Saturday, August 30, 2014

Hot Water

When you take 60 campsites and only 1 shower for all the women you are asking for chaos at best and can only hope to avoid homicide. One more proof that God is a man.

Friday, August 29, 2014

AWOL on the Parkway

Given we were pitching a tent this morning at 2 am this morning, things for the holiday weekend have gotten off to a rocky start. I was the proverbial "Unhappy Camper". You most likely will not hear from me until Monday. I hope that there will good tales to tell. So far the jury is out.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Agony of Being Nice

Don't ever do anything you don't want anyone to know about anywhere in the south. Chances are someone you know or who knows your spouse, or your parents, or your roommate in college is going to see you. I have said often - the rest of the world enjoys six degrees of separation - down here, we only have three.

Now my DH was born and raised reared in a small town (pop 400 +/- ). The town is so small one doesn't need to use a turn signal because everyone knows where you are going. We lived there for several years when our girls were little.

Early yesterday morning I was trying out a new camera. I drove out through the country looking for some old barns to photograph. For an hour or so I traveled over county roads, some I was familiar with, some I was not. The golden morning light was almost perfect. I had passed a vegetable stand and decided I would stop on my way back knowing the produce would be bright and colorful.

There were no customers at the stand when I parked my car and got out. Usually I try to speak with the owner before I start photographing their stand. I did not see anyone around. A few minutes later this young man approached me, handed me his cell phone and said, "The lady who owns this stand wants to talk with you."

Obviously he had called her to tell her there was a suspicious character photographing the stand. She politely asked me a few questions. I quickly told her who I was and what I was doing, all the while complimenting her on the quality of her produce.

Mean while the gentleman who handed me the phone was standing there staring at me with a puzzled look on his face. As I continue talking on the phone he became very curious. Our conversation continued and he finally walked off.

Turned out the owner was a family friend of my DH whom I had not seen in years. It took us a good while to catch up on children, spouses, and grandchildren. Finally she made me promise I would stay there until she arrived. When I handed the gentleman his phone back and thanked him. He just looked at me. I smiled, "We are old family friends."

She arrived in less than 5 minutes. "Lord child! It is so good to see you!" she said as she gave me a big hug. Since we had already caught up on the family, she started with family health issues. 45 minutes later I managed to leave.

When I got back home my DH was curious as to what took so long. When I told him, he just shook his head. "Well you did not have to stand there. You could have politely excused yourself." 

"Sure, I could have but I don't know when a more polite time would be, right after the detailed description of her last heart surgery but then I would have missed the theory of the genetic health problems she and her brother inherited from their father.  I could have begged off after her telling me about a new diabetes drug but then I would have missed how well she manages her blood sugar levels."

Yes, we cannot escape ourselves. And if we find that we are in one of those "one way conversations", our proper upbringing dooms us to endure the agony of health issues, tales of derelict in-laws, and list of the death and dying. Being nice sometimes is a very painful thing.

However, we always know what is going on whether we want to or not.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lost and Found Photographs

Last year I entered a photograph in the county fair. I never made it out to the fair to see the photography exhibit. And, on the Sunday, the day the fair ended, we were out of town, so I was unable to go and pick-up my work.

According to the County Fair's web site, that was not an issue because "any art not picked up during the appointed hours would be delivered to the Arts Center and held there until December 1. After that date it would be disposed of."  I had picked my work up from the Arts Center in the past when I was unable to pick it up the final day of the fair during the "appointed" hours. So I knew that was taken care of.

Well that was until the following week when I went to Arts Center and Beth, the lady who works there, said that, no, in fact they had not brought any of the art from the fair. She did not know where it went. Knowing it was probably a lost cause, I still called the number on the website given to call for "any questions regarding the art exhibits" at the County Fair. Not surprisingly, it went to voice mail. I left a message that I am sure was just among many others (including 3 or 4 earlier ones I had left concerning other questions I had) that were never to be responded to.

So eleven months went by. I only hoped that my picture, where ever it was, was being enjoyed by someone. If it never made its way back to me, so be it, but I did hope it was not wasted in a dark closet, or thrown away as trash. Hopefully, if nothing else it was hanging on someone's wall.

Yesterday I received an email from a gentleman from the Arts Council telling me I could find my picture in the office of the County Fairgrounds. Surprise, Surprise. So this morning I went to claim it. When I walked in and told the lady who I was, she just exclaimed, "Well I wondered who you were and if we would ever see you?"

She said that the lady in charge of the art had removed the tag with the contact information before the piece was brought to their office. She went to the back of the room and brought out the photograph and a red ribbon. I did not even know I had won something. That was a surprise.

We had a nice chat and I thanked her for taking such good care of it and apologized for my not getting it but explained I did not know where it was or where to start. 

So the surprise of the day was a red ribbon I did not even know I had won last year. And just yesterday, my DH asked me if I planned to enter something in the County Fair this year. My answer then was no. Suddenly my attitude has changed. There is nothing like a red ribbon to spur on a little enthusiasm.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Calling it a Day

That's all folks! This last book is my swan song. 

Writing it was not the issue. Rewriting, correcting, and editing were not the issues - thanks to an editor and friends who generously gave their time to assist. It just became a fussy two year old who did not want to go to bed.

When you publish books (self publish) you use templates so that your manuscript is ready for publication once it is sent in. There are separate ones for eBooks and paperbacks. Naturally Amazon has a format for their books so they cannot be copied and most other sources use another format. Once your have your "book" ready, putting it into the template is generally not difficult.

I work with the ebook first because it is the easiest and the fastest to get out. eBooks have no page numbers, headers, or footers - just the text with the chapters. With Amazon once you send it to them, they run it through their "magic reviewer" and it spits it out with a notice of any spelling and/or grammatical errors that need to be corrected. (ie the word "Geechee" is not recognized). You make those changes and off she goes. In 12-24 hours you book is live and in color listed on Amazon. Any corrections you want to make after that can be made and the corrected copy will be available withing 12 hours (usually).

The paperback is a little more complicated. The format has page number, headers, footers, and the pagination that have to be set so that the dedication falls on the correct page, each chapter begins on the correct page, etc. Of course, unlike the ebook that simply has a jpg of the cover, the paperback has to have a formatted cover, front and back.

That "interior" or draft is sent in for review. In 24 hours it is sent back with any comments about grammatical and/or formatting errors that need  to be corrected. Those are made and it is refiled. After this round robin, it is finally accepted and it is online and available at Amazon within 24 hours.

Everything was going swimmingly until I awoke one night in a cold sweat and remembered that one name had not been changed to protect the innocent. I immediately corrected the ebook and resubmitted it. Only so many copies had gone out with that "glitch". 

I got the first review of the paperback yesterday saying all the headers and footers were incorrect. In looking back over it, I had to figure out some codes in Word that Microsoft hid (perhaps in fear the KGB may find them). After an hour or two of frustration, those were corrected, I reviewed the draft and resubmitted it.

This morning I received the "final" draft for my review before it was published. I read through it. For some reason the word spacing on many pages was wrong. So I once again went through the draft, line by line, checking the spacing to see what extra spaces (that one cannot see with the naked eye) were there and what lines were not justified. I finished that and sent it off.

When it comes back for the final "final" review - it will go out for good. This is more than I can handle. If I were writing bestsellers that would allow me to lounge and eat bon bons all day, then it would be worth it. Whatever benefit comes from this endeavor it never remotely equals the time, sweat, and effort that goes into it. But years ago I said I was going to write a book. Now I have. Check that one off the great list list of life.

Now on to the next item: dinner with Liam Neeson.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A "Miss" Margaret Story

I was thinking the other day about some of the stories "Miss" Margaret had told. I was privileged to be invited for lunch several times at "The Big House" as the family referred the Willbrook, the home she and the Senator lived in for so many years and reared their children.

This one particular day, she had invited the Judge's office over. She tried to have all the new attorneys for lunch at least once a year. As always the dining room table was set with her fine china on her linen table cloth with her sterling silver flatware. There were candles in the candelabras in the center of the table. This must have been in the late fall or early winter because she also had a tray of lovely pink and white camellias from her yard as the center piece.

As we were being seated, we noticed that in addition to the crystal tea goblets at everyone's place there was also a wine goblet filled with a pink rose wine. Given this was noon on a work day in the middle of the week, Miss Margaret had given up drinking years ago, and rose wine would not be what she would serve if she was serving wine, the Judge was curious. So she inquired, "Why the wine?"

"Miss" Margaret just smiled, "Well, the flowers were pink and the plates I was using were pink and I thought  needed something in the glasses, so I just used a bottle of rose wine I had in the kitchen." That was so typical of her. Ann, her daughter, told a similar story in her eulogy, except in her case it was pink lemonade. Obviously this was not a one time occurrence.

As we finished the meal, the plates had been taken the kitchen, and we were all enjoying the dessert, the Senator would pull his chair back a ways from the table and relax. Miss Margaret of course would be holding court. She always wanted to know about everyone, where they were from, if they were married, etc. This particular afternoon, one of the attorneys was telling her that he was married and that he and his wife were expecting their first child.

"Miss" Margaret starting telling stories about their children when they were young. Every once in a while the Senator would speak up, "Now Margaret, that's not exactly how it happened." She would offer some revision to the story and continue.

She told of taking Clara, the family's housekeeper, and their four children to town one afternoon. "Miss" Margaret had an appointment so she dropped Clara and the children off at one of the city parks and went on to her appointment. That evening, as they sat down to dinner, the Senator asked, "Margaret, where are the children?" It was just then she remembered that she had left them at the park and never picked them up. She hurried back into town and found them just where left them. They were sitting there in the dark with Clara waiting for her to come get them.

We all waited for the Senator to interject for some correction. I looked over at him. He just shook his head, "No, I'm afraid that really happened just as she said. I don't know what we would have done without Clara."