Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday Greetings from Robin Janney

I have two working days left to this year, two families to visit on Christmas day and nephews to shop for still.  Even if you don't celebrate any of the numerous holidays of this month, my wish for you is for health and happiness and peace.  See you in the New Year!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Reading Indecisions by Robin Janney

Time waits for no one...
While it is certainly no excuse, boy have I been busy!  You can read about my recent life Transitions here.

The shift change, coupled with the time change, has been interesting and beneficial to say the least.  Overall, I am feeling better and happier.  Except at first break at 5:15 pm when it is now dark...I have to admit that's a bit of a downer.  Let's turn the clocks back and keep them there so we have more daylight longer in the winter!

Other than that, I'm enjoying my new job.  It's warmer than my old, sweat dripping warmer...which I'll enjoy much more once it becomes colder this winter.  I love the smell of wood, and despite the potential splinters enjoy handling each door front I'm inspecting and repairing.  Door fronts for cabinets and cupboards and the like.  Technically I'm not allowed to say online where exactly I'm working, so I won't.  I find it a little paranoid of the  unnamed company, but in this day and age it's understandable I guess.

I have two breaks during the shift, first break and lunch break.  Well, on those nights we work long enough for a lunch break. I signed on just in time for their slow season and all last week I ate my packed lunch while waiting for Mr. Janney to get out from his department a few hours later.  And one thing I do on breaks and while waiting for hubby is read.

BUT - One thing has me at a loss right now --- what to read next.

Have you ever been there?  It's a little frustrating.

I had been reading the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.  It is 14 books long...started in 1990 and not finished until 2013, almost 6 years after the author's death.  The last three novels were completed by Brandon Sanderson going from the notes Jordan left behind.

This was a reading jag that lasted months because of the sheer length of the series and the books themselves (several novels reach almost 1000 pages in length).  I love being immersed in an imaginary world, and this series delivers.  The only problem is, nothing else is interesting me at the moment.  I have books on my shelf to read...I have books in my Kindle archive to read...and nothing is striking my fancy.  I've started a few different books, and have abandoned them because they just didn't draw me into their world.

I'm not sure if it's due to a different writing style, amateur writing, or just because I'm "burnt out" for reading at the moment.  Perhaps one day next week I'll sweet talk Mr. Janney into leaving for work early and stopping by our local library to see if there's anything different there able to grab my attention.  He himself is not a reader, but he is wonderfully supportive of my love of reading and writing.  Even if it comes with some good natured ribbing from time to time!

We did just buy ourselves a new lunchbox, one big enough for us to share.  As I sit here typing, thinking about the small notebook I carry in my purse, I see the pink notebook I just recently bought at Walmart.  If there's enough room in one of the many pouches in our new lunchbox, I might start carrying that instead to write during breaks instead.  Maybe I've absorbed too many words and they need to come back out in a different combination???

Just a thought.

So tell me readers, what book or story are you reading right now?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Long Time No Hear! by Robin Janney

My keyboard misses me...
It has been almost 2 months since either Carol or I have posted here, and for that I apologize.  Life cane be a whirlwind sometimes and catch you up in it's fury before you know it!  Carol has been very focused on getting her oldest daughter off to college, and I've been adjusting to not only working 8 hours a day again, but also 6 days a week, and my husband starting back to his second shift job

I don't know about Carol, but I'm exhausted...I get a ride into work now and she leaves earlier than I used to so my alarm - when it remembers to go off - wakes me at 4am...after having woke up once when Mr. Janney comes home around 12:30am and later when he comes to bed. I try going to bed earlier, but all too often I lay there wide awake for far too long.  I can be dead tired, up until I try going to bed and then...then!...does my second wind kick in!  Although it's often not enough to convince my aching body to get back up and do something constructive, so I read instead.  I'm even in the draggy part of the series I'm reading and that's still not enough to help me drop off!

Today I was lucky enough to have only worked half a day.  We were done shortly before 11:30.  I feel halfway decent at the moment.  I have weekend chores calling my name, but I don't feel like doing them just yet.  I want time to write and relax and enjoy myself just a little.  Especially since I have the house to myself as Mr. Janney had to work today as well.  Had he not, I'd be hanging with him instead.  No doubt I'll be watching the clock closer to the time he might be home in anticipation.  I usually only get to see him for a few minutes in the middle of the night, although we usually do chat on his lunch break...it's just not the same!

Especially if I'm irked at him over something.  It's hard to have an argument with someone when your constrained for time and have to also fight with autocorrect.  But it's also easier to let that kind of stuff blow over.

My health is improving, although that torn tendon in my foot still likes to give me issues.  I see my foot doctor again next Thursday and we'll see if he's happy with my weight loss of about 25lbs and a lowered A1C reading of 6.1 instead of 7.  I'm not sure whether he'll consider doing surgery yet, but at any rate I'd like a new MRI before we even think about going ahead with it.  I mean, it's been 10 months since we decided on surgery.  If there has been ANY healing at all, I think we ought to consider other options if there are any.

Writing has been sporadic, not only on my blogs but in my third novel as well.  I work on it here and there, but often when I come home from work my brain is dead...so tired that I have a headache.  Oddly enough, the nights I have a headache are usually the easiest ones to fall asleep on.  It's been so long since my last foray into my crazy imaginary world that I will probably have to reread what I've already written so I can remember where I was at and where I was going...or at least how I was going to get there as I already know where I'm going with my story.  Sometimes the the trip from beginning to end can take a writer places she wasn't planning or even expecting.  That's half the fun!

Now that I've gotten the ball rolling again, at least here, I plan to post regularly again on my appointed week.  Provided life and my body and brain cooperate with me!

Enjoy what's left of the weekend friends!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Ever Present Online Presence by Robin Janney

One thing all the experts agree on, is for an Indie Author to be successful, an online presence is needed.

And it only makes sense because the world we live in is no longer limited to our physical domain.  As well as the fact that much of our self publication is in electronic format.

Which leaves me with some choices to make at the end of this month.  At least in regards to how I use Facebook.

Quite recently, someone we know impersonated my husband on Facebook trying to get me to think he was trying to cheat on me.  It caused many hours of grief before I saw through to the truth.  While I do feel bad for doubting Mr. Janney, it was a convincing piece of evidence - until I started picking it apart.  I won't go into depth, but it was a definite fake, too many errors.  There are a few times when it's not always good to look at the 'big picture', sometimes you really do need to focus on the details.  It just goes to show that while a picture may be worth a thousand words...those words aren't necessarily the truth.

Because of this, my husband has been thinking of deleting the app from his phone.  He's not much into sharing anything other than funny videos, or cars.  But it has caused me to reconsider how I use Facebook myself.  It's the easiest way for me to be social, and by easiest I mean the most comfortable.  There are no physical crowds to deal with, like at a party.  It is easier to keep in touch with long distance relatives.  I also like to take pictures, a lot, and share them.

Do I really wanna know?
However, there are many different forms of social media.  Places where I could potentially do these things just as well, if not better.  I do have an Instagram account, and a Tumblr, where I could post my pictures.  I'm also on Tsu, which is by far a much more positive experience than anything I've ever encountered on Facebook, probably because it's an "Invite Only" social media.  I have some great friends and family who are great, but if you've ever commented on a page's thread for an article or a meme, the chances of you getting bitten by a troll is way high.  I haven't run into that there yet.

I really am not sure what I am going to do, just that I've been thinking about changing how I do social Media as an individual and as an Author.  There are no easy answers, but I'll figure something out.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summertime, and the livin' is easy…er… HECTIC!

Our regional flash flooding in June.
Since my last Broads of a Feather blog post, my oldest got a job working in the library of her future college, my friend, Terri, got married, we’ve attended two grad parties, and many other day to day activities have kept us on the go. Just the other night, my friend, Sue, and I commented that we’re halfway through summer already. It seems impossible. As I mentioned in my last post, it hasn’t been very summery in Northeastern PA. Today, for example, the temperature is 69° with extremely low humidity and the sun hasn’t decided whether it wants to come out yet or not. It feels like a spring day in late May versus July 22nd. We’re normally feeling the effects of the triple H’s by now—Hazy, Hot, and Humid and suffering from a slight drought. This summer has been extremely wet. The last report I saw from NOAA had us at “Much Above Average Rainfall.” In fact, areas just north of us in New York have had numerous devastating downpours causing flash flooding of roadways, businesses, and homes.

The gorgeous Elmira College campus with the Gannett-
Tripp Library in the upper right. (Photo courtesy of
Elmira College's Facebook page.)
The last three weeks have made us adjust our regular summertime weekday activities since Sydney started working on campus—but it is all good. She needed this experience since she is our shy one. The folks in the library have welcomed her with open arms. She’s meeting fellow students as well as Elmira College administration and faculty. When I pick her up every day, I get to hear all about her workday; what projects they are working on and who she met. Their big projects involve inventorying the library and also dramatically reducing their periodicals. It pleases me to no end that she is working in the library. I was a total library geek during my school years—even belonging to library club throughout middle school. I loved working the circulation desk, putting covers on books, and shelving!!! Of course, a lot of changes have happened since then. Does anyone remember what a vertical file is? I don’t even know if they exist anymore since the internet has taken over. *sigh* At any rate, my girl is in her element and I couldn’t be happier for her. 

I finished editing all of the pictures I took for Terri and Mike’s wedding. It was a two and a half week process for me. Between Syd and me, we shot about 1,000 photos. From there, I go through and pic out the best before editing (teeth-whitening, blemish covering, and general photo fixes with color, temperature, and sharpness) and try different finishes with the edited shots. The final photo count was 507. Someday, I’ll purchase my dream camera so I don’t have to borrow one.
My favorite shot from Mike and Terri's wedding!

Sydney’s Best-Friend-Forever-Since-Kindergarten had her grad party and she also had an Elmira College color theme since that’s where she’s attending in the fall as well. I went early to help her parents set up and decorate and we recycled some of Syd’s decorations which saved time and money. Lesley was one of several graduates whose senior photos I did as a graduation present last year. She and Syd had me take some best friend photos as well and they turned out so good—if I do say so myself. Thirteen years of friendship is quite the testament. My husband and I are extremely proud of both girls for their academic accomplishments and, most importantly, for the remarkable young women they have become. Neither of them gave in to following the crowd, but chose to march to the beat of their own drums. And, as close as Syd and Les are, they are equally opposite in likes. Lesley is into heavy rock music and Syd likes Broadway show tunes. Lesley likes long-haired guys with tattoos and piercings and Syd admires well-dressed academic men—who just so happen to be AARP members. Lesley’s strengths are in math and science and Syd’s are in English and history. Ying and Yang friends. At any rate, their friendship is solid and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for our prospective doctor and history teacher.
My favorite senior photo session shots of Brittany and Austin...
 I'll share some of my favorite photos from last year's senior photo sessions to the right. They have been Syd's classmates throughout their school years. A great group of kids. 
Shannon and Colton...


And my favorite shots of Lesley.

This week’s blog is short and sweet. My next blog is already in the works. Till next time, readers, be good, be happy, and be well!

(As I close out this blog, several days have passed since I started it. This past week has brought on blissful summer temperatures! Yay!!!!)    

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Just Breathe by Robin Janney

Sometimes a lot of words aren't needed.

Sometimes it's enough to say it's been rough and leave it at that.

We weather the storm and often come through it stronger.

Or if you're like Heath Ledger's Joker, you come out stranger!

Have you ever seen that one video that floats around Facebook about not jumping to conclusions but to wait until you know all the facts before you judge a situation?  I went though that this week. While a picture might be worth a thousand words...sometimes all those words are lies.  Pictures can be faked.

This pic to the left is very real however, one I took around the 4th of July at my mother's.  I was just sitting at the picnic table and playing with my phone and the camera.  I thought it was kind of pretty and thought I'd share it.

I'll have something more interesting and in depth to post when it's my turn again. Promise.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Summer That Wasn’t (But We’re Making the Most Out of It Anyway)! By C.P. Stringham

The Summer of 2015 hasn’t been very summery. It’s as if April forgot to arrive in time with its April showers. Even in May, we had several frost warnings beyond Mother’s Day. I would know because Mother’s Day weekend is our normal vegetable garden planting time and that means I was having to go out in the evening and cover our tender little plants with newspaper to prevent frost damage and then remove those paper “tents” in the morning as the temperature began to rise. We experienced a cooler, dry spring. Our farmer friends were each saying the same thing, “It’s going to be a cold, wet summer.” I don’t question these folks when they make statements like that because they know. They know better than our local meteorologists. Sydney’s riding instructor, Pat, is usually good at reading nature signs as well to predict weather trends. She grew up on a dairy farm. These past two years were a good example of her skills. While everyone was commenting about how overly full their fruit and nut-bearing trees were during harvesting, Pat warned us it was a sign of a long, harsh winter. Her words, “Mother Nature takes care of her own.” My fellow Northeastern United States folks know how our past two winters have turned out. All I need to say as a reminder is Polar Vortex.
Our damp gardens...

Here it is July 8th and, instead of having to worry about keeping our gardens watered or risk a wilted, non-productive harvest, my husband and I are considering putting up clear plastic sheeting tents, using rudimentary framing from scrap wood so the plastic doesn’t lie against the plants, and shield them from the rather damp weather conditions we are having. We are drenched in Northeastern PA!! About the only vegetable doing well from all the rain is our broccoli. The rest? Well, they’re looking a little yellow from too much water. Even my flower containers that we use around the yard within our landscaping, look yellow—the same containers I usually have to water every evening this time of year because the hot summer sun dries the soil out by the end of the day.
Montour Falls, New York...

Nevertheless, even with all the rain, we’re still managing to fill in our free time with our summer adventures—just armed with umbrellas for when the heavens open up and soak us again. Since my last blog post, I celebrated my 45th birthday. We used it as a family day and traveled up New York’s Route 414 from Corning to Watkins Glen and then headed home on Route 14 with a tour along the side streets of Montour Falls. We stopped at secondhand shops and antique stores along the way for a little window shopping. Outside of Corning, we discovered an architectural salvage/secondhand store operated through SESC Habitat for Humanity called ReStore. We were truly impressed with their prices on furniture and salvaged items. The crafter in me was going bonkers with ideas for up-cycling items for repurposing! Montour Falls used to have two great antiques shops along West Main Street, but they have since closed from our last visit three years ago. Instead, armed with my camera, I shot photos of Shequaga Falls and some of the gorgeous local architecture. One such treasure is the Cook Mansion. I fell instantly in love with the brick Victorian Italianate-style mansion that was built in 1873 by Elbert Cook. His brother, Charles, is lauded as the “Father of Schyler County.” Since I was scoping it out from a distance, my voyeuristic eye couldn’t see the telltale marks of fire damage until I used my telephoto lens. And then I was heartsick. I tend to look at art instead of the in-your-face-details of reality, you know, when it smacks me in the face—and that arrived when I took notice of the auction sign at the front of the property. The house had most recently been a highly rated bed & breakfast. The owner, Carol Hagopian, returned the house to its heyday splendor, decorating each room with a true Victorian flair, adding her souvenirs from around the world, while not going over the top. I know this information from the B&B’s website along with reading their stellar reviews. For whatever reason, Carol was unable to bring this Montour Falls gem back from the fire damage it received on November 2, 2014. I am hoping someone can step in and, like a phoenix, help raise this truly fantastic structure from the ashes so it can once again welcome visitors.
Mr. & Mrs. Herrlich looking at each other as if the rest of the world
doesn't even exist. 

The Fourth of July weekend was a whirlwind for me. On Friday, my friend Terri married her boyfriend of six years. She and Mike are glowing proof that middle-age relationships can be just as romantic as our first serious adult relationship. As wedding photographer, I got to be with her while her and the bridesmaids (her daughters) got their hair styled and they dressed for the private ceremony. After the ceremony, they held an outdoor reception for family and friends at Mike’s parents’ house. With a red, white, and blue color scheme, great food, company, and drink, fireworks that included a sparkler sendoff at dark, it was a spectacular ending to a wonderful event. Terri and Mike, I wish you a long, happy and healthy life together as Mr. & Mrs. Michael Herrlich! Thank you for allowing Syd and me to be a part of your special day.
On Saturday, to make up for the beautiful day Mother Nature gave us on Friday, she decided to add rain showers to the early part of our Independence Day. But that didn’t stop us from having our parents over for an evening cookout. I made burgers with all the fixings, mozzarella and tomato salad, smoked mac & cheese, and Oreo Grasshopper Pie. To end the evening, we sat around a bonfire roasting marshmallows and hotdogs as our neighbor set off (illegal) fireworks. We didn’t even have to leave the comfort of home to see a great aerial display!
Our family adventure in Hammondsport and Watkins Glen.

Sunday’s weather was perfect for a family drive around the Finger Lakes. We headed out with a cooler packed for a picnic lunch at a destination to be determined when the mood hit us. I printed up directions (no GPS for this girl) to Hammondsport, New York which sits at the base of Keuka Lake. We’d never been there before. The quaint little town has lots to offer for travelers in the way of boutiques, antique stores, restaurants, pubs, and bed & breakfast lodging. The hot and humid day was made comfortable by the gentle cool breeze coming off of the nearby lake as we walked along the sidewalk with fellow travelers. Due to the holiday weekend, the town was quite busy. One shop we meandered into was called The Wine Barrel. As we walked the store and looked at their unique furniture and decorations, I was struck by how ingenuous their items were—made by using white oak wine barrels—in essence, repurposing something that their region has in surplus due to the local wineries. I love up-cycling!!! The owner of the store was working on this particular day and was welcoming as she explained their product and even mentioned that they will gladly take custom orders. She was totally gracious when I asked her if I could take a picture of her store for the blog. If you want a one of a kind piece with a little winemaking history, look no further! Visit their website through this link. After leaving Hammondsport, we drove up the western shore of the lake, across the top, and then down the eastern shore before traveling the short distance to Seneca Lake. We stopped in Watkins Glen’s Lafayette Park for our informal picnic lunch of sandwiches and chips. When I finished mine, I headed out on foot and shot pictures of the nearby churches. Each of them built in the latter part of the 19th century. We ended up at one last destination, Brand Park in Elmira for their outdoor summer concert series, before heading home.
Shops in Hammondsport. 

Even with our damp, chilly summer, we are finding plenty of family daytrip adventures to keep us busy during our leisure time. I hope everyone who follows our Broads of a Feather blog is taking time for a little family adventure as well! Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!   

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July - by Robin Janney

As I sit here in my home, having finished a series I've been reading for weeks and my husband plays his GTA5 I struggle with what to write for my blog post.  I didn't take any pictures of the multiple fireworks shows my husband saw last night on our mountainside perch, I just wanted to enjoy the moments and experience them and not worry about preserving them.  When I told him I didn't feel like taking any pictures, Mr. Janney actually touched my forehead to see if I was feeling well since I am an avid picture taker!  Sometimes it is important to just exist in the moment.

I did grab this picture of the huge flag the town of Towanda had flying for it's First Friday/4th of July celebrations.  I usually try to avoid driving through this town in the late afternoon of the first Friday of the month as it is usually very busy...especially half an hour before their parade was to begin.  My husband has no issues with it, obviously, and I'm glad he did.

And that's all I really have to say today.  I'm done with my reading for the moment, and will soon move onto another activity...writing or cooking.  I'm feeling content today, and just want to enjoy it. 

I encourage all of you to enjoy today, whether it is a holiday for you or not. :)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

As One Phase Ends, A New One Begins. By C.P. Stringham

Top to Bottom: First day of
school 2014-15 with her sister;
dressed up for the homecoming
dance; posing with Rep. Tina
Picket after receiving her honors
cord for Rho Kappa.
I’ve been totally absent for weeks—months even and I apologize. I’m normally quite good at multitasking, but found it impossible here late. The laundry list of excuses would only bore you so I’ll only share the biggest. My oldest graduated from high school. If any of our Broads of a Feather blog readers have been through this, you will completely understand. It seems like so many more events have been added to a high school senior’s social calendar than when I was in school. On top of things like National Honor Society stole presentations, senior awards night, prom, and banquets, Syd participated in our school’s drama club which required me to drive back and forth several nights a week for rehearsals for a few months—since she doesn’t have her driver’s license yet. The latter is being worked on as we speak. We’re too rural to be without a license. It requires being driven everywhere and I’m tired of playing chauffeur. When I was her age, and living here in Bradford County, I couldn’t wait to get my license. But she and I are two very different people. I guess she likes the “Driving Miss Daisy” feeling. I did not. At her age, I wanted my freedom and a part time job for spending money.
As many of you know, my daughter is my best friend. This transition from teen to adult has been the most difficult for me. Syd seems to be handling it in stride. She knows what she wants and is doing what she can to make it happen. She’ll be attending Elmira College in the fall. Yes, it’s local, but that didn’t play a large role in her decision process. She chose Elmira because she fell in love with the historic campus, the people, and the high amount of tradition the school holds. Syd is all about history and tradition. Freshman wear purple and gold beanie caps! How cool is that? All students, unless they live locally with their parents or are married, have to live in campus housing. The college loves symbolism. They have incorporated the school flower, the iris, and the school shape, the octagon, throughout the campus. Everything is purple as well—even the rock salt they use in the wintertime to prevent slips and falls. Samuel “Mark Twain” Clemens married an Elmira native and Elmira College graduate by the name of Olivia Langdon. The college was founded in 1855 as an all-womens college and was the first in the United States to award women with bachelor’s degrees equal to that of their male counterparts. For feminists like my daughter and me, this was a big hash mark in the pros column.

Top to bottom: At Elmira College where
dorms look like Hogwarts; before graduation
with her Best-Friend-Forever-Since- Kindergarten,
Graduation signified the end of childhood for my daughter and her father and I couldn’t be prouder of her. She wasn’t in the Top Ten of her class, but worked to graduate with honors. Her grades didn’t come easy for her. She’s had to work her tail off to catch up. Her elementary years could have been better, but our school always seemed to receive less attention than others in our district. By middle school, we hired a tutor to work with her to help bridge the gap. Miriam worked wonders while only meeting with her one day a week for one to two hours. In junior high, she began to shine. The level of commitment she showed was incredible. In all honesty, Syd has been our back burner child. Having a special needs sibling, who requires more attention, makes it harder for us to give as much time and financial help equally and, while we tried to be as supportive as possible, most of the time, Syd was at the helm of her own rudder as she steered towards her future.
As far as teens and their sometimes turbulent mood swings and behaviors go, my husband and I have been extremely fortunate. Syd has been very mature and level-headed. In fact, I tell people she is my mother. She’s been reining in my behaviors since she was eleven or twelve years old. “Mom, slow down. You’re driving too fast and I don’t like it.” “Mom, is that your third glass of wine?” I could go on and on. My friends find it amusing. They love teasing her. Especially Government Girl who cannot let a good quip pass her by. In the past, Michelle and I have tag-teamed her. One such time involved our New York City trip. Syd’s algebra teacher, Mr. Rogers, also offers a charter van service to supplement his teacher income. We hired him to take a group of us to the city for the day. I was researching for my book, Her Father’s Last Request. The others were along for pleasure. Prior to going on our trip, Syd made me promise not to embarrass her in front of her teacher. She made me promise Michelle would behave, too. So, naturally, I messaged Michelle about it. Syd would have been better off not saying anything to us because her plea came across as a challenge to Michelle and me and we don’t turn down a challenge. Thirty minutes into the trip, Michelle asked me how I managed to get permission from Syd’s probation officer for the trip. I told her we were able to get permission and they adjusted Syd’s ankle monitor to accommodate for the trip. Mr. Rogers enjoyed the teasing since Syd was known as a goody-two-shoes with the faculty. He knew it was all in good fun. An hour into the trip, I reminded Syd that Michelle was the LGBT program manager for the VA hospital and that her program existed to create awareness and promote acceptance. And that’s when Michelle told her that it was time for her to come out about her gender reassignment surgery. My poor daughter took it all in stride and learned a lesson about imposing rules for behavior on her mother and her mother’s friends.

Purple all around at Elmira College!
There’s nothing like watching your child walk for their graduation processional. I was happy, sad, and proud. It made me recall her first day of kindergarten when she wouldn’t get in line willingly behind Mr. Gorman to check out her new classroom. Instead, I had to join her teacher and her class as she clamped around my leg and, with each dragging step I took, listening as she begged, “No, Mommy, don’t leave me!!” Mr. Gorman assured me she’d come around. She did. She got stronger with each passing day of the school year. One more step towards independence until her senior year and graduation. It was bittersweet. I looked out at familiar young faces. Some I’d known since kindergarten. Time had passed in the blink of an eye. Speeches were made. More awards and scholarships announced. Syd received a total of three that amounted to $10,780—and the reason she can now live on campus instead of commuting. Those scholarships were all her. Her hard work. I’m hoping the privilege of attending college means even more to her because she made it happen. I think it will. I also think she will excel at college. She’ll come into her own surrounded by like-minded people. Not necessarily people sharing the same exact opinions as hers, but ones open to academic debate. She will embrace the setting and grow beyond measure and I can’t wait to see the finished product. Throughout the ceremony, she kept leaning forward and making faces with her father. They can be silly like that at times. For me, I got her 150 watt smile that melted my heart. When her row stood to get in line for their diplomas, I waited for the tears to come. They didn’t. I thought for sure they would. They did the night she got her big scholarship. But not then. I watched my daughter in amazement. This awesome young adult, making her way around the seated teachers, one of which reached out and tugged my daughter’s sleeve as she passed by her, and saw the look of accomplishment on her face. She was ready. That was all I needed to see. By the time her principal called her name, I felt a new sense of calm come over me as I watched her make her way across the gymnasium to shake hands and accept her diploma from a school board member. And, just like that, her public school years ended.  
L to R: On April 12th, she made her official college decision; graduation night with the family; Lesley's present to her--a before and after picture. 

September 3rd will be here before her father and I know it. Moving her in to the dorms will be the hardest thing I’ve had to do. I’ll be letting go. Who knows? Maybe she’ll be the one dragging me away while offering words of encouragement this time around.   
Graduation night with a serious pose and pulling a
"Rory Gilmore" pose. 

Her grad party had an Elmira College
theme and she loved it!!!

L to R: Exciting things happened a week before graduation. First was the $10,000 scholarship she received which made it possible for her to live on campus. Then came a letter from the White House with a personalized letter of congratulations from President Obama--courtesy of Government Girl who works at the Department of State now.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Complexity of Writer's Block by Robin Janney

Curiosity - why cats need nine lives...
One of my strengths, which all too often doubles as a weakness, is my curiosity.

Especially when it comes to reading comments on a Facebook post.  There is so much unneeded negativity out there and people feel the need to share it.

There was one day at the end of January that I spotted a Facebook ad for 212 blog ideas for those people who get stumped coming up with an endless supply of ideas to blog about.  It was a download I had already gotten myself, and I was curious what other people were saying in the comments, what they thought of the bulky download which was prefaced by a long winded video we had to watch before we could actually get it.  This was actually a BIG mistake.

I'm not going to quote any of those nasty comments, but the general gist was that either Writer's Block doesn't exist, or if it does and you have/had it...then you're not a real writer.  And if you have trouble coming up with blog ideas, then you shouldn't have a blog.

And maybe if you don't have anything nice to say/comment...then keep your mouth shut?

See, the thing is - I know I'm a real writer, I've been writing one thing or another since the fourth grade.  And I've had my fair share of struggles with Writer's Block.  So yeah, I get a little pissy if you try telling me I'm not a real writer because I've struggled while looking at a blank page or computer screen.

I'm not an expert in any of this, I discover daily just how much of an amateur I am.  I can only tell you my story.  Because that's what I do, I'm a storyteller.

My writing largely started out in the area of fanfiction.  I remember trying to write an Airwolf story in fourth grade; talk about overly ambitious!  Although not nearly as ambitious as the Star Wars novel I wrote in high school!  Fanfiction writing continued all throughout middle school and high school, but I had tons of other story ideas that I would write down in notebooks for 'later'.  Lord only knows what happened to them!

I wrote my first novel, originally titled 'Dominions of Darkness' across the span of about six or seven years.  It took so long because in the early days I let a church friend read some of my draft and I got mixed reviews.  No one wants to hear, "It's good...BUT..."  She was right in saying I had to decide who my desired audience was, although that's not how she put it.  I eventually decided that writing for one genre was overrated, but at the time I was discouraged because I knew the story I had in my head wouldn't be considered "proper" Christian fiction, which is what I was being encouraged to write.  While I was discouraged and put it away, I worked on other projects that may yet see publication.  Obviously, I did finish my story, at least the first draft of it.  I remember writing furiously on the church computer trying to get it done before the service started.

What every writer does with the madness beating at their brains...
Even more the amateur then, I wrote "THE END" when I was done...and felt a door close.  What now?  I asked myself.  Do I submit it to publishing houses and start working on the sequel?  It needed a sequel since I had ended it as a cliffhanger.  Which one?  More than one?  As I began to look into who I could send it to, I tried working on the sequel...only to find that it wouldn't come together.  The harder I tried, the less it wanted to cooperate with me.  I even tried working on my Journey series, and that didn't help.  I just recently found those old drafts, although I haven't gone through them yet to see if there is anything I can use.

So I shelved it.  I emailed myself a copy of my draft for back up, which given how floppies are old news now it was a good thing I did.  I tried blogging, but as life distracted me more and more I did that less and less.  I ended up moving back home with my mother and company, which was interesting as I was working nigh shift and everyone else in the house was decidedly day shift.  I was tired all the time and had no interest in writing anything other than the odd poem.  And most of the time, I couldn't even whip one of those up.

There was nothing there.  No pictures.  No conversations with imaginary friends.  Not even piece of a jigsaw puzzle!  Apparently, I even wrote a poem about it, which you can read here.  Looking back now, I realize I needed to live a little and have different life experiences.  For all that I was writing my own story idea, in a sense, I was writing to please other people.  And I needed to lose that drive to please other people when it comes to my writing (although my mother's opinions still scares the living daylights outa me, but that's a different matter all together!)

I switched from part time jobs to a full time one, on night shift - which was only part of the 'always tired' problem I developed.  I had a failed romance, or what I thought was a romance at the time.  It was the most I had experienced at the time.  As I said above, I gave up my apartment and moved back in with my mother for a time.  I found true love and moved again.

Somewhere in the midst of that, I found the self confidence I needed to write without hindrances.   I'll be honest, a lot of it had to do with the unconditional acceptance I had found in the workplace and also from the man who would become my husband.  Because one day, when we had a good computer - well, good enough for me - I downloaded my story from long ago and gave it a read through.  And I thought, "You know, this is pretty good.  I don't like the ending, and some of it needs to be rewritten, but it's a good story just the same."

I sent the draft I had to a friend for a second opinion and while she was reading it, I thought, "I wonder what I can do differently...what if...???" and unwittingly reopened the dam in my head.  Images flooded my imagination like a movie on fast forward.  They were almost tripping over each other.  It was awesome, a runner's high, invincibility ran through my veins, I could write no wrong...I did, lots of typos but that's after...when the high leveled out and I had to edit.

Two books later and I find myself in a similar spot.  I have no desire to write, the images are faded at the moment anyway.  In part it it an overload of life stress...I'm only working part time, my husband not at all, both due to medical restrictions, which of course leads to financial strain (we've already had our car taken away, but not our truck because that's ours); no doctor wants to do surgery on me until I've lost weight and because I'm limited in my physical activity it has to be mainly through what I eat - which food is my drug, an addiction I have to get under control.  It's crazy I tell you!  And of course, this all contributes to depression, which in and of itself sucks creativity away like a hungry vampire.

I found several good pages of advice and quotes while searching this out.  This article with advice from other writers was a good one, with different advice from each one.  Because what works for one, might not work for another.  We are all different, unique individuals, no matter how much we all love to write.  And this article shows that we are in good company!  Fellow writers who've dealt with writer's block themselves.  While I can't always follow all this advice on "Blogger's Block", there are some good ones in here.  I mean, I can't drink coffee too late in the day anymore!  Another blogger I enjoy following and chatting with as allowed, MJ Bush did  her own article on it here.

I started this post months ago.  I started, stopped...started again, had to stop again.  Sometimes what you're writing is just being written at the wrong time.  You're brain needs to focus on something else, or it just needs to rest.  My advice, which I know from experience is hard to head, is; don't sweat it.  Writer's Block will break eventually.  Experiment with some of the advice in the articles above...go for a walk, drink a coffee, go to a party or a park and people watch...find what works for you even if it takes time.  Even Google "You should be writing" and pic an image of the actor that most inspires your romance writing!

Whatever it takes.

And never doubt that you're a real writer.  No matter what anyone tells you.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Living the Busy Life by Robin Janney

I had to do some  investigating when I saw that our last post was a late one from myself.  I realized late last night that I hadn't done my post last week, and was surprised to see that CP missed her week as well.  I know from her Facebook posts that she's been busy: graduations and weddings have filled her days as well as formatting her latest work Overcoming Sarah into a proper format for paperback.

I think I needed to come up with 2 sets of 3 for this hand...
didn't have the greatest start, but I've seen worse!
Trying to think back on what I did last week to lose track of time and turns.  And I'm not really sure!  Friday and Sunday night were card night at my in-laws.  A while back, my mother-in-law decided it would be a good idea for the four of us to play cards on Friday night.  Sometimes we play just one round, other times we get in two.  Last weekend we played cards on Sunday night as well since the two of us who work had Monday off.  It's always fun, even when the cards don't go my way.  One night we made homemade ice cream while we were playing cards!  Usually we don't have any snacks at all.

Monday was Memorial Day and my side of the family celebrated as usual by a having a picnic.  This year we were at the Waverly Glen park just over the NY border.  My maternal grandparents are buried in the cemetery that borders the pretty little park.  I was trying to stay out of the sunshine because a medicine I was on carried a sensitivity warning, so I didn't get any pictures of the water fall that graces the park...although I still managed to get a slight sunburn anyway!

Then of course it was back to work on Tuesday.  And really it's kind of a blur.  I know I had a doctor's appointment Thursday afternoon, after which we hit the Toyota dealers to ask about a metal piece we thought had maybe come off our truck (it wasn't ours!) and then to step into Mr. Janney's doctors so we could ask about his stitches.  No one ever told us they were the dissolving kind and so that was another relief.

One of my husband's attic finds; he placed it in my computer area :) I love the
creative ambiance it adds!!
There is a yard sale coming up next Saturday and there've been a few days our focus has been sorting and cleaning and deciding what to keep and what to sell...and there'll be more of that this week.

Mr. Janney also took the opportunity to rearrange the computer room one day while I was at work as well - he needs to take it easy still, only 3 weeks after his surgery, but he's getting antsy.  I forget which night we went up to his parents and helped go through their attic.  Mr. Janney found a few things he's been looking for, although I'm still not sure if he's keeping or selling the stand up pin ball machine in the yard sale.

One evening we were called up to help my mother do a quick cleaning job to make room for a new couch in her living room. I think it was the same day as the doctor's appointment because I remember coming home and my smartphone connected to wifi and I had all these messages from people and a bunch were from my mother!  It was a quick job, but still managed to take up a large portion of the evening due to the conversation that took place!

You'd never know a storm had went
through  minutes before this pic.
Stephen Foster Lake at Mt Pisgah State Park
This weekend my husband and I tried to go swimming at an area pool, but the weather wouldn't cooperate.  I'd barely gotten changed into my bikini when it thundered and the pool closed...we had to wait until 20 minutes after the last thunder before it would reopen.  We hung around for a while, and had been in the pool for maybe five minutes before the next storm made itself known.  This time we took off to find a spot to picnic at while it rained.

Our only visitors; they made a little noise but not much.
We found an empty pavilion and hoped the ones who had reserved it for the day had either already come and gone or were coming later...we got lucky, no one showed up and told us to leave.  We ate in peaceful nature, with a gorgeous view and a few animal visitors.  But the threat of more thunderstorm shut the pool down for the rest of the afternoon so our swimming was over.  Which was frustrating because none of my doctors want me walking for exercise and instead would rather I swim.  Which will be hard to do with this being the only free swimming pool that I know of in our area.  The fact that I can't actually swim aside.  At the least, I can 'walk' in the pool without creating stress on my torn foot tendon.

Today we are just relaxing.  My Janney is playing his GTA 5 and Clash of Clans.  I'm catching up on laundry and computer stuff.  What have you all been up to in these past few summer-like weekends?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Getting Away by Robin Janney

Yes, this is LAST week's post.  I had a very rough week, and:

So Friday afternoon Mr. Janney and I called it a day, took our dog and went to his parents' early for our Friday night card night and just wandered around their large acreage.  My foot doctor didn't want me going walking, doesn't want me to inflame the foot any more than it is.  But I went anyway because nature is an excellent place to de-stress and that outweighed the possibility of doing further damage to my foot.

Needless to say, we all enjoyed getting away for a while.

Especially our dog Jaclyn.

Friday, May 8, 2015

For Arts and Humanities' Sake By C.P. Stringham

My sincere apologies for the delay, but this week's Broads of a Feather blog will be late. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Grateful Heart by Robin Janney

Sara and me <3
The past week or so has been particularly rough for my younger sister.  Some of you may know her only through her picture Carol posted from our last girl's night to the right.

She and I don't always get along, but sisters are sisters no matter what.  So when she approached me one morning at work and asked for a hug, I knew something was wrong.

The price of dinner...
The night before, she had stopped at our local McDonald's and while she was inside the restaurant, someone backed into the rear of her jeep.  And it had completely shattered the back window.  When I got a chance to see it, I saw that a bit more damage had been done than that...broken taillights and a dented bumper are still minor to the busted window.

At least she was able to get insurance information from the offending driver...and $10 towards her diner.

But her bad luck held.

Thursday afternoon I got a phone call from my mother asking if I would come help her at Sara's place with some last minute cleaning before an important meeting.  I figured I'd go, at the least I might get treated to dinner as a thank you.  No, it's not my mess but sometimes we all need help getting out of messes we've made.

As Mom and I were sitting at Sara's home, waiting for her, there was a knock on my window.  Which startled the poo outa me.  But anyway, it was a woman from the veterinarian clinic next to my sister's and she had a message from Sara - 'she was ok, but she'd had an accident and they were taking her to the ER just to get checked out and could we pick her up from there?'  Once we survived the message, Mom and I traveled to the ER only to discover that we had beaten her there!

So we waited some more.  Made some phone calls.  Including my sister just to see if she had her phone with her and if she'd be able to answer it.  She did and she was.

Sara was released from the ER close to 2 hours later and we got to hear the whole story.  She had stopped at the Dollar General after work, and she was trying to make up that time in a hurry to get home.  She was very anxious about the meeting, which has been moved to Monday.  So even though it's a road she travels everyday, and even speeds on everyday, something about this day was different and as she turned through a slight curve she lost control of her vehicle and then overcompensated.  Off the road she went and got up close and personal with a tree.
Her worst injuries...

Sara got off lucky.  Her worst injuries are the cuts and bruises you see in the picture to the left.  They're from the air bag or maybe the steering wheel; she's not really sure.

Her jeep did not fair as well, but jeeps are replaceable and humans are not.  We are all very grateful that Sara was not badly injured even though the loss of the jeep is a hardship.

Busted back axle.

Fender damage

The part that kissed the tree

Full frontal view, lack of anything witty to say...

Pulled the drive shaft out of the transmission.
And those are her feet

My sister's learned a few valuable lessons from this experience.  Don't speed.  Don't drive around with a messy vehicle.  Don't eat at McDonald's...just kidding, I don't think she'll ever abstain from the restaurant.

Even though the weather is nice and we don't have to worry about snow-slicked roads, I want to remind everyone that nothing is worth speeding for.  Unless you're in labor, but I don't know anything about that.  Or if you're being chased by evil doers. I am just as guilty as Sara, but I've been watching my speed more.  It's hard when 'keeping with traffic' means going 75mph or getting out of the way so they can pass you at 5am.  I've been driving our pickup recently and I haven't figured out the cruise control on it and so I've been going faster than I did with our car which is parked waiting for rotor work.

I just wish I could convince my husband of this truth!  But that's another story.

Sometimes you don't know how much a person means to you until they're gone or they've had a close call with serious injury.  Appreciate your loved ones, and let them know you care.  Make that phone call, write that letter.  One day it will be too late.