I'm not sure what caused this, but in trying to figure out what I wanted to write about today, I suddenly thought of Fashion Plates. Remember those? The plastic plates with raised clothing designs so that when you put a paper and rubbed a crayon or pencil over them it transferred the design?

Let me refresh your memory:


Image from Retroland.com

Though I'm by no means a fashionista, and never have been, Fashion Plates was one of my favorite toys of all time.

Ahhh, the memories. Let's continue, shall we?

Someone on my class forum mentioned another favorite the other day: Encyclopedia Brown. These books were actually a part of my brother' collection, but I read them voraciously. Perhaps this is why I love detective fiction so much today?

Encyclopedia Brown

And that reminds me of another great series: Choose Your Own Adventure. What a great concept. "You're the Star of Your Own Story!" No wonder I want to be a writer today.

Image from Vintage Computing & Gaming

As much as I loved books, I was a girly-girl and loved girly-girl things. Like Barbie. Yes, I loved me some Barbie and still do. Of course, Barbie had some stylin' accessories. This was what I got for Christmas when I was 9:

Remember Dittos? I was obsessed with having a pair of Dittos pants:


Image from Retroland.com

All of the coolest girls had them but they were expensive and my wardrobe back then mainly came from K-Mart. One lucky year I did get a pair, they were hunter green and I'm sure I wore them until they were in tatters.

Well, I could go on and on. Thanks for sharing my walk down memory lane. While were at it, why don't you share a few of your favorite childhood items? C'mon, you know you want to.


I must confess: I have a potty mouth. I like profanity–I like the harshness of it, sometimes even the shock of it, if it's a particularly vile word. I even like the history of it; some profane words have been around since the beginnings of human language. How can that kind of staying power be wrong?

Now I read this:

California Legislature Considers Adopting a Cuss-Free Week*

I actually kind of agree with what they're trying to do here, although I'm wondering if, given the state of California's budget woes, this is the best use of the legislature's time. In fact, I am, from time to time, tempted to make an effort to quit cursing, though not for altruistic reasons. There is a part of me that knows using profanity is a cop out for not finding a better word–a more appropriate or imaginative word–to express myself. The writer in me wants to do better.

I'll give you an example. Last week, Mick and I went to visit a friend at his loft in downtown LA. We'd never seen the place, and I was surprised when we walked up to the door to find to find that the building was a pristine art deco–one of the few remaining examples in LA. My first thought was "Wow, this is fucking awesome!"

I immediately admonished myself. Surely I could find a better way to express how I felt about this beautiful building. "Wow, this is so cool!" Nope. Stephen King, in his book On Writing says people who use that phrase should have to stand in the corner. "Wow, it's so beautiful!" Better, perhaps, but certainly lacking personality. I was stuck with "fucking awesome."

Even now, when I've had ample time to reflect, I still don't have a better phrase. But I am certain the writer in me will find one eventually.

What do you think about profanity? Do you use it? Do you consider it a lower form of communication? Do you strive to improve your language by thinking of more appropriate (and more interesting) words? For my part, I will probably continue to curse, because let's face it, old habits die hard, but I will never give up the search for that perfect word.

* Thanks to my sister-in-law for this link

Mick and I met online in December 1996. We met in person on January 1, 1997. The first words I said to him were "Here, drink this quick."

I handed him a plastic cup full of champagne. We've been inseparable ever since.


I don't believe in fate and I don't believe in soul mates. But I do believe in Mick and I. It is all I need.

I don't mean that the cable went out during a storm or something like that. Mick and I got rid of our cable service about eight months ago, and for the most part, we haven't looked back.

On days like today, though, when a big cultural event like the Superbowl is on (it's sort of a cultural event, isn't it?) it feels kind of weird not to have cable. I don't even like football. But it would be cool to be able to turn it on for awhile, just to see what's going on. It's like that for awards shows, too, or really, any live show we can't watch live on the Internet.

Okay, it's not like I'd be watching it anyway. But I'm reminded of the Superbowl a few years ago when I was working in my bedroom office and turned on the TV just to check out the half-time show. Dude, I got to see Janet Jackson's boob. This year, there will be no such titillation.

Of course, we were invited to watch the Superbowl at a friend's house, and normally, that's where we'd be on this special day. This year, however, Mick and I are both sick and I have an assignment I have to get done by tomorrow. So alas, we will be spending the day at home, Superbowl-less. I don't even have any chips and salsa in the house, and forget the Miller Light.

The only football team I have any feelings for at all is the Philadelphia Eagles. That's because my dad grew up in Philadelphia and I was taught to like them. Since the Eagles are sadly not playing in this year's Superbowl, I am rooting for the New Orleans Saints. Why? Because I remember when I was growing up the Saints were so bad they were nicknamed the Ain'ts, and let's face it, New Orleans is a much cooler city than Indianapolis. I've been to both. I know.

Tomorrow, I will not lament my lack of cable, I will rejoice in it, for it is one less bill we have to pay. But today, I'm feeling a little lonely, a little left out. I think I'll make a run for some chips and Miller Light.

What is a blog for, if not to be self-indulgent? Especially in a weekend post. In this spirit, I present to you: 5 Things You Might Not Know About Me:

1) I have a recurring dream in which I'm friends with Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt.

2) My current TV obsession is watching reruns of the Dick Van Dyke Show.

3) My favorite curse is "mother f*cker." I know it's offensive, but I can't help it.

4) I am fairly certain I don't get the recommended daily allowance of any nutrient or vitamin, pretty much ever.

5) I really like to gamble.

Don't be shy. What 5 things might I not know about you?

Link-o-rama Today is a day of reflection as we look back upon the terrible events of 9/11, eight years ago.

Reading Underground - The subway remains an "unconnected" place. And so, New Yorkers read. via @mitaliperkins

Pug in my Computer – Something happy to remind you how nice life can be (via @ParkerXL)

The Elusive Fifty Percent - In marketing, about 50% of your ad campaign will work. But for an author marketing their own work (now an essential part of the publishing process) how do they know what to concentrate on? (via @jamesscottbell)

Writing with a Knife - A timely post from Copyblogger since I'm currently taking a machete to my manuscript (via @D_E and @thecreativepenn)

North Carolina Writer's Police Academy - One of these days I'll have to go to a writer's police academy. For now it seems unnecessary since my book(s) are set in 1678.

I found this amusing video on Persia Walker's blog. It was made by Brad Meltzer (author of loads of books):

Finally, I'll leave you with this quote from Anne Frank:

"Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."

Have a reflective day and take the time to do something thoughtful for another or even yourself. Kindness is sometimes in short supply.

Lately I've been treating myself to a bouquet of flowers every two weeks or so. Mick's a great husband, but if I had to wait for him to buy me flowers I'd never have any at all. So I buy them myself and everyone's happy.

I've found that I can make them last that long or even more by replacing the water, picking off dead bits, and throwing out the flowers as they wilt. Today's bouquet was purchased at Costco and it's very cheerful and yellow.


Whenever I arrange flowers in a vase, I think of my friend Doris, who died last year at age 91. She'd buy herself flowers every week and spend a good deal of time arranging them. She'd get frustrated when she'd come to my house and find flowers that I'd just stuck in a vase (I never used to separate them out–I figured whoever arranged them knew what they were doing, right)? Now I take the time to cut them down and re-arrange them into at least two vases, one large (above) and one small (below).


Speaking of Doris, one of these days I'll write about her in more detail. She had the most interesting life of anyone I've ever known. But I never thought I could do her justice, so I haven't written about her here. I miss her every day though.

Now for a subject change. In the fall I'll be going to a couple of writer's conferences and one thing I lacked at the last conference I went to was business cards. I didn't want anything fancy, just a card that gives my name and contact information. I turned to Etsy, because I knew they had a number of graphic designers selling their services. The one I chose was Bean Sprout Studio. I am so pleased with the results:


For $40, I got the design and 100 business cards printed. The quality is great! I would highly recommend this seller for any graphic design work you need.

I can't believe September is here already. I'd better get back to work!

Many of you know Mick and I have been staying at our house in Oregon for the past few weeks. It's been great, but we've both been feeling a bit cooped up. Today we decided to make a day trip to Crater Lake.

It's about a two hour drive through some really beautiful country. We passed over the Rogue River several times, and if you ever get a chance to take a rafting trip down it, I highly recommend it.

I knew Crater Lake was going to be spectacular, but wowza! It is amazing.


We knew it would be chillier up there then it is down here in the valley, but I wasn't prepared for how cold it actually was. My baseball cap and pigtails weren't cutting it. Mick and I went into the gift shope and bought extra clothes to keep us warm.


Our plan was to take a two-mile round trip hike to the top of Watchman overlook but it was closed. We drove back to the lodge area and chose a slightly longer hike to the top of a peak. Two months off of from running has taken its toll–a mile hike with a 1000 ft. rise was really tiring, but worth it.


 Mick took a few more pictures and posted them on our Picasa page. He did some gorgeous panoramas.

It was a lovely day! I'm so glad we decided to take a break.

This is me, circa 1986:


When I look at this picture, there is really only one thing I wish for this girl. I wish she had more self-confidence.

Failing that, this is the advice I'd give her:

1) Learn how to manage your personal finances

2) Wear sunscreen

What advice would you give your 18 year-old self?