Royals and other topics

I didn't get a chance to watch the Royal Wedding. I'll probably watch highlights on YouTube. I did see some photos, and thought the children in the Wedding Party looked darling.

If you want to "live like a Royal in London," read my article in Springfield's Own.
  • Current Mood
    calm calm


It's sad to be an orphan, at any age, even when you're a parent yourself.

Sometimes being a grown-up really sucks.

My dad died several years ago, and it felt as if the world was ending.

Now my mom is dead, too. She died on April 12, and her funeral was less than a week ago.

One of my friends left a message for me on FaceBook: "We are both orphans now."

I'm already thinking of things I need to tell my mom, questions I want to ask her. Guiltily, I remember all the times I was "too busy" to call her, or the things I meant to say to her, but forgot to mention. Or the times she asked me to come visit and the logistics seemed insurmountable.

Yesterday (Mother's Day) was painful. I had to try to pretend that it was just another day.

Mom, I hope that you're at peace. I love you.

The Blizzard of Oz

I have been housebound for the past three days, due to the Blizzard of Oz. It's like the Little House on the Prairie, only without Pa and Half-Pint.

I had been asked to accompany a dear friend to England this week, and now I'm wishing I'd agreed. It's cold there this week, but there's no howling winds and foot-high snow drifts.

So much of this country is locked in snow and ice this week. My daughter, who lives in Plano, TX, actually ice-skated in the parking lot of her apartment complex last night!

Fans who came to Dallas for the Super Bowl this week can still have fun, despite the freezing temperatures.

Come in out of the cold while in Dallas for the Super Bowl, Part 1, Come in out of the cold while in Dallas for the Super Bowl Part 2, and Come in out of the cold while in Dallas for the Super Bowl, Part 3

I also recently wrote a story about Saddling Up in Cheyenne (retitled: New West) and one on Going Dutch (retitled: Discovering the Many Sides of Amsterdam). Plus, I wrote a story about Diana, A Celebration--an exhibit at Kansas City's Union Station showcasing the wedding gown and other artifacts belonging to the late Princess of Wales.

I'm hoping to get back to The Raphael Hotel before the month's over to do some more writing. It's the perfect place for an individual writers' retreat. The Raphael Hotel in Kansas City garners top awards, including a recent honor from Travel & Leisure.
  • Current Mood
    cold cold

What does your manuscript sound like?

I was asked to talk about Writers' Voice to a fellow writer and blog owner, Natasha Hanova, and I'm so glad I agreed to be interviewed, because her questions made me really think about how writers infuse their manuscripts not only with their own Voices, but with the many diverse Voices of their characters, as well. No wonder so many of us are thought of as a bit "odd" or eccentric--we have to carry all those Voices (aka Multiple Personalities!) around in our heads.

Here is the interview:

More Computer Woes

Yesterday, I couldn't get my printer to work. I tried all the usual things--plugging and unplugging cords and wires, shutting things down then booting them back up, even reinstalling the printer. Nothing worked--UNTIL I plugged the printer cable into my other USB port. (My MacBook has two.)

So then I realized my USB port was going bad. I shut down my computer, and it started working again--for awhile. But then later the other USB port stopped working. My mouse wouldn't move the cursor on the page. Frustrating, especially since I was in the middle of writing articles and putting in links: California Dreamin' in Monterey, Part FourCalifornia Dreamin' in Monterey, Part Three, California Dreamin' in Monterey, Part Two and California Dreamin' in Monterey, Part One.

Then my OS just shut down, and I got a screen telling me I had to shut down my computer. So I did shut it down manually. and California Dreamin' in Monterey, Part Two.

Later, when I tried to shut down my laptop for the night, it wouldn't shut down all the way. The blue screen remained. I finally had to shut it down manually from the Power button.

I lost three years of work (documents--including whole novels, thousands of photos, and even videos) during this past summer when my hard drive failed. I got a new hard drive installed by a Mac-specific computer company in town (not an official Apple store), but even Drive Savers could not recover my data.

So I called the same Mac-specific computer company, and was told that my current situation was most likely a logic board problem. The minimum cost to install a new one? $900.

I'm a writer. I don't have that kind of money just lying around. Anyone else ever have this problem with a MacBook? If so, are there any alternatives to forking over that kind of payment (and then not being able to pay the mortgage) that you could recommend?

I can't really go without it for very long, as it's how I make my living. Any ideas?
  • Current Mood
    aggravated aggravated

Good-bye, Summer!

After a summer of heavy losses (the death of a very close friend, the loss of three years of work because of hard drive failure, basement and kitchen floods which caused more losses, etc.), I am ready to say good-bye to Summer. Summer has always been my favorite season, but this year, it really sucked.

So I'm officially throwing it away, on this Labor Day weekend. Good-bye and Good Riddance! I have had enough of you.

I've been working hard on my MG WIP recently, so haven't had much time for writing travel articles/reviews. However, here are a few from this summer's crop: Make a Splash in Monterey, Independence, MO--the Family Stops here, Lucky Duck is Just Ducky,
Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys shines brightly
, Halloween Haunt at Worlds of Fun It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Silver Dollar City, Walt Disney World Resort at Christmastime, Suburban and Spectacular: Deep in the Heart of the Texas 'Burbs, Sylvia at the New Theatre Restaurant,  Tucson's Hidden Gems, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, An Ozark Mountain Christmas, Best Friends luxury pet resort at Walt Disney World, Bridge to Terabithia at The Coterie Theatre, Jamie Farr and company sizzle in Lend Me A Tenor, and Buddy Holly is alive and rocking.


New Blog

I've gone over to the Dark Side.

I've just started posting a new blog on WordPress. I'll still post here at LiveJournal, and am thinking about reposting the new blog here, too.

Here's the link to the new blog:

The blog is titled: "Writing in the left-hand lane."

Why is it called that? Well, you'll just have to click the link and find out!  ;-)

Also, I'm wondering if any of my fellow blogger friends on LJ would care to share their preferences, as far as platforms they use (if they use any others besides LJ). Do you prefer WordPress or BlogSpot or another platform altogether? Do you ever cross-post from one platform to another?

Thanks so much in advance for anything you'd like to share. I know that I have a lot to learn.
  • Current Mood
    curious curious

A streak of bad luck AND a PSA

First, let me start off with a Public Service Announcement for all my LJ friends--especially my LJ writer friends. If you have important documents and photos on your computer, back them up immediately. AND make sure that your backup method did not fail. Learn from my mistake.

I have been experiencing a two-week-long streak of very bad luck. It started when I got back from a road trip to Illinois, and immediately was confronted with a complete power outage. Okay, that happens. I didn't think much about it, as I tried to unpack in the dark, with sweat running down my face due to no air-conditioning. I'd do my post-trip laundry the next day, when the power came back on.

I got back late on a Friday night. On Saturday night, I got a (slightly garbled) message on my cell phone's answering machine from my mom, who lives two States away from me, saying that she had serious cellulitis with a high fever, and was being admitted to the hospital. I even thought I caught the word "amputation." I tried calling her back immediately, but there was no answer. She hadn't said what hospital was admitting her, or given any other specifics. I played her message back over and over, trying to catch exactly what she was saying. I looked up "cellulitis" via Google, and saw that it could be life-threatening. I was now in fight-or-flight mode. Should I try to catch a flight to Houston? What if I couldn't figure out what hospital she was in, once I got there?

Finally, after some sleuthing, I determined which hospital she was in, and called. She was asleep, but her nurse tried to reassure me, saying that she was on an IV of antibiotics.

The next day, my mom left a message on my cell phone, telling me not to call the hospital again, as it bothered the staff, and answering the phone was hard on them.

Well, by then, I had other problems. Torrential rainstorms that hit our city caused not only our basement, but also our kitchen, to flood! The basement flooded through the foundation, and one other area. Water poured from the kitchen ceiling. I happen to be desperately allergic to mold, so clean-up was horrible. I lost several precious mementos, and a lot of documents.

Next, it was my car's turn to give me grief. I not only managed to break the key that unlocks the car doors (it fell out of my hand while I was slamming the car's trunk, and got totally warped), but the "Service Engine Soon" light came on, and the car began chugging and gasping as if it could barely make it while trying to go up hills. By the time it would get to the top of each hill, the poor car (and I!) would be practically crying.

Well, they say that bad things happen in threes, and I'd already hit Bad Luck #4, so I thought the bad stuff was all behind me. But the worst thing ever happened that Thursday, when one of my best friends ever died suddenly and unexpectedly (in the prime of life) of liver cancer, just three weeks after being diagnosed.

I was consumed with grief, barely able to get through the day without crying, when I turned my computer (MacBook) on that Saturday, to start working on two assignments that were due by Monday. And I got the gray screen with the flashing Question Mark--the grim, gray screen of Death. My hard drive had died, taking all my documents and photos with it.

Had I backed up three years of (writing) work and photos? I thought I had. But apparently every night at 6 p.m. when my scheduled MobileMe BackUp took place, nothing was actually being backed up. I hadn't set the settings correctly, I guess.

Losing all that work should have been the last straw. But there were other things--an ant invasion that made my kitchen cabinets look like a scene from a sci-fi movie (I even had to throw away my chocolate!), and a broken air-conditioner.

Financially, things are very tight, so a lot of these problems have not been resolved. But things have gotten better. My MacBook was still under warranty (and, apparently, the hard drive dying suddenly is a known issue), so a local repair shop exchanged my dead 80GB HD for a brand-new 160 GB HD for free. But they weren't able to retrieve my data.

My mom is out of the hospital, and doing better, and I can once again communicate with her by phone.

My friend's Celebration of Life party after his funeral was particularly moving, and helped me a lot to realize that he's in a better place.

My neighbors loaned me a couple of wooden clothes racks, so I've been putting things that I think might be salvageable (from the basement and kitchen floods) out in the sun to dry.

And the local repair shop sent my dead HD to DriveSavers to see if they could get back any of my data. A rep called me a few days ago and quoted an astronomical figure for getting the data back, IF any of it turns out to be recoverable. Not too many writers like me would have that kind of money. So I'm probably looking at a Total Loss.

So now I'm asking YOU, my LJ friends, to please back up! Don't wait. My daughter's HD died just a few days before mine, and she, too, lost all her data. I had planned to back my stuff up that very day that my HD failed.

I did get some work done before the HD crashed: Parts One, Two, and Three of the 150th Anniversary of the Pony Express in St. Joseph, Missouri; Snoopy's Hot Summer Lights at Worlds of Fun; and the review of Eating Raoul The Musical. I did a review of Cups after the HD crashed. One of my friends took me out to the play and to have a glass of wine and some fish and chips at an Irish pub. It was so nice of her to try to cheer me up, but (after hearing my recent history of bad luck) she kept asking me, "Are you sure I should be riding in the same car with you? Is it safe? What if a meteor hits my car?"  ::sigh::

So, what are your best methods for backing up your stuff? I want to make sure I never make such a horrible mistake again. And, here's hoping the coming days of summer are lucky for everybody!

  • Current Mood
    sad sad

Sorry about not posting for awhile!

I feel bad that I've neglected LJ for awhile. It seems that my LJ writing (and reading) goes in spurts. When I have too many writing assignments with firm deadlines, it's hard not to feel guilty when I spend time blogging. On the other hand, I've become more-than-slightly addicted to Facebook. So I tend to feel guilty a lot, anyway!

It's been a very hard, cold winter, with many hardships and plenty of emotional drama.

I'm ready to say hello to spring!

On the writing front, my latest efforts include a guide to "cultural Kansas City;" a review of a play starring John Davidson (yes, that John Davidson, and I know that I'm dating myself when I say that I remember watching him on TV); a review of "Frindle," a play based on Andrew Clements' beloved children's book; a travel article about the 'Christmas Story" house in Cleveland, Ohio (leg lamps, anyone?); another travel article about Lake Erie's Shores & Islands; an exclusive interview with one of the stars of a Cirque du Soleil show; and a review of Cirque du Soleil's Alegria.

I spent most of the past month going on press trips--to St. Joseph, Missouri; Branson, Missouri & Silver Dollar City (my very first time in that part of the country--it was beautiful!); and Baltimore. So now it's time to write about all those places.

I'm hoping that all my LJ friends are enjoying the first signs of spring by now. I don't understand why the first day of spring isn't designated as the first day of the New Year. It's the perfect time to make Resolutions, with everything on the earth awakening.

I found a green tray at a Target store yesterday that says: "The road ahead lies within." I think that is a perfect mantra, and I'm going to reflect on it often this bright, new season.

Happy spring!  :-)


Bus Stop

If you live near the Kansas City area, I highly recommend that you go to see the Kansas City Repertory Theater's production of William Inge's Bus Stop.

I saw it on Friday night, and life imitated art (the play was about people trapped in a Kansas diner during a massive snowstorm) when we drove home from the theater, and got trapped in a "white-out" blizzard. It was terrifying, not being able to see anything for a very extended distance of highway. I've often had a nightmare in which I'm driving on a busy Interstate, and suddenly realize that I can't see anything, because I'd forgotten to put my glasses on that day. That night, my nightmare came true (not because I wasn't wearing my glasses, but because the snow and ice and wind made visibility about zero.)

My review doesn't really do justice to this fascinating mood piece. (The 1956 film version starred Marilyn Monroe.)