Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I did all of the typical Surrey things: I got Jack Whyte's autograph. I got KC Dyer's autograph after she fell into my booth through a door that looked like it went into the hallway, but actually dumped her into my clutches. Since listening to Jack speak and getting Karen's autograph were both on my list of things to do, I feel blessed. (I even got to hear Jack say my name...oh, and of course, there was a picture taken with Julie and me in our hobbit costumes with Jack between us.
More than that, I discovered something about myself. On Friday, a gentleman began telling me about a web design proposition that he had for me, except that it was quite large -- much larger than I would normally take on. He wasn't looking for anything beyond my scope, yet it was not what I came here to find. I said I would likely turn him down. "Oh, you'll do it if I make it lucrative enough," he said rather snidely before stalking off as if that was all there was to it. The thought bothered me all night. If someone offered me a large contract, what would I say?
Today, a different gentleman offered me a large job -- 20 hours per week for about 6 months. At my rate, that isn't chump change. What shocked me was the image that came to mind as he described the job. It wasn't keeping my van -- which I could with that sort of money -- it wasn't paying down the debt or avoiding predicatable headaches over the next few months...it was an image of my daughter's face. A year from now, we will still have bills, but we won't have a 4 year old daughter. And so, I turned him down. "You can't be serious!" was his response. I gave him the information for another designer I think will enjoy the project and do a fabulous job for him. He walked off in shock.
I was asked last night if I'd gotten contacts from the show. How to answer that? Yes, many. Will they call/email/write/follow through? Will there be money involved? I don't know. I would like to think so. I'd like to make the money back I spent on the convention. On the other hand, something delightful happened: I have gotten to spend several days talking to writers and encouraging them. One of my favorite conversations was with a woman who asked me how much a site would cost -- and in her eyes, I saw the same fear I've felt so many times. "I want this. I need this. I can not afford this." I sat her down and gave her step by step instructions to get it for free. I hope she does it. If she emails me a success story a year from now, I think I will be more satisfied with THAT than many of the paying gigs I'm sure I will work hard on.
There were several delightful projects dangled in front of me...the most fun site being a children's writer with a cheerful personality bubbling all over the place. She will be so much fun to capture in electrons! Of course, one of the perks is that I get to know these fabulous people when I work with them.
And so many of them ARE fabulous. I have found myself just sitting and watching people. God truly has created a lovely boquet of artists. They come here from all over -- timid, terrified, hopeful. Some leave happy, others do not.
It was suggested that I consider a speaking engagement at a writer's group. That's another venue I hope opens up. I have had such fun encouraging people.
I guess what a software developer asked me once really is true: I do seem to be allergic to money.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
There is a lot of talk about what is wrong with the economy. Personally, I think the root of the matter is a problem with the English language. Language is such a fluid concept, and words can change their meanings over time. Culturally, we've lost our understanding of two words: want and need.
Those words have gotten mixed up. I see it in my children, my friends, myself. "I need a safe car to drive to work." Actually, I don't. A bus would work, or I could change to working from home, or I could drive a beater for a while. That car is a want, not a need. I remember discussions of this nature with my mother many years ago. She would have argued that it is a need.
But needs...those are few. One of my precious sons was discussing the economy with me the other day. Fresh back from a class where he learned about modern slavery and child trafficking, he explained, "I've never needed anything in my life, Mom! In fact, I've hardly even really WANTED anything." As a mother, this makes me very satisfied. On the other hand, both he and I agreed that "real life" holds some unpleasant surprises for him...as it does many people.
What is a need? My husband talks of survival training. I need: air, water, food, shelter...in that order.
Am I breathing? Check one off the list.
Water -- ah, here comes the first battle for me. Our local water used to be so sweet, but of late it tastes like chlorine and has been known to harbor interesting beasties. My water is currently provided by Crystal Springs. Sadly, that lovely water service is a want, not a need...but I've been guilty of calling it a need. I've wined about it, too. Claimed it was best for the children. But in a pinch, there's the first area I could cut.
It gets way worse from there, though. I have been so blessed in my life. My real needs...those have all been met, as have many of my wants.
Like many people, I have been guilty of buying wants with credit. Now, we're paying for those wants, and we're paying a lot more money than we needed to because we allowed companies like VISA to tell us it was ok. There is a VISA commercial that my husband hates. It shows a shop of some sort where people are all working together and buying things in a machine like manner. Each person pays with a VISA and the machine hums along. One person tries to pay with cash and the gears grind to a halt. With an appology, the person pulls out a card, swipes it, and all returns to normal. As human beings, I think we all should have been offended by that commercial. Whose lives was that card really making easier? Compouded interest being what it is, believe me, it isn't the poor schmuck who is trying to pay for his needs.
I do blame the banks for this money crisis, and yet...who let them behave that way? Who let them get away with charging me interest on a cup of coffee that was over-priced to begin with? I did.
One of my customers today was talking about how sad the pictures of the Great Depression were. He said, "I guess we'll really understand now."
Maybe we will...or maybe we'll believe the ads on television. Whatever happens, it does look like it will be an interesting ride.
Photo © unknown
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Over the years, I've scaled back a bit, but we still celebrate the change of season with a trip to our local apple farm. The farmer sends me a postcard of harvest predictions which I post on the refrigerator and we debate which type of apple we want for pies. This year, autumn was upon me before I noticed the post card was missing.
Taking my daughter, I drove up to Mount Vernon last week, visions of apple brownies dancing in my head. The familiar big red barn greeted us and we bounded through the door to a cold emptiness. The displays that usually held mounds of apples were empty, shoved back into a corner of the room. Had I missed apple season? I was sure I'd seen apples on the neighbor's tree this morning. The honor system box was still there, accompanied by the low hum of two ancient refrigerators displaying jugs of cider. A note from the owners explained that they were retiring but that their sons would continue to make and sell their cider...which I can buy at my local grocery store. I put money in the box and took a jug for old-times sake...and then spent the next 15 minutes explaining to my daughter why the apples were all "bye-bye."
As we drove away, my brain registered what I'd missed on the way in...a huge tract of recently cleared land, sporting large piles of up-rooted apple trees.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Then I started thinking -- this was hard! What bit would I choose? Aside from being a wonderful writer, she's also a delightful poet and a wit to boot. There is this one scene where some enchanted jars fly around and annoy the wizard's wife while spouting poetry...I wanted to use that one. But then I thought, naaa...she's using that as one of her Surrey entries and it would be just a shame if anyone read it on the internet first. So, I decided not.
Another one of my favorites is a scene where her heroine takes a wrong turn and winds up in a crypt. Now, that's my kind of scene. I'm not sure she fully intended it to be that funny, but it brings to mind all of the times I've gotten lost. But then, I thought...taking that chunk out of context...no, it would lose something magical.
Hm. This was harder than I thought it would be. Not because I don't love so many things she writes, but because I was going to take just a snippet, take it out of context and try to show the world what a fabulous writer this woman is...and then I found a piece she doesn't feel is done. In fact, when I said I might snag bits of it, she seemed shocked and horrified and wanted more time to edit it. <evil grin> Perfect.
I am a big believer in copyrights, so I'm only going to give you a taste of this woman's writing.
Excerpt from "Jeffrey" ©2008 Julie Weathers
"Mother, how was your trip?" she asked as she reverted her attention to the old woman. "You must be exhausted. Come up on the veranda and sit down."
"It was marvelous. You know how I love the mountains in the spring time. The does are just now introducing their bashful babies to the world. I watched one who was perched on a high ledge above the cut. He laid ever so quietly just watching the train pass as he pretended he was invisible to the world of mortals and I dare say he probably was to most of those ninnies. The air is so crisp and clean and the sunshine smells so good."
She helped the aging queen up the stairs just as the coachman followed Elizabeth through the front door.
"Granny," Elizabeth corrected in her most irritating proper manner, "no one can smell the sun." She turned to her mother, "We put Granny's cases in her room."
"Thank you both," the queen nodded regally. "And you most certainly can smell the sun, my dear. In the spring it is a light pleasant smell with just a hint of sweetness and rain. In the summer the lightness turns to rich molten honey squeezing into every pore of the darkened earth."
"What does the sun smell like in the fall?" Jeffrey asked excitedly.
"Ah, I think autumn sunshine smells the best of all. It is the summer honey with just a hint of the deep winter sun. It's spicy and pungent with just an occasional bite here and there to remind us of the approaching blue sun of winter."
Now, can't you just taste the richness of her prose? After I read that, I went out back and lay on the lawn. The cats came and practiced stalking me. I lay there, smelling the sun and letting the warmth ooze into my pores. I forget that there is such richness in the world, but Julie never seems to. Her writing is filled with asides that remind me of the beauty and power of the world. My friend Veronica brought me a jar of honey from her bees yesterday. Reading this snippet again, I suddenly have an irresistible urge to open that jar.
This is an exciting opportunity for me, because I love working with my fellow writers. Let's face it: content is the most important part of any website, and writers know how to generate content. The trick is learning what to do with that content, handling the marketing, and creating a site that is as unique as the person it represents.
If you're going to be at the conference, stop by my booth and play with the toys I'm bringing. I've got lots of goodies to give away.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Since we no longer have any responsibility towards them -- our neighbor having declared them to be his cats -- we can just enjoy their visits.
The male kitten, Trapeze, cuddled up to me when he first saw me and purred with great gusto. I'd never heard him purr before. Mark had named him Trapeze because of the high likelihood of him becoming a "flying young man" due to his tendency to bite. We don't know what has happened to them in the time they've been gone, but he no longer wants to bite, seeming content to play and cuddle. My daughter carried him around for a while today, and he was content.
I enjoy these furry companions and find myself sitting outside and watching them play. There is something soothing about having a cat curled up in my lap, the purring hypnotizing me into resting for a few moments out of these hectic days.
Another update: Rose now resides down the street with a loving family. Trapeze and Tigress were cornered by a gang of raccoons at 2AM the other day. I beat of the evil things with a 2 by 4, several large flower pots, and much yelling. I swear, one of the beasts actually stood up and laughed at me. Nevertheless, I rescued the kitties and have returned them to their rightful owner -- again. We all know they'll be back. There is much discussion around our household about the size and strength of the local raccoon population, as my husband informed me the next day that they were more than capable of overwhelming me. I pointed out that might be so, provided children or cats were not involved.