Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tanya Writes About Friends...and Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh, I haven't blogged for a while. Sometimes it seems pointless, but we did take a little trip last week. And came home to some disquieting things.

Our elderly boy black Lab, Seau, seemed to be in a major decline. Maybe due to losing Marley a while back. Likelier, the hip displasia. Oh, he's so pretty, a perfect storybook dog...and it's the damnable generations of inbreeding that weakened his hip joints. I told my hero I just can't bear to say good-bye to him, not now. Not this year. He weakly joked that the year had sucked enough already so why not a slam dunk.

Then we just learned someone dearly special to us just got laid off. Along with millions of others in this hellhole of an economy, but it really hurts when it's someone you love.

Cancer reared is ever-ugly head. Richard awaits apprehensively for the results of tests. Stacey is holding Thanksgiving dinner next week--her FIL's cancer came back and he needs hasty surgery.

Baby Aiden (18 months) and Jackie (29) both face brain tumors.

Oh well. I could go on and on and on and on and on about awful things. And I likely would have stayed in this funk if my hero hadn't said this morning: things tend to work out.

And if the comic pages of the newspaper hadn't featured one of my all-time favorites: Waldo.

No. Not the Where's Waldo guy. Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was called that by his clique of Transcendentalists.

It appeared in my favorite (and probably the only comic strip I read)--Mutts. The pup's running through a sunny field with this quote:

I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

So I thought about those who have so enriched me, who gladden my spirits. Who got us through this dreadful year.

There's Andy whom I've never actually met in the flesh. He lives across the Pond in Ireland. But a TC loop brought us together earlier this year. He never fails to send me a funny joke or cheer me on as my hero's "heroine."

Terri and I met several years ago at "Maxine's Literary Cafe," a group of writers who gathered every few weeks for critique. Right now she's got a romantic suspense stalker-story in the works that is based on her own experiences! I do help her edit and wow, it's a stunner. But that's not the reason I include her today. We only met those few times, with weeks off in between, but she is a cancer survivor, too, and she kept track of my hero's BEP protocol. E-mailing me just when I needed an encouraging word the most. God bless you, Terri.

Maxine herself is one of Earth's most special people. My hero adores her...and not just for the cookies she always sends him or the picnic basket full of wine, food and flowers she left on the porch one day while he suffered at chemo. She's spunky, spirited, a true optimist. And she's a gifted poet.

Our next door neighbors, whom we've known for over two decades, make life so much better. Not just helping us with the chemo and cancer and dark times. Just every day things. Like coming over and watching TV with Seau while we were gone, making sure he was okay.

Karen, friend of almost four decades, has metastatic breast cancer and that nasty gunk just won't leave her liver alone. Yet she is ever cheerful, crowing about her newest grandbaby, another one who kept track of all the chemo, sending prayers and love.

And last but not least, my Roberta and Timmy. Sister and BIL of anybody's dreams. Every week during my hero's ordeal, they were here. Presents, food, love and hugs. Prayers that never stopped.

As for Seau, the vet had some new treatments to try, and our pup is hanging in. (The vet and we are in agreement: no heroics. Always compassion and dignity and quality of life. So far, so good!)

And Richard reminds me of something so important: One day at a time. Even if it's sometimes just one moment a time.

Thanks to everybody who enriches my life. Waldo isn't the only lucky one.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tanya Writes About Hallmark Movies

Oh, it's impossible to stay totally mad at Hallmark.

A few years ago, I went into a giant snit when the programmers removed the wonderful Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman from their line-up. It's one occasion where I actually wrote a letter of compliant rather than carp endlessly to those around me. I got a reply...but nothing changed.

Then I realized how much love is found on this channel. Not just sweet movies with greeting card themes, but Western love. I dvr'd several in the Love Comes Softly series and have been enjoying those lovely flicks one by one, late at night, after my hero takes his beauty rest.

First off, they're filmed practically in my back yard. I just love Simi Valley, one can drive down Highway 118 and not imagine cowboys and settlers and ranchers and women in long calico skirts inhabiting Rocky Peak. And last night, Willie and Missie Le Haye in Love's Long Journey had full-on adventures at Simi's "Big Sky Ranch" ranging from covered-wagoning, cattle driving, and holding off a trio of Very Bad Guys. All the while letting their love and faith show. Reading a significant verse from Scripture often setss the mood.

A few night ago, I'd watched Missie's ma and pa all caught up in troubles and triumphs all their own. And there's more to come. Michael Landon Jr. produces and writes this series, and it's impossible not to appreciate his dad's heritage. Supposedly M.L. Junior learned a lot from "Pa's" years on Little House on the Prairie.

The characters are handsome (including Katherine Heigl, and Logan "Willie" Bartholomew has romance novel cover potential), the plots believable, the scenery gorgeous...and the faith element is something to treasure. I interviewed with an agent at the RWA Convention in San Francisco who suggested I try inspirational romance. They love prairie stories, she said, and with your excellent reviews and your writing history, you're a perfect match.

And I can't say I haven't thought about it. My hero's journey with the cancer and the chemo put me in the right frame of mine, and my faith has strengthened beyond measure. But the thing is: I just love sex. Curtailing all things physical behind a closed door just isn't in me. Yet.

But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the inspies I read and watch. I do indeed. Some of my favorite authors and good friends write them. So just maybe...

Right now, though, I try to imagine myself in those days of yore, and the romance of it all hits me. Then the reality does. I'm used to California scenery where the coldest it gets is 40 degrees. There isn't a blizzard in sight. I like washing machines and electric lights, antibiotics and indoor plumbing.

Truth is, I'm a big wuss. I don't think I have the stamina to live in the Old West.

But then you never know. I've already gotten through some things I just never imagined I could.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tanya Writes About Bumper Stickers

My hero and I are getting in shape. He's put on some of the pounds chemo took off, and me, well, I've pretty much bypassed my digestive system with the chocolate chip cookies and accumulated them directly on my rear.

So...we're in exercise mode. Hence, beautiful new bicycles from REI...comfy walking shoes. An exercycle in the writing room so I don't forget.

And as I ride my new bike around the streets in my little corner of the world, ruminating on important things like autumn breeze and kids walking home from junior high, I find my eyes zeroing in like tractor beams on the bumper stickers stuck to the bumpers of the cars parked along the curbs.

Hmmmm. I have concluded the following. My neighborhood must have the world's greatest concentration of magnificent school-age children. My Child is Student of the Month. My Son is Student of the Trimester. All Students Are Students of the Month at XYZ School. My Daughter Made the Honor Roll. Et al, infinitum.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a proud parent, too. They were both National Honor Society, got scholarships and one was cum laude. And I got bumper stickers too in those days. But ours were peel-off. They didn't affix for life.

So now that 47% of the voters get to scrape off McCain-Palin 08 stickers, I decided to see what other bumper adornments make the grade.

Here are a few I found in my research. (I'll pick and choose a few from farther along in the alphabet some other time.)

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.

A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

A fool and his money are soon partying.

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

All men are animals, some just make better pets.

All men are idiots, and I married their King.

Always try to be modest, and be damn proud of it!

Always use tasteful words. You may have to eat them.

As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools.

Born again pagan.

Born free...Taxed to death.

Constipated people don't give a crap.

Condoms are easier to change than diapers.

Fight Crime: Shoot Back!

Exxon Suxx.

God must love stupid people, he made so many.

Got brains?

Happiness is seeing your mother-in-law's face on the back of a milk carton.

Heart attacks... God's revenge for eating his animal friends.

He who dies with the most toys wins.

He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless dead.

My personal fave?

Exxon Suxx.

Because it does.

How about you? What stick-on witticisms tickle your fancy or...decorate your car?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tanya Writes About Presidential Trivia and a Prize

My hero and I voted early on, thanks to mail-in ballots. Can't say I'm sorry it's all over. The tons of junk mail I tossed likely cost a forest of trees their life. And those dumb recorded campaign phone calls? Like anybody with a brain would even listen to the end of those babblings.

Last fall in New England, my hero and I first saw bumper stickers and yard signs naming Ron Paul. Then there was Hillary. Never could quite go there...seems her real claim to fame was being married to a president. Then came a young whippersnapper with an unusual name. An old guy with a war-hero past. And an Alaskan who kills animals. Yikes.

Well, whatever your opinion of Sarah Palin, she is a good sport. The Tina Fey spoofs are hilarious, and Palin did a great job displaying humor and self-deprecation.

And whatever your opinion of McCain, nobody doubts his patriotism, his amazing resilience and survival, his love of country.

Whatever you say about the prez-elect, he's no trust-fund baby using family wealth and connections to climb the executive ladder. He was raised by a humble, penny-pinching gramma (Although those very same facts likely propelled him into Columbia and Harvard anyway LOL.)

And whatever you think of Joe Biden, he's a heck of a success considering he wasn't yet thirty when a tragic accident killed his young wife and baby daughter, grievously injuring his two little sons. Takes courage, faith and character to survive something like that.

So now that I have pontificated...I am not normally political unless it comes to the killing of innocent animals (Grrrrrrrrrrrrr....), I thought I'd leave you today with some presidential trivia.

If you'd like to get your name in for a little prize, just e-mail me the answers to the questions below. Come on. It's an easy way to win a Starbux gift card! (More than one correct response gets put into a drawing. I prefer Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, but what the hay.)

1. Which U.S. college claims the most presidential alumni?

a. Yale
b. Harvard
c. Georgetown
d. Princeton

2. What is the most common religious affiliation of U.S. Presidents?

a. Presbyterian
b. Episcopalian
c. Lutheran
d. Roman Catholic

3. How many presidents served as Vice Presidents?

a. 7
b. 11
c. 12
d. 14

4. Who was President in the year Marrying Minda is set? ( This is easily found at my website, )

a. Ulysses S. Grant
b. Rutherford B. Hayes
c. James Garfield
d. Chester A. Arthur

Let me hear from y'all. And God bless the U.S.A!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tanya Writes About the Orca Dying on Brennecke's Beach

One morning before breakfast, my hero took a long walk along Poipu's lovely beaches, leaving me to coffee and the newspaper. After a bit, my cell phone rang.

Amazingly, I wasn't freaked that it might be our kids or the neighbors back home reporting some emergency. I guess it's that laid-back aloha thing. I just picked up the phone to hear my hero say, "There's an orca beached at Brennecke's."

An orca? Oh, I've always loved them. So black and white, such perfect contrast. No shades of gray. When I really think about it, I hate that Shamu is tanked and confined at Sea World...but that's the only way I could have seen an orca up close and personal. In my mind flashed our son, those years ago, hugging his stuffed orca close to his heart after a San Diego vacation.

"Orca?" I replied, confused. "Aren't they cold water, Pacific north?"

"Yeah, but there's a small pod off Kauai."

Then I recalled, beaching isn't a good thing. "Is he going to die?" I could hear my hero nod; he knows my passion for animals. "Should I get dressed and come over?" I asked, hoping he'd say no. "Would I be sad?

He relieved me of my decision. "Yeah, you'd be sad. Stay there. I'll be back in a little while." But my cell rang again in a few minutes.

"I just wanted you to know," he said. "There is a kahuna here now, blessing the whale. It's kinda neat."

Well, I headed on over on a perfect Kauai morning, the kind you dream about when you get home. And I ended up in tears. Students from the university --a rescue squad-- were there along with all kinds of uniformed professionals who'd roped off the beach. Conch shells blew in the breezes, almost the sounds of whale song. A priest in native lava-lava and ti-leaves performed a ceremony.

I said a prayer for the orca, for I firmly believe animals have some sort of soul. After all, God made them and He is perfect. Even my hero sent out a sniffle.

We walked back to the resort, slow, awash in memories of how precious life is. How fleeting. How instantly things can change, how most times we take health for granted until you're knocked in the head with something like...cancer.

Not long after, vets euthanized the little guy...a sub-adult first thought to be a little girl. Sharks had already bit chunks out of his belly which had further been sliced by the lava rocks on shore. He was thin and sickly, but the loss of anything beautiful is a tragedy. And the resort then closed the beach after further shark sightings.


That afternoon, we drove north to the dear little town of Hanalei...of Puff the Magic Fame. And at one of the eating places, we saw a black and white kitty, the restaurant mascot. I petted her, a tuxedo cat soft and warm. Black and white.

No shades of gray.