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I can’t believe how fast this year is going. We are already a week away from midterms. The Barrett-Jackson car show, the Phoenix Open, and the Arabian Horse Show have come and gone. It’s getting ready to be spring, and we’ve only just had our first rain of the year. Probably one of the more perfect times in our corner of the desert, and what people fall in love with when they come for a visit. Especially with the kind of winter everyone has been suffering through this year! Polar vortex indeed.
It makes me glad to be here, but at the same time the snowbirds glory in our 80° February, what they don’t realize is that even for us, it’s unseasonably warm – and dry. It harkens to a tough year ahead for fire season, drought, habitat loss, and stress on wildlife. Not to mention a scorching May – September. I’m trying not to think of that now, and just revel in the glory of living someplace snow-and-windchill free.
I feel a blog re-vamp coming on (again), so look for some changes coming up. While I have loved using WordPress.org, and having the customization freedom it offers, I am frustrated by the fact that when I read through some of my posts, half the time the pictures don’t show up (WTF?). And the whole hosting situation is a pain in the rear. So I’m looking to move the whole operation over to another web hosting site, hopefully with lots of improvements.
I’m taking Austin Kleon‘s advice from STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST, and stealing ideas for how to make this site better. Austin sends out occasional newsletters with a quick update on his projects, along with links to interesting things he’s found on the internet recently. Alex Yeske from Dreams + Jeans blogs beautiful pictures and product recommendations. I really like how both of these bloggers give a succinct post, paired with images, and suggestions from around the web, and hope to implement their best practices here.
I’d also like to make to make this site better for YOU, my readers. Any comments? Suggestions on improvements? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.
A lot has been going on. I have been taking 17 credit hours this semester, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve worked so hard and been so happy in that work. I’m telling you right now: If you’ve been in a slump, or maybe want to advance in your career but lack of a degree is holding you back; GO TO SCHOOL, even if it’s just one class at a time.
There’s nothing that will revive you more than feeding your brain. It’s the perfect time in the economy, too. Things are starting to bounce back, but it’s slow going and business is still slow enough that if you wanted to, you could squeeze in a morning or evening class. Some of them are scheduled to only meet once a week, if that’s all you can commit. There are loads of scholarships available, and enrollment is down, so they WANT you to go to school.
But assuming you can afford one class per semester – maybe two – what would you take? What has always piqued your interest? Ancient Egypt? Art History 101- Prehistoric to the Gothic, or World History to 1500.
What have you always wondered more about? How to really use Excel, so you can go up a paygrade at work? CIS 105 or Excel Level I.
Or, have you always wondered why rocks look like this? Take Geology 101! I liked it so much I took 102 as well.
Why don’t you do something for you? You’ve always wanted to try painting. Remember how much you loved watching Bob Ross? I recommend taking Color Theory first. It’s been a challenge, but a good one!
Think about it.
Besides school, we’ve had a few birthdays
and lost our two best friends :(
Butter (aka Best Dog in the World) was 13, and Pepper (2nd Best Dog in the World) was 12. They passed away within a month of each other.
Our new girl, Juniper, was a birthday surprise, and missed meeting Pepper by two days, but kept Butter company for the last month. She’s adorable, and smart, and keeps us all on our toes.
The horses have gotten hairy. They got a post-Halloween treat.
Keira is still for sale. It’s strange, I think she must be waiting for the perfect home. I’ve had several people interested in her, and a few offers, but they all fell through for various reasons. All she needs is time and attention. She’s super smart and sweet, and responds well to training (see video on her page). I’m so surprised she hasn’t sold yet, because she’s pretty close to perfect. But that’s just my opinion ;)
I gave my first class lecture
and we’ve had some rain.
Coming up, I’ve got a post on a popular author, a round-up of my projects for the semester, an out-of-town writing conference (so exciting!), and after Christmas, I get to go visit my family. Please continue to keep my sister-in-law and our parents in your thoughts. This is our first holiday without John, and he is greatly missed.
Here and now, it’s holiday time in the desert, cool and crisp in the morning, sunny in the afternoon.
I’m thankful for it all – my family, our health & home, the opportunities we have.
And to you, for taking the time to visit.
If you’d like to do more online browsing, please stop by my friends’ sites:
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any progress on my book, and with going back to school, it’s been a bit on the backburner (again), but with some recent encouragement from writing friends, and a Unicorn-loving little girl, I think it’s time to revisit Ruby.
Chroicoragh, the Unicorn in my backyard, inspired me to write this book. Ruby is a 13-year-old girl, growing up in the middle-of-nowhere, Middle America. She might seem familiar to you. Here’s my “elevator pitch”:
Her parents are breaking up. The hunky farm boy down the road doesn’t notice her. She’s having strange dreams of hummingbirds, and all she can think about is getting a horse. But when she discovers a Unicorn in her neighbor’s barn, Ruby Fortuna goes on the adventure of a lifetime.
An elevator pitch is something you could use if you ever are stuck in an elevator with, say, Faye Bender or Jennifer Laughran, or George Lucas, and they just happen to say: “Oh, you wrote a book? What’s it about?” Then you give them your pitch, and by the time you are stepping off the elevator, they’re shaking your hand and going, “Have your people call my people.” Then 12 months later you are at the book release/movie premiere/Newbery Awards, saying, “Thank you, thank you, it all started with a serendipitous elevator ride…”
But first, one must finish the book. :) Working on it! Until then, a teaser:
RUBY AND THE UNICORN
Dodder’s Field sat on a low hill above the river. The small cemetery dated back to the days of the town’s founding fathers, and some of the limestone grave markers dated over 150 years old. Elm and walnut trees stood guard over peaceful grounds, seldom visited, but well-kept. Graceful stems embraced granite monuments of residents past.
Moonlight shone down through the trees, giving the place an eerie otherworldly glister. Bad enough being in a cemetery at all hours of the night, but the strange glow trickling through branches and and reflecting off headstones made it seem they had stepped into another time. Though the air felt balmy, Ruby shivered as they entered the hallowed grounds. David looked around, scanning the shadows. Chroicoragh went forward, and sidestepped walking over a grave, out of respect for the mortal remains within.
Ruby, taking note of the plots, looked down and realized her boots and legs were not getting wet anymore from rain soaked grass.
“Hey, look. It’s dry here,” she said, and startled herself by how loud her voice sounded in the stillness of the graveyard.
David paused to glance around him.
“Huh, you’re right. Must not’ve rained here. That’s weird.” He was careful to use a more subdued voice.
“Really weird,” stated Ruby, “especially seeing as how big that storm was.”
“So,” David began, “this all started with a hummingbird?”
“I think so,” Ruby replied.
The two had been discussing the day’s events, and David was still trying to put the pieces together. Ruby had told him about her dream and then seeing the hummingbird when she woke up, and then later, in Molly’s barn, with Chroicoragh. And she told him all about the storm, and the lightning, and discovering the Unicorn.
When David had asked her why she’d been out at Molly’s in the storm, she told him about her parents’ fight, and that creep, Mr. Miller, and of the ruined photograph. She didn’t say anything about seeing Bobby and Missy and the other kids in the car. She’d been embarrassed and humiliated, and besides which, she didn’t want her best friend David to know she had a crush on Bobby, his bossy big brother. It would’ve been too weird.
“Well, I wonder what the bird has to do with any of it,” David pondered.
“I don’t know,” said Ruby, “I never really thought about it. I just thought it was strange to see a hummingbird. Have you ever seen one around here? My grandparents had some around their ranch out west, but I’ve never never seen one here.”
“Nope, me neither. Why don’t you ask her?” David said, thumbing in Chroicoragh’s direction.
Ruby perked. The thought hadn’t occurred to her, and she’d almost forgotten about her ability to communicate with the Unicorn, since the creature hadn’t spoken to her since they’d left David’s house. Chroicoragh seemed to be aware of Ruby’s thoughts, because the girl then heard the soft lilting voice in her head:
Child, sometimes ‘tis better to listen than to speak.
“What do you mean?” Asked Ruby.
The boy has a good heart, he will suit us well on our path. As we walked, I did not interrupt your tale so that I may better attend to the essence of your companion. “Where your mouth may make you blind, your ears may make you see” she quoted.
“What’s that from? It sounds familiar,” Ruby asked.
‘Tis wisdom of the Ancients, replied Chroicoragh, passing a large lichen-covered mausoleum.
“Where your mouth may make you blind, your ears may make you see?”
“What?” Said David.
Ruby repeated the phrase, and pushed a fern out of her way.
“What does that mean?” He asked.
It is a lesson. Remember it well, the mare cautioned.
“I’m not sure,” started Ruby, “but I think it’s the same thing my dad says to me sometimes when I’m arguing with him. Only he says it ‘Sit down and shut up.’”
Yes. One cannot hear what he speaks over.
“Anyway, Chroicoragh, do you know anything about the hummingbird?”
Dappled moon-shadows darted grey and white on the soft grass as they walked, and shafts of shimmery light stood like columns in a cathedral.
Humming bird? The mare questioned. What is a ‘humming-bird’?
“The little bird that was flying around your head today, in Molly’s barn.”
I saw only the sprite, Chroicoragh answered.
“Sprite?” Said Ruby.
“Sprite?” echoed David, “you mean like 7-Up? Ouch!” he said. He had run into a blackberry bush, and its thorny brambles stuck to his shirt.
“No, ssh,” said Ruby to David, “I’m trying to hear her.”
“What Sprite? Like a fairy?” Asked Ruby.
“Oh, yeah,” said David to himself, “shoulda known that. Duh.”
One of the fair folk, yes, Child. Siofran, Lord Chamberlain of the High Court. A wood-sprite; an honorable breed.
“Oh. Sounds important.”
Yes. Very important, Chroicoragh replied, but said no more.
Ruby noticed they had almost reached the far edge of the cemetery. She turned to David.
“Where did you see it? The fairy ring.”
He got his bearings.
“Well, there’s the Pierces’ plot, over here, and the Ayers monument is that way…where’s the tree with the ‘No Hunting’ sign? It marks the back of Schultz’s property. That’s where the fence is down and you can cut through.”
“How’d you find this place anyway?” Ruby asked him.
“Debbie showed me.”
“Debbie Twist?” Ruby said, in disgust.
“Yeah. Old Schultz is their grandpa. What?” He asked, noticing the look on Ruby’s face.
“Ew. I don’t see why you guys are always hanging around those Twists. I can’t stand them. They’re so phony,” Ruby tilted her chin up in defense.
“Oh, come on, Debbie and Missy aren’t that bad. Besides, our parents have been friends forever. We’re just used to seeing them, that’s all. Oh, there it is,” he said, heading for a large elm, an old metal sign nailed to it side, and rusty barbed wire enveloped in its skin. The fence had deteriorated enough to let the three of them pass through, single file. First David, then Ruby, and Chroicoragh following behind.
As Ruby stepped from the sanctuary of the graveyard to the woods beyond, she thought she heard light notes of laughter, like a giggle.
She trailed after David as he wound his way through the overgrowth, backtracking and correcting his path along the way, studying the trees around him, trying to find a particular spot.
We are near, Ruby heard Chroicoragh’s voice, but there are others.
“Others?” Ruby stopped, and reached out to grab David’s shirt, “wait up.”
He stopped, and the tinkle of laughter floated to them again.
“Wait a minute,” David said, “that’s where it is. But who’s over there? Did you hear that?” He asked Ruby.
She nodded, holding her finger to her lips in a “ssh” motion. Then she waved her hand, pushing toward the ground, signaling to go slow. She wanted to find out whoever was in the woods before letting her own presence be known, and especially didn’t want any strangers seeing two kids out by the cemetery at night with a Unicorn. Try explaining that, she thought.
With that thought in Ruby’s mind, Chroicoragh understood, and hung back just enough to be able to see the children, without being seen herself.
David inched forward, crouching low behind ferns, and a fallen tree. Ruby crept up beside him, and peered into the grove.
A circle of oak trees formed the border of a clearing, carpeted with thick moss. In the moss dotted with acorns, another perfect circle formed, a ring made of hundreds of mushrooms, some tall, some short, broad and button-like. Ruby could see why they called it a Fairy Ring. The moonlight within the ring flickered and shimmered like glitter in one of her grandma’s snow-globes. Mysterious and magical, it drew her in.
The sound of voices reminded her to remain cautious, and she pulled her focus away from the ring. Across the clearing on the opposite edge near the trees, lay a young couple canoodling on an old blanket. The boy wore cut off shorts, and tube socks. He kissed the girl, oblivious to anything else, and his hand groped beneath her blouse. Suddenly Ruby’s face felt warm. She avoided looking over at David, afraid he would notice her spying, even though she knew he saw the same thing.
The girl arched her back, and spoke softly. A ray of light illuminated the view, and Ruby’s heart caught in her throat.
END OF CHAPTER 12
I’m kind of scared to be putting this out there, so be gentle with me. Let me know what you think in the comments.
Taking pictures of horses: Hard. (Because they never stand still)
Taking pictures of yourself: Hard. (Because your arms are too short and you haven’t quite perfected the social media self-portrait that most teen girls can do in their sleep nowadays, and you are a big middle-aged dork.)
Taking pictures of yourself AND your horses? Well now that’s just downright comical. I kept laughing because they stick their big noses in the way. (my horses are just as dorky as I am)
wordpress, in all their wisdom has done another update, and I haven’t figured out how to fix this photo gallery. hang in there. I’ll get it fixed :)
If you have a blog, website, are a newly published author or some other type of quasi-professional needing free publicity, and would like your farm or book or thing featured, please send your website and email address to: wcgypsy(at)me.com or use contact form below. You will be contacted when space becomes available. I am also interested in emerging artists, and would be happy to consider adding a “gallery” category to the blog.
If you have a strong dislike for swearing and brutal honesty, you probably won’t like my site.
Writers: If you have an idea for a guest post, please send me a brief pitch and a link to your blog so I can see what your writing is like. With your post, you will get a link back to your site, social media promotion for the week it is posted and I expect the same from you. We help each other out. wcgypsy(at)me.com Make sure your idea fits in my blog somehow. No religion-themed writing accepted.
Only those with a website or blog will be considered. (If all you have is a Facebook fan page, step up your game and get serious. Facebook is essential for social media, but it does not substitute for your own website. There are tons of free hosting platforms. I recommend WordPress.com or Tumblr. My site is run on a self-hosted WordPress.org platform which I don’t recommend unless you: 1. really know your computer shit, in which case you already know about wordpress.org; or, 2. you are completely crazy, like me.) (Update: I no longer use wordpress.org for this site, but wordpress.com. I use Squarespace for my art portfolio site.)
I do not do paid promotions, I recommend things that I personally like and do not hire out my opinion. Anything and everything on my site that links to another site is either because it is information that I myself find useful; or I am giving credit to a source; or I know the author or business owner PERSONALLY and by talking about their craft, service or linking to their business, I am giving them my personal support.
If you like what you read or would like to thank me for linking to you or talking about you, Please reciprocate by sending people to my site.
(To share a link, right-click on the link, choose “copy” from the drop-down menu, open up a new email message, and in the body of the message, right-click again, choose “paste” from the drop-down menu, and a copy of the link should appear. Then put “Check out this awesome website!” in the subject line, and mail it to as many people as you know. You can also paste the link into your facebook status or tweet about it or PIN ALL THE THINGS!)
So…thank you to my readers. It’s been almost two months since my last post, and I can see by my stats that I still have readers, so, really – Thank You.
I have been working on my latest post for a while – it’s a tough one, and not quite ready. But I felt I should at least check in with you and give you something. I don’t know why…like your lives are so empty and meaningless with out my mindless blathering…
The past month has been filled with life-altering change. One I’ll address later but the other (and both changes happened within a 24-hour period of each other) is that I am now a full-time college student. I’ll be talking a lot about that, but in the meantime, until the new post is ready I thought I’d give you a few things to read.
For my bookish readers, I must recommend two sites by my very dear friends and critique partners. (If you don’t know what a critique partner is: they are the very special people who you somehow trust enough to read your precious, precious manuscript-in-progress and love it when they point out to you the crappy parts that need fixing.)
My friend Dawn is a picture book NUT, and will soon have her own manuscript gracing many an elementary students’ shelves. Her writing is so full of energy, character, and heart that kids will love it as much as Mo Willems or even Dr. Seuss. This is her ode to her chosen medium.
You first met my friend Rhonda in my interview here. She is really getting some steam underway with the release of her YA mystery, Wildflowers. If you haven’t stopped by her site yet, now’s a good time, because she’s having a giveaway! Check it out.
And if you’re new to my site, I thought I’d pull a few favorites from the archives:
Focus, in which I discuss the useless information that may one day come in handy if you’re ever on Jeopardy.