Monday, April 25, 2011

S,T,U and V for Sickness Targets Unsuspecting Victims.

I know, I know...I've been cheating the past couple of posts, trying to string together multiple letters into one clever post, but I have a good excuse.

Since returning from San Francisco last week, I've suffered with a stomach virus, and now a major head and chest cold.  But I'm doing well compared to the youngest fair maiden of the Olsen household.

Since Friday, our little birthday girl, Emma has been battling something we thought was just another cold, until she took a turn for the worst yesterday afternoon.  She developed a fever which quickly spiked to over 104 degrees F.  With timely doses of Tylenol and cold cloth applications, we managed to keep it under control (under 104) until 4 a.m. when she complained of a horrible headache and pain in her back.  Those complaints gave us cause for concern that it could be Meningitis.

A visit to the Emergency didn't confirmed the worst, but that she has some pneumonia on her lungs.  She's at home again now on heavy antibiotics, and we're struggling with fever spikes again, so I've decided to bow out from the A to Z Challenge until further notice. I know you all understand.

I will pick it up again if I'm able, though. Good luck all my fellow writers and I look forward to catching up to reading your once all of this passes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Redundancy

I personally hate it when writer's write redundant words in their writing. I was on my PC computer around 3 p.m. this afternoon, and noticed an article that was written about this very topic. It gave examples of redundant words as follows ahead...

ATM Machine (ATM stands for Automated Teller Machine)
False Misstatement
Each and every. (I went over each and every entry)
Red candy-apple paint.
A debit was withdrawn from my account. (A debit from, or there was a withdrawal)
A deposit was added to my account. (same idea as above).
In my opinion, I think redundancy stinks.
Elected unanimously by all members.
I have a patient of mine who insists on another opinion.
There were at least 30 or more people at the party.
The price of houses have fallen down 30% in the last year.
I replaced the picture back to it's rightful place on the wall.

These are just some samples of the examples of the many more redundant use of words. I highlighted all the redundant words with yellow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Quite Queasy

I'm suffering from the stomach flu today.  Need I say more?  Hopefully R day will be about "Recovery". 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

L, M, N, O and P is for Life May Never Operate Perfectly

I've been away since Thursday, so in keeping with the spirit of the A to Z Challenge and not wanting to drop-out, I've decided to combine five days into one, as indicated in the title.

My family wasn't rich when I was growing up, and we had our share of struggles within the family dynamics, but we made do. Our crazy lives were peppered with happy, memorable times.

I did pretty good in school, but not enough to earn scholarships to university, so I made do and went to community college. I didn't become a surgeon, but I'm a mortician.  Aside from the pay checks, the years of additional schooling, and the respect, there are some similarities. I get to hold a scalpel.

I grew up knowing that I wanted to get married and have a family some day. Things worked out a little backwards. I had a son, then got married. That situation wasn't working out, so I made do and got a divorce. That decision turned into something ideal...I met and married my current husband.  Perfect, actually!

I always hoped my son would be a Mensa member, or a child prodigy.  He earns A's and B's in school.  I make do.  JUST JOKING, JORDAN!! I'm very proud of you and love the person you are becoming and always were.

You get my point. Life may not operate exactly the way you'd hoped, but the alternatives can be pretty sweet if you accept the opportunities offered to you.

My husband and I are in our 40's and it is our dream to be able to purchase a sailboat to live on by the end of the decade, to keep our beautiful house so that we will always have a home base, to fly our children back and forth whenever they want to vacation with us, and for me make a living as a writer while doing this to be able to afford that lifestyle. That would be ideal...perfect.

Chances are, our lives won't operate that way. I may never become the writer/author I dream of becoming and we will probably have to sell our house.  BUT, we will make do. We will take any opportunities to help our wishes come true.  I will continue to write and to learn. We will continue to scrimp and save. We will do what we have to do. We had an opportunity to go to a huge sailboat show in the Bay Area of California this past weekend. We compared a number of sailboats we have been researching for the last year, and have narrowed our favorites down to two brands. Next step is to become certified skippers. Chances are we will have to deal with many obstacles along the way.  Life may never operate perfectly, but we'll make do.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

K is for Koi Fish

I could not possibly pass by K without blogging about our favorite aquatic pets...our Japanese Koi. My husband has had a love affair with Koi and has been breeding and raising them for years. He's had many ponds built for the sole purpose of providing a happy summer home for his pets, but collaterally, the ponds have served to bring us humans joy as well.

This is Brad acclimatizing and releasing some of the Koi into their new summer home...

Oh, they were happy in there...

They didn't even mind SmellyCat hanging around...

Koi need oxygen, just like humans, so Brad built a little waterfall to aerate the water...

One of Brad's favorite breed of Koi is called an Asagi, which looks like this...

One of my favorite breeds is the Platinum Ginrin (shiny, large scales).  We had one like this that was about 18" long...

Koi are veracious eaters and can even be trained to eat right from your hand... 

This Yondon (four-step) Kohaku will give you an idea of the average size healthy, well-cared for Koi can grow...

I hope you enjoyed my pictorial essay about Koi.  They are a joy to raise and to watch.

See you on L day.
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J is for Jumping In

When I think of "jumping", the picture that automatically comes to mind is that of a person making a decision to exert themselves so that they can get their feet off the ground - physically. It also conjures up more figurative images of "taking a leap of faith". You know where I'm going with this, right?

Let me get the obvious analogy out of the way.  Once you decide that you want to be a writer, you just have to jump in and do it...learn as much as you can, build your platform, and start writing, and hopefully that physical act of jumping in and the figurative act of taking a leap of faith will pay off in the form of a tangible book that you authored.

However, in life, I've learned that "just jumping in" can mean deciding to do just about anything and then hopefully reaping the rewards of that decision. Following is a pictorial journal of some of those decisions...

Jumping into the water with snorkel gear rewarded me with such visual splendor of seeing this big guy...

Deciding to jump in and get inked, Brad and I were rewarded with tattoos we really love...

Emma decided to put on a life jacket and just jump off the side of the pool, and she was rewarded with confidence and freedom...and we were rewarded with her huge smile!

Brad just jumped in the dirt one day and started digging, and it resulted in a beautiful koi pond and garden...

When you've been divorced, yet fall in love again, sometimes you have to make that decision to take a leap of faith that this one will succeed, and just jump right in...


and hopefully you'll end up this happy...


Brad and I have decided to take the next big jump in about four years.  We decided that we're going to jump right into the cruising lifestyle by buying a live-a-board sailboat and sailing for the rest of our lives. We're heading to Oakland on Thursday for a huge sailboat show.  One foot is already off the ground.

What's your next big jump or leap of faith?

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Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Intimacy

Three of the most intimate relationships in my life...

The day my son was born, I remember thinking how relieved I was to finally meet the little human I'd been nurturing for nine months, and that he looked nothing like I'd imagined...he was cute, all right, but he had a look to his face that I was strangely attracted to like I'd never been before. Once he was warm and comfortable in my arms, he looked up into my eyes and there was a familiarity and closeness I'd never experienced - the deepest connection I've ever had with another face. I knew in an instant that this face had the ability to change my life; to make me selfless and committed to serving his every need; so much so that I would lay my life down in a nanosecond for him. I knew in that same instant - by the way he looked into my eyes - that he needed me and depended on me to always be there for him.  It was very intimate.

There are too many times to mention of the intimate times with my husband. We all know the typical intimate moments, but sometimes there are others that can match or transcend those times. I met my husband at the funeral home where we were both directors. Our first date was the annual Christmas Party.  I had previously been in a marriage and involved in a church life that frowned upon dancing.  Now being out of that environment, I expressed to Brad one day how nice it would be if there was dancing at the party, but he said there wouldn't be - it was just a dinner at a restaurant. He picked me up from my place and said he had to stop by the funeral home on the way to the dinner to make sure he had set the alarm properly.  He left me in the car for a few minutes longer than I thought he would, but when he returned, he told me he was having a problem with the alarm and asked if I could probably give it a try.  I followed him into the main foyer and noticed there was music coming from the chapel.  Brad opened the chapel doors where there were candles lit and beautiful music playing. We had our first dance. As he held me in his arms, and turned my chin towards him to kiss me, my eyes welled with tears.  I placed my head against his chest as we moved slowly to the music. I was so touched by this gesture, that I knew without a doubt that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this thoughtful, loving man. I'm in the process of doing just that.

I'm sorry this is such a long post, but I have to tell you about one other memorable moment of intimacy.  My mother was in hospice, and after much convincing from my family and her caretakers, my family and I decided to take a break for five days for a family vacation. I had said "good-bye" numerous times during that last month, so if anything should have happened to her while I was gone, we had both said what we needed to say. She hung on however, until we returned. We were called into the hospice just hours after we returned home on Christmas Eve evening. My husband and I ran to be by her side. I pulled up a chair next to her bed and held her hand.  Her breathing was very labored, but she was conscious and aware of my presence next to her.  I swallowed my fear and my tears as I held her hand next to my heart. Her eyes were locked onto mine, and they told me she was afraid.  I smiled and whispered that I would go with her as far as I could, and that she had nothing to be afraid of...that there was peace and love waiting for her. I've never felt so close and connected to her. Her eyes held onto mine until the light started to leave them. I'm assured that she felt my love and presence at those intimate moments, and that she "let go" feeling assured that I was right by her side. She passed away in the early morning hours of Christmas Day.

Intimacy takes many's my favorite experience. I only hope I'm able to capture and present those feelings in my writing in such a way that my readers can experience them as well.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for Happy Home, and Hunky, Humorous, Husband.

Okay, my last post was a little on the heavy side, so I decided to make this one a feel-good, light-hearted post.

This is my second marriage, and we now have a blended family.  I have my darling son, who is almost 15.  My husband has a 14 year old son, and a daughter who is about to turn 7. The two boys live with us full-time, and we have the girl part time.

There are lots of laughs in our home.  The boys get along extremely well.  They are in the same grade in school (I didn't start my son in school at age five, but waited until he was six). They have the same group of friends, and they share the same interests.  Their rooms are on the lower level and we often hear guttural laughter coming from down below. They play practical jokes on each other all the time, and wrestle it out on the rec-room floor.

There is so much laughter in our home, thanks to my husband.  He's the funny bone in this family unit. I met him when we were both funeral directors at the same funeral home.  He made going to work an adventure everyday, and I can honestly say that I have never laughed so much at a job in my life. There are so many practical jokes that can be played in that environment, and he knew them all. When I was removing my first pace-maker from a deceased person, he had me convinced that I needed to be "grounded" and not touching the metal table as I cut the wire, or I would get a jolt.  I was so nervous as I put the scissors to the wire. As I closed my eyes and snipped the wire, Brad let out a yelp, and buckled over laughing as I almost jumped out of my skin.

I did get to the point when I had enough, though.  As I was pulling away from the funeral home in one of the marked vehicles, Brad decided to find the extra set of keys in the garage and set off the panic button on the car I was driving.  I had no idea how to shut it off, and had to drive around the block of a busy downtown district with my lights and horn going crazy. Needless to say, I attracted a lot of attention to me and the funeral home. However, when I marched up the stairs to the manager's office to get Brad fired, he just laughed and said he would check into it...yeah, right.

I ended up marrying this trouble-maker, and he has brought joy and peace to my life and this home ever since.  He's taught me and our kids to live, laugh and love. He's asked me to add a couple of more H adjectives to describe him, but I decided against it, as I don't have a content warning on here.

Here's to happy homes, healthy kids, and a great sense of humor.

Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Guilt Trip

My mother passed away on Christmas Day, 2010 after a three and a half month battle with pancreatic cancer. I was by her side the whole time and am comforted by the fact that she received some wonderful news just moments before she died. We had a volatile, but very close, relationship.

Over a month before she was diagnosed, I posted a blog called "The Guilt Trip: A Mother's Legacy to Her Daughter". It expressed some strong feelings I had at the time. Once she passed away, I debated about taking the post down out of respect for her, but decided against it - for two reasons: that blog represented feelings I had been dealing with my whole life and helped define my relationship with my mother, AND I refused to feel guilty about having those feelings at the time. I have learned that it is all right to accept our relationship as it was...full of passion, resentment, frustration, and love. Lots of love.

If you have time and would like to read it, click HERE. It's okay to laugh while reading it; I meant it to be lighthearted, though serious. I celebrate us: my mom and me everyday. I miss you, Mom.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Forgetfulness

I usually write my blogs late at night for the next day. I'm a late owl and find my creativity flows better after a long day, when everybody else is in bed.

Last night, I was more tired than usual, and without even thinking about it, I decided to go to bed a little earlier than normal, totally FORGETTING about my blog until today.

You may be thinking that "oh yeah, Kelly...that's really convenient...uh hum." But as unbelievable the timing may seem, I struggle with forgetfulness quite often. I'm in my early 40s, and ever since my early 30s I've been having problems remembering simple things.  Most disturbingly, I often forget what I've done the day before: where I went, who I was speaking with, what I had for lunch, etc. Is that something I should be really concerned about?

I find it doesn't impede me in the least as a writer, though, because I can't ever forget what I've's documented somewhere on paper or hard-drive to always remind me. I just hope that as I get older that I don't forget important dates such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas Day, or meetings with an agent or publisher.  I guess that's why they have calendars.

Sorry about the late post, and for the lack of creativity.  I'll do better for "G".

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Eavesdropping

Have you ever taken a moment to "tune into" a conversation between two people you don't know? I have. It embarrasses my husband.  He can instantly tell by the glazed over look in my eyes when he's sitting across from me at a restaurant that I've deserted him for the people at the booth directly behind me. It's funny...he even hushes up and/or turns down the volume to give me a chance to hear what I need to hear.

Is that rude? Maybe. But, I mean, I'd never hold anything I overhear against the people who are saying it.  I don't know them, so I'm not judging anything I hear...I just might use what they are saying (or the gist of it) as part of the dialog in my book.

Or, if the conversation they're having is juicy enough, it might even be a whole new idea for a project.

It's not just at restaurants, but it could be in public lady's rooms, fashion stores, waiting in line at the cashier or the bank, or anywhere people will speak with each other, or on their phones (although I'm only getting half the conversation, and I have to use my imagination to fill in the holes).

Have you ever come up with some great ideas just by listening to what others are saying? 

Monday, April 4, 2011

D is for Distractions

Don't bother me now, Dancing with the Stars.
I really need to write.
Second drafts drain me.
Turning down the sound should help, though.
Ridiculous outfit you're wearing tonight, Kym.
Another glass of wine, maybe; that sounds good.
Croissants, oh yeah...forgot about those.
Table is so cluttered...
I'll just take a minute to tidy.
Oprah's on at 11pm?
Never noticed that before.
So, I'll set aside two hours tomorrow.

C is for Costs of Writing

Without insulting the intelligence of writers, as we all know the personal costs of pursuing our writing dreams, i.e sacrificing time with family and friends, physical fitness, disappointments with rejection, lack of get the idea, I would like to know from you what your MONETARY COSTS have been.

Since I decided to work toward publication, I have spent approximately two hundred dollars on educational hard-copy books about writing, becoming represented and published.

I have joined numerous writer's websites. Some are free, of course, but if you want to take full advantage of the services offered, you can choose options with a price tag attached.

On FanStory, a website where you can publish your work and have others read and review it, I have spent approximately a hundred dollars promoting my work.  The more you pay, the better exposure you get.

I have paid for a VIP membership at Writer's Digest, which allows me access to all of the agents at Writer's Market, and discounts on their products and online workshops. That has put me back approximately one hundred fifty dollars in the last year and a half.

I've become a member of our local Writer's Group here in Red Deer, and I pay dues each week, which go toward a yearly anthology of some of our work.

I haven't purchased editing and critiquing services as of yet, because I believe I am quite good at self-editing, and I'm still in the denial stage of thinking that my work is quite good and that I don't want it to be critiqued.  I know...I can hear your gasps.

I truly want to invest into writer's conferences, which can run in the hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on where they are held.

And heaven forbid, if I resort to self-publishing, I may as well take out a second mortgage.

What have you spent, or are willing to spend in the future to see your dreams come true?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Beer

Beer...For me there is only one real beer. Well, stout, really. GUINNESS. I cannot pass up an opportunity to blog about one of the most welcome writing tools I have.

"Tool?" you say.

"Yes, tool." Anything that has the ability to put me in a peaceful, content mindset and helps me to tap into my creative side unimpeded is a tool.

Guinness. I only need one. I'm not a lush. One "Guinness glass" of black and creamy comfort. What do you enjoy as you write?


If you want to read more about my affinity for Guinness, I included a link of a vintage blog of mine. Just click the glass of Guinness.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Today is Brought to You by the Letter "A".

Today is the first day of the A to Z Challenge. I will be blogging everyday except Sundays for the whole month of April, along with almost 1000 other bloggers.  Of course I will not all be able to visit everyone's blog everyday, so I have decided to visit those 25 bloggers who make the "most recent posts" gadget on my page.  Best of luck to you all...

A is for Appreciation.

I appreciate that I'm a relatively healthy wife and mother in a fantastic family.
I appreciate all of the trials and suffering I'd gone through in my life - I enjoy the good times so much more.
I appreciate having the time to do what I love to do - write, read, catch my favorite shows, and travel. Many people just don't have enough time in their day.
I appreciate Canada; more specifically, Alberta. Wide open spaces, four seasons, gorgeous mountains, and a peaceful life.
I appreciate the few close friends I have.  I would chose just one great friend than a number of good acquaintances.
I appreciate a good book.  It has the power to transport me to another time and place for much less than the price of a plane ticket, and the power to motivate me to become a better writer.
And I appreciate the writing community. I have honestly never experienced another group of people in my life that wished the best for their peers and treated the craft and those who practice and promote that craft with respect and integrity. Thank you for letting me be a part of this very special community.