
    “Could you at least take my luggage? If I have to rescue the papers, you could at least get the bags.”
    He looked at Mt. St. Luggage and rolled his eyes. “You should have left the cadavers and the blow-up raft at home.”
    Sabra took in the purple and pink paisleys her mother had insisted would make stealing her bags harder. The guy probably thought she was hauling a pink feather boa as well. “Then get the papers. If you're afraid you'll hurt yourself, I'll get the bags in.”
    He gave another snort and stomped over to grab the giant suitcases.
    “Easy there! Don't toss them. I've got delicate instruments in there.”
    “Just so you know,” he growled as he hefted the largest bag onto his shoulder. “We have no plugs for your curling iron and boom box.”
    You have been out here a long time, she thought. They aren't boom boxes anymore. And by the way, I'm not even going to gratify you with an answer. She fixed him with a scowl instead, then turned on her heel and went to finish grabbing the last of the papers. The fifteen minutes were almost up when she dragged on her inundated jeans and a salty t-shirt. Luckily she'd found the other shoe and all but a couple of papers and a sock. The other had gone to a watery grave somewhere. She yanked down the offending tent and thrust it back into its bag along with the poles.
    It didn't take very long to catch up to the man as he labored up the road toward a mud-spattered, ancient jeep. Big dents scored the sides and it sported a huge roll bar. She got there just as the man dumped the biggest bag into the back. She flinched, expecting to hear shattering glass.
    “Thanks,” she said facetiously. “I'm sure I can get along just fine without all that expensive equipment.”
    “You lug it in there then.” He dumped the rest at her feet and strode around to the driver's seat and vaulted in.
    “Excuse me, sir. What is your name?”
    “Why?”
    “I'd really like to know the Neanderthal I am addressing.” She carefully added the last of the luggage to the back and secured it with the webbing cargo net, using the time to calm down.
    “Stirling Darrow.”
    “Ah great. That's nice. Yeah I'm Sabra Houghton.”
    His eyes popped. “No! You're really S. Houghton?” He slammed his fist on the steering wheel. “Get in,” he said through gritted teeth. “So it wasn't ever going to be a guy.”
    “Nope.”

© 2015 H. Linn Murphy

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

SUNRISE OVER SCIPIO is OUT!!!

You can ask my kids. There was dancing in the Murphy house today when I woke to find my book SUNRISE OVER SCIPIO had been born on the same day my daughter had. I can't say it was painless, but like real babies, it was all worth it. I'll probably break out into dancing several times during the day. Happy birthday to both my gorgeous daughter, J, and my book.
So to answer questions:
(My daughter is about as beautiful as the girl on this book, by the way. Same gorgeous hair but blue eyes.)
*Where the heck is Scipio?
It's a tiny town just off the highway near Richfield, Utah.
*What's the book about? 
Tamsin Tucker wonders what kind of future there is for a champion barrel racer who has lost her husband, her leg, her horse, and her way. Luckily she has Someone watching over her who has big plans for her life.
He steers her towards a hunky doctor with his own ghosts to lay to rest, and a nurse who feels she's going nowhere fast. Together they find a way to shine in a town the size of a rodeo arena. 

*Where did you get your inspiration for the story?
A few years ago our family took a trip up to Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. While in Utah, we drove through Scipio. It took about as long as it took to hunt for the map under the seat. When I saw the back of the population sign, I figured someone had to write a story about that town and it had to be me. The story just seemed to gel, as if Tamsin, Travis, and Sarah were pounding on the window in my head yelling, "Let us out!"
Also, I used to do a tiny bit of barrel racing. I never got even close to being competitive but I really enjoyed it. I love being around horses and riding. I never get enough time in, though.
And lastly, I have a great respect for people who push through the pain and hardship of a handicap to rise to the top--people who don't let embarrassment and naysayers and depression pull them back down. They speak to me of what a person can do if they really put their mind to it.
 * Where can I find this fabulous book?
It's currently at deseretbook.comAmazon.com , and latterdaycottage.com, and is also coming to other bookstores near you. Adopt my book! It wants a good home.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Making it Real

Disclaimer: This is a contemplative work, not whining, and meant mostly for my own benefit. It's not meant to hurt feelings. If that happens because of this post, we need to talk. Make an appointment.

I haven't been here much because in November I was working on my honey badger book and December has been a full out nut house around here. Now I'm starting to take stock in life. I have to figure out why my daughter (who rarely sees me) thinks I'm depressed all the time.

I'm actually a pretty even-tempered person. I don't often have huge highs or lows. It's possibly due to having a fairly controlled schedule. Wait. No, I can't say controlled. I have teenagers who always seem to need to be dragged somewhere at the last minute. For some reason I can usually control how I deal with it, though. (Some pointed muttering, a few evil looks and I'm done.) Also I get some good exercise, which helps.

I usually spend much of the day writing or doing something creative. This Christmas I drew wedding portraits for both my parents and my Hubs' and did some other artwork for people. I also sang in three choirs, one quite challenging for me as I work to learn to be a better musician. I get a kick out of creating things and performing. I've also been running three or so days a week.

Somehow at Christmas things all get thrown out of whack. The tension mounts when I have to go buy things or juggle appointments. The house is a total wreck and there is extra cooking and baking to do. The kids are on vacation and going extra places, but doing fewer chores without complaint. I suffer from a chronic lack of sleep at that season, especially on Christmas Eve, since that's when I tend to wrap all the presents since several situations combine to force last minute shopping. I dread that night-long binge wrapping necessity. The only things that make that sort of torture bearable are German radio playing carols, and watching movies as I wrap. I get to bed around 5am and the rest of the day is a hazy blank punctuated by cups of cocoa, blackmail pictures (the kind with double chins and drool), and board/card games. My girls like to sing and play instruments. They rarely allow me to sing or play with them, although I'm in a semi-professional choir. They have very rigid ideas of how they want performances to go, which don't include me, although they vociferously deny it.

This year I broke my rib in a freak plant hanging accident. Who knew climbing onto my desk to hang a plant so it wouldn't freeze outside would mean getting flattened by my rickety bookcase and knocked onto my desk chair? The resulting broken rib meant I haven't been running. So I feel like a three-legged, locoweed-afflicted cow. (As in sluggish, not high.)

Plus my out-of-town kids came to visit. I love them and enjoy being with them and playing with them, but they not only necessitate late nights and throw things out of control (like completely) with schedules and needing to be entertained, but I feel like sometimes they sort of decide who I am and then mash me into that box. Sometimes the compartment isn't very comfortable and is claustrophobic. It's a little like being a reluctant, though gratified and honored, magician's assistant who has to climb into the trunk and be submerged in a pool of piranhas.

It seems like I'm exceptionally sensitive when it comes to this daughter. I feel like a shabby excuse of a mom against her. She's gorgeous. At several months pregnant, she weighs much less and has less of a belly than I do. Plus her kids actually work hard and mind her better than mine do. And they're all little. I find myself comparing myself to her and come up lacking in every way. She has a nicer house with much less clutter. I'm betting nobody tells her regularly she has to get rid of all her crap. And I know people stay with her because I've done it several times. They have everything figured out. I feel like the ugly step sister in comparison. She's extremely talented in art and is actually working as a freelance artist. People acknowledge that she's an artist. Not the same here outside of my mom and a few others.

This year she told me I'd gotten too many presents for her children and that I should take them back. At two toys each, I thought I'd been pretty thrifty. I had fun hunting for just the right things. When she told me, I deflated like an old rubber balloon. I understood that they are trying to teach their children not to be spoiled. It just seemed like a total let-down on my end--a commentary on how I'd become so worldly or something.

It took some time to dig back out of that ditch, especially when she then told me I was always depressed around her and that I need to see a professional. I think she sees me through a kinescope of time when I'm most out of my element, when I'm off kilter, and when I'm running on fumes. It's an inaccurate frame of reference. I doubt many of my other friends feel the same way. Maybe I just felt comfortable complaining about things with her. Maybe I can't, though. Not if it makes her think I'm clinically depressed. Maybe I finally need to find some friend who'll listen and help me dig out.

She also indicated that I hadn't been there for her. She has a point there. I haven't written to her enough. And I rarely call other people, including her. There are a whole list of excuses why I don't call. It's something I can change. I should have known when she was feeling low. But being told that way made me feel like she'd kicked me in the head while I was on the ground.

So why do I do this to myself? Why do I allow myself to feel so vulnerable around her? I don't know. Maybe it's because I feel as though she should be my best friend. I raised her for 8 years alone, for crying out loud. I feel we should be able to tell each other anything, but it's not that way. She's there to take the other side of things...like most of my children. I guess because that's how it is, I feel alone on my side of the river. I wish sometimes they'd see my side of things, before I'm 95 and can't move anymore.

I feel pulled apart and twisted like an old dishrag at times. There are things my father yelled at me for when I was a child, the opposite of which I get yelled at for now as an adult. Sometimes I want to yell, "WHAT THE HECK??? This is my house. You are my children, not the other way around."

So the point of all this is to find ways of digging my own self out of the few dips along the way. I have to solve my problems on my own. I have to find ways to change the bad things and expand the good. I have to find my own roomy niche and own it. Maybe that last most of all. Self, own your niche. You are the queen of it.

Here are some things I'm working on:
*I'm doing a paint run in January. For that to happen, I have to go back to running at least three days a week.
*I'm cleaning things out and putting stuff out for donation or bulky pick-up.
*I've got to work on the back yard so we don't look like the Clampetts before they moved to Beverly Hills.
*I'm putting a book out this month (SUNRISE OVER SCIPIO).
*I'm getting back into reading the scriptures--something I slacked off about during the most important part of the year to do it.
*I'm getting back into my writing groove.
*More service.
*Better care for others.
*Put myself last more often by giving the burden away to God. My mom is my example here.
*Prayer--talking to the Person who made it all and who always cares.
*Really examining the negative thoughts I have to be certain they belong in my head and if they don't, pushing them out.
*Somehow repairing my relationship with my kids.
*I need to acknowledge better when they do something positive.
*I need to blast out of the box and not let other people jam me into one. I have unlimited value to at least one person. Don't forget that.
*And no, I'm not going to see a shrink. Why do that when prayer and a good friend can do just as much?