Saturday, October 10, 2009

Meditation, Schmediatation!

by C.C. Coburn

Ever tried meditating? I’ve never been successful as I can’t seem to turn off my brain. It’s constantly running on overdrive about things I have to do, buy for dinner, appointments, functions, dates.

Of course I could probably clear most of this out of my mind if I kept a diary. Tried that, kept losing it!

I’ve tried self-meditation as recommended by dozens of women’s magazines and failed. I’ve even tried meditation CDs. In the end, the constant bonging of a metal gong - meant to slow my rapidly beating heart - had me so annoyed that my blood pressure must’ve shot through the roof. I ended up pulling out the earbuds and almost throwing the CD player at the wall in frustration.

I’d even heard of people who claimed they meditated in the car while driving to work. Which made me thankful that, a) I didn’t live anywhere near them and, b) I work from home, so was unlikely to be run over by them on their way to work.

So when my daughter was having difficulty relaxing before exams and asked me to attend a meditation class with her recently, I wasn’t exactly leaping at the opportunity for a mother-daughter-bonding-in-the-lotus-position session.

However, I decided: This was the time to put all my previous failures in this area aside and really work at meditating successfully.

We arrived just as the class was starting. As we crept up the stairs to the meditation room, they creaked noisily. We turned and started to flee, but a man in a sarong beckoned us, indicating with strange hand gestures we should take the only two spare mats in the room.

Everyone was lying down, breathing rhythmically. I thought: I can do this. I can breathe. The easy breathing session was soon replaced by deeper breathing. An older man nearby had some sort of nasal disorder and sounded like a bugle. Someone else started snoring loudly. Not relaxing!

We moved into chanting something that sounded like, “Om, romm, gomma gong.”
It was okay while we were murmuring it, but then it got louder and louder. I was starting to feel distinctly uneasy, feeling as though I was imprisoned in some 60’s Hare Krishna ashram. Everyone lay silently, chanting,Om, romm, gomma gong,” together like automatons. I just felt silly.

The chanting died down and we were urged to concentrate on our breathing again, thinking about our organs as we breathed in and out. This seemed easy and quite relaxing thinking about our pink lungs giving us “lifebreath” and our hearts faithfully pumping, our livers doing whatever livers do. Organs all present and accounted for and even better – happy and relaxed!

Until we moved down to our bowels. Urged to think of our “lifefood” making its happy way through our bodies, someone noisily passed wind.
I wanted to get up and run. I glanced around the room but it was as if everyone else was in a trance and hadn’t noticed this transgression in taste and public behavior. Soon the bowel references had several members making trips to the bathroom, located in the same room. They stepped over me in their haste to use the facilities and then none of them bothered to close the door after using it. Assailed by the sound of flushing toilets and unwanted smells, I had to interrupt my meditation efforts to close the door after them. Not relaxing!

Finally, bowels emptied, the room settled down again. We were urged to assume various positions, none of which I seemed to be able to manage and all the while my mind kept racing with the thought of how many more useful and productive ways I could be spending my time. We tried a breathing technique with fingers and thumbs that totally confused me. The effort of co-ordinating my breathing with my digits wasn’t relaxing.

When sarong-wearing Zen master put on a CD with the sound of a bonging drum, my blood pressure spiked.

There was also this irritating beeping sound in the background. I wondered how anyone was able to relax with all the distractions and noise.
Finally, I realised the beeping was the alarm on my cell phone reminding me I had a dentist’s appointment. I leapt to my feet and ran for my phone accompanied by the death stares of my fellow meditators.

I felt like telling them that a beeping phone was far less distracting than toilets flushing and people flatulating and honking like trumpets, but decided that it was just best to grab my towel and my daughter and run down those creaky stairs to freedom thinking: That’s a whole hour of my life I’ll never get back!

I’m sorry, but I just don’t “get” meditating. I’d far rather take that time to curl up with a good book. How about you?


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Have you had your flu shot?

I told my husband the other day that he needed to get a flu shot. I had a doctor’s appointment and was getting mine then. I reminded him that there was a drugstore not far from our house, no appointment, no wait, just walk in, sign papers, pay and get one. So he agreed to go.

Over an hour later he came back furious. What was supposed to take minutes took forty-five. There were so many people getting shots that there was a line. He filled out his papers while he waited and when it was his turn he handed them to the girl. She keyed something into the computer. A woman came up and asked a question about the form she was filling out. The girl helped her and then came back to my husband. She looked at the computer and then at him.

“Mr. Warren, have you had your flu shot?” she asks.

“No, I’m waiting,” he replies.

“I mean before today.”

I can see him frowning about now. “I wouldn’t be here if I had.”

“Our computer says you’ve already received a shot.”

“Your computer is wrong.”

“I’ll have to get the pharmacist to sort this out,” she tells him. “Please have a seat and he’ll be with you shortly.”

He takes a seat and waits, and waits. Thirty minutes later he’s still waiting.
My husband has no patience and I was surprised he sat that long. He gets up and tells the girl he’s leaving.

Looking a little confused, she says she’s sorry. She forgot about him, and she’d get the pharmacist right away. He comes, looks at my husband's paperwork and then at the computer. He stares at the girl and says, “You put it in twice. Look at the dates and times, they’re thirty seconds apart.”

The girl again apologizes, but the hubby gets his shot and leaves as fast as he can. Took him the rest of the day to de-tress. But he got his shot!

Last Tuesday I went to my doctor’s appointment and planned to get my shot. She didn’t have any. She was shorted on her order, and I was told to go to the drugstores or supermarkets. They all had a good supply. I didn’t understand this. Doctors can’t get them, but drugstores and supermarkets can. Boggles my mind.

But I bit the bullet and went to the same store my husband had (it was only fair). The line was long and people were complaining. Several had come from doctor’s appointments like me. I waited it out to get a shot. When it was my turn, the nurse rubbed my upper arm with alcohol and said, “It’ll just be a little sting.”

I’m not squeamish, but I looked down and saw the nurse was wearing cowboy boots under her tan slacks and white smock. They were brown with red tops. I was so startled by the sight I didn’t even feel the sting. I’d never seen a nurse wear boots on the job.

Only in Texas, I thought, and I have to put this in a book.

Now we’ve both had our shots, and stories to tell. If you want to get my husband going just ask about his flu shot.

Have you had yours? Or plan to?

Madison’s Children – SuperRomance Oct ‘09

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Author News Day!


Michele Dunaway has been tapped to write The Complete Idiot's Guide to the World of Vampires. The book should hit shelves July 2010.

Trish Milburn’s first novel, A Firefighter in the Family (Septebmer, 2009) was a Maggie Award of Excellence finalist.

Laura Marie Altom’s "Snowbound with her Ex” will appear in Snowbound Together along with stories by Lindsay McKenna, Cara Summers and Anne Stuart. The book will be released in the UK by Mills & Boon on December 18, 2009.


C.C. Coburn’s debut novel, Colorado Christmas (November 2009), received 4-1/2 star top pick from Romantic Times Magzine.

Mark Your Calendar

October 13: Four wonderful new reads from Harlequin American Romance will be in stores. This month’s covers are posted in the sidebar. To find out more about American Romance’s October releases, please visit

Monday, October 05, 2009

Fall harvest

We have two pear trees in our yard, and every September-October they give us tons of pears. In the past I’ve made pear butter, spicy pear chutney, canned pears, pear pies (I freeze them) and pear pie filling. (Lots of work!!!) I’ve also given away bags full to friends and the local food bank.

Last year I got tired of all that canning and switched to freezer vanilla pear jam. Which takes a fraction of the time and effort and tastes delicious! This stuff is so tasty, I made two batches this year. Also pies. But that’s it! The rest we’re eating and sharing with friends. Oh, and I took a bag to Treehouse, the foster care agency where I so volunteer tutoring one afternoon a week. The kids loved them!

(If anyone wants the recipe for pear pie, which is to die for, email and I’ll send it to you.)

I’m curious–Do you grow fall crops in your yard? If so, what do you grow and what do you do with more produce than you can handle?

Until next time, and happy harvests,

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Recipe of the month

Meg Lacey’s Easy Apple Pie

I worked on a TV show called "The Cleaning Sisters" for USA network featuring two off the wall WA. women who emphasized easy approaches. I.E. To make the home smell like you have been canning jam or jelly all way, dump a can of grape juice into a sauce pan, leave the lid off and simmer all day. Let the aroma drift through the house. Then take the label off a jar of jam, put a fancy cover on it and serve with biscuits at dinner or for company.

You get the idea... So I did my own variation.

Go to the grocery store freezer section, choose your favorite type of frozen pie. (I like Mountain Top)

Carefully place it in the bag to transport home. (Don't dump any other groceries on top of it or throw it into the back seat)

Read directions before cooking. (Very very important)

Preheat oven.

Slide Pie onto baking sheet and place carefully in the oven.

Light apple candles to add to the ambience.

Remove Pie from oven at appropriate time. (Don't forget to set the timer, or leave it beeping away for an hour as browning disaster awaits.)

This is the trick part. If you are really motivated you can attempt to remove the pie and place it in your own pie dish, but if your family has caught on to you, then stick the entire pie, pan and all into a dish.

Serve warm or cold.

Remind family that even though you didn't make it from scratch, thus saving everyone from disaster, that you appreciate them and love them very much. (What can they say after that?!)