2018 Clearing my Life: And the Rains Came

    For the last few years, I’ve had some beautiful crepe myrtle bushes in my front flowerbed.  They provided color and took up a lot of room and then I had flowers and groundcover around them.  I made the mistake of planting daylilies years ago and they tried to take over.  This year I even cleared a space for some kale and beets in the flowerbed.  I love to experiment.

But the older I get the less I like to weed, water, and those daylilies were becoming a pest.  Then last year the aphids hit the crepe myrtle bushes.  I started off trying to spray them with organic spray, but the aphids laughed.  Then the flies arrived.  I had created a little eco system and the flies found out about the aphids and dinner was served. The bushes, however were next to the front door and the flies found there way in. 

I pulled out the big guns and sprayed with something a little more toxic, but the aphids had taken over and were not going to quit.  At the end of the summer we cut down the bushes.

This spring the bushes came back and it took them no time to grow waist high and bloom beautifully.  Soon the aphids were back and with them the predator flies. It was time for a change. I hired my grandson to dig out the bushes along with the daylilies and I kept the groundcover. In browsing Pinterest, I found lots of gardens that had river rock and shrubs and I decided to completely change my front flowerbed. It would require less water and work.

I dug for days clearing my life of tiny bulbs left over from the daylilies and some ornamental grass that was left behind.  Then we marked the areas that were to be rock and the areas where I would plant English Boxwood bushes.  This could work! 

And then the rains came.

I am so close to being able to finish this project.  I researched and found out the best time to plant English Boxwood was late fall.  If I had my garden all ready before then, it would be easy to slip the bushes in later.  But you can’t rake smooth, lay weed barrier cloth, and spread river rock when the water is over your shoes.

I am beginning to think the rain we desperately needed will never end.  I just want to finish my garden, but Mother Nature had other ideas. I hope to be able to show you the finished project someday, but right now, this is how the garden looks. 

So much for a garden that is easier to work in.  I may never have this project finished. Wish me luck.

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2018 Clearing my Life: Old Friends are Like a Warm Quilt

   Friday I was honored by the flight simulator instructors from Vance AFB with a quilt handmade by the wife of one instructor. I had the best job in the world at Vance for 15 years. As an Office Administrator for CSI (Contract Simulator Instructors) I started that job in 1995 in the front office with 23 retired military pilots.  They taught the Air Force students to fly, and I kept the office running for them.  We lost that contract 15 years later and by that time we had 85 instructors and one Office Administrator.  I had help and lots of things changed in that 15 years, but what was most important was that I worked with 85 of the best people in the world. 

I’ve had a varied career, starting with working in flower shops, managing municipal pools, and teaching swimming. Later when the kids were older I went back to school and received my paralegal certificate from OU then worked for years in law offices.  I met and worked with some wonderful people and learned more than I could have ever imagined.  And then I went to work for the flight simulator instructors at Vance. 

I felt like Danny DeVito when I first crept onto that military base and asked for directions to the sim building.  “Can I buy a vowel?” Military lingo is a language all of its own. You couldn’t sling a dead cat without hitting a retired Lt Col, and there I stood in my heels and suit from the law office among a sea of flight suits – many of them Viet Nam era.  I quickly learned what the insignia on the shoulders meant and thank God for name tags. 

I left the base when our company lost the contract and my job disappeared into a pool of paperwork, but not until I helped the instructors apply for their own jobs with the Federal Government.  Then I went back into a law office in an oil and gas company. But the people I worked with remained my friends.  I knew their wives, children, and grandchildren.  They were family, not just co-workers.

I still have breakfast with the old codgers every couple of weeks now that we are all retired, and Friday morning they presented me a quilt of honor because they said I could herd cats (them).  They were always grateful for the work I did. 

Thank you, CSI, for your friendship and the quilt I will always cherish.  

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2018 Clearing My Life: First Friday Event and Booksigning in Downtown Enid

   Next week, Friday, September 7, 2018 is First Friday in Enid 5-9 pm. http://www.mainstreetenid.org/first-friday.html. It has become a rich celebration of the arts, music, food, and fellowship.  Enid comes together once a month from April to October on the first Friday night of each month and there is much to celebrate. 

This First Friday Event, I will be signing and selling my books outside of A New Chapter Bookstore and Café at Randolph and Washington. (weather permitting, otherwise inside)

First Friday is a great art event and the new bookstore in Enid has become focal point of the celebration.  If you haven’t visited the bookstore, First Friday will be the time.  The event covers the downtown square and businesses along the route.  That particular block has Boomerang burgers, the Breezeway, which always has live music, and businesses all along the street will be open for late night shopping.  Be sure to start at one point on the square and cover the entire area.  Lots of businesses and restaurants will be open and you might bump into old friends. 

Come by the bookstore and browse, check out my books, and see if they have any Walking Tacos left.  They will be sure to have coffee, tea, and pastries. Start your Christmas shopping or get books for back to school.  They have all the Sequoyah Award books for 2018.

A New Chapter Bookstore and Café, and author Peggy Chambers, will surely have something you need.  I will be clearing my life of books hopefully into your hands.

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2018 Clearing my Life: OWFI

    #weareowfi! was used a couple of years ago to celebrate all things having to do with Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. Those days came and went, and we are still a great group of writers supporting writers even if I haven’t seen that hashtag in some time.  Breaking into the publishing world is a tough nut to crack and you need all the support you can get.  And at OWFI, you get the support you need and want.

I cleared an afternoon so I could attend the quarterly meeting of OWFI today to celebrate another year of planning one of the best writers’ conferences in the country.  We have speakers from all over the world come to our little corner of Oklahoma and writers as well.  The contest alone is noteworthy and the agents, editors and publishers who attend make you feel you can do anything. And of course, you can.

It is a great opportunity to rub shoulders with the real deal and find a way to get someone besides Grandma to look over your manuscript.  And they don’t have to say they love it like Grandma does – but they’ll help you see what is good and bad in it, Then you can go back home and fix it.  Or, you might just land a great publishing contract!

I love OWFI and the cause it represents. I also love the people who run it both behind the scenes and out front.

Come join us the first weekend in May in Oklahoma City and find out what all the hoopla is about.  Come for the contest, camaraderie, and contacts – the three “C” s – and make some new friends while you’re at it.  https://www.owfi.org/

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2018 Clearing Your Life: Booksignings!

    I cleared my life of a few books at A New Chapter Bookstore yesterday afternoon.  I had a book signing with four other Oklahoma authors. Five authors in one location. It was a beautiful Oklahoma afternoon and I was surrounded by books and good friends.  What more could an author want? I came home and ordered more books.    

A New Chapter Bookstore has been a boon to Enid since Hastings went out a few years ago.  They have new and used books, they stock the latest that the schools are using for their literature classes, Sequoyah Award books, New York Times best sellers, and books by local authors. If they don’t have it, they’ll order it for you. You can sip coffee and tea while eating a muffin or bagel and they even sell a Walking Taco on Friday and Saturday nights.

It was such a great location, I decided to schedule another book signing with them for the First Friday Event in Downtown Enid on September 7.  I will be set up outside the door for the foot traffic (weather permitting) and will be just down the street from live music.  Enid has made the First Friday Event a major gathering for families. There will be food, art and music downtown from 5 to 9 and there will be lots for you to do, see, smell, and hear – a virtual cornucopia for the senses! And you’re bound to run into an old friend or neighbor.

Join me on September 7, 2018 from 5-9 at A New Chapter Bookstore and Café, 232 West Randolph (the corner of Randolph and Washington); we’ll talk books and listen to music.  Maybe we’ll even eat a Walking Taco! Come see what the local author has to show you and enjoy the late summer evening in beautiful Downtown Enid’s First Friday Event.


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2018 Clearing Your Life: Stones of Sandhill Island

    Victim mentality is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to recognize themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to behave as if this were the case.

Billie Stone felt she was a victim of life.  A beautiful woman with the voice of an angel living on an idyllic island with the artistic mother she loved. But she felt alone after her husband and son were killed in an accident. Her music was the only thing that got her out of bed somedays – that and her aging mother. But she wanted her life back.

Joe Franks felt like a victim of life when everything he’d ever worked for was taken from him and he was forced into pizza delivery to make ends meet.  He never meant to hurt anyone on that dark Texas highway. Suddenly the minivan was in front of him and he couldn’t avoid it.  He went to prison, lost his house, car, and job. Society was determined to keep him down.

Who was the victim and who was the victimizer? 

Franks saw Billie as the lucky one.  She had a job she loved, a beach house on an island to live in, and he wanted his life back. So, the man who killed her family approached her wanting her help – and when she wouldn’t give it, he tried to take it from her.

Stones of Sandhill Island picks back up where Secrets of Sandhill Island left off.  Some of the same characters make an appearance, but the main character – Sandhill Island – is once again in the forefront. The island is home to a handful of inhabitants who are wooed by her beauty and live their lives loving the calm and isolation it brings.  The people are kind – except when exploited – and take care of each other and their island. 

Billie Stone would get her life back if it killed her.

Check out Stones of Sandhill Island this week and if you love it, leave me a review.  https://tinyurl.com/y9qp6qzp

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2018 Clearing Your Life: The Fear of Visiting the Phone Store

    I cleared my life of an old phone this week.  I’m like an old dog with new tricks – trying desperately to learn something. 

After weeks of struggling with phones that were worn out, shutting down mysteriously, not ringing when they should, my husband and I traipsed down to the phone store.  We always dread these trips, mostly because the people there don’t speak our language.  They are filled with millennials who look down their noses at old people who should just go away, since they don’t know what they’re doing.  And we were greatly surprised.

We’d already looked online (with the laptop, not the discrepant phone) at what was available and what we would be paying for it.  Two phones in a household can get expensive, but for some reason, we think we can’t do without them anymore.  I remember a time when my mother would put dimes in our penny loafers, so we could use a pay phone to phone home like E.T.  Here’s a picture of the new phone on the table cloth.  What exactly is a table cloth?  . . . I’m sounding old again. 

We knew we didn’t need the newest and greatest that the phone companies had to sell.  We needed a reliable phone that would do what we needed and was newer than what we had.  The old ones lasted four years.  My husband has a friend with a flip phone that still works, but I doubt he uses it much.  He certainly doesn’t surf the web or takes pictures with it.

Well, at the phone store, we were pleasantly surprised.  The guy who helped us didn’t treat us like senior citizens he had to yell at and draw pictures to explain what he was trying to teach us.  He had one of the phones in-store and had to order the other, but it came in two days and then we made another trip back to the store. After all we had new friends there now and they couldn’t wait to see us. 

And then the panic set in. The guy who sold us the phone wasn’t there.  A new one took on the old folks and he was a great as the first.  We’ve come to appreciate the customer service at A T & T in Enid.  They didn’t look down their noses nor did they try to make us feel stupid.  They were kind and a fountain of information.  This wasn’t as hard as we thought it might be. 

We’re still learning the new phones.  They don’t shut off in mid use. We have new friends at the phone store and we can use the phones we’re paying for.  It is a win win situation.  We feel like we can function in society again. Thank you, A T & T. 

What did you do to clear your life this week?

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2018 Clearing My Life: More Bookcases!

    I did a little more clearing of my life this week.  My bedroom is in the back of the house and it seems things collect there.  I am not sure how this happens, but the house is shaped like an “L” and the master bedroom suite is at the end of the “L.” You can’t go any further.  So, as you walk to the back with your arms loaded from the living areas, things get dropped in that room. The room is also a dust collector and I constantly battle the dust bunnies. I think I may be losing that battle.

I don’t spend a lot of time in that room, I just sleep and shower there but maybe that is because there is nowhere to sit but on the bed.  Well, this week I fixed that.  In a corner where things get piled, I now have a new chair.  It is small and gray and goes with most everything.  It sits next to one of the many bookcases near a window.  My husband said, “You need a chair in here why?”  But later I found him sitting in it as he went through the pile of junk that was on its way out. 

Then I tackled the other side of the room.  In another small corner sat a pile of books that would not fit in any of the three (yes, I said 3 in one bedroom) bookcases.  So, what does a bookie do when the books will no longer fit on the shelves?  Clean them out?  No, I bought another small bookcase.  I measured, and I had just enough room for a skinny, but tall, bookcase that is the same color as the others.  It was just the ticket.  And I reserved the top shelf for my own books instead of tossing them around the room never to be found again.  Anytime I need to see a copy of my own book (except for the ones for sale in the spare bedroom) I must rummage round the room looking for where I last left one.  Now they are all together in a place of honor with an amethyst bookend my sister once gave me holding them up.  Amethyst is my birthstone, so it is even more precious.  And with the addition of the chair, I know have a reading room.

My bedroom is cleaner because all the moving around made me clean as I reorganized – and I can find my books.  I cleared my life of unwanted clutter and made a place for the things I treasure.  It was a win win situation.

What did you do this week to unclutter your life?


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2018 Clearing my Life: Writing Workshop!

Photos courtesy of Martha K. Draper.

It was workshop time! Yesterday the Enid Writers Club hosted a writing workshop at the Enid Public Library.  We had an intimate group, snacks, speakers from Tulsa and Norman, and a great time.  I learned a lot and enjoyed the camaraderie. Writers are the best kind of people. (there are those that might disagree, but they were not in attendance)  

Nikki Hanna, from Tulsa, spoke first on Finding Joy and Purpose in Writing.  Nikki is the author of several non-fiction books and I found her down-to-earth style helpful and uplifting.  She speaks with a knowledge based on experience.  She said you should use your craft in ways that make you happy, and if you should sell some along the way, so much the better.  She talked about redefining your version of success. She also talked about author voice, and the craft of becoming a better writer. She was helpful to anyone who asked for it.  

Vicky Kennedy, from Norman, talked about story structure.  She based a lot of her program on the book Save the Cat! and the story structure set down by Pixar for their movies.  Whether a short story, novel or screen play, they all need the same structure.  In listening to her I finally figured out what was wrong with my latest work in progress.  I can’t wait to get back to it and make it a better story.  

The writers club hosted the event and brought snacks.  There was fruit, cookies, and someone even brought home-made Jalapeno Poppers.  Nikki asked to come back next year with a new topic and I hope we can accommodate her.  Our club loves a writing workshop. 

Writers are the best kind of people.

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