Thursday, April 24, 2008

You can't beat a small town

There are lots of advantages to living in a small townand no, the grocery store's produce depart being smaller than most SUVs isn't one of them. In the spirit of James Dashner's famous top ten listsbut in no particular order:

1) Heavy traffic is when you have to wait almost 30 seconds to turn left onto Main Street because the high school has just let out.

2) I can sit on my porch and hear roosters crowing from at least three different directionseven when mine are all shut in the coop. I can name at least eight other kinds of 'farm' animals pastured within a block of my house.

3) Everyone waves to everyone else they pass on the road regardless of whether they know the person in the other car or not. It's practically mandatory.

4) If our high school team is playing, I can go to the grocery store on the night of the state football championship (substitute wrestling, or basketball if you like) and everyone at the check out is talking about the latest stats from the radio.

5) I can greetby nameat least eighty percent of people who walk into my parents' store.

6) If my husband (who didn't grow up in this town) meets someone new for the first time, I can usually name at least one family member of that person with whom my husband is acquainted. Sometimes that family member is a second cousin or something, but it's almost inevitable that they be related to someone else in the area that he does know.

7) When someone moves they can tell me who two or three of the previous owners of the house were instead of an address and I know exactly which house they're talking about.

8) If I call 911, there's a good chance my husband will answer the phone, and that he'll send out a deputy, firefighter or EMT who lives just down the street from me to help.

9) I know most of the local ambulance patients by face, if not by name. This familiarity can make stressful situations easier.

10) When those patients are up and walking around again, I often get to see them when I work at the store, so I know how they are recovering. Today a woman we transfered to Provo a couple of weeks ago stopped into the store to say hello and thank me for helping her that day. That made my day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Seven things

So both Danyelle and Kim have tagged me to list seven things about me. I suppose it's past time I responded. Now if I can come up with that many that I am willing to admit.

The rules are as follows:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1)By the time I was fourteen I could cut glass, mix paint, and help install a vinyl floor. My parents store sold glass, paint and my dad installed vinyl until recently. ( For those who don't know what vinyl is, many people still call this linoleum--which was made with asbestos and isn't the same product used thirty years ago.)

2) I know what tiny words like
Floccinaucinihilipilification mean. It means of little significant value or worthless. Don't ask me where my husband found this word; apparently he was having a slow night at work.

3) My pet names all go together. My indoor pets are (cats) Tilly and Tashi (short for Natasha), and (dogs), Molly and Baby Bear (it was Bear Bear when we adopted him, but it didn't work, so we had to modify it slightly.) Half the time I just call him baby, even though he's an adult.)

My geese are Pinky, Blinky, Inky and Clyde--the PacMan ghosts, and were named so I could remember who was who without regard to gender, as I had no idea which they were at the time.

My mixed ducks that I raised from ducklings with the geese and chickens last spring are Larry, Moe, Curly and Shep from the Three Stooges--also without regard to gender. See my previous post "Larry is a girl" for more details.

My Muscovy ducks, which I inherited this winter, are Wacko, Yacko and Dot from the Animaniacs. Once again, I'm not certain which gender they are.

My roosters are all Lester, because I have no qualms with eating an animal named Lester, and since the hens are newer, and harder to tell apart, they don't have names at all. I generally use pet names for them whenever I actually interact with them. Unless they are digging up my flower garden, they I call them monsters.

4) I co-own a computer business with my husband, but I let him do all the really technical stuff.

5) I never kissed my husband until after we were engaged.

6) I installed all the tile in my pantry, downstairs bath and office myself, though I did allow my dh to cut the tiles that needed a trim.

7) My entire front yard is nothing but flower beds.

I'm tagging

Ali Cross




Michelle Jefferies

Marta Smith


Andi Sherwood

Man, it's hard to find seven people this late in the game. Good luck ladies!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ask an Author

Ever heard of a blog tour? I hadn't until just recently, but I'm gearing up to host a stop on Tristi Pinkston's blog tour next month. On May 30th, Tristi, author of Nothing to Regret, Strength to Endure, and the recently released Season of Sacrifice, is going to stop by my blog and answer your questions about her latest book, about writing in general, or other topics, and you get to ask the questions. If you have a question you'd like to ask Tristi, post it here and she'll pick out a few to answer. Soon I'll post a link of where you can learn where else Tristi is planning to visit.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Delicious Conversations: A Tasty Experience

I took some downtime this week to crack open a book that has been tempting me for several weeks. My friend Danyelle told me about Jennifer Stewart Griffith's book Delicious Conversations months ago, and brought her copy with her from Kansas for me to lend me when we got together for the recent LDS Storymaker's Conference. I found the idea intriguing and squeezed some time in for it this week.

The back cover says:
Susannah Hapsburg is totally ready for Plan C. Plan A was to get married at 22, and have a passel of kids. Still unmarried and 31, that option is out. Plan B was to work her way up the corporate ladder. However, the company she devoted eight years to just went bankrupt, giving her a bad taste for the corporate world. Which leavers her with Plan C.

Plan C involves chocolate.

With the support of friends, Susannah puts her future on the line to open up downtown Salt Lake City's first all-chocolate cafe, The Chocolate Bar, a place where scrumptious conversations and delectable desserts abound.

In the midst of all this, social turmoil hits Susannah when she catches the interest of the city's most eligible bachelor just as her long-lost love returns to town--with intention of marrying anyone but Susannah.

Can Plan C offer Susannah her just desserts?

Once I got into the book, I could hardly put it down. I was picking up the book at every red light to read just a few more sentences--I wonder if that had anything to do with my getting lost on the way to critique group?

Anyway, the dialog was fun, the descriptions detailed enough to paint a picture without being overblown, and the twists and turns kept me guessing to the end. And did I mention the fabulous recipes at the end of every chapter? I can't wait to try out Chocolate Avalanche, though I think I might give the chocolate chili a pass until I'm going to a big potluck gathering.

I'm definitely going to go seek out her other books. Jennifer Stewart Griffith is also the author of Choosing Mr. Right and A Little Sisterly Advice.

Oh, and Danyelle, I'll have to send you a new copy, since I seem to have gotten this one a bit water logged. No loss, since that means I can keep a copy of the book for myself!

Friday, April 11, 2008

My love/hate relationship with CNG

I love, love my 'new' truck. It's a Ford F-250, covered in dents and dings and had to be shipped from back east after we won it on ebay, but I couldn't care less what it looks like. Well, maybe I could care a tiny bit less, but only just. Living in a rural area where I'm trying to work on yard projects, it's really nice to have a truck to haul garbage, dirt, manure, fencing and dozens of other things. Even better is the fact that it takes Compressed Natural Gas. I know people are wary of using CNG, and in some areas of the country, fuel stations are nearly impossible to come across. I couldn't have driven my truck from the East Coast to here if I wanted to because there are too many states with no CNG stations at all--a crying shame.

Did you know Utah has a state income tax credit that is worth *almost* as much as I paid for my truck, including shipping? (Half the cost of a conversion of add on, up to $3000 until the end of the calendar year, then it goes down from there.) and that CNG costs only 64 cents at the pump-yes, you read that right. In other words, it costs significantly less for me to drive my gas guzzling pickup to Provo, than my fuel-efficient Kia Rio. A gallon of gas for my car will get me almost 40 miles in the Kia; the same monetary output in CNG will get more more than 60 miles in my truck.

Now for the hate part of things...Even though there are a number of fuel stations up and down the I-15 corridor, and the number is rising, my truck in dedicated natural gas. That means I can't use unleaded at all. So yesterday I was in Utah Country for my weekly critique group and stopped at my favorite fuel station in Orem--which had the natural gas pumps under construction as they are replacing them. So on my way home I stopped at the station in Springville, and couldn't get any pressure. This resulted in an aggravating, if mildly amusing story.

Long story short, er, shorter, after several phone calls back and forth with Questar the gentleman on the phone asked me to check at the front counter and see if they have to turn on the pumps. The woman said they did, they always had, and that's why there was a call button. I commented that I'd never had to push the call button before, to which she replied that I must never have filled up there before. I had pumped there at least half a dozen times (refer back to the fact that the Orem station was my preference in the area), and the younger girl suggested maybe someone had seen me standing out there and turned on the pump the other times.

I could accept that, if I hadn't mostly used the back pumps, which means the attendant would have to have Xray vision to see through all the diesels that fuel up between the building and the CNG pump. I didn't bother to argue with her and told her I was going to bring my truck back around to the front pump. I saw no sign anywhere on the pumps directing customers to push the call button to have them turned on.

I hook everything up and push the call button. Thirty seconds or so passes and nothing happens, so I push the button again. A minute or more passes and I still nothing. I push the button a third time. A couple more minutes pass as I stand around in the freezing wind and falling snow at nearly eleven pm. I stare at the window which clearly shows the women who knew I was coming to the pump going on with their business, paying no attention to me whatsoever.

Finally, I go into the building and ask very politely if something might be wrong with the call button because I have pushed it three times. The younger woman behind the counter answers matter-of-factly, "Oh, yeah, the intercom out there has been broken for quite a while." Grrr. About this time I want to throttle someone, but instead I simply tell her I'm at pump 24 and return outside. The pump turns on and all is well. It was only a little after midnight when I finally reach home.

Next vehicle is going to be a bi-fuel, then I won't have to worry about being stranded 100 miles from home.

And I still love my truck

Monday, April 7, 2008

Larry is a girl

Several new things going on in my life. First, on Friday I was out collecting eggs. Now my duck/goose enclosure shares a fence line with my chicken run, and until a couple days ago, the birds could scoot under a couple sections of fencing to reach the other side if they wanted. My hens did this on a regular basis, but when one of my big geese, Inky, started doing it, I was rather surprised, she's not exactly a light weight.

Anyway, I collected eggs Friday. There were three in the hen house, so I went over to the goose side to see who had left me treasures on that side of the fence, and found three more. That gave me two brown eggs, three green eggs and a dirty, gray/green egg. Now, I had checked that spot in the nest earlier in the day and knew the darker egg was fresh and I only have three green egg layers, so I got online and did some research. It turns out that the Cayuga duck that I had been thinking was a drake. It wasn't the first time I had come across eggs that color, but I had figured the previous ones were old eggs left by one of my hens.

About six weeks ago I started finding goose eggs in the same nest, and only recently came to the conclusion that Inky, My African Goose, was leaving them. I had been under the impression that Inky was male before as well. lol

In other news, I had someone spread the road base that I'm going to build a flagstone patio on later this summer, and I got my pond liner down this weekend, and filled it with water. The pond is fairly small, and I'll have to attach a picture later, since I'm not sure where DH stashed my camera. Hopefully I'll have time to visit a nursery that carries aquatic plants while I'm out of town this week. Fish will come a couple weeks later. I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Finding the Right Fit

Saturday I went to Provo to meet with my new critique group. Now, I've belonged to a casual critique group online. We trade manuscripts, first chapters for contests, cover letters and queries, but I've never been part of a regular critique group that meets face to face.

I love it, and I am so excited for the things this group is going to do for my manuscripts. The feedback I got last Saturday (our first meeting) was very helpful, and very encouraging. I can't stress enough how important it is for writers who are serious about their craft to make time for something of this nature. I travel more than an hour to meet with my group because I live in a rural area and there are few writers nearby. Since I travel to the Provo area nearly every week for my business, it wasn't a horrible stretch for me. I'll just take care of business matters on the day that my group meets.

That might not be possible for everyone, but there are online critique groups you can meet with--and here's the important thing: Not all groups are created equal. The people I meet with are mostly people I've known for several years through a forum I belong to, and the one person who is new to that group is well known by one of the other members of our group. I know I can trust them to give me good, honest feedback in a positive manner. You may get into a group and realize that the feedback you are getting isn't helpful, or that the feedback is mean-spirited. Unfortunately there are writers out there who feel it necessary to tear down others rather than give helpful, honest critiques in a reasonably kind way. If the group doesn't work for you, find another one. The most important thing is making sure you mesh with your group, and that you all come away with something worthwhile in your meetings.