Saturday, October 31, 2009

Finding a Literary Agent -

First off, let me assure you that writing a full length manuscript of any sort is a major commitment to just plain old hard work.

Secondly, let me assure you that once you have spent three years producing a well written, thoughtful, entertaining piece of literature, you have only agony staring you in the face until you find an agent and finally a publisher for that story.

I know, I know! Folks really do self publish. However, the vast majority of folks who self publish spend a minimum of $5000 of their own money to have their manuscript printed and then, oh yes, and then they have to figure out a way to market the finished product without the aide of professionals. Statistics indicate that fewer than 1% of self published authors actually sell more than one hundred of their manuscripts.


The publishing business is skewed in favour of corporations! So, what's new? Who would have thought otherwise.

Since the Aussie bloke and I will be spending the next three weeks here in the sometimes overcast and always cool prairie and since it's too cold outside to continue painting the trim on the house, I have set myself a goal - find an American agent!

To that effect, I have recently submitted in hard copy or on line (depending on the requirements of various agents) over eighteen non-fiction book proposals. I have only a thousand more to go! :) Smile! - that's not an exaggeration.

Fortunately, for those of us who are struggling with this process there are several web sites currently available to lessen the struggle. Let me introduce you to WordHustler.com

If you click on the title to this blog post, you will go directly to this amazing site which has been so helpful in my attempt to reach my goal this past week. I actually love these guys and gals! For a pittance, they have my best interests at heart - unlike the publishing industry itself which is certain that I do NOT deserve to have my words in print under their label (at least so far).

I have not given up; I am simply more determined than ever to find the right agent to work with me so that together we can share with 'boomer women' the joys of love relationships after 40!



Thanks.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Two in One Day - Resigning from the Afghan War

The Washington Post 29 October 2009

U.S. official resigns over Afghan War

Foreign Service officer and former Marine captain says he no longer knows why his nation is fighting

You may wish to click on the title to this blog post and read the Karen DeYoung article from the Washington Post yourself!

Thoughts Become Things

I'm not in the habit of touting other web pages and strange philosophies, but this morning the quote below showed up in my inbox thanks to the forwarding tool on a Claremont High School teacher's computer. Thanks, B!

Sometimes the Universe who signs these quips makes outlandish, really silly claims, but this morning, I sat here shaking my head, 'Yep, he's right! This is how I see the puzzle that is my world. I chose the design, I manage to find the right venue in which to assemble the pieces, and I even decide which colour, size, and weight of pieces to include.'

So, if you find any of this interesting, click on the title to today's blog entry and you will go directly to the web page of the fellow who sends out these daily items that I often forward along to friends across the globe.

'Life, dear reader, is not what you see, but what you've projected. It's not what you've felt, but what you've decided. It's not what you've experienced, but how you've remembered it. It's not what you've forged, but what you've allowed. And it's not who's appeared, but who you've summoned.'


In the meantime, the sun crossed the horizon around 8:30 this morning, but the golden orb failed to break through the overcast; must be some form of blanket keeping us from subfreezing temps. Time to work on another set of book proposal submissions to American literary agents - I'm projecting success in the near future! :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Saga - Get over it?

9:30 in the evening and new reservations have been made; we head to Oz on 29 November.

I'm over the whole damn thing.

I have three weeks to write something worthwhile. Time to buckle down and do some serious writing - which means, I suppose, find the humour in all of this angst.

I'm reading Snow Crash on my birthday kindle - even that dark futuristic science fiction is full of black humour and some downright light stuff as well. Time to go in search of that which makes us laugh whilst in the midst of misery.

Any suggestions? My good blogger friend, POD, manages to create just that sort of blurb on a daily basis.

And Jack, the Wanderer, another fine blogger, does the same. Look for my humble attempts in future notes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who over reacted to soon?

Like anyone who knows me would have trouble coming up with that answer!

The Aussie visited with Dr. Ackerman at the bone clinic this morning. No rush home says the doc. Take your time. Two weeks or two months - makes no difference.

So, we have time. And depending on the insurance company decisions, we'll probably take some of that time to hook up the furnace here in the prairie house and if the weather cooperates add a little more paint..the kitchen window is not yet merlot..and if you take a look at the pics on the side bar, you'll notice that the surfeit just beyond the bay windows needs some paint, too. Trim around the basement stair's window and the back door are unfinished - primed but not merlot yet.

Relief was tangible after the tall guy came out of the drs. office.

Bass Street may have to suffer another few weeks without our occupation of the front bedroom in numero uno.

Time to jot a few emails to significant folks to let them know the haps.

Talk more laters..

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday morning

Sun tried really hard to break through this morning. I could feel the effort, the blasts of warmth slowly penetrating the ether even before I rose from my bed.

Still, the blanket of clouds withstood the onslaught; the morning was stagnant with cool - temps hovering near 40 (5C).

This afternoon after my stroll to the post office to mail another five or six book proposals to American agents, the sun is once again on the offensive - feels good as it streams through my bay window - a picture of which is on the sidebar today.

Weather is what life is all about here on the prairie. I suppose the weather is what it's all about in all extreme climates. In the cities where air conditioning and storm shutters abound, no one is much concerned with what weather is out there unless, of course, flooded streets and tracks make it impossible to get to the high rises and malls to work and shop. Then even in urban ares weather talk abounds.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Heavy Lifting and furnace removal

Ah, my dear friends...

First off, nope; I'm not doing the heavy lifting by myself..

When you don't have ALL of an Aussie bloke, you must make do with half an Aussie bloke - and wonderment of wonderments..half of one of these men is more than all of most!

Together we lifted the heavy stuff onto the pick-up truck bed and off again. All he couldn't do is 'throw'.

But what he can do is organize and problem solve - which means he figured out ways to use my rather limited strength to balance his enormous left handed strength to get the stuff off the ground and onto the bed of the pick-up (ute).

The furnace had been dismantled and taken up the stairs from the basement before he fell and severed the tendon in his right shoulder. It had been sitting in the side yard waiting to be removed to the town dump. (btw, the cost for putting the entire furnace in the dump was $5.)

The heaviest item was the old 'trash burning stove' that had been sitting in the basement, probably ever since the house had been moved in from the prairie about fifty years ago.

And just to make the world work even better, yesterday was one of those amazing prairie Indian Summer days with temps hovering just above 60F (10C) and sunshine with only a minimum of breeze.

I primed the rest of the house with white and then when it dried applied the second grey coat. It looks 'almost finished'..pics if the sun shines..you can't much tell in the rainy day cloud cover light, so I won't bother with pics right now.

All that is needed to finish off the outside is the red trim around the bay windows and along the facia board just below the roof. The winter can storm itself silly now, and the little prairie house will withstand!! No matter whether we are here to protect it or not.

Feels so good to have done this work - my right shoulder complains, but I just whisper that good work sometimes produces good pain - so get over it!! :)

Look beside the post - I have added some pics of the inside of our rather crowded living/sleeping/dining room with our new rocking chair right in the middle of everything.

We do need to finish off the upstairs so that the bed can be moved there!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

53 F and Sunny! - Lovely Autumn weather

Ok, so here we are - waiting for the doctors and the insurance company to come to agreement about treatment! Urgh!!

In the meantime, yesterday we loaded and dumped three pick ups full of trash from the basement. The city dump is beginning to look a bit more like the Lind House trash dump. The old furnace was a big part of the last load we delivered. The first two were full of household bills from the 1950s and a 1928 letter from the Senate to Agnes Lind. Old boards, picture frames, rotten wood, and various other non-notables went dumpward.

Today, it will be paint time. If we can finish the base coat on the bay window section of the house, it will be winterized sufficiently to withstand whatever mother nature sends.

Tomorrow we expect cold rain - a good time to be indoors baking bread or reading my new kindle.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Turn of Events or is that Turn of the Screw!

Ok, for my own sake I need to document this disaster that may turn into a fiasco or may even finally manifest as a welcome change in plans.

I know, that was a bit all encompassing, but the facts indicate that no accident is really an accident. Usually there's a bit of intention sliding through the background of the scene, something that indicates that we all do know what is about to change our plans, even while insisting that we have absolutely no responsibility for those changes.

1. Tuesday, 13 October -The Aussie trips over the vacuum cleaner power cord and falls backward over the vacuum itself in a very small bathroom. As he hits the floor, pain rips through his right shoulder.

2. When the pain subsides, he discovers he cannot lift his right arm at the shoulder.

3. Wednesday, 14 October, we see the physician's assistant who in this corner of the prairie is the primary health care provider. Her office pushes Trinty Hospital to make a Friday appointment for an MRI.

4. Friday, 16 October, the Aussie gets his MRI, but no access to the results.

5. Tuesday, 20 October, seven days after the accident, the physican's assistant calls with the results of the MRI - two shoulder tendons implicated, one severed with 18 mm break between the rotator cuff and the end of the severed tendon.

6. Wednesday, 21 October, at the request of the the Aussie's Australian Insurance company, an appointment is made with an orthopedic surgeon in Minot for Tuesday, 27 October.

So, here we are:
- waiting for one American surgeon to tell an Australian surgeon that the severed tendon needs surgery in order to be re-attached,
- waiting to be given permission to return to Brisbane where the insurance company is willing to pay for that surgery.

Frustration reigns in the north american outback:
- with the speed at which insurance companies do NOT work,
- with their lack of regard for patients and their pain
- with their distrust of the claims of policy holders.

All that being said, both the Aussie and I are appreciative of the kindness and proficiency of the staff of the physician's assistant and those to whom we speak on the phone in Brisbane representing the Insurance company.

I guess that's it! We wait for the professionals to DO to us because in the American system we are not allowed to be part of the process; we are simply dummies on whom the professionals will/can/shall act. What kind of a new program does the Congress have in store for us..hopefully not more of the same!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Weather

An orange aura surrounded the sun this morning as it lifted above the cloud bank on the south-eastern horizon. Both the Aussie bloke and his American wife smiled at the thought of another perfect autumn day on the prairie.

Yesterday, neighbours stopped by to talk when they saw us out painting the last of the merlot trim on the street side of the house.

'Ah, the weather gods stole two weeks of this weather from us,'lamented Calvin, a retired farmer who now lives down the street. His reference, of course, was to the previous ten days of freezing rain, snow, and cloud cover, un-natural in this corner of the prairie so early in the season.

I admit that the ice covering tiny twigs and huge limbs of the trees in the front garden sparkled for an entire day before melting onto the sunroof of the Cherokee. It was a grand sight, but one we might have appreciated more in the middle of November instead of in October.

There is a sadness mixed in with our delight at 'good' weather on this Sunday. We will in all liklihood be leaving for Australia in the forthcoming week. The Aussie's accidental fall has taken a toll neither of us thought possible.

The results of Friday's MRI will be sent to the physician's assistant who is our only health contact here in this medical wilderness on Tuesday morning. Those same results will be forwarded on to the Australian travel insurance company who will be making arrangements, if there is a torn tendon involved, to medivac the tall Aussie dude to Brisbane for surgery.

We will miss the blooming daffodils and tulips I planted yesterday. But, we will return, probably in late June to actually install the furnace currently sitting in its box in the garage and we may choose to stay a long while to begin the renovations of the inside of the little prairie house we have come to love.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Power cords and Achilles

Some folks are more powerful than they have any right to be. More adept and balanced, more logical and successful in all endeavours.

Some folks are so technically proficient that many of us simply stand back 'in awe'.

Some folks (well, all folks) eventually have a comeuppance.

The rest of us stand back, suppress a tiny smile and at the same time twinge with regret.

The Greeks gave us the metaphorical model. (Hector and Achilles, for instance) Each of us in some small way follows the track right on down to the final foible.

The tall Aussie bloke tripped over a power cord yesterday.

Today, the doctor issued a referral for an MRI. Seems shoulder damage is certain.

We may be southern hemisphere bound sooner than we thought.

Please do send him all your reiki energy to heal not only the psyche, but the physical injury as well.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Memoir - My Grandmother

...........................Grandma Hook.......................

She was always an enigma to me. Bigger than life, sterner than any woman I had ever known, for me she was always a strong old woman. Her dresses had a waistline that circled under her breasts. Her skirts always hung straight. She seemed to have no ass. She always wore dark colours and fashions that made her seem even older than she probably was.

Her house was always clean, but cluttered. I loved her house more than I loved her, I suspect. There were corners, cracks, and crannies to investigate in that house.

There were books. Actually, there was only one book that I remember: The Wizard of Oz sat beside the piano in a little corner of the living room where I tucked myself into the almost dark and read words on pages that were bigger than those in any book I had ever read before. Today, that print is reserved for folks who claimed to be partially sighted, those with cataracts or some form of benign blindness – almost.

Then, I was anything but blind. I was aware of the energy in Grandma Hook’s home. It may have been intriguing, but it was not inviting. Her’s was a place where one behaved, where one remembered not to be too noisy, not to make a scene, but a place where currants grew in the back yard and chickens roamed the side yard – on the far side of the driveway, a horseshoe affair.

Grandma Hook lived on very busy Davidson Road in the partially industrialized neighborhood in Flint, Michigan – as if the whole city were not industrialized. They made Buicks there. On her street, they produced AC sparkplugs. My grandfather, an electrician, worked in that factory. He was electrocuted on the roof one night in 1936, four years before I was born.

It was shortly after his death that my mother was boarded out to her home-ec teacher in a slightly more middle class section of the city. There she learned to wash and iron sheets, to set a table properly, to cook, and to appreciate sterling silver.

Perhaps because my grandmother, who was attempting to raise eight children without a father, needed to find a table at which each could find enough food, my own mother followed the pattern. I was boarded out, too, not when I was eighteen like my mother, but when I was one. I doubt that my mom learned to do that from her home-ec teacher. She did learn, however, to fold towels in the proper manner, to hand sew a hem, and to enjoy solid teak furniture, furniture I never remember seeing in my grandmother’s home.

Yes, my Gramma, the stern faced woman with a halo of grey-black hair pinned up around her face, the woman with the bounteous black skirts and the rolled up stockings and proper shoes probably taught my mother a great deal, but I doubt if she intended to teach my mother to give up her firstborn at so early an age.

The enduring memory of Grandma Hook is of her sitting at the breakfast nook, a white wooden table on each side of which was attached a wooden bench with a seat that lifted so that there was storage space underneath, a bench that would sit at least four on each side. There she sat one afternoon when my mother and I stopped to visit. She was using a teaspoon to scoop out the soft green insides of an avocado. I had never tasted avocado. They seemed decadent at the time; they looked oily and slimy. That was the last time I saw my grandmother.

Shortly thereafter she went to hospital where she subsequently died of breast cancer – not a long illness; she gave up less than two weeks after diagnosis.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Samples of work from Prairie School of the Arts Workshop

Check out Prairie School of the Arts blog page - link to the right - for samples of the writing accomplished at the workshop last week.

Hope you enjoy. We certainly took pleasure in discussions of our writing!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Swirling Snow

Yep! Woke to swirling yellow leaves from the almost naked tree on our front lawn mixed with snow fluries. Outside my window the flakes are huge white conglomerations of cold dancing on the northwest wind, sometimes catching the still green lilac leaves, sometimes forming a damn of white along the bottom of the pane of glass on our new bay windows. (Yes, many thanks to the Aussie who installed those windows just in the nick of time!)

This is an autumn storm with the almost 11 o'clock sun trying diligently to break through the cloud bank. One can almost see the glowing spere hidden behind the curtain of grey, almost!

Temps outside hover around 20 - as cold as it ever was in our winter sojourn last year in the Sierras of California. But, that 20F was as cold as it got. Here in the Dakotas 20F (-6C) is just the beginning, the autumnal; here -40F (-40C) is what we can expect before we board our flight in February for a late summer journey to the southern hemisphere.

Time to prepare for installation of the travelling furnace - tear out the old to make way for the new.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Canada, Oh, Canada!

Estavan is a small oil town in Saskatchawan just across the border from my neighborhood. Emily is a stalwart Aussiette come to visit the border country. Today we headed north to treat her to Vietnamese. Just love that food. Satay today - rice paper rolls tomorrow.

Well, not really! Because some of us are NOT American citizens, but Aussie-American reisdents; we can't cross what used to be a mythological border any time we want to in order to enjoy a Canadian version of south Asian food.

We did go grocery shopping and checked out the local 'huge' hardware outlet - not as large as Menards in Minot - like any of you know what I'm 'on' about.

You see, the only large North Dakota town with warehouse hardware is Minot, 80 miles east. Estevan is only 35 miles north of us: so, if we cut off that additional 80 miles (round trip) to buy needed supplies to renovate this cute cottage, it would not only save on gasoline, but also on time and energy.

Besides, in Canada we can stop in for Vietnamese. The food in Minot is military mundane!

That reminds me - On the way to the border, we passed a missle silo replete with long black Suburban and a Hummer, flak jacketed, helmeted soldiers standing guard and two semi's parked inside the fenced perimeter! Jokes all round about just how seriously the military takes itself these days.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Blustery and Cold

Woke this morning to what protends to be the real start of autumn here in our corner of paradise. Cold and colder! Tonight the power will be off from midnight to six a.m. so that Dakota/Montana Power Company can maintain their lines. Means our upstairs guest will have to find another way to entertain herself in the early morning hours.

Our prairie friend who summoned us here and with whom we will be in frequent contact via email and phone, fled early this morning back to Tucson where it's warmer and more sunny.

Speaking of which, the golden orb is valiently attempting to break through the cloud cover and warm this windy space in which we have chosen to spend early winter.

BTW, our furnace is happily enroute - last check into the online tracking system finds its hundred pounds of warming potential in Georgia, a few hundred miles north of Orlando where it originated.

We are assured that it will reach us next Tuesday! Hooray!! In the meantime we have a couple of small space heaters and lots of quilts to keep the cool at bay.

From my perch in the lounge room, through the newly installed double paned windows, I can see a small patch of blue moving swiftly across the skies behind the deciduous trees that have not yet lost leaves. If the 20 mph breeze would settle, it would almost be a balmy 40 degrees outside!!

Enough whinging! All is well.

Monday, October 05, 2009

45 Degrees - Time to replace the windows!

Yep! It's Sunday, bloody cold Sunday.

As I sit here typing with down booties on my feet, stocking cap on my curly head, fleece jacket zipped up, woolie scarf wrapped round my neck, rings removed and put away for safe keeping, the Aussie bloke is sawing, hacking, screwing, planing, and othewise busy removing one of the three bay windows of our 'lounge room' so that he can install a brand new, energy efficient, argon filled double paned window. In order NOT to spend a ransom to purchase these new windows, we decided to buy standard sized windows to go into a non-standard size window space.

Yeah, you understand! That means he must make the window opening about two inches larger than it already is. Takes time if you are a perfectionist; and he is!

So, he's inside-outside figuring, fidgeting, bloke-handling a whole lot of old cedar and pine while I sit here about ten feet away with a toasty space heater aimed at my ankles typing this description to you. He hums as he works. I smile, understanding that the hum means he's problem solving; his favourite preoccupation.

I ought to head out to the front of the house and finish off the six inches of brick red trim on the picture window, but I think it can wait til tomorrow - only a 20% chance of precipitation - better known as sleet in these parts.

If you are interested in the technical issues surrounding installing energy efficient windows, click on the title to this post. A web page awaits you with reams of detail.