Friday, May 16, 2008

Nuisance Animals

For the past three summers I have tried everything to "encourage" the rabbits to leave my yard. This spring I counted six of them--the most I've ever had. I've tossed moth balls under bushes--all that did was make the neighbors curl their noses when they strolled past the house. I've put up fences around my tulips--the rabbits jump right over to eat the plant leaves. I purchased a "rabbit spray" from the local nursery and that worked for a few weeks, then the critters ignored the smell. I've sprinkled blood meal on the ground around my plants but then the dogs roll in it and stink to high heaven. Speaking of the dogs--they chase the rabbits out of the yard, but as soon as I bring the dogs inside the house, the rabbits return.

Just once I'd like to plant flowers in the ground and not have to put them in pots and hang them from tree branches. I've also had to resort to using my birdbaths as planters and although they look cute filled with flowers, I'm sure the birds would rather have water.

If anyone has checked out my website this month, then they know I've declared an all-out war against the rabbits in my yard. This spring I obtained a permit to catch a "nuisance animal" and bought a live trap. Check out for information on my Elmer Fudd Wabbit Contest. I've bated the trap with fresh carrots and leafy vegetables and have witnessed two of the rabbits sniff the trap, eat the grass around the trap--but the darn critters won't go in.

Has anyone ever dealt with a nuisance animal in their yard and if so, did you have any success getting it to leave?


A Coal Miner's Wife *Hearts of Appalachia* Aug 08

Thursday, May 15, 2008

He grew up

When did this happen?

Sometime next week, when I get my act together, I’ll be posting a new photo on my Web site ( It features a handsome, dark-haired young man and a short, beaming woman (me). Oh, one more thing. The gorgeous guy is wearing a cap and gown.

Must be trick photography. The truth is, he’s seven years old, it’s the last day of second grade and I can’t find him amid the swarms of children eagerly rushing toward vacation. Finally, around the side of the school’s main building, I discover my precious little bear bawling his head off, with a friend’s worried mom keeping watch over him until I show up.

You see what I mean? If I’m not there to hold his hand, he might get lost.

Only … he’s twenty-two years old. He just graduated after four years at Vanderbilt University with, incredibly, not one but two degrees. The first is a B.S. in computer science and math. The second is an M.S. in computer science. This is the result of working his tail off for eight years, completing half his undergrad work while still in high school and spending late nights meeting the requirements of an accelerated masters program. After his first free summer since junior high, he starts work next fall at his dream job with Google.

How can this be? When did he grow up?

Wait! There was one moment, as we celebrated his graduation with my parents and other relatives, when I mentioned that I didn’t plan to cook much this summer. For just a moment, a look of utter childlike dismay flashed across his face. There! The seven-year-old was back.

Okay, so it takes the prospective loss of Mom’s lasagna and homemade, garden-grown minestrone soup to bring out the lost little boy, and then only for a millisecond. But he’s still there.

What a relief! Although now I won’t be able to avoid cooking like a fiend all summer, it will be worth it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fun News!!

For those of you who have been with us a while, you know I generally talk about my kids, but today, I'm just talking about ME!!! LOL!!! Seriously, I've had a fun month, and want to share.

For starters, my editor, Johanna R. just agreed to a new four-book deal, so it looks like you'll be stuck with me a while longer!!!! Three of the stories are a series, loosely titled, Love & Lamaze. It's about some unconventional single moms who meet up through Lamaze class. The fourth, is part of a series the line is doing. Now, I have no clue what the official name is, so for now, I affectionately call it Hunky Men Across America!! If anyone knows the real name, please chime in!! LOL!!

Next in my fun news is the fact that I just heard yesterday that I've landed an AMAZING Art Teacher position at my kids' old middle school. Not only is the thought of teaching art a dream come true, but the school is a few blocks from home, and I already know much of the staff from my PTA days. Don't tell anyone, but I'm both crazy excited and crazy scared!!! I have the same nervous butterflies I had when selling my first book on proposal. Like, I kind of think I can pull it off, but maybe I'm not so sure!! LOL!!!

The only down side to my new gig, is saying goodbye to all of the friends I've made at my current school. One of my favorite things about teaching, is making friends. Sounds corny, but I sat home alone writing for a decade, and it got lonely. Anyway, while I'll miss my *people* here, I can't wait to dig into this new position.

For Mother's Day, we did the Muskogee Renaissance Faire. I'm still full!!! Aside from all the amazing costumes, my fave part is the food. Gotta love the turkey legs, fried cheesecake (which I'm pretty sure wasn't around in medieval times ), roasted corn and funnel cake!!!

Tell me what you all did for Mom's Day!! One of my student's reported giving his mom a new car!! Hmmm . . . all I got was a new key chain--but it was from the pricey Coach store!! LOL!!

Monday, May 12, 2008


I've been thinking a lot about the economy lately, especially gas prices. I drive 28 miles door-to-door, one-way, to work, and I don't have the option of selling my house and moving closer. (My mom & I live 1000 feet apart, and I can't move until she does. That way I can watch out for her; she's 70.)

I paid $3.49 the other day, which is 20 cents cheaper than the area average of $3.69. Missouri is a bit in the middle, and usually cheaper than the national average.

As I won't see my economic stimulus check until after July 4, I've been penny pinching everywhere. I know, authors are supposed to be fabulously wealthy, but that doesn't necessarily happen unless you're Nora. And I have horse camp, bible away camp, and a three-week intensive summer gifted program to pay for. I fired my trash guys and got new ones (savings of $76 a year) and got my internet provider to give me a monthly rate of $14.95 instead of $21.95.

I also broke down and downsized my car. My 2004 Malibu Maxx (fully loaded) had over 100,000 miles on it and was starting to have mechanical issues. Since Chevy was offering loyalty cash of 3,000 and I get a supplier's discount, I saved over $3,700 on a new Chevy Cobalt. My Cobalt is no frills. No heated leather seats. No DVD system. No automatic climate controls.

However, my payment dropped by a good chunk, my gas mileage went up by 6 MPG, and I now have a car with another 100,000 mile warranty, which means repair is free. (And trust me, I use the warranty.)

The upfront outpouring of cash (title, taxes, payoff/trade in) was a huge bite. But in the end, in three years I'll be in better shape to give a 3-year old car to my 16 year old instead of a 7 year old car.

I remember those days of driving a clunker that died at every stoplight...but that's another post.

So what are you doing to save pennies here and there? I've also unplugged all unused appliances and changed to those energy saver light bulbs. Now if I could just get my daughters to turn off the TV when they leave the room....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Feeling Left Out!

Mother's Day always leaves me feeling a bit left out. I have no kids, so nobody gives ME presents. My own mother passed away many years ago, and I have no aunts or grandmothers still living. I have a mother-in-law, but she lives far away and, well, of course I sent her a card but it's not quite the same.

This year, I decided I would just celebrate anyway. Heck, most everyone else is celebrating, I might as well, too! So yesterday I bought myself a piece of jewelry (nothing grand, just a beaded bracelet from a craft fair). I've wrapped it up, and I'll give it to myself tomorrow. We'll say it's from my cat, who is so spoiled she might as well be my child.

I also have a rose bush in the back yard that is exploding in huge yellow blooms. So tomorrow morning I'll go cut myself a bouquet. I might even be able to con my husband into taking me out to dinner. (He won't buy the "I'm a mother to our pets" excuse, but I'll think of something.)

Finally, perhaps I'll dig out one of my favorite "motherhood" books from my keeper shelf and snuggle in for a good self-indulgent read. Maybe I'll even re-read one of my own. Oddly, though I never chose motherhood for myself, I've written LOTS of books about secret babies, unplanned pregnancies and single moms. I guess these situations appeal more in fiction than real life!

I hope all you moms, and/or children with moms, have a great day!