Monday, March 31, 2014

Middle Name Seriousness

Pretending I don't hear them...
“Robert John Cox!” I froze in my tracks, afraid to move another inch. Once that middle name came out, I knew I had stepped over the invisible line.

There are only two people who will ever use your middle name–your mother or your wife. Furthermore, the only time you will ever hear it is if you’ve ignored the first trillion times they have warned you that it was coming. Then, when you do hear it, you’re usually in enormous trouble and it’s too late to back pedal out of it. Don’t pretend you don’t hear it, either, because that will only make it worse. You don’t need it worse. Unless of course, you’re one of those rare individuals that has two or even three middle names and then you have a little more time to push those buttons. I only have one middle name, so my time was up.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bucket Lists—Have You Started Checking Items Off Yours?

Susanna Matthews
Good morning, my Messy friends. This Saturday we are once again visited by a talented author I have no doubt you'll take a liking to after reading her post. Living in Eastern Ontario, Canada, Susanne Matthews is a retired educator who enjoys writing romance novels and reading them too. In the summer, she gardens and goes camping—in a tent. In the winter, she hibernates in front of her computer or watches her favorite television shows while sipping a glass of red wine. Married forty years (That's an amazing feat right there), she enjoys her three children and five grandchildren as much as possible. She sounds like someone the girls and I would enjoy hanging out with and we are looking forward to checking out her books. I hope you do as well. Just click on the titles to be taken to the Amazon page.

Today she is going to talk to us about bucket lists and I must admit I am looking forward to it. I've been slowly checking things off of mine as I grow older. It's exciting to see those checks being added. So, settle in with your morning coffee and enjoy a great read. Don't forget to say hello afterward.

Friday, March 28, 2014

There is No Bedtime on Vacation

Time to chill
After spending all day traipsing throughout one of the worlds at Disney, I was looking forward to just being back at the resort and relaxing. My shoes needed to come off, my Kindle opened and the Jameson poured. And that’s exactly what we did–after dinner, of course.

Pop Century, the Disney resort where we spent the weekend, had an enormous pool in the center of their property. On one end was Petals, a small, outdoor bar, and on the other end shouted the kiddie pool. The main pool had standing jets that sprayed a rainstorm down on whoever passed underneath and kids ran back and forth under it. Chaise lounge chairs surrounded the pool, offering a relaxing atmosphere while parents could watch their kids splash about in the life guard protected waters. It was in these chairs that we parked our keisters.

The girls had brought our adult beverages, so that saved one expense, and I stretched my tired legs out and opened my Kindle. We sat in the middle of everything, which really was the best location as the noise levels of what was happening around us wasn't that bad. Plus, I was able to take in the surrounding sights. Forever the people watcher, I am.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stepping Out from Behind the Wheel

Catching the bus
Four days. We were going to be gone for four days and I was more than ready for it. We had talked about it, planned it, sat up at night browsing the internet for what we wanted to do, and almost packed days in advance. Yeah, we were eager.

I was eager.

One of the best parts for me about the whole trip was that not once would I be behind the steering wheel. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but I’ve had jobs where I was driving for 15-18 hours a day every day. Even now that I am no longer a delivery person of any kind, I still play taxi for the family, making sure everyone is at work and school on time and then that everyone gets home again. I am behind the wheel of the van about every two hours for at least 30 minutes a pop. So, I was looking forward to allowing someone else to take control of how we arrived at our destination.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Road Rage Doesn’t Need a Road

When I am tired, in a hurry, or just plain grumpy–I know it’s hard to believe me being grumpy–I can suffer from road rage. It’s true. People on the road are idiots and need their license revoked. They are either too slow or too fast, they forget turning signals, or they rush past me only to cut me off and then slow down. That one drives me crazy the most, especially when there is plenty of lane behind me.

However, pedestrian traffic is quite often just as bad as the congestion on the roadways. This is compounded during the holiday season or at attractions such as Disney. People become so lost in their own agendas and course that they don’t stop to think about the people around them. They will suddenly stop right in front of you without ass lights to warn you that their feet are about to slam on the brakes, so you wind up rear-ending them, and yes, that play of words was on purpose. Furthermore, they will suddenly turn without any warning or blinker and you’re forced to hit the brakes again, spilling your overpriced Coke all over your overpriced souvenir shirt. You’d think they would at least glance behind them to see if it was clear to suddenly change directions, but nope, they just veer and we have to swerve.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Barefoot Lifestyle with Stewart Bint

Stewart Bint
Good morning and happy Saturday, my Messy friends. Today we have a treat as our guest is author and journalist, Stewart Bint. As so many of our guests here at the Mess, I met Stewart via Twitter and we have had a great connection ever since. I have enjoyed his writing as well as his friendship. You can visit his Stewart Bint's Blog and check out his latest novels and at the end of his post there are links to his books and I highly recommend them.

Stewart is one of those rare finds that is not all about himself. In the writer's world on social media that is sometimes hard to discover. I am glad of our friendship and hope one day Stewart returns to the Mess to talk to us about his writing. He has also stood with us as we speak out against bullies and for that I am quite thankful.

I also want to say a quick "Thank you" to Stewart for joining us today. It's always great to see what others have to share.

I have been following Stewart's barefoot journey on Facebook as well as Twitter and it is obvious he has a passion for it as he travels the pathways of the UK without anything between the soles of his feet and nature. So, settle back with your morning coffee and enjoy a great post about something you may have never thought of before. Perhaps, you'll want to step out of your shoes after reading what he has to say. I know mine are off while I am posting this.

Friday, March 21, 2014

“They Didn’t Stop Us!”

Our Disney hats
I had been planning it for a couple of months. The girls knew, of course. The 9-year-old didn’t, however, and that was the entire plan. We had planned a day at the Magic Kingdom to surprise her. She had been before but had no recollection of the previous adventure. This one she would remember.

We didn’t rise early as my parents made us when I was younger. I remember those mornings with fondness as my mother woke us up with an urge to go Messing. “Just for a little drive to see what’s out there.” Yet, as soon as we turned onto 192 I knew our destination. There had only been two reasons for our family to take this route and there was not enough luggage in the car for a trip to Indiana. My sister and I would bounce in the backseat with excitement and instant adrenaline.

We don’t take that route anymore. We do have a path we take that leads us to Downtown Disney where you can shop, eat, and even enjoy an adult beverage or two. We venture there about four or five times a year just to wander around and people watch. Of course, lunch is at Earl of Sandwich. It’s mandatory when making this trip.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Crime of Silence

Stop Bullying!
He could feel the stares. They all stood there, watching. His books were scattered on the floor, papers strewn across the grungy linoleum. His back pressed against the locker, the combination lock digging into his flesh, scraping him. No one moved to intervene. No one helped pick up his papers or books. No one drew attention to themselves.

The bully, laughing, feeling better about his own existence and suddenly powerful, walks away with his buddies. Still no one moves or says anything.

He avoids the stares as he drops to the floor and begins to retrieve his possessions. He’ll have to rewrite that essay for World Literature. The teacher won’t care that it was destroyed by the bully. With head bowed, carrying his books close to his body in the hopes that no one else will knock them out of his hand, he burrows a path through the crowded halls to his next class. Perhaps someone else will be the next target and he can get through the rest of the day unscathed.

Monday, March 17, 2014

“You Can’t Win Them All”

The 9-year old about ot hit the streets
Char and I went to the store the other day, why I am not sure, but I am positive it was of necessity for me to drag my carcass out of the recliner. As we ventured by a parked car, a grandfather was strapping his grandson into his seat belt. We couldn’t hear the conversation, but it was obvious that the little tyke was whining about something and just as obvious that he was not getting his way. He was giving it his best effort, however.

Just as we passed the open door, we heard the sound of the seatbelt click and then grandfather say, “You can’t win them all.”

I thought of this yesterday as we were driving around town and the 9-year old was trying hard to plead her case about movie night. Every Sunday night in our home is family movie night. The girls, the 9-year old and myself take turns each week picking out a family orientated movie, we make bowls of popcorn, turn down the lights and snuggle in for the movie. I started this by picking Wizard of Oz, which the little one had not seen yet. The next week she picked Dumbo and from there each of the girls picked a movie–Blackbeard’s Ghost, Brave, and Despicable Me.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Giselle Marks ~ My Writing Process

You may remember a few weeks back we had Giselle Marks join us here at The Mess as she discussed sex within the romance genre. Well, I am pleased to say she is back with us today. This time she will be talking about her writing process and I'm sure we can all gain some insight as well as tips. I always enjoy hearing how other authors go about their craft. It confirms things I am already doing or points me in new directions.

So settle back with that morning cup of coffee or tea and enjoy another great post by Giselle Marks and then visit her on her website or several Facebook pages. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Scrivener, My All-In-One Writing Tool

I went from this...
So, as most of you know I have been on a path of simplifying our lives as well as our home. The girls and I have been slowly weeding through the clutter and storage tubs of miscellaneous “Why are we keeping this?” items and chucking things as soon as we can. We’ve even tossed furniture and I’ve whittled down my book collection. I know, I can hear the gasps of surprise from here. It wasn’t easy, but it was a step we needed to take.

We have also gone digital wherever we could. I have been slowly scanning old pictures and putting them on thumb drives which fit nicely into digital picture frames. Now we can enjoy those pictures that only took up the space in the bottom of the closet. And yes, we have tossed the hard copies. Don’t worry. We won’t lose them. I have several copies stored in different places as well as in clouds and the great part is that those 1,000s of pictures now fit snugly in my hand as I’m racing for the van to avoid the next hurricane.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Jury Duty Draft

I received the notice three months before I was to report, which is good, I suppose. It gave me just enough time to forget that I had to appear. I have a hard enough time keeping track of when the 9-year old has early dismal at school, which happens every other week. How did the court system expect me to remember something three months away that I didn’t really want to do anyway?

Now, don’t get all civil responsibility on me and start emailing me about how it’s our privilege and responsibility to help govern. I know all of that, but that doesn’t make it a fun thing to do. I hate my schedule interrupted and the fact that they don’t know if I will be needed or not is a total waste of time to me. For anyone who may not have had to serve, allow me to give a brief description of what happened the last time I had to serve. I arrived at 8 in the morning to sit in a small room in an uncomfortable chair while I waited to see if by chance they would select me to actually serve, not just show up for an afternoon of nasty coffee and staring at the other unfortunate people who were called. I was able to bring my writing with me, so it wasn’t a total loss. I sat there for three hours before they called my name along with several others. We were led two flights up, but by the time we walked up there, the criminal made a bargain and we were no longer needed. They led us back to the waiting room where we were tossed back into the pool of available jurors.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Remember When They Meant All?

It seems to be a popular trend for people to fight their battles on social media sites. I know more about people’s dirty laundry now than I am truly comfortable with and, to be honest, I don’t feel bad for those who are spewing how terrible other people are, especially their exes. These bouts of verbal hanging do not cause me to sympathize with the one stringing up the noose. On the contrary, they force me to hide the bitter person and ignore them both.

I understand that something bad happened and the couple decided to split. Whatever caused the problem is not my concern and while I have been a shoulder to some in the past it has been a one on one conversation of encouragement that while they may hurt right then, they will get on with life and find love again. Before they begin to bash the other person for ruining their life, I also remind them that just a short time ago that person that they now hate was their entire world. I remind them of the oaths of love and devotion that they sickened everyone else with as they couldn’t shout loud enough their deepest feelings for the person they now wish to find laying in a gutter, face down.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Take Back Your Pride

Dad enjoying the peacefulness of his backyard
It was 1961 in Korea. I was five years away from being born, my parents four years away from being married. My dad was in the army and while working on a jeep, the engine fell. He had been holding a bar at the time, which slipped when the engine fell and cracked him in the back, literally. He developed a hairline crack in his back, which caused him to have to wear a Jewett back brace later in life. When I saw the device, I was reminded of contraptions they sometimes revealed on cheesy science fiction movies. It was the first step in turning my father into a robot, I thought.

At the time, he remained in the Army, finishing out his tour. When he came home, he married my mother and a year later I arrived. Surprise! He then went into construction, eventually owning his own drywall company for close to twenty years. During those years, I watched him perform daring stunts that would cause OSHA to shut the job down. He would walk on stilts along a two-by-four that was nailed into a wall over a twenty foot drop over concrete stairs. He hung from scaffolds and dared ladders to collapse on him. He would have made a circus performer applaud with the death-defying feats he managed on stilts and other equipment all in the name of getting the job done. He lifted large sheets of sheetrock, holding it in place with his head while screwing it to the framework of the house. All while wearing his brace.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Reading and Reviewing

A Confused Life is out! I know you’ve probably seen the shouts and promos. My second book. This one is a collection of essays based off the Mess with a few new ones thrown in for good measure. I share the humorous moments of my life that taught me a lesson along the journey. I was excited to finally be able to say done and move onto the next work in progress.

Now comes the waiting. Waiting for people to purchase the book and waiting for people to review it. To be honest, until I started publishing books myself, I never realized how important this part of the process was to an author. I’ve never reviewed a book. I just bought, read, and then stuck it on my shelf and moved onto the next one. If I enjoyed the author, then I made it a point to purchase his other books. If I didn’t, I took the book to the used bookstore and traded it in for credit toward another book. Reviews were those things that appeared in newspapers by people who were paid to write them. These reviewers were sucked up to and sent gifts, invited to fancy shindigs and given free steak. I was never offered free steak, so I didn’t think about reviewing the books I read.

Monday, March 3, 2014

No Joking about Disney

We had had reservations at Outback Steak House, which had become our traditional Valentine’s Day dinner out. Well, not really reservations, because places no longer believe in those. They want to be surprised when people show up and then understaffed. Of course, you also lose business because people told that they will need to wait forty-five minutes for a table sometimes becomes a little extreme. The best they will do is write your name down on a list and the time you will be there. However, when you get there that doesn’t really mean anything, at all.

Anyway, that isn’t what I was writing about, just a disclaimer announcing that I did have plans for Valentine’s Day.

The day started with a trip to IKEA to pick up the wall unit for my study along with some things for the 9-year old’s room. Once the van was loaded up, we headed to Sweet Tomatoes for lunch, a quick trip inside Downtown Disney so Char could purchase a jacket that wound up not being there, and then we were heading home to prepare for our evening out. We didn’t even have to worry about the little one as one of her friends was having several friends sleep over. We were childless with no curfew.