Monday, December 31, 2007


Dear 2007:
Around the time we first met, I was inspired by a random stranger's blog post which was titled something like "My Resolution for 2007: Make it My B*tch."
I should have known that adopting such an aggressive approach to you from the get-go would backfire. And, suffice it to say (without going into too much detail) that backfire it did. Sometimes.
Other parts of life with you were quite lovely, however, such as the sunsets; the birthdays; the trip to Scottsdale to see all the pretty horsies; the trips to the Bay Area to see family and friends; the sailing...and the list goes on. So, it hasn't all been bad, 2007. We've had our good times, too.
Also, I did experience a nice summation, a nice pinnacle, a nice...culmination, if you will...of our time together just today, on the very last day of our relationship. It went like this: I'm in the Bay Area for a visit, and last week my mother discovered that she was missing a diamond earring. She knew she'd had both earrings together recently, so it wasn't like the missing one had been gone for too long. After a thorough sweep of the area in which the bauble had last been seen yielded nothing, however, my mom seemed resigned to the fact that it was time to just let it go: The earring, it seemed, was gone for good.
It occurred to me that perhaps she'd swept it up and thrown it out, not seeing it in the dust pan. She allowed that this might be a possibility, but she also warned that trying to sift through the trash would be a hazardous task, since there was a bunch of broken glass in there. So, we all let it go.
Today, however, was trash day. Driving down my mother's street I passed the garbage trucks, which hadn't yet reached her place. The lost earring gnawed at me, but my mother had already said, "It's too late" when I'd asked her this morning if we shouldn't seize our last chance and go through those yucky trash bags. So, I drove and thought, thought and drove. "Just drop it already," one half of my brain said. "No way, Jose," said the other half. "This is a diamond we're talking about!"
So, I sent up a little prayer, asking what I should do. Turn the Car Around, came the clear reply. Which was when I hung a U-ey and drove back to mom's place. I figured if the garbage truck had already collected her trash, then that would be my sign. But the trash was still there. So, I threw on an old t-shirt and rolled the garbage can into the garage so the neighbors wouldn't think I was some random dumpster diver and call the police. And it took some doing. It took some intrepid exploration through some fairly gross trash (some of it nearly unidentifiable), but when we finally got to the bag full of glass shards, there it was - the diamond that would have been lost forever in a matter of minutes if we hadn't been willing to sift through the nasty refuse.
There's a symbolic lesson in there somewhere, I'm sure of it. And whether it's Freudian, Jungian or some other -ian, I really don't know. All I know is that it struck me, picking my way through those glass shards and old coffee grounds in search of something precious and elusive, that I was experiencing the perfect summation of the past 364 days. And then I was able to hold up the diamond earring - that which was lost - with my grimy fingers and declare, "I found it!" And let me tell you, 2007: For my money a better ending to our association couldn't be bought.
Still, I've been thinking about how I should approach my relationship with your successor. I've been thinking that the aggressive attempt to make you my b*tch might not have been the best set-up for a good working relationship.
So, here it is, my resolution for 2008: "Try It." That doesn't sound too hostile, does it? Personally, I like the fact that it's sort of all-encompassing and doesn't lock me in to any particular attitude.
I guess I won't know whether I hit the mark - whether there will be another diamond to be found in the trash or not - until this time next year. But now that next year is just a few hours away, I can say for certainty that I'm ready to start finding out. So, Hello, 2008. Pleased to meet you. Feel free to kick your shoes off and make yourself at home.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

snow day, part deux

The kids' Christmas break officially starts next week, but the skies have smiled on them this week, putting us at snow day #2 for the year (#1 was yesterday). What is there to do but graze on the 2 lb. batch of fudge I made Sunday, watch Pirates 3 and build a snowman? (Hard to make out, but those are my son's archery arrows forming the arms.)

I call the above photo "Grizzled Snow Guy with Naughty Cat and Propane Tank."

Friday, December 07, 2007

let's never, ever forget.


holiday rez rite

December is Christmas tree cutting time in Arizona, and since I was willing to jump through the flaming hoops set up by the Forest Service back in October, we ended up getting drawn for a permit via the statewide lottery. As in years past, the cutting area for which we were drawn was on the outskirts of a little Reservation town called Cameron, which is a couple of hours' drive from our place, across the Navajo Rez and the Painted Desert.

We found a perfect spot in the forest to park, and even though we spotted a nice tree right away, it was, of course, necessary to draw out the hunt a bit.

A few elements of the adventure were a bit more Tim Burton-esque/Stephen Kingesque than I had anticipated, such as the recent remains of an elk carcass right near where we'd parked...

...and our son carving "Noel" in the scant snow with the blade of his axe. Awwww, isn't that just the cutest thing?

There's something about the Arizona sky, though. Clears the mind. Anyone remember that hallucinogenic song from the 90's called Little Fluffy Clouds about the skies in Arizona? Well, there were no clouds last weekend, which was amazing, considering the gale-force winds that had blown rain sideways just the day before. It was a glorious day:

After chopping down the defenseless little pine tree we'd spotted (I'll admit it: My vegan, tree-hugging roots pop up at this time of the year) and with RezCred firmly established on the truck's lower half, it was time to head home:

Of course, we had to stop for some shopping along the drive back.

First, there was the local Wal-Mart:

Then the Super Wal-Mart (where the vendors were out in force, and where I got a really pretty pair of silver and turquoise earrings for $15):

Finally, we drew near home. The Peaks, with their blanket of fresh snow, looked so pretty from the overpass of our exit:

The sky treated us to its own holiday lights display as the sun went down...

And, before long, we had what we'd set out for earlier in the day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

happy birthday to blog, happy birthday to blog...

...Happy Birthday, dear Blooooooooog, Happy Birthday to blog!

I remember when you were just one post tall (*sniff*).
Seriously, it's hard to believe that an entire year has passed since I decided to chronicle the story of our daughter's broken arm in blog form. Last December was a time of churning emotions anyway, since we were gearing up to head back to our home in Arizona after a year-long hiatus in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the arm incident pushed me sufficiently over-the-edge to a place where creating an online journal somehow seemed appropriate. Honestly, though, I didn't know how long it would last. I figured life would get in the way, and the blog would have to be one of the first things to go. I'm glad it didn't work out that way.

So, thanks for sticking around and reading my random thoughts. I remember being so excited when the stat counter hit 100. Now, I'm looking forward to the day when I see that my humble little blog has garnered 10,000 hits. (Small potatoes to some of you power bloggers out there, but, hey, I'm easily awed.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

thank you, thank you. you're too kind.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

the point at which my lungs felt like they were going to disintegrate

Having run A 5K RACE earlier this year, I am now able to drop that fact casually into any conversation. Want to impress the neighbors? All I have to do is say, "Sure, you can borrow a stick of butter. Which reminds me that I had a real hankerin' for butter at about K3 of THAT 5K RACE I ran in May." Bingo. Impression left.

Want to draw a parallel between running and writing? Simply open a new Create Post template in Blogger and start typing away a few sentences that go something like this:

"With four days left in NaNoWriMo (three if you don't count today) I'm feeling kind of like I felt toward the end of THAT 5K RACE I ran earlier this year. The finish line was almost in sight, but I still had a goodly-sized chunk of running to do. So, this interesting mixture of dread and elation started to set in, and I'm pretty sure it had something to do with the fact that I almost threw up on my neighbor's shoes at the finish line when he reached over to tear off the little paper "finish receipt" on the back of my number." Bingo. Parallel drawn.

Oh, NaNo word count as of this moment: 38,639. Let's hope I don't almost throw up on someone around here after typing word 50,000 later this week.

Monday, November 26, 2007

enchanting, amazing, and the very best ever

I hope you all had a fantabulous Thanksgiving.

Okay, first of all, Disney's new joint, Enchanted...It's enchanting. Very clever of me, I know. But seriously, I believe Disney has struck a real chord with this movie, no doubt because everything from the story line to the song and dance numbers hearken back to one of Disney's Golden Ages, when stars such as Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews were the big box office draws. I love the completely a-political nature of this film as well. There were moments when I thought, "Uh oh. Here comes the big global warming message," or "Here comes the big feminist princess message," but they never showed. This is a movie our family will probably go see together again in the theaters, and it is definitely one to own.

Second of all, my mom and I both finished the amazing mother/daughter memoir Come Back over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I must say it is the kind of book that changes the way I view life as both a mother and a daughter. The extended title is "Come Back: A mother and daughter's journey through hell and back," which is definitely appropriate. It is also represented by my agent, Stacey Glick, who wrote an interesting blog post (scroll down to her 10/22 post) about the process behind the publication of this book (but even if Stacey wasn't involved I would love it). Pick up a copy for yourself, and give copies to your favorite mothers and daughters, especially if they have had to endure major, transformative trials in their personal lives and/or their relationship with each other.

Lastly...Friday Night Lights? Best. Show. EVER. I come to this show late in the game, since I just happened to be channel surfing one Friday night (I need to get a life, I know) a couple months back. I thought it was a show about football! Well, it is...sort of. But only to the extent that the high school football team of the tiny Texas town that provides the setting for the show is sort of like the touchstone for all the characters, the one thing they all have in common to some extent. But it's so much more than a show about football. Rarely, if ever, have I seen such accurate portrayals of (in no particular order): the odd mixture of joy and insanity that accompanies having a baby; the multi-faceted tensions inherent in converting to Christianity; the complex sexual, social and emotional tension of being a teenager...and the list goes on. Now I have to figure out if the first several seasons are on DVD.

That's it for now.

Monday, November 19, 2007

long time, no blog

Or at least that's how it feels. I've been in busy bee mode - or chicken-with-its-head-cut-off mode; you pick. But I am still alive to happily proclaim that craft show season is officially OVER. Which is a good thing. The soaps did well, and people scattered far and wide now have cute gifts and stocking stuffers to hand out at Christmas, so mission accomplished.

A craft show is such a bizarre little microcosm - all those crafty hopefuls schlepping their much sweated-over treasures into a strange location where they are stuck for at least an entire day surrounded by people they have probably never met, people who are also trying to hawk their lovingly-crafted wares. It can make for a delicate situation - all that hope, all those fragile egos, all that need to unload this year's inventory and earn back one's table fee, materials and (hopefully) one's investment of time and energy. You just never know how it's going to go.

At the first of the two shows the sweet, elderly, granny-like lady with the scrap booking booth just behind my soap booth asked me at lunchtime if I had any drugs. I absolutely kid you not. However, I lucked out at last weekend's show, partly because my mom flew into town for a visit and to sell her jewelry, which has become something of a tradition for us. So, I had her on my left. At the table to my right was a vendor I'd never met before, though I noticed right away during setup that she had some incredibly cute and artfully-made things. Turns out we had all sorts of things in common, not the least of which are consuming passions for Disneyland and English degrees. So, during the lulls in business I had a lovely time chatting about books, the Tower of Terror (which I am still too much of a scaredy-cat to ride) and mom stuff. Here's her blog, The Polka-Dot Pixie, where you can see a bunch of her wares. It's amazing to me that she's never been to art school. Such talent. Oy.


NaNo word count: 25K plus. Yeehaw!


Last Friday's soap giveaway? Oops. Totally spaced it out amid all the hustle and bustle. I'll make it up to you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pumpkin Spice - we have a winner!

Congrats to Laura (of laurawilliamsmusings) for winning Friday's Pumpkin Spice bar!

As always, the winner was randomly chosen with the help of a cute, random kid. I'm glad Laura got a chance to win, though, since she's been so great about blogging my weekly giveaway on her uber-popular blog.

I loved your Thanksgiving stories, Ladies. They really put me in the mood for all that upcoming cooking. Thanks so much for sharing, and be sure to check back later this week to see which soap I'll be offering for the giveaway.


Friday, November 09, 2007

friday soap giveaway: Pumpkin Spice!

My daughter calls these "Monkey Tail soaps."

Okay, okay, so it's almost Saturday. My soap giveaways are starting later and later in the day on Fridays, I've noticed. But I have a fairly good excuse: Tomorrow is the first of the big holiday craft shows in Northern AZ, and I'm doing what I always do the night before - staying up way too late boxing up soaps and loading the truck. At least the weather's gorgeous this year. I remember one year our old truck got a flat tire and my husband was out in the snow late the night before a big show with the jack and a none-too-pleased expression on his face.
But I digress. This week's soap giveaway is a yummy-smelling bar of Pumpkin Spice. I'm bringing a bunch of these tomorrow, since they always do well at this time of the year.

If you'd like to throw your hat into the ring for a chance to win this bar, simply leave a comment to this post telling me the short version of one of your favorite Thanksgiving memories. I know, I used to just GIVE these things away. Now I'm making you work for it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


My NaNo word count thus far: 13, 036.

So, is my WIP any good?

Oh, heck no.

But it's fun.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

toys made in China? thanks, but no thanks.

It's not often that I put this blog down on the ground in the middle of a crowded World Wide Web, step up onto it and use it as a soap box from which I deliver my views on a specific issue in a way that will hopefully make you take action.


With the Christmas shopping season fast-approaching (already HERE, if walking into Wal-Mart is any indication - they were actually playing Christmas music over the sound system the other day), I feel it's time to bring up something important.

I've been cleaning out my daughter's room for the past couple days. A better word might be "purging" her room, since it's been too long since I've been a good little Fly Lady fan and dumped all the useless junk the girl never plays with anymore. But my mom will be coming to town in a little over a week, so it was definitely time to address that particular room, which serves as a grandmother/granddaughter sleepover spot whenever Abue comes to visit.

Anyway, I couldn't help but notice that just about every toy/gadget/tchotchke that either got thrown away, put into the Goodwill bag or put back in its proper place had the inevitable "Made in China" stamp on its underside.

Now, let me just admit here that I am a major devotee of both Wal-Mart and the Dollar store, both of which sell massive amounts of Chinese-made junk. Much of it is useful junk, though, and it's always cheap, which means a lot when you have kids and live on a budget. This fact alone might make me a giant hypocrite for writing this post, but I don't think so, and here's why:

Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock has probably heard about the widespread recalls of toys made in China that came with free, extra helpings of lead. This is really scary to a parent because in the worst-case scenario lead is fatal. In the less-worse but still horrendous-case scenario it can cause irreversible developmental delays. And I'm really happy that you can find such detailed recall lists online, but I can't help but wonder about the toys they haven't tested yet, those that are still on the market.

So, have I decided to boycott Chinese-made goods entirely? Heck, no, though I heard an interesting piece on NPR about a family who decided to do just that for an entire year. She ended up having to buy kids' tennis shoes out of a European catalog, and paid something like $75 for them.

But here's what I am going to do this year and for every year in the foreseeable future when it comes time to buy toys for any kid. I'm going to check out websites like this one and this one. I'll still check out the toys at Wal-Mart, Target, etc, but if I can't find anything made in the U.S.A., then forget it. I hope you'll make an effort to do the same.

Do I think American toys are perfect and without risk? Of course not. But I know for a fact that literally millions of toys coming from China are not only imperfect, but they have put my kids' health at risk in a very serious way.

Which brings us to an easy way to both buy American and shop locally: Hit your local holiday craft fairs this year! I'll be hawking soap at one of Flagstaff's biggies this weekend, and I'll also be doing some shopping, which means I'll be putting money directly into the pockets of some of our insanely talented local artisans. I can't think of a better way to spread some early Christmas cheer.

So, what you you all think about this issue, and have these recalls changed the way you shop for kids? If you have any good ideas on non-Chinese-made toys, please share!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mulled Cider - we have a winner!

Is that like, "Houston, we have a problem"?

Anyway, congratulations to angelaandconnor for winning last week's bar.

Be sure to check in later this week to see what I'll offer for the Friday Soap Giveaway.

Friday, November 02, 2007

friday soap giveaway: Mulled Cider!

This is one of the staples of my soap line, and has been for several years now. There's something about the spicy, slightly tangy apple-y scent of cider slow cooking on a stove top (with cinnamon sticks, cloves, etc. floating around inside) that keeps people coming back for more.

I'd like to gush about them even more and I apologize for the quality of this old picture, but since Halloween I've been feeling sore of throat and head - like a family of smallish porcupines has taken up residence in my sinuses. So, that's all for today, folks. Had to get that soap giveaway listed, though.

Want one of these yummy bars? You know what to do (and if you don't, all you have to do is leave a comment to this post). How about telling me what your favorite scent is - soapy or otherwise?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

our contribution to the dentist's down payment on that summer home

Monday, October 29, 2007

january garnet - we have a winner!

All the names went into the official red baseball hat (no team know, in case anyone thought I was a fair weather D-Backs friend who'd decided to swap loyalties over to the Sox).

The official small child subsequently pulled a name from said hat, and the winner is...

Mr. Ken!

So, you see, these soap giveaways are not just a chick thing.

Of course, I have a sneaking suspicion that Mrs. Ken may well end up with this bar.


Ken, email your address and I'll get this bad boy in the mail.

this one's for you, Rockies fans

The Verse-a-Week Memorization that popped up on my screen this morning goes thusly:

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. Psalm 147:3-5 KJV

Let's face it. The Sox brought their A-game last night, plain and simple. Imagine how they would have played if they weren't at altitude.

Friday, October 26, 2007

friday soap giveaway: January Garnet!

These January Garnet bars are the last of the new GemSoaps line that I'll be officially introducing this year at the big November Craft shows. In early 2008 I plan to start working on the spring and summer birthstones, which should be fun.

Since I was told that the picture I took of the November Topaz bars made them look like cheese (not what I'm looking for in a soap pic - then again, maybe I should think about starting a stinky cheese soap line...), I decided to move the garnet bars outside. Maybe I should have taken them out at the crack of dawn or dusk, though, since I still don't think the picture does justice to the yummy, sultry sparkliness. And, lawdy, things just don't get much more yummy smelling: I used a winter grapefruit scent for these, which means that whoever ends up with today's free bar will have to practice great self-restraint and not eat the soap during shower time.

Thanks to Laura for coming across my blog and posting these giveaways on her nifty site.

So, ya want one of these bars? As usual, leave a comment to this post, and the winner will be announced Monday.

Have a great weekend, y'all. Mine promises to be rich in kid birthday fun, Halloween preparations and continuing on a (hopefully near-final) novel revision. And don't even GO there by reminding me that NaNoWriMo starts in just days.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

check 'em out

Sarah Zarr's YA novel, Story of a Girl, which I read a few months ago as part of my own ongoing look into writing YA, has recently been nominated for a National Book Award. Not only is this book a great read whether you're young OR an adult, but how excited must she BE? You can find out the answer by hopping on over to her blog.

Also, my agent has a great post up at the DGLM blog. It's a perfect illustration of why I love her.

Brackett out.

P.S. Please send up a prayer today for folks in SoCal. I can't imagine having my home turned into a blazing inferno like that. I worry about the animals, too - especially the horses, which can be a challenge to move even in the calmest of circumstances.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

of mentors and assassins

image via Yahoo! Movies

An old friend recently reminded me via email of something I've been wanting to blog about for many moons - ever since I first heard that Brad Pitt and some other A-listers were heading into production on a little movie project based on Ron Hansen's book The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

When I was in my second year as an undergraduate at the University of California at Santa Cruz (yeah, life was tough) my loyalties began to feel split between the Theater Arts department and the English department. At the urging of my then-boyfriend's roommate - an eccentric writer and artist - I went with him during pre-registration week to check out a creative writing class offered by a RLPA! (Real Life Published Author!). Who, incidentally, I'd never heard of.

That writer was Ron Hansen, and after being told that this would be an incredibly difficult - if not impossible - class to get into, my boyfriend's roommate promptly pointed at me and declared to Mr. Hansen, "If you let us into this class, she will take her shirt off for you."

I got in. Boyfriend's roommate did not. (Score one point for being a wallflower.) But it's not what you think, honest. For one thing, I have long been president of my local chapter of the IBTC , and for another, Ron was never one of THOSE professors. From that first course (Intro. to Creative Writing, I think it was) until I graduated with a BA in English, I took as many of Ron's fiction, literature and screenplay-writing classes as I could. He was an excellent teacher - not only knowledgeable about the world of writing and publishing, but always humble and willing to share his knowledge freely with goofball undergraduates who thought being a real writer meant donning a black beret and sitting at Cafe Pergolesi until midnight with a notebook, a pen, and an artistically pained expression on one's face.

Uh, not that anyone around here fit that description - no sirree. But I digress.

Through Ron I got to meet Ron Carlson, who cracked me up, both in his pages and in person. He was also supposed to introduce me to his old friend, the literary rock star John Irving, but it never happened. It was also through Ron that I became acquainted with Wallace Stegner's son, Page, who was teaching at UCSC as well. Page taught this amazing class called (if I remember correctly) Literature of the American West. It was a full-credit course, and part of the (grueling, painful, torturous) course work was a ten day rafting trip down the San Juan River in southern Utah. Ron and his then-wife Julie were on that trip, and I remember thinking (at one point when things among all of us undergrads at one of the riverbank camps had descended into something more closely resembling Lord of the Flies than a college course) that those literary, professional adults were being awfully patient with us kids. I fell hard for the Southwest during that trip.

When it was time for me to leave my cushy undergraduate nest behind and apply to graduate schools Ron wrote a glowing letter of recommendation which did - and still does - mean a lot. We wrote back and forth a few times after I moved to Flagstaff, but then life happened and we lost touch. I continued to read each of his books as they came out over the years (Mariette in Ecstasy remains one of my all-time favorites for its gorgeous, palpable writing). So, even though it's been about fifteen years since I last spoke to him I can't help but feel awfully proud of my old mentor for accomplishing things that I continue to dream of accomplishing someday. I'm also grateful to my eccentric artist friend for convincing me to check out that creative writing class all those years ago.

Monday, October 22, 2007

November Topaz - we have a winner!

Congratulations to bebemiqui for being the winner of last week's November Topaz GemSoaps bar. Hey, bebe, send your mailing address to, and I'll get this bar out to you pronto!

For those of you who didn't win, check back this Friday for another Garland Prairie Soaps giveaway!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

and speaking of metal

Did anyone happen to catch FOX's new show "The Next Great American Band" on Friday? I just happened upon it, and I think FOX is onto something. More interesting than Idol, and how cool was it to see Sheila E. as one of the judges? The lady rocks.

The highlight, however, was a band of young (twelve and thirteen-year old) teenagers from SoCal called "Light of Doom." The name cracked me up, as did the cute little dudes, especially when it was announced that they were a "metal" band.

Then they played (scroll down the page a little to watch the clip). Holy cow. I've never been an Iron Maiden fan, but this version of Flight of Icarus was a jaw dropper. Check out the guitar solo, for instance. I'm quite sure having that much talent at that age just isn't natural.

waiting for the metal version

Warning: This video may induce seizures. Also, diabetes.

Friday, October 19, 2007

friday soap giveaway: November Topaz!

I know I've been a bit scarce this week. I've actually had a lot to say, but not much time to say it. I did want to make sure I got the Garland Prairie Soaps giveaway posted before the weekend, though, so here it is!

It's a bit difficult to see the sparkly details in this picture, but trust me: These are gorgeous (and their Ginger-Orange scent makes them yummy to boot). I'm having so much fun with these GemSoaps that I have to make sure they don't eclipse all the traditional holiday soaps I still have to batch by November.

Want one? Simple leave a comment for this post. Winner announced Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

of a sleepy tuesday morn

Monday, October 15, 2007

we have a winner!

Congratulations to betsy@thehomeschoolway for winning the December Turquoise bar.

I had such fun drawing in new readers with a single bar of soap that I plan to make the soap giveaway a regular feature on this blog. So, check back soon - you never know when it may be your turn to win!

Friday, October 12, 2007

soap of the day: December Turquoise (and a giveaway!)

So, Dude. Totally not trying to toot my own horn here, but these may be the coolest bars I've made in over five years of soapmaking.

I am beyond thrilled with how these turned out. My only concern is that the Lemon Verbena fragrance oil I used might give them more of a greenish hue that I was looking for. If it does, I'll just have to reformulate with a different scent.

Have you smelled Lemon Verbena? One of the big companies (Yankee Candle or Crabtree & Evelyn, I think) introduced this natural, herbal fragrance in their products a couple of years ago, and I guess it was a huge success. It's a lovely, lemony, earthy (without being too "bra-burner-like") fragrance, not unlike lemongrass but a little more ginger-y.

I'm actually introducing a brand spanking new line of these GemSoaps this season, and I'm doing the birthstone theme. So far I've batched December Turquoise and November Topaz (Ginger-Orange scented - picture to come). January Garnet is in the hopper, and I'm looking forward to seeing how those sultry bars turn out.

So, ya want one of these December Turquoise bars shipped to you for free/gratis/nuthin'? Even if this first batch yellows a bit, they should still look super cool. Simply leave a comment to this post and I'll randomly choose a lucky winner next week!

a very girly Friday

Heard this morning at the rec center. Brought me right back to eighth grade. Surely, Belinda Carlisle's moves were right up there with Molly Ringwald's in The Breakfast Club.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

pave paradise

It seems to be a given that any town with any redeeming features is going to be developed and grow over time. I get that.

It still didn't make it any easier yesterday when I took that first Flagstaff exit on the way to the dentist's office (two fillings, thanks for asking. See this post for a simple explanation.) and saw My Pasture all but completely bulldozed.

It's not really called My Pasture by anyone but me, but it occurred to me yesterday that I've though of it that way since the late summer of 1992, when I struck out on my own and left California. My move to Arizona was ostensibly for graduate school, but there were ulterior motives involved. One of these was the potential "horseability" of the town. (I'd also been accepted to a university in St. Louis and another in Anchorage, Alaska, but neither of those seemed overly suited to horses, and there was no question that Zzari would live wherever I would). So, Flagstaff it was.

On a visit to check things out prior to actually moving, I managed to find a place where Zzari and I could both live. It was an old stone homesteader's cabin right at the town limits, complete with old stone barn and a huge 80-acre or so pasture out back for seasonal turnout. Life didn't get much better.

I arrived a week or so before Zzari, who was coming via a big horse transport rig. I'll never forget the day he finally got there. I think I'd chewed all my fingernails down to nubs and was probably eyeing my toenails next, what with all the worrying about him. He arrived in perfect shape, though, well-hydrated and with his shipping boots still velcroed on. The hauler made some comment about hating those narrow Bay Area streets, and I didn't blame him: The road to the ranch where some of my California friends had gotten Zzari ready for transport was a one-lane, winding nightmare encompassing a complete absence of engineering ingenuity.
After the hauler left, I walked Zzari around our new home for awhile, feeling complete in a way I maybe hadn't quite felt before in my twenty-plus years of life. Then, I walked him through the pasture gate, closed it behind us and unbuckled his halter. There were a few other horses boarded at the homestead, and they all watched as Zzari looked around for a minute or two, then walked, then trotted, then cantered, then took off at a dead run across My Pasture. Our Pasture. He headed toward the fence separating the acreage from old Route 66, then veered right, whinnying to anyone who cared to listen.
A few months later the first snow fell, and it was a doozy of a storm. Dyed-in-the-wool California girl that I was, I went out to the barn paddock late that night and tried to take in yet another aspect of this new life I'd begun to forge for myself. Zzari was standing outside, no doubt wondering about this white substance falling from the sky. I went inside the paddock and led him by the mane over to a part of the fence that I could use as a mounting block. Then, sitting astride my horse in the dead of night - no bridle or saddle - just our breath pluming out ahead of us in the frozen fall air, I looked out toward Our Pasture and thought for the first time in my life that I could die right at that moment and it would all be okay.
Not too long after that I was starting to be in serious need of a farrier. I called around until a guy who'd been highly recommended by some horse people I'd met in the area told me his book was filled, but that I should try calling this other young guy who had just graduated from shoeing school up at Montana State, and who did a really nice job. So, I called that other guy, who showed up at the old stone barn one day and looked me right in the eye as I introduced myself and my horse. And the rest, as they say, is history. A few years later I ended up marrying that up-and-coming farrier, the one who, just yesterday, sat across from me in a downtown restaurant and reassured me that our memories can't be bulldozed like that pasture. We're still here, and so (thank you, Lord) is Zzari.
That made driving past my bulldozed pasture a little more bearable, and maybe the lump in my throat won't be as big as it otherwise would have been when I drive by and see the foundation for that first cookie-cutter tract house being poured.

Friday, October 05, 2007

welcome to my world

(and the world of just about every other mother I know). A friend-slash-riding student-slash-fellow Super Mom shared this with me yesterday. Don't you just love creative women? (That might be a redundacy). Happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

soap of the day: Cranberry Fig!

My son walked though the door after school yesterday and went, "MMMMMMMM - it smells SO GOOD in here!" Here's why:

They smell like ripe cranberries and fresh figs, and each bar comes complete with real cranberry seeds.

Oh, and have you seen my nifty new NaNo icon to the right? I'm official! Maybe I'll even buy a t-shirt to keep me motivated on Writer's Block days. Let me know if you want to do NaNoWriMo, too, and I'll add you to my writing buddy list on their site.

Also you may have noticed that I changed the font of my blog title. I like it, but I can't figure out why it insists on showing as all-caps when I change the font in Blogger's HTML editing window. If there are any HTML gurus out there who could help me with this, I'd appreciate it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

be afraid. be very afraid.

Sign-ups for NaNoWriMo begin tonight, and I'll be a first-time participant this year. I try to tell myself, "50,000 words in a month? Pthhh. No problem."

After all, that's know...a little under 2,000 words per day. I mean, what could go wrong?

Other writers I know have done this, so I take heart in that. It will be a nice boost to my segue into writing for the Young Adult market anyway, since 50K is a respectable word count for YA/Middle Grade books.

In other news, hop on over to my friend T's blog and congratulate her on her GAZILLIONTH (or maybe it's the fourth with a deal for the fifth as well? Seems more like a gazillion from where I sit) novel to be published in Spring of '09.

This woman was my office mate in graduate school, hailing all the way from Vermont. I remember hearing about her first published book when I was pregnant with my first kid. It would have been a lasting case of professional jealously (rather than a relatively brief case) if she wasn't such a dad-gummed nice, lovely person in addition to being a kick-*ss writer. Not fair, but there you have it. (Oh, did I mention her photography? Seriously, don't hate her for being beautiful OR talented. She's way too nice for that.) If you haven't read her other books, such as Undressing the Moon and Breathing Water, I highly recommend them.

Way to go, T!!!!!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

as if I wasn't losing enough sleep already

Headed outside for nightly rounds with the flashlight earlier this week, just because I like to check up on everyone before I go to bed. You know. Make sure no horses are cast against their corral panels, make sure no cats are in a stand-off with a coyote, make sure no chickens have already lost said stand-off.

Anyway, I heard a thump coming from the pump house. Instead of running inside and strongly suggesting to my husband that he investigate the source of the sound as I'd done the night before, I decided to cowgirl up and do it myself. I made some noise as I approached the door, and a fat ol' raccoon promptly scurried down from the window of the pump house, which we keep half-open so the cats can come and go as they please. Relieved that it was only a raccoon, I opened the door and shined the light in, just to make sure the cats were okay.

If I'd been thinking clearly I would've run inside for the camera so I could have gotten a picture of the TEN little beady eyes staring back at me like, "Lady, we're trying to eat here. Would ya mind turning off the flashlight?" Yup, that's right. Five raccoons were hunkered over the cat food, fattening themselves up for fall inside our pump house.

photo via

Unfortunately, though, my brain was otherwise occupied with setting up the baby monitor near the chicken coop so I could hear the raccoon family when they moved the party over to the coop for a nice dessert of Silkie Hen Tartar. Yes, you heard me correctly. I use a baby monitor for night-time chicken surveillance.

Because I have become that person - only with poultry instead of felines.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

why do I do this to you?

Is it because I like to torture my little handful of faithful readers?

Is it because I am somehow channeling a flashy, gay man?

Nay to both. I can tell you why I do this in one little word...

MISHA!(even if he is wearing gold lame')

doing my part

Found on the back of a Brach's candy corn bag:

"Did You Know...? Each year Americans consume enough Brach's Candy Corn that if laid end-to-end, would circle the earth 4.25 times...WOW!"

Punctuation issues aside, I'm glad to know I'm making my own small contribution to the accomplishments of humankind by just about EATING MY WEIGHT in candy corn for the past few weeks.

Somebody, please stop me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

soap of the day

Pumpkin Spice. KNOW it's fall when I start batching Pumpkin Spice soap. At the craft fairs these bars sell right on through the Christmas shopping season.

And, okay, okay, they don't look that glow-y with that soap opera (no pun intended) lighting in real life. It's just that I've recently downloaded the free trial version of Photoshop Elements 5.0 and I've been adding that angelic halo to every photo I can get my hands on. (Thanks, Heather.)

woo hoo!!!!!!

It's fall!

I love, love, love, love, LOVE fall!

And it's here! It's here! It's here (click the card on the top row that says "FALL")!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

pre-fall musings

One friend says she worries about me when I'm not blogging because that must mean I'm unhappy, or overwhelmed, or something. Lest anyone else has been concerned the past week or so, I'm not unhappy. Overwhelmed? Maybe a little. The work for which I get paid has picked up significantly, as has the work for which I don't get paid - mending fences (literally), whacking weeds, building chicken enclosures, picking tomatoes and lavender, painting the arena fence...and that's just the outdoor chore list. These days the inside of my house routinely looks like a hurricane has blown through. And, of course, craft show/soaping season is rapidly approaching, which means that soon I'll be elbow-deep in suds daily.

But I'm looking forward to fall's official start next week. This is, hands down, my very mostest favoritest time of the year. I don't know what it is. Something about the change of light - the way the sun hangs lower in the sky. Early mornings you can taste woodsmoke in the air, and the leaves. Oh, the leaves in northern Arizona are like nothing you've seen outside Vermont (which I understand is a fall-lover's paradise). Hopefully, we'll be heading up the peaks sometime in the coming weeks for a picnic in the aspens. The whispering of those newly-golden leaves set against the trees' white bark is something to behold, I tell ya.

Here's another sign of fall, spotted behind the house the other day:

I think this tarantula might still be a baby. But they do come out this time of year, all those males traveling sometimes in herds (for lack of a better word) toward the elusive scent exuded by a female. Or maybe I'm imaging that. I'm pretty sure that's how it goes, though. I wrote about in in-depth for my very first novel (which rests comfortably in the back of my closet).

Speaking of which, that's another thing I like about fall. Once that first freeze hits I'll be more inclined to anchor myself to my desk and get to work on my newest projects, which have been percolating inside my head the past few months as I've been outside in physical-harvesting-working mode. Brings things back into balance for a writer, fall does. Now I'm off to check in with some blogs I haven't read for way too long, like Heidi's and Ken's.

I'll leave you with this, which is just gritty, over-produced and Bob Marley-ish enough for me to go, Hmm. I like it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

it's nostalic movies about the performing arts from the seventies Friday!

I've always been a sucker for movies about the performing arts world. There's a good chance it started with A Little Romance, which came out when I was just nine years old. Diane Lane was such a beautiful, fresh-faced young girl who later grew into a glamorous star (and dated Mr. Bon Jovi, incidentally. She also appeared in one of my favorite mini-series of all time, Lonesome Dove). Sir Lawrence Olivier shines in this film - simply shines. The Vivaldi concerto that serves as the theme music for much of A Little Romance had such an impact on me as a kid that I hired a solo violinist to play it at our wedding as I walked toward my waiting groom...

Then there was The Competition, starring Amy Irving and Richard Dreyfuss. I used to watch it back to back on the Showtime box that sat on top of our television. (Anyone remember the glittery spandex purgatory that was Aerobicise?) I love the scene where Amy Irving discovers during a tense competition that her piano has one out-of-tune key. The look of pure diva horror on her face is incomparable.

And who could forget the piece de resistance of nostalgic seventies movies about the performing arts - The Turning Point? Can anything generate a more hearty sigh than a topless Misha in his heyday? I think not.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

demolition boy

When the kids and I got home from School Day at the County Fair (it's always held on the first day, a Friday, from right when the gates open until the afternoon), we were full of news to tell Dad when he got home from work. First of all, the kids' Silkie pullet "Falanis" won a blue ribbon (which means the bubble bath paid off). Second of all, they had RABBITS at the fair. Third of all, the Demolition Derby was going to be held on Saturday and Sunday, and we actually SAW one of the cars - a Bondo and neon-spray-painted work of art - going by on a trailer.

Our son hadn't been to the Derby since he was a toddler and, really, I see now that we were jumping the gun a bit when we took him then, because it is inevitably a loud, hot and crowded affair, complete with beer-swilling rednecks wearing "Goat ropers need love, too" t-shirts with the sleeves cut off. Needless to say, I LOVE the Demolition Derby almost as much as I loved Willie Nelson's "Help Willie Pay the IRS" concert, which I went to in the late nineties.

Anyway, I told my husband when the gates would open on Saturday, and he actually looked at me and said, "Do you think he (our son) would really be into that?"

Hmm. Let's review. A bunch of cars racing around in what is essentially a mud pit, smashing into each other until only one car is left running.

Nah. An eight-year-old boy totally wouldn't be into something like that.

So, they went both days, and had a blast. Son called it the Damn-you-lition Derby in total innocent earnestness, which seemed so appropriate somehow.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Falanis goes to the Fair!

If You Give a Hen a Spa Day
(with apologies to Laura Numeroff)

If you give a hen a spa day she's going to ask for bubble bath.

After the bubble bath she's going to want to be dried with an oversized Turkish towel

The towel will be insufficient, so she will require a hair dryer. And a comb. You will have to draw the line at styling products.

"Take me to the County Fair!" she will cry when the treatment is done, "So that my loveliness may be gazed upon by fowl far and wide!"

And you will have little choice but to comply.

Friday, August 24, 2007

"How old are you, Mom?"

"Thirty-seven, Honey."


She's right. It is an awful lot of roadside flowers to pick while waiting for the school bus to drop Big Brother off at our stop.

girls rule, boys drool

That's the word on the playground, apparently. Also, the other way around.

Yes, school is back, and all the hubbub therewith. I find myself with more free time than I've had in almost a decade (though "free" may be an overstatement. It would more accurately be described as time to put a dent in the mountain of tasks, large and small, looming before me. Can you hear the sad violins playing in the background?).

Yesterday I worked for hours on the new and improved Chateau Chicken, since some friends are giving us their pair of Leghorn layers (that's "Leggern" to those of you interested in improving your Chickenese). This could work out well for a couple of reasons: Leghorns are big layers (and I mean BIG - have you seen the size of those monsters?), but they're not so much into going broody (sitting on the eggs). Silkies, on the other hand, rarely get around to laying because they go broody so easily. They love sitting on any eggs they can find, even those of other hens. Silkie roosters are apparently the same way - they'll keep the eggs warm and help raise the chicks. How's that for the "sensitive male" so many women dream about?

Last weekend we did the horse show thing, and tomorrow's the County Fair show. Don't know if we'll be going though, since Zzari stepped on the boy's toe this week and it's still sore.
That's about it for this Friday - short and sweet. I'd like to add "like me," but I'm more the tall and cranky type.

Monday, August 20, 2007

dresses all up and no place to go

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

bite the wax tadpole

Okay, just this once I'm going to ask you to trust me. Do yourselves a favor and hop on over to Moronland.

And why is it that I suddenly have this song in my mind?

And...oh, heck, why not. Long as we're twangin' and redneckin', let's just check out ol' Bocephus as well.

Monday, August 13, 2007

hand gallop, please. hand gallop.

That's what my weekend was all about - and I mean ALL about. From Friday morning at about 6:30 until Sunday afternoon I was Ms. Ring Steward, thank you very much. It was fun. I've done lots of different horse show stuff over the years - showing, judging, spectating, being there for students, etc. - but working as ring steward at a class A show was one thing I hadn't done. It was labor intensive, detail intensive and trying-my-best-to-take-care-of-our-top-notch-judge intensive, but it was also lots of fun and of course I learned a ton listening to Madame Judge and watching the exhibitors (the rider on the right put 60 days our young stallion who is now owned by a certain - ahem - photographer who felt compelled to take pictures of me in my funky Eddie Bauer hat). Hey, at least I didn't come home sunburned after three straight days in intense sun. So, here:

The turnout was pretty good for this show, too. Not as big as it's been in years past, but not as small, either. I like to think that Hubby and I were members of the local club back in its heyday, when it had a vibrant membership and show barns busting at the seams. We always get some great trainers from down in the Valley (Phoenix), and there were also several barns from New Mexico represented. One of the things that apparently hurt numbers a bit this year was the fact that Youth Nationals just recently got over with, and folks are still burnt out. The judge was super, though. She'll be judging at U.S. Nationals this year, so it's always good to know we can attract that caliber here at our little 'ol Flagstaff show. Now, of course, I'm itching to find me a young mare to bring up through the ranks. Here's another pic:

Our weather held off until today, when we've had multiple power outages, hail and rain slanting sideways. Some day I'll try to find some of my own glory days show pics and share them here. I hope y'all had a great weekend, too.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Generally used as a word for things I don't like. So, why do these wall decals make my heart beat a little faster? If only they had a horse-themed set. Well, they and Threadless come close with this. (via Neatorama).

So, now that the links in this short little post have officially reached the status of overbred, I will also include another one. Because, shortly before we left California this summer, a friend and I met with our kids at a local outdoor mall. There's a great toy store therein where they have a hunky-dory Hello Kitty display. The girls weren't half as interested in it as we moms were. So, while I feel for this poor guy, I also not-so-secretly wish I could come over and check out his wife's collection.

And then there's this. Ah, to be twelve again.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I know why the caged bird sings

This is "Mathilda":

whose very life was nearly required of her this morning when she found herself trapped within the Jaws of DEATH:

(aka "Angel.")

Fortunately, we spotted the rotten cat trotting past the kitchen window with her new toy, then headed outside and found her under the horse shoeing trailer. The hummingbird (I think that's what it is, anyway) was predictably in shock. So, we put her inside the Last Chance Saloon (aka a big wire cage that's been useful for all sorts of things lately). After about five or ten minutes she was looking vigorous and healthy, with two clearly functioning wings and no puncture wounds to be found anywhere. So, we took her to a far corner of the property, faced the cage door toward the prairie, opened it up and watched her fly away toward a distant group of trees. Much better ending than we've been experiencing lately, but I still have to ask:

What the heck is the DEAL with birds around here lately?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

soap of the day

The holiday craft show season is rapidly approaching, which means I'll be soaping like a ... like a .... What IS the right analogy for someone who's going to be making a lot of soap?

Pictured above are some freshly-cut "I Love Lavender," bars which are very popular with people who, indeed, love lavender. I don't tend to be one of those people, though the scent grows on me as I get older. Well, it doesn't GROW on me. I mean, it's not like I just wake up more and more smelling like lavender or anything. You know what m'sayin'.

I do love the color lavender, and I do adore the flowers. Here's some I put in a big container outside recently:

So far the plants are surviving the direct sunlight and occasional monsoon hail.