Monday, December 29, 2008

Amish Friendship Bread: Chain Mail with Food!

If you've read my blogs for awhile--or if you just know me--you know my low opinion of those "forward me" e-mails that never seem to die. You know--the kind that beseech you to pass it on to 5 or 10 or 50 of your "closest" friends--but only if you truly love them? The gift that keeps on cursing!

Little did I know that the Amish have their own low-tech version of the "forward to your friends" curse.

At after-Mass fellowship early in December, Rob brought over a bag full of dough and a sheet of paper: Amish Friendship Bread.

"Thought you might like to try it. Could be fun," he said.

Warning bells should have gone off. After all, was he going to make the bread? Was he going to clean up afterwards? Did he read the instructions? But no, naïve and trusting, I thought, "Sounds neat," and took the little bag of trouble home.

And actually, it was kind of fun. For five days, all you do is squish the bag. Kind of takes you back to when you were a kid and got to play with dough--only not as messy. Day five, you add more ingredients and continue to squish the bag for five days more. (And of course, realize that I have not read ahead in the directions.)

Day ten, they drop the bomb--or, to keep it Amish, swing the scythe.

Now you pour the bag into the bowl, add more ingredients and separate out four more bags of the stuff to give your friends!

It's a chain letter with food guilt!

It gets better: The instructions for actually making the bread are more complex than any I've worked with in a long time--with 11 ingredients, plus the starter. One of the ingredients is Instant Vanilla Pudding! (So much for being Amish. Or did they take pity on us "gentiles"? So Amish women really make vanilla pudding from scratch just to toss into this bread recipe?)

I was a sport. I made the bread. It's not bread. It's dessert! It's so wonderful, it's almost sinful. If I'd been on a diet, it would have ruined it totally. I decided to save one bag of starter for myself and give the other three away.

Did I mention that most of my friends are long-distance? By the end of the week, I'd only managed to find two victims--er, friends--and those were the boys' teachers, who would never turn down such a loving gift from such a sweet face. (The boys', not mine.) Meanwhile, squish, squish, squish.

Christmas rolled around, and I still had two bags of the stuff. I decided to go ahead and do a mega-bake-off, cook the entire contents of one and split the other. I'd give folks a completed bread and the starter and the instructions--with the additional instruction of "If you don’t want to hassle, just toss it. I won't be offended!"

That was three days ago. I've managed to give one bag away.

Which reminds me. I'd better go squish the dough.

Monday, December 22, 2008

An Author's Christmas Wish List

It's time once again for my annual Author's Christmas Wish List. In keeping with just about everything else in my life, I'm late on it, but the good news is--none of these are limited to the Yuletide season. You can make any author in your life happy with these gifts--some of time, some of talent, and some of treasure.

Gifts of Time:

Take my book to a store and ask the owner to stock it
Mention to friends or user groups about my website or blog
Babysit the kids so I can have a few quiet hours for writing
Help me set up a book signing at your local bookstore or library (especially appreciated if we live far from each other and I'm coming for a visit)
Contact your local newspaper or radio station about me and arrange an interview--also a great idea if I happen to be coming for a visit

Gifts of Talent:
Create a website for me--or better yet, teach me how
Make a template I can modify
Ideas on how I can market myself or my books--and help me to put them into practice!
Design a banner, book "sell sheet" (a one-page flyer about the book), or other marketing materials

Gifts of Treasure:
Music to write by
Amazon gift certificates to get books
Buy my book--order it from a bookstore
Buy me a domain name for my website
Bookmarks with my cover, name and website
Subscription to writers market
Book signing gear--poster with my photo and name on it (see link), a roll-away carrier to put the books and materials, book stands
Business cards
Gift certificate to a printer/VistaPrint if they do that
A really good pen!
Large envelopes
Business-sized envelopes

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

There's (Definitely) No Place Like Home for the Holidays

'Tis the season for family, friends and fellowship--at least that's what countless movies, books and TV shows have told us. Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol wants nothing more than to be left alone, yet he is bullied by three spirits who force him to see the joy of family and friends. Songs extol the virtues of being home for the holidays, and the message is implicit everywhere—lots of people: good. Solitude: bad.

As I grow older, I find myself becoming more and more Scrooge-like. I no longer enjoy the hustle and bustle of Christmas, and I would rather have a root canal, a mammogram and a colonoscopy all on the same day than go to a mall at Christmas-time. Hell, I'd even forego the anesthesia!

The family I grew up in is not close, although my parents are under the illusion that we are. I'm quite a bit younger than my three older sisters so in a lot of ways I am the only child of my parents' second family. My three sisters and my parents share experiences that I only know of through stories—memories of a life together with routines and traditions all established before I was born. They all remember the babysitter who took care of my sisters for years before I was born; they remember the houses, the towns, and the schools.

By the time I came along, my family had moved to a new town, I had a new baby sitter, and we had a new life, very different from the one my family lived before I was born. As I grew up, I was still the one left out, the one who was too young to go along with the big kids, the baby of the family, and, I admit, the spoiled brat. I've always felt different from my sisters. One of them told me one time that she thought I set myself apart from them, and maybe I did. Still, during the rare times when our family gets together, it is hard for me to feel a part of things when they start laughing and talking about life before I was born. They all have a history, one of which I am not a part.

After Bill and I got married and the girls were born, we spent four years in upstate New York, isolated from our parents and family. Oh sure, they came to visit us, but never on holidays, so Bill, the girls and I formed our own family traditions. Lo and behold, when we moved back to Texas, we found that we really enjoyed the rituals we had developed, and we liked having holidays to ourselves. This desire to be alone has become even stronger as the demands on our time have increased—we have so little time to ourselves that when we do have a rare day off, the last thing we want to do is spend it with other people.

So here's to all the people out there who like keeping to themselves at the holidays. You're not alone, and there is nothing wrong with you and there is no law that says you have to visit family at Christmas. If the prospect of doing so does not fill you with joy, then stay home and curl up with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book. You'll find your holidays are much less stressful if you do.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas House Light Show

This has been the craziest year for Christmas events. In the past weekend, we attended four parties, one of which I coordinated with my friend Melissa Healy, and we hosted the after-Mass fellowship. Further, in addition to the Christmas presents to our-of-towners, I sent out about 20 copies of Leaps of Faith and Infinite Space,Infinite God to contributors and reviewers--and the first royalty checks for ISIG! (Imagine splitting royalties 17 ways--it takes a while to build past pennies.)

At any rate, I have neither the time nor the inclination to decorate the outside of my house. I'd rather use that time to some much needed prayer and playing a game or watching TV with the kids. And maybe mopping my floor...

However, here are some folks with time and inclination. I love to watch these!

Monday, November 17, 2008

On Tattoos and Good Taste

About twice a year, I hear from my godfather. "Hear" is a loose term; what I get is a copy of his tattoo directory. For 15 years now, he's made a business of publishing a catalog of tattoo parlors and piercing places across the US and the world. He often attends tattoo conventions, and as a former professional photographer, he takes photos.

Frankly, since I already suffer for art every time I get a rejection letter, I have no interest in enduring pain to put someone else's art on my body. However, as a writer, I have had characters get tattoos, from my nurse Sachiko who did it to explore her "wild side" to the nuns of Our Lady of the Rescue, who get wedding rings tattooed when they take final vows. Still, I find it hard to believe some of the "art" that people put on their bodies.

Let's talk basic good taste. There may actually be a place where skulls with large flowery eyes are an attractive decorating idea--but on your kneecaps? Chibi Golem in purple and red? Or what about colorful carp? On the buttocks? I'm telling you: your spouse had better have a sense of humor or your love life is toast--with a fishy spread. Then there was the woman with Our Lady of Guadalupe tattooed into the valley of her chest. I'm not sure the thinking process that goes behind having the Mother of God peeking out of your bra. Even worse, the artist did her with a man face.

On that topic--how about checking the actual talent of the artist? One guy had something tattooed to his eyebrow--I could not tell if it was an ice skate blade or a sideways kite. Do you really want someone's first impression of you to be "What the heck is that?" I saw one photo of a woman with an ugly nurse tattooed on her chest. Is her husband supposed to fantasize that he's having an affair with a disfigured Florence Nightingale?

I did see one that was tasteless, but funny at least: a large, orange Buddha tattooed on the guy's side. Buddhaside! At least, when the guy's belly gets bigger, so does Buddha's. Plan ahead, right?

The piercings can get even more bizarre. I saw one young woman who had eyelets inserted along her back so she could lace it up! Never mind how it looks--how do you ever lean against anything again? How do you sleep on your back?

There's a magazine that advertises in the catalog. It's called Pain. Talk about truth in advertising. Now if there were only one that was called, Pain with Good Taste...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Wish Book

It was the most anticipated postal delivery of the year. Starting at the first of September, I would eagerly check the mail each day. "Has it come yet? Has it come yet?" Then would come that joyous day when I would come home and find it, the Wish Book. The Sears Christmas Catalog. I'd grab it, run to the sofa in the living room and snuggle down happily to look at the treasures within. Forget the clothes, the linens and fine china. Ignore the jewelry and electronics. I went straight for the back-- the TOY section.

I'd start at the back cover and work my way through the catalog in reverse order. The dolls were always at the very back and that was the first order of business. I had to look at all the dolls and decide which one was going on my Christmas list. This was a serious decision. I had to look at the pictures, read the descriptions, and compare notes with my sisters because we couldn't ask for the same doll. I would argue the merits of the various possibilities with my friends. "Not Betsy Wetsy!" I would say. "Her body is hard and the liquid goes right through her. I'm asking for Thumbelina! Her body is soft and she moves her arms and legs when you pull the string."

I also had to keep in mind the rules from my parents. My mom thought that dolls that "did things" deprived me of the opportunity to use my imagination, so when my friends were oohing and ahing over Baby Tender Love, I'd pull the string on my Thumbelina doll and say dismissively-- "I wouldn't want a doll that does too much! Baby Tender Love doesn't leave anything for me to do." Secretly, I would have died for a talking doll, but Mom wouldn't go for it. There was one year when my sister told me that Mom was actually thinking of buying a talking doll because she had seen it in the catalog and liked the looks of it. Alas, it was not to be. When Mom took a closer look at it, she found it had a cloth body and for some reason she didn't like that.

It was the most important decision of the year because whatever doll I got for Christmas would be the doll that I would play with for the entire year to come, so I had better choose wisely. I would love to have had a boy doll because I didn't want my doll family to be all girls, but alas, I was much too old for dolls when Archie Bunker's grandson doll was released in the mid 70's. However, never one to lack imagination (thanks to my mother's refusal to buy me a Baby Tender Love) I had some stuffed animals with tails and those worked fine for the little boys of the family. The tails made a dandy "anatomically correct" appendage, if you ignored the fact that it was in the back instead of the front.

When I was 7, my mother made up for everything by allowing me to ask for Cheerful Tearful on my letter to Santa. Cheerful was a hard-body baby doll that CRIED REAL TEARS, wet her diaper, smiled and whimpered. Of course, she only smiled when her arm was held up high in the world but I didn't care. I wanted her so badly I had dreams about her. Sara (as I renamed her because what self respecting doll mother is going to call one of her babies "Cheerful Tearful?") was always just out of my reach, but on Christmas morning, there she was.

The next year Sears had a completely new offering, beautiful fashion dolls by Furja of Italy. I fell in love with Simona, a platinum blonde with a beauty mark on her face that I tried to scrape off, thinking it was a speck of dirt. My mother made a complete wardrobe for her, and Simona became my favorite doll. I still have her, tucked in a corner of my closet. I thought my daughters might want her one day, but neither of them really played much with the larger-sized dolls. My older daughter most played with her Barbie dolls and my younger daughter played with her plush animals and My Little Pony dolls.

When I was 9, I went the fashion doll route again, although I didn't want the doll I asked for, another platinum blonde named Christina. It was my sister who wanted her, but at 13, she was considered too old for dolls, so I asked for her as a favor to my sister. I never really cared for Christina-- she was bigger than Simona so I cast her in the role of the mean, fat, ugly sister with Simona being the noble, brave, beautiful abused child who took care of Sara and the other babies.

I took a break when I was 10, because I desperately wanted a watch. My mother gave me a choice-- a watch or a doll-- and I went for the watch, but at age 11, for my final doll I went for the only non-blonde doll I ever received: Beautiful Crissy with hair that actually grows. Yes, surprisingly, my mother once again broke her rule about gimmicky dolls and allowed me to get one that actually DID something. Crissy fit in well with my doll family-- she was the rich relative who befriended Simona and tried to help her. Christina was still the outcast as I just never did like her. I know I still have the Christina doll, and I had the Crissy doll for a long time but I don't think I do anymore.

When I go through the toy stores now, I am pleased to see that a substantial portion of shelf space is still given over to dolls. Barbie dolls and baby dolls, action figures and gimmicky dolls. Many of the dolls I grew up with have been re-released- I've seen cheerful Tearful and Crissy come around in various incarnations a few times and I've also seen several variations of Thumbelina. I've even heard that Sears is thinking of bringing back the Wish Book in a somewhat abbreviated form. I hope they do because the kids of today need all the help they can get in writing their Christmas lists!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Like fantasy, mystery and humor? Have I got an offer for you!

Hi, everyone,

I'm doing a special deal on my DragonEye, PI website in anticipation of the first novels coming out in 2009. If you register on the website before December 1, you will get a free DragonEye, PI story, plus a special offer on "Christmas Spirits," a DragonEye, PI holiday mystery.

What's DragonEye, PI? It's fantasy mystery in a noir style starring a cynical dragon detective, Vern, and his partner the Church mage Sister Grace. Mysteries solved. Lost treasures found. Universes get the picture. Their cases range from the deadly serious to the wildly ridiculous, sometimes at the same time, and Vern's unique POV makes it fun to read. (Think Dresden Files meets Myth Adventures.)

In addition, you'll be subscribed to the Dragon's Eye View, an every-other-month newsletter with Faerie Facts, a note from Vern the Dragon Detective, and news on upcoming publishing and story deals from Karina Fabian.

It's easy to do! Just go to and register (look under the blindfolded smiley or where it says REGISTER on the top center column. Follow the directions, and you're in!

Karina Fabian

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Unleash Your Story for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

I’m participating in an event to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Please join me and help raise funds for investment in vital CF programs to support research, care and education.

During the month of September, I commit to writing 15,000 words and I'm hoping to raise at least $150 for CFF.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a devastating genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. More than ten million Americans are symptomless carriers of the defective CF gene. Advances continue to be made in finding a cure, but your help is needed now-more than ever-to help keep up the momentum of this life-saving research. To learn more about CF and the CF Foundation, visit

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those with cystic fibrosis. Thank you for supporting the mission of the CF Foundation!

Thanks to everyone for your support!
Click Here to donate.

In other news, both of my non-fiction booklets, Made Up Mayhem and Adapting Your Novel for Film have released. Stop by my website for details!
Perilously yours,

Monday, July 28, 2008

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I earned serious cool points while on vacation with my 23-year-old daughter this year. She and I went to Roswell, NM, for the annual UFO Festival, which we went to under the misconception that everyone should attend it once in their lives. After having been there, let me clear this up for anyone who still labors under this misconception-- unless you REALLY believe in UFO's and alien visitations, and I do mean REALLY believe in them, you don't need to go to Roswell.

After the festival was over, Jaala and I decided to drive out to the landing site. The only thing is, there are at least 11 alleged landing sites for the Roswell UFO crash. We picked the one that seemed to be the closest. Getting there involved driving for an hour on this back country road and then going off road. The directions were absolutely awful-- Jaala and I were constantly confused as to whether that rock up ahead was the one mentioned in the directions or whether that tree was really the one we were supposed to see at this particular odometer reading.

However, the real key thing here is that we were off road. I had rented an SUV for our trip so no worries, right? How was I to know that some SUV's don't have 4-wheel drive? Now I've been on some awful roads before, but this was by far the most awful road I have been on in my life. I had to drive around (and sometimes over) boulders, holes and saplings. It was also dark, and we were out in the middle of nowhere-- no wonder the aliens picked that place to crash. I'm just amazed that anyone ever noticed them!

I was driving along at about 1 mph, swearing with just about every other word that came out of my mouth when suddenly my world tipped. My side of the car was up in the air and I was looking down at Jaala's half of the car. Our tires were all still touching the earth-- I think-- but we weren't on the same plane.

I didn't move anything. My mind raced furiously as I tried to figure out what to do. If I went forward, I was doubtless going to flip the car. I decided that would not be a good thing. There was nothing else to do so I very slowly switched the car into Reverse and slowly, oh so agonizingly slowly, crept backward until I couldn't go any further. Then back into forward, turning the wheel sharply to avoid the escarpment I had just been hung up on. Backwards and forwards I rocked the car until we were level. However now we had a new problem-- we were stuck. I'd backed us right into a ditch. So I floored it, and we roared out of the ditch and back onto the pitiful excuse for a road. Then I stopped, and for a good 5 minutes Jaala and I just sat there and heaved gulping sighs of relief.

Later, when we were back home safe and sound, we told my husband about our trip. "It was the coolest!" Jaala enthused. "We went off road to find the crash site, and we nearly flipped the SUV!" Bill looked at me, "You what?!!!!" "Not really, dear," I tried to say but Jaala went on. "If you'd been with us we'd never have done that! You'd never have taken us off road like that!" "That's because I have more sense than your mother,"Bill muttered, looking at me darkly.

On the way back from New Mexico, Jaala and I laughed many times about how we had nearly flipped the SUV. From there, our conversation went on to memories of other trips-- the time the girls and I went camping at Big Bend and got caught in a dust storm and then had to drive 50 miles up a steep, unpaved hill while the canoe tied to the roof of our van threatened to fly off into the gorge to the left of us at any second. Or the time on the same trip when Jaala's best friend who was with us scared her with tales of an axe murderer hiding in the back of the van, causing me to threaten to leave him on the side of the road. Or the trip to Illinois when my husband spilled orange juice all over the breakfast table. Or the trip to Dublin when we had a tour guide who hated Bill just because Bill was from Texas, which was the same place George Bush was from. Somehow it escaped this tour guide that the girls and I were also from Texas because he was unfailingly gracious, charming and polite to us while at the same time he was so blatantly rude to Bill that Bill nearly refused to go on the next day's tour with him.

Family vacations are a wonderful way to broaden children's horizons and expose them to history, geography and other cultures, but when it comes right down to it, I think the most important benefit of family vacations is the way they bring the members of the family together. My memories of the trips Bill and I took with the girls are not of the wonderful places we saw but of the things that made us laugh. Long after Jaala and I have forgotten what the UFO landing site in Roswell looked at, we will be able to laugh about how we nearly flipped the SUV. And Jaala will always remember that, on that trip at least, her mom was the coolest mom in the world.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Thank You Troops and their Families

Since the July topic hasn't posted yet, let me

take a moment to thank the men and women who defend and protect our liberty. And I'd also like to thank their families, who sacrifice so very much!


Perilously yours,


Saturday, June 28, 2008

I never have my camera when I need it!

There is a detour on a section of local road while it is being repaved. We were driving along the gravel detour when we passed an opossum carcass in the middle of the road. Dead animals along the road are not unusual here. What was usual was seeing the carcass move. Backup up and saw a baby on top of the carcass.

Yes, a baby opossum with more more babies hanging out the mother's pouch, their heads still attached inside, little pink tails swirled into tight spirals, mouths suckling their dead mama. What to do? I have seven cats who would love opossum lunch. Several cars slowed and cautiously move around us, one driver said throw the critters in the ditch. Sorry, we stopped, can't to anything but help now.

While my partner called on his cell phone to find a shelter, I got a box and put a towel in it. Items easily found in my messy trunk. I used gloves found in the same source to remove the babies, counting babies as I put them in the box. One on top, one moving around outside the pouch, seven suckling. Nine went into the box, hissing and snapping. The pouch still moved. Three more 6" long opossum babies curled up inside her. Once the babies were removed, I placed the dead animal on the side of the road. We headed for the DNR. They don't do anything, but gave us the name of a woman who rescued wild animals.

We just caught Ann, as she comes home daily from a week's camping trip to feed some raccoon babies. She said yes, she'd take the baby opossums. When she saw them, she said they were bigger than she expected and they should have no trouble survivng. They could probably already eat solid food like tinned dog or cat food. Placing the babies in an old aquarium, she put the aquarium on the front seat of her truck and told us she'd take them with her back to her camp site to watch them. Once they are ready to survive on their own, they'd be released at a safe spot.

This year, or perhaps next, will be Ann's last year rescuing animals. The DNR demands that she take a class out of state and pay for it and the book she needs. She is already paying for her cages and food to feed the animals. This is outrageous. We have thousands of wild animals of every ilk killed on our highways every year, something like 68,000 deer in our state alone, but no one is interested in saving the few who escape? The DNR can't pay for the further training for the few people who have already been doing this type of thing? They must take classes and pay for everything themselves?

I guess it won't be too long before we are hauling the living carcasses to the side of the road to die.

My only regret was not having my camera with me to take a photo of the twelve babies. I'll probably never have another opportunity to see opossums this close.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Playing Tiddly Winks

The topic for this month is something about car maintenance, but since the only maintenance I do on my car is to fill it with gas when the gauge is on E, I'm going to talk about something that is much more important-- and it's something that is germane to all couples, even though it is not often spoken about.

Well, let me take that back-- there's quite a bit of talk about it when the kids are little. Magazine articles shout about how to keep romance alive and offer helpful hints such as, "trade weekend babysitting with a friend," or "make a date for some afternoon when the kids are in school, meet your partner at home, and enjoy a rousing game of tiddly winks."

Truth to tell, when the kids were growing up, my husband and I didn't have too much trouble finding opportunities for tiddly winks. Our bedroom was set off from theirs; they didn't understand what any noises we may have been making meant anyway; and they were out of the house often enough to allow for frequent tiddly wink rendezvous.

Once the girls left home, tiddly winks got even better-- and spread all through the house. Tiddly winks even went mobile-- we might start in the living room, move to the bedroom and then into the shower for some tiddly winks under water.

Then we had our 23-year-old daughter move back home, and suddenly there were no more tiddly winks. She has an active social life, so we didn't think it would be that much of a problem when she came home. We'll just reserve the tiddly winks for when she goes out with her friends, we thought. The problem is, she never goes out with her friends. She never goes anywhere. She is always home and is likely to walk in at any moment to find us playing tiddly winks.

This inhibits us just a little.

Okay, it inhibits us quite a lot.

My husband's friends at work evidently know the feeling. One of his co-workers told him there would be no more "Afternoon Delight" when our daughter moved back home. Another co-worker told him that when her daughter moved back home, she insisted on the girl spending the night at a friend's house every couple of weeks. I don't think that this is an issue that any articles about boomerang kids ever addresses.

Last night I came home from work and noticed my husband's car was in the driveway. More significantly, my daughter's wasn't. "Where is she?" I asked when I came in.

"She went to her sister's."

"How long is she going to be gone?"

"I don't know."

It was the best game of tiddly winks we've had in a long time!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Why Spring Clean Anyway?

I don't clean.


I gave it up when I went to grad school a few years ago. Between being a soccer mom and wife and working a 40+ hour a week job, something had to give and that something was housecleaning.

We had a cleaning lady for a while. She was nice, but she talked a lot and didn't do a good job when she was in a hurry. After the first few months she was always in a hurry. Sometimes she brought her teen-aged son and daughter to help clean. They didn't do that great a job. When I lost my job, we let her go.

But no, I didn't start cleaning again when I lost my job because I immediately immersed myself in starting Swimming Kangaroo and still didn't have time to clean.

We use the daily shower spray in the bathrooms, automatic bowl cleaner in the toilets and vacuum occasionally. My daughter, who likes to dust, every once in a while will run through the house with the feather duster, or one of us will get tired of looking at the dust and will go after it with furniture polish. I seldom cook so the kitchen isn't really an issue. If we are going to have company over, my husband and I spent an hour or so attacking the big picture. Anybody who notices the dust bunnies under the bed is poking their nose where they shouldn't anyway.

If I had time would I clean? Probably not much more than I do now because I can always find something I like to do better than clean. If I had money would I hire another cleaning lady? Possibly. Supposedly I pay my daughter to clean for me, but since she seldom actually does it, I seldom actually pay her.

I used to spring clean every time we moved, and when we were newly married, we moved a lot. However, we've been in our house for 17 years now and haven't seen the backs of some of our closets since we moved in. Somehow we've survived without knowing what's hidden in their murky depths. When we do finally move- probably to our retirement home, we'll probably have one heck of a garage sale. Either that, or we'll just shift the boxes from the closets in our current home to the closets in our new home. After all, since we've managed without whatever is in them for 17 years, we probably don't really need it.

So there-- you wanna know the best way to handle spring cleaning? Just don't do it. Now that we've gotten that out of the way we can talk about cooking-- oh, right, I don't do that either. Laundry? Uh, no. Grocery shopping? Yard work?

What do I do when I'm not working on Swimming Kangaroo and my day job, you ask? Hey, just ask my shar-pei. I am a dog walker par excellence- and taking Wrinkles for a walk is more important than housework could ever be!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Order and Disorder in the Scheme of Life

As Lea speaks about cleaning, it brings up one of my concerns. Why do opposites attract? Why would a person who loves order find a partner who thrives on chaos? Mine won't put any tool away while working on a project because he's afraid he won't be able to find it again (he only has to look in my toolbox to find a duplicate); not even if the project lasts a month or more.

I like order. I like being able to find something when I need it. Although, besides a man who operates on chaos theory, there also seems to be a house gremlin here who grabs and hides what I need most and only lets it go when that item is no longer needed in order to snatch the next item I desperately need. However, as much as I love order, I do not like achieving organization. Something one of my best friends once told me a long time ago has stuck in my mind: to get organized you must first get thoroughly disorganized. The cure sounds worse than the disease.

Another good friend who was dying of cancer once asked, "Why as a young wives and mothers do we clean and sweep so much? There were so many better ways I could have spent that time. " Which gives me leave to go watch the daffodils bloom.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Baby Steps to Spring Cleaning

Wow, April and my spring cleaning has begun...NOT! I need time so since TIME is not on my side I'll have to devise ways of spring cleaning my house in other ways.

Now, let's see:

Leave the windows open to remove any lingering odors inside. Okay, can do that and it won't take any time. Will need to remember to close the windows otherwise Noah's ark will be needed with the rain we've been getting lately.

Buy plastic plates and utensils. Hey, that works!

Buy more garbage bags to place plastic plates and utensils inside.

Have visitors wear a Swiffer rag under their feet and make them do a clean sweep around my living room once. Saves me sweeping and vacumming for at least...oh, whenever. doing laundry...shove them in the machine then pop them in the dryer.

Ironing...hate it...spray the wrinkled shirts with some water then pop them in the dryer for a few minutes and hang them right away.

Cooking...Kelloggs, frozen dinners, bread and water, soup and crackers...oh wait, that's the prisoner's list...shoot! Okay, I have to cook. What kind of a mom would I be if I actually fed my kids ONLY Kelloggs...hmmm...

Okay, I'm out of ideas here. You guys have any quick tricks to spring cleaning?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Pops-a Love/Hate Relationship

This is a totally off the wall relationship that I have. Many have said they're beginning to worry about me. :) Don't. Call it creativity, call it what you want...but my characters from Rock Kingdom have a mind of their own. If you don't believe me, then visit their Rock Kingdom's Citizen's blog.

It's such a thrilling moment in a writer when a character or characters they've created take a life of their own. Readers have been leaving these guys comments left and right, some good and some bad, but all in all it's such a joy from a writer's point of view to see them communicating with 'real' people.

So for those posting on their block, don't call me insane. You're leaving them posts. hehehe

Monday, February 25, 2008

Your Call

I’ve done something I’ve never done before. Let me first explain, I've studied media and marketing, and that I know just by talking about it, I am promoting this product, that marketers no longer seem to care about negativity, only that their product is mentioned. I'm doing it anyway.

After seeing a commercial twice on TV, I called the Frito-Lay company and complained about their commercial made by Goodby, Silverston and Partners. The commercial in question takes place in a laundromat with two women. In a snotty voice the older woman tells the younger, who just picked up a piece of the woman's clothing from the floor, ‘that other people are trying to do their laundry, too.’ The girl sees an imaginary Chester Cheetah who tells her, ‘Felicia, those are her whites in the dryer.’ Where upon Felicia sneaks over and puts a handful of Cheetos in the dryer. You can see this on You Tube.

Most of the comments about the commercial on You Tube seemed positive (probably from the 18 to 23 crowd who have never done six or more loads of family laundry in a laundramat – do you suppose this applies to those who dreamed this up at advertising company, too?), but I think most of the kudos were for the young actress, Felicia Day, who has at least five comedic episodes about a group of computer gamers she wrote and acted called ‘the Guild’ on You Tube. The commercial has the same insouciance as the You Tube episodes. Since I haven't seen this commercial lately on national TV, I'm assuming they placed it on You Tube to reach their target market.

The woman from Frito-Lay (I had to go to their website to find a number – and guess what? The website is aimed at children) was very polite and said Frito-Lay was always interested in their customers' views, both good and bad. I explained I love Fritos, I love Cheetos, too (just have to contain my love for these fat laden products), but told her what I thought about the commercial. She offered me some coupons and I accepted and hung up. A few days later I received an envelope in the mail with three coupons for any Frito-Lay product up to $3.49 and a letter. I guess I wasn’t the only one who was appalled. The letter stated the commercial was ‘intended to be a tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted way for us to talk about Cheetos’ … and … ‘In the adult-focused advertising, Chester Cheetah has gone from a larger than life character to an inner, mischievous voice for adults.’

Speech fails me. My mind reels and spirals downward on so many levels over this whole episode. If interested, go view the commercial and form your own opinion. If you like the light-hearted mischievousness, well hell, I’ve just passed into the old fogy part of my existence and my steps have slowed too much to keep pace with today’s society. If you are impressed or unimpressed, call Frito-Lay at 1-800-352-4477. They answer the phone Monday – Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., Central Standard Time. At least the coupons pay for your time. I wonder if Frito-Lay is going to pay for all the re-dos of white laundry? Because you know some young 'adult' is going to think its just too funny to pass up an opportunity.

O, BTW put a ® next to all those brand names.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Perfectly Suited Couple

I owe my marriage to a toothache. Yes, if it weren't for my wisdom teeth, I would never have met Bill, to whom I have been happily married for almost 28 years.

It was my first semester at college and his last, and I was miserable. I wasn't homesick- although I did miss my dog- nor was I having problems with my classes. I was making friends, liked my roommate and my apartment. My homework was manageable; my professors were okay and life was generally pretty good. Except...

My wisdom teeth were coming in. All 4 of them. Two were impacted. Two were infected, and I was in pain. My throat hurt; my ears hurt. I could barely talk, could barely do much of anything. I had an appointment scheduled with my dentist but that was a week away, so I was miserable.

After class one Monday, I stopped by the Sweet Stop to get some ice cream to sooth my throat. With my chocolate shake in hand, I looked for a place to sit. Hmm, I didn't have many options. In 1978 there were a lot of Iranian students at my university, and that liked to hang out at the Sweet Stop. I had often sat and spoken with them before and found them to generally be fun to talk with. They liked talking with Americans because they were always eager to improve their English. One guy even carried around a little notepad and when he came across words that he didn't understand, he wrote them down and then showed them to the next American he came across to find out what the word meant.

But anyway, on this day my throat was sore, and I didn't want to talk to anybody. I knew that if I sat with one of the Iranians, I would have to talk to him, but I didn't have many options. All the tables were full- but wait! There was an American guy sitting at a table reading a book! If I sat down with him, maybe he would just keep on reading his book and I could sip my shake in peace. So I asked him if I could sit at his table, slid into my seat, started to open my own book, and I'll be darned if he didn't put down his book and start talking!

Unbeknownst to me, he had been sitting there wishing a beautiful girl would come and sit down across from him. Instead he got me. Oh well.
I eventually agreed to go out with him to get him to shut up. Two weeks later, after my wisdom teeth had been removed and I was feeling more romantic, he proposed to propose. ("If things keep up like this I'll be asking you to marry me.") Eighteen months later we were married.
So I owe my husband to my wisdom teeth. That and the fact that he didn't call me a "Trekkie" when he saw my Star Trek shirt when I sat down at that table. But that's a whole 'nother story for a whole 'nother day!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Talk is Cheap

I was reading the romance posts on this blog and it got me to thinking about my 34 year marriage (in April) and how we've managed to stay married through the ups and downs, the kids, male pattern blindness (see my personal blog for an explanation), and that catch-all "life."

My Jonesie doesn't say a lot, but what he does is what matters, something I tried to teach our kids. Talk is cheap. People will say anything, but the only thing that really matters is what they do. What someone does tells you everything about who that person is, what they believe in, and how much they care about you and others.

Case in point, years ago my dad was working on the roof of one of his gas stations. My brothers were helping, as were several other people. Some women across the fence came out to sunbath and "accidentally" let their tops fall off. My brothers were both impressed that my dad didn't bother to look. He's been a faithful husband for sixty years. He's paid his debts, forgave others their debts and been a loving father. When he gives advice, I not only listen, I follow it.

Jonesie, while different in many ways from my dad, is also very like him. He's been a good father, a good provider, a wonderful lover and a faithful friend. Kids and animals love him, well, our cat isn't a fan, but that's just because Jonesie wouldn't let the cat sleep on his face.

He's shown me he loves me, that he loves our life together, that we matter. It's nice that he's also said the words, but they wouldn't have meant much if he hadn't lived it for thirty-four years.

Romance, the true and lasting kind, takes more than sighs and words. It takes consistent action. It takes turning aside from anything that will take you away from each other. It's giving up the many great and enticing things that life throw at you, to make sure that you don't lose that person through neglect or indifference.

Anne Morrow Lindberg, in her Gifts from the Sea, points out that love is like the tide. Sometimes it goes out, but if you have faith that the tide will come in, you can wait it out. Faith is aided by the knowledge that the love you have between you is worth waiting for, that the time, the actions you've invested in the relationship are too important to throw away for short term pleasure.

I'm glad that after 34 years Jonesie can still make a thrill run down my back and my toes curl in my shoes--but I'm also glad he was there for me when I was too tired to feel my feet, let alone have them curl.

Thirty-four years ago he pledged to love me forever and for 34 years he's shown me he keeps his word.

Love isn't about proof or passing tests. Those are for schools and driver's licenses. Love is about living your feelings. It's about making mistakes and not just saying you're sorry, but showing it by mending the wrong. Love is forgiving, even when they don't deserve it.

Love isn't about letting someone hurt you over and over again.

If you want a love that lasts, let sweet words curl your toes but make sure their actions fit the words. If their actions don't match, they aren't a keeper and no amount of hope and wishing will make that frog into a prince.

Pauline, a stay at home mom, spouse and romantic, she is the author of eight novels of romantic suspense, humor and adventure. On her website she posts writing and life tips.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Break-Up Diet

Happy Valentine's Day everyone. And what a neat way to celebrate than a Break-Up Diet book. But before we go there I'd like to say something...

This year I'll be celebrating my 31st wedding anniversary to my high school sweetheart.Married with five children, we've had our ups and downs but one thing I can honestly say is that if given the chance to change anything in my past I would definetely wish to have not wasted energy arguing over petty things.

I suppose that's what growing up is all about- understanding past mistakes and making amends. It's funny, but I love that man more today than when I first cast eyes on him in high school. And this sentiment has nothing to do with Velentine's Day as much as realizing and appreciating that your Prince Charming, your happily-ever-after life is stronger today because you've both held on and worked at things as a couple. I love you, Jimmy.

This brings me to the Break-up Diet:

The Break-Up Diet: a memoir by Annette Fix goes on sale today! You can order it on or from your local bookseller.

The Break-Up Diet is the true story of a 30-something single mother/aspiring writer who is working as an exotic dancer, searching for Prince Charming, and trying to find a perfect balance between her dreams and her day-to-day life as Supermom.

Please visit The Break-Up Story Forum (
A place where women can go to read and share their break-up and dating stories. Check it out and join the fun!

Annette Fix is the Senior Editor for WOW! Women On Writing, an author, and spoken-word storyteller, living in Laguna Niguel, California with her Danish Prince Charming, her aspiring photographer son, and two rescued dogs.

Book Website:
The Break-Up Story Forum:

I, for one, can relate to supermom. Make sure to check out Annette's new book. Sounds like a winner.

Lea Schizas

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Laptop, a Good Idea and Thou: The Romance of Collaboration

People laugh sometimes when I tell them that my idea of a romantic evening with my husband is collaborating on a story. However, when we are working together on a story, I see again all the things that made me fall in love with Rob.

Rob is an attractive man, but that isn't what drew me to him. From the beginning, it's been his humor, his analytical skills and his ability to apply his encyclopedic knowledge that I've found admirable and, yes, sexy.

As we married and our lives joined not only spiritually but in the mundane realm of shared experiences and common goals, there was still a lot to talk about and share, but rehashing what went on at work and what the babies had done that day can get old. We've always been great communicators--a result of spending our first two years of marriage with an ocean dividing us--so when we did go on dinner dates, we needed something new to talk about.

So we started making up stories.

Our first venture, nearly 10 years ago, happened while I was writing a series on different orders of nuns and Rob was involved in Artemis Society, a group trying to establish a commercial presence on the moon. Those common experiences got us thinking that someday, humans were going to have a viable commercial presence in the solar system, and the Catholic Church would want to follow--but how? We decided on an order of intrepid nuns who did dangerous search and rescue work in outer space. By working for "air, supplies and the Love of God," they undercut the commercial competition in the S&R field and forced a path for religious in space.

"Leap of Faith" was our first story. That story has led to others--indeed to a whole universe!--and to three anthologies: Leaps of Faith (coming Summer 2008 from The Writers' Café Press), Infinite Space, Infinite God (Twilight Times), and Infinite Space, Infinite God II (accepting submissions now!)

The creative process is exciting for us. As we bat ideas back and forth and hammer out problems, I get to see Rob's mind in action in something that isn't just work related (which gets familiar and old). I can toss the most unlikely things out at him--how do you have a fistfight in microgravity? In fact, much of our collaborating is the two of us hammering out the plot, me writing, and him providing "tech support".

We laugh a lot, too, but we do that, anyway. Still, it's nice to do something with our unique (well, okay, odd) humor beside banter puns.

The key, though, and maybe it's selfish, but when we collaborate, he's focused on something that is just ours--not his and work, not ours and kids'--just his and mine together. And my focus is there, too--not on the house, the obligations of my other writing--just on what we're doing for fun. He challenges my mind to keep up with his, finding new angles, posing new situations. I feel smarter and stronger when we collaborate--and that's romantic (even sexy), too.

The past few years, Rob's work has taken away from our collaboration time, and I find I have to fight to get "storytime" with him. But he's always there when I have a question or a conundrum--and always with an answer that blows me away. We steal what time we can, and dream of the days when kids are in college and Rob's retired and we can really write together.
It's going to be amazing.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

February: Month of Romance

For some February is the longest month of the year. For me, March is the longest month because you know spring is right around the corner yet the snow keeps coming down.

But February for many is the time for romance.

My husband is my high school sweetheart. I was entering first year high school and he was in his last year. I remember entering the corner restaurant hang out and spotted him talking with a few of his friends. My heart went PING and I knew right then and there I had to meet my future husband before we got married. :)

Never happened right away. But two years later, he came back for a visit, asked me to the local school trip, and we hooked up. Funny thing is, he had a crush on me, too. Took him long enough to make his move.

We've been married since 1977, have five gorgeous kids we're proud of, ups and downs like in any marriage, but I made good on my promise to meet my future husband so long ago.

You need to love the person you're with now and not wait until something happens to open your eyes. I remember being in the car one day stopped at a red light and I happened to glance up to a building. There was a little old lady sweeping her balcony, then sat down and looked out at the traffic below. My heart fell to the floor because at that moment I realized that one day I will be that lady, alone in an apartment without my better half and since then I cherish each day I am with him.

Lea Schizas

Saturday, February 2, 2008

January's Blog!

Aaaaaaa! The blog changed January topics on me! Originally the topic for January was given to me as "Sidewalk Sales: are you a habitual 'sales' buyer?" I was planning a nice, short, succinct blog that said, simply, "No. I hate crowds and hate shopping. Next topic please."

However, I delayed too long and in mid-January, the bloggers were asking each other what the topic for the month is, and somehow in the course of the discussion, the topic switched to: NEW BEGINNINGS. It's nice to know that other people have memories as bad as mine. Since I am becoming accustomed to the vagaries of growing older, one of which is that I forget absolutely EVERYTHING, I've gotten in the habit of keeping almost every email I receive. Then I just have to remind myself to look at those emails when I want to remember something. Unfortunately, due to a really bad case of the flu that sidelined me for three weeks and then an auto accident that sidelined me for another week, I completely missed out on the discussion among my fellow bloggers about the January topic. By the time I got around to reading that particular set of emails, the topic had already changed.

So NEW BEGINNINGS it is. And I gotta tell you, I'm ready for a new beginning because quite frankly, the beginning of this year has pretty much sucked. In the previous paragraph I mentioned my bad case of flu. First, let me say that I am seldom sick. I will admit to being accident prone and to constantly being sidelined by really weird things (a brown recluse spider bite, receiving a concussion from my cat, receiving a concussion by falling in an elevator, having three pairs of broken glasses within a few days courtesy of my sharpei), but I almost am never actually sick. I may run a fever and be miserable for a day or two, but I can usually function, and certainly am never affected for more than a couple of days.

However, the Sunday before Christmas, I woke up with the worst case of flu I've ever had. My throat hurt like the dickens; I couldn't stop coughing; my head ached; my eyes hurt; I couldn't sit up without getting dizzy; I lost my voice; my temperature was spiking, and I couldn't concentrate on anything. I slept all day Sunday and woke up on Christmas Eve feeling even worse, which I'd have been willing to bet wasn't possible. So I slept all day Christmas Eve and woke up on Christmas Day feeling worse still.

[***Extremely long, boring passage about my illness moved to the bottom of this post in case someone REALLY wants to read about my three weeks of misery. I would delete it entirely, but it does have a few gems in it, such as the bit about the cats. Besides, I need to get some kind of play out of being sick for three whole weeks!]

What was I supposed to be writing about? Oh yeah, NEW BEGINNINGS. So now that I've mostly recovered from the flu (I still have a lot of congestion and a cough) and I've survived wrecking my [new] car in Austin, I am going to pretend that January just didn't happen. My 2008 is going to start in February (which is why I am writing January's blog in February!) This month I am going to write a Nobel winning novel, lose 150 pounds, earn one million dollars and achieve world peace. And next month I'm going to come back and tell you all about how I did it.

***[Here is the passage I removed in case any of you are gluttons of punishment enough to actually want to read it.]
The day after Christmas my daughter drove me to a doctor (not my regular one) who stuck a stick up my nose and then comfortingly told me, "Yep, you've got the flu. If you'd gotten here in the first 48 hours, we could have given you a shot and taken care of it, but since you waited, you'll just have to let it run its course." Like I purposely planned to get the flu on the Sunday before Christmas when the doctor's office was closed.

He assured me that I should be on the downward slope and would be feeling better in a few days, so I went home and crawled back in bed… where I stayed for the next seven days. I had no choice; if I tried to get out of bed I couldn't remain upright for more than a split second or so. I actually had to sleep sitting propped up on pillows because my lungs were so congested I couldn't breathe any other way. One time I woke up and I had four of our six cats curled up on top of me, enjoying the radiant warmth from my body (humans running temps of more than 100 make great heated mattresses!)

On New Year's Day I was still sick and was worried because I was supposed to resume my day job the next day. By this point I had been bedridden (and voiceless) for 10 days, most of which passed in a sleep-induced haze. When I woke up the day after New Year's, I immediately realized that there was no way I was going to make it back to work, so again I went to the doctor, this time seeing my regular doctor who was absolutely thrilled that I had an officially verified case of the flu. I was his first
official case this year he announced happily. I guess doctors run a pool on things like that.

However he agreed with the previous doctor that it was too late for me to receive any anti-flu wonder drugs, although he did give me a vitamin shot and a steroid shot to help dry up my congestion so I could at least get my voice back and bolster my immune system. He also said that I would not be able to return to my day job until Monday at the earliest, if then.

So back home I went and crawled back into bed, where I pretty much stayed until Sunday night, which was the 15th day of my illness. The next day I got up and dragged myself to work to attend a majorly important meeting. After the meeting I came home and went back to bed. The next day I tried again. I lasted two hours, then started vomiting and decided I'd better come back home. Wednesday I managed to make it through the morning, barely, although I don't think I actually accomplished much. I mostly sat at my computer with my head reeling, wondering if I should go home or not.

Thursday morning things finally shifted. I stood without dizziness for the first time in 19 days. My voice, although weak, was back, and I noticed a weird, strange feeling. After a few minutes of introspection, I realized what it was-- I actually felt kind of good. My body didn't ache; my throat wasn't sore, and my head was actually sort of clear. Although weak and somewhat wobbly, I was able to get through the final days of the work week without coming home early.

At first when people asked me what was wrong and I replied that I had the flu, I would get kind of an incredulous, "Oh, just the flu?" sort of response. However, I have started hearing of other people who, like me, missed the 48 hour threshold and ended up being knocked out of commission for two weeks or more by the flu.

In our society we are used to the miracles of modern medicine. Got the flu? Get a shot and get cured. Got pneumonia? Take antibiotics and get cured. Got gallstones? Have band-aid surgery and get cured.

We forget that the flu used to kill millions of people, that it used to be considered a very serious disease. I won't say I was ever afraid for my life during my three week battle, but I was concerned that I would develop a secondary infection of some type that would lengthen the duration of my illness.

We take a lot of things for granted in our world today, and I am certainly not going to make a resolution to stop doing so. I LIKE the knowledge that… (This is where I interrupted myself and got back to the topic of NEW BEGINNINGS).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What about Janus?

Janus is the strange two-faced god of the Roman pre-Christian pagan religion for whom the month of January is named. He's an interesting god, for one thing because of his two faces. He looks both forward and backward simultaneously. He's also the god of doors, looking both inward and outward at the same time. Interestingly, he's a god that doesn't have a match in the Greek pantheon--the Romans came up with him on their own.

As we enter a new year, I think Janus has both advice and warnings for us. It's tempting to put all of our focus in one direction. Many of us want to put 2007 behind us and look for the future. Others seem stuck in the past and can't even give 2008 a side glance. Now, I'm not suggesting that we can really grow a second face on the backs of our head, but metaphorically there's something to be said for the attempt.

Every year, I make New Years resolutions--all of the things I'll do better this year. But I'm a forward-looker. One thing I have to force myself to do is actually look at last year's list. Why? Because I'm afraid I'll see the same things listed. It isn't really dwelling on our failures to learn from the past, though.

Well, Janus--I'm doing my best to balance the past and future. Now maybe you'll open some new doors for me.

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2008 will be wonderful for you and open new doors for all of us.

Rob Preece
Affordable Electronic Fiction

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tradewinds Blog

Since I started the post on New Beginnings, I'd like to add I am starting a brand new promotional beginning for my Young Adult novel, The Rock of Realm. All week my book is the Book of the Week on the Publishing Info blog at:

If you have a chance, stop by. Each day there will be a different aspect and theme on my book and I'll be available all week long to answer questions.

Lea Schizas

New Beginnings

For my 25th wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided to do something we've always wanted to do--get tattoos.

He got a band around his arm and I got a colorful butterfly on my left side shoulder blade.

Why a butterfly? Because to me a butterfly means change...blooming from a cocoon to something different.

As I reflect in my life, I've changed a few careers: fulltime head bank teller, fulltime student in cosmetology, hairdresser, fulltime business owner of a salon and now my last career- fulltime writer/editor.

So although I may not actually fly like a butterfly I do soar in what I try to achieve in my life. I always look toward the future and try to aim for my goal in life.

So for 2008, my goals to achieve are:

to finish the second novel in my Rock of Realm series
to finish two children's picture books
to finish my middle grade chapter book.

Stay tuned for updates on these goals

Lea Schizas

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Confessions of a non-shopper

My name is Karina Fabian, and I don't like to shop.

There. I've said it. It's out in the open for all to see: I am an affluent woman who thinks spending hours in the Mall looking for that perfect sweater is second only to the experience of sitting in the waiting room, anticipating root canal. Or trying to work with Microsoft Office 2007--but nothing can really compare to that torture.

It's not that I have anything against getting new stuff, but I already have so much old stuff that adding to the menagerie feels...oppressive, somehow. It's even more true since we're in the military and need to pack, ship, unpack and put away the entire house every one to five years. Stuff means hassle. In fact, in our house, we go through a quarterly "culling." We get rid of one item in four or five. This mostly applies to clothes, books and toys, but somehow, we never run out!

My mode of shopping is this: wait until I need something. If it's technical, get Rob to research it on the Internet. Wemble for a couple of weeks about whether I really need it. Go to the store and buy it. Occasionally, I'll wander about the store, out of some misplaced feeling of guilt or obligation, I suppose, but otherwise, it's in
and out.

When I was in the Air Force and stationed in Japan, I had the chance to go to Korea for a conference with another (male) officer. Naturally, we were told we HAD to take an evening to shop the markets. Markets are a lot more fun than Malls, yet I could go into a stall, gaze about, decide it didn't interest me, and move on. My friend announced that he thought all women should shop like me.

There are two exceptions to my usual shopping style: when I need an outfit and when I'm shopping with the kids. I'm a very picky shopper about clothes and for some reason, my body seems to defy normal sizing--outfits are too revealing or too short, too tight in the wrong places or just look odd on me. So I can grab a dozen things off the rack and reject them all in the dressing room. Fortunately, my tastes are timeless, so most of my clothes are stylish even a decade later. Now if my body had just remained the same size as a decade ago...

My new size has nothing to do with kids--I got to 120 after my fourth was born, then put on 35 pounds after he turned two--but they have changed my shopping. Kids have needs and wants and in our house, money, so many times, we'd be on a shopping spree so they could spend allowance or gift money. I know they enjoy it, but two minutes in the toy aisle, I'm ready to bolt. They see the newest Pokemon Chibibananarokian playing figurine; I see a $10 piece of plastic that will be in two pieces, each in separate parts of the house, within a week.

I'm a very blessed woman. I don't lack for stuff, and I don't have the desire for more stuff. The only time this ever seems to be a problem is during the holidays, when my husband and family are tortured to find the perfect gift for the woman who doesn't want things.

I keep hoping they'll pool their funds and get me a PR firm. Or how about a housekeeper? That'd be nice.

Someone to keep track of the stuff we do have.

Karina Fabian writes fantasy and science fiction that seldom have anything to do with shopping. Check out her stuff at