Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How to Reduce Dependence on Foreign Oil

These last few days I've been overhearing a lot of bellyaching and getting political campaign material in the mail, pointing fingers at the current administration and blaming them for our dependence on foreign oil.

Sure, it is nice to think that it is someone else's problem, and that someone else is going to fix it, but if we are going to end our dependence on foreign oil we are going to have to CHANGE OUR OWN INDIVIDUAL LIFESTYLES.

Here are some easy ways to start:

1. Walk, bike, carpool, or use public transportation whenever possible.
2. Keep your thermostat warmer in the summer (buy a fan) and cooler in the winter (put on a sweater).
3. Make an effort to buy locally produced goods (less shipping, less gas used).
4. Re-use and recycle, especially plastics.
5. Grow some of your own food in your own back yard.
6. Turn off appliances when not in use.

None of that is new and different. You heard it all in elementary school. Let's give it a try! Saves money, saves resources. . . all it takes is time and effort.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Why I Am Against Same-Sex Marriage

As a scientist -

The purpose of reproduction is the continuation of life. A same-sex marriage can not produce new life.

As a citizen -

Marriage is a legal contract between a man, a woman, and society that helps ensure that the children the marriage might produce are given adequate care, protection, and training to become contributing members of the society. Children do best in homes with both a father and a mother, and so society binds a man and woman together by law in order to give their children the best chance possible. Laws that give tax breaks to married people were originally intended to help homes where children are being raised. Same-sex marriages can not produce children, and so I do not believe they should have the same protections as traditional marriages.

You might argue that then by the same token, marriage licenses should not be granted to couples who are infertile. Infertility is a difficult thing to determine. I have more than one friend who was told by their doctor that she and her spouse could not have children but then later she had a child. On the other hand, a same-sex couple can never, never, ever produce a child.

As a Christian -

Marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman, and God by which the man and woman promise to be loyal to one another and to care for the children that God sends them. In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve, man and woman, to be companions for each other. That was His plan from the beginning for the happiness of his children.

As an adult human being -

Sexual feelings are a powerful and important part of human life. But in our modern world when we can so easily cheat nature we tend to forget that the purpose of sexuality is . . . REPRODUCTION. Simple as that. Not just for fun. Not just for a high. Not just for that sense of well being and the wonderful emotional bond it creates with a partner. The purpose of sexuality is to create strong families with a mother and father intimately bound in love and the children brought into the world under that shelter.

Any other use is an abuse. Like taking a prescription drug that hasn't been prescribed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Draft Two Done at Last!

For a while there I thought I might not make it, but this morning I added the final scene to my second draft. The book is 52,000 words long now, just about right for a short middle-grade novel. Now I'm going to take a break for a week while my fabulous team of test readers (thanks again, folks) gets to work. I'll take their suggestions and keep them in mind as I do another reading and mark-up before I begin draft three.

What am I going to do on my one week vacation? PAINT THE UPSTAIRS BATHROOM! It has been nearly a year since I ripped out the floor. That must be one big advantage of paying someone else to do your home improvement projects - THEY ACTUALLY GET DONE!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Test Readers Wanted

After slogging through some murky chapters that had to be completely re-written, I have emerged into the fast paced, riveting, helicopters-guns-and-rockets portion of my book. This part turned out well the first time and only needs minor work. Earthcrosser will be ready for test readers by the end of next week.

The book is a quick read, 180 pages of pure science fiction. If any of you think you'll have time to read such a book during the week of Sept 28-Oct 4, do let me know. If you don't have time this time around, I'll probably need a second wave of test readers in mid-October and you can sign on then. Also ask your children, especially those in the 9 through 12 age range. They're my actual target audience.

Thanks for all your enthusiasm and support! That's what makes writing so much fun.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fall IS Here

Something strange has come over me. On Saturday I pulled several months worth of haphazard junk out of the school supply cabinet. I threw away old flash cards and worn-out markers. Then I put the rest back neatly. I'm starting to want to organize the garage and throw out all the toys. Yes, I've got the fall cleaning bug. This must be residual instinct from the days when humans had to do more to prepare for winter than get their furnace checked. In the olden days, grain had to be harvested and stored, meat had to be killed and smoked, and wood had to be chopped. So now, pampered and helplessly dependent on modern society, all I can do with all this energy is organize the cupboards.

We got our first corn last week! The ears are small but tasty, and my children love to go out before dinner each night and find their own ear of corn to pick and husk. Less spectacular were the peaches I bought at Costco for 99 cents a pound. They turned out to be sour and mealy, so I made jam this morning and I'll make the rest into pie tonight. Nothing a little sugar can't fix.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I sat down with my daughter today and had her play her latest harp ditty so I could transcribe it. She loves to make up songs on the harp, but she doesn't know how to write them down yet. As I sat there I saw it - A BIG CRACK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SOUNDBOARD!

What does this mean? The soundboard is failing. I hope the harp lasts until Christmas because I'm supposed to play in church. We can't replace it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fall is Here (Almost)

Fall is here! I don't care that it is still 105 degrees Fahrenheit outside. They had pumpkins at Wal-mart. I bought one and left it on the table for a couple of days just to get us in the mood. Then this morning I sliced it in half. I pulled out the seeds and spread them on a pan, sprinkled them with salt, and roasted them for thirty minutes at 350 degrees. I don't ever rinse the seeds - they're tastier roasted with pumpkin juice on them. Next I put each half of the pumpkin on a big baking sheet and gave them the same treatment - except without the salt, and I roasted them for about two hours. The skin peeled off easily once the roasted pumpkin had cooled. I pureed the flesh in the blender a little at a time, and now I have several pounds of pumpkin puree to use in pies and breads and cookies. There is a pumpkin pie in the oven right now, and I am doing a happy dance in the kitchen because fall is here (almost).

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fighting Evil Before Breakfast

Sarah Hale, one of my all time heroines, was a young widow with five children when she published her first novel in the early 1800's. This landed her a job as the editor of Ladies' Magazine, one of the first periodicals for women in the United States. Besides being a poet (ever heard of "Mary Had a Little Lamb?") and an author and editor, she was a political activist, writing articles to her readers and letters to her political leaders. She called for public schools for girls, public parks, an end to ridiculous corsets and bustles, and an end to slavery.

Those battles have been fought and won. I'm especially glad I don't have to wear a corset. But generations later, there is still plenty of evil to fight. I got up this morning and typed out a letter to the governor of Nevada, telling him what I think of his recent cuts to the public education budget. I'm going to try to get everyone on our school's PTA board to sign it, and then I'm going to put it in an envelope and send it to Carson City.

I so enjoy fighting evil before breakfast.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Twenty Five Cupcakes

Instead of a budding novelist, I am a mom this morning, blithely trashing the kitchen to make mounds of birthday treats.

Last night I asked my son how many kids were in his class so I could know how many birthday cupcakes he needed.

"There were twenty-four before Josh," he said.

"So that means . . . how many in your class?"

"Twenty-five!" he was surprised I couldn't figure it out by myself.

"And why did we need to mention Josh specifically?"

"Because he started school late. He broke two of his bones."

That's not too surprising. Josh is a BMX racer. I'm glad he's back in school, except for the fact that twenty-five is the WRONG number of cupcakes. As everyone knows, muffin tins are made to hold twelve muffins. Two tins hold twenty-four. So what does that mean if I need twenty-five?

After the kids were in bed I went downstairs and hunted up the cupcake liners. I only found one half-used package. Worried that I might have to run to the store in the morning I started counting them out. I only got to twenty-three! Then, as I saw my tomorrow morning swirl down the drain, I noticed that one liner had been stuck inside another and didn't get counted! I counted them all again and got . . . twenty-five! Hooray!

Feeling optimistic, I counted again. No luck. More cupcake liners did not condense out of the cupcake liner continuum. Twenty-five it was.

The next morning after breakfast, the boys gathered around and watched me fill the muffin tins with cupcake liners. I have two muffin tins that hold twelve each and one more muffin tin that holds six, so that's where the extra cupcake liner went. The boys went off to school, the cupcakes came out of the oven, I mixed up the frosting, and then hunted around for something to send the cupcakes to school in.

I finally found a nice cardboard flat that had held frozen orange juice concentrate. Frozen orange juice concentrate is just about the same diameter as your average cupcake. This is good, except the frozen orange juice concentrate comes in cases of TWENTY-FOUR!!!

Deep breaths.

It didn't look like it was going to work, but I had faith. I started frosting the cupcakes. One by one I put them in the box. And then a miracle occurred -

There's always room for one more!

And I'm such a good mom. I even remembered to send in some napkins.