Thursday, September 25, 2014

Life, Ain't It Grand? By C.P. Stringham

Life is about perspectives. Moments when you stop whatever it is that you are doing, and take time to look around and savor each little nuance. These nuances are the things you would normally take for granted because you’re always in a hurry or too preoccupied by something else to notice. Sights. Sounds. Smells. Time to examine your own feelings due to that moment. Contentment. When’s the last time you’ve recognized your own contentment? We take so much for granted because we are so focused on getting a chore, a workday, a workweek over with or even wishing away time to bring a big event, like a vacation or holiday, closer.
Lto R: Ryan's key fobs; the grub tables; organizers thank you board.
             This past Saturday was the 3rd Annual Barrels & Bikinis fundraiser held at Rockin’ N Stables & Ranch and, as previously posted on the Broads of a Feather blog, local equestrian Carolyn Mosher was the honoree recipient of all proceeds. Now, my family and I are no strangers to equestrian events, but this one was different. We were there, each and every one of us, for Carolyn and not a trophy or ribbon or even year-end points. Despite her diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer, she never let it dampen her spirits. She was her normal gracious, accommodating, fun self and all dressed up for a day spent in the saddle with her horse community friends.
Perspective #1: Even when life has handed you a scary diagnosis, saddle up and ride anyway.
L to R: Abby sporting her bikini while posing with Carolyn; Carolyn and Sean who isn't afraid to wear pink in support of his mother's battle; Carolyn and Houston waiting "in the hole."

We spent the majority of our time walking around and visiting with people. Renee and Harold Nichols were there as event supporters with their mobile tack shop. Patty Minard and her daughter, Abby, were there. Abby was a competitor. Like Carolyn, Patty and Renee each know a little something, first hand, about cancer. Patty had stage IV Metatastic Melanoma and Renee had lymphoma in the recent past. Patty now tours the country as a guest speaker for Bristol-Myers Sqibb to help promote the drug, Yervoy, that she and her team of specialist credit for saving her life.  She told me, “This is the second time I’ve battled melanoma. The first time I was diagnosed with stage II.” Patty is very upfront while discussing what she and others like her go through from diagnosis to battle and the hardships one faces. Finances are always hard to manage. We even talked about how hard it is when friends step away from you because of the illness. Some are afraid and don’t know what to say. “Others act as if they are afraid to hug you for fear of catching it. Like you’re contagious or something," she said. While she talked, it gave me time to think about what I’d do in Patty’s place. Abby is close to my oldest daughter’s age. Like Syd, Abby loves horses.  What is it like to be going through the horrors of cancer and being filled with the constant worry of not being around for your children? Or seeing them reach adulthood and all that it has to offer? My time spent talking with these wonderful, strong ladies reminded me of how precious life is. Each year, each month, each day we get to spend with our loved ones truly is a gift that many of us take for granted. Carolyn, Patty, and Renee like to point this out to everyone. Don’t waste time.  
Perspective #2: Live life, appreciate everything, and love deeply.
L to R: Harold and Renee Nichols of Nichols' Saddlery; Patty and Abby; Merideth and Brittany who each competed. 

Monte going pink for Carolyn. What a great sport!! Photo by Lea Halderman
While the reason for the event was serious, spectators and competitors kept the mood light. There was horse talk, naturally. Stories of past events. A stray raindrop fell from time to time, but nothing ever became of it. Everyone just settled in, rain or shine, for the day. As the start time approached, laughter and cheers could be heard as Monte Nicholas, tough cowboy and co-owner of Rockin’ N, held the American flag for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner while seated on his trusty gelding, Gus. This may sound perfectly normal, only Monte had shed his red western shirt and Carhart vest for a bright pink bikini top accessorized, of course, with his black Stetson, Wrangler’s, and cowboy boots. All to show his support for Carolyn and Breast Cancer Awareness. I’d never seen anything like it. Most men would run the other way at the mere mention of it. Not Monte. He put a smile on his face and graciously galloped into the indoor arena, flag waving to our national anthem, as multiple cameras and cell phones came out and his bikini-wearing ride was recorded for various social media pages. It was all for Carolyn.
Perspective #3: Real men will wear pink to show their support for the great women in their life.
L to R: Family dining in pink; Carolyn's son, Sean, and my daughter, Sydney; It's all about pink accessories.

As the competition started, it was fun watching each horse and rider prepare for their go as they waited in the hole. Most horses were adorned in pink. One of Rockin’ N’s students was using a stencil to paint pink ribbons on horses. Pink feather boas were wrapped around breast collars and streaks of pink were added to manes and tails. A few female riders braved the cold day to don bikini tops. Young and old, fast and slow participated. All of their entry fees went to support Carolyn. One of the most enthusiastic competitors was Ryan. In his early twenties, he is a special needs individual who reminded me a lot of my youngest daughter, Mackenzie. Ryan, in addition to competing in the gaming events, made and donated beaded key fobs to sell to those in attendance with all the proceeds going to Carolyn. He was there with his mom, Robin, and his horse, Dealer. Together, he and his older bay gelding made quite the impressive team. At the end of his last ride, Ryan whipped his cowboy hat off and let out with a loud yeehaw! It brought tears to my eyes. Happy tears. Earlier, I'd had a chance to speak with Ryan and he told me all about his new apartment, his roommate, and his girlfriend. I loved hearing how he was leading his own, independent life. It gave me hope for Mackenzie's future.  
L to R: My buddy, Ryan, removing his cowboy hat for the national anthem; Dealer and Ryan after their first go; A hardy yeehaw for a job well done.

When events were done and times consulted, placings were announced. Carolyn, her husband, Ron, and their two sons, Sean and Seth, gathered in the center of the indoor arena as competitors and organizers formed around them for pictures. I always love those Kodak moments. Lou, our master of ceremonies, had the first place winners, from each event, line up together before being sent on a mad dash for the donated prize table items. Many of which were horse-related goodies! What better trinket to take away for horse owners than horse-related goodies? Each subsequent placings were treated to the same dash to the prize table.
Perspective #4: Life’s ultimate prize is the feeling of accomplishment one receives from being a part of something that helps someone else.
L to R: Jenna Orcutt and her dog, Montana sporting the pink; donated prize table; Tammy selling Breast Cancer Awareness clothing.

The lunch break was announced and everyone dug in to all of the wonderful food that was brought in as a dish to pass. Monte grilled burgers and hot dogs and multiple tables were filled with crock pots set on warm, picnic salads, chips, and baked goods. (God bless the person who brought the tray of Almond Joy cookie bars!) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: horse community folks know how to picnic! I contributed a big container of cowboy caviar and tortilla chips. I thought my choice was apropos.
Perspective #5: Breaking bread with friends feeds the soul.
L to R: It's all about friends--Syd and Jessica Sheeley with Jess' AQHA Hunter Under Saddle horse, Manly Man; standing: Shannon Rightmire, Sydney, Courtney Woodward, Nate Perry, and on horseback, Abby Minard on Smartie; Nancy Nicholas (co-organizer) and Mackenzie.

After lunch, competitors could try their hand at the trail challenge. Carolyn’s specialty. An obstacle course was set up inside the indoor arena to test the skills of each horse and rider. Not only was there a maximum time limit of five minutes set for the challenge, but Christina Wilson-Thomas served as judge. It was her job to ensure contestants completed each trail challenge task and followed the rules. Ron told my husband and me that Carolyn loves to watch this type of event because it really tests the abilities of both horse and rider and shows the partnership between them. Carolyn and Reno were the first to go---and show everyone how it is done. It didn’t matter how quick contestants were or how many of the obstacles they conquered, every spectator joined in to cheer them on.
Perspective #6: Life is full of challenges and we can either chose to give up or meet them head on. Horse people choose to meet them head on.
L to R: Mosher Strong with Seth, Carolyn, Ron, and Sean; My favorite pic of the day as Ron wraps his arms around Carolyn; Trail Judge Christine, Organizer Hilary, Carolyn, and Organizer Jean.

 When I got home from Barrels & Bikinis, I uploaded my pictures to Facebook. I couldn’t help but smile at the memories made—and as a family with our horse community family. Even though the weather managed to keep some folks at home, the event drew thirty competitors and raised $1,200.00. As I reflected about the event, this was my Facebook post the following day:

Those of you who've known me for a long time, know I've never been much of a hugger. In fact, with some of you, I've kindly reminded you about my personal space bubble. Even gave you a visual of the 18" zone around me that was "my space." Okay. Maybe not so kindly. I've never been good at offering consolation to others. Pats on the back and gentle there-theres. I don't know why, but every time one of my college or high school employees at Wilson's Leather broke up with a boyfriend/girlfriend or had a loved one pass away, they were working with me when it happened. I was a fish out of water. I guess God has a sense of humor and likes putting us in places where we need the most work. My Divine on-the-job experiences were in empathy and kindness. Having children helped speed up my experiences. At the end of Barrels & Bikinis yesterday, I found myself seeking out our friends to say goodbye and I offered hugs first. It comes so naturally now that I don't think anything of it. I was around three fantastic ladies, each in various stages of fighting cancer, and they were perfect examples of living life for the moment while appreciating everything and everyone. Thanks for the great talk yesterday, Patty Minard.

The look of contentment: Carolyn and Reno. Photo by Patty Minard
At one point, during the event, I looked over at Carolyn. She was sitting astride Reno, elbow on her saddle horn, leaning forward to rest her chin on her hand, and she was smiling. Smiling. Even though she’d had a rough week (learned she’d lost her job and suffered a minor injury to her breastbone on top of the normal day to day grind with battling cancer,) Carolyn was the picture of contentment. Because of everything she’s been through, she has learned to savor each moment, taking it all in, and be grateful for the opportunity—a lesson we all need to learn.


Monday, September 15, 2014

20 years and Then Some by Robin Janney

Time flies when you're living life.  It also flies when you're on RuneScape trying to catch your levels up to your husband's, but that's a different post.

And as we all know, life doesn't even have to be all fun and games for time to slip away from you like sand through your fingers.  Life in general will steal away the years faster than you think. You graduate from high school and either head off to college or jump feet first into the working world.  Bills start coming in, no matter your choice.  Expenses for either college or job start piling up.  Some of us get married and have a family, others don't.  Friendships change, growing deeper or ending.  Some of us die.

All this musing because this summer my graduating class celebrated 20 years out of high school.

Did I just say - 20 years?

No, no, no!  How did that many years pass so quickly?

Some things never change!
L-R: Teresa Herman Allen, Ryan Allen, Mike Zaffrey, and myself
I'm going to be honest.  I don't have a lot of happy memories of school.  I was often teased and bullied.  A subject that came up much to my surprise with one of my classmates that night.  Speaking of me and my siblings about the bus rides to and from school, he said, "You all went through hell every single day."  Yes, we did.  It was a bit of a shock to hear one of my peers acknowledge this, especially since he was one of the ones on the other end of it.  I started too many school days off in tears, and many ended the same.  Even to this day, a little piece of me starts seizing up when I think back to those days.  Which explains why my side of the conversation probably was a bit on the terse side.  I didn't know what to say really.  A lot of the memories have blurred over, but it doesn't take all the sting away.  But that's all it is anymore, a bit of a sting.  A tiny thing in the great scheme of life.

But as I looked around at my classmates, I felt a level of acceptance I'd never felt before. Maybe because I've finally accepted myself, or maybe just the passage of time.  The reason why doesn't really matter.  I had warm fuzzies and I wasn't even drinking alcohol! (I had to drive.)  It was so much fun seeing faces that hadn't changed all that much, while trying to figure out the ones who looked nothing like they did all those years ago.  There was laughter and dancing (curse my aching foot!!)

But I do have some good memories.

How is this the best pic I got of Jennifer Turner Kelly?
She's the one right behind the centerpiece.
In eleventh grade, the main dance was the Prom.  It was the only one we would get as we did something different in our senior year.  I'm not sure whose idea this was, but as far as I know it is still the same in our old alma mater.  Now I came from a financially challenged family.  I wasn't sure if I would be able to go because I lacked funds for a dress.  One day, it must have been late winter or early spring one of my classmates told me that she had an extra dress for prom and I could borrow it for the night if I wanted to.

So one night I rode the bus out to Jen's home and tried it on.  Being a large girl, trying things on was a must.  It was a little tight, but I decided that if I lost a few pounds between then and Prom, then it would work.  I don't remember the details of the food dieting I must have done, but I do remember walking.  Faithfully, every day.  I'd walk 30 minutes in one direction then turn around and walk back to my departure point.  Needless to say, I achieved my goal and wore my borrowed dress to the Prom and had a good night.  Although I miraculously needed to go to the bathroom when they started playing the chicken  dance.  I've always been grateful for her willingness to share.

Johndee Perry and Mike Zaffrey
And then there was the time in middle school - oh my God now we're talking about lots more than 20 years.  Anyway, in gym class we always had to do certain exercises and have them timed or counted or both.  I forget what they were called, probably the Physical Fitness Test.

Needless to say, I struggled with every test.  I always gave it my best, but my best was never good enough.  I was too heavy and apparently I didn't play outside enough and just didn't have the stamina.

Well, this one year in middle school, I ended up with my own personal cheerleader.  Mike got to sit out of the tests for some reason, but when it got down to the end and I was way behind and the last one running, Mike followed me around the parking lot cheering me on.  "Come on Robin, you can do it!  Keep running Robin."  He stayed with me by my side until I crossed the finish line.

I doubt Mike and I ever shared more than a few words throughout our entire schooling, before or after this event.  But I have never forgotten this act of encouragement.  We all need people in our lives who will stay with us and cheer us on when we're flagging.
Senior Class Trip 1994

Liz Teribury Watson
If you looked closely at the group picture above, in the front row you'll see the same girl on each end. The photo was taken with an old fashioned camera, which required the photographer to slowly sweep the camera from left to right.  He had this tradition for each picture he took for class trips like ours.  He liked to include one person twice.  When he gave the "GO", the person on the left end of the line was to dart behind the rest of the row to the other end.  Well, Liz must have zigged when she should have zagged because the first time we did it there was a shadow from her somewhere in the lineup.  She nailed it the second time.

Jeff Hurley and Matt Weaver

This picture to the right is quite possible my second favorite one from the night.  I had already snapped one of Jeff and Matt, but Jeff caught me and posed so I snapped again.  At one point in the evening Jeff encouraged me to switch side of the tables so I could take part in the conversation better because to him it felt like I was off sitting in my own little world.  I told him that was normal, and not much of a change from high school.  I do tend to live in my own little world...makes for some great creative writing, but can cause other interpersonal issues sometimes.  But I followed Jeff's advice and enjoyed myself even more.

Lynette Sterling, myself, Tonya Austin
Now this picture to the left is my favorite from the night, even though the lightning turned us into fuzzies.  Our smiles still shine right through!  I have no words for these two.  They make me smile, and I hope I return that favor.

It was a great night to remember.

Though we are separated by miles and sometimes death, we are still close at heart.  Greater memories are yet to come, Troy Class of 1994.

Okay, that's it for the mushy stuff.

Monday, September 8, 2014

I Went to a Barn Party to Wreak Hovac with My Old Friends By C.P. Stringham

A few photos from my photoshoot with Mr. & Mrs. Nicholas
As a romance writer, I have a soft spot for real life love stories and happily-ever-afters. It’s a nice change to share in someone else’s good fortune. Our instantaneous access to all the horrors happening around the world leaves us in desperate need of positive, feel-good stories—which seem to have trouble making it into the news cycle. I refuse to accept that there aren’t enough good stories to go around. Refuse. I can’t even blame this shortage solely on the news media. Folks seem quick to jump onto the negativity bandwagon when it comes to sensationalized news. Take a moment to consider some of the posts you see on Facebook. Nine times out of ten, your circle of friends are more prone to post a status in which they complain about something; their relationship or family member drama, bad customer service they received somewhere, or even political stuff. As you reflect on this, you may even realize you’re guilty of the same behavior. Oh, I’m not immune to this either. I do my fair share of slinging the negative although I do make a conscious effort to keep my statuses positive. I prefer making people smile at good news or laugh at something silly I posted—usually something from my self-deprecating variety of humor.
L to R: Everything looked amazing! Don't tell my mother, but this is the best cake I've EVER had!
Top to bottom: The bride and groom feeding each other
their wedding cake; the group at our table watching; my
tequila buddy, Randy and me. 
This past Saturday night, my family and I attended a wonderful barn party held at Rockin’ N Stables & Ranch (click here for the link) to celebrate the recent marriage of its owners, Monte and Nancy. Each of them were married before and chose to tie the knot, this time around, in a simple, private ceremony with the plans of holding their reception at a later date. For their wedding present, I set up a photoshoot with them and took pics around their gorgeous facility.
Getting back on topic, their courtship counts as one of those happily-ever-afters I mentioned. They met at an equestrian event and have been inseparable since. Nancy told me, “When I first saw him riding his horse and wearing his cowboy hat, he had me.” Yes, Monte is a real cowboy, born and raised in Utah and sitting in a saddle at a young age. His knowledge and love of horses was handed down to him from his father who was also a cowboy and broke and trained. Nancy is a long time horsewoman. Has loved them since she was a little girl and, as other horse people know, once horse fever hits, it doesn’t ever go away. Because of their backgrounds, the two complement each other perfectly. They work together nicely and, for that reason, their business, which opened almost a year ago, has earned a great reputation within our local horsemen community and is flourishing.
Top to Bottom: The members of Operation Rodeo, Shannon,
Sean, and Syd; yours truly and Carolyn; Carolyn, Syd, and
Rockin N’s large indoor arena was transformed into a wonderful barn party venue. Tables and chairs, decorated with a country autumn theme, were set up to accommodate 90 jovial guests dressed in jeans, cowboy boots, plaid shirts, and men wearing cowboy hats or baseball caps. Space was left for a dance floor. Lou, the DJ, welcomed us and offered a message from Monte and Nancy in which they thanked all of their family, friends, and clients for their support, love, and friendship and then Nancy’s sister, June, toasted the newlyweds. She introduced Richard Houck who delivered the blessing. As he finished, tables were sent to the buffet line. The Nicholas’ hired the catering services of one of our favorite local eateries, Soprano’s Italian Market (click here for their Facebook page). Now, hold that thought…
Unsolicited Author Endorsement: If you haven’t treated yourself to Soprano’s fabulous homemade entrees and specialty desserts, you don’t know what you’re missing. I highly recommend their loaded breakfast pizza and cannoli! Their cannoli is just as incredible as what you’d find at a bakery in NYC’s Italian district. No lie. They make all of their own breads and rolls, too, as well as sell dried pastas and incredible deli items—Soppressata!
Top to Bottom: Country girls and boys getting down on the
farm; my husband and Mackenzie dancing; Monte took
Pat out for a turn around the dance floor.   
…Back to the shindig. Country music played over their new state-of-the-art sound system and spirits among guests were high. Soda, red Solo cups with wine, and cans of beer were clutched as we mingled. Dancing was encouraged and folks took to taking spins around the make-shift dance floor. Happiest in our family about the dancing was my youngest. She loves to show off her “moves.” Of course, her musical tastes range from Hip-Hop to Dance, but the friendly DJ catered to her likes and played a song each by Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas. Nancy encouraged her dancing and Mackenzie was in her glory shaking her groove thing. She even got asked to a slow dance with Monte—her first slow dance. I loved it. The Nicholas’ are so compassionate and understanding with her and it truly means so much to me. She’s accepted and included at Rockin’ N. Her classmate, Brittany, who is one of Nancy’s lesson students, is just as wonderful with Mackenzie. Brittany’s parents have raised her right. 
Now, while the bride and groom were busy celebrating, Carolyn Mosher (click here for the link to my previous post, Battle from the Saddle), mentioned “horning parties” (here’s another link to click on about pranking newlyweds), and I’d never heard of it. Hillary Dorazio, also standing in conversation with us, was familiar with the term and helped Carolyn explain. According to Carolyn, "It takes place after the newlyweds have moved into their house as a way to welcome them to the neighborhood--think of it as a housewarming party (with friends)  and is meant to be simple fun with nothing taken personal. Besides, you could find out what the wife could cook up in a hurry." By that, Carolyn said the uninvited guests show up late at night, and ask for something to eat. In order to feed their guests, the newlyweds scramble to prepare something.  While this is going on, people take turns slipping away unnoticed to play pranks. She mentioned mismatching socks, hiding items, and so on. Hillary even told us about taking the bride’s bras from the dresser, wetting them down, and slipping them into the freezer! Now that is cold. You get the general idea. That’s when the wheels started turning and six faces held devious smiles. Hillary, Carolyn, Carolyn’s son, Sean, my daughter, Sydney, and our friends’ daughter, Shannon, began to plot. And, I’ll be honest, Syd and Shannon were against it when they found out we were serious. Syd is always a goody-two-shoes and Shannon is a future Navy servicewoman who seemed to think it would cause trouble. But we were able to bring them over to the dark side. Using the rear door of the indoor arena, we slipped out, unnoticed and began by toilet papering the shrubbery outside of their house. Monte’s lasso was in his truck so it was used to tie his truck and Nancy’s SVU together. Inside his truck, the windshield wipers were switched on high and the radio volume cranked up all the way so that when he started the engine, everything would come on. His seats were moved and the steering wheel adjusted. When we were done, we decided it wasn’t enough. The toilet paper taken from the porta john wasn’t nearly enough. That’s when we sent Sean, Syd, and Shannon for more provisions including plastic wrap. Carolyn, Hillary, and I made it back to the barn without anyone knowing we’d disappeared—except my husband, youngest daughter, and my children’s riding instructor, Pat. We explained to them what was going on and they laughed, but offered a warning about paybacks. The kids called to let us know they were back. Carolyn and I stayed as lookouts while Hillary returned to, what Shannon, the military kid, designated as “Operation Rodeo.” Nancy’s son, Suede, and his friend were involved at that point as well. Suede took the toilet paper and hit the trees in their front yard. More TP was added to the shrubs. Sean and Hillary began using plastic wrap to seal their vehicles. A condom was even pulled over the front doorknob. Kids. They returned to the party and no one was the wiser. Carolyn apologized for corrupting my daughter even though I agreed, wholeheartedly, to our turn at mischief. (I'll blame my poor judgment on beer and the shot of tequila I had with Linda's husband, Randy!) 
Mischief managed during Operation Rodeo!
The next morning, we found out that Monte’s poor coworkers were blamed for it. (Hahahahah!!) When Shannon’s mom, Linda, told them who the culprits really were, they were stunned. I guess we have a reputation of innocence. Truth be told, I’d never done anything like that in my life, but I got to tell ya, it was FUN! I got a taste of what it is like to be a troublemaker. And my daughter is always too serious most of the time. Even at the risk of Monte and Nancy banning us from the barn, I’m glad Syd had the opportunity to be a rebel and tarnish her sterling reputation—even if it was a one-time thing. It was good for Shannon, too. Next year, she’ll be a sailor and have to toe the mark all the time.   
Monte and Nancy, congratulations and thank you, so very, very much, for including my family and me in your special night. We wish you all the best for a long, happy, and healthy life together, LIVING THE DREAM. We had a fantastic time and lots of great memories were made. I even got to be a bad girl. I owe you a slave-for-a-day favor to make up for the horning party. Syd, too. Oh, and thank you for sharing your happily-ever-after with us. 
*Special thanks to Linda Rightmire for sharing some of her pictures for the blog! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Confessions of this Married Writer by Robin Janney

My first confession is that I've been a slacker this week.  I haven't posted on my own blog, and have put off working on this post until today.

The three day weekend last weekend had a lot to do with it, because my husband had all three days off.  And let me tell you, there is no getting any writing when he is home.  Not because he bothers me, just because I set it to the side so I can spend time with him.

Clare Dunn opening for Parmalee
Saturday, we decided to go to the Kiwanis Wyoming County Fair even though we knew it meant sacrificing our grocery money for the week.  Thankfully, it didn't matter because we had enough already so that it wasn't an issue (although I did have to end up using my change to buy a loaf of bread). My husband has such a good heart; one of his co-workers has been down in the dumps so my husband decided to invite him to go with us.  I walked waaaaay too much on my foot that won't heal, even sitting down on benches here and there.  But I got to eat Triton pizza and later had homemade ice cream.  We ran short on time after the concert, so we missed out on funnel cake this year.

One thing I like about this fair is that their concert area is in this little bowl in the land.  They fill the bottom part with chairs, but they let people bring in their own chairs and sit on the side of the banks for a cheaper price.  It used to be $5, but this year it was raised to $10.  Still a good deal.  Three years ago they had the Roots and Boots Tour: Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw and Joe Diffie.  Unfortunately, there was a bad thunderstorm that blew up and rained us out an hour into the show. :/ That didn't happen this year with Clare Dunn and Parmalee. While it sounded to hubby and me that their sound was off (screechy) we still enjoyed the songs.

The second coming?
Oh, there they are!
Sadly, sitting on the bank means that the pictures my phone will take are less than stellar.  But that didn't stop me from taking them.  :)

Which leads me into another confession I guess.  I love taking pictures.  Which is something my husband finds amusing, unless I'm trying to take a picture of him.  The handsome lad doesn't like his picture taken because he thinks he's ugly!  It's far from true, but sometimes how we view ourselves isn't anything close to how others view us.  Neither view is 100% accurate, is it?

But as long as I'm not aiming at him, he doesn't care.  In fact when we were in the fair's southern field, about five minutes too late for the Big Cats show, he laughed when I pulled my phone out to capture what pics I could of the gorgeous animals.  "I knew that was coming out!" he said.  Even though we missed the 'show' we still got to see animals we'd never seen before. It was quite exciting.
Meow Meow


Meow Meow Meooooow!

What can I say?  The majesty of these big cats speak for themselves. Though caged, they still have this regal bearing that says: "I'm only tolerating this because you're shoving chunks of meat through the cage to me."  I can only hope that when they're not on the road being shown, that they have a bigger home than the cages we saw.  Part of me hates that they're caged, but another part of me recognizes that without the cages, I would never have been able to see them.

Well, that covers day one of the three day weekend, you say.  What about Sunday and Monday? you ask.

Sunday, I still wasn't feeling well from a stomach bug that had been bothering me for over a week and from overdoing it at the fair (I didn't even mention the Tough Truck Competition because I didn't get pictures).  So I pretty much bummed it.  All I really remember doing is a lot of reading.

Which leads me into confession number three.  This should be no surprise to any of you readers out there.  I have more books than what I know what to do with, but that doesn't stop me from buying more.  From the library last week, I picked up two paperbacks for fifty cents a piece (and am eyeing more): The Stand by Stephen King and The King of Torts by John Grisham.  I've never read any of Grisham's books, and while I've read some of his short stories, I've never read a King novel either.  I'm usually hesitant about trying out authors I'm not familiar with, but I've been feeling the need to expand my horizons recently.  For fifty cents, you really can't lose.  AND, while at the fair, I picked up two more!  The Green Mile, another Stephen King, and Vision In Death by J.D. Robb.  I love love love the book stall at the fair! :)

And that's not all.  I recently bought Breathe of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann.  I don't read Christian fiction much anymore unless I want something light to read because much of it lacks a certain energy.  What I've read of Kristen's has that missing energy other works seem to lack. I've been trying to read that at the same time as reading The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan, but Shadow has been demanding my full attention.  Sucks me right in, every time.

Mage Ciera without her armor
Monday...well, uhm, see this is a hard confession.  I'm not the level of gamer that my hubby is.  Not much for Xbox, although I can play a decent game of Halo Wars (better if he's on too giving me 'orders') and I like Hexic (think Bejewled Blitz).  But I love the online role playing game RuneScape.  Monday, hubby was on his account and well, I can't exactly let him get too far ahead of me now can I?

Sitting in the same room, on separate computers, it's not uncommon for us to ask each other "Where are you?"  We had our characters in different places in the beginning, but ended up in the same dungeon room killing zombies and crawlers. And picking up whatever loot the other players let go.  I leveled up my Herblore almost ten levels by cleaning the herbs left behind by other players' kills.  They snooze, they lose.

Just like in real life, somehow I ended up making sure hubby, or rather his character, had enough to eat.  Those critters fight back, and if you're not paying attention you can kick the bucket.  And then he needed bowstring for a bow he wanted to make and he was going to buy it from the games "Grand Exchange" and I'm like, "No, no, no!!  I have some I can give you!  Don't buy any!"  Apparently he's forgotten where the flax fields are and how to make bowstrings.  Just a silly game, but it's fun and relaxing (except when others don't play nice).  As I was reading the Wikipedia article I linked above, I was amused to discover that there has been three fantasy novels written based on the game.  Why not?

Tuesday is a bit of a blur.  I didn't do much of anything fun.  Dishes.  Which is five minutes on my feet, and ten off, which can make doing dishes quite the ordeal if I've let them pile up like I did over the weekend.  I'm so bad.

Today, my mother and I went on a road trip of sorts.  My foot doctor has ordered Orthodic inserts for my shoes and the place he sent me to is in Johnson City, New York.  It's roughly an hour from my home, traffic and road work permitting.  Road work did not permit today and I was about fifteen minutes late.  :|  For an appointment that maybe lasted fifteen minutes.  If that.  All he really did was take down my info, look at both my naked feet and them make impressions of both in blue foam.  I get to go back in three weeks.  Praying that my insurance covers it, because otherwise that'll be a nice bill of $420!!  Yikes!

After that, I decided to splurge a little and take my mom out to eat.  I found a Friendly's to stop at.  Which the booth mom and I sat at had mirrors behind my mom, so out came the phone again to take pics.
Trying not to laugh too hard at me

My mom...I <3 her...
Food was good, the sundaes even better!  They give you these huge plates to make you think you're getting a lot, but you're not really.  You're just getting a normal portion.  I can't say the same about the five scoop sundaes we had.  Those were niiiice...

Those are the best confessions I can come up with.  Not exactly earth-shattering, or entirely shocking in same cases.  But enough to let you know what this crazy writer has been up to recently.  I'll be getting back on the ball tomorrow and back to proofing book number two.  I'm getting so itchy about wanting to release it!  But I can't yet, not until I weed out as many typos as I can find!  And touch up a few weak spots.  Once I've finished my present going through, and have made all the corrections, I'm going to upload the file and get my proof copy and then read through that one to make sure I've gotten as much as I can...again!  I'll never be 100% satisfied, but I'll reach the "confident enough" level after I've done that much.

But I'll leave you with a teaser of the cover as I ask you, "What did you do for Labor Day?"

Coming soon, I promise!!