Friday, February 10, 2006

Random Pix

I'm still bleeding over my workshop submission. But I thought I'd take a break and post some random pictures. The one above was taken on Hollywood boulevard. Mr. Jingle Bell Bunny here proves Hollywood isn't inhabited by only the Beautiful People! I took the picture because a writer acquaintance of mine is writing a book titled "A Bad Hare Day". He seems to fit the description quite nicely, don't you think?
Still in keeping with the animal theme, we move on to the Veggie Tails. These cute little guys were created by some of the chefs on the Sapphire Princess. My favorite is either the Eggplant Squirrel or the Pineapple Rooster.
Ahh, yes, furbabies...don't you just love them? This is Buffy the Mouse Slayer, AKA Princess Predator. Here, she's taking a much needed rest after attacking and dispatching a rogue paper towel that dared cross her path.
This is the infamous Rockhead Roxy, laying in her favorite spot downstairs--on the sofa--where she KNOWS she's not supposed to be.
This next photo is of some of my extended family. Far right is my dear Uncle Justin. He's my late dad's big brother and has become a surrogate dad to me. He's 91 years young and still does complicated chemistry and math problems to keep his mind sharp. Next to him are his three sons. The one standing next to me, Bill, is my buddy. We have a great time joking around. Next to him is Jon. Jon and I share a birthday. The one on the far left is Jim. Jim is the quiet one of the bunch. It's kind of hard to get a word in edgewise when you're the father of FOUR boys!! Notice how short I am compared to those Vikings???
Last but not least, my beautiful daughters. DD, the Elder is on the left. She's still single, guys. ;-) My baby is married though, so paws off.

Okay, breaktime over...back to work.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Well, That's one for the Book

I can cross off another item on my "Life List" wasn't really on there in the first place, but it was something I'd never done, so what the heck?Last night, I got stuck for an hour in an elevator with 15 other people!!! Hubby and I had gone to Atlanta for a scotch tasting event at the Apparel Mart and afterward we stepped into the elevator to leave along with fourteen other participants. We got down about 12 floors and the danged thing stopped...just like that, between floors.The guy nearest the control panel picked up the telephone and the person on the other end asked us what state and city we were in!! Yikes! Scary enough to be stuck in an elevator, but to think that the person on the other end of your lifeline may be in oh, Pakistan, for instance, doesn’t exactly leave one rife with confidence.

After waiting for half an hour, while the security guards alternately laughed at us (it was a glass elevator, thank God or I'd probably be in the psych unit at Grady right now) and ignored us, one of the passengers got so fed up he called 911. Within four minutes, we heard the sirens. And the security guard’s expression went from smug and snotty to “Well Hell, now I’m gonna have to write a report. Just damn.” Once the fire department arrived, they had the elevator pulled up to the nearest floor and the doors opened within fifteen minutes.So, a little excitement in an otherwise average day...

I discovered that not all scotches are alike. Blended (malt and grain whisky) vs: pure malt. I’ve decided I like the cheaper stuff(blended) better and now I know why. The barley that makes up the malt is roasted over peat fires and that’s what gives it that characteristic “smokey” taste. (To me it just tastes like paint thinner).

And I am now an official member of the Johnny Walker Striding Man Society. I’m not quite sure what perks there are to this besides getting bombarded with email yet, but if I come across anything of interest, I’ll be sure to post it.

Red Margarita Anyone?

Fill a tall glass (12 oz.) with ice cubes.
Pour in 1 jigger Johnny Walker Red Label Scotch Whisky
4 oz. Jose Cuervo margarita mix
1 oz. cranberry juice
A splash of lemon lime soda

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Can a Synopsis Cause an Aneurysm?

The deadline for the Georgia Romance Writers annual March Workshop is rapidly approaching and I've been sitting here at the computer every single day from before dawn to late afternoon/early evening bleeding over the synopsis for my latest tome. (Working Title: I Spy).

For any of you writers, you know what I'm talking about. Is there anyone out there who wakes up in the morning and says "Whooppee, I get to write my synopsis today!"?? I think not.

They are the literary equivilent of root canal surgery without anesthesia. You're expected to dig down deep and give it all up (all being the entire story) to the editor/agent in about ten pages or so. In ten measly pages you're expected to get characterization, goals, motivation and conflict, theme, and about a gazillion different things down pat for every major character...and make it interesting. I ask you?!?
Monday we had a whopper storm come blasting through north Georgia. Here in the Atlanta suburbs we dodged a bullet and got a wee bit of sleet mixed with torrential rain. The only reason I mention this is because yesterday morning, I went down to make some coffee and noticed something odd in my dining room.

There was a yellow string running from the kitchen and it stretched tightly against the legs of the table before it disappeared out the dog door. I had my cell phone in hand because I was expecting a return telephone call. Like an idiot I decided to follow and see where this string was going. I stepped outside and saw that it was not string.

It seems that Rockhead Roxy (the mutt dog that DD the Elder adopted then lost interest in and who now calls me Mommy) found a skein of yellow baby yarn. She thought it was great fun to go whooping and hollering through the house with it before heading out the dog door, up the muddy bank and through some small sapling pine trees before she lost interest in it and dropped it at the very top corner of our back yard.

I got this insane notion that I could retrieve the yarn (waste not, want not!). So, still clutching the cell phone in one hand, I attempted to make like a mountain goat and scamper up the hill. I got about oh, one whole step before I slid and fell face first UPHILL.

Now, I'm not a girl who likes to get her hands dirty. I even wear gloves when I pick stuff out of the sink. But there I was, covered in red Georgia clay from feet to cell phone.

We writers have a phrase for heroines who don't think before they act. "She's too dumb to live." Yesterday I, do believe I fell right into that category!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cabo San Lucas, southernmost city in Baja California Sur, Mexico. As usual, we arrived around 7:00 am, but unlike our other two ports, Cabo has no dock big enough for cruise ships.

They probably like it that way. The cruise line has to contract with the local authorities and private companies for tenders to take passengers from the ships to the port. Since we weren't on a scheduled tour, we opted for a leisurely breakfast up top and waited to go ashore. We got there around 9:00.

As soon as we hit dry land we were bombarded with offers for boat tours, ATV tours, name it, someone was offering it. We took one guy up on his offer to take us along the coastline in his glass-bottom ponga (it had a canopy) for an hour and he'd show us the sights.

The above photo is probably the most famous sight in Baja California; Los Arcos, the Arch. If you saw Pirates of the Caribbean, you saw Los Arcos.

Pelicans, I've discovered, are wily birds. The fishermen buy bait and store it in floating bait cans, tethered to rocks. These sneaky guys above have figured out what's in those cans and they sit on rocks and wait until they think no one is looking then swoop in for a quick snack.
A little further up the coastline is a small colony of Pacific sealions. You can see just how concerned they were over our presence. Sorry the picture is a little blurred, I was in a boat that was doing it's best to imitate a rocking horse.
The photo you see up here is Lover's Beach. Probably named because it's so secluded. I'm sure you can access by land--if you're a goat. But otherwise, you're stuck swimming or getting there by boat. The odd thing about this little spot is that it's actually two beaches. The side you can see here is on the Sea of Cortez. Walk a little ways and you'll hit the Pacific Ocean.
Here's another spot that was shown in Pirates of the Caribbean. This cave is on the Pacific side of the peninsula.
Once our little expedition was done and our intrepid captain had us safely to shore, we walked along the malecon and into town. We were looking for fish tacos, but never found any that we could afford. Prices along the waterfront were higher than Los Angeles!

This poor pelican has a hook in his mouth and probably can't fish the way his cousins do. He's reduced to being a huckster. I took his picture, but sadly, didn't have any fish to give him. He doesn't look too malnourished, though. I'm sure the fishermen keep him in anchovies and mackerel.

We found a little mercado and went in to browse around. I wound up buying a couple of Talavera salsa bowls. They're cute. I'll take a picture and post them one of these days.

All that walking and sightseeing gave us a powerful thirst so we stopped at a little cerveseria and had a Pacifico (with lime, naturally).
This picture is for all my fibery friends. There was a shop in one of the more upscale shopping spots in Cabo that had the most amazing rugs. The wool is dyed using all natural dyes. The red is from the cochineal bug--a little beetle that lives on the nopal cactus. After the wool is dyed, it's handspun, then woven. The backside of these rugs are as perfect as the front. I wanted to take one home so bad but couldn't afford one even the size of a placemat. Maybe next trip.
This last picture is of Finger Rock. It marks the southernmost point of Baja California and the confluence of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez.

January is prime whale season since the gray whales migrate from Alaska to have their babies in the warm(er) waters of Baja. I was really hoping we'd see at least one--and we did!

As our ship made it's way north, we had not one, not two, but three cetaceous escorts for the first hour! Two gray whales and a humpback.

Not only that, but just as we thought we'd seen as many biologicals as we were going to, a whole school of Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins gave us a rousing Bon Voyage by criss-crossing in front of the bow of the ship. :) We couldn't have had a more perfect sendoff.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I was up and out on deck before 6:00 am on January 18. I wanted to watch us sail into Mazatlan. I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed out to the sun deck. For being in the tropics, it was a wee bit chilly that morning. I was really wishing I'd brought my sweater, but I didn't want to miss anything so I toughed it out. And I'm glad I did.

Soon, I could see faint rocky outlines close to the ship, and we'd slowed our speed considerably. I knew we were getting close to port. Gradually, with the glow of sunrise, I was able to make out a small fishing village off the starboard. It was eerily quiet.

Then a rooster crowed. A moment later it was answered by another. As the sky grew brighter I could see a squadron of pelicans swooping in from the sea. Overhead dozens of frigate birds were whirling and gliding, sometimes coming so close I could almost touch them.

Ponga boats and shrimpers headed out to sea for the day and the captains waved as they passed. Soon, a tugboat came along side and assisted our behemoth of a ship with a very tight U turn and we docked at 7:00 am.

For the first time I had a chance to really see how big our ship was compared to other cruise ships. Right behind us was a smaller ship, the Voyager of the Seas. It was Lilliputian compared to us.
I dashed down to our stateroom and thankfully, hubby was already showered and dressed. The four of us ate breakfast on board the ship, then took a pulmonia, or open air taxi into town where we walked a bit then found the mercado, where we shopped a bit. The above picture is of a produce stall. I was amazed and very jealous that these folks get year round access to this incredible produce.
After getting a chance to practice my "hover technique" in the public loo, (and having a good laugh over it with my sister) we all began walking again in the general direction of the cathedral. Didn't get any good pictures, however, because it's undergoing a facelift. We did find another pulmonia driver who offered to take us around the city for a very good price, so we all piled in for the ride of our lives.

Mazatlan may be located on a beach, but it is anything but FLAT. There are all kinds of beautful homes built on the tippy tops of hills overlooking the harbor and the ocean. Our driver, Jesus, took us around the old part of the city, then up into the hills to see the houses. There were a few times when I thought we'd have to get out and PUSH!

The photo above is, from right to left, Me, my hubby, my sister and her hubby. The picture was taken by our driver on a hill overlooking the harbor.

The above picture here is the Malecon, or seawall in Mazatlan. It's the longest in Mexico, stretching from the lighthouse to past the Zona Dorada, some fifteen miles distant.

After our tour, which included a stop to watch the divers who risk their necks for the tourists by jumping from a platform into a pool of water which is only five feet deep unless they hit it at just the right moment, concluded with the driver dropping us back near the cathedral. We decided we needed more exercise so we walked back to the ship, with a stop at a small outdoor "cafe" for a lunch of tacos and strawberry soda. Ten tacos and 4 sodas for about $4.00 US. Amazing.

We got back to the ship, cleaned up, rested a bit, then had afternoon tea. By then, my feet were howling at me, so we changed and hit the hot tub.
This last picture is one I will always look at with a tear in my eye. Right about the same time I took this picture, a dear lady, wonderful writer and fellow Georgia Romance Writer slipped the bonds of Earth.

Virginia Ellis, you will be missed.

Tomorrow, Cabo San Lucas, I promise!